Some of you might remember this quilt that I started last summer in the Rosalie Dace class in Sisters. Ahhhh, Sisters. I love that place! Anyway, I got most of it done, and was adding some vertical lines with fabric, but I didn’t like it. So I started adding on the vertical lines with stitching. Yes, that would do. But then I came home, and construction, and boring, and … It got put away.
So the other day, after I had finished my last small embroidery, and still wasn’t able to put together another small quilt to embroider on, I went into the closet. There was the Kandinsky quilt, just waiting to have those vertical lines stitched on. I worked on the lines, which I had carefully pre-marked before I put it away, and added a few more. I had gotten some hand-dyed thread on Etsy, and wanted to try it out. So I added some lines of french knots, and did a little more stitching in the squares and circles.
You can see I was mostly trying to be “abstract” and not do my usual kantha-style stitching. Couldn’t resist the circles though :)
This quilt is an interesting example of why a single-layer construction makes for the most enjoyable stitching. What I mean is–the way I constructed this, because I was trying to work “abstractly” and also because I was in a workshop, was to put up a background fabric and then to add motifs on top of it. And more motifs on top of that, and then more motifs on top of that. So that in some places, there might be five layers of fabric. This is not enjoyable to stitch through. One layer of fabric and the batting is the most enjoyable to stitch through. And as I was talking this over with my BF, we talked about how to us this is an important feature of the handwork that we have chosen to work on through the years (knitting, spinning, hand-piecing, hand-quilting, etc.) I don’t think you have to sacrifice your art to make the construction of it an enjoyable experience. If I had been home, I might have added the first layer of motifs, and then cut out the backing fabric, etc.
Another feature that made it less enjoyable to embroider on was that I completely machine quilted it before I ever started hand-stitching. In general, I do minimal machine quilting before I start my hand-stitching. I usually have a piece machine basted, so that I can pull out the basting threads as I get to that area in my hand-stitching.
Anyway, I know myself. I know that I am more likely to continue on and do more hand-stitching if it is an enjoyable experience for me.
One more thing about this quilt. At the beginning of the workshop, before we even started working on our design, I was finding it a bit depressing to just be working on a picture that had no meaning. One of the things Rosalie asked us to consider was “what do I want to communicate?” So I skimmed the Psalms, and wrote some key phrases in my notebook, and kept that in mind as I worked on this piece. It made the whole process more meaningful and enjoyable for me. The title of the piece is “All Praise Rising.”
This piece uses some of the first fabric that I dyed myself, as well as some sheers that some of my workshop comrades were generous to share with me. It has enough of “me” in it that now I am finding that I like it better than when it went into the closet. Its also a good example of that “continue on” theory of mine. It doesn’t always hold true, but many times in the middle of working, people find that they don’t like what they have done, or that their original vision has been lost. Whatever the cause, they are tempted to give up. That is when you should “continue on.” You might recoup your original vision, or you might find that you have created something infinitely better than your original vision. Or, you might find that you still don’t like it after all that work, and you might be cursing me :) But in the meantime, valuable lessons have no doubt been learned.