Mrs. Meanie

Roxanne Barkofsky, a talented needleartist, died on 8/4/05.  For many months she posted to the Crazy Quilt List on Quiltropolis as Mrs. Meanie.  This is her column...


She's a mean old lady with a wicked sparkle in her eye but, there's never a question that she can't answer...

I asked Mrs. Meanie "Mrs. Meanie, what is your favorite thread?"

and she answered

"Well now class, Mrs. Meanie's favorite thread is one that goes into a needle which is put into cloth.  Now if the thread is fat one must use a needle with a LARGE orifice.  If the thread is thin one can use a needle with a teenie, tiny, itsy, bitsy, baby-size orifice.

Now then, there are many different orifices.  Each one has a different purpose.  One MUST use the proper orifice for which it was meant or trouble will surely ensue.  Now then, take for instance your eyes.  They are orifices on your face.  We use our eyes to see color and other things.  The needle has an eye, too, but it cannot see.  Hah!  Now then, take for instance your mouth.  It is an orifice on your face too.  And if you ask any more stupid questions with it, Mrs. Meanie will shut it for you." 

Then I asked Mrs. Meanie "Mrs. Meanie, do you use a hoop?"

and she answered

"Well now, we can just go round and round about this one.  Hah!  Going round on Mrs. Meanie could take some time, not that it is anybody else's business as to what is under my bustle.  Of course, I suppose you all think my circularity is of the natural rotund type.  That is a lot of HOOPLA and quite frankly I don't give a HOOP what you think.

Now then, let me tell you this.  I use a hoop for making inquisitive students who ask personally annoying and inane questions to jump thru while I repeat HOOP HOOP HOORAY!"

Janet asked Mrs. Meanie, "Mrs. Meanie, there's been a lot of debate over batting in crazy quilting.  What's your feeling on the topic?  Should we put batting in our crazy quilt projects?"

and she answered

"Well now, young lady, I suppose that since you are from Michigan you expect Mrs. Meanie to show you.  Now then, anyone who is crazy enough to be putting batting INSIDE a quilt and writing to me about it certainly needs help.  Now then, how do you expect to get it out of there?

Mrs. Meanie does not consider herself Batty tho' on more than one ocassion she heard Mr. Meanie refer to her (under his bad breath) as an old BAT.  Now then, she is wondering if perhaps we shouldn't be renaming this crazy quilting thing to psychotically-impaired quilting as far as some of the questions you ladies are asking me.

As far as getting yourself out from under that quilt, I'm afraid that batting simply won't work.  You'll have to use scissors.  Mrs. Meanie used to have some scissors that were as sharp as Bat's teeth but that old FOOL Mr. Meanie used them to cut a hole in the chicken coop.  And that's all I'm going to say about that."

Donna asked Mrs. Meanie, "Mrs. Meanie, regarding usable fabric sizes, how small is too small, or how big is big enough?"

and she answered

"Well, well, well, Mrs. Meanie is beginning to wonder how some of you learned to turn on a computer.  How big is too big?  How little is too little?  Were not these subjects covered in kindergarten?

Now then, is someone gave you a choice of fabric to fashion some hummmm, unmentionables, and the choice was between burlap and silk, which would you want between your..........Quality, dearies, not quantity."


Not only is Mrs. Meanie accomplished in all aspects of needlework, she is also a very fine artist.  Here is her portrait of her very dear beloved friend Miss Scatty.

Recently, Mrs. Meanie was asked a simple question by the Crazy Quilt List.  In the course of her answer, she mentioned one of her bosom buddies (they both have BIG bosoms!!!), Miss Scatty.

Miss Scatty is...Well, just how would one describe Miss Scatty?  It's not a question that I could answer.

Mrs. Meanie was asked, "Mrs. Meanie, dare we mix fancies and cotton?"

and she answered

"Mrs. Meanie wants to know what is all this anti-victorian talk about Panties?  All panties should be cotton whether or not they are Fancy.  When Mrs. M was a small child back in 18?? my dearest MaMa would call me little Fancy Pants. We were very poor so you best believe that my little panties were fashioned from cotton flour sacks.  My deareast MaMa would sew a special button on the front so I would know which way to put them on.  This is a cute little trick dear ol' Miss Scatty should learn.  Would anyone out there care to send a pantie button to dear ol' Scatty?  She's very poor because she spends all her money on the eBay auction.

Now that Mrs. Meanie is a tad-bit older and many years wiser she no longer sews a button to her ah-hummmmm...unmentionables.  She truly doesn't want Mr. Meanie to know which end is up.  So to answer the question this time right here because it is so urgent (some stichers

might become confused as to which kind of Panties are appropriate and give up wearing them altogether.

Since it is clear that any stitcher worth her bellybutton will stand on her head to get a pattern right, this Panty issue could become troublesome.)

Miss Scatty doesn't remember why it is relevant---she rarely does.  But she warns that in any inclement weather one should turn off one's machine.  In fact, remove eyeglasses and dental plates.  In future, look for Mrs. Meanie and her very dear beloved friend Miss Scatty at Mrs. M's usual "answer site".  And beware, Miss Scatty is likely as not to ask YOU the questions."

Talk turned to the subject of rough hands on the Crazy Quilt List, and Mrs. Meanie was asked, "Mrs. Meanie, how do you still manage to look 'interesting' while trying to soften up your skin (on your hands and feet or course)?

She discussed this with Miss Scatty, and Miss Scatty said

"Miss Meanie, in my day we lubricated, yes we did.  Now I could be a little confused here, and the substance might be called marmalade, but I think it was K-Y Jelly.  Yes.  But if these silly stitching ladies put the jelly inside the long cuff, they are going to have a problem much worse than cracked fingertips.  At least it seems to me that my mother always warned me about some such thing..."


Groucha's (Mrs. Meanie's loving and loyal bulldog) favorite crazy quilting piece, executed by the sometimes loving but always loyal and very strict taskmaster, Mrs. Meanie.

Mrs. Meanie sent me this message today...

"Well now, Mrs. Meanie wishes to speak her piece on a crazy quilting issue...whether or not one can put prints next to each other.  You betcha you can put prints next to each other.  A group of prints with a similar color theme can call attention to an outstanding print that might be otherwise overlooked.  A group of similar designs or colors can function as one rather than many with careful placement.  Good proportion is utmost to making this technique successful.  A group can stimulate the eye to see the sheen or texture of another fabric by drawing attention.  A combination of stitches, in  the colors of the prints can ease the transition of the prints as well as bringing in a new color to the motif.

A single button or bead, unless it is outstanding is sometimes lost.  You may see it and say, "Oh a button", but groups of beads or buttons can liven up a piece.  The eye makes comparisons between the textures and

colors.  Of course pieces of trim can separate prints as well.

Mrs. Meanie illustrates this dissertation on prints with a little piece of CQ she did for Groucha, her loving and loyal Bulldog.  Tho' Mrs. Meanie doesn't mind snot-nose students questioning her expertise on this subject, any criticism regarding Groucha's favorite CQ work is liable to bring some undesirable canine repercussions from Groucha.

Thank you for your attention...Mrs. Meanie"

Miss Scatty sent me this to add to the discussion of "Why are we told not to place prints next to each other?"

"Sometimes it's a know, hard to do when you want to stretch or break rules.  But those of us who are wild and crazy, when we remember that we are, just love to snap those rules and see what happens.  Yes."

When the subject of husband swapping came up, Mrs. Meanie and Miss Scatty sent this.

"Ladies, it has come to my attention that you naughty needlers wish to have your DH's attend Holiday in a SWAMP.  Now why in the name of golden needles you'd want that is beyond Mrs. Meanie's comprehension.

Once I do remember when Mr. Meanie attended a Holiday Swamp Camp hosted by Miss Scatty much to my dismay, you see.  She encouraged those fellows to play in the mud, swing from vines, howl at the moon, and do all those "Y" chromosome activities (as Miss Scatty exclaims) DH's enjoy doing.  Upstart teachers like Miss Scatty have a more progressive teaching style.

And while we are on the subject of Miss Scatty some people say she wears her bodice outside her blouse due to her distractibility while dressing.  But these people never make such comments about that hot singer Madonna.  And after all, even Miss Scatty must have her dreams...tho' she can't sing a lick.

Now then, when these DH's return home from SWAMP camp the first thing they'll be doing is wanting to share the SWAMP FIRE stories with you, complete with sound effects.  Next thing you know they'll be playing Creature From The Black Lagoon and scaring the wits out of you just about the time you've tried to thread that needle three times and ALMOST finally succeeded, until...

Lastly there's a little game they learned called "Snake in the Grass", whose rules I shant repeat.  My advice ladies is to fill them full of mashed potatoes, gravy and a BIG roast.  Top it off with a large apple pie.  After a feast such as this they'll fall fast asleep in the BIG EASY and you can stitch til' the chickens cackle."

Mrs. Meanie took some time off from her sunbathing this sunny July afternoon to answer this latest question from the Crazy Quilt List, "How much embellishment is enough?"

And she answered

"Sometimes I must admit one of you youngins' actually asks a question that indicates to Mrs. Meanie that you are truly listening.   Listening to YOUR work speak is an indication that YOU are a crazy quilter.

You there, in the back of the class, cease passing notes and listen up!

No, Mrs. Meanie is not daft, quite the contrary.  LISTEN TO YOUR WORK.  What does it say to you?  Does it constantly repeat, "I'm naked over here", (pardon me youngins') or does it say "I'm too heavy with all these clothes on?"  Be quiet, cease passing notes, get your pretty little head out of the hole in the boys locker room wall and listen.

Then there is the matter of SIZE.  SIZE is important and don't let anyone tell you it isn't!  Now remember I said get your head out of the hole in the boys locker room wall.  A clean and tidy mind is a clean and tidy threadbox.

If you have a LARGE piece of fabric it will seem naked (oops, that word again) next to an itsy-bitsy one.  It should be obvious that LARGE ones need more embellishment than small ones.  They seem to thrust themselves demanding more attention merely due to the fact that they are LARGE.  My, but the room suddenly seems close.

Now then, there is another way of knowing if one's work has too much embellishment.  Mrs. M realizes some of you have hearing disabilities.  If your settee collapses, falls over backwards, or sags in the middle upon display of your crazy quilt, this is a clear indication too much embellishment has been done."

Miss Scatty put her two-cent's worth in with this.

"Well, I'm sure I have some very useful things to say on this topic.  This topic.  Oh dear.  OH, yes......embellishment.  And if there can be a too muchness.

Now, in my opinion, and all of you dears know that I do have trouble sometimes when I put down an opinion and then just can't find it again.  But enough about silly Miss Scatty, you all are waiting to hear what I have to say about, about, about, ooooooooh dear me.  YES.  Embellishment and if there is never or ever or this afternoon or tomorrow or next week or yesterday or, or, or,,,,,,,,oh dear,,,,,,,,YES.  ENOUGH.

Miss Scatty has some rules about that.  I know in just a moment I will remember how many rules, and also what we are talking about.

1. Some.  2. More.  3. And some other stuff.  4. Go directly to Jail.  Do not pass Go.  Do not collect $200.

Now I hope I have helped all you dear students and I want to thank my very best friend, Whatshername, for letting me share some of my very most profound secrets.  Miss Scatty"


Some time ago, Donna asked "Mrs. Meanie, I have several 10" and 12" crazy quilt blocks done with various themes (Ocean, Victorian, Oriental, you know the stuff).  Their edges are unfinished.  What should I do with them?"

and she answered"

"Several semesters ago Donna younginī posed this question to Mrs. Meanie.  Mrs. Meanie was suffering from "writerīs block".  I do suppose there are those of you out there, including Mr. Meanie, that wish the block had hardened to cement and Mrs. Meanie had fallen into Tight Corset Lake and sank.  Well now, wishing just doesnīt make it so...donīt you know.

The following advice is for Donna younginī.

Since crazy quilting has itīs roots or corner stones in my dear Victorian era, perhaps the Victorian blocks you have could go into the corners representative of that era.

The Oriental blocks could go into the middle as the Asian continent is a rather large body of land on this Earth.

That leaves the Ocean blocks most probably suited for the outsides if you wish to heed my advice.  If not, donīt ask advice from an opinionated olī crabby lady.

Ms. M"

Disclaimer...January 15, 1998

I thought that Mrs. Meanie possessed a certain natural talent to be an online columnist.  However, she's barely been online for 24 hours, and already she appears to have come a trifle unhinged over a question about her loving husband, Mr. Meanie.  Rather than censoring Mrs. Meanie's truly unique style of giving a direct answer to a direct question, I felt that it would be more appropriate to simply move that particular question and answer to a separate page.   So...

***If you're easily offended, DO NOT take this link to Mrs. Meanie is Unhinged***