Thursday, May 29, 2014

Viewing Art

The mosquitoes have arrived, so this weekend we visited the Brauer Museum of Art on the campus of Valparaiso University in Indiana. It's a lovely small gallery in a interesting arts building.
 They allow photos if you don't use flash.  The sweet Chagall above is on display with other pieces by various artists that have been added to the Museum's permanent collection. We both were very fond of this piece. 
 The main gallery has an exhibit by two local artists called Parallel Pursuits. Tom Brand (above) and Carol Stodder (below).
 This painting was part of a one-person show in a smaller gallery. The artist is Eleanor Lewis.
 I think the piece below is by Tom Brand but I have to admit I don't know for sure.
We enjoyed the long holiday weekend. I did some work on long-term projects, like the EGA Challenge and the Hardanger table cloth and the red knit scarf. Nothing to show, just more of the same. 

On Memorial Day visited the nearby cemetery where many of Steve's family are (my family is further away, we do generally get over there once a year or so). I counted this year as we walked from place to place, and with family, friends, and parents of friends, we cleared off 16 head stones (I'm saying we, but he wielded the weed whacker and did all the work). 

For years we'd thought that the tradition of visiting the cemetery on Memorial Day had died out--we'd go, usually late in the afternoon, and be the only people there. Of our family and friends, we're the only ones I know who keep the tradition.

This weekend we learned the habit is still strong, but our timing was off. We went in the late morning, just in time to catch the tail end of the huge multi-generational crowd that was dispersing after the Memorial Day field mass. Many were lingering, clearing headstones and chatting quietly.  It was nice to see and know we're not alone in our remembrances.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Embroidery Consequences

Each year the Homewood Embroiderer's Guild has a summer challenge project. This year was my turn to provide the challenge and I copied an idea I saw on Under a Topaz Sky's blog here. The blog post was about a challenge her guild had. I thought it was a wonderful idea, so I borrowed it.
For our group I made up little pads from pretty scrapbooking paper, with each page being a bit offset from the one below. On each I wrote a category. At our meeting earlier this month we passed them around, each person filling in a size, passing it, shape, pass it on, color, pass, etc.  Since the pages were offset, you couldn't see what others had written. Once it was done, they were all put into a box and each member drew one. 

I included a written handout explaining the idea and the fact that you don't have to use all seven options--just five will meet the challenge.

I wasn't sure how it would work, but I've heard from a few people who liked it and have found some ideas percolating already. 

I think I know what I want to do.  Nothing will be seen until the "reveal" at our September meeting.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Finally, some needlework

I finally received an e-mail about the EGA Challenge with a Twist and learned I had never received the initial letters about it that should have come upon registration. I have them all now and have begun seriously working on my project.
I decided that I wanted to experiment with sheers so I bought a selection of 1/8 yards at Jo-Ann's, along with some 1/4 yards of solid-color cottons in sky, water, sand, and grass shades. 

I dug out of the boxes downstairs a berry basket full of silk threads (with very 1970s cloth lining with lace and a velvet bow). This came to me from the estate of a friend, Rita Kortenhoeven. An amazing embroiderer, and before her time in many ways, Rita used these silks to make lovely pendants with delicate silk embroidered flower sprays.  She made them into oval shapes and did all the finishing herself. When she could find them to purchase, she'd finish the pendants with a dangle made with Swarovski crystals, long before the crystals were commonly used by embroiderers. I was given her silks and also her book of patterns and design ideas. A treasure!

And a bit daunting. I've always wanted to use the silks, and have on rare occasion, but felt like I wanted Rita to be proud of their use. But I also didn't necessarily want to follow in her footsteps and make pendants (which I suspect she would really have liked me to do).  This project feels right.
I began a notebook. I still haven't settled on a preferred design so I'm still working with all three. I kind of find them feeding off each other.  The cover is the EGA announcement with works by Judith Baker Montano.
I put my printed images in the book, some using PhotoShop filters to enhance certain aspects (the outlines, the shapes, the areas of color) along with a design sketch (that I'll use to transfer the design to fabrics) and also detailed notes about fabrics, stitches, etc.  

I plan to used pieced fabrics with sheers and embroidery for the pieces.  I began putting together some samples--sky, water, near bushes and grasses and far trees and grasses.  The sheers are not a lot of fun to work with but I think it will give me the effects I want.
In going through mom's boxes recently, we found an item I'd forgotten.  Our wedding announcement. I still really like it.  I purchased it through the Abbey Press, which is still in business.  Mom had several copies (I hadn't kept any), along with the list of people she sent them to. She also had my sister and brother's more formal wedding invitations and programs. We all had great wedding celebrations that are fun to remember.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

More nature--and industry

This past weekend we continued our nature walks. On Saturday we went to Goodenow Grove in Crete, part of the Will County Forest Preserve District. We hadn't been there for many years and found the nature center greatly expanded with a very helpful and knowledgable naturalist on hand. They have some birdfeeders out back and pipe the birdsong into the center--it's just wonderful.
We walked along a short pond trail and found some new and interesting plants, like Wild Hyacinth, and some old friends. Spring Beauties formed lush rings around the base of nearly every tree.  We asked about a new-to-us plant. It looked rather like an unopened May Apple, but with separate leaves. Turns out it was baby Poison Ivy.

On Sunday the weather was perfect!  We went out to the only Railroad Cloverleaf in America. The cloverleaf works like expressway entrances and exits.  We watched this miles-long (that plural is correct) train go from the west to the north, winding around the curving cloverleaf without having to stop and switch.  The overlook is out at the edge of Park Forest and Matteson and was very interesting. I believe it was a joint venture between Park Forest and the EJ&E Railway (Elgin, Joliet and Eastern).
There were a number of wildflowers and weeds growing. The sight has a long ramp leading up to a lovely overview platform. It has a roof and is shady and high enough for nice breezes.  A gentleman was there with his tiny granddaughter--introducing her to his love of trains. He brought a picnic for them.  We got to talking and it turns out he's from Lansing originally and he and my husband knew many of the same people.  We had a lovey conversation.
This weekend I had more energy (finally, work's been calmer) and I got some chores done, laundry caught up, in addition to our restorative outdoor walks. I also, finally, was able to focus on some needlework.

I've also been delving into family history. My grandfather was a railroad man, with the Norfolk and Western. We recently came across a bunch of pins that were my grandmother's, from the ladies' auxiliary of the main railroading union (I can't recall which one).

Monday, May 19, 2014

Out and About in Nature

Sorry for the long silence. Work got very busy with long, long days for a while there. I've been trying to focus on resting and reviving my energy on weekends. To help, we've been trying to take weekend walks in nature. A few weeks ago we went out to Bailey at the Indiana Dunes for a spring wildflower walk.
We saw this corkscrewed tree near the entrance. I assume it was an insect infestation of some sort that caused it.
Mrs. Bailey's hyacinth's still bloom after 150 years!  (We're not there they were hers, there were a couple of other farms in the area, but many around around the Bailey homestead and we like to think of them as hers.
The May Apples were getting ready to bloom. Their single white blossom is sheltered under the canopy like leaf.
Spring Beauties were everywhere. We also saw Trout Lilies, Jack-in-the Pulpits, violas and violets, Trout Lilies, Toothwort, and Bloodroot. And a critter--a woodchuck or muskrat (he was in some bushes to it was hard to tell).  We watched each other for a bit and then he waddled off.

I'm really enjoying our walks this year and finding them very restorative.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I did it!

I did it--I stitched the Kloster blocks all around and they matched at the final corner. I was very impressed with my younger self, that I did so much stitching in a new technique so accurately. I took this picture with the piece in my lap, just after taking the final stitch.
Now it will probably be on the back burner, blog wise. Endless Ships, Faggoting, and Eyelets. I'll let you know when I begin cutting.
So, I began a new project, in conjunction with my EGA chapter's crazy quilting ideas classes. I recently posted about a crazy quilting project I'm planning here.  When I got that silkie and fabrics, I also bought a kit to make three ornaments. I know I get smaller projects done more quickly and I often use them go get me into the mood to tackle something bigger in that technique.

 I'm even sadder now to see Evening Star Designs go out of business--her instructions are fabulous!  Above is #1 completely pieced.  I probably shouldn't have cut it out, but I couldn't quite get my head around the diamond shape. The basting is the stitching line.
This is #2 pieced, with the cutting line and seam line basted.
Number 3 is just getting under way.
Here's the cover from the kit. She includes a piece of firm paper with a shape to trace and a cut out window to use for creating your own center if you don't use a silkie, all materials, including the cording and plenty of coordinating fabrics, and those wonderful detailed instructions.
Basking a bit in that completed corner.