This past summer I had the opportunity to take part in a summer Hoyt House artist residency at Kings Landing in Prince William, New Brunswick. We got to inhabit a delightfully blue house during our studio days, to create work and enjoy the surroundings at this living history museum.

The historic village brings you back to 1830, when times were simpler and people specialized in their craft. There was a house with expertise in natural dying, a blacksmith, a carpenter, a printmaker, and a linen producer. I learned how linen it’s made: from its growth to harvesting to moulding to breaking and pulling and cleaning and spinning into linen fibres. The arduous process has made me think differently about all the textiles that I wear and use on a daily basis.

I spent the week with Alissa Kloet of Keephouse Studio and we had a wonderful time. We dyed cotton fabric with locally foraged yarrow, goldenrod and sumac with surprising results.

During my studio time, I explored making garments with quilted fabric. The first experiment was a cropped short sleeve jacket made from a quilt top designed by Laura Preston of Vacilando Quilting, in her new book Simple Geometric Quilting.

Next I carefully designed a quilting motif for my golden rod dyed fabric. This was my first “wholecloth” project, where no piecing was involved, but where the quilting really shines. I designed a tartan-type grid using two thread, with floral and foliage goldenrod motifs to form a border at the bottom.

I wanted to make a top with a little bit of a puff sleeve, so one of the other residents helped me draft the pattern to achieve that effect. Cross pollination of ideas and expertise really did me well during this time. I finished off the binding on this top with the sumac dyed fabric it as an athletic for sporty look to the top which otherwise would be considered fairly feminine.

My time in New Brunswick was really a gift and I can’t wait to spend to see what other residency opportunities arise for me in the coming years. It is a chance to delve into new ideas without the distraction of old ones.