Big Yes! Chaos Theory Scarf by Lesley Starke

Prepare your nerdy heart for some seriously geeky and gorgeous patterns generated by an eight-point, early chaos theory computer code.

Science + Craft = Joy.

No, you did not read that wrong. My Durham String Thing buddy Lesley Starke is knitting up this double-sided scarf using Rule 30 from early chaos theory, written by Steven Wolfram (father of Mathematica.)

She is knitting with two skeins of yarn at the same time.

Lesley is a scientist in ecology. She says that the project is the brainchild of her friend Joe Sexton (not a knitter). “He and I use similar approaches to the ecology work that we do. To put it broadly, we use satellite images to detect and analyze changes in the landscape.”

Back in 2009, while he was finishing up his PhD in Ecology from Duke University, they had a conversation about their work that exploded into this wildly beautiful creation.

Random triangles and shoots!

I love the stark black-and-white translation of the computer code and the random waterfalls and pools it creates.

The Code (pattern) runs along the bottom of the scarf.

Lesley claims that there is no pattern to this double-knit scarf. Here she explains how it works:

“I'm using a code that has 8 keys to it-- each produces a single answer: black or white, to create a random/chaotic image of black and white. The keys are each three-stitch sequences that I read on the row below to determine what color I should stitch in the present row. Four of the keys yield black and four yield white”

Their friends on Facebook
 recognize the code.

Don’t you adore this combination of computer code, utility (this is a scarf, after all, and will eventually warm Joe’s neck), wildly open creativity and the randomly beautiful patterns it creates?

Lesley, mad scientist & knitter, at work.

Big Yes to Lesley! 

"Big Yes!" is a blog feature where I share, with their permission, a piece of textile art that has opened my eyes to the possibility of what we can create.  When faced with things that are truly beautiful or moving or that fill me with awe, I try to say yes. More than that, Big Yes.

Big Yes! Runaway by Aubrey Longley-Cook

I adore series that explore a theme, subject or medium. In embroidered art, I've never seen one quite like this crazily innovative series by Atlanta artist Aubrey Longley-Cook. We're talking about combining the beautifully slow, methodical process of stitching with computer animation. No, I'm not kidding.

Runaway 7, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

Meet Gus, who Longley-Cook informs us on his edgy blog spool spectrum, is a stray found wandering the streets of Atlanta who was rescued by his room mate.

I adore this piece alone for the way he stitched the fur, in pooled shades of color, and the lovely sense of movement he captured. His stitching has an ecstatic, hugely energetic quality in this single embroidery. This is a masterful rendering of a running dog in a textile art piece.

Runaway 4, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

But Longley-Cook, who often works in series, doesn't stop with this one image. Consider this next embroidery of gus. Look at the change in his body position, the horizontal line of his back, the curve of his tail, the ear position, three paws, and closed mouth. Look at the giraffe-like spotting of his coat, again stitched in sectioned clumps.

Runaway 1, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

Keep going. The tail position changes. The snout rises. The mouth opens. The coat spots move. The stitching remains fluid and clustered, somehow, at the same time.

Runaway 10, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

How about this piece and the movement it conveys.

Runaway 13, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

And the leaping energy of this one. Consider the way the line of the piece changes with the diagonal positioning of his body. The loop of his tail is reflected in the curl of his front paws. You can feel Gus running. His mouth is opened. His ears flap.

Runaway 14, by Aubrey Longley-Cook,  2011

And then the final piece in which Gus is almost a stitched blur. Look at the way Longley-Cook has changed the shading of his coat, with the heavy, deeper tan on the dog's belly in long stitches.

Now scroll back and look at the pieces as a series of work. On spool spectrum, the artist features 14 embroideries from this series.  Each image is a beautiful, fully-realized capture of the energy, movement and expression of the dog. Taken all together, I am struck by how these pieces are a study of movement, frame-by-frame, rendered in thread.

Now, please go to Longely-Cooks blog HERE and prepare yourself for an unexpected experience in embroidery.

This animated artwork is not merely a novel trick, and it's more than a stitched version of magic flip cards. The way he captures movement through his stitching is incredibly inspiring and eye-opening to me. Actually, that is an understatement.

(And because I'm nothing but a huge nerd, check out this animated clip of the back of his work! It's like looking behind a curtain. It feels so bad!)

Spend some time with Longley-Cooks other series. The man breaks it down. He is badass and hugely talented.

Big, huge, freaking YES!

"Big Yes!" is a new feature on my blog where I will, with their permission, share a piece of textile art that has opened my eyes to the possibility of what we can create.  When faced with things that are truly beautiful or moving or that fill me with awe, I try to say yes. More than that, Big Yes.

Sketches for the Great Curve & a Stitchgasm

Still in the sketching phase of a self portrait. I know that I need to make the move onto fabric and just start thread sketching. Moving slowly but I'm making progress.

Playing with the image against blue Balinese batik

I envision the piece on the blue Balinese batik ground fabric above. I think. I'm attracted to the watery colors with patterns of plant life upon it.  Trying to simply the image my friend Alex took in May 2011. Layering it on the fabric and on other sheets of paper. I just need a basic outline and then I'll let the stitching guide me.

Simplified outline pattern

I think I'll go with this very basic sketch to start with and take it from there. Removed the fingers from my shoulder and changed the hair, which was in a pony tail. This is a slow-going project. I'm  playing and sketching with thread.

With the holidays coming, I have all sorts of simple stitched gifts to make for friends and family. Luxuriating stitching simple things for my loved ones. But I can't show the work in progress here because I don't want to ruin any surprises. I can say that I'm stitching names, words, lightening, clouds, bears, squirrels and rabbits... but that's all that I'll say!

Spinach quiche for my fiber arts group

Been cooking and baking a lot and experimenting with new tools, like the pie cutters I used to make the leaf design above. Trying to bring visual pleasure to the experience of tasting my food. Hardly an original concept! Haven't been an overly hearty eater of late -- the stress of this year killed my appetite but as I get happier, it is coming roaring back. But I love food and preparing for people I care about. And trying to make it as lovely for them as I can.

On the inter webs front, I was uber geeked to be featured in a Stitchgasm from MrXStitch for my Do Not Eat! and Do Not Enter! hazard signs! And I'm grateful to Denise Fenton at for blogging about my Big Yes! features. I have a new Big Yes! in the works that is going to blow your freaking minds, peeps! Keep an eye out.

Finally, take a listen to the Talking Heads The Great Curve. As David Byrne sings: The world turns on a woman's hips.

Big Yes! Flea by MimiLove

Prepare to be overwhelmed by a wild symphony of color, paint, stitching, textures and imagery.

Detail from Flea, 2011, by MimiLove

Welcome to the fantastic world of MimiLove! She is a furnace of creativity and energy. I've never seen anyone doing work quite like hers.  An talented painter, Mimi creates multi-textured images on canvas and fabric, bouncing the color and compositions of her paintings against the layers of luminous needlework.

Take a look at the detail from her piece Flea. Mind you, this is just one small section of the piece, but look at the way the near rainbow of thread colors and variety of stitches (pierced into canvas, for f#ck's sake!) forms a lovely, unexpected membrane over the wash of paint underneath.

Her artwork has a feeling of depth that is unique. I want to say her images are encrusted with stitch and paint, but that word sounds too heavy and static for the lightness and energy they convey.

Detail from Pig, 2011, by MimiLove

Take some time to explore Mimi's beautiful artwork on her flickr stream. And treat yourself to reading her playful, music-infused blog. (Her etsy shop keeps me lusting, too.) Her posts are wonderful... she give her readers a window into this expansive, warm, creative soul. I'm not exagerating. Plus she writes about and literally shows, through photos of her work in progress, how she creates her artwork. You see the actual layers come together, like she does in this post about Flea. (As a stitcher and artist, I find it very generous of her to share the details of her process with us.)

Ahhh... Big Yes! to MimiLove! She is sunshine and artistry in stitch and paint. And I bet she tastes like a wild, unexpected cakelet.

"Big Yes!" is a new feature on my blog where I will, with their permission, share a piece of textile art that has opened my eyes to the possibility of what we can create.  When faced with things that are truly beautiful or moving or that fill me with awe, I try to say yes. More than that, Big Yes.

Big Yes! Two Satrys by Bascom Hogue

How do you write about someone who so inspires you?

Two Satyrs by Bascom Hogue

Bascom Hogue is hardcore. A complicated, vibrantly talented artist and soul. Can you believe the stitches in this redwork artwork of two satyrs? The expression on their faces. The gesture of the hands of one satyr in the beard of the other. Look at the hatch marks -- simple lines -- that Bascom uses to depict the body and facial hair. Look at the varying thickness of the stitches around the outer edges.

And the beautiful satyr on the right... his Adam's apple has vulnerability and poignancy to it that takes my breath away. I can imagine the mad-eyed satyr opening his mouth and ripping into his throat. Bascom has depicted them as wild animals in near human form.

Detail from Two Satyrs

We are so lucky to have access to Bascom's work. I'm beyond fortunate to be able to communicate with him online... to hear his thoughts and musings about the world. On his blog, Bascom describes himself like this: "I like reading, sewing, art, food, dogs (I love dogs), animals, and people. My mother is Jewish and my father is Mennonite. I have a tendency to see two sides to most situations."

Spend some time on Bascom's blog or flickr stream. (His work is also featured in Push Stitchery by Jamie MrX Stitch Chalmers.)  Prepare to be unnerved. In the best sense.

"Big Yes!" is a new feature on my blog where I will, with their permission, share a piece of textile art that has opened my eyes to the possibility of what we can create.  When faced with things that are truly beautiful or moving or that fill me with awe, I try to say yes. More than that, Big Yes.