I’ve been planning a large cloth for about a year now. It still hasn’t got much further than the only-in-my-head stage, although I have planned the arrangement of quilt blocks together with rough sizes. This square cloth will be the same height as me – 66″ – and will be based around the imagery in this song by Carolyn Hillyer:
I want to somehow preserve the essence of the imagery without making it too literal or too figurative. I want the cloth to be an opportunity to embrace what it is to be female, and also what it is to be a ‘woman of a certain age’. When I was young, I worked with menopausal women and found their symptoms mildly amusing – the mood swings and hot flushes – and it’s only quite recently that I’ve begun to realise that, at some point, this will happen to me too. The crone, in pagan circles, is the post-menopausal woman, the wise woman; the woman who has seen it all and who knows the things young women don’t. While youth is lost, wisdom is gained. These are the things I want to explore, through cloth and stitch, in the crone cloth.
I’ve also been thinking about stitch as language, as a form of communication. As so often happens in this virtual world, at the very moment I am thinking about it, a blogging colleague is writing brilliantly about it. Dee and Serena have written eloquently about this recently.
So I’m setting out to explore some non-figurative expressive marks, starting with the symbols and designs found in prehistoric art. It fascinates me that the spiral (to take just one example) appears all over the world at the same time in prehistory. It seems that while verbal languages vary wildly, signs and symbols are capable of saying the same thing the world over, bringing time and space together. I’ve made a small sample using an ancient design:
This is about 10″ or so square, just small scraps stitched directly to calico backing. I really like this direct applique technique for patchwork. It enables spontaneous piecing without the need to measure and cut too much, and offers a way of using those tiny scraps that we all collect.
I used quite a fine wool thread for the couching: useless for sewing with because it breaks so easily, but it finds itself completely comfortable as a couched line. I think there’s a lesson in that too. Everything is at home somewhere.