Our blog has been silent since before Christmas, as we decided we needed to take a break from our whirlwind fall. Lee and I settled in for a quiet non-travel Christmas and New Year’s. Alas, when we were ready to get back to work, Lee’s mother, Mary Ann Liggett, took a serious turn for the worse in her recent battle with acute leukemia. She lost that battle just weeks after her 93rd birthday. She was a determined woman who shared a love of fashion and colors with me. She spent her adult life in Lincoln, Nebraska and when the family and friends gathered to remember her, all knew she had lived a good life and fought the good fight. [Read more…] about Introducing the Earth and Sky Collection
Lee’s favorite holiday is July 4th, but mine is Thanksgiving. Most of my childhood Thanksgivings were snow filled with terrific foods prepared by my mom. Seven siblings, my dad, often a grandmother, occasionally aunts, uncles, cousins and a warm fire … Thanksgiving was uncomplicated by gifts, decorations, or the dreaded skits that accompanied other holidays. I thought the best part of Thanksgiving was thinking about what I was most grateful for.
This year’s Thanksgiving will be quieter than most.
My mother died peacefully at the ripe old age of 91 at the end of October. After traveling to upstate NY for her funeral and then one for her only remaining brother the next day, I journeyed last week to Williamsburg, VA, to wrap up her affairs. I am glad to be back here in my beloved NM for a quiet holiday. The weather has turned cold, there is snow on the mountains and of course that glorious New Mexico blue sky.
I am thankful for my mother, her fierce determination, her wittiness, all she did for her family and the many ways she influenced me. Top of my list is my gratitude for her willingness to teaching me to sew. This was not an easy task because I was an impatient child. I was not a good follower or imitator. I’m sure she had misgivings, but she let me do it my way… I never cut out a pattern and assembled it per the directions. I was always trying to do things above my skill level. And, while I often grew frustrated, she would let me give up. She needed her qualities of patience and good humor, which I am sure I helped her strengthen.
Also, my thankfulness embraces the wonderfully creative women who have also inspired me in my creative Whispirit endeavors. One week before mom’s death I traveled to Ashland, OR, to attend my third Design Outside the Lines retreat. I have learned so much working with the artist Diane Ericson This year’s retreat Diane included Marla Kazell, an amazing couture sewist and tailor and teacher, as Diane’s co-teacher. What an amazing duo. We focused on jackets. What a dynamic duo and, of course, the other attendees with their experiences are also amazing teachers.
My head is spinning with new design ideas that I plan to incorporate into the 2017 Whispirit creations. I found some fabrics and an unfinished quilt in my mother’s “things” which I will incorporate in my work. I think she would like that. Creativity gets passed along. Like a river, it never stops.
Lee and I hope you and yours enjoy a happy meal with family, friends and much thankfulness. Please think about the creative genius of Lenard Cohen as you listen to this wonderful YouTube video of his song Hallelujah.
Til next time. Sandy
We know you are a long term follower of our blog if you already know about the colorful cozy cat tent that Danita,
our ranch hand, erects annually in our barn. Danita has already perched this year’s shelter on top of the YUGE hay pile just delivered.
Alas, this year’s cat tent population is quite reduced due, we think, to a great horned owl who moved into our part of the forest. Of those cats who have disappeared, we particularly miss our longtime, very large black cat, Abbott. He had quite the personality. Scamper, Pretty Boy & Callie are still with us, have happily moved in (if you enlarge the photo you can see Pretty Boy peaking out) and are already enjoying their cozy abode with Danita’s hand-crocheted throws.
We should not have been surprised when Atticus explained to the cats that he will be joining them in the cat tent this year! Speaking of characters.
Besides the cat tent, other signs of fall and the coming of winter are the annual changing of color in our fields and gardens. Guess we had better start moving firewood down from the cord pile and getting it stacked by the back door.
As this blog goes to press, Sandy is winging her way to Ashland, OR, for Diane Ericson’s fall Design Outside the Lines retreat. That, of course, means by this time next week the FeltLoom will be smoking from processing all of Sandy’s new inspiration. Watch this blog as those new concepts take shape.
Until next time………. Sandy & Lee
I am not trained to do the design work I do for Whispirit. I wish I had gone to fashion design school or art school to understand the professional techniques of design. But I didn’t. I went to law school instead. Sigh.
But I have found that I love to create one of a kind clothing made from our own handmade alpaca needle-felted fabric. And, I have my own unique way of coming up with the designs, often with input from my husband Lee, Heather, JB, Sarah, Diane, Robin, June and others.
When I start to design something, I start first with colors. Multiple colors. Not a color chart, but instead something or some things that in combination make my spirit dance. It might be a beautiful silk scarf I already own or the wind blowing through our gardens pushing various colors together. Frequently, it’s a color combination that emerges from my flipping through the many magazine images I have pasted on cardstock (a practice I learned from Diane Ericson). It might be a beautiful basket of vegetables from the Taos Farmers’ Market. Or a rich sunset or stunning moon rise over the Sandia mountains. Or an artful piece of jewelry, such as the pieces I recently saw (and purchased — don’t tell Lee) at a jewelry party featuring artist June Rosen Lopez. Or the soft richness of Osita, our sweet New Mexico pup.
Often, particularly with my collage fabric creations, it’s a Perfect Button, created by Robin Pascal that pumps my color imagination.
Next, it’s to the “creation table” where I layout my pieces of dyed roving, fabric remnants, fleece batts, and go through my dyes. Typically, I dye the underlying fabric first, either cotton or silk, which will stabilize the fiber batt and infuse color into it. Sometimes I chose a fabric that has rich natural hues, and is on a neutral colored background and decorate it with the color du jour. For me the fabric is the work of art. Each sheet of fabric I make has unique qualities, drape, color, subtle or rich tones.
The fabric inspires the design of the jacket. Sometimes I will make my prototype and consult with Lee, who is really a great observer of balance and contrast. Seamstress Heather Briggs shares her inspirations as well, and has turned some one-of-a-kind fabrics into simply awesome jackets, vests, and hats. Seamstress Sarah Tafoya helped perfect the princess line jacket as well as our loose fitting comfort jacket/vest, the Hug.
But for me, my art of creation is first and foremost how color speaks to me. That makes my spirit dance.
Til next time. Sandy
One of the things I love about Fall is being able to wear hats again. I have always been a hat person, weathering through DC winters with my Bella Abzug hat. (It got chewed up by an airplane propeller one blustery wintry day when I was traveling.) Still have not come up with a good design to replace that one.
I love wearing our stylish alpaca hats and my personal favorite are the Downtown Abbey hats, inspired by, you guessed it, that great series. A particularly hat-rich episode for us then spawned a couple of brimmed versions.
Each year we add a new dimension to the hats. This year is no exception. We are working to incorporate our delightful (and award winning) Cacophony of Colors designs into hats. They will be available in about 2 weeks. Keep an eye on our website.
P.S. Lee is wearing a joke hat which definitely WILL NOT be in our new line.
Until next time ……. Sandy