Monday, June 15, 2015

Spring Squam 2015: Day 3 and Travel Home. Art Fair and Re-entry

I was dressed for the Art Fair (in my Stephen West "Mesa" which got a lot of comments...it was the right crowd for this sort of thing) and was ready to go with cash in my pocket!
Last time, I had scoped out all the vendors on the Squam website beforehand, but I couldn't find the information when I looked this time. It wasn't quite as important as there weren't the crushing crowds I remember from last time.

The camp always does a good job of dressing up the dining hall.
These ice block candle lights are a specialty and are fantastic every time. (For video and pictures of the ice harvest, click here.)

I circled the outside of the room visiting with every vendor--talking, asking questions, admiring the wares. The first time around I bought this wool from DeepWater Dyeworks.
The man was wearing a kilt; I am helpless to resist. (In addition to selling yarn, he represents utilikilt.) The orange is sock yarn--80% superwash wool, 10% nylon and 10% cashmere. It's lofty and squishy. The purple is a scrumptious lace weight--70% alpaca, 20% silk and10% cashmere. I don't have any plans for it, but it is unbelievably soft and whatever it becomes will be wonderful. :)

I then made a circle of the inside block of vendors. I think I circled the whole place two more times and picked up these lovelies:

A sweet little charm from Jessica Mixer.
She had so many sweet charms. If you browse her etsy shop, I bet you'll be tempted!

These don't match the charm, but I have a hard time resisting leaves.
The earrings are from Melissa Partridge at Color Me Happy.

And I picked up this printed cloth from Elisabeth Kelly Design.
I think it was sold as a napkin but it's larger than a usual napkin. I bought just one and my first thought (as always) is to use it in a quilt. But on second thought maybe I'll stitch on it.

My most self-indulgent purchase was this leather purse from LeatherWoolLinen.
She described the bag as "comfortable" and she was so right. It sits so softly on my shoulder and yet won't slide off because of the texture of the raw leather. Once I tried it on, I was sold. It was frightfully expensive, but remember...I had cash in my pocket and I knew how to use it.
Some of her leather items were marked by the cow's brand but this one was not. You can just make out her name stamp on the upper right corner. After using this bag for the past week I think I will be giving away all of my other purses. Or maybe I'll try to sell some on Yerdle. If anyone knows how that works, please let me know!

I visited Colleen's booth (from the altered book class) and got to chat with her and her daughter for a bit. She gave me this sign which came from a conversation she had with a cab driver.
I plan to hang it on my door at work. ;)

There were many, many lovely objects. While it's still up, you can see a list of the vendors here.

By the time I left, it was 9:30, hardly anyone was there and they were starting to pack it up. I enjoyed a walk back to the cabin and was tired enough, replete enough, that I didn't look for any living rooms to invite myself into. I cozied into bed, did a little reading and enjoyed a good night's sleep.

The next day was time to go home. :( But at least this time I wasn't leaving at 6 am and had time to enjoy breakfast and left at a more reasonable 8:30. By this time my necklace was "this big":
So close to done!
So close, I finished it while waiting for my flight. (With a two hour delay, I had plenty of time!)
I tacked down the circles with little stitches using the yarn. I arranged them to make two infinity symbols on the sides. The pattern recommended using thread, but I didn't have any and the stitches are hardly noticeable in the garter stitch.

I also didn't have a clasp but it was long enough that I just sewed the ends together and put it on over my head. I think it hangs a little low but we'll see how it is with a proper shirt to wear it with. I did see a version on Ravelry that was only three circles instead of five and I think that would be better. Maybe I'll undo this one to the third circle and then reknit it instead of knitting a whole new one.

After that I had no more knitting so I took out my Zentangle card and finished it up.
I added dots to the top right quadrant, filled in some missing lines and solid parts, and did some shading with the pencil.

After that I was out of activities and "had to" read. No sad story here.

On the way home I stopped at my sister's again. It was my niece's birthday and I had some notepads to give her from the Art Fair. I picked them up from a classmate who had a booth, Genevieve's Granddaughter. [It looks like her website is still under construction.] My niece is a crafty one and recently has self-published a book, The Life of a Bunny. I thought she may need more writing supplies. :)

I made re-entry into regular life a little easier this year by taking Monday off of work. I spent the day stitching and reviewing pictures. You've seen that I have made good progress on the embroidery project. I even tried to recapture the feeling of stitching on the dock by sitting on my porch, but it is very humid here and I am sorely lacking a lake.

I have done nothing to the altered book except gather up bits of paper and things that might go into it. In part, I'm waiting for an email that's supposed to come from Colleen of the supplies that we used. There's no way I would remember them all and some were very handy.

I'm still working on unpacking and putting things away. I brought a lot of supplies with me and you've seen how much I bought at the fair. But perhaps I'm stalling to try and keep with me the feeling of being there. The communal feeling of support. The shared value placed on making. The belief that nothing needs to be cheap, easy or fast for efficiency's sake. And that you can only start from where you are, being who you are.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Spring Squam 2015: Day 3. Extras and a Walk

Day 3 (Saturday) dawned bright and sunny and warm. It was such a gift after the cooler days that had proceeded it. Everyone was excited to be finishing up their last class and attending the Art Fair on Saturday night. The atmosphere was excited, although tinged with the knowledge that it was our last day.

I dressed in my now-temperature-appropriate capris and my two-tosh Scarpetta. And not to trust first impressions of the weather, I wore my orange tulip socks again!
The morning was spent in class which I wrote about here. The afternoon schedule was free with a couple more "Extras" offered. The first one was billed as making your own perfume (no thanks) and turned out to be more about making home skin products. I skipped it and went for the walk I had been intending to take at last Squam!

Or, not really the intended walk because I headed out to find the path that goes up West Rattlesnake Mountain (1,243 ft), but I couldn't find the entrance to the path from the road. So I took a much more clearly marked path that mostly followed the road and didn't involve any steep climbs.

I enjoyed getting out, getting moving and, I'll say it again, the glorious weather. (Too cool for me to sit in the shade, but perfect for walking or sitting in the sun.)

I bent down and saw little things like this slip of a plant pushing its way up through the matted leaves:
And this tiny frog:
And I looked up and saw the sun play on needles
and leaves.
These leaves had apparently fallen on the road and then been either pushed into the dirt, or covered by a thin layer of dirt.
I was fascinated with how it looked like a stain or an impression of leaves. But there were still real leaves under there.

After the walk, I returned to my dock, switched my wool shirt for a tshirt and soaked my feet in the cold lake water.
I also enjoyed a lie-down on the dock in the sun. The cool breeze couldn't find me there and I was so happy to be laying there.

The second "Extra" of the afternoon was on Boro stitching taught by Samantha Hoyt Lindgren.
Boro stitching is similar to Sashiko, but Samantha explained that whereas Sashiko was used by the rich to decorate and embellish fabric, Boro was used by the working class to mend everyday clothing. It is normally done on denim or other heavy duty fabrics, but like any technique you can use it for what you want.

I had a pair of pants with me that were ripping along the top inside pocket seams. I also had some extra denim. First thing was to decide if you want the patch fabric to be on the inside or outside. Since I was dealing with pockets and flaps, I pinned the patch on the inside.
The jeans were made from a stretch denim but the patch fabric was not, so I placed the patch on the bias so it would have a little stretch to match the main fabric.

I then stitched through the layers with a sturdy quilting thread. There is special Japanese thread or floss made just for this stitching. Or you can use pearl cotton if you can't find the Japanese stuff. In this case, I liked that the quilting thread matched the jeans. I didn't want to draw a lot of attention to my butt.

You can do any pattern: horizontal lines, vertical lines, concentric circles or squares, diagonals or you can echo the shape of the rip you're mending. Or another variation was random small stitches that look like little grains of rice!

You can see that I chose to work horizontally. I had to open the pockets and stitch from inside them so I wouldn't sew the pockets shut.

Samantha thought my stitches were a little larger than they should be (I confess I was rushing to get them done!) so she suggested adding the vertical stitching as reinforcement.

You can also see that the knots are on the outside! You don't have to, but that is what is traditional. It is a real "honesty" in mending...you're not trying to blend or make it disappear but at the same time you're still making it beautiful. I'm sure you can imagine some garments look better after the mending than they did originally!

Once I had finished the stitching, I cut away the patch from the inside close to the stitching. I didn't do anything to finish the edges. Denim is too thick to be folding the edges over and I really don't think it will ravel. I suppose if I were really concerned about it, I could have just done a whip stitch around the edges, but I didn't.

I was so excited to be able to wear these pants again, I wasted no time in putting them on as I changed for the Art Fair. Here I am showing off the mend (not my butt, in case that is not clear!)
I also added my "Mesa" sweater as I expected the evening to be cooler.

And to keep you up-to-date with the knitting progress, I was still working away at the necklace.
I had some time during the beginning of the embroidery class when Joetta was talking to us and on Friday evening when I invited myself and my roommate over to the neighbouring cabin. (I was not about to spend a lonely night in my cabin while the rest slept the evening away!) We had a nice time knitting, chatting and sometimes being quiet. (You're not surprised most knitters are introverts, right?)
By this point I had the pattern "down" so I could make progress fairly quickly. It would be nice to finish it within the time frame of this trip and it was looking like it might be possible...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Spring Squam 2015: Thread and Memory (Embroidery Project)

My second class was an embroidery/stitching class with Joetta Maue. As I mentioned, the first half of the class on Friday afternoon was spent working out the topic of the piece and how to narrow down ideas to what you're actually going to stitch.

I had come to Squam with the idea to somehow stitch about memories I have of driving to meet the school bus every day with my younger sister. We spent hours in the car over the years we both attended high school. A lot were spent in silence, but we also had good talks, times singing with the radio and, regretfully (inevitably), times when I wasn't at my best and we bickered and I exhibited other unkind behaviour.

I didn't know how I would do this at all, and my options ended up being limited by the only photograph I had brought along of the two of us. I certainly wasn't going to (I would say, couldn't) draw something original so I worked from this picture of our two young selves:
(Aaah...isn't that a sweet picture!?)

With Joetta's advice and help, I got the basic lines of the picture copied to tracing paper:
And then I traced it to a napkin I had brought along to stitch on:
We used a water soluble pen so don't worry, the blue marks won't be on the final piece. This is as far as I got the first day, but it was a difficult process for me. (I get so frustrated trying to draw anything.) But I got through it with Joetta's encouragement and was happy to have a design to stitch by the end of the day.

The next morning, I made it to the second half of the class looking forward to getting to the stitching. I was most worried about the faces so the others encouraged me to start with that.
While I was working with a bunch of colours, I worked with the others in the cabin porch.
I had a whole mess of floss that I had taken with me. (Thank you, sister Bonnie, for passing them on to me!)
Once I had done some of the details and knew I would be working with a limited number of colours for the clothing, I chose the colours and moved into the sunshine on the dock.
It was a glorious way to spend the morning!

Toward the end of class, we all gathered again and each of us showed what we were working on and talked about the piece for a minute. I love hearing about others' projects and what they were about. I think only one person was close to finishing her piece. (Joetta complained that the problem with teaching embroidery is that she never gets to see a finished product and asked us to email her pictures later!)

I didn't take any more progress pictures, but I can show you the current status of the piece. I just finished the figures last night:
There are some things I'd like to be different, but I kept reminding myself to just move forward. When I show people how to knit, I find it unhelpful when they constantly want to undo what they've done because there's a hole or loose tension or other problems. In the early tries, you have to just keep going for a while. So that is what I told myself about this piece.
Sure, I think my eyes are kind of freaky, and I could go on and on, but really I need to just continue to see how the rest will come out. Stop holding it six inches from my face and look at it from a reasonable distance. And, if I continue with this, there's a good chance I will do a series on the same theme, even based on the same picture. But this is where it is right now.

And you know I'll keep you updated as more develops.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Spring Squam 2015: Day 2. "Extras" and Second Class Starts

On the second day of Squam (Friday), I optimistically dressed in my capris with my silk stripes sweater.
The schedule for the day starts with "free time". There are no classes until the afternoon. But in case you can't entertain yourself sitting on a dock and knitting, Elizabeth arranges for some shorter optional lecture workshops called "Extras".

The first was taught by my roommate, Donna, and it was about Zentangle, a meditative drawing process.
She somehow edited her class, which is normally three hours long, down to a little over an hour. It was a great introduction and we all got little kits with the marker, pencil, "stump" (something I had never heard about before!) and five Zentangle cards.

Here's a quick "flip" through my process:
That's as far as I got in class, but you can imagine how it might finish up. There are lots of patterns out there to do or, obviously, you can make up your own.

Here are all the cards from the class:
Once again, amazing how the same instructions results in very different results. She talked about people having different drawing styles like different hand writing. Tell two people to drawn a curving line or a spiral and you will get two different results. Makes sense once someone says it, but it was a new idea to me and I like to think of it that way. (I worked very hard when I was young to get hand writing that I liked. It encourages me to think that I could get drawings I liked if I worked at it.)

I didn't win the prize (one of Donna's framed Zentangles) for having traveled the furthest to be at Squam, but that's ok because being her room mate I got some extra supplies to take home!

Right after Donna's class was a class on arm knitting. I had heard about arm knitting and had always thought I could figure it out whenever I needed it. But, hey, if someone's going to do a class on it, I may as well join in!

Yes arm knitting is exactly what it sounds like: knitting with your arms. No needles, no tools, just you and the yarn. Here is Anne giving us all a demonstration:
And here am I knitting away while she explains knits, purls, decreases, increases, binding off, etc.
And by the end of class, I had a cowl that I could wrap around my neck three times:
Anne gave us a pattern for the cowl, but since I didn't
want to have to seam it at the end of class, I knit it
as an I-cord. I had to slip stitches from one arm to the
other, but that was worth it to me. I sewed the
beginning to the end, and voila! a super long bulky cowl
in about an hour.
It was chilly enough I needed it! I had brought yarn for this class and made the cowl with two strands of bulky cashmere and two strands of worsted weight cashmere. It still wasn't really bulky enough but it worked to participate in the class and to learn how it works.

Speaking of being chilly, this is what I ended up wearing the rest of the day:
A change into long pants and addition of the wool orange tulip socks, black and green cardi, and the new cowl. Everything knit is 100% made from raveled sweaters. Isn't that amazing!?

After lunch, I had the first half of my second class: Thread and Memory with Joetta Maue. Here is the class description:
As soon as a moment is over it instantly becomes memory. Therefore we often live in a state of memory which is usually a little blurry, a little edited and very much a personal perspective. 
How do we create an artwork that explores and is evidence of something that is gone?
Memory is personal, unique and complex therefore art inspired by it should be as well. In this class we will explore the feeling and expression of memory by looking at the work of a few select artists, writing, journaling and doing a few "loosening up" exercises that will help us tap into the depth of a memory.
 
From there we will focus on incorporating images, drawings, texts and if possible collected objects to honor, heal or illustrate a memory through textile and stitches.
You are welcome to work from any kind of memory be it the memory of the best day of your life, childhood, a relationship or trauma.
 
This class is open to all experiences. Please note, this is not a technique class. We are building on your existing embroidery skills, whether they are advanced or basic.  Our intention is to make a piece of textile art. 
This class will be taught in a more critical thinking style on how to develop an idea into an artwork. 
This is a warm and gentle class where you will feel safe and supported as you share your work, your story and your creativity.
And Joetta was very kind and gentle to me when I was having trouble getting my design onto the napkin I had brought. But by the end of the afternoon I had a design I could start on the next day. (Once again, I'll write about the actual project in a future post.)
Friday evening, Clara Parks gave a talk about how she ended up with bales of wool to be processed into yarn and then the process of making it into yarn. She was informative and entertaining. It turns out the American textile industry is disappearing and for some reason it doesn't get the bailouts that the auto industry gets. (Imagine that!) The newest Pacific trade agreement going through right now will be another big blow.

On the lighter side, she shared the story of having a man approach her at a fibre festival and introduce himself by saying he had the largest flock of Saxon merino sheep in America. Her knees buckled. Most of the audience reacted audibly when she repeated his claim to fame so she knew that the rest of us understood!

Once back in the cabin and seeing the rest of my cabin mates quickly head to bed, I decided I was going to go out looking for a party, or at least a group of people awake. Not hearing any noisy cabins when I stepped outside, I headed to Greenwood which is the largest (?) cabin, where registration happens, and usually a big centre of social activities.
Sure enough, when I walked in there were about 15 women sitting around the fire-warmed living room. When I explained why I was there, they joined me in good-hearted mockery of my early-to-bed cabin mates. But I swear it wasn't 20 minutes later and every single one of them had retired to their rooms. (I swear it wasn't me being rude!) It wasn't even 10:30!!

But that was all I was up for. Two cabins petering out was all I could take. So I went to bed myself and read for a while. Also a good way to end the day. :)

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