The dilemma — to finish or to move on?

8.5 x 11", collage

8.5 x 11", collage

(Notes and collage from last week):

Well, after many days working outside at a garden site and shuffling school forms around, calling guidance counselors, dropping off forgotten track items to the high school, ETC.!! , I have been downstairs, which is to say, in my studio.

I just made three things — none of which I set out to do, all of which I like very much, and all of which make the pile of things UNDONE even bigger.

So, what to do?  Force myself to finish before I play?  Just stop binding my pieces?

That last option is not a bad alternative at all.  Arlee, whom I discovered both in various flickr pools and in this month’s Cloth Paper Scissors, showcased a beautiful quilt with texture galore and unfinished, tattered edges.

The collage above was one of the pieces I made when I perhaps should have been finishing other things.  The text is printed on linen and on fake vellum — both fed through an inkjet.  They are scraps from my quilt, “Valentine to Iraq” (below), made some time ago.  I made the off-white paper with newspaper inclusions while teaching a UU religious ed class a couple of years ago.

Quilt, about 3' x 20"

Quilt, about 3.5' x 20"

This quilt was coming together as the American death toll in Iraq reached 3,000.  I originally planned to stitch 3,000 “x’s” on the quilt, representing the final kisses of mothers to their never-to-return soldier children, but stopped at a little over 1,000.  It gave me a sober appreciation for how large a number 3,000 is.  And now, of course, the toll is much higher.  And we’re not counting Iraqi deaths.

This is a chop-and-rearrange piece — some areas, therefore, have as many as six layers of fabric.  I’m not sure this is technically a quilt, because there isn’t batting behind every single square of this piece, which is mounted on felt.


The X-stitch-kisses at times resemble sutures.


Crucifixes found their way into the piece, representing the enormous sacrifice both the soldier and his mother make (and his father and other family members/or her — forgive me, as a mother of two boys, this piece references our genders).


Here, half a heart is depicted, meaning what it is — a broken heart.


The original statements, which I fractured and reassembled, were:  “All mothers of sons want them to live,” and “I now have sons and I want them to live,” and “I want all wars to end.”


Another heart fragment, covered in kisses/sutures.


I wanted some of the embellishments to take on the look and feel of maps, or again, the edges of wounds.


Here you can see how the varying thicknesses relate to each other.

6 thoughts on “The dilemma — to finish or to move on?

  1. caron

    We must have been in similar spaces a couple of years ago. Your piece is beautiful and rich with symbolism. The x’s as final kisses……

    It was in April of 07 that I started my And Still Counting project. One six inch quilt for each of the 3100 (at that time) American military casusalties, and on each – 212 french knots representing the Iraqi casualties.

    With help from friends, and family, and complete strangers, I have a little more than 2000 completed blocks. Just this afternoon I hung 550 of them in Fargo for a quilt show. It is powerful to see the numbers represented in a physical form. I can soo understand your decision to stop at 1000.

    You can see photos on my blog at


  2. deemallon

    Caron, I just visited your blog and I have to say, What an impressive project you have undertaken!! When I have more time, I’ll look at it more carefully and would love to see how it evolves… it must be gratifying to hang the squares where people can see them. I would love to contribute a square — does each square have 212 french knots? (if so, maybe knot, I mean, not).

  3. caron

    Thanks for checking it out! It was a nice display in Fargo.

    It is a big undertaking – I’m only getting it accomplished because wonderful people like yourself help me.

    If you use three strands of floss you only have to wrap the needle once! Or, you can use small beads, or, if you can program your machine to make an asterisk stitch with a space in between the next one, you can whip them off the machine.

    When I really lay on the guilt I say things like – it’s a small sacrifice when you compare it to say the life of a soldier, or someone living in the constant fear of warfare.

    That’s all for the arm twisting.

  4. arlee

    my gawds what a power piece that quilt is! Amazing detail and attention to detail–i’m entranced by all that is in there, symbolism and stitch wise.
    and yes it IS a quilt–as long as it’s layers of cloth stitched together, who needs batting? i prefer worn or new cotton flannelette myself–a soft lovely hand but firm enough to give some body.

    Thanks for the link too, Blossom :}

  5. Dee

    Thank you, arlee! And, if you say it’s a quilt, that’s good enough for me!

    I very much appreciate your presence in these thread/fiber circles — esp. on flickr.


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