But the two Needles told StraightPin and her Needle friends, that it would just take time for them to get to know each other. The two Needles invited them to a party where they revealed their other side. They all got to know each other better and even met some new Needles. StraightPin continued to feel a little left out, being the only pin. But when she saw that one of the Needles they met was different from the rest she understood that it was ok for her to be different too. She loved and trusted her Needle friends, new and old, who encouraged her to never give up on finding her pin-tribe.
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We’ve stopped filling the bird feeder, time for them to find their own food. I’ll miss seeing the birds out my studio window, but now the chickens are back. They spent so much of the cold snowy winter in their coop, but now they’re out getting the last of the dropped seeds from the feeder. Lucky for me, even when there is no birdseed, this spot is one of their regular places to hang out. So now I get to watch the hens instead of the birds.
It was Jane’s email to me that got me thinking that I want to loosen up. And this is my first attempt at doing that. Jane actually wanted to buy my practice pieces. The ones I did when I first got my sewing machine. She saw the photo of one of them I posted and said it made her think of the line drawings Picasso did later in his life. I remember reading that Picasso said that to be a good artist you need to forget everything you’ve learned about making art. He likened it to be a child.
At this point I have such a set way of making my streaming pieces, they’ve become boring to make. So I tried to make this piece with the same head that I’d have if I were just practicing. Trying to loosen up, get away from what has become a formula for me. And in a way, I am still practicing. I haven’t quite gotten the feel for my new foot pedal and the speed of the sewing machine. But sometimes, just by the nature of it, being a bit out of control, it forces me to loosen up.
I can almost track my “loosening up” progress in this piece. I started with the table with the lamp on it and ended with the cat and hen walking along the edge of the right side. The only words, Wandering Wondering who Sleeps my Dream, don’t even make sense to me. But there they were so I let them be. When I was done with the images in a light pink thread, I started with the blue. I wasn’t sure how it would work, but as I started to fill in the spaces with squiggles of blue, I saw that it really made the images pop and I liked it.
So here it is, the first of its kind. Now I’m psyched to try another……
Wandering Wondering who Sleeps my Dream is a wall hanging and is Sold.
for sale. End to end it’s 23″x24″ and is $95 + $10 shipping (in the US, shipping to Canada is $15). If you’re interested in it, just email me here or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I worked at the Cambridge Co-op this afternoon, where I volunteer once a month. I filled the spice jars, vacuumed the floor, washed out the coffee pots and stocked the vegetables in the cooler. Satisfying work (except the vacuuming which I have nothing good to say about even if it does get the floors clean) with immediate gratification. Before going, I designed a bunch of potholders inspired by the beautiful Spring weather. Yellows, pinks, purples and greens. Some of the are already sold, but I’ll put the rest up for sale once they are all done.
Startled from my daze of potholder making I looked out my window when I heard the lawn mower starting up. There were the hens, Flo, Lenore, Red, Jon and the donkeys at the gate. I knew our friend and neighbor, Jack, was in the barn starting up the mower for its annual tune-up. Peaceable Bedlam in the Spring.
Susie emailed me when I made my wall hanging White Dog in the Snow. She was interested in buying it, but it was already sold. Susie is a quilter and she asked me how I would feel about her taking the idea of White Dog and making her own version of it. As you can probably imagine, I thought it a great compliment.
Last week Susie sent me this photo of her version of White Dog. It was kind of exciting to see my words realized through Susie’s vision. I think she did a beautiful job. I love that they can both be so different from each other and still convey the same message. Now there’s two White Dogs in the Snow.
Sandy is an artist who owns a B&B in Canada. Emily, usually hangs out in Sandy’s Studio, but it seems her studio is spreading out into the other rooms of Sandy’s house. So Emily has been in the dining room for some time covered up (somewhat) by the Vintage Hankie Scarf that Sandy bought from me a while ago. Until recently when one of Sandy’s guests fell in love with the scarf and Sandy, making a connection with this woman and being a generous person, gave her the scarf.
So now the scarf is in Montreal and Emily is more exposed that she has been. But Sandy’s guest don’t seem to mind. It’s all part of visiting a B&B run by an artist.
Last week I gave Kim a batch of scarves to sew. It was the first sewing she’s done for me since her shoulder surgery in January. It’s good to have Kim back. I have lots to do between fulfilling my Kickstarter pledges and getting ready for the Open House in June.
I realized after taking one of the Vintage Hankie Scarves for myself that Kim didn’t have a scarf. So I told her the next time she came across one that she liked she should take it for herself. It didn’t take long. In the last batch of scarves I made one a little different from the others. The hankies were all white with embroidery on the corners and they were all really big, much bigger that any of the other hankies I have. I only had a few that size and instead of sewing them straight edge to straight edge I put them all on diagonals, so they were diamond-shaped and asked Kim to sew a line down the middle of them. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but Kim brought the scarf to the Round House Cafe today where we were having lunch together. Kim thought the scarf didn’t hang quite right, it was too floppy, not enough surface area. I agreed that it would need a few more lines of stitching to hold it all together a bit more, giving it more body.
I don’t know if this design will work with the smaller hankies that I have. I’ll have to try it out. So Kim’s new scarf may be a one of a kind design. But this isn’t what made Kim have to have this particular scarf. It was the lime green “M” that lit her up. Lime green is Kim’s color and the “M” is for McMillan, Kim’s last name.
I was definitely thinking of the Gee’s Bend quilts when I designed Peaceable Bedlam. Mostly about the way they intentionally disrupt a traditional quilt design by changing a pattern just enough so you can still recognize the pattern but it’s not quite right.
In all the interviews I’ve read from Gee’s Bend, the women say it’s a way of making the quilt their own. The idea of individuality, of no quilt being the same, is a driving creative force.
I’ve read in other sources that braking up quilt patterns is seen in a lot of quilts made by African American women (and a few men). It’s a tradition based in the idea of the quilt as protection. The belief is that evil spirits would be confused by the design and would get “stuck” trying to figure it out, keeping them from bothering whoever is sleeping under the quilt.
It’s like painting your front door red to keep out the evil spirits or the belief that winding streets in cities keep the evil spirits wandering so they aren’t able to settle in one place.
This is just the quality I love about the Gee’s Bend Quilts, that they keep me looking at them. I’m forever trying to figure them out, trying to understand how the quilter made the decisions she did. From what I’ve read, those decisions come mostly from intuition. Intuition is also the driving creative force when I design my quilts.
I see now that my quilts are influenced by my life long issue with decision making. Since they are intuitive, I get to decide what looks good where. Right or wrong comes solely from me. Anyone can disagree with me, or not like my quilts, but that doesn’t make them “not good” in my mind. I know what each individual quilt should look like. I’m the authority, the only voice inside my head and heart when it comes to my work.
It’s fear I said. I could see it and feel it just below my belly. The darkness that had been plaguing me for months, that I thought could only be rid of through exorcism, was actually old fear welling up inside of me.
I laid on my back on the massage-like table in Stephanie’s office. She was using Cranial Sacral Therapy to help me deal with the darkness I was feeling deep within my body. Her hands were beneath my sacrum and lower spine. As she slowly moved them towards my neck and finally to the top of my head I felt a spasm in my spine as if it unraveled. I was longer, there was more space in my body. Something had shifted.
We had been talking about making decisions. Something that has been difficult for me my whole life. It was only about 5-6 years ago, when I got divorced, that I really began making my own decisions and taking responsibility for them. And now I realized that I had this notion that each decision was final. I believed that any one decision could and most likely would be the one that changed my life, and always for the worse. For me decisions always came down to the story of “If I just hadn’t done that, this wouldn’t have happened” It’s the kind of thinking that comes when something truly bad happens, like an accidental death or injury. But in my mind every decision was potentially dangerous to this degree. Every decision was either right or wrong and it was a fifty-fifty chance that I’d get it right.
My eyes were closed and every once in a while Stephanie’s voice would break the silence. Life doesn’t stop with each decision she told me. You make a decision then you adjust to that decision and make another one. Decisions are not right or wrong. And you’re the only one who gets to decide what is best for you. I let her words sink in, so simple, so obvious, yet not something I knew. For the first time I could see the trajectory of a life that rolled from one decision to the next, moving gently and slowly without the sudden stops and starts of judgement.
Then Stephanie asked me for a word that described what I was feeling. I didn’t have a word, but a picture. Inside my body, a part of my body, I saw a flower with a long, thin, supple stem that was dancing easily with the wind that blew it. And each time it swayed seeds burst from its center and scattered in the breeze.
That’s when I knew that the darkness that had been haunting me for the past few months, was not a demon to be exorcised, but old fear that had risen from deep inside of me. Most likely it was coming up now because lately I had been doing lots of things that were out of my comfort zone. Taking big steps in my life and work. Making decisions that scared me. It was the fear I felt as a kid, and that fear was protecting me at a time when making decisions was unsafe for me. It was my father I saw in my mind, whose randomly angry reactions to my actions were incomprehensible to me. Right and wrong were arbitrary. The smallest decision became potentially dangerous.
A part of me was still living in this childhood paradigm. The doubt and fear and panic about decision making was answering to an authority long gone. So I told the scared child, which was the the fear living inside of me, that I was the only authority over my life and body now. I get to make the decisions, get to decide right and wrong. And when she was scared she could come to me, that I would take care of us.
Something shifted in me then. I could feel it. Intellectually I knew all of this years ago, but my body didn’t know it. My body was still living in the old fear, in conflict with my mind. The work I did with Stephanie helped me to really know this. When I stood up from the table, I felt taller. “Like a giant”, I told Stephanie.
It’s been three days, and I’ve been able to hold onto this feeling, this new knowledge of myself. I know there’s more work involved, there always is. But I got my strength back, my centering, my grounding. The darkness is now just a child’s fearful voice inside of me, looking for assurance. And now, I’m able give her that assurance. I had other visions and and other experiences during my session with Stephanie, but I’ll write about them separately. I have not doubt they’re all connected, but at the moment I can’t really see how. I think that’s something that will need more time.