Category Archives: House quilts

Editing cloth and prose

The base. Pieced. Bottom left sea green patch bugs me and presents itself as a problem to be solved.

What if I go back to my hybrid method of quilting? I used to combine piecing and appliqué in a somewhat slapdash way that embarrasses me a little now. It sent me into a purist phase — everything must be pieced! What if I now consider some of those “nice” purely pieced quilts as unfinished — or at least, as potential canvases?

How much fun to defy the lines of the seams and extend patterning in a spirit of play?

And, as always, how about adding more houses? The pinned one on the left, believe it or not, is a “discovered” house, fussy cut from a rayon blouse. The green house to the right was made by simply topping a vertical rectangle with a roof.

There are so many more pictures of Italy to share but they already feel like old news. But I will be sharing more, if you don’t mind… along with a half dozen mini book reviews. They’re piling up! Turning into homework (ugh!)

One Assisi insight (not profound at all but hear me out): when you’re not walking the dog, cleaning the house, watching two MSNBC news programs a day, cooking dinner most nights, and tending a demanding mentally and physically ill sibling, a charge whose hours of attention are preceded by dread and followed by a period of demoralized recovery — there are a lot of hours in the day! In Italy, I had soooo much time! Time to wander the streets. Time to drink Caffè machiatto at the bar with the old men. Time to light candles for my sister all over the city. Time to read and write and quilt.

(My street — San Rufino Ave).

I am watching how I vacuum and scrub and now garden (yes!) to avoid the page.

It’s a process. And I miss my sister more here than I did there, particularly (and ironically because it was a place of ongoing tension), whenever the phone rings. It rings and I think: it will never again be her.

But you’ll be happy to know that of the 200+ chapters in my manuscript (Blood and Indigo), all but a handful have received a hard edit. One of the best things I did in Italy at the advice of fellow-writing-resident– the supremely lovely, warm, insightful and generous Argentinian writer, Elena Bossi — was to chop a lot of dull descriptions of interior crap and replace them with dialogue. What a good piece of advice that was!

Maybe that was one of the reasons I was so taken with the statute of David at the Cathedral of San Rufino — the dynamism of his raised arm, about to strike! I deleted two entire chapters while I was at it. Highlight, click! Highlight, click!

And what a pleasure to come home to a world exploding with the extravagance of spring.

Sunday Assisi Walk Part I

How endless the visual and historical delight is here! This morning I went back to visit San Rufino, a cathedral I’ve now been to seven or eight times. Since I went on the Roman Antiquities tour yesterday — an absolute subterranean wonder, medieval Assisi having been built on top of a first century Roman town– I paid more attention to what is under the Cathedral… the layers of civilization and time in plain view.

Above: the front rose window from the outside on Good Friday and from inside this morning, reflected in the glass flooring that’s been used in order to reveal Roman wall work underneath.

On one side of the cathedral, next to statues of Jesus, Mary, David, Isaiah and others, is a preserved arch opening into an ancient Roman space.

Here, a hokey inclusion of my own shadow to hint at the insubstantial brevity of this life.

Speaking of life passing, one of the blessings of being here has been distraction from the last months of my sister’s struggle. I’ve lit candles for her all over the city and shared a little about her with a new friend, but otherwise not much — not much memory or hand-wringing. This morning, I threw coins into a pool at Santa Chiara (my sister’s middle name being Claire, recall), one each for K, the boys, me, and her.

Not three minutes later, there was a beautiful and perfect feather in my path. Some say finding a feather means an Angel is near. I thought cynically, it also means pigeons are near. But then, not two feet away, I found a sticker emblazoned with a pentagram, a symbol important in magic generally and to my sister personally. And so, there she was. Hello, Noreen!

I took out the little owl that I’ve been carrying around in my pocket (one of hers) and photographed it near a new picture of Francis in her honor from my favorite perch of this visit — my chair by the windowsill. Need I say — I am a sucker for religious iconography?

I finished the first Assisi-inspired quilt (below) and am rushing to finishing another to give my host before I leave.

Didn’t get to share pix of the sweet cafe where I had breakfast or the many incredible street views returning home, but look how long this is already. I’m going to load some wall and door pix on Flickr and otherwise will be posting about this trip for weeks to come!

Home Tuesday. Apologies for not commenting on blogs right now. Can’t wait to catch up with Jude’s class and Happy Birthday, Nancy!!!

Fog and woods

We had a wonderfully moody day of fog a couple of days ago. This morning is crisp and clear again and even, a little hot. After a terrible night’s sleep, I set out to walk at around noon and found my way to the Bosco di San Francesco (the woods of St Francis). It was all down and then up hill, but walking on dirt not stone came as a relief as did birdsong. The clip (if it loaded) is from a drumming performance in the square. Such a thrill to stand there and have the sound enter the chest. A kind of masculine synchronized fury. Less thrilling: they wandered the streets and played until midnight (competing with the middle school hooligans). This morning I woke to the sound of recycling pick up. Imagine a truck that lifts a bin of glass and dumps it into a truck bed ten feet down, also full of glass. A crashing cascade. It sounds like the end of the world. I’m not complaining. Am I?

The door into the woods is in the middle of that long wall on the right (below).

An Assisi-inspired WIP. All hand pieced but with some areas of appliqué — what I call a hybrid approach. I got a little inventive to accommodate the design (and to work with limited scraps brought along on the trip), but also in response to having heard Jude say recently something like “technique is everything, really.”

Here are some shots of Saint Clare’s alb. Ssh! Don’t tell. Photos were prohibited there (you cannot believe what scant attention people pay to those signs, BTW). I did not use a flash.

There is some beautiful pull-work down the middle which you probably can’t see. I wondered if Clare had been a giantess, because the gown is BIG. But no, my host said the style was for cloth to pool about the feet. Perhaps, too, some length was cinched up by a simple belt.

This picture, from “The Little Flowers of Saint Clare,” tells of the time when Clare came up off her sick bed to raise the monstrance to pray for the sisters, who were defenseless to an advancing army of Saracens. She then prayed for then soldiers, too. A sweet voice came out of the object (“because of your love, I will watch over you and them always”) and the army changed course and went elsewhere.

Below is her cathedral. The alb is housed in a reliquary on the lower level. She’s buried on the level, too.

Can’t remember if I mentioned, but we attended a choral performance at St. Clare’s the first night here (below).

Sunday snow, Saturday glow

Today the scene behind this quilt is a snowy one. Not at all like yesterday’s blazing blue sky. Rain predicted for later.

Have I ever ripped out as much as I did for this Village Quilt? I don’t think so. I’m so pleased with the result, I’m predicting more fussiness in my future.

First, I had to shrink a glaring rhomboid of orange. Next, the beige square with stitched orbs (center top) looked too static, so I unpicked its two edges and added a triangle to the lower right.

Then, after stitching what I thought was the second to last seam, the roof lines were off so I had to rip out a long horizontal seam and a partial vertical one. ARG! To correct the placements, I added narrow strips to either side of the rectangular section, one pieced, one not.

Someone has expressed interest in the piece and I may leave the finishing treatment up to her. More and more, I like these cloth villages without any backing whatsoever.

Happy Sunday! Any good news to share?

I’ll start: K is home safe and sound from China. Also: I’m enjoying another outstanding Irish author right now and when I say outstanding, I mean mind blowing (the other recent read was by Colum McCann). Also: I managed to get both boys’ birthday boxes in the mail well in advance of their days!

Piecing, falling, tidying

Patchwork. The stalwart metaphor for bringing disparate pieces together. This is Deb Lacativa cloth and one of my felt houses. I hand-pieced the house’s surround this time instead of what I usually do, which is to plunk the house onto a surface and stitch it down. This made the parts more coherent, but it was awkward to do.

More to figure out.

There’s always more to figure out. This week: a meeting with my sister’s team. In spite of strenuous suggestions from me, no weekend help materialized. K and I went up yesterday. Tidied. Tended. Tried to help N into her new bed (failed). Paid a guy in the building to bring up her Sunday Times (yeah!)

But she was alone today. Not answering the phone.

There are seven reasons my sister might not answer the phone:

1. She’s on the phone, 2. She’s dropped it and can’t pick it up, 3. She’s neglected to put it back on its base and drained the battery, 4. She’s asleep, 5. She’s busy in kitchen or bathroom, 6. She’s fallen and can’t get up, 7. She’s dead.

For years, her failure to answer the phone has produced annoyance laced with mild panic. Voice mail or messaging problematic, for some reason. Once after two days (during a much busier era when I couldn’t just dash up there), I called the police.

This morning after four attempts over two hours, I was really worried. Debating whether to head up there and when.

And then, I got word.

It was #6. She’d fallen and couldn’t get up. Lifeline called 911. Ambulance guys arrived (again). Helped her up. Helped her back into her chair.

Sigh.

Remarkably enough, her sense of humor is intact. She tripped on a cat bowl and managed to, as she put it, “get Kibble up my ass.”

Somehow, the Times ended up on her bed during the tumult of rescue (yeah!)

With all this happening, no wonder I like the control that tidying up offers. This weekend, I tackled socks. Though I originally resisted Kondo’s advice on sock storage, I went with it and guess what? Folding IS better than rolling. I offer you a before and after.

Friday before the snow

My sister is cheered. The hospital turkey burger was delicious. They’ve dropped talk of rehab. Maybe a Monday release?

I’m relieved too. The earlier call had been spiked with overheard hostility. Taking on the entire staff, she was, refusing PT, objecting to turkey with no mayo.

I boarded the cat yesterday after a full morning of cleaning my sister’s apartment. Maddy the Tuxedo is in the very building where we adopted Jack all those years ago, poor little ballsy Jack whose first act as a family member was to piss all over my elder son’s ankle. At the time it seemed a bit of an outrage. Now I wonder if he wasn’t marking C as his own.

Dog people — what do you make of that?

A pewter sky portends snow. They’re saying some amount, then freezing rain. I’m wishing I’d wrapped our arbor vitae. Maybe tomorrow? I could use yards and yards of fabric from my stash, making the precaution double as a ‘fabric installation’. Then again, I might do nothing.

Meanwhile, I have friends to thank for getting through what at times feels like an ordeal. Thank you.

In closing let me say, I think I finally believe the twitter prognosticators who say the shoe is about to drop. What an avalanche of bad news for the poor fucking fool at the top!

Sunday table 1/13/18

The football game is on. A fire snaps in the fireplace. Leftover stew was divine.

This Cloth doodle irked. The layers impeded handquilting, so I’m calling it done.

Planning to reopen my old Etsy store in near future. I would love love love to let go some of my work! And a teeny income stream would be novel, welcome.

Puzzles done. Vacuuming done. Finn is limping so another walk is not in order. Time to iron a few shirts and sort the sock basket!

(Studio tableaux)