Tag Archives: ghost house

Ghost House – EEEEEEEE

When I hung this (nearly) finished quilt top on the line, a whole new quilt emerged.

This quilt has been in the works for a long time.

As some of you know, when I began this quilt, I was thinking a lot about how physical trauma changes us.  In 2010, my younger son broke his left arm twice, shattering more than just bone.  My first impulse was to create a kind of postcard of cheer, which I later called “Happy Hut”.  It used bright colors, and sunflowers, and pieces of some plaid flannel pj’s that I had made him one Christmas.

You can see most of “Happy Hut”, as well as a comparison of some of the bleached fabrics, here.

The next impulse was to describe the trauma.  I bleached a bunch of the fabrics and started including blue tie dyes that looked like Xrays and made a pale version of the same house motif.  The quilt, now dubbed “Ghost House”, grew and shrank, went away for some periods, grew and shrank some more and finally, just last week, when one corner went rogue (here), arrived at its final dimension.

Once I let that corner have its say, the rest of the quilt quickly and easily fell into place.  It became, now, about the size of “Happy Hut”, which pleased me, given that they are companion pieces.  And, it turned into a quilt that was going to be finished, which pleased me even more.

But here’s the thing. In between the beginning of this quilt and now, life has changed.  A lot.  I am NOT thinking about physical trauma these days, and thankfully, neither is my younger son.  Part of the struggle to finish the quilt top had to do with this very fact, the fact of life moving along, rendering the theme of the thing not only less compelling, but even a little off-putting.  I didn’t want to keep dwelling there.

So, when I hung it on the line and the light streamed through and totally transformed its pallid surface into something gleaming and popping with color, I just said, “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” (to quote a fellow blogger).  Here is TODAY’s quilt – something that more nearly matches how the world looks to me this day, of this month, of this year.

I have not yet decided, but I don’t think I will back this quilt top.  I want it to be able to catch the sun and have these two very different moods.

It’s still not done, actually… have to trim that strip of shibori (mine!) off the left edge.

To achieve the pale palette, I bleached some fabrics, but for many rectangles I just used the ‘wrong’ side.  When the sun shines through, the more intense colors of the ‘right’ side of the fabric come through… especially the flannel sunflowers of the sky.

Here’s the final seam.

And just so you don’t have to follow the links to see the non-illuminated difference, check it out:

This picture also shows the piece that went rogue.  The nice thing is, there’s another piece, roughly the same size, that I came away with.  They will be a pair, I think.

rogue vs. issue

Quilting affords opportunities, over and over again, to pull pieces together, and to fragment them.  Every morning lately, I work on ‘Ghost House’.  If I think about it, I would get overwhelmed.  But if I look at one little strip and piece it, I make progress.

For a sense of scale, the felt-covered pin board is just over six feet tall.

Yesterday, I pieced up the house, in order to help me finish the edges.  Sometimes you have to work in the center in order to figure out the edges.

When I pieced the house, which was mostly done, I made the decision to piece the window into the body of the house (previously, I had thought I would applique it).  And now, it does not look like a window at all.  Changes such as these force either acceptance or re-working.  I often accept, and not just out of laziness.

Quilts this size go through so many phases.  Sometimes, a section will assert its independence.  I call these ‘rogues’.  This can be out of frustration — one way to create a finished product from an endlessly unfinished piece — or, it can be the fabric telling you something.

I don’t need to decide anything about this square today.  It works on its own.  And, when it’s on its own, the indigo strip that I dipped (on the right) assumes a little more importance.

My hunch is that I’m not going to let this rogue get away!

Then there are ‘spin off quilts’ – little assemblages made from scraps lying around.  Not rogues.  More like ‘issue’.  They are generally characterized by an effortlessness that is in striking contrast to the larger piece.  Yesterday, a little spin off arranged itself (nearly) on the worktable.  I have my recently dipped indigo scraps to draw from as well.

In other news, the heat continues here without respite.  I am spending money to keep various sections of the yard wet and cool for the birds.  We are supposed to get thunderstorms later, so I will run my errands early.