Tuesday 28 August 2018

Back to it, almost

When I was younger I liked spontaneity, impulse and the sense of freedom that they can bring, but as I have grown older I find, more and more, that I also love routine, the rhythm of ordinary day-to-day living.  I have come to understand that, for me at least, it is this regular pattern to things that allows me to keep going and to fit in the things that are most important to me.  To be explicit, I am not talking about the regular, humdrum, family life stuff, although I think it holds true there too.  I am talking about how it is that I find the time to exercise (swim Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1pm, yoga every possible evening at 6pm and so on), or learn a language, or sew. Not only that, but the habit then keeps me going when I might otherwise stop.

Holidays, of course, break these routines and that is a good thing, in that time away can give an opportunity to look at things with new eyes.  It can also be a pause that it is hard to escape from.  When I am in my routine I just keep ticking along but sometimes, as now, I find it hard to step back into it.  The sheer effort of picking all that up again seems too much.  So I come back from my break (if you want a tiny taste of what I've been doing you can check out the AHIQ blog) and look at my piles of fabric then just wander off to make a cuppa.  I know I'll be fine once I'm up and running, but it's clearly going to take a few more days to get there.

In the meantime, I have at least a small bit of quilting to share.  I took my individual lighthouses away with me and thanks to a particularly nasty wasp sting which left my foot too big for my shoe, I have almost completed one.
At some point soon, once my sewing mojo returns, I will try turning it into a cushion.

Friday 10 August 2018


No sewing happening this week and now I'm taking a pause for a couple more.  Back soon!

Monday 6 August 2018

Thinking about Birmingham

I haven't done much sewing.  In fact I haven't done any.  But I haven't been entirely unproductive.  

I have taken to pieces the shirts I'm using for this quilt.  Sometimes they have already been prepared and are sitting in the box in nice neat rows but not always and not this time.  The dress/tunic/shirt thing was quite pleat-y and though I didn't think it looked very nice as a garment, it has yielded an encouraging amount of fabric. 

I have also been playing with my piles (photos below) and doing a lot of thinking.  
Here's where I've got to.  I think a lot about place/belonging/journeying.  This is a consistent preoccupation for me - what makes us feel like we belong? Is it people? Or a connection to the land, to a specific location?  Is it history? Can it  be a choice, a conscious decision?
Clearly I can't expect one quilt to answer all those questions for me so I tried thinking about specific times/places in my life.

When I was studying for my PhD I lived in Birmingham and was researching and writing around particular areas of local history.  Looking back I would say that understanding the city, knowing its past, the way it had grown, the ideas that had shaped it, were a big part of my sense of belonging.  I liked that I could stand on a nondescript street, just at the back of the city centre, waiting for the number 45 bus to take me down the Pershore Road, knowing the names of the roads that had been there a hundred years previously (though they had all been cleared to make way for the railway station).  I knew what sort of people had lived there and in what conditions, where they had come from, what they did for a living.  In some cases I knew their names, their family relationships, their ages. 

I am thinking that I will use maps of some of these areas as a starting point.  I'm not undertaking a literal translation of a map into quilt form and as yet only the vaguest idea of where this might head, but that's enough for now.