I've got all the individual "Walk in the Woods" blocks done (this is the name of the fabric; the pattern I used is called "Skinny Dip." Which leads to some odd portmanteauing of the two titles.)
I have that quilt to lay out sometime, and also the Bento Box quilt I finished the blocks for a long time ago.
But right now I'm in the middle of another set of blocks, and I think I want to finish this top before going on to setting together a quilt. I pulled out the "Celebrate Spring" kit from Connecting Threads that I bought. These fabrics are all vaguely Japanese-inspired, and they are cotton lawn. Cotton lawn in considerably finer weight than traditional quilting fabrics. So I knew I had to put in a smaller needle. I typically use a size 14 sewing machine needle on quilt fabrics. With lawn you can use a 9 to 11 size. The smallest size I had in my possession was an 11...and I really didn't want to give myself an excuse to go to the quilt shop this weekend, because I do have so many projects stacked up. So I used the 11, though a 9 might perhaps have been a bit easier.
Lawn is not the most fun fabric ever to sew, because it is so thin. I think it will make a nice summer quilt though. I'm already plotting to see if I can get a bamboo or silk batt to use in it (both are thinner and lighter than the cotton I more typically use) and I am definitely handquilting this one, because I'm not so sure how well it would survive a trip through a longarm quilting machine. (I could be totally wrong on that, but given the degree of stretching and pulling to get the quilt taut...). The backing is also lawn; it's a bigger piece of one of the fabrics in the top.
So I'm also working again on the quilt-in-the-frame; I have about three-quarters of one of the short-side borders (maybe 3 1/2 or 4 feet) and a corner turn and perhaps a foot or two of a long-side border left. I'll be glad when this one is done, and I'm already thinking about doing the lawn quilt as my next handquilted quilt. (But much less elaborate quilting than on the one I'm working on right now! Either I'm going to do a grid pattern, or perhaps just outline each block....)
I was going to sew on the top this afternoon but while finishing my lunch cup of tea, I got to flipping around channels and got drawn into a movie. It represents my favorite kind of movie - one that is about a time, place, or culture completely different from my own. This movie was called The Cup (There are apparently at least two movies by this name; this one was the one made by a Bhutanese director in 1999). It centers around a Buddhist monastery in India ("Tibet-in-Exile," as the opening credits say). There are a number of young (teen or pre-teen) monks there, several of whom are fascinated by soccer and want to watch the semi-finals and especially the World Cup.
At first, they've been sneaking out at night to go to a teahouse (? grocery store? Some other business? It's not clear to me) where there is a television and men gather to watch the soccer matches, but they get thrown out for talking during the match. (There are two new young monks - refugees from China - who don't apparently know much about soccer, and the main fan, Orgyen, is explaining it to them).
Part of the reason the movie was so interesting to me is just how different the world of the Buddhist monk is from anything I know - the clothes, the food, the way people spend their time, the way they treat their abbot as compared to how I would treat a "holy man" of my own faith...but part of it was that it was just a really sweet and engaging story. (And it's rated G - pretty much family-friendly. Okay, in the subtitles, the "s-word" and "ass" (to mean buttocks rather than a donkey) is used a couple times, but other than that...there's nothing that would be objectionable. Of course, a child watching the movie would have to be old enough to read subtitles).
Another interesting thing is how lots of Westerners have this stereotype of the Buddhist monk as this otherworldly figure who is so different from us. Well, the boys in this movie - they probably ranged in age from 11 to 16, but it's hard for me to judge because I'm bad at judging ages, and also, they all had shaved heads, which I think makes a boy look older - were much like teen or pre-teen boys anywhere. They were crazy for sport (soccer), neglectful of their studies at times, had a tendency to scheme, and even, on occasion, peeped at women modeling swimsuits in a glossy magazine.
The main push of the plot is that Orgyen wants to watch the World Cup...as he tells his brother monks, if they miss it, they'll have to wait another four years. Because they were kicked out of the place they had gone to watch before (and were on Massive Kitchen Duty), they plotted to rent a television and satellite dish so they could watch at the monastery. They approach Geko, who is kind of the head-of-instruction for the young monks, and amazingly, he agrees to approach the abbot. Geko is kind of a fearsome figure, and yet, it becomes clear he has a kindhearted side. The abbot says yes, and the boys scheme to get the 300 rupees they were quoted as the rental price.
They arrive at the rental location with just a couple hours to spare, and are told no, that because it is a big soccer weekend, the price is now 350 rupees, with an extra 50 for the man to come and set up the dish.
They wind up taking the treasured watch of one of the younger boys - the only possession he has that belonged to his mother. (Also, this boy is one of the recent refugees). They promise that they will come to the rental man the following day with the extra 50 rupees, and he warns them that if they do not, he will sell the watch.
There's a bit of tension over setting it up: will they be able to get the dish to work? Will the television work? I'm not going to spoil it other than to say there are some interesting morals to the story - a moral about guilt over hurting another to get the thing you think you desired most - but then a moment of forgiveness from an unexpected source.
Like I said, a really sweet movie, and one I'd recommend. It's also apparently based on real events that actually happened, and most if not all of the actors in it were actual monks, and not professional actors.
There's also an interesting koan (or, at least, I'm guessing it's a koan) presented towards the end of the movie: the abbot asks, "Can we cover the earth in leather so it is soft wherever we go?" One of the young monks responds with a "No," and the abbot asks, "What can we do?" Another young monk says, "We can wear leather sandals," and the abbot adds, "Wearing leather sandals is equal to covering the earth with leather."
I take from that that it's at least partly a commentary on carrying peace with you, or changing yourself to be able to deal with the unpleasantness of the world, rather than trying to force the world to accommodate you. There's probably more to it and probably everyone who thinks about it will come to a different conclusion, but still, it's a fascinating thing to consider. (In a way, Zen koans are a bit like the parables, in that each person may hear something a little different in them, and when you read them at different points in your life, you see different things.)