From the Studio

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Another Ripple scarf!

I love this pattern so much that I’m making another scarf, this time in jeweled tones for a dear friend’s birthday next month. I imagine her wearing it with a vibrant fall colored outfit.

One of the things that I love best about this pattern, besides its wonderful rhythm, is the way you can choose 2 different yarns that coordinate in color but contrast in texture. As you only use one skein of each yarn, it’s also a great way to use up leftover yarn from a bigger project.

I’ve returned to my art journal pages. I put my journal aside for awhile when it was time to create some pages of your home, the one that you’ve felt most comfortable in. I’m sure that the intent was to journal about what home means to me. Well….in the past 6 years, I have faced a lot of challenging questions about that so this was an interesting exercise for me. After putting it off for days and days, I finally sat my butt in the chair and just started drawing a house.

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I’ve created my dream house with big windows and skylights. I love the idea of living in a home filled with light, illuminating my sacred living space in a wash of warmth. I have yet to find this place of my dreams in real life. As my writing states,

“Under an ocean of stars, I hope to find my true home.”

The house itself (on the left) is made of a brown paper bag glued onto my journal page as a pocket. Our assignment was to create some paper dolls of myself and the loved ones I live with. As my kids are grown and I am no longer married, I have decided not to make the dolls but I will place some beloved photos of myself with my family in the house pocket.

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The next assignment was to find a couple of interesting body shapes in a magazine and cut them out precisely. I laid the body shapes onto my page and then, using a makeup sponge, painted around each shape, thus creating a beautiful silhouette. I especially love the shape on the right and thought that she needed some wings. Then, using a gold gel pen, I wrote down as many descriptive words as I could think of. That exercise really sparked my imagination. I found that sitting outside in nature was the perfect setting for accomplishing this.

Visual journaling gives me such a calm, peaceful feeling…

“Every spirit builds itself a house, and beyond its house a world, and beyond its world a heaven. Know that the world exists for you.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

From the Studio

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Most of the day a fine mist has been hovering in the air giving a moist dewy look to our spring world. The colors look so saturated under a blanket of gray sky.

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Last weekend was very warm with temps soaring into the 90s.  Very unseasonable for springtime in New England where we’re lucky if it makes it to 65 degrees on a late April day. So, I dug out a tank top and a pair of shorts for mulch adventures in the garden.

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So much is budding and blooming in our woodland garden!

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On Saturday I went out and looked at a couple more properties. I often sit and wonder: where will I be moving to next? Moving energy seems to still be very strong in my life. This will be my third move in the last 5 1/2 years. With this new move, I’m hoping to settle down for longer than a year, the amount of time I’ve been where I’m living currently.

I want to grow roots and have a chance to bloom myself.

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I finished Ella’s baby socks this week. For some strange reason, the eyelet pattern seems to be whirling in a different direction on each sock. Is that supposed to happen, I wonder. I might just make a third sock and see what happens. See which sock it ends up matching. They’re also a bit bigger than I thought they would be. They’re toddler socks and she’ll grow right into them.

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Since last weekend was so filled to the brim with house hunting and gardening, I didn’t get time to work on any new journal pages. Instead, I started a new free-form bracelet inspired by the blossoming world around me. Fresh spring greens, silvery bark browns, delicate petal pinks, ethereal blossom whites, fresh buttery yellows.

The explosion of spring colors has also inspired me to start dreaming about painting the walls in my new home. I’ve  been virtually painting walls on 2 websites, Benjamin Moore and Valspar. It so appeals to the Color Kitten in me! I’ve also learned that you can purchase 8 oz. samples of a color you’re interested in so you can try it out on the wall or a small object first.

Oh, the possibilities! A whole new decorating world full of color is opening up!

For my kitchen, I’m being inspired by the yellow orange color of a T-shirt I purchased while on a trip to Hawaii.

I’m looking at colors with names  like “Honeybell” and “Sunrise Beach”. mmmmm…

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Tomorrow a friend and I will attend a public talk given by H.H. the Dalai Lama at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. This has always been a dream of mine, to see him, to hear him speak, to be in the presence of such an amazing spiritual man. I feel my heart swell and open like a spring flower as I sit here and write about it.   Awe. Wonder. Embracing the peace that he is.

A few weeks ago the Boston Globe ran a great story about the building of the chair His Holiness will be seated upon during his talks. It sounds like an incredible work of craftmanship and I can’t wait to see its beauty and the love that was put into its creation.

My call for a spiritual revolution is thus not a call for a religious revolution. Nor is it a reference to a way of life that is somehow other-worldly, still less to something magical or mysterious. Rather, it is a call for a radical re-orientation away from our habitual preoccupation with self towards concern for the wider community of beings with whom we are connected, and for conduct which recognizes others’ interests alongside our own.

~H.H. the Dalai Lama

From the Studio

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I’ve decided to rename my weekly studio post because Wednesdays are now a pretty busy day for me between work and a physical therapy session right afterwards. So, instead of limiting my post to being published just on Wednesdays, I’m expanding my vision to include other weekdays as well. In other words, I can post when I have free time during the week instead of trying to cram it into a half hour before bedtime on a full day!

For the most part, I’ve always been much more comfortable with having specified days or times for when I do certain things. The Capricorn part of me is soothed by structure and schedule and knowing what to do next. That said, there is a part of me that craves just flowing along with the ever changing tides of my life. I’m trying to develop that side of me a lot more these days. It requires more of an openness and an intuitive sense of what I need for balance.

I finally completed my free-form bracelet. I’m sorry to say that I was in such a hurry to mail it that I completely forgot to take a picture of it! Oh dear. Well, all went well with its finishing. I created a variation of a bead and loop clasp where I built up around the loops with peyote stitch so that the “holes” actually became part of the bracelet’s structure. I attached 2 coppery pearls as part of the clasp.

As I observe the unfolding beauty of Spring around me, I am being inspired to create a new free-form bracelet in a color palette that will reflect all of the budding and blooming going on. I love this part of the process, the choosing of harmonious colors and the laying out of the selected beads on my tray to see how they look next to each other. I’m thinking of delicate spring greens and tree bark browns and grays with a sprinkling of forsythia yellow, hyacinth purple and white along with azalea purply-pink.

What do you think of my color palette so far?

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I finished my second Ripple scarf, the one knit in the pink/peach colorway. As I have grown accustomed to having something on my needles now (and loving it!), I just started a pair of sweet, cotton candy pink baby socks for my granddaughter, Ella. Made with a simple eyelet pattern (yes, yarn overs!), they are knitting up pretty fast.

I purchased the 2 Jane Thornley patterns that I wrote about last week, the “Come Spring” vest and the “Knit a Beach” vest. I’ve decided to start with the spring vest. Jane suggests using a gorgeous silk/wool blend yarn from La Lana. I like the colorway she has chosen, especially wonderful for this time of year – apple green, pine, teal and brown. The back panel of the vest is worked up in a hand dyed ribbon yarn blending all of those colors. Time to go yarn shopping!

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Last Saturday I spent a lovely Art Day with 2 dear friends. I worked on the next 2 pages in my art journal, cutting out magazine images into “inchies”, that is, one inch squares. I glued them onto my purple/brown painted pages in a grid pattern and then brushed and wiped a light, muted blue green over the images so they would blend into the page better.

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The next day I collected a bunch of tape rolls – electrical, paint and some sort of grid tape – from all over the house. I cut and placed tape pieces on my next 2 pages in a random design and then sanded, gessoed and sanded some more. Green blue paint was gently wiped over and then sanded.

This was a very interesting and fun way to create a background!

I’m learning that art journal pages can be created with a wide variety of materials that you can find around the house.

The ordinary arts we practice everyday at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.

~Thomas Moore

Studio Wednesday

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This past weekend was a quiet one. With nothing scheduled, I spent it relaxing at home, taking a long walk in the woods and then working on art projects. It doesn’t happen too often but when it does, I sink into every peaceful moment with gratitude and joy for the opportunity to connect with myself once again.

I finished my blue Ripple scarf and started another one in a pink/peach colorway. This is a wonderful way to get a taste of some of the more expensive yarns before committing to a big project. It’s like getting a sample of a high end tea and then, if it’s positively fabulous, getting a larger packet. Now that I’ve had my sample, I’m beginning to dream of a bigger project like a vest or a cardigan made with these luscious yarns. I love the whole concept of the “yarn overs’ because of the lacy organic look it lends to the piece. I found this helpful video on Youtube. I’m a visual learner so watching this works wonders in my understanding of the stitch.

I’ve recently discovered the Ravelry website, an online knit and crochet community. You have to be invited to join but that’s really easy to arrange. Just click on the Request an Invitation link on their homepage and enter your e-mail address. In less than a week, I received my e-mail invitation. I haven’t had a chance to explore the site thoroughly but it looks like a wonderful resource and a great way to connect with kindred yarn and fiber spirits. In the profile you set up, you are able to keep track of your projects and yarn purchases, favorite patterns and designers. I stumbled upon a designer, Jane Thornley, whose beautiful patterns took my breath away, especially this beach vest.

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It reminds me of free-form beading, only with yarn.  Described as an “experience combining simple stitches to create textures that evoke the blue sea frothed with ocean latte and sand hues of a summer beach.”, I feel this pattern whispering to me.

I also love the “Come Spring” vest. In these colors, it’s so earthy looking.

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I was fashioning the loop clasp on my free-form bracelet when my thread broke. I’m not sure what happened there. Now I have to pull out beads so I can get enough thread tail to weave in. Then I’ll attach a new thread and finish the clasp. Once that’s done, I’ll post a photo of the completed bracelet.

I worked on the second page of my art journal entitled “Soul Armor”. The prompt is “What protects and nourishes my creative spirit?” This journaling exercise was so helpful for me to get in touch with what nourishes my creativity. Some of my favorite things include walking in nature, gardening, kindred art spirits, taking photographs and visiting the local bead and fabric stores.

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I’ve recently joined the 2009 Creative Everyday challenge, a very laid back commitment to do something creative each day whether it is cooking, writing, taking photos or working on art projects. You can read more about it on Leah Piken Kolidas’ website. Thanks for encouraging and inspiring our creative spirits, Leah!

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The April challenge is “Color”. Last fall I created polyclay citrus cane beads in lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange. This month’s challenge is perfect for starting a vibrantly colored fringe-y bracelet with my cane beads.

Stay tuned for another fringe-y bracelet journey!

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for”

~Georgia O”Keefe

Studio Wednesday – Art Projects

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A Spring nest of yarn.

With these 2 luscious skeins, I’m knitting a “Ripple” scarf, a pattern I purchased from Spincycle Yarns. The yarn in the nest is the Berroco “Seduce’ yarn I was talking about last week. Yum…

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I love the contrast in textures between the linen/silk yarn and the mohair-y wool yarn. I find myself being deeply drawn to pale blue these days.

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With this wonderful pattern, I’m learning all about “yarn overs” and how they can create a fabulous see-thru lacy look. I’m also being drawn to lacy, flowy designs.

More work on my free-form bracelet. It will be ready for the clasp very soon.

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For the past several months, I’ve been gessoing the pages of an old datebook, preparing it for transformation into an art journal. I walk by it everyday and feel its call to add color and images and words and doodles. I daydream about what I will do. Yet, I do nothing. A couple of days ago, I stumbled across the most wonderful blog called Caspiana and posts about Soul Journaling, a 22 day step by step guide to creating a soul journal. Hoo-ray! It was just what I needed to inspire and guide me to sit down with my art journal once again.

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I’ve glued down my ripped up dictionary pages and am ready to write using the prompt “Today I feel…” I’ll do that tonight. Next will be gessoing over my words and doodling my name all over the first page with colored pencils and markers.

I am joyously taking the first steps in my art journaling experience.

I stopped by the library on the way home from work and have a new pile of books to snuggle up in bed with tonight.

Opening each book and sifting through its words. That pleasure and a steaming cup of herbal tea to guide me toward sweet dreams.

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Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own. ~William Hazlitt