Personal thoughts

Heading to Christmas; New Prizes

Thanksgiving was quiet and lovely.  After lunch, we went to see Lincoln.  The entire movie is a work of genius.  Daniel Day Lewis is always amazing and he truly made me see a new vision of Lincoln as a man and a very smart politician.  Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens also deserves an Oscar.  Sally Fields gave Mary Lincoln a personality that helped me understand why he married her.  She was wonderful.  As was every other actor in the film.  Go, run, abandon all work, and see this movie.  It will move you and teach you and then entertain you.

Our Aussie friends, Liz and Brett left Australia on Nov. 24th and are in England exploring their heritage and doing all things Beatle.  They will be here the 19th and I’m busy planning for them.  There will, of course, be knitting and yarn shopping and lots of eating.  We have to show them some Southern hospitality.  I’m not certain it will top the Australian hospitality we experienced.  We may have to thaw them out.  It never gets really cold where they live, and they flew into England the same time as a big Arctic front.

More prizes have arrived from The Sketchbook Challenge.  Too many for one blog so I will share just a few.

SBK-scissors  ps

The first is a fabric postcard from Susan Brubaker Knapp.  It is a much larger piece than the ATC she had originally planned.  My photo doesn’t do it justice.  It literally vibrates with color and is so technically perfect.  Of course she dyed the fabric and hand stitched everything.  She describes the entire process on her blog here.

Scroll through Susan’s blog postings because she does so many kinds of art.  The Art Apron she posted today should give you lots of ideas.  Visit the Gallery for a real feast for your eyes.  Susan lives just up the road in Mooresville, NC.  This state breeds great artists

Next up is Traci Bunkers whom I first encountered through the knitting world.

TB-card-info-psTraci does so many things in the world of art.  I bought her book The Art Journal Workshop when I first discovered this mixed media obsession.  I wanted to know the rules–there are none–and I really wanted to know about this Gesso stuff.  I knew the students at Northwest were always using it.  I was so excited when I bought my first gesso;  REAL artists use gesso.  I played with the techniques I discovered in the book but soon went off in search of drawing and watercolor.  Lately though, I have itched to wander back to it.  I love making art papers.

Traci has published some of her Art Journal pages as postcards–large ones about 5.5X8 INCHES.  They are so exciting.  I am showing you two of the five she sent me.  You can purchase them at her website.  TB-Postcard-4-psThis one puts me in mind of my son-in-law’s recent trip to Cuba.  I think it is the door and the truck combined with the blue atmosphere.  The stitching of the photos to the paper is a great mood detail.

TB-postcard-5-psAll of us who have older pets will be touched by this.  Traci puts her passion on the page and it is bold.

That’s enough gloating for today.   I have to confess frogging an ugly Wingspan and share a painting or two of my own.  So,

More later–

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Happy Turkey Day

I drew this for The Sketchbook Challenge on flickr.  I love this time of year when I buy great apple cider and use cinnamon.  It is only a little while to eggnog and NUTMEG.

We are eating with Steve’s mom at the Geezeridge (Merrywood Atria).  Meghan and family will join us.  I even dressed up.  Major commitment.

Have a wonderful day, rest, relax, chase your passion.

More later–

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Carolina Fiber Frolic in the Fall


Jan Smiley put together another Frolic in Sapphire Valley, NC. This was a very laid back affair: just sitting and doing whatever together. Mostly spinning, some knitting, some amazing felting, and Natalie’s food. (Mushroom bisque, crab cakes, coconut cake, etc.)


Some of the group met a day early and toured a fiber processing facility in Weaverville which is ecologically designed. They followed a fleece through the process and shared the results.


There were no classes this time, but you cannot put two fiber people together without learning happening. Just watching Vicki of Tangled Up in Wool make these incredible thin, delicate hats with a bit of an Art Deco twist was a Master Class. She will teach this class at the March Retreat next year along with a felted birdhouse class. I may have to take both. Definitely one. Vicki has made me believe I can felt without pulling a muscle. (Inside joke if you have ever felted a scarf.)


Samantha went to SOAR, the big deal spinning conference, and in a fit of something (She swears she has no memory of it) bought an electric spinner. It is made of Tiger wood which is richly beautiful. I was amazed at how quiet it was and she is delighted with it. It even has a power cord for the cig lighter in the car!


Renate came without her wheel. At the last minute in a flurry of packing, she forgot it. Don’t need to tell you how much trash talk she received. She had plenty of knitting though. She is still exploring swing knitting. This is a rug. It is mostly worsted weight yarn and, as ever, she is making it up as she goes.


This is a wall hanging in much smaller yarn. I have to do one!


I did some spinning–when Renate would let me use my wheel–and lots of sketching and exercises for my watercolor pencils class. Turned out that Priscilla is a wonderful water colorist and shyly shared pictures of her work with me, an unexpected and greatly appreciated gesture.
I took pictures to inspire some painting and thoroughly enjoyed the non-demanding pace of the whole event.

Steve hiked and knocked around strange shops in the area. I think he liked the solitude and I know he liked the food. Honestly, Natalie’s food is reason enough to go to these retreats. Oh, and then there are the cocktail hours put on by Tom, Emily, and Kevin. Always themed and generous.

Looking forward to March.

More later–

Categories: Personal thoughts | 1 Comment

Chalk, Wingspan details, Art in the back of the Subaru

A work in chalk at Charlotte Yarn–fun.

Remi has bought so many new yarns that contain some of that magic fiber–silk. I love my wool blended with some of this luxury. While listing some of the desirable qualities, we had a discussion about the spelling of the word drapable, drapeable, or drape-able. The only one my word processor recognizes is the one I decided to use—-drape-able. No matter how you spell it, it makes you look sexy.

Wingspan Front

Had some questions about the yarns and the techniques I used in my Wingspan. The main yarn is the Noro Yuzen which may be discontinued. It is a wool blend DK. The panel on the right is a simple intarsia technique using grey Manos (which has a bit of silk) and a teal Cascade 220 Superwash. I started the panel with the grey, then I tied on the teal at row 3 and knit 2 stitches. Each RS row I added two more teal stitches until the panel was finished.

The Noro Yuzen had been hanging around for quite a while and had been tried in other projects. The last one was a mitered checked piece that I frogged. Therefore, only three of the five Yuzen patterns were a continuous knit. The other two were put together out of 8 yard bits. I spit joined the ends and placed the colors wherever I pleased.

Therefore, I tell you that this is an awesome stash buster. I used both DK and worsted yarns willy nilly with excellent results. Size 8 needle. Cast on 90 sts as written. Do not overthink your knitting.

I have also been doing so neat striping on my current Wingspan, where I work 6 rows in one color, and then 2 rows in a real eye popper. I am still figuring out the best place to make the color change and will share it when I post this next one. And this one is knit on chunky yarn and some worsted on US 10 needles.

I didn’t want a scarf, so both of these are shawls to shawlettes. The beauty of this pattern is that it works in any yarn.




Greenway Leaves

This may indicate obsession. I was driving by the greenway when I was compelled to park and go gather leaves. I have leaves at home. But I needed these leaves. Whatever. Then I went to Michaels, an everyday event when I have coupons. Next was the dentist, but I had an hour to kill. I didn’t want to eat or shop. Finally I raised the hatchback on my Outback and climbed in. With the warm sun on my back and my feet propped on the door opening, I sketched the leaves. Yep, still sitting in the Michael’s parking lot at lunchtime. Lots of traffic. I’ll bet they thought I was a serious artist. I know I was a content one. Maybe just a little bent.

And then I did this. I need to make put it in one of the side columns of the blog. Or maybe I’ll use it to update the title graphic.

More later– You are making things, aren’t you? Don’t make me come to your home to chastize.

Categories: mixed media art, Personal thoughts, techniques, yarn | Tags: , | 3 Comments

More Prizes

This is a tool that will allow you to transfer any image to almost any project.  These are iron on sheets.  I can take a family picture or any picture I can print from the net and place it in any project.  I’ve read about this and seen great examples, but I’ve never tried it.  I think Lesley’s gift may open up a whole new world of stuff for me.

Click on the picture and read what she says and look at the gorgeous work just on the package. Yes, I should have taken the stuff out of the plastic envelop.  Sometimes we have to learn by screwing up.  Check out her website.

This is a fabric postcard by Kristen  LaFlamme.  It is exquisite.  Such a small piece of art using so many different fabrics, balanced perfectly.  The handwork is so simple and yet so effective. I am constantly overworking or over-embellishing.  I can learn a lot from looking at Kristen’s work.  This will be framed for the den where it will receive great honor.

Since this qualifies as Mail Art, the reverse side is appropriately designed and signed.  This piece has a very thin, flat batting which makes it interesting to touch.  The satin stitch edge is so well done.  I have messed up many of them so am grateful to see what can be done.

As usual, even the package was a treat.  She mailed it in a very strong, but clear, envelop; the label was decorated and address in a beautiful handscript; even the stamp was beautiful and matched the art piece.  Saving it all for who knows what.

These are quilting patterns from Desiree Habicht.  (Yeah, the plastic issue in photographs rears its head again.)  The one on the left is a very cleverly designed bag that will be quite useful for a person who has as many projects as I do.  I really love that jack o’lantern.

She also sent some of her own fabrics.  This western motif panel would make a great children’s quilt.  And since I am still quite a child, and I wore a Dale Evans’ cowgirl outfit at age 6, I think this is for me.  If you enlarge this photo, you will see a cowgirl in purple (my color!) riding with the guys.

These are the coordinating patterns she included.  There is another good look at that cowgirl.  They are so wonderful to feel, such soft colors and soft cotton.  But, as I am learning, just sending the prize is not enough for these artists.

Check out how she packaged this.  It is just a sturdy, ordinary plastic bag but it keeps everything together and clean.  Then she punched a hole in the bag above the Zip closure and tied a bow in it.  How clever and how easy. Tied up with the bow is her business card which on the back . . .

is an ATC (Artist Trading Card) like piece.  Sorry about the blur.  Mediocre photographer.

Best of all for me was this card.  This is a 5X7 ish card which is handpainted in watercolor with some ink.  This is what I aspire to.  I see several lessons for me in this and this will also hang in the den.  I love this card.  And ever since it arrived, I have seen all the pumpkins, gourds, winter squash just jumping out at me from the decorative displays.  I almost stole one from the hotel this weekend.  Saner heads prevailed.  I will definitely be following Desiree’s work.

This is a picture of the little extras from some of the earlier prizes.  The pen is there to cover the discount code on my 25% off slip.  I didn’t think Kari wanted that on the web.  She is the one who addressed the envelop.  Want to make someone feel really special.  Decorate the mail you send them.  Here lettering is awesome.  I hope she teaches a class online.

This is the ephemera from Laura Cater-Woods.  Bits and pieces.  I love bits and pieces.  I knew the yarns, but the two fabrics are different for me.  The back of metallic bits plus all the threads will be great for spinning art yarn as well as embroidery and maybe even just sticking it on an art journal page. The leaf is lovely.  I love leaves and will applique this somewhere special.  This makes me want to make cuffs again.  Well, why not?

Laura’s ephemera came with a beautiful notecard featuring one of her fiber works.  Do check her site and see her work.  It is so good.

This piece came from Terry Grant.  Again the wonder of how powerful a small work can be.  This one is about 5×5″.  Steve had a fit over this one.  He loves modern, minimalist things.  The machine quilting is deceptively hard to do, but she makes it look easy.  The flow of it really controls how you look at the work.

Terry, too, enclosed a handmade card.  On it she apologized that this was not the glass coaster which she had promised.  HA!  As if I would ever let someone sit a glass on even a glass enclosed piece of her work.  The orange tones will work so well in the den.  I may have to charge an entrance fee to the den because these wonderful artists are creating a gallery in my home.  Terry also has a drawing blog here.

Since all of these prizes come from The Sketchbook Challenge group on flickr, I thought I would add in my own little bit that goes up next.

Imaginary animals a la Carla Sonheim.

So much fun. You make blogs on your paper, and then you find the animal hiding in the blog. I am slopping paint in every sketchbook. Try it. Check out her book on drawing imaginary animals.

More later–

Categories: mixed media art, Personal thoughts, quilting | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Prizes are arriving

Sue’s book is amazing, but I already knew that. She also included a Strathmore Visual Journal. I’ve decided to use it to copy or work in the style of the artists in The Sketchbook Challenge. I think I’ll learn a lot that way. She also included this adorable little notebook which I bet she made. It is a bit smaller than a business card and has a hook so you can attach it to your purse or whatever. Perfect for jotting down ideas on the go.

Sue also included a card made from here work which I will frame—if I can keep Evan’s hands off it.  He really loved this.  The boy has great taste and he’s only 7.

These are the 8.5 X 11 inch stamps from the Backporch Artessa ( I love that name.). I am a poor stamper, so they don’t show their best, but I will get better now that I have these. I’m thinking to use the bead string stamp to make some notecards similar to this; I can just add a card with the sentiment.

This is Jane Lafazio’s video.  I already own it so I will have the chance to share this with someone who needs some inspiration.  This video showed me that I can draw.  Can make art.  She is a fabulous teacher and cheerleader.

Jane also included a card made from her work for me to frame.  I had seen pieces of this from her sketchbook.  I love how she brought several techniques together for this product.

Then fellow North Carolinian Lyric Kinard sent her beading DVD.  This is all about embellishment.  You can see a sample of it at the Interweave Press store.  They are the folks who publish Interweave Knits and my new favorite mag Cloth, Paper, Scissors.  Lyric creates all kinds of fiber art, as well as teaching and writing.

Lyric also sent a card suitable for framing.  Can you tell a whole wall is art is developing here?  The combo of music and dragonfly is so very fitting.  Of course, the purple is perfect.  How did she do those gossamer like wings?

Wednesday I received stamps from Pam Carriker.  These really excite me.  The middle one is Desdemona.  As a former English teacher, I love that.  I can see so many ways to combine these images with words that move me.

My practice stamping wasn’t half bad.  I put them on lots of different papers.  Huge possibilites here.  

The card that Pam sent with her prize has the same romantic, historic quality of the stamps she designed.  The art wall grows as does my gratitude for this opportunity.

Pam also sent her Liquid Graphite which I will show you when I do some sketching with it.

Thanks for bearing with me as I skitter and twirl through all these art prizes.  I am also knitting.  A finished project in the next post.   Promise.

More later–

Categories: mixed media art, Personal thoughts | 2 Comments

New App–Paper Camera

While writing thank you notes for my prizes, I discovered this new app on Lyric Kinard’s blog. It is called Paper Camera. My main purpose in getting it is to help me with seeing color value, but . . . it is so much fun!!!!!

Here are some examples. The pictures of me were taken from the app; Jake’s pics were imported and edited.
Halloween art

20121030-124855.jpg Photo was taken from app in sketch mode

20121030-125039.jpg This is taken in the neon color mode.

20121030-125156.jpg After importing this to the app, I tweaked the contrast to give me darker values.

If you scrapbook, you can use this Granny’s something mode to create a vintage look.

This aqua color mode will help me cheate the watercolor process a bit.

I do own Photoshop and use it often, but this costs $.99 and can be put on your smartphone or tablet.

Just another toy for my old age.

More later–

Categories: mixed media art, Personal thoughts | 1 Comment

Wingspan is growing

Four wings here. Three yarns

Noro Yuzen and an old modular swatch

I love the colors of this yarn. I’ve loved them for several years. The yarn is now discontinued, but a similar color way creeps into other Noro yarns. I’ve swatched the yarn and started several projects. The last one was a modular thing I didn’t like. So I frogged it.

As I started this Wingspan, I realized I’d need more yarn, so chose several. The Noro must be special to me. I had one unwound skein left and the other three skeins looked like this.

Roughly 5 yard balls.

The things we do for the love of yarn!

More later–

Categories: otn, Personal thoughts, yarn | Leave a comment

Oradour-sur-Glane, a lesson

June, 1944 — We think of D-Day. The Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy, and Hitler’s destiny was set.  Thousands still visit those beaches and honor the men who fought and died there. It was violent and beastly and horrific–but it was a war we understood, and we believed it was necessary.

A few days later, June 10, 1944, in a small village, home to less than 1500 people, along the river Glane in central France, another violent, beastly, horrific event took place.  But this event was neither necessary nor rational– just the evil in man in full array.

Oradour-sur-Glane had a tram that connected it to the nearby city of Limoges.

There was a garage, a cafe, a restaurant,

even a wine shop,

and a beauty shop.

And there were homes, some over the shops, and two schools for the children of the village. There was, of course, the village church.

The people of Oradour lived, worked, loved, laughed, prayed, ate, grieved–all the ordinary things of life. They cared for others in need. When the Nazis expelled people of the Moselle district from their homes, the village took them in. Think of the towns in America who responded to the people left homeless by Katrina. These were simply people who quietly went about the business of everyday living.

At 2:00pm, the SS arrived. They smiled and reassured the villagers that they were only doing a routine security check and would soon be gone.

By 3:00, all the villagers and any visitors to the town were gathered on a common. The children had been brought in a line from the schools. The people chatted and wondered a bit, but they cooperated fully.

At 3:30, the soldiers divided the people into smaller groups. Women and children were sent to the church. Men were sent to various larger buildings such as barns and the local garage. Everyone was friendly; everyone did as they were told. The soldiers began to set up machine guns–just part of the exercise. Still the people seemed not to be concerned.

At 4:00, there was an explosion somewhere outside the village. It was the signal. The machine guns fired, killing the men and older boys of the village simultaneously in the various locations. When the shooting stopped, soldiers walked among the dead, head-shooting anyone still breathing. The soldiers in the main area of Oradour began to loot the homes and drink the wines from the local shop. Then they set fire to the piles of bodies and the village buildings.

At 5:00, SS men entered the church at the edge of Oradour where all the women and children had sat listening to the events taking place. The soldiers carried a box from which hung fuses which, when lit, filled the church with suffocating smoke. When the women tried to escape through the doors, they were met with gunfire, forcing them back into the church. The doors were locked and the church was burned; all but one of those inside were killed. Among the dead were almost 200 small children, the youngest but eight days old.

One woman threw herself through a window near the altar and escaped to the nearby woods. Back at the barns, several teenage boys had managed to slide out the back door of a building and move from one hiding place to another as the soldiers checked for survivors. They, too, finally managed to get to safety. It is from these eyewitnesses that we know what happened that day.

The war ended. General de Gaulle came to Oradour, a shell of a village, destroyed because . . . well, no one really knows why Oradour was destroyed. Retaliation for D-Day? Suspicion of anti-German behavior? Maybe just because they had the power to do it?

De Gaulle asked the survivors who had been working in Limoges or other areas on that day to allow the village to be left just as it was. It was to be a visual reminder to the future of the costs of war. It was to be a memorial to the innocent who were massacred there by unimaginable evil.

And so it stands today. So stark–only a few signs to designate the buildings and a few plaques that list the names and ages of those who lived there.

Walls have and continue to crumble. The remains are mostly rusted metal frames of ordinary objects. They are haunting. Largest are the automobiles parked where they were that day. Farm equipment and tools are scattered in and around buildings. Bicycles still lean where left, as do tricycles and the frames of prams.

Most haunting to me are the sewing machines. I photographed eight of them and I only walked two streets. I felt driven to locate as many of them as I could. I looked in every building for them. Sewing machines I understand! They represent women who make things. Things they need and things of beauty. The sewing machines connected me to those women who died before I was even born.

Finally Steve and I joined each other and sat on a curbstone. We didn’t say much. Then he said, “In its own way, this whole place is a piece of art.” He was so right. That explains the strength of this memorial. It not only represents the deeds done here that day, it confronts us with where we would have fit had we been here. It moves us exactly as great art does.

The horror of Oradour is like that of Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald, Warsaw. In the camps, the Jews were stripped, shaven, dehumanized. It is easier to understand why they were unable to resist, unable to rebel. It is less so, for me, here. Surely the people relocated from the Moselle region had shared their experiences. How could these villagers not suspected something, not tried to escape, not sent their children off to hide? According to the eye witnesses, none did. Why?

Does fear also create calm in our brains that helps us cope? Is it simply impossible for us to believe something this insanely horrible could actually be happening to us? Is it our humanity that prevents us from seeing or realizing how evil man can be?

I don’t know.

All I know is that I sat on that rock and thought of the mothers in that church and of their despair as they realized they could not protect, save their children. I couldn’t feel their pain, or their panic; but I could feel my connection to them. It was strong, like a huge knot–and there was fear.

I’m glad I discovered Oradour-sur-Glane while planning this trip. I’m glad I went there.I wish everyone would go, especially the political leaders of today’s world. The hate that created this massacre cannot be dismissed as a result of race or creed or even greed. The men who planned and carried out this act gained nothing. There was nothing to gain. This act had no rational purpose.

And those men–The men were found; they were tried; they were convicted; they were sentenced; and then, on the day of sentencing, they were released.

The war was over. It was deemed time to move on.

How incredibly quickly, and how ruinously, we choose to forget.

More later–

Categories: Personal thoughts | 2 Comments

Cabinet of Curiosities

I am putting off writing a blog about Oradour-sur-Glane because it will be hard to capture our feelings without being mawkish. I have never used that word before. I hope it means what I mean.

So this morning I drew my October entry for The Sketchbook Challenge. The theme is Cabinet of Curiosities. I had lots of ideas, but most were beyond my skill set. Looking at some pictures online, I read about someone collecting a coffee measure to use in a future mixed media project.

Well, that reminded me of Betsy Blount, a friend and colleague I haven’t seen in years. Once, on a trip, she bought me a wooden coffee measure. This was in the 1980s. I still use it almost everyday, and thus, I think of her that often. Being ADD, I don’t act on those thoughts, but she is still a great inspiration to me.

Then I thought about other small, unexpected gifts I have received over the years. I thought of ones that showed me someone had looked through all my bluff and seen a glimmer of the real me. There have been quite a few, but I am still limited by my skill set for my drawing.


This is my sketch.
It includes my flower tattoo that my daughter gave me for an early 50s birthday. She told me Steve had said I’d never do it, so naturally, I did. I also knitted the entire time. The artist loved that.

The circle pin was the rage when I was a teen. The aunt who gave it to me always seemed to find the perfect gift for me. She, too, was a bit of an outsider in the family. Maybe she felt that connection with me.

Before I went to Australia for an extended stay, friend Rachel organized a little send off for me and brought a journal for everyone to write travel advice. It became my special travel journal where I recorded the best about a wonderful, life-changing adventure. It always shocks me to discover I am liked. Bad childhood there.

Meghan lived in Colorado so I saw her rarely. One Mother’s Day she sent me two knitted dishcloths. My baby had learned to knit. It was such a gift that she would share even a tiny bit of my passion. I cried all day.

While in France, the only green thing we ever saw anyone eat was lettuce or basil. By the time we settled in our seats for the return flight, I was craving green veggies. I told Steve I would kill for a head of Broccoli. The night we returned he served me one for dinner.

I hope my little skip down memory lane has triggered some pleasant thoughts in your mind. I’d love to hear about them.

More later–

Categories: Personal thoughts | Tags: | 3 Comments

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