elements of elders

after the elation of dyeing the cloth for what i had envisioned as my elder cloth background, i've hit another wall. i can't get past the need to have an overall design before i start stitching. but i don't think i want to do it that way. i want it to evolve slowly, a bit at a time.

i've been planning to position the old quilt in the center, like a saddle blanket, and then have an equine shape coming out from above and beneath it, stretched out something like a bear rug. this shape would be of woven pieces collaged together, and the background would be the leaf-dyed cloth patched together but without the raggedy edges. so that it would be her laying peacefully on a bed of leaves.

then after looking at second skin, i was thinking of using the handwoven wool blanket i showed you awhile ago (pics toward the bottom of that post) as a foundation and batting, but could also be dyed and exposed in places. it would also be great for needle-felting some knit pieces. but it is only as wide as a double bed, plus i want to limit the thickness, which means i need to disassemble it along that central seam and position it on either side of the saddle blanket. and then i would need a different background above and below the saddle blanket.

i think this is all begging the question of whether i'm going to take apart the saddle blanket, or just build around it. extending it on each side without taking it apart seems interesting to me. it would be a blanket within a blanket, and reversible. and in looking at all the elements, i'm not sure i want this sort of large, literal equine image, mostly because then i can't build it slowly. each piece would have to be part of a larger plan. but i also don't just want a hoof here, a tail there, dismembered. how do i move back and forth between details and the larger design?

i am longing to start stitching. and see where it leads. but i've rarely been happy with the results when i've stitched that way. i like experimental stitching but within a larger overall plan. there is a lot of pressure with this elder cloth concept. i need to lighten this burden somehow. she only worked the grand canyon as a young mule, not when i knew her. i guess heaviness and lightness are part of her story too.


  1. Oh I'm so looking forward to seeing what you do with this. I always juggle a need to have some element of organization with a love of just seeing where it goes, to see what happens in the process. One suggestion, my experience with needle felting on a blanket was that it didn't wear well at all. I think it's fine for light use, but if you want your blanket to be fairly sturdy it might not be a good technique. Of course that could also be the result of one of my dogs being a nest maker and pawing at my blankets...

  2. deb, that is helpful, thanks for telling me! i have dogs too and they are hard on quilts, and i want this to be able to stand heavy use!

    still i wish there was some way of incorporating at least one knit element... will have to see...

  3. dru, it's wonderful to come here are read
    your thoughts. i think it's the thoughtfull
    ness that will be the Plan. and your love of
    her, herself. she is so many things to you.
    some take the form of a mule, but many of the
    things she meant have other forms. it's a
    dance she's doing with you now.

  4. Working successfully in a spontaneous way actually takes a lot of practise. I tend to plan everything ahead of time, but in the last year or so have been consciously trying to work more intuitively. I suggest working slowly and keeping things simple, building in layers. Regularly ask, "What does it need?" - not just in an aesthetic way, but also emotionally and intellectually. Just sitting and gazing upon the piece is hugely important too, clear your mind and let the piece resonate and flow through you. It will take on a life of its own. xox