Sunday, October 25, 2009

Taking Apart, and Putting Together Again

The other day, I unstitched two cotton kimonos. Like all the Japanese cloth I have seen, these simple everyday garments were handsewn with meticulous care. I always feel somewhat destructive when I take a kimono apart, even though I do it with respect. And I hope to put back something of what I take away by remaking the cloth.

Here's a view of the clothesline after I washed the pieces. There are two kimonos and their linings here.

I like the perspective from the other side, with sunlight defining the weave structure.

And how am I re-making this cloth? I'm not sure, but have started with the two fabulously worn sleeve linings and a slice of the outer cloth. Buddhist colours. Let's see where it goes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Knitters Considered Security Risk

Check this story out. It might seem like just another bizarre human interest story, but I see it as proof positive that VANOC (the organizers of the Vancouver Olympics) will stop at nothing to have their little corporate wankfest happen with no public dissent. This event is SO not about the athletes.

I would love to see the entire route of the torch relay lined with people proudly wearing authentic Cowichan sweaters. Or perhaps some yarn bombing is in order.

For more on the story check out this link from the Times Colonist.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thoughts from The Expressive Stitch

Here are a couple of quotes from the workshop. Those three days continue to resonate for me - I having a feeling a spell of good work is at hand!

"Time is paramount, precious, fleeting - never there when I need it. So to stitch, especially by hand is time-consuming, everlasting, forever. Therefore, I have to use the moments, any moments, to stitch. There are never ideal studio days. Like the embroiderers of Bangladesh or Panama, I have to use the moment to work. I always have a collection of materials ready to work on if there is a minute. These minutes become a kind of visual journal. I can return to a piece and remind myself of how I was thinking and feeling on that particular day."

"The simplest of stitches worked by hand, runs in and out through a fabric or whips back and around to grip the material and form a small ripple. This is an ancient technique and seems passe in the world "scan the image into the computer and watch it embroider on your sewing machine" Who after all had time?" - Julia Campana

"Hindu mythological tradition states that all arts and crafts are of divine origin. Artwork was a sacred ritual, other worldly, magical and divine. Leisure time was seen apart of creativity. In the religious texts of India, the universe is envisioned as a fabric woven by the gods. The ordered universe is one continuous fabric, the warp and weft forming a grid pattern."

"Uncut fabric is a symbol of totality and integrity. Rags also have symbolic importance. They are offered to the gods at certain shrines. It is said that the lord of tatters returns a whole cloth if a rag is offered. There is also a lady of tatters. The word kantha means rag." - Dorothy Caldwell

And I do promise to repost the pictures from the previous days. I was downloading them straight from the camera so they are not properly sized and could do with some editing.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Expressive Stitch - Day 3

The third and last day of the workshop flew by. Dorothy showed slides of both her work and that of other artists whose work incorporates patching and darning. Here she shows off a found apron that is mended to an incredible degree, telling a story of hardship, thrift and care.

Most of the group had finished two or three samplers by day's end. They were all mounted on the wall as a group. It was quite interesting to see how everyone had their own style and vocabulary of mark-making, all working with quite limited materials. I love the dog portraits on the top row.

These are mine. The above image is almost finished, and is a document of the news that I got yesterday of my cat Angus having a run-in with an eagle. Apparently both are somewhat the worse for wear, and I am eager to get home to tend to my tough old kitty.

And this one I completed yesterday - a simple lotus design. Apparently it is traditional to begin a kantha in the centre, with either a red dot or a lotus.

There were a lot of inspiring quotes and philosophy shared over the course of the workshop, and I promise a post on that soon!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Expressive Stitch - Day 2

Today we stitched blindfolded. Dorothy guided us down this path gently, but we definitely had to put our trust in her.

First, she had us make five French knots along the edge of our cloth and have ready five threaded needles. She also asked us to remove all the clutter from our workspace. Then we put the blindfolds on and she gave us thematic words to focus on while we stitched a line, using the Frenck knots as a starting point. Words like "gesture" and "dialogue". It was quite discombobulating, like reading a book upside down.

But when all the little squares are put together, it's quite interesting and textural. Both the quilts above and below were made by previous workshops that Dorothy led in Australia. After piecing the blind stiched squares, the whole piece was heavily quilted, one with white and the other with red thread.

Tenting Couture

There is an amazing artist named Angelika Werth, who is German by birth, trained in Paris (at Yves Saint Laurent, I believe) and who now lives in Nelson, BC, where I knew her. When I passed by Circle Craft on Granville Island and saw these wonderful gowns made out of tents, I knew only one person could have created them - Angelika. Check out her website to be truly astounded.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Expressive Stitch - Day 1

This will be quick, since I'm just back after seven hours of stitching and I have homework! No complaints, though - time just breezed by. Dorothy (Caldwell, our teacher) started off with a slideshow of her travels to the region of India where traditional narrative Kantha cloth is made.

Then we got to look at piles of gorgeous Kanthas. I was thinking of Jude the whole time.

We will be making three samplers. The first one is supposed to be white thread on black. Here's mine.

We were supposed to come up with a simple image that's meaningful to for ourselves. The first thing I thought of was one of "the girls".

I peeked ahead through astack of forgeous shibori silk cloth that are stitches Katha-style. Can't tell you their provenance yet but, ooh, the ideas are a'flowing.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Textile Bliss

I'm off to a three day stitching workshop with Dorothy Caldwell! It's part of the Maiwa Symposium, which I have had the joy of attending in the past. I highly recommend that every threadhead amongst you make the journey at least once if you possibly can.

I wanted to link to my post of the Ralli Quilt workshop I attended and was a bit shocked to realize that it was three years ago. Here is the post, and I hope it stirs your desire!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Eating Local

My breakfast the other day was just so beautiful I had to take a picture. French toast and a selection of tomato jam, salmonberry and red currant jelly, blackberry jelly and greengage jam. All from no farther than the back yard. (Well, I guess the flour came from Saskatchewan. Forgive me.)

We had a Fall Fair on the island last weekend. One of the categories was "Homestead Display". (I didn't enter, having spent all my energy hanging quilts the day before. And as it turned out, I wasn't even close to this league.) It was so inspiring to see the displays.

Karl not only had bigger parsnips than mine, his display included some of the maple syrup he made from the big leaf maples on the island, and home smoked salmon. Karl even grows wheat!

This display was a true cornucopia of produce. The quilt in the background was made in the early '80's by the Lasqueti Quilters. Each square features a local wildflower, each rendered in a different technique.

This beautiful display includes superb blackberry wine and gorgeous grapes.

The fair was a true celebration and a thanksgiving for the abundant blessings of this place.