A bright-to-mute transition of color heralds the start of the cooler season in New England.
While spending time apple picking, pumpkin-carving and canning the last of the tomatoes, we hardy inhabitants of the Northeast U.S. can view our autumn landscape as an inspirational palette for winter art and craft creativity.
The woodpile grows, windows are weather-proofed, bulbs planted, the gardens put to bed. Fall festivals and country fairs are in full swing; neighbors share mulled cider and quote the Old Farmer’s Almanac, speculating on the harshness of the coming winter.
We pull out our warm knits and refresh them in the autumn breeze, maybe finding that some hats are too small, some scarves too short, or a sweater riddled with moth holes — and then there’s the Christmas knitting.
Patterns are explored and plans take shape for fall knitting, crochet and quilt projects.
There’s a unique pleasure in choosing the right materials for the right purpose, considering the recipient’s age, coloring and tastes. Our surroundings yield ideas for colorways that we might not have imagined – Nature always surprises, even when ‘helped along’ by man! Native or hybridized, the final splash of autumn color is a welcome and inspiring sight.
Western Massachusetts textile artist Cheryl Rezendes has just launched her new book with Storey Publishing: Fabric Surface Design:
This excellent volume features multiple surface-design ideas and techniques for quilting, sewing and textile art, for both professional and amateur fine-craft practitioners. The author’s relaxed, conversational approach sets a non-intimidating tone for newbies, and the book’s ‘start-anywhere’ structure invites experimentation and discovery.
Rezendes’ philosophy of creating textile art, indeed art in general, advises letting medium and process determine the direction a creation will take, rather than adhering to a rigid pre-conceived vision of the final piece. Another wise caveat is that not everything an amateur or even professional artist produces will be a masterpiece; learning, practice and the evolution of a style are also worthy outcomes.
Leveraging the author’s deep of knowledge of actual textile painting and production techniques, the reader can build confidence with materials selection, fabric manipulation and final-product maintenance. Beyond that, Fiber Surface Design’s major value-add lies in Rezendes’ freely-given gems of advice that only long experience can yield, but that relatively few artists readily share.
A recommended addition to any textile lover’s library.
A major highlight of my spring London sojourn was visiting the Fashion and Textile Museum, Bermondsey Street, near London Bridge station.
Their featured exhibition was a heart-stopping retrospective of Kaffe Fassett’s incredibly versatile body of work, from his early needlepoint designs, through his prolific body of knitted work, and on to his current ‘quilt phase’.
Let me know if you would like a custom-designed itinerary for your London Textile Sojourn! And, I will be leading several 3-day London Fiber Tours in 2014 – subscribe to our mailing list, and watch this space!
What is this thing for?
Seeing this photo of my niece on a New York street, I pondered the retro fashion revival that’s been spurred on by Bomb Girls and other period dramas like Call the Midwife, starring feisty young women forging the path toward modern feminism. Go girls!
It’s encouraging to see strong women emerging again to champion the young and help them gain the confidence needed to grow into leadership roles. Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In Foundation may prove to be the most valuable and lasting legacy of the Facebook era.
[Stepping down from soapbox.]
As the weather cools, I’m in search of small projects that will move my lace knitting status from ‘totally boggled’ to ‘clumsily competent’. On trusty Ravelry, I find the Rosie Headband by Jane Richmond and decide to try producing a slightly warmer version for our unpredictable New England Indian Summer weather.
Wanting a hip, 21st Century look, I go to my WEBS-is-crack stash, choose St. Denis Boreale fingering-weight wool in azalea (neon pink), double it and cast on with an Addi Turbo U.S. 7 circ.
Then pray. Simultaneously try to watch the newest ‘Foyle’s War’, but am foiled by a labyrinth of double yarnovers. Ask myself: as a native crocheter, why does my forehead become damp and my hands clammy when faced with ‘just a bit of knitted lace’? After several frog-backs, I get it! It’s actually fun, and wow, it’s done in two 4-hour bursts of inspired yarnovering. It’s lovely – I’m kind of proud.
Voila! Hope she likes it.
File under: Things I’m glad I knit, but could have crocheted in about 12 minutes.