Adventures in NYC, Part 3, Stitching & Purple

Can we talk thread? Can we talk floss?

Detail of Tiny Great Curve, chain stitch in Valdani 12,
color  2 (charcoal).

While in NYC, I did venture out of Brooklyn and spent a glorious bit of time at Purl Soho, feasting on the threads and flosses.

Koigu wool needlepoint yarns.

The fabrics were wonderful, too (especially their collection of Liberty of London) but there are decent quilt shops in NC. The flosses and threads... those are harder to find.

Liberty of London fabrics, hooped near the door.

I can and do order threads online, but being able to paw through silk thread and bin after bin of Valdani 12 in every conceivable color in person... that is a special treat. And their collection of embroidery-worthy linens is not to be missed.

Wanted to spin this DMC cotton wheel!

Bought myself a collection of Valdani in greys and purples for my Tiny Great Curve self portrait. It is pleasure to stitch with this. I also treated myself to a spool of Trebizond twisted silk in a lilac for highlights on my latest piece.

Some of my supplies for the latest piece.

I didn't purchase any of the Liberty of London fabric because I'm anxious about money and storage in my apartment, but I did spend a little time fondling the bolts. I wasn't alone! Another woman was standing next to me, doing the same thing. "It's like silk," she said. And I nodded eagerly.

These bolts called to me. And to other fabricphiles.

Since being home I've been doing a fair amount of stitching and playing ideas. Making progress on my Tiny Great Curve piece. Still stitching words galore. Generally feeling very upbeat and creative. 

WIP, current state of Tiny Great Curve.

I only wish I could make it to Fiber Philadephia this weekend. The exhibitions of textile art look like they are going to be amazing! Alas, funds won't allow this. 

Leaving Purl Soho in my purple beret.

I think that the purple ground fabric of my latest piece has made me a little fixated on purple. I keep wearing a purple hat. And these beautiful purple hydrangeas are a constant source of inspiration.

From my squeeze. Excellent taste.

I keep them close to me, next to my laptop, in my tiny little bay window space, surrounded in my collection of Pantone color post cards.

Purple, floss, silk, art, time with Erin's beautiful family, stitch-speration, handwritten notebooks and marginalia, and stitching. These are all things that NYC gave to me on this visit. Will get back very soon. 

Adventures in NYC, Part 2, Handwritten notes & archives

*And we remember strange and funny events, long ago and far away. Harlem is a police state with the voices of angels. Knitting in hand probably will change this.

Scrawl in my notebook.

Mash up of handwritten notes and marginalia in notebooks, manuscripts and scores by John Coltrane, Virginia Woolfe, Jorge Luis Borges, Jack Kerouac and Malcom X. All found at the Centennial Exhibition of the NYC Public Library.

Libraries rock. 
What we write in the margins and notebooks of our lives… treasure it. When you are exploring -- out in the world or through the portal of you laptop -- keep a notebook and jot and sketch and harvest, mofos.

My laptop with my new Nerd notebook,
from the NYC Public Library gift shop.

More NYC stitching adventures to come…

Adventures NYC, Part 1

Lucky me! Three days with Erin, Kevin & Maeve in Brooklyn. The Diego Rivera and Print Out shows at the MOMA and a wonderful, Centennial exhibition at the NYC Public Library. (Stitch-speration abounds.) Gorging on threads and fabrics at Purl Soho. Bouncing around NYC... man, it doesn't get much better than this.

"Super Duper Sound System" by Joshua Abram Howard.
(Read more about this N Brooklyn mural project.)

Erin is one of my oldest friends. To say I adore her is an understatement. She lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with her talented, writer husband Kevin and little gnomina daughter Maeve.

Erin & Maeve bring their auburn beauty
to the garden at the MOMA.

Three days in the generous company of her family, talking about life and art, eating Erin's phenomimal food... it is like heaven.

Me looking dwarfish in front of "Welcome to Greenpoint" by Skewville,
part of the India Street Mural project. 

Kevin is a writer, blogger and translator from Russian. And an all-around brilliant and funny soul. Kevin writes about art on his blog (New First Unexpected) A recent post is about the Diego Rivera exhibition at the MOMA, which we saw together.

"May Day Moscow, 1927" by Rivera.

I was also struck by Rivera's sketches from scenes in Moscow, especially the way he painted large groups of people in an unfamiliar enviornment. I enjoyed seeing the way he composed these quick paintings in strong horizontals -- sort of thick and heavy. Some of the sketches had more energy to their composition (he threw in some wonderful diagnonal frames) but the weightiness of the group scenes, with their flat lines and rows, spoke to me about the heaviness and gravity of the events themselves.

Collection of prints from the Print Out exhibition at the MOMA

We also spent some time at the Print Out exhibition, which showered me with stitch-speration and lead me to try to write in Chinese.

The circles in this piece give me chills when I think about
making them into raised, thread bumps!

And imagine a piece done entirely in raised spider wheel circles, like the circles from news print.

My sketchbook and some word stitching.

It is a cliche to say that in the city you are surrounded by powerful images, both intentional and unintentional. But it is true. I ate up all of the scenes and sounds and details and ideas around me. Devour them.

Random detail 1: Carved stone panel near the
front door of Erin's garden apartment.

Random detail 2: A ghostly leaf in my cappucino at Bowery Coffee in the Lower East Side
where a had a lovely time reconnecting with another NYC talented soul, Amy Vickers. 

I love my Durham home. I also love the city of my birth, NYC. I love my NC friends and life. I adore the visual gifts the natural world gives to us every day here in North Carolina. I don't love the strip malls. I don't love the parking lots. I don't love the beige work cubes. Getting away for even a few days... this helps me become less numb to the beauty around me.

Seeking your love of life, my peeps!

More to come... but for now I ask my NC peeps to share with me all that they find beautiful or sad or intense. Let's help each other make the most out of this gorgeous life. Every detail!


So Much Stitch-Speration at the MOMA, my head exploded

Haven't been to the Museum of Modern Art in 5 or 6 years and I took myself there on NYC trip this past weekend. Of course, one wanders around, unsure what to focus upon, being pushed this way and that way by the throngs of other museum goers, some clearly suffering, wildly uncomfortable and not sure why the hell they are there.

Me, excited in my taxi, en route to the MOMA
Me, I'm there to just absorb, to allow my eyes to be tantalized and my heart to be stirred. I did my own aimless wandering for a few minutes, after leaping from my taxi. But I thought to myself, O, why are you here? And I answered myself, in that weirdly clear-headed way that I can conjure when I'm not too self-conscious. I said, to look at images and think about stitching. What I call Stitch-Speration, just like a did a couple of weeks ago with a friend at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh.

Natalia Goncharova. Imagine piling stitches up on top of each other in this way.
So that is all that I did. I roamed and let my eyes fall on anything--any color combo or pattern or speck of a design that resonated with the feeling of putting a needle into fabric, or building layers of color and pattern on cloth.

Umberto Boccioni.
At first I was attracted to color and shapes.

Gino Severini. Imagine attaching dull sequins to your piece, over stitching.

Piet Mondrian. Black outline around your stitches.

Diego Rivera. Playing with stitched portraiture inspired by this.

Vasily Kandinski.

Then I started finding text, which I adore stitching.

Joseph Kosuth. Imagine providing false definitions.

Marcel Broodthayers

Finally I found the Talk to Me exhibit, which featured MANY works that had text and symbols within them, but were really about the interaction between people and their technology. As someone who texts constantly (to the point that I probably drive people crazy), is on Twitter and Facebook, has met a few amazing people through online dating, has reconnected with old friends through email, blogs, lives with her iPhone in her bra and gets her news almost exclusively through the NY Times online, interacting with technology is an interesting subject.

What 100 Million Calls to 311 Reveal about NYC/

Imagine false info being mapped.
This is a a pitifully abbreviated sample, but I was particularly struck by two pieces: A NYC 311 graph of when and why people call the City of New York for various public services (at 3 am they want HIV testing but at 2 pm they want to complain about odd odors) and a lovely document about symbols homeless people leave to instruct other homeless about the conditions in their surroundings. I ADORE the symbols and the documentation about what is most important to share. And it reminds me of 1930s Hobo chalk markings that served a similar purpose.

Homeless City Guide

I adore the symbols.

Oh, and the the catalog of "Ss" in Parisian graffiti really appealed to both the artist/text obsessed part of me and the nerdy kid who loves lists of things part of me.

Graffiti Taxonomy, Paris

And then there is the wonderful, fragile beauty of drawings on napkins. And I imagine stitching into paper napkins and leaving them to be found.

Jim Hodges. A Diary of Flowers. 
Another project for another day, no doubt.

The garden is peaceful even if we are not.

Rested in the sculpture garden at the moment and allowed all of the ideas to wash over me. So many sources of inspiration out there. So many wonderful people in my life.

I'm goofily grateful.

Octo-Boxers, Tentacles and Stitching from here

The Octo-Boxers are done.  I repeat, the Octo-Boxers are done!

(This is my headline, à la the Simpsons spinning headline “The Lincoln Squirrel Has Been Assasinated!”

I’ve never taken so long to complete a fairly simple project. A testament to the challenges of this Spring and Summer.

I hope that my friend likes them. They were stitched with a lot of love and appreciation for all of the support and kindness he has given me during a time of unbelievable change in my life. That kind of friendship is rare. This is the kind of friend for whom you make handmade gifts. That you put in the time and stitch in the love.

Fingering the crazy crotch tentacle

My friend is considerably larger than me and these will fit him differently, but here I am modeling the Octo-Boxers after nipping them in with clips.  (Forgive the horrible beige background…this is the horror that is my sublet apartment.)

The final, happy crotch tentacle

They make me smile, crazy things. I’ve decided that embroidered boxers are great stitched gifts for you male friends or boyfriends. Boxers and dishcloths, because every man seems to cook these days! Whew-hew!

Next up in my life: Finding a more permanent place to live (I’ve been living like a refugee in a sparse summer sublet). Continuing to form deeper connections with people I care about. Continuing to be wide open to the world and possibility and friendship and passion. Full discloser: Over the last several month, I have learned just how warm, open and embracing of life I actually am. And I think it is kind of extreme and one of my unique traits. I’m vulnerable just like anyone else, but I’m unafraid. I won’t be crushed. And this feels amazing!

Looping chain stitch garter belt

Artistically, I will gather up my art and stitching supplies around me. I’ll set up my beautiful Bernina sewing machine in my new home.  I will absorb all of the inspiration I can from my world (last week’s museum visit was a revelation for me; I should be doing that MORE.) And I will sketch and stitch and sew and make my art and crafts. I could not be happier about this.

Writing this post from NYC.  I’m trolling museum and galleries, collecting found text, shopping for art supplies, visiting friends, feeling grateful and just enjoying the city of my birth and how far I’ve come. Musing a little bit about what comes next. But also, living in the moment.

Octo-Boxers, I love you! I release you and your eight tentacles back into the ocean. Be free and be happy! 

So Much Depends Upon a Red Ant

Hine Mizushima
Hine Mitzushima's needle felted red ant, my one glorious purchase from The Needle Felting Extravaganza exhibit at Gallery Hananhou in Manhattan last March... so much depends upon her.

I could almost eat this little wool ant, in hopes of absorbing a tiny fraction of Hine's imaginative skills. Doesn't it work that way? If you eat the artwork you love, does it give you it's essence and can you use that to create?

Hine Mizushima
Better not risk it!

Just don't let any rainwater get on my beautiful ant. And keep it away from white chickens, dammit.

Brooklyn Bound, baby!

I’m headed up to NYC , land of my birth, this weekend. Woot!  Going see old friends, including finally meeting Maeve, the little Irish princess that I made this sweater for.

The pattern is the Seamless Kimono Baby Sweater from Jackie Kelly at The Complete Fabrication.   

I found it on ravelry and I just love it.

While in NYC, I’m geeked to be seeing the Felter Skelter Needle Felting All Stars Show at the Gallery Hanahou.  

This show features the work of four needlefelting goddesses who I have long admired, Moxie, Hine Mizushima, Kit Lane and Yoku Nomura.  I own a few pieces by Yoku Nomura (aka feltmates), including this insanely cool panda brooch that I purchased her etsy shop.  I’d wear every day if I could.

I plan to roam, have cocktails, play with old friends and just enjoy myself.  For me that means looking for fabric for my Andy Warhol embroidery piece, seeking out lumnious fibers and threads, visiting the Japanese toy store and pursuing all things handmade. Hopefully I won't freeze to death, as I've become a bit thin-blooded from living in the warm South for so many years. (It was 83F/28C degrees in Durham, NC, today!) 

Looking forward to three days of doing whatever I want!