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!
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.read more
It’s been called ‘artistic vandalism’ and a waste of good fiber, but controversial or not, the covering of trees, statues and other public artifacts with crocheted or knit yarn, known as Yarnbombing, is continuing to intrigue both artists and amateurs around the world.
Thought to have originated with Texas-based fiber artist Magda Seyeg, street name KnittaPlease, yarnbombing has become a fuzzy phenomenon on a global scale. Though Knitta has gone commercial, (dressing a Prius in a sweater), yarnbombing has found its ideal niche in the drab industrial landscapes of cities like Detroit, Glasgow and Liverpool.
Philosophical objections have been raised that yarnbombing is a waste of material that will knowingly be transformed into something damp, moldy and stretched out. Should yarn that could make warm clothing be used to create amateurish street art? Those who don’t appreciate traditional graffiti would say its use of spray paint is wasteful too, whereas those who consider it an art form say the spray materials are artists’ tools. And should a painter’s oils be diverted to paint Habitat houses instead?
Twilight Taggers – Yarnbombing how-to
Yarnbombing – the book
A family vacation takes everyone out of their usual routine and into the world of adventure. It can create some of life’s most cherished memories if enough thought goes into the preparation. In the months and weeks before the trip, parents’ emotions can run the gamut: busily excited—> stressed out—> panicky. For formerly-carefree new parents, particularly if airports are involved, the once-straightforward tasks of booking, packing and boarding suddenly require the precision of a military mobilization.
We’ve polled our Textile Travel clients who are avid travelers as well as parents, and have done some digging of our own into the world of travel gear for babies and kids. OMG, the crazy advice and useless products available are comparable to the silliness sold to innocent homebound Mommies and Daddies – arrgh!
However, some of the books, accessories and travel toys we reviewed make sense; here’s a roundup of 5 essential Success Strategies for prepping the kiddies for a travel adventure:
1. AnticipationIt’s estimated that 50% of the satisfaction families derive from travel comes from anticipating the upcoming trip and building a ‘must see/must do’ list. Kids will pick up on the excitement in the air when Mom and Dad gather the guidebooks, phone their travel agent and start trolling websites for background info.
Depending on your child’s age and travel experience, it’s a good idea to involve them as much as possible in travel planning. The Disney World Hannukah trip you spring on them as a surprise can prove overwhelming if kids don’t have enough time to assimilate the fact that they’re going. They might have a happier trip if they can mull over their options before you head to your destination.
Get the excitement started early by establishing a ‘travel central’ spot in your home. It can be a box or large suitcase for family members to add prospective travel gear: favorite toys, lucky hats, brochures – whatever. Gift your child with a cute document holder like the Baby Elmo passport pouch. Your little guy can use it collect theme park cards, coupons and other documentary stuff, or you can actually store his passport and other essential records in it. Of course these are also available with Mouse branding.
2. FamiliarizationFor kids who haven’t flown before, there are many excellent books about airports and flying that can allay their inevitable anxiety.
Some parents have found it helpful to visit the airport a few weeks before travel to let their child experience the bustle of the terminal and watch some planes taking off and landing. This can work if you live close to the airport and can spare the time. If not, bear in mind that the airport scene, the plane’s strange interior, and the sensations of flying are new to your child, and can be both exhilarating and scary. Lots of reassurance will be needed on arrival and throughout the flight experience. Emphasis on the novelty and fun of flying will help calm both the kids and yourselves.
Once the realization hits that on travel, your baby’s needs will be pretty much the same as they are at home, you’ll start casting about for ways to cope. The cloth diapers and bibs, custom-designed food bowl and monogrammed potty will probably make way for disposables, just for sanity’s sake. You’ll search out lightweight blankets, kid travel pillows and a car seat that converts to a stroller and can whistle a lullaby (haven’t found that yet).
Welcome to the world of doll luggage and portable potty chairs. We’ve created a collection of maybe-baby items for our parent travelers; you are welcome to browse through it.
Items such as this “On-the-Go” bottle warmer can be handy: it uses a heat cell to warm a bottle or some baby food, without batteries or plugs. One downside: the gadget needs to be boiled in water to re-activate; good for the start of a trip or if you’ve booked an apartment or villa rental.
Families planning a trip generally spend considerable hours researching their destination(s), planning an itinerary and booking event tickets and restaurant reservations, preferably with the help of a knowledgeable travel agent. (Unbeknownst to many, using the services of an experienced travel agent usually results in a more serene travel experience for a lower total cost).
One important point an agent will bring up is contingency planning, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Both first aid skills and insurance for possible emergencies are essential components of smart travel planning. What could happen? Ask the folks on the overturned cruise ship or those caught in the Iceland volcano drama….not to deter you from traveling, but the real world requires real strategies and forethought.
Toys means make sure they’re packed for EACH & EVERY family member: from Mom’s needlework bag (hoping the country you’re traveling to is cool about knitting needles), to Dad’s GPS, the teens’ iPads and iPods, the little kids’ Travel PlayDough, to the baby’s headphones.
Food means pack the squeezable peanut butter – it’s just logic. She’s not going to eat fois gras or periwinkles if she won’t do it at home. As much as you’d like adventurous eating to be part of the foreign-travel experience, unrealistic expectations will make everyone miserable. Think of adventurous eating as testing out 10 different types of Japanese candy.
Breastfeeding Mom + Pashmina or handmade shawl = the ultimate portable travel food source. But for everyone else, it’s a good idea to pack familiar snacks in the lunchbox-sized packets, to bring a taste of home on the road.
Enjoy your kids while they’re young, bring the baby on the Provence wine trip – you won’t regret it. Just prepare intelligently, savor each day and fill many memory cards with photos the grandparents will cherish.
What’s your favorite travel strategy that’s been a success for your family? Comments are welcome—read more