Category Archives: House quilts

Wedge of orange

It repeatedly amazes me how much a micro-change can impact overall design — as in ruin it. Quilters know this because it happens all the time.

Challenge: stick to an original design as much as possible (using photo on left as reference). I am allowing the inclusion of the inadvertently captured small wedge of orange (at bottom), but no other departures!

That means cultivating an openness to novel construction techniques while simultaneously casting aside a long-standing flexible approach to accidents and mistakes. ‘Oh look, I put this section back upside-down — is it possible I like it better this way?’

(Mercurial adaptability often employed in service of laziness — but never mind!)

Even as I stitched the dotted red floral rayon onto the lower edge, I knew it’d have to go: it’s not a small wedge of orange at all! I couldn’t let myself fall down on this challenge so early on.

Other sections are coming along.


Cold and cloth 

When the rhodies do this, you know it’s cold. Had to pull my scarf up over my nose in our morning walk! Tuckered Finn out, I think.


In spite of the wintry temps, I padded up and down the cellar stairs yesterday and the day before to work on this medium-sized quilt. Used the machine down there some, then returned to heat and TV upstairs to iron and sew. Also stitched some seams by hand.

When the construction starts to foreclose possibilities, I am often disappointed.  Over the years, I have wondered if there wasn’t some other way to connect up the pieces that would more reliably capture earlier design ideas (like collage the scraps to canvas with gesso?)


I take a lot of pictures these days. But maybe I didn’t refer to them enough this time. What’s missing is an energetic flow.

While sewing this morning, I catch up on Maddow. The work satisfies me with pattern, simplicity of task, color, and measurable progress.


But it is not satisfying or productive enough by half to counteract the unfolding American shitstorm. There seems to be a theme: destruction.

I don’t get it.

Later, I’ll make beef with barley soup. Good for a cold evening, almost medicinal in its meaty and grainy deliciousness.  And I’ll turn off the news.

How the roots spread out

Reading Jude’s blog earlier I was struck by how themes and images circulate, sometimes in nonlinear ways. Her post explores “home” and features a cloth house sprouting branches out its roof. (Spirit Cloth, sidebar)

This small vertical cloth is (6″ x 13″?) combines hand piecing and appliqué. I stitched the pink roots awhile ago but keep adding chips of cloth on top, hoping to find a house in the design. 

Last night, inspired by both Jude and Hazel (handstories on side bar), I sketched somewhat mindlessly. Drawing revealed the house. 

Part of me wants to widen the quilt to create room for the structure to expand. But no. This will be an exercise in containment. 


Also: an exploration of adaptability in tight circumstances or the mystery inherent in observing another’s home when most of it is out of view. I won’t strain to connect this small quilt to the devastating roll out of the new administration, but suffice it to say that notions of safe places are very much on our collective minds. 

Unmoored


Laying down a strip at the base of Moon House quilt just now, I set the structure momentarily aside. And it struck me how apt that is: known angles canting off, the roof tumbling away in willful contrary movement, the house either about to crash back to earth leaving a splintered, uninhabitable pile of refuse or to improbably float off into the ether.


I think I’ll stitch it there. As I do, it will be a chance to sit with a conundrum. For what is anchoring down with thread that which is in free fall but a conundrum? Finn returning the ball poses a glad image of being airborne. I wish you could experience his grace, his enthusiasm, his boundless joy, how effortlessly he dwells in the moment. The house tipping over vs. the dog flying back to me for another throw.

Abandoned ‘Gingko House’

IMG_8953Here I was making a tiny little quilt, enjoying the soft feel of the felted sweater base, taking pleasure in tucking a little sliver of black silk behind the black/gold gingko print in the near-center, finding intrigue in the fiery sheer print defining the sky above the roof… (because of course the central shape took on the characteristics of a house).

IMG_8952At some point, the prospect of completing the piece made me feel bored or restless or both. 

Maybe it was that the black house had nothing to say to me.  A mute house of shadows? Or could it have been chock full of old hauntings that I just didn’t want to hear again? 

On the way up to Montreal last week, I left it in a bathroom in St. Albans, Vermont.  It was weirdly satisfying.

It may have been thrown out by the cleaning crew or it could have been grabbed by someone who saw it as an unexpected little find. Or maybe someone took it in a swipe of puzzled acquisition and THEN threw it out. I’ll never know. 

And it doesn’t matter. For me, the treasure was in letting it go. And you know what? I can now start to listen to what that dark house had to say. 

 

Front and back times two

Piecing on the ironing board is an old way of working. As is piecing on the machine.             Flipping to the back and tacking down seams or opening them and stitching down the quarter inch flap is new.

I am interested to see where this intersection of old (machine-work) and new (hand-stitching) will take me. For years, I have been wondering what a more lively synthesis of the two might look like.

Not sure batting will be involved, as I like the light shining through.

calming the nervous system

livingroom-deeDog obedience classes, they say for good reason, are really ‘human companion classes’. Most of what we learn is how WE should behave so that the dog understands us and feels safe. Often the instruction applies across the board. My recent favorite: “Be Follow-Worthy”.

How is one ‘follow-worthy’?  “Keep your chest open. Face forward. Pay attention.”

That sounds like life advice, pure and simple. But not so simple, right? All those Buddhist and New Age books on my shelf basically saying that: pay attention.
christmascactus-cafecurtainAlso this: guard dogs must not be allowed to patrol inside the house. When a huge barking episode happens, it can take the dog’s nervous system up to 24 hours to recover. Unfortunately for now, that means keeping the curtains closed. Today I don’t mind so much because (hold your hats!): it’s snowing!! But when the light is rich and warm, it IS a sacrifice.

Another one. More food for thought.

cabin-quilt-pattern-deemallonOn a complete other note, as you know, I am making a log cabin quilt for C, and piecing up small ‘refuse’ scraps as I go —  which are already adding up to another quilt. Meanwhile, in my head (and now on paper and computer), I design yet a third. It was good to enjoy Photoshop Elements 11 for a change!!

colored-one

Using the bucket feature, I was able to fill in the patchwork areas to define cabins, trees, and moons. Then for variations, I slid the color bar around and also, for a couple, used filters (sometimes more than one). I liked watching the shapes become more and more abstract.

cutoutfilterfrescofilter notepaper purples seafoamochreLook how the upper right moon turned into a star!

Doodling calms the nervous system, too.