Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Something New

In one corner of what I call my workroom, where my working walls are, was my old cutting table--a small teacher's desk made out of oak that we had picked up years ago at some sale or other.  The top was big enough to accommodate a large 23x35" cutting mat, and, while I often wished for a bit more space so that the folded yardage would not slip over the edge, pulling the end I was cutting with it, I made do.  There just wasn't room for a larger table in that room if I wanted any space to step back and look at what was on the working wall.

Then there was the height issue.  I'm 5' 2 1/2" and so I like a low counter in the kitchen to cut veggies or knead bread dough on, but I was leaning over too far to cut for long periods of time on this desk.  Yes, I could have put something under the legs, but I just never got around to finding that perfect gizmo that would be the right height and would be stable as well.

Then in August as I searched for fabric paints at Joann's I happened upon a cutting table that could fold up and roll into a corner; it was on one of those Joann super sales and I couldn't resist.  It sat for a long time in its box leaning on my workroom wall as I figured out what to do with all the stuff in the four desk drawers, a formidable task.

The assembly process was not an easy task either, and I am glad my husband was eager to take it on.  And here it is with lots of room on its 36x59 3/4" top for holding that extra yardage or whatever else I need to put on it:
Yes, I could have straightened up a bit more to take the picture, but it is a workroom.  That outer leaf goes down very easily by sliding the two front legs in toward the center so most of the time it looks like this:
It can fold even smaller into a 36x16" size but it will no longer roll.  It  turned out to be a bit high for me--no heightist comments here please--but eliminating the wheels made it just right.  The individual little feet are adjustable, however, a real advantage for eliminating wobbling on our less than level farmhouse floors.

Not only did I get a new table out of this but clearing out those desk drawers forced me to take the time to organize the shelves in that room so that things are much more findable.  And if you are still with me, thanks for the company.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The work I just finished is a quiet one.  It doesn't have that visual impact that draws you from across a room.  First of all, it is small--just 9 1/2 x 21 1/2 inches.  The fabric is some of my less dramatic snow dyes and the pattern depends mainly on machine quilting and hand stitched pearl cotton.
I got the idea for this piece from one of my Doodle Squares.  I was just playing with filling the center groups of curved parallel lines and liked the final pattern--looked like hills or perhaps plowed fields or a contour map.

So I pieced the background and quilted three slightly different-sized squares and filled them with the curved parallel lines using a different variegated thread in each.  Using three different skeins of Laura Wasilowski's beautiful hand-dyed pearl cotton, I added V-shaped stitches to the top, little French knots with tails to the second, and then  random short straight stitches to the bottom square.

Obviously there is change going on in this work.  Seasonal?  Low to high elevation? My daughter said it reminded her of cherry blossoms.

This little wall hanging looks better up close and personal in real life.  Hmm.  And what does that mean?   I like looking at this piece, but is it of lesser value because it is not as photogenic as other works?  My immediate answer would be:  of course not! but perhaps the question is something I should keep in mind for a while as I look at other quilts. 

Anyway, if you are still with me, thanks for the company.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Blank Wall

Often when I am quilting I am working on several projects at once with each at various stages so that I can move from one to the other according to the time I have available or my inclination.  On a particular day I may not have the energy or hours it takes move a design along, but I could easily do some stitching in pearl cotton or sew on a facing.  This system also makes the transition from quilt to quilt easier and avoids that emotional valley when a major project is over.

But in my rush to complete the two pieces for the guild exhibit I lost sight of the big picture.  For a while the excitement of hanging the show and then the subsequent opening distracted me from those final stitches that I had put in two major pieces and from the blank working wall looming in my workroom.  I kept myself busy during September on a small piece that was a joy to work on (more about that next week), but as I started to sew on the facing, I became aware of that gray, slogging feeling whenever I thought about quilting (which I do quite frequently) that made climbing the stairs to my workroom too much of an effort and made many mundane tasks like pulling up the green bean plants or cleaning the bathroom preferable to planning a new project.  And all those rich colors on the hills around me didn't help.

Years ago when I first felt this, I was in denial--even when my husband commented that I was a bit testier than my usual testy self, a comment I am sure I greeted with equanimity.  How could finishing a quilt, which I was supposedly doing for "fun,"  affect my outlook on the world?  But it has happened often enough that I recognize it as real now.  Guess I am emotionally tied to the feel of fabric in my hands and the zing of making something I saw in my imagination take shape in the tactile world. I am sure one of my psychologist and/or medical friends could start talking about addiction here and is it possible that the urge to create, discover, invent is a cousin--distant cousin?--to addictive behavior?

Anyway, I am happily engaged in a new project now, running up and down stairs from sewing room to workroom and have added beginning yet another project to my to-do list before I get too far along on this one.

If you are still reading, thanks for the company--and I'd love to hear about your feelings at the end of big projects.