Category Archives: Hearts

Geography of the heart

The midsection of this work-in-progress uses a contour map print for the central form, leading me to call this and others in the series, “geography of the heart.” The embroidered word “love” below the heart underscores the theme, but in a generic and possibly saccharine way.

I was nevertheless prepared to finish it up when I came across some spoonflower fabric that used a collage (above) that I made a while back as part of the second of two sketchbook projects.

The scrappy fella silhouetted speaks of war orphans, Spanish flu orphans and children of immigrants in New York City.

More specifically, this jaunty man-boy is a stand in for my father who grew up in Woodhaven, New York (an area sometimes claimed by Queens, sometimes Brooklyn). As a teenager he worked as a runner on Wall Street. I can imagine his wiry form, his scrawny athleticism. Eventually he earned enough to attend Pratt Institute and set himself on a path out of the boroughs and into the suburbs.

Suddenly, the idea of the heart’s geography comes alive with particularly.

‘Design is working with what you have and doing the best you can to hold it together.’ Jude Hill

One of the biggest challenges for a collage-style quilter is holding onto the feeling of the piece as you adhere the components. Things that are overlaid in the design phase may lose an element of spontaneity or positioning or something when pieced. On the other hand, if elements are simply stitched down, they may not relate well enough to each other.

Problem one: to lend more meaning to an otherwise generic notion of origins. Solved: by inserting scrappy fella.

Problem two: adding one overlay guy on the left (circled in red). The strip of spoonflower fabric under him will be seamed — just like the right-side panel. But the guy? If I appliqué him will he float too much? And if, on the other hand, I piece him in, will the narrow seam allowances be significant enough subtractions of pattern to disrupt what’s going on?

I’ve gone both ways with this over the years without having formed a real preference. This time, I think I’ll use appliqué.

[Couldn’t find my xerox copies of the sketchbook and so grabbed a few images from Flickr. The first two page spread below is shown two ways. It reads: When will they try to steal your liberty?

The bottom image shows the title page, “It’s Not About Me” — which was one of the themes offered that year.

You can see the entire sketchbook on their site. My user name is katydidart.

Scripted and unscripted love

After reading Fiona’s post describing the making of her banner for Mo’s project (“I Dream of a World Where Love is the Answer), I decided I wanted my own embroidered “love”. So I stitched the word on a strip of walnut-dyed cloth just below an appliquéd heart. It seemed a good spot.

Have you noticed how often typing on a phone that one mistakenly types ‘live’ when one means ‘love’ or ‘love’ when one means ‘live’?

The quirks of a teeny iphone keyboard dishing up a philosophical message is emblematic of our age — for what is life without love?

To live is to love. To love is to live.

If one is loving, of course.

We were out of town this weekend and I got to witness the tender care my sister-in-law gave her 91 year old father. Did he need anything? Could she read his cards to him? Didn’t he look sharp in yellow and how about walking down the hall a little ways? I reflected on how my manner with my sister in no way approaches such soft, tenderness; how I could NEVER get her to walk down the hall a little ways; how impatient and defended I can be.

There are lots of reasons for the differences, reasons both exonerating and out of my control, but the weekend felt like an object lesson anyway.

Because it was also Kentucky Derby weekend, the guys made mint juleps.


The visits are always short these days and all the more precious for being so.

  Blood and money

The other night, I clipped one of Finn’s nails too short and it bled. And bled. Oh, and it bled some more! The special powder had turned to rock, so while K held a paper towel on our poor alarmed pup’s paw, I whipped up a concoction of corn starch and baking powder.

The bleeding stopped, as bleeding usually does. But later, after settling on the pillow that he sleeps in at the end of our bed, Finn worried at it some. I didn’t know it then, but the nail bled again. The next day while making the bed (or what I call ‘making the bed’), I was astonished to find a perfect heart of his blood on our coverlet.In writing class last week (and weirdly, I can’t remember if it was before or after this nail incident), I wrote (and wrote) about blood. Oh how I wrote! If this is the year for making myself uncomfortable with risk-taking, then I ought to share it, oughtn’t I?

img_1256Meanwhile, I lost my progressive lenses two days ago (my $600 progressive lenses!) It’s disorienting and distressing to say the least. I have tons of three dollar reading glasses which I lose all the time with little consequence. But these? Until two days ago, I had considered my successful tracking a function of respect for the price tag.

(That’s $600 with insurance, by the way. If St. Anthony doesn’t come to my aid, I’ll be looking to Warby Parker for cheaper replacements).

Coincidentally, I recently recommitted to a babysitting job that kinda ruins my Thursdays. I didn’t want to say ‘No’ and I didn’t want to say ‘Yes’ either. In the aftermath of saying ‘Yes’, I decided that earmarking my modest earnings as ‘mad money’ might ease the ambivalence.

And then I go and lose my glasses. I lose my glasses something like ten minutes after the ‘mad money’ idea — glasses that cost almost to the dollar what the babysitting will produce in income.

Maybe they’ll turn up. Certainly, I won’t spend $600 to replace them. But correlations like this make me pay attention and ask questions.

Questions like: don’t I deserve to spend $600 on myself? (this from a woman who recently purchased a sweet grass basket in Charleston for $270 and considered it a deal). Or, is the designation ridiculous, given the amount of our resources spent to keep me nicely clothed and in bath salts?

Could it be an old lesson — that old, old one about the dangers of saying ‘Yes’ when I want to say ‘No’ (I thought I was done with this one).

Or maybe it’s about losing focus. Pure and simple (although, what’s simple about that?)

Such first world issues I leave you with today.

UPDaTE: I re-thought the Thursday commitment. Relief. ‘Hear that glasses? You can show up now!’