Friday, March 10, 2023

The Art of Utility and the Utility of Art

 It seems I can't manage to post more often than every two-to-three weeks these days; I'd rather be making!  And so it's been since I last wrote for you, Gentle Readers.  Life remains good, though there are days when the Sorrowful Demons try to nibble at the edges of my equilibrium, and sometimes succeed.  Often a walk or a session with my online Essentrics Classical Stretch class will break the ennui, and I feel more like myself again.

On the Art Front, "Art in the Park" opened yesterday in Revelstoke, B.C.  It's at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre, and will be there through April 2.  Earlier this week I received a series of photos from Meghan Porath, the Director at the Centre, showing how they'd hung my pieces -- from the ceiling!!  This took me quite by surprise and gave me a real thrill:

(L) to (R) suspended in the centre:
"Rails & Ruins", "Pretty Poison", "Meadow Impressions"
and "Fallen Log"

Because of the perspective in the photo, the "Meadow" piece looks a great deal smaller than it is -- but that's only because it's hung farther back!  Similarly, "Pretty Poison" appears larger, but that's just the angle at which it's hung.  The pillars under each piece carry my labels about each one in turn, plus the front one has my Artist's Statement about my Residency Experience (I think!)

Once my pieces were shipped to B.C., I turned my attention to what needs to be done to prepare for the first in-person Encore! Lacombe Art Show & Sale since 2019.  I've submitted all my info to the coordinator, Christina, including an outline of my Artist's Talk, which will take place at 2 p.m. on each afternoon of the show -- April 14 and 15.  I've examined my pieces, finished making hanging sleeves for the newer ones, and now have some hand-sewing on those to do.  I also will need a few dowels for hanging and will pick those up at the hardware store in the next couple of weeks, along with some more eye hooks.  

Yesterday I had a phone interview with Mark Weber of the Lacombe Express weekly newspaper; I expect the article will come out next week.  One of the first questions he asked me was why I make art (a common question, as y'all probably know!)  My main reason is this: it gets me out of my head!  

That is, it helps me express myself: what's on my mind and in my heart.  It could be through a landscape piece; it could be through an abstract one.  I don't make a great many political or social statements in my work, but sometimes the message is hidden, as it is in "Back to the Garden" from 2013, which was inspired by lyrics from Joni Mitchell's song, "Woodstock": 

Back to the Garden (c) 2013
15" x 15"
Hand-dyed whole cloth, machine quilted,
hand embroidered and beaded

One of my newer pieces (made in 2020 during the COVID pandemic shut-down) is "Order Out of Chaos (or Chaos Can Be Colourful)": 

Order Out of Chaos (aka Chaos
Can be Beautiful) (c) 2020-2021
Assorted commercial and self-dyed
cottons, machine pieced and quilted

This one will be at the Lacombe Show next month, along with some others that aren't statement-oriented.

And I've an idea floating around in my brain right now that may present as a landscape, but still make a statement.  These ideas often take a very long time to come out into the world, so stay tuned!

In addition, of course, I'm still working on comfort quilts.  The "Keep it Out of the Landfill Project" continues apace!

Some weeks ago now I used up all but the few charm squares I own by putting them into a crib quilt:

Pattern: "Chandelier"
a PDF from Vanessa Goertzen

I've had the pattern for a while -- I'm pretty sure it's a freebie, but it was originally published in Ms. Goertzen's book Charm School: 18 Quilts from 5" Squares.  The version I made is considerably smaller than the suggested 60" x 60" size; it's 37" by 57" and that's largely due to the borders!  I had 4" squares, and only a certain number of them went together well enough to produce anything.  In the end, I discovered that, given the horizontal layout of my design wall, I'd laid the blocks out so the "chandlier drops" look more like crystals hanging from an old-fashioned lamp (maybe something from Tiffany) than long droplets hanging from a ceiling-mounted chandelier! Ah well; whatever baby ends up with it won't mind, I'm sure! 😆

In my last post I mentioned that I'd started Bonnie Hunter's "Triple Treat" to use up my 1 1/2" squares and other scraps.  Each block is a 6 1/2" unit, and you need four units to make a full quilt block (12" finished).  I now have over 40 units made -- but there are more to come, as 40 units makes only 10 blocks, and that's not going to get me a throw-sized quilt.

I've laid finished units out on a recycled Styrofoam tray, with the dominant (dark) corners stacked according to their print.  

More often than not there are neutral squared from corner to corner in the centre, but not always.  I went through all the 1 1/2" squares I had, and have cut more from bits and bobs, along with the squares and rectangles needed for the "L"-shaped corner sections.  I decided as I went along, that these all have to have contrasting corners in browns, so that there will be some unity.  On another tray, I've started to collect a different palette -- reds/blues/purples with white or off-white as neutrals.  

And still the scraps keep piling up!  I have bags of "bricks" in light and darker fabrics, 1 1/2" x 2 1/2", using Bonnie's Scrap User's System, and have been longing to find a way to use such small pieces.  Enter Bonnie to save the day!  I found a "Butter Churn" block she's designed in the current (!) March/April issue of "Quiltmaker" magazine.  Ta-DA!  That one will be come a leader-ender project for "Triple Treat", which I used as a leader-ender-project while working on "Rhododendron Trail"...and so it goes!

At the same time, I've returned to assembling units for a postage stamp top which I think I want to make in sections to fit windows as curtains, in the style of Kate Jackson of the Last Homely House, to whit:

I've measured the windows that I want to cover, and well recognize that I've a long way to go before I get there..."many miles before I sleep", as Robert Frost said long ago.

No matter.  It's an easy project, fun to do, and eventually the blocks will add up into larger pieces.  And yes -- keep the fabric out of the landfill -- at least for now!

It seems to be all about "stash-busting" this year in the Knitting World too.  Certainly, I've been very aware of it, and feeling a bit guilty that my knitting mojo has been a bit low.  The baby socks, of course, have gone to their destination -- and now I've been commissioned by a good friend to make her 2 pair of socks, just like ones I made for her a decade ago that are finally wearing out.  I started the first pair about 3 weeks ago and am well down the foot of the second sock.  Here's what the first looks like, made from yarn in stash in a colour that my friend happens to favour:

Pattern: "Simplicity"
Designer: Janel Laidman
Yarn: a "One Shot" from Gathering Yarn,
superwash wool and nylon.

The second pair will be in Paton's North America's "Cotton Stretch Socks" so they can be worn even in warmer weather, if desired.

And inspired by a newly-arranged casual MAL (Make-Along) set up by Selma of the Little Big Knits Podcast -- under the title of "Scrappy Stashy MAL" on Ravelry (and also on Instagram, I think, but I never go there!), I'm dipping back into my other knitting WIPs that fit the bill -- like the hats I've been making, and the Sock Knitter's Sweater...and now, after far too long despairing of my sad and sorry dishcloth collection, I've dug out the cotton yarn in my stash and am making a new batch of Grandma Black's Dishcloths!  The only modification I'm making to the pattern is to knit to 49 stitches before I decrease, as I like my cloths a bit larger than suggested in the pattern.  I work on these when I'm in bed, reading (with an audio book or a book on my bookstand), as they are mindless and soothing projects!

And yes, there is still stitching!  I've taken to working on a red sampler on Thursdays -- in the manner of Sarah from Sarah's Stitch Spot flosstube -- and so am closing in on a finish with my "Ruth Gibb" sampler, started almost a year ago on Mother's Day, to honour my mother Ruth and her mother, Margaret Gibb.

My Sunday Stitch is now the "Keziah Campbell" sampler that my friends Mary D. and Sha gave me for my birthday last year.  I'm still on the border, but I'm almost finished with it.  It's on 40-count linen, so a bit slower going than other counts.  It's a Scottish-style sampler, and I'm going to personalize it -- i.e., use initials from my family -- when I finally get to the alphabets and motifs!

I've finished a Lizzie Kate design for a friend who's having a birthday soon -- but I need to fully finish it...

And I'm making good progress on the "Dragons" piece for my son's June birthday:

Pattern: "Here Be Dragons"
Designer: Modern Folk Embroidery
Fabric: 28-count white Lugana from stash
Floss: "Gomez" from Roxy Floss Co.

Since that photo was taken earlier this week, I've finished that top wide border and begun to go down the side -- about 3" of that done now.

And on that's time to return to any and all of the above -- before the day gets away from me completely!

It's been snowing lightly all day thus far, and it's forecast to continue on and off through tomorrow, so I've got no excuse to waste the wonderful indoor hours I've been given.  It's time to return to colour and creativity in the Art of Utility...practicing the Utility that is Art.

I'll leave you -- as I regularly do! -- with a link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she's talking about 'bad sewing habits'.  Do you have any?  I know I do, but I'm not ready to 'fess up just yet! LOL! 😆

Have a great weekend -- safe, dry, cozy, cool, with those you love, doing what you love.

'Til next time...XXXOOO

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