It is difficult to exaggerate how much I have been not posting here this month.
Yes, my friends. Whereas you might have thought I merely haven’t been posting, in fact I have been actively and positively not posting.
I have a problem.
It’s about visibility.
It’s about showing my process.
It’s about some very old fears and monsters.
It’s about … oh, all right, it’s about this quilt, which I made for an exhibition and delivered last weekend. (That’s the bag I whizzed up for it on the morning of the deadline. It’s in there, all swaddled in tissue paper.)
Here’s my problem:
I love this quilt. I think it’s utterly fabulous. Looking at it, running my fingers over its seams and stitching, squeezing its squashy bits, makes me dissolve into a shimmering puddle of pride and happiness.
So obviously, I haven’t been able to tell you about it.
I didn’t write a post when I was laying out the sky.
I didn’t write a post when I finished piecing the background.
I didn’t write a post after I finished the quilting and put the borders on.
I didn’t write a post when I’d added the binding and placed the window.
I didn’t write a post after I’d sewn on the stems.
In fact, I didn’t even write a post when it was all finished and delivered; instead, I waited until today, five days later.
The Revolutionary Horde: Bzuh? What gives?
Me: I know!
I suppose some small aspect of me has been grappling with the very straightforward, very tedious fear that you’ll think the quilt is stupid and ugly – and that therefore, I (by induction, right?) am stupid and ugly.
I’m clear-headed enough to know that this is premium-grade monster-twaddle – and indeed, that if you were the kind of person who would ever think that way, I wouldn’t want anything to do with you.
You’re not, of course. And that doesn’t solve my problem.
Because, you see, it’s the other aspects that have caused the real trouble. The voices that insist I’m too much, that I’ve done something too impressive, that having done it is bad enough without also wanting to open my big unnecessary mouth and talk about it. How boastful. How inconsiderate.
And by the same token, how insufferable even to be thinking in these terms – as if what I’d done was somehow exceptional. Ugh.
Sometimes it’s rather lonely, being me.
But enough misery!
Here – here, at last! – is my beautiful quilt, in all its glory!
- 79cm wide by 98cm high. (That’s 31″ by 38.5″, for inchmongers.)
- 100% cotton (including wadding). Oh – apart from a tiny bit of metallic thread where the sun hits the sea.
- Machine-pieced and machine-quilted, stems hand-appliquéd.
- Took me somewhere around 56 hours to make, from start to finish, including design.
It’s called Root & Branch, and I made it for the Irish Patchwork Society Eastern Branch exhibition, which will be held in Dalkey at the end of April.
(If my quilt is one of those chosen to go on to the Society’s annual National Exhibition in July, it also has a shot at being shown at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in August, and the Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin in November. The glitz of that might well prove fatal. I’m just saying.)
The prescribed theme was “Branching Out”, and I started with the idea of a ruined church window with a plant climbing all around it.
As I made the quilt, I found myself thinking about new growing from old – old structures and patterns ceding to new ones – ruin and regrowth – “branching out” in the sense of progress, moving into new territory.
So as well as what I put in the picture, I used a combination of traditional methods (e.g. the square patches that make up the sky, the foundation-pieced sun) and contemporary methods (e.g. the dense free-motion quilting on the mountain and sun rays, the three-dimensional appliqué for the plant).
My favourite bits are the flower centres. Some of them are a bit bocketty here and there (haring through 15 of them at 2:30 a.m. on the day of the deadline will do that), but they’re fat and round and oh so pleasing to pinch.
I poured my heart into this piece. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s as good as I could make it with my current skills and resources, and I’m intensely delighted to have brought it safely out of my head and into the world.
Thanks, beloved readers, for your patience. Perhaps next time I’m working on something this close to me, I’ll figure out a comfortable way to talk about it too!