Posts Tagged ‘quilting’

harry potter and the never-ending camping trip

I had waited for it for years. Being satisfied with the first through sixth films in the franchise, I expected “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” to be as riveting. Unfortunately, the film’s producers seem to have misplaced their riveter this time.

Getting down to nuts and bolts, this interpretation is lackluster and slow-paced for two-thirds of the film, but after that redeems itself with a selfless death and other advances to the story.

To be fair, the book was the longest of the seven in the series and really, it was nearly all about a long and interminable camping trip. After upheavals in the Ministry of Magic, and more skullduggery by He Who Must…okay, Voldemort and his henchmen, the lives of Harry, Ron, and Hermione are forever transformed by having to flee their homes and go into hiding. In the woods. In a tent that emerges from Hermione’s tiny beaded bag that seems to extend into another dimension and thus possesses infinite space within. Now that bag is cool.

Harry is still on a mission from Dumbledore to find the other horcruxes and destroy them before Voldemort gets to them first. No spoilers here, but if you read the book (if you haven’t, I highly recommend you do so), you’ll know how it all turns out.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) and her beaded bag that extends into a parallel dimension – I WANT ONE. Image from here.

What’s to like about the movie? It captures the bleakness of Harry’s soul, the internal suffering that he carries from his unloved boyhood into his late adolescence when people around him are getting hurt or dying to help him on his quest.

At first Harry thinks it’s all about him, and the guilt gets to be too much to bear so he attempts to strike out on his own, but Ron tells him, it isn’t all about you, it never was. Harry then realizes that though he is somehow central to the events, in the end he is just an element in the greater scheme of things and he must play his part.

But it’s not easy for Harry, it’s not just a matter of waving wands about and exercising limitless magical power. It’s still about the old-fashioned heroic values – belief in good over evil, perseverance, determination, self-sacrifice, friendship, and love. The film delivers that message, and it may be that the slow pace set the tone for that.

On the visual side, the settings for their tent-in-exile were magnificently desolate – lonely woods, a barren rocky hilltop, salt flats. The tent got larger and grander until by the end of the movie it was a multi-room affair complete with sleeping bags, the omnipresent veddy veddy British teakettle, a dining-cum-conference table, and spoons and forks in a mug.

Harry and Hermione sport clothing of somber colors, in keeping with the landscape. I WANT HER CLOTHES. Especially that peacoat. Image here.

Since many of us have read the entire Harry Potter canon by JK Rowling anyway, I won’t go into deeper analysis except to say that it belongs to the fantasy/magical genre that British authors have developed to the highest point. No one does it as well as they do – among them Tolkien, CS Lewis, Carroll, and Conan Doyle along with the other Victorians who collected and wrote fairy tales – and now Rowling is carrying on the tradition.

On a lighter note, a dozen things I liked:

1. Emma Watson’s clothes. I love that blue peacoat!

2. Hermione’s beaded bag that holds everything in the world.

3. Dobby’s self-sacrifice. He died Apparating the good guys from a villainous stronghold.

4. Bellatrix Lestrange’s rat’s-nest hair and dagger-flinging accuracy.

5. Severus Snape’s billowing black robes that proclaim “I am a serious, traditional, magic-using academic”. I WANT ONE.

6. Dolores Umbridge’s pink kitten-head scarf. Meow!

7. The Godric’s Hollow set – a typical, storybook hamlet. I’d like to live in one of the cottages there. Yes, even with that creepy old lady Bathilda Bagshot for a neighbor, it would be magical.

8. Bathilda Bagshot’s creepiness. The ultimate in old-lady oddity! Remind me to be like her when I become aged and decrepit. It would be fun freaking everyone out.

9. The dirigible plums at the Lovegood’s – that was a whimsical touch.

10. Patchwork everywhere – on nearly all the beds and throw pillows in the movie, the curtains and tablecloths in the Weasley home, and Xenophilius Lovegood’s shirt.

11. Bill and Fleur’s wedding – sigh. So romantic. My next wedding will be like that, I swear, in a tent with all my most eccentric friends and family in attendance.

12. How much Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint’s acting have improved. Emma Watson was fantastic from the beginning of the series and has developed into an actor with solid talent.

Overall: you must see this if you enjoyed the book and watched the previous films in the series, if only to get one more step closer to closure. Though the producers could have cut much of the camping trip out and reduced the running time from three hours to two-and-a-half or even less without sacrificing important narrative elements, it’s still worth watching.

ACCIO BLUE PEACOAT!

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the quilt art of rebecca barker

I have loved sewing ever since 3rd grade at St. Scholastica’s Academy (Bacolod City) when we were taught basic mending and embroidery stitches on a retazo or scrap of fabric.

In fifth grade at Pasay Adventist Academy, we learned more elaborate stitches and had to embroider a throw pillow cover in cross stitch. Since the latter had a deadline for submission, our househelper at the time helped me complete it, but it was something I really enjoyed doing.

In high school we were taught dressmaking. I remember stitching up a particularly ugly dress in an ugly shade of lavender that was my favorite color at the time. Dressmaking was not my strong suit but I did learn how to baston my own jeans.

I rediscovered the magic of needle and thread after I got married. I’ve always been creative, and always need to do something whether its writing, cooking, or sewing.

In the early 1990s, cross-stitch became a fad and suddenly there was an explosion of x-stitch shops such as Dreams (which still has branches in Megamall and Glorietta). Supplies such as DMC floss and US and UK patterns became plentiful, unlike before, when the most you could get was the standard Japanese book published by Ondori which only had mostly simple border patterns. It is in fact still available at National Book Store – talk about “never going out of print”.

I snapped up a lot of magazines (from Booksale and National), floss and Aida fabric from the market (cheaper than buying at the mall), and stitched up a storm. I had even begun to teach myself hardanger on linen (which is really hard).

But after countless throw pillows and framed pictures (including wedding presents) later, my “been there done that” mood kicked in and I looked for something new to learn.

Enter quilting, which I promised myself I would never ever do. I picked up an old quilting mag at Booksale whose headline screamed, “You too can make this quilt!” The cover showed an unattractive Baskets quilt in my unfavorite colors of yellow and green. I was struck, though, by the beauty of the pattern and the mag’s claim that anyone could learn patchwork.

Having taught myself to quilt after reading countless magazines (Booksale is such a godsend!), my linen cabinet is now stuffed to the ceiling mostly with queen-sized quilts, a few twins, a lot of wallhangings and the ubiquitous throw pillow covers.

My Bottle Jar lap quilt. It was a popular pattern for swaps in the late ’90s.

My favorite quilting activity was participating in online quilt swaps. I spent loads on postage during the mid- to late-90s, during the height of my quilting frenzy. I ended up with many queen-size quilts (around 80×90) composed of traded quilt blocks and signature squares, which are squares of muslin, say 3″ or 4″ or whatever the agreed-upon size is, signed in permanent colorfast ink by the quilter.

I was happy to have participated in several Y2K swaps. Just before the millenium turned, quilters all over the world traded for 2000 charm aquares and “siggys” to make millenium quilts. I still have my swapped charms, as well as quilt blocks from theme swaps, just haven’t gotten around to sewing them up, but that’s okay, lots of quilters have UFOs (“unfinished objects”) that they swear to finish one day.

Though I am very busy now with work, and until recently, school, and have not been able to sew for two years, I still love quilting very much and have kept all my supplies – the special Omnigrid quilting rulers I bought in the US, rotary cutters and mats (for cutting shapes accurately), yards and yards of 100% cotton (US textile company brands) from Divisoria, and pattern books and magazines.

I also collect anything with a patchwork pattern, and my friends who know of my interest give me “quilty” gifts as well.

The photo below shows “Dove in the Window” by artist Rebecca Barker, who has made a name for herself as a “quilt landscape” painter. The name of the artwork is actually the name of the pattern.

My friend Thea Arnone (my roommate when I stayed in the US for several months in 2001) gave me a jigsaw puzzle for Christmas with this design. Upon my return to the Philippines, I had it completed and framed at the Jigsaw Puzzle shop in Glorietta. It hangs in my bedroom, where the pinks and greens go wonderfully with the cool celadon walls.

Here’s Rebecca Barker’s lovely “Butterflies on Nine-Patches”:

A “nine-patch” block is one where the elements are in a 3×3 grid. It could be a Simple Nine-Patch (each square is just one piece of fabric) going on to more complex designs where each square is made up of even smaller shapes in different colors. Designs like those usually have their own names.

Quiltmaking is a fascinating craft, and the art created with quilts as an inspiration take the play of patterns, colors, and patches to different levels.

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