Do It Your Way: A Film in Need of Funds

Last year at Fiber College, I stitched under a tent with a group of quilters from Gee’s Bend. You can read about my experience here, and some time I’ll write about how transformative that afternoon was. When I heard about Alice Seeger’s film that emerged from her experience with the special Alabama ladies, Do It Your Way, I couldn’t wait to interview her. I hope you’ll join me in spreading the word about Alice’s Indiegogo campaign and donate what you’re able to it!

Do you remember when you first heard about the Quilters of Gee’s Bend? What drew you to their work?

Although I’ve made a few quilts, they were really nothing serious: gifts for boyfriends, baby shower presents, stuff like that. I don’t consider myself a quilter. I was a weaver anQuiltersd Teaching Artist, founder of Hands On History Inc. presenting arts education in public schools. In 2003 I received a grant from NYFA to work with David Marquis of Marquis Studio in Brooklyn NY as a mentor. I traveled to his office for a meeting, as I was leaving he gave me tickets to the Whitney Museum exhibit The Quilts of Gee’s Bend. It was the last week of the show. I was impressed by the quilts but also interested in the story about the place and the people of Gee’s Bend.

How did your interest in filmmaking develop?
My Dad had a “Super 8” home movie camera. When we were young, my brother and I liked to create little silent films using cards to spell out the dialog. I bought my own digital camcorder just before I went to Arizona in 2001 to do research for an arts residency entitled “Threads of Civilization: Traditional Weaving of the Navajo.” I stayed in a Hogan on the Navajo reservation. The following year my research took me to Peru. I created a films to use in my programs and as documentation for the grants I received.

What were some of the stand-out moments as you filmed last summer?

I was involved in the planning of the Gee’s Bend visit to Fiber College starting in January. I had just moved to Maine and didn’t have anything else to do. Astrig asked me to join the initial meetings between Penobscot Marine Museum, Maine FiberArts and Fiber College. Katharine Cobey was also valuable voice in the process. When the Gee’s Bend quilts arrived in June, it became my task to inventory, photograph and see that the quilts made it to the two exhibits.

When the ladies stepped into the tent on the first morning and began to sing…. the hair stood up on the back of my neck, tears came toLadies my eyes and it became a little hard to breathe! I will never forget it! The forum at the church was pretty amazing, and the reactions of all the students as they finished their quilts from the two-day workshop was a lot of fun to witness!

Tell me a little about what you hope to achieve by traveling to Alabama. What are you most excited about hearing/seeing, etc?
I’m taking donated fabric down to Alabama, I’m looking forward to seeing Miss Revil, Miss China and Miss Stella Mae. I also want to see the places related to the Voting Rights protests that Miss Revil spoke about  and learn more about that story. Quilts are expressions of the lives of the quilters, where they live, what they see, the colors of the sky, the land and the river. I hope to get footage and stories to give a better picture of their lives.

Why is this film important?
Art can bring together people from very different backgrounds to create peace and understanding.

Why are the Gee’s Bend quilters important?
They didn’t wait until they hAlice Seegerad the “right” materials or equipment, training or time to create quilts. They make quilts like most people eat or breath, they just do it. They don’t need anyone’s permission or need to follow rules or recipes.

How does their work impact yours?
They inspire courage.

Anything else you want my readers to know?
If you were at Fiber College and have a story to tell, I’d like to hear it! You could be part of the film. I would also appreciate your support in raising funds and awareness for my Do It Your Way Indiegogo Campaign.

Defarge Does Shakespeare and Hairpin Lace

Image by Caro Sheridan
Image by Caro Sheridan

Unparallel’d, my contribution to Defarge Does Shakespeare, is an excellent introduction to hairpin lace crochet. I used Habu 1/20 silk stainless steel, beads, and a purple cord–the only color fit for a queen like Cleopatra.

Designing the necklace provided me a lovely trip down memory lane. As I wrote the essay to accompany the pattern, I re-read my MA thesis about Antony and Cleopatra and lingered over lines that captivated me 15 years ago…and still do. I especially love this description of Cleopatra:

Enobarbus: ...For her own person,
It beggar’d all description: she did lie
In her pavilion, cloth-of-gold of tissue,
O’erpicturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork nature: on each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-colour’d fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did. (Act II, scene 2)

You can download the digital book today and pre-order a print copy. Take a look at the gorgeous array of pattern from the book. Which do you want to make first?

VK Live Recap

VK Live collage

Just after the Fiber College high started to wear off, Kirsten had a good idea: who wants to come to NYC for Vogue Knitting Live? I did, of course!

I took two classes: Scandinavian Colorwork with Mary Jane Mucklestone and Designing Knitted Tessellations with Franklin Habit.

The colorwork class was fun. I learned a new-to-me way of knitting garter stitch in the round, and Mary Jane is a dynamo, full of knowledge and humor. The tessellations class? Well, let’s just say that a number of postcards reflect my recently acquired interest in tessellations. Franklin made math fun. I took a class with him in 2012, and my feelings about his teaching remain the same.

The classes weren’t the only terrific parts of the weekend. There was glorious food, terrific company, and the pop-up shop of the year: I could practically smell the ocean with every skein of Starcroft yarn I held. The yarn is special in so many ways, not the least of which is that Jani’s smart, practical, funny spirit saturates it like the gorgeous colors she dyes.

When my Saturday class ended, Beverly and I hopped down to le pop-up, and what a treat to hang out, get advice on color from Mary Jane and Kirsten, and crochet surrounded by Gale’s photos which are, as always, amazing.

Want to see what I crocheted? I’ll post a new FO later this week!

Ethical Elegance: Make It

Abbi

As soon as my Rhinebeck sweater settled into her bath*, I wound up five skeins of Dragonfly Fibers Super Traveller in Peach Melba. I worked Shannon and Kate’s 2012 Stitches East booth, and the yarn was my reward (among others). I’d been modeling the sample Abbi (and lusting after it), and she is almost mine to wear! Super Traveller is, well, super. The yarn is pleasurable to knit, and Kate has a great eye for color.

I used three skeins on the body, which knit up soooo fast on 15s. Maybe 13s would have been better, but I like the fabric of the 15s–all drapey and cozy when I try it on. I plan to make the shawl collar as deep as I can tolerate knitting and worried my two remaining skeins would leave me short. Since variegated yarn does not whisper “elegance” to me, I hope to raise the swank factor of the sweater by using a solid for the ribbing and collar. Enter Malabrigo in Burgundy.

I anticipate the Burgundy will temper the sweetness of the Peach Melba (wouldn’t that be the case if we were sipping and eating these flavors?). We’ll find out!

How have you upped the elegance factor when knitting?

 

*No FO pictures of the Rhinebeck sweater just yet; I realized after wearing it once that I knit the second sleeve’s cuff in the wrong size needles. Rip, rib goes the ribbing! 

Rhinebeck

After skipping the New York Sheep and Wool festival (aka Rhinebeck, as if you didn’t know) last year, I anticipated this year’s festival extra hard. I even finished a sweater, though it was too warm to wear it.

Not much shopping happened. I picked up a few botanic-dyed scarves from my favorite vendor, but I was otherwise quite restrained.

What did happen?

cute

Cooing over sheep

yarnfondling yarn

lunch
eating the traditional made-by-Neal lunch

parade
critter parades

And most important of all: visiting with chums. Be sure to check out Gale’s Rhinebeck post for the most delightful pictures of all!

I’m already dreaming of next year.

FO Friday: Pumpkin Hat

hat Typically, knitting for babies is not my thing. Sure, there are zillions of cute patterns, and babies are pretty small, and the knitting goes quickly. But I am a slow knitter, and babies grow fast. Rarely does it work out for me that I finish a baby project while it will still fit the baby.

I recently became a great aunt, though, and when I learned I’d be meeting the new baby, I figured I could manage a hat. And since it is autumn, a pumpkin hat seemed in order. No picture to prove it, but the hat and the baby looked pretty cute together.

There may be more baby knitting in my future.

Crochet Potholder E-book: Preorder Now!

IMG_0903

I’m so excited to offer my Little Potholders with Big Ideas e-book for pre-order sale.

This e-book is a collection of six crochet potholder patterns that will build the beginner’s skills and engage experienced crochetiers with charming projects. Patterns are available separately for $3.50 each; the e-book is offered for $12.50.

Today, the e-book includes the following patterns:

  • Riley (hairpin lace crochet)
  • Jennie May (ripple crochet)
  • Confetti Aspic (crochet in row below)

Additional patterns will include:

  • MiMo (filet crochet)
  • Poolside (broomstick lace)
  • Five Fairies (granny square with instructions on reading crochet charts)

The final e-book will also include detailed instructions for:

  • Basic crochet stitches
  • Hairpin lace crochet
  • Broomstick lace
  • Creating filet crochet charts
  • Reading crochet charts

In addition, there will be a robust resources page and loads of pictures. The final e-book is slated for release in July 2013. The book designer is creating a lovely piece that will be a pleasure to look at!