Awhile ago I signed up for a swap over at the 6 o'clock stitch. The guidelines were to create something 8" by 10", that had red and yellow in it, around the theme Spring. I was paired with the lovely Ky and was super excited*, as this is only my second sign-up-for-a-stranger swap ever.
I was stumped for a bit on how to interpret Spring. I mean, it was still frigid when I signed up for this, it was hard to get myself in the mood. But then I remembered Spring Festival, otherwise known as Lunar New Year, where red plays a prominent role in all festivities because we do love red. And gold? Well, gold is probably the second most prominent color in the festivities. This had promise.
One of the many ways we welcome in the new year is by hanging up large red couplets with auspicious sayings on them. Some are 4 or 8 word sayings, others contain a single word, like spring or good fortune:
These are then hung upside down [usually] to welcome in springtime, because in Chinese the word for "upside down" and "coming, arrival" sound the same, so its a nice visual/audio pun that tickles the Chinese love for puns. It's an annual tradition that I look forward to each year, to spend time with family and friends for the lots and lots of food that is always consumed.
So anyways. Off I went.
I repeated the word "spring" 4 times in the diamonds and inserted them upside-down, in keeping with tradition. This is one of those designs that made itself up as I went along, the only element I had predetermined was the characters. And I have to say, for someone who swore off sewing triangles about a decade ago, and, around that time, also swore off tiny bits of patchwork, I really enjoyed putting this together.
How fitting that as I type this, we're finally getting spring here in Boston!
*So today I ran into a friend from Japan out on the grass in front of the medical school. He was writing up a report for a trip he'd helped to organize over spring break, I was just lying on my stomach and gazing off into the grass. As he was staring at the evaluations forms he asked me, "Is there much difference between 'awesome,' 'amazing,' 'incredible,' and 'unimagineable'?"
I had to laugh. Apparently, we're quite taken to overexaggerations in this language, but in Japanese there really isn't the same extremity of expression the way we throw those around in English.
"Hm, which do you think is the most extreme then?" he asked. And when I couldn't reply, he said, "Well, what about AMAZING? Do you think that counts?"
"Did they put a bunch of exclamation points after it?" Which is something I would do. "Then yes, I think that counts as the most extreme."
So hm. Super excited, eh?