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Archive for October, 2013

to my crazy Cézanne crazy quilt, my project for the 2012 Crazy Quilt Journal Project?

Last August, two weeks before Ernie died, I posted about that homage to Cézanne, having no idea what to do with it. Without success, I tried thinking of a way to finish it, a way to use it. As I was preparing to move back to Charlestown (more about that to come), I even considered trashing it. For over a year it languished in a drawer.

Then, entirely without premeditation, on the last Saturday in July this year, I took it to the quilt shop nearby and bought fabric, still not knowing what I would do with it. Within a few days, in August, a year after I had given up on it, I finished the quilt and found a place for it.

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I used the red fabric I’d bought as backing and border, all in one. The top border is a sleeve holding a dowel rod. The quilt covers my TV screen most of the time and this is what I see from my recliner.

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Wedding gift

In February, as soon as I received the “save-the-date” card for grandson Patrick’s wedding, I tried to come up with an idea for something I could make for him and Juliet. I even asked Patrick, an art photographer, to send me some of his photos, thinking one of them might inspire me.

But I was incapacitated. Daughter-in-law Carol and I were taking care of Geoff at home as he died of cancer, March 20th. For the past year, I have been paralyzed in this way–unable to stitch or to think about it, unable to practice the piano, often unable to read, and unable to write. However, I was still reading a few blogs of stitching friends.

On March 4th, Susan Elliott posted about a beaded velvet cushion cover she had been shown in an antique shop. Here’s one of the photos she posted.

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I saved it, thinking that if I couldn’t create an original design for the wedding gift, I might be able to do something with this image.

With Geoff gone, I wanted to be back East, where most of my family live. Specifically, I wanted to be back in Baltimore, near sons Michael and Pete. In July I moved back into Charlestown. (That’s a story for another post.)

The wedding date was October 12th. As time passed, I desperately wanted to be able to make a gift but I remained paralyzed. I had printed the cushion photo and tacked it to my design board. By July 24th, I had cut it up and gotten this far in thinking about how to use it.

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There it was and I was still unable to proceed. But I surprised myself one morning in early August by driving up to the quilt shop next door to The Stitching Post and buying fabric, including a dark brown print. Next I got out an assortment of white materials–fabrics, threads, and beads and began playing with what I had.

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The original velvet cushion cover was entirely beaded, except for the vines or branches. I had no idea how I was going to stitch this design, but it wasn’t going to be all beads. Now, putting white on dark brown so that it covers the background is a challenge.  I began by thinking about stitching over padding and about appliqué and began some trials.

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By the end of August, I had also traced a simplified version of the design, making notes on it about materials I was trying.

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There were many more trials, more than shown here. Lots of unstitching. Also, experiments with how to transfer the design to the dark fabric.

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Now it was September. Had to commit. Having figured out how to stitch the central motif, I used graphite transfer paper to get that much on to the fabric that would be the final product. I was afraid to transfer more of the design for fear of rubbing it off as I worked.

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This much and the upper left corner I stitched in a hoop, even though I knew the work would be better done on a wooden frame. Again, I was afraid of losing the white transfer design as I worked.

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But, after that, I put the rest of the corner motifs on the fabric, stretched it over a wooden frame, and, using a technique I learned in silk and metal thread embroidery, I covered the whole piece with a sheet of plastic, uncovering just the section I was working. It worked. The design remained.

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It was mid-September. I had not yet figured out how to make the small buds. After several false starts, what I did was to cut strips of thin white silk which I threaded through a large-eye needle. After using a tekobari to make holes through the fabric, I brought the white silk strip up and back down through the fabric. Grasping the ends of the strip underneath, I used the tekobari to adjust the silk into the shape of a bud or small blossom. Then I had to stitch each end to the backing fabric to hold the shape. Don’t ask how long it took to make each bud. Below you can see the threaded silk and the underneath view.

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It was September 27th. I hadn’t yet figured out how to put the names on the piece. Numerous trials, with different fonts, different alphabet designs, different threads, different ways of stitching.

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In the end, I used beads for the names and trailing stitch for the date.

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I wish I could get a good close-up so you could see the different stitches and the beads. Alas, either I don’t know how or my camera isn’t capable.

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I delivered it to the framer on October 8th, having consulted with her a week earlier, and I picked it up on October 10th, taking it with me to New Jersey the next day, where I presented it to Patrick and Juliet.

At the reception, they displayed it as the centerpiece of their “memory table”  with photographs and memorabilia of departed loved ones.

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At the reception–

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I’m working again. I have just written  a post for the first time in over a year.

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Silence and work

I wrote this post in August 2012, before Ernie died. I don’t know why I didn’t post it. Today I decided to try writing a post and I discovered three drafts from last year and one from a few months ago. Much has happened, much that I could NOT write about. I will try to fill in the gap, but the bottom line is that the last line of this post is true of me today.

 

Recently, it dawned on me that I am now living as I was living with ME/CFS from 1993 until 2009–in seclusion, practicing meditation, and learning to make needleart.

From Spring 2009 until January 2012, recovered from disability, I had ADHD and felt manic much of the time. I couldn’t stop going and doing. Then, in January, I crashed. It was not a relapse into disability; but it was utter fatigue and increasingly distressing symptoms. I prescribed for myself a retreat in silence and solitude, a time-limited period. Gradually, I have completely regained strength and stamina and most of the troubling symptoms are gone. Including the manic ADHD, thank goodness!. All that excess energy disappeared in January and left me calm instead of frantic.

But I have no desire to come out of my silence and solitude in the barn in the woods except as necessary. There’s nothing to prevent me from being as active in the world as I ever was. I just don’t want to be. I am different, and the world is different, as compared with 20 years ago.

So interesting. Forced into seclusion by a chronic disabling condition, I learned to love living that way. These past three years of frenetic activity and tremendous life changes and stress have been harder for me than living with disability. Most of my time was spent with other people–taking care of Ernie, visiting residents at the care center, helping elderly neighbors, and having to interact with people in the Charlestown community. Though I was thankful I was no longer “sick”, I missed my quiet life.

Now I’m back to living that way, with no one else around most of the time–days when I see no one, have no conversation. I do spend time with family. I do whatever I have to do for self-maintenance. Otherwise, I have no desire to go anywhere or do anything. Except, to my surprise, last Sunday when I awoke, unthinkingly I decided to drive to the nearest beach, three miles away. I was there by 7:00 a.m.. (This was while I was living on Vashon.)

No one else around. Three quiet boats passed, and a single kayaker.

This was the first time I’d done this, and for the first time I wanted to be out on the water in a kayak, as I was last summer.

Since January, as I did when I was forced into seclusion in 1993, I’ve been reading about solitude and silence and people who choose to be alone, trying to understand this desire and trying to find other people like me. Currently, I’m re-reading The Perennial Philosophy, from which I quote:

“It was not from want of will that I have refrained from writing to you, for truly do I wish you all good; but because it seemed to me that enough has been said already to effect all that is needful, and that what is wanting (if indeed anything be wanting) is not writing or speaking–whereof ordinarily there is more than enough–but silence and work. For whereas speaking distracts, silence and work collect the thoughts and strengthen the  spirit.”  St. John of the Cross

Among other activities I have not wanted to pursue these past months is blogging and emailing ( “writing and speaking”). I’ve lost touch with many online friends. But I have been able to return to concentrated work. As St. John wrote, silence and work have been for me “all that is needful.”

Maybe that is changing?

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