Monday, October 15, 2018

merrily we roll along

This weekend past I managed to get one of my four "Oldies" done and ready to give away.

Where it was.

Where it is.

I also managed to straighten up the top of this little table topper and cut out a back, but I did not have enough batting to finish the job.

Must go shopping.

I've knit another strip for Phoebe's blanket. Must sew it on to existing blanket.

I've started knitting Steve a sweater. I love working with this yarn. Berroco Ultra Alpaca. It is 50% alpaca and 50% peruvian wool. Normally, I do not like working with Alpaca or Merino wool. I find they lose their shape and droop. However, this blend keeps it shape better and is very soft.

It better not pill up on me, or I will be stamping my feet at the next alpaca I meet.

Finally, I have begun work on the fabric that will be the back sides of my pocket project. This whole piece needs attention of some sort.

This should go quickly, I want only a small amount of embroidery on it.

In the fall I like a firelog in the fireplace. It isn't really cold enough for a long lasting fire. The house overheats and I end up sitting with a book in the kitchen, cooling off. A firelog is just the ticket. Little bitty flames and nice glow setting ambience while I read or knit. I have just finished two books I think worth recommending. I never buy from Amazon. I always go to one of two local book stores or buy through Abe books. There is no affiliated link but I don't know how else to get images of the book's cover.

 A Catalog of Birds

A Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington is simply lovely. Set in Finger Lakes (USA), a brother and sister are very close. They spend time in the woods. Billy teaches Nell about the birds that fascinate him, their calls and habits. Billy learns to decipher all the nuances of their calls and to draw their flight. It is the time of the Vietnam War and DDT. A few chapters in, Billy is deployed to Vietnam and we meet him at a M.A.S.H. unit and is on his way home. Billy is a ruined man, (can't give it all away) while Nell is a burgeoning adult. We watch the two as they struggle to support each other, learn to navigate Billy's wounds and grief and Nell's urgency to leave home. This book is so beautifully written about sorrow, tribulations, family tension, individual ways of dealing with tension, loss and forgiveness. I couldn't put this book down. I walked the wood paths with the siblings, felt the cold water, cried towards the end, felt the parent's anguish and guilt. Really, really good.

 The Fifth Season

The second book I strongly recommend for those who love a good fantasy/sci-fi is The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. She has won the Hugo Award twice already and I believe this book either won her a third Hugo, or has been nominated for a Hugo. It is rather hard to describe because the writing structure is very surprising. I can't figure out a way to describe it without giving it away. But what I can say is that there are people who have the ability to deeply sense the movements of tectonic plates and earthquakes and tsunamis. The land is one of many volcanoes, fault lines and (there is a technical name for this) holes in the ground that hold water or oil. Father Earth is angry with people according to the stone lore. The people who can sense the shifting of the land have become enslaved to the general population to sense these shifts and prevent actual earthquakes etc. We follow what seems like several people's lives in this culture and attempts at freedom from the enslavement. Because of the cool structure of the novel, we see various points of view, settings, communities and growing anomalies.  I was fully convinced by the world created by the author, the characters are interesting, the love/not-love struggles are surprising, love/hate/revenge/forgiveness are explored in a satisfying way and there are even being who live in stones.I read this book in three days. I even bought books two and three on speculation based on some trusted people's recommendations. A perfect winter read.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

More projects see the light of day

Weather'n nut, the title of the little embroidery is as finished as I can make it right now.

Here is a close up.

I am planning on several sheer hankies to stitch upon, so the final finish is still to come.

This little beauty, and I do think it is beautiful, was knit just in time for summer. It is a top down (as in from the neck to the hem) pattern that I figured out myself. I knew I wanted sleeveless pullover A-shape top with a short v neck. I knit both the right and left front sides on the same needles until I was an inch beyond the point of the neck, then did the same for the back. When everything was the same length, I switched it all to circular needles and sang along.

I tucked it all up in a freezer bag and stashed it behind the ground beef in the freezer. It is perfect for keeping warm but pulling off if it warms up through the day.

If it is blurry and out of focus, you can call it artistic.

I blocked it and took an artistic shot or two and now it is ready to go.

In Karen's class (see right side bar for link) we are working on pockets and embroidery and a bunch of other things. Several classes ago, I began this book of pockets. I still write letters to my dead Grandmother in law and my Godmother. I wanted somewhere to send the letters to and decided a little book of letter holding pockets for each would work nicely.

This book is for Great Grammy as I called her, because she was so wonderful to me. Everything in her life was "lilac".

Mauve toilet, sinks, and two mauve bathtubs. When we moved to Nova Scotia, I was telling this story at a gathering and a woman spoke up and said, "That was my son finding her those toilets. He nearly killed himself finding three mauve toilets!" I laughed but she didn't think it was funny. The power of mauve.

There are details to add and the backs so that pockets will form. The backs will need stitching as well.

My next big project, (it's been in the works for a few months) is to switch this blog to another spot. I have combined my comic book HotFlash Woman and her syde kik "Steamy" with Cloundmongers and Soup. I've added a gallery of images of my art and something else that I forget. Maybe poetry. But I forget.

I am hoping everything will be transferred over by the end of the month. There will be a link at the top of this blog's homepage to the new blog. I will also get more serious on Instagram. Goals, goals, goals. I hope you will join me at the new blog. What's it called? It's called Laureen van Lierop. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Photos working again

This week the computer is letting me upload images. What does it mean when the computer arbitrarily says, in a voice of doom, you can't do this?
To catch up then, knitting on Phoebe's blanket.

Hopefully this will be ready by "turning the heat on" season.

 I have also continued working on this little stitching on a sheer handkerchief. I do not love the cape that she is wearing, but also can't bring myself to pick it off. I think it will stay.

I need to add little crystal beads for raindrops and then wonder what I will do with this. Mount it or not, add it to something else, use it to wipe the sweat from my brow as I stitch?

If you have been following this blog for a while, you will know that I am a true Karen Ruane groupie. Her link is on the right hand side of this blog. She is offering a year long "Stitch Along" that has come out of the box with a boom. I no longer get upset with myself if I am not doing exactly as the class is doing. I love to watch and listen while working on my own projects. I am loving it.

Our upcoming adventure is ripping the deck of the kitchen. We've been meaning to do it for at least three years now and it really can't go another winter without total collapse. We've decided to be smart and not try to get a new deck on before snow time. We will put a few steps on so we don't have to leap down to get rid of the garbage. Getting down would be fun, but the climbing back up is tough.

It felt like a busy week last week, I had the camera going with me every where, but it seems I forgot to take any pictures. Another week, another goal....take pictures.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I was a little surprised...

I was a little surprised to see how many pictures I took last week. I thought I had nothing to show this blog post. (Well, go figure. The computer is not letting me upload the photos. I will come back this evening after the computer has had a time out to think about its behaviour and edit the post to include photos. Sorry folks)

I started this little project with no direction intended yet. I drew the girl with the mouse several years ago, then last year some modern handkerchiefs showed up in my stash. They are not modern in the sense that anyone has spent any time trying to re-imagine the handkerchief but recently sewn by machine. (hint: there's a market niche for someone, handkerchiefs for the modern man or woman)

I'm not convinced by the appliqued cape. It is supposed to be her shirt, but cape it sure looks like now. It is easy enough to pull off.

On Friday I went to a monthly meeting of the Textile Artists Collective. TAC. I think that's what the initials stand for. September is a catch up month with a lot of socializing. We also had a show and tell. I think all of us are submitting pieces to be in a side gallery of textiles in Inverness, Nova Scotia. The photos below are a selection of what will be hung.

There was quite a long discussion on prices to charge for each work. I am pretty slap-dash when it comes to pricing my work. If there is a price on it, I want it to sell. I think about who is walking into the exhibition and what the wallet will bear. Then I wonder what are the odds that my piece will sell compared to the other pieces and I come up with $0.25 cents. Then people get mad at me and tell me to stop fooling around, so I up it $75.00 and feel happy. Then people say I am undercutting the other works, so I say, what would you pay? And nobody answers.

Now, do they not answer because they don't want to hurt my feelings, or they are embarrassed by the prices they want to put on their own works? They can't decide on their own price, and want someone to say what they want to hear? Well, I don't like a lot of other people's works. I like the people, but there is a lot out there, textile, ceramic, wood, you name it, that just doesn't appeal to me. I would never buy it. So the price should be $0.00.

See. It doesn't work to get other people's opinions on what your price should be. Don't forget, there is usually a 30% commission fee for the gallery. Do the math correctly to you get the end price you want.

Then, look at the work and pretend it would sell for $500.00. How do you feel? Elated? Disappointed? Ruined?Walk away, come back. Look at it again, imagining a new price. Go up or down accordingly, until you and your stomach feel at peace together. Never mind what other people say or demand of you. The right buyer will come along and either like your price and pay happily, or phone you and try to bargain. Hang up. They aren't the right buyer.

Just to conclude this little rant or lesson (your choice) I said both my pieces weren't for sale. One is too personal and the other is earmarked for an upcoming exhibition in Halifax. I will take my chances that it will sell there. If not, I can give it to my mom. She loves my work.

On another topic, we closed up the camp. Oh sadness. The weather was lovely, the breeze lively, and the sandwiches delicious. It is always a bit of a heartbreak to close up, but around 3:00 the sun is heading down and the chill comes up. We hopped into the stuffed car, turned on the heater and were relieved that we weren't spending the night.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Urban Sketching

The camera didn't catch the glow from the Rowan berries/Mountain ash berries. Looking out my window, this tree is a real eye catcher, season after season.

Right now the Newfoundland Robins are having a huge party eating everything in sight. There are three plump fellas out there now and by the time the tree is bare of berries and leaves, there will be around 15 robins in the back yard. How they manage to fly with incredibly fat tummies is a mystery.

Last week was a very successful week but there aren't any images to show it. I managed to get back to writing twice a week, a full day each time. Hot Flash Woman is rising from the dusty shelves and I spent another whole day sorting out which publishers might want to receive which writing projects. I also managed (and this is the hardest part) to keep to my schedule. Weight lifting three times a week, Bee on Wed morning, writing two days a week, all my chores AND I washed the kitchen floor.

I belong to a local group called Urban Sketchers. Over the summer I was using two allotment gardens for my sketching inspiration. Others use the public spaces and architecture.

Link to  international Urban Sketchers (here)
Link to Halifax Urban Sketchers(here)

There will be an exhibition in October and I am putting in one piece. Luckily, the show isn't juried, so I can submit and not be refused. Isn't that nice for a change!

This is a view looking up the hill from the allotments at Gorsebrook Community Gardens.

And a close up.

This one is the inside of a dining room that is supplemental to the Lunnenburg School for the Arts. It isn't a true public space, since only students can access it by invitation.

As soon as my new credit card arrives, I can register for Karen Ruane's year long embroidery course. I usually get a lot of sketching and stitching done while watching the videos. I don't always participate in the class activities, but I love the conversation and the flickr group sharing.

This week's goals are to keep to the schedule, post a blog (check that one as done), prepare two textile pieces for another show that isn't juried, and mail off my chapter book for young readers to 6 (SIX) publishers. Go Me. And go You, with what ever you plan to do this week.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Looking behind in order to look forward

Today's post has a number of projects that need to be pruned down to only one or two. But first, a slight digression. Looking out my new studio windows, I can see the woman who keeps bees in our backyard doing some stuff with her bees. I just love these windows. I will forever.

Now, back to blogging.
These projects are from the recent past.

I often get the urge to do cross stitch around Christmas and found this kit online. The information is lost unfortunately because I remember there were a couple patterns I liked. This needs a border and being turned into a small cushion.

This is a lovely dragon I started ages ago. It is from a Baroque Pattern book that has since been returned to its owner. I have no idea what to do next. But I love it and it is staying in the pile. 

This one was interesting because of the piecing. The single repeating block is simple but it can get confusing overall to not mess up the pinwheels. I've used oldish fabrics. It is about a table topper size. I don't mind the older fabrics, but the infilling ones, especially the dark pink and the mustard green are ick. And the overall colours do not go with anything that anyone in my circle likes. I think this one has to go.
I just can not abide brown. I have a ridiculous amount of it for some reason. This is the second time I have tried to do something with brown, using red to try and give it life. Yuck. Since it is mostly random strips, I am going to add a few more to make it a small table topper and donate it to an upcoming event. In the process of assessing this project I also took my stack of browns from light to very dark and heaved 90% of it. It will also go into donation. Good. That's a plan.

This one is getting fairly old. I started it when we decided we wanted to build a bunkhouse at the camp and thought it might make a good hanging over the bed. I don't hate it, but I don't love it either. It is too representational for me. I would have to add in grasses, fore ground and back ground and something else besides the dragon flies and maybe little fish and it just becomes too much like a Northern Reflections sweatshirt. It will have to go, but I feel guilt. What is the antidote to guilt? That doesn't involve chocolate.
My Bee had a sashiko challenge. I love the blue fabric, hated the challenge. I was going to make a box to store things in and these would be the walls and base. This one will go back into the fabric stash and I will rip out the stitching if it gets in the way of another project down the line. Yahoo. Another decision.

These three are fairly small. I was playing with some new fabrics without much of an idea. I think they can go in the box of incomplete samples and be used some other time, someday. No pressure.
This little baby began life as an applique workshop with Anne Morrell-Robinson many moons ago. The stork was designed by me and i'm rather proud of it. The 4 brown coloured blocks are typical Dutch images. Actually the two carp are part of the family crest design. Here it is again with hating browns, I don't love this. But I also feel kind of proud of it. It is around 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide. I will add some traditional borders and maybe hang it somewhere. Ambivalence.


This is basically done. The one flower needs a centre, the quilt needs basting and then quilting. Again with the browns. Why???? But I do like the pattern and will tuck this one aside for working on next summer. It is small enough to fit in my lap without being too hot to work on. Which reminds me, I have a double quilt for the camp that isn't fully quilted.

The watering can pattern comes from this book, No Crows Allowed by Jill Kemp. I didn't use the corner motifs at all.

The end is approaching. I have been making circles inside of circles for ages. Why? I don't know yet.

This piece is complete. It marks the beginning of my serious interest in fooling around with randomness, circles, stitching and intersections. But the craftmanship is sub-par. It is a keeper because it contains lots of information but it isn't exhibition worthy. It needs to hang on the wall to remind me that exploration is valid.

Now this one has hung around in a box for ages. It is a double sided work, with happy whales going one way and dead whales going the other. The happy whales get kelp and other good ocean things, while the reverse gets harpoons and whaling ships. It is part of a trilogy. Dead stop. I like it and think this one needs a dedicated couple of months to pull together. None of the stitching or images are complex. Perhaps a good and long mini-series one winter will see this done. But not this winter. See above.
There is another whole stack in the attic that I just can't bring myself to get rid of. Well, actually, if I could figure out a way to get rid of the guilt of not finishing them, I could easily give them away. Hey!
I'm glad I wrote that. Clarity!
Now that I've identified what the real baggage is, guilt, maybe I can go upstairs and do it. Right now? Right now!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Back at my post

After a month at our camp that doesn't have any electricity or internet, we are back home and catching up.

I read around 30 books,
I didn't do any weight lifting or exercise,
I lifted a 15 foot log from one spot to another (Steve helped),
pulled a 150 lb. boat out of the water onto the shore, (it's Steve's boat),

and knit 3 pairs of socks.

Almost 3 pairs, the last pair is just about to see the heel turn.

We really had a wonderful month and are so lucky to be able to get away for weeks in a row.

Not having electricity and internet is such a good intervention for ourselves, and dropping deep into so many books is the best vacation in the world, I think.

This closet is the culmination of cleaning out the studio. Once again, I cleaned out fabric I didn't want, sorted it into piles and returned it to shelves, the worst of returning the studio to normal was over. I decided to take the attitude that the studio is a future looking place, not a backwards looking place. I have two piles of projects that for whatever reasons are incomplete and I am just sick of. The step with those is to either find a new home or send them along to be recycled.

Now, back to a schedule, seeing people and meeting goals. Yahoo.