Category Archives: Continuing

Getting show ready

First and importantly to all my readers, known and unknown: you are the best! I mean it. This community has sustained me for years and now, as the U.S. administration spirals out of control into what I’m calling a “Fox shitstorm”, you matter more than ever. Period. Thank you.

I’ve been pulling work out of the basement to air before the show here at my house. It’s “go time” with only two weekends left to prepare.

I have never been so pleased to be in possession of crappy powers of memory. Opening my plastic bags of inventory has been like Christmas! How much I forgot about! And, given how much my style and standards have changed over time, I’m pleased and surprised by how much of it I still really like.

There are at least six quilts from the Global Warming series (example above). More on that another time.

Many pretty baby blankets, this one machine pieced and hand quilted. This week, in light of time pressures, I bought a big spool of bias tape for edging. Usually I cut my own. (#amazonslut).

I’m heartened to see a number of pieces that just need edging. K and I plan also to experiment with wooden frames, where dimensions allow (there’s no time to build frames). To my mind, there’s something violative to the qualities of quilted cloth when you put it under glass or stretch it like a canvas, but I want to be flexible. I want to see how people respond. There remains a certain –ahem — lack of imagination among some buyers about what properly belongs on walls. Frames might overcome that to some degree.

Notes to self:

  • Stowing finished quilts with lavender sachets is a really good idea
  • Stowing quilts leaving price tags pinned on risks rust
  • Wouldn’t it be cool to try a quilt version of the #theunreadshelfproject?
  • Give yourself a little more credit
  • Resume practice of inserting inventory lists in stow-bags

We barely got touched by the last nor’easter but K travels to China again soon, which imposes its own set of (somewhat stressful) conditions.

And can I just say, for those of you following a certain drama in Colorado, my brother has acted the fairy godfather this week. Bless him!

Pins and needles

On pins and needles waiting for the fourth nor’easter (not really — more like ever so grateful Husband is not in Russia or Singapore).


Pins for damp stretching. If only I could be spritzed with water and pinned into shape!

Another kind of pin on my first wearable sigil. This symbol is for protection.

All kinds of clean up requires clear ground. Eventually the insurance adjuster and spring will arrive!

I’m home and warm and writing today.

Label the room. Why not?

Labeling a room is one way to start the week. And lists are a way of life. It’s sunny. Birds are singing. And tomorrow, it will snow. They’re predicting 10″ to 12″ — but lighter this time. Still, the forecast is enough to kibosh a Salem visit for tomorrow. More time to write!

Even though my cold came roaring back this weekend, I managed to: fill four bins with twigs out back, make a necklace, cook six meals (counting Friday), clean up several rooms and vacuum the basement studio (while in pursuit of my Pfaff sewing machine cord and pedal — found!), buy and wrap a bday gift, make a tricky ask for photo attribution on FB, watch Betsy deBoob on 60 Minutes, and continue along with the creepy and satisfying Netflix series, “The Frankenstein Chronicles”.

How was your weekend? Are you watching anything good?

I’ll leave you with three selections from Krista Tippet’s interview with social scientist and YouTube sensation, Brené Brown.

“It’s really a struggle to straddle the tension of YES/AND.”

“Your level of true belonging can never be greater than your willingness to stand alone.”

Brown also cited a useful definition of civility as promulgated by the Houston organization, Institute for Civility in Government: “Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”

(Should I take back the “deBoob” insult? Maybe. But not now).

Interview here: “Strong back, soft front, wild heart.”

Blue follows grey

The bitter cold continues. Today, however, is brightened by a clear sky and glorious sun and all that light reflecting off blankets of white snow.Getting back to writing after a brief hiatus is like turning a cruise liner — generally taking longer than one might expect. Here it is Friday and I am finally back at it. You know you’re working when entire paragraphs come to you while out with the dog.

Meanwhile, a very good friend of mine’s husband died two nights ago. I can barely wrap my mind around how drastically her life has just changed. The loss. I’ll see her later today.

On a more prosaic note, I’m happy to report that there were no storm-related calamities here and that I finished another book (that’s 4 in 4 days — I’ll be slowing down now).

Whatever’s going on for you, it never hurts to follow this advice:

Shelter

Something in Jude’s blog got me thinking about how routines can be shelters, too. I rely on writing practice and calendar markings to create places of both rest and dynamism.

Daily pages were almost entirely abandoned in the press of the holidays. I don’t know why. But — never mind! I did my three pages today.

Over on Instagram, I’m taking part (somewhat informally) in a yearlong effort called: #theunreadshelfproject2018. I want to read more generally and specifically, I’d like to finish some of the many books I’ve started but then set down for one reason or another.

As part of that effort, I’ll be tracking my reading here — not book reviews per se (plenty of others writing those — many of whom are paid to do so) — more like idiosyncratic (random?) responses.

The bitter cold continues and we’re supposed to get a foot of snow on Thursday. We are back to a pack of three.

Such good news!

I received intensely good news on Thursday, news that’s galvanizing my revised deadline.

  • (New deadline: January 6).

Are you ready? A friend pitched my book to a friend of hers who happens to be a literary agent, someone legit. The agent is “very interested,” loves the topic. Will read the manuscript when I’m ready — (“she’ll know when she’s ready”). She said, “It’ll all come down to the writing.” Well, yes — I’m ON IT!

The Universe is on notice. No more weeks lost to health issues — please! — mine or anybody else’s! Holidays — gotta be simple this year — for real! No travel til next year.

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Just prior to this incredible news, I’d set up an altar to my ancestors for the first time ever. Interesting, eh? What began as an exercise in learning about African American tradition already lifts my spirits and powerfully furthers my goal.

I’ve always known my parents would root for me and think me up to the task, but this is different. It’s faith-based and operates within non-linear constructs of time.

 

  • That’s me in the B&W. It must be in Rome, Georgia, because I look to be about two?
  • In the second photo (taken at Jones Beach, perhaps?), my mother wears plaid and my father is to the left. I wonder who that guy is to the right? Leaning in like that? This would’ve been some summer in between semesters at Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY — where they met).

Too big a wobble

Do you see the big wobble on the right? It got me thinking
about the improv method of quilting.

If you are not a pattern follower, chances are you’re in possession of a certain amount of ruthless decisiveness. Ruthlessness is not, as I may have previously thought, a virtue — something akin to bravery.  It’s more of a necessity.  With the improv method, you simply have to be willing to cut, re-order and switch out sections, live with uneven edges, and throw shit out.


It can be frustrating — abiding by the tweaking redo’s that don’t work, the major botches that can’t be saved. There is frequently the feeling of running in place, or worse, traveling backwards. Photo-documentation, while a boon for recording the process & sharing online, has the unfortunate capacity to reveal that previous iterations of your quilt were better (sometimes, way better) than what your repeated tinkering’s produced.

If you work this way, there’s no point in getting too hung up on these frustrations because the alternative is too awful to bear (i.e. following a pattern (even your own), upholding precision as a goal, suppressing ideas along the way). Plus, for some, it’s simply impossible to do it any other way*.

Have you worked on a quilt for two months and suddenly need to see how it takes to the indigo vat? Hold your breath and dunk! Fed up with the progress on a large pieced Global Warming wall quilt, perhaps also two months in the making? Cut the fucker up! Can’t sort the edge of a composition? Walk away and work on something else for a while.

Cutting off worked sections of cloth to true up an edge is routine and I generally do it without much more than a twinge of regret. This week, however, the idea of removing an inch of edging along half the quilt’s length feels like sacrifice. Sacrifice.I’m left wondering what to do.

Have I changed? Has my cloth-making changed?

I can pinpoint two material reasons for my hesitation. One, I am piecing smaller bits of pattern together these days. A corrective slice now potentially subtracts an entire little world of color and geometry! Ouch!

Two, I now apply hand-stitching to pieced sections as I go, meaning that a long cut-away would cut through rows of stitching, with unknown result. Anchor later? With what effectiveness?  It’s a quandary.

I’ve slid two pieced sections under the edge to see if I could avoid the cut. One section came off the top of the quilt and the other came off the bottom, so the cloth is consonant with the rest (there’ve been times when I’ve had to use poorly matching fabrics to fudge something). But, even well-matched, it looks like shit.

 Is there any way to tinker with a long stretch of raw edge applique on a quilt that is otherwise pieced so that it doesn’t look like a botch job? Any ideas? The moon is the only other appliqué. 

*This is actually, for me anyway, an oversimplification. Even as I’m finishing this piece, I’m drawing on a photo that may become a pattern.