To sew or not to sew

How many times over the last 15 years have I vowed not to make my own clothes?

Alanna enjoys window shopping in Northern Italy
While living in Italy, interesting clothing options popped from every shop window. Why do I need to sew with so many fabulous options nearby?

While focusing on art quilts, accepting reluctantly that there are only 24 hours in a day. Why would I neglect my fiber art?

Then reality hits: Italian fashions are often too short for my limbs, too expensive for my budget.

I find fabulous fashion fabrics that I definitely want in my life! So much for my vow not to sew my clothing. Temptation and opportunity lure me back into paper patterns and fitting sessions. So the zig zag continues. I enjoy sewing my own clothes.

Last winter, I vowed to update my wardrobe with clothing purchases. Shuffling through Boston’s dressing rooms yielded more skinny jeans (yawn!) that stuck to my calves when I stood up. The color palettes suited winter or summer complexions, but not this contrasting persimmon autumn. Really? Can’t I find interesting clothing that fits my lifestyle? What to do?

Summer arrived and favorite duds came out of boxes to save the situation(many of them made by me!). My vow to update my wardrobe pops into my mind as the fall/winter fashions hit the news stands and shop windows. In October, I will buy some new clothes.

During the studio move, all of my wonderful fashion fabric passed through my hands. Scrumptious.

Oh, yes, I will sew this fall.

A Winter Felting Wonderland

springhillside

I love to wet or nuno felt outdoors on a hot summer day. It’s a great alternative to sailing if there’s no wind.  April 1, 2016, would have been a good day to felt even if it wasn’t hot. Spring flowers dotted my garden and the temps indoors and out were identical. Wet felting in my swimsuit was unlikely, but the weather was great. My felting appointment was on April 3.  That same hillside looked like this…
grapehyacinthsnow
At least my faithful feline fiberista was ready to participate, as long as the felting session was indoors.

Studio Assistant

What a delight to open the merino roving that just arrived from New England Felting supply.
roving

Faithful feline assistant approved. She jumped onto the base layer, watching the colors surround her. Covering a chunk of kitchen counter, the layers of wool put up with a lot of tapping, kneading and tossing. At this point, feline fiberista headed to the couch. Soap suds covered the kitchen cupboards.
Feline Felter

I’ll let you see what it becomes later this month…

 

Comparative Art Forms: A Week of Inspiration

Comparative Art Forms: A Week of Inspiration

In a season known for gratitude, events this week permeated my heart with thankfulness. It all began last Wednesday, when the Museum of Fine Arts Textile and Costume Society friends met for an evening of contemporary art. Tomie Nagano and Marilyn Pappas shared works in progress and outlined their work flow.

Long an admirer of Tomie’s quilts, the peek behind the stitches was much anticipated. However, Marilyn’s embroidery and collage were new to me. I am now completely a fan. While their creative process varies tremendously, both artists devote copious time to each piece. Clearly both women savor the process despite the gradual, meticulous nature of their media.

Tomie collects used textiles from Japan (fortunately, she says, this started when few appreciated the gorgeous silk kimono and obi or the cost would have been prohibitive!). Seeking to create an emotion, she cuts narrow strips, creating traditional patchwork blocks. She decides the size of her work, places each strip and block, numbers it all. Next, Tomie organizes each block into layers laid out in boxes, separated by tissue paper. Hand stitching and hand quilting the entire work, she methodically moves through the process. Her current project is enormous!  A silk quilt displayed for us on her bed simply shimmered. This was one of the many advantages of the evening being hosted at Tomie’s home. I do love viewing bed quilts on a bed. Not to knock displaying bed quilts on a wall, but it’s a different experience.

Marilyn’s approach is more free form and yet equally time consuming. Her early work included textiles, but for many years, collage was a favorite mode of expression. Inspired by classical sculpture, she draws a rough outline on linen and begins to paint with one or 2 strands of cotton embroidery floss. The shading, the vivid dimensionality, the sheer quantity of stitches is mind boggling. She brought several pieces from her History Lessons series. We are not talking about small works of art.  The torsos are often life size.

Can I ever embroider again without thinking of her?

Image of Tomie Nagano buffet MFA textile costume society After feeding our souls with their creative energies, Tomie led us to a magnificent buffet that she had prepared for the group. From the sushi rolls, stuffed avocados to delicious salads, the table was a visual and gustatory delight.  A quick camera phone photo could only capture half of the bounty! A thank you note felt so flimsy after Tomie and her husband offered such hospitality. I am truly grateful for the evening.

Italian ceramics provided a glorious setting for Giardini di Sole’s Meet and Eat this week. Giardini di Sole curates a collection of beautiful and useful Italian home dec and garden tableware, lighting and stone tables (simply beautiful things! And in all transparency, I assist with their marketing and events). Goddess of hospitality, Josephine Wennerholm prepared multiple examples of starters, salads, main dishes and desserts with Elatia Harris of Lucy’s Mom Cuisine. The lively crowd left satiated both spiritually and physically! Jo believes in the ties created by sharing a meal. I know that nothing can be more inspiring than happy people enjoying and a good time together.

Each of us has the creative spirit, expressed in all kinds of ways (providing that we take time to listen). In the knitting classes I lead, the creation process simmers, coming alive in stitches or in thoughts while knitting. This week, we celebrated many new finished objects. What joy when your first knit sweater looks great on your tot or you wrap your first scarf around your neck! How stunning to see the color combinations felted into tote bags. What a vision when a beautiful scarf catches my breath as a knitter walks into the room. How cozy winter evenings will be with that newly completed afghan. I’m delighted to see their accomplishments.

As Fred Wiseman noted in his question and answer session at Sunday’s MFA showing of National Gallery, his documentary was a study of comparative art forms. My week was a study of creative expression. From stitches to squash, ice crystals to philosophical notes, I’m grateful for the perspicacity in my life.

Wearing scarves: I eat my words

As a young professional, I went to a party a color palette party. This “party” made me feel pretty ancient. Where were the festivities, random uninhibited behavior, general raucousness? There must have been something in the punch, as I left having purchased a style advice session.

I learned not to wear navy blue (whoops, everything in my wardrobe needed replacing). Green, turquoise and purple were fab color options for me… huh. The style advisor also advocated scarves.

That was the limit. Scarves? No way! Only Lucille Ball and old ladies wear scarves.

This advice simmered as I romped Italy for a decade. It began to boil as I set down roots in New England. Chomp, chomp, nom, I eat my words. I wear scarves frequently in almost any color except navy blue.

As I researched a post on an Emilio Pucci exhibit, I watched the Spring Summer 2015 runway show, I loved how the models wore scarves as necklaces…

There’s time this winter to cut gorgeous length of silk into necklace lengths! In the meantime, we’ll need to keep our necks warm with gorgeous textiles in knit and woven shapes of all kinds. Thought I’d share this fun video with you.

I’ve eaten my words. Scarves aren’t just for old ladies any more.

#AskACurator from Fiber Art Now

Just had to share some of the content compiled by Fiber Art Now after their Twitter chat on September 17, 2014.

Textilfilia applauds Fiber Art Now Ask A Curator Day

Ask a Curator Day, September 17

As I can’t seem to embed this directly into my blog, let me link you to the Storify page, which has some great contemporary and historic textile photos from museums.

Thanks, Fiber Art Now for organizing this chat. Their quarterly magazine does more than make up for the disappearance of FiberArts Magazine in 2011 (why Interweave dropped it? So a dynamite global woman could make it better, I guess!).

Crochet Circular Cast on

Crochet Circular Cast on

The intoxicating inspiration of FiberCamp 2014 spawned new project ideas, friendships and improved techniques in crochet, sewing and knitting.

In heady fumes of the moment, I imagined writing several blog posts about the weekend. In reality, I’ve only written on Tactile Travel. Erin from Knitting in Beantown has a lovely round up from her perspective.  Any one else? I’d love links to your impressions.

One of the weekend highlights was the Designer Showcase, organized by Julia Farwell-Clay. The Guild did a fabulous job spotlighting this Handknit Runway. Now that I’m finally writing, I’m sure I could go on and on and on…

Stop.

Today I want to share the great way Jennifer creates a circular start in crochet. I’ve traditionally started granny squares or other circular items by chaining a few stitches, linking the chain to create a circle, then beginning the first round. There’s always been a gap in the center of the circle, but Jennifer’s method makes a nice tight beginning. Watch this!

P.S. Jennifer, if you have a web site or other way we can credit you, shout it out!