August 18, 2014

Of Spectrum and Circle

This summer, I haven't been able to sustain focus on new classes. But I have birthed three stitching projects. They seem to be at varied points along the creativity spectrum, which suits my variable mood these days.

The mood? Well, it can be best illustrated in one freeze frame from last Monday.  There's me, in the consulting room with a veterinary cardiologist--yes, there is such a thing and get your ass back here, I'm not the kind of person who spends money on a dog cardiologist for no reason and while it seems to stun new graduates of veterinary school, I for one do not confuse medical intervention for an animal with that which might be appropriate for, say, the President of the United States. In wartime.

Anyway, she is explaining why Clutch has been completely lethargic and fatigued by the least bit of activity. I'm fiercely trying to grab hold of her words through my shock when my cell phone rings. Its my dad. He is at HIS cardiologist, trying to find out why HE has been completely lethargic and fatigued by the least bit of activity.

Thank god my mother refuses to go to doctors.

Its all circle of life stuff, really. The circle has turned the beloved grown-ups of my childhood into the old folks of my adulthood. And it will keep turning, until they turn into only my memories. The circle turns for the dog of my heart, who took his place there from the beloved dog before him...who had hopped onto the circle as the beloved dog before her slipped off...

That's how it goes. That's why our eyes leak when we hear The Circle Game or The Circle of Life. Once, I couldn't bear to look at The Circle. But looking at it face forward this really holds me steady. So does staying at home with needle and thread. Which, lucky for you, brings me back to my projects.

On the distant end of the creativity spectrum is the quilt I am making for our family's newlyweds-to-be. They chose a pattern called "One Block Wonder," where you take a busy print fabric like this:
 ...and then you slice and dice and julienne it into little triangles, which magically line up into a bevy of rather dramatic octagons that remind me of the June Taylor Dancers on the Jackie Gleason show:
Actually, its not so much magic as a whole lot of sewing. That part isn't so much fun, but it works when I want to duck and cover. Each octagon is different and completely unpredictable, so it is fun to see what materializes as I run the last of 8 seams through the machine. The creative part will come when its time to move all the completed octagons into a grand design.

Which necessitates completing the octagons...and the 4 small squares that go with each octagon, which themselves are made of 4 triangles.  The queen-sized quilt will take about 270 of these little buggers and I have 132. (Sing to the tune of 99 bottles of beer on the wall...)

Project Number 2 lies in the middle of the creativity spectrum. It is a felted wool wall hanging I am making for myself because it makes me smile.  And it will cover the holes in the plaster wall that appeared after I rearranged all the art in two rooms. It too is based on a pattern, but I do get to choose all the colors for all the bits and pieces. And I am doing all the stitching by hand with some newfound embroidery stitches. There's color everywhere. The squares start like this:
  When they get a bit older, they start to look like this:
When they're all grown up, they will look like this:
My third project doesn't involve anyone else. It requires all my creativity, which is probably why it is languishing at the moment. When I came home from Dorothy Caldwell's class, I stitched bunches of tiny scraps together, like this:

One morning, they too had regrouped. More three-card monte than June Taylor, though.
I've been kantha'ing this intermittently. I've lost my way with it, I think because I can't seem to hear it telling me anything. Could the addition of a clothesline make it laundry? Is it an aerial view of a busy beach? Anyone?



  1. When I first saw your bright fabric I thought omg but as octagons they look great and I really like the birds.
    Your bottom piece to me looks like lots of pockets, one even has a handkerchief in it, and I love it, does it have to be something?

    1. Thanks so much! I guess it doesn't have to be some thing, but it has to be Something to me...I love the pocket idea, making me think about ripping open the top seam on each and sticking in treasures! Maybe the Something is just a sampler of...of me.

  2. Julie, this sure is a roller coaster post, moving from family health matters to the matter of cloth, how everything in it's own fashion does matter. I love how the octagons turned out, you have 132 already!! amazing, look forward to seeing the result (as I'm sure you are too)
    the birds will make SmallBird happy I think, how is he btw?
    And the last piece, as it's you who's making it definitely needs an animal or two, or three or......more and maybe rows of running stitch (the visible type I mean) in contrasting colours, I'm getting carried away here; so now it's me thinking of ways to keep you busy, ha.

    1. 1. Looking forward to seeing the Happy Couple liking what they picked out, if nothing else. Although there is some sense of accomplishment, too.

      2. I caught Small Bird with the flashlight on under the covers after lights out time. He had the Bird Dance Pattern book and was kissing the hot redhead in the fifth row down.

      3. Oh golly, of course animals. Maybe they need legs...or eyes...oh oh oh

  3. re 2. ahum, was he embarrassed?

    1. Told me he was trying to improve his English reading. I took the book and gave him The New York Times.

  4. re 3 as you say, inviting in the beasts, look forward to seeing where this takes you and love your kaleidoscope patchworks hope Clutch and your Dad feel better soon

    1. thanks, Mo. They both are better already, relative to where they were and that's easier to be with, isn't it?

  5. i like very MUCH the fact that the small pieces are simply What They Are. The are a
    RELIEF to me...i enjoy looking at them, going through them, their differences then
    returning to begin looking again. Are you kantha ing the blue space between? i would
    do that if they were mine....they are like a picture language that my brain understands
    at a level that doesn't require definition.

  6. Your thoughts made me look again because they comfort me too. I think, if anything, what they are is Me.

  7. i just looked again and tho they are becoming even a little familiar by now...SEVERAL
    LOOKS....i still experience that same sense of quiet pleasure, comfort. and that they
    might be YOU, just adds to it but also doesn't change their ability to simply be their
    own Things...undefined, just forms. I Like them more and more and more. As Is.....
    Of course, it's your work, but adding beasts or other usual symbols or forms...i wonder
    if that would change this initial experience i get? don't know....but i don't need the addition
    of those things....this has been very good for me to see, to use as a reference to my
    own urges about readily identifiable forms as opposed to shapes and combinations that
    feel right....i'll keep coming back....