not stitching, but looking and thinking

this yard sale pincushion is as heavy as a brick, and a bit larger than one. such pretty, spidery old stitches.

every time i go yard saling with mum, i end up with such treasures.

i'm stuck on my elder cloth for now. no progress really. it's my fear of starting, and cutting. this has to do i think with inertia, or a fear of change. strange because i crave change in terms of traveling and moving (jobs, ha!) and other activities. but with objects and places, beautiful ones, i want them to remain the same, even if they could be 'improved.' jude has so much wisdom on starting and continuing.

i really try not to buy so many vintage linens any more. but some of them are too beautiful and at 25 cents, a compulsion. sometimes i think i could use them in a larger cloth, but i haven't figured that out yet. i was thinking of going in more of a boro direction for a bit, and to me, they don't fit with that. i could just play with them, but i still feel like they are too precious, even though (or especially because) they are already stained, ripped, mended.

so i guess the big issue i'm having with my cloth is my fabric stash. i'm not really prepared for this project. i need loosely woven, plain cloth, but so much of my stash is thick and fancy fabrics i've collected for crazy quilts (i love crazy quilts absolutely, but i don't want to work in that style for this project). i also want soft, natural colours to complement the cloth i'm starting with. i don't really have any though, and i don't want to buy. i've found some cotton and linen shirts while thrifting, but i can't seem to make myself cut up a perfectly good shirt. i have some muslin, but i need to dye it.

so i'm on the very slow, slow cloth plan. starting with muslin and bundling and natural dyes. elderberry dye, and dye in the colours of elderberry. i might even try to weave some of these blocks not just with fabric, but with yarn too. yarn i spin and dye from wool or cotton that i process myself. this may be so ambitious that i get overwhelmed or never finish, but right now it sounds like just the thing. and i will savor every little step. it's just gonna take a while.


  1. i finally got over hesitating to cut into fabric treasures. i just go for it and am usually happy i did. i love cutting bits of vintage linens and incorporating them into what i'm stitching. i've learned that everything goes together. it's all in your attitude. when i'm in a quandry of how to start or what to do next, i just start stitching scraps of cloth together haphazardly and usually ideas start popping into my head. probably more than you wanted to know but i understand where you're at. i was there once myself and just decided to go for it.

  2. Your starting cloth is a treasure. I would faint with happiness if I came across such a thing as that.

    I think that since this is an important personal project, which is really about your experience of the ritual and the process and the remembering, it's ok not to worry so much about your level of preparedness and just sort of let the fabrics find you. And they absolutely will find you, perhaps even the less you search for them.

    And I couldn't agree with you more about everything going together! This is something I think about a lot. I feel that way about colors, and fabrics, and clothing (among other things). It's an act of will.

  3. It took me a long time to get over the feeling that vintage cloth was too precious to cut into. It got easier once I practised with not very nice pieces. Approaching it with the idea of honouring the cloth rather than destroying it helped too.

  4. thank you both! deanna i love that go for it approach - but i'm not ready! although like lisa said, some fabric found me this morning - a few linen, cotton and silk shirts in pretty colours for 99 cents! i can rip up these, they aren't that nice, other than the fabric! and i have a vision now, i think, for how i want to extend the little quilt.

    and now i really don't see weaving fabric for blocks from scratch, what was i thinking?!

  5. how pretty are these. especially the pincushion.
    i have the same issue...there are a few things from grandma...but will her ghost come and get me? and what if i just wreck them completely...but they're just sitting in a box. like the idea of using the yarn (especially now that there's a tdf bag full sitting here)- would love to see how you might do that...

  6. Like Deanna, though it took some time, I finally got over it too....and the majority of my materials are second hand clothes, napkins or table runners...I love how worn and faded they are, and the stories they already hold.

    These finds you have here are so very lovely.

    Just sent you a mail about elderberry dyeing :~)

  7. handstories, i like the idea of ghostly interactions over needlework! the only way i've used yarn in quilting before is to tie quilts with handspun - which looks nice, but doesn't exactly show off the yarn. we'll have to think of something though!

    helen, yes i'm slowly coming around to cutting.. i think once i'm more comfortable with a vision for a piece, i'll be more confident. i just don't want to cut something unless i can like it better somehow. and i got your email, how lovely!