Things I Learned While Making

I was alone at the dam this morning because of a steady drizzle. It was nice to not care if I arrived at the grocery store soaking wet. Before Covid and dementia I would have returned home to change….not now.

Just now I started a new file under our home file for photos. Every picture I took of Lee is now in his own file. It has been painful to look past all the pictures of him to find the one of a mother turkey I took the other day. Now I know where to find him doing the things he used to do. Here is the turkey.

I did this drawing in my book with nothing to look at but an image in my head. It struck me that so many pictures I see of Australians’ rib constructed baskets leave all the filling in that needs to be done to the bottom of the basket. I learned early on that “packing” on the sides is better because in case holes appear where the ‘turn arounds’ are then your peas won’t fall out the bottom. It was therefore necessary to keep the rim of the basket an even distance yet to be woven all the way around to the other rim.

This was one of the hardest drawings I have done and just to illustrate a point. The packing or filling in alternates turning on ribs before going up to the rim to come back and do it again when necessary to keep the remaining space even.

Also I knew that if I had to add more ribs to strengthen the structure, that a single spoke addition would make the weave not shift to keep it ‘over and under’ in order. So I referred to my main ribs as ‘mothers’ and when necessary to strengthen the structure of the basket they had twins…one added to each side of the mother. I also wrapped the rim twice instead of just going over it once before going in the opposite direction. This kept the rim strong and again prevented unwanted gaps.

And here is something I learned in Australia about how to handle those wonderful threads bought in skeins.

Untwist the skein and cut the loop through where the ends are tied together. Slide the label back on to the middle of the now cut threads. Put all together and divide into three sections to braid. They are the perfect length for stitching when one loop from the label end is gently pilled free from the braid.

I learned in a workshop with Rene Breskin Adams in 1988 that you should never put a length of thread on your needle than your maximum reach with that arm. Sound advice from a stitcher of some renown. These cut skein threads are perfect.

And one more thing. I do not know why once I get an idea that I have to actually follow through with it only to see clearly it is not what I wanted and end up taking it all back to a sensible place in its construction.

I was stitching through the printed stitch marks on my men prints. It made sense.

So once that was done I decided to make smaller black stitches on the white space between the large print and the wood block of his center. Now I am on a roll and think this niggling feeling of ‘not rightness’ can be solved by adding yet another row of stitching in white outside and one quarter inch away from the larger stitches following along the printed stitch line. Only then did I bother to take it over to place with the other two unstitched prints and see it was all wrong! I spent the afternoon snipping all the white thread out and being grateful that the tai kozo was lined with an interfacing.

The following morning I brought the other two up to this same point and when more interfacing comes tomorrow I will cover the entire backs of the prints to add the same size black stitching just outside the entire large block.

Good grief, the printed stitch line is in the block!  I didn’t need to fill it in nor did I need to add another white stitch line around it. The small black stitched lines say even more about how we sometimes hold these men together by whatever means we have. I am also entertaining the idea of carving a very rough heart shape to fit into the open area of his core. I would like it that deep dark blackish red that is the only color in my large Bwa and Bedu masks on the walls. It could so easily cross over to ‘twee’ that I will practice on one of the cast off large prints. But the rawness appeals to me in these super large masks.

I won’t frame the three men until I settle on a new place but would like them hung under the 9 plus foot long Bwa mask with the four plus foot Bedu mask close by.

So that is all I have on this rainy day. Now I am going to do some stitching on two shirts that need either mending or distractions from spills down the front.

Til later….