The Welcome Blanket Project

Welcome to the U.S.  Truly, welcome.

It’s part of American culture to value homemade gifts the most.  We treasure knowing that the giver thought of the recipient and made something special for them.  I know this is not the finest hour for Americans, but I hope we can remember that we have dear, good qualities in us, too, as a people.

The Welcome Blanket Project exhibits gifts of handmade blankets, 40″ square, in museum shows and then partners with organizations to distribute the blankets to U.S.  refugees and immigrants.  Blankets may be quilted, woven, knitted, crocheted, or otherwise handcrafted.  When I saw the call for donations, I remembered how the quilt-like collage art on the album cover (see below) of Deus Sex Machina:  Or, Moving Slowly Beyond Nikola Tesla by Sons of an Illustrious Father had made me long to make quilts again, as I did in the 1990s.

deus sex machina

So today, I made a welcome blanket that drew from the colors of that album cover for inspiration.

soaif dsm welcome blanket

I knew it had to be a nine-patch quilt because a nine-patch grid is the structure of the band’s last two albums, Deus Sex Machina and Revol:  nine songs per album, three sets of three, all three band members singing lead and writing songs.

A nine-patch quilt pattern is like a tic-tac-toe board, three rows of three blocks apiece, all the same size.  Below are two of the nine-patch blocks from the quilt, the upper leftmost one and the upper central one.

Each patch is 4″ square.  Each nine-patch block is 12″ square.  The quilt itself is made of 9 nine-patch blocks, 36″ square, plus a 2″ border all around to reach the recommended 40″ size for welcome blankets.  (The dark blue patch in the right photo above, bottom row, is an intricate reverse-appliqué that I purchased from a Hmong artisan in Philadelphia, 20 years ago.)

My daughters and I have sent other welcome blankets, as well, ten in total.  My 10-year-old’s gift shows sea, mountains, and sky.  She designed it, chose and cut out the fabrics, pinned and basted them down, and ironed.  The gray of the sky is the reverse of the navy blue flannel for the mountains.  I quilted and bound it to finish.


This was my 14-year-old’s first crochet project.  She taught herself from YouTube tutorials.

geeklet crochet welcome blanket

Progress shots of one of the other welcome blankets we sent.  The girls helped by ironing, basting, and sometimes helping to arrange the 4″ blocks.

welcome blanket patch stack

welcome blanket layout

welcome blanket arrow quilt

Snape trivia! Go, Team Snape!

snape trivia team signs

On July 30, the night before the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Big Blue Marble Bookstore will host a release party for Snape:  A Definitive Reading.  Events will include three rounds of Snape trivia, HP-themed prizes, a Snape cake, and an animated discussion about Snape, Slytherin, and Gryffindor.

Snape trivia teams can choose a paddle to hold up for their answers!  Choose from Puppet Snape, Coffee Snape, Movie Snape, Banana Snape, Pumpkin Snape, Reading Snape, Window Snape, Book Snape, and Robe Snape.  So many Snapes.

Artscow: Print your own fannish merchandise

Can’t find quite the Snapey merchandise you want?  Order your own, using your art or art from one of the many talented artists in fandom! offers printing on clothing, mugs, umbrellas, stationery, cosmetic bags, shower curtains, and other household items.  They ship from Hong Kong, so if you live in a different country, watch for their frequent offers of free shipping.

I tested out the images of Snape presented in the Rogue’s Gallery post to see how well they would reproduce on a notebook.  Quite well, it turns out.  Please excuse the glare from the glossy finish.

Notebook front cover:  book cover.  Notebook back:  art by Fox Estacado.

snape notebook front and back

Notebook inside cover images:  Wit-Sharpening Potion by Shocking Blankets and Snape-shaped Hole by Liz Mattison.


Rogue’s Gallery: The Many Faces of Snape


Art by Fox Estacado

In the French translations of Harry Potter, the character we know as Professor Snape is named “Rogue,” emphasizing his unpredictable, untrustworthy nature.  The Snape of our imaginations wears many faces:   the gnarled grimace that J.K. Rowling sketched; the bearded, pointy-featured Mary GrandPré wizard from the U.S. editions; the mournful Potter Puppet Pal Snape; even Lego Snape and Funko Pop Snape.  Of course, the late, magnificent actor Alan Rickman gave us the greatest Snape portrayal of all.

But fans, too, have always shown the Snape of their imaginations.  Fox Estacado’s illustration (above) gives us a Snape with a sensual sweep of robes covering all but the grim set of his chin and the elegant, intimate beauty of his exposed hands.

Snape window camillo1978 14 02 16 enlarged

Liz Mattison, who also created the cover illustration for Snape:  A Definitive Reading, emphasizes the vulnerable side of Snape.  The narrow shoulders and loneliness remind us that this man, who always seemed aged and embittered, was only 31 at the start of the story.

Snape coffee jpg

ShockingBlankets creates a sympathetic portrait revealing the greatest of Snape’s secrets: how he survived his triple workload as Death Eater, teacher, and spy. The to-do list on his parchment reads:

Death Eater meeting
Order of the Phoenix meeting
Grade Potions essays
Slytherin House Cup strategy
Career advice for Slytherin seniors
Detention slips
Occlumency lesson plan
Hermione Granger’s extra credit essay to grade
Restock Madam Pomfrey’s potions
Pick up Dumbledore’s dry cleaning