Windows like blankets: CFA Voysey

This window.

A couple of weeks ago I opened a library book on CFA Voysey and saw THIS WINDOW. An immediate feeling of familiarity flooded me. This interesting, textured, window frame looks exactly like a blanket layout—all staggered and brickwork-like. I felt as though I had stumbled upon kin.

Charles Francis Annesley Voysey was a British architect and designer during the Arts & Crafts Movement. Although I can’t remember the exact trigger that sent me exploring at the library, I know it was one of his wallpaper or textile prints.

What do I love about his work? His drawings, full of motion, come alive on the page. His creatures exude personality. His pastoral colors walk me out the front door to the living world. And all this happens right in my head.

I’ve written previously about my undercurrent of obsession with design from that time period here and here and here. (I once unintentionally posted an uncredited photo of Voysey’s fabric—oops!) Other names you might recognize from Britain were William Morris, Philip Webb, C.R. Ashbee; in the U.S. there was Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustav Stickley, Greene & Greene. But there were many more! Influencers in the movement, in reaction against industrialization and the loss of human touch in the process of making things, advocated beautiful, simple design and craftmanship, generally with natural materials.

Voysey, though, was an independent thinker and something of a loner. He actually did not appreciate being connected to the movement. His background is interesting. He descended (by a couple of centuries) from Samuel and Susanna Wesley who also begat John and Charles Wesley, the brothers (and hymn-writers!) whose ideas led to what became the Methodist church. Voysey’s own dad was a reverend as well, but he broke with key standard doctrine and became an outcast in many circles. Voysey stood by his father. This apparently shaped a lot of his life.

I will leave more history either for another time or for your own research. But I’m delighted here to share some of his works that charm and inspire me.

More windows:

Magnificent homes and floor plans, in the English countryside, no less:

Wallpaper and fabric designs:

A sweet didactic puzzle-note for his grandchildren. It’s tricky, with his drawings of items we no longer use. His message, though, is appropriate for us all, whatever our age. (Translation below):

“My dear grandchildren, I hope you are busy working at something nice for someone. Service is the safest road to happiness. You will delight in realizing the pleasure you give to others. I would like to know what things you most delight in, and do something that adds to your well being.”

A sketch for an inlaid work-box. I love this! The man appears to be drawing and the woman knitting. To me, the little tree speaks of the organic nature of handwork. And when “head” and “hand” and “heart” meet—well, can we get any closer to Csikszentmihalyi’s flow?!

Finally a whimsical MAP! In watercolor! What is not to love about this?? (See full map below.)

So there you have it: Some visual goodness to wander through.

Who or what inspires you? Please share with the rest of us and leave a comment so we can keep our library cards in action this summer!

Credits:
Window photos from Arts & Crafts Houses II; C.F.A. Voysey
Wallpaper and fabric photos from C.F.A. Voysey; Design in the Age of Darwin
Map photo from Design in the Age of Darwin
Architectural drawings, letter puzzle and work-box sketch from C.F.A. Voysey

The Magic of Light

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice

I will never stop being enchanted by the rhythm of the earth, by changing light, by the magic of light itself. So I woke up this morning, this summer solstice of 2018, and had to flip on my computer and look back at two previous posts here that feed that passion.

If this resonates with you, you may want to check out Summer Solstice, which explains the astronomical wonders of what happens annually on this very day. With illustrations!

And if sunlight sings to a powerful and moving song to you the moment it breaks the horizon each day, you may want to read The Light Changes Everything. Because indeed it does.

Happy summer solstice! Enjoy its pleasures! 

Summer Solstice

The Hope of Easter

Happy Easter morn! The sun is trying to make a difference in the early chill air here in northern Illinois. It’s a hopeful sign.

(These tulip images are from a Holland, Michigan, visit a couple of years ago. No tulips here yet.)

Yesterday while running errands I had an old favorite CD playing in my car. (Do I betray my age to admit I’ve got lots of beloved CDs in my car?) When this song came on, my ears perked up at the words and I pondered how it speaks to Easter, even though I bet that wasn’t its original intent.

This is Chris Rice, whose musicality and lyrics I have loved for 20 years. And this is “The Final Move,” recorded in 2005. The song relates love, loss, questions, and hope … just when we think there’s no hope left. Which is pretty much what I imagine Jesus’s disciples thought when he, their hope for the future and for their very lives, was killed on the cross.

Lyrics are here; a link to a YouTube video is below.

 

“The Final Move” 
by Chris Rice

Saw an old guy today
Staring long at a chess game
Looked like it was half-played
Then his tear splashed between
The bishop and the king, oh
He turned his face to mine
I saw the Question in his eyes
I shrugged him half a smile and walked away
It made me sad, and it made me think
And now it makes me sing what I believe

It was love that set this fragile planet rolling
Tilting at our perfect twenty-three
Molecules and men infused with holy
Finding our way around the galaxy
And Paradise has up and flown away for now
But hope still breathes and truth is always true
And just when we think it’s almost over
Love has the final move
Love has the final move

Heard a young girl sing a song
To her daughter in her pale arms
Walking through a rainstorm
“Because you’re here my little girl
It’s gonna be a better world,” oh
She turned her face to mine
I saw the Answer in her eyes
I shrugged her half a smile and walked away
It made me smile, and it made me think
And now it makes me sing what I believe

It was love that set our fragile planet rolling
Tilting at our perfect twenty-three
Molecules and men infused with holy
Finding our way around the galaxy
And Paradise has up and flown away for now
But hope still breathes and truth is always true
And just when we think it’s almost over
Love has the final move
Love has the final move

(Something right went very wrong
But love has been here all along)

Over on YouTube, Jeff Ponke put together some beautiful images with The Final Move. I highly recommend listening and watching.

“‘In this world you will have trouble,’ said Jesus.
‘But take heart! I have overcome the world.'”
— John 16.33

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
— Romans 5.8

“God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death,
because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
— Acts 2.24

“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.”
— John 1.5

 

Great and Holy Saturday

I’m trying to buckle down, slice up some wool sweaters, and get to work today. But my mind is distracted.

This day, this in-between day that sits after Good Friday and before Easter morning, always makes me somber. What took place that Saturday before the original Easter, the day of Jesus’ resurrection? We don’t know, and whatever it is is likely beyond my earth-bound comprehension anyway. But there is a poem that has moved me since I first read it in my 20s with one possibility of that particular Saturday’s events.

The poet is Madeleine L’Engle, also author of the much better known A Wrinkle in Time. She wrote this poem in response to a fresco in the Church of the Chora in Istanbul. She says in The Irrational Season (1977):

“I stood there, trembling with joy, as I looked at this magnificent painting of the harrowing of hell. In the center is the figure of Jesus striding through hell, a figure of immense virility and power. With one strong hand he is grasping Adam, with the other, Eve, and wresting them out of the power of hell.”

By Gunnar Bach Pedersen (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Great and Holy Saturday”
by Madeleine L’Engle

Death and damnation began with my body still my own,
began when I was ousted from my place,
and many creatures still were left unnamed.
Gone are some, now, extinct, and nameless,
as though they had never been.
In hell I feel their anxious breath, see their accusing eyes.
My guilt is heavier than was the weight of flesh.

I bear the waste of time spent in recriminations
(“You should not have…” “But you told me…” “Nay, it was you who…”).
And yet I knew my wife, and this was good.
But all good turned to guilt. Our first-born
killed his brother. Only Seth gave us no grief.
I grew old, and was afraid; afraid to die, even knowing
that death had come, and been endured, when we
were forced to leave our home, the one and only home a human man
has ever known. The rest is exile.
Death, when it came, was no more than a dim
continuation of the exile. I was hardly less a shadow
than I had been on earth, and centuries
passed no more slowly than a single day.

I was not prepared to be enfleshed again,
reconciled, if not contented, with my shadow self.
I had seen the birth of children with all its blood and pain
and had no wish ever to be born again.

The sound, when it came, was louder than thunder,
louder than the falling of a mountain,
louder than the tidal wave crashing down the city walls,
stone splitting, falling, smashing.
The light was brutal against my shaded eyes,
blinding me with brilliance. I was thousands 
of years unaccustomed to the glory.
Then came the wrench of bone where bone had long been dust.
The shocking rise of dry bones, the burning fleshing,
the surge of blood through artery and vein
was pain as I had never known that pain could be.
My anguished scream was silenced as my hand was held
in a grip of such authority I could not even try to pull away.
The crossed gates were trampled by his powerful feet
and I was wrenched through the chasm
as through the eye of the hurricane.
And then—O God—he crushed me
in his fierce embrace. Flesh entered flesh;
bone, bone. Thus did I die, at last.
Thus was I born. 
Two Adams became one.
And in the glory Adam was.
Nay, Adam is.

Perhaps this will carry your imagination—or heart—to considerations beyond bunnies, baskets and eggs, sweet though they may be, toward the immense power and astonishing purpose of the original Easter weekend.

(I’m so grateful to artists, writers, and musicians who can help me with this. Tomorrow I have one more to share! For earlier Easter posts, see here, here, and here.)

Musings of an occupational therapist fiber artist

After inadvertently taking a (two-month!) blogging hiatus, I am itching to be back at it. In the neuro-rehab world where I do occupational therapy, I often tell post-concussion patients, who are discouraged by their deep need for naps, sometimes you just gotta let your brain do what it needs to do. I think that’s what just happened to me.

Anyway, I am refreshed.

Although you haven’t heard from me, there’s been plenty of blanket activity, with not one, not two, but three custom orders for a pair of blankets each. Each pair is a unique design challenge, as all will be made nearly entirely of the customers’ own sweaters. Yowza! I’m excited!

The first pair is completed and I’m looking forward to showing it to you. BUT—they are to be Valentine’s gifts, so I must wait and not blow the surprise.

Hence, for now I’ll share some musings.

It’s February, my birthday month, and in the past I’ve made myself some birthday things (see here and here). But I haven’t felt that impulse this year. What I have felt is an impulse to reflect.

Yesterday I packed up a notebook, my much-used copy of Tara Swiger’s Map Your Business, and a mug of coffee (compliantly lidded) to head to a sunny local library. (Have you all noticed how hard it is to find a quiet coffee shop??)

Swiger is a coach to creative/handmade business owners. This book, subtitled “Define Success, Set Goals, and Make a Plan (You’ll Stick With)” , launched me into action last year in areas where I’d been stalling.

Swiger shines in her use of good questions to get her readers/students to define what the heck we’re doing and what we want. For instance, her questions got me to:

  • take note of accomplishments and lessons in the previous year,
  • identify my own “north star” (a lens of values through which I can measure success),
  • brainstorm up some dreams for setting the next year’s goals, and
  • lay out really really detailed action steps for my key goals.

I love her questions! They made me put all this on paper!!

My favorite page in the workbook, as it turns out? Swiger has the biz owner imagine their best version of the coming year and write it down as if it already happened. She says to “paint a picture” and include all the non-business stuff too.

I had never done this before. It was a clarifying process and therefore surprisingly easy to write. The question went straight to the heart of what I really cared about.

The outcome amazed me: 9 of the 11 things I imagined in my best vision for 2017 happened! Some of the successes were internal (less fretting about some tough things in the rehab world); some were external and concrete (a particular number of weekly hours protected for The Green Sheep); and one was a crazy bucket-list dream (a family trip to the United Kingdom)!

All that to say—I learned one very big lesson about commitment:

Daring to voice an aspiration is the first step toward its fulfillment.

Thank you, Tara Swiger!

On a personal note, I also recently read through my journal from last year. I would be remiss to not mention this, something that’s deeply important to me. The thing that struck me in my reading was how my questions, asks, and ruminations before God had not gone unheard. This gave me a great deal of comfort and joy (just like the Christmas carol says!).

Two are Better than One

Yep. Two are better than one.¹ But more like TWENTY are better than one. Way better.

Last month I hung out in a virtual classroom with several women who made a child’s blanket and packed it in an Operation Christmas Child shoe box in exchange for learning how to make a wool blanket, Green-Sheep style.

The thing that surprised me most? How much fun it was. Every day I looked forward to coming home from work, hopping on my computer and joining the ongoing discussion.

“How did sweater shopping go?” “What colors did you find?” “Who’s got a blanket ‘first draft’ laid out?” “Are you making yours for a girl or a boy?”

I miss it!!

Finally—here’s a little gallery of our work. I figure we were able to complete about 15 blankets, and here are 11 of them. The variety reflects the regions in which we live, what our resale shops held the day(s) we went shopping, aaaand…our many personalities. (Click on each photo to view it larger.)

The best part: how these bright and talented people made our virtual classroom feel pretty darn near to a real one.

 

¹”Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
—Ecclesiastes 4.9-10

 

 

 

“Do you teach how to make blankets?”

[I’m afraid it’s too late to join the class, but you are welcome to pack your own shoe box for a child in difficult circumstances. Follow this link and let a young person know someone cares. It means more than you can know.]

How could I have known how much fun I was about to have?

Two weeks ago, after brewing up the idea just days earlier, I launched a little online class. Well, I thought it would be little.

A still shot from my “Welcome” video, made in the guest bedroom. I accidentally got the bed in the frame.

I regularly receive questions from blog readers about making blankets: “How do you make your binding?” “Do you back your blankets?” “What kind of sweaters do you buy?” I do my best to answer these sewists, one at a time, generally through email. They are always enthusiastic and eager to learn, and are filled with questions. I love this interaction.

But each time I’ve been asked, “Do you teach a class somewhere?” I’ve simply said  “No.” That limp answer started to bother me. What was stopping me? I knew: fear of the unknown.

The first frame of my third video. I’m still figuring out lighting.

Then I received a notice about Operation Christmas Child coming up and was reminded I wanted to make a child’s blanket again for a shoe box. It clicked. This could be the kick in the pants I needed! How fun would it be to create something beautiful for kids alongside a bunch of stitch-loving women?

I thought of other ventures in life I had waffled on because of fear of the unknown—going to grad school, starting a blog…having children :). Without a doubt, great outcomes, all. I certainly appreciate having my ducks in a row, but that can’t always be.

Two weekends ago, with me needing to master several things quickly, the unruly ducks waddled everywhere:

How do I use the format of a private Facebook group to teach a class?
How do I sequence MailChimp’s forms and confirmations to move people
into a virtual classroom?
How do I make videos, edit and post them?

The dining room set up with lights and camera for a session on laying out a blanket. I had to be careful not to trip on cords while taping.

Fortunately, I already had an outline of course content because Tara Swiger’s practical book Map Your Business recently propelled me to draw up action steps toward some goals (even though I was avoiding executing them!).

So I borrowed photography lights, watched YouTube videos about how to make a video, made two videos using my outline notes, and sent out an invitation to my email subscribers to join me in making a child’s blanket for an Operation Christmas Child shoe box.

I expected three people to join me, and I am not kidding. I was a bit off. Two dozen people signed up!

Scripts for the videos, often taped to the lower half of the camera.

Now there we are, over on Facebook, having a ball. A group of fascinating women teaching, learning, encouraging and spurring one another on. And doing our level best to hit the National Collection Week deadline of November 13-20 for our blanket-filled, lovingly packed shoe boxes.

I’m learning so much from these women! It’s spurring me on to make a plan for more teaching.

[I’m afraid it’s too late to join the class, but you are welcome to pack your own shoe box for a child in difficult circumstances. Follow this link and let a young person know someone cares. It means more than you can know.]

A still shot of some fancy graphics, before I learned more video-editing. The advice certainly fits my learning curve too!

Art in the Barn 2017: Sizzling!

[Photo credit: artinthebarn-barrington.com]             

Last weekend I was at Art in the Barn 2017 in Barrington, Illinois. Although it was 94 degrees (!!) it was a wonderful couple of days.

I’m grateful Walmart still had battery-operated misting fans on their (clearance) shelves. I was able to share them and keep cool myself. I’m also grateful to my hubby for filling our ice chest with chilled waters to hand out to people through the weekend. Without the fans or the water, The Green Sheep may have had a two very tough days. It’s wool, people!

(By the way, those misting fans? They are a huge hit with young boys.)

I don’t do many shows (because so much of my work is custom orders), so it’s extra fun for me to meet people who enjoy wool and its colors as much as I do. Thank you to every single one of you who stopped by in the muggy heat and dared to think about blankets. I loved talking with you. Special recognition to you who tried on wool vests (and then bought them!). I commend you for your imagination for cooler weather ahead, and I hope you’re having fun making outfits with your new vests now that fall is really here.

Thank you all too, for your gate tickets and other purchases that contributed to the Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital Auxiliary and their worthwhile causes. It’s much appreciated.

[Photo credit: artinthebarn-barrington.com]                   

A surprising highlight came at the very end of Day 1, when I was folding up blankets to close down my tent for the night. Master juror Eulalio Fabie de Silva and chair Sharon Vogel approached me with an award for Best of Fiber 2017. A very fun honor!

Several of you told me you follow me online—what a kick that was for me! Many of you are fellow sewists and I love comparing notes. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to get a photo with you until it was too late. Next time, okay? I would value keeping names, faces, and stories together.

Finally, a special “thank you” to my faithful friend and photographer Kellyann Harmon of Kellwood Studio Photography for loaning me her vintage dress form and her wavy mirror for my “fitting room.” They were perfect :).

Here’s to looking ahead to next year!

New Fall Vests!

Are you in northern Illinois? Join me at Art in the Barn Sept 23-24 10 am-5 pm!
The endeavor supports important causes and has wonderful art.
Come try on a vest or cozy up with a new blanket —
I’ll be at space 45 (map here) and would love to see you!


◊   ◊   ◊      Vests!      ◊   ◊   ◊

 

I challenged myself this year to design and refine a vest pattern for Art in the Barn 2017. YES! I’m loving the result. And now I have 5 vests ready for the show THIS WEEKEND!

These are one-size-fits-most/medium, with variations in length and give in the fabric. The pattern’s throw-back cowl neck and loose, swingy fit create a vest that lays well and looks attractive on many body shapes and sizes. Allow me to introduce:

#1 Blue and Gray
Inspired by my obsession with turquoise and silver
$195

#2 Black and Tan
Versatile!
$195

#3 Autumn
I see gourds and leaves. What do you see?
$195

#4 Foresty Green
Named for the evergreens that beckon us toward winter
$195

#5 Denim
The perfect partner for jeans
$195

Come try some on!

Still looking for that something-special gift?

Hi, folks! I completely forgot to announce this here on the blog, but I have wonderfully warm woolen mittens and fun one-of-a-kind Christmas stockings in my Etsy shop! There are just a handful (heehee!) of mittens left, so check them out now if you’re interested.

Link here: www.etsy.com/shop/TheGreenSheepStudio

Our faithful US Postal Service’s 3-Day Priority Mail will get them to you before Christmas if you order by this Friday, December 16 (if you are in the US).  It’s getting risky after that, but I’ll do my best to ship items quickly!


img_7962b
img_8104aimg_7870aimg_8129a

Thanks for looking! Etsy shop link: www.etsy.com/shop/TheGreenSheepStudio

Name That Blanket…Results!

Thanks, everyone, for stirring up your creative juices to help name this blanket! You guys are great. This is the blanket that got packed up in an Operation Christmas Child box a couple of weeks ago. But as I was writing the blog post about it, I suddenly realized it had been sent out without a name. But names matter! Many of you came to the rescue, adding ideas on Facebook, Instagram, and this blog. A couple of you emailed me.

img_8334a

These are the wonderful ideas that came in. Making the final choice was difficult!

Blanket of Love
A Bright Beginning
Christmas Child
Promise
Pastel Peace
Colors of Love
Quiet Rainbow
Heaven’s Hues
God’s Perfect Promise
The Christmas Rainbow
A Rainbow of Love
Vibrant Love
A Box of Sherbet
Ribbon Candy
A Rainbow Promise Pocket

img_8345a

After much deliberation, the WINNER IS…

    ♥ THE CHRISTMAS RAINBOW ♥

I realized I wanted it to be a name that worked from a child’s perspective, so I tried to think like a little one. “The Christmas Rainbow” rose to the top because 1) I could imagine a child thinking it; 2) both “Christmas” and “rainbow” hold all the significance of the promise within each one of those; & 3) the blanket is not REALLY rainbow colors or rainbow sequence, but it is unusual, like a rainbow at Christmastime would be. Credit for “The Christmas Rainbow” name goes to Melissa Dugan.

And now this blanket can find its proper place in the world, since it has been named :)

img_8338a

[Click here for the full story of “The Christmas Rainbow.”]

A blanket for a stranger

(“Strangers are friends you have yet to meet.”)

img_8362a

This is the final collection weekend for Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. OCC is a faith-based global effort that sends off gifts packed in shoe boxes to children whose lives have been touched by disasters, war or poverty.  I’ve known about this activity for years; I even know two wonderful young adults who were significantly affected by the shoe boxes they received as children in a Russian orphanage many years ago.

But I sheepishly admit I never packed a box myself until two weeks ago.

img_8335aimg_8334aimg_8350a

A few weeks ago, my church made available empty shoe boxes from OCC, and my small group (a baker’s-dozen of great women) decided to have a packing party of our own. We each volunteered to shop for 13 somethings–toothbrushes, toothpaste, pencils, pads of paper, candy, toys, wash cloths, bars of soap, socks, cards and more–and bring them together to pack boxes. (I picked up some of Ikea’s colorful children’s tableware.) We were each to also add one “Wow!” gift to our own box. My “Wow” gift was a soft, sweet-eyed, stuffed-animal puppy.

img_8338aimg_8339aimg_8345a

A few days before our packing night, both of our grown daughters (and 10-month-old granddaughter–gah!) happened to be visiting for the weekend. Saturday evening we popped in the DVD of a film recommended to me by a co-worker: The Drop Box. The seed for the film was planted when a young Los Angeles filmmaker (with Sundance aspirations) was eating breakfast one morning over the LA Times. On the front page, he read a story about a pastor in Korea who rescued unwanted babies by building a small warming box in the wall of his church, a “drop box” for newborns. The film is interesting, surprising, and to me, very moving. I came away with a renewed sense of the deep value of every single life.

As often happens in my brain, the experience of the film mingled with some other information up there in my head. In this case, I was thinking about a woman named Gift I’ve gotten to know a little this past year. Gift is from Zambia, and every year she raises money to send to her village for blankets for the women and children, who often do not have one of their own.

Sunday morning I woke up with one thought on my mind: I wanted to pack a wool blanket in my little shoe box, to let its young recipient know that she is one-of-a-kind in this wide, wide world, and someone somewhere was thinking about her.

img_8337a

So that Sunday morning I pulled out my stacks of already-cut strips of wool sweaters, to see what child-friendly combination I could assemble. But it wasn’t working. I needed to start from scratch. With those bright Ikea dishes nearby, I chose a rainbow of saturated colors and got to work. I had just been working on a custom-ordered child’s blanket with diagonal stripes and decided to repeat the pattern. I love its youthfulness and sense of movement.

As I was limited to the interior of a shoe box, I knew this blanket couldn’t be thick, so I chose cashmere, merino wool, and lambswool. The result? It’s exceedingly lightweight and yet cozy and warm.

I hope it can feel like a cuddle to a little girl.

img_8341aimg_8349aimg_8352a

I made our deadline and packed up my box. (In the photo, it looks like the blanket is taking up the whole box, but all the practical items are rolled up in the blanket.) Unfortunately, there was not enough room for that precious puppy. (Not for lack of trying, though! I even bought a bigger plastic box, but realized this would not feel fair to a group of kids on the receiving end.)

Of course, I likely will never meet the “5- to 9-year-old girl” this box is destined for. But I did learn from the woman at the collection counter that among the countries this batch of boxes is headed toward is Zambia :). Godspeed, little boxes!

img_8340aimg_8363a

“A Christmas Rainbow” (Size: 40″ x 50″)
Named by readers in this post here.
The blanket has already gone to a good home.

I’ve Had Some Catching Up to Do

Okay, it only took me a month after Art in the Barn to post new things for sale in my Etsy shop…! But I’m finally finished :).

img_0722b

(There was some shop upkeep required as well. I find myself wishing those software/app developers would go on vacation and allow a little moss to grow under their techie creations back at home. It’s hard for us ordinary folk to keep up!)

Over at my Etsy shop you will find these two blankets now for sale:

Sing a New Song

“Summer Nostalgia” (57″ x 70″)
The “Summer Nostalgia” story is posted here.

"The Redbud"

“The Redbud” (62″ x 76″)
“The Redbud” story is posted here.

In the Etsy shop there are also several pairs of fleece-lined wool mittens…

img_8063a

…and lots of keepsake Christmas stockings for the special people in your life.

penguin-pair-a

Please come take a look. The doors are open for Christmas shopping, window shopping and anytime shopping. Invite your friends!

 

 

The Mighty Five

Art in the Barn is at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, IL, next Saturday & Sunday,
Sept 24 & 25, 10 am-5 pm each day.

I’ll be in Tent 21 near the north entrance (see map here). If you’re nearby, call up a friend, come on over, stop by Tent 21 and say “hi”! It’s a beautiful setting and a fun way to spend an afternoon. Any shopping you do supports a really great hospital. Hope to see you there!

That was my public service announcement :). Keep reading for a brief round-up of summer fun–

715a

My husband and I just returned from a two-week road trip out west to see friends and to tour southern Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks. It was an incredible amount of loveliness to take in all in one pass. Though I have many photos yet to sort through, for now I thought I’d give a quick overview … in addition to the reminder above about Art in the Barn!

Stop #1: Canyonlands National Park

Highlight: We hiked a 6-mile trail through The Needles section (from Elephant Hill to Chesler Park) and had nearly all of this surreal landscape to ourselves. There are no trail markers but the stacked cairns, often over rock and slate, to point the way through the “needles” and the “mushrooms.”

165a104a230a 235a224a

Stop #2: Arches National Park

Highlight: In the same way the mind finds whimsical shapes in clouds, my imagination was triggered by the interesting shapes of this park’s formations. Do you see the elephant head below? (In the second and fourth photos below, of Double Arch and the South Window, look for the tiny people in order to gain a sense of scale.)

359a346a365a312a

Stop #3: Capitol Reef National Park and the town of Fruita

Highlight: Through Airbnb we stayed in a home hand-built by a man who loves this land and loves puttering. In the evening we relaxed in his garden of thoughtful details and in the morning we awoke to sunrise on the bluff just behind the house. (Our hiking at Capitol Reef itself included the deep canyon of Grand Wash Trail.)517a430a596a 626a

Stop #4: Bryce Canyon National Park

Highlight: It was late afternoon when we finished our hiking in Bryce (Navajo Trail/Queen’s Garden loop). It seemed like the entire amphitheater was aglow in color!

783a830a758a795a

Stop #5: Zion National Park

Highlight: We climbed straight up the canyon walls, essentially, to gain an altitude of 1488 feet on a hike from the river at the canyon bottom to the top of Angels [sic!] Landing and back. In the first photo below, check out the steep switchbacks on the right. These were nothing compared to the next set of switchbacks, nicknamed Wally’s Wiggles. The second photo is of a broken-off branch of manzanita tree, I believe, that has been clung to by each and every passing hiker on the final steep ascent. Photo 3: my feet at the top of Angels Landing vs. the triangle of the park’s shuttle stop at canyon bottom. Photos 4 and 5: Zion Canyon and sunset.

903a966a 949a926a994a

There you have it: my whirlwind summary. It’s a trip I highly recommend. We live in a country that has such interesting topographical diversity. With every curve we rounded in any road we were on, each mile looked new. (Well, maybe not in Nebraska. Sorry, Nebraska!)

Art in the Barn Juried Art Festival — Sept 24 and 25

AITB site pic 5a

I’m excited to announce in one month I’ll be joining 175 other artists at this September’s 42nd Annual Art in the Barn Juried Art Festival! It’s a weekend-long affair on a charming rural piece of land belonging to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Illinois. It makes a fun show in a beautiful setting.

Today I browsed the listing of this year’s artists, planning who I’d like to visit when I can slip away from my own booth for a minute. (For instance! I’m a sucker for a ceramic coffee mug that settles its weight just right when I slip my fingers around the handle.)

pic of 3[Source for all Art in the Barn photos: www.artinthebarn-barrington.com

If you are local, please come out! You’ll find works in oil, watercolor, pastel, drawing, acrylics, fiber, glass, photography, digital media, jewelry, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, scratchboard, wood, and mixed media. There will be food, music, entertainment and, to make it fun for the entire family, a children’s art corner, art gallery, and petting zoo (it’s not called Art in the Barn for nothing!).

And you’ll find me at Tent #21 (click here for map) with several new big blankets, baby blankets, and some Christmas stockings and mittens for the coming season.

Finally, here is a sneak peek at the laaast blanket I’m getting ready for the festival. I’ll put this one up on the blog very soon!

038a

Would love to see you in Barrington in a month ;)

Cheer for February

Gray jacket

Gray jacket

I’ve mentioned before how I harbor a quiet affection for February, the month I was born. This is not a popular stance, but someone needs to take it. Two years ago, as a birthday gift to myself, I made this green birthday sweater-coat out of felted wool sweaters, just like I use for all my blankets:

010b 008b

It was such a pleasure that I decided to do it again. I purchased Burda 7700, especially because I loved View E. View E is linen! Linen lassoes me in every time! I’m a sucker for it.

003a 004a

You may expect, out in Internet-land, that since I sew a lot, I’d be pretty good at sewing clothing. That’s partly true; I don’t have a hard time with the sewing. The FITTING, however, is another story entirely. No matter how carefully I take those measurements, choose the corresponding pattern size, and adjust as needed here and there, I rarely arrive at the glorious product that I imagined at the outset. I’m used to it, though.

Gray jacketGray jacketGray jacket

In this case, the jacket turned out huge, partly because of the stretchiness of the sweaters and partly because of the aforementioned fitting issues. I spent two dark days feeling my failure while my subconscious brain worked on a solution. Then I dived back in and made a fix.

We will call this an adaptation of Burda 7700 :). It’s got the asymmetry of the original — and pockets!–, but a bit lower shoulders, a straight hem across the front instead of the points, a wider hood that appears even more cowl-like in the front, and more buttons. Because I used several sweaters, each piece of the pattern is made from a different but coordinating wool.

Gray jacketGray jacketGray jacket

*[Blurry photo included so you can see this jacket’s swing — one of my favorite aspects!]

And there you go. I encourage anyone up for a little sewing adventure to try doing a store-bought pattern out of coordinating felted sweaters. The sweaters should be of similar weight and drape. You’ll need to patch each sweater together into a large enough piece of fabric to lay out a pattern piece on it. I used the same sweater for my two sleeves; every other piece is of a different sweater: the hood, the left front, right front, left back, right back — six sweaters altogether.

If you need a place to begin, here are some more patterns that looked intriguing to use or adapt:

Burda 6986, Burda 7020
Butterick 5993, Butterick 6107
Simplicity 1251, Simplicity 1719
McCalls 6517

Of course, there are also the fantastical coats of Katwise, with patterns offered in her Etsy shop.

Welcome, sweet one, to this amazing world.

Miri

Pardon me, I’ve been away doting.

Miri

Miri

Our granddaughter decided to make her way into the world on the iciest day of this winter season — thereby managing to keep her parents at home for the entire event. She is precious. She is beautiful. She is well-loved.

There are many things I will want to say to her, read to her, sing to her, and hope for her as she grows. But for the time being I simply want to welcome her to this amazing gift of a world which is now hers to experience.

Welcome, little sweet pea. We are so happy to be on this adventure with you.

 

The pregnant pause before Christmas

002a

Early this morning, sitting in my pjs in my favorite wingback chair by our Christmas tree, I read:

“The LORD is in his holy temple;
Let all the earth be silent before him.”

— Habakkuk 2:20

013b

It is 10 days until Christmas. Shopping is finished and gifts are wrapped. My hubby and I are driving to Michigan this weekend for a Christmas celebration with our kids.  I’ve just managed to get things done early and it dawned on me that I am feeling a quiet lull before Christmas. Honestly, it seems extravagant at this time of year!

004a

The sense of expectancy reminds me of the Christmas song “O Holy Night.” It tells the story of an incredible new joy dawning upon a waiting world:

O holy night! the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
Fall on your knees…

003a

We as a family wait in anticipation of two things this year. We recall the waiting of Mary and Joseph and of the Hebrew people over two thousand years ago: a weighty expectation for the promised Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, all fulfilled in the birth of the child Jesus (Isaiah 9:6). And we also wait on the coming of a child — a little girl! — within our own family, just days after Christmas. She’s right here, so close to arrival, but still a mystery.

025c

I know the momentousness of these two births is very different, but the wondrous-ness is not. I praise God for them both, and feel that “thrill of hope” as we wait.

Merry Christmas to you all!

018a

[You may also enjoy reading earlier Christmas posts from The Green Sheep: “A very good gift,” “A Christmas message that involves sheep,” and “The sheep at the stable.”]

 

Thanks for the beautiful day!

Well, the day was a little windy and cold and we had to regularly hold down the tents and our stuff, but what a fun day it was at the Whispering Hills Garden Center Holiday Market yesterday! Thank you, thank you, to all who came out and made the day a beautiful one.

holiday market 2a

The sun was strong all day, the traffic was constant, people were fun, friendly, and interactive, local musicians graced us with their music, and I had great neighboring vendors. Crescent City Cajun‘s yummy food, Pop’s Premier Kettlecorn, and Kiera Confections kept everyone full of tasty treats.

Silly me left my camera card at home and thus had to make do with some simple phone pics, but here’s a shot of the baby-blanket corner of the booth and part of the wall-of-photos.  As I mentioned in my last post, this was my first outdoor show and the whole tent thing was a bit intimidating. But the genuine offers of help from highly skilled friends and family set me free to just have fun. Thank you, everyone! Also fun: I wore the green sweater-coat I made for my own birthday a couple years back. It just makes me happy.

[Note the stuffed cat lying down on top of the basket. He kept falling over in the wind. One customer, after several unsuccessful attempts to get him upright, finally said, “I think it’s nap time” and just let him be :). ]

Holiday Market!

holiday market

holiday market

I’m spending today prepping blankets and props for a pop-up style holiday market tomorrow at our local Whispering Hills Garden and Landscape Center (8401 South IL Rte. 31, Cary — just south of Barn Nursery on the corner of Rakow and 31). I’m excited! It will be my first time setting up outdoors, with a pop-up canopy and all its accoutrements. My daughter Hope recently designed a great new banner for me (and two Vistaprint representatives happily modelled it).

TGS banner

The Green Sheep will be at Whispering Hills with 39 other vendors, including other Etsy sellers who live locally. Gah! That’s a lot of access to some wonderful and unique holiday shopping, all in one convenient place.

Please come out! There will be food trucks, music, door prizes and give-aways, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, November 14. Of course, the garden center has beautiful things of its own for decorating your home for the holidays. Here’s a quick little map: I’ve circled where I’ll be. Hope to see you there! And many thanks to Whispering Hills for the hard work of organizing this.

whispering hillsvendor map