Engaging at Last (hopefully…)

IMG_0577It is Sunday.  Since the last time I tried to post an entry of any meaningful content, a lot has changed…(apparently, also including the software to edit and upload any photos, as I just found out)!!!  We will see how it goes.

Even though it must seem that not much has been going on blog-wise here at danglingthreads (given that entries have been spotty, at best), as often is the case, much has been going on behind the screen.  Not exactly one to relish the effects of “new update available”, I didn’t update my computer’s software for years…literally.  Well, Apple got its revenge.  Then, wordpress decided to get in on the fun.  White screen; no content.  “Error” this, and “Error” that.   Luckily I have kids who are beyond generous with their time and expertise…so, though I may be running as fast as I can to catch up (and, cope) with all of the new nits and bits, maybe, now finally, posting might become a regular thing once again.

That said, the sound of running, dripping water at 11:30 last night, reminded me that I am not queen of my empire.  A broken feed to the toilet on the second floor “failed”…meaning that water flooded the bathroom, dripped down through the ceiling lights on the first floor, bubbled up the walls and ceiling on my newly finished paint job and then continued on its merry way into the basement.  Only a few drips managed to hit the kayak stored just below there…the rest, did its best to soak all in its path…On the bright side…we were home, and since the Olympics are going on, we were awake.

Enough of the rant.  Creative work has truly been happening all along.  Much of it has been “pick-up work”, done in the very early morning hours, or, savored after finishing a daily stint of painting…At the moment, my version of the Passacaglia, the paper-pieced wonder by Willyne Hammerstein, is starring… (photos to come, I promise…)   That said, although my intentions are ALWAYS good, the work routine that used to happen, just doesn’t anymore.  For years, I could count on blocks of time every day…mornings for creative, new work; afternoons, for quietly hand- stitching, or quilting…or, whatever else suited my fancy…(a luxury, I know).  These days, I no longer have “weeks and then, weekends” (those important Sunday afternoons for blogging, especially)…the days simply wend out one after another, with surprises nearly everyday.  “Plans” seem to exist only to be abandoned!  Those (the surprises) have added a true richness to my daily life, but have wrought havoc with any kind of steady progress to be shared in these pages.  SO, there is now a subscribe button up there on the right…it lets me off the hook a bit…I do intend to try to post regularly (but am looking forward to not feeling so guilty when I just can’t).  And, it seems far more respectful of you and your time…if you are game, click on it.  You will get an email anytime there is a new post.  Nothing else.

ps:  a footnote about the photo at the top…(edited with that new, pesky software, if you are thinking it falls short):  In a bit of a hissy fit over my seemingly unending paint job, and just to get that big (guilt-inducing) maniIa envelope off the counter, I tossed out the ton of dried-up zinnia flower heads saved from last year onto the bare dirt outside my window…VERY late in the season.  They should have ended up as gourmet bird food.  But, a few days later…green sprouts!  Then, stems, leaves, and, buds!…and they grew!  Flowers…hundreds and hundreds of flowers!   And, then…THEY came: the butterflies!  BIG. Beautiful.  All kinds!  So many!  Everyday!  A gift…once again reminding me that not everything has to be hard.

post ps:  A free afternoon yesterday…could have read a book, but instead, I played in the basement…Citra-Solv and National Geographic magazines…collage fodder!

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Take care.

 

Just Because it is Sunday…

Sunday has traditionally been my “blog day”…back in the good old days, it was the perfect day to share my treasures from the flea market…who could wait?  Not me.  The past month or so has been hard, mostly because I am just SO tired of the mess:  windows still to paint, in spite of extreme diligence on my part.  We took a trip south to meet up with Jame and Christina in Nashville.  That was good.  It felt like something a “normal” person might do.  Just get on the road for a bit; pick a few intriguing places to explore…drive for miles and stop wherever.  But the “price” for such a “fling” had to be paid at the other end.  Four foot tall weeds!  Everywhere.  Invading all previously civilized spaces…nature run amuck…or more than likely, just keeping us sure who is really in charge.  We have been fighting back since we got home.  No windows have gotten painted…which means the mess remains.

Unexpected consequences from not upgrading my software as I should have (for years) then resulted in not being able to access this page AT ALL…for weeks.  All has been fixed by my savvy (and ever-helpful) children.  Hence, this (once again) apologetic post.  I am working when I can…but, just staying “even” is the best I can do at the moment.  This is not an abandoned blog.  I am actually making progress every day on the Passacaglia…”pick-up” work…but, still…Feeling more like the turtle than the hare, at the moment.  Stay tuned.  There is good stuff coming…just not today.

Waltzing with the Passacaglia

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As a crew of men chip the stucco off my house, piece by piece, I have retreated to the relative quiet(?) of my bedroom on the far end of the “project”.  Every window in the house is sporting blue plastic.   (Haven’t seen the sunset for days…)  Every thing in close proximity to a window or door has been moved away.  And, once again, plastic or drop cloths cover ALL.  Homesteading once again, I think.  This is the last big thing in our “house adventure(?)”.  We knew it had to be done going in…and am so glad it is underway…but, maybe wishing we did it first????    A total distraction.IMG_5960The bright spot in this whole thing (besides the fact that I am not out there chipping off stucco myself) is that it has opened up an opportunity to focus on just one thing.  There is a SINGLE clear flat space in the entire house: the dining room table.  So, I have settled into the Passacaglia.IMG_5962The proper name of the quilt is actually, The Passacaglia with Mr. Penrose.  It was designed by Willyne Hammerstein, a Dutch lawyer, and is one of many gorgeous quilts in her book “Millefiore Quilts”.  Though she did not do so, most who have taken on the challenge of making one are using English Paper Piecing.  A “passacaglia” is a musical term for a series of variations on the underlying bass of a melody, in slow triple time; Mr. Penrose was a mathematician.  The quilt is intricate (an understatement)) and totally engaging.  Google it.  You will see what I mean.IMG_5965I have never done any paper piecing.  Maybe making this quilt be my first shot at it will be a disaster.  But, so far…it is all good.  I am taking a slightly different approach than most. Using fabrics with repeated motifs is key (again, check the quilts others have made on Pinterest), but I also wanted to use many of the very special fabrics in my stash that I have been saving for years…ikats, hand-marbled cuts, batiks, hand-dyed (mostly vintage, mostly my own)…treasures which for a long time have seemed “too good” to use.   (Sounds a bit silly, right?  That is what I have decided too.  If not now, when?)IMG_5968This is quiet work.  Hand-stitching.  One can pick up a piece and make a bit of progress.  But, it is all adding up…IMG_5971

IMG_5970To be continued…

Making Lemonade…

IMG_5761The blizzard is gone.  The sun is out.

Yesterday it was a totally different story.  The wind howled and the snow fell… all night, all day…and then, all night once again! Keeping a long-held promise to myself, I hauled my bins of “things to dye” (stashed since the move) out of the basement.  I was thinking that this might be a prime time to try some snow-dyeing…and to (finally) sort through the random piles of “this and that”…to toss, to keep…to dye!   Such an industrious activity on a “stay-in-bed-and-read-a-book” kind of day…

But, actually, it was kind of fun.  I felt so virtuous…After about an hour of sorting, tossing and folding, I had three bins of neatly organized fabric ready for some future work…and four piles of stuff for my snow-dyeing venture.  I had vaguely assigned a “color” for each pile: pink, green, blue, and purple.  This morning BEFORE engaging in any other snow-related activity (like shoveling), I actually followed through!  I dumped my bag of soda ash (about three cups) into the washing machine and filled it about halfway with very hot water.  I tossed in pile number one–the blue pile and let it soak while I had my breakfast.

I kept it simple.  As I pulled each piece out of the washer, I twisted it as I wrung out the soda solution back into the washer tub (I was hoping to re-use it for each of the piles…SO efficient!!!), and put it in the awaiting bin.  When the washer was empty of fabric, I tossed in the “green” pile!  I carried the “blues” down into the basement (note, the door in the above photo…the mother lode of snow, right?)  I set up a bucket with an upside-down plastic bowl and a perforated plastic plate (they elevate the fabrics up out of the spent dye solution once the snow has melted).  Then I put in a layer of my twisted and scrunched stuff…it was pretty random…old linen napkins, a shirt or two, previously but unsuccessful dye experiments…found fabrics from the flea market.  And, then, I opened the door and shoveled enough snow into the bucket to cover it all completely (sure beats hauling bags of ice from the grocery store!).  I sprinkled a random selection of “blue” dyes…cobalt, navy, teal…over the ice.  Since I still had room in my bucket, I repeated the whole process…this time choosing several different blue dyes…And then just because I could, I topped it all off with another big fat pile of snow…goes to show, there is more than one way to shovel snow…some much more fun than others!

IMG_5759I repeated the process…until all my piles were gone…Look at those lovely buckets full of promise…tomorrow is going to be a very colorful day!  Can’t wait!

JUST PLAIN FUN!

IMG_5744It has been one of the joys of unpacking…the re-discovery of a treasure (previously stashed so deep in my pile that it would have never seen the light of day, except for “the move”), and re-visiting that old idea with a fresh point of view…maybe, leading to a possible path to new work?    (These are also the very things that are currently creating a log-jam in the “studio”–the place where no work gets done.)  STILL.

Why?

I don’t have a straight-forward answer.  Most of the boxes are unpacked.  I have re-discovered so many treasures, each one fraught with inspiration never acted upon.  I sort and I stack…but I don’t “stash”…not yet, and maybe, never again.   At this point it IS very tempting to just put the stuff away…somewhere, anywhere to finally have a clear, flat space to work.

But, instead, I have found that it is far more engaging to just pick something off of the pile and “play” with it.  Hence…the envelopes!

IMG_5734I bought the template years and years ago.  Found the tattered, but oh! so charming children’s books over time.  Got the “ELLE Collection catalog for a quarter at the Goodwill. Took them to the beach a few weeks ago, after all the frenzy of the holidays.  Laid it all out on the table…and, played.  One has to admit, the envelopes could be useful…but really, it was all about the play.  Making them was just plain fun.

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My “Sophie” Scarf, Version 1

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My happy daughter, modeling her Christmas present…Version One of my “Sophie” scarf adventure.  (Notice the “danglies”…they were a real hit…definitely add to the “fun” factor!)  Version 2 (for me!) is actually not TOO far behind…maybe a month, or so?   I am still enjoying the process…and that is a VERY good thing…

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ps:  Still frustrated by my camera…or my photo editing…these are NOT the colors…far too bright, and yet, I can’t seem to “find” the right ones…

Still Playing “Catch Up”

I am not sure when my life is going to seem “ordinary” again.  For lots of important reasons, it still is NOT.  So, in lieu of “thoughtful words and meaningful commentary” (my goal, anyhow), I am simply posting some photos of what I have been doing as I snatch moments from my days…

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The “Sophie” scarf is progressing.  I am crocheting around the edges of the scarf… combining a lovely purple with a dark hunter green…attaching the dangles on the points, and outlining them in single crochet, as I go…more than half done…

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Pieces and parts for my holiday cards are all over my dining room table (studio still under “renovation”)…soon I will have to come up with the faces…otherwise, think they might be kind of interesting in the end…

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Definitely…face time…

ps:  This is the best I can do right now…more later…promise…

Taking a Break…

IMG_0360I admit that it IS totally ironic that after all that the blog and I have managed to plow through over the past two!! years: the first summer of painting the old house, then, the sorting, and packing up of every single thing we owned; the autumn of the “Big Move” (three truck loads, three van loads), my mom’s illness and continuing (thank goodness) recovery, the ever-demanding painting and repairs needed in our new house, the unpacking on this end (still not done a year and a half later: those boxes are now sitting,  not-so-patiently, waiting for their turn), that NOW would seem to be the time to “just be”…to push the re-set button…but, I think that THAT is what we need to do.  The blog and I are taking a “summer vacation”.  We will be back in September.  If you send us your email address (to andrea@danglingthreads.com), “we” will knock on your “door” as the days once again get shorter, and the nights, cooler…take care.

“Sophie” Circle Count…

It has been a rough few weeks.  Went out into the field to “advise” where to plant a few forsythia bushes, hoping to camouflage the well head a bit.  I tried to “help” by pulling a few weeds…and, the next morning woke up with a swollen face, eyes, nearly shut, itching like crazy…Got drugs…turned out I was allergic to those…I became one huge rash from head to toe, and even in-between those. Itch? beyond belief!  OUCH!

IMG_0330 I am in “recovery mode” now…(SO glad for that).  The bright spot is my circle count…301, and counting!  Not sure how many I will truly need, but my quick estimate is about 1000!  Still having fun playing with colors…ordered a few more skeins to add to the mix…

Minor Victories?

As of a few weeks ago, we have now been in our “new” house for over a year.  And, though it seems that I have had a paint brush as a somewhat permanent extension to my right hand for most of the year, there remain rooms to be painted, and boxes to be unpacked.  Most importantly, time in the studio is still very “hit or miss”, mostly “miss”.  But, oh how good it feels whenever I “drop in” to gather together sketches and supplies for the random pick-up work that keeps me feeling like the artist I used to be…

This year’s holiday cards got done that way.  Stopping in to pull out potential papers, to trace out shapes to be cut “on the fly”, then to punch, stamp and glue…a few at a time, in random stolen moments.  More than once I have taken and edited photos as the cards took shape to post…even, posted some that were “up” for about a day.   But, I truly hated them (think all the gold foil really confused my “smart” camera).  Tried taking photos on sunny days, and on those far more common gray November ones.  I finally gave up, snapped a picture with my phone, and that is the one that graces this post (so to speak…)

IMG_0100In the scheme of things, I know that homemade cards just aren’t that important.  But, I have made them for years and years.  I enjoy the once a year challenge to make a small piece of art in a series using random stuff from my stash.  And, hopefully the friends and family with whom I share them look forward to receiving them as part of their holidays, as well.  This year, though designing and making them happened in random “free” moments, finishing them seems like a victory of sorts.  Happy holidays!  I hope you and yours have one filled with meaningful traditions of your own.