Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Happy Little Post

Hi ya!

Well, I had good intentions of writing a different post today, but honestly, I just need a break from all the stress in the world. My friend, Jo James, said the other day, "I peeked my head out into the world for a minute. It was really scary. I'm going back inside my art bubble."

So today, I'm just going to share something fun. I love Bruno Mars. His music reminds me so much of the group Earth, Wind and Fire. I love how this song got combined with old movie stars.

Enjoy this brief break from reality. ;)


Hugs,
Michelle

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Back to School and Creativity

Hi ya!

First, I want to follow up from last weeks post about the Houston Quilt Festival. I have received word that the show and the market are both a go. So, if you are headed there, I do hope to meet you! I will post more of my schedule in a few weeks. Of course, right now I'm keeping a close eye on hurricane Irma. She looks very angry....

Ok, now onto what I've been pondering this week as I've been working on "Wonderland Woods," a new adventure from me and Jules coming January 1st. This won't be a typical "Block of the Month." It is more of a textile art piece in lieu of an art quilt. We are so excited and can't wait to share more with you! Until then, here are a few sneaky peeks. ;)



All the kiddo's in my neighborhood have headed back to school this week. It got me thinking about a talk from Ken Robinson on "Do Schools Kill Creativity" that I listened to while I was drawing, designing, stitching, writing and photographing different steps in "Wonderland Woods."



Growing up and even today, I suffer from "Test Anxiety." I will know a subject 100% and can talk to you about it for hours, but make me take a test and my mind will go blank and don't even say the words "Pop Quiz!"

 Also, I'm a kinetic and visual learner. I learn by doing and seeing, not memorizing. Thus, when I write my patterns, I write step by step instructions, but also include a color photo of that step so every type of learner is covered.



Not having kids, it is hard for me to really understand this, but to me, teaching a child to memorize and learn to pass a test and compete against a million other kids for a scholarship really does kill creativity and squashes the imagination. An imagination, that if nurtured, just might create something incredible. To me, teaching to one's strengths and focusing on what kids and individuals are naturally gifted with, should be more important than rigid regurgitation of facts.



Teachers must have it really hard. I mean they have 20 + kids in a class are made to stick to a ridiculous, structured teaching methods to "pass the tests" so the school gets funded, all while getting paid next to nothing. Here in NC, a first year teacher fresh out of college with a Masters Degree (and tons of school loans), only makes $38,500. They spend a lot of there own money supplementing things for their classrooms that aren't supplied by the schools. Like tissues for goodness sake!

Anyway, here is Ken's very comical, but very poignant talk if you have time to listen. I would love to hear your thoughts, especially if you are or were a teacher. It really  made me think back to the wonderful teachers I had who inspired me and nurtured my creative spirit. I'm forever grateful to them.



Hugs,
Michelle

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Houston and the Quilt Festival

If you're like me, I'm sure you have been glued to the Weather Channel, the news and Facebook with all the heart wrenching images of the flooding and devastation in Texas. I have been through many a hurricane here in Eastern, NC, some of which had massive flooding and destruction. However, none of them come even close to what has happened in Houston and the small towns like Rockport and Port "A".

I've been thinking about when the water recedes, the rescues are over and the news media goes away. What most people don't see is how long and how much work it is to get things back to some sense of normal. In 2011, my dear friend Lydia, had her home destroyed by hurricane Irene in our small town of New Bern, NC. Her house was flooded in September and it took until the end of March to get it fixed. Six full months on one house that had flood damage. People don't realize that dealing with contractors, FEMA, insurance agencies and the nasty scam artists who turn up are also part of this, not to mention the places of employment that have been destroyed.



I write this post thinking about the Quilt Festival that is coming in just 8 short weeks. It's something I've been looking so forward to, not only because of my dream being realized as an instructor there, but also because of the wonderful friends I will finally get to meet in person, as well as, my dear friend, Sallieann who is coming from England.



The festival is held in the same convention center that is now housing thousands of displaced, homeless, people. The hotels, restaurants and businesses downtown are flooded. It is one giant mess. As of today, the festival people are saying that the show will still go on. For the life of me, I can't wrap my head around how it will. Again, just knowing how long it took for Lydia's house to get fixed with not nearly the amount of water that is in Houston.


Plus, the festival brings in 55,000 to 65,000 people. I know the city can really use the money, but with all the people who are currently homeless, not to mention all the volunteers and emergency management people, etc. where are they going to put everyone, let alone feed everyone?

Now I don't mean to sound like "Debbie Downer" or "Negative Nellie," but I guess knowing first hand how long and awful the recovery can be, my heart is with the people who are suffering. I would rather have the festival cancelled so people can have a chance to grieve and start rebuilding their lives. I would much rather go to the Houston Quilt Festival next year in celebration instead going this year in the mist of sorrow.

We'll see what happens in the next few weeks.

Hugs,
Michelle

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Two days of Crochet

Wow oh wow! What a great response to our invitation last week to join the Fellowship of Fibers and Threads group on Facebook. We have 100 new friends! Jules and I are really looking forward to seeing what everybunny has to share.

Today I wanted to share a little adventure I recently had. You see, sometimes one just needs a little break from their work to go and do something different. Don't you agree? I'm one who never tires of learning things. There is so much out there to do and see. Plus, it really clears my head and gives me fresh eyes on creativity.

Here in Wilmington, NC, we have a wonderful shop downtown called The Noble Thread. The owner, Caroline, is just the sweetest and kindest lady. Plus, she is Parisian, and is simply delightful to listen to. ;)

I have been drooling over the high quality yarns in her shop for a long time and decided to take a crochet class. My Grandmother showed me how to crochet when I was a little girl and my mom loves to crochet, but I haven't touched it since I was about 7 years old. Also, I knew I would be better at it than knitting because all my friends said it is much easier to rip out a mistake in crochet than it is in knitting. Well, that had me right there. ;)

I still have all my crochet hooks from when I was a child, so with them in hand, I set out for The Noble Thread. Caroline had me create a sample piece with single, double, half double, some ridges and some post crochet. Here's how it turned out.



I love how the yarn looks. It's all hand dyed and sooooo soft! Caroline then showed me how to block my finished piece to make the edges straight, which I still have to do. Then I'll add a big button and turn into a cowl.

Caroline said that normally the two classes are to teach the stitches, but she said I was a natural and must have remembered everything my Grandmother taught me. So instead of another week of learning stitches, she taught me how to read a chart. FUN!



Here's the next piece I'm working on. It's a long shawl, but I will make it into smaller wrap as Caroline laughed and said, "You are so tiny. You should make it smaller or you will look like a child carrying a blankie." LOL! She also recommended I use a finer yarn. This is what I chose as my wardrobe is black, white and grey tops with bluejeans. ;)



Once I finish this, I will try to tackle making some sort of cardigan sweater. Caroline has open stitch days at her shop where friends can gather, chat and get help on their projects. Sounds perfect to me!

Hugs and see ya next week!
Michelle

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Gifts from Jules and an Invitation

I want to start off this week by thanking you for all your kind words and support regarding my post last week. I was truly overwhelmed and your words were giant hugs to me. Thank you so very much for understanding and even more for encouraging me to continue down this rabbit hole. Your friendship is truly a gift I treasure.

Speaking of gifts, I received a surprise "parcel" as my European friends say, in the mail today. Doesn't parcel sound so much nicer than package? ;)

Jules sent me the most wonderful treats all of which are handmade or vintage! First is this beautiful rabbit pin, which was made by Jules' friend, Valerie Greeley. Isn't it wonderful? I love all the colors and details.


Next is this beautiful bookmark made by Jules. Perfect timing for a new book I just purchased by Neil Gaiman called "Norse Mythology."


As you know from our Briarside Lane adventure, as well as, the many original pieces Jules has gifted me, that I adore her work. I love how she painted on this linen and then added embroidery details. It makes my heart go pitter pat! :)


Next, she sent me this gorgeous card made by Karen Davies of Mustard Cuts. Jules knows that I have a HUGE love of papercut art. It is how most of my designs start out. This is so beautiful!


Of course, who can resist some ric rac and green beads? Not me! I also love that the beads are in a little glass container instead of plastic. So sweet and special!


The last gift, in the parcel of pressies, is this ivy leaf pendant, which is hand painted leather. It is such a thrill for me to receive this.


You see, I am a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE stalker fan of Jinny and Chris of Skyraven Wolf. These two incredible artists live on a Narrowboat in England. Remember the narrowboat block from our Briarside Lane adventure? Yep, they live on one of these!


Anyway, I learned that they aren't very far from Jules and there was going to be Summer market. Well, Jules and my dear Sallieann went to the market and met them! Was I totally jealous? That would be a big giant YES!!! lol! This is Sallieann and Chris!



This is the sign on their boat, which Jules told me they are still trying to finish painting. The old shoemaker and shoes story.



Well, like I said, I LOVE their work so very much. I am actually on a waiting list to get on the waiting list to get this handbag. Yep, you read that right, a waiting list to get on the waiting list! Patience is a virtue.... I CAN'T WAIT!!!!



Thank you Jules for all my pressies!!! I love them all so very much and love you even more!

Finally today, Jules and I would like to invite you to join our Facebook Group called "Fellowship of Fibers and Threads." There has been so much bad news, hatred and awful things going on in the world and frankly, Jules and I wanted to create a peaceful place where we could go and spend time with creative friends.

We are so inspired by all the incredible talent out there and felt we wanted a group that was inclusive of things encompassing all Fibers and Threads. So if you stitch, quilt, work in paper, embroider, crochet, knit, make dolls, etc. we invite you join our group and share. Designers, teachers and Shop Owners are also encouraged to share as who doesn't want to know about a fun place to shop? Here's the link to our group. We hope to see you there!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/613117075463739/?ref=bookmarks

Love and hugs to you. I'll see you back here next week.
Michelle