For Grace

I’ve been stitching strips of cloth onto a king size flannel sheet, finally getting back to the bed cover I’m calling my heart’s compass

It’s not exactly a quilt, as there’s no middle layer. And I’m perfectly okay with the stitching that shows on the other side. It’s a combination running/backstitch that I like to call the Texas Two-step …

In other news, we are headed to New Mexico in a couple of weeks. Our first ever visit was in 2014 when we celebrated the 40th anniversary of our first (blind) date. This time around we’ll be celebrating 48 years together. After a week in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos and Abiquiu, we’ll head over to Missouri to see Meliss and her crew.

So fair warning: lots of pictures to come!

A paean to paperless piecing

There are many things I have learned from Jude Hill, but none more valuable than her paperless piecing technique.

My favorite take on it is to tear cloth into strips …

then fold the edges back and overcast stitch the patches together. The magic in it is how beautifully the seams stay open on the other side …

So now I’m off to “quilt” this pillow top …

to a linen backing … and I put “quilt” in quotation marks, because the resulting double layer of cloth won’t truly be a quilt as there will be no middle layer.

There will be more to come on the meaning within this cloth once it has been united with its other side. Later gator …

Etched in stone

Back in 2018, Don and I ventured out to the La Cieneguilla petroglyph site outside Santa Fe. It was (and likely still is), easy to miss. A scrabbled parking lot with a BLM sign (Bureau of Land Management) and a questionable path up to a jumble of rocks.

It wasn’t at all clear that we were in the right place, until it was. The markings on the rocks were at once both easy and hard to see. The figures chipped into rock varnish untold years ago … themselves overlaid by more rock varnish. There was no signage or explanatory text that I recall. It was silent under the intense sun and blue sky.

This cloth is a memento of that experience …

Stitched in good faith, the intended meanings of the motifs I found online were sometimes puzzling, others seemingly clear as day …

After the brief trial posted here, I pieced together the rest of the pillow top with Malka’s hand-dyed cloth and Deb’s hand-dyed thread during the harrowing week after the Uvalde shooting …

The simple repetition of Kantha stitches in the green border and mock herringbone along the raw edges of the rocky patches accompanied the endless news pouring out of the television.

In my mind, I revisited the two years from 1999-2001 that I spent as a high school librarian following the Columbine massacre. Two years feeling like I had a target painted on my chest.

Then the eight years following 9/11, spent in an elementary school library where we held annual intruder drills.

And finally the three years spent in a vast university library contemplating how to apply the active shooter drills to my corner of the endless maze of shelving, each of the seven floors the size of a football field. Not to mention the colleague who so disturbed me that I actually went to my boss, who sent me to the administration, who said there was nothing they could do for my foreboding sense that he could be a shooter.

Stitched the memory of unrealized fear into the cloth. Surely this is a form of trauma … one inflicted on every teacher, student and staff member every single time a drill is called. A trauma that underlies the lives of millions, hidden but no less real …

As the immediacy of Uvalde began to wane, I returned to the online petroglyph images and sketched them onto the cloth rock patches with water eraseable ink. Then chose to use the thread Deb calls “the devil’s whiskers” … a silk/cotton blend with a mind of its own that turns out to work much better as a single strand than it does doubled …

And so it went, in Jude’s split backstitch and thread beads, not letting myself undo any stitches, imagining how an errant mark on stone could not have been undone, wondering if some of the more inscrutable marks might have been figures in the making that were abandoned for want of an “eraser” …

adjusting to the ever-shifting lengths of thread, until all the motifs were wrought and the ink washed away …

It will be a while until I make a pillow back … it is enough as it is for now.