Bagstories, coffee pot posts, crocheting, Reading

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Weather has always been fascinating to me. As the daughter of a farmer in a pre-Internet time and no-cable TV house, I was expected to watch the weather forecast on one of our three TV stations and report to him in the evening when he came in, since a farmer’s work generally lasts sunrise to sunset and the news only came on at 6 and 11.

Sometimes I wish that I had studied meteorology in college, but I would have had so much science catch up to do. The only science I had in high school was biology, since one of the coaches “taught” my chemistry class (we never once went into the lab and he never lectured about chemistry), and I was always an arts and lit student. I learned a little bit in a college freshman earth science class.

Anyway, crocheting this weather scarf is making me more aware of the comparative weather of our year. The photo above is of the first two months in 2018, when we started with a polar vortex week. Other than that, our weather is really wild during the winter/early spring. It often changes 30-40 degrees in a single day. I’m sure that these big swings will be more extreme as our climate continues to change and the Arctic ice and permafrost melts.

March and April are just as wild, with many more color changes from day to day. Then suddenly, May was different. During the entire month of May, the high temperatures stayed between 76-90 F, often within 5 degrees for days at a time. The summer of 2018 was surprising. We did not have a single day with a high over 95. Now, I guarantee you that the humidity made most of those days feel well over 100 degrees.

The basic Tunisian crochet class ended yesterday. Actually it was intended to be a one-day class but it was Hilary’s first time teaching and she had a couple of students who didn’t have any or much experience in regular crochet, which she didn’t expect. She was kind to extend the class to two more Saturday afternoons, and it was leisurely paced with plenty of chat. I walked away feeling part of a tribe and Amanda’s hugs were wonderful.

They are doing a “Sophie’s Universe” crochet-along (a crazy fabulous free pattern, google it) on Saturday mornings at Gate City Yarns and I am going to join it weekend after next. This is what I need, a small comfortable group I can create with on a regular basis. I miss having a studio mate, even though I didn’t want to collaborate and basically just wanted a quiet companion to share energy and space.

The lettuce and calendula and arnica seeds are coming up! I planted leeks, onions, chive, monarda, and coreopsis a few days ago. I still have them inside the house since the temps are supposed to plunge to about 20 degrees mid-week. The rains have stopped from time to time to give us a short break before beginning again. As they are supposed to do today. It is definitely affecting my mood.

Current book: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. I am really disappointed with this one because I looked forward to reading it for so long. It’s been a real slog to get this far (about 70%) and I’m glad I didn’t buy it. I don’t like the main character. She is whiny and it is hugely depressing. I am from that rural farming poverty stricken conservative world, and I should be able to relate to it, but I don’t because I have had a mind of my own since childhood. I think that a lot of it could have been edited down and it would have been a better book. However, I want to see how she ends it and I am not skipping to it because that is cheating in my reading world.

Anyway, I am wrapping this up and getting back to the loom. I’ve got three more feet to weave on the twill gamp curtain panels. Oh! Almost forgot – I crocheted a bag with those long thrums from this project. I cut off about 8-9 feet of warp and couldn’t bear to see it go to waste. Result is below.

This week is spring break for UNCG and Susanne and Sandy and I are headed to Topsail Beach next weekend for a book workshop with Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller, so more good things are coming.

Oh, and this blog turned 14 this week. How about that?

art, Back Forty, Bagstories, Rebel stitching, Slow cloth, tapestry, weaving

Sunday update

I don’t have much to say today, because HEADACHE, but I wanted to document that I planted Green Arrow peas in planters, Sugar Ann snap peas in the raised bed with the pineberries, and sprouted chunks of Yukon Gold potatoes in another planter. Now for another day of rest and stitching while the rain comes down.

Detail of Boro fabric, lots more stitching to do

Vegetable beef soup was made yesterday, so cooking is off the list today.

I have one goal today that I keep putting off – take the backing off the tiny tapestry “Pacific Pines,” square it up, and sew the backing back on. This is the one that I’m sending to the ATA unjuried small format show.

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Before photo of the Back Forty. My hope is that it will look much prettier in coming weeks. The formerly screened gazebo in the back is going to be stripped of its fabric soon. I can’t buy a fabric roof and screening that stands up to the limbs and vines coming at it from the back. We may move the metal structure out into the sunnier part of the yard and screen it with metal screening. Sandy wants to do some wattle vine and stick weaving around it, which I think is a great idea. It would make an excellent structure for growing mushrooms inside if we did that. But I can’t even think about that now. Maybe next year.

Late winter in the Back Forty.

art, Back Forty, Bagstories, coffee pot posts, fiber art, Slow cloth, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, Upcycling, weaving

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I’m sure that most people in the world would rather be doing something else full-time than what they do to earn a paycheck. I am grateful for and appreciate my job very much, not in the least part because I have had some really shitty jobs in the past and worked with some awful people, and my job is wonderful compared to them. I know what a good thing is because I’ve experienced the bad. But I’m going through a period when I ache to be in this studio, weaving or stitching. I alternate between being fearful and anticipatory about my retirement, which, if I’m lucky, is ten years away. I want to leave this country, this state, this city, and then I think that I could be happy here for the rest of my life if I could only ignore politics.

Greensboro is a great small city, really. It’s just that I haven’t lived anywhere else but here and Marietta.

Okay, so this week was very stressful and it wasn’t supposed to be. By the end it all calmed down but only because we all needed to make mind adjustments. Everybody’s stress was rubbing off on everybody else and once we all saw it, we could acknowledge it and work on it. I’m not going to talk any more about work here but I need the artwork more than ever. Stitching on this boro fabric is particularly good for lowering the blood pressure:

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Midweek, I stopped on my walk to work to look around when my crow friends were behaving oddly. Sure enough, there was the red-tailed hawk in the tree nearby. The crows were flying around him.

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He flew away to the top of the art building, when I noticed his mate was perched nearby. She joined him, and the crows continued to hassle him. I was excited because I had not seen the female before. The male flew away and the crows followed, then he returned and everything seemed peaceful. I put my camera away. Then he hopped on the female and mated! I got to see two hawks getting it on! No photo, it was over quickly when the crows came back to annoy them.

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I tried to capture the hawk in my tapestry diary this week. I am a bit frustrated with the limits that I set for this project sometimes, although I think that they are good ones. Using just the cotton and linen thrums on an 8 epi warp and a daily format across the frame for each week is starting to feel a bit oppressive. I think that it is a good exercise, but if it was a closer warp and I used wool, I could weave some beautiful images. This is a bit like weaving emojis from the 90s. However, this is not supposed to be a work of art, it is supposed to keep me weaving on a regular basis, try out a few ideas, and use up these thrums that would otherwise be used for ties or take up space or be thrown in the garbage or compost pile.

Tapestry diary 2018

One way for me to get through this busy time of the semester at work is to consider all the lovely plans ahead of me. I will be taking online classes from both Jude Hill and India Flint. In May, I’m going to the Tapestry Weavers South retreat on St. Simons Island in Georgia. That’s an area where I’ve never been. It is possible but doubtful that I’ll go to Tommye Scanlin’s tapestry class at John C. Campbell Folk School the week of Memorial Day. The last I checked I was third on the wait list. Susanne and I are going to Leslie Marsh’s Chinese thread book workshop at Topsail Beach one weekend in mid-June. Mid-July, we are spending a week at Lake Waccamaw and my cousin and aunt from Colorado are coming to join us. Then in September, the plan is to take a week to see Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. That’s what the tax return will go to, most likely.

Really, I have such a good life.

Lenten roses are loving the front yard, and the grape hyacinths that I transplanted last year are beginning to peep up. I’ll plant some peas today before the rain begins again.

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art, Bagstories, fiber art, Slow cloth, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, Upcycling, weaving

Rebel stitching

Getting ready to sew a piece of boro fabric and cut a few more squares for another bag.

Have you seen this new phrase? I like it. Rebel stitching. Not following the rules. It is what brought joy back to my interest in sewing. I’ve been fascinated with sewing all my life. My mother was an excellent seamstress and sewed a lot of my clothes until I reached the age of balking at wearing home-sewn. You know how teenagers are. I appreciated it later in my 20s, but by then I had given up on learning to sew properly. By that time, other than sewing me a dress and my niece’s bridesmaid dress, she turned to quilting.

I inherited a huge amount of fabric from her. Much of it I gave to an art project at Greensboro College and to Reconsidered Goods, but I have a lot stashed away that I can’t bear to part with yet.

I was a theater major my first go-round in college. By my senior year I knew that I didn’t want to be a high school drama teacher. My advisor told me that I was too opinionated to teach high school and should shoot for community college! Seriously! Ha, it was like listening to my mother. “So OPINIONATED!!!” What a word. But I am, and that’s fine.

I realized that it was insane to continue in the education program, and although I might have been a good director, I hated dealing with the egos of my fellow acting students, and I had no chance at all to be an actor or the skills to be a techie. So I set my sights on simply getting that diploma and working in the costume shop.

We had sewing lessons in costume shop and it was graded for credit. Soon I was relegated to the simplest tasks for the shows, such as simple hems and ironing muslin. Boy, did I iron a lot of muslin. I have always hated ironing. I worked backstage with the costume changes and the laundry. But I loved the costume shop supervisor, Ella, who was gentle and kind.

I loved gleaning the scraps from the trashcans and stitching them together by hand at home. There were so many different textures and brilliant colors. I sewed them together in patchwork squares, not paying much attention to whether they “went together” or were of the same weight or stretchiness. It was a kind of therapy for me, I guess. Many years later I dug those squares out and they were quite hideous! Most of them ended up going inside and cut up on the top of my Magic Cloth piece, “The Flag of Me”, that I did in one of Jude Hill’s classes. Funny that I can’t find a photo of the finished flag. I’ll do that soon.

Near the end of my last semester, the costume designer professor handed me a bolt of fabric and told me to cut it into three-foot lengths. I thought this was odd and asked her to repeat herself, and she did. She left, and I cut the entire bolt into three-foot lengths. She came back and had a meltdown in the middle of the room full of my classmates. “I said three-yard lengths! How could you be so stupid!” and out she stormed. I gathered my things and slithered out the door, and did not return until after the final test when I caught Ella alone in the costume shop. She treated me with warm sympathy, allowed me to take the written test, and passed me with an A. God, I love her still. I’m sure that she has passed from this world by now and if there is a heaven she is there.

Anyway, that “How could you be so stupid!” rang in my ears for decades. It still does when I see this professor on campus.

But I don’t feel stupid about sewing any more. I revel in it. If I mess up, I might get a little frustrated, but that is toward the sewing machine, not myself. I love to hand stitch whenever I am able to do it.

Who broke me out of that mind-fuck? It was Jude Hill. And a little later, India Flint, who I am doing the Bagstories online group with, and the next project, which is to sew a piece of boro fabric with the little pieces left over from my Wanderbeutel bag. Really, I cannot express enough how much joy these two teachers released when they gave me permission to follow my instincts with stitch. I saw that I was the one that had denied myself this “permission” all these years, and now I am free.

It spilled over into my tapestry work, too. Here’s the end of the tapestry diary for the week.

Tapestry diary 2018

I like using things that would be thrown away. That’s why I chose the leftover cotton and linen thrums to weave this diary. Next year, I’ll probably use wool.

Back Forty, Bagstories, coffee pot posts, fiber art, Slow cloth, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, weaving

Sunday morning coffee pot post

We’ve had what I assume will be a false spring this week. Lots of rain but also lots of warm sunshine. Sandy and I got into the Back Forty yesterday, pruned the fig tree into a fig bush, and did some general cleanup. Dumped some old potting soil out of the containers into a new raised bed and I’ll fill these containers up with better soil and some compost. They didn’t get enough fertilizer or attention last year with my neck and shoulder problems. I planted a few lettuce seeds into pots, and was on my way to starting pepper and tomato seeds, but time caught up with me and my knee and elbow insisted on a break. It was a good day. I was that kind of good tired. I have to be careful not to overdo it when I get this excited about the garden. That is how I hurt myself every frickin’ spring.

The plum trees are blooming over at UNCG and so the weather and the plum blossoms are the theme of my tapestry diary this week. Work has consumed most of my energy, mainly data entry. Shouldn’t make me tired, but it does. The good news is that I’ve almost finished that particular chore.

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I broke my vow not to buy anything unnecessary this year. We bought a Shark Navigator vacuum cleaner at Costco yesterday, and that WAS necessary. However, this large rug caught my eye and the rag rug we have at the front door is starting to come apart and has been thrown up on countless times by the cats. It is very hard to vacuum and clean. So out it goes, and the new rug passes the Pablocito test. Diego has not anointed it with a hairball yet, but it has been less than 24 hours, so my guess is that he is working up a good one.

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I’m pretty thrilled about vacuuming. It’s not often you’ll hear that from me, but my house is just that nasty with cat hair, diatomaeous earth, and bits of cat litter after a few months with a malfunctioning vacuum. No more trying to do it with the hand extension.

The fleas are not gone, but they are much better. I comb the boys in the morning and evening, and I usually get 2-3 each time. I’m not getting bitten. Now that I have a new vacuum I’ll give the carpets and rug another dose of diatomaeous earth.

The down time this week has been spent slow stitching this bag that I’m making in India Flint’s Bagstories group. What a pleasure this is. It turns out that the bag is exactly the size I hoped for and I got the strap length just right, so that it can be carried across my shoulders and the body of it hits just below my hip. I’m doing this in a rough boro raggedly style because I like it that way, and it is a stress reliever not to worry about anything being “just right.”

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Okay, I have a badly needed massage this afternoon and a social event afterwards. Oh, isn’t my life tragic. I’m definitely feeling gratitude for my good fortune in life today, especially after a week and a half of seeing tremendous loss in other lives. Don’t think that I’m not outraged or saddened. I am. It’s good to have my depression lifted, though, otherwise I don’t know how I’d get up in the morning, much less go to a party later. The introversion is strong in me.