Packing for the journey, part 1

Three months away from the studio!!! What to pack?
Never mind what shoes and how many changes of undies – art materials were high on the list.

 I love working with “found objects” so I decided to take a little bundle of somethings-to-stitch-onto: my favourite quilt batting and some pre-painted baby wipes 
Thread is handy too. A little kit of many colours and a few needles:

   

Some objects which places gave me:miscellaneous fibre-ish rubbishI’m especially pleased with the red tangle. It’s waste agave silk from the braid-makers in Fes. 

I couldn’t help myself and have bought a few items:

shiny floss on  skinny cardboard reelsReels of agave silk-which came in the most daunting array of colours-and some silk scraps from traditional weavers in Lyon. 
After all this preparation, I’m sorry to say that I haven’t done a thing with it except mending some clothes. Which was very handy!
I’m learning that I need a more settled space to do composition. Or maybe I haven’t yet established a routine that allows for stitching. That might happen in Paris…

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More unusual behaviour 

 pink fabrics blowing on a rotary clothesline Some people insist that pre-washing fabric for a quilt is essential. They worry about colours running and about shrinkage. I don’t usually do this. Most of my quilts are for the wall, or are for adults. Not likely to be washed often, or ever. I choose good quality materials so the risks of both problems are minimal.

For this baby quilt, I’m working outside of habit. I know it’s likely to be washed often, so there’s more opportunity for something to go wrong. I might even pre-wash the batting! or choose a non-shrinking polyester. They dry fast, could be the best choice anyway. 

Pre-washing also removes the manufacturing dressing from the fabric. This stuff can be irritating to sensitive skin. Remember, it’s All About The Baby! and its Mum.

In the twinkling of an eye

Picture me, merrily quilting away, when suddenly, BANG! Snapped needle! 

Top section still in the machine, pointy eye end still on the thread…midsection flying past my eye at high speed.

Not a very nice sensation at all. 

 It’s far from the first time I’ve broken a needle, and once again I’m considering wearing safety glasses while i quilt.

However, if I’m honest, ALL my broken needles have come from my own unforced actions or neglect of good machine use. This time I’d recently changed to the quilting foot (lower left picture) and hadn’t tightened the locating screw enough. The screw loosened, foot moved sideways meaning the hole in the clear plastic was no longer in the right place for the needle to pass through into the quilt. So the needle attempted to make a new hole…

It’s a bit of a dilemma. If i get safety glasses, i have to remember (choose) to wear them. Or I can remember (choose) to take care *every* time I touch the machine.  

Sorting the rainbow

One of my favourite ways to make a quilt is to begin with the colours.

neat stack of fabric pieces

New fabric treasures

The first step is the well-filled fabric stash. It’s full of pieces collected as I go

From time to time I sort the pieces into happy groups, trying not to have any orphan pieces left. It’s amazing what goes together!

Fabric in in tidy stacks

15 sets of fabric, ready to make into quilts

Each one will become a quilt, or the beginnings of one. I don’t think about the size of the pieces, or the total amount of fabric, or the design of the quilt. That comes later.

Then I roll them up…

rolled fabric sets

15 fabric bundles

…until the next time I want to start a new project.

If any bundles are still waiting when I have enough new fabric to sort, they might get broken up to make new groups.

This is a very relaxed and pleasing way to create colour combinations and a design challenge for later…

KNOWING / notKNOWING

Hey, you friends and readers who are older than me. Younger people too probably. A question.

How do you KNOW?

You all seem to know your own hearts, your own desires. To have gained or found or created your peace and confidence with who you are and where you’re going.

Maybe you think that’s true of me too.

Afraid not. I remember realising on my 25th birthday that I had never imagined being older than 24. In the 20+ years that have passed, I have only rarely felt that I knew simply and wholeheartedly who I am, and where I want to be.

There are really good things about this.

I believe I’ve thought more about what matters, about who I admire and why, more about my choices, than if I had an autopilot managing my course. I’ve felt more deeply each decision that comes my way. I like to think I’ve been more open to hear others’ thoughts and ideas.

I’ve come to be comfortable with that uncertainty. Maybe I do KNOW.
Maybe I’m The Woman Who Makes It Up As She Goes Along And It Works Out Just Fine.

What I did on February 1

There are three perfectly good posts I’ve written tonight, and they can all wait because I’d rather give you the truth in my heart right now

My overflowing joyous pain-clotted leaky heart
It’s been one of those days with a lot in it. 
Beginning in easy harmony with a dear longtime friend — doubting my own judgement — walking hard up the high hill, alone and pleased to work hard — smelling the scent of roses in the stone-terraced gardens — friendly chat with strangers — being cross with myself — finding a good cup of coffee — getting irritated with beloved people — finding a tactful way to be alone — watching Aotearoa slip by beneath the plane — nurturing the seed of a plan to see more — maintaining discretion — saying goodbye to three dear people, not knowing when I will see them again — dreading that yet more choice and change will be upon me soon —  realising i can have my cake and eat it too — messing around and wasting my own time — driving far too fast to arrive on time — hyperventilating with anxiety because nearly running out of fuel, having to stop to fill — relieved to not be late anyway — coming to a favourite place and finding myself quietly accepted — enjoying my sewing project — hating my sewing project — enjoying it again — feeding the kitten —  talking, listening, laughing, embracing, kissing — sharing pain and fear and grief — eating the delicious dinner — enjoying a moment of pretending i belong to a family — helping with a simple chore — discovering new connections and ideas — wishing that everything were different — mocking my own self-pity — finishing a project — planning a next-time — being peaceful — seeing a shooting star — knowing that despite all the difficulties: 

If you, dear reader, were part of this day, thank you for all you gave 

gratitude, again

I’m sure I’ve written about gratitude before. It’s still a somewhat selfish activity – most times I’m deliberately practicing gratitude because I know it’s one of my best strategies in the battle against gloom. There is nothing more effective in quelling a pity-party than counting your blessings, speaking aloud an audit of beatitude.

But sometimes, there’s a spontaneous magical moment of simple joyous realization of how good and beautiful life is.  I like to think those moments come as a result of deliberate practice.

Thank you, holy universe, for those moments.