meet Evidence, the hymn of cloth that documents this year of my life – the year dedicated to building a body that works and a body of work – beginning on 11/15/13. (because every day is new year’s day, right?) it’s color coded by what elements constitute, for me, a day well spent:

red = moving (as in walking, yoga, etc.)
orange = making (stitching, mostly, but also collages and photographs)
aqua = marking (writing, as in journals and books and blog posts)
purple = laughing (as in the surprises and wonders of the day that don’t go unnoticed)


i was filled with excited anticipation when i started work on Evidence back in november, and decided to use my sewing machine (a christmas gift from my husband 40 years ago, bought and paid for with winnings from a radio show contest) instead of stitching it all by hand as is my standard, my preference, my love. it quickly turned unfun, though, on account of the bulk. and if all goes according to plan, the bulk will become greater and greater.


today i pushed up my sleeves and set about getting caught up. with the walking foot on the machine, i put an audio book on and started, telling myself that i would not abandon this project and i would make this enjoyable and worthwhile. period.

as i sewed, i noticed that i had a tendency to push and pull the fabric in an effort to speed things up. sewing was much easier and more enjoyable when i relaxed and worked with the machine instead of against it. ditto when i quit disregarding and underestimating the flexibility and forgiving nature of fabric – when i let it be what it is instead of trying to make it something else, like a glass or an egg. this may be a transferable epiphany.


later, along comes this David Walcott poem titled Love After Love sent by my friend tom:

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

which is what often happens when you capture and preserve your life stories . . .


  1. judy martin

    I have a couple of questions and one comment.
    1. How long do you intend for this to go on , or have you planned that yet? One complete year?

    2. Was the reason you started on November 15 because you were inspired and couldn’t wait until your birthday or January 1 or some other more obvious starting point, or do you think there might be some other reason that even you do not quite understand. I mean, have you considered why are you having to document your emotions like this….
    3. I kept a cloth journal for about three years at the turn of the millennium – from November 1998, through 1999, 2000, 2001 and ended February 2002. Like you, I had a colour code and also a shape code so that I could record the weather and my daily activities.

    Best of luck with this – and I agree with you that sewing machine work is no fun.

    • whollyjeanne

      Judy, thank you so much for your good questions. You and your cloth journal with the leaves (weren’t there 3?) were the inspiration that finally settled me on a plan and got me going. I’d wanted to do a cloth journal for I don’t know how long, but never could decide exactly what it would look like, and the possibilities shut me down. But then one day, it came to me clear as a bell, so I just got started before I started spinning again. I chose 11/15, a date not related to anything except itself, because I was ready to go, and while I enjoy and try to build anticipation into my life (everything changed when the husband retired – every day became a weekend), I knew I’d just keep coming up with more ideas for how this might look, so I just picked up the fabric and got started. Obviously I’m figuring it out as I go. Though I did consider stopping the whole thing last week, I’m intending this to go on for 1 year, and right now, I’m thinking I’ll start me another one at that point that will be hand stitched (for obvious reasons).
      I love your questions about documenting my emotions like this. Though I can say that I felt compelled to do this because I realize quite clearly that I am now on the finite side of infinity and how deeply I want to have traction to my days and make them count, to leave and live a legacy, your good question will be good company for a while. This might be a good time to say that’s one of the many things I love about you and your work: how you relate it to life, how philosophically you approach cloth, how you aren’t afraid to use cloth as a scrying glass.
      Do you envision creating another cloth journal, I wonder. Your Not To Know But To Go On isn’t really a journal, is it? But it is a very moving creation that never fails to mesmerize and remind.
      Thank you for continuing to stitch and share. xoxo

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