Cloth and We

Cloth,  especially old, soft or thin cloth, the kind I love,  is just waiting to be handled.  It responds to gentle and patient manipulation, encouragement,  in such a familiar way.  And I've  referred to it as something like clay.  But really it's like clay that never hardens.  It  remains  kind, patient and  accepting.  Cloth sets an example.

Audio - Cloth and Me

Design Mending in process

CobbleCloth, in perspective,  is a term that probably works best to  represent  my definition of Patchwork as it has evolved  over the years for me.  The nature of holding things together  the best we can.    That's what I'm after.   And sharing how it has gone for me.

Forming the relationship


Audio- To say it

Today I want to call this  We Three.



  1. Cheryl Fillion

    It’s Sunday evening, and I’m only now catching up with the last two posts. Your videos and audios are like a port in a storm with half my house being remodeled, and the other half full of plaster dust and all the stuff that had to be removed from the first half. You’ve put my mind at ease that there is no one right way, that there is no one right cloth, that there are sets of techniques that can be adapted to one’s own process, and that your work started to blossom by sharing it. I’m thrilled to be learning so much from you and this class, and in spite of the chaos of my surroundings, I’m happily pulling scraps of cloth to be stitched into pairings.

  2. Thinking about the ingeniousness of Cobble Cloth, putting things together somehow. It is new territory for me, but feels natural when I try it. Cloth is so forgiving much of the time. I’m hesitating and slow, but enjoying the beauty and the feel of it. Thank you for the video about getting at the edges. I was about to panic when I realized I’d basically left no seam allowance on the sides of my narrow pieces. Then I saw how thin the edge is that you tuck under. Panic averted!

  3. As I was listening to you speak what came to me were the words “I have always known what is right for me.” This was a powerful recognition of myself because I was never validated when I was young. But I here I am. I like to imagine we your students, your learners … are the trees. Listening. Answering. Breathing.

  4. Pam S.

    Yes! To me the textures and shadows that come from hand quilting cloth is like magic…. a new life to it! 💙

    • jude

      oddly, yesterday, i came across a small basket of velvet scrap while sorting and moving things around t make this place seem like a “normal” place. And I set it out on the living room table and thought of putting a sign on it that said, softness,take 1, free.

  5. margot

    Such wonder to watch and listen too, and the subtle learning and knowledge and upskilling that I receive, true blessings, thank you

    • jude

      I’ve been thinking that learning is such a subtle thing, sometimes, especially the good useful stuff, you hardly notice until one day you need it and it pops up out of no where.

  6. kathrynalbrycht1838

    D, G. & J. 3 on 9 just makes sense

    You use a secondary language (kinda) through symbols like code talkers or wind talkers. Imbues spirit. beautiful.

    • jude

      we need a language to express, there are so many kinds and they develop over time into something like breathing. sometimes just breathing.

  7. Shannon N

    Jude, in your first audio today you made clear to me how it is I feel an increasing tenderness when I work on my stitching. A relationship is growing there, with the cloth and the thread. So profoundly moving, thank you for voicing it. Also, I like the mix of practical knowledge you’re sharing with us, and your musings on process and the meaning that comes into the work.

  8. Mary

    I am grateful for your insights. Opening up to the nature of the cloth. I don’t have a worn cloth collection, but am realizing the history and wisdom that worn cloth may carry. It is difficult to turn crisp and new cloth into a story as old as one’s self. Another facet to ponder.

    • This is such lovely sharing and so appreciated, Mary. You know, I have long been a thrift store advocate and one for trash finds. I thought of this because when I read how cloth can actually damage our environment when it is thrown out because of the dyes and chemicals used to process it, I took up serious collecting from the thrift stores and other places where I can save another piece of cloth. And what I found, esp. in men’s clothing was beautiful old real indigo in shirts, and real slub silk that felt like a dream. The other thing I love is that I often find things like genuine mudcloth (from a part of Africa) and cloths that are hand-dyed, etc. AND I get beautiful buttons on some of the garments too that I can salvage and use to fill my button har. It is a good experience, for in the thrift store you will find that people are so dear and accepting and everyone seems equal. All the typical prejudices of society at large are forgotten completely as people search happily together for treasures. And I love the old cloth I find because it has a story behind it. I hope you might give it a go, and I think you will end up liking it because it is such a wonderful experience all of its own. Thank you so much, Mary, and I appreciate your sharing because it is so honest and heart-warming.

      • Mary

        Thank you Anne. I too, have done my share of thrift store treasure hunts, but I have had a hard time seeing the cloth for the garment (kind of a reverse “forest for the trees” thing). I don’t like wearing crisp “new’ clothes, I prefer worn soft things but I never translated that into working with the cloth apart from the garment. A big window has opened up making me tingly to dig around in my old clothes. (I admit to rescuing buttons.) And a big hug to the thrift store community! Thanks again.

        • Good for you, Mary. There is no right and wrong when we are working with art. Art can be what we want it to be and it is best when we express who we are, and don’t try to do what everyone else is doing. I do some crazy things with my art, and some of it would drive other folks crazy, or I could hear people saying, “Why do you think THAT is art?” I would likely answer, “It’s art for me and I don’t care if no one else likes it.” It makes my heart smile. Have fun and enjoy.

          • Jen NyBlom

            Anne—once I had a gallery show for my oil/collage paintings and I heard someone say; “What are these supposed to be? They just look like a bunch of junk!”…immediately I conjured a work entitled that! (one day I will paint it….or perhaps not). 😉

  9. jaime

    I have learning “disabilities” and for the past 20 or more years have have been acutely aware of how I learn best. That way I take responsibility for my own learning and my own process. Working with rather than power over. I have felt lost a lot this month and have done a lot of rocking as you call it, back and forth between posts. Some of the reason I was lost was just the style of creation – I do best when I know what I am trying to achieve. I can not do a 500 piece puzzle without having the picture on the box. Hence the difference between creating vrs. box kits. I kept reminding myself – saturate, incubate, create.
    A way of organizing the process for me. Came from Drawing On The Right Side of The Brain I think.

    The other difficulty I had was the shifting between reading, listening and looking. Each mode is like having to sign into a different computer with different operating systems and different passwords. With all that I would lose the thread I was trying to follow. Today’s post was great. The balance you found with speaking and video was more integrated and I could follow what you were doing. I really did “see”.

    So that is what flowed through me. I will play some more with the green and see what happens. Thanks for being you.


    • jude

      Thank you Jaime, i love that you have shared this. I learned something about you and me. I think learning “disabilities” are perhaps sometimes due to teaching “disabilites”. It’s a relationship, yes?

      • jaime

        Everything is related. When a child is dependent on a teacher to learn basics, it can be destructive to that whole person if their strengths and weaknesses are not understood. Sometimes other people think shoveling knowledge is what learning is. It is not. Those are the teachers I have little to do with.

        I have found for the most part that adult education teachers are willing to expand their presentation or answer questions because they truly care. They have dedicated their whole lives to the spark that they are trying to share with their students. I have many coping strategies and experiences that have shown me how I learn best. What is best for me is not best for someone else. So it is not a simple subject for either teacher or student.

        Yes, it is a relationship. And like all relationships it takes work to be at it’s best. You as teacher can not take responsibility for the guy next door and his love for noisy power tools. Or my headache. Or fatigue. The externals that also have interfered with my “getting it”.

        That which I appreciate most about you is that I have felt comfortable enough to tell you what has worked for me.

    • Hi Jaime, You know, I worked with special needs children and adults for more than 15 years as a substitute Paraeducator, Aide and Teacher, and what I learned on my own is that we all learn different ways and I think it should be a crime that children are often labeled as having learning disabilities as if we should all learn at the same rate and in the same ways. Nothing could be more wrong. I too am a visual learner, and I too have difficulting learning any other way. But you and I are not learning disabled. It is the system that tries to put us all in the same box. I had three children, and my daughter could read before she was two, and she potty trained herself more than I did. But my two boys were like little frogs, jumping around and not the least interested in reading or writing. But the thing is that all of them learned, each in their own way and their own time. Teachers (and please don’t take offense any of you who are teachers because there are some fantastic teachers who try very hard to give the children their best – we are all victims of a system that is not working for most of us). I used to take sewing or quilting classes, and I had to much trouble trying to learn what the teacher was teaching, especially if she was teaching us to make what she was making. But if the teacher allowed me to make my own art quilt using the techniques she was trying to teach, I was fine as long as I could see what she did. I just don’t like to copy someone else and I really don’t learn that way.

      You are a beautiful individual in your spirit, and you know, God don’t make no junk! So now when you think of yourself as learning disabled, think of yourself instead as having a unique way of learning, because you CAN learn and do things, and some things are just not important to us, and other things that are not important to others are perhaps our favorite things to do and learn. Believe it or not, I would be considered “learning disabled” if I had been born in that era when they started labeling us all. Luckily I am 77 going on 78 this year, so to me, I am just eccentric in the ways I learn. When I am able to learn my own way and something I am actually interested in learning, nothing stops me. I am sure you are the same way. Keep doing what you are doing the way you are doing it. Other people don’t have the right to label us; they don’t know all of our talents.

  10. Pam S.

    Such beautiful ideas and the ability to bring it to life! You’re an inspiration 💙
    at 58 I’m still trying my best everyday to bring my quilting ideas to life …. keep going!

  11. Judy

    I love what you said about the cloth teaching us, helping us be respectful and gentle as we consider our part in the process of letting the cloth be what it wants to be! Such a lovely sentiment. I’m enjoying this so very much.

  12. love how you gentle the cloth by understanding the materials and encouraging them to make friends with each other, cloth whispering is the perfect name for your process, like gentling a horse rather than breaking it in!

    • You are so right. No matter what is going on in our lives, and sounds like some of us have more than enough, it feels as though we are all entering a sacred place, each gathering her own cup full of warmth in a nice comforting cup of tea, and taking the time to give back to ourselves through our cloth. I was thinking how cloth has a history surrounding it that is like nothing else I can think of.

      I am a former quilt appraiser and quilt historian and the thing that always meant most to me was watching people’s relationships with their quilts, from fancy quilts with so much work on them to the poorest quality quilts that were old and raggedy, but for the people who owned them, they carried the history and all the wonderful stories of their lives. Over the years, it was always the stories of putting cloth together to create something for someone much loved, or someone who was new in the area – perhaps the new preacher – or someone going away physically, or even someone who had passed on. Holding the cloth in their arms was as though they were holding their loved ones in their arms. It is definitely something that gives so much comfort, and helps us to celebrate our feminine in this world.

      I think of all the historical times on this earth when women and men alike gathered to share the comfort of cloth – even the soldiers on the battlefields during the civil war often had a homemade quilt with them. We cry over the loss of others we have loved, comforted by lying under our quilts, and when we are sick, we yearn for something they give us that we might not be able to put in words.

      Women have loved and made cloth and worked it into such magic for so much of history in this world. I am so glad we are all ragmates. For me, cloth is sacred in its universal comfort and pleasure, warmth and shelter from the cold in different forms, and wrapping it around wounds, giving it to babies to chew on when they are teething, and even offering women something to bring their new babies into the world on and to wrap them in softly. It is full of life and stories, and each of us has our own story to tell. No matter what is important to us in this life, cloth is there to help us with that. Thank you so much for bringing this great group together, Jude. It is sure helping all our trials and tribulations seem small now. Thank you one and all.

just share what moves through you...