Before I tell you the story of the sweaters, I must first tell you the story of the quilts.
Last January, I was one of 44 regional artists (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and British Colombia) invited to participate in the Bellevue Arts Museum’s Biennial show.
Their first biennial in 2010 was called Throw Down and featured ceramists from the region. The current biennial is called High Fiber Diet and hi-lights the work of artists using fiber as their medium.
My proposal for the show was to create nine Color Grid quilts and display them in a huge grid. In hindsight, I don’t know what I was thinking. These quilts are insanely time consuming. Each one is composed of more than a thousand pieces of fabric. Each piece of fabric is selected, cut, and stitched individually. I stitch many, many, many pieces of fabric that never make it into a final composition. So, that was my first problem–TIME MANAGEMENT.
Next, my high school math teacher was not particularly good at inspiring challenged learners. Quilts are geometry in motion, but I didn’t know that then. So, I took the easy way out and copied answers from the back of the book–who knew I would pay dearly for this later in life. I made four compositions before I realized something was wrong. These quilts will not read as a grid if they are not equal in size. Second problem–SIZE DOES MATTER.
Now, I’ve been working on these quilts off and on since the end of January 2012. While trying to do this, I am also maintaining a household of three boys, two cats, and one beast of dog. I am teaching, serving on a non-profit board, hosting an assortment of house guests, and traveling outside to an opening in Philadelphia and visiting family in Kansas. It really started to feel like one of those dreams where you keep going and going, but never EVER get anywhere.
Third problem–LIFE HAPPENS. I have always worked to a deadline. I get it done, but behind the scenes things are ugly. This adventure was no exception. In the final six weeks of stitching, Anchorage had two major wind storms resulting in our home being without power for almost ten days. I stitched for several days by generator. While Walt doesn’t believe me, I think I almost died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the process. All the alarms went off, and I dragged myself out into our yard. I had a very strong desire to just lay down in the yard and sleep. I fought the urge off, walked around our neighborhood, and finally got up the gumption to turn the dang thing off. Our Anchorage generator is not one of those sweet Honda 2000s. It is a beast. Next up, my beloved cat Huckle dies. And finally, when it couldn’t possibly get any worse, Walt has to leave on a business trip for ten days.
In a state of complete sadness and exhaustion, I mail the quilts overnight delivery to Bellevue. I crawl across the finish line on my hands and knees.
And this is where the sweater story begins.