Be a kid again with pastels!

On and off I feel like experimenting with pastels! It hits me when I I’m feeling “airy”, like walking on clouds, and I want to be a kid again! I grab some paper, I’m into colored paper lately, and my new box of 50+ Rembrandt pastels and just let my imagination take over. I was inspired for this one by a vase:

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What I really like about pastels, I’m learning, is that mistakes become the highlights and that to truly get into the joy of it, you must get dirty!!! So let your mind loose and grab some pretty chalk or if you’re lucky some lovely pastels and paper. Inspiration is all around us; a flower, a chair, a face, a glass, or even a ball of wool!!!

Ta-ta for now and here’s another pastel drawing I did by finding inspiration from some flowers I bought. I still have much to learn about how to use pastels to create various different effects, but half the fun of learning is making mistakes and just going for it!

Hope you enjoy!

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Accomplishment

I begin everyday, as I always have, listing in my mind all that I wish to accomplish that day.

And, as always, I’m lucky to strike off one of the many items on my mental agenda and I feel frustrated and disappointed in myself.

Ah! But tomorrow is another day to tackle that list of accomplishments!

But……perhaps there are some days that it’s better to not accomplish anything on my list because I wouldn’t often experience nature’s amazing shows! Like the sunset pictured below. I was speechless and rightly humbled. And that’s no small thing!

I prefer cold weather and rough cliffs over sandy beaches (this one is City Beach in Perth, Western Australia) and flat landscapes, but a sunset like this is quite special, especially when sharing it with my partner and two children. The littlest one hasn’t ever seen the sky and ocean lit up like an inferno! “Fire mommy!!”

Why don’t I put this on my list more often?

What is accomplishment?

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Testing testing…..

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Ok all you eco-friendly friends out there, here is a quilt the creative Betty Cole made from all her knitting test pieces. What an excellent idea for all those test squares, and the nearly squares! Haha

She sewed them on 2 flour bags that her sister Mary got for her when she worked at Purity Factories – a Newfoundland food processing factory established in 1924. Betty bleached and dyed the bags (photo below) and then she trimmed the blanket with material left over from a skirt she made for her daughter Karen when she was in high school. I hope Karen isn’t offended, but that wasn’t yesterday! Admittedly, it was ages ago for me too.

Betty’s husband, Roy, always said it was a healing blanket. I can see that because with a quilt like that wrapped around you, how can you NOT feel loved and cared for?? And that’s the best kind of medicine to heal anyone! Regardless of what you believe, it’s an excellent way to use those test pieces that usually end up in the bin. I’m going to start mine ASAP!! Ok, in all honesty, I need to finish about 10 other projects first, but it’s on my list of things I want to do because I love it!

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Original me, original you

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I’ve been thinking about originality. It seems to be a goal to strive for in our society. Is it what gives you an edge over everyone else?

I believe that we are all original. No two of us are alike; therefore, we are each an original. We can copy, but that’s hard to do perfectly, believe me I know! Have you ever tried with every ounce of skill you have to replicate a photo, a painting, a sculpture, etc? So, we can be an “original copy” too.

Twins, I hear you say? Identical twins aren’t original because two people are born exactly the same. Well, I beg to differ. I am a twin, but that’s besides the point. The environment changes us from the moment we exist. The moment that one embryo completely replicates and becomes two, we will inevitably change; diverging as a consequence of our surroundings and this applies in utero as well. Having dabbled in DNA and RNA research work a millennium ago, the replication process isn’t 100% perfect either. Things can go off kilter, even a small error can produce very different results.

We are all original. So do your thing and love it; Make it your own!! Live your life knowing that you are a true original and that no one can replicate you, perfectly. Besides, take it as a complement because to copy is the best form of flattery!

Bunny Face

She’s a long way from her first appearance as a sole leg!! Bunny is finally finished and she’s ready to go to her new home overseas.

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She’s a little nervous, but I reassured her that the baby girl she’s going to stay with will give her lots of cuddles and kisses. I know she’s going to a good home and I hope that she’ll give all my love – that I’ll miss giving – to the newest wee member of our family arriving soon! She looks un petit Francais? Non? Ha!

If anyone would like the pattern, it’s in Filati issue 54, but the dress is mine and I’m not sure I remember it, but I’d give it a go!

Dreamers

I dreamed of you. We played hide and seek. I could hear you giggle as you glanced back saying “catch me if you can”. So I did….

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You are “zee wife” and he is “zee worker”

Paris 1998

Notice the title? This is exactly what an astute French woman said to me, while pointing her beautifully manicured finger at Chris, my husband, at Le Mairie de Boulogne Billancourt (town hall of Boulogne Billancourt, France). She was the one woman standing between me and my freedom. I was not a happy wife. I just spent 10 months in Houston without a work visa and the only thing that kept me sane was knowing that I’d get a work visa in Paris! I had envisioned myself working in a posh research lab, maybe at the Currie Institute….ok that might have been an unrealistic fantasy, but the sheer joy of dreaming about the possibilities was the pinnacle of life so far! This was my big chance to finally make something of myself!!

We had just received back our passports with our visas at the Mairie. I had examined my passport and the visa laminated inside it, but it didn’t have the word “travail (work)” on it like my husband’s had. I knew instantly that I had been duped! “Ou est ma carte de travailler (where is my work visa)?” I calmly whispered through my clenched teeth. “Non, c’est une carte de famille (no it’s a family visa)” the French woman sharply stated staring down her nose at me behind her lunettes. “There’s some mistake, I’m suppose to have a work visa!” There was no interpreter there this time to convey my meaning as this woman was obviously confused or deranged!! We were only picking up our visas so we didn’t think we needed an interpreter. I needed more than an interpreter! I’d need a lobotomy if I didn’t get that work visa!!! I blabbed on and on in French and English and back to French trying to tell her there was some mistake. I must have gone over the line…..

Within that span of about 15 minutes max. I was launched into a blinding vortex and my Grandmother’s words screamed in my ears. I was being utterly destroyed within that short period of time, but I see it all now slow motion. All my dignity, independence and all my hopes and dreams for my chance to prove what I could do out here in the big world was being peeled away; like my skin being ripped apart to expose core in that dark cold Mairie. All I could do was seethe in anger as we walked away because otherwise I’d have been washed away in my own tears. The Executioner Lady (as I had nicknamed her because she killed my hopes) spelled out clearly for me what my Nan had tried to tell me nearly a year ago, except this woman said it as if it was the guillotine she was throwing down on me, and in a very bad English accent: “NON!” she exclaimed while pointing and wagging her impatient finger at me, “you are ZEEEE wife and he is ZEEEE worker.” Luckily there was about two inches of plexiglass separating me from her bony neck that I wanted to strangle! That was that. She slammed her window closed.

HEY!!! Did my Nan call you or something??? I was defeated that day.

Flashback to the summer of 1997 just days before our speedy little wedding (no bun in the oven!) when I was having a nice cup of tea at my Nan’s house and talking with her about our upcoming nuptials. Truthfully, I was bitterly complaining about how suddenly old fashioned my husband-to-be was being about marriage etc….imagine! Me taking someone else’s name just because we decided mutually to spend our life together!

Unexpectedly, my Nan stops drying the dishes and looks me straight in the eye and says “Rhonda, your marriage is going to be like the taming of the shrew”. Damn! I never read that piece of Shakespeare!!! I knew I’d regret it someday! I also knew it couldn’t be a complement by the look in her eyes. Well, I wasn’t about to give away the truth that I really had no idea what she meant by that. Besides, my Nan was one of the most loving and caring people I knew, so I wasn’t about to have a hissy-fit and be on the outs with Nan before my wedding.

I loved my Nan. She was better than a mother, like all good nannies, because she could be someone other than my mother. She made me tea and toast, listened to my woes, fed me some more, tucked a blanket around me and let me watch TV and then sent me off home, eventually. When I was much younger and Pepsi was banned by my parents, in large quantities, she let me have as much as I liked. Sally, my Nan, was the smartest woman I knew, and if she said Pepsi was ok, it was. Now I know that she was spoiling me because she loved me more than anything in this world. I loved her too, more than anyone. Still do, even though she’s gone from this world. And in parallel, because I’m a mother now, I know my parents banned things like Pepsi because they loved me more than anything in this world. Funny isn’t it! But parents have to be parents and grandparents can be otherwise, that’s the beauty of having Grandchildren I guess.

Sometimes I wish I had discussed marriage with Nan a bit further, but I figured she wasn’t modern enough to understand. In hindsight, she might have passed on some good advice about how to live equally as husband and wife, not that she lived it, but I learned over time that she was wise beyond her own life’s circumstances. She might have saved me from a few battle wounds whilst fighting the war on marriage equality.

Hey, what can I say? I’m a dreamer and what appears to be “reality” is not my thing; I find it ugly and distressing most of the time. Usually, I live with my head in the clouds, it’s much more entertaining and everyone is happy; funny. Is it so wrong to want equality? For all people regardless of what it is? Live how we want, love who and how we want and accept that we are all here under the same sky just living and dreaming of a good life. Inequality brings doom and disaster to all of us. Well! That was quite a tangent! If you knew what was in my mind, you’d go blind! ha! It overwhelms me most of the time.

Ok….so back to the discussion at hand…

You have just read (if you’re still with me…) a very small sample of writing meant to indicate how much I desire equality between the sexes and especially within a marriage, and yes, I did keep my pre-married family name. The idea that we would not be equal in marriage has been a point of contention for me from day 1 and it’s why marriage scares me to death (even though Chris has truly wanted us to have equality, I think). If I’m honestly divulging the truth here, I’d have to admit that my first thought upon waking – in the most beautiful room in a Victorian Heritage Bed and Breakfast – the morning after our wedding was “what the hell have I done” and then had a complete panic attack, quietly so that Chris couldn’t hear me. However, I must clarify here that I was also taking off to Houston in less than 48 hours to live away with my new husband for, quite possibly, the rest of my life as we didn’t know if we would ever return home to stay. As it turns out we didn’t return home to stay, but I’m getting way ahead of myself. So, please allow me a little wiggle room here for panic post I-DO’s. That said, here I am today, still married and most definitely financially dependent on my husband. Can you imagine then, how much that French woman’s words has bothered me, taunted me and haunted me for years even to this very day. Perhaps writing about it will give me closure and I can let go. Letting go is my trouble.

No other words uttered in my lifetime were ever truer. I am “zee wife” and Chris is “zee worker”. I believed she had cursed me to living a life of marital inequality, not that Chris wants it that way or likes it that way, it just is that way. At the very least, she put into simple yet cutting words what I feared the most; the loss of my independence, of myself and to live a shadowed existence as someone’s wife. What I know now is that it was the first of many lessons in letting go; to give up control and just let it all be….

It was a gift to me not to be able to work. My curse was a gift! I was literally given the time to find myself and really live my dreams, not the dreams I thought would get me the approval and praise I craved, not the kind that proved I was clever enough, but the dreams I had been creating since I knew I existed.

Just a year after our wedding, Chris surprised me with a 2nd honeymoon! All I knew was that I was going to Ajaccio. Not having a clue where that was, I was utterly delighted to see that we were in Corsica!!! I was in heaven and for the first time that year I forgot about not working and my loss of independence and just allowed myself to be happy: This is what came from forgetting who I thought I was and what would make me happy and just enjoyed my gift!

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The beginning of a watercolor life and so much more!

Leslie Britten

Everything I know about knitting and crocheting (and sewing) is because of Leslie! She works at my local haberdashery shop and if I need direction, Leslie promptly and sharply gets me on track. Our banter is the best part of my knitting experience! If it wasn’t for her, I would have stopped knitting and there’s no chance would I have dared the crochet!

Let’s put it in perspective ….

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Cables, a walk in the park! I’m pretty sure this work flew off her needles! Leslie is so talented and doesn’t realize it. Without a doubt she knows that she knows her stuff very, very, very well, yet I believe she could also be a designer, a writer or a professor of the handmade arts!!

Just yesterday I took a tiny snippet of material (soon to be a dress) to match with some thread and I asked Leslie if it was 100% cotton or if there might be some stretch fabric in it and she not only knew it was all cotton, but she knew the brand!

I never knew going to my wool shop would be so entertaining! It’s now my favorite place to visit. Leslie is from Tasmania and can I just say that I have yet to meet a Tassie I didn’t like. They have a spirit that I not only love, but find tremendously hilarious! The humor is quirky and ridiculously funny and I love it!!

I hope she eventually agrees to write a book with me or at least would be the editor!

“Aran…Aran so far away…Aran all night and day”….a flock of seagulls is not the only thing to admire, especially if you walk along the beach in this beauty! An Aran “jumper” knitted by Leslie!! I think she’s ready to part with it, so email me if you might be interested.

All I can say is that I hope all you artists, knitters and hand makers out there have as wonderful a teacher and crafting-friend as I do! How’d I’d get so lucky?? I always find the right people when I really need them! Well, most of the time, ha!

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Talented Betty Cole

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Wow! This is the creme de la creme in knitting, and the kind of piece that wins competitions! It’s when I see work as pictured above that I know I still have so much to learn.

The artist, Betty Cole has always been very creative and makes the most beautiful knitted and crocheted pieces. She’s been developing her skills for as long as I’ve known her. Let’s just say it’s been 30+ years! I’m looking forward to learning more classic or traditional knit and crochet techniques when I see Betty in July…if she has the patience! Honestly, I’ve tried fair isle knitting and was somewhat successful, but it wasn’t as exquisite as Betty’s work, and what I really mean is no where even close.

I’ll leave with another photo of a beautiful knitted cardigan by Betty! I can only imagine the amount of time it took her to make it, but that’s from my perspective, Betty is so talented it probably took no time at all!

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Thank you for sharing your work with me Betty and I hope to be as gifted as you are with my needles one day! I look forward to posting more of your work!!! Thanks!

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Let’s get creative!!

Ok, so I’m hoping all you creative ladies in my world are interested in sharing your stories of your creative endeavors and traveling/living abroad!! Or both!! Send me your photos and stories via email and I’ll make a post to showcase them.

I’ll begin:

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This is a nearly completed crocheted Bonnet for a new-born. It has a vintage look and it’s seamless and worked using a V stitch and a 3-puff stitch beginning with a single double-sided seam at the back. You work it back and forth along the double-sided back seam (not sewed, but made from going back along the first row you make) to create the back first and then the sides and top. I used a hot pink on the front edge (last row) to make it pop! I’ll re-post the completed photo later tonight when I have the ties done.

Now it’s your turn!! GO!

I eagerly await your emails!! XR