Thinking Out Loud…
Right after I retired I completely reorganized my studio to reduce clutter, and generally make my work space more friendly to my achy joints. I was also wrestling with a deeper issue—was it time to let go of my long arm quilting machine, Millie. For some 15 years, Millie had been my steadfast partner in making my quilts. Millie gave me the ability to densely quilt my work so that it had the sense of intensity I was striving for. But, a quilt had been sitting on Millie half way quilted—untouched for nearly 2 years. I couldn’t bring myself to work on it, partially because maneuvering Millie across the surface of a quilt was painful, very painful, and partially because I no longer felt connected to the piece. I no longer knew what the quilt meant to me. I didn’t know what it was saying. I didn’t know what I wanted to say, or IF I had anything left to say.
I removed the quilt from Millie, deciding that it would be a sacrificial transition piece (whatever that meant…) to help me find my way from then to what would come next. I decided to hand quilt it in big loose stitches, letting all the “bits” show, all the steps. This seemed like a good idea, an interesting idea, but after a few weeks of working on it, I lost interest. I pinned it back up on the design wall, and there it rested until last week.
It felt like it was time to ask the questions again—“What is this about? What do I have to say? What does it mean?”
Regret, conflict…Talk about conflicted
Between what I feel, and what I think I should feel.
Between what I want to do, and what I actually do, and what I think I should do.
Then there are the different sides of what I feel about this one thing—the rough and smooth, the tangled, the tight and loose, the hidden, the exposed, the raw edge left alone.
No wonder I like knitting. It is simple. You take a strand or two of yarn, a couple sticks, and you fiddle your way to make loops, through loops, and you get a hunk of fabric that holds together. It stretches, it bounces back. You can pierce it, but if you cut it, it will come undone. If you pull a loose thread one way, it will tighten, if you pull another way it will unravel. It’s about the loops, always the loops.
Who invented this stuff? What a mind that took, what thought, what vision and interpretation—to see such possibilities with a simple loop, repeated, repeated, with sticks. Boggles my mind….
Loops. Loops of thought. Some things just keep coming round, again and again. I think I have that figured out, and here it comes again. We think we have made progress, and here it comes again. We have made progress, but we are not done yet, it is not totally fixed. Here it comes again, I have to deal with it again.
Layers. There are layers and more layers. As quilt makers we deal with layers. We bind them together. We have lots of ways of doing this. Sometimes parts are hidden, sometimes revealed, sometimes tight, sometimes loose, sometimes purposely and apparently careless, sometimes with painstaking accuracy we hold those layers together. I love that about quilt making. I love that about my own quilt making.
I am amazed I just said that…I haven’t felt that way for a long time.
By gum….it is still there.