Monday, July 18, 2011

Changes Afoot

The old blog's getting a facelift--starting with a new template and a banner similar to the one on my Etsy shop. Stand-alone pages that better organize things will be coming soon, too.

It's time for a change. You may have noticed I've been expanding the scope of the blog in recent months. I began this blog in pre-Ravelry days, for the purpose of sharing my knitting projects. Six years later ... a lot's changed!

Ravelry has become as essential a part of knitting as needles and yarn. You no longer need to Google a pattern and search for blog posts to find out what yarns people are substituting, or how the garment looks on a real person. (Not that models aren't real people. but you know what I mean!)

I don't mean to suggest that Ravelry has rendered knitting blogs obsolete--not at all. I still read knitting blogs and I still like blogging. But I don't feel Blue Peninsula needs to be quite so narrow in its focus anymore. In recent months I've watched to see if there is interest in posts about drawing, or embroidery, or visits to art exhibits. Much to my delight, it seems there is. So, I'm going to continue to let the blog be more "holistic," more true to myself and all that I do.

A couple of years ago, I gave myself permission to focus more of my free time on knitwear design. I needed to find out whether designing was something I wanted to get serious about. Turns out it is--in fact, I enjoy it immensely. I especially enjoy getting feedback from all of you who make my patterns. I love seeing your versions on Ravelry.

At about the same time, I stopped painting. I felt I had come to a dead end. For many years I had worked within a rather strict compositional format of square paintings divided into grids. Exploring the grid and its possibilities was a fruitful avenue for a long, long time. But then it wasn't anymore, and I couldn't see a way forward.

You can't force insight. You just have to wait and hope and pray it will return. (The waiting is not fun, believe me.)

I made some knitted artworks here and there. But to knit garments as well as art was asking a lot of my hands. I kept drawing, though, filling sketchbooks with views of nature--hills and clouds mostly. And finally, since last winter, I've been making paintings again--small improvisational abstractions that I think of as "pocket paintings." Maybe my studies of fluid, ever-changing clouds opened up a way back into painting? To draw a cloud you really have to work lightly and freely--it's moving fast, and you have to move with it!

They are small first steps toward a vision I've had in my head for a long time, of paintings embellished with embroidery. Organic, abstract images, inspired by nature, created in an improvisational process, with no sketches done beforehand, no blueprint. (Quite the opposite of knitting, no?)

For whatever reason--a combination perhaps of the fullness of nature in summer, coupled with taking Rebecca Ringquist's embroidery workshop at Squam--I've finally felt ready in recent weeks to give my "painting + embroidery" idea a go.

Embroidered Painting
This is a prototype (and a work in progress, so please judge it tenderly). Due to the width of the stretcher bars, there isn't a lot of room for embroidery on this little prestretched canvas. But there will be plenty of room on larger canvases--I've got several stretched and ready for gesso.

Embroidered Painting_detail

I'm generally reluctant to share my artwork until I'm actually having a show "in real life." But, along with abandoning the grid and the square, I'm going to take the risk of blogging occasionally about artworks in progress. One lesson I've learned from knitwear design is not to get hung up on every pattern being a success. Some are hugely popular, some aren't--life goes on. I don't worry about it much. It's time to extend the same relaxed attitude to my artwork.

Wish me luck! I hope you won't mind the changes here at Blue Peninsula. Maybe every post won't be your cup of tea, but rest assured--there will still be a lot of knitting going on.

By the way, if you embroider, where do you get your thread? I've been using three weights: the very fine French thread I got from Purl Soho, DMC size 8 pearl cotton, and DMC size 5 (the heaviest of the three). I'm finding I use the DMC size 8 the most, but I don't have a source for it within driving distance. Joann's has a few neutral colors, but mostly they carry size 5. Do you have a favorite online source? So far I like Knitting Warehouse. They carry a wide range of colors, delivery's pretty quick, and their prices are reasonable.


Carlene said...

That is stunning. More, more! (no pressure)

pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

Congratulations! Looking forward to seeing more of more on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Bonnie, this looks amazing! I can't wait to see more :)

Have you tried Metaphor Yarns in Shelburne Falls? They carry embroidery supplies.

virginia said...

Your new work is so beautiful and inspiring-I look forward to seeing more!

Bonnie said...

Thanks for the tip, Sarah (ChickenBetty). Haven't been up there in a long time! I should make a day trip and see the Bridge of Flowers while I'm at it.

KnitNana said...

Bonnie, I love it. And I love learning more about your interests, as they seem quite a bit like proceed forward, I'll be here! (and I can appreciate the thinking you're having about the blog expanding to be more than just knitting - I have two blogs and wish I could morph them into one another)

Tierney Barden said...

I'm so happy to see your painting & embroidery together on the canvas! This piece is fresh and sunny and just fun to look at - keep exploring, Bonnie!

Barbara S. said...

I really like the combination of painting and embroidery. And, yes, put all of you and your interests on your blog. Art is art and anything can be an inspiration.

Betsey said...

I absolutely love the look of your embroidered painting! I'm up for more intrigue be it knitting, painting, or clouds. The blog is looking good!

Camille said...

I love reading about knitting bloggers' other pursuits. That embroidery on canvas is awesome, can't wait to see it finished!

lacyknit said...

love your blog and really love the painting plus embroidery (i embroider as well as knit) needle in a haystack in alameda, california ( has an extensive line of threads and everything else, plus great service.

adrienne *+*(^_^) +*+ said...

Change is always good.. it means we are growing and moving ahead. I love your art work... mostly because it comes from who you are.. lovely!!

KPiep said...

I for one LOVE the changes you've been making and look forward to seeing what comes next.

By the way, I adore your painting/embroidery combo. It is gorgeous!s

chicory cottage said...

that's very, very pretty! do show us more when you've got some.

Rebecca said...

Bonnie! I love your painting- so colorful and fun- and I can't wait to see more! If you're ever in New York, Daytona Trimming sells all the colors of the DMC floss. You might call and ask if they ship out. And if you're ever in New York, let me know so we can meet for an iced tea!

Bonnie said...

Thanks, everybody, for your encouraging comments. Rebecca, thanks for the Daytona Trimming Source. It would be great to meet next time I'm in NYC!

Susan aka paintermom said...

I love the painting and embroidery combo! My stepmom has many like that by an Israeli artist from many years ago. I have been germinating a similar idea since I first saw them!

I love the broader scope for the blog, too.

stringplay said...

I haven't taken the time to surf and read blogs in a bit, so am just now arriving. Love your new art/embroidery combos. I buy threads everywhere I find them, but a great online source is Nordic Needle ( Wonderful people and great service.