Tag Archives: quilting

Geography of the heart

The midsection of this work-in-progress uses a contour map print for the central form, leading me to call this and others in the series, “geography of the heart.” The embroidered word “love” below the heart underscores the theme, but in a generic and possibly saccharine way.

I was nevertheless prepared to finish it up when I came across some spoonflower fabric that used a collage (above) that I made a while back as part of the second of two sketchbook projects.

The scrappy fella silhouetted speaks of war orphans, Spanish flu orphans and children of immigrants in New York City.

More specifically, this jaunty man-boy is a stand in for my father who grew up in Woodhaven, New York (an area sometimes claimed by Queens, sometimes Brooklyn). As a teenager he worked as a runner on Wall Street. I can imagine his wiry form, his scrawny athleticism. Eventually he earned enough to attend Pratt Institute and set himself on a path out of the boroughs and into the suburbs.

Suddenly, the idea of the heart’s geography comes alive with particularly.

‘Design is working with what you have and doing the best you can to hold it together.’ Jude Hill

One of the biggest challenges for a collage-style quilter is holding onto the feeling of the piece as you adhere the components. Things that are overlaid in the design phase may lose an element of spontaneity or positioning or something when pieced. On the other hand, if elements are simply stitched down, they may not relate well enough to each other.

Problem one: to lend more meaning to an otherwise generic notion of origins. Solved: by inserting scrappy fella.

Problem two: adding one overlay guy on the left (circled in red). The strip of spoonflower fabric under him will be seamed — just like the right-side panel. But the guy? If I appliqué him will he float too much? And if, on the other hand, I piece him in, will the narrow seam allowances be significant enough subtractions of pattern to disrupt what’s going on?

I’ve gone both ways with this over the years without having formed a real preference. This time, I think I’ll use appliqué.

[Couldn’t find my xerox copies of the sketchbook and so grabbed a few images from Flickr. The first two page spread below is shown two ways. It reads: When will they try to steal your liberty?

The bottom image shows the title page, “It’s Not About Me” — which was one of the themes offered that year.

You can see the entire sketchbook on their site. My user name is katydidart.

Choose color. Eat. Laugh.

It’s amazing what a dampening effect weather and disappointing news can have. Parts of Colorado got nine inches of snow! Don McGahn didn’t show up to testify and he’s not in jail!

It doesn’t help to be reading a book about a hapless, middle-aged failure whose failures would rank as astounding successes for me. K pshaws (he’s a champ), but still.

(Why continue reading it, you ask? Because it’s incredibly well-written and I want to know what happens).

A delicious homemade broth with ramen was a definite perk last night. We could walk there too, which was nice.

Another high point: a trip to a goodwill in a posh part of Denver where I scored some really good ‘cutters.’ The best one — a garment made out of African batik.

It’s a maxi skirt, so it’s a decent bit of yardage.

Also, I’m a sucker for stripes, so this beautiful cotton skirt grabbed my eye.

I photographed it on a quilt made for D (13 years ago?) to show the consistency of palette.

What colors draw you in, again and again? I’ve studiously tried to move toward a less saturated color wheel for years and not managed it. Tells you something.

This quilt represents probably as much success as I’ll get with choosing more subdued colors. It’s almost finished, PS.

This dress, while a 100% polyester, has just the kind of patterning that I love. Also, because it’s nearly sheer, it can easily be stitched on top of other fabrics. And check out the buttons!

So, what to do while Rome burns? Have a decent meal and indulge in colors that please you. Is that what I’m saying?

Maybe.

Guffawing over at twitter has its place, too.

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!!!

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.

In the cool deep

“Let the breath take you deeper:” a reminder.

I can’t believe how much I enjoy being down in the cool sanctuary of the basement right now — whether machine piecing a village quilt, pawing through bins, or vacuuming up cobwebs. It’s a great complement to writing upstairs.

The process of piecing up house patterns keeps me going, but something is missing. A theme? A selected recipient? An internal challenge? Something. And, do I care?

Here are some pictures from today: paper collage, unearthed fabric WIPS, and in-progress shots of current work.

Here I went w/theme. Too heavy handed

Still damp from spritzing

An unearthed sampler from one of Jude’s classes

This old cut out from Newsweek will go upstairs

SoulCollage card composed a while ago but this week seems about the draft envt’l report

Let your freak flag fly

This work-in-progress garnered the comment, “I love it when you let your freak flag fly!” on Instagram yesterday. After pressing back to make sure it was a compliment (it was), I’ve decided that the phrase makes a pretty good working anthem.


Maybe articulation will follow, but for now I’ll rely on that old Supreme Court ‘definition’ of pornography: ‘I know it when I see it’. Probably something about voice and style.


Is this square with woven strips and indigo moon ‘letting my freak flag fly’? No. Or, not yet. It is too derivative – persistently, dismayingly derivative. On the other hand, the newly assembled cloth collage below lets me announce: “I’m letting my freak flag fly!”

The early stages of composition nearly always more closely capture my ‘style’, such as it is. I have to figure out how to bring more of the free and pleasing (to me) beginnings forward. This is a question of technique, but not exclusively. To be continued…