One of six children, I was raised by a busy mom, who instilled in me a love of fabric. Though I learned to sew and knit at a young age, it was the arrival of my first grandchild that pushed me into action. A long-time knitter, I am now ready to explore all things fiber.
This scene is made up. Last Wednesday at open studio, our group was practicing different skies using watercolor paints. When I finished this “sky,” one of the artists said “Why that looks like a landscape.” Upon close examination, I realized she was right. So I converted three of the “clouds” into stands of trees. By painting yellow on top of sections of the sky I got the land masses between the trees. The white space at the bottom of the painting became a still pond with reflected sky.
I like the big sections of white paper.
Because it is imaginary, I called this a dream painting.
With the heat of the summer beginning to settle in, it’s time to start projects that are A: not heavy in your lap. B. suitable for year-end giving and C. car trip worthy. Socks fit that description beautifully.
Today I am starting a sock pattern that has been in my library for some time. Hermione’s Everyday Socks, available on Ravelry, are simple to knit, but have a lovely texture created by working purl stitch sprinkled evenly throughout.
I have chosen to use a monochromatic colorway from Ewetopia that drifts from light to dark and back again. I’m hoping that the color doesn’t vary so much that it overwhelm the subtle stitch pattern. This yarn is called Wisco Sock, and is milled and dyed in Wisconsin.
The colorway is Superior, as in, the Lake. I’m very drawn to it – not a green but not a blue, rather a cool-ish grey such as how the lake surface may appear on a cloudy day. While I started these socks as a potential gift, it could be that I will selfishly keep them for myself.
This project has been sitting around since mid May.
Back then, I sketched a picture that was a composite of two photographs: A group of fuchsia blossoms and a hummingbird.
Eventually I used this image during a class I attended on collage technique.
But had always intended to paint it. Today I finally finished. Here is my process:
To finish it, I worked in a pale background wash, added final details to flowers and deepened the darks on the hummingbird.
This was a very good learning experience. If I were to paint it again, I would choose more transparent pigments. The cobalt blue was more granulating than I liked, and the alizarin crimson did not give a clean delicate hue on the flower petals. Instead I would use a mixture of ultramarine blue and Thalo blue and use quinacridone magenta, very thin, for the petals. I would also apply the background wash first. It was very tricky to work it around the finished flowers.
The parts I do like: The composition, the texture of the feathers and bird wings, and the shading on the petals.
Today I am posting another sketch of Cat. Cat used to be best friends with Henry, when Henry was toddling. I am interested in painting some watercolor pieces of Henry and Cat. So I thought I would practice with graphite. first.
My sketch :
I spent my time on this one. It was a very enjoyable process. I think that’s because I have such happy memories of this time in my life. Back then we would drive to Albuquerque to visit our daughter’s family two or three times a year. Cat was just another family member back then.
I hope this drawing does honor to the memory those sun-filled days.
I loved the tutorial and wanted to try her technique. But I had in mind a landscape. Specifically, I wanted to paint mountains.
One of the artists I follow is Mitch Zeissler. He posts photographs taken over the past ten or so years using a Leica 35mm film camera. The one I have in mind is a black and white picture of the Madison Range in Montana.
In his Guide to Birds, David Sibley describes the gray catbird’s song thusly:
” …a rambling, halting warble with slow tempo…low hoarse notes with high sharp chips and squeaks interspersed….little repetition and little mimicry.”
…..which is, while accurate, a rather dry and technical explanation for what I heard that day:
In my final arrangement of this fiber object, I ditched the blue fabric which I was going to use as a framework for the “notes and chips.” Instead, I let the purple satin cord act as a highway for the eye to travel to each vocal outburst. I also unified the color of the lower section by overpainting the batik print using violet.
The free motion stitching wasn’t overly planned. I mostly just followed the clues given by the appliques and the color changes in the background.
I hope you enjoy “seeing” this catbird’s song, as much as I enjoyed listening to it.
Yesterday I spent some time working through the design and material choices still facing me with regard to “Catbird Sings.” I settled on the arrangement for the lower half of the work, tacking it into place. The violet satin cord will serve as a transition device linking the lower to the upper half of the piece.
It will be couched into place when I start sewing. Next I chose and cut out various bits and bobs from two printed fabrics to represent his varied “cat calls”.
The colors all link well to the palette chosen. The wavy lines will represent the loud squawks. Before proceeding to the next steps, I treated all the edges with Fraycheck.
Those wavy pieces in particular will shred massively if not treated.
I was ready to test some layouts for the upper half:
I like this grouping. But do I use the daisies with petal sides up……..
….or petal-side down. Hmmmmmmm….. I like the line created by the upside daisies.
And here is how I left the work. Before I finalize, I will need to decide on how I will quilt all of the different sections. It won’t do to fall in love with a layout and then struggle to quilt around it.
The idea for this fiber object came to me one morning while porch-sitting with a book. It was a gorgeous day, but I was poring intently, with all my focus, on the book in hand. Surprisingly, I no longer remember what I was reading. The probable cause of this memory lapse was the very thing that intruded upon my thoughts. A catbird had begun an insistent and virtuosic song. The sound tore my mind from my book and into the present moment. Looking about, I failed to spot him. So instead of continuing to search with my eyes, I closed them and sat back in my chair.
Pretending that I possessed synesthesia, I imagined what that birdsong might look like, if it were visible. There were deep chortles and murmurs, but also squeaks, shrieks and ascending melodies. It went on and on. And on. Eventually the catbird flew off.
Here’s what I wrote in my journal: “Sky-inspired painted background. Reverse applique to suggest an unseen bird. Throaty -chortling purples, warm tones high pitch trills – bright white squeaks. dashed gestural lines to suggest direction of pitch. Parallel wavy lines for a musical staff.”
All very poetic. But I want to make a piece of visual art, and as such it must have form.
This week I got underway. Since my fabric paints were out, I started with the background. On a piece of white quilting cotton I stroked colors that I thought would make a good sky at daybreak – pale blue, violet, peach and gold. I achieved this rather startling canvas:
What sort of a sky has leaf and dark green in it? None I’d ever seen. I was prepared to set it aside and start again. But on second thought, I chose to continue with this background. The unconventional sky colors can represent the effect of birdsong on the air. Here is my bright background after it dried.
Next comes the sketch. I put the catbird’s silhouette in the lower left.
Now the hard part. Searching my fabrics for the colors mentioned in the journal, I found some purples and some brassy bright scraps. Also a few interesting prints. Most of yesterday was occupied with choosing, cutting and attaching fusible to the back of my chosen fabrics. Here is what this applique quilt looked like at the end of the day.
While I am keen to get on with this work, I need some supplies. So I will have to pause pending a visit to the craft store.
This project was begun about 2-3 weeks ago. In my initial post I brought up two main points:
An unconventional sock yarn.
This Berroco yarn is a dk weight, not a sock weight. It contains 52% acrylic, 40% wool and 8% nylon. The knitted fabric is soft, stretchy and strong, all of which are highly desirable in a good pair of knitted socks.
The other point is the method of sequential knitting:
I used two skeins, two sets of sock needles and worked the socks in sequence: leg, heel flap, gusset, foot and toe. Frankly, I loved this work method. It provided for variety in the knitting and resulted in finishing both socks at the same time without the use of a long cable needle. Given my fairly extensive collection of doublepoints, I would choose to use this method again.