Friday, October 28, 2016

This Week

You do not use art as a means to an end but as a way to inhabit and explore the present. Right and wrong fade away: you recover your sense of what is authentic in you. The next expanse of nothingness, with its latent possibilities, awaits you, draws you close. Your art is part of the big painting of your life. You are on your own, standing by yourself in the middle of creating. In the beauty  of that aloneness, and in how you respond to it, you will find your passion. 

Boredom, frustration, and tiredness are not indications to stop; they are signs that you are not doing what you really want to do. It is important not to give up, but to respond to the challenge of the brick wall. If you quit, you will not learn about so-called blocks, and you might be discouraged from painting again. When you face the wall creatively you realize you do not have to feel helpless in painting, because there are always possibilities. You develop faith in yourself and see that your creative ability need never be doubted or stopped. You acquire a taste for suspense and become intrigued by the unexpected move that is looking for you. It might attract you or repel you, it might be fearsome or exhilarating, but it will wake you up
. - Life, Paint, and Passion: Reclaiming the Magic of Spontaneous Expression by Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley

In terms of getting things done in the studio, not much happened. I finished the Barbara bag and I'm on the final coat of paint for the work island. I can hardly wait to get the supplies back in place and be able to sew with some kind of flow and rhythm. I'm not good in chaos. The paint will be dry to the touch and not attracting fluff by Saturday so I have plans to do something... anything... that involves thread and a machine. It may be the purse I have waiting or the wallhanging for the upcoming show or something different entirely but it will be something.

In terms of knitting, progress is being made on the sweater but not enough for a picture. It's the same only bigger. It's taking much longer than I expected both because I haven't knit a sweater in a long time and because I keep knitting and frogging and reknitting. I think I've finally come to the correct answer and I'm looking forward to the next project.

With garment sewing, I've started to think about the collection I'd like to make for my trip in April and how to work on it and around my evolving size. It's motivation - for sewing, for design, for losing weight, for exercise - to have something to look forward to. Two of the pictures below have interesting necklaces. I can see versions of them to go with my outfits. I like the idea of thinking through the entire outfit. It's not an approach I normally take.

The wraps above are interesting. The one at left can also be worn as a cowl. The one at right is a rectangle folded and buttoned. It's a great way to make a simple piece and to use up single buttons and could be a painted woven fabric with drape, a knit fabric, or a knitted fabric. There's potential to explore which is...

... mostly what I've done this week - help other explore potential. I spent two days helping a friend who felts learn to create a fitted pattern so she can design garments with a higher degree of fit and sophistication. We have some more work to do first but our minds are buzzing with possibilities for the combination of felt and fabric. She's going to teach me to felt.

I spent three hours sitting with a friend during her shift at a gallery. I knit. She needle felted. And I observed. It's interesting. I'm not sure it's for me and that's okay. It's good to try different things and see. I spent last night teaching a new friend how to knit. She started out tripping over the needles and two hours later left with smoother, more confident movements. It's good. I read and passed along the book quoted earlier to a member of my "Starbucks family" who wants to explore painting... which is just the word used in the quote... and could be substituted with any creative endeavor.

Process and product has been a common conversation this week, about being in the journey, right in the moment with what we are working on, exploring mysteries and discoveries, and letting the piece unfold as it unfolds, just enjoying the flow of the needle and the thread. It's important. We connect with ourselves in our creations... and our inspirations.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - opportunities to support and encourage.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Barbara Bag

I do not understand others' lack of interest in bags. They use the same one, day in, day out, usually black, occasionally brown. It's depressing practicality drags any outfit down to the lowest common denominator. It's the accessory equivalent of the graying bra and torn panties, except at least you can't see those. The dreary bag stands independent of the clothes it is supposed to go with, as if it is outside fashion and style and taste. Humdrum and yet absolutely essential.

When I occasionally raise the question of the boring bag, I receive the eye-rolling gaze of those who have transcended the lady-like matchy-matchy preoccupations of the aging generation which needed to color-code their bags with their shoes with their gloves. You could, they suggest, do without a bag altogether. You could use, instead, a leather or nylon backpack.

My mother bought bags because she liked the look of them, because they pleased her eye, were good quality, and were the right size for her. I bought bags because I, too, simply liked them.
- The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter by Linda Grant.

The quote above always makes me laugh. While I enjoy creating bags, I carry a very practical, black bag almost all year round although, especially now that I need to get consistent exercise, I'm slipping my wallet and keys into my walking purse more often and getting out and about with a higher degree of accessory interest. I have a new bag in parts that are waiting to be sewn together from fabric I painted. Soon. I like the idea of different bags and it could happen... maybe... if all the elements are right... because what I know for sure is that were I to regularly use more than one bag, swapping over the parts and pieces would have to be easy.

Yesterday, I stopped by my doctor's office to weigh in. Rather than attend meetings, my accountability will come from going by the office once a week, wearing basically the same outfit, and having them track my progress on my chart. When I talked to my doctor about it on Friday, she was very supportive and encouraging about all sorts of things and said that it was important to her that I was okay... too... in this situation of my husband's chronic illness. That was comforting. I found her through my friend Barbara and I've been...


... thinking about how to thank her for a while now. Not only did she find us a doctor but she's a member of my Friday knitting group and has been so welcoming since I moved here and when I fell last year, she took good care of me. During the great studio clear-out, I found the 19" x 31" textile piece above that was never going to be hung on a wall again but was in the perfect colours to make a bag for Barbara.

I started by cutting the quilted piece in half and from there, the bag developed step-by-step. I didn't have any of the original fabrics left and incorporated bits from my stash. One of my goals was not to buy anything new and to use what I had. Which I did. The fabrics for the lining, sides, and bottom were remnants that were used up making this project. The support for the zipper was the original binding and the "new" binding was left-over and waiting from a previous project.

The variegated top-stitching thread was in my stash and so was the additional batting for the sides, bottom, and straps. And the buttons. And the zipper. There's something very satisfying about taking a piece that is "useless" and by using my skills and abilities along with the supplies in my stash creating something "purposeful". YES YES


I knew that Barbara had a doctor's appointment yesterday morning as well so when I went in, I took the bag wrapped up with a bow and left it for the staff to give to her. I told them it was a surprise and that she wasn't expecting it. When she phoned me later, she said they were SO CURIOUS and she opened it in the waiting room to their delight and that of the other patients and then shared it with "our" doctor. A surprise present at the doctor seemed completely appropriate.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - down 4.6 pounds

Friday, October 21, 2016

Something Fun For My Feet

I'm sorry to report that the work island is not finished yet. Sorry because that means I have no sewing to show although I'm not completely empty handed.

Yesterday, I walked down to my son's house and asked him to drive me back up the hill. I wanted to see how long it would take because I thought I might walk to knitting today for my daily quotient of exercise only then I wouldn't be able to wear my painted shoes and I definitely want to do that so... no... not today... but it was pretty walk yesterday.

As mentioned in the previous post, on Wednesday I went to my friend's painting studio to paint shoes. When we do something sewing together, we work in my studio and when we do something painting together, we work in hers. It makes sense from a stash point of view. It was a wonderful pay day with the happy bonus of something fun for my feet.

The brown shoes didn't work for my wardrobe so they were the perfect ones to start with. We first painted a base of GAC200 from Golden to allow for adherence and hardening. We also mixed a couple drops of it in with each paint colour. Francine thought a base colour would be a good idea... so I painted mine black... and it was good... however... now that I have a wee, tiny bit more experience I think a better base colour to start with would be a medium tone like lilac or grey or a light tone like white. Trying to lighten a dark colour is a lot of work.

The shoes had some interesting details and seaming that were hard to see in the brown shade. I painted a wiggly, wobbly white line between the stitching that Francine helped me clean up while teaching me how to manage a small brush. And then I painted some dots with a stylus. I do appear to be in a dot stage. I do want my own stylus.

This colour looks more purple on my screen that it is in person. Think fuchsia. It's on the tips and around the side but not all the way back to the heel. Back there...

... I painted black dots one one side and swirls on the other (which I realize I don't have a good picture of) plus a dotted "stitching" line along the join. The saw tooth edge above the white line was painted green and the final step was to sponge the toes for a bit more detail without going too cutsy. TOO FUN for $1.25.

Francine painted a pair of shoes that she loved the shape and feel of but not the colour. She said she wanted red shoes and used this fuchsia colour as a base to build up from. That was interesting especially...

... when it was the copper-ish colour she put over top that turned them red on the toes. The top edge and the strap are still fuchsia and the inside is turquoise. We both painted the inside of the heels to make sure that the original colours didn't show at the bottom when we crossed our legs.

I've started on my second pair but they're not done yet. I used left-over turquoise to paint the toes and then blended some "scrap" paint to get a-never-to-be-reproduced grey for the strap. The blue on the toes is not as denim as I wanted nor is the green at the back as lime as I wanted so they may change. I'll see. I definitely want to add some hot-pink detailing. Luckily, I can use the fabric paints that I have in the studio to finish up. A book I bought several years ago when I first started exploring painting on leather said to finish the shoes (or bag) with Future floor polish.

Painting shoes was a lot of fun. It's a great way to play with paint and surface design without a huge investment. I have several pairs of shoes that aren't getting worn for one reason or another. As long as they are comfortable, painting them could make them more wearable.

LOL - I now have visions of painting shoes to go with the parts & starts of the outfits I'll finish when I lose the weight or go on my next trip. Whichever comes first. Although my feet might shrink. I should probably wait a while but I could paint a bag or necklace. Hmm....

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a fun day with a friend

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

An Inexpensive Adventure

The studio is still a mess. The main body of the work island is almost finished and I'm just about ready to start painting the doors, drawer fronts, and shelves.... which will be fiddly... with a coat of primer and two of paint... and even so, it needs to be done... quickly. Knitting is good but.... I. NEED. TO. SEW.

In April, I went to my friend's studio an hour away to paint a canvas bag. This morning, I'm going back to paint shoes. I've never done that before - which is perfect - exploring something new. I bought two pairs of Naturalizers and one pair of Clarks at the thrift store for a total of $3.75 so it'll be an inexpensive adventure. And fun.

Like this denim dress. How fabulous are those waistbands along the hemline! The overall style is a little two sweet for me but the idea tickles. I'm only dreaming about clothes right now for several reasons, one of which is the studio mess.

A great thing about my little town is that the hospital emergency department on a busy day is like a turtle going backward compared to a slow day at the one in Kamloops and if you have the "right" symptoms, you get to go straight to the head of the line like I did. Thankfully, after what felt like forever and a million tests, they "only" had three recommendations.

1. To lose weight. 2. To get more exercise. 3. To avoid stress. The first two I can figure out but the last one always makes me laugh. I was joking with the doctor about how casually they throw that suggestion out there without any how-to and he jokingly replied that he can only give so much advice. Yesterday, I went to a Weight Watcher's meeting and was incredibly underwhelmed by the greeting and the discussion content to say nothing of the fact that they barely explained the system... which I believe is good... but it's also good I can read. I'm debating whether I'll stay or not.

I spent some time on-line looking for ideas on clothing to wear while losing weight. That was less than best as well. The suggestion was made to buy two pairs of jeans, some basic tops, and a couple skirts and blouses every ten pounds. I need to lose forty. It's highly unlikely I'll buy three sets of clothing on the way down and I definitely won't be sewing three sets. I need transitional garments. If you have any advice, it would be greatly appreciated. I tend to lose on the bust first and the hips last so styles like the ones above might be more doable especially if I could take the underarm seam in bit by bit and wear them with a t-shirt or cardigan.

My next coaching session with Diane was rescheduled to early November. Since losing weight changes what I'll be doing in the studio, that's turned out to be a good thing. One creative challenge I'd like to discuss with her is sewing clothes in parts that could have the final seams sewn when I'm ready... whether that's because I reached the goal or because I'm heading off on a trip. As you can see, I've found more polka dots to enjoy. I think it would be fun to start creating them with applique or paint or both. Before that though...

... I want to turn this 19" x 31" quilted piece into a knitting bag as a thank-you gift for a friend. When I cleaned the studio, it was crying make me pretty again - LOL. We'll see. Friends are a wonderful gift.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - health

Friday, October 14, 2016

Knit Sew Paint

Yesterday was super busy and I didn't get a chance to write the blog posting before going to bed - thinking I'd have time in the morning - only the power was out. Since I can't write... or knit... or sew... without power, I rolled over and went back to sleep, then to journal, then breakfast with Howard before he left, and now here I am. Hopefully better late than never.

The work island is back together. I absolutely LOVE that I can move it all over the room very easily. I'm the type that likes to move the furniture so this is perfect. I've purchased a paint that is designed for cabinets. It's oil-like so will paint over the melamine sides without a primer but the doors and drawer fronts will need it. That actually works quite well for me. I'll do the main part first and the doors after making sure that each coat gets the maximum drying time as well as giving the surfaces time to cure before starting to use them again. I haven't read the instructions but that's typically about a month so...

... I've set up a temporary pressing station at the end of my desk and moved the mess to the edges of the stash room. Good thing I had that all cleaned up. That said...

... it's likely I'll be doing more knitting than sewing which can make for some really boring, slowly progressing, pictures. I'll try to come up with more interesting things to share than 2" of garter stitch or some such thing. Above, I've finished the main body of the cardigan and I'm most of the way through one sleeve. It's short, just above the waist length, and will have three quarter length sleeves.

Instead of copying the bottom of the body to the sleeve and being matchy-matchy, I started the sleeve with the cast on edge, one row of knit and one of purl to get a slight curl and then four rows of 1 by 1 rib and then another row of knit and another of purl before beginning moss stitch like the main body. I'm designing as I go so there was a bit of stuttering getting the stitch count and increases correct but now it's flowing and seems like it's going to work out well.

After spending so many years knitting scarves, I am suddenly really interested in knitting sweaters for myself. The above design is Lily from the book Essentially Feminine Knits. I have a heathered, charcoal grey, Cascade 220 yarn (shown bottom right) that I want to use for this. The sweater below is a free pattern on Ravelry called Aurea that I want to knit in a mixed colours yarn from Regia.  This probably sounds hilarious but...

... I so missed going to the Design Outside the Lines workshop this year, that I've already signed up for the Spring 2017 session and started thinking about what to sew. I'd like to develop outfits that include these sweaters. I have a gorgeous, warm-orange, linen fabric and one that is black/pink/orange. Both should go great with the Aurea sweater and - of course - charcoal grey goes with almost my entire wardrobe, being mostly black - LOL.

The guest instructor for the Spring session is Carol Lee Shanks and the theme is 3 Easy Pieces: Layering Up Your Spring. It's a combination that works really well for me. I've admired Carol's work for some time and I like the idea of creating within the guideline of the three pieces. LOL - I just have to wait until April now however...

... now that Howard is heading back to work and fall is setting in, there's a long period of relatively free time to spend in the studio. I'm looking forward to knitting, some sewing, and working on developing my painting skills. Next week, I'm learning how to paint shoes like these wonderful examples above and I'm also planning to paint yardage to sew into aprons if I can figure out the dynamics of how to do that with the studio in disruption. Hopefully... there will be some work island painting and some fabric painting to show.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - directions to work in