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Friday, 25 March 2022

Pants To Coat To Skirt

Tuesday moved REALLY slow. I unpacked the studio and put everything away but it wasn't until Wednesday morning that I actually went in to work. It felt great to be back in my own space with all the inspiration of my holiday and...

... it felt somewhat confusing. I sat down at the paint station and couldn't remember how to do anything so I sorted through my collage materials, pulled out a few things, glued them down with the matte medium I'd bought and ended up with a confirmation or a message depending on how you see it. The way in which we present ourselves and move through the world is our style. It is authentic, unique, and individual. It is ours alone and not meant to be copied from or to another person. 

Although I went to the retreat intending to make a coat, as the piece unfolded there were things I loved about it and more that I didn't. I prefer well fitted clothing and it felt sloppy especially through the underarm and sleeves. I also prefer clothing with structure, a shoulder seam, and a defined shoulder point and I'd built this piece by working over the shoulder rather than to it so every time I took the coat on and off of myself or the mannequin it was difficult to maintain correct positioning. 

And, since none of the piecing was finished, I'd need to find some way to protect those raw edges which was going to be complicated with all the top stitching and hand stitching I'd added. I want to revisit this idea in the future starting with a foundation to build onto which will solve most of these issues. I have a very similar pair of pants I'm about to shrink out of so I know I'll have the opportunity again at some point. I decided to turn this piece into a skirt. 


The first thing I did was to cut out the sleeves, try it on, and look to see where waist level was. Cut there, the skirt would have been shorter than I liked so instead I cut off the bodice and pulled the rest on, securing it with an elastic. Once I had the hem fairly level, I then traced around the bottom of the elastic, cut 5/8" above that line, and cut off the top edge. That was only an attempt at the proper waist positioning. From there, it needed fine tuning. 

As a reference point, I marked center front, folded, and mirrored the shape of the waistband left and right cutting them the same shape although they are not the same width. That difference becomes a creative problem to resolve. 


After overlapping and pinning the potential side seams, the back hung awkwardly crooked. The left back had to be adjusted significantly for the skirt to shift and hang better which meant re-marking and re-cutting the waist and then mirroring the shape across the back. 


Every adjustment creates other challenges and sometimes solutions. In this case, the shift created enough width at the waist that I didn't need to add in a piece of fabric. I could simply finish and turn under the edge, overlap the pieces, and top stitch into place completing one side which would in turn make it easier to complete the other one. 


The image above left is the underneath layer. I smoothed out the curve of the raw edge and then finished it on the serger. I find with draping I have to be more aware of the edges that need to be finished and the best time to do them since there is no predictable routine as with following a pattern. Once the side seam was stitched, I added tucks to the slit to re-even the bottom edges. A similar process will happen on the other side seam.  


On that side, I need to leave an opening to get in and out of the skirt. I've decided to fold the edges toward the back and to sew a waistband around the top and down the angle shown in the picture above right creating something similar to a pocket opening. I'm waiting to do this until my body has readjusted to being home and back to eating normally. Some of the foods - well actually a lot of the foods - I ate on my holiday were bloating plus travel is bloating so I want that to settled down before completing the waist especially as I plan to lose more inches. I'm contemplating elastic in the back waist to help work with weight loss although I know eventually the skirt will not fit and that's okay too.  LOL - I'll make another one. 

This piece started out as a pair of pants that were cut up and shifted so that the side seams became the center front and center back of a coat. While working on the coat, I cut apart the center front seam and then later, when I changed my mind, it was re-stitched, the bodice and sleeves removed, and the bottom became a skirt with the original side seams of the pants now the center front and center back of the skirt. It went from pants to coat to skirt and is mostly resolved. I hope to finish it the week after next once my daughter and grandsons have gone home. It has been a VERY fun piece to work on and while I'm waiting to finish it I'm forward making the cut off bodice into something else. 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - to not cling or holding precious 

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

But I Won't Be Returning To It Either

Without stops, the drive back home from Ashland is fifteen hours. Add an overnight stay, getting gas, coffee, and meals, plus other breaks and it definitely stretches but is always a reflective time, a chance to unwind, and a way of merging back into the reality of daily life. I made it safely and this is good. 

Diane's final presentation included some thought provoking questions one of which was what is inspiring in your life? I decided to look up the meaning of inspired and found this - When you are inspired, the dictionary states that mentally you are stimulated to do or feel something. Above all, an inspired person often feels compelled to be different and do better than they currently are.  - https://annemckeown.com/inspiration/what-does-it-mean-to-be-inspired-and-be-an-inspiration/

That definition fit with how I was feeling - not so much inspired by a person or a thing but drawn to maximizing life. I feel called to ever increasing holistic health, to growing creativity, to joy and abundance, to not just coasting along but to leaning into the corners of life like a motorcycle ride down a twisty road. I don't want to merely survive. I want to thrive and blossom. I came back committed to continuing to shift in the new directions that have developed in this year of turning sixty.  

Another question was what is going to give you the most meaning and again, I checked the definition since meaning, like inspire, is a word we're familiar with but perhaps have never clearly defined. A meaningful life was said to be one in which you feel engaged, connected to purpose, and able to connect your gifts and passions with your highest values. I understood what they meant and yet that felt too pressure filled. In contrast, a video about happiness talked about happiness being less external, about money, status, or stuff, and more internal, to do with joy and contentment. That resonates better.

In contrast to previous trips, this one was fairly low key with a lot of quiet, reflective time. I'm so glad that the leak in my first room required moving since I really enjoyed sitting in the chair by the window in the second room and looking at the view, drinking coffee, knitting, reading, or journal writing. It's a similar view to the one from my condo in the previous community I lived in and quite different from my current view. Both are lovely. This morning, it was so nice to wake up in my own bed, sit in my special chair, drink from my favourite mug, and watch the light change through my trees. 

Before I left on my holiday, I made a list of the retailers I wanted to support and thankfully all but one were still in business. The books came from Bloomsbury Books and the yarn from Websters. In the past, I've bought several of my favourite art books at Bloomsbury so I'm hopeful about these but - of course - have only read the descriptions so far. Websters carries a wide variety of yarns as well as creative clothing, accessories like handbags and scarves, and jewelry. They had some polymer brooches by Ford Forlano that were a delight to see in person after studying their work earlier. I want to knit the sweater shown, possibly in the yarn but you ever know. I could have bought this yarn locally but I wanted to support them specifically and it wanted to come home with me.  

The top two fabrics came from Sew Creative which carries quilting supplies more than fashion fabrics. If they'd had enough of the stripe, I'd have bought it for pants but unfortunately there was only just over a yard left. The striped ticking came from the Fiber Arts Collective which is a new venture since I visited last. I bought three yards of it and six yards of the pink wool blend. Some of the fabrics at the collective are new like the stripe and some are donated like the wool blend. I got it for $6.00 a yard which feels like a very good deal. 

The string of African beads came from Looking Glass Beads which is across the street and slightly diagonal from the hotel. They don't appear to have a website which is rather strange but then again, I don't have a cell phone. The necklace is from Outback as it's commonly referred to rather than Outback in the Temple of Venus which is a mouthful. It's made from scraps of leather and I'm debating trying a textile version of it as well as one...

... of this purse from Kixx. I first noticed it in lime green in the window as I walked by and thought the texture was fabulous. Then, when I went into the store, I saw it in a rainbow of colours. The purple one called me and I tentatively ventured over to see if I could actually afford it only to discover it's vegan leather and was $49.00. Driving home, I wished I'd bought more colours except when I chose it I was thinking both that it would be a good book bag and that I wanted to look at the construction in greater detail for making my own. 

The painted fabric was done by artist Miles Frode who is Diane's son. These are small scraps rather than resolved pieces. I bought them to support Miles, to incorporate into some larger pieces of my own, and to look at up close to see what I could learn about painting my own canvasses to make simply constructed purses like the one from Kixx, or to sell the fabric like Miles, or to teach in a workshop. 

I can't remember what the exact name of the place was because I always referred to it as the art collective - however - it has unfortunately closed. It was downtown on main street and combined artist's studios with retail spaces like the art store and other businesses like a coffee shop, gallery space, and a winery. I wanted to buy some art supplies there and instead bought them at the local hardware and kitchen supply stores - a brayer, a pad of mixed media paper, some matte gloss, and different mark making tools. What fun! 

When I was in my early twenties, I was a hairstylist and always thought of doing hair as something I could go back to. Thirty years later, shortly after I moved to this community, I did go back only to discover how much the profession had changed and that it was no longer for me. In the past, I taught traditional quilt making and textile art and, as with hairstyling, it has always seemed like something I could go back to. I've picked that idea up and put it down and picked it up again to the point of utter frustration and confusion but starting the assignments Paula gave us answered that question for me.

While I appreciated her comment that I could go do better with my quilting lines since it's so rare to get such honest feedback, in giving it more thought I realized that the comment applied not just to quilting but to creativity in general. For quite a while now, I haven't been pushing myself like I used to and I miss that energy. Talking it over with Diane, I realized that returning to teaching was the safe and easy answer but not the right one, or at least not right in the way that I was thinking about it as in travelling away from here - the community where I'm retiring - the place where I want to connect with other creative women. 

Wish marketing is the term for putting it out to the universe and hoping it'll happen. I'm going to leave teaching elsewhere in the hands of that advertising team and I'm also going to explore teaching locally through the college since I'm qualified to teach at that level. Next week, my daughter and grandsons are coming for a visit and after that, I'll contact them and see if I can get an appointment to discuss what types of workshops have been successful in the past and what they might be looking for now to see if we can make a good match. If so, I'll look at that possibility and if not... well I'll deal with that then. 

Make the thing you want to have. The wanting will inspire and motivate you. Don't make the thing that seems easier or the thing that will take less time. Make the thing that you want to live with, that you want to wear, that you want to love. - Deanne Fitzpatrick, Meditations for Makers.

In considering teaching, I am thinking of it as a way of supporting and encouraging others, of sharing what I love, and of connecting with the community I live in while realizing that it wouldn't be any kind of money maker and that's okay. I have been praying about whether I should be combining income and creativity or if they are meant to be separate things. I wish I'd thought about that sooner since it seems more and more clear that they are not to be combined but perhaps it wasn't possible for me to recognize that earlier. Perhaps now, is recognition time. I believe I am meant to be curious with creativity, to see what happens, and to explore it in my own voice. God is more than able to meet money goals in other ways and it'll be interesting to see how that unfolds as well. I am not worried, just curious.

NOT that I want to move but when I arrived home I saw that one of the units on the other side of the street is for sale. That's the side that has little sunshine and backs on to vacant land that will eventually be a new recreation center. On my side, there is amazing light, trees, green spaces, and the creek running behind. It's vastly different. Their asking price is $200k more than what I paid for my unit eighteen months ago and their place is not renovated like mine meaning that mine would sell for even more. The market always fluctuates and could go down again but probably not that far. It's a calming thing to have that potential profit.

I am grateful that I've always been able to make money from real estate even if it's currently only equity on paper. It's the way I most contributed to family finances while still being a stay at home, work from home, mother and flipping houses was a job I really enjoyed... but I won't be returning to it either - VBG. 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - safe travels

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Exhausted Bliss

It was my intention to maintain my posting schedule while I was away and it's not happening. I am having a fabulous time and it's exhausting. I had no idea that venturing out into the world after such a long period of time alone would be this busy, noisy, tiring. I've been going back to my room right after class, spending the evening alone, and crawling into bed early. I'm glad I'm staying an extra day not only to enjoy more of the community but also to rest up before heading home. 

I should have figured out what program to use for editing photos before I left. I didn't and I don't have what it takes to do it now especially with intermittent internet service. I don't know photographer's name but I do know that the tall building in the photo above is the hotel and my room is on the fourth floor in the middle of the tower with a similar view of the mountains on the opposite side of the valley. It's beautiful and as I write this, I'm sitting in the chair that I've moved over by the window watching the sky slowly turn dark. In the morning, I'll do the reverse. 

Ever since my first visit, Ashland has been a magical place for me, a place where questions are answered and I get a sense of direction. I definitely came with questions. What to let go of? What to keep? What to focus on and move forward with? Which shiny objects to pick up, admire, put down, and walk around? What gifts to give myself? To name a few.


Working with fabric has always been how I breath and the two primary forms I've worked in are textile art and creative clothing. This is the first - and quite possibly the only - time those two loves have been combined in one retreat and not just combined but also with two amazing instructors.

Paula's textile work is thread intensive. It reminds me how much I enjoyed working with thread and encourages me to add more thread details to my clothing either by hand or by machine - to vary the stitch length, to change the colour and the width of the line, and to play with thread as I would any other mark making tool. The picture above left is - I believe - the work of Karen Ann Ruane although I found the image on Pinterest and you can't always tell what is whose there. I like the organic-ness of the lace. I want individuality, originality, and the hand of the maker to be even more evident in my work. 

The other image is from a blog that is no longer active - And Then We Set It On Fire - and shows the variety of texture and line that can be created with hand stitching. Hand is starting to be more than just a four letter word. I'm beginning to think of it as a way to be in the work longer, more involved, adding an organic nature that is meditative... and slow... another four letter word that is morphing. 

This is my seventh time at this retreat in the past ten years and it's the first time I feel like I am starting to speak the language with some degree of familiarity. Maybe I'm a slow study or maybe the timing is finally right. I am inspired by Diane's unbelievable creativity and by her amazing pieces. I'm working to incorporate that inspiration into my own work in an authentic way. I don't want to do Diane, I want to do me, and the more I study with her, the more able I am to do that. 

The coat I'm working on in the image above started with two sections from a pair of denim pants that no longer fit. I cut them apart on the inseam and the crotch seam and used the two pieces to create the front and back. From there, I started adding the patches I made earlier as well as other scraps of denim to create the yoke and attached oversized sleeves taken from a man's shirt. Right now, it's folded in my suitcase and I've started draping a top from a rectangle of fabric. I know how to finish the coat and I can do that later. I have more to learn about draping and making parts before I leave. Already, I know that when I get home I want to focus even more on process, on adding detail, and on refashioning. I am thankful for that much for now. It's a start to respond to and a place to develop forward from.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - quiet moments

Monday, 14 March 2022

After Day One

This morning, I woke up early and went for a walk around Ashland. In Lithia Park, I saw two doe with a fawn, some bushy tailed squirrels, and a bird with beautiful colouring. There were daffodils and crocuses and I simply walked and enjoyed leaving my camera in the room so I have no pictures for you yet.

After the park I wandered around town and, as expected, things have changed due to the pandemic however, while it's more than I hoped, it's less than I feared. There is still magic in the air and it is wonderful to be here again. 

At the hotel, I had booked a petite queen thinking that's what I had last time only it was even more petite than that and I now know for sure that tiny living is not for me. Today, when I got back to my room after day one, everything was fine and I went for a short walk, came back, and there was a huge puddle on the floor in the bathroom. The maintenance man was just leaving for the day so they moved me to the room next door and it is like the one I had last time with bigger windows, a view of the mountains, a curl up chair, a larger bathroom, and a small fridge - a blessing disguised as a leak. 

In an earlier post, I talked about resolving the too big neckline on the sweater above right. That morning was very cold and I darn near froze at Starbucks while journal writing. I decided what I really needed was a new and bigger shawl to put in my book bag so I pulled the sweater apart and started knitting the shawl. I finished a couple days before I left so I have it here at the hotel to wrap up in and it was a good choice. The yarn works better as a shawl. 

I changed out a couple of the outfits pairing the colourful skirt with the dark denim top, keeping the floral t-shirt and changing the skirt to a lighter denim, and eliminating the polka dot dress and wearing this jumper instead. You might recognize it from an earlier post. I wasn't too sure about it then but I've since softened the points and I like it better. 

The striped pants didn't have side seams so I took a big dart from the waist to just above the cuff details and removed six inches of ease. They will work for this trip but I don't think they'll last into summer as I'd hoped. Before I left, I weighed myself and I'd dropped down into another number group with a total loss of twenty-six pounds so far. This is the first time I've felt like I could lose the weight and keep it off, that calorie counting is my method. It's helping me to ignore the ice cream store directly across the street from my hotel room which I know from experience sells the most amazing flavours. My deal with myself is to ignore it all week and then celebrate on my free day just before leaving town. 

This first day of class was introductions, some demonstrations and exercises with Paula - the textile artist - and then a wine and cheese with the ladies. We are all so thrilled to be here. I'm intrigued with what I'll learn from Paula. It's been a long time since I've done free motion work and she recognized right away that my lines were tired and that I was capable of more. YES - that's something I appreciate in an instructor. I didn't come here to learn what I already know. I came to learn more. 

I did some pencil drawings afterward to explore her feedback and it could be very interesting to see where this goes. I've discovered that while I'm not afraid of the blank canvas, I do like something to respond to and the mono-printing with stitching that I showed in the last post could be that starting point. I like the idea that all the parts could originate with me. 

Talk soon - Myrna

- a good first day

Friday, 11 March 2022

Toe Tapping Project

The house is clean. It took longer than I thought and I didn't get as much done as I would have liked to and it is what it is. Either way, I'm still coming back to the couch and clean. It's been a LONG time since I've driven this far or spent as much time with other people - it'll be great and exhausting. Home is lovely place to come back to. 

I pieced together some of monoprint scraps, layered with batting, and added free motion stitching. Because canvas is a thick fabric, the stitches sit on the surface more than they would with linen or cotton. I took the smaller of the two deli prints that I'd glued to fabric and...

... added free motion stitching to that as well. The gel medium used is gloss and has a glare so I'll try matte medium next time. The deli paper seems strong enough after stitching however, it's like stitching leather - you need to get it right the first time. The idea has potential and I'd like to see what I can do collaging with colourful monoprints on different textures of fabric as well. The randomness of monoprints appeals to me. 

With painting paper, I've been trying to integrate the parts. With this form of fabric collage, it might be interesting to have them stand out in a more three dimensional way. Something else to explore. 

I didn't want to spend yesterday tapping my toes wishing I could get going so I delayed packing the car until after dinner and instead worked on a new purse that isn't quite finished. I've packed it along. It's a combination of a black suiting fabric that I quilted with purple thread and a hand painted fabric that I did years ago and had in stash. The wooden button was made by a local craftsman. The colour comes from crushed turquoise set in resin. It's quite beautiful and I only have one so this is the perfect project for it. 

My take along knitting project is a boxy cardigan with simple rectangular shapes. It's all garter stitch and I've started with the back so it's easy knitting, no thinking needed, for any delays or waits along the way and for at the hotel. Like usual, I've packed all the yarn and - most likely, like usual - I won't get anywhere near to finished but I have it just in case. If I end up in quarantine for ten days on the way home, it'd be another good toe tapping project. 

Talk soon - Myrna

- I'm on my way. YEAH holiday!

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Fragments And Paint

Today, I am cleaning house. I like to clean before I leave on a holiday so the house is fresh and shiny when I get back and I don't have to think about it. Maybe in the past I went straight back to work but not anymore. When I get back first, I'll be a lump on the couch, and then spend a few days in the studio, and then my daughter and grandsons are coming to visit for a week. 

In the studio, there's a lot of fluff to clean up. I made thread lace with denim remnants. For this first one, I took the thread out of the serger and used the blade to cut narrow 1/8" strips and then layered them between soluble stabilizer and stitched all over with a variegated denim thread before washing out the stabilizer. 

I didn't measure the finished piece however, it is long enough to pleat and scrunch like I've done on the left side or drape like on the right. The areas of denim that are not thoroughly stitched down will continue to fray and soften. 


For another section, I stitched serger strips to a background fabric with soluble stabilizer underneath. At the start and stop of each row, I left the threads long so they become part of the overall look when the stabilizer was washed away. 

This piece is particularly drapey and I really like the way the serger strips curl and twist on the ends. They could also be individually knotted for a firmer look. These too will continue to fray.

This is just a small starter sample to see how it looks. With the part in the left image, I stitched between the holes and with the part in the right image, I stopped and started for each hole. Neither is wrong; they are just different. The dark fabric showing through the holes is the reverse folded underneath. 

When the piece is held up to the light, it comes through the holes. In a garment, it could be see-thru or a contrasting colour could be placed underneath. The cut outs become potential for another project. Of course. Once you start to see potential, it is everywhere and so hard to keep under control. 

I wanted to explore monoprinting on fabric. The purple scrap is painted canvas with a lot of texture making it hard to get a more defined print. The best ones used a lot of dark paint with clear lines drawn in them. I did the printing on a glass plate. 

I also like the look with just a touch of a lighter colour. When I get back, I'll try more prints with different types of fabric perhaps combined the printing with stamping and stenciling or... 

...to use in collages. One thing I'm really good at is creating all over prints. I'm also good at combing parts and pieces to make an interesting whole. What's different about collage and textile art compared to painting is the amount of auditioning that can take place. With painting, if I decided to paint over what I just did, that's it - it's gone. With collage, until I add the glue I can keep changing my mind. With textile art, there have been times when I've unstitched what I just did and changed it. Of the three, textile art provides the most options for change and yet each has different possibilities. I'm intrigued with combining them. 

I left a few projects to work on in the studio today and tomorrow to help me wait to leave as patiently as possible. These samples started with some bad prints well worth hiding and then I used gel medium to add collage material. I will try stitching them by machine and by hand to see what happens, one with batting underneath and one without to see how that enhances the stitches. These are all small bits. Just sample explorations. 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - all my class supplies fit in one suitcase which is good because that still leaves a sewing machine, a serger, a small folding table to set the serger on, a mannequin, and a desk chair. Sigh. And that's packing light.