Friday, July 31, 2009

Bittersweet Thoughts..

My son Blake was just married. A rite of passage it is, but nonetheless, it carries bittersweet thoughts for me, as I watch my boy move into his next phase of life.

For several weeks prior to the wedding, I immersed myself in various types of preparations. While I worked, either sewing, laying out graphics for printed goods, or working on various other projects, my mind wandered constantly,reminiscing, as only a mother can as she prepares to see her son marry.There were tears, of course, but a happy pride ruled as I relived key moments of his life. Here you see Blake and I when he was about three. He loved to be read to, and that we did. I still like to read aloud today.

The image below shows you a graphed image of Blake on his first birthday. This graph was prepared in my software, Stitch Painter. Blake is wearing the first full sweater I ever designed and knit on the knitting machine. I had spun the yarn, designed the sweater, punched a jacquard card for the sheep, and then knit the garment. It actually won a design award. I suppose I should tell you, he only wore this once, as I had miscalculated how big a baby's head is, and I barely got the sweater on him.

Jump ahead many years, and here you can see how handsome Blake became as a young man. He is an amazing musician, and plays the guitar beautifully. I have always loved this photo as it shows his passion for the moment one has with music.

The photo below was taken on my birthday. I asked Blake to be my escort to the opera, and we went to see Mozart's Magic Flute. I bought him his first suit, and I fell apart in the menswear store as he tried suits on. I couldn't believe I was watching my 6'2" son look like such a man. In the photo, I am knotting his tie, and holding back the tears of pride.

It's been a busy month; time to catch up!

I'm behind on blogging, but my reason is good. My son was married last weekend, and there were many things to do in preparation.

I will catch up now, and have various things to share in the next several entries. Although the wedding has come and gone, I will still attempt to share the various things in an order.

From the reminiscing to the creative endeavors... here we go.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gelati: Take Two, Making Gelato

Gelateria Artiginale Ponte Pietra
On June 22nd, I shared with you the best gelati shop in Verona. I was able to arrange with Stefano (one of the owners) to have a behind-the-scenes tour of how gelato is made.

Here you see the Pastomaster, a machine which pasteurizes the milk. It is used for all milk/cream-based gelati. All the main ingredients (such as cream, sugars, etc) are mixed together and heated until they reach 85 degrees centigrade. They are then cooled. The result is what Stefano called the ‘base’.

At this point, other ingredients may be added such as flavors, fruit, nuts, etc.

Then, this mixture is put in the Mantegitore, or the “freezing machine”. This rotates and turns as you can see, and creates 10 kilo (or two tubs) of crystallized gelati.

Then the mixtures are poured into tubs and put in the freezer. Milk gelato takes six hours to freeze and fruit gelato takes four. So, the entire process, from start to finish is about seven to eight hours.

In the summer season, Stefano can make 60 liters or 15 tubs of gelato daily. The gelati season runs for 250 days straight, from March through the end of October. There are no days off during this time. So you know that the owners of gelaterias must love their work.

Now that I am back in San Diego, I must seek out a good source for gelato. It will be a challenge, I am sure.

Thanks to Stefano for sharing the how-to’s with me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Menegazzi Tessuti
Via Tazzoli Don Enrico, 14
37121 Verona (VR), Italy
+39 045 596780

If you love fabrics and you like to travel, then you will need to know about this store, which is located near Piazza Bra in Verona, Italy.

I had walked by the store on numerous occasions, but typically at lunchtime, or in the evening, when it was closed. I think I may have managed to do this to avoid the temptation of adding more fabric to my already large collection. However, now that I have been in the store, I know that it will be an early stop on the next trip, and I am already planning the garments to make.

Menegazzi Tessuti carries high-quality fabrics. Tessuti means “textile’ in Italian. The store has been in business for 120 years, and it is now in its fourth generation. Meet Paola on the left (the fourth generation), and her assistant Monica, on the right.

In the store you will find fabrics from major Italian designers such as Etro, Versace, Valentino, Missoni, Ungaro, and more. Below you are seeing a Missoni (left) and Valentino (right) fabrics.

Some other samplings of what you will find in Menegazzi Tessuti.

It is a must-stop for fabric people!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Scarabocchio: The Ultimate Fashion Stop in Verona, Italy

Although I am now home, there are still a few things to share of Verona, Italy.
Via ponte Pietra, 25
37121 Verona
tel. 0459298048

If you travel there, and are looking for a store that carries a great assortment of clothing from various designers around Europe, then this is the boutique for you.
Scarabocchio (which means a child’s drawing or scribble) is a family business and has in operation for over thirty years. When the store started, the family focused on carrying designs of haute couture, (e.g., Valentino, Armani). However, since the late 1990’s they have switched their focus, and now find the most important lines of young innovative designers in Europe. Many are unknown presently and many focus on hand-crafted techniques. Primarily, the family travels to Florence, Tuscany (for leather), Bologna (for new trends), Milan, Paris (for French fashion), Barcelona and Madrid (for unique fashion), Seville, and elsewhere. They seek out the unique and classify their taste as “etno chic” (ethnic chic).

Scarabocchio carries approximately 20 lines; the brands and styles change somewhat each season. They cater to people looking for something different.

Here you can meet Arrigo (right) and Giuditta (left), a brother/sister team, who are very involved with the store.

One line I particularly liked was “Blue Deep”, a company from Milan. The clothing had a retro look, and was amazingly unique. Below you see a dress I would have considered purchasing for my son's wedding had I not already bought one.

More shots of the store (which is much larger than you would assume from the street)

Some accessory items

Currently you can find Scarabocchio on Myspace at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Queen Califia's Magic Circle: Color and Mosaic Inspiration

In the city of Escondido, just outside of San Diego, Kit Carson Park hosts the best surprise. It is a mosaic structure created by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle. Known as Queen Califia's Magic Circle, this sculpture gardent was created for Escondido children, and you will find Mosaic pieces include glass and a variety of tiles, hand-made tiles, smaller sculptures and so on. Niki de Saint Phalle passed away in 2002, but left this (and many other) mosaic as a testimony of life.

As fiber and textile artists, we can be inspired by the many mosaic pieces that create the whole. Think of a quilt or patchwork, or modular knitting or crochet.

Here you can see Queen Califia, and a shot of Leah and I looking at a glass piece of mosaic.

This is a mosaic bench.

Here we are, sitting inside the center sculpture. This gives you a sense of the scale of the place.

Mosaic close-up

Monday, July 6, 2009

San Diego: A City of Beauty, Art, and Inspiration

Upon my return to San Diego, I had the pleasure of spending two days with my Australian house guests, Leah and Rachel. Leah was one of my proof-readers for the Photoshop and Illustrator books. She and her daughter Rachel came to house-sit for me while I was overseas, and we planned to have a few days overlap so I could have some time with them.

San Diego is such a beautiful city, full of exotic sights and plenty of inspiration. I took them to Balboa Park, which houses practically all the museums in San Diego. The park is breathtaking and the buildings (in Spanish style) are amazing. Meet Rachel (center) and Leah (right).

Here you see three shots taken at Balboa Park. I often go there to take photos to use in my various classes. The water lilies here had such a gorgeous palette, and pattern.

Italian Fashion Magazines and Verona News

Below are a couple of shots of the news kiosks you find on the streets of Italy. Notice the high number of fashion magazines. If only we had this here in the U.S.

And on another note..
Here is something I love about Verona. Every morning, you can walk into the city center and meet up with gentlemen as you see here; distributing free newspapers. I would pick these up and go for a coffee, and then try to translate what I could to get a sense of Verona and World news. I did have the names of these three men, but wrote them on one of my newspapers, which if course, I left behind. Sorry "uomini".

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Celebrating my Mom: She Taught me My Crafts

Today is my mom's 80th birthday! She shares her day with Canada, as it is "her" birthday also, and since I am Canadian, and visiting my mom now, we are celebrating many things.
This blog entry is for my family, and in particular, in honor of my mom Margaret, who taught me all the arts and crafts I now use in my professional world. My mom taught me to sew, to knit, to crochet, and to create. She still sews and knits, and has most recently made a quilt for my son's wedding gift.

Here are a few pics. On top you see mom and I arranging flowers for the luncheon in her honor.

Beneath you see Mom and her three daughters; Chris, Mom, myself,and Jan.

At the bottom, you see some of the extended family, including some of my aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. I am one of 24 grandchildren on my father's side, and 8 grandchildren on my mother's side. So, there are a lot of us. This is only a sampling.

My New Challenge

I am pushing a little with this one. This is not a textile or yarn. Rather, it is a musical instrument that I have been eyeing for awhile.

Meet my new bright red concertina. According to Wikipedia, "the word concertina refers to a family of hand-held bellows-driven free reed instruments".
Mine is in the key of C, and I have to move the bellows in and out (at the appropriate time) and press the keys that I want (at the appropriate time). It is not as straight forward as one thinks, and so, I will be spending a little time each evening for the next while, learning to get a few tunes out of my little friend.

This IS a stretch of creativity for me, just in a different direction. Who would like to help me name this new baby?