Category: stitchings (Page 2 of 37)

Sky Rider

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I rescued these years ago.
Ten blocks.
A quarter each,
and she gave me a discount because I used the word “rescue”.

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Some see tatters.

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Hard times.
Worn slap out.

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I see stories of resourcefulness and making do.
A special kind of creativity, if you ask me.

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Stories of homemade dresses.
and flower gardens lovingly tended.

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Stories of birthday cakes
and piano lessons
and biscuits with butter and syrup.

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I’ve said Yes to Jude Hill’s latest stitch-a-long, and I’m thinking about doing something I’ve never done before: turning these blocks into a book for Calder Ray . . . mostly because if I make a book, the fetching back side fabric becomes a page and doesn’t remain hidden. The story is already forming . . . a boy who walks on suns and moons, who eats stars for breakfast, lassoes them in play and lets them give him a bath, even if it’s not Saturday night.

These are things my brain is thinking, you understand, plans my brain is making so it can be comfortable knowing how everything is supposed to go before I even thread the needle. Isn’t it funny that in all the trips I’ve made around the sun on this beautiful rock, my brain is always surprised to find that its best laid plans are subject to change once my hands pick up and get going . . .

Calder Ray’s Standing Invitation

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The clock ticks loudly. Time to make that quilt for my soon-to-be born grandchild. I have no idea what I want it to look like – something that doesn’t alarm me cause I usually start with only the vaguest notion of what I want to do. Even on the rare occasion when I do have a detailed, clear idea, it seldom turns out the way I envisioned, creativity being what it is and all. Not knowing the gender or room color, I gather my supplies, selecting colors that tickles my eyes and cloth that satisfies my touch. I trust my Bones.

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Ideas and images come to call as I go along. I cut scraps into ovals and send them out to my elves, asking them to get signatures for me. And when the pieces come back, I decide I have to – I just have to – stitch over the autographs to make them more visible, more lasting.

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I stitch wherever I am – in the car, on the sofa, in the studio. Sometimes I stitch in the darkness of a hospital room.

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and at my niece’s house. (Which reminds me: I need to order them some more bubble juice.)

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My 2 year old great nephew is gracious enough to model a monkey for me, something to fill that unexpected bare spot. Once it is stitched, he seems a little under-enthusiastic about my monkey (which indicates his bend towards the more literal-brained side of the family). (Which is all of them except Nancy.) (Though a couple of them seem to be melting a little bit as they go along.)

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I stitch the bird and the nest and the flock of birds while at my son’s house. Because all I could hear on the inside was a short tape of things my father-in-law said when I showed him the sketches I made on my first day of drawing class, I decide to cut freehand instead of drawing on the fabric and cutting on the lines. I feel like a proud kindergartner when I show my son the impromptu birds and nest.  I’m not sure he noticed the heart-shaped eggs. They were a last-minute addition. Of course.

(Note: See that autograph just to the right of the top bird on the left in the picture above? That’s Nancy’s signature. And the one to the right of it? That’s my 2-year old great-nephew’s siggie.)

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I stitch the trunk (which was originally hanging down below the quilt) and the branches while at my daughter’s house. Oh those branches. What a fit they give all of us – Alison, The Engineer, and me. I lay down fabric for each branch to indicate the different branches of the family tree. But it is too chaotic – too much visual clutter. The three of us grow quite cranky. Nobody knows what to do. Finally, in a Hail Mary foot stomp kind of move, I find enough of the same fabric, fold it over and over again, lay it down on the already-attached branches, and voila! My eyes calm and purr. Each branch now sports a different base and the same top cover. The same, but different. Together, but separate. I like that. And the trunk? It is far too distracting hanging down, so I snip it off and hem it up.

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At The Very Last Minute, I add an impromptu gathering of our cats and dogs, sitting in a surprise flower bed. Then I add the invitation . . . When becoming gets too hard, go to the Forest. Maybe this is one time I should’ve printed my words on paper and stitched through the paper cause then I might’ve had room to say “family” forest. Hopefully everybody – and most especially You Know Who – gets the idea.

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Finally this happens

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and this (oh those Chambers men)

and 3 months later, when they come for a visit here atop the mountain,
this happens while Calder Ray lays on a pallet of 3 quilts made by my grandmother,
his great great grandmother. First we sing our first duet . . .

. . . then one sings and the other dances.
In this neck of the woods, we call that a Hootenanny.
(And um, about that singing. It’s fairly obvious to everybody
that Alison does not get her talent from me.)

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And now the quilt  – Calder Ray’s Standing Invitation – hangs in his room.
Signed. Sealed. Delivered.
(Note the wall color – ha!)
Everybody calls him Calder, but I’m Southern,
and we like double names, so I call him Calder Ray.

LoveNotesToCalderRay

And on top of the shelves under the quilt is this blue elephant. I bought it before he was born cause I knew – I just knew – he was gonna’ be a boy. Because so many different colors of dirt and rocks lie between Calder Ray and me, I keep Mr. Blue Elephant filled to the brim with handwritten bedtime notes from me. When he’s old enough to appreciate it, his parents are supposed to pull one out every night when he’s tucked into bed and read it to him. Eventually he’ll be able to read them himself, of course, and I already know things I want to write him when he’s off at college or heading down The aisle. You know I do.

I also have an inkling of another quilt I want to make him. Well, 12 or 15 quilts, actually. One to wrap up in when he is sick. One to wrap up in when he needs fortification. One to lay on for nap time. A quilt to sleep under on Christmas Eve, another for Valentine’s Day (also my birthday, so that one will have to be special), his birthday quilt, a New Year’s quilt, a First Day of School quilt, and a big, anytime/anywhere quilt that will remind him of the special sauce I’ve already begun whispering to him every chance I get:

You are kind.
You are funny.
You are smart.
You are creative.

This quilt I can already see.

Of Turtles and Home

HughesHallSign
A house is not an end in itself, any more than “home” is just one geographic location where things feel safe and familiar. Home can be any place in which we create our own sense of rest and peace as we tend to the spaces in which we eat and sleep and play. It is a place that we create and re-create in every moment, at every stage of our lives, a place where the plain and common becomes cherished and the ordinary becomes sacred.”
― from “The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir” by Katrina Kenison
Thank you to my lifelong friend Susan Bray Green for reminding me of this book last week. I’m enjoying it the second time around as much as I enjoyed it the first time.
IroningBoard
This is my home this week: the Wild Wing of Hughes Hall at Arrowmont. Camp, I call it, and it is the best kind of camp: a week long arts and crafts time . . . although what I learn this week is nothing like the lanyards I excelled in at Camp Inagahee, and my friend Dianna isn’t along. This week, I fly solo.
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Monday I spend the entire day feeling befuddled as I walk on unfamiliar ground, trying to grasp what it is we’re doing and what lies ahead of us so I can plan.  I sleep 13 hours Monday night.
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Tuesday is Photoshop day, and for this former freelance graphic designer, it is a homecoming. I feel a skoch better . . . but only a skoch because it’s been a l-o-n-g time since I used Photoshop, and what with all the upgrades through the years, about the only thing that is the same is the way it’s spelled.
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Wednesday my best laid plans go kaput, but I keep moving, even though I’m still not quire sure where I’m headed. I make good use of some of the sit-a-spell-and-rest spots.
BearCrossing
These signs aren’t posted (this one right behind my dorm room) just for the cuteness factor – a bear stops by at lunch time. A real skinny woman makes herself bigger and says authoritatively “Go away,” and the bear did. It’s funny how an animal that is so huge has no concept of size. And speaking of lunch, these camp meals are infinitely more delicious than what we were fed at my childhood summer camps. And nobody makes me clean my plate or drink milk.
ClothsPrepared
Today (Thursday) I’ll print, (and tomorrow I’ll no doubt print do-overs for the ones that don’t quite turn out the way I’d like. It’s a given.)
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The dorm room is comfortable in its simplicity, and the studio is magnificent. I have asked The Engineer to bring a tape measure when he comes to fetch me on Friday so I can at least dream about recreating one atop the mountain. The work table is sturdy and gives the sense it can withstand anything. This table is a partner, an accomplice, a studio assistant. It is constant, ready, and able. The top is covered with a layer of padding and topped off with white vinyl. Underneath the table is a built-in shelf, perfect for storing bags and whatnot. A strip of electrical outlets runs down the side of each wall so there’s never a need to search for a place to plug something in or a need for a multi-outlet gizmo. Several other outlets hang from the ceiling, making them perfect for irons. There is a place for and room for everything.
The design wall is massive – I need a step ladder to fully avail myself of it, and for one who hasn’t room for a design wall in The Dissenter’s Chapel & Snug, this is like working in a dream. There really is a tremendous difference when you can see things from a distance.
JeanaKleinPiece
Done by Jeana Eve Kelin
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This week renews my desire to print on fabric, and I’ve learned things that will take me further on that adventure.
I’m not sure I’ll ever recreate this technique, though, (even if I could!) because (a) Jeana’s technique requires painting, and I do not paint and have sub-zero interest in learning; (b) I like my quilts to warm you up when you get cold and to make you feel better when you’re feeling puny; and (c) this process is rather tedious and technical while I prefer intuitive and take-it-as-it-comes. But then I’m certainly old enough to know to never say never . . .

(Please excuse any formatting ick. WordPress is being difficult.)

A Cold Molasses Kind of Day

Two nights with little (last night) or no (the night before last) sleep caught up with me today. The reason for the sleepless night is that my bedtime reading was a first-person account of the Holocaust, and her stories were even more horrifying than anything I’ve seen, read, or heard to date. By the time I gave myself permission to close the book, it was too late. The images and feelings were stirred and refused to be quieted. 48 hours later, they are still with me – especially imagining how The 70273 we commemorate must have been treated. I am not one to play ostrich and bury my head in the sand, finding that a dangerous act that paves way for atrocities, but I can now understand better than ever why some people make such choices.

Though there’s much to do, I decided there was nothing to do but move slowly through today and punctuate the afternoon with a nap.

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So I first ironed the red fabric that Tami Kemberling donated to The 70273 Project.
Ironing flat pieces is much easier than ironing clothes.

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Then I stitched a bit on a tenured Work In Progress,
a piece in The Rinse Cycle: Pivotal Epiphanies in a Woman’s Life series,
and marveled at how much I like the wrong side of pieces
sometimes more than I like the right side.
In high school, I made my dress for the senior prom
(Yes, I had that much personality)
and I horrified my mother and her friends
by choosing to make the wrong side of the fabric
the right side.
Only Ms Johnson thought it a daring and brilliant move
on my part.
In return, I found her a daring and brilliant woman.

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Then I stitched a bit on the Storm at Sea quilt
I’m making for my boy, Kipp.
It is the never-ending quilt, to be sure
because I did the Jeanne thing
and opted to hand stitch each block individually
instead of quilting straight rows across.
I tried the straight across approach and felt it disrupted the magic
of this pattern, so I ripped it all out,
took a deep breath
and started again.
It takes about 12 hours to quilt an entire block.
Every now and then I count the blocks waiting to be quilted
and formulate a plan for reaching the finish line –
1 block finished on Monday and Tuesday;
2 blocks finished on  Wednesday and Thursday;
3 blocks finished on Friday and Saturday:
and so on till I know what day I will be finished.
Then I take a day (or ten) off
and must devise a new plan.
My current targeted deadline is Christmas.
I might make that.
Might.

The Engineer, who refuses to take naps
and sometimes (thought not today, thankfully)
it seems he decides that nobody else will nap either,
busied himself rearranging the deck furniture,
bringing some furniture up from the lower deck
to find a new home on the upper deck
and presumably carting other pieces
down to the lower deck.
Both decks are rather small,
so I dread going outside tomorrow
to find (yet another) space that has that
just-moved-in look.
The Engineer doesn’t nap
and I don’t tolerate clutter well (at all).
Even after all these years, though,
we find a way to compromise
and live together with respect for
each other without completely abdicating our own selves.
We’ve become experts at choosing
which hills we’re willing to die on
and which hills to let go.
Some days that’s  easer than others.
Every day it’s at the top of the list of things love must do.

It’s Her Birthday, and I Got the Gift

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Today is Nancy’s birthday,
and don’t you know that
She is The Gift.

 

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the gift of laughter

 

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and love

 

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and reminders of what’s important and what’s not.

 

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of being content with what you have and where you are
instead of looking for That One Special Thing
that will make you happy or make your life Complete.

 

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She’s an example of how to accept help from others
without feeling needy or inadequate
or obligated.

 

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She gifts so many with her art,
her smile,
her Being.

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Becoming Nancy’s sister-in-law might just be the best gift
The Engineer ever gave me,
and let me tell you what:
he’s a fantastic gift-giver.

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Happy birthday, Nancy.
Here’s to many more years of
drawing and stitching
laughing and loving
and good health.
Cheers. Clink.

In Our Own Language 16

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Usually Nancy (my disabled sister-in-law) draws,
and I stitch her drawings,

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but this time we laid the crayons down
and played with bits from my scrap bag.

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Nancy placed the bits of fabric on fusible sheets,
and I took it from there

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stitching in the car . . .

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and under Adonis . . .

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and under Mr. God (dog, in reverse) . . .

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and under Dante.

It’s obviously a hit with the felines,
and Nancy seems to like it, too.

Wordless Whispers

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In the midst of block for The 70273 Project, a box lands
with a return address from Mary Ellington.
It is filled not with blocks,
but with baby dresses

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and baby bonnets

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and a special occasion baby’s bib.

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There are two adult garments
that motivate me to stick to my diet and exercise
so that i can wear them as dusters one day soon.

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“i know you’ll do something magical with them,”
her note says.

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i have no image in mind yet,

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but the tender clothes
already whisper to me
and oh the stories

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their vulnerable lace

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and tender tucks

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and age-old stains
long to tell.

~~~

Thank you, Mary, for honoring me
with these special, delicate items,
for trusting me
to hear, transcribe, and share
their stories.

Maybe you want to hear their stories
and watch as their personal histories unfold?
And maybe you want to keep your finger on the pulse
of The 70273 Project?
Here’s one way to do just that.

the night that changed everything

JeanneAndyFormal

a girl walks into a bar
and when the bartender asks
“what’ll you have?”
she says
“you.”
43 years ago tonight.

no joke.

it was luck that brought us together
and love that keeps us together
the kind of love laced
with gratitude and respect
with patience and kindness
the kind of love that deepens
with age.

he continues to bring out the best in me.

i love to make him laugh
to hear him lay out the future
and ask my input
to watch him load the dishwasher
(because he does it right, you know).

i don’t tell him
(and more importantly i’m not sure
i show him – because words can’t touch it)
often enough
how much i adore him.
that needs to – and will – change.

i don’t ever want us
to grow stale
or feel taken for granted
and that takes effort,
you know,
conscious, dedicated effort.

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my daughter and i went to a thrift shop
here in pennsylvania today
and it occurs to me only now
what i brought home:

Stretchnsewbook

his mother and i
had the most fun
taking these classes together.
we made t-shirts,
skirts, even swimsuits.
give us some of that dotted paper,
some thread and a length of double-knit fabric,
and there was nothing we couldn’t make
and nobody we couldn’t dress.
i miss those days
and i miss her.

Delftthimble

and this
ceramic delft blue thimble.
we visited the delft factory
– the engineer and i –
on our honeymoon
(our second honeymoon)
in september
43 years ago.

we met on january 27, 1973
became engaged on april 1, 1973
and said “i do” on july 31, 1973.
there was no need to wait cause
i knew a good guy when i met him
oh yes i certainly did.

What Now?

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Every time we visit Nancy,
I bring home a set of drawings.
First I scan them
then label them by set and drawing number
then I print them
and pin them to the fabric.

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I stitch through the paper
then pluck the paper off
using lighted tweezers to get the teensy little bits out.

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I stitched two drawings a night,

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and when we got sick
and sat on the sofa all day,

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I stitched more than two,
so I finished more than a week ahead of schedule.

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It was quite satisfying
to have a quota, a schedule, a plan
and meet it.

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There are 95 drawings in In Our Own Language 4,
and I have no idea how to assemble them
now that I’ve stitched them all.
This is known as Entering The Unknown.
I’ve been in and out of The Unknown so many times,
I’m not too worried.
Eventually
I’ll see something that sparks an idea
or dream up an image
or somebody will say “Why don’t you . . . “
and I’ll be off and running again.
So if you have any ideas . . .

back in the saddle

Lowes

we walked today, the engineer and i. walked for the first time since thanksgiving, really. holidays – travel – family – rain – coughing, coughing, and more coughing have put my fitbit on a pretty strict diet. i’ve missed walking. sure i’ve had 2 hours of found time to stitch every day, but walking is kindling. i solve problems when i walk. i get ideas when i walk. i clear cobwebs and make connections when i walk. i think at least 7 impossible thoughts every time i take a walk.

sometimes we walk up the falls and get our shoes muddy.
sometimes we walk in the gym and dodge basketballs.
sometimes we walk 4-8 laps through the grocery store before filling a cart with foodstuffs.
many night we walk laps around the sofa and dining room table and kitchen island.
sometimes – like today – we walk the aisles at lowe’s. the engineer drools his way down every aisle, and he never comes away empty-handed. me? i just wish fabric stores were as big with well-lit and well-defined aisles cause i’d like to walk, drool, and shop, too. i believe i could do it. i believe i’d be good at it.

i did not escape my notice that the snow shovels, sleds, and ice melt were directly across from – no more than 2 feet, i’m telling you – the seed packets and starter sets. doesn’t that just crack you up?

the good news is i’ve got my walking on again – feeding my fitbit regularly – and that’s a good thing. maybe i’ll even add that 15 minutes of yoga first thing every morning i’ve been dreaming about then pop a handful of almonds and enjoy a mid-afternoon (think 3:00) workout with resistance bands. cross your fingers. it’d be nice to do it for real instead of just in my imagination.

and all the while in the background, nancy still draws, and i still stitch.

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In Our Own Language 4:34

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