May it be

Around and around. This blog has morphed a few times in its lifetime. It had no images for quite awhile. I tried to keep it going with word projects. One year I recorded the process of moving from Connecticut to Maine. One year I recorded walks. Pretty boring.

The last few years, it became all about “product.” I wanted to record the things I was making. I thought I might need to go back and see when I made something, or how I did it, so I could repeat. I had been stalled from making for many years busy with job and kids and house. When I moved to Maine, retired, and reconnected to making, it seemed like a frenzy.

It’s still a frenzy of making in my life. I wanted to understand it and decipher it, but maybe that’s impossible. I am feeling kind of done with the frenzy aspect, but I’m not sure how to wind it down. I know I’m becoming more appreciative of my materials and also conscious of how much I try to stuff into a day and how it affects my mood. Aiming for more spacious, more simple, more homegrown.

I use the word “maybe” a lot. It came to me the other day that I should try to use “May it be” instead.

Today is a quiet cold day. A Sunday. I am questioning the blog again. Shifting my focus to process instead? I don’t know. (Another phrase I overuse.) So today I’ll try real process by looking at what’s going on in making at my house.

The Basket

This is going to be a basket with hopefully sloping sides. I put in a red ring to define the edge of the base. I might do another red base ring and then switch back to the natural tones. It is made from scraps of fabric cut into strips, wrapped over baling twine, and secured with dyed thread. A big pointed needle helps push the thread through a bit of fabric and twine, to secure the rings. I’m feeling a bit stuck on the transition to the sides but I’ll get there.

The Weaving

I am trying to keep a small weaving in progress. But it is not a familiar process and tends to go slowly. There are four mini-weavings on the windowsill in various stages of finishing and one just started on the loom.

The first photo is a blurry shot of a header made from four thin strands of some mysterious fragile vintage thread that I was given. I have lots and lots of that thread. If I tug it, it breaks so I can’t use it to stitch. It’s also not smooth. A friend suggested weaving with it. Okay, let’s try that.

I feel proud of that knotted header because I wasn’t sure it was going to work. I had to try twice, as the first time I didn’t prepare enough thread and I didn’t want to knot it to finish. The second time, I pulled off four long lengths of thread, bundled them, and then wound them onto a bobbin. It worked pretty well. I think this is called soumak knotting.

The thread with its cryptic tag, the bobbin with some thread left on it, the warp:

The weaving so far. I visualize three irregular streams of various colors and shades, mostly black/gray and pink/red. It might be a mistake to try to weave free-form shapes. Feels like a challenge.

The Squares

Definitely where I am feeling at home these days. I put this photo on Instagram, I like it a lot. A snowy day and accompanying square.

I prep something to work on during the day. Most days. Then the next morning I stitch it. Here I’m stitching two-inch squares into blocks. Very satisfying.

Here’s the whole lot (most of them) laid out, just to see how much I had. It’s 30 x 60, if my calculations are correct. I want to intersperse a plain fabric for a less busy design. Maybe more of the 4 x 3 plain blocks for borders. The biggest question on this is whether it will become a flat blanket or panels for the under-eave storage in our camp. We told the carpenters not to build doors there because I would make fabric covered panels that we could insert in those holes. Now I guess I have to do it. I need to take measurements. It’s cold there. Really cold. But I need to make this decision.

After I lay out the squares on the floor, I have to pick them up again. And assemble them into piles.

Raw Fiber

I’ve been gathering fibers for basketry in a purchased pack basket. I harvested the iris leaves a few weeks ago, and put them in a bin. Then it snowed on them and then ice formed freezing them into the bin. I had to wait for the weather to warm so the ice would melt. Then I dried them in the sun for storage. Finally I could put the iris leaves into the basket with the horseradish. I also have a length of dandelion cordage somewhere and some grapevine in coils.

I’d really like to make a basket or cordage with this fiber. But can’t start it now. I like how the fiber looks in the pack basket, so it will stay there for awhile.

Thoughts on Monotony

My cousin-in-law and I walked yesterday in the cold and then conversed over tea. It was lovely. She’s working on a jigsaw puzzle. I told her I was spending my time making, and the processes were very monotonous. More monotonous than putting together a puzzle. She replied that there must be a lot of decision making and planning going on though, that it was not just monotonous. And she’s right. I got thinking about the distinctions between making a puzzle and making a basket or a weaving or a quilt. I need to have something at the end, something precious and useful and beautiful. Vision-fulfilling. And I like to make the components, build something up from raw materials.

I don’t know where this is going. Someday I might like to focus on one thing. I don’t know what. Right now I’m mainly focusing on learning to relax. May it be.

8 Responses

  1. Liz A says:

    I recently put everything away except for one project … it definitely helped me get back on track. The key was finding the one project that I truly wanted to do (as opposed to those I felt I “should” do)

    All your projects look wonderful … I’m wondering which one you most enjoy … perhaps your answer lies there …

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Liz, I think I am focusing on the white basket for now. You are right, it does help to be sensitive to what I want to do. Christmas threw me off because I wanted something to send my son. Maybe I’ll send him something I already have. Pressure to make something for somebody messes me up. Learning this about myself…! You are so diligent with your quilt for Ellis.

  2. jude says:

    so many things , all just going beautifully!

    • Catherine says:

      thank you! This doesn’t even get into the paper & bookmaking, which had to be put on hiatus for awhile. “Just going” is a very important learning for me!

      • Liz A says:

        your comment got me out of my morning reading chair to look for “Creating Handmade Books” by Alisa Golden because she blogged about the Jacob’s Ladder book form the other day … and off I go down another rabbit hole … ha!

        • Catherine says:

          uh.oh…I tend to think there’s more time in the day than there actually is to try all these delightful things. I’ve made quite a few of Alisa Golden’s book structures. She quilts too!

  3. Marti says:

    Hi Catherine, This is Marti who has read your comments at grace, Jude, and other blogs and now your blog. . I marvel at your many projects; how to have the ability to create, in so many ways, is quite an amazing gift.

    Weaving, basket making using the gifts from your land and then stitching cloth, well it is so well rounded albeit even if it seems to you that you have so many projects all going on at once! Your cloth squares are wonderful, alive with color and your snowy day patches speak deeply of this special quiet season of winter. To be able to switch back and forth, among projects, seems to me to keep everything fresh. To be able to envision so may ways to use your creative gifts, is simply inspiring.

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you, Marti. I also read your comments 🙂 You are right, it does keep things fresh. Reflecting, I think it is the eagerness to “finish” which is bothering me more than the many projects. It’s possible I can let go of that a bit and just enjoy the making of each thing as it goes.

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