Tag Archives: linen

Something lightens


“River House”

This house was built in preparation for the class I’m teaching this Saturday at the Boston Center for the Arts.*  While probably not apparent to a viewer, this quilt pulls together many elements of recent learning.

How so? For one, it’s lighter than I usually work (exploring white online with Jude Hill).  It has a less defined horizon line. The house sinks into its surroundings better and displays a little perspective (the two barn pieces taught much!!! here and here).  And, the attachment techniques are more refined (and yes, that is the same green plaid I used to roof the two big Barns).


component building

Off-top building” —

By that I mean connecting small elements with stitch prior to trying to connect them with the background (the “top”).  In this case, I HAD to stitch these teeny house elements together, because I couldn’t keep lifting and shifting the background fabrics without going nuts if I hadn’t. Once stitched, I could easily lift the entire component and rearrange the background fabrics.

Note to self: when constructing a component, use pieces of fabric that are already part of the background!

Reducing the number of pins required for when the piece is in your lap is always a good thing. And, this component-building has the additional virtue of reducing stress about shifting windows and doors, some of which are smaller than a standard-sized postage stamp.


‘sky’ fabrics dyed in backyard last summer using chemical indigo (I know! I know! – haven’t gotten to the plants, yet)

Again, because of the work with white over at Spirit Cloth, I laid some gauze over rectangles on the surface. They are staying. For a while, I shifted the house lower down (photo above) and exposed a piece of the underlying linen napkin (just above the roof). I liked wondering what it might be like to leave an unadorned white section, there, right in the center of the quilt. What matters? The house? Or the empty space above?


‘shadow’ of house is an overlay of polyester from a shirt

It is not something I have committed to yet. In the photo above, I have shifted the house back to center, covering not only the white linen, but that mauve rectangle (another goodie from Sandy Meegan, by the way!!).  I like knowing that that empty rectangle is still there, even if I’ve covered it.

Of course, the entire underlying linen napkin is THERE.

The pale blue water fabric came from a fabulous skirt depicting scenes of a European city on a river. I normally eschew ‘cheater’ fabrics (the name says everything, doesn’t it?), but here I am happy to employ.


Back in 1980, I lived in SF and worked in a copy shop.  The best part of the job was access to a color copier, which was BRAND NEW technology then!  The house image came from a photo of a duplex I occupied during the last two years of college.


isabella-street-greenAnd here’s a more recent picture (photoshopped church from Newtonville):

newtonville-churchLastly, a collaged card using a cut out photo of a quilt and an Inkydinkydoo moon stamp:


* Class is at Boston Center for the ArtsSat. June 1, 10:00 to 1:00
Free! (but contact the Center, it might be full).

series, collar, rain, and shelter

SERIES.  The new series is comprised of self portraits, any of which could be captioned: “me looking deranged”.  This makes No. 2.  (No. 1 in flickr stream recently).  This well-loved Irish Linen dish towel (I think “linen” warrants a capital “L” here) was finally retired from its kitchen duties last night.

COLLAR.  A strip of the dish towel is being auditioned here as a collar on my boro work-in-progress (in Jude Hill’s Contemporary Boro class, online).  Just like I enjoy the visual pun when my older son wears Old Navy garments with the words “Established 1994” (because HE was established in 1994), there is something fun about wearing the words, “Made In Ireland”, because even though I wasn’t, my ancestors were.

I THINK I am 100% Irish.  Was always told this.  But, my mother’s father was born and raised in Hartlepool, England and had a British accent, even when I knew him decades after his arrival on Ellis Island (I found a copy of his ship’s manifest on the wonderfully historic Ellis Island website).  He (Albert Jacques) met his wife (Alice Healey) in Brooklyn, and her family haled from Co. Cork – but was my grandmother born in Brooklyn? Or in County Cork? I can’t seem to get a straight answer.  My father’s parents were both Irish (Mallon and Kinney), but I don’t know when their arrivals to this country took place.  Probably a generation or two before my grandparents, though.  My father has a namesake on one of the rolls for the Civil War – one of the MANY (come to find out) William Kinneys who fought with the militia coming out of Pennsylvania.

But, back to the garment.  The red disturbs my plan to stay monochromatic and since the fit of this thing is going to be problematic, I think I’ll force myself to stick to the blue plan.  The sleeves may come off to convert the shirt to a vest if I can’t find a way to cinch the waist a little.

RAIN.  The rain is making surfaces shine. The rain is making me appreciate shelter. The rain is making wonder how all the sleeveless prom attendees tonight will stay warm!!

SHELTER.  Sometimes the places we find solace come to us unbidden, or as surprises.  Like this spicebush.

Under the boughs of this bush-turned-tree, not only do I feel a sense of shelter, there is a hint of magic. My husband thinks it is perhaps ‘too big’ for its spot, but, though I prune aggressively every year, I will fight for its right to overcome our notion of what fits.  It has umbrellaed up and out from the small twig I put in the ground years ago into a beautiful small tree that creates a tunnel toward our garage gate.

I love the way when I stand under it, everything that is so familiar looks different.
How grateful I am for this fragrant, light-catching green, vigorous grower!

Crib quilt

Finished this little boy blanket top today.  Center terra cotta section (a beautiful linen leftover from a curtain job years ago) was made during the Treasure Island quilt process last year (made for Wendy Golden-Levitt, remember?)  I also found a scrap of the pirate fabric from that project, stitched it to linen and a super-soft, striped decorator fabric, and plan to mail it to her.  (P.S. – do you see my silly owl who looks like she belongs on Sesame Street?!!)

In the process, last week, of rooting around in my stuff to make a display at the JCC, I also unearthed a tower that I pieced around the same time.  Added lace, and appliqued a moon — it is nearly done also.

All this finishing!

And then there are the scraps from the baby blanket –

This little elephant emerged.  I’m hand quilting it this evening, and it’s almost done, too.

And more scraps –

Meanwhile, I am working on the lap-pin-dark-mess quilt, which is slowly becoming less of a mess.  It is a metaphor for life (aren’t all sewing projects?) – I do what I can, taking one little section at a time, knowing it’s okay to return and do some more later.

There is so much else to rattle on about, but for now, this lace post is fun to look at: Janet Haigh

One poppy to remember, another poppy to forget

Just added another poppy to the Cement Sack quilt.  This one is ON TOP of the tulle.

Transferred two black and white xeroxes onto coffee-stained muslin.  The trombone did not come out so well, but a trident on the same page did.  Both are in the upper left.

Here is that figure that has shown up in the Witness quilt and the wet-paper-basement-calamity collage.  She is the one who dreams, who has seen, and who seeks to go beyond all that lodges in the past.  She is part of all of us.  This recent posture is one of burdened grief, but she has other moods as well.

Perhaps “moods” is the wrong word — “patterns of consciousness” more like.

And speaking of drugs (the opiate reference in the title), here is the holder of my current drug of choice — a coffee mug!  Suitably chipped, stained, and very much in use.

A busy day of gardening and travel ahead.  A good thing.  A change of perspective and some fresh air will definitely do me good.

spring light

The spring light flooded our family room late this afternoon.  I don’t remember it ever being lit up like this before.  By the time I got my camera out, it was the shadows that interested me, so I haven’t captured the golden warm moment at all, really.  I share the photo of our kitchen TV and dinner clutter only because it DOES capture the light a bit better.

When I look at this picture and I don’t think, “Gee, cool, there I am in the reflection.”  No, I think, “Why was that light on?!”

Soon, our neighbor’s 200 year old copper beech will leaf out, and the light will be dappled and less intense (and that’s nice too).

With the poppy pillow commission finished, I can finally get back to my big-big quilt.

Recycled shirts and tiny pieces of Most Favored Fabrics (like a trading status!) are turning into huts and villages, here and there.

I took so much time to piece these big sections, that it would be a shame if I hid all the evidence of that work (i.e., the SEAMS), but that is the temptation right now…

That blue spade fabric (a roof of rain?) is cotton that K. brought back from India last month.  It was hard to cut, because it was such soft cotton, but cut I did. It is one of many fabrics that translates into “RAIN” in this piece.

Lining up

lower right section of Global Warming 7-footer

I keep going back and forth on this project.  Should I complete it as intended (roughly 7′ x 4′), or break it into sections and move the thing along?

This little section (photo above) floated upstairs today and looks complete to me.

But I’m not quite willing to give up the big design yet.

Because I am not a planner, at this stage of production I often find ‘log jams’, or areas where the rectangular pieced sections are not lining up and where I am not willing to chop or add to accommodate completing a rectangle.

Once I pinned up some green grosgrain to divide sections, it suddenly seemed (seamed?) do-able.  Note to self: remember that this is a visual process and that you have a visual sensibility (“DOH”).

There have been quilts that undergo enormous changes at this phase… quilts where I find myself swapping out some of the larger chunks.  This has been partially in service of making the rectangles fit (think “Tetris”) and partially  because it can be fun to see how things look when the design is a little less conscious.

This particular piece, however, has been in formation for well over a year and I am eager to get to the final stretch.  And, I am feeling a strange loyalty to the design as I have constructed it.

The edges will pose problems.  My plan is to use some of the cool-toned patterns (the Anna Maria Horner large blue floral and a shimmery green near-solid) to fill in and frame the edges where I need another inch or two.  I will TRY to avoid the temptation to keep piecing/adding complexity.

What will be fun is to create a slide show of the quilt in its many phases and see how it has changed over four seasons.

For the finish — instead of using a whole cloth back and pinning the entire thing up and shoving it through my Bernina with a great deal of cussing, I think I’ll quilt it in sections.  I plan to use some overlays on the back, perhaps even with raw edges, to connect up.

Given that one of the problems with this piece is its scale — I really don’t love working this large — then it is obvious that if I want to continue producing pieces of this size, I have to figure out how to do it in a way that works with my style, studio space, equipment, and temperament.

Which reminds me that my word for 2010 is ‘congruence’.

I am so, so eager to find both the style of working and the subjects & images that really line up with who it is that stands with the needle in her hand, with the scissors at her side, and with her particular demons at her back.

Looking for Redemption and Crying Wolf

the red Victorian silk, for some reason, very hard to pierce with a needle

The sagas go on and on, don’t they?  Started this crucifix series before “the flood”, and why shouldn’t my particular saga have its biblical moments?  Because what day doesn’t go by, really, when I’m not looking for redemption in some form or other?  I am looking for redemption even on those days when it seems as though I am just trying to get through.  I am looking for redemption even on my good days — and by that I certainly don’t mean times when I feel like the master of my fate — but rather I mean days when I have enough wherewithal to entertain the POSSIBILITY of accepting life exactly as it is.   But here’s the thing, can one be —

”seeing things and accepting things exactly as they are”

and still find redemption?!!  Isn’t wishing for a world in which every mess is an opportunity and every delay, packed with meaning, by DEFINITION, a state of non-acceptance (because, let’s face it, there ARE situations in which there is no silver lining to be found!)

Well, anyway, there D. and I were yesterday, waiting and waiting for ‘the shoulder guy’.  It had begun to rain again, a status of weather that, THIS week, provokes a palpable dread.  The patients were flying in and out all around us, but D.’s name had not been called at the 50 minute mark (I complained), or at the 65 minute mark (I complained again), until at 75 minutes, after nearly leaving, and after listening to D. ask, “Why am I here?!  This is useless”, a few too many times, the assistant called us in.  The assistant called us in just moments after I had written in two-inch letters on the intake form, “WAITED 75 MINUTES”, which of course made me wonder — had I written “WAITED 35 MINUTES” on the form 40 minutes earlier, would we have been ushered us in sooner?!! (You begin to see just HOW superstitious I am).

Anyway, I stitched on this piece for awhile, not for one moment asking myself to call in the Christ-energy of patience, or noticing the disparity between image and mood.  That’s how irate I was.

I dyed the crocheted thread in onion skin-water

After 10 minutes with the doctor (who apologized so excessively I began to feel a little abashed), we scuttled off to X-ray.  And back.

And, OMG, the news was a little shattering (forgive the pun).  What first seemed (to me) back in the dead of winter as one in a long series of whinge-fests, and then seemed (to the chiropractor) like a separated shoulder, turned out to have been a fractured collarbone.  [YIKES!!!]  (Healed, already, I’m happy to report).

So, I apologized to D. (although not excessively).  Then, after quietly pointing out that the amount and volume of complaints make it hard for me to pick out any particular one as needing extra intervention, D. and I devised a code for ‘this really, really hurts and I need you to do something about it’.  Our code is, “Mom, this is an 8.”

A symbol of the effort in pushing all this fabric around!

This was GOING to be a post about the basement and the progress down there and how the disaster HAS turned into this amazing re-shuffling, re-ordering, and investment in storage units that has me psyched and energized (in other words, it has turned into an OPPORTUNITY).  I was going to add something about the dynamics of dependence and understanding one’s personal style of attacking a monumental task (because dear reader, what most of you didn’t know is that my husband was in India for ALL of this, which gave me additional OPPORTUNITIES for learning).  Perhaps tomorrow I shall return to that, after another two inches of rainfall, unless, of course, I have my cherry-printed wellies on again and am threading the hose out the back door and trying not to cry.

"ample moisture" indeed

PS  What shows up in people’s readers when I ‘update’ post?  I tend to write a draft, publish, and then update typo, by typo, and it would embarrass me if EACh of these appears…