Saturday, March 29, 2008

On the Road Again

My daughter Allie and I went on a road trip to Portland last week, and I feel like I'm barely catching up with myself. We had a great trip. It's about a 7 hour drive, and we went to visit an art school there where she's been offered admission for next year. Here we are having lunch downtown. Doesn't she already look like an art student? Next week she's going to New York, where she's also been accepted at the art school of her dreams. I'm glad she liked Portland and the school there. It's a serious contender, and we'll see how her dream school looks to her in the flesh.

Portland is a beautiful city. I tell my kids that it reminds me of San Francisco, my home town, but it's clean, whereas SF has gone the way of a lot of big cities in the cleanliness department.
While we were there we stayed with my friend Bernadette and her husband Adrian. We had a wonderful visit. Bernie and I are old friends: we met in college and were roommates once upon a time when we were single gals and she was in law school.
Another benefit of visiting Portland is I got to have a lovely visit and breakfast with Allie Aller. We met in person when I went to Portland two years ago after becoming virtual friends. She counts as an old friend now too. She shared a wonderful bag of old lace with me and one of her gorgeous floral photo transfers. We got to talk about our work and do show-and-tell in real time and face-to-face. What a treat!

In spite of traveling, I'm making progress on my Jacobean Chile 12x12. Here's the finished motif. I am inspired by Erica Wilson's work on Jacobean embroidery from the 1960s, but where she emphasizes its formal aspect, I want to emphasize its folkloric qualities. I developed this design by studying Wilson's Jacobean work, and botanical drawings of chile plants. I worked the design on a piece of vintage shirting fabric. I agonized about adding text. I went back and forth on what text to add and where to place it. An email chat with JoWynn gave me the encouragement I needed to try it out and not worry about it so much.

The piece looks miserable in this photo, but it shows I added the text by writing it on water-soluble stabilizer with permanent pen and then stitched through the whole thing. Next time I'll remember to let the ink dry completely.
The line of text I picked is from a very well-known Mexican folk song, "La Llorona" (The Weeping Woman). The line is "Yo soy como el chile verde, picante pero sabroso," which translates, "I am like the green chile, spicy, but delicious." To me the line underscores the earthy part of Jacobean design.

I'm hand quilting this piece and I will bead it as well. I hope your weekend is full of creativity and relaxation.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I'm Walkin', Yes Indeed, I'm Walkin'

I've been walking the two miles to work and back since January. I was inspired by the simultaneous desire to use less fuel and get more exercise. Also, my daughter's car died, so now she and I are sharing a car.

It took me awhile to build up the stamina required to get to work without being totally exhausted, but now I get there sweaty, but slightly exhilarated. When I come home, I usually have so much end-of-the-workday adrenalin that I don't even really feel it.

This routine is very hard on the legs and feet, so now I have a wardrobe of different kinds of athletic shoes. My black Sketchers are now the closest shoes I have to normal-looking work footwear. The Ponys at the top of the post are by far the most comfortable, but least versatile shoes I'm now wearing. I find myself picking clothes to wear to work based on my shoe choice for the day.

The scenery on these walks has been especially beautiful since the signs of spring have been showing themselves.
The flowering trees are in bloom, and gardens are full of daffodils, crocuses, and last week I saw hyacinths.

I live at the edge of town, in a neighborhood surrounded by cow pastures dotted with lovely old barns. I love this vista through a church parking lot.

I have some late days when I don't go into the office until noon, and so I reach this creek just as the sun overhead is reflected in the water. These are all things I would never see in the same way from the vantage point of the car.

Recently, I got to class and one of my students, eyeing my shoes, said, "Nice kicks, Professor." I have become a middle aged lady in tennis shoes. It's actually not a bad thing to be at all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Here's Ruth, my latest doll creation. Her pattern is from a book by Norwegian crafter Tone Finnanger. Finnanger's craft designs are also known under the name "Tilda." Although her books are available in the US, I get the impression from blogs that she's very popular in Europe.

Finnanger's doll designs--she has santas, angels, and animal figures--seems to all have the same basic body, face and clothing patterns. Ruth is adapted from one of these patterns. I decided I wanted to make a Spring doll.
Ruth's jacket is made from the sleeve of a thrift store blouse, and her dress is from the sleeve of a nightshirt. Her apron is a hankie from my collection.

Her hair is made from a partial skein of mohair yarn I had in my stash. The stuff is a dead ringer for "old lady hair," as my son observed. I took several lengths of yarn and tacked them loosely across the top of her head.Then I maneuvered the yarn into a French twist, which I also tacked down with a few well-placed stitches.

It was like playing beauty parlor. I made a braid, and then wrapped it into a crown.

Easy as pie, and isn't she lovely?
I thought about machine-embroidering her name on her jacket, but then thought that since she's going to live with my mom, I'll leave it to her to name her permanently. I think I've got a few more of these dolls in mind. I've got some corduroy pants that will make a great doll jumper.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Project Updates

I re-designed the border of this quilt and I'm getting ready to assemble the inner border. For the outer border I have to sew a gazillion (36) more of those 25-patch units.
I've been embroidering my 12x12 piece. You can see how the design is drawn on water-soluble stabilizer, which is machine-based to the surface. I embroider this a little at a time in the mornings sitting next to a window. You can't beat natural light and rested eyes.
I'm making a new doll. It's a gift for my mom for her birthday. I'll be posting info on the pattern source. This is actually an early picture and she's almost done. "It's Ruth Fischer" said my daughter when she saw her, because she looks kind of like the mother on the series Six Feet Under. Stay tuned, and you'll meet Ruth.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

More Old Stuff

I scored some wonderful old quilt pattern books in a thrift store recently. These probably came from the same person's stash.
The yellow one is from the 70s, but the other books are undated. I assume they are from the 60s from the hairdo of the woman on the cover. My cousin Peggy, who was a teenager when I was in elementary school, wore her hair just like this. I thought it was very elegant.
There are some wonderful applique patterns in this book.

Wouldn't this bucking bronco be cute for a child?

This is a nice variation on the house pattern.

The caption at the top of the page reminds us of how some things have (thankfully) changed.

Sweater Genesis

  A few years ago I learned to harvest yarn from old wool sweaters.  I don't do it so much anymore, with the exception of if I find...