BY KATRINA RODABAUGH // There are few books I can wholeheartedly recommend the way I can recommend Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion to anyone interested in sustainable fashion. That’s right, anyone. I first came across this book by Elizabeth L. Cline when I heard her interviewed on NPR a few years ago. I promptly bought […]
Since the drought has officially been declared over, I decided to plant a garden this year. Not such an easy endeavor… Well, I discovered this morning, raccoons were busy last night digging up my sunflowers and zinnias. This really hurts because I pulled weeds, amended the soil and carefully planted the seeds according to the directions on the package. At first, the birds were eating the sunflower seeds, but I was able to outsmart the birds by covering the top of the location with netting. I suspect the raccoons are searching for the booty buried by the blue jays. The blue jays are busy taking dry cat food pieces from the cat’s bowl when he’s not looking.
The wild life does not seem to be interested in the zucchini nor the crookneck squash.
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 use 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 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…
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
My birthday celebration would not be complete without reservations at Cafe Rio in Rio Del Mar.
Mango Salsa atop Swordfish resting on shaved Brussel Sprouts and Rice was delicious, but of course, I saved room for dessert.
Words cannot express the intense flavor of this dessert. As Tess Flanders expressed in 1911, “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.”
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.
Here is my first carved block .
I decided to separate the block into individual segments to experiment with pattern and design.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.