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I woke up to the first real frost of the season this morning.  While the lawns all had that beautiful sparkly crust, I had to sigh at the thought of things to come.  It was time to bring out the cozy scarves and gloves.

One thing I like about this season is a return to the  kitchen and some great fall cooking.  I joined an online group called “French Fridays with Dorie” which is cooking through the entire new cookbook of Dorie Greenspan.  Dorie is a classically trained chef and James Beard award winner who has just published “Around My French Table.”  It’s a masterwork and everything I’ve cooked has turned out beautifully.  She really embraces the art of writing with clear directions and plenty of personal insight.  It’s “old school” in an age of sloppy cooking on the Food Network. Dorie is the real thing.

Here are a couple of pictures of dishes I made using her great directions.

In addition to the Mustard Tart and Shepherd’s Pie (Hachis Parmentier), I’ve managed to put together a roast chicken to die for, apple cake, and gougeres (cheese puff appetizers).

I found that joining this club is a great way to sample all Dorie’s work.  The recipes are chosen according to season and availability of ingredients.  What fun I’ve had, and my family is pretty happy too.  Viva la Dorie!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am fascinated by sacred geometry in nature.  In general, it is the thought that God designed nature in such a way that it follows geometric/mathematical principles.  My garden is a great source of inspiration on this level.  And there is no better example than the incredible sunflowers in bloom.

Can you see the amazing spirals in the middle of the flowers?  They are perfectly formed!  And the center blooms from outside to inside the circle as the bees plant themselves for a drunken feast.

As a weaver, I know many principles of sacred geometry and the fibonacci series are used in designing textiles and wall pieces.  Jennifer Moore is a good example of someone interested in the color, texture and form of nature. 

I just know that I’ve been much more observant of nature’s design since I’ve started weaving and my garden provides much inspiration.

Today I’m going to turn you over to another site.  In April, I had the priviledge of doing an audio interview with artist and handweaver Kathie Roig for an episode of WeaveCast.  This wonderful podcast has been produced by Syne Mitchell for a number of years.  She has taken it to the next level offering not only audio, but great web content on WeaveZine including instruction, reviews and community information for handweavers.

Please visit this link to hear Kathie’s interview and then look around the rest of the site and see what you think.  Syne is taking a much deserved summer off from podcast production but there are many archived audio interviews for you to explore.

http://weavezine.com/audio/52-kathie-roig

You might also want to visit one of my postings regarding Kathie’s workshop for my guild.  It was a wonderful weekend experience.

https://betweenthethreads.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/painted-threads/

Sometimes, I’m just slow.  I wind warp slowly, carefully and I weave the same way.  While others at the painted warps workshop got both of their warps on the loom and woven before they left; I had to bring mine home undone.

But that’s okay.  Life moves along at a such a frantic speed that I consciously choose to pursue my fiber arts at a slower pace.  Kind of like slow food or slow travel.  Some things just need to be enjoyed and savored.

So, I recently spent a Saturday warping my loom with my off-the-loom painted warp from the workshop and the following Saturday I wove it.  And I’m pretty happy with the the results.

I needed an appropriate color for the weft and found a nice flake cotton in my stash.  The thick and thin of flake cotton gave the fabric some texture and dimension.  And as luck would have it, there was just enough warp for the piece to fit on my kitchen table.

Since I wove the runner in a 3/1 twill, the backside looks like it’s lined.  But it also has enough interest to be reversible.

 

Not a bad result for something that was just supposed to be a sample.

As summer approaches, I think I’ll plan a lazy day to set up a table outside and plan another painted warp for another project.  Not sure what I’ll do.  I need time to think about it.

I’m not an artist by training.  In fact, I’ve been downright color challenged and that is why I own a color wheel.  It’s handy at the loom and travels with me to every workshop.  But there is no color wheel that beats the natural world.  Nature has a way of putting the right combination of colors in the right places every time.  Sometimes I just need to bring my stash outside to see what works.

A little green cotton and I think these colors will weave into something sensational.  I also might consider using the same colors in paint for a free form painted warp.

I love to think of the possibilities.  Now I just have to get busy and make it happen.

Spring is the time that most reminds me of my mother.  It’s not the fact that Mother’s Day is coming up in a few weeks, but rather the new life in my garden.  Many of my plants were gifts from her.  When my husband and I bought our house, she donated coral bells for the garden.  And when she died a number of years ago, we carefully lifted the bleeding hearts from her garden and brought it back to ours.  Everytime I see that lovely plant, I am reminded of her and the time she spent tending it.

When I was growing up, we always had a pink dogwood in the backyard.  Mom loved that tree and the beauty it beheld each spring.  A couple of years ago, we added our own pink dogwood to our landscape.  Just this year, it bloomed like never before; an explosion of blossoms.  I like this photo of a small detail of the tree.

I have a great photographic portrait of my mom in high school on my mantel at home, but her plants are a living reminder of the wonderful person she was to me and the rest of my family.

My husband found the most amazing color tool on the internet the other day.  It’s called a color palette generator .  Find the url address linked to a jpg file of a beautiful picture, copy it and place it in the proper box at the site.  For example, this is a picture I am using for inspiration for a painted warps workshop. 

When you plug in the url address, the picture comes up on the screen and the entire color palette appears on the right in two columns labeled dull and vibrant. 

This is a great tool for weavers who find a picture inspiring and want to use those colors on the loom; or a spinner who wants to blend colors for a unique palette.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

It’s the day after St. Patricks Day, which will go on record as one of the nicest here in terms of weather.  The temperature climbed into the 60s and the day was sunny and beautiful.  My family went to the parade and when I got home from work, they picked me up and we made a beeline for my father-in-law’s corned beef and cabbage dinner.  My husband’s family is 100 percent Irish.  How an Scottish Protestant like me got into the the hallowed circle is still a mystery. 

Now, I could have posted some pictures of drunken celebrants at the downtown parade to illustrate St. Patrick’s Day but I thought this picture from NASA’s Goddard Space Center made a much more poignant statement about Ireland.  St. Patrick’s Day isn’t about green beer, loud mouth drunks, and cheesy leprechauns; it’s about a lovely land where the people are warm, kind and welcoming.  From out in space, the clouds parted and revealed the land of a thousand shades of green.

I’ve been to Ireland twice and loved it each and every time.  It’s a magical island full of beauty and quiet grace.

The value of Valentine’s Day has varied for me over the years.  In my elementary school years, my teachers would have the class decorate shoeboxes with red, pink and white hearts; then cut a slot in the top so all of us could excitedly give small valentines to our fellow classmates.  The teenage years held unfulfilled longings for a valentine of flesh and blood.  Newlywed years were exactly what you expect.

When the children arrived, my husband and I just hoped for a good night’s sleep after days filled with play, diapers, high chairs, and nightly bath routines.

Now the kids are adults or “almost” adults and Valentine’s Day is a hoped for respite to gaze at one another 25 plus years later and proclaim “it is good.”  A special dinner, a bottle of wine, and good conversation while the other “adults at home” watch the Olympics in another room pre-occupied with their own romantic thoughts.  Valentine’s Day is special again, complete with flowers, cards, and dessert.  Viva la Valentines!

I’m on the mailing list for John Carroll University’s speaker series for the Institute for Catholic Studies.  I was instantly charmed by the postcard I received a month ago featuring Brother Guy Consolmagno’s picture and the title of his upcoming talk on “Adventures of a Vatican Astronomer.”  Really?  I didn’t know the Vatican had an observatory.  This sounded like fun.  So I gathered my family last Thursday and traveled to the college to hear a fascinating presentation of  faith and science and why that combination is the most natural thing in the world.

Brother Guy

Consolmagno is an American Jesuit who works as a  planetary scientist and research astronomer at the Vatican Observatory outside of Rome.  He specializes in meteorites and asteroids and other small bodies in the solar system.

The most impressive part of his talk was how much sense it makes to embrace science and religion; that they can co-exist as part of the truth of the universe.  He feels religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism.   “I don’t need science to prove my religion, but I need religion to believe in science,” he said.   He believes in an ordered universe which is proof to him it was made with God’s hand.

Brother Guy has a number of books including his most recent, “The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican.” I think I’ll give it a read.

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