Monday, 19 December 2011

Sorry, is that yarn in your wreath?

Every year, three weeks before New Year's eve, my family, like many others,  hangs a nice, decorative wreath on the front door.
 When I was a kid, I invented a ritual - back then we lived on the 8th floor of a high building and, on the day when the wreaths are traditionally hanged for children to admire and for the neighbours to envy , I never used the lift. Instead, I would walk all the way up to the last floor carefully examining every wreath in the building. (OK, I admit, I would  also usually spit my chewing gum from the balcony on the last floor just to test the law of gravity!)
Then, a few days later, I would repeat the ritual and would usually notice that a few wreaths had been replaced in the mean time. Each time my friend and his mother who lived on the 3rd floor put a lovely, shiny ring on their door, their first neighbour would buy herself a new, shinier one! It was a real war!

I haven't abandoned my little ritual to this day and, although my family now lives on the 6th floor of a much smaller building,  the route to the top still turns into a decent gallery in December.
I finished my first inspection of the wreaths 2 days ago. :) This year 3 wreaths between the 3rd and the 5th floor are sea-themed; sea shells, sea stars and pebbles. That's new and original! (But, let's face it- it has to be a conspiracy! I suspect that there's a secret wreath-society downstairs that does not accept members from  the upper floors!  Bummer!)
Apart from the freemason's sea-themed wreaths, most others are pretty traditionally decorated; Christmas stars, bells, ribbons and ornaments, 1 Mickey Mouse and 2 Ninja turtles.
Some are made of fresh pine branches, others only have a few ugly plastic flowers on them. Some are new, some are old, and some are simply not up to this competition any more. I believe that one of them is actually ours. :) It is still lovely, the willow ring is still firm and glossy only the tiny decorations and fake Christmas stars are not in the best of all shapes any more. The wreath fell off more than once and some of the decorations had to be replaced, others are damaged and a few beg to be replaced (with Ninja turtles) as soon as possible.

So, I decided that our door needed a new wreath. A hand made one. Yesterday I went to a supermarket where they sell plain, styrofoam rings and bought one ring and a few styrofoam balls. Then I sat down in front of my computer and Googled! And Googled! And Googled! And I realised that there are THOUSANDS of amazing wreaths made with yarn, knit, crocheted and felted out there. I'm not sure I will actually have this wreath finished before 2012. - all the inspiration models are so lovely that I just can't make up mind. I think I will actually have  to take a year to think and decide which one to make. :)
So, before I can hang my own yarn wreath on my blog, I'll share some of the loveliest examples from the internet with you!
They are not all necessarily Christmas wreaths but that doesn't even matter! They're all gorgeous!

Yarn balls, felted flowers, garter ribbons, knitting needles, pom-poms, knit fabric, crocheted lace, argyle, name it!

And, my personal favourite:

:)))) Obviously!

The following links will take you to a few lovely tutorials. In some of them you will find the instructions for making a few of the wreaths posted above.

Enjoy and happy crafting!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Blog makeover

No knitting this time. Just a brief announcement!

Obviously, if you are reading this then you have already noticed that Cloopco has been completely redesigned. I hope you like the new version!  I do! :) I think this is just the kind of blog I have always wanted to have. I don't know what I was thinking when I picked that dark background for the first version.

Also, besides the most obvious (header and colours), the blog is now using a different and somewhat narrower template which, initially, shrunk the main panel a little. I did my best to adjust the margins but, the change  affected a few posts originally published on the old version which is why they are now a wee bit scrambled. Nothing serious 'tho.
So, after brief inspection, my main impression is that, all in all,  this whole make-over process has left far less mess than I'd expected.

Again, I hope you like it!

Until very soon,



Monday, 5 December 2011

Knit me a song

"Leben" - by Heidrun Liegmann-Halama
In February 2000., I was invited to a graduation party thrown by a friend who had just returned from abroad with a diploma from one of  Europe's oldest Conservatoriums of Music. At the time, I was still a student of dramatic and performing arts.
I went to the party with my friend, now a painter and, back then, still a student of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts. It was a lovely party. And it lasted for almost 24h. :)

Some time during the night and after a few bottles of great wine, our host, the freshly graduated professional musician, started singing a traditional song from his father's home region, followed only by the delicate sounds of guitar, played by his close friend. I think that the guitar player was not even familiar with the original melody but they made a great duo. I have never learnt whether the song my friend sang that night was in some foreign language or in a complicated regional dialect but not one person in the room could recognise a single word of it. And, yet, my friend's voice magically translated it for us and, as silly as it may sound, we understood everything. It was a spectacular moment. His voice, his performance...we were mesmerised.
When the song finished, the room was filled with dense silence and we all remained frozen for almost 10 minutes until my friend, the painter, suddenly  broke the silence and said: "HEAVENS!  I WANT TO BE ABLE TO PAINT THIS SONG!  "

Back in those days, we were curious and confused as only 20 year old people can be. At the same time, we thought we knew everything and were too proud to admit that there was still much more to be learnt. Our education was finely intertwined with our personal growth and, sometimes, our intimate questions would collide with our professional curiosity and we'd find ourselves swimming upstream all tangled up in life and with the education sitting on our shoulders. We would usually continue fighting the stream for days until a single word or picture woke us up and made everything seem clear again.
Our professor, well aware of all the rapids and traps set for us on the path of our education, would often rescue us from our own youthful arrogance by saying: " Studying to become an artist does not mean that you will eventually become one.  Every art, in its essence, is just a craft. And every craft can become Art! When you leave this school, you will all be craftsmen.  But, not necessarily artists.  Still, don't be discouraged by this - it is actually a very good thing. It allows every carpenter and every chef to become an artist. Of course, it also allows lazy actors and musician to turn theatres and operas into pointless country fairs. Now, whether you will take your craft that one step forward  depends only on you."

Throughout the years, my professor's words have helped me to never forget that the muses can easily slip out of our hands if we're not careful enough but also that beauty and the magic of art can be found absolutely everywhere. My friend's words, on the other hand, have been a constant reminder of how that magic can be created; to be an artist, you need to always 'want to paint a song'. It's as easy as that!
Whenever you see someone trying to do that, you'll know you're very near the magic.

But, although I am not any more surprised by the fact that the purest form of art can be found anywhere, from kitchens and tiny shops to school playgrounds, honestly speaking,  I am still very excited when I unexpectedly find it.
A fortnight ago, while I was collecting material for my previous post, the path of a craft intersected with that of the art in front of my eyes again and caught me unprepared- I came across craftsmen who took their craft that one step forward.
I have found the artists who knit and crochet songs. :)

Quite amazing!
Here are some of their works!

The "Knitters Dreamtime" wall-hanging made by Jane Thornley

This first wall hanging evolved, as the authors says, "from her lifelong fascination and desire to learn from aboriginal and indigenous peoples the world over."
The central motif is a human hand, "a reoccurring motif in many prehistoric pictographs and rock art in Australia and the world over".

I had already written the introduction to this post when I opened Jane's page again to collect the link to the project picture and noticed that her explanations quite resonated with my friend's wish to paint a song. She says: "The basis of this project is to capture that place between a rock and a soft place and to knit stone."
To knit stone! Of course! Because that is how magic happens! :)

And she also says this on her webpage: " For me, colour and texture rule and most of the inspiration feeding my imagination comes from the natural world. I see knitting as art, as viable as any other, and no matter what the tool or preferred palette, in human hands, magic happens. "

Quite amazing!
You can find more pictures of Jane's work on her webpage > Jane Thornley
Ravelers can also visit her group > Jane Thornley Ravelry group

We'll stay in Australia for another few moments because there are two more artists from the southern continent who's work I would like to show you!

One of them is Prudence Mapstone, an extremely imaginative Australian artist and a great promoter of free form crochet and knitting.
Prudence is a very productive author and it is literally impossible for me to pick the most representative picture of her work. I picked two but I invite you to follow the links posted under the pictures and visit her galleries - you'll find some amazing pictures there.

"Barren to Bountiful: What a Difference the Rain Makes" : a freeform knit and crochet wall-hanging created for the gallery wall at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York City

Some of her works contain a few hundred different yarns! The close-ups are eye-capturing:

Here's a link to another imaginative project; Light at the end of the Tunnel  , a knitted panel with some surface embroidery, mounted in recycled window frame .

Finally, you DON'T WANT TO MISS her Freeform in the Landscape gallery. It is something that you don't see every day. Here's a teaser picture:

Prudence has a website with a lovely name Knot Just Knitting  where you can read more about her work, see how her artistic knitting/crocheting is implemented into wearable garments, subscribe to her newsletter, download her workbooks (check out the 'patterns' section) buy some of her projects and buy her books. She also writes a blog (PrudenceMapstone) and can be found as PrudenceM on Ravelry.
The list of books authored by Prudence Mapstone can be found HERE!

Let's move on! We're still in Australia!

Coral isle (1m x 1m mural)

When I first saw this mural I had to enlarge the picture just to make sure that it ws not painted. :) Impressive! It is made by Renate Kirkpatrick, another imaginative and enthusiastic Antipodean. She plays around with different yarns, stitches, hook sizes, texture, form, colour. Besides her practical contribution to the development of hand-crafts (from pottery and paper crafts to various fibre arts), she has also written three books about crochet: Crochet Techniques, Freeform Crochet and Beyond and Bring Colour to Crochet, all three sold worldwide.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Renate has won a few international prizes one of which I absolutely have to mention - she is the winner of the World's Best Tea Cosy contest in 2006. Here's the winning cosy:

Renate's blog is HERE. She is also rensfibreart on Ravelry.

Now, across the World and back to the Old Continent!

The Netherlands!

"Sun Fighting Mist" by Adri de Vries Tadema

From the author's notes: "They yellow sun is trying to fight its way through the mist, on an early morning...
the world is awakening and the skies are painted yellow and grey,
the world and all that is in it is still greyish."

The techniques used are: crochet, embroidery, spinning and painting silk and rayon threads.

Two more wall hangings, both made by Adri.
Adri writes two blogs simultaneously, one in Dutch and the other one in English, you can read them HERE (the Dutch version) and HERE (the version in English). She is a3devries on Ravelry.


Big bang
Khaki tree


The author of these two projects is Amal  (artknitbyamal on Ravelry) who says that she "has had a passionate affair with wool, needle and hook for over 30 years". She drains her inspiration from nature: mountains, sunsets, forests and shadows.

I really like this Khaki tree wall-hanging. Khaki trees can be found in many gardens in my hometown and I'm insanely in love with their leaf-less, dark branches full of orange fruit in autumn.

Having mentioned my hometown, we're moving even closer to my part of the Earth- we're going to Austria!

Silver alleys

This wall hanging was made by Snježana Rock, a Croatian born Austrian designer living in Vienna. Snježana was kind enough to upload a gallery of photos taken during the process of making her wall hanging. That is just the  kind of thing I was hoping to find for this post. The gallery is HERE!
The rest of her projects can be found on her bilingual blog (in German and English) > Handstrick Flair .
During our brief correspondence, Snježana told me that she had learnt the technique, used for creation of her picture, by a German knitter and, apparently, a real authority - Gabriele Kluge. And, indeed, her work as well as works of some of her students and colleagues are quite amazing.

Gabriele Kluge has a web site in German - HERE.

"Green Space" - Michaela Renz
"Peters Farben" - Gabriele Kluge

Spiralen - Margitta Biallas
"Herbstallee" - Marion Siepermann

One of the representatives of this knitting style is also Heidrun Liegmann-Halama, who's "Tulip" (or, originally, "Leben") you can see at the very begining of this post. She has a very interesting group on Ravelry called - Swing knitting.

Michaela Renz is the author of Candela lamp shades mentioned in my previous blog entry (Defiknitaly knitable).

I started this story with a Canadian knitter, Jane Thornley, who's  fascination with the Aboriginal culture "took me" to Australia. From Australia, we went to Europe and I think that it would only be fair to close the circle and go back to the New Continent.

I'm finishing this journey in Alabama, USA!

Freeform Crochet Sculpture by Cornflowerblue

Textile Art Heart by Cornflower Blue

Cornflower Blue is a happy and crafty young art historian called Rachel in love with freeform crochet. Some of her sculptures are offered for sale on her Etsy shop. She also 'runs' a very nice blog called Cornflower Blue Designs.  Do visit it some time, you'll enjoy her warm, lovely, colourful photos.

That's it! I hope you have enjoyed reading  this post as much as I have putting it together.

'till next time, cheers!

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