Looking out the window this morning, I noticed the back yard appeared to be covered in light snow, but of course it was merely cottonwood puffs adhering to the grass.
It's that time of year again, when we have a blizzard of them floating gracefully down to earth. As I look outside just now, I see them coming down at the rate of a snow-squall, despite the late spring warmth and the heavily leafed-out trees.
From what I recall, this goes on for weeks. Two weeks? Three? This area was (and still is) a major source of poplar wood. The leaves of the poplar (another name for the Cottonwood) are somewhat heart-shaped and may have inspired the following tangle. Or not.
This was inspired by a class from this spring's "Artifex Eruditio," (Latin for "Art Learner"). Actually the class sample looked absolutely nothing like this--I went entirely off-road as usual, so mine doesn't look like anything that was taught in the class. I did some of the line work yesterday, more this morning, and then added color this afternoon.
I am not usually fond of using hearts in my pieces, so I'm blaming this on the fact that it's Cottonwood Season.
Above you see one classic type of pretzel knot. On the left, when you think of it, is another type. Those are washed and dried worsted weight yarn skeins from my wildly successful bargain hunting the other day--twisted into the kind of gentle "knotty looping" that is useful when storing yarn.
I drew the tangled piece as a bookmark for a friend having a birthday next week. It's inspired by one of Sadelle Wiltshire's very nice freehand-knotting videos and this is what fell out of my pen. Perhaps I should do a Celtic Knot punchneedle piece with that yarn. These knots are very relaxing to draw.
And given the knotty problems facing us all right now, with the pandemic and a planet dealing the climate change, political messes and human rights issues, I seem to have knots on the brain.
We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.
With a bit more time now, I'm back into mindful drawing techniques. This is based on one of Sadelle Wiltshire's classes. More of this to come. Very easy, very mindful. And very small, hence the title of today's post.
My latest completed rug. This is one of only 4 rugs I've ever put up on a wall. For a closer look, see the October 1st post. Just to the left of it is the wonderful handmade mirror a dear friend created and gave me--I blogged about that on October 5. And on the side of the stairs you can just see my "Hooker" sign. Got that a few years ago and love seeing it every day.
I don't normally enjoy putting rugs on the wall--I prefer to walk on them. But the colors in this one are so subtle I finally decided the wall would be safer. It's all scrap wool that I had lying around.
I've also run out of room for rugs at the moment and may have to put a few more of my patiently-waiting rolled-up rugs on walls around the house.
Less than 3 minutes was all it took to hang this, once I had some assistance. A very small amount of time (title of today's post), and something I've wanted to do for weeks.
Today I made it (with mask on my face of course) to a new shop called Swanson's Fabrics in Western Massachusetts. I'd heard about it but hadn't gone until today. It was large enough to feel safe inside. Part of the time it was just me and the owner, and there were never more than 2-3 others at any one time, all distanced.
But oh, the treasures! Kathryn Swanson, the owner, has more than fabrics; she also has yarns, threads, sewing notions, and braiding equipment.
NOTE: All her fabrics are $4/yard. No matter what they are made of. Seriously! Cottons, upholstery and lots of other fabrics, and even wool yardage (the wools go out the door nearly as soon as they arrive--I grabbed 1.5 yards of the light colored wool you see above on the right, for $6 total).
And I'm pretty certain she mail-orders, so feel free to contact her and ask.
All of her fabrics, yarns, and notions are rescued from people's basements or from fabric stores or yarn stores that have gone out of business. You could go one day and find nothing, and go back the next day and find tons of wonderful new rescued goods.
When you click the link to her website above, be sure to go to her "About" tab and read her mission statement. I'm in awe.
I also got seventeen 100-gram skeins of off-white, 100% wool yarns, very high quality if a bit grubby from being stored for quite a while. I'm pretty sure they were originally from Sweden. Some are worsted weight and some are DK. I can overdye them all. Very exciting. I cleared her out of these, however, so you'll have to find your own treasures some other day.
This was a Big Find, and therefore doesn't fit the title of today's post. But I didn't think any of you would mind...
Still in love with and working on learning to draw this tangle, which isn't coming easy for me. Today, though, I think I got it. Finally. There are a million ways to draw a Triquetra Celtic Knot, but I've been wanting to learn it via the easy steps of Zentangle®. Which turned out not to be so easy for me. But in fact, with a bit of practice, it is both easy and obvious. Other people got this one immediately, but I needed to ponder it a while.
Some things are like that.
Being overambitious and then frustrated when I couldn't get the painting to work taught me persistence.
This was my first attempt with this tangle. I actually finished this over 2 weeks ago but am just posting it now. I found the instructions (the stepouts) so hard to follow that I tried it out on a 2" square tile in pencil first, using an eraser. Normally, with Zentangle®, we do not "sketch out" tiles in pencil first, and we don't use erasers. The general idea is that there are no do-overs; if we screw up in life, we don't get to do whatever-it-was over. Instead, we have to figure out what to do about it and we often learn the most through dealing with our mistakes. And so it is in art as well.
However, sometimes if we can't even envision how to approach something, a draft (ie, using pencil to try to sketch something out) is helpful as we try to map the thing in our minds. That was my approach here. And occasionally in life, too, if I'm finding a life task overwhelming.
Speaking of overwhelm, I have hopelessly over-committed myself and am not pleased that I barely have time to turn around in my schedule. At my age, I should know better. This is a mistake I make frequently in life, and I have learned a lot from it...but apparently I still haven't learned how to avoid doing it.
Consequently I have done no tangling since my last post--too busy with textile work which I'm not ready to show yet. And with several other projects, including creating a new website for a group. I love everything I'm doing but I really miss tangling.
As long as the world is turning and spinning, we're gonna be dizzy and we're gonna make mistakes. (Mel Brooks)
Why do we say something is out of whack? What is a whack? (George Carlin)
I'll have to let this song speak for me, because I cannot say what is in my heart after this terrible week in my country.
Wrong. Tragic. And entirely preventable.
This tangle helped me to center myself, but did not take the pain away.
Credit for the composition goes to Romi Borax Marks, but I did the drawing and colors.
This somewhat overworked tile (I must admit I like it anyway) is the product of tangling over 3 days. I started it during another night of insomnia and finished this afternoon when I absolutely should have been doing something else, not this. But I couldn't help it.
Below are some of the earlier versions leading up to this finish.
ZenLinea posted a wonderful video on Instagram on how to draw this knot, so two nights ago I decided to try it at about 2 a.m. when sleep was eluding me.
This was my first effort and I'd like to play with it a lot more, if I can ever find the time. I started off thinking it would be black and gray on the white tile, but somehow I began adding other lines and colors to the outside of the knot (the gold gellyroll, the yellow Prismacolor) and then the colors also crept slightly inside the knot as well. I think I finished around 3 or 3.30 a.m. and was able to go right to sleep afterwards.
Of course this afternoon I was looking at it again and wondered what it would look like if I ran it thru an iPhone app, so I gave that a try using the same photo:
Rather reptilian, don't you think? And soooooo different. But interesting for sure.
I hadn't intended to draw today as I had too much else to do, but I just couldn't help myself.
On Sunday I went to my first-ever Quabbin Rug Group meeting. It was just great. No fewer than eleven people showed up--I was impressed. Here are some of the rugs I saw.
I only wish I were better at catching people's names. I'm terrible with names. therefore, I was only able to attribute a couple of these in-progress pieces.
Enjoy the eye candy!
I think this may have been by Judy Jewett (altho I certainly could be wrong)? It is from a pattern she purchased. Love the colors she is using. She was at the binding stage, so it should be done very soon.
Isn't this one just the most fun? I can see the face of the wonderful woman who's making it, but I cannot for the life of me remember her name. Darn. I already want this rug and she's not even finished with it yet.
This rug is by Linda Faye of Amherst and is her own design--it's a tribute to the Peace Pagoda. You can see that she's begun by hooking the many prayer flags flying in the wind there. The Peace Pagoda has a good website here. I'll be interested to see how this rug develops.
Linda also had a wonderful dog rug with her, but I was unable to get a photo of that.
Not sure whose pattern this is but I heard the woman who is making this piece say that the original designer intended for it to be done in a fine-cut. However, she is more of a wide-cut person and is successfully doing it in a 6 or an 8 (probably an 8--I didn't hear that part).
She was making the point to one of the other participants that it's possible to take a fine-cut design and do it in a wider cut. It can be done with many (not all) fine-cuts. The results will look very different, but as you can see here, it still looks great.
How stunning is this??? Wowza. I believe the woman who is making this is named Sue, but I'm not certain. I do remember her saying that this is her first-ever hooked piece. Oh. My. God.
I don't know if she designed it herself or if it is a pattern.
(Hanging my head in shame--my first piece from years ago never looked anything like this one...) I was drawn to looking at this over and over.
Isn't this the cutest thing you've ever seen? I think this maker's name was Rebecca. She was a guest at the meeting, I believe. What really stands out for me about her--other than this truly wonderful folk-art rug which I believe is her own design--is that we were told she is "new to rug hooking." Whaaaa-aaaaat??? I love these cats!
I heard her say that she's only been hooking for 18 months. BUT...this is the 12th piece she has hooked in that short time. So she's certainly not "new" in my book. This is just great.
A talented woman named Penny (argh...I don't remember her last name either--was it Redfern?) sitting directly across from me was working on this rug, channeling Vincent himself. Talk about an ambitious project. I wish I had an off-the-frame photo of this; it's just wonderful.
Last but by NO means least is this really beautiful and striking piece inspired by Japanese rock gardens. Can I remember this woman's name? No, of course not, but I love her work. This is her own design.
I get that "ahhhhhhhh" feeling simply by looking at the sinuous lines of the carefully raked sand, which she's captured beautifully here. This is striking and I am loving the subtle colors.
I was definitely enchanted by all the rugs I saw. We met at the Wool & Dye Works Rug Hooking Shop in Florence, which is a treasure in itself.
I'll finish off with a DRAFT of a triquetra knot, which I tried for the first-time today. This says #3 because it's only my third try. I have a lot to learn about these, that's for sure.
By which I mean to say, this is simply a sketchy practice piece for a free-form, unplanned knot.
I have "knot" been practicing.
Although my holidays were quiet-by-design, my last two weeks have been non-stop guests. Wonderful guests and I was thrilled to have them.
But I haven't had the headspace to draw, tangle, or write and am feeling rusty. Looking forward to starting up again.
Ahhhh! BOOKBINDING Again:
I did manage to sneak away for one day, last Sunday, in order to take a beginning bookbinder class with Peter Cangialosi. He's an excellent teacher and I completely enjoyed myself. Even more impressive: every student (5 of us) left with a handmade bound book. Here's mine:
This is a very small book, but it is a book. I am delighted.
January is apparently "bookbinding" time someplace in my mind. Last year on MLK weekend I did (and blogged about) a prior workshop on bookbinding with Nancy Shepherd in Vermont. We took the whole weekend and began by learning to make paper for the covers; then we used a more sophisticated open binding than the one I learned last Sunday.
However, the day after that 2017 workshop with Nancy I formally "closed" on (legally bought) my new house. ALL the info I had acquired from her flew right out of my head as I entered the whirlwind of finalizing the sale, packing up my apartment of 40 years, and relocating.
What was special about Sunday's workshop was that it was one day and much simpler...but it jump-started my memories of a year ago and I began to recall what I had learned in the more complex 2017 workshop with Nancy. I have progressed from not being able to retrieve anything I learned from her, to remembering at least 90% of it, and I am confident that I can recover the rest. Hurrah! Thank you, Peter.
In Peter's beginner's workshop, everyone finished wonderful books. Many were prettier than mine. He kept things super-simple and was endlessly patient with our million questions.
Here is a slideshow of all five completed books. I can't wait to try my hand at this again. I look forward to being able to make my own sketchbooks.
Two additional views of my book. You can see the simple exposed smyth stitch binding in the photo to the left, and in view below you can see how flat it lies when open. If I use better quality paper for my next book, it would be perfect for sketching.
Uh-oh, there may be yet another obsession coming on...
Yes, I did it. I bought a hand drill. No big deal, you say? Then you don't know me well. I'm a disaster with hand tools. If you live anywhere in the northeastern United States, it might be time to consider moving away. You don't want to be around when I turn this thing on.
YouTube, here I come. I'm determined to learn how to use this.
More material that fits neatly into the "no-fail, no-learn" category: The Zentangle® folks put out a Project Pack recently that included lots of new goodies to try. New white Gellyroll pens from Sakura. New black apprentice tiles, new black triangular tiles (called 3-Zs). Plus a new tangle and some experimental techniques. And some very fine videos.
Along with everyone else, I've been experimenting. Here are a couple of initial results.
More to come from that Project Pack.
Last but not least today. I am pretty chuffed about this one. It has been eluding me for well over a week. I think I tried it a good 4 times and couldn't figure it out (and it looks soooooo simple!), but I kept looking at it and thinking about it. Today I decided to tackle it again--on crappy copy paper, but I was thinking there was a good possibility I'd fail again.
But no. I succeeded! I really failed my way to success with this one.
Now, of course, I wish I had used better paper. But succeeding came as a total surprise!
Just to make sure I got it, I tried it again on a tiny scale a couple of hours later--and once again, failed. But I know I *am* getting it and will continue to practice until I feel I've got a good handle on this. If I was able to do it once, I know I can do it again.
Two very quick drafts. I'm continuing to practice drawing Celtic Knots. These were done on incredibly cheap blue scratch paper. This first one I actually did not intend to ink--I thought I would do a quick pencil draft (and did), but then decided to spend the time inking it. This was freehand and done in a rush.
In the draft below, I used a technique from a YouTube video to create a classic border. Since this was my first attempt, I used the same super-cheap blue scratch paper. This one took longer only because it had so many knots, but I still thought I would leave it just as pencil practice. And just as in the other case, I decided to take the time to ink it in. There's something so irresistible about "correcting" the sloppy pencil lines. Once again, this was drafted very fast.
While this is far-from-perfect (see the spots of white where I've corrected some "blobby" lines, not to mention the different sizes of lines), I notice that the eye tends to smooth things out and make it look better than it actually is. That's ok with me!
In the spirit of "Progress, Not Perfection," I am viewing sloppy progress as being better than no progress at all.
Here is my third "practice knot," done quickly in one of my journals. The lines are wonky but given how quickly I did it I'm pleased. I copied this from a handout I got from my friend (and teacher of drawing knots) Sadelle Witshire. The fact that it's a direct copy may not sound like much, but it's the first time I actually figured out (from looking at a finished knot) what the actual steps for drawing should be. That felt like a solid accomplishment!
I've been busy at home, continuing to unpack and sort things out. I treated the guest room wall to a new hand-painted mirror from the Sawmill River Arts Gallery, a wonderful artist owned spot.
And in sorting some things out in the basement, I located a long-lost, large quantity of linen for rug hooking--many, many yards. I'd bought a whole roll of this with a friend and we split the roll. Probably at least five years ago.
And then, oddly, we each proceeded to lose the linen. It disappeared in each of our houses, and no matter how hard we searched, we couldn't find it. How do you lose a huge amount of linen? But we did, and eventually we began to wonder if the idea that we had ever bought it and split the purchase was some form of folie a deux.
However, I found mine last week. We have proof! And better yet, I can now use it. Hurrah!
And finally, I'm happy to be reading this: Reckless Daughter, a Joni Mitchell biography, a loan from our excellent library that I've been waiting for.
A pretty good few days here.
You know, I'm not much of a fan of drawing hearts. I like seeing them when others draw them, but somehow I am just not attracted to doing it myself.
But in trying to learn to draw knots, I was asked to do just that--draw a simple heart border and convert it to Celtic interlaced knots. And when I finished, I was most definitely thinking about hearts--our globally connected hearts--and how much pain the world is in today. The focus required to draw interconnecting bands on knots reminds me of how we forget every day that we are dependent on each other to survive, and dependent on each other's love and kindness. We forget and forget and forget.
I want to remember.
There was another school shooting in the US today. My heart breaks, and continues to break, because of these repetitive, mindless, violent, deadly shootings, the innocent victims, and their families.
It felt very right to be drawing hearts, and connecting them.
Here's what I ended up with:
Certainly the calligraphy isn't great because this is just a practice draft, but I am happy with the final result.
Here was where I began (Step One in pencil), and below that, here's what it looked like inked in (Step Two).:
I've been taking a fabulous SkillShare Course on Celtic Knots offered by Sadelle Wiltshire, of whom I am a fangirl. She makes wonderful art you can see on her webpages, HERE or HERE.
Interlaced. Interconnected. We are. We must be. When will we learn to remember?
"Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness."
I indulged myself today and spent a lot of the day drawing.
Now, I should know that feeling smug is never a good sign. We all know that, right?
But oh my, it's so easy to forget. I have been working on drawing knots, because I like the focus they require and the meditative state they produce, much like the Zentangle® process. I had tried some basic exercises and did well, so I was feeling like, "Hey--piece of cake. I got this! No sweat."
Um, no. I didn't.
My first attempt today was a total debacle. I've titled it, "Three Wrongs Do Not Make a Right." Here it is. See the bottom knot. The top one was so simple that it came out fine, but the moment I tried something even slightly complicated...
Confused--oh yes, I sure was. And totally not in a meditative space. I couldn't understand how I'd gone so wrong.
It was clearly time to go to yoga class, so I did. Ran some errands. Came back again and was determined to re-do it and have it work.
A couple of hours later (along with one additional complete meltdown, during which I was convinced I'd screwed up again), I'd produced this. This might just qualify as my first knot!
I was thrilled, but I sure hope this gets easier. At the meltdown point, when I was convinced that I'd gotten it all wrong again, I considered giving up entirely. But after a short walk, I came back and checked it and suddenly it looked fine. ??!! I have a lot to learn here, that's for sure.
As a celebration, I did a 5-minute sketch of my DunkinDonuts cup. Last night I finally found a water-soluble pen and so I did this sketch in less than 5 minutes and then used my waterbrush to spread some of the ink. Total time spent on this was about 7 minutes. Fun. Hardly a masterpiece but I do feel like I'm keeping my hand in again with drawing.
We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.
Clearly I'll need a quote to put on the page I just worked on today (below). Nothing has come to me yet. It's just begging for a quote, though. I don't think the page is finished, either. This is inspired by my new journal cover (see yesterday's post). I'm "knot good" at knots, but I am beginning to become interested in them.
A friend in Thailand who knows I make rugs sent me this utterly hilarious (but scary) link to a Black Hole Rug. I laughed out loud when I saw it...not that I'd want one! Check it out.
I finished a long-cherished old journal last night and started a new one today. I'm consciously trying to incorporate a lot of drawing into my journals, and it was hard to say goodbye to the old one as it's chock full of drawings.
But then I looked at the cover for my new journal and somehow I ended up doing this little drawing as an opener for it.
Inspiration posted below. Everyone has to start somewhere. Right?
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society