Category Archives: In the Company of Cloth

notes from a quilter, collage artist, fabric collector

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.

Aced it

This is how I celebrated acing my stress test this morning. Of course, the nuclear imaging will take a few more days, but I am breathing a sigh of relief (and yes, that is full fat ice cream courtesy of Ben and Jerry!)

Stowed my blue bottles under the deck, folded up the umbrella, and took cushions in to prepare for tomorrow’s wind and rain. Hurricane Jose should be fairly far offshore but I might as well be prepared.

Tomorrow — more peace pictures. Isn’t that leaf lovely? Thank you Liz! Thank you Barry.

Baffled by soup

The soup was only okay in spite of good ingredients and the same steps that have produced outstanding results. That’s how it goes.

There’s basil, parsley, garlic, collard greens, cabbage, carrots, onion, chicken sausage and homemade chicken stock. Added hot sesame oil and a squeeze of lime at the end. Maybe the lime was a mistake? Unlike softer greens which can be thrown in at the end or even off heat, I wilted the collards and green cabbage in advance.


when I chop garlic, I chop enough for days

Sad to say, I broke my favorite knife in the process (the ceramic chef’s knife that was a Christmas gift years ago). I dropped it in a moment of distraction created by the hot handles of my Dutch oven. That made me decide to replace the damned pot (not the one in the picture) — in addition to poorly designed handles, its heat conduction is awful, producing side scorching and smoking olive oil routinely. Enough!

Besides, you should see the beauties I can get with frequent flyer miles!

A chill

It’s cool. And sunny. A good day to read. 

And maybe attach a bamboo skewer to the back of this one and call it done. 

I dyed all of the indigo scraps except for the Shibori with the tree stitched on it. The curving vintage linen also done here, but with black walnut. Deb Lacativa probably dyed that brilliant yellow textile shining in the middle of the lower band. 

Mid-70’s selfie

This self portrait was shot with a Rollieflex. I was in my early twenties and clearly enamored with polka dots even then. Somewhere, there are more revealing pictures. What to do when I find them? Burn them? I certainly don’t want my sons laying eyes on them! 

What a great camera! It had that cool flip top and produced large negatives — two inches square maybe? The one I used belonged to my high school and they did eventually get it back. 

It’s a gorgeous day here. I began the day with two Jude Hill YouTube videos (will nourish me for weeks!) and then continued it with errands in town and then attention to belated birthday gifts and a wedding gift. And now the morning is gone. Later.