I stood at the center of my quilt Walking in Circles, This American Life on my ipad, and pulled the needle and yarn through the middle square. This is called tacking it’s a way of holding the quilt and batting together without stitching it. It’s another way to quilt.
There’s less space in my new studio so as I walked around the quilt to pull the needle through the back and tie it, I had to push the quilt back like a curtain. It touched the wall on one side and my table on the other. I did this a few times, but it seemed so much more cumbersome than the quilts I had worked on in the past. There was no flow, usually this process becomes almost a dance between me and the quilt. But this quilt is bigger than I usually make and the fabric thick and heavy and the space around it close. All that movement became slow and difficult.
I’ve been making quilts in this same way for years, but this just wasn’t working, I wasn’t enjoying it, it felt like a chore. I don’t know where the idea came from, but I thought why not stand in front of the quilt and pull the yarn through to the back, leave it hanging and tie it later. This would require cutting short pieces of thread and threading the needle each time I pulled the yarn through, but why not try it. (It would be really easy if I could just tack it from the back, but I like to see where the dots of yarn will show up on the front of the quilt). It turns out threading the needle each time is easy and I don’t know if it’s actually quicker, but I enjoyed the work more and it seemed easier.
The whole thing surprised me. I never expected I would figure out a whole new way of working on my quilts today. And there it was, no struggle, the idea came to me as if I had been doing it that way all along. I don’t know if I would have come up with this new way of tacking in my old studio, I didn’t have to.
Someone recently wrote to me about wabi-sabi. It’s the idea that impermanence and imperfection are the natural order of things. I think I’m finally getting it and beginning to welcome it. You don’t “get there” and stop, you “get there” for a little while, then go somewhere else.
9 thoughts on “Standing in Place, for a little while”
Oh, I love this post and the quilt. I hope it brings it’s owner as much comfort as mine has. Watching your work in progress, reading your thoughts is a gift to the future owner..your art is priceless, must be very difficult to put a price on it. Sometimes I feel like I stole my quilt! If I win the lottery tonight, I’m settling up with you! 🙂
Oh Tess You made me smile!
Maria, I love how you have shared something so very profound, stepping back from a situation, even one you felt cornered into, not your usual working space, and yet, you found a new way, and it may even make new space and new ways for you to work your magic needles! This post makes me so happy at the end of the day. I ordered one of your husband’s books today for my grandson, Jacob, at Battenkill. It was so lovely to hear the voice of either mother/daughter at the other end. Lenore! Finds a Friend! (My grandson has a black Lab named Bear, and he delighted to receive his autographed copy of the Animals at Bedlam Farm last Christmas) Best Wishes for this season to you and Jon and all the Creatures on the Farm, Susan
Hi Susan, I was with Jon when he signed the book yesterday. We both said it’s Susan Alcantara, such a nice person. Thanks and I hope Jacob likes the book.
My Mom would have been 88 this year, she used to tell us stories about sitting under the quilting frame when she was a little girl at the Quilting Bee. Her job was to push the needle back up through the fabric so the quilter could tie the knots. I wish I was there to help you, I’d stand behind the quilt and push the needle back through to you. Nice quilt.
Oh Bonnie, I thought of that! What a great story and I would think even fun for a kid to do. Thank you for telling it.
Oh, Maria, you outwitted the quilt whose name is Walking in Circles. You figured out how to keep from walking in circles in order to complete it! This post made me laugh! Thank you!
It’s true Ruth, now you made me laugh
Love the photos of this quilt. It is so rich in detail.