Tag Archives: sewing

Scarves, Friends, New Things Every Day

You know I like to knit if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, but I’ll repeat it – I like to knit. I learned the skill as a little girl and I have made many, many items in the almost 50 years since then. Sweaters, afghans, hats, gloves, mittens, toys, dishcloths, and — scarves. Lots of scarves.

I like making scarves. They are useful and allow for experimentation in patterns and colors. They go quickly and so I can try lots of ideas without making a big commitment of time and materials. And if I don’t want something complicated to work on but just need something to keep my hands occupied, a scarf is the answer.

Scarves. I like to try different color combinations and I love using yarn dyed in a sequence of colors.

Scarves. I like to try different color combinations and I love using yarn dyed in a sequence of colors.

I’ve been making even more scarves since I met Susan Huxley, a fiber artist, designer, editor, and teacher living in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. How I met Susan, I don’t remember now, but it was a lucky day for me. Susan can do anything with needles – sewing, crochet, or knitting – and she is a well of creativity. She is generous with her time and her knowledge, and a lot of fun to know.

Several years ago, she founded Chase the Chill, an organization that distributes free scarves in her city, on one day in November. They are hung all over town and anyone can take one or many of them – no charge. It’s a beautiful sight to see them on fences, trees, light poles, and even wrapping about the necks of the statues of several saints in front of a church. In no time they are all gone. People put them on right at the moment they select a scarf, or they choose several to give as gifts. The idea has spread and now there are Chase the Chill events in several cities.

I’ve made a lot of scarves for this event. It gives me a chance to try all kinds of new yarns and I like the idea that my knitting is useful to someone I don’t know and won’t meet.

The current group of scarves I have on hand.

The current group of scarves I have on hand.

Now, Susan has started a new project – the Year of Scarves. Long story short, it’s a scarf pattern a day, some for knitting, some for crochet. Each one is free for the first day it’s up, and after that, available at a small price. And today she has featured a pattern I made up! It’s called “Scarfghetti”. When you see it, you will understand the name.

Take a look at the blog and see what you think. I think that if you are interested in knitting or crocheting, you may want to sign up for notifications about the patterns. It’s the kind of thing that’s addictive.

Thank you, Susan. I appreciate your faith in my work.

Susan Huxley
Chase the Chill
Year of Scarves

A Short Retrospective

I was going through my computer files recently and decided to take a look at the one I have titled “Fabric Collage”.

Before I did collage or paintings, I made fabric wall hangings. I guess I started them in 1994 and did the last ones in 2000 or 2001. They grew from my interest in making quilts, which I took up after I stopped working in an office and had more time.

I stumbled into art, and this medium was my first more serious attempt at making art – before this, I had mostly produced craft work such as knitted bunnies and that kind of thing. Really, I was looking for a direction, and fabric collage was what started the process for me of getting to where I am today.

To describe briefly the fabric collage construction process, I sewed fabric pieces to a fabric base, usually with free motion stitching. I then put a backing on it and a hanging sleeve – I did not quilt the hangings. My first pieces were house portraits – I did quite a few of these works, mostly commissions. In my other work, I chose my inspirations from a variety of sources – photos, imagination, the fabric itself. Some are quite realistic and others are more flat and graphic. I tried a variety of effects (“Mystery Cottage”, for example, where I made the piece and then put it through the washer) and ideas (landscapes, vases, cats, you name it). I even wrote two self-published guides to how to do fabric collage and I taught some classes in it.

My work was exhibited in all kinds of places – “Garden in the City”, from 2000, was part of an exhibit in Philadelphia’s City Hall under the theme of community gardens – it’s a portrait of Glenwood Green Acres in North Philadelphia, for example. But mostly I showed and sold in art and craft fairs. I won a few prizes for my work in these venues – “Orange Fish” won a 3rd place in the Lansdale Festival of the Arts; it was my first prize ever and I broke down in tears. And the house portrait shown here was published in a book by Rodale Press – the book focused on the design process for various fabric and quilting projects.

Pyramid Mountain Lake

“Pyramid Mountain Lake”

Sizes range from quite small (8″ x 8″, let’s say, for “Pyramid Mountain Lake”) to large – “Garden in the City” is about 40″ in width.

All in all, I have many memories involving my fabric work and looking through the photos really brought those days back to me. I have selected some pieces to show here, with no particular reason for choosing them as opposed to others except that they happened to catch my eye. I hope you can forgive the poor quality of some of the photos – almost all of them were taken before I had a digital camera!

I made hundreds of these hangings and I only have a handful left – I sold most of them and gave some away at the end of the time I was making them. Why did I stop working with fabric? I enjoyed the composition process more and more as time went on, and I got more confident of my skills. But the sewing aspect was repetitive and took time away from making more art. So I went to the library, checked out a book on collage, and…