Over six feet of snow (68") now, all in the last 17 days. We are all going crazy here in the city, with nowhere to put it, ice dams on roofs, etc.
I've been coping by working on projects and ignoring the weather (a luxury--lucky me).
Here is the same embroidered prototype in which I'm "rehearsing" for my next rug which I started showing yesterday--this is a picture of today's progress. It's coming along. However, I may not have much time to work on it for the next couple of weeks as I have another project that will take precedence over everything until very late in February.
And last Sunday, I finished the Malabrigo Alpaca and Wool hand-dyed yarn "couch throw" that I've been knitting for a while. Just in time for the extremely icy weather about to roll in. And it's STILL snowing outside. And more storms coming. The MBTA is shut down and not running at all tomorrow.
The purple textile behind it is a fabulous hand-knitted shawl my best friend made for me, and underneath it is a punched chair pad I designed and made several years ago.
Can I just take one moment to say how much I loved reading THIS POST today? I think we all need to hear this, whether we consider ourselves artists or not. I know I needed to hear it, and my Inner Critic ("the monkey" as he calls it) did too. I love Danny Gregory!
Snow showers today. We're in between mammoth snowstorms, a short window of peace in this incredible weather system we're caught in. Over 50" here in the last 12 days, and nowhere to put it. City streets overwhelmed. Between Sunday night and Tuesday, we could get another 18". I have never seen a winter like this.
So why am I calling us a lucky bunch of artists? Because just for today, we all took a chance because of the break between storms, and 7 of us were lucky enough to meet at Ann's fabulous farmhouse in CT...and the roads were clear enough for us to get there.
We've done this before and feel lucky every time to travel to Ann's. Her home is in a heavily rural part of the state and the views are exquisite. It snowed lightly the entire day while we worked in comfort in front of her living room woodstove. We were warm, safe, creative, and very happy. In short, we really were lucky. Thank you, Ann, for making this possible and for your incredible hospitality.
We spent the morning and part of the afternoon working on our rug projects. The rest of the time? We ate. But that part comes later. First, the rugs.
On May 30th, I posted about Cheryl the Rug Rescuer. You can see the start of the project below in that post. Cheryl has had a personal challenge (!! understatement of the year alert !!) come up that slowed her down, but now as you can see she's nearly done with her old friend's wonderful rug. Here's the proof:
How lovely is that? And how wonderful that after all these years, this rug is getting finished. Because Cheryl's friend is now too old to get it done--but Cheryl will.
Elizabeth was working on her own design of an Italian City. She's punching this rug with wool strips. Since it's going to be a wall hanging, she's decided to use what is traditionally considered to be the back of the rug as the front:
And here below is the technical front of the rug, which she will use as the back:
I like both sides. How about you?
Next up, two rugs from Ann herself. First, here is the rug-in-progress she stored away before the holidays (she had 11 guests in her home for a week over that period!)...only to discover that, because she put the wool for it away so conscientiously before her guests arrived and she was tidying up, she cannot find it. Of course it will turn up eventually. Here is the partially completed rug that's currently missing its wool:
I am loving those colors she's using. But since she couldn't find the wool, she traced out a new pattern to work on today (both patterns are for chair seats, I believe). Here's the new pattern, a geometric with circles:
I really like the possibilities she has with this pattern.
And to continue, here is Maria's chicken rug that she's now working to finish. It makes me smile:
Everything about that piece is wonderfully comical. Love those ridiculous yellow feet.
Kathleen was chugging away on the fish rug (tentatively titled "The Last Cod"):
<Oops, I hit "publish" by mistake...apologies to anyone who gets multiple prompts on this post>
I really like the way this is shaping up; the fish are magnificent and the water is coming along.
Cheryl (The Rug Rescuer) has been gifted with two more old rugs to finish. The first is a tiny pillow top, already mostly completed when it came to her:
I can't remember if this one came with wool to finish it or not, but it will make a sweet little spot pillow. Wonder who designed it? And of course, I wonder who did the hooking that got it to this stage?
She also was gifted with one large rug that is really cute. I don't think this one came with any wool to finish it, alas. The burlap in both the rug below and the small one above looked to be in good shape, thank goodness.
We are all wondering whose design this is! There is something familiar about it, but we cannot place it. Here are two views of it. First, the whole rug and second a closeup of the left-hand figure. Pretty cute.
Another rug that makes me smile, with lots of possibilities depending on what Cheryl decides to do with it.
As for me, I was working on a mini-version of my next rug using punchneedle embroidery. Unfortunately I cannot get thread in colors that actually match the wool I'll be using for the actual rug. I don't like the thread colors in this embroidery...so why am I doing it? To test the colors (I've given up on that) but also to get to know the pattern by "hooking" it in miniature, and in that way, it's helping me greatly. So cover your eyes at the awful flat colors and shades, and just take in the pattern. Trust me, the real wool colors are beautiful in a deep way that these available threads are not:
And just for a bit of context, here is the embroidery as of yesterday, when I began punching (On Wednesday I transferred the pattern and selected threads; yesterday I started to punch):
To wrap up this very long post: After we worked on our projects for about three hours we sat down to our usual food fest: Stir-fried veggies a la Elizabeth (she also brought some lovely Champlain Chocolate for snacking), a Petsi Chicken Pot Pie, a raved-about red cabbage kielbasa-inspired dish from Kathleen, home made coleslaw (was this your dish, Ann?) and Ann's homemade pickles, and for desserts we had Ann's ever-fabulous gingerbread with whipped cream (mmmmm), a chocolate chip cake from Maria which I'm saving some of to taste tonight, and a fruit-nut treat from Lenore.
We all had to leave a bit early and after the food fest we were forced to roll ourselves across her dining room to the kitchen, then roll across her mud room and garage to our cars outside. OMG, we were stuffed. Outdoors it had snowed about an inch while we worked and it was even more beautiful than when we first arrived.
As usual, I had a wonderful time working, studying the pieces the others are working on, and being creatively stimulated by the rugs, the conversation, by Ann's generosity, and of course by the lovely location, so tranquil and stunning in all the snow.
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What's this...what am I feeling the need to cover up?
Actually, this is a small 3"x3" punchneedle embroidery piece I made about five or seven years ago. Why? Because it's stitched to the middle of a larger piece of heavy wool, with which I cover up my punchneedle embroidery gripper frame when I am not using it so that I can handle the frame without scraping my hands and skin on the zillion sharp grippers.
As anyone who's used one of these frames knows, the grippers really hurt when they come in contact with you. And they act a bit like a more lethal form of velcro, catching on anything they touch--so best to keep them completely covered when the frame isn't in use.
I'm about to begin working on another rug, a pattern called "Micmac" which I bought probably 20 years ago and have always wanted to hook. I am not sure who makes this pattern but I think it might be from Charco and designed by Jane McGown Flynn. I've had it so long that I'm no longer certain.
I think this may be one of the last patterns I own; there is one more very ornate oriental rug pattern I've been putting off for years, and after that I plan to do only rugs I design myself.
Before I begin actual hooking, I wanted to do a tiny version of the piece using punchneedle embroidery. This afternoon I took a blown-up picture of the pattern and did some preliminary color ways on it (you only see one here) and then transferred the pattern to weaver's cloth and put it onto my gripper frame. Now all I have to do is collect the threads and I can begin punching this piece as a prototype to see if I like the colors. It's a great way to test out color ways and a lot less expensive than trying it out on the actual rug with wool. I'm looking forward to beginning this prototype!
Here you can see the paper and underneath it the transfer. If you look really hard, you might just make out some of those sharp little gripper strips sticking through the frame waiting to scrape your skin, which is why they work so well to hold the fabric drum-tight for the punching.
...at the Insight Meditation Society, at a seven-day retreat. The statue above is in the foyer, and greets you as you enter. Here were the teachers for this retreat:
You are seeing Guiding Teacher Christina Feldman (second from right), Guiding Teacher John Peacock (second from left), and Guiding Teacher Chris Cullen (far right), along with assistance from Yuka Nakamura from Switzerland.
Although I've been to several retreats at IMS, this was by far the one with the most profound effect for me. Each teacher was so gifted and brought something unique to the days as they passed by. A truly gifted crew.
While I was there, between two and three FEET of snow fell just a few miles away (Barre, where we were, had only about 12-18" which is not an unusual amount for them). IMS handled it all perfectly and we were warm and safe and able to focus on being mindful.
I'm left with deep gratitude for this experience.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class is not yet scheduled--stay tuned.
I may be teaching another beginning class at the Greenfield Community Center in the spring of 2019, date to be determined. They do not have a website so please call them for more information.
I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.)
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society