Making Peace With Nature

By now, if you’ve ever read anything from this blog, you know that I am on a mission to promote organic cotton and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) fabrics. To read one of my previous posts about organic cotton, go here.

I tackle the business of organic cotton because, frankly, as sewists, this is one thing we can impact. We are the end users of a product we think very little about and we worry even less when we have a project in mind.

We like our fabric.

We love the feel of it, we love the bright colors and the textures, and the sweet, cheerful designs. But it’s very possible that if you saw the conditions under which your fabric is made, and the chemicals involved in the treating of the fabric, and the dyeing process, you might have second thoughts. If you are thoughtful enough, you might also be concerned about the livelihood and well-being of the independent farmer who grows the cotton and small villages around the world who must learn to live sustainably off this income. They cannot destroy their land in the interest of a short term gain and then have ruined land that cannot be farmed in the future. This is a real thing. Farmers understand regenerative practices. It’s obvious…just not to everyone else.

“The report serves to translate the current state of scientific knowledge into crisp, clear and digestible facts-based messages that the world can relate to and follow up on. It first provides an Earth diagnosis of current and projected human-induced environmental change, by putting facts and interlinkages in perspective, including by using smart infographics. In building on this diagnosis, the report identifies the shifts needed to close gaps between current actions and those needed to achieve sustainable development. The analysis is anchored in current economic, social and ecological reality and framed by economics and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. By synthesizing the latest scientific findings from the global environmental assessments, the report communicates the current status of the world’s urgent issues and opportunities to solve them. “

Our small quilt shops only have exposure to sales people who bring the brightly-colored sample books to them every season for ordering.

Through social media, we are exposed to the designers (whom we love). They show us their studios and their creative ideas. However, their designs are simply licensed by fabric distributors. In other words, our favorite designers basically give up all their rights to determine the way fabric is created, other than seeing proofs for color and accuracy. They don’t get to tell manufacturers not to use toxic chemicals or not to pollute the ground water. They get a paycheck and that’s what matters. To them, at least.

In reading this UN document, it’s obvious to me, and I hope it is to you as well, that this way of living has made us blissfully happy, unaware and unaccountable to the planet we live on.

I know this sounds cliche.

But if we don’t soon change everything we’re doing now, in every supply chain, all the way back to the raw materials from the Earth, we may not survive as a species for much longer.

Here’s a tidbit: did you know that if current sperm count trends continue, by 2045, the median male will no longer be able to reproduce? Ha. Now I have your attention.

Look, all I’m saying is that everything around us now indicates that we are going to have to make BIG CHANGES.

And if there’s one thing that the human species is resistant to, it’s BIG CHANGES.

But I believe we have to start thinking seriously about how our food is produced, where our energy comes from, how much waste we produce, how much we consume, and on and on and on.

It’s daunting, I know.

So that’s why we need to start small.

  1. Make yourself more aware of the materials you use. Where did this really come from? What are the chemicals used? Do I know anything at all about this fabric?
  2. Ask your local quilt shop these questions. They are dealing with the distributors who make the decisions.
  3. Become a savvy user. Can you make it from your already-way-too-big stash? Can it be made from other textiles you already own?
  4. Start making yourself an educated consumer. Below are a few links that will assist.

Here’s a new fabric I’ve seen available: Lenzing Ecovero. “Take less, Give More”. You’ll want to watch their video.

UNEP Making Peace With Nature

Textile Exchange Global Non-Profit

Global Organic Textile Standard

Are you ready for change? Ready or not, it’s coming. Let’s be ready, willing and able. And start where we can.

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

Yesterday, I went for my usual walk through the woods. I took the more scenic path this time, as it gets too buggy and overgrown during the summer for me to comfortably pass.

But this time of year, some of the weeds have died back, the crunch of leaves is underfoot, keeping some of the mud at bay, and the insects have thinned out.

So I took the road less traveled onto the ridge above the creek.

And that’s where I discovered the fallen sentinel.

This old oak had been standing at the top of the ridge, majestically leaning out over the cliff for as many years as I can remember hiking here. Its trunk is at least three feet in diameter.

The last time I passed through it was early spring, before the foliage filled out, while the creek gurgled its way around the bend. At the time, I could see the tree was getting too close to the edge. Or the edge was eroding too close to the tree. I gingerly stepped close and patted the bark of the tree. “My friend..this does not look great. But the cliff won’t erode that fast. I imagine it will be at least a few years.”

I went on my way.

The torrential rains of this past spring that prevented our farmers from getting their crops in the ground also took a toll on the ridge. As I wound my way through yesterday, I stopped in my tracks. The landmarks had changed, my bearings were rattled.

The earth had shifted.

And an old friend had tumbled.

I surveyed the area where the tree once stood. Everything had changed. Was it here? Was it slightly further back? I could no longer even recognize the place where it had once stood. It must have been months. It must have been the downpours. It must have been inevitable.

Still, I found myself sending a little blessing. And immediately wondering it the forest preserve would allow it to stay there, damming the creek.

I bowed my head and turned on the path to continue my journey. As I left I saw chipmunks scurrying and playing along the trunk and branches of the tree below.

Ever adjusting. Ever changing. Exploring a new landscape.

Quilting vs. Gardening: It Must Be June

I’ve been busy.  Too busy to write a blog.

And not only too busy, but too boring.  And while I don’t mind writing a boring blog, I’m not sure you want to read one.  All of that aside, I have also reached the point in the year where all good quilters/gardeners have to make some decisions.  Inside or outside.  Quilt or garden. Flowers and vegetables or blocks and table runners.

And while I may be able to hold it all in my mind simultaneously, I certainly can’t work on it all simultaneously.  So although I have some very ambitious sewing plans and classes lined up, as my farmer grandfather used to say (and do), “Make hay while the sun is shining.”  Of course, he made hay in August, but you get the idea.

In the hopes of providing a little temporary entertainment, here’s a gallery of recent flowers from the garden.  Most are done blooming, so I’ll be back in the sewing room shortly.  In the meantime…it’s summer…let’s all go for a walk!

Improv and More

I have started working on an improvisational quilt.

Basically , it means I start sewing before I have any idea what I’m creating. For anyone who knows me, this way of doing things is right up my alley.  I just purchased this book, “An Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters” by Sheri Lynn Wood.

improv2

Naturally, I flipped through the book and then started without so much as reading a paragraph.  I promise I will go back and read. The book looks great.  I just was inspired by the word “improv” and began immediately.

improv1

 

Here’s a sneak peak and to be honest , I don’t know how I will complete it. Just know that it’s a gift, so I don’t want to divulge the whole quilt til it’s been given away.  At that point, it’s done and there can be no regrets or turning back.  For now, it’s simply a work in progress.

In machine embroidery, I am preparing to teach a Software Inspirations class based on a tutorial from Sylvain Bergeron, Bernina educator.  In it, we learn to create textile fabric using embroidery…like argyle.

argyle1This is done completely in software, then stitched out as machine embroidery.  It can now be cut up and used as a handbag piece, or in a quilt, or basically used as any other fabric.  Would be fun to do a small series of these in different shades and then put them together as a quilt or table runner.  Although I’m sure this image looks black and white, the thread used in the squares is actually a mauve with white lines, on Moda’s black grunge fabric.

That being said, like many sewists, I spend a lot of time in the garden in the spring, head back into the sewing room when it rains or as the weather gets too warm and buggy to be hanging around outside.  I leave you with a few lovely pics from around the area this past couple of weeks.  The earth is stunning.

peonies2

Peony tree

Wild  phlox

Wild phlox

Crabapple tree

Crabapple tree

More Paintings

honeymoon2

high school

I painted both of these…probably 20 years apart.  One was from a place I had actually visited, and the other from a postcard.

Can you tell which is which?

Maybe it’s obvious to you.  It is to me.

I worked hard on both of them.  One is a study in nature, the other…a study in nature.  If you’ve ever painted, you know that when you are in the middle of a painting, you are in that location.  You have to be.  Whether it is coming from your imagination, or from a picture, or whether it was your experience in real life, at the moment that you are painting, you are there.

It would explain why I love to paint landscapes, scenes of tranquility or astounding beauty.  Whether I am in that location or not, I have most certainly traveled there in my mind.

But a painting done from life experience almost always has more courage.  It is more expressive, and usually more emotional.  It may not be the best at capturing details but it captures a moment.  And, on a good day, lets the viewer in on the wonder.

Ready for the answer?  I gave enough hints.  I’m sure you know by now.

The top one was from our honeymoon in Hawaii.  I dragged my not-a-morning-person newlywed husband out over a bluff along the shore in Kauai.  We sat together in the dark, listened to the relentless surge of the ocean and watched the sun come up.  It turned out to be a stunning display, becoming more brilliant with every passing moment.

The other is a painting I did a few years after high school, from a lovely postcard.  I don’t really even know the exact location.  Wyoming, maybe?  But I do love the mountains and so painting it was joyful.

Which is the better painting?

Well.  I leave that up to you.