Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tumbling Down the Rabbit Hole

The first week of the new year began with a colder run of weather; Nothing dire, frosty nights and some chilly mornings and a bit of overcast.
Our small flurry of holiday keeping was past, the left-overs dealt with, and we resumed our rather desultory routine of retirees in winter.
I felt tired from a bout of insomnia, too cross and creaky to begin any of the projects which churned through my brain when I'd rather have been peacefully sleeping.
I ventured outside long enough to deal with cat litter boxes and to gather twigs along the edge of the woods.
I prefer them to the kindling which J. splits, liking the ritual of gathering and bundling, the cheering snap and crackle as they catch the flames.
I built a fire in the basement stove, drew a rocking chair and hassock close, and settled, mug of tea at hand, to sort my piles of quilting magazines.
Sorting anything with text and pictures leads to more reading than organizing.
Soon my imagination was stirred with projects I'd love to take on.

The sun came out midweek and J. kept up with replenishing the wood pile and tinkering the latest machine.
I left off my sorting mid-way and got on with the usual tasks necessary to a household: meals, laundry, tidying. I gave the kitchen a bit of an overhaul, wiping down the pale gleaming wood of the maple cabinets, cleaning smudges from the stove and fridge. 
I washed the kitchen and dining area windows inside--and wonder how I shall manage to clean the outsides!
I made new curtains from a heavy cotton the color of old linen and hung them at the glass sliding doors.
I knelt on the cold damp grass alongside the row of kale and snipped enough to add to the roast beef supper which M. prepared.
I used my laptop to read my favorite blogs, but felt witless when it came to comments.
Each evening I scuttled downstairs to the warmth of the fire there and sewed.

During the short chilly days of November I pawed out an old project. Most of the fabrics were purchased in the late 1980's--before the advent of the beautiful and varied fabrics meant specifically for quilters.
I had cut some of the pieces for this quilt, had even stitched a few on an old machine I used during the winter our first Wyoming house was in progress.
The machine stitched poorly and when I looked at my efforts some years after I consigned the mangled bits to the trash can!
The specific directions had disappeared, but the blocks were basic.
For some reason I don't now understand, I decided in November I should finish this quilt before going on to more impressive projects.
With the stacks of patchwork prepared I began laying out the pattern on the diagonal--which means one must visualize the emerging thing in at least three dimensions.
It quickly outgrew my work table, so I dragged it up and down the stairs, spreading it
on our king-sized bed.
I was assisted by a changeable assortment of cats who shuffled blocks, prodded at pinned sections and trailed me on the staircase until I wondered if I would end up in a heap at the bottom entangled in cloth, pins and cats!
I finished the quilt, cursing mildly at the poor quality of one of the white fabrics I bought locally when the original ran out.
G. decided she liked the quilt--which is good, as it doesn't become my bedroom.
She went with me today to deliver it to an area woman who does machine quilting.
This lady does not offer options. She uses a vintage industrial model Singer machine, has one type of batting. She supplies basic plain 'lining'--as they call it here.  Her style of quilting is a series of neat loops.
Her charge is more than reasonable.
I had two other quilt projects 'in progress' when we signed the contract to sell our Wyoming home. They have remained unfinished here in Kentucky while we renovated, gardened,  put up produce from the garden.
Lately as I've gone along with J. on his errands, I've been reading quilt patterns while I wait in the car.
Last night I brought out some of my considerable stash of fine quilting fabrics, unfolding them to admire the colors, imagining how they could be 'made up' in various ways.
It is certain that we no longer live in a climate where I need to concern myself with extra covers for a number of beds. I'm not working in a quilt shop where I could display my quilts for sale.
But---I enjoy making quilts!  I have fabric enough to make more quilts than I have years left to make them!
The type of long-arm-machine quilting which I prefer is pricey.  The machine quilters at the Wyoming shop had developed a considerable degree of artistry and it is hard to settle for less.
It seems very late in the day for me to attempt to achieve any degree of hand quilting skill, of the sort that my Amish neighbors apparently learn in girlhood.
So, in my sleepless hours I've pondered  possible solutions to the dilema of too much beautiful fabric.
I have my eye on several smaller quilts--less than bed-sized--projects that might explore unfamiliar techniques.  Perhaps I could use cherished fabrics in these pieces, then give the excess to my nieces who are expert needlewomen.
I could piece large quilt tops and store them away--to be finished in the event of a 'windfall' or to be given to someone who could finish them.
Of the many quilts I've made in nearly three decades, most have been presented as gifts to special people, a few have been sold.  When I make 'scrap quilts' they are used on our beds and the cats sleep on them!
Several are carefully displayed out of reach of inquisitive paws and claws.
I am inspired by the creativity of others--not to copy, but seeing their work as a 'what if,'
a jumping off place.
Its no surprise that the blog friends I interact with are creative individuals as well, whether working with paint, thread, photography, word-smithing, or gardening, putting up preserves, turning out
wonderful baked goods.
Still others create with paper and embellishements, or turn found objects into works of art.
So often one sort of 'creating' leads to other mediums and the exploration of other skills.
For sure, those of us who craft and create are never bored.
Now, if someone can point the way to a good nights' sleep, perhaps I can stitch the quilts, write my stories, and paint the living room walls!


  1. Hi MM, lovely long rambling blog, hope you get a proper night's sleep soon.
    I have decided to do some quilting this year, waiting for a rotary cutter to appear through the post though. My quilts were always dog quilts to protect furniture etc and not very good. My mother-in-law used to make patchwork dressing gowns for the children a long time ago, they were very pretty, lined with flannelette. X

  2. What a fascinating post and I know that other peoples' crafting and indivuality influences us. Making things is SO satisfying - it really makes me feel so good about myself, even when what I am making is very basic. I'm working on the girls' cushion covers right now (I spent the morning sewing ends in, as I was taught at school) and plan to do some more fixing together of the currently half re-associated hexagon quilt extension.

    When I was looking for poppers today, what did I find but the quilt pattern you sent me that beautiful stash of material for (and not where I thought I'd put the pattern either), so I may make an experimental block or two and see where that takes me!

    Now, before I do that I must do some preparation on the evening meal and I did say I would wield the paintbrush to finish the little bookcase Keith made me from a bigger one . . . The snap and crackle of our woodstove is calling though!

  3. You create such wonderful posts! I've had that problem of projects started but lost interest in also. Sure stifles creativity. I think I would opt to make some smaller wall hanging sized quilts so I could enjoy doing more projects. I have a lot of patchwork pillows and lap quilts to show for that philosophy! Sorry I can't help you with the insomnia. The only solution I could come up with is to read a very dull book before bedtime. Works for me!

  4. Reading of your stash of fabric reminds me how I really should get rid of some of mine somehow, but I can't bear to part with it thinking that I shall need just that colour or pattern some day....

    Like you I love to make the quilt tops but really dread the wadding and backing bit, how great to have a lady the does this for you at a price, wish we had one here.

    I'm also glad when I read that another blogger had her tired times, I tend to think that it is only me that gets dispirited some times and doesn't have the 'get up and go' that I used to have.

    We have the snowdrops appearing here, the first flowers of the year, it gives me a good feeling that spring is just around the corner.

    Keep well

  5. That was a wonderful post ...I loved Every word. Crafters are special folk with active and creative imagination ...and most have more stash than they will ever need ...yet we buy more lol. I love reading about how others create with their passion whether cloth wool paint or paper ...and sometimes all of it.
    I remember the sounds of real fires ....so comforting ....but so rare now a days over here.xx

  6. I haven't the skill to make a large real quilt and can only admire those who do. The one in the picture is truly beautiful.

  7. Nice post as always,love your quilt its lovely.Love Jill xx

  8. I love the quilt that is laid out on your bed. You're right that reading about what other people do can inspire you to do something yourself.

  9. How well I understand it all - even the sleep part! And I can truly say I am never bored. Overwhelmed occasionally because of so many things I want to accomplish and obviously not enough time left to do it all! As for giving my "sewing" or "quilting" projects away, it is only to/for special people. For as my Mama used to say, "I only sew for love". My daughter has learned to sew very well and now understand what that means!