fiber art, Lake Waccamaw, Upcycling, weaving

Lake Waccamaw, September 2021, Part II

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The moon, the moon!

We saw a bald eagle dive for a fish while we were on the boat.

I finished off the sakiori and washcloths that were warped up on the rigid heddle loom toward the end of that wonderful week, and played tapestry with Rosie, my homemade industrial pipe loom. The sakiori pieces are intended to be book covers. Since we have a serious clothing waste problem on the planet, I’d like to weave more sakiori.

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Back Forty, Coronavirus Chronicles, critters, Upcycling, weaving

Mindless weaving

This morning I got up at the usual time to feed the cats. They are insufferable now that they are getting canned food. Odd, because they would not touch it for a very long time. I guess it is a texture thing, because Pablocito turns his nose up at the formerly loved dry food that I have ground up with a blender in case Diego decides that is what he wants.

Then I went back to bed, slept hard, and when I awoke I was shocked to see that it was afternoon. I guess I needed it.

I don’t watch a lot of TV or movies or videos – I don’t know why. It just doesn’t appeal to me after an hour at most. Reading books is much more my thing. It’s been that way since I was a child. I don’t remember ever not being able to read – according to my family I shocked them as a toddler when I picked up a newspaper and started reading out loud to them. When the library bookmobile came to my little community every two weeks, the librarians had a hard time stocking enough books for me that I had not read. I would finish my stack within a week. So I read the World Book encyclopedia and the classics we had at home over and over again. I especially loved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. My mother easily got me to whitewash our fence by referencing Tom Sawyer.

You’d think that I’d be smarter, but I guess I burned out a lot of those brain cells from age 15 to 40, when I was self-medicating for anxiety and depression.

Anyway, I need something to do with my hands while watching TV and I haven’t been feeling the love for what I normally do, which was stitch or crochet. Last night I suddenly realized what I could do with all these cotton warps that are going to go to waste when I cut my abandoned project off the loom. I set my “new” rigid heddle loom on a table in front of the TV that I had warped for a Saori style workshop and started weaving washcloths and dishcloths.

I got through two episodes of “Better Call Saul!” My favorite show.

Sandy keeps recommending shows to me, but he really loves horror and war movies. I can’t go there, too prone to nightmares. I guess I will finish “Star Trek: Picard,” then subscribe to HBO again so I can watch Westworld’s new season.

We are enjoying front porch sitting and listening to the family next door with their five year old son. He is so smart and so cute. They play charades on their porch every evening.

Tromboncino squash seeds started coming up today.

Squirrels were digging in my planters on the wall next to the steps so I stuck plastic forks and jagged pieces of plastic that I cut from a sour cream container. I don’t mind sharing some with the critters, but there aren’t any nuts buried there, gang.

Diego is doing okay. He follows me from room to room. Anyone who thinks all cats are aloof never met my spoiled kitties. I had laid off the pain injections but I might give him one when he is asleep.

art, art retreats, bloggy stuff, fiber art, Rebel stitching, Slow cloth, Upcycling, weaving

Latest news from moi

Suddenly I feel like Miss Piggy today. Couldn’t tell you why.

A lot of things have happened since I last posted. I stopped paying to have my blog ad-free and the ads are pretty disgusting, so I may break down and upgrade to a paid account. I hate to do it, because between that and paying for my photos to be hosted on Flickr, that adds up to over $100 per year. I can’t really let the Flickr account go because I have linked most of my photos to that account. That would be an enormous amount of work to correct that. Plus, I really am attached to my domain name. I’ve had it since 2005. The thought of letting it go has become more intolerable to me.

I am going to convert this over to more of an artist website, and my postings to Facebook and Instagram should appear on the sidebar. But that will take a while. Maybe over the winter break. I’ll have made a decision about whether the cost is worth it by October.

^^^Pablocito, studio assistant, and the reason why there is aluminum foil everywhere. (He doesn’t like it.)

I took a week’s vacation at home in late July because it was slow at work and I have a lot of vacation time built up. It was marvelous. Really, I almost preferred it to traveling.

The first thing on my agenda was to warp up this “new” Beka rigid heddle loom for a sakiori workshop later that week. It was not anywhere near as simple as I thought it would be, and by the time I rewarped it and got the tension right, it took three days and some help from a friend! However, now I know some things I should and shouldn’t do with this type of loom. For one thing, I doubt that I will put three yards of warp on it again.

This patchwork from Jude Hill’s online class (see below) really scratches an itch for me. I love that it is portable. The only problem is my hands can’t take as much hand sewing as I would like to do. My sewing machines (plural) are a constant pain in my ass to keep running and maintained, but I did abuse them pretty badly when I was doing the denim and t-shirt quilt projects. It still amazes me that you can buy a new cheap machine for as much as it is to repair one.

Anyway, bitching aside, I LOVE making these little “puzzle pieces” and putting them together in different ways. It reminds me of my favorite toy growing up, which I think was sold by Tupperware. It was like Legos, but with tiny little pegged pieces in different shapes that could be pushed into a plastic grid. I constantly played with it sitting on the den floor, and I still have a box with the pieces somewhere. It drove my father nuts because he was always stepping on them.

Later that week when I felt like dealing with warping a loom again I caught up on the Rebecca Mezoff/Sarah Swett “Fringeless” online class that I began LAST SUMMER, and by the end of the week, I had this Mirrix loom warped and ready to go. The warping method produces a four selvedge tapestry that is ready when it comes off the loom, no sewing in ends or hemming edges required. To be honest, it was pretty easy once I got the hang of it.

Then on Saturday, I went to the sakiori class that was taught by Dawn Hummer of Saori Song Weaving in Chapel Hill, and sponsored by the Triangle Weavers Guild in a great space that they rent on an ongoing basis in an old school near Durham. I didn’t really learn that much, and I don’t need any encouragement to cut loose and play, but it is always good to hear how and why other artists do what they do. I got to see Saori looms and how they work, and that was really cool. It was fun and that was the whole point. I decided to make some pieces to use as book covers. Here is the first one. There is room on the warp for many more.

In other news, I’ve had to learn how to live without air conditioning for a few days. I hope it won’t be much longer. It is good for me to be reminded not to take this for granted. Work is revving back up with the fall semester classes beginning in only two weeks. The Tapestry Weavers South retreat is in nearby Elkin, NC on Labor Day weekend, so I have that to look forward to. After that, I doubt I will be able to afford any other art retreats or workshops because I am going to have to dip into my savings to pay for the Ireland trip before January, and to be responsible I will pay my savings back. It will be totally worth it to go back to Ireland, where I belong.

fiber art, Quilting, Slow cloth, tapestry, Upcycling, weaving

Ta Da! T-Shirt Quilt

Pretty much done. If you look closely you can see that the first panel I quilted had more quilting, then the second one less as my tension problems mounted on my sewing machine, and then the third panel I gave up other than sewing around the edges. I figure as I feel like it I will hand sew a few stitches in there now and then to tack that side down.

Now I get to go back to weaving.

I was a terrible person yesterday and forgot to call my aunt and my brother. Oh well.

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“I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel”

Party last night was great – we meant to stop in for one drink and ended up spending three hours and I made a new friend. I was shocked when I walked in the room and my arch-nemesis was sitting at the table. One of only two people I know that I despise. (I am not counting politicians and right wing nutjobs.) I nearly turned around and left. This is the only professor I ever had who was downright verbally abusive to me. However, she has no memory of me and was on good behavior so it worked out. She left after an hour and I could relax and eat the goodies and then it was a real “small world” evening with connections between people popping up all over the place.

Today I am meeting with the girls for the first time in a very long time. I need to get together a portable project. Maybe I should continue the Lake Waccamaw theme and work on this one. Yes.

coffee pot posts, Quilting, Slow cloth, Upcycling

Saturday morning coffee pot post


Photo from last Sunday

It’s almost noon. There is still snow on the ground, whittled away by a steady light rain over the last 24 hours. Everything is soggy and muddy because there is nowhere for the water to go.

I ended up with two mandatory snow days, for which I can either take vacation time, make up within 90 days, or take unpaid leave. I grouch about this policy, but I realize that a lot of people don’t have these choices. Sandy worked from home both days, and I have the type of job that could easily be done from home, but that’s not an option any more. My guess is that the Republicans who came up with this suspected that us hourly employees would be faking it. There was a time when I didn’t get any sick time, one week of vacation a year, and no holidays. I’ve also been on salary or had a job where I was expected to work 50 hours a week. Now I get lots of leave in different forms, often in lieu of a decent salary raise, but with me, I love having the freedom of being able to have time off. I know a job with good benefits when I see one, having spent most of my working life without one.

The quince chutney ended up okay. It is very tart. I went off the recipe that I found, as usual, and added dried apples, cherries, raisins, orange zest, and orange juice. The quince flavor ended up being overwhelmed by the vinegar. I froze some and I’ll add some more sugar to try to tap down that tartness.

I had forgotten why I stopped cooking quinces and only bringing them in for the lovely smell. They are harder than a winter squash to peel and dice. They cook up very soft but have a bit of a gritty texture. After peeling and chopping three of them, my hands and arms were aching so I gave the rest away.

It sure was nice to work only three days, less really, since I went in late twice. I wrapped up one project and made good headway over the worst part of another. The department newsletter should come out next week and then I will have a long winter break until Jan. 2.

Monday I will be home for at least most of the day because the electricians are coming to do the repairs and prep work for our solar panel installation. We won’t be off-grid (I wish!) but on net-metering where our solar energy production runs the meter backwards and if we need more than we produce it will switch over to Duke Energy. At least I think that is how it will work. One of the good things about this is that we needed to upgrade the wiring in the attic badly. That work is being rolled into the financing and the rebate and tax credit totals we will get next year. That money is going straight back into the loan and I plan to pay it off before the interest rate kicks in (in 18 months).

The mortgage will be paid off in about two months!

The Singer sewing machine…hoo boy. I was NOT PLEASED when I started it up again and had the same tension problems after having it cleaned and serviced. I refer to the manual now instead of winging it, because part of it was user error. I didn’t wind the bobbin correctly or get it in the case correctly. Once I corrected that, I thought that would do the trick, but no. The thread kept slipping off the tension spring, and I was threading it correctly. After I started sewing it would slip off again and I would have to re-thread to get it right. Finally, somehow I managed to get the thread crossed as it goes into the lever that moves the needle up and down. I was sick of rethreading that needle so I decided to try it anyway. To my great joy, that mistake is keeping the thread on the tension spring and I was able to sew the rest of the strips together! Now let’s see if it continues to work. I’m going to finish putting all the pieces of the t-shirt quilt together this weekend, and I have already started doing hand-sewing, cuddled up with it on the sofa watching Mr. Robot and the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

I am determined to finish this thing, get it out of my studio, and start weaving and bookbinding again.

As you can probably tell, I am in a much better mood that I have been in the past year. Let’s hope that lasts also!

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, fiber art, political activism, Quilting, Reading, Slow cloth, Upcycling

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Election Day has come and gone with results slightly better than I expected, so my PTSD from 2016 is somewhat abated. I didn’t have high expectations for North Carolina because we are so atrociously gerrymandered it is ridiculous. They even admit it. And they get away with it even though it keeps getting struck down. They just submit another that is slightly less egregious and then howl that it is too close to primary or election day to fix it.

I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with eleven Republicans and two Democrats.” ~ North Carolina GOP state representative David Lewis, News and Observer, June 25, 2018

I try not to get too political here on the blog because I use my personal Facebook page for that. But as a left wing independent I am tired of having no representation in the U.S. Congress. I live in a very blue county that has been divided into pieces and combined with very red counties, so that my “representative” is an extreme right wing gun store owner. And I’m tired of the two parties playing tit-for-tat.

Sandy and I went to the rally to “protect Mueller” in downtown Greensboro on Thursday evening, but by the time we could get there it was winding down. I snagged a “Country Over Party” sign and put it in the front window of the house.

Okay, moving on. How about this sewing machine? It belonged to my mother and she sewed many of our clothes on it. She was an accomplished seamstress and also made some quilted patchwork, although her main artistic pursuit was watercolor.

It also bears the last lingering mark of my first large artistic installation. At the age of three, I rose before everyone else, gleefully grabbed a black felt tip marker from the table where my mother was working on a project, and drew a line around the entire inside of our house. The line went over walls, furniture, and curtains. I started early, folks.

Anyway, I finally got frustrated enough with the Brother’s tension problems that I moved around some stuff and released Old Faithful into the world again. It doesn’t like the quilted panels, and the stitch lever won’t go lower than 9, but the tension is so much better and it is all mechanical so I could actually get it fixed more easily and manually stitch with it if necessary. I have the manual and all the parts and brushes and oil so I need to get that out and study it. I was pleased that I could figure out how to thread it and wind a bobbin after all these years. It does just fine with sewing two normal pieces of fabric together, and that’s all I need.

With the quilted panels, at this point I’m just trying to get the layers basted together on the machine. This means that the quilting looks like a terrible mess, but honestly, this is a t-shirt quilt. I’m planning to cuddle up in it, not hang it in a show. There is a lot of freedom in that. And I can just about guarantee that I won’t be making another one.

Sewing is good therapy for me, and I wish I could do more hand sewing, but I’ve pretty much accepted that isn’t an option for very long. My hand goes numb after about five minutes. I’ll stitch on this quilt once it is together and take my time with it.

I’m still seeing an actual therapist, and it seems to be helping. She is very high on anti-inflammation, and so I have started taking fish oil again. Can’t hurt, I certainly have plenty of inflammation. Also working on getting my mind on a more positive outlook. I still just want to play games and sleep and read at the end of the day, and I sleep a lot on the weekend. She calls it hypersomnia. It is a hell of a lot better than insomnia, but I’d like to find a balance. I run out of spoons early in the day.

Positive developments: working on the t-shirt quilt and I got my flu shot. I went to the dentist and my teeth are fine. Now I need to go to the doctor to get my blood panel and see if there is something else responsible for my constant fatigue. I drove to Raleigh two weeks ago and got together with members of Triangle Book Arts. I haven’t managed to get to Gate City Yarns for their stitch and bitch night because Friday nights, oof. That’s a tough one for me even though it is close by. I had brunch with some friends at Lucky 32 last Sunday and that was good. I often feel quite lonely for friends, especially now that the Fabulous Zha K has fled North Carolina, and good for her, I have to say. I plan to do so at age 62, not even five years away. We might even end up in the same state again. However, much of my loneliness is chosen. I feel a strong urge to be alone most of the time. People exhaust me, even people I love.

I have a stack of books that was turning out to be quite depressing. So Little Bee went back into the stack and I’m reading The Risk Pool by Richard Russo. I just finished The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman, Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I miss my Poldark saga!

The electrician did a site visit and we have rolled the electrical work needed into the solar panel financing. Hopefully by this time next year we will get most of, if not all of, our electricity from the sun and just pay Duke Energy the meter fee. It’s kind of crazy since I am now fixated on leaving North Carolina, but it is a good investment for the house and my soul.

Now planning a trip to northern New Mexico in May with the Sandman, where we could possibly be joined by my cousin and her husband. We’ll scope it out to see if that might be a good place for retirement for us. I love planning trips!

Alchemist's Apron, art, dyeing, fiber art, Lake Waccamaw, Nature printing, North Carolina, Slow cloth, Upcycling

Alchemist’s Apron project

Last weekend Sandy and I went to Lake Waccamaw and I gathered materials to dye my project for India Flint’s online class, “The Alchemist’s Apron.” I’ve experimented with natural dyes down there before without a whole lot of luck. This time, using a good mordant and bundling the plant materials directly in contact with the cloth did the trick.

In this project we cut apart a shirt in a particular way to make an apron. This is a lightweight denim shirt that Sandy discarded a long time ago. I saved it, paint stains and all. I have a few other white thrift store shirts that I could use, but I wanted to experiment on this one first. Blue is my favorite color, unless you bring up any of my other favorite colors, like orange, purple, yellow, brown, black, red, and green.

I made a mordant from iron scraps, white vinegar and water in a pickle bucket that is safe to use but turned out to be almost scary powerful. The chemical reaction creates a billowing orange foam much like the toupee on Dear Leader’s head. I have a lifetime supply of iron mordant now because I have to dilute it so much. This mordant developed over about eight days.

Even after diluting it with rain water it had a weird metallic sheen on top which cracked when touched. I ended up straining it through a piece of thick cloth to get out most of the rust, poured in hot tap water to dilute it more, and even then I got a lot of brown/orange color on the shirt. I soaked the shirt for two days and a half in this mordant solution.

Then I bundled it tightly with swamp bay leaves, common privet leaves, red tip photinia leaves, dried live oak leaves, dried bald cypress needles, dried sweet gum leaves and balls, and some dark blue berries that could have been from the swamp bay or Chinese privet. They were growing beside each other and I identified the Chinese privet after dyeing, which was a no-no. The leaves and berries of Chinese privet are toxic to ingest. My guess is that they are not dangerous to the skin since I saw nothing that mentioned it and this will be going on over other clothes. I cleaned up all the berries and washed the apron well. Also, I could be wrong on the ID.


The swamp bay leaves smelled heavenly in the dye bath. Some leaves didn’t leave a print but made a negative print where they blocked the dye from the leaves on top on them (a resist) and had a black edge around them. Looking at it today, I wonder if the black leaf prints are actually the dried live oak leaves and the leaf prints with the black edges are the swamp bay leaves. Unwrapping these bundles is such a joy – you just don’t know what you will get. I knew that it would be mostly black prints because of the mordant and the tannins, but that was about it.



Here it is after rinsing it in the bathtub. It has since been washed and dried and lost none of its color. I’m pleased, because early spring is not the best season to do natural dyeing.

The next step in the class is to dye threads for stitching and sewing on pockets. Many pockets. I needed some more thread dyed with broom sedge to finish an old project anyway and I saw some down the street on the old train tracks, so I’m going down there to gather it now. It makes a lovely yellow.

I also stuffed a garbage bag full of Spanish moss that covered some tree branches piled on the side of the road for pickup. That will be mulch for my container garden. The birdies love to line their nests with it too. I’m sure that conservative crowd living at the lake thinks I’m bananas walking along the canal road, plucking up Spanish moss and leaves and branches from their yard trash piles, wild graying hair, braless, and no make-up, with my Bernie 2016 bumper sticker on my car in the yard. Ha!

Back Forty, dyeing, Rebel stitching, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, Upcycling, weaving

Saturday morning WHEW thank God post

I’ve been living for the weekend lately.

Here’s my newest obsession – taking online instruction from India Flint. Her first foray into a structured online class just began this past week: The Alchemist’s Apron. (By the way, that price is in Australian dollars and the exchange rate for US dollars makes it much lower.) Stitching has saved my sanity lately – honestly my work should not be this stressful. It’s the best job I ever had but bad ju-ju from anxiety and frustration is contagious for me.

The weather has been pretty whack, just as it has been almost everywhere else in the US and Europe. It’s hard to know what to do with the temps going up and down the way they have. It snowed earlier this week and was predicted to snow again this weekend, but I think that the forecast has changed. We haven’t gotten enough sun to really warm up the soil and the greenhouse. I spent some time yesterday evening and this morning filling an egg carton and peat cups that I found in the back building with seed starting mix and water. They need to absorb a lot of water before I use them. My garden usually gets a late start compared to others in the area anyway. I started a few broccoli seeds and will figure out a place to begin tomatoes and peppers inside. There are few sunny spots in my house.

Some critter left a rather large dump in my raised bed, and I wonder if it was a raccoon. After shoveling it out I covered the bed in wire fencing. That will not make the husband happy. He does not like my gardening methods, but organic gardening can’t always be pretty, especially if you don’t have the room to sacrifice some of it to the critters. I’m just praying that the woodchuck will not come back this year.

I went to the Greensboro Permaculture Guild seed swap on Tuesday night but wasn’t feeling great and didn’t stay long. Great group of people, though, and someone brought some warm freshly baked bread that was so good I wanted to snatch it and run away and gobble it all down by myself. However I resisted that wild urge and helped myself to a variety of beans, including Jacob’s Cattle and cannellini beans. I shared some of my Whippoorwill and Dixie Lee field peas that I have saved over the years. The Whippoorwill field peas originally came from Monticello.

There I met a young man and his daughter who I am going to call later this weekend and arrange to hire him to help me prepare a couple of planting beds for the summer.

Deep Roots Market is having their Taste Fair this afternoon from 12-4 which is unfortunate timing since today is also the day for the March for Our Lives. Greensboro’s march and rally is from 2-6 p.m. I will show up for part of it but I need desperately need art time.

I have filled a pickle bucket with iron scraps and vinegar and water to make a mordant for natural dyeing the shirt I will transform into the apron for India’s class this week. It was supposed to be in a big glass jar but most of my rusty bits were too big for the jar. It’s been a long time since I’ve attempted any natural dyeing because of my upper body problems. The exciting thing that happened is that I finally found my stash of naturally dyed cloth in the bottom of a hamper this morning. Most of it is silk though, and will probably be saved for something else.

My mood has been as whack as the weather and my tapestry diary this past week shows it. I’m kind of bored with it and I wonder if I will have the willpower to push through that and finish it. Some stitching will make me much happier today.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Rebel stitching

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.

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.