Sunday, March 19, 2017

shoes full of slush

"spring is when you feel
like whistling even with
a shoe full of slush."
-doug larson

the winter blahs have been hanging heavily in the winter mist here in montana, or so it seems to be the case in the manhandled threads studio. the creative juices have been sluggish...resistant to anything but slumber.

now the sun is putting in an appearance for a change and spring is hinting at arriving. my fingers are itching again. finding needle and thread and at least warming up with some random bits of embroidery and hand sewing. it feels good to stretch creatively and feel the return of a creative drive!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

petting the beast

"sometimes you wake up.
sometimes the fall kills you.
and sometimes,
when you fall, you fly."
-neil gaiman

revisiting this tonal quilt. drawn first to its colors. they suited the quiet, somber mood that prevails this morning. as more snow blankets the countryside with an eerie silence, my thoughts dig deep. deeper.

isn't it strange how inspiration can both motivate and terrify at the same time? like something soft, warm and fuzzy. masking pointy teeth and scratchy claws with an unreliable disposition. is it any wonder many artists find themselves at an impasse at times?

best to pet the beast and get it over with.

though sometimes i simply want to eye it warily, sink deeper into the fireside chaise, and wait for it to make the first move...


Monday, January 2, 2017

hex happens

"life is too short
not to experiment."

being a creature of habit, i find myself slipping into patterns and stale routines at times. of late, i've indulged my inner brat with sulking through the holidays. moaning about the things i don't have in my life. blah, blah, blah, roll eyes, etc.

in an effort to form new habits, i let go of my self-decided dislike for hexies. to be honest, the hexie quilts i'm used to seeing are the vintage, lavendar and moth ball scented old lady flower garden types. now, i love vintage quilts, but these just do nothing for me.  this afternoon i saw a critter of altogether different proportions. a scrap hexie quilt. now *this* i can do! i was awestruck. it was beautiful!

of course, being a hoarder of fragments, i am in no short supply of material, so i decided it was time to stretch my legs and do something different. i decided it was hexie time.  starting with scraps from community (still in the works), i began making my first hexies.  little two inch hexies (note: apparently hexies are measured by the length of their sides...they are only 1" hexies). after the first few, i was already skipping down the primrose path to hexieville!

i guess this dog ain't too old yet...


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

considering play

"play is the only way
the highest intelligence of
humankind can unfold."
-joseph chilton pearce 

just playing. and considering. these two activities go hand in hand really. they can also be a field for a crossroads of another sort. where the lo-tech style of my art meets the hi-tech tools of modern pocket computers  (otherwise known as "smart phones"). while i still enjoy lo-tech romping with colored mark making tools such as paints and colored pencils, creative apps and digital images allow me to play at times when it might not otherwise be convenient to pull out paper and pencils or a watercolour kit. like while standing in a queue at market. or sitting in my monstrous front loader on break at work!

here, i'm entertaining the idea of light as wreath. or wreath as sun. which way around depends upon your perspective. it's nice to see an idea on "paper" so quickly. allows me to move forward without a sense of wasting much time when the idea doesn't work out. or, in this case, allows me to move on to cloth and stitch more swiftly when it does!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016


every doorway,
every intersection
has a story.
-katherine dunn

i've been thinking lately about the story of my cloth work. not so much of the story of how i came to do it, but rather the why of the art itself. whether the "art" in question is cloth, paint, music...or even the way i arrange my personal all boils down to my desire to reunite and record fragments of thought, feeling, and memory in such a way as to convey these fragments to others. to allow them a glimpse into my joy. my sorrow. my...whatever...and by doing this, i continue to discover new things about i relate to the world...through the process of quieting my mind and working with my hands and the interplay of them and the materials i am working with. this opens a doorway into the inner workings of how we each look at the world in which we live. provides an avenue for sharing...


Saturday, December 3, 2016

recovering a sense of play

"the creation of something new
is not accomplished by the intellect
but by the play instinct."
-carl jung

life can sometimes bog us down. adulting can be a very serious matter which can take over and rub the shiny off of just about everything.  in order to remain sane, we must remember to cultivate a sense of play.

play energizes us. enlivens us. it has the capability of renewing our sense of optimism and makes us open to new possibilities. in our art. in our lives. in general.

there are many ways in which one can play.  one of my favorites is to create and play with little people. needle chanting new spirit-filled people into existence and fanning the imagination with their stories.

here are three such people in their beginning stages. a perky boobed lady emerging from an old fragment of experimental batik. a woodsy fellow in winter holiday colors making his way from a vintage clothing fragment. finally, a peachy, flesh-toned dude taking shape from a "failed" dye experiment. beyond these few shreds, their stories are still transpiring. being whispered quietly in the background.

me? i'm carefully listening.
with scraps of cloth and fibre.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

changing perspective

"when i let go
of what i am,
i become
what i might be."
-lao tzu

these lovely rust dyed cotton fragments
were a gift from a delightful follower
on instagram (@pwendy). this buddha is
joyfully sporting new threads until inspiration
moves them in another direction!

a comment i made to erik shipley of ship's manor on instagram the other day was very enlightening for me once it took root in my consciousness.  a simple statement made about my style of knitting. something i have said a thousand times about being a process knitter rather than being results driven. one of those *aha!* moments that suddenly through open the drapes that have shrouded my perception about my own creative style. not only am i a process knitter, but i am a process artist!

this was a very liberating realization. freeing me of years of self-judgment and ofttimes debilitating criticism about harboring a plethora of unfinished work. reminding me of the joy i experience in simply creating for the sake of creating, not to race to complete something for the sake of being done with it. the many creations that rest in various stages of growth are just that: resting in a stage of growth. of evolution. all a part of my enjoying their process of creation. no longer accusing. no longer judging. but celebrating whatever process they are in. whatever step they are at along the path each moment. rather like a reminder of the way i try to live my life. in the moment. not grasping and judging but enjoying. celebrating.

there is something to be learned from these emerging fragments of the creative process. something delightful and invigorating!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

use. reuse. and fanboy surprise.

"nothing lasts forever.
but the thing is,
you can reuse some."
-rick riordan, leo's mother, the lost hero

nestled in the bottom of community's work basket are tons of almost forgotten scraps. slumbering peacefully away. until now.  i can't let them find their way to the waste basket...or lay idle for too long.  so i have embarked upon a new quilt journey.  while being comprised of cast off scraps from community, i think it will need its own name. it's own story. i'm not sure what that will be as yet. perhaps they will begin to whisper more clearly as more blocks are created.

these diminutive blocks are a mere 4" and are based upon a block from Quilted Moose.  one of several in Louise's garden sew-along. i fell in love with this one block, however, and have decided to create an entire quilt out of it...with 3/4" sashing and corner blocks between each.  it will pull solely from scraps from community.  

instead of sequestering myself in the sewing studio at my treadle, as is my usual behavior, i wanted to watch some television programs while i stitched, so i pulled out my "new" 1965 Bernina 730 Record Zig Zag machine. i found this machine (born the same year i was, so it's not that terrible old. ha!) languishing away on a sale table in a local charity shop with a meager $22.50 price tag. 

this lovely old machine came with all of its original papers (including bill of sale), all of its original accessories, several extra accessories, sewing deck, an immaculate case (original) and two original keys!

after brushing the dust away and giving the machine a good oiling, i set it up to begin to sew...and then i realized: there's no foot control pedal! ack!  so before putting it away and getting out my other "new" machine (the brother i talked about in an earlier post), i went looking online for a replacement foot control. then it hit me: this machine has no foot control.  it is a dedicated knee control machine!  i'd heard about these knee control bernina's before, but being a die-hard pfaff fanboy (at least, when it comes to new new machines) i never gave it much thought.  always figured they were talking about a knee lift bar.  ha! you learn something new everyday! after a little playtime, i'm rather fascinated by this knee control.  it's especially nice when sitting on the davenport and sewing on my antique fold away table. no foot pedal to migrate away and be chased after! so i guess i can't pooh-pooh bernina's that i own one and actually really like it!  though, don't expect to see me replacing my computerized pfaff anytime soon, cuz i'm still a pfaff fanboy!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

something epic this way comes

"but i love halloween,
and i love that feeling:
the cold air,
the spooky dangers lurking
around the corner."
-evan peters

like rabbit, i'm late, i'm late... i always seem to stumble across these wondrous things late.  ah well, at least i stumble across them.  in this case, i'm talking about the epic halloween quilt along but together by flying parrot quilts which you can stumble across here.  it's not your average halloween quilt either, it's epic. it says so right on the web page...and truly, it is epic indeed!   

i'm using the suggested fabulous fabrics: ghastlies by alexander henry; spellbound by cotton and steel; lost and found halloween by jen allyson; chillingsworth's spooky ride. but i have also dug deep into my stash and even did a little local shopping around to add my own touch to this twelve week quilt along gem (if you follow me on instagram, you've probably already seen a good portion of these fabrics).  though, since the quilt along itself is officially completed, i'm going above and beyond...i'm going to enlarge the quilt from a lap sized to a throw sized quilt (read: twin...cuz bigger is always better in my book). to accomplish this, i'll be adding in extra blocks garnered from here and there and even a few surprise touches.

to get started, i've paper pieced the first week's blocks above. candy corn and witch's hats.  i did, however, alter the witch's hat pattern (no offense to the designer) cuz i rather like a taller hat with a narrower brim.  next up: spiders!

wait, what?!? halloween is next week?  well, perhaps for most folks...but for me, halloween is all year round, so whenever i finish this quilt, it'll be cozily snuggled under no matter the time of year!

happy haunting!