Friday, December 23, 2011

Joo-lene is my sunshine

One of the most amazing people in my life is my friend Juline.

It is difficult to explain how much I love her and how talented and creative she is. Juline is beautiful, kind, smart and funny. She has an enviable career as a museum education curator at an amazing museum (the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University). On top of all of that, she has helped me through one of the most difficult periods of my life.

So, I made her a small Christmas present. A stitched version of how she spells her name phonetically on her name tags so that people know how to pronounce it. I stitched it on this Japanese cotton fabric that I adore.

Juline and I at the Geer St Garden

Juline and I have been each other's dates at many parties and events. It's funny to me that we both have such challenging, off-the-beaten-tract names. (I mostly go by "O" and I usually show people the tattoo inside my left wrist, so it is relatively easy for me.) But she explains her name clearly to the other party goers.

There is more to come about my sweet friend Juline. Especially about her wonderful fixation with hexagons. But for now, here we are.

And here is another Christmas present that I made for a very discrete, silver foxy friend that I'll say nothing else about. But I wanted to share my work, none-the-less.

Merry Christmas, kids!

Juline and I in a photo booth at the Nasher

Monday, December 19, 2011

This monkey has gone to heaven

This is a case where my execution hasn't lived up to the potential of the design.

I saw this amazing and simple evolution pattern on the Coyote Craft blog a while back and I was instantly attracted to it. Bean Paulson designed it for Darwin Day back in 2009. Her original free pattern was the outline of an evolving man, minus the party theme. For some reason, when I came upon it, I thought of a celebration.

So, to her crisp, clear design, I added a party hat, Mardi Gras beads, a birthday crown and decadent, slightly raunchy elf boots. And I thought they would look nice on cocktail napkins.

But as I've been stitching them, I've been disappointed with my own execution. And the split stitch I've been using.

But I still see a lot of potential in the design itself... just not on these plain cotton cocktail napkins. And not in this split stitch.

So, I'm casting about for a new ground fabric and a new stitch. I plan to keep my altered version of her pattern, but I need to find a new way to translate it into stitch.

(And, for the record, I think government and politics need more science as part of the discussion, not less. Sorry Santorum, but you're wrong. And will someone please ask Gingrich about his take on evolution? I need a laugh.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Flashback: Free pattern for Mrs. Claus' Date Night Handbag Ornament

Doing a good bit of Christmas gift stitching these days and I can't post photos of what I'm working on until my items are in my loved ones' hot little hands. I know other bloggers must find this time of year challenging for this reason, too!

So instead, at the bottom of this post, I've included my simple knitting pattern for my Mrs. Claus' Date Night Handbag Ornament. They are easy, quick and fun to make, so there is still time to get them on your tree!

I made these bags in earnest last year. My life could not be more different now than it was at this time a year ago. After being married for many years, I now live on my own (for the first time in my life) in a sunny, brightly colored apartment. I have many new people in my life, including a foxy new squeeze. The present is filled with art, stitching, music, friends, hiking, red wine and my current baking obsession. The future is enormous, wide opened... terrifying and exciting at the same time.

This year Christmas feels shadowy and distant. It's as though I'm looking at it through the milky film stuck to the sides of glass, after I drank the milk. I'm aware that it is happening, but I am not immersed in it, beyond stitching a few gifts.

But that's OK. Time is mercurial, as is life. And my eyes and heart are wide opened and ready for adventure.

And I take another step forward...

Pattern for Mrs. Claus' Date Night Handbag (adapted from my Ornamental Joy - Tiny Handbags pattern that was published in the String Thing Theory pattern book back in 2009.)

Approximately 30 to 40 yards of any type of feltable yarn. In order to felt, your yarn must be animal fiber: cottons and acrylics will not felt. 
Set of 5 dpns in the appropriate size for your yarn.
Gauge is irrelevant!
Body of bag: 
Cast on 11 stitches 
Knit garter stitch for 6-7 rows to form a little rectangle. This will become the base/bottom of the bag. At this point you’ll switch to knitting in the round.
Pick up and knit 3 stitches along the first short side of the rectangle base. 
Pick up and knit 11 stitches along the other long side of the rectangle base. 
Pick up and knit the remaining 3 stitches on the second short side of the rectangle base.
Place marker to indicate beginning of round.
At this point you’ll knit in the round (in a rectangle shape) by knitting all rolls until the bag is about 3 inches, or as tall as you want it to be before felting, ending on a short side of the rectangle. You’ll now do one decrease row.
Long Side one, K2tog, K until the last 2 stitches from the end of that side, K2tog. 9 stitches remaining.
Short Side one, K2tog, K. 2 stitches remaining on that side.
Long Side two, K2tog, K until the last 2 stitches from the end of that side, K2tog. 9 stitches remaining.
Short Side two, K2tog, K. 2 stitches remaining on that side.
Knit one more round.
Bind off all stitches. 
Weave in ends.
Felt the bag: 
To felt, place the bag in a lingerie pouch and run through the washing machine cycle on the highest heat and agitation available for your machine. Include a towel or pair of jeans with the wash so that the bag is agitated as much as possible. 
Decorating your bag: 
Use any fluffy white novelty yarn as the faux fur; simply sew around the top of the felted bag. I make my bag handles out of pearl beads strung on florist wire. Simple string beads onto 3 or 4 inches of florist wire, twist of the ends, and using a clear thread, sew into the inside of your bag. 
Just play!
Copyright Olisa Corcoran 2011 

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Nicole, designer extraordinaire of Follow the White Bunny fame, knows how to deliver on hedgehogs.

Stitched up this little hedgie for my String Thing ornament swap. Her free pattern for it is found here. But do check out her blog and her pattern shop. I want everything I see!

Back to stitching or I'll never get these ornaments done...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Big Yes! Runaway by Aubrey Longley-Cook

I adore series that explore a theme, subject or medium. In embroidered art, I've never seen one quite like this crazily innovative series by Atlanta artist Aubrey Longley-Cook. We're talking about combining the beautifully slow, methodical process of stitching with computer animation. No, I'm not kidding.

Runaway 7, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

Meet Gus, who Longley-Cook informs us on his edgy blog spool spectrum, is a stray found wandering the streets of Atlanta who was rescued by his room mate.

I adore this piece alone for the way he stitched the fur, in pooled shades of color, and the lovely sense of movement he captured. His stitching has an ecstatic, hugely energetic quality in this single embroidery. This is a masterful rendering of a running dog in a textile art piece.

Runaway 4, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

But Longley-Cook, who often works in series, doesn't stop with this one image. Consider this next embroidery of gus. Look at the change in his body position, the horizontal line of his back, the curve of his tail, the ear position, three paws, and closed mouth. Look at the giraffe-like spotting of his coat, again stitched in sectioned clumps.

Runaway 1, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

Keep going. The tail position changes. The snout rises. The mouth opens. The coat spots move. The stitching remains fluid and clustered, somehow, at the same time.

Runaway 10, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

How about this piece and the movement it conveys.

Runaway 13, by Aubrey Longley-Cook, 2011

And the leaping energy of this one. Consider the way the line of the piece changes with the diagonal positioning of his body. The loop of his tail is reflected in the curl of his front paws. You can feel Gus running. His mouth is opened. His ears flap.

Runaway 14, by Aubrey Longley-Cook,  2011

And then the final piece in which Gus is almost a stitched blur. Look at the way Longley-Cook has changed the shading of his coat, with the heavy, deeper tan on the dog's belly in long stitches.

Now scroll back and look at the pieces as a series of work. On spool spectrum, the artist features 14 embroideries from this series.  Each image is a beautiful, fully-realized capture of the energy, movement and expression of the dog. Taken all together, I am struck by how these pieces are a study of movement, frame-by-frame, rendered in thread.

Now, please go to Longely-Cooks blog HERE and prepare yourself for an unexpected experience in embroidery.

This animated artwork is not merely a novel trick, and it's more than a stitched version of magic flip cards. The way he captures movement through his stitching is incredibly inspiring and eye-opening to me. Actually, that is an understatement.

(And because I'm nothing but a huge nerd, check out this animated clip of the back of his work! It's like looking behind a curtain. It feels so bad!)

Spend some time with Longley-Cooks other series. The man breaks it down. He is badass and hugely talented.

Big, huge, freaking YES!

"Big Yes!" is a new feature on my blog where I will, with their permission, share a piece of textile art that has opened my eyes to the possibility of what we can create.  When faced with things that are truly beautiful or moving or that fill me with awe, I try to say yes. More than that, Big Yes.