deep thoughts

deep thoughts: off to france

one chilly winter day

chris and i went for a walk

through prospect park

i took pictures of all the subtle colors

and the textures of nature

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i've been putting together a portfolio

of my range of artistic skills

from watercolors to photography

to fibers to styling

it's in development,

but i was sorting through these images

awhile back to use.

the pictures have been sitting on my desktop 

and today

when i went to write a blog post about-

france and paris and my great adventures ahead

in my month long journey..

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i could see these ducks, dipping in and out 

of a serene gray 

landscape

and it felt calm.

i've been jubilant and overwhelmed

and a bit bitter sweet at taking a hiatus

from everything that was once so frightening

(like new york city and its public transit!)

and is now so normal,

that i can go through my daily routine

(from the subway to the shop, back home again)

with my body and not my mind.

i've been in brooklyn for 4 years,

and it was high time for an exploration

of something new, of something other than 

what i currently experience 

day to day to day.

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many people have asked what our definite plans are...

truth is, our plans are not fixed.

our plans are loose,

so if we fall in love with a town.

we can stay for longer.

so we can be open and free spirited.

we are flying in to paris (spending a week), 

then taking a train southwards,

to toulouse or perhaps stopping in limoges first,

then to carcassonne and following the coast eastwards

walking towards italy. we ultimately fly out of milan.

i want to stop in as many small towns as we can,

or as budget will allow, along the way. 

we have our first leg of the trip booked with accommodations,

so parents and loves can keep from worrying.

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my goals for the trip are to:

- revel in all the beautiful small moments

- take many many photographs, but also, to remember to look

not through a lens, but with my eyes, open wide.

- taste everything. be the most open i have ever been.

- be nice to myself. it is a harder goal than one would think. 

but i push myself so much- to accomplish so much. 

to be productive every single day.

i once saw an illustration that said 

"happiness is productive"

and i need to remember that. 

so i can learn how to relax and let go of the anxious

and embrace 'just being'

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here's to exploration and fueling the artistic spirit!

see you all in 5 or so weeks.

laila

deep thoughts: an ode to craft, a love letter to art

a person who i admire dearly
said to me,
"you are a true artist"

and while, i have a BFA
from mica,
and was president of my high schools'
national art honor society
and was stirring up my small town 
with my conceptual art
 while i was a junior & a senior,
i knew that i loved art.

but what i didn't know
was that every decision and action i make
 is propelled by that love.

when i was in college,
i took an intro to fibers course.
it was part of my exploratory journey 
through school- 
i dabbled in video, i made wooden sculptures,

but, as i'm sure i've talked about here before,
when i found fibers - i fell in love.
in that class- i learned how to knit. 
i was a sophomore in college. 
i was 19.

 in that class, i learned how to card batts for wet felting,
how to dye (immersion, shibori, acid + procion!)

when i was junior, i finally figured out crochet.
and soon after, i bought a drop spindle.
and then while learning to weave
 on massive, impressive 8 harness floor looms,
beating down the layers of my overshot patterns
i started weaving with my handspun
and realized that drop spindle production
wasn't going to do it for me anymore.

and so i bought a spinning wheel, 
and then year or so later,
a drum carder.
and a whole big huge door of 'fiber art'
opened for me. 

this feeling of discovering a new craft is 
exhilirating!
undeniably addictive.
when i first started spinning, 
all i could think of was yarn and fibers and 
OH the possibilities!

by the time i was treadling,
i was out of school,
and no one was there to tell me what i should be doing,
and i could just dream of what yarn could be.

lately,
i've pushed my knitting to a new level,
i have completed a whole slew of knitting
that i never would have imagined i could do.

i learned contentintal instead of english.
i learned fair isle colorwork, i learned duplicate stitch.
i learned how to create stitch patterns from a giant red book.
(thank you barbara walker!)
and most recently, i turned a heel and picked up gusset stitches and shaped a toe.
i finished my first sock.

and while knitting is good and well,
developing a skill you consider "in your toolbox"
is not the same as discovering a whole new medium.

i've recently happened upon this feeling again.
as when i first found fibers.

i've been quilting! and needlepointing!

you may have seen my instagram and facebook feeds
filling up with images of fabrics and mesh.

needlepoint-
i've been free hand designing little scenes
and stitching them up is like painting with thread.
i sketch them out in my notebook, roughly,
but mostly just kinda
'have at it'

each stitch is soothing,
when i'm working on the desert, or the snow, or the sea,
i really feel like i am creating the landscape.
i am filling it in with stitches.
i am shaping this little world.

and then i finish the edges
and happily put my cup on top.

hey, they're coasters.
and it's good to be,
not so precious,
with our art.

my favorite thread is the hand-dyed kpm by koigu
i'm spoiled enough that we have it at purl.
i can firmly say that i would not be so into this craft
 if i was using solid machine dyed colors.

then again, some of my co-workers swear by their perfect solids
but i prefer the shot cottons to the konas,
while i can see the merit of each.

and there we go, 
i've lapsed into quilting already.
and like chris says, it's a bit like i'm speaking a foreign language.
between working at the store, and picking up new skills left and right,
i kinda am.

shot cottons- 
these are beautiful fabrics. 
they are not hand dyed, but rather,
 have been woven with two threads of different colors. 
one color for the weft (horizontal), 
one color for the warp (vertical),
and this gives them dimension 
and luminosity! 

the fabrics literally glow and change colors
depending on how you are holding the bolt.

clearly, i'm smitten.

konas-
don't get me wrong. these are classic fabrics!
 and i've recently been incorporating them into the stash
because they are excellent palette builders.

now what was i saying?
oh, quilting.
quilting, quilting, quilting.

good grief. 
how did i not know that i would love it?
because i assumed all quilting was rigid.
blocks and whatnot.
and if you know me, and you surely do,
you know that my art and my craft 
are definitely not rigid.

my art needs room to grow organically.
that's why i love freeform crochet.
and why i became a spinner 
and not a weaver (warping and planning? not so much!)
and why now i am falling so freaking hard for improv quilting.

my first quilt i ever made was a
'crazy quilt'
i decided i wanted my motif to be a swirly organic shape
and my mom went with me to joanns (gotta love the midwest)
and i picked out velvet-chenille type fabrics 
to go with sheers, and upholstery golden fabric
to go with who-knows-what-else!

i just cut out the shape i wanted,
and top stitched the whole thing together.
i never got to the batting or backing,
and it was certainly not a square or a rectangle, 
but more like waves in the ocean.
tendrils running along the edge.
and recently it was ruined in my few moves.
otherwise i'd show you a picture.
it was impractical, but it was beautiful.

and because my organic shape 
couldn't be restrained within a rectangle,
and matching my fabric weights
was so out of my scope of planning,
that i swore the whole thing off.

my second quilt was from scraps.
strip piecing, on a whim.
when we cut bundles at purl,
we cut lots of fabric, 
and for fat quarters, we trim off the folds,
these 'folds' go into a bin
and during a big purge,
i claimed a whole slew.

i spent forever ironing out these tiny bits, 
and sewing them into long skinny bits
and then slicing them again and re-arranging.
i made a small, maybe 16x16
 little yellow quilt.

that did it for me.
i really loved that feeling!

but then i forgot.
like most fickle artists.
i plum forgot that i enjoyed that feeling,
or rather, i didn't have a quilting fabric stash,
or i didn't know how people got up the courage to cut into 
those damn beautiful fabrics.

enter nani iro.
good lord, i don't know if i have ever been so into a designer.
painterly and organic. beautiful palettes, and ideal for quilting,
as each square and slice will be unique.
the patterns don't repeat like polka dots or traditional prints do.
they flow!

so i collected her fabric for about 2 years.
sometimes, i would wait until we cut down the very end of the bolt,
only a 1/2 yd piece left, and packaged it up,
and then i was like, oh! i can't live without it!
and i would take it home. to sit on my shelf. 
and for me to stare at longingly.

and earlier this year,
i finally cut it.
i cut two of my favorites into some squares.
about 6 inches.
i didn't know where to start.
so i figured i'd start by cutting, so i couldn't go back.

you'd think that if you had some seriously precious fabric,
like never get your hands on it again,
type stuff, you wouldn't just slice it up willy nilly.
but oh, i did!
and it felt amazing.

i cut those squares. and i put up some batting on my wall.
and i moved them here, and rearranged them there.
oh! the bliss! 
all the joy i get from rearranging my house,
organizing little bits, 
it is found here.

playing with composition in a quilt
 is a true thing of immersion.
you get lost.
i would just put a piece on the wall,
and then stare. and move a piece there, and stare.
but then, zip zip, they were sewn together. 
and whoops, i flipped them around, but, no, it was perfect.
and it grew. organically.
in every way i want my art to be.
evolving.
and this quilt, pieced into everything i loved.

and then as fast as i'd made the top, i backed it the next day,
and one late sunday evening, that same week, 
i machine quilted the whole thing together.

the lines ramble across the plains of fabric.
indigo on navy, greys on gray.
maps of my movements.
free motion for a quilt of whims.


and now, i've started another.
and it is not coming as easily.
maybe because i hadn't collected enough
or maybe because i know i am hooked now,
and i feel i am starting a legacy.

and how will this new quilt, bruised in colors
compete with the indigo star?

today i looked at gee's bend quilts.
and we've had books in the shop,
that i've thumbed through.
but i never knew the history.
and that their quilts are closer to mine 
than 'patterns' or 'blocks' 
and so i spent my whole evening looking at quilts for inspiration.
to help me get un-stuck.

to stop being anxious about sewing 
the wrong pieces together, 
about bringing in colors that weren't present before, 
about using my hand dyed fabric,
and deviating from where i started,
and to just let the hum of the sewing machine guide me.

 and enter the joys of the unknown.

laila







deep thoughts: greenmarket + good days

today has been a good day.

i'm remembering to take time for me, to move slowly, to enjoy the drizzly days and each moment.

i woke up, took an extra hot long leisurely shower (one of my favorite simple pleasures!).

cleaned my closet and brought my laundry to p&p (they've been washing+folding my clothes since i moved in about 2 years ago, another one of my favorite little splurges!), 

then i stopped at marlow&son's 
for a large latte with whole milk
(another pleasure- i will never ask for skim lattes. 
the whole full fat flavor is what started my love affair with lattes 
in the first place!)

i love that their lattes have a slightly nutty flavor, 
and they take the time to pour the frothed milk in slowlllllyyyyy 
letting the ripples transform into a leaf pattern. 

i like to sip and watch the patterns shift. 
i specifically turn my cup and watch the designs stretching out 
with each deliciously warm little gulp.

then i walked, not rushing at all, through the misty rain, to the train. 
when i got to the top of the stairs, the M pulled up. 
if you live in nyc, you know how rare that can be. 
and my timing is never that perfect. 

at union square, the green market is getting less and less green.
root veggies have taken over,
but there was still an abundance of apples and pears!

i picked up a few pounds of bosc pears to make a tart.

fennel root and potatoes for a soup.

and some cilantro that stopped me in the booth, 
letting my nose lead the way.
it smelled that good! 
and there hadn't been any for weeks.

butternut squash hopped in my bag too,
along with red onions and a coleus plant.

buying non-edibles at the market 
(mums a few weeks ago, and now this autumnly hued coleus)
is another one of my little treats to me.

when i got home, my downstairs neighbor was sitting outside.
he went to culinary school, and we've been having food convos whenever we see each other.

i told him about my pear plans
and he offered up a pate sucree recipe for my tart.
i told him if it turned out halfway decent, i'd bring him a slice or three. 
i love our little culinary chit chats.

and now, 
i enjoyed a moment, sharing my day with you. 

and i wanted to say thank you
to cindy, xiane, dru, dani and maya and everyone who has reached out. 
your words of kindness have really made it easier to keep moving.
so much love to you all!

laila