what is enough?

IMG_5336Sea Island Indigo’s workshop is allowing us THREE bags of fabric for the dye pot.  By that, I assume they mean the standard grocery bags.

Well, I am flying.  I am NOT going to check two bags.  So this morning I am balancing my squirrel-like packing skills (of which I am rather proud) with the greed to bring more (and more) fabric.  To my surprise, it was a great relief to put half of the cloth away… to name the feeling, ‘greed’, and put that away, too.  Setting aside greed allowed love to come in.

You see, I had collected a bunch of needle-resistant cloth for the rag quilting workshop.  Made sense…. it looks like sewing will be limited with this method.  But an awful lot of the tough fabrics I own are a tad gross in feel.  I find myself protesting, “NO!  NO! I’m only bringing fabric I love”.

Selecting fabrics you love is not at all the same, of course, as fending off greed.  Instead, it is governed by pleasure, aesthetic discernment, cultivated tastes, sensory delight… by all those irrational preferences for some colors over others, and in my case, by a slight mania for a good jumble of patterns.  When you’ve gathered a pile of fabric you love, sometimes looking at the stack is enough!

Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about.

I will save my greedy impulses for food.  There’s gonna be some AMAZING food on this trip!

 

 

Wrap up

But before I go off to my LIST and my PAGES and the CLEANING I like to do on Mondays, I wanted to assemble a collection of pictures from the summer class I took —  ‘Considering Weave’ with Jude Hill over at Spirit Cloth.  Just as a place to see what I did.  How much I learned.  These kinds of visual bookmarks make a difference down the road…  it is so easy to underestimate or lose track of the volume of threads/cloth that went through the process with me… this will help me remember!

And, by the way, the act of doing this — its value both now and later — is just one of the many, many things learned from Jude.

in-process butterfly received a needle woven body

in-process butterfly received a needle woven body — idea to embroider words inspired by Cindy over at handstories

some actual weave; some figurative

some actual weave; some figurative

one of my indigo cloths with woven opening

one of my indigo cloths with woven opening — made so many mistakes!

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a woven patch

a woven patch — lumpy, loveable, functional

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the “Triscuit” crater — backing from my indigo vat

woven strip square open and woven at center with butcher's twine

buckling caused by size of opening could not be fixed even with machine stitching to a heavy weight backing

woven 'islands' extending patterning over edge

woven ‘islands’ extending patterning over edge — one of my favorites from the class

woven islands partnered with Middle Passage piecing

woven islands partnered with Middle Passage piecing

visual weave with vertical and horizontal running stitches

visual weave with vertical and horizontal running stitches

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the crow got a woven base and flew off to Wendy Golden-Levitt

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seeing warp and weft all around

seeing warp and weft all around

continuing on a piece in context of weaving

continuing on a piece in context of weaving — many sections begun in another of Jude’s classes

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more strip weaving because it's hard to stop; travels well

more strip weaving because it’s hard to stop; travels well

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speckled vintage linen from Deb Lacativa’s dye pot

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blue sky — arashi technique with commercial dye — by moi!

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sampler:  Corn Guy

sampler: Corn Guy

as I started 'sewing' more, back neatened up (worked top down)

as I started ‘sewing’ more, back neatened up (worked top down)

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copy of Jude’s waves. Woven on primitive box loom (which was a rectangular basket in my case)

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Planning to order a bead loom so that I can continue without some of the frustrating tension issues caused by wrapping warp around a basket and taping it to the back.

I didn’t get a chance to make any fringe and look forward to trying.  Would like to edge some of my Star Maps with it. And, I can’t wait to try some of the more experimental techniques offered this month. Any more meaningful reflections on the class will have to wait.  It was a terrifically provocative journey (as usual)… and if other classes I have taken are any indication, the fruits of the learning will keep coming over the next months and seasons.

Bye for now!
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trust time and edges

'Middle Passage I'

‘Middle Passage I’

This quilt has hung, unfinished, on a living room wall for a couple of seasons. I am finishing it now.
IMG_3782How often do I look at a thing undone and feel an unspoken but clear sense of failure?  (like those dolls on the mantle — when?!)

What if I walked around assured that each thing was being finished in its proper time?

The standard 1/4″ black binding with mitred corners was the first idea. But it was too much. Not right at all.  And, I didn’t want to use the machine.

IMG_0591I  pawed through my bins and found an old cotton apron. Very old. Very soft. Not quite Emancipation Proclamation period (1863), but a lot closer than most fabrics I own.
IMG_0586It was a little heartbreaking to tear through some hand darning.  But I did. As I ripped one, two, three, four, five strips, destroying the apron, hearing that destructive sound, I thought about the tearing action of the slave trade. Entire cultures being ripped apart — not just families.  Africans ripped from their homes, their continent, stripped of language, bearings, family, culture, dignity — and finally, their status as human beings.  Rip. Rip.
IMG_0605I am using a beautiful antique silk thread and starting on the top.  A simple running stitch. You can see the edge and the fabrics below. I like that.
IMG_0601You can’t tell from these photos, but the apron at some point in its life shared a wash with a red garment. The garment bled all over it.  That felt right, too.

This is the first of the Middle Passage quilts and will have a certain cheer and unity to the design.  It is meant as a ‘semi-before’ picture.  Terrible things have happened or are about to happen — traders kidnapping men, women and children,  chaining them in coffles and marching them to the sea.  Barracoons along the western coast of Africa warehousing human flesh.

But, it will get worse.

The next quilt will be darker and more fragmented.  African patterning less recognizable.  That will be THIS side of the ocean.

 

Call me a notebook nerd!

IMG_0516How I love September!  The air gets deliciously cool and sweaters are pulled out of closets with a sense of cozy relief.  I feel this way every year.  For as long as I can remember.

I like the sense of new beginnings wrapped up in the anticipation of winter.  I like the way the the shortening of the days seems to mandate a quiet looking inward. I like how the trees disrobe. I like (gasp!) Christmas shopping.  I really do.

Did I miss going to Staples with one or both of the boys last week?  I don’t think so.

I took part in that crazed shopping ritual every September for more years than I want to count, so its absence WAS noticeable.  Another marker of change.  But to stand in lines sometimes stretching from the register all the way to the back of the store, because I, like so many others, had waited until nearly the last minute?  Ugh.  To anxiously check the list and the items in the cart, hoping we selected the right size or color index cards and the exactly specified composition book?  No, I didn’t miss it.

I can go next week.  Or, not at all.  But, probably next week, because what is September without the purchase of some snazzy new notebooks and a dozen or so workhorse pens (I prefer Bic blue medium point).

Okay, so I AM a notebook nerd.  I probably buy everyone on my gift list a blank book at least every other year, because I can’t help buying them and because to me, they would be a welcome gift.  Tell me to stop!

I cleaned the boys’ rooms this week, partly in anticipation of company, partly as a way to acknowledge their absences.
IMG_0467Well, and in C’s case — in the service of hygiene.  I was so relieved to discover a very old plate of pulled pork on his keyboard tray (oh god, it was gross!).  Relieved, you ask?  Well, yes, because that meant that there was not, in fact, as I temporarily supposed, a mouse corpse wedged between inaccessible joists behind the desk (mice take about two weeks for their stink to rot away).

With the cool air on Sunday (hallelujah, rain storm!), I could run the fans all day and refresh the whole upstairs.
IMG_0352I let this dinosaur have his way with the fruit bowl — in honor of days gone by.  Some things I will save forever!

IMG_0479Pretty soon, sedum will be stealing the show.

 

 

Just today’s thoughts about indigo and slavery and being an American

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Eliza Lucas Pinckney brooch, Charleston Museum

There are no known images of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, but here is a picture of a piece of her jewelry. It gives you a sense of the elite, wealthy class that she occupied. To put another way — this jewel-encrusted brooch gives you a sense of what slave labor could buy. So great was the hunger for the wealth produced by slaves in Charleston in the 1740’s, that the slave traders  could barely keep up with demand (they got rich, too, by the way).  In those days, as rice cultivation got underway and markets were favorable, Carolina was known for its ‘easy wealth’ — which is a little like Thomas Jefferson asserting that the harder he worked, the luckier he got!!

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photo of photo from Charleston Museum of Charleston Harbor

Yesterday, I came across a fantastic web page about Eliza Lucas Pinckney, located on the Clemson University website.  There is even a picture of one of her descendants!  And one of her garments.  The page focuses on indigo, the slave contribution to the science and success of the commodity, and reveals some details about ELP’s slaves that I had yet to come across in my research.  This is exciting.

Two books also came to my attention yesterday.

Two of my readers recommended the book by Patricia Klindienst called, “The Earth Knows My Name.  Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans.”  It looks fascinating, and I know from what reader Jacqui Holmes shared with me in an email yesterday, that it includes some specifics about Eliza’s experiences with indigo (none of which was news to me, however).
The other book I’ve already ordered. It’s by Andrea Feeser and called “Red, White, and Black Make Blue. Indigo in the Fabric of Colonial South Carolina Life.”*

*    *    *

On another note, I did a quick run up to Salem this morning.  It was a good visit and traffic was a breeze, but I always come home a little spent and so I really ought to walk away from the screen right now, drink water, put on a fan, and sew for a while, just to collect myself.  But I can’t help but going off, first, on a mini-rant.

My sister tried to convince me that Irish immigrants had it just as bad as African slaves.

No, no, and No!! I answered back.

My ancestors were reviled, yes, faced prejudice and economic hardship, yes… and what the English did to the Irish during the potato famine surely constituted genocide.  But!  So many differences.  Even, knowing, as I do, how terribly the Irish were treated in the South in the mid-eighteenth century (in many cases, by the way, by the same landowners who were abusing and exploiting their slaves).  Even having read letters by Southern mistresses asserting that they’d prefer ‘a lazy Negro to a slovenly Irish girl, any day of the week’.  Even having read that sometimes Southern landowners employed the Irish for brutally exhausting labors specifically to avoid working AN ASSET (i.e. an African American bondsman) to death.  Even learning, as I did yesterday, that Catholicism was outlawed in the colony in this period.  Not the same at all.  Just as one tiny example — being ripped off during indenture cannot possibly be considered comparable to being dehumanized into a piece of property.

Again (again!), I named the recent Atlantic article, “The Case for Reparations” (by Ta-Nehisi Coates)  (I am thinking of making my boys’ second term tuitions contingent on reading this article).  You could not possibly read that article and believe for a shred of a second that blacks and certain white immigrant groups got the same kind or degree of raw deals.

And speaking of being descended from Irish immigrants, two of whom were not here during the 250 years of slavery, Ta-Nehisi Coates specifically condemns taking the view that because our particular ancestors were not here during the ignominious slave years of American history, we are somehow exempt.  We are not.  Half my family tree was probably near-to starving in County Cork in the antebellum years.  I am not exempt.  My paternal great-grandfather fought for the Union.  I am not exempt.  As an American, how could I be?!

(I just ordered Coates’s memoir, too) (Whooa — big time spender here. ANOTHER reason to walk away from the screen).

Bye!

 

* Book cover image used with permission of Clemson University

Time for details

faceNow it’s time for the nitty-gritty.

But first — more kickstarter gratitude. I continue to be bowled over by the immediate and overwhelming response of my readers and friends.  Twenty-two of you have given me $850!!!

I almost wish there was a way to receive funds without seeing how much each donor is giving (it wouldn’t work) because EVERY gift meant the world to me — and, in fact, sometimes a ‘small’ gift from someone feels HUGE because I have a sense of financial struggle out there.  So, again — thanks!

Just booked a room in West Ashley.  It’ll be my first airbnb experience.  I’m a little hesitant about staying in a room in someone’s house, particularly because I’m not that chatty a person (ha!)… and because who knows about people, right?!

I picked a convenient, very reasonably priced place with almost 50 positive reviews.  But seriously?  It was the picture of this guy’s dog and his backyard that clinched it!  A sweet old hound and beautifully tended perennial beds — surely these indicators of character?

The folks at Sea Island Indigo are being super accommodating in terms of helping to coordinate rides out to Rebellion Farm, where two days of the event are being held. Given how many OTHER details they are managing right now, I especially appreciate this.  It looks like I will be able to get by with a couple of cab and bus rides and no car rental at all.

Oh, and did I tell you they will be feeding us like queens?!!

Eagerly awaiting the supply list!
laundry-line

Soul Collage card, 2012 - "Dreamer"

Soul Collage card, 2012 – “Dreamer”

Going back to 2012 dye pictures, I found this Soul Collage card.  Funny, that a card titled ‘Dreamer’ features blue hands, huh?

Oh, and I just noticed that the sleeper in the background may be covered by a pieced denim coverlet — that’s one of the great things about Soul Collage — the discovering of things later.

Off to the pages.  But not for long.  It is also a Farm Share pick up day. Possibly a post office day (chocolate to Boulder). Have to pick up a script.  And, there’s a quick, near doctor appt.  Not much time for writing today, in other words.  But thank goodness it is cooler.  Yesterday was a beast of a day.