Sunday, December 13, 2009

Letting go...

Anne asked for a photo of me wearing the stole. Here are some we took this morning on our front porch. And just for fun, I took a photo looking down at all the beads!

I'll be mailing the stole to Anne tomorrow (Monday) and it will arrive in time to be worn for the Winter Solstice service at Edmonton City Hall, 7 PM, December 21st. Wish I could be there!

Always at the end of a big project like this when I have experienced the ebb and flow (highs and lows) of the creative process, there is a period of "letting go"...a separation time. I'm lucky to have all these experiences!

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The stole is finished!

Here it is...the completed stole. I decided not to embellish with trees afterall. The image became quite abstract--almost as tho' the materials dictated the outcome! I decided that adding trees would be an attempt to make this a more realistic portrayal rather than the abstract image that it has become.

The piping is made from some sparkling green organza, and the lining comprises several scarves plus a pashmina shawl. One scarf was a souvenir from the Edmonton Folk Festival which I laid over the pashmina in the neck and shoulder area for reinforcement. Amongst the ties and scarves sent to me was a charming little Chinese embroidery, and I had the bright idea this morning of converting this into a pocket on the lower inside lining. On the other side is another pocket made from two scarves with musical notes. Anne can use these for a kleenex, key, card...?

I did create an image of the full moon on the back using a little lame and organza--this is one of the few decisions made at the outset that I kept!

I spent a pleasant hour this afternoon drinking tea and chatting with a friend while she was knitting, and I sewed on a multitude of beads to add a little more sparkle. It was a delightful way to finish off the stole.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

To continue...

It was high time I put the two halves of the stole up on the design wall to have a good look at it vertically. Here's an image of the stole from a distance and up close.
Now to decide on the embellishment...beads have been suggested for some sparkle...the piping might have some sparkle too. I've pretty much decided against using any organza overlays as I did in the sample. I'm happy with the way the yellows and greens glow...
Thanks for all your comments whether made publically on this blog or privately to me in person or by e-mail. All remarks are welcome and grist for the mill. It's encouraging to know I have interested readers!

Friday, December 4, 2009's coming together!

I've had a great start. Amazing what energy I felt in my tidy studio...all the appropriate materials sorted and ready to use. Above are three images of the stole in progress. You can see that I started by laying down a narrow strip of yellow, and on the right moved into reds, blues and greens. On the left moved into greens and blues. I think I'm making peace with the theme, and am comfortable with not trying to depict northern lights realistically. Whether I use organza overlays as I did in the samples I posted yesterday remains to be seen. For now, I'll let this rest while I go to the opening of the Artsolutely show tonight...and will be back at this project with renewed energy tomorrow and Sunday.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tidied up...

Ah, much better! My materials are organized and I can think straight again.

Getting to work!

I thought I'd start by showing you some images of my studio at the moment...what a mess! I woke up at 4:30 AM today thinking I need to tidy up before doing anything more.
In the background on the wall you can see the samples I've done so far. I started by sorting the materials (ties and scarves) into colour groups of reds, yellows, greens, and blues. Then I cut a narrow bias strip from each and used my favourite bias strip piecing technique on a cotton foundation.
Each sample has overlays of organzas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This Creative Process...

Ah, the wonders of the creative process...periods of intense activity followed by lots of contemplative time. This "down time" is a very important part of the process, and over the years I have come to appreciate that I can't rush this sub-conscious phase. It's a time of pondering challenges, thinking about technical issues, or just searching or even waiting for inspiration. I am definitely in the sub-conscious phase at the moment with respect to this stole. I have so appreciated all the comments and feedback so far. Lorian's comments about the "lines" of northern lights (short verticals creating a horizontal sweep) got me thinking about the challenges of interpreting these magnificent spectacles in fabric...and yes, even the audacity of trying to do so! Well, I'm over the feeling of "how dare I?" now (that didn't last very long--just a brief couple of hours in the middle of the night earlier this week--isn't that when any issue looms larger?) Now I'm into more practical contemplation of the technical challenges that may lie ahead. Meanwhile I've had to shift gears into high production to get ready for upcoming Christmas sales. I find that sewing, pressing, and knitting are great times for thinking through some other issues--while I'm stitching on something for the sales my mind is in neutral, a wonderful time for inspiration to strike. Next week I expect to play around with various materials and samples and I will post images here. Thanks especially to Anne for your support and enduring confidence!

For those of you in the Okanagan, come to the Artisan's Faire at the Vernon Lodge this Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, I'm setting up a booth at the Vernon Arts Centre in Polson Park and will be there for the month of December. I have some interesting jackets (which I call "cardi-shrugs" because they're like a shrug but also similar to a cardigan) and lots of handknit scarves for sale this year. I also have a few interesting felted and knit bags.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another design...

Anne replied today, saying that
"in true Unitarian fashion" different parts of each design appealed to her. She liked the front aurora design of stole 1 and the back collar of stole 2 (especially the moon!) She liked the lighter and thinner trees on stole 3.
So, I've combined those elements into what you see here.
I will be using overlays of organzas to get the desired colours; this will make the fabric aurora shimmer and shine. As for the trees, I will decide that at the end. Some experimentation with appliqued fabric and thread will be in order.
Thanks for your feedback and comments. Glad to know I have some readers!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Potential Designs for the Stole

In an earlier e-mail to Anne, I suggested she search for images with phrases such as "winter night sky" and "aspen trees in winter". She replied that when she did this, she realized that the northern lights really caught her eye. That really opens up the design possibilities. Northern lights have long fascinated me, but unfortunately I don't live far enough north to see them often. However, a few years back I experimented with layers of organzas and lots of stitching to see if I could re-create my own aurora borealis. Here's the result: I sent this image to Anne, and she replied that my image was right on. They get some awesome northern lights in northern Alberta. So with that, I got out my coloured pencils and several photos of northern lights and went to work. I discovered in my research that green is the most common colour for aurora borealis and red is the most rare. Here are the sketches that Anne is pondering now. Which one do you prefer and why?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A new stole in the making...

I'm excited about my next commission for a liturgical stole. This one is for Rev. Anne Barker who was installed on October 24, 2009 as minister of Westwood Unitarian Church in Edmonton. I suggested that neckties and scarves be collected from the congregation, and that perhaps these could be used somehow during the installation ceremony.
Here's Anne's description: "We collected the fabrics at the "Installation Service". In the written Order of Service, we called one section "the fabric of community" and Lorian explained that the collected scarves/ties would be used to create a stole that reflected the very fabric of our community ... and that it would be first worn at our Winter Solstice Service (Dec 21) at Edmonton's City Hall. During the 'charge to the minister', our religious educator read words from the children about "how to be a good minister" ... things like "try to be awesome!" ... while the children themselves draped and tied the scarves/ties all around/over me."

And then on October 27th I received the package of scarves and ties in the mail, and spread them out on a table. There is a lot to work with in this collection! There are florals, geometrics, birds, music, rainbow colours--in fact, all colours are represented although there aren't a lot of brights.
In the conversation I had with Anne about her vision for the stole, the following ideas came up...Winter Solstice, cold, frozen, brilliant blue night sky with sparks of light, naked frozen trees, aspens with skinny empty branches...blues and purples....
Now to get to work on some designs... I plan to post my ideas on this blog so you can follow along!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Two of my favourite activities

I spent last weekend in Kimberley teaching a couple of workshops, one knitting and the other sewing. This is the "contemplative knitting" group many of whom are very involved in the shawl ministry at the Kimberley United Church. Some exciting connections were made during the day with members of other congregations and neighbouring towns which fits with my philosophy of how we can knit our communties together!
I first taught "Purls of Wisdom--the Joys of Contemplative Knitting" at Naramata Centre with my friend and fellow fibre artist Margie from Edmonton in 2007. We were invited back in 2008 and are thrilled to be invited again August 8 - 14, 2010. The theme of the week is "network"--how perfectly the knitting of prayer shawls fits that theme!
The other workshop in Kimberley was for quilters--the morning was spent learning how to use the bias of neckties to advantage creating gentle curves. What better use for ties! I love to sew with neckties, especially when creating a liturgical stole. Most of the people in the group were familiar with the stoles I'd made for the minister of Kimberley United church, and this was an opportunity for them to see how I'd created the stoles. The afternoon was another favourite topic of mine--sewing with layers of sheer fabric, achieving a painterly effect--fooling the eyes into mixing colours.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Making a difference

I was thinking about this posting as I hung out the laundry last night. I love hanging out laundry! And this year for the first time I'm going to be able to hang out laundry all year round thanks to lines that Lloyd has strung under the roof of our back porch. Coincidentally, this is also a national day of action for the 350 movement....see I signed the pledge to stop using the clothes dryer as one significant action that I am going to take to reduce greenhouse gases. Hanging out laundry is much more creative than dumping the clothes into the dryer. I'm not consuming any gas or electricity plus I get to sort by colour, size and shape...a very creative endeavour! Plus I like the flutter in my belly from giving everything a good shake before pegging it to the line!
We humans are creative by nature but within the last 50 years or so, many of us have lost that impulse opting to be consumers instead. What's creative about that? We now have more leisure time, and how do many people use that time? They go shopping. Wow. I hang up laundry, I cook, I sew, I knit... and sometimes I do housework...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I tried something new last Saturday--I took some yarn and needles into the movie theatre and knit a scarf while watching Tosca! I've turned into an opera fan thanks to the Met Opera's live transmissions. And I surprised myself by being able to knit a garter stitch scarf in the dark by feel. I had chosen two chunky yarns and knit them together on 10 mm needles. By the end of the three hour production I had a rudimentary scarf. Thanks to 2 intermissions I was able to check for any dropped stitches and correct them...and there weren't many. In fact I could feel when I was going astray by noticing only one strand of yarn on the needles rather than two. The first time this happened was when the evil Scarpia was trying to seduce Tosca. I was thinking how close the passions of lust, love, and hate are when he sang about the "spasms of hate, spasms of love" and my fingers seized up...I had to take a break from knitting, this was just too much!

Later when I got home, I cast off and deliberately dropped three stitches to create ladders.

This lightened the feel of the scarf making it lacy and improved the drape. The fringe finished it all off.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Knitting and Stitching a Creative Life

To be happy in life one must have a passion...mine is fibre. It feeds my soul...whether it be yarn, fabric or thread. Knitting is a way of centering...meditating and problem solving. I'm especially content when knitting with intention, imbuing each stitch with love and affection. It's then very powerful to literally wrap someone in prayers of hope and peace. A prayer shawl is the perfect way to do that--socks are another.

I love to coordinate a group in knitting prayer shawls. At the top of this posting is one knit by about 25 friends of my neighbour.