Wednesday, July 22


I feel like apologizing every time I blog, because it is so long between posts. I am sorry. I am a little checked out these days, and I'm finding it hard to come up with witty and interesting posts. But I do want to share my quilting with you before it is so far in the past that it is obsolete.

So. I have always wanted to quilt. In high school, I made a few quilt squares by hand with some of my mother's scrap fabric. I like how quilts often have histories and contain objects of the past. And I love the patterns you can make with fabric, and how practical they are. So when my mother invited me to join her at Session 3 of Haystack this summer, I was immediately attracted to the Quilting as Art class. It's an interesting choice, really, since what I love about quilts is their tradition, and the point of this class is to break tradition.

We started the class by doing a bunch of creative exercises with color and line. Part of this involved us each picking an image or object that we found interesting and playing with it. My image was a dress. I placed in on my square in different ways and played with applying dress images onto different fabrics. I was also interested in exploring quilting lines and how one can draw with texture just using stitches.Throughout the two weeks, my dress evolved, until at one point I decided to make many squares using just details of the dress image, and to piece them together into a small quilt. (Unfortunately I don't seem to have a lot of photos of this process, which surprises me, frankly)

I drew out 9 details of the dress, which I thought could translate into 9 squares. I made cardboard templates and cut them out, and then I cut out fabric and made 9 squares. Except that I didn't like how all of them went together, and then I thought that 9 looked sort of measly, so I made 3 more squares. And I rearranged them and made more, and I dyed some red and yellow fabric that I thought might look good with my green and blue theme. Basically, I guess you could say that I approached it like a piece of art. But that's probably typical for this sort of thing, right?I also learned how to sew angles, which was pretty fun.

Once I had decided on my squares and sewed them together, I had to figure out a border.These are just a few of my options. I decided to go with green, with a thin brown border around that. But it's still not done.

When I realized that I wouldn't have enough time, I took a few of my cast off squares and made a mini quilt. You might also call it a rectangular pot holder, or a mini-placemat. it's really not much of anything, except an exercise. I took these two squares and made them into a quilt, so I would learn how to sew a binding on, and how to quilt it, and all of that, while I still had quilting colleagues to ask advice of. Of course, I didn't photograph this piece, and I left it in Maine...

Here is how my quilt looks now, along with some of the fabric I dyed for it. Yeah, I didn't finish it. And I left it at my parents' place in Maine, since I figure I'll finish it when I go back up there in August. But it's a start. I still have to figure out where to put my quilting lines, and then finish that border.

I feel like I have a dialog with my little quilt, and the fabric that reminds me of water and the sky at the same time. It will tell me where to put those lines.

I don't know how many more quilts I'll make. Frankly, they aren't so portable, and I find them much less tactile than knitting. But we'll see. I do have a lot of fabric that needs to be used...

Wednesday, July 15

Home from Haystack

It has been awhile! And so much has happened.

First things first, my eye, and only because it is good news. I do not need surgery because my eye is healing itself. I may have some long term scarring, but honestly I barely notice anything now and I will be happy if this is how I see for the rest of my life. Phew.

I actually didn't realize until yesterday (when I got this news) how much my eye issues have been weighing on me down since it all started in early June. Yesterday I emerged from the hospital a happier person, smiling and squinting at the sunlight, so thrilled that it would be alright. I find this interesting, because I don't feel like I've been dwelling on it very much, but I guess it's just been there, dragging me down.

So. What I've been up to, though I think I'll give this to you in installments.

Week One.
At the end of June I went to Maine with my mother. She taught a drawing class at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and I was her guest, and a student in a Quilting as Art class. I had never done any quilting, though I could do some basic sewing, so the whole thing was really new to me. After some initial design exercises, we learned about Shibori dyeing. (Maybe it's just me, but I thought that Shibori was just for knitting!)In any case, Shibori is a little like tie-dyeing (you might say that tie-dyeing is a form of Shibori) but bigger and better. We tried different techniques, including wrapping, stitching, folding, clamping, rolling our fabric to create resists. And if it came out badly (as mine sometimes did), you just refolded it in some other way and overdyed it. Nothing lost.We had a whole dyeing room at Haystack, with lots of big pots and tall tables for dyeing on, and there was a whole set of primary colored dyes for us to mix and experiment with.The unfortunate part of our first week was the weather, which basically looked like this the whole time. Fog. And more fog. (These pictures were not all taken on the same day.) That's the ocean out there, with lots of islands and a mountain. We didn't see it until the second week.And it was really very cold and rainy too. I can usually handle this sort of weather, but we didn't have any heat in the studio or the cabins, and I didn't bring the right clothing for cold weather, and I was miserable.

And I got sick. But that's week two, in which I also tried to make a quilt!