I hope all of you are celebrating Mother’s Day — and being celebrated. And maybe somewhere in your day are a few coveted minutes and a cup of tea (or something deeper and redder) and time to reflect on the day, on the role, on the years of commitment and love and challenge and reward the day brings up. The mix and balance are different for each of us, but hopefully it is a day in which you pause and remind yourself you’re doing a good job, you’re doing what you can do, and it matters. Hopefully others around you tell you these things today, too, but I know it doesn’t always happen. So Happy Mother’s Day.
Among the oddities of regular life here in the last few days were moments spent watching Avalon High, High School Musical 1, High School Musical 2, and beginning to watch old Star Trek episodes with the boys. This morning, as I prolonged the time before I gave in to the electronics requests/whining (which begins well before the sun is full), I covered up next to one while he read, and I read a graphic novel I picked up the other day from the teen shelves. It’s a ghost story, at its core, and it was pretty darn scary on some level! The high school protagonist is Russian, and so there are themes of culture and family and identity all tumbled about within her rather gritty school days. Another I’m reading is about a young Jewish girl, also at odds with her family’s expectations…. there certainly seems to be a (positive) trend in cultural identity graphic novel stories right now for the audience. Similarly, for those looking, you’ll find a number of graphic novels with females at the core, which is certainly a good thing! (I tend to scour the section of both teen and children’s libraries when we stop in, picking up anything I haven’t run across before. Most of them get read by one or two of us, some by all three of us!)
I picked up To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel, again, too. It will always stick with me as important. In other moments, I’m reading Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers,which is very heavy. But in the car, I started Science Fair Season, and I am blown away by the writing. Rarely have I been so in awe at the mastery of prose. I am reading it, of course, for work, but it is very, very good.
The Year Quilt: Final Stretch
Yesterday, between soccer games and after the splurge of Dynamo doughnuts (and early game putting us near the bakery early enough for the kids to get what they’ve been dying to try: maple bacon apple doughnuts), I spent time working on my ’42′ year project. I’ve got a little more than a month in which to finish up the piecing and call it “done.” I’ve been lackadaisical about this one. Initially, I feared I would finish it too quickly, so I backed off, and then the year began to slip away. When I started taking stock a few months ago, it was clear I was seriously at the bottom of a mountain still to climb in order to meet both the end of this year (late June) and the ‘math’ of the project, which is part of the symbolism for me. (Somewhere in the project, the numbers have to make sense for the year.) So I have been working on it here and there, now and again. And slowly the number of panels has grown. I have less than a handful left to meet the number I think I need.
Beyond that, I have no concrete plan. I know what I want to do with this one when it is finished, and that knowledge is guiding its layout. I plan to hang it. Once I realized that and realized there is a wall I can use, at the expense of a quadrant of old family photos, I moved forward with this specific wall placement and size limitation in mind. But beyond a few sketches in my design book as I’ve contemplated whether I wanted to set the panels directly atop one another or offset them, I haven’t given much precise thought to assembly. A week or so ago, I realized, suddenly, that I wanted to integrate small log cabins, and then, struggling still with the math and the limited number of days left, I hit upon another idea for small block integration. But I was figuring I would topstitch some of these blocks, adding them directly to the seemed panels.
That was what I anticipated, until I started working yesterday. It is much more “me” to set the blocks in, to integrate, to give it a finished appearance, to spend the time to bring about the ‘pieced’ integration, even though part of me thinks the raw-edged, layered approach might have been appropriate and textural. Even though I’ve let the finished elements begin lining up and spreading out across the design walls (we’ll never see the bookcases in this room again, I fear), I’ve been waiting until all panels are done in order to finally pair them up to balance the greens and blacks. The waiting puts part of the process at a standstill… there’s not a lot of “sewing” until I finish the handwork of the panels.
But yesterday, on a whim, I decided to go ahead and start assembling some of them… and as I did so, I started hacking off excess background, making background strips and inserting log cabins… I didn’t even stop and determine a finite size for each panel. Instead, I’m working free-form with each piece, trusting that the variance that will emerge is part of what will bring this together and give it life. It will not be simply a grid of uniformity. Slowly it’s taking shape… a shape I didn’t plan…. but it is also very much taking on my voice and aesthetic. The way the log cabins are being integrated will space out the panels, but the approach also brings in and mixes up background elements, a characteristic style of the way I’ve designed several of our Here2There quilts. I’m loving what I see taking form on my wall.
Through the year, I thought I was doing just these appliqued panels, and yet suddenly it’s become more, more nuanced, more layered, more complicated. It is definitely become what a year piece should become, and at this point, I respect the fact that sometimes the true “evolution” of a year quilt happens in the final months, days, hours. No matter how much you create week by week or how disciplined you are, there is magic in bringing it all together, fitting together pieces, seeking out the bits and pieces that need to be spliced in to give it final voice.
A month to go.
By the way… One of the many collections of Cul de Sac, by Richard Thomspon (and mentioned recently when we discovered it) is on sale right now at Amazon. Great price — and eligible for free shipping for prime users. You can find Richard’s blog here: richardspooralmanac.blogspot.com/. (Yesterday and today, he showed some ‘mother’-themed panels and strips. Some of you will find yourselves reflected!)