Saturday, April 4, 2020

More stars

I was supposed to be making a dressy fashion-forward mask today. Fabrics all washed, dried, ironed, ready for action. Then I found I'd mislaid the measurements which I'd written down carefully. Somewhere.

So, until the piece of paper showed up, I cut diamonds. And templates for diamonds. And basted the fabric onto the templates.

This kind of quiet hand stitching, listening to a good audiobook is such a relief from the mad rush of bad news.  Then I'll be whipstitching the diamonds together into stars, for future use in some art thing. It doesn't do to lock yourself into an idea too soon, so this vagueness is fine at this point.  Anyway, that's my story.

Some blessed soul has started uploading very well-read Georgette Heyer audiobooks on YouTube, so one of my favorites, the funny  The Reluctant Widow, is accompanying my stitching.

Then while I was in YouTube, I found the video with the measurements. 14.5"x8" in case I forget again. And cut out a piece of fabric, a lovely batik cotton that looks like a sky with clouds.

 I don't have a scarf suitable for wrapping round my face, knitted and open weave no use, and I seem to be the only person on earth who does not own a bandana.

So a mask will happen, and maybe if I wear it out walking, it will help with whatever's making me sneeze and snort and generally make a lot of noise when I get home. It's the hayfever season.

The principle is simple, and you see the sum total of my notes. If I get this made, I'll do a selfie, and that'll teach you to ask questions, Missy!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Change of pace, diamonds and stars

I needed a change of pace from spinning and weaving for the moment.

So I went and retrieved the paper piecing diamonds, which I organized away during that January Great Winnowing.  The winnowing saved me a lot of time and annoyance, really glad I did it when I did, before life changed dramatically.

I found quite a few pieces already wrapped for joining, and templates cut to continue wrapping

So I decided to make stars, random color choices, just go. By my standards these are huge -- 10.25" tip to tip! Massive!

I'm making raw material. Might be mobiles, bags, pillows, vest fabric, background for framed weaving, throw, no need to know yet. And peaceful basting and whipstitching is about as calming as you can get.

I made a great discovery, to listen while I stitch. Jennifer Ehle, yes, Lizzy from Pride and Prejudice, is reading it live on her Instagram account and putting the recording up on YouTube.

 Totally unrehearsed, sometimes commenting on the characters, sometimes needing a couple of runs at an unfamiliar word, her dog barking, family barging in forgetting she's working, it's very much being read to rather than read at.

This is more my speed than running about trying to recreate the lives we used to have on Zoom. We're suddenly in a new era. I think it's better to learn how to live now than try to seize yesterday. Just my thoughts. Agreement not required! Life's an unfolding artwork to manage as best we can.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Coda. The polar bear finally showed up,late for the shoot

He explained that he was on a different ice floe, on the tablet, hadn't realized the shoot was scheduled for the phone. His apologies, and here he is. Seen from both profiles.

Backstage, where the work goes on

If you're interested in the Dollivers, you might like to try your hand at making one or more, using up some yarn stash. I didn't design them from scratch, but adapted them, and their knitted clothes, including undies,

Some of their wardrobe..

from Knitted Babes by Claire Garland, a perfectly lovely woman who was quite happy with my liberties.

 She's on Ravelry and Instagram as dotpebbles, and also designs wonderful animals and birds. I made a little flock of parakeets from her basic design. They're perching around somewhere.

Then the dogs are from Knit Your Own Dog by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne. They also produced Knit Your Own Zoo, whence came the polar bear.

 The bear is in the home of my granddaughter, sent as a prize for completing the Calgary Marathon, her first. I followed her on a tracker, and the screams of excitement at this end when she crossed the finish line were loud enough to scare the neighbors.

Full transparency: Knitted Babes is beginner to intermediate knitting. However the breed and species specific animals are a bit more advanced.

All of them are clearly written, great pictures and you just might fancy doing a bit, if you have a whole bunch of teeny balls of yarn from a big project like a shawl. Naming no names!

The Dollivers' knitwear is from Claire's book. But the other kit they wear is often fabric I've draped and pinned for photoshoots. Like storefront mannequins, all pinned up at the back. It just takes little scraps to make neat stuff.

 They've had black sparkly evening gowns for recorder recitals, nursing caps and aprons for solidarity purposes like now, cooks' whites for kitchen capers, long black dresses with touches of white collars for suffragist events, plus the sashes, red Christmas (felt) dresses, the silk New Year's dresses. And other outfits too numerous to mention, as they say.

If you're crafty and can get the books they're fun to work from. They're also fun to browse through even if you don't knit from them. I'd hate you to be at a loose end..

Thursday, March 26, 2020

One woman's meat..

In the package that arrived yesterday, whatever day that was, came this lovely length of handwoven cotton/bamboo mix.

 Joanne, who blogs some lovely stuff at, is the weaver, and this was an experiment.

She really doesn't like the feel of it. So for her it's a nonstarter. However I do, silky and friendly. I tested it against my neck and it's still soft. Knitters, you know how sometimes a fiber feels great to your hands and scratchy on your neck, making you rethink your plans? This  is still friendly.

Sooooo, haven't settled on what to make, but a top could work. We'll see.

 Meanwhile it's playing at being a table runner. And thank you, Joanne. One person's oh, get this off me is another person's oh, it's lovely!

And I'm working on a new Little Book. I'm going to invent a different way of stitching this one.

 The covers and pages are byproducts of artwork, interesting to use here. They're from backing sheets from the printing on silk,where the inkjet image appeared on the silk and went right through to make a ghost image on the backing sheet.

Frugal art.

Stay well, everyone!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Cookbookbookmark in action

I knotted and cut off the fringes of the little weaving. This is cotton warp yarn, and I like the color range.

It seems to go with the bread book.

Now I'm thinking about the next weaving.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Spinning paper and thinking about next weaving rescue

Today I wove three silk-dyed coffee filters. Hence the staining on my fingers, synthetics much more vivid than natural dyes, and the damp towel keeping the paper from drying out before I get it spun.

I did the spinning standing over a wastebasket with tissues in it, so the dangling thread didn't drop on the beige rug..

This is why artists wear black in the studio, particularly when working with charcoal. No charcoal here, but inadvertent dyeing. I'm told people think the black is a kind of uniform or signal. Except when worn by posers, it's just practical workwear.

So three bobbins ready for when I warp the Hokett to make side by side paper weavings.

And on the left side a cotton weaving I need to finish in some way. I drew all the warp threads through to one side, and I may make a series of braids and beads, for a sturdy cookbook bookmark. Fiber art serving culinary art.

Friday, March 20, 2020

New skills for old work

That method I just learned for fringeless weaving, I applied to a piece still on the loom because I need to use the loom.

Here it is on

And off, warps drawn through back and forth, worked pretty well

Then I went back to see if I could resolve the spaghetti junction I'd made trying to do the same thing with beginner's skills on a couple of finished pieces.

 I ended up with a wobbly but okay result. I did have to do a good bit of weaving in using a tiny crochet hook. But it ended up fairly well.

It's possible these pieces might become parts of assemblages with Woolly Books. Here's the second finished

 Spine side

Page side

See how pleasingly this binding allows pages to lie flat.

While I worked, I had a reading of Great Expectations going. MJam on YouTube, reading a couple of times a week, about half hour audios. I just found them so I'm listening in sequence. He's a good actor/reader.

  Dickens was really a spoken storyteller, though he wrote, and his work was never designed to be read in a big fat book. He wrote serial style, in episodes appearing regularly in a magazine. So it works well to break it up in audio form.  And I'm enjoying it more this way.

In our last knitting group, before the current hiatus, we were talking about how you associate your work with other memories.

 I read Great Expectations in book form as a kid, eating winegums, so the taste of that candy comes back even now when I think of it. And I wonder if, in turn, these weavings will make me think of GE in future?

Do you have associations like this?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Bookie at work, also paper spinner

It's hard to settle to making at the moment.  But once I started spinning, I calmed down and did much better.

This is finer thread, the strip cut at 1/4". It's surprisingly resilient to work with, as long as it doesn't get a) too wet or b) too dry. I spun a couple of coffee filtersworth.

And did the Coptic binding for one of the Woolly  Books. The pages for both are coffee filter paper.

The work was accompanied by audiobook of Destination Unknown, an Agatha Christie I wasn't familiar with.

One bonus from the uptick in handwashing and consequent lotioning: my hands are in better condition, not snagging threads. I must have been pretty sloppy before..

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Framed. For now.

Framing is not a favorite task. But after quite a bit of cursing and maneuvering and opening and repositioning, the books trying to escape all the while, I did manage.

 This may have to be opened again. It's hung to see if the parts will hold up on exhibit,  not slump down on being vertical after a  while. They are adhered, but sometimes glue dries and everything slithers around.

 One good thing is that nowadays I don't get a frame cleaned, set, and closed and then find a cat hair under the glass. It's like not seeing a typo until you hit publish. You absolutely can not detect cat hair until too late.

So here it is

And here it is on my exhibit wall, which is just there to study pieces, not as home decor. It's strictly a workshop test, really.

Friends do like to poke around and see what I've done lately, though. So they have fun.  The pieces are a bit lopsided. But it's a working wall, defensive crouch here.

The sofa bears some of the results of last summer's learning, English paper piecing. I blogged about that if you're interested in checking the topics listed down the right column if the web version. That was an adventure.

And now I can do more spinning and weaving. A lot of ideas to try. And I have to assemble the books for the woven wool covers, too, probably using coffee filters for pages.

 But I'm really wanting to spin right now.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Draft presentation ideas, future paper materials

I've been mulling over how to present the three Little Books, with a view to a couple of exhibits, if they actually happen, but we do have to live in the subjunctive at the moment.

Anyway, here are a couple of rough thoughts

The top one is a kind of analog landscape, the linen echoing the books. I'm leaning towards it, rather than the bottom one which looks a bit busy.

This could all change. The frame you see is a shadow box, deep frame which won't crush the contents. They'll be behind glass, secured to the background burlap.

The strip of linen I dyed long ago.  The background fabric and linen are from a work I exhibited and am now upcycling.

This is just a way of thinking about how to do this presentation without committing to framing until it's ready.

And this may just look like a terribly messy living room.

 In fact it's two things at once: very overdue massive pruning of begonias, both of which were nearly six feet tall and staggering all over the place.

 One I grew from a single leaf, the other from a crafty cutting from a friend's house..gardener's larceny.

This little plant grew from a single leaf I pushed in at the base of the parent plant.

 Both the big plants will get their revenge by bushing out and growing rapidly to make up the shocking loss.

But it's also harvesting of plant material for my next foray into papermaking, when the weather's a bit warmer.

This pruned stuff will be cut up, cooked to a pulp, blended with abaca, to make paper. Watch this space, you'll see how.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Wool covered books in progress and an older piece

I cut the pages for two of the wool books from coffee filters.

 They're a bit brittle, probably from dyeing. And I cut card backing to reinforce the covers.  My fingers are a bit tired, so I'll wait on stitching a day or so.

But now I know how to do the Coptic binding, I can complete some other artist books I had done covers for, like the fabric ones shown with the wool books. They're 8"×7", big by comparison.

The stitching is the Japanese sashiko technique. I lined it with a Chinese brocade.  I haven't decided what kind of paper for the pages, maybe drawing quality.

And there are a couple of woven paper covers, mounted on card already. These were my own photographs, fed through a straight shredder.
You might want to try this, it's great fun.  You could use binding other than Coptic though, if you wanted to create a spine and end covers.

 You can create your own journal, or book for knitting and project notes. Or a field notebook for drawing and writing up interesting sightings from outdoors. I've made books to record gardening planting in the past, to remind myself where I'd planted perennials so as not to spade them up by mistake the following year.

I think self care includes making beautiful items for your own use.  Because you're worth it!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Three Little Books take a bow

So this is the paper thread series up to now. Signed, done.

Posing for their close-ups

Now what I learned will come with me for the next part of the project.

I need to bind the woven wool covers. I'm saying that to get myself to do it. Making pages, for some reason, puts me off. Once I start it's fine.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Paper thread books in progress. BIPS!

Spent a happy time tearing handmade paper for pages this morning and assembling signatures.

 Page edges out

Spines out

 The green paper is made from iris foliage from my front yard.

 The grey mixture paper I made nearly fifty years ago, in my college papermaking  course with wonderful artist Joan Needham. 

 It's a mixture of cotton linters, abaca and I forget what else. I notice some of the color came off on my fingers from handling it. This paper is retrieved from an old artwork which had run its course, been exhibited, and retired.

I found some antique silk threads in my stash, which will probably work well for stitching.

And since the books are jumping all over, I'm pressing them under the glass sheet on the coffee table, my go-to for pressing work, examining it without wearing it out, and for resting my teatray. Multi purpose. Later I'll do the binding.

After this I'll be figuring out pages and binding those wool covers you saw a while back before I got all into paper thread. They look big now, after working with the tiny ones.

I haven't talked much about the intent behind this series, mainly been showing process. But the intent is protest and reparations.

All my art since the disastrous presidential election has been protest. It's a determination to continue making art in the face of increasing encroachment on freedom of expression. It's to say that women can not be silenced.

 The use of paper thread, changing a commodity created at the expense of the earth into a small thing of beauty is about honoring the earth.

 The use of  cotton linters is a humble apology  to the people whose lives were destroyed by the cultivation of cotton, whose bodies were used as tools of the economy from which they were excluded. I can never use it without remembering that price, and trying to do my part in reparations. In using it with respect, not wasting even a shred.

And it's to say that power is not always about size. Small works can be powerful and significant. Humble materials, ancient skills of weaving, spindle spinning, hand stitching, are all a nod to the people who came before us.

This is what's in my mind as I work on the series. These are the goals I'm aiming for. In one sense  artworks are a byproduct, rather than the whole thing. The process of making them is a connection with the people who were there first.

And I have the luxury of making what I need to make, learning as I go, not having to make  what's required in a production process. My deadlines are upcoming exhibit opportunities, plenty of time yet to improve and make works worth looking at.

I always remember how free I am, and how I need to look out for those who aren't. The Izzy dolls are my protest against the cruel wars run by power mad men, to bring a scrap of comfort to children caught up in crisis, and to their  mothers.

This is all very heavy. But art is about coming face to face with yourself and your times. It's not all about making stuff, though that part is exciting and fun.

Back to work, chop wood, carry water, what's for lunch.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Laborious finishing of paper weaving

These paper tapestries were made before I knew about finishing using the drawn warp technique, which I am now converted to.

So the finishing was trickier, involving a fine crochet hook, and care and patience and that.

This is learning in progress, not very impressive, at least I don't think so. Maybe I shouldn't say that..

Anyway, this was a morning's work. Along with a couple of other covers.