Category Archives: Sewing Clothes and for the Home

I have arrived. I am home. 

Reading Thich Nhat Hanh yesterday, I came across the lines: “I have arrived, I am home / in the here and now. / I am solid, I am free / In the ultimate I dwell.” Last night K and I walked the labyrinth over at Boston College and the first of the lines stayed with me, adapted a little:  “I am here. I have arrived. I am home.”

I passed on the opportunity to gather with others at the State House and chose this more solitary act instead. It was too cold to watch every heel/toe/breath but I sometimes sent a prayer heavenward: “get him out peacefully”.

All that urgent yearning and: “I have arrived. I am home.”  Such contrast!

December 19 — can we call it the “new longest night” of the year? “I am home. I have arrived.”

Today, my sister and I shopped for our holiday dinner at a little Salem market called Steve’s which she insists on calling Frank’s, a fact that would amuse you if you knew my husband’s family. Anyway, bringing my bags out first so that I could return and get her bags second, I repeated: “I am home. I have arrived. I am here.” Crossing the tarmac with plastic rattling — such an ordinary moment and one that I might normally on some level rush to get through! Instead, those grounding and life affirming words: “I am home.”

On the second trip out, imagine my delight when, just after repeating, “I am here,” I looked up to see a banner half a block away reading: Where You At?

“I am here. I am home. I have arrived.”

We had liverwurst with wasabi and mayo on pumpernickel for lunch and I left in time to miss the 3:00 school and shift-change traffic. It was a “yes” day.

And just now, I finished a Pussyhat for a friend marching on Washington next month. They’re supposed to be knit and I plan to also knit a few when my pink yarn arrives, but in the meantime, this one was constructed out of a cashmere sweater, polar fleece, and wool felt. (Pussyhat Project).

Don’t ask me why or how, but it feels like “moving on”.


Fixing a hole

Looks like Finn wants to learn how to cut strips on the bias!

 I got so many amazing suggestions on how to edge this cashmere sweater over on Facebook!!  In the end I grabbed a piece of soft wintery-looking flannel that was large enough to cut two inch strips on the bias. The grey of the flannel is silvery while the grey of the wool is a warm grey.  Not a great match, in other words.   I decided to prize completion over perfection and, anyway, it’s not so terrible.   Maybe this will inspire me to rework the necklines on two black cashmere sweaters that are languishing upstairs.

Even a used garment bought on a half price sale day is money poorly spent if you never wear it!   Later I will connect up two more squares for the Hearts for Charleston quilt — Mo’s and Nancy’s.   I was able to actually weave the edges together this time, using the new corduroy base under Mo’s square.

Because it rained

20140729-082526-30326986.jpgThank goodness it rained on the last Sunday in July, because instead of taking a walk that morning, I went to the MFA.  It was the last day of a quilt show that it would have killed me to miss.
IMG_4648There were about six rooms of beautiful traditional quilts, with a lot of text about the collectors and the quilters’ use of color.  Another friend of mine took exception with how little was said about the MAKERS and how MUCH was said about the collectors.  I spent almost all of my time looking at the quilts, so it wasn’t something I picked up on.  Before I judge the exhibit on this basis, I would want to know what, if anything, they knew about the crafters.  It’s very possible that in the case of many of the quilts, NOTHING was known.

a whole room of Amish quilts!

a whole room of Amish quilts!

In what little text I did read, I noticed an repetitious emphasis on the use of color (we get it! complimentary colors look good together!!) and a real lack of information about the technical structure of the cloths.  Gorgeous trapunto and stippling went without mention; one quilt supposedly had discharged cloth in it where I could find none.

feathered diamond. Penn. 1890's

feathered diamond. Penn. 1890’s

But! I still thoroughly enjoyed the show and firmly believe that quilts belong on the walls of our art museums — and not just the magnificent Gee’s Bend quilts, either.

All the photos were taken with my phone, so please indulge the lack of focus!

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bold and dynamic use of plaid

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An entire room of variations on the Log Cabin pattern was my favorite part of the show, not only because of the quilts themselves, but because the grouping revealed how profound an impact color/value choices have on design.  All the quilts in the room used the very same pattern and yet were radically different from each other.

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unbelievably small strips!

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20140729-082527-30327633.jpgThis was one of many beautiful nine patches in the exhibit.  The show made me appreciate the uses of white when making patterns and colors sing.

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woolen, tied quilt — nine patch and rail fence

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Heading north

Cold and raw here. Seems like spring has not made up its mind to arrive. Oddly, it is warmer in Montreal. We’ve been checking. Hope to cross the border well before dinner.
IMG_9186D. has an anatomy exam this morning and will sleep ’til the last possible moment.
IMG_9175IMG_9125I delivered the nursery school quilt yesterday.  The kids were making glop, but managed to gather round and have their various, individual responses without getting any on the quilt.  One boy wore the deepest frown possible. I loved him for it. The best part of the endeavor, of course, was spending time with the students.
IMG_9093I really only have a couple of little tricks about the project, but plan to do a (mostly pictorial) tutorial. Took the pictures, anyway. Above, it is not quite done.

The ligularia seems especially brave this year.
IMG_9187We are off to Montreal this morning — moving C. into a new apartment, then bringing him home.  The usual disclaimer: two (vicious to you, darling to us) German Shepherds will be here with Jerry.

A few of the star series pieces will come for the ride — perfect for lap quilting!

catch up

woven-in-tree

woven exercise from Jude Hill class made into ornament

aqua-window

wool, cotton, and silk fabrics for this one

windowsill-pins

cupcakes and tea pots lining the windowsill

grey-tree

I had fun stitching the snowflakes

this one hails from Montreal

this one hails from Montreal

turtle-hung

tabs have since been finished

turtle rolled and ready to ship

turtle rolled and ready to ship

niece's choral group - Handel & Haydn Society from yesterday

niece’s choral group – Handel & Haydn Society from yesterday

I’ve been on a tear making cloth trees.  Next up?  A few aprons.  I am looking forward to a Cookie Swap this Friday, to C. coming home next week, Christmas, a couple more festive gatherings, and, at the end of the month (oh I can’t wait) – my second cortisone shot for right thumb.  Hard to do some of the basics lately.  Fortunately, can still sew.

Tomorrow is a doctor run with my sister.

Apron and Mickey

apron-and-mickey by dee at clothcompany

Here’s the apron I referenced the other day, back when it was just a bunch of woven strips attached to a rectangle of linen. I am wearing it now. It works.

For an apron to work for me, it MUST have strings long enough to tie in front, so that I can tuck a dish towel into it. Pockets unnecessary.

For the many quilters and fiber artists out there who make work as gifts or to sell, how do you know when something’s A KEEPER?

I knew I wanted this for myself, but sometimes I DON’T. One way to turn something I haven’t admitted I want to keep into a keeper is to price it too high. Ha!

P.S.  This apron combines the learning from two Jude Hill classes (Spirit Cloth) — Cloth to Cloth and Contemporary Boro.

Function + Sentiment

What constitutes an heirloom?

I created this foundation scrap quilt more than a decade ago and it is not particularly well-made.  Nevertheless, it is a precious object.  Why?  Because I made it?  No, not just that.  Because my older son uses it?  Not just that either…

I made it when C. was still a boy – during his elementary school years — and the blanket has been on or near his bed ever since.  I’m happy to report that of the three quilts he could have chosen to take to college, he chose this one (I didn’t make the other two).

Making things for household use is an essential aspect of the quilting tradition – we all know this.  And clearly, sometimes blankets were and are made in the thick of a domestic life crowded with other concerns.  And, while functionality ALONE perhaps shouldn’t render a quilt valuable, maybe usefulness combined with sentiment ought to.

Jude Hill‘s Contemporary Boro class was a wonderful meditation on the value of use.  She went so far as to say, ‘if something has a use but we don’t use it, it’s useless.’  The tendency to have a closet packed with clothes we don’t wear is a symptom of this, isn’t it?

Implicit in Jude’s statement is the converse — ‘if something has a use, and we use it, then it has value’.

I thought about this poorly constructed quilt of C’s in a different way after reading Joe’s recent post (on his blog  ‘manhandled threads‘).  He reflected on a tattered quilt that easily could have been designated a ‘cutter’.  He wrote that he “found this cloth to be filled with a gentle whispering. and, listening to these murmurings, can no longer bring myself to malign its nature further. this cloth deserves love and honor for its own sake. not for what i or anyone else can turn it into.”

His thoughts were in mind as I selected a slightly contrasting red thread to repair the binding – so as to let the repair show, celebrating the clumsiness of the quilt in a way, and acknowledging that it is a thing that exists in time and is used.  I am not averse to repurposing things, even very valuable linens (see what Karen Ruane does in this regard for truly respectful, inspired use of heirlooms), and yet, I am glad to think that the ‘gentle whisperings’ of this poorly made blanket might give it a certain status.

Have you had cause to look at (and cringe perhaps) an earlier creation? What sorts of thoughts were engendered?

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About the quilt:  It is twin-sized and foundation pieced on 48 muslin rectangles… some scraps attached by hand; others by machine; some top-stitched, others not.  Almost all of the fabric came from a friend’s studio up in Maine (if you or anyone you know wears bow-ties, check her out — Lisa Eaton at bowties.com).  She makes wonderful neckwear with holiday prints and other themed-prints, so the patterns were scaled for small scraps and fun for a young boy’s bed.  The 48 rectangles were machine pieced and then I used black thread to quilt with a large stipple (ugh!).  The back is flannel, and the binding a non-bias cut binding.

The learning curve issue is perhaps worth noting here, too.  If I were to make another scrap bed quilt, foundation style or otherwise, I would bring a different expectation and a higher level of skill.  I don’t love making blankets and (not counting crib quilts) have made very few — the size is a challenge both for my work space and my attention span.  But I am gathering fabrics for another blanket for C (my other son already has two), and it will be interesting to see how different my approach and results are from this very early project.