As many of you know I’ve been really struggling physically since QuiltCon; my HKPP has been kicking my butt. I’ve probably been a little extra surly and certainly less productive than I’d like to be. We’ve been trying everything thing we can think of: switching a few meds around, adding a bit more of this or that, but nothing has helped and some things just made things much, much worse. At a certain level, this is the nature of chronic illness; it is a perpetual process of readjustment.


This past week though I realized we had not yet tried something: perhaps the old regimin that worked so well now constituted over medication. We had tried more of about everything, so perhaps it is time to try less. I am loathe to jinx things, but after dropping one med entirely (or really one of the two forms of that med that I take) and cutting another in half I am currently in the midst of the first day in over four months that hasn’t overwhelmed me with varying degrees of paralysis and pain.

Yes, I may be jumping the gun in talking about it, but for the first time since early this year I am actually optimistic; I can almost feel me in there somewhere.

In a lot of ways this speaks to the process of designing a quilt as well; making something new is so frequently marked by a tightrope walk of just what decisions to make, a balance between doing more or less. I think there is so often a tendency in crafting (and designing) in general to lean toward doing just that one thing more, looking for that final addition that will bring it all together. Today I am reminded that the answer is so often found in taking something away, or stripping things down to the essentials.

In many ways that was the essence of Modernism as it developed in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. And that too is the essence of how I am looking at quilting now, not just formally, but conceptually. I keep coming back to the questions of what quilts mean in this day and age, not just personally but culturally and sociologically. Just as we look back at the quilts of our forebears and puzzle out the lives and context that lead to those quilts, I wonder just how historians may look at this period in the quilting tradition.

So much of the discussion about quilting today seems like a quest for a new essentialism, an exploration of the reality of quilts two generations (for quilters just coming to the practice right now) after the era of necessity. And it seems like so much of this conversation is as much about what gets left out as what is added. Perhaps this will indeed be seen as the era of the over/under…


PS: I love the word forebears… It’s just awesome.

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7 Responses to Over/Under…

  1. 1
    Mary Ann says:

    Hope these changes help turn the corner Thomas. We all need the real you out here pushing us along!

  2. 2
    Joan says:

    I read this while home, one day post-op for spinal surgery. Degenerative spine issues leave me measuring out what I can and can’t accomplish on any given day. It is an ongoing challenge – I feel your pain! Love your thoughts, they inspire me AND my quilting. Thanks!

  3. 3
    Rose says:

    Your post certainly gets right to point of my chronic pain and illnesses. As I snuggle under my comforting quilts and reach my almost (gulp) 30th yr of daily pain, it still feels like a daily balancing it. Don’t want to over do it or under do it. No way! Don’t want to miss out, but still go sweet and slow. Savor it! Pain can make you see life a little differently than others. I think I can see that in my quilts. Mostly it’s the making of them that makes me happy. I can sure use an extra dose of that, with no side effects please. 😉

    Hope you get some relief!!! I can’t wait to read what historians say about this era of quilting either!

  4. 4
    Daryl says:

    Fingers crossed that your new/old regimen works. As a fellow traveller on the road of chronic illness, I can relate to your frustration at find what will work.
    I also appreciate your thoughts on the tendency to do that “one thing more”. Sometimes the hardest decision in designing/creating a new work is to know when to stop.
    Always enjoy reading your blog and being challenged to think about what I’m doing when quilting!

  5. 5
    Jane B says:

    Fingers crossed for you. Hoping this is a good corner you are turning.

  6. 6

    Hi Thomas. Thank you for writing that blog post. At first I was just skimming thru because I was really late going to bed, but something caught my eye and made me click the link about PP. You opened up the door for a new possibility for me and my two older brothers. Being called hypochondriacs by doctors that think they know everything that there is to know about science is getting really old. Only by ayurveda/westernmedicin doctors in India have we been taken seriously, but they haven’t been able to find out what our problem is. Finally you gave me hope. I will firstly change doctors and then have a serious look into PP. What a fantastic world the quiltblog world is. Thank you!

  7. 7
    Megan says:

    I’ve just left a longish-winded comment on an older post – I have only just discovered your blog and am really enjoying your thoughtful writing. I’m going to think about the idea of a “quest for a new essentialism” for a few days, its an interesting idea.
    I hope your health continues to improve.

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