Tag Archives: piecing

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).

Cold and cloth 

When the rhodies do this, you know it’s cold. Had to pull my scarf up over my nose in our morning walk! Tuckered Finn out, I think.


In spite of the wintry temps, I padded up and down the cellar stairs yesterday and the day before to work on this medium-sized quilt. Used the machine down there some, then returned to heat and TV upstairs to iron and sew. Also stitched some seams by hand.

When the construction starts to foreclose possibilities, I am often disappointed.  Over the years, I have wondered if there wasn’t some other way to connect up the pieces that would more reliably capture earlier design ideas (like collage the scraps to canvas with gesso?)


I take a lot of pictures these days. But maybe I didn’t refer to them enough this time. What’s missing is an energetic flow.

While sewing this morning, I catch up on Maddow. The work satisfies me with pattern, simplicity of task, color, and measurable progress.


But it is not satisfying or productive enough by half to counteract the unfolding American shitstorm. There seems to be a theme: destruction.

I don’t get it.

Later, I’ll make beef with barley soup. Good for a cold evening, almost medicinal in its meaty and grainy deliciousness.  And I’ll turn off the news.

Who do you come from and to whom do you pray

ripCary & Nana 7-4-95I don’t come from a faith that much honors the ancestors (that is my mother, above with my first born. The B&W is me, circa 1981). That’s why when I read about African belief systems that make ancestor worship central, it feels foreign.

The ancient Celtic bent toward Nature as guide and source, on the other hand, fits like a glove. No wonder I love the writing of Mary Oliver — her poems read like 9th century monastic poetry from Ireland. I find sustenance in her words. Wisdom.

In writing about human bondage in early America, I have often wished for (and on occasion asked for) some sign from the ancestors of the enslaved. Should I be writing this story? Is it okay? Am I okay?

Thundering silence.

Hard not to wonder. But because I am such a master of doubt, it’s hard to give it much weight either.

IMG_7910(A little aside — This cloth, from my Middle Passage series, is somewhere. I never backed it because of the beautiful stained glass effect when hung in a sun-filled window. The others in the series use my favorite house motif to examine both loss and sustenance of culture from one side of the sea to the other. This one, though, explores the sails. All those sails, riding the currents, powering ships packed with black bodies, flapping signals of wealth to some and horror to others).

IMG_7521Anyway, maybe because the anniversary of my mother’s passing was two weeks ago, maybe because there is so much transition in the lives of my sons, making me reflective and sometimes sad or anxious, and maybe because one of my characters is modeled closely on my mother, I have been thinking a lot about my parents.

And duh! It is the guidance and help and esteem and love of my very own dear parents that I should be calling up. My ancestors know me. They dwell in me. They know where I trip up and why. And they (most importantly in this business of moving forward), understand fully my strengths.

They’re the ones to call upon — even about writing a novel about black and white people with NO GENETIC links to me whatsoever.

And so I did. Call upon them. And they did answer.

Connecting 

 It is such a pleasure to stitch these Hearts for Charleston quilt squares together! It seems that there is an organic order. I’ve moved them around a little but the actual joining has easy.  Some line up. Some overlap. Most quilters added a healthy margin around the square which, as it turns out I’m including to some extent. This means that Mo’s square, which is exactly 10″ square, needed some additional cloth. Today I stitched it to a dark blue checked cordoroy that I cut from an old shirt. It won’t show much, but the color and checks will blend well.

 Tomorrow some friends come by for a first blessing of the squares. We will probably do this again in December.  

To read more about this project,
please refer to the the sidebar category:
“Hearts for Charleston Quilt”

To investigate this style of quilting more
(most of us are students of master stitcher/storyteller Jude Hill),
please visit “Spirit Cloth

Jewel tones and white

IMG_7938
New England quilters have been known to gravitate toward jewel tones this time of year. I know why! This little House Quilt arose from scraps left behind while finishing Middle Passage II yesterday. Sometimes these ‘cast off quilts’ are my favorite. There is a spontaneity to them that can get lost with other designs.

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Here is part of Middle Passage Two. This one focuses on the shape of the sails. I will not back the panel — just edge it and supply tabs on top so that it can hang like a curtain.IMG_7934
My daily pages are filled with snippets of learning that I eventually will share about the Middle Passage. For now, the quiet is good. Oh so good!! The incubation of this snow is making words seem far away. Appointments still being cancelled (though on account of the DOG, not the SNOW).
snow bank-winter2015

It is blessedly quiet here today (school children on vacation; roof clearing crews done for the time being; snow-moving trucks beeping away elsewhere). Why fill this rare, rare quiet with some of the most disturbing history there is?

Five

iron-cloth-deemallonI understood why, working in the basement studio in the winter, standing on a heating pad, wearing Dickensian gloves, and a down vest, the iron’s heat proffered so much comfort. Well, it turns out, even upstairs in the glare of morning light, with a fire going and heat on, I love the feel of warm cloth.

This is square five. I have to tackle, earlier rather than later, what to do about my aversion to uniformity measuring. Three of the squares are roughly the same size. Two are a bit bigger, and by “a bit”, I mean enough to matter.

I am thinking of marking the top of the green bookcase in the living room to use as a template.  Turns out it is exactly as wide as the three same-sized squares.

Which leads me to this.  A couple of goals emerge as I piece: I want to avoid the use of rotary cutter and mat, and I would like to use fabrics already in my possession. The latter commitment may be difficult, because I am also going to be picky about keeping my blues and greens in the right value family.

Finn and I walked and made it back. It’s not so bad out. Growing up in Upstate New York, it was often this frigid. As kids we called it, “booger freezing weather”. Rarely happens around here.
tissue-trunk-duskBut don’t get me wrong – I am super grateful to have the luxury of spending the rest of the day inside, at home!

P.S. The above picture from Sketchbook Project efforts a couple years back, reminds me that I will NOT be participating again… it turns out that letting the booklet go at the end, even knowing that it is (sort of) circulating, is not satisfying.