31 March 2010

31 happy things in march

The 365 Happy Things project marches on. Here is a recap of March:

Be sure to visit the project's blog to follow along each day.

28 March 2010

the end is near

This Tuesday to be exact.

What end do I speak of? The end of the incredible mess I have created in my house in order to move some furniture home.

Today I tortured my studio and I think that was the final straw. I want to move these (pardon the floating white circles of creepiness over the ironing board. It was part of the piece I'm working on to enter in Quilt National and I obey their rules, no lookey lookey):

into here:

which meant I had to take every single thing that was on or near it and move it to the other side of the studio which now looks like this:

Granted, I know where to put everything back but its not the point. I'm tired of pulling this room apart and putting it back together. The really positive thing from this tear up is that I'm gaining storage space in the spare bedroom. So a lot of this is going to go away from this room and be stored until I really need it. But it will be accessible. I've considered moving things into the basement but I know myself - the phrase "out of sight out of mind" describes me to a tee. It has to be reasonably visible or I won't remember its there until it turns into some kind of bazaar science experiment capable of growing legs and walking into my bedroom at night to smother me in my sleep.

Yeah, I'm getting punchy. What's it to ya?

Yesterday I fled the mess and hauled two new pieces of work to the day retreat organized for the fiber art group I belong to. I got one completed there:

(Incredibly lousy photo, I'll get a proper one tomorrow.) And I finished the second one today. So amongst the chaos I am still working - which adds to the irritation because I dare you to venture into that side of my studio and find the freakin' embroidery needle I really needed earlier.

Yeah, not so brave after all, are ya? (Me either. I looked at the pile, whimpered and backed away.)

But its why the blog has been so quiet. I just don't think you all want to listen to "Well, I moved this out of the way today. And then I decided that while the movers were going to be in the house anyway, that I would pack this up and have them take it into the basement. And then I decided to...."


I should be more interesting (and far less grumpy) by mid next week. Hang in there with me, things will be more active again soon...

where i stand sunday

thick gray buffer

entangled struggle for light

smudge of leftover color

quiet contemplation

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)


Original photo:

23 March 2010

435 results found

I'd love to say that the reason the blog has been a little quiet is because I've been working like a mad scientist in my studio...but that would make me a dirty liar.

I've sort of been consumed by the rearrangement of the house. I'm moving home a storage unit (which has been appropriately parred down to the essentials) and its prompted a tear up of more then I imagined. Truth be told, I'm totally sick of it in every way.

But this time next week, the big move will be done and all that will be left will be for me to neatly arrange everything in its proper little place. (This makes me happy in a slightly hysterical way so its probably a good thing that the project is nearing its end.)

What this has done is created a little bit of standstill in the studio since I've decided to take advantage of movers being in the house and do a little bit of moving in there as well. Its going to make a huge difference. Once that's done, I can work like a demon.

In the meantime I've been dragging some of the tops I managed to get done (before I went into the tear up full force) down to the living room so I can keep stitching. Some of them are earmarked for entries into shows so really, time is a-wasting.

I've also changed my mind on the color scheme for my bedroom. (This shouldn't be a big shock.) I keep seeing combinations of white and very pale grey on the home improvement shows and it looks incredibly soothing. Never in a million years did I ever think I'd go completely neutral but I've collected a lot of artwork and it would be nice if the wall didn't clash with them.

I visited a couple online paint sites, typed in the word "white" and got strange answers like "435 results found."

Foolishness. Silly websites. Couldn't be correct. So off I toddled to Home Depot and back home I toddled with this:

That's a small pile of the variety of whites and greys and neutrals they offered.

Does this seem way more complicated then it needs to be? Paint samples with names like "glacier white" are pale blue, not white. Just like "oyster shell" is pale pink, not white. Impostor colors! They are there just to confuse people! Some person in a little cubicle at the paint company drank way too much coffee and is misnaming colors just to screw with us!

Sorry...little outburst there...

I think its time to step away from the paint chips and go back to my embroidery needle. I'm working on the finishing touches for the current 12 Connected challenge and am actually using hot pink embroidery thread on it.

I know.

Check the sky, make sure it hasn't fallen...

knitting warmth

Anne sent me the link for this and it made me smile in a big way so I thought I would share it here as well. Enjoy!

21 March 2010

where i stand sunday

It's the slipping away season, the shedding of layers and old intentions. The future bears down obvious as it marches forward, clashing with the past. It feels like the world is melting, slipping between the neat little rectangles in the grates, blurring ever so slightly as it shifts and begins again.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)


Original photo:

20 March 2010

book review: color your cloth

I've been following Malka Dubrawsky's blog, A Stitch in Dye, for a while now. There's nothing about it that I don't like. And her fabrics, oh my...the fabrics!

She has been offering bundles of small squares in her etsy shop of some of the fabric she has printed using techniques that can be found in her book, Color Your Cloth: A Quilter's Guide to Dyeing and Patterning Fabric. I've been wanting to pick up her book for some time now so when I decided to buy a pack of her fabric, I figured it was time to purchase her book as well.

Her book deals with batik and wax resist. I know there are other books on the subject but in all honesty, the others I've come across have just been way too much information for me. I admit that often I just want to know how to do something, I don't need to know every single detail of what is happening at a molecular level. I just want to create.

Malka's book delivers. She dives right into her techniques, offering a lot of tips including how to stretch your fabric for stamping and various ways you can create your own stamps. She is detailed in her explanations without making your eyes glaze over in a sea of chemistry lessons.

Her process does use wax made from a combination of beeswax and paraffin. While this doesn't appeal to me, she gives a good explanation of how to work with them. I've got soy wax hanging out in my studio and having tried the kind of wax she describes without much success, I'll most likely turn to the soy.

She also has several projects in the back. I bought her fabric squares because I'd like to make a scarf from it but there are several others in her book that have caught my eye. The coasters, the camera strap and her Shoo Fly quilt are particular favorites of mine. I like that she has included functional objects in addition to art quilts, it lends a good variety.

She covers everything. And I mean everything. Workspace set up, stamps, applying wax, overdyeing, discharging and how to get the wax out of the fabric. I know that once I'm able to be out in my garage with warmer temperatures, this book and I will be spending some quality time with wax.

18 March 2010

sun puddles, hostas and bugs

While spring is definitely the worst season transition for my allergies and back issues, its by far the most dramatic and impossible not to love. I rank autumn as my favorite time of the year but even then, the changes get integrated far more slowly. But spring? Spring isn't shy, its everywhere you look. Here's how I'm seeing it in my corner of the world:

1. Little man is enjoying his sun napping:

(He is cuddling against his teddy here.) I particularly like the way he has his butt in the sun puddle but his eyes are in the shadows. There is a method to his madness...

2. The hosta garden is making itself known:

I love these perennials. They are like the Tony Sopranos of the plant world. You can run them over with the lawn mower, be sporadic about their watering schedule, and situate them nearly anywhere (shade, sun, part sun) and they just keep on trucking. We have quite the variety and some are simply prehistoric looking their leaves are so huge.

3. I'm doing battle with the box elder bugs again. Today I chased one around the faucet knobs with a gigantic wad of paper towel and laughed maniacally as I knocked it into the sink, washed it into the drain and flipped on the garbage disposal. (Yes, I have issues.)

4. I've been driving with this open:

And the sunsets seem clearer:

5. I resurrected an old knitting project:

(What's this got to do with spring? Not sure but I attribute it to all the cleaning and tidying I've been doing so its sort of related.) I tried bringing this one back to life not long ago but just couldn't get into the groove with it. But for some reason, I've fallen madly in love with it again and have been plodding away on it nearly every day.

Its Anne Hanson's Stonewall stole. I'm doing the petite size and I'm using Noro's sock yarn. Extremely posh stuff.

In my defense, its 91 stitches on the needle and a 16 row repeat. So that means I have to do 1,456 stitches for about two inches of stole. (Math is evil sometimes.) Once I figured that out I didn't feel so bad about moving at the speed of mud.

I've not been getting as much time in the studio as I would like, life has been obnoxiously getting in the way. But I should get some good time this weekend so hopefully I'll be able to complete some more tops for future stitching. I'd like to have ten total ready to go.

Hope spring is putting on a lovely display where you are as well!

16 March 2010

the pile method

I finally feel like I've gotten my mojo back.

While there's been work trickling out of the studio, there's not really been a big rush of new work. Things have been small, sort of tentative. Problem is that I'm in the mood to enter shows again and with no new work really coming forward, that likelihood of that was looking pretty slim.

Sure, I've got enough work to send out but I'd like new stuff. I'm sure the shows would as well.

I decided that it was time to do what I call the pile method. Basically all it is is making tops that will grow into a pile of work that requires nothing more then endless hours of hand stitching and fussing -- still lots of work but in all honesty, once the foundation is done, I find the rest of it very relaxing. So sitting at my work table stitching is the easy part.

I personally have trouble getting a good groove going when I have to take a project from start to finish all at one time. Some of my favorite pieces were done during a pile run. So I've designated this week for nothing but tops.

I've got five done so far:

Well, six if you count my piece for the latest 12 Connected challenge. As I can't show you the whole thing (have to save that for reveal day on April 1), I can show you a bit of it (its actually much farther along then this):

I'm not really sure if I'm feeling the love for it but as its a really small format (11"x17") I can toss it aside and do a new one if I just can't live with it. I'll decide in the next day or two as time is ticking away. Mom asked me why I didn't like it and I said I wasn't sure about the colors (the challenge is to use bright bold colors which is sooooo not typical for me). She looked at me sideways and said, "You know, there are other colors outside of brown and orange..."

Point taken...what can I say? I'm an earth tone girl...

It was the fifth trial piece I made in an effort to find my groove with the random piecing I've fallen in love with.

I tried using the sewing machine. Really I did. But honestly? It didn't feel like me. I've been puttering away with little study pieces and I uploaded them to my website (never published it so don't go looking for it there, you won't find them) and it just didn't jive at all.

It wasn't rough enough (I do love me some raw edges) and try as I did, I couldn't find my hand in them. I didn't really want to give up the whole notion, though, because I think its intriguing.

I made these two tops today (yes, they're brown and orange and earthy...shut up):

Verdict? Unsure. Still have no clue how to finish them. All I do know is that I want to make more. I want to keep going. And hopefully once I've made a billion of them, I'll have figured out how in the hell to stitch them (they'll be stitched by hand).

Speaking of shows, I got word the other day that three of my pieces were accepted into A Stitch Apart, an exhibit being put on by EastEnd Studio & Gallery in Marshall, Michigan. I'm wanting to show more locally so that makes me happy. I'll bundle those up and send them on their way this week.

And just because the crazy train was passing by my front yard, I decided to jump on and commit to working on something for Quilt National. It may not go well. I may decide to set it on fire. If it sends me over the edge, I'm taking you all with me. And the exciting thing is that you'll get to listen to me talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk about it and never ever see a single picture of it. (Their rules, not mine.)

My goal is to make at least one top a day for the rest of the week. I'm hoping for two but there is still the tearing apart of the house going on. We decided to go ahead and deal with other areas of the house that are needing some attention and just get it all over with. Its the ultimate spring cleaning and will be lovely when its done.

14 March 2010

where i stand sunday

To non-knitters it simply looks like a pile of yarn cluttering my footrest, a slow growing puddle of fabric that is in the way. But what they don't know is that it is really a reward. A decompression of stitches picked up after a long day of obligation, a few precious moments waiting to soothe my mind into relaxation. It rests in this spot so that I will reach for it when the need is there, a constant companion that helps to slow the world down.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)


Original photo:

13 March 2010

rainy day random

1. We have graduated from snowy and grey to rainy and grey:

Luckily I am not one of those people who is bothered by all the dreariness. While I appreciate the sun, having incredibly pale skin does not make it my friend. If today was dry, I would consider it lovely.

2. This is consuming much of my time:

For a few years now I've been wanting to redo my bedroom. Its a small room but the implications of doing this creates a cascade effect of other things that need to happen in the house. Between the fact that it is a tremendous amount of work and I had several major life changes going on, it just wasn't a priority.

But now? Now its just getting on my nerves something royal. I feel like I'm living in a dorm room and it just needs to be fixed. There is some furniture in other rooms that pre-dates me so that will be hauled away at the end of next week so that I can shuffle out the random pieces living in my bedroom that just don't belong there.

After that, painting will happen (that green soooooo has to go away). Probably not for a couple of months so that we can do it during a season when its reasonable to leave the windows open all the time. But its going to happen and this makes me all giddy. I've got a chair rail in the room so I'm thinking of a deeper orange on the bottom and an ivory on the top so the artwork I hang will show up better. Any thoughts?

3. Because I'm tearing apart several areas in the house, I've created a trail of misery across several rooms. This includes my studio and its making me grumpy. I've got things to work on and I've not mustered the courage to spend any reasonable amount of time in there to clean it up enough to work.

So I've been picking on my yarn UFOs. Luckily I have plenty to keep me occupied (see? I was having foresight by stockpiling them for events just like this one.) Here is one that I finished yesterday and decided to block today:

Its a simple crochet scarf from sock yarn. Gotta say that I'm loving the way that fine yarn worked up in crochet. And because I couldn't leave it alone, I added picots all around the edge. I pretty much exhausted my pin stash pinning all of those suckers out.

I have to admit that I don't always block my scarves. Usually I just give them a wash and call it good. But this guy developed a wave that I wasn't loving. Plus blocking it was the only way I could really get those picots to really stand out. I'll get a better shot of it once its dry.

4. I got my new postcards in the mail yesterday:

I'm out of business cards so I needed to get something to take along with me to Open Studios next month.

I was a little undecided as to whether or not I wanted more business cards (I normally do Moo Mini Cards) or if I wanted to do a postcard. I decided to go with the latter this time around. I'm finding that I personally hang on to postcards more often because they often contain larger or more images of the artists' work.

I'm pretty happy with how these came out. Someone asked me which service I like and I use Overnight Prints. I find the color quality to be pretty much spot on and the card stock is really nice. Plus they do matte cards, I'm not a huge fan of the shiny glossy finish. Just a word of warning - most of the stuff on their site is not produced overnight (I learned that one the hard way). I think the only two things that actually get run that way are standard size one sided postcards and standard size one sided business cards. But if you can wait, its worth it. Quality stuff.

5. Just because I haven't posted a picture of him in a while, here's Dooley love:

He asks that you forgive the somewhat aloof attitude he has here. I woke him up from a nap and he just wasn't in a posing mood. But little man got a spring haircut (I tell him its his spring cleaning, he doesn't appreciate the joke) and he's looking mighty cute. He's returned to his nap is happily snoring away.

That's all I've got. I do have to say that now that winter has gone away, there seems to be more energy in the air. Which is good, I'll need something to help keep me moving through all the projects I've got up in the air right now.

Hope spring is springing where you are as well!

12 March 2010

another weekly challenge chick

One of my favorite things about this blog (and the internet in general really) is that I get to "meet" people I would probably otherwise never get a chance to.

Last year I became acquainted with another talented fiber artist (we're everywhere I tell you) named Anne French. She lives in Ohio and had an incredible 3D fiber/clay tea set in Blurred Boundaries last year that really blew me away. (The tea set was a collaboration between Anne and clay artist Nancy Beeman. Really incredible work.)

She has a blog called 1000 Fibers and is working on an very cool weekly challenge. She put 52 words into a hat and is now pulling a word a week and making a piece of fiber art from that word. Here is the piece that she made in Week 6:

Head by Anne French

I know that I've found my Where I Stand project far more challenging now that I'm making something off the photos so hats off to Anne!

I've been enjoying what she's been doing and thought you might as well so head on over there and check her out.

10 March 2010

burnin', burnin', burnin'

I had a date with my thermofax machine today. I haven't made new screens in a while and I think I might have gotten a wee bit overzealous:

Part of the reason for my enthusiasm is that I'm participating in Open Studios for Cloth Paper Scissors at International Quilt Festival next month in Rosemont, IL. I'll be flinging paint about (I'll be aiming for the fabric, don't worry) via thermofax printing. I'll let you know when I get my schedule, would love to see you!

Burning the screens is the easy part. Its the taping off the edges that I find tedious. But I did find something to make it a little more festive:

Bright red duct tape! I don't know why but it thrills me to no end. It helped ease the dirty looks I wanted to give it as the devil stuff stuck to everything that dared to get within two inches of it.

I've been asked several times if I offer burning thermofax screens as a service. I've decided to give it a whirl, should have the details worked out in the next few days. I'll post them when I do and we'll kick it off with a screen giveaway so stay tuned.

And as there was no trauma in the studio today (no ill placed needles or mutant bugs threatening to suck my brain out), I stuck around and started a new art journal. No, I'm not done with the other one yet but I have some ideas that need to be executed in a new one. One of which is the color scheme, I'm going to do black, white and grey in this one:

Its so in the beginning stages right now. Not much to look at but the sharp contrast is really thrilling me. I'd like to say that I will adhere strictly to only those three colors but, well, you know. Its unlikely to happen. I'll keep plodding away at it and see how it works out.

I gotta get some focus. I'm all over the place right now with the things that I'm working on and I think tomorrow I'm going to make a list. Me and deadlines have been having a tumultuous relationship lately. They apparently have no idea just how bossy I can be when I put my mind to it...

07 March 2010

where i stand sunday

The winter thaw is pulling the unexpected to the surface, placing rainbows and rivers beneath our feet. It feels like walking across a daydream, the pulse of the earth quickening in fits of shudders and starts.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

INSPIRED BY ARTWORK TECHNIQUE: photo conversion into text

Original photo:

05 March 2010

i fled...

...but before I explain the title, the studio and I reconciled for a bit and I did get a little bit done today.

Leann has turned me into a handmade rubber stamp addict so I thought I would carve some of a doodle that I obsessively cover everything with. I have some of this stuff and to be totally honest, its garbage. It crumbles if you look at it the wrong way.

But its what was in the studio so I figured I should see if I could stand to work with it. I made these two stamps:

And then ordered this. I only have one small piece of the lousy stuff left, maybe I could use it as a doorstop.

I was determined to redeem myself after yesterday's "adventure". I dug around in my U.F.O. container to see if I had anything in there that I could use for the fabric box. I struck gold:

These 6"x6" squares were meant to continue the Fragile series (see Fragile 1 here and Fragile 2 here) but I sort of lost interest in the series. I think its because I was doing double stitching the design on it with regular sewing thread and it was taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I used size 5 perle cotton today and I really like how it looks so I think I may pick away at the other pieces in the series that are hanging around waiting to be finished.

I started stitching it together too:

Its feeling sort of industrial. I stopped assembling it after I got three sides put together because I'm considering stamping or screening some kind of imagery on it. Wish I would have thought of that before I started attaching the sides. I would have kept working on it but that's when it happened.

I heard buzzing behind me. (My plant stand is right next to my work table.) I turned. I looked. I saw the most disgusting mutated bee I have ever seen in my life. (The bug phobia is second only to the water phobia but it kicked in full force.) It was huge. It made me whine. I actually said aloud "AwwwwwwWWwwww, maaaaannnn..."

I hate bugs but I also hate crushing them. I can't stand the crunch but it was clear that this thing could do some serious damage if I allowed it to live. So I grabbed one of the boards I use for hanging slats for my work and before I (or it) had a chance to think about what was coming next, I pulverized it.

I admit I squished it far more then I needed to but I had to make sure it wasn't capable of revenge. And why do they smell so weird when they get crushed? Wait...never mind. I don't want to know...

The only thing that bothers me more then it being in my studio (I mean really, what's the point of these freakish things even existing other then to instill horror and phobia? Can anyone explain that to me please?) is wondering where it came from...

And if it has friends...

It was the kind of bug that makes me want to scrub the walls down with bleach. (I tried to find a picture but all I really ended up doing was giving myself the heebie jeebies again looking at all the creepy bug pictures.)

I kept looking around the studio like the walls and ceiling were going to close in on me at any second so I decided to flee.

I grabbed a bunch of supplies and set up camp on the sofa to work on my art journal:

That's coming along just fine. (Although I'm beginning to wonder if its ever really possible to finish one of these things. I feel like I could keep adding to it until its six inches thick.)

Okay, so today as an improvement in the artwork arena. I actually got a little bit done but me and that room still seem to be struggling. I'm not that easy to scare off, I'll be back. I'm nothing if not persistent...

04 March 2010

i couldn't make this stuff up if i tried...

The weather hit 43 degrees today. May not sound glamorous to those of you on the west coast but around here? That's shorts and tank top weather. (I kid you not.)

I dragged Dooley down the street (little man is a little out of shape and getting to be mature so I let him set the pace and distance now) and then decided to go into the studio. Popped open the windows, let the plants soak in the fresh air and then just sort of stood there.

I've got plenty of stuff in progress but for whatever reason, I totally lacked motivation today. But with two deadlines at the end of the month, I figured I shouldn't waste a day and decided to force myself to work on something. The victim I chose was the measly beginnings of the fabric box challenge that Mary issued for the fiber art group we belong to.

I had a grand idea that I began pulling together a couple of days ago (if you can count piling stuff on my work table a beginning). I wanted to add (notice the use of past tense in this paragraph) quite a bit of handwork so it really was important for me to get the base done.

What happened next can only be compared to an I Love Lucy episode.

1. I recently opted to get rid of the large TV in my studio and go with a portable DVD player instead. It's a huge space saver and I can plop it down on any surface that's available. Today felt like a Lord of the Rings day (yes I am a geek and proud of it) so I popped in The Fellowship of the Ring, positioned the player on my work table in front of me and set about my business.

2. I don't work much with Timtex. But I like working out puzzles and got it into my head that the walls of my box needed to be made from this. Considering what I do for a living, tackling stiff interfacing shouldn't be a problem. (You see where this is heading, right?)

3. Timtex hates me.

4. I pinned it, ironed it, cussed at it but it did not want to have anything to do with me. I swear it was like trying to give a cat a bath. The problem? Who knows..the stupid stuff wouldn't cooperate and has now been dubbed a product of the devil.

5. I pitched it across the room (I'm not ashamed to admit this) and my aim made perfect precise direct contact with the most disgusting cup of water on the planet. I did some painting a few days ago and forgot to wash out the brush cup. The cup - and all its stinky wet content - tipped over in perfect synchronization in the direction of the DVD player and sewing machine.

6. Luckily my slob habits of never cleaning up my work table came in handy and the water had to work hard to spread across the table. Just as it got close to the DVD player, the characters in the movie called Ringwraiths (link provided for the non-geeky) began to screech at the top of their lungs. The irony of this sent me into a hysterical laughing fit as I tried to scoop up the screaming movie and mop up the portion of the spill speeding toward my sewing machine.

7. As I stepped backward, I knocked over the container of beads I'd been fussing with the night before. Then as I turned to survey the damage, my foot made direct contact with the extra long sewing needles I've become so fond of lately (Not so fond of them anymore. I'll spare you the details. Don't ask me why they were on the floor.)

8. Aaaaaaaaannnnnddd...cue the doorbell. The Salvation Army was scheduled to come by and pick up some of the fruits of the spring cleaning I've been doing lately but I found myself a bit engaged when they finally came a-knocking: water threatening to murder the electronics on my work table, screaming movie in my hand, needle in my foot and beads all over the floor threatening to take me down should I even consider breathing.

Yeah. Attractive.

I think I actually screamed "I'll be right down" toward the front window but I'm not sure they could hear me over Dooley doing his duty of sounding like a rabid pack of wild animals (he is nothing if not defensive).

Luckily the Salvation Army is a patient lot and I got downstairs before they took off. After they left I decided the studio was not a good place to be.

This kind of thing has happened before - not to this extent - when I've not been totally into working on something. I swear the projects have a sixth sense about these kind of things and can't resist taunting me.

I may do battle again tomorrow but I feel properly defeated at the moment and am not feeling any affection at all toward the mess I still have to clean up in the studio. (I gave up after the water was properly contained.)

Tonight I hang out with Dooley dog and watch Project Runway. The trauma that the contestants go through should make me feel better...

03 March 2010

book review: comfort knitting & crochet afghans

Much like most artists, I've got quite the library of books. And even though I spend a considerable amount of time pushing them around trying to organize them into some kind of order, it doesn't stop me from getting new ones.

I know personally I rely heavily on reviews from fellow crafters and artists so I thought I would offer book reviews from time to time. These are based on nothing more then my personal opinion so take them as they are.

First up is Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans by Norah Gaughan, Margery Winter and the Berroco Design Team. This book caught my eye immediately because, well, I'm an afghan addict. Granted, I manage about one a year but I'm always on the lookout for good books on the subject. In all honesty, I'm often pretty disappointed because the patterns I've found in other books are often repeats or overly complicated or just plain unattractive.

Not so with this book.

They promise "More then 50 beautiful, affordable designs featuring Berroco's Comfort Yarn" and they deliver.

One of my biggest pet peeves with many knitting crochet books is that they will promise you X amount of designs but you quickly realize that they have simply changed color schemes and called it a new design. Sort of leaves you feeling like you've been lied to. But this book means it.

There are 52 designs and each one is different. And crochet gets equal play time with knitting, its a good even split which I appreciated.

The designs range from simple and comforting to more elaborate. Several of the designs incorporate embroidery on top of the completed afghan and I found this fascinating. Its a design element that I never considered before and it opens up a lot of possibilities for adding complexity to your work without having to actually knit or crochet it in as you go.

Probably one of the biggest things I like about this book is the fact that the yarn is affordable. Berroco Comfort yarn is about $5.60 for a little over 200 yards. The content may not be for everyone (its a blend of super fine acrylic and nylon) but it is incredibly soft and the fact that is machine washable and dry able is a big attraction for blanket making. I've personally used in a couple projects and I have to say that the softness of it is definitely hard to beat.

All in all I really like this book. Out of the 52 patterns, there are only seven that I wouldn't make. That's a big deal since I'd long ago resigned myself to pattern books that only contain three or four patterns I would actually complete.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys making afghans, I think these authors have produced a refreshing collection of patterns that both knitters and crocheters can enjoy.

02 March 2010

seems to multiply in groups

Ever noticed that when you hang out with art friends you are more productive?

I've been realizing this lately. Seems so much easier to get into the groove of things and really get going on projects. When I got the invite to go up north this past weekend to do just that, I jumped on it.

After a three hour drive on Friday, I was sitting at what ended up being the group's work table with this view:

The cabin sits right on the lake and despite my desperate dread of water, I found the view stunning and incredibly relaxing. I suspect I'll still find it just as charming even when the snow and ice are gone (I'm still not going in it, though.)

We hunkered down and went to work almost right away. (I'm missing photos of Leann and Jane's work. You can catch a glimpse of their's on Leann's blog. Know that is is amazing. Jane would take a piece of paper and in the time it took me to draw a line down one of my journal pages, she produced an origami box. Incredible stuff.)

Sidney created this assemblage box:

I love the vibe on this, its so cool.

Cathy was focused on creating a costume for a play that she is participating in. Here she is modeling it:

They are based off this video and let me tell you, it was impossible to have any kind of serious conversation with her while she was making these. She'd start talking about something and then you'd look up and she'd be wiggling into it. She did a fantastic job on them!

Steph combined her dollmaking and assemblage and made this piece:

She's making a companion piece to it. Both are wonderful, very expressive. She does a great job with the cloth dolls (they take a skill that I don't possess) and it was fun to watch her put it together. Girl's got talent.

Leann brought up some round blank watercolor paper for us to paint mandalas. Here are the ones that Steph and Cathy did:

Plus Steph painted this tree:

She was digging the watercolors.

By now you're probably wondering if I bothered to do anything or if I just started at everyone. Yeah, I brought my art journal to work on and became obsessed with it. I did bring two other things but didn't even bother with them. I think the art journals may be a new obsession, I have ideas for several more.

I wasn't real sure if I was going to write on the pages or just collage the snot out of them. But once I filled in a page with writing, I knew it had to go that way. It really completes the page. I don't really want to use them as private journals because people want to read the things and I don't blame them (I do the same thing). So I'm just going to write random stories in them, it'll be good to keep the writing exercises going since I've become sort of sporadic with that.

Here are a couple more views:

I still have a lot to do. (The extremely bright yellow page in the first photo really bugs me. Its nearly neon in person. I don't know what I was thinking. I'll probably do some kind of wash on it to change it.) Some of the collage elements are still far to obvious, meaning I need to integrate them more so they blend better and become more altered versions. But its certainly getting there.

I had a great time and I'm so grateful for the dedicated time to work.

I did some spring cleaning earlier today and after I'm done with this I'm heading up to my studio. The solid fabrics I ordered to do the free form piecing came in the mail while I was away and the stack of colors made me all giddy. I want to dig in and start making stuff.

Speaking of spring, I think Michigan is finally starting to consider it. Things are melting and the birds don't look nearly as grumpy as they did a few weeks ago. Pretty soon I'll be able to go for walks which will be so nice.

Okay, off to the studio...time to start producing...