Good news, bad news

Bad news first: we played Travel Roulette one time too many and both came down with mild cases of Covid (thank goodness for being fully vaxxed and boosted).

Fortunately, it didn’t happen until after Logan’s graduation and our week at the beach … once we were safe in Missouri in the capable hands of our newly minted RN daughter, who passed her boards on the first try.

So we extended our stay in St Louis (thank you to Southwest for no-fee rescheduling), while quarantining in the guest room. And are now back in Texas, where I’m impatiently waiting for my sense of taste and smell to recover.

More good news: my daughters know how much I love books, especially books about stitch and dye …

And I’m glad I brought Deb cloth and threads to the beach, where I stitched patches of color …

in between seeking and finding inspiration on my beach walks …

More stitching and stories to come … soon.

Etched in stone

Please note: I don’t know why, but some comments have been landing in the WordPress spam folder recently. I usually check it each morning, but if you send a comment that does not immediately appear, feel free to email me and I’ll check for it right away.

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.

What was I thinking?

It’s a new year and there are some new readers here, so I thought I’d do a little looking back … and then forward.

My original blog started out as a way to provide recipes for my newly-wed daughters and a record of our epic move from Virginia to Texas back in 2009.

It languished after a while, but found new life when I discovered Jude Hill’s Spirit Cloth in 2014. At that point the blog became a record of my stitch adventures interspersed with the joys of living in the Texas Hill Country and grandparenting six great kiddos (please note, those were two separate activities).

More recently, around the time of our move to the Austin suburbs, I migrated over to WordPress so I could more easily compose posts using my iPhone. However, I do still maintain the old blog, chiefly for its sidebar list of Kindred Spirits in Cloth …

Which brings me to the here and now. I’m currently trying to finish hand quilting a baby clothes coverlet for out youngest granddaughter, Ellis …

Even so, I’ve also got my mind working on a dormant work in progress: a bed cloth titled my heart’s compass. The base for one side is done and ready to be embellished …

but the middle and the other side have a long way to go …

and the top edge is completely blank, which is where my current patch-a-day project called Looking Up comes in.

I woke up at 4:00 this morning, my head buzzing with ideas for Looking Up. Why stack the patches into weeks and months when my days flow in one long, continuous stream? What if I just keep stringing the patches together until they span the width of the cloth?

And what if I just appliqué the resulting strip of patches onto my heart’s compass and then start another strip of patches, and then another and another until I have a whole year’s worth of Looking Up patches?

And what if I put this wonderful gifted batik cloth underneath the strings of patches, sorta like this?

Last, who am I trying to kid by not talking about the individual patches? Of course I want to tell their stories … although I think it might be better to tell them in clusters rather than individually.

So without further ado, here are the patches to date.

January 1-4 … the dawn of a new year … followed by three sunny, blue sky days (taken on my beloved soumak rug, which provides the backdrop for most of my photos) …

January 5-8 … two nights of the waxing crescent moon (called the banana moon in our family) as seen from the back porch … followed by two rainy days when only short glimpses of blue sky were possible …

January 9-12 … a mostly cloudy day … the appearance of the first quarter moon (aka the taco moon) … a golden dawn that brought the sad news of a dear man’s passing (rest in peace Adrien) … and Parker’s moon from this Wednesday …

And then (drum roll please) yesterday’s patch for Logan

who received an early acceptance letter from James Madison University, home of the Dukes and much beloved alma mater of her mom and her aunt.

To say going to JMU has been a life-long dream of Logan’s is not a stretch …

So I guess it’s appropriate that my golden gibbous moon (aka the lemon moon) in a perfectly purple sky looks more like a football …

Go Dukes!

[With thanks to Deb Lacativa for the artistry of her dyed damask and cotton cloth, not to mention her always amazing Dirty Threads]