Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Deacon Stole is Taking Shape

I am thrilled to be back in my studio creating a Deacon stole for Lent.
At the end of November I was contacted by Jann Brooks, asking if I made Deacon stoles. Here is her inquiry in part:
"Hi Janet!  I saw your work on line and had tears in my eyes I loved it so much!
I am to be ordained a Permanent Deacon into the Anglican Church of Canada (Diocese of Niagara) on Jan. 29.  I too love fibre--I love to spin my own yarn from fleece and then MUST spend at least an hour knitting per day or I get the shakes!"

In a subsequent email, Jann told me a little more about herself, namely that her ministry is to The Mission to Seafarers in Southern Ontario, and she is Chaplain to the port of Hamilton.  She goes onto the big ships in the harbour, and that her work clothes include a pink hard hat and pink work boots! 

So, we're off to a good start.   Not only do I get to work in my favourite colours (purples) but I am creating this for a fellow fibre enthusiast.

I pulled out my purple boxes...

And selected some likely candidates...
The ties at upper right are potential piping materials.

Then created a couple of designs...

Jann chose the more dramatic version on the right.  I started work yesterday, cutting the strips in preparation for piecing...

Then started piecing....

Today, I finished the piecing, and will soon trim the edges, and sew the shoulder seam.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Playing catch-up! Images of the finished stole

I finished Jodi's stole several weeks ago, and mailed it off.  Here are images of the completed piece!

A joyous Jodi on her ordination day 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Continuing to stitch...

Jodi's stole is coming together nicely.  After deciding on the general flow of line, the first strip was laid down on the foundation fabric.  I chose to start with one of the gold ties.

Next step was to stitch down the subsequent strips of ties...
And to continue stitching with the variety of reds...
And at this point, I considered the front to be almost completely pieced.  Here are some detail views showing how I managed to incorporate some interesting motifs from a couple ties, notably one of school kids and their teacher, and another of nutcrackers...
...and a tie with a motif of candles and another of tonic bottles...
At this point, I left the piece on the table while I pondered how to approach the centre back design.  I knew I wanted to incorporate the candle motifs, and the technical challenge was how to integrate the back with the fronts.  I am on the way to resolving this technical issue, and today worked out the centre back design.  I was pleased to incorporate a very tricky fabric, Jodi's grandfather's tie which is falling apart.  I covered it with a fine netting and used it to frame the candle motif at centre back.
Look at the edges of the striped tie that is framing the motif to see the netting covering the damage.
The piece for the two fronts is now cut in half, ready to work on the next challenge of completing the piecing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A New Stole is Designed

A few weeks ago I received an inquiry from Jodi Keith of Cincinnati, OH (see Pastor Jodi's Blog) asking about a red stole for her upcoming ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. After a few emails back and forth about how many ties to collect, her ordination date was confirmed and the commission was set in motion.  Jodi collected ties from her family and friends, and I received them last week all neatly packaged and labelled.

I love to know where the ties have come from, and if some have more significance than others.  This helps guide my design process.  The ties aren't always a great fit for either the colour or design of the finished stole, however I can always find a place for that special tie.  For this project I have a unique challenge--working in a navy striped tie that was Jodi's grandfather's.  He wore it when he and her grandmother were married on October 20, 1930. The special challenge is that it has started to fall apart--I suspect the silk is weighted and thus deteriorates over time.

Even though this doesn't fit the colour scheme (red) and is damaged, I have an idea of how to deal with this, and will write about solutions in a later post.

Here is the collection of ties, washed and pressed.  This also includes a gorgeous pieces of red shantung silk that is a great addition.

My ideas for the design start to percolate while I'm washing and ironing the ties.  This is a good opportunity to look at all aspects of the tie, from the condition (stained? holes?) to the fabric design. Often a motif on a tie will suggest a design--two of the ties in this collection have potential in that regard, for example this tie with candles...

and another with school kids...

I then get my coloured pencils out and start playing with lines of colour, in this case red, red-orange and gold.  Here are sketches #1 and #2...

And #3 and #4....

Jodi prefers the flow of line in #1 and the back from #4, so that's where I'm starting.

Something new in this  process is that Jodi will be responding to my posts on her blog (Pastor Jodi's Blog).  Jodi is also a knitter and has in fact knit a couple of stoles for friends.  Stay tuned and join us on this creative journey!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The stole is about to be shipped!

I'm happy with this, and look forward to seeing a photo of the pastor wearing it! It will be given to him on June 5 in honour of his 25th anniversary of ordination.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Triquetra

The triquetra and cross on the centre back have been stitched down....

(The triquetra pops up in many different cultures. Christians adopted it as a symbol of the Trinity, and a circle weaving over and under the interconnected loops is a sign of unity. For more info on this ancient symbol see

...and now I can turn my attention to the finishing...piping and lining. These two striped ties have made great piping!

The next step will be to stitch the piping to the edges...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Stole For Ordinary Times, continued...

This is a great collection of green neckties. Here's a view of the pieced fabric and a detail shot...before cutting into the two halves of the stole.

Ignore the tape measure across the fabric!

The client has chosen a pointed back which allows a little more room for the cross.  A "triquetra" background was requested, along with a type of Celtic cross.  Here are some images where I tried out the arrangement. The cross will be created from gold metallic fabric, and embellished with stitching.
The triquetra has been created from bias strips of a soft gold necktie.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Stitching a Green Stole

I had a good day in the studio today working with these wonderful materials...

A good start:


The piecing is almost complete:

The next decision to be made is whether or not the back will be triangular or round.  I am waiting to hear back from the commissioner.

A Green Stole for Ordinary Times

A new commission is underway. This stole is in honour of a pastor's 25th anniversary with the church, and will be made from neckties collected by the congregation. The first step in the process is to take the ties apart and wash them...

And meanwhile to think about the design....

Design #2 has been chosen, and now it's time to get to work!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Ultimate Post

We're home now after a 14.5 hour flight from Sydney to Vancouver, and thanks to crossing the International Date Line, we have had a very long March 3rd. I've had a three hour nap and am hoping to go to bed at my usual time tonight.

Random reflections upon leaving Sydney, Australia

Australian slang and nicknames.... 
-"septic tank" = Yank
-"budgie smuggler" = male speedo swim suit
-"bonzer" (pronounced bonz-uh) = fabulous, excellent, great
-"Nuns in a scrum" = Sydney Opera House
-"Bucket on a pole" = Sydney Tower
-"Coat Hanger" = Sydney Harbour Bridge
-"The Toaster" = the apartment buildings beside the opera house (Google "Toaster apartments Sydney" for images)
-"Sydney Lace" = the elegant and elaborate wrought iron railings on Victorian and Edwardian terrace houses

British influences in architecture and town planning...
-innumerable streets named after royalty (Kent, Clarence, George, Victoria to name just a few) and military officers...the name Flinders has kept popping up...streets, roads, university, schools, hospitals, and geographic landmarks such as the Flinders Range north of Adelaide and Flinders Island north of Tasmania. Matthew Flinders was a British naval officer who was the first to circumnavigate Australia around the turn of the 19th C, often in a row boat, mapping the coastline. "Macquarie" is another one--he was the governor in the early 19thC.
-London place names, e.g.  Paddington, Piccadilly, Hyde Park (including a Speaker's Corner), St. James
-statues of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, King George and others
-early Victorian row housing made of bricks, and very unsuitable for this climate. This is Susanna Place Museum...these four houses were built in 1844 (two rooms up and two rooms down, kitchens in the basement, with flush toilets and bathrooms added on at the back more than 60 years later) and were occupied until the 1980s.

Terrace houses were later modified by adding verandas with curved roofs, and elegant wrought iron railings. Suburbs close to the CBD are still full of these terraces. 

Along the harbour, they are being threatened with demolition because property values have skyrocketed. This is particularly evident in The Rocks, an inner city neighbourhood which has long housed people of low socioeconomic status (originally dock workers).
-Grand buildings in the CBD made of honey-coloured sandstone with elaborate carvings above the doors and windows. This is the former Post Office built in the 1860s. On the left is a very well dressed city woman buying stamps and on the right is a country woman excitedly greeting the postman (letters would arrive infrequently)...

Birds that whistle, chirp, laugh and squawk...Kookaburra, Gullah, cockatiel, cockatoo, pigeons, parrots, and Ravens... Even in the city they woke me up just before dawn.

Sydney traffic!! In spite of what appears to be a complex public transport system of ferries, buses, trains and light rail, there are huge numbers of cars driving into the city every morning. The cement infrastructure--flyovers, bridges and tunnels--is immense.

Wednesday was our last day in Sydney, and we took the bus out to Bondi Beach...lots of surfers in the water, but few swimmers--currents too strong...

...and walked a couple of kilometres around the headland to Bronte for lunch. The sandstone formations are very reminiscent of the Gulf Islands...we could be at Malaspina Galleries on Gabriola Island!

Farewell Sydney!

Monday, February 29, 2016


We have been staying at the Admiral Collingwood Lodge ( in the suburb of Drummoyne since last Wednesday, our longest stop in any one place for the last three months. It's a great place...less than 10 minute walk to the ferry and less than 5 minutes to major bus routes and grocery stores, etc., a lovely neighbourhood for an eight day stay. The Lodge is a Victorian "Italianate" mansion and has been nicely renovated. Bathrooms and kitchen are shared facilities, and all is in good order, unlike some places where we've shared kitchens with people who don't have the same eye to hygiene as I do! I have been able to get up every morning just after 6 AM and sit on the first floor veranda, behind the bougainvillea...

...with my knitting and watch the sunrise over the centre of the city (aka the CBD)...

We have enjoyed the ferry rides to and from the city...

And have learned a lot about the European settlement (convicts, free settlers and other immigrants) from 1788 and on. The museums here are wonderful, and we have also enjoyed a couple of walking tours, both on our own and escorted. The architecture is eclectic, from 19th C sandstone buildings (quarried nearby) to Victorian terraced housing, modern skyscrapers and towers, shorter Art Deco buildings, cathedrals, and of course the iconic Opera House...

...where we enjoyed both a tour in and around the complex... well as a performance of "The Pearlfishers" Saturday afternoon. The story of the design and construction of the Opera House was almost as dramatic as an opera. The Danish architect submitted the winning design without being certain that it could be built, and it took him three years to figure it out (using the geometry of a sphere), and meanwhile construction had started on the base. Cost overruns were enormous,and the architect either quit or was fired before it was done. However it really is a magnificent building with multiple small and large performance spaces, and a diverse program. Scheduled this week were two operas, symphony and jazz trumpet (Winton Marselis), Romeo and Juliet, an X-rated cabaret, a family Disney program, and more.

Being so close to the ocean, we took the ferry out to Manly Beach which is as close to the mouth of the harbour as you can get on a ferry. It was a very hot day and we were looking forward to jumping into the water,  but it was cold! We didn't stay in long. For warmer waters, we would have to go further north to Queensland...that will have to wait for next time.

Today we are travelling the opposite direction up river as far as we can go by ferry, and then take the bus or train back. We have Opal cards for public's a smart card that you load up with funds, then tap on and off. Makes getting around very easy, and we're hoping to get out to the airport on Thursday with very little $$ left on the cards. We will see...