Over/Under…

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.

thomas-knauer-sews-meds

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…

-t

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

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