Picking Up The Threads

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.

The Mystery of Knitting (And Snow)

Thinking Out Loud…

Snow covers up a lot.  There are some things you just cannot get to until the snow lets you.

Its beauty makes up for that.

Playing in the snow is the only thing to do. Even if that play happens inside looking out, even if it is the slow down of the day, the quiet time to look out and look in.

I’m letting the snow sculpt itself. And it is doing a good job!

The Mystery of Knitting

I should try and figure this out. I am trying to be logical in my blog posts–this thing ought to lead to that logically, and to that logically…. However, the brain isn’t working that way! AND, I still can’t seem to get myself to sit down and work on my quilt making. But I am knitting up the wazoo. Sweaters, mittens, more sweaters… So what is it about knitting that has me in thrall?

I love the texture! Both in the fabric and the fiber. I love the hand work–not tiny needle holding, but both hands working equally with sticks and loops of yarn. I love the feel of it in my hands, I love watching the fabric grow. It is about going back to the origins–the beginning of fabric building fascinates me. Plus, I love the smell of a rustic wooly yarn, the clean sheepy smell. Wool is magically warm and light.

It satisfies something in my yen for natural shades–greys, creamy whites, tans and the darkest blacks with flickers of reddish brown. In the winter, as it is now, the yarns match my snowy landscape, the sky, the trees holding onto the snow, ice dripping.


There are some things that I cannot express in knitting. My knitting is for comfort, making things that keep us warm, keep ME warm.

Many years ago, my quilt making became my voice, my poetry–very personal, yes, healing, yes, but abstracted to leave the door open for others to reach in and touch.

I am finding that I still need that voice, that physical poetry, that allows me to explore the depths of what I am feeling, and to do it in a positive, affirming way.

Little by little I see my way opening once again. And it has to do with permission.


To try something new, something old.

To fowl up, to rest, to think, to wait, to puzzle, to feel the way I do.

To say no to should, to say no.

To be sad, to feel sad or angry or hurt.

To be sorry, or wrong, or right and still feel wrong.

To not know the answer, or the way ahead.

To put one foot in front of the other, and take one step.

To think of myself, to put my feelings or well-being first.

To remember, and be sad or hurt or angry.

To feel stopped and frozen because I feel so bad about not wanting to be there.

Put that into my work, my cloth, my quilt-ish things, and leave them unfinished, undone, raw, and uneven because that is how it feels.

I can show that, and I do not have to explain.

It is loss and regret, what might have been but wasn’t, what should have been but wasn’t.

It is dark. But the light shines through those cracks, those breaks in the surface of all broken things.

And I look around me and see that it is good