Monday, November 23, 2009

Goodbye to Emma Allebes

Emma Allebes, Artist and Bernina Fashion Designer
Our dear Emma Allebes, an unforgettable Fairfield and Bernina fashion show designer, died of leukemia on October 6, 2009. So much of my stuff is still packed away, but I found a photo album and there was Emma. I think this might have been taken in the year 2000 at the wonderful quilt show we used to have in Marin county. Emma had requested that flowers at her service be tied with black and white checked ribbons. It's serendipity that I have her photo in those checks!

I always remember her NY taxi cab outfit, and the pearly queen (like they have in England). I hope she enjoyed sewing on buttons! She and I met at the party after a Bernina show, both of us feeling a bit shy and out of place, so we spent much of the evening talking and from then on delighted in running into each other. I won't go on, you can read wonderful things about Emma at What a wonderful idea for her daughter Shenna to put up the blog so her wide circle of friends and family could come together in thought.

Here is the jacket that won Emma a red ribbon that year in Marin. Her work was impeccable. Look at the variety of techniques she put into a cohesive whole. At first you just see the intricate, traditional piecing but it is combined in such a variety of sizes and blocks and fabric variations, that it does not look very traditional. It doesn't look bulky or bumpy, and then you see the manipulations with various prairie points and beads.

Always lovely work! I will try to post more photos of her work as I collect them.

More of My Ethnic Embroidery
I stopped working on my vest. Between cats and a new job and the caretaking life, I just didn't have the time or energy to work on the vest for Rachel Clark's exhibit. I had done all that research and all that planning and drawing, but I didn't have chunks of time to work on it. At first it was the sciatica that brought me down. It was too painful to stand at the cutting table, all summer long. I didn't cut anything this year while the sun was shining outside. But I did go to physical therapy and now the pain is gone and the energy is back but I'm out of time. Still, I keep plugging away, hoping to finish something, exhibit or not. My plans have evolved to where I'm no longer thinking in terms of the traditional Polish beaded little vest with peplum. This is good, it just took time to come out.

For now, here's a photo of my embroidery over waste canvas and the end result. Getting the canvas was hard enough. Then I didn't want to take the time to baste it down (time being of the essence) so you see I pinned it down to the hooped fabric. I'm stitching on black silk noil. The thread is DMC 5 Pearl Cotton, and I'm using 8.5 threads to the inch waste canvas.

All this worked just fine though I think a finer thread would have been even better. What didn't work well was my mind. The chart wasn't totally clear and I made mistakes. Next time I will chart on graph paper. That way I'll know when a square refers to a cross stitch and when it means to make an open square. Live and learn.

The Holidays are Coming
In the spirit of the holiday season being upon us, I thought I wouldn't so much do in-depth reviews as let you know what has excited me out there.

The Knitter's Handbook
has been out for a number of years but I think well worth mentioning. It is a small book that you can tuck into your purse or knitting bag for quick reference. There are clear little drawings and short explanations. There are things here I didn't even know I need to know. Just a helpful little book when you can't get to your big reference books. I received it from the people who put out Knitter's Magazine. The Knitter's Handbook, XRX Books, Inc., PO Box 1525 Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 2005. ISBN 1-893762-21-1. www.knittinguniverse

Now why have I been thinking about knitting when I haven't been able to knit or crochet in years (worked at it too hard and hurt my hands)? It all started with spring photos of little lambs being bottle-fed and twins in the field with their mothers. I was hooked on this blog about a farm. Soon I discovered that I've known about Kristen for years. This week I gifted myself with Color by Kristen. It arrived yesterday and oh my, am I glad! It practically forces me to start knitting again.

When you read Kristen's blog (go back through the archives) you learn how she travelled the world and collected ethnic textiles. You should see the socks she picked up in Greece! These textiles inform her work and this book really shows it off. Wait until you see the kimono shaped jacket! This is Fair Isle knitting and she promises to teach us an easy way to do it. I won't spoil the effect. It's colorful, it looks intricate, it definitely looks ethnic, and I love it. The rest of the book is a mix of mittens, tea cozies, children's and adults' sweaters and slippers, scarves and pillows. It's all bright and happy, just my cup of tea! Colors by Kristen, How to Design Your Own Beautiful Knits by Kristen Nicholas. Sixth&Spring Books, 233 Spring St., New York, NY 10013.2009. ISBN 978-1-933027-83-8. If you want an autographed copy, go to Kristen's blog to place your order. She and the farm would appreciate it.

I have much more to tell you about but Lolalee still wakes me up too early and I'm tired. I'm the new part-time editor of the newsletter for the Textile Arts Council at the de Young museum in San Francisco. It fits so well with my own interests! I'm also editing a quilt pattern for a first time designer, so my time is full. I'll leave you tonight with the latest photo of our 3 month-old kitten, and how fall looks in Hidden Valley Lake.

It rained last week so the grasses have started to grow even as the leaves are falling down. Till we meet again, Rosalie

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