Catching Thoughts with Questions

There is no easier way  to realize story than to use yourself as the main character.  This drawing is from a shoebox I have labeled The Library of Selves.  They are loose. I have adopted this cat like shape, the stray cat, as a base to work with.  Perhaps because it is "loose" by nature.  I think it set me free in a way,  to wander around , travel in my mind,  cross lines,  and most of all manage fear.  I began  using "the beast"  long ago,  as a component for story.   I think the stray cat has been more useful  because it is a character  that is in between  wild and tame.   A character that  makes a connection between  so many confusing things.   Like Loving and Leaving.  I so often add questions to my  sketches, and as I look back  it seems to be a great  beginning.

One of the reasons it is so hard for me to make a plan is because I never really make up my mind in any hardline manner.   I am always rearranging  my thoughts  for the simple joy of seeing them differently.

Connection is not always that easy to explain. How do we measure what we learn from each other, OurSelves?

I think we are always asking questions.  Even when we  make statement that seem so sure.  I am never sure.  So much so that I can become very annoying to those around me.  I do not even have a favorite color.   But I do love  a lot of things.   Over time I 've come to realize I might be able to love everything.   Love is almost finding a use for something.  I am rambling.  I know.

 I love to ramble.

These two stray selves are the only ones here on the wall.  They are very different.  Simply because they  have been considered as selves  they are connected.  But  I can see more connections by simply looking long enough.

Love takes time.

Ok, I asked myself a lot of questions over the weekend.   I thought I'd put one or two of them here.

What can I teach here that would be most useful? And then,  are there any direct questions about anything  I do  that you might want to ask meWhy am I asking



  1. Sharon Koch

    As Liz wrote earlier, “What if this is all a dream coming true?… I feel that. I’m joining you 3 months after your questions were asked. Past, present and future seem gloriously intermingled for me. I read your current posts, as well as previous writings and listen to your videos repeatedly, knowing some things are “caught, not taught”. What am I seeking? A more personal expression? I’ve been hand-quilting mostly pieced patterns and some applique for almost 40 years, rug-hooking my own designs 3-4 years and weaving about 2. A possible overlap interests me. I’ve seen some woven cloth in your quilts. Some fringe. Would like to create more of my own fabric, shibori etc. Beginning to dye silk and yarn. Love to experiment. What I really want to say here is that you’re far more than a teacher, Jude. It’s almost like you take each of us individually back into our own childhoods, rewriting painful memories and healing soul wounds, so that whatever hindered our original creative flow is taken out of the way with your gentle kindness and epic love. Each of us comes alongside you, not only to receive, but to give back. It’s all about love, yes?

  2. Maura Thomson

    Dear Jude , I like the way you dye and sometimes get a halo around the moon , like you gave combined an indigo resist along with some bleaching , please can you explain how you get this lovely effect ??
    Thanks ,Maura ( in N. Ireland)

    • jude

      that is rather unpredicatble as it is a reaction around the edge of the resist stencil when indigo overdyeing previoulsy dyed scrap. Since I am dyeing over a lot of old cloth dyed old cloth, I never know. I believe it is a chemical reaction with the reducing agent. It’s cool tho, yes?

  3. Nicola

    I am very interested in trying to free up my ideas of the “story”, the characters and development of personal symbology – not so much the what but the how…to let go really…I suppose I am asking if you have any limbering up tips for that. I get very bogged down with personal rules almost immediately, and then growth of design stops a bit. Maybe that is just my way. But I like trying other ways.

  4. i would love to have little exercises ‘assigned’ to us. one where you demonstrate your process and technique. these are like sketches on fabric. maybe we pre-work up a bunch of squares and then we have an exercise about the moon. without thinking much about what this might end up ‘being’, rather a stream of consciousness moment where together we follow your lead and create a simple moon scene. or sun. or a bunch of circles. the idea is to keep moving, work through ideas (and maybe deeper things like feelings who knows) – all with the intention of being in the present moment and not getting to stuck on the storyline of what this might be in the end. or if it’s the beginning of something. it’s just what it is right now. what a rambling thought! i dunno…..

  5. Debbie

    Like Sandra Netherlands, i would like to hear more about creating that ripple. I am sometimes more successful at creating it than other times, and am not sure it was an issue of the cloth or layers I was using at the time.

    My fabric stash is 90% recycled fabrics from clothes, in 100% cotton, linen, or silk, and some blends. As i read through the cloth whispering series, i was happy to see Jude’s discovery of using the silk as the middle layer to add some drape. Silk is tricksy stuff!

    The lovely thin fabrics are found more often disguised as women’s and girls’ skirts. Skirts are often less expensive too, compared to the cost of shirts. Skirts are often lined, and that lightweight lining (often solid color 100% cotton) is nice to use as foundation fabric on which to build an image.

    • Sheri Kershaw

      Hello, I too would like to hear more about the ripple effect and how the mateirals might help to bring different effects.. I’ve tried too the embroidery stiching that you stitch acrros the material to form patterns that wave. often looks like sun rays

  6. Peggy McG

    I would like to see and hear more on the what iffing process… i think i do it in my own way.. i see something.. a shape of scrap suggests, then i add to it to pull out that suggestion.. i think about what can depict best but dont really go into Unless What if I Do this? I often wish I had the understanding of how to develop an idea.. to stretch that idea.. this is my goal for this class.

  7. I love the idea of working things out through cloth and having a safe space to do that in, which is priceless. It would be good to develop an individual style and personal motifs. Maybe just catch a little bit of that stardust that’s floating around.

  8. Joan Coats

    I want to know more about achieving expression on faces of beasts. I am drawn immediately to your creation of eyes. Somehow that tells the story to me.

  9. jude

    There are a lot of great questions here. I want to use them as a guide. get to all of them in a deeper way. So I m thinking about how… Keep them coming.

  10. Hi. Thanks for asking about questions. I am always taken with the appearance of circle in your fabric. How do they get there? do you draw on your fabric? Also wondering if people will be doing projects as part of this class? I am thinking of marrying this work with another project that I am beginning.
    as always, sending affection

    • jude

      all good questions. I use clamped resist dyeing to get the circles on cloth. And I use mostly indigo as the dye. I do draw on cloth but usually just a guide for stitching. I plan to do a couple of projects, use them as “teaching cloths” . Anything goes here, wherevever the thoughts carry you.

  11. I am unsure how to answer your questions, but I want to be part of the circle! I know you have shared so many direct answers and how-to’s in your blog and videos over the years. I can look up things I need to know, mostly. Honestly, I’m still delighted by piecing nine squares and could probably be happy doing that for the rest of my days! I’m very interested in your dye pot and any tips on dyeing with indigo without making an ordeal out of it. I think a sample project would be my best way to learn. I want to make pieces infused with story but I know that is learned by doing. You have opened that door for me and a sample project would encourage me to walk through it more confidently.

    • jude

      I will initiate a sample project, not required in any way but an example all the same.
      Technique is not always the same as the context it is put in. And the conversation that might surround it.

    • Maria Armstrong

      Thanku Jude for sharing your journey. I love your beasts that you have connected with through your stitching. I hope one day I can be more expressive with my stitching and patching. I love playing with fabric,dyeing it and sewing so maybe on this journey with you I too may be able to express my thoughts and feelings with fabric that I love so much 🙂 Thank you .

  12. Carole

    I am so enjoying listening to your voice instead of just reading the words and doing the things. In a classroom setting, I am quiet and tend to get lost in the crowd….always concerned about asking a “dumb” question. For some reason, this setting and the personal sound of your voice make me feel at ease…..and, maybe, comfortable enough to ask the “dumb” questions as we continue.

    • And I also have another question, considering stitching. Sometimes you use stitch like a ripple effect. It reminds me of sand on the beach, when it’s ebb time. It looks like a mark from the waves, a kind of memory of them. Do you know what I mean? I’d love to know how to get this effect in stitch. I found an example of it in your work on instagram.
      Nine for Peace. Again. Keep on.
      #peacework #peace #patchwork #patchworkinperspective #ninedujour

    • jude

      i think that has a lot to do with the thinness of cloth, and color choice as well as stitch and edge management. I know I will need to address each one of these questions in some concrete way as I go. My love of illustration and watercolor painting has influences me so.

  13. hermosa

    I’m not sure what or how to speak right now. “What do I want to learn?” That is a big question.
    There are only a few folks who’s style/expression I am drawn to, cause I limit my exposures some what. YOU are my main inspiration. I don’t want to copy you, but in attempting to duplicate I am learning a way of movement, an understanding of how things work. What I want to do is to express myself with more confidence. I think I’m not curious enough? or allow enough time to play with expression?…..You have years of expressing yourself and it’s second nature to you to just go along. That freedom and familiarity is so comfortable looking. Are there break throughs you remember? Tricks that from hindsight you could share?
    You are asking more of us to respond to in this class and that feels personal and just lovely. Thanks for asking what I want to learn.

    • jude

      I’m just trying to connect all you loose patches! oh ha, I think all these questions set me an a grand path for this series, it is obvious that I should take the time to respond carefully to each one. I think there were some breakthroughs… let me gather some story.

  14. Hi Jude, I love this style of working and sharing too. It is helping me to get back to stitching again. I have started with some mending, and that is a good place to start because there are always parts of us that can use some mending.

    Would it be too much to ask how you do those suns once again? It seems like I read it some long time ago (I have followed you for a long time) but now that I am 77 going on 78 in the autumn, my memory is shorter than the autumn days. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. This time I will save it where I can remind myself as often as I need to.

    I love this talking about thought catching, stories and all the things we have covered. It is comforting like a good long, soft rainstorm on a quiet evening, sitting with senior physically challenged rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding me and a good hot cup of herb and spice tea, and perhaps a crumpet or two.

    The most comforting thing I have known in my life is the telling of stories. Or the sharing of thoughts that can turn into stories. I love them to this day. Thank you again so much, and all of the good people who share too.

    • jude

      suns, sure, I hope to cover a lot of my components in the next segment of this series. But maybe I will get started here with suns.

  15. Susan C

    I am looking for help to find my voice and find my stories. and own them. and to convey a sentiment in cloth. I am looking for guidance, tips and maybe process. The technical aspect of stitching is exciting and fun but the preceding steps are a challenge for me right now.

  16. Working on projects/ideas in cloth together with this group, without pressure.. just listening, reading, watching, considering new angles.. and the freedom to participate as we choose, that would suit me fine.

just share what moves through you...