Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Something completely different

I'm not much of an artist but I got out my sketchbook Saturday night and worked in a frenzy to draw special items from my childhood and teen wardrobe.
It all started a few months ago when we were watching old family movies. I saw myself in a couple of my all-time favorite outfits. Most were made by my mom. And they stuck in my mind, how much I enjoyed them and how good I felt to wear them. Well, mostly. the lace on the dotted Swiss above was a bit scratchy--but I still loved the dress and puffed out with petticoats skirt.
This is the one that triggered the sketches--my "Indian" dress. I loved this dress and was very sad when I outgrew it. I think I was four or five when I wore this colorful dress.  (Indian made more sense if you saw me in it with my long dark-brown braids.)
I wore this wool skirt in high school--no idea what with, really. I just loved the skirt. Mom made it and it fit perfectly. I may have worn it with the popular mohair sweaters.
This sheath from the 60s was worn to our Homecoming dance my senior year. I always wore it with a multistrand, multicolor long necklace of plastic beads.  I really liked this dress. Mom used this same pattern to make another dress I begged for--wonderful red velvet. I felt very grown up! (I still have it.)
The frothy pink dress above was the result of a new teenager's temper tantrum. I have to give it to mom, she bought me the dress (rare to have a store-bought dress). And it did not flatter my figure. I wore it to 8th grade graduation and I loved how it made me feel--so feminine and pretty. 

 Not at all like the beige tailored pleated skirt and overblouse she wanted me to wear (mom loved beige). Our compromise must have busted her budget--she actually bought me both dresses. I wore the dull beige dress (which I hated but was admittedly more flattering to my plump self--even at 13 I knew that) for church confirmation. (no drawing of that ensemble, although I remember it quite well.)
This was my prom dress. It's the thing I liked best about prom. My date was a cousin's cousin. My boyfriend had just broken up with me (I know now because he didn't have money to pay for prom). The dinner was exotic (the Sabre Room with the very foreign shish kabab!) and the dance so-so (I loved to dance--my date didn't) and I had my hair done (for the first time)--on top of my head in big ringlets. I felt beautiful--a rare thing.  The next day we defied my parents and skipped the beach and headed to Old Town and all of the hippie shops. (The Ps and I had a serious discussion afterward about their having forbidden this and my taking a "Ghandi" civil disobedience stance that I knew that and made my own decision, contrary to theirs, and I'd live with the consequences. There wasn't much of a  consequence that I can remember.)

This was another bought dress, with gorgeous Schiffli embroidery. It fit like a dream (I'd lost some weight my senior year, the result of endless hours of jumping rope in the basement and not eating).  I remember thinking that perhaps one day I could use it as a wedding gown. (In the end I made my wedding dress, perhaps I should draw that one, too).  I still have my prom dress, in the back of a closet with the red velvet. Every once in a while I think I should donate it, but I'm not quite ready yet.

Now that I'd got the sketching bug, I hope to keep it up. I never seem to keep the momentum going and I'm sure my skills would improve with practice.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The quilts of Addie Mangoian Davis

This weekend we had some beautiful weather to enjoy so hubby and I drove up to Highland Park to see this exhibit.  Highland Park's about 60 miles due north of us and to get there we had to drive the length of Chicago--through the city which is something we rarely do. When we got to Highland Park, it was very crowded--they were having a festival. A helpful policeman directed us around the festivities and on to a quieter area of town, only a couple of blocks away, where the Highland Park Historical Museum is. And we found a parking spot right in front!

The exhibit isn't huge, but it was well worth the drive.  For the $5 entry fee, we got to watch a taped interview with Ms Davis, tour the house and the displays, and received a brochure with discounts at local shops and restaurants.

The display was primarily the work of Ms Davis. There are a couple of traditional quilts, some very Victorian looking crazy quilts, but most of Ms Davis's quilts are more collages. They are very creative and use all sorts of interesting embellishments. She uses traditional cigar and cigarette silks, seam embellishment, buttons, and embroideries but also embroidered patches, lace doilies and hankys, vintage pins an jewelry, appliques and just about anything you can attach to fabric!

The overall effect, though, is well thought out, balanced and charming.
Each time I walked by a quilt, I saw something new. 

One surprise for me is the exquisite traditional-looking Native American beading she did. Several pieces and garments were on display.

The exhibit is accompanied by an exhibit of crochet doilies and antique crochet books and tools. A small gift shop has some lovely books, hand made needlebooks and ribbon roses, a selection of quilting supplies, fabrics and beads.  The beads were from Chelsea Beads, also in Highland Park.

We drove back down Route 41. We hadn't taken it for at least ten years and they had changed the way the route ran quite a bit. Our memory had it running much closer to Lake Michigan and coming into Lake Shore Drive at the beginning. Most of the time on the new route we were a couple of miles inland and joined up with the Drive much further south than we expected. This way was less congested and we drove through interesting neighborhoods along the way.

This exhibit is conjunction with the Northern Illinois Quilt Fest. If you're in the area, this exhibit, wihch runs through September 30th, is well worth a visit.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Not much to show this week

I'm working diligently on a number of projects I can't show yet...mostly the summer challenge for Homewood Guild. Our project this year was to use a playing card as inspiration for a needlework piece. I drew the 10 of clubs and wasn't very inspired. Now I have an idea and hope I can get it done. I also have other things I'm doing to get ready for Homewood's September meeting and some gifts for the holidays underway.
Last weekend I did work in the mornings on my Japanese embroidery piece. It's getting there...but I see something I will be ripping next time I take it out.
I stitched the last of the "pinks," the partial pink toward the bottom, and that one petal just sticks out like a sore thumb. I kind of saw it at the end of the day and wondered, but it took seeing it in the photograph to know. I also completed a lot more stems and the padding for the blue and white cording.  Boy, that petal really bugs me!

I find that with almost any project I'm working on (paper, paint or cloth) a photograph, in particular a black and white photograph, will really show me how a design is working.  It's a great reality check. 

I have a little cluster of clover leaves and stems toward the middle to complete, the blue and white cording, the "trim" on and around the brown "paper" holding the flowers and the final cording that goes over the top of the paper. I'm most worried about keeping a nice curve on that last bit of superimposed cording.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Orphan Auto Picnic

Sunday was the "Orphan Auto Picnic" organized by the Chicagoland Corvair Enthusiasts. As always it was great fun. This is one car show I like because it's at a fairgrounds that's shady and pleasant, no matter how hot it is.  We had gorgeous weather Sunday and I really enjoyed the day out.
I'm not much of a car person, not like hubby. So I generally pick something to observe. This time it was fenders and hubcaps.  The cars are all polished up bright and many have cool hubcaps.
I'm in the corner of the hubcap above
and in the fender here.
Of course, if there's a textile around, I'll find it.  This hand-quilted banner features a photo of the car on it. It was nicely done and fun to see. 

After I cruise the cars, I generally bring a project to sit in the shade and work on. We see friends there and sometimes family.  It's free and a great family event (free snowcones!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

a finish

I felted the entrelac tote this weekend and added handles.

The handles are sale handles from Homestead Heirlooms and came as a complete kit with handles, waxed thread and buttons for the back for security.

I haven't decided if I'm going to line it or add a closure of some sort. It's pretty thick.

First I put it in a mesh "delicates" bag and washed it in the washer in hot water with a load of towels. (the delicates bag helps keep the excess wool from clogging my washer.)  I tossed it into the drier with the towels. Then I refelted it by hand on my little scrub board, alternating hot and cold soapy water.  That's what really felts it, I think--the back and forth shock between hot and cold. I can also work more on areas I want thickest, like those top points. Then back into the drier.

The first felting in the washer "shrunk" the bag quite a bit.  The hand felting made it a bit shorter but the width of the bag stayed pretty much the same as after the first felting. I always find it interesting how uneven felting can be--I'd think with entrelac's bias it would be more even overall.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Crewel Friday

Some slow progress. I did not like the wussy pale yellow French knots I'd done in the upper right square so I removed them and put in bold red lazy daisy stitches. I'm still not thrilled but happier.
Then I stitched two more squares. I'm not thrilled with the one on the right but it's okay.
I'm still reading my various books. A new one arrived this week on English Embroidery. I'm feeling pretty firmly entrenched in the 17th century right now.

 I found a wonderful online embroidery resource at the Folger Shakespeare Library: The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608.  Thomas Trevelyon. This book is amazing and I've just skimmed the surface.  It has a wealth of embroidery patterns, geometric designs, illustrations, portraits, alphabets, astrology and astronomy.
In particular I love the repeat patterns and the many designs for elaborately embroidered caps, like this one I photographed at the V&A this spring.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

wooly stuff

Thisis my third completed rectangle for my office's project for Warm Up America.  This is my version of afghan crochet (I've read instructions in the past, but I didn't have any handy, so I made it up as I crocheted along--I don't think it's quite like the instructions said but I'm okay with it).
This is the front.
And this is the back--I think I like it better than the front. Variegated yarns are great motivators--I always want to see how the colors will come out in the next row.
I finished knitting the entrelac "use up the leftover yarn" tote. It has more comprehensible shape now. I plan to begin felting it this weekend.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Not been doing much stitching...

Saturday was a family party.  Here are all the girls (no pix of the boys).  My, my sister, niece #1, niece #2 and sister-in-law. The party was in honor of niece #2, just returned from several years in Japan and celebrating her 25th birthday. Now she's job hunting and settling with her husband into their home.
Evicence of my sister's green thumb. (I love the foot that crept into the photo)
Niece #2 brought this book back from Japan for me. It's from Kurenai Kai (Japanese Embroidery School) (I am sooo jealous!) It's a pattern book.
As I said in the title, not much embroidery (at least that I can show). I did make this Kanzashi pin for my sister's birthday (belated, as usual).
And I took my avocado "dyed" fabric out of the jar. I didn't see any change at all from the last time I stuck the fabric in a jar with avocado pits in boiling water. sigh.  No bright colors on my silk.  I'm going to let it sit a few days then iron it then wash it and iron it again. It's got a bit more color than this photo shows. Two tints of pale peach. For now the pits are going into the food-waste bin.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Camp Quality

Camp Quality was Friday. The weather was beautiful. The kids were great! 
This is pretty much what it feels like--a blur as campers wait for instruction and we try and sort things out and get class going.
We had a great group of students stop by.
A proud camper with his finished letter.
After camp a couple of friends and I went to Yarns to Dye For & More in Frankfort. I got this very interesting ribbony mesh "yarn" to make a flouncy scarf. I had several rows knit but decided it would take too much of the fancy yarn so I ripped it out and began alternating it with plain yarn. The more spaced-out flounces show up better.  After stocking up on yarn, we had lunch at the Pickwick Society Tearoom a couple of blocks away. Lunch was very good.  On the way back to the car we poked into a few of the shops that line Frankfort's streets. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Crewel Friday

Here are some of my line stitches and my first two fillings.  I'm not thrilled with the one on the right. The one on the left is actually a Japanese pattern--tie-die effect.  Now that I've shown I can do the laid ground, I think I'm going to do the rest of the fillings without the stitched ground. It'll go a lot faster.
And I began the second pocket. I made notes on what I want where and then used some of the plain and wrapped line stitches for the stems. 

I'm also still reading. I'm trying to be more focused and transcribing some notes and quotes into a Word file to use to write up something. The more I read, the more amazed I am that at a time of all of this very fine and delicate silk and metal thread embroidery, these huge wool designs were stitched. I wonder if some stitchers made both, like I would...the fine work when I have time, energy and good light and the large, useful (mostly bedhangings remain) wool designs when I need a change of pace.

Today is Camp Quality. I'm off with the kids and our nautical flag project.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More avocado experiments

In the summer we eat a lot of avocados and I've been saving the pits.
For my first experiment, I just left them on the counter to dry. This time I froze them in quarters. The color in the pits is a lot brighter. I also peeled them but I'm not sure if this is good or bad.  One that I froze unpeeled was a lot brighter than the others when I did peel it (upper left). I hope the brighter color in the pits translates into stronger color on the silk. My first try is here. I'm not using the old silk crepe this time--it's just too fragile.
Here are my filled jars. I wrapped the avocado pieces in the silk from my first try and stuffed it into the jars and poured in boiling water. I'm hoping for a more mottled effect rather than an overall color. They're stewing on the back porch right now...Perhaps the silk will become folded flowers.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

a bit of stitching

A lot of what I'm doing now is for upcoming Homewood Embroidery Guild programs that I can't share yet, but I did get some other stitching done last week...
I went to the First-Thursday Japanese embroidery class and finished all of my Iris leaves, the last of the Valerian stems and one clover leaf. 
This is what I did in the hospital waiting room. It looks like a lump of yarn now but in the end it will be (yet) another felted entrelac bag.  I'm using up leftovers from the large tote, shown here.
On our girls' day out last week, I got two Clover tools for making Kanazashi, folded Japanese flowers. I got some pink hemp-leaf patterned cotton (a traditional Japanese pattern) to use to try them out. I added felt leaves and buttons from my stash. The thread's still attached because I still need to add pin backs to them.  The round petal flower was quicker and easier than the pointed one, but they really were pretty quick and easy. Clover's instructions are good.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Busy Week

This has been a very busy week. Hubby had minor surgery on Monday, came home Tuesday. He's fine, going crazy healing (which is a good sign).  All's well. 

Yesterday we had a great girls' day out. Today was Japanese embroidery. In between all of this, the only photos I have are from our day yesterday.

We had these yummy cupcakes in Wasco, Il (I can't remember the name of the coffee shop--they were really nice and the cupcakes were great!)  Below is Nancy modeling her new lacy beaded sweater. It is really sweet.

We had a great lunch at Rx Cafe in St. Charles, IL--tapas! Then we visited Wool and Company (almost next door to the Cafe, Designer's Desk in nearby Geneva, then we drove over to Lisle to visit Pieceful Heat Fabrics. We browsed and bought (mostly me). I got threads for a needlepoint project, sock yarn for a friend and as a gift, and Clover templates to make folded flowers.
Here's a closeup of the sweater with the beaded yoke.
These sweet treats from Japan were provided by ...
My niece who is finally back from a few years in Japan--a new addition to our Girls' Days!