I’ve just returned from a grand eye-opening adventure to the United Arab Emirates. I’m having trouble picking up from where from I set off. I’m sleeping less than usual and the streets and sights of my New York, New York seem foreign to me. Everything I saw was new but familiar, from barbecues in Dubai to watching, in Abu Dhabi, episodes of Downton Abbey ahead of New York. I’m revisiting the trip every day in my mind to reinforce my memories.
I was enthralled by the old spice market. The Mall was in stark contrast to it. It houses an aquarium as well as an ice skating rink, both of which seemed commonplace in the gargantuan Mall. The handmade outfits of my childhood Barbie doll were dear to me but pale against the enchanting miniature Dior replicas on display at the Mall. These Dior videos are a semblance of what I experienced.
Leave it to me to feel giddy when I saw the van above. A few days later my friends had me intoxicated by the view from 122nd floor of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai.
The image above should intrigue quilters. The block was sewn from three 5” x 10” rectangles cut from one Swiss voile fabric. This is a nudge to everyone who claims they “can’t cut it up.” The block, my “Bow Twist,” is patterned here.
In Dubai I picked up a British quilt magazine from my friend’s coffee table. I had to fly more than 12 hours to come across my Bow Twist quilt in print. Sheesh. Later that week I pulled out my iPhone when someone asked how I made it. I brought up the step-by-step pictures I keep in Google’s cloud. I became stupefied, not understanding why my images were out-of-order. I knew I’d organized them. Oh my Google. It re-ordered the images, on the spot, from right-to-left, as that is how Arabic is written.
My first ever rotary cutter is my favorite. It is a brown handled KAI that was sold by Dritz. Nowadays I never take it out of the house because it’s irreplaceable. In the late ‘90s I took a class from Keiko Goke in Paducah. She is one of my favorite artists. She makes exuberant quilts and brilliant fabric designs. The Paducah classroom tables had been configured into the shape of a “U.” Goke walked the room, from student to student, reaching me last. We were told she didn’t speak English, which was why she was accompanied by a translator. It was stop and go until she got to me. She picked up my brown rotary cutter and told me in English that it was her favorite rotary cutter.
When I am in the company of quilters, even in Abu Dhabi, something will be amiss with at least one rotary cutter: it will have been incorrectly reassembled. My ergonomic cutter above is just as it should be for right-handed me. A left-handed quilter needs to position the blade and fittings onto the opposite side. In any case, take care that this cutter’s washer, the small thin roundish metal piece with a center hole, is positioned upward like a cup’s saucer. The flush side of the nut will face the cutter. Should the recessed side face the cutter, the blade can wobble ever so slightly.
If you are enrolled in Improve Your Quilts: 37 Troubleshooting Techniques with Laura Nownes, she’ll always be available to instruct you. She is a teacher’s teacher. I first saw her on The Great American Quilt, a PBS series by Penny McMorris. I was so enthusiastic about Laura’s manner that I played a video of it for my friend Ellen, who was at my sewing machine. I became absorbed by the video and took my eyes off Ellen. Ellen asked if I could make it go backward. I said “sure” and rewound the video a bit. “No” said Ellen. “The sewing machine. Can you please make the sewing machine go backward?” I pointed out the reverse button. That Laura, she mesmerizes me to this day.
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