Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mystical Rose

I finished my AAQ entry and mailed it off. Mystical Rose is one of the names of the Madonna, and the rose symbolizes Mary's mystery, her virginal role in the incarnation of Jesus. In addition, "the invitation ... 'Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds' (Wisdom 2:8) is addressed to all. We are called to be sons and daughters of God." (

This piece is a tribute to women’s spiritual lives and especially to their ownership of their spiritual practices. It also highlight’s Mary’s role as an icon of the feminine divine.

The central block is a vintage handkerchief, emphasizing the personal, and the everyday as valued parts of spiritual life. I recently connected my handkerchief obsession with the story of St. Veronica, who wipes Jesus's face on his way to the crucifixion, and whose handkerchief is left imprinted with his image. This story will be the subject of my next small quilt.

The name of the original owner of this handkerchief, Olive Welch, (or maybe Welsh, it's hard to tell) is stamped on its top white border. I bought this handkerchief at a garage sale in the 70s, so I never knew Olive personally, but I feel like keeping her handkerchiefs over the years has helped to preserve a relic of her life.

Here are some close ups.

The photo is a vintage holy card image transferred on to the handkerchief. All the lace in this piece is vintage.

I pieced the hanging sleeve and used a vintage doily for the label.

Another close up.
I'm glad I used these old treasured pieces of fabric and lace to make this piece. They really needed to come out of the drawers and to see the light of day. I find it ironic sometimes that so many of my art quilts are made with such a nostalgic and sentimental tone, but I find myself drawn to the innocence of my childhood, and especially to the core place religion had in my early life.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Garter Stitch

Sometimes a little garter stitch is good for the soul.

And a lot of garter stitch has miraculous healing qualities.

It heals the stress of end of the school year piles of work:
the student papers, the exams, the last committee meetings squeezed in during finals week.

It soothes the soul as you repeat to the 20th person: no you can’t contact me/ call me for a meeting/ send me drafts/ leave me in charge of this project over the summer. Garter stitch, done enough, gives you the fortitude to repeat the words over and over: “I’ll be unavailable.”

I’ve discovered that I can knit garter stitch even after I tripped on a hole in the sidewalk and scraped up and bruised my left hand and right knee. It even helped me to slowly get full mobility back in my hand, and gave me something to do over the days I sat with one leg elevated.

Knitting garter stitch is repetitive and mindless, and replicates that zen state of mind. Done enough, it allows your imagination to expand and concoct summer plans: trips, writing projects, and yes, more knitting of garter stitch.

These past few weeks my dream state has been induced by the bib pattern Baby Bib o’ Love in Mason Dixon Knitting. I’m currently knitting washcloths from a container of odd balls of different sizes and colors of crochet cotton, in the classic diagonal pattern. One more, I keep repeating to myself as I knit myself into a calm state of mind.

I could be at this all summer. I’ve even pulled some yarn for a Modern Log Cabin Blanket, also from Mason Dixon knitting. Just in case I need the enlightenment.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Knitted Rag Rug Tutorial

I know you remember where good intentions lead. Nonetheless, I did intend to continue my regular posts when the end of the semester workload and all my gardening intervened. School is out in a couple of weeks, and I intend (there's that word again) to resume my regular schedule of posting.

In the meantime, I did prepare an Earth Day project. Of course I didn't get it posted in time, but we'll take the attitude that everyday should be Earth Day, and act as if it's not late at all.

I've been streamlining my stash lately, and confronted a big pile of cotton yardage that had been my living room curtains. They were badly faded in spots, but otherwise in good shape. I had 8 panels of 100% cotton and I finally decided, after seeing some similar projects on Ravelry, to cut them into strips and knit a rug.

If you've never made continuous fabric strips, here's a quick way to do it. Remove all the hems from your fabric, and fold it so that the raw edges are even and extend a bit beyond the rest of the fabric. Using a rotary cutter and ruler, cut strips without cutting through the raw edges. These strips were cut 1", but if I were to do this again, I'd go smaller, because the thicker the strip the more cumbersome the knitting.

Cut every other strip apart with a scissors, which will give you a continuous strip that you can roll into a ball like yarn. The location of the cuts will alternate in the top and bottom layer of fabric. I knit my rug on size 13 needles by casting on 42 stitches and alternating blocks of garter and stockinette stitch. This isn't very precise work, so make it up to suit yourself. The garter stitch makes for a nice thick rug, though it's harder on the hands to knit.

Voila, my new bathroom rug! I've freed up a big space on my fabric closet shelf, and got a rug out of it in the bargain.

The illusive Wee gives it the fireside seal of approval.

I used six panels of fabric for this rug, so it really eats up stash that is otherwise useless. I may crochet a basket or a cat bed with what's left. Or at least that's what I intend to do right now.

Sweater Genesis

  A few years ago I learned to harvest yarn from old wool sweaters.  I don't do it so much anymore, with the exception of if I find...