The best time to plant a tree

"The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago", said the girl.
“The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago”, said the girl.
"The second best time is today!" said the hare.
“The second best time is today!” said the hare.

Back in January, did you have a word for 2019?

I actually chose a word but I didn’t ever blog about it. That was partly because we had lots of relations visiting and I didn’t get around to it but it was also because I kept coming upon the idea that that public goal setting can be counter productive. The theory is that you announce, on social media for example, “This year I am going to do X.” Then everyone congratulates you and you end up getting sufficient positive affirmation that you feel like you’ve actually accomplished X when, in fact, you’ve done nothing except express a wish or a vague intention. Whether that is true or not, I don’t know. I can say, however, that I have, so far, remembered my word throughout the year.

My word for the year was ‘Illustration’ and my aim was not to make lots of illustrations but to not avoid making illustrations on occasions when I felt inclined to do that. That doesn’t sound much of a challenge but I actually started this blog in 2011 with the intention of making fabric pictures and the great majority of my making has been much more general sewing and knitting!

As it turned out this has been a year of very little making for me but most of my making has ended up being fairly illustrative and I’ve been able to enjoy creating pictorial quilts for the Endeavourers Challenges without thinking I really should be doing something something more arty and abstract!

Today’s pictures are an assemblage of quilted linen, simple embroidery and three dimensional, posable figures and are inspired by a very interesting conversation between Shane Parrish and Hugh Howey, which I listened to on the Knowledge Project – a series of podcasts comprising all sorts of fascinating discussions hosted by Shane Parrish with a very wide variety of guests. You can find the podcasts and lots of interesting articles on Farnam Street. Part of the discussion is about the things we could have, and feel we should have done years ago but have continually been putting off and the way that “paralyses us and make us feel like all the moments in my life where I could have seized the opportunities ahead of me are all gone”. Hugh Howey says:

A lot of our calcification, the inability to break our stasis and launch our lives in a different direction, is that feeling that we should have done it 10 years ago and we’ve lost the opportunity and now we can’t do it. But 10 years from now, we’re going to think the same thing about this very moment today.

The Knowledge Project Ep. #63

Shane Parrish replies that reminds him of a proverb (which he believes to be French): “The best time to have planted a tree was ten years ago but the second best time is today”.

Today is also, of course, a very good time plant real trees.

Whether your trees are actual or metaphorical, I wish you good luck. I hope all your ‘trees’ will thrive and grow and that in ten years time you will look back and be glad about something you did today :)

Janine @ Rainbow Hare

The Empress’s New Umbrella

Happy Beltane, May Day or what you will!

Late Spring/early Summer is my favourite time of year and for many years, I’ve had it in mind to make a sunny May Day quilt bursting with flowers and, of course, a May Pole full of ribbons and dancing children…

But this is not that year!

Today is an Endeavourers’ Reveal Day and our theme this quarter was ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’. I’m sure I’ll be bowled over, as always, by the innovation and creativity of the other group members’ responses but I found it the hardest theme to do anything interesting with so I settled for a very literal illustration of the theme.

If you don’t like stories, please skip the following section :)

***

I’m sure you are familiar with the story of the Emperor’s New clothes.

My quilt shows an Empress, who fell victim to those self-same fraudsters. Once they had spent all the Emperor’s gold on high living, they travelled far over the seas until they reached her kingdom. They arrived during the sunny season, which, as they said, is the best time to acquire an umbrella because once the rains start it’s too late, and they set themselves up as makers of the finest umbrella covers money could buy, so fine indeed, that foolish people couldn’t see them all.

They took a common frame from the market and spent many days weaving and stitching. And, naturally, no one wished to appear foolish so everyone who saw them marvelled at their exquisite workmanship and wondered at the fine detail and the beautiful sheen of the fabric.

And, naturally, when they were done, the Empress presented them with an unseemly quantity of gold and many mules to carry it and the umbrella makers found they had an urgent appointment on the other side of the world and took their leave with more haste than you might expect of such respectable artisans and such laden down beasts.

And at last the winds turned and the rains came and the court and commoners alike gathered on the hill to look at and marvel on the wondrous umbrella. Suddenly, their own umbrellas seemed ugly and cumbersome and the foolish people wished for an umbrella like the Empress’s, which would keep them dry even if, secretly, they couldn’t see the beautiful cover themselves.

So there were, the secretly foolish people, standing in the rain, sad but dry under their shamefully ugly, cumbersome umbrellas and wearing their shamefully ugly, cumbersome rain coats. And there was the Empress under her wondrous umbrella and wearing a wondrous ballgown.

And then a very strange thing happened.

For all the world, it looked as if the raindrops were falling right through the wondrous umbrella frame onto the Empress’s head.

More than one of the foolish people rubbed their eyes in amazement. It really looked, to them, as if the Empress was getting soaked right through.

They began to shuffle and shift about uncomfortably.

And, suddenly, the littlest child called out, “The Empress’s umbrella has no cover!”

Her parents were mortified and tried to hush her but soon a murmur was buzzing among the crowd, “What did the child say?”

“Really?”

Can’t you see it?”

Can you see it?”

“The child’s right!”

“Yes. The child’s right!”

All at once, everyone who had been afraid of looking foolish realised that that very fear had led to them being very foolish indeed.

And the Empress, who saw that she had been the person most afraid of looking foolish and had behaved the most foolishly of all, decreed that the foolishness must end straightaway.

And she hung the umbrella frame over the palace gate as a reminder to everyone in the kingdom that worrying about what other people think is the surest way to make fools of us all.

***

This quilt is not as textured as my last one but I did include felt, which was a first for me and was surprisingly easy to applique. I also used some upcycled needlecord as well as scraps of quilting cotton and I added stitching to vary the texture. The raindrops are detached chain stitch and Empress’s umbrella frame is threaded running stitch. I found it quite a fun piece to make, though I always aspire to making something more arty and abstract one day!

I hope you will visit my fellow Endeavourers and see what they have made for this challenge :)

Janine @ Rainbow Hare