To my great delight, I have been distracted by our local county reading challenge. It's a community-wide reading and discussion program that is held in many places around the U.S. I live in Whatcom County so ours is called Whatcom READS! which started over five years ago with Sherman Alexie.
The 2014 Whatcom READS! selection is Cheryl Strayed's Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.
In addition to a writing challenge, there was a quilt challenge. Quilters were asked to read
Strayed’s book and create a quilt that reflects the issues, themes, and locations it presents and then explain in our Artist's Statement how we approached the quilt. Surface design and embellishments were encouraged. A challenge fabric was handed out and required to be included on the front. It's the part with the pine cones that I cut into strips and wove with leather boot laces at the weft, tree ring buttons and a spirit line.
I took the challenge and created this, "Weaving Trail". . .
with this accompanying explanation:
Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, moved me deeply in that she went to great lengths to change her life. She risked life and limb, faced wild animals and wild mountain men and found something that she was looking for even if, at first, she didn’t know what that something was going to be.
To find that something, I shook up my life by dropping out of a successful career, moving away from a place that I loved, breaking off a marriage engagement risking security and stability to force a change in my life. Then, when I landed, I learned to weave. As Cheryl’s catalyst for change was her hike on the Trail, my catalyst was becoming a weaver. Weaving changed me. Or at least the slow pace of weaving allowed me the time to contemplate. Somewhere along the line, I found something. I’m still learning to articulate what that something is, but I think it has to do with the courage to create and willingness to share my expression – my voice.
My quilt is made of a few of my weaving scraps and samples. A few symbols I have incorporated are: tying the knot, love of the sea, swimming with dolphins, a turtle named Refrigerator, hospice volunteers and workers (angels), significant love relationships, cross sections of trees that link the trees I live under to the trees that Cheryl walked among, and a spirit line to release any negative energy. I hand-quilted most of this piece which was a particular obstacle for me because I had never done it and this piece is very heavy and thick. I chose rough stitches not only because of the nature of the weavings, but also because I can be rather earthy and relaxed especially now in my woman-of-a- certain-age years. I stitched in a meandering pattern to illustrate and experience, much like walking a labyrinth, my approach to life. I tend to take a step, take a look, and if everything feels right I take that path. I can’t wait to hear Cheryl talk and hopefully meet her. I admire what lengths she took to change her life. Her story inspired me to reflect on my own. This quilt represents my journey. # # #
All of the 36 quilts entered are hanging at various libraries. Mine is at the North Fork Library on the other side of the history of the Pacific Crest Trail inspired by a Bellingham woman, Catherine Montgomery.
Cheryl Strayed will speak at the Mount Baker Theatre Monday, February 24 at 7:30 P.M. It's free and all of the quilts will be hung there.
She speaks the next morning at the Ferry Terminal, also free.
If you have not read the book, do. And then, let's talk about it. I would love to hear what you think of the story.
See you at Village Books and Mount Baker Theatre.