Category Archives: working with WHITE

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!

Boundaries and interruptions and a red thread

C peeking out

C peeking out

Parenting means being interrupted. And it means improvising.

D itching under cast just like the doctors said not to

D itching under cast just like the doctors said not to

Long gone are the days when I craved a solitary bowel movement, or wistfully anticipated the reclined dentist’s chair for the quiet it represented (those were intense times — with two extremely active boys, neither of them particularly inclined toward napping!!).  With a seventeen and a nineteen year old in the house now, the frequency and urgency behind the interruptions have changed, but the fact of them has not. They continue — as they should.

Add to the parenting — a disabled sister for whom I am the sole support (my brother sends money from the West Coast, and that helps, but NOT with the day to day) and a husband who travels often to Asia, and you begin to get the picture here. Our dog is a piece of work, too – requiring special accommodation for getting up and down stairs, for the correct positioning of his food bowl, and a three-person-applied muzzle for basic grooming. Lately, he’s been ill (I think he’s better, but not quite sure).

Relax! I have already ranted in my Morning Pages. This was done while drinking coffee in Newtonville and waiting for the camera shop to open, so that I could purchase photo paper for D. and then deliver it to the high school (speaking of interruptions)…

(I would love to know what the business types in the coffee shop thought of this deranged-looking woman scrawling across a notebook page in ink nearly as fast as one could speak the words…)

And anyway, if I was going to rant it would be about our fucking computer ‘upgrades’ which have produced a series of repeating and ever-unfolding glitches, such that it is nearly a form of torture to blog (one of the reasons for the gaping pauses of late).

No, I would rather look at boundaries.

White House with Red Boundary

White House with Red Boundary

Last night, I surrounded the White House with an edge.  It really changes the composition, perhaps in too obvious a manner, but I’m willing to entertain it for awhile. Study it some. The thread is red, it is true, but it doesn’t scream red. Maybe that’s because it was hand-dyed in India and billed as “Meditation Thread”.

Maybe it is because there is relief associated with having boundaries. From knowing where the house ends and the sky and yard begin. Recently I have learned the difference between asserting ‘a need’ and shouting a demand.  I discovered that need does not have to be associated with basic survival.

Remedial insight, perhaps. But I share it here because I think it governs my response to this red.

The sky poofs and tuckers in places and will require some attention. I find a lot of quilting to be (in my case, anyway) the resolution of problems created earlier in the process. Not unlike parenting, yes?

buckling-sky

buckling sky

As for the bump in the bottom edge and the frayed intersection of the thread-ends, I am going to let those be for awhile, too.  I like the idea of an imperfect boundary, or one that flexes to its surroundings. I like the idea, too, of having an obvious place where the boundary’s ‘gate’ resides, so that it does not come across or function as a solid and permanent fixture. Maybe having had a swinging door for so long makes the idea of a fixed boundary too difficult.

when the edges meet (and a bump)

when the edges meet (and a bump)

In any case, it is food for thought.  And, here are some red lines from the garden this morning. Once you start seeing a red line, or a window (right, Jude?), or a bird in your work, you start to see it everywhere.

red lines as stalks/support

red lines as stalks/support

Around the other side of the house, rhubarb is ripening! Almost time for my annual Strawberry Rhubarb pie. An exception to 2013’s gluten-abstinence will have to be made!

Designing vulnerability

seam-joist

a white ‘seam’ couched as an inner wall

As I look at this composition, I begin to think about vulnerability… what is transparency, after all, if not the quality of letting oneself be known? (IRS, take note!)  I have been looking at other works-in-progress back lit in this manner for many months, so it’s not clear why THIS one speaks of transparency and the others did not. Perhaps it is due to vigorous conversations (with Grace and others) about boundaries, about where to draw the line (a red line, perhaps?) to maintain the necessary sanctuary to create, care giving and its demands, and the desire to be seen.

rectangle with 2 folds = house

rectangle with 2 folds = house

scraps from former quilt - many patches are fabric that I bleached in order to whiten

scraps from former quilt – many patches are fabric that I bleached in order to whiten

It began with ‘Ghost House’ leftover scraps, and was a conscious attempt to marry two recently made houses – both of which left me dissatisfied (The Red House quilt and The White House quilt) [links to follow – I don’t have much time this morning]. I laid the scraps on white, continuing the exploration of WHITE for my online class with Jude Hill (Spirit Cloth, side bar).

lightbacked-tower

part of the roof is white, with stitch and couching, only, to define

There is white on the base, too, which I might build up all around – picking up on Jude’s idea of moving from white as a ‘background’ to white as a field of interest, with texture, and something to say besides, ‘look at what is on me’. I actually seamed some white fabrics together, to use as building struts in the frame… only one made it into the house – that long vertical to the right of the blue window (and yes, I know the tower has the appearance of a goofy face, a fact I’m going to correct with another window or two).

blue-window

hanky scrap from Sandy Meegan pinned, center

The red thread is ‘Meditation Thread’ hand-dyed in India. I like the idea of red, with its vigor and visibility standing in as a symbol of a well-maintained boundary (Imagine that! A sanctuary bounded with quiet intent and silent, purposeful endeavor!! Not angry protestations and complaint). I wonder what each compartment holds.

implied-nine-patch-again

what if the Nine Patch will only be implied and transient?

I see the nine patch and wonder if I have the energy and wherewithall to enlarge this quilt in order to make the nine patch more than an ephemeral creation of morning sun and muntin shadow. I don’t need to decide to continue.

Many more works on the table, pinned to the wall, up against the western glass doors, and laid out on the dining room table for design-viewing.

white-house-with-red

same thread around White House, unsuccessful, but a spur to new Tower

Have a great couple of days!

Simple pleasure / simple need

coffee steaming by dee at clothcompany

Today I offer a quote by Wendell Berry from his 1987 book, “Home Economics” —

“Once we grant the possibility of a proper human scale, we see that we have made a radical change of assumptions and values. We realize that we are less interested in technological ‘breakthroughs’ than in technological elegance. Of a new tool or method we will no longer ask: Is it fast? Is it powerful? … We will ask instead: Can we (and our children) afford it? Is it fitting to our real needs? Is it becoming to us?”

Even though in this post-internet age, speed and innovation seem to matter to us more than ever, these strike me as worthwhile questions.

coffee pot cloth backlit

And yes, I am still working with white, though this morning I pressed a mound of brilliant green and indigo blue squares. I nearly swooned after so much tan, beige, linen, oyster and ecru.

progress in white

Slowly getting the hang of our updates. There definitely are improvements in the offing.  For now, I am just moments shy of a good, long walk in the spring air, then it will be time to walk to the periodontist for the insertion of an implant (yes, sympathy is welcome!)

In other words, this post will be quick. A report in pictures. WH = “White House”, the very original name for this piece.

WH - scraps laid out

WH – scraps laid out

WH-full-orig

WH – seamed, with some embroidery

WH-right-corner-orig

WH – pre-whitening close up

WH-rt-stitched

WH – same area, both whitened and layered (the silk had color and pattern)

WH-upLT-pinned

WH – sheers pinned over whitening white running stitch (grey splotchy roof does not stay)

WH-upRT-pinned

WH – sheers pinned on the other side of the roof

WH-top-stitched

WH – more whitening with the addition of white running stitches (grey roof is gone)

sheering-sky-4

WH – celebrating the shredding orange silk by tacking it down; one sheer had embroidered loops on it, seen here

v-fading

WH – getting there

WH - hanging

WH – hanging

chipped white; frayed ecru

hemI had to laugh at myself yesterday.  For a few days, I have been traveling up and down our staircase with a yogurt-container filled with Oyster Bisque paint, happily covering over chipped paint, smears, and — horror of horrors – even dirt that could have been removed with a little elbow grease.

Then it hit me.  I’m whitening the stairs.

After months, and more months, of wanting to do this, planning to do this, hoping to do this, and NOT doing this, the exploration of white* just let it happen.  One stair at a time.

As for the shrunken and distressed muslin curtains, which I made when we first moved in here, I no longer feel compelled to replace them (with curtains made with PRE-WASHED fabric). I am loving that gap. Look how it allows the light to glow through! I am loving the darkened rim of the hem. And I am especially loving the holes where daily life and sun have worn the fabric through.

I am not even trying to understand why I love the worn curtains and am not loving the chipped off paint on treads and balusters. I don’t have to be consistent in these matters, do I?

*in the ‘What-If’ online class over at Spirit Cloth

P.S. This is my 500th post.  Am I supposed to celebrate?!  500th post, and second EVER, from my laptop.