Sunday, June 29, 2008

Marimekko Wrought Iron

Today has been a perfect Wellington day - pouring with rain, howling southerly and torrential rain. There really was nothing else for it but to avoid all potential distractions and head for the quilt room to put some of those inspirations down into textile and stitch. As a result much progress was made with a Guild Challenge that I am working on which requires the interpretation of a playing card. Since it's a challenge, I don't think I can really show it at this stage - anyway there is still a way to go, but I promise it will make an appearance at an opportune time. So instead I'm back on the theme of wrought iron inspiration - but this time also in textiles...
I was so excited when I found this fabric several years ago while on a work trip to London. I hadn't been there for 20 years so it was a very exciting and fun time. I had done my research before arriving and was particularly keen to find the Marimekko shop in St Christopher's Place. Marimekko fabric is not so easy to come across here on the far side of the world so I felt a bit like a child in a lolly shop. A yard of this wonderful fabric came home along with a few others, if the truth be told. This fabric is called 'Paris Gates' and based on the wonderful wrought iron found in abundance in that city.
It was put to excellent use and is now one of my favourite summer skirts, which always attracts compliments and queries, and not a little envy from some of my textile pals. I only have some small scraps left which are almost too precious to use, although I know one day the perfect project for them will undoubtedly spring to mind. Until then I just enjoy wearing the skirt and stroking the remnants from time to time.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dealing to Distractions

On Thursday I found a book that I've been looking out for for a while - Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit. I've seen it given great write ups by various people so was thrilled when I found it at Unity Books (where else!).

It's beautifully written, really engaging and I can already tell that I'm going to enjoy it very much. There is only one small problem that I can see at this stage - just about the first thing that Tharp talks about that is the need to deal with distractions. Of course I know, instinctively, that this is right. Distractions pull you away from the work that you know you want to do, the pieces you know you want to create and the ideas swirling inside the brain just itching to get out. Tharp talks about some of the distractions that she has trouble with - movies, multitasking, numbers and background music.

I can instantly tell you what some of mine are too, without too much thought - magazines, movies and surfing the Internet, especially craft / art blogs. And there is the problem in a nutshell - having discovered the lure of blogs, now I'm going to have learn to ration.....
Ain't life just full of challenges....

Friday, June 27, 2008

What goes around comes around

The theory truly worked like magic today - I delivered a large pot of soup for lunch to one of my friends who is a bit under the weather and a mere 3 hours later my daughter arrived home from school, delivered by her friend's mother who was complete with soup for our was almost spooky!

So I'm sending out good vibes to the universe today.
Have a happy, creative weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Good Intentions

You know the old saying - the road to hell is paved with good intentions.... Clearly this is true of me! 30 posts in 30 days isn't going to be a happening things - so maybe we'll have to see just how many days 30 posts is going to take me....

Have I told you about some of the weird trees around here - just look at this
and this
and even this which is currently outside out national museum - some of them look like something from the venerable Dr Seuss...
Maybe that is one of the reasons I get drawn to trees that look more like this. Its just something about the lines.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thinking of Knitting

It must be the cold weather that makes me gravitate to the knitting needles and yarns, rather than heading to my rather cold quilt room to play on the sewing machine. I can remember that the same thing happened last winter when I seemed to be in hat and scarf production mode. We also had an exchange student from Brazil living with us this time last year and I taught her to knit while she stayed with us - it was one way of making sure she had some wool on her when she ventured outside! Being from Brazil, wool wasn't a fibre that she was familiar with and she kept wondering why her cotton tops weren't keeping her warm enough!

I've been on the hunt for some more hat patterns so I can make a few more hats - I have a friend who needs a new hat but having tried on the one I recently made for myself we decided that this pattern wasn't going to be a goer! She didn't look her best, which after all isn't the object of the exercise.

So when I found this book recently in my favourite fabric and fibre shop - Nancy's - and discovered that it had a chart showing the best styles for different face shapes, it was an almost immediate impulsive buy. Still to do the browsing through the book with my friend, but I think she'll be spoilt for choice.
Only problem is I need to learn how to cast onto double pointed needles and knit in the round... nothing like a challenge! The things we do for our friends....

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Seeing Spots

While I've been having enforced time off the computer I've been working those knitting needles, this time a hat for a work colleague that will soon have her first baby. She and her husband are absolutely dog mad so I thought there was really only one thing for it once I found this wonderful pattern by Terry Turk....
(note to self - must find out how to do proper links!)

Here's the almost finished hat, being beautifully modelled by my daughter's teddy bear, Francine (couldn't find a handy new born baby!)
I've adapted the pattern by adding a dog tail to the top of the hat. I may stitch a few more dalmatian spots on it yet.....

Saturday, June 21, 2008

With the best of intentions...

I've afraid the technology card has reared its ugly head again and kept me away from my good intentions - such is life... However I have managed to find some more luscious curves and appealing shots. These all caught my eye this morning, before the early morning Saturday netball game, while enjoying hot chocolate with son two. Wonderful curving ironwork,waiting to be sketched, stitched and enjoyed,
and this fabulous vase with dried hydrangeas - it was cold, the cafe windows were steamed up and the new hat had only just come off my head.
This afternoon I took the children to see Prince Caspian. We all enjoyed it, and I particularly enjoyed the costumes which featured lots of stitching, smoking and gathers done in luscious linen. There was also lots of great New Zealand scenery to be spotted by those in the know - thank you Andrew Adamson for again showcasing our country.

However, I was left with some nagging questions at the end of the film - why do we regard stories about the classic battles between good and evil, with the inevitable violence and mayhem, as a sure fire way to entertain our children?? What drove C.S.Lewis and Tolkien to focus so much on these themes for entertainment? Is it just an extension of the themes of fairy tales? It's great that good triumphs but there always seems to be so much carnage along the way. What messages does that instill? Or am I just taking this, and probably myself, all too seriously??

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Today was D-Day

for my embellished piece to be finished and my stitching friends have just left. Confession time - this is how far I've got with the pieceAs you can see I'm still only half way through with the embellishment, although I am feeling happier with it. I need to get a rattle on. We've had a most interesting discussion about what embellishment actually is and even have to consult the venerable Oxford English Dictionary for confirmation. It defines it as to "heighten with elaborate additions". We had this discussion as we'd all approached our pieces quite differently and after much thought the consensus was that I was the only person who had actually embellished their piece. However this is not exactly something to be proud of as the other criteria for the piece - that it be indigo - was something I failed at completely.

As a result its back to the drawing board for us all - the others have to do something that is actually embellished, while I have to get the colour right - deep violet blue.

Thank goodness for the Oxford English Dictionary - how else would we settle such troublesome issues!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thwarted by technology

Sometimes the best of intentions just don't come to pass. Last night I was undone by the urgent need to 'defrag' the laptop - it took hours and I just couldn't stay up any longer.

Have you noticed that utility covers (is that what they are called?) are becoming increasingly ornate - literally a form of taking design to the street. Is it happening anywhere near you? There is definitely inspiration in these, waiting to be translated into textiles and stitch...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Embellishing the Line

Over the last few years I've been trying to move my stitching from more traditional style quilts towards something that is more contemporary and expressive of my ideas and the forms I love. When I posted yesterday I realised that one common feature of these pieces has been in the use of hand embroidery (as I'd previously thought of it) or an embellishment of the line. I really enjoy doing the handwork but experience has also shown me that I am no hand quilter.

So embellishment and embroidery it is for me - here are some detail shots of some of my relatively recent quilts that I have hanging in my home. Night Sky over Kai Iwi; Wild Irish;
Pathway to the Labyrinth II; and
Pathway to the Labyrinth

Saturday, June 14, 2008

WIP - Day 4

Well here's a little taster of where I'm going now with this piece. I think that adding in the coloured groups of french knots definitely helps, but I have lots more to do. I'm planning a bit more stitching in front of the telly tonight, so hopefully I'll get this finished (or as finished as these things ever are!) for our meeting next week. Friends who saw it yesterday, while I was stitching over a cup of coffee, were asking me what I was planning to do with it. Somehow I think this always such a loaded question - don't they really mean: What are you wasting you time making that for? What on earth are you going to do with it? Why are you spending your time on something you are just going to hide away somewhere? I didn't take offence (they are dear friends and stitchers themselves and I don't for a moment think they meant it in any of those ways) but it did get me thinking about what could be done with small journal sized quilts on my stroll home.

The best idea I came up with was covers for note books. Let me know if you can think of anything else - I do have a growing pile and some of them would hopefully appeal to someone other than me!

Contemplating the rounded forms in the piece had me searching for photos of other rounded forms that I've taken. There is a nice rhythm to them. Regular yet unpredictable. Quite like the overlay in this photo from the fence - makes me think of quilting lines of course.

I feel another piece coming on...

Friday, June 13, 2008

WIP - What work in progress??

Nothing worth photographing today - but I have started adding some colour to the WIP and it will help. Update tomorrow hopefully. While there wasn't enough stitching, there was a walk through the local Cemetery..... I wasn't sure it was that good an idea at the time but I did manage to say hello to a couple of my favourites while I was there.

I'd been having a chat before the walk with friends about some of our favourite pieces of sculpture - these weren't on the short list, but they do have a certain charm.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

WIP - Day 3

I feel that I'm still struggling a bit with this. What I'm trying to do is use embellishment on the line to throw up the distinction in texture on the two sides. Maybe some colour variation might be the next move... Have I confessed to having a thing for stones?? Had you guessed?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WIP - Day 2

Maybe it's too early to say - but at the moment the jury is out in my mind.... can't say I'm overly enjoying the stitching at the moment. I'd used steam-a-seam to stick layers together and its tough getting the needle through it. Then again maybe its just getting too late at night for this type of stitching. Time will tell...

These are much more soothing to my eyes at the moment - you'll recognise the next one from my masthead.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Work In Progress - Day 1

I think I have mentioned before that I belong to a small group who make a journal sized quilt fortnightly as a challenge to ourselves to see what we can produce. Today I started my next piece so I thought I'd put something up each day on the progress for it - hopefully it won't be a complete disaster, cos if it is it'll be a rather public one! For my friends in the group who visit the blog (yes, I mean you Marilyn!) - you may want to tune out for the next few days so you can have a surprise on Monday...

The directions for the quilt were that the quilt had to be indigo and embellished. We agreed that the embellishment needed to be an integral part of the design of the quilt.

So this is the start of my piece.
It's feeling a bit to me like Rex Ray meets Andy Goldsworthy...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Something for Winter

It was such a perfect day today that you could have thought it wasn't winter at all, if it wasn't for the rose hips growing on the roses rather than flowers down at the Botanical Gardens. However it really has been pretty cold, especially at 8.15am on Saturday mornings when I am regularly found on an exposed netball court watching our daughter play. I've decided that what was really called for to more this more endurable during the wind and rain we seem to be regularly encountering was a new beanie. So here it is - modeled by a less than impressed boy. A Debbie Bliss pattern, sized for a 3-4 year old (not sure what this says about either the size of my head or my knitting), and some left over Debbie Bliss cashmerino arun. It feels great.
I think it will do the trick!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Linking texture to textiles

I was flicking through my photos and found some more texture shots I'd taken last year - these both came from LA and then I realised how nicely they linked to some textile pieces I'd done.
They are shapes that translate well into textile works and are fun to do.No doubt there will be more where these have come from in due course.

These slightly blurred images (sorry) are are Artist Trading Cards that I did using the shapes from the roots, which I ended up using as gift tags on presents last year. They were so fun and quick to do.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fabulous Ironwork

I can't help it - my eye is just drawn to it. A combination of the line and, so often, the curves. Here are more favourites, from Melbourne...
and Napier - I nearly bought this, but couldn't work out how to carry it home without a car (my husband was so pleased!)
These were tempting too - another time I think...
And just to prove I can do something with textiles - here are completed curtains in son number two's room. I've also finished the curtain for son number one (you have to do things simultaneously when you have twins to avoid endless complaints and strife in the house) - so the only outstanding order now is from my daughter...

I am getting so sick of cutting denim!!! Probably time for a new cutting blade....

Friday, June 6, 2008

In the beginning

Yesterday I came across an absolute treasure in one of the local charity shops. I had scooped it up as another piece of denim to go into the unending curtains, checked the price ($3!!!) and saw that it had some writing on it, so decided to take it home for a closer look.

And when I did I discovered I had the myth creation story of Wellington printed onto the front of a strapless, fitted denim dress. It's a little hard to read in the photo - it says:

In the beginning
Taniwha Ngake, Whataitai
Carving the land

This is the Maori legend of how Wellington and our beautiful harbour was created - Down the back of the dress is a cascade of silk - ruched and hand stitched. I can't imagine how it came to be in that Charity shop - perhaps it was a student textile project that the creator wasn't happy with. I will probably never know.
I feel like I have found a precious gift right at the beginning of Matariki - the Maori New Year.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It's all about Texture

So often when my camera finger is really itching it's for great texture shots which I snap to use as inspiration for a future stitching project. It means that our family photos are often an unusual mix of kids cavorting and interesting things I stumble across.
It's always the source of amusement to any non-stitching family and friends who happen upon a full set of our photos (or a slide show on the laptop).
So here are some of the texture shots that I took on a recent family holiday to LA - Universal Studios and Disneyland...
Not exactly your usual holiday shots - and I wouldn't have it any other way.