Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Home again

And here I am on the other side! I've buried myself in fabric and card and coat hangers for the last two weeks, getting ready for market and my new pinny launch this weekend and I have just come up for air.

The market day was a beautiful, sunny winter day, the people were friendly and fun, and I didn't sell as much as I hoped. And in all the rush and chatter, you know I didn't take one photo of my stall, of the other beautiful handmade goods. Not one

And so today during naptime, in the quiet and sunshine, I took photos of my wares. And I felt quiet happy with all I'd made and I'm looking forward to sharing more here and in the shop. And I felt more ideas start to creep in again for new pinnies and quilts. Maybe even the sewing machine will be switched on again before the week is out.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Hexie Lady Tree Quilt

It's been a while since I made a quilt without a plan. And it's always fun to combine two unfinished projects that were started for the fun of it, rather than with an end in mind.
I drew this woman tree a little while ago while we were driving out through the middle of NSW. I love the time Tim and I get to think when we're on the road (at least, when the kids allow us to!) I left for holidays with all kinds of questions buzzing around in my head. Actually, there were three main ones: Would we have any more children, would we homeschool, what do I hope for Tickle & Hide. They're questions that have been around for a while, all unable to be answered without one going first.
I felt at the mercy of the seasons. How can you plan even what you're doing next year, or at Christmas, when you can't imagine life without a baby? We stayed with a family who's youngest was 6. I remember watching them getting their own breakfast and reading to themselves and thinking, "I have not even fathomed a life beyond their utter dependence."

And then I thought of the tree, also at the whim of the seasons, but we consider that her beauty, not her weakness. So I drew a pregnant woman tree, reflecting how we often think of a new mother's life changing forever, though not just once, but all the time. And I was encouraged when I looked at her, feeling it was ok for now to wait and just be in today.

So when, as part of Rachel's Handstitched Summer Camp, we were invited to make an appliqué hexie tree, I decided to try stitching my tree lady. I figured I would stretch it over a timber frame to hang in our house somewhere.

And then I remembered this hexie quilt top I'd been working on for some time. because I'd been adding to it here and there, without much pattern, it was a really funny shape and I'd lost any vision for it.
Then, the night before I was about to leave on a spiritual retreat with an amazing bunch of women, I took the plunge, laid the hexies on my cutting mat, and started to roll my rotary cutter through it.

After making all those pinnies, it was such a different, creative experience, cutting by sight and not measurement, not being sure how the finished quilt would look. I enjoyed the risk, knowing full well I might not even like the finished product.
On the retreat, I hand-quilted it, while listening to women speak, not only of the unsettled seasons of young kids and married life, but of sickness, depression, and other circumstances they wouldn't have chosen. They spoke of how creativity had played such an important roll in expressing and discovering who they were in those times. It was a good reminder that it's not just my children that keep my life out of my control, and that control isn't the goal.

And now the next risk is to give it away. I realised, making this quilt with someone in mind, how easy it has become to make things for sale. It was scary at first, but there was comfort knowing that someone would only buy it if they really loved it. But to give a quilt...What if they feel a bit overwhelmed, or they don't really like naked pregnant women on their quilts? and so it went as I stitched it all together. And I guess in the end all we really have is knowing how we would feel if we were made a quilt, and that little acts of kindness and thought make the seasons light and colourful.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The reasons for things.

 I hope you don't mind me sharing this photo. And I'm sorry if it disturbs you. But today I needed it. I needed to express the smacking reality of death and of new life.

Our chickens were attacked last night. It was the second attack in a week. The first killed two, the second, five.  I grieved after the first, mostly because our little favourite, the bottom of the pecking order, was killed. And we hid the rest at night in our bench seats on our back deck to protect them while we discussed how we would find the money and the time to build a fox-proof pen for them. And then, while I was away on the weekend, Tim wondered if the danger had passed and tried them back in the yard. I resented the timing of it all, with Tim starting his first lecturing position at the uni and me getting ready for the craft markets. Another thing to think about. Why now?

It had been the plan for a while to build something new. Our elderly neighbours over the back fence had come around and complained about the noise. It was so important to us, in principle, to express that their (our neighbours') care and comfort was a higher priority to us than the ease of having the chooks up the back in a big open pen. We planned to give it a weekend, but those fly by without notice.And each time I went to check for eggs or replace their water, I felt a tinge of guilt that it had been neglected.

When Tim and I got married and had a family, it was really important to us to live a life with time. I've explained before that we are part of an urban community that holds to the values of simplicity, integrity, community. Part of our commitment to this lifestyle includes working part time to allow a high priority on relationships, a real connectedness.

Death here has hit me, not just for the loss of their life and beauty roaming our yard, but because of the striking reminder of our failing, to them as carers, to our neighbours, to ourselves. For a while there, in our busyness, it feels like we disconnected ourselves from the real stuff of life. In all our busyness, we didn't not stop making time for Facebook or TV or shopping online...

As I kept clicking my camera around the yard, a way of finding beauty in the grief, a way of allowing myself to stop, I remembered this is why I started blogging. You can read my very first post here. I wanted to train my eye to see beauty all around me, in spite of the disenfranchisement (that's how I felt, anyway) of new motherhood. How easily this space becomes a place for me to try to win new friends and impress people. Death can be a beautiful, if horrible, reminder of the reasons for things.

And while I feel their loss deeply, there is still life here to make time for. One lone escapee outside...

And a very helpful boy in.