This article popped up on my twitter feed this morning. I’ve heard of companies offering unlimited vacation (but never worked for one – libraries are generally not the places where this type of innovation happens*) but this is the first time I’ve read something that spoke to how such policies actually function.
It’s not surprising to me, though, that in an undefined system, people would end up competing to see who could take the least vacation time – who could be the most hardcore. Having been an exempt employee in administration/management for most of my career, this type of competition has been the norm. In most of my workplaces, people have felt compelled to prove how tough/committed they can be by taking as little time off as possible, coming in early and staying late as often as possible, and making themselves available 24/7 regardless of vacation or non-work life. Non-exempt employees have some constraints on this type of behavior (at least according to the letter of the law) but exempt employees do not – and they end up pushing themselves to burnout and, along the way, taking their colleagues with them. The supposed leaders in the organization end up setting the worst example possible of what it looks like to live a balanced, healthy life as a professional.
I daydream a lot about what the world could be like if we were kinder to each other and to ourselves (complete universal healthcare into which we all pay according to our income, complete universal healthcare that includes mental health as well as nutritional health and everything else that goes into making a person well, complete human rights for all members of every community without regard to race, background, sexuality, etc.). Minimum vacation days seems like a good addition to my wishlist.
What would you wish for in an ideal workplace?
*Working in governmental/public sector administration has taught me that those who govern our institutions generally believe that those who work for the institutions deserve the very minimum of benefits such as vacation time. These workers should feel lucky to have a job at all, according to most of those who make/approve the policies (very few if any of whom, tellingly, have ever worked in public sector positions). This sense becomes ingrained in administrators, who also come to believe that even they themselves are not deserving of free time, let alone those they manage, so there seems little hope of any eventual change.
I started in on the trees on my current art quilt WIP this week.
I picked out a grey fabric with a texture that reminded me a little bit of tree bark. These trees are inspired by Michigan’s White Pine trees, the bark of which often appears more grey than brown. I free-handed a paper pattern roughly the right shape and size and cut out a few trunks.
I also cut out a few freehand so that not every one was the same. I played with the placement a bit until I had a satisfactory spread of trees. As I will be adding some branches and foliage I didn’t want them too close together – but I do want to give the look of an overlapping forest, so I didn’t want too much space between, either. I chose to use seven trees as that number is commonly thought of as lucky and because an odd number pleases the eye.
I pinned all the tree pieces and then sewed each trunk down individually. I left a bit of room for the edges to fray a little and included the already frayed edge of the fabric at the base of each tree. I’m happy with how it looks so far – looking forward to adding the rest of the trees soon!
I recently drove down to Lansing to see an art exhibit called Earth Stories, which features art created by members of the Studio Art Quilt Association. Artists were asked to pick a project that was important to them and then create an art quilt that would embody the goals of the project. The pieces in this show were then selected by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, an artist, writer, and curator known for her work with African American quilts.
One of my favorites was this piece, Alternative vs Fossil Fuels, by Cynthia St. Charles.
There is a fairly large installation of wind turbines in the county south of where we live and they are something to behold. This quilt effectively conveys the enormity of these machines, and the quilting pattern she used very much feels like wind. This piece is also very detailed and there is a lot to notice the longer you look at it.
One of the coolest (for me) features of this exhibit is that each artist provided a notebook detailing the creative process that went into making their piece. Both as a quilter and a person interested in art, it is fascinating to look into someone else’s process and see how they came to create the work on display.
There are a bunch of other quilts from this show that drew my eye and you can check out more photos on my flickr. I made it to see this exhibit just before it left to go to its next location. I had just a couple of hours to spend here but I could have spent weeks! If you have a chance to see it, I recommend it!
Cable Braid Hat
I have a love/hate relationship with cables. Sometimes I’m in the mood for them and love working them, and other times I find them endlessly tiresome and I don’t even want to think about them. This hat is a result of the former (obvs) and features a (to my eyes anyway) cool more-than-basic cable pattern.
I love the way this one looks on the crown, too:
Pretty neat, eh? I love it when something I’ve pictured in my head comes out looking just as cool in real life.
This one has a repeated eyelet pattern that reminded me of apple seeds the way they look when you cut an apple in half.
Happy Pools Hat
This hat is knit with Knit Picks Stroll Hand-Painted yarn, which is designed for making socks but I love for making hats. It pools in such neat ways and I never know quite what it will look like until it’s done. It’s also lightweight but still warm, and really stretchy so this hat can fit a wide variety of sizes.
And this is the freebie! It’s made of purl stitch swirls that go all the way around the hat, through the crown. I need to make this one again in a solid color yarn – the swirl shows up well on the body of the hat but disappears a little bit on the crown in this tweed yarn. Help yourself to a free download!
This One Skein Stole is a fairly basis drop-stitch pattern but it works really well with this yarn (Knit Picks Stroll Hand-Painted – it’s mostly wool and a little bit nylon, so it drapes really nicely). I really like open-work scarves like this. If they’re long enough (which this one is), they’ll wrap around the neck a few times, which offers a nice look as well as warmth.
I’m on the usual kick of trying to use up leftover bits of yarn from my stash in addition to my new obsession of making and writing up knitting patterns. This one is a child size (or adult extra-small) hat with cables. I made this one up on the fly and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out!
My ever-so-slow-but-steady progress on my current art quilt WIP continues.
There is land on the right side of the piece, where white pine trees will be growing. I selected some brown fabrics from my stash and decided on how wide the land section should be. Then I cut diagonals so I had lengthy triangular sections which I then alternated and pieced together to make a large-ish rectangular piece.
I cut the edge that juts out into the water and then pinned it down on the main background. Since the moon worked well without fusible interfacing, I did that again this time and it was just fine. I stitched all along the edge of the land piece and then went around it again another time for that sketch-ish look I also used on the moon.
I also stitched along some of the seam lines within the land piece so that the piece is attached to the background throughout. These seam line accents also add to the look of the land. I am currently debating doing some additional (non-seam-line) stitching in the land, but I haven’t decided what I want to do yet. Next come the trees!
I’ve been on a kick of coming up with new hat designs lately. As it gets closer to holiday gift-giving time, I find that hats are one of my favorite things to make for gifts, and I especially enjoy when I can make up the pattern myself.
I picked up some fun print yarn on super mega sale not too long ago and made a few hats with it.
The Eyelet Hat is a relatively delicate knit with visible eyelets throughout. It’s still plenty warm, though, and I think it’ll make a really nice winter cap.
The Ladder Rib Hat is another design with eyelets, just slightly different from the one above. I love the way this colorway works with this pattern on the crown of the hat: a neat spiral.
This Diagonal Band Hat is a bit sturdier and definitely ready for cold, cold winter weather. This one also has a neat crown spiral effect – a little unexpected, I think, in a really pleasing way.
I’m finally finished with the background of this project! Technically I do still have some earth to do on the right side, but the sea and sky are complete, which feels like a milestone.
I had completed the piecing of the moon awhile ago, and now I was finally able to put it together with the background.
On my last project, I used fusible interfacing to attach most of the pieces to the background before stitching them on. This time I decided to try it without interfacing to see how it works. I’m pleased that it worked just fine.
I pinned it and then stitched around, removing the pins as I went, and I didn’t have any problems with the moon piece shifting.
I wanted it to come out with a sketch-ish look, so I stitched around a few times, purposely overlapping and varying where the line of stitching fell.
Next I started cutting out pieces for the main figure at the center of the landscape.
I started out with my computer sketch, which I made from a photograph I took of one of my dolls. Of course, though, the doll doesn’t have the physique I’d like to portray, so I used it as a basis for making a pencil outline that I then used as a pattern piece to cut out the figure. I also cut separate pieces for the figure’s arms so that they will show as a distinct layer above the body. Much of the body will end up covered anyway, but I still like to have the physical shape represented there.