Summer Stitches

As the mercury rises, it’s time to pull out my summer clothes.  Looking in my closet, I realize, “I don’t have anything to wear.”  I used to spend more time at the shopping mall, but now I’m embracing “slow fashion for the home sewist.”  For a definition and interesting article about slow fashion, read this article by Kate Fletcher.   http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/clothing/269245/slow_fashion.html

Well, time to set up my sewing machine and re-discover the many hidden gems in my stash of fabric.  I do recall purchasing a few yards of cotton canvas fabric designed by Yoko Saito I purchased a couple of years ago at, A Verb For Keeping Warm in Oakland, CA. After purchasing the fabric, I discovered Ms. Saito is an internationally known quilt artist, and I also own one of her books.  What a coincidence!

Across the store, a bolt of fabric caught my eye.  I noticed the fabric because of the color, but most of all the modern look with a vintage appeal of vases on fabric and the simple intersection of lines drawn on the vases. The sales person mentioned, “perhaps the fabric would suit kitchen curtains.”  I had another idea…

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McCall’s Pattern M6739

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Now I have something to wear with my green purse.

 

 

 

 

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Flower Power

An article in the May 21, 2017, New York Times Style Magazine by Charlotte DiCarcaci, mentions for Fall, designers “have embraced Morris’s (William Morris) florid flora-on-flora ethos with a vengeance” inspired by the influences of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, especially Rosetti and the architectural talent of Philip Webb.  Philip Webb, a major player in the Arts & Crafts movement built the infamous Red House where Morris combined floral wallpapers and textiles influencing 19th-century aesthetics.   After reading the short two paragraph article in the New York Times Style Magazine, I wanted to know a little bit more about Morris’s Red House and its floral aesthetic.  The exercise prompted me to take stock in the many floral bouquets found in my fabric collection, Liberty cotton, Italian cotton and Swiss.

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At the same time, I reminisced about one of my favorite French Symbolist painters Odilon Redon, (b. April 22, 1840, Bordeaux France, d. July 6 1916, Paris France) and his Ophelia, 1900-1905.

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Along the way,  I discovered British painter, Sir John Everett Millais (b. June 8, 1829, Southhampton, UK, d. August 13, 1896, Kensington, London, UK).  Millais was identified with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  It took Millais, eleven hours a day, six days a week for a five month period to paint his Ophelia, 1851-1852.  According to my limited research, this painting detailed the flora and landscape along the banks of the Hogsmill River in Surrey near Tolworth.   In fact, Barbara Webb, a resident of Old Malden solved the mystery location of the painting.  The following is an interesting article detailing the event.   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/7863332/Mystery-of-location-of-Millais-Ophelia-solved.html

John Everett Millais

Location:  Tate Gallery, London

I find the connection between William Shakeseare’s description of Ophelia’s garland and the  “language of flowers” or sometimes called floriography interesting.  The red poppy found in Millais’s Ophelia symbolizes sleep and death.

The language of flowers is a means of cryptological communication through the use or arrangement of flowers.  During the Victorian Era, messages were encoded in bouquets. An online article by Romie Stott, dated August 15, 2016, compares Victorian flower language as a pre-digital version of emoji. http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-flowerobsessed-victorians-encoded-messages-in-bouquets

Here are some recent photographs I captured while in San Francisco at the Conservatory of Flowers.

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Photo Credit:  Mary Lou Fall

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Photo Credit: Mary Lou Fall (The “corpse flower” – titan arum)

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall (The “bat flower” – tacca chantrieri)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Collecting Inspiration

This year for my birthday, I celebrated at the beach.  Two days of listening to the pounding surf, as I hiked through sand brought in from the storms of 2017, while hunting for sea glass. The first day was windy and cold.

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The second day on the sand was gorgeous, but there was not an abundance of sea glass.  I decided to focus on rocks with holes, lines and texture as my found objects.  (I always check for signage regarding removing objects from the beach).

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Rock Beads ©2017 Mary Lou Fall

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Lines, Intersections and Texture ©2017 Mary Lou Fall

My birthday celebration would not be complete without reservations at Cafe Rio in Rio Del Mar.

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Photo Credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Mango Salsa atop Swordfish resting on shaved Brussel Sprouts and Rice was delicious, but of course, I saved room for dessert.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Words cannot express the intense flavor of this dessert.  As Tess Flanders expressed in 1911, “Use a picture.  It’s worth a thousand words.”

My birthday 2017

Photo credit: ©2017 Mary Lou Fall

The end to a perfect evening and birthday.

 

 

 

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Block Printing

As the temperature rises, I’m reminded it’s Summer.  A linen blouse, crop pants, sandals and a ponytail pretty much describe my look for the season.  Comfortable clothes combined with the heat, and last but not least, barbecue ignite an intense creative curiosity leading me down an unknown path.  Perhaps I’m nostalgic for Summer days gone by when, as a young girl, the end of the school year meant staying up late and sleeping in, swimming all summer, making lanyards at my local Parks and Recreation Department or hanging out in the mystery section at the library.  Along the way, I loved biking through fields of flowers, racing with dragonflies, and collecting rocks.  A time and place I created for myself, the freedom to explore without any encumbrances.

My current Summer journey leads to an intense study of block printing.  Recently, I attended a block printing class at A Verb For Keeping Warm in Oakland, CA with Rebecca of Rekh & Datta. Rebecca shared a video of India, describing a brief history of  block printing along with the individual family that translates her designs to fabric.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Here is my first carved block .

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

I decided to separate the block into individual segments to experiment with pattern and design.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Much to my surprise, some interesting patterns emerged.  I feel fortunate to have the “time” to let my curiosity soar to new heights and discover amazing possibilities.

I used to think reminiscing about the past was not healthy, but I now believe my past is my present.  Looking back is not past history, and according to Sadie Stein, “As the deep vaults of history are made accessible to everyone via technology, the past has become an alternative present.”  Ms. Stein’s article appeared in The New York Times Style Magazine, entitled, We’re Living in a Copycat Culture, dated January 31, 2017.

“The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.”    William Faulkner

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Swatching

Well…hopefully last night was the end of the rainy season in Northern California.  Last year at this time, I was wishing for more rain.  Now, the drought is officially over!  I look forward to pulling some weeds and planting sunflower and zinnia seeds along with a few tomato plants.  At the moment, I’m on the mend due to a stress fracture in my left foot, which gives me more time for knitting.

A couple of years ago, The Yarn Truck was parked at one of my local yarn stores, and I purchased two skeins of OctoBaa 100% superwash merino (8 ply sport weight) 270 yards, from Indiodragonfly.  What can I create with 540 yards of yarn?  Time to swatch.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

 

This stitch pattern above reminds me of ornamentation found on Etruscan and Greek architecture, vases and tomb paintings.  I had an idea of combining two different stitch patterns in one project, so I studied the specific visual qualities of the above swatch.  I noticed the dimensionality created by the knit and purl stitches.  Also, if you look closely, there is a pattern within a pattern.  Do you see it?  Notice the movement of the pattern.

The first swatch pictured above deepened my desire to find other patterns which would express  surface movement.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Isolating the hidden pattern in Swatch 1, inspired me to seek out the use of cables. Swatch 2 represents an element found in Swatch 1.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Swatch 3 builds upon surface elements found in Swatches 1 and 2.  The cables found in both swatches lean to the left and the use of garter stitch horizontally separates the vertical elements of stockinette stitch.

Recently, I’ve made a concerted effort to really “look” at my knitting.  What relationship develops between the yarn and stitches while creating the overall pattern?  How does this relationship visually enhance the color and qualities of the fiber?  Or, is it the other way around…How does the synergy between the elements affect the outcome?  I believe, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

 

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Wrapped in Ripples

As I explore new techniques in knitting, my posts are happening less frequent.  The more involved the project, the longer between posts. My most recent endeavor forced me into learning short-row shaping.

Breathing Space, designed by Veera Valimaki is a true commitment to knitting.  Knitting stripes combined with short-row shaping creates an interesting asymmetrical hemline.   The pattern is well-written and fits like a dream.

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Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

Another project I’ve completed is inspired by an image I captured on my local hiking trail.  The local landscape has changed  quite a bit due to the flooding California experienced this Winter. Trees have toppled and the power of gushing water forcing its way through our creeks and dams, has altered the topography.

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Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall  (Ripples In The Sand)

 

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Photo Credit:  Mary Lou Fall (Wrapped In Ripples)

The pattern stitch paired with  Zealana Rimu creates a beautiful sculptural piece of knitting.

Wrapped In Ripples is inspired by my photo, Ripples In The Sand.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Click on the link below to get the free pattern of Wrapped In Ripples.

Wrapped In Ripples

 

 

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Let The Yarn Dictate The Project

Lately, I’ve been taking inventory of my yarn collection trying to remember the intended purpose of each purchase.  Well…it’s been quite an exercise.  A great majority of my selections were impulse decisions without a particular project in mind.  I liked the color, feel, or was stimulated by the environment in which I shopped.

Attending Stitches West surrounded by one giant color wheel detailed by the different gauges of yarn, the tactile experience of the many different combinations of plant and/or animal fiber along with the social camaraderie of like-minded individuals, stimulates my senses and wets my appetite for creativity.  Hence, lots of yarn without a project.  Recently, while shopping at one of my favorite yarn stores in the East Bay, a sales person mentioned, “Don’t let the project dictate the yarn.”  Interesting…

While attending Stitches West about five years ago, I purchased two hanks of a bulky/chunky weight hand-dyed yarn from Urban Fauna located in SF (since closed).  I wanted to make sure I found just the right project for the yarn.  Spending time on Ravelry definitely provided a multitude of knitting options.

L’Enveloppe designed by Sally Melville caught my design eye.  “It’s not a  cape, not a poncho, not a shrug, not a shawl, not a cowl.  It’s small enough to wear under a coat, but big enough to wear instead of one, and it envelops us in style.”  The pattern is offered in four different gauges and two different stitch patterns, garter and seed.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Here is my knitted interpretation of L’Enveloppe.  I decided to knit the pattern in garter stitch, which combined with the yarn creates a well-defined three dimensional surface. The pattern is interesting to knit, with straight-forward instructions, and the fit is amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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