Golden Bells

Recently driving down the road, to a destination two hours south and a few decades in the past, I was playing Angel Band full blast.  People in other cars could see me singing and think I’m crazy.  Well, maybe, but my singing along with Emmylou is not sufficient to have me committed.

This is how I deal with sorrow.  I was headed to the funeral for my cousin Wallace.  So When They Ring Those Golden Bells, We Shall Rise, and Drifting Too Far are soothing sounds to my soul.  Wallace loved these songs, too.

It’s been a long time since I played this collection; so long that I actually had forgotten some of the words.  Jim and I both find comfort in music, and this CD and others by Alison Kraus, Ralph Stanley, and selections from O Brother Where Art Thou and Cold Mountain soundtracks have blasted away in the car on too many trips down that same road. For part of this trip we were in separate vehicles, and my solitary time is when I had the music the loudest.

As Precious Memories plays, I can hear my mother’s voice as I sat beside her in church.  That song was one of her favorites and she and I thought she sounded like Emmylou does.  Another album with soothing voices I sometimes play is Trio.  When that plays, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and I join Emmylou to form a quartet.

The songs on those two albums brought me comfort in the drive to and from visits with my mother in the last seven years of her life.  Visits when I didn’t know if she would recognize me; later visits when I was certain she would not.  But the sounds she loved brought me comfort as they always had her, especially  the song Who Will Sing for Me?

Once in the church for Wallace’s service, more music was part of the goodbye.  A first-time experience for me was a lonesome harmonica playing.  That, and the later solo were nice, but I missed the Bethel Boys, a foursome of local men who have harmonized at several farewells in my hometown.  In answer to Emmylou’s question above, the Bethel Boys (and the entire congregation) sang for my mother.

We buried a lot of knowledge today.  Wallace knew where everyone was buried, who owned which plots in the cemetery, which family owned what farm and who had owned it before them.  In recent years, a visit to Wallace might include a ride around the county.  Wallace would narrate a rolling history lesson with detours to check every neighbor’s crops. He knew who lived in this house or that, who built the house and when, whose dog bit someone in the yard, who had been arrested.

I had learned to take a list of questions and a recorder on some visits.  But I’m already wondering what questions will come up this week that Wallace could have answered.

One of the preachers said that “Wallace lived 87 years and I don’t know that he ever made anyone mad except Miz Dot.”  I’m sure that’s correct.  And, I don’t think he ever said no when someone asked for help with anything.

The next generation has asked for some “Wallace stories.”  Here are a couple:

When he was a lad, Wallace stayed with my parents for a few days, maybe his mother was sick, I’m not sure why.  At breakfast one morning, he remarked, “Aunt Cleo, your biscuits taste alright, but you shore can’t sop syrup with ‘em.”  My Daddy quoted that line over many years, always with a twinkle in his eye.

When I was a child, my bicycle broke.  I don’t know how that happened – I don’t remember a crash. Daddy’s suggestion was that I ride a unicycle.  But since the pedals were on one portion and the seat on the other, that wasn’t going to work.   Wallace had added welding to his list of skills needed on the farm. He reattached the two halves of my bike and I was a happy little girl.  Wheels, whee, freedom!

A fine honest man, a community leader, a foster father to many children, one shining example of humility, integrity, compassion,  is no longer with us.  In the far off great forever, beyond the shining river, they are ringing golden bells for Wallace.

Photo:  Wallace as a boy, maybe about the age of the “sopping syrup” remark.  Circa 1937.

Another Voice

prom-dress-girlSometimes the process goes smoothly, other times not.

The secret’s out.  My quilts talk to me.

Here’s what “Prom Dress” girl said to me as I worked on her over a few days. (this piece started with an old photo of my mother, so you may recognize her voice):

I’m wearing the white dress I made for my graduation, all stitched by hand.  We didn’t have a sewing machine.  The photo was taken on the farm beside the smokehouse.  Are you going to cut away the building?  So the focus will be on me?

You’ve printed the photo on vintage linen fabric.  Have you decided if you will put it in a frame when you finish?  I will fit nicely in a 5” x 7”.

What are you doing to my hair?  Brown is the right color, but I never had long hair in my life.  Oh, you put more paint than you planned.  Ok.  Maybe I should have had long hair, this looks pretty good.  And, you are right, now you see a face in there.  I did blend in with the background.  We know the grass is green, but the black/white photo doesn’t reveal that.  You could have planned to paint the grass.  Or stitch it with green thread.

You plan to call this piece Graduation Day, right?  So you have to leave the dress white.  Because it was.

So you’ve cut an oval frame from that beautiful green silk Dupioni.  I like that, but it doesn’t contrast enough with my photo, do you think?  Oh, you’re making an oval “mat” to place in a rectangular frame.  Even if you don’t put it in a wooden frame, you can make a cloth frame.  I get it.

Ouch.  You pinned me to a nice oval doily; guess you abandoned the silk like I said, then you saw that blue Irish linen handkerchief and started over?  You get in such a hurry, then have to redo things.  Think, first, ok?  And now the blue kerchief and I are pinned to a black embroidered hankie, on point.  Ok, but your design is getting bigger and bigger.

What happened to the pieces of the silk log cabin quilt that you cut as my background?  Yes. I guess you can use them for something else.  Wasn’t this supposed to be a quick project?

Now I’m getting a ragged edge.  You are stitching me to the linen and the hankie using wool batting for dimension.  Nice.  Warm.  Are you writing on me?  Oh, drawing lines for stitching details on my dress.  Ok.

Not bad.  When you press me and the marker disappears, it will be good.  And the pebble stitching on the blue looks nice, too.

Now what is that design on the black hankie?  It’s ok, but aren’t those embroidered flowers sorta rough looking?  Is it UPSIDE DOWN?  Maybe you are right, maybe no one will notice.  Go steam these marks out, though, ok?

WHAT?  The marks aren’t disappearing?  You used a regular pen?  You goofball!  Now what?  Oh, I see the blue paint.  Yeah.  My beautiful white graduation dress has to be blue?  So, now it’s not a graduation dress anymore.

And, the black hankie is WHERE?  Well, you saw the problem before stitching the whole thing.  So you have three corners to use in another project.  Think you can remember to check right side up next time?

Whew!  I’m back on the oval white doily you started with as my frame days ago.  But on what?  Oh, this is lovely brown linen.  Just enough drama.  You made it work, but you didn’t make it easy!

Oh, you are finally getting to use a piece of that cross-stitched quilt you bought, aren’t you?  prom-dress-backIts colors do carry the blue dress to the back.  Wasn’t it hard to cut into that old quilt that someone spent many many hours stitching?  And they quilted it by hand, too.

I know it has holes in it, but I can hear the ladies at your guild now.  They aren’t going to like the idea of cutting up an old quilt.  Yeah, you are right.  The nice handwork that remains will be seen now.  With holes in it, it would have been relegated to a closet, or to wrapping furniture for moving.  Or, as you found it, languishing in an old dusty store.

And, you did change the name from Graduation Day to Going to Prom.  No, you cannot call it Bossy Girl in Blue Dress.


Ok, I’m back.  The sequence of steps would make more sense if I had photographed each layout, but when I’m feverishly tossing things about, auditioning colors and shapes, there is no thought of documentation, just doing.

Yes, I do have scraps of silk Dupioni, an old silk log cabin quilt, and a beautiful black embroidered hanky that are cut into bits.  But each of them has potential in other projects.   They are not lost, they are not forgotten, and, I confess, they are not well organized.  Serendipity plays a big part in my fabric combinations.  Something that is lying on the cutting table gets stirred to the top of the pile while I’m looking for something else, and the pairings that occur inspire dozens of other projects.  Ideas come faster than I can sew.

This afternoon project wasn’t completed until four days after I started working with it.  Interruptions come about because of life’s events, and because the design stalled and I needed to walk away from it.  And, though this is not the “graduation dress” design I had planned, I can reprint the photo and go at it again if I choose.  If something doesn’t work out, I don’t consider it a failure, but as lessons learned.  I might be more careful in the future to be sure the embroidery is right side up.  And, I’ll check to see that I’m marking with a removable pen when sketching quilting lines.

Photos:  The finished quilt measures 15” x 20”.  Wool batting, silk and cotton threads were used for quilting. Hand-guided, free motion stitching attached the photo to the blue linen, to the vintage doily, and that to the brown linen.  Hand stitching was used to invisibly stitch the lace edges down and to attach the linen to the vintage quilt on the back.  I used a modified seed stitch.  The backing has a bit of lace stitched over a hole in the quilt, and a label made from a portion of a vintage linen napkin.

Preserve the Story

SG at Southern Crescent“This has been so good for me today.  I’ve been so down in the dumps lately.  I lost my best friend and have been unable to do anything.  Now I have new ideas and I’m going to make….”

These words came from a new friend at a quilt guild where I gave a talk yesterday.  She came up to me at the end, when people had questions or wanted to see a quilt up close again.  She was beautiful, seemingly calm, serene; her outward appearance did not reveal her troubled soul.  But she and I know that stitching will soothe her.  She can make something while thinking of her friend.  She will recapture memories in the threads and forever after, when she looks at that finished project, she will remember the good times as well as the sorrow that she felt with the loss.

My talk was Capturing a Story in a Quilt.  I shared stories that had prompted a quilt project of mine, like Granny Zee’s Scrap Baskets, or Government Bird Going for a Ride, as well as stories that evolved with the quilt (one example being Ollie Jane’s Flower Garden).

The centerpiece of the talk was Fifty-Two Tuesdays, a Journal Quilt, where I intentionally set out to chronicle a year of my life in fabric.  But all of us who stitch know that every quilt we make holds memories; of friends who sat with us as we stitched, of travels where some fabric was purchased, or situations in life that accompanied the project’s progress.

In order for others to know those stories that live within the quilts, we need to write them down.  A story quilt is a good visual cue to share family stories with future generations, but a written record will help preserve the details.

A quilting friend has recently prepared a manuscript ready to print a few copies as gifts for family members.  A daughter-in-law interested in genealogy asked Ethel to write down some family stories, so she did.  Keeping it simple, she wrote as if she were talking to this daughter-in-law.  No editors, or publishers, or agents are needed these days, even if you want it bound and want multiple copies.

I treasure some memories my aunt wrote on scraps of stationery; she shared stories my mother had told me, but the details were fuzzy.  I love that I have a written record of those childhood stories, compliments of my cousin Susie and her copying machine.

I left yesterday’s meeting with new friends and new intentions.  Some of them shared their plans to write down memories associated with their quilts.  I saw projects that inspire me to go to the sewing machine!

SG3 at Southern Crescent

G’s Treehouse

G's treehouseA couple of years ago a friend of mine told me she was having a baby, a little girl.  This beautiful mother-to-be loved a particular line of fabric which included birds and flowers.

I gathered together some of the fabric from the collection, made a tree, planted some flowers at the base, and constructed a birdhouse.  I had a ball!

A note about the some fabric:  just as I never follow a pattern exactly, I don’t think I’ve ever made anything solely from one designer’s collection.  Though the collections are a great way to get coordinating colors and a variety of scales and patterns, I find they are often a bit static.  I like to add a zinger or a focus, or just something different from another source.  In this case, the collection didn’t have a fabric that said “tree trunk” to me, so I used a little brown check.  Likewise, there was not the right blue for the birdhouse.  And I’m confident that the leaves were cut from green fabrics from the collection and perhaps from others as well.

G's treehouse birdhouseI cut the background to the finished size of the quilt (38″ x 65″), adding a bit in all directions to allow for shrinkage that comes with appliqué and quilting.  The tree, branches, and leaves were all freely cut using the eyeball method on top of the background.  Needle turn appliqué was used throughout.  I like raw edges on leaves (as in After the Chlorophyll, Shade Tree Mechanic, and a few other projects) but this was to be a baby quilt to be used, and I didn’t want fraying to be an issue when washed.  Nor did I want the little one getting stray threads in her hand or mouth.

G's treehouse detailBroderie perse (a fancy word for fussy cutting) was used with the flower centers at the base of the tree.  The birds were larger than those printed on the fabric, but I mimicked the birds the designers had used when I made patterns for mine.

The tree bark was quilted with a dark brown thread, the rest with a matching thread that simply gave texture.  The exception to this was some of the embellishing stitches around the flower heads.  In some cases, there were details printed on the fabric that couldn’t easily be cut out and appliquéd, so I recaptured those with the quilting stitch using a heavier thread.  All threads used were cotton, and the batting was cotton.  That is often my preferred fiber for all components of a quilt, but certainly is the case when it’s for a baby.  Seed stitch was used to embroider the seeds the bird on the ground is eating.

All quilting was done on the sewing machine, hand-guided, free motion stitching.  A variety of motifs were used, including echoing, vines with leaves,  curved crosshatching,  vaguely parallel lines.

Now G is having a little brother.  Hmmm….

Memories for Sale

photos family birthdaysIn the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron advises artists to “take your inner artist on a date once a week.”  Go to a museum, or a movie, or the beach, to feed your soul.  Go alone.

I don’t do that.  Not exactly that.  No schedule, no plan.  But I do enjoy the moment when it happens.  Seize the day.  Or the hour.  Or the 15 minutes in a hot, old mill where antiques are sold.

photo shopping SGThat’s where you see me in this photo.  Shuffling though family memories.  Not my family, but a family for sale.  Well, their memories are for sale.

Sad, you say.  Yes. It is sad that a bunch – I estimate 500 or more in the bin I picked though (I looked at every one, bought dozens) family photos were sold in bulk to a stranger. The names and places may be gone, but the stories are still there.

I don’t know the name of the family, the location of the photos, or even the time frame for certain.  But because they look so much like old photos in my family, I can guess 1950s and 1960s.  I know they lived in a house with a backyard, that they built a water feature there at some point, they had a spot where they always took photos on birthdays.  As the children aged, the bushes at the corner of the house grew and matured.  The birthday boy or girl was almost always situated in the same spot with that corner of the house in the background.  photo birthday boyUsually it was the child alone with the cake, sometimes sitting on the ground, many times with the cake on a stool from inside the house.  Later there was a picnic table added, and the cake sat there.

And, then the birthdays moved inside.  My photographer husband notes that they got a camera with a flash.  I didn’t think of that, but I’m sure he’s right.

I know this family dressed up for Easter, for Scout meetings, and what I hope was “tacky day” at school.  They hunted Easter eggs in an area with pine trees and broomsedge.  They visited older relatives, went to the beach a few times, to the mountains, and had family members in the armed forces.  They fed ducks and went to a petting zoo. There were graduations, engagements, and a big anniversary celebration in later years.  They bought new cars now and then, kids got wheels, too – wagons, tricycles, and then bicycles.

The core family consisted of a Mom, Dad, son, daughter.  There were extended family members; brothers and sisters of the parents, their spouses, grandparents, close friends.

Mom baked cakes and kept an immaculate house.  Dad worked hard and enjoyed playing with the children after work.  They paid their bills on time, added a few improvements to the half-acre they called home as extra money allowed, and were good neighbors.  You may think my imagination has run away with me here, and you could be right.  But I think I know these people.

At least I know a family I imagine like this and that makes my day better.  If I can create art from these photos that conveys part of that good feeling, that’s good for even more people.

So, is it still sad for the photos to be sold?

Is this what Julia Cameron wants to come out of my date with my inner artist each week?

I’ve already been working on more photos on fabric since Flag Bearer was done.  Several are in various stages of completion; you’ll be seeing some soon.

And I’m pretty sure you expect a fabric story based on these children and their birthday cakes.  Yep, I’m doing that!

Rescued Remnants

It’s been eleven weeks since I wrote about an adventure buying vintage linens.  Only today is this piece finished, featuring pieces of an old tablecloth found on that excursion.

This quilt has been in development since I brought that pile in the house.  Growing, developing, changing.  Pink is not my “go-to” color, maybe that’s why it took so long for me to hear what the fabric was saying.

I know, people have been referred for psychological help when they said their quilts talked to them.  But quilts do talk.  If only you are willing to listen.

Here is the conversation as this process ensued: Vintage Tablecloth (VT) and me (SG).

VT:  This basket motif wants to be the centerpiece of a medallion-like wall hanging.

SG:  Ok.  I’ll cut one out in an irregular shape and stitch it to a background. With wool batting underneath so you rise to be noticed.

VT:  What background?  The green pieces from the tablecloth without holes?

SG:  Ok.  Done.  Centered, stitched on the machine with dense machine quilting to make the embroidery pop.

VT:  Oh, I’m disappointed.  I’m not featured as I should be.  I need accentuating.

SG:  Ok.  I’ll cut you out from that background and put you on something darker.

VT:  How about pink?  See my perky little bow, let’s do pink!

SG:  Noooo, I don’t like pink too much.  Let’s try something else.  Let’s pick up all those other colors.  Here.  I like this stripe.

VT:  Ok.  But horizontally, no.  Vertically, no.  Both too plain.  I’m fancy.

SG:  Agreed.  How about mitering the stripe so there’s some geometric interest?

VT:  Yes, Mrs. G, I know you have to get that in there somewhere.

SG:  Done.  Now on the green.

VT:  uh-uh.  I want pink.

SG:  Pink?  I don’t like pink.  I don’t even buy pink fabric. Oh, wait, here is a gradated solid.  I bought a pack of these pastels (Lord, what WAS I thinking? That’s not me at all.)  But it does work with the colors in the ribbon. How about a pink border around the basket on the stripe?

VT:  Yes.  At last you heard me.  Pink.  Pink.  Pink.

SG:  Ok.  There is now a border around the basket.  It’s pink.  And, can I let it be raw-edged, since that is the way I applied the basket?

VT:  Yes.  Sure.

SG:  Done.  Now that is going on the green background from the original tablecloth.  Good grief, how many layers is this?  I guess I should cut triangles from the green and frame the center rather than continue to build thickness.  More cutting and fitting and sewing.  But that’s what it needs to be.

Now I need to layer the quilt.  Cotton batting this time, and look, I found a pink calico for the backing.

VT:  Ok, I’m done talking.  Have your way with me now as you quilt.  Oh, I guess you will bind me with that stripe, too; since that seems to be the only fabric you can use for a binding.  But will you not make it bias this time?  Let’s be a little bit subtle with it, ok?

SG:  Good idea.  Especially since I’ve used almost all of the stripe and it will have a jillion seams anyway.  But I’ll place the stripes perpendicular to the edge.

Quilting is done.  I repeated the bow motif from the original basket.  I drew a replica, resized, marked it on corners of quilt, and stitched with heavy pink thread.  I quilted the remainder using a matching fine thread (silk) so the emphasis is on the texture, not the stitch.

VT:  Your quilting worked out nicely.  But now the center stripe is a bit puffy.  Can you get it to settle down a bit?

SG:  Sure.  I’ll do the seed stitch with a matching thread.  But it makes a mess on the back.

VT:  Find something pink.  You use vintage linens for the labels anyway.  Just find one large enough to cover that center square.

SG:  I agree that it needs to be pink.  I don’t have any vintage pink stuff (nor pink dye).  I don’t DO pink.  But, you are right – any other color will be too high contrast.  It is the back, after all.

VT:  So, wait.  You don’t have to finish today.  Wait until you find the right thing.

SG:  Oh, WOW.  I saw this pink linen handkerchief at an antique mall. With lace.  It was $3.  More than I normally pay for a hankie to stitch on as a label.  But I thought of you and bought it.

VT:  Good girl.  I’m worth it.

rescued remnants backSG:  Done.  Label attached with seed stitch that just goes through to the batting.  Sleeve attached the same way.  You aren’t square, close though.  (16” x 17″).  And you speak “pink”


Bee Still my Heart

bee skep on notebook page leftbee skep on notebook page right

I see that today has been designated as National Honey Bee Day, begun to increase community awareness of beekeeping in the U.S.  Such a holiday is a perfect excuse to share a few pieces of fiber art with a beekeeping theme.

After I sold my childhood home to Billy, a former colleague of my Daddy, I received a treasured package.  Billy was doing some remodeling and found two of my Daddy’s high school science lab books behind the walls of a closet.  His graduation from Sycamore High School was in 1932, so the Biology and Physical Science lab manuals predate that.

I never knew my Daddy could draw, but in these books I found his drawings of crawfish, birds, fish, chemistry lab equipment, and BEES.  I was excited to find his handwriting, which looked exactly like it did later in life, but the drawings were a wonderful surprise.  I scanned some of the images and printed them on parchment paper and framed them as Christmas gifts for family members, but the lab on the bees got special treatment.

Beekeeping detail rightI printed those two pages on commercially prepared fabric for printing, then used those as the background for appliquéd bee skeps, vines, leaves, berries, and bees.  Cotton was used for the vines and leaves, beehives are a woven cotton, berries are made with silk ribbon, and the bees are appliquéd from felted wool.  The quilting is hand guided free motion on a domestic sewing machine. Each piece of this pair finishes at 12” x 15”. In keeping with the school theme, I entitled this pair Beekeeping 101.

beauty & beesThis reconnection with my Daddy’s history with bees spurred me to stitch several more quilts with bees and beehives.  I modified a pattern from Maggie Bonanomi to create Beauty and the Bees in wool.  The background is commercially handdyed and felted black wool.  All the appliqué pieces are felted wool from recycled clothing, mine and Goodwill’s.  The pink berries and tendrils are machine couched with my free motion couching foot, one of the most fun-to-use tools in my toolbox!

Still busy as a bee, I wanted a colony on blue.  So I created a simple design using a single bee skep, and used needleturn appliqué on the Blackbird Design fabric that looks like a cross stitch sampler.  I return to that fabric frequently, in different colorways, because it adds another layer of interest to any quilt while paying tribute to another one of my needlework loves – cross stitch.  A section of this piece appears in the banner at the top of the page.

bees in guest bedroomThe Beehive on Blue was made to fit an oval frame (8″ x 10″) I found somewhere.  That’s a shape I love and find those frames hard to leave in the store.  So one came home with me, got a coat of chalk paint, and holds my quilt.  It is honored with the presence of an original drawing of a bee by my art instructor and friend, Mark Ballard.

Fifty-Two Tuesdays has a block with a beeskep on linen.  There’s one in Fifty-Two Wednesdays, and  I’ve used this motif in a series of beginning appliqué classes.  I’m certain it will reappear many times.  I sometimes find interesting bee buttons or charms that need a home in a textile hive.

My Daddy, the beekeeper, would have been surprised that those lab manuals were still around, I think.  He built this house in 1946, after having owned at least two farms, then living in another house in town. so why did he keep science lab manuals for fourteen years?  I know if he could see my fabric beehives, he would pretend to think they were silly, printing his workbook pages and sewing on them.  But secretly he would be pleased.  As I think he would be pleased that I treasure such wonderful memories of those glorious mornings checking the beehives with him.

Note:  more details about Beauty and the Bees and working with wool are here.


Strollin'My latest art quilt features a guinea.  I love these funny looking birds; the pattern on their feathers reminds me of little old women wearing black calico dresses, and I love their spirit of self-confidence.  I guess it should be noted that I admire them from a distance.  I don’t think our neighbors would like for us to have them on our property.

My guineas must be relegated to quilts and buttons and such.

Strollin' closeupI found a black and white batik fabric a couple of years ago that said “guinea” to me.  I made an album quilt of Sunbonnet Sue-style guineas and called it Guineas on Parade.


The art quilt here uses the same fabric and pattern I drew for that larger quilt.  This one is needleturn appliquéd onto a brown and white checked background (more on the philosophy of that here).  The sunflower in the border is raw edge appliqué on a brown  hand-dyed fabric.  All quilting is hand-guided, freemotion quilting using cotton thread.

Strollin' back closeupThis piece finishes at 16” x 20”.  For the back, I used a delightful batik I bought in Paducah.  Even though it’s on the back, it harkens to my philosophy of “using the good stuff“.

In addition to Guineas on Parade, I’ve included guinea buttons on a block in 52 Tuesdays, and an appliquéd guinea in 52 Wednesdays.  

I found a delightful poem about guineas online. In part, it reads

They seldom walk –‘tis a run or a trot,

Snatching bugs left and right, one for each polka-dot.

The poem in its entirety can be found here.

When I see a guinea, or hear one, it takes me back to a sunny day of softball practice where the “buck-wheat” cry of these birds interrupted our practice.  Those friends, the serenity of a spring day, the joy of playing in the rural outdoors, all come to mind and I feel a smile spreading across my face.

Loving the Blues

indigo fabricsI’ve been playing in my indigo vat for the past few days.  The pile you see here includes some of the results.  I’ve dipped pieces large and small of old vintage sheets, old hankies and napkins, doilies, placemats, purchased commercial fabric, bits of lace, and a cotton Matelasse bedspread.

Fabrics are cotton, linen, silk, and combinations of those.  Some have been dipped once, some several times.  I love to watch the magic as the oxidation process occurs.

indigo vatWhen first removed from the vat, the cloth appears green.  As the dye oxidizes, the blue appears.  If a resist is applied to block the dye absorption, interesting patterns can be created.

The only resists I’ve tried are some tying of the fabric and a bit of folding.  Already I can see how addictive this process can be.  And though I’ve already peered into the rabbit hole of staining with tea and blackberries, and then explored the browns, this lover of all things BLUE is tumbling headfirst into the indigo dye.

indigo stitchingThis third photo shows that I’ve started some projects using this most delightful fabric.  I’m loving the work I’ve recently been doing with vintage linen; it’s so deliciously soft to stitch by hand.  The photo shows a vintage baby dress appliquéd on linen now ready to embroider and quilt and some squares prepared for piecing.  Both pieces use techniques I’ve learned from that amazing artist, Jude Hill.  Her invisible basting stitch and paperless piecing technique have changed my stitching forever!

I haven’t limited myself to playing with yardage.  If I took a selfie right now, you would see a cotton knit shirt and a silk scarf which have both spent some time in the indigo vat.


country storeHow long has it been since you saw a young lad execute a backflip from a wooden platform into the river below?

My answer to that question is “a few hours.”

On a day trip to Warm Springs, we took a route we’d not followed before.  All routes there are backroads, but most are some we’ve traveled many times.  A new path holds wonder.  With a favorite remark my driver likes to make, “this time and one more will make twice I’ve been on this road,” we were off on a new adventure.

Taking grandsons on a historic field trip, we saw numerous churches and cemeteries, a small community populated with an old store, schoolhouse, and church, all white buildings wearing red roofs.  We found two small towns filled with antique shops, a delightful restaurant with homemade bread, hamburgers topped with pimento cheese, and met a Corgi named Macon.

At the Little White House museum, I learned more about barkcloth than I ever realized I didn’t know.  Someone gave FDR a gift of beautiful yardage of tapa, and the story led me to new details about one of my favorite fabrics.  Who knew I would learn fabric history on this adventure?

It was on the way home that we saw him.  As we crossed a bridge over the Flint River, we saw the jump.  We were too high to see how cleanly he made his entrance into the water.

It doesn’t matter.  He had all afternoon to perfect his form.

We had had our moment.  A glimpse, memories triggered, stories to share.  Time travel.