Tag Archives: challis

Glitches, patience, and white as an attitude


Please notice that I am not ranting.  I am not. Even though the tree and fence above could be a visual for me and our technology problems of late. Think: “Upgrade”.

The Black Screen of Death, which was not the Black Screen of Death really, but more like a Coma Interlude, occurred multiple times yesterday. Eventually the system restored itself each time, but not without freaking me out. “Walk away from the screen, Ma’am!  Walk AWAY from the screen!”  What choice did I have? Days of not posting here or for my online class have me feeling a tad crazed.  And now the taxes are REALLY, really due.

The good news? Scary glitches and slow processing are making learning a few simple tricks on the new Photoshop Elements seem like a piece of cake. And more good news: I managed to finish Schedule C this morning in spite of it all.

Back to quilting.  Less screen time invariably means more sewing, which is also good news, I might add.  Continuing with white, white, white for the Jude Hill class I’m taking over at Spirit Cloth has been productive. Interesting. Lots of white to share. But not now.  I took a small intermission from white to construct the little row of houses below.



The formulaic nature of this design means they are relaxing to make. And yet, each set is different enough from every other to stay interesting.


The tiniest chips of fabric can be employed for this project (“Oh-oh!” you say with dismay. “You mean I can’t throw them out?!!”)


This drawing came after the cloth construction. It gave me this fun idea of a multitude of paths running to and from the doors.

The original impulse for ground and sky fabrics lies just above the drawing, and here is where I want to suggest that this project — though full of pink, blue, rose, lavender, rust, and indigo — bears a relationship to white. If you can stand to — keep reading!

The ground is that wool challis I’ve talked about before. The sky is a piece of a vintage silk from a deconstructed handmade bodice.  The colors worked and they were the very first I chose. They were the INITIAL IMPULSE. The circuitous route back to the original choice got me thinking about white as a process or a state of mind.  Specifically, about white as pure expression.


I fiddled.  A Lonni Rossi broccoli fabric had potential but was rejected for being too literal and for adding visual clutter.

indigo-skyThis shibori sky, suggestive of aurora borealis, was also too much.  Stars, also too literal.

floor-and-basketThis started the return back to the original choice.

penultimkateHere, I shrunk the scale and added a moon. The moon stayed, but the scale was revised back to original premise.

strips-silk-torso-moonHere I am back to the original sky, only now with the moon, and a much too busy foreground.  Departing miles from the original feel, it looked like I was trying way too hard and furthermore, the woven-strip foreground would have prevented stitching all those paths, and they intrigue me.

garment-and-moon-3  Now, almost there.

round-right-at-end And back.

So, what if “WHITE” is purity? What if ‘white’ is an original impulse? The original set of colors? The original thought? I’m not suggesting that refining ideas and radically departing from an initial idea are not essential and exciting ways to create.  I AM suggesting that there may be times when sticking with that First Thought (in this case a pairing of challis and silk) might be just right.  A way to honor an intuitive and spontaneous creation.

You can find more of these row house quilts here.

where does the color go?

threesomeHere are three exposures of a small quilt pinned to a curtain covering an eastern window.  Early morning light.  Not summer sun, but not winter sun either.  Opening the aperture gives the impression that the color is fading into white*.  But it’s more than that.  Back lighting the piece lets what resides in back to shine through.  I like both these ideas — fading into white and the hidden-coming-forward.

What is happening when ‘what is behind’ shows up? Could it parallel the Jungian process of owning the shadow?  Claiming a long-fended-off weakness or strength?  Could it be a metaphor for hearing from ‘the other side’?


I ask the otherworldly question because of that wool challis.  Well, that and because of need.  Sometimes in life, we just need our mothers.  It’s so simple a thing.  And so complicated.  And it’s true whether she’s around or not.

That maroon floral challis comes from a scarf which in its original, drapey, and fringed incarnation, belonged to my mother.  I wore it for a while after she died.  It was moth eaten on the edges and eventually I felted it and let it take its lovely place in my scrap bin.  Clearly, it means something more than ‘fuzzy’ and ‘maroon’ to me.  Placing a moon of my mother’s fiber above what to me is a mysterious door is no accident.  I have been thinking about her a lot lately.

Years ago when I showed my mother this tiny Gap vest (below), purchased while D. was in utero (middle boy in photo), she said, “Oh!  You’ve found his palette.”  That was signature Mom — pointing out the centrality of color to life and perhaps specifically to Mallon-life;  assuming we all have palettes;  recognizing that a mother might intuit her child’s colorways, even before he was born.  It was one of many moments in her last weeks that juxtaposed new life with dying in an excruciating way.


I’d give almost anything to hear one of her honest and shrewd observations right now – no matter how brutal.  She had a knack for that.  Making pithy observations that knocked you over.  In the moment, I might hate her…  insist she was wrong… loudly argue back or scoff at her sources.  But many times out of ten (I refuse to quantify), I’d have to at some later point admit that she was right — even when the source was Cosmopolitan Magazine (Damn You, Mom!!).

Sometimes the judgment was something I could run with.  It all depended.

So, yeah (as my nineteen year old might say), I have been wishing for my mother’s ‘take’ on things — specifically, on this messy business of parenting teenagers.  Once we got over what would undoubtedly be her smug satisfaction at my getting a little of what I dished out, I’m sure she’d have valuable and specific insights to offer. She’d say things I haven’t thought of yet.  She’d offer reality-based optimism that would make me feel better and would make me feel better about my kids and their futures.  She’d call me a worry wart and laugh.  Pearls of wisdom would be dispensed like sticks of gum (no big deal).  She’d casually address every single thing that is ‘up’ right now — resilience (or its absence), stubbornness, fear, and the unpredictable paths of talent — without having to ask a single question.


February 13th marked the 17th anniversary of my mother’s death.  I only know the number of years off the top of my head because she died five weeks before D. was born.  Right now, I always know how old my boys are.  Seventeen.  Nineteen.  I suppose that could change, like everything else does.  I hope not for a long time, though.

Red-ribsThis hung on the west window of my bedroom last week.  Here, red threads were stitched in prayer (as has been talked about here and there on blogs that matter to me (links later)).  This thread was dyed in India, purchased in Colorado about this time last year, and stitched onto white, then covered with a grey/white silk.  You don’t really see the red lines when the cloth comes off the curtain.  They’re still there, of course.

That says something on this topic of mothering, doesn’t it?  Something about the strands of love that connect us, whether we see them or not, whether they’re live or remembered.  These red threads could also represent the strands of genetic code that determine, in part, who we are… representing that strange, perplexing and miraculous way that some aspects of person get tugged through the generations… binding one group to the next (and the next) whether willing or aware, or not.

And then again, it is a series of red threads.

* Like yesterday’s post, “Meditation on White”, I am inspired here in large measure by the online class over at Spirit Cloth