Friday, 20 September 2013

Hot Off The Presses

Remember a while ago I got two patterns accepted to Storey Publishing's new 101 Wonders book? It's just about due to come out. I got an e-mail this week with a picture of the book cover.

See the red shawl at top left? That's mine! Really pretty damn cool, as far as I'm concerned.

My advance copy of the book arrived today, and I've been flipping through. There are some nice patterns in there I've got my eye on already. Worth checking out, guys, even if I do say so myself ;)

I'm guessing the book should be out for real within the next month, because Judith Durant, the editor, is booked for Rhinebeck, and they've got the same cover photo up on the NY Sheep and Wool site beside her profile. My mother's already planning to get Judith Durant's autograph on the book when she goes...

Monday, 9 September 2013

Looking Forward

Last week at school, our technician (I don't know what else to call her, but she's the one who does all the day-to-day stuff like fixing the machines, feeding the cat, and taking care of plants in the greenhouse) said she felt like she had wasted half her life.

Now, I'm sure she's younger than I am, and I haven't hit the halfway mark for my biblical threescore-and-ten yet. So I asked her what she meant. And she said that most of the people she knew didn't do much after they hit 60. I'm afraid I may have snorted a bit disbelievingly, and I told her she must be hanging out with the wrong people.

Done at 60? In this day and age? Most of the people I know who are that age are more active and involved than half their juniors (and could probably run circles around me).

It's not even a modern thing, though. A lot of great ideas and inventions and books and talent have come from people who were seniors. Last week, coincidentally, I was reading a book about Mary Granville Pendarves Delaney that I came across randomly in the library. It was titled 'Mrs. Delaney (begins her life's work) at 72'.

Mrs. Delaney was born in 1700 and lived into her 80's. And when she was 72 or 73, after she had outlived two husbands and a sister, she essentially invented a form of mixed-media collage, making pictures of flowers and plants so detailed and realistic that I had to look closely at the pictures in the book to assure myself they weren't paintings. But no, they were cut from paper in little pieces and glued to a background, and a few have leaves of real plants included. She managed to make close to a thousand of them (which she called Flower Mosaicks) before her eyesight became too bad for her to continue. Plantsmen sent her specimens to copy. The mosaicks were recognized by royalty, some were presented to royals and celebrities, and she herself was mentioned in poems by some of the writers of the age. They are now collected and housed in London, and people can still see them to marvel over.

Think of it. This old lady, in the era of the American Revolution, sitting at her friend's house in Britain and doing all this detailed dissecting of flowers and fine cutting of paper to reproduce their portraits. Think of the fine, sure cutting to get the fringed petals of a passion flower or the tendrils of a pea plant, the tiny pieces required for the spots on a lily (she even cut multiples for those to get realistically raised dots).

Nope, I think our tech's got it backwards. By the time we get to 60, there'll still be a lot of possibilities for beginning.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Fiber, Various

A week since I taught my first dye class, and I'm finally getting around to showing off the pics of the day, and the newest member of Johanne's flock. We all went to see baby Achai before class started.

It's cute to see how all the females in the pen are kind of protective of him, and they would all move in front of Achai to keep us from seeing him, in case we were dangerous. 'He has a lot of aunts', Johanne said.

Thanks to Jo and Chantal's organization, we were ready to start promptly on time, with neat booklets of information and skeins of yarn for everyone. And all the students had a great time, getting into chopping plants and straining dye baths, ending up with a lovely row of samples to go home with.

You know it's a keen class when one of the comments from a sort of survey and discussion after was "You should have dye supplies for us to purchase so we can go home and do some more!"

This afternoon there was a bit of fiber fun of a different sort. Fibrefest is on in Almonte this weekend, and I snagged a ride with my mother and a friend. What I really wanted to see wasn't even as much the vendors as the exhibits at the museum (the MVTM, textile museum). I will say right now, definitely worth the trip. Go soon, before they're finished.

One exhibit was by a Peruvian tapestry artist, and while I'm not usually big on modern work, the colours and technique were incredible, as if the tapestries were painted.

(detail of the tapestry above)

The other exhibit I really wanted to see was a display of Coptic weaving, dating from the 4th-10th centuries. And they were amazing. Most of the pictures I had seen of Coptic weaving previously was monochrome, like the first picture, so to see a few colored pieces was exciting. This particular colored piece says it was likely a piece off a curtain. Think of it, these fibers were all handspun (spindle-spun, since spinning wheels were still hundreds of years in the future), natural-dyed, and handwoven, and they've survived for 1500 years since they decorated someone's clothes or home...