Friday, December 8, 2017

Being Exactly What I Complain About

Walking to Starbucks yesterday morning in the predawn lack-of-light-ness, wearing dark clothing and a black winter coat, when it's near to impossible to see a pedestrian, I realized I was being exactly what I complain about, hard to see, as well as putting myself in danger. Luckily, I walk on the sidewalk but even so, adding a reflective element to my wardrobe would be a good idea.

The pond in my back yard has that layer of ice that looks black and clear, like it's not even there, so it was rather amusing to see the ducks fly in, land, and walk on water. There's a group of seventeen on the pond this fall and their antics will be entertaining. Earlier, when it snowed, they'd go for a walk around the edges in pied piper fashion leaving a row of duck prints behind them. The open water is closer to and just over from my house and, with seventeen of them, is edge-to-edge ducks.

Outfit One will be comprised of a skirt, a knit top, hand-knit wristlets, a large Chinese knot necklace, and a bag as well as the the gold leather shoes I found earlier this week. All of the elements are started; none are finished.

For the skirt hem, I used 2" wide elastic and tested different lengths in 4" increments starting at 40" and moving up to 52" before settling on 44". To make it easier, I marked the intervals on the elastic before inserting it and then slid back and forth to the different measurements. The skirt is complete except for the waistband which is waiting for the top so I can layer them and get the proportions right before hemming the top and adding the waistband to the skirt.

Because I want a large necklace, I raised the neckline on the knit top and even though I tested it before adding the binding, once that was in place the opening was too tight to get over my head gracefully... if I wanted to keep my make-up on... and my hair done... so I lowered and widened the neckline slightly. To maintain the shape that I'd worked so hard to stabilize in earlier steps, I fused a strip of non-stretch interfacing next to the binding before cutting it off.

That cut off section will go in my bits & pieces of potential box for use down the road as ties, maybe even on the purse. This pile of clothing came home with me from the thrift store along with the shoes. On top is a gorgeous fuchsia pullover that's never been worn, then a black velour cardigan with "in" sleeves even though it's obviously from the eighties complete with shoulder pads, then a hand-knit man's sweater with a bleach stain on one sleeve but so beautifully knit that I feel the need to save it in some way, and a pair of way too small jeans with fabulous fabric that co-ordinates with the plaid shirt I bought a few weeks ago. Potential. I'm addicted to it.

The Calgary Cardigan is back in balls. It turned out huge and hugely unflattering. My friend Mary sent me a couple more skeins of the yarn to finish and I sent her this thank you picture. I'd hoped for the cardigan but this is as good as it gets. I'll re-knit the balls. I love the colour and the yarn. The wristlet pattern is Madrid, free on Ravelry. I started it in a thin, fuzzy, perfectly co-ordinated with my knit top yarn and was going cross eyed trying to figure see it clearly enough to figure out the pattern so this grey version is a practice run.


AND... I've also been practicing making knots with this thick upholstery cording. The large knot will be the focal bead of Outfit One's statement necklace. Even though I haven't finished anything, I'm excited about the start and am really enjoy The Outfit Project so far.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - fabulous thrift stores

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Too Tight Jeans And Other Stretching Goals

When I asked for warm, somewhat stylish, and comfortable walking boots, all three sales women started to laugh. I know. It's a near impossible request and yet, that's what I wanted because I wanted to be warm, I wanted to be comfortable, and I still wanted to wear a skirt now and then. They found me...

... this low pair with a combination of leather, suede and fur trim. I needed boots because I am integrating walking with journal time and am making sure I have every opportunity for success. I have an umbrella for rain/snow and grippers for ice and a book bag that can hold these plus my wallet and I've gradually been increasing the walking distance by parking farther and farther away away from Starbucks. This week, I'm parking near Fabricland (which is another danger) and walking about 30 minutes one way, an hour in total. The weather is cold but not horribly below freezing and there's no snow on the ground meaning my resolve is far from being tested which is why...

... once a week, I wear my too tight jeans for as long as I can stand. At first, that was about twenty minutes. Yesterday, it was nine hours. This is an improvement. I have jeans in this current tight size, a size smaller, and a size smaller than that in my closet. I intend to keep trading my too tight jeans for a smaller too tight model. I must say that I have very strong and deep green envy for people whose weight never fluctuates more than a few pounds. I have no idea what that feels like. Imagine the wardrobe one could have if your weight never fluctuated. Deep. Green. Envy.

In September, when I went to my brother's wedding, I stayed with my aunt and we had a fabulous time together which is even more memorable since she had a serious stroke just a month ago and cannot be rehabilitated. She's one of my favourite people and I am feeling both devastated and motivated. We talked often and enjoyed having characteristics and interests in common... however...this is not something I want to share if I can help it. Although I am in reasonably good health, issues run in my family and her situation reminds me to take my own health more seriously.

I've realized that I like food far too much to make it the deciding factor. I cannot control my weight by diet alone. There has to be fitness in some form combined with - hopefully increasingly - healthy food choices. Walking to journalling is my start and I hope that as I see improvements - like 8 1/2  hours longer in my too tight jeans - that I'll be motivated even further.


Since the last posting, I've been paying attention to how enthused I am about creating outfits for my March holiday and whether or not the textile art ideas called to me. They did not. Instead, my mind has been bubbling over with ideas for each of the five outfits I "need" and so I've chunked down the time to figure out how to get what I want and it's a energizing and stretching goal.

I want to create five complete outfits with an upper garment, a lower garment, a layer of some kind, a statement necklace, and a bag that I create myself along with co-ordinating shoes that I may or may not need to paint. Each outfit will begin with a starting point and develop from there.

Outfit one started with the wide elastic of this ballooned hem. I chose the fabric shown earlier and yesterday, during a very quick trip into the thrift store on my way to the dentist, I found the leather shoes for $3.00. They have never been worn. There are absolutely no marks on the soles. WHAT a find and perfect for this outfit. The colour is more gold than my monitor shows and not my usual colour but perfect with the skirt and the shoes on your feet do not need to flatter your face.

SO... time wise... this chunks down into ten days per outfit. I added up all the weeks between now and the end of February leaving out March for packing and travel time and then I subtracted two weeks for Christmas and all the weekends and that left 53 days, divided by five outfits. As I said, it's a stretching goal. I'm aiming to make all new parts and pieces and at the same time I know I have some garments in my closet that can become a starting point if necessary. I'm very excited and ideas are flowing and that's a wonderful feeling.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - acknowledging that I'd rather make creative everyday clothing I can wear than wall art- YES YES!

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Week Of Not Much Getting Done

The last month of the year. Twenty-five days to Christmas. Really? I am beyond stunned at how fast this year has gone. A blink. Which is interesting considering that this week has been one of not much getting done. The plan was to spend concentrated time in the studio. That didn't happened but the bits and pieces of time were enough to get some things finished and others started.

I finished a pair of Capitola pants out of a black and white stripe. The draft has have no side seam and is an easy sew. There's only this detail shot of the cuff for now. My studio lights arrived yesterday and as soon as I have a non-black photo background and my tripod returned from my son, I'll set things up and get a picture. Maybe by then I'll have another garment to go with.

I also made a muslin of the French Fold Shrug with less success. Although the sleeve is a Dolman, it's a slimmer higher version with less fabric under the arm only the bicep was too tight and the shrug doesn't fit at all comfortably. I should have measured it first. It's amazing how often I miss something simple like that. HOWEVER... this can be fixed BUT... first I need to decide if I'd wear this style and whether it'll be worth the work. I may transfer some of the details I like to a more fitted base with a traditional set-in sleeve.

The before picture of the couch is missing the apron that went around the bottom. I stapled it underneath and cut off the excess and then mixed a turquoise chalk paint 50/50 with water and began painting on light layers. The first coat is shown above right and the finished couch below has three coats.

You can still see the texture of the original pattern but not the colours which stops the finished surface from looking too flat. The legs are spray-painted gold because the couch is for my new tenant and she wants gold accents in her home. I'd been wanting to try painting a couch for a while and it was an interesting project. The finished results are good but I'll need to price out what would have been less expensive - upholstery fabric on sale for a slipcover or the paint. The used couch was $20, delivery was $15, and paint supplies were about $150.00. It's a quality couch but... quite possibly I could have bought fabric for the same amount. I've signed up for a professional slip covering workshop at Craftsy so that'll be an upcoming project. I'll start with the ugly shade of orange footstool in the living room that is currently hidden under a throw.

AND... yesterday, I made a muslin of a carpet bag to check the size and then altered it to be shorter and wider since I want it as a book bag with inside - and possibly outside - pockets for all the parts and pieces I take to journaling.

My son-in-law sent me an email last night saying that on the way home from day care my oldest grandson was talking in the back seat saying that he hoped his grandma Myrna stops talking, because she will lose her voice, and she always talks so much. LOL - how sweet. I lost my voice during my last visit and he kept telling me to stop talking. I promised not to on the drive home. When I phoned to thank him for being so caring, I told him it was all better now and asked for permission to talk again. I'm allowed. YES YES.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - caring grandsons

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Funky Skirts And Forward Thoughts

Last year, I attempted to make a piece for the Red & White member's exhibit at the gallery and it never came about. When I thought about why, it seemed to me that it was a combination of not connecting to the theme and of trying to create with rusty skills.


In January, there's another exhibit called 18 and members can contribute either two dimensional pieces that are 18" x 18" or three dimensional pieces that are 18" x 18" x 18". Up until last night, I was determined to enter and - in fact - I have some pieces started including...

... this textile exploration of flat houses. Several of my favourite artists paint in this style and I've always wanted to try it in textiles. Since taking this picture, the piece has advanced considerably and the stitching is adding detail and depth to the shapes. And I've answered the question. I can do this in textiles and I could even become quite good at doing it in textiles. Do I want to?

Yesterday, I also explored funky skirts both in a local boutique and on-line and had an interesting conversation with a friend about how much I enjoy developing outfits for an event like the luncheon last week or a celebration or holiday. I get huge amounts of joy and satisfaction from putting together the complete look. Right now, I'm snoop shopping for wardrobe inspiration for a trip next March and the energy I feel around what to wear on my holiday is far and beyond what I'm feeling for creating the wall art. And that's interesting.

Why? What do I want to do and am I doing what I want? My goal with entering the 18 exhibit was to introduce myself to the community in a more visible way and make connections but perhaps that's not how I want to introduce myself. Perhaps, I'd rather make a new outfit for opening night and attend rather than be in the exhibit.

Sometimes, it feels like knowing myself is a moving target - that just when I think I know what I want everything changes and yet, every once in a while, I have one of those ah ha moments that shifts things either slightly or in an entirely new direction. Sometimes, it's a confirmation and sometimes, it's an epiphany.

Thrown over the dress form is a man's XL shirt that I picked up at the thrift store last week, washed in hot water, dried in the dryer, shrunk, and intend to refashion into a shrug of some kind. I've started a pile of potential fabrics to go with and I can see this shirt evolving into one of garments for my holiday. I'm excited about what's developing and thinking about the combination of a bottom, a top, a layer, a statement necklace, shoes, and all the parts and pieces that go together to make an outfit that is self expressive. And I think, perhaps this is where I am meant to be. Perhaps, like traditional quilts, textile wall art is ready to become a part of my past and instead of attempting to pick it up again every once in a while, I need to let it go. It's an interesting thought.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful -  funky skirts and forward thoughts

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Simple Neckline Necklace

It has taken MONTHS to get to working on this simple neckline necklace that was one of my last assignments from Diane - my coach - and in the end, I am choosing to be finished with it as opposed to finishing it, taking the lessons and moving on. It is entirely possible that it refused to co-operate because it already knew it was a piece of junk - LOL. Everything I did only seemed to make it worse and prolong the agony. It is - however - a learning curve to be revisited.

The assignment was to create a necklace that fit into a simple neckline. This curved neckline shape is the one I use most frequently so I started by tracing an echo of the curve and marking the middle and end points.

Because I wanted to maintain the shape, I started by hammering and bending a larger gauge of wire and then curving the ends upward and creating loops to attach the chain. In retrospect, this may have been where I first went wrong. It was difficult to build the parts on top of this surface rather than compose and then form them to the desired shape as I've done in the past.

With a pendant, the goal is achieve visual balance in the design as well as physical balance so that it hangs correctly. I didn't want a perfectly mirrored piece and I wanted it to evolve and develop step by step so I started at the left side and worked toward the right. This will hopefully be a way of creating wire work that I'll perfect over time but I quickly discovered that it was beyond my current skill set. I think that's a good awareness because I want to develop my skills bit by bit and and at the same time I want to push the edges somewhat to keep growing... with a little push not a shove over the cliff.

Once I added the stone, I seemed to fight with the piece even more. Its curved outline was a good match but every attempt I made to integrate it and have it look like something more than a stone just sitting there didn't work out.

Looked at separately, the two sides of the pendant are both quite interesting. I couldn't repeat this series of wraps in a million years. There was no plan and it shows. The piece began to feel like an exercise in throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it.

When I realized that I was simply adding more and more detail in an attempt to pull it all together, it was time to be finished with the piece.It is - IMHO - an ugly learning curve and since Start With Ugly is one of the lessons I used to teach in my Self Expressions workshop, I know it could be a great starting point. I will most likely cut out the center bar and see if I can evolve the two side sections into something else but as is, it's not wearable. It has neither balance nor good design BUT...

I learned a lot.
And that's the main thing.

I kept the template of the simple shape and will try this exercise again sometime soon giving more thought to how I choose to follow the shape.

I bought these wooden buttons at a local art show this past weekend. They are made by a local woodworker from his left over bits. I've bought some three years in a row now and each year the price goes up. I don't think he realized how popular they would be at first. However, at $2.50 each, they are stil inexpensive. I especially love the five birch ones in the foreground.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - lessons learned