Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Inspiration - Thoughts on Creativity

It's been quite a week .... computer problems and travel have kept me absent from the blog, but have given me time to think about what to work on next, what direction to go in!

We were in New Hampshire last weekend for the graduation of our daughter-in-law and one of the speakers was Hugh Herr.  Wonderfully inspiring!  And he has a story that moves from unimaginable tragedy to amazing accomplishments.  You can read about it here - I wouldn't be able to do the story justice in a few paragraphs!

Something he said stuck with me .... "To be creative, you have to believe in something that doesn't yet exist."  I often ponder what creativity is.  Is it something inborn, a gift, or a practice that can be developed.  When I was teaching middle school art, it was easy for some of my students to put their ideas into words and sketches, easy for them to explain where they were going with their work.  And for others, the process of moving their ideas from their thoughts to paper was long and scary.  I can see how believing in that idea that didn't yet exist may have been the difference.  The confidence to know you can bring that idea to life. 

I love wandering through yarn and fabric stores .... all those possibilities just waiting to be worked on!  I can see many more pieces than I'll probably ever have time to bring to existence.  But they're still there, they exist.  

A few months ago I had an idea for a knit blanket based on a Southwest serape.  As I've been working on it, it's been exciting to see it come to life, into existence.  When it's finished, I'll definitely post the instructions here!

So back to the question on what creativity is, I believe it's a practice.  Which means you need to practice taking those ideas and believing in them even if they don't yet exist. 

I'll be taking some time off of blogging to spend some time with family and will see you all again week after next. 

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Inspiration - Gasali Adeyemo's Adire Indigo Work

Gasali Adeyemo

I know that when I think of indigo dyeing, I tend to think of shibori and the tradition of indigo dyeing in Japan.  There are, however, several cultures around the world and through history that developed strong indigo dyeing traditions.

Gasali Adeyemo is a Nigerian Yoruba adire artist who now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The Yoruba use a tying resist technique like shibori does, but also have a form that uses cassava paste as a starch resist.  The starch is painted on using various stencils and instruments, allowed to dry, and then dyed with indigo.  The process is fascinating! 

Adeyemo talks about his work and the process in an interview here.

And be sure to take a look at his website for more information and also for a listing of where he'll be conducting workshops for the rest of this year.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Operation Kitten Rescue!

Operation Kitten Rescue/Bathroom Remodel is completed!  It turns out they were down in a small area formed by a dropped ceiling area in our bathroom.  Once we figured this out, my husband punched a hole through the wall board, just reached in and pulled them out - Momma Cat was kept busy out on the patio with a can of cat food!  We moved them into what we think is a perfect set up in an outdoor kiln room and Momma quickly joined them.  Now if she just keeps them there!  But even if she doesn't, wherever they go will be better than a Phoenix attic.

And now I can finally get back to my textile working - while my husband ponders what opportunities this means for the bathroom!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cats in the Attic ....

.... or why we now have a hole in our house!

So, we've had this stray cat living in our yard for a couple of months.  She showed up nearly starved - just fur and bones.  Friendly, but only to a point.  She doesn't want us to get too close or look like we would touch her, but she's been enjoying hanging around a short distance away while we do yard work or eat dinner.  

We have this general rule that we don't feed the strays that come through, but have broken it twice.  The first time was in 2006 when a tortoise shell calico came to our yard, near starvation.  We fed her, she rebounded quickly, we brought her in the house and she's never wanted out since!  This new cat was in similar straights, so we broke our rule for the second time and after a couple of weeks she looked much better.  We'd see her during the day, but could never figure out where she spent the night.  Until we started hearing rustling noises in attic.  Now this attic is not the cool type with a floor filled with yesterday's treasures - nope, it's beams, boards, and insulation with plywood nailed down in a few spots so can store a few things up there.  And it turns out there was a very small hole where two levels of the roof met that is just big enough for a cat to squeeze through - which she did. 

Living in Phoenix means outside temperatures are around 100 degrees already and on their way to 115 to 120.  It's even hotter in the attic.  There are just so, so many reasons a cat cannot live in our attic!  So we checked it out thoroughly (we thought) and while she was outside in the yard we plugged the hole up.  And that night none of us got much sleep with all the meowing up on the roof!  Long story short, it turns out she has two kittens up there ... in the absolutely most inaccessible part of the attic.  After trying everything we could think of to reach the kittens and failing we had to unplug the cat's entrance hole so she could return to them.  Only she wouldn't use that entrance any longer.  Did I mention that all this happened in the middle of the night?  Which is why at one in the morning we were outside taking off boards near the roof line and pounding out blocks to make a new entrance near the kittens for her.  Yes, crazy.  And desperate.  And successful!  Now we're hoping momma cat decides this is no longer a good place to raise a family and moves them out - if not, we'll have to come up with Plan W (I think we're down to that letter in plans).  

Anyway .... while I was still trying to convince the cat that other outbuildings we have would make better housing than the attic, I bought some catnip and made what I call "Cat Happy Pillows."  I just freehand cut out two small squares of muslin, sewed up three sides, turned them right side out, added a couple small bits of stuffing and a lot of catnip, turned the top edges under and sewed it up.  Each one takes maybe two or three minutes to make.  The outside cat was absolutely not interested.  Raven, however (who is the tortoise shell from the beginning of this story) loves hers!

With any luck this story will have a happy ending!  I'll add updates as it progresses.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cactus Pincushion

Our prickly pear cactus is about done with blooming for the year - it's one of my favorite things to photograph.  There's always a lot of bird and bug activity around it!  I had been mulling over different ideas for a pincushion and while taking pictures it occurred to me that one based on a cactus would be perfect!  This one became a Mother's Day present for my busily quilting Mom!

*small amount of two different fabrics - one in a plain green and one in a patterned green (fat quarters work well)
*about 1/2 yard lace
*two ribbon flowers - I used ready made ones from a craft store, but there are lots of tutorials for making your own
*small terra cotta pot - the one I used was 2 1/2 inches high with a 2 3/4 inch across top
*pattern found here (print in landscape)

Cut three cactus leaves from each of the two fabrics.  Add embroidery highlights to the patterned pieces and french knots to the plain pieces.  I used a velvet embroidery thread to replicate the fuzzy cactus thorns clusters.

Lay a piece of lace across the left edge of the right side of each plain piece.  Lay a patterned piece (right side down) on top of each and sew in a very narrow seam - about 1/8 inch.  Trim the ribbon even with the seams.

Turn right side out and press.

Pile up the three cactus leaves.  Play around with the arrangement in the pile to get the cactus sections where you want them.  Pin and sew down the center.

Stuff each of the cactus sections and whip stitch the bottom of each section closed.

Sew or hot glue two blossoms to the top.  You can hot glue the cactus into the pot or just stuff it in - this will give you a little storage space in the bottom.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Inspiration - Asimina Chremos' Free Form Doilies

Boise Doily, 100% cotton, blocked and starched, March 2014. 
If you haven't run across Philadephia artist Asimina Chremos' colorful freeform crocheted doilies, you're in for a treat!  Working with a very small steel crochet hook and size 20 cotton thread, she creates intricate work without patterns - every piece is one of a kind.

You can see some hints of Asimina's process in the photos on her Facebook page here and read an interview with her on Sugarcube Journal here.

I'll have to live to be at least 200 years old to complete all the projects I've started and the ideas I have, but I really have to try my hand at one of these!  Lizbeth has a line of colorful cotton thread in lots of sizes for crochet and tatting - it shows up every so often at craft/hobby stores around here and online on several sites, including Handy Hands

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Scalloped Crochet Edging

Here's another crochet edging I've come up with - it works well for finishing flannel blankets and would also probably look great on pillowcases!  The fabric is another flannel I picked up at Joann's.

size 10 crochet thread
size 5 steel crochet hook

If you haven't edged a blanket before, see this past post.  After you get the first row around the fabric, start with the instructions.

Row 1:  Single crochet all the way around.  Put three single crochets in each corner stitch.

Row 2:  Chain three, skip one stitch, slip stitch in the following stitch.  Repeat all the way around.  On the corners, make several chain threes without skipping the next stitch to make sure your corner lies flat.

Row 3:  Chain three, slip stitch in the next chain three space from Row 2.  Repeat.  You may need to put extra chain threes in the corners again to keep them lying flat.

Row 4:  Put 5 double crochets in the first chain three space, slip stitch in the following chain three space.  Repeat all the way around.  If you crochet a little on the looser side near the corners you probably won't need to add an extra double crochet group - but if you see your corner's not lying flat, put one in.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, May 5, 2014

Knit Washcloth - Squirrel

Here's the last washcloth in my rainbow knit washcloth series - a squirrel!  I edged it with a deep purple, Knitpick's Cotlin Blackberry.  The other washcloths with links are:  sun, moon, heart, fish, bunny, cat, owl, and a duck.

*Knitpicks Cotlin in Swan and Blackberry
* size 4 (3.5mm) knitting needles *size E crochet hook

1.  With Swan, cast on 40 stitches.

2.  Work rows 1 - 7 in garter stitch (just knit stitch).

3.  Begin stockinette stitch.  For rows 8, 10, and 12, knit 4 stitches, purl for 32 stitches, and knit the last 4 stitches.  Work rows 9 and 11 in garter stitch.

4.  Beginning with row 13, you can work from the chart.  The chart shows the uneven rows through row 51.  For the even rows, work 4 knit stitches, purl for 32 stitches, and knit the last 4 stitches.

Row 13 - knit 18, purl 7, knit 15
Row 15 - knit 18, purl 4, knit 18
Row 17 - knit 16, purl 7, knit 17
Row 19 - knit 11, purl 15, knit 14
Row 21 – knit 10, purl 16, knit 14
Row 23 - knit 9, purl 17, knit 14
Row 25 – knit 8, purl 6, knit 1, purl 10, knit 15
Row 27 – knit 8, purl 6, knit 1, purl 7, knit 18
Row 29 - knit 8, purl 6, knit 1, purl 11, knit 14
Row 31 - knit 8, purl 6, knit 1, purl 13, knit 12
Row 33 - knit 9, purl 5, knit 2, purl 13, knit 11
Row 35 – knit 9, purl 5, knit 3, purl 9, knit 2, purl 2, knit 10
Row 37 – knit 10, purl 5, knit 3, purl 8, knit 3, purl 1, knit 10
Row 39 – knit 10, purl 5, knit 5, purl 8, knit 12
Row 41 – knit 10, purl 5, knit 6, purl 8, knit 11
Row 43 - knit 10, purl 5, knit 7, purl 8, knit 10
Row 45 – knit 8, purl 7, knit 7, purl 3, knit 1, purl 3, knit 11
Row 47 - knit 7, purl 7, knit 9, purl 5, knit 12
Row 49 - knit 7, purl 6, knit 10, purl 2, knit 1, purl 2, knit 12
Row 51 - knit 8, purl 4, knit 11, purl 1, knit 2, purl 1, knit 13

5.  Rows 52, 54, 56 - knit 4 stitches, purl 32 stitches, knit 4 stitches.
Rows 53, 55 and rows 57 - 63, work in garter stitch.

6.  Cast off.

7.  Join purple yarn and single crochet evenly around the washcloth, putting 3 single crochets in each corner.  Join to first single crochet with a slip stitch.  Chain 1 and add a second row of single crochet, again putting 3 stitches in each corner.  Finish off.

And here they all are, stacked up, tied with ribbon, and ready to be given to a special baby!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Inspiration - Judith Content's Arashi Shibori Quilts

I am fascinated with the whole process of shibori and have dabbled in it several times during my explorations of surface design.  Most of my experiments have been with shibori tied indigo dying.  I am fascinated, however, with the way some artists use colored dyes in the process to create magical fibers!  One such person is California artist Judith Content.  Judith uses arashi shibori techniques in creating her quilts, starting with black silk and discharging the color over several refolding and retying sessions before adding in color.

This past episode of Simply Quilts features Judith talking about her dyeing and quilting process and shows how she uses old wine bottles to wrap and tie the cloth around.  I highly recommend the video!

In 2008, Le Rowell interviewed Judith for the Quilters' Save Our Stories Project and you can read the interview here.  I'm always fascinated with what inspires artists and Judith talks quite a bit about how she's intrigued by the way water, in the form of fog and rain, plays with light and changes landscapes into abstract scenes.  You can definitely see the marshes and estuaries she loves in her work!  In the interview, she also explains her draw to the kimono shape she uses in many of her quilts.

You can see more of Judith's work on the Tansy Contemporary Gallery website.  As for me, I'm thinking about digging up some old wine bottles and seeing if my indigo bucket needs refreshing!  I have these pieces of white flannel just sitting around ...

Happy Creating!  Deborah