Hunting Pecans at Twilight

For several months now, I’ve been rising at dawn.FullSizeRender 2

I have a routine. I set the kettle to boil then feed and let out the animals. I fix my tea and either write or stumble around in the twilight.

Lately, the mornings have been cool. If it’s clear, I’ll shoulder a sweater or a quilt and amble around outside enjoying the treat of how the fall air seems to hold its breath at twilight. Sometimes I just walk around the yard. Sometimes I root around for pecans.

FullSizeRender 3I like trying to find pecans when it’s still mostly dark. At first, it’s not particularly productive. I squat down and pull in anything within reach—rocks, thick sticks, hardened bits of dog shit. After finding a few worthy pecans, my senses become keener. I can feel the difference even through the soles of my shoes. At first, I examine the pecans and keep only the good ones, the solid ones, the ones I can eat.

Then, feeling optimistic, I decide they’re all good ones. I collect half-emptied hulls. I collect hollowed out shells. I collect ones that are, remarkably, still green. I collect ones that the squirrels have tossed away. I let them weigh down my pockets. There are still so many. I return day after day.

FullSizeRenderI’ve been researching how to use the old pecan hulls and the hollowed-out shells for dye. Maybe, in this year moving forward, I will begin to gather my fabric the hard way, dying bits of cloth or shredding old clothes for new quilts that are heavy with stories, stitched together by hands stained, still dirty.

 

Here are a few lovely poems that have to do with this kind of thing:

“All that is uncared for.” (“Elegance” by Linda Gregg)

Have you noticed,
once the leaves have fallen,
how much light
enters the forest?

(“Here We Remember” by Adrie Rose)

And for all this, nature is never spent…” (“God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins)

 

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Mending

I’ve been put to the task of mending a t-shirt quilt I made about five or six years ago. The owner’s dog chewed a large hole in the middle of the quilt in a moment of what I can only imagine was sheer joy (for the dog, not the quilt owner).

I get it.

I’m not a dog (no jokes, please), but I completely understand the joy in destroying things, whether you think you’re destroying them or not.

When I quilt, I take a smooth, whole, complete piece of cloth and cut it up into tiny pieces to make something else. To make my banana bread, I repeatedly press a fork into the fruit’s overripe flesh until it is loose and wet and able to be folded into flour. I break eggs. I let broccoli stalks and corn husks decompose beside coffee grounds. I knock out the rotting wood from my backyard shed and replace it with something new and strong.

It is natural for things to be broken down only to be made whole again as something different, sometimes as something better.

This is a lesson I learn the hard way again and again. It’s ok for things to fall apart. It’s ok for things to be broken. When we can, we just have to put the time in to mend them. Some things aren’t worth mending, and that’s ok, too.

When my friend told me about the hole in her quilt, she was panicked. “Can it be fixed?” she asked. Of course, if can be fixed. It might not be the same, but it can be fixed.

I laughed when I got the quilt in the mail. That dog had one hell of a time.

How I Mended a Quilt:

I took a scrap of batting and sewed it over the large hole using a zigzag stitch on the side where the fabric would be most inclined to fray. I trimmed the batting to the stitches.  I did not put any batting over the smaller holes.

I cut out several hearts from a variety of fabric. Luckily, I had some fabric from the original quilt. I stitched each heart by hand, careful to generously cover the hole including the torn edges of the fabric.

I layered hearts over each hole and chuckled with every stitch.

That’s all I did.

May I be so happy the next time I’m mending one of my own messes. May hearts and quilts everywhere be so easily mended. How, though, do welearn what to mend and what to let go?

 

 

 

And because you can’t talk about mending without mentioning Frost’s Mending Wall, there’s that.

And because Frost’s Mending Wall leads right into Donald Hall’s The Black-Faced Sheep, there’s that.

Love,

E.

Quilt Guilt

I have a mostly finished t-shirt quilt sitting in my project cabinet, a large container full of old onesies and baby rompers, and a box with 25-year old cross-stitch blocks waiting to be sewn together. Anytime I begin working on one of these projects, I get all bumbly and distracted. Usually, I end up tidying my sewing space or planning a new quilt instead of taking a step forward and stitching down some work on these projects.

Why?

Guilt.  All day long.

I love making quilts for people, especially ones that are made from sentimental materials–old t-shirts, baby clothes, or the start of someone’s mother’s handiwork. However, as soon as I make that first cut, I’m terrified of messing it up.  Sure, my star-points are on-point when I’m using quilting weight fabric, but most of the “sentimental” materials I’m given are more difficult to maneuver than a piece of 100% cotton that can be ironed stiff. So, I start working on something else. Something I know I can handle and that will look cute on my Instagram feed.

Ever hear of procraftination?  It’s a real thing.

The metaphor here is not lost on me. It’s hard to do things you might not be good at, especially when other people are involved. You know what’s harder? The guilt of not doing them.

So.  Here’s my quilt guilt list. I WILL get these done.

  1. T-shirt quilt from old sorority t-shirts.
    • Status: Seriously, done. The binding’s on. It’s been lint-rolled. And yet….
    • Hold-up: The blocks where the t-shirts are need to be quilted a little more. Right now, they’re too poofy, but I’m nervous they’ll look sloppy once I quilt them. I hate quilting knit fabric.
  2. CR: Baby quilt from oldest son’s baby clothes.
    • Status: clothes are “dissected” and in a box ready to be cut out and sewn.
    • Hold-up: I need to sketch out a design, but I can’t get a good read on how much material I have. Each piece is already so small that I can’t afford to make a mistake when cutting. Also. Half of it’s knit. Have I mentioned how quilting knit material drives me crazy?
  3. ST: Quilt made from 20 cross-stitched blocks.
    • Status: I completed the 20th block (first time I’ve cross-stitched since I was about 12!); sewed the rows together with small borders.
    • Hold-up: This thing is a beast.  And I’m planning on hand-quilting it. Many miles to go before I sleep.
    • Lesson for next time: No lesson here. I just need to get busy.
  4. SA: Super-hero bag
    • Status: I’m dreaming about it.
    • Hold-Up: I can’t find any (female) superhero fabric I like. I’m tempted to just do a Burka Avenger applique….

There you go.  My current list-of-shame. Is your project on this list? Is there something I missed?

What is your quilt guilt/ list-of-shame? What are you going to do to overcome it?  Let me know!  ❤ ❤ ❤

Love, sweet love

quiltsaleWhat the world needs now is…

a cuddly quilt.

And I really want to help the world with that.  🙂

I’m starting to play around with some different colors and styles in my quilting, and it has me really wanting to give wings to some of those quilts that have been hanging around my etsy shop a bit.

So I’m sharing some love, quilts, and a coupon code. For the month of February, I’m offering 20% off all the quilts in my etsy shop. (Seriously?! 20%?, you say? Yes, that’s how much I love you, I say).

In honor of the best love I’ve ever known, the coupon code is LOVEMYOTTO (Otto’s my dog). Feel free to pass it along to all those you love.

Be Still My <3

I’ve never been the kind of person to get completely fan-girl over anyone. Himg_22741OWEVER, since I have gotten back into quilting, I’ve been doing some major fan-girling… JTT on the cover of Tiger Beat-style fan-girling (I didn’t know TigerBeat was still a thing until 30 seconds ago).

I’ve been drooling over amazing fabric designers, quirky quilts, and anyone who brings a sense of fun and humor to this great craft. I’m on Instagram a little too often and am participating in a couple of fun quilting challenges just because I want to be like one of the cool kids.

Why am I sharing this? Well, today I had a major fan-girl moment: American Patchwork and Quilting posted one of my blocks on their Instagram account.  Wahoooo!  Next up, pattern publishing and a line of fabric!  No? That’s not how it works? Oh well, I’ll just keep my amazing and meaningful day job and sew fun things at night and on the weekends.  🙂