24 February 2017
creativity, design, Makery, Teaching, textiles
creativity, design, english paper piecing, quilting, Sewing, textiles
I’ve completed the assembly of the front side of my first English Paper Piecing project: a quilted mat for the lazy Susan in our dining room. The design might be called geometric-abstract. Three simple blue-and-purple “flowers” against a gray background— or perhaps three solar systems being ripped apart by a quartet of black holes. 🙂
The backside, some paper still placed
The essence of the work is still the same: decide on colors, fold cloth around a paper shape, baste the folded cloth, sew the edges of several basted shapes together, remove the papers as you complete sections and return the papers to circulation. This crinkled hexagon shape has four smaller hexagons on a side, and it’s in four colors: purple, blue, gray and black. The whole thing needs pressing, and it needs backing and quilting. I haven’t decided if I’m going to use edge-binding tape or sew it right-sides-together into a bag and then turn the bag. It’s possible I’ll have to do both.
I’m not convinced of the wisdom of removing the papers as one goes, either. I’ve seen it argued both ways now, from both remove and leave in place. Now that I’ve tried remove, I’m tempted to try leave in place for the next project. Either way, the challenge seems to be to get the paper shapes to exactly the right dimensions and in a stiffer paper than simple copier Paper. Card stock might work better, but it also might be too stiff. Cardboard is definitely too stiff.
Front side, some basting stitches still placed
I don’t know that this work is sustainable. I can see why its a hobby craft, and not a financially successful profession — this small project took a lot of time, even granted that I was learning the method. It does use up a substantial amount of otherwise-wasteful scrap fabric, so I can see the appeal of the method. What was unuseable garbage is now useful material for building something larger. As a school-child project, I can see this method being useful for an after school activity, but it’s not part of the main curriculum of a school day. It requires a lot of attention to detail and almost-obsessiveness. I think I would teach it as part of a quilting program, for making appliqués for a larger project, but concentrate the bulk of the class work on making an actual quilt. For me, one of those purple flowers was really enough to get the idea.
You can read the other parts of this series on English Paper Piecing here and here.
23 February 2017
english paper piecing, fabric, hand sewing, quilting, quilts, Sewing, textiles
I’ve done some more English paper piecing while I wait for parts for my sewing machine to come in. I’m really enjoying it a lot, but I’ve hit a wall in terms of planning, at least a little bit.
Planning a Pattern? or random?
The core issue is not what to make — I have plenty of ideas about that — but rather, what is the scale at which I wish to work? These hexagons are 1 1/4″, and in some ways they’re too small for what I’d like to do — but if I go much bigger than that, my intended projects will get Way.Too.BIG, Way.TOO.FAST. That’s always the way of it, though, isn’t it? Whatever project or plan we might be intending to pursue, there’s always the question of limitations and boundaries — old Saturn binding us in his everlasting chains? Perfection and decrease follow from increase and growth, as surely as sunset comes sometime after noon. More
22 February 2017
fire, fire play, wood, wood stove, woodstove
One candle in the dark: this was 2 days ago, the first day
I’m quite proud of this fire. It’s taken me most of the winter to learn how to do this, but I finally managed it.
I kept the wood stove burning for several days without over-filling it with wood every two hours. I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to fuel it. I just kept it burning by damping it and slowing, but not closing, its supply of oxygen. And in the morning, for several days now, behold: coals flaring to life.
It’s much more efficient to run a wood stove this way, apparently. And it makes the room where I do morning meditation much warmer and more comfortable. So I’m very excited. This is going to be a huge improvement on my effectiveness in the coming months, I think.
21 February 2017
book review, how to meditate, meditation, pema chodron
I’m two reviews behind — last week’s didn’t get done, AND this week’s didn’t get done. Oh, well, it was a busy week. Facebook did one of those memories for me this morning which was quite delightful. A couple of years ago I was finding real joy in my tai chi practice. It touches nicely on the subject of the current review, How to Meditate. Prior book reviews can be found herePrior book reviews can be found here.
How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind
by Pema Chödrön
Sounds True, published 2013
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-62203-048-4 (Kindle edition)
Pema Chödrön is a Buddhist meditation teacher and Buddhist nun: a New Yorker by birth, she is now the director of the Ganpo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada. She was the first ordained American Tibetan Buddhist nun in the Vajrayana tradition.
This book is a practical guide to meditation. I’m currently using Headspace.com (Thanks Gordon!) as a tool for practicing my own meditation skills, and I’ve worked up from 10 minutes a day to twenty (it helps to be self-employed). Still, although Andy from Headspace and Chödrön have very different takes on meditation, the one was a useful complement to the other.
The book is arranged in several sections: the first section lays out some reasons why we might want to take up the practice of meditation. The second section lays out the basics of meditation practice: how to sit, how to breathe, how to act or not act, react or not react, to the things that are happening in the mind. For Chödrön, the mind is a wild and untamed thing — Andy doesn’t use quite that language, but it’s close — and the thing that we do when we meditate is train the mind to accept and work with certain realities. A trained mind doesn’t not-woolgather, for example (though this isn’t one of hers), but it does notice that it’s day-dreaming and returns to a more alert and aware state.
The later sections of the book introduce themes for meditation — scents, tastes, memories. Throughout the book, there is an emphasis on experiencing and understanding what is. I enjoyed the read a great deal, but I appreciated the constant return in Chödrön’s writings to the idea of experience being the teacher, rather than herself, or another Buddhist teacher. At the core of any meditation practice is the idea that we should sit and breathe; and that all of the more-advanced understandings of ourselves and of the world emerge from this most basic of practices. It’s a point of view that I’m growing to understand and appreciate.
I don’t have much else to say about the book, other than that I enjoyed it, and I look forward to returning to it eventually.
20 February 2017
Art and Design, creativity, design, learning, Makery
cloth, design, english paper piecing, fabric, paper piecing, quilting, Sewing, textiles
Trust that, given enough time on the internet, that I will discover a craft I haven’t mastered yet, but that will intrigue me enough with its complexity and weirdness that i will have to try it. The last few days, that craft is English Paper Piecing (EPP). This technique is found in quilting, where it is used to make appliques and decorative elements for quilts and clothes, particularly jackets.
Puzzling it out
The essence of the technique is pretty simple. Take “squares” of paper, or hexagons, or triangles or diamonds. Use pins or basting stitches to wrap small scraps of fabric around the paper; it’s a good idea to use both methods. Whip-stitch multiple scraps together without including the paper scraps. A pattern or a design emerges from the connected scraps of fabric. Remove the papers and the basting stitches; repeat until the quilt reaches its desired size. More
18 February 2017
Art and Design, Autumn Maker School, Makery, Poetry
binding, book binding, bookbinding, books, coptic stitch, making books, poetry, poetry books, poetry in the world of acts
There’s something beautiful about a stack of books bound with Coptic stitch. Particularly when you know that the contents of each book are your own. These are copies of my Book of Splendor, a collection of poetry exploring the relationships between nature and the divine in a particular corner of New England.
These are part of a limited edition of 100 copies: numbered, and hand bound, and the hand signed by the author, that is me. I interested in buying one? Let me know.
17 February 2017
Art and Design, creativity, design, Makery
hat, hat making, hats, knitting, knitting in the round
I’ve never made a hat before by knitting. It’s supposedly easy, at least according to those who’ve been knitting hats for years. For those of us who’ve never knit in the round before it seems daunting.
Don’t twist the knit!
I don’t quite know how this will turn out. I’m not following a pattern, merely putting one knit-stitch in front of the other until the round of a hat appears. I know that there’s fancy ribbing I could do, all sorts of patterns. I know that hats work better in multiples of eight, for some reason. I know that my own head needs about 24″ around. I have no idea if this hat will meet any of those conditions.
The first condition is to not twist the knit as you work it in the round. The yarn has a tendency to work itself into a spiral as you knit. That’s fine if you’re making a scarf — it’s just straight line after straight line with nary a pun or a punch line in sight. But knitting in the round and not paying attention leads to a twist. And a twist leads to Möbius strips and Klein bottle covers, in knitting.
I’ve already completely undone this hat once. I don’t plan on doing so again. Sometimes it’s better to finish a bad hat, and learn from the mistakes, than to start again and again, never going beyond the beginning.