Category Archives: small quilts

Misbehaving silk and designing cloth 

For weeks, the top half of this little piece has been pinned to the design board. I eyed it now and then. Was it done? If not, do I have more fabric in that spooky palette? Yesterday, while listening to Weasel Sessions, I started attaching the lower section.

Two challenges arose: 1) that goddamned silk on the lower right. It will not behave! The buckling, sliding resistance to my organizing stitch may be more than I can stand this week. Then, 2) there’s that disruptive brown strip in the mid-section. It’s so distracting, it cannot stand — so integrate or undo?

Sometimes these challenges ask to be met. And maybe I did myself and the little quilt a disservice working on it with the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on. That’s its own kind of problem.

But really, I think the spooky, little horizontal beginning might be trying to tell me something, like ‘leave me alone’. Maybe it is already a piece unto itself?

Back to the board for consideration! As Jude recently said, “cloth needs to rest, too”. Actually, maybe this isn’t the cloth resting so much as the design-process resting.

In the meantime, behold my first spoonflower experiments.

When ordering both swaths, I significantly tweaked the repeat into a smaller scale, but that somehow didn’t get transmitted. So disappointing, but definitely worth another go.

The heat has broken. Windows are flung open and the fan whirs fresh air into the house. Thank god! 

My sister is doing much, much better but her heart is beating too fast. I just talked to her and she reported pain from last night. The 15 people rushing in. All the machines she’s plugged into. They may do an ablation today. Must google and pray. 

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.


The edges, the sustenance

The windowsill lined with beloved rocks. I take comfort in their solidity as I listen to recorded news. At the moment, more references to the oft-repeated lie about voting fraud and a call for an investigation by DJT. This trips (yet another) sickening thought: will we actually fund the study of delusions — with my tax dollars, your tax dollars? We are so far past the NPR story that I woke to earlier about their journalistic choice (fortunately not shared universally) to avoid the word “lie” (I could write about that for days). “This is where we are,” is a thing I say to myself now — like how to name falsehoods uttered by our president. The speed of destruction in the last four days ALONE makes my head spin. Can it be the same day? Did we pass through some portal and no one thought to tell me?

Carnage, indeed.

It’s darkening out the windows and past time to rouse myself to make dinner, but let me first share some gifts and stories. Not because I am succumbing to the thrumming call to “get on with it” or “be positive”. Oh no, you know me better than that! Just to keep track and who knows, perhaps turn you onto one of them. Kevin Young is a poet whom I heard read this past summer at Sam Durant’s “Meetinghouse” at The Old Manse in Concord.

Young’s poems in this volume are structured on musical forms. Interesting. Uplifting. And it was a gift within a gift because I mentioned it in passing, but K took note and ordered it!

Also for Christmas, I gave myself one of Grace’s quilts (at last!). It may not stay on this wall, but for now I love the hand reaching for the face of time. There’s something at once mysterious and aspirational about it. Plus, we all know the pleasure of having handiwork on our walls, especially when made by someone whose life means something to you. I love it!


This movie about the Nat Turner uprising played in Boston for about ten minutes. I felt funny buying a DVD (and by ‘funny’, I mean ‘old’), but the more I thought about it, the more sane the purchase seemed. For one thing, it would have cost more to park in Cambridge and buy two tickets. For another, by not streaming the film my dollars support the director, Nate Parker, who also starred in the movie and received some harsh criticism (I could write about that for days, too). It was important to see for my research and also I very much wanted to be able to measure the criticisms for myself (I ended up thinking that the personal criticisms were raised at a shitty and suspect time having more to do with challenging a strong black man (director and slave rebel, both) than with the decades old charges. The plot/character criticisms were just off.)

This documentary by Ava DuVernay is heartbreaking and for that reason I haven’t finished watching it yet. When a friend and I recently debated what educational intervention we believed would most correct our miserable course, she said, “studying the Constitution.” I said, “studying slavery.” Later, I realized that we were in agreement, for you cannot study the Constitution without studying slavery. And it’s not just the 13th Amendment. It’s the 14th and the 15th and the Preamble and the debates and case law associated with them.

What K and I did watch in its entirety was DuVernay’s acclaimed film “Selma”. We watched it on MLK Day. It was very fine to see the outstanding moral courage of John Lewis come to life at the very moment that DJT was tweeting his outrageous criticisms.

Carnage, indeed.

Now it’s REALLY time to throw some dinner together.

But first, anyone else watching “This is Us”? It’s on Tuesdays nights on NBC, I think. I’m kinda loving it. Definitely hooked.

Also? Don’t bother with “Victoria” if you enjoyed “The Crown”. I don’t know how I would have tolerated the weak script writing and acting in the former had I not just watched the latter (a very good mini-series about Queen Elizabeth), but I do know that to watch “Victoria” after “The Crown” is a thing I cannot do.

What a difference a year makes


With the start of school, the parade of kids with backpacks and parents with umbrellas began today (yes, we are getting some rain — not much, but a little).  Last year, Finn rocketed between windows offering up his noisy volley of barks. It was nerve wracking. I had to keep the curtains closed.

Today? One little growl. That was it!

And here are a few progress shots of a cloth totem I am calling “Woven Girl”.


Even with red and green in the crown it doesn’t show up very well. Deanna suggested silver beads. I may give that a go.

I was inspired by Jude’s critters. Needing a use for the many rectangles of woven strips I’ve made. And, I wanted to show myself how much easier it is to craft a figure in two, as opposed to three, dimensions.

But she feels a little anonymous to me. Without a season. Or a purpose. I could think of her as a sampler and be done with it. But maybe she just needs a better name?

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.

Cheerful 

Cheerful is not a natural state for me.  I actually wonder if it is for anyone. But maybe because it’s almost Easter… Maybe because it got above 60 degrees for the first time in forever… Maybe because I can almost see the ground in the backyard again and I bought pansies today — I am going to add sun rays to the orb on this quilt. Exactly as if I were in second grade and coloring!