Diane Krys: Felt :: Feutre


Lip Service, Diane Krys

It’s been a number of years since I first tried my hand at felting and it’s taken my work in all sorts of unexpected directions. l make a point to take a felting workshop every year or two to try new things and build my skills. This fall I made a road trip to Penticton, British Columbia for Felt :: Feutre Canada’s biannual symposium which featured an International gathering of instructors, as well as, many other inspiring events including an exhibition, fashion show, artist’s talks and a Saturday night banquet.

It was a rich experience full of camaraderie. I registered for Charlotte Sehmisch’s workshop. She was traveling all the way from Germany and I was excited to gain an understanding of her fascinating architectural structures and surfaces. I also had work accepted for the Migration exhibition and was delighted to participate in a morning art chat- although I never expected to be standing in front of large group of felters talking about rug hooking! An even bigger surprise came Saturday night at the banquet. You could have knocked me over with a feather when my name was announced for the sculptural felt award. I was extremely honoured and thrilled but along with joy unexpected emotions cropped up the next day in class.

As others kindly offered their congratulations I started to feel self conscious about the wonky work I was doing in class. Charlotte’s techniques were amazing but challenging and they sure didn’t roll off of my fingertips with grace. The class projects were methodical, precise and took me right out of my comfort zone.

In the wake of recognition I was having skittering feelings of discomfort  as I realized everyone was seeing my lumpy, bumpy, learning curve. I thought my obvious fumbles would surely leave them questioning how the heck I ever received an award. Oh the mind games we play with ourselves about perceptions and worthiness.

Long ago I let go of any expectation of producing perfection in workshop situations and liberated myself to experiment without inhibition even if it meant a crash and burn. Experience has taught me the real prize is the new idea or technique and that you can bring into your work down the road and it can surface from the good, the bad and the ugly. I reminded myself of all this as I made peace with this odd convergence of feelings.

In retrospect it was an unusual juxtaposition to receive recognition for an accomplishment and in the very next breath be back in the trenches faltering and fumbling- all with the same group. Yet the more I think about it it seems a perfect manifestation of artistic growth where practice, skill and achievement form a perfect circle to connect right back to a new beginning.

Aside from a great learning experience with Charlotte I also learned something about myself. I’m okay to let others see my imperfect growth and missteps, which is something I realized you may need to contend with as you move further into the world as a professional. I think it’s part of the humanity embedded in every piece of work and while it may not show when you’re putting your best foot forward for an exhibition or something, we all have imperfect beginnings and they too are beautiful things.






Related Links:

Felt :: Feutre Canada
Felt :: Feutre  Awards
Charlotte Sehmisch


Diane Krys: Wool and Welsh Cakes

Friends from different parts of my life have been wanting to try rug hooking so recently I gathered them together and hosted a Wool and Welsh cakes Sunday brunch at my house. Even my sister dug out her rusty hook and joined us along with the her friend Linda, the Welsh Cake Making Queen. I set up one buffet for good eats and another for hooks, hoops and wool. The day was a play session to see if rug hooking sparked anything for them to take further. I showed them how to pull a loop and then gave them as little direction as possible. It may sound stingy but I didn’t want to hamper any mad science impulses by filling their minds with arbitrary ideas about the “right” way to hook. Sometimes, the best way to teach something is simply to set the stage.


I loved seeing their experiments unfold in front of me. It made me think the more proficient a person becomes at their art and craft the more they need a dose of the unbridled impulses and playfulness of newbies. I was so taken by their random patches of rug hooking the next day I started a new piece with my own random patches hoping to capture some of their precious naivete and fearlessness. Working on it has led me back to a forgotten experiment from my early days.  Funny how my friends’ baby steps brought me back to one of my own. It’s like I discovered a seed waiting for more experience to germinate and it’s already blossoming into a new direction for my work.



Reflecting on our day also made me realize how long it’s been since I’ve rug hooked with a regular group. I really enjoyed attending a small weekly rug hooking group when I first started, however, there came a point in my journey when I needed to focus my time to work on my own. I’ve never felt the need to be part of a regular group since but suddenly the Wool and Welsh Cakes gathering has brought out a desire to keep this thing going. It feels special to have people you already love to laugh and spend time with interested in sharing a creative passion and I’m glad to be in a place where I can embrace that. I think an artistic path is ever shifting and it’s important to always keep moving towards what feeds your soul.


I’m happy to say everyone is inspired to do more rug hooking and Wool and Welsh Cakes Part 2 is in the works. Apparently a few friends  hit a Value Village before they even made it home and there’s been a lot of mad science brewing all around since.  I can’t wait to see what they’ve been blowing up and I’m not sure who’s going to be teaching who!

Diane Krys: It’s a Wrap

I was chilly one night watching tv so I decided to knit myself a wrap. Something I had seen in my travels came to mind. It was basically a long rectangle of ribbing which doesn’t sound like much but it was deceptively luxurious when I flung it around my shoulders. It was so soft and it draped beautifully. The ribbing gave it a surprising springiness that made it feel even cosier. How hard could it be to come up with my own ribbed rectangle?

In my enthusiasm I bought a load of a lovely worsted wool only to realize after a few sample rows I wanted something much finer and softer. I started swatching yarns from my stash before I bought anything else so I could play with various weights, fibres and stitch counts. I don’t think I’ve ever done more sampling, swatching and frigging around for a piece of knitting. It’s easy to forget “simple” still has a lot of variables to work out. Everything gelled with a sport weight 100% merino yarn. I went on to buy a gorgeous hand dyed blood orange colour in just that.

It’s quite a departure for me to do so much exact plotting and figuring up front. Riffing off of random is more my comfort zone. Not that I don’t put a lot of thought into my creations but my final destination is usually unknown where in this case I had a very specific outcome in mind. I think it can be enlightening to try a different path and methodology from time to time. Working up so many samples certainly gave me a very exact sense of what kind of knitted fabric various yarn weights and needle sizes will create. Once you get past that bag of wool you rushed out to buy there can be a nice swoopy learning curve to ride when things don’t go as planned.

The wrap is almost finished now. I feel a little sad in a way. It was such a treat to have skeins and skeins of that beautiful yarn running through my fingers. I loved feeling the energy in the stitches. Sometimes I pushed them together as tight as I could on my left needle so they were spring loaded for the jump across the divide to the other needle. The repetition of simple stitches was like meditation and my chant was…. knit2 purl2, knit2 purl2…. It suited the hibernation mode winter evenings put me in not to mention the extreme Netflix and Shomi viewing my husband and I indulged in while he recovered from surgery. You can’t work on anything too complicated if you’re into a good series.

My wrap is sumptuous, springy, and warm. I know because I’ve had it draped over me as it grew on the needles. Another thing I love about my  wrap is that it will keep the chill away and leave my hands free to work on a new knitting project. Winter isn’t over yet and I do have that lovely unused worsted wool beckoning me.



If you feel inclined to cosy up with an addictive tv series, I’ve really enjoyed Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent and The Honourable Woman.

Thanks for stopping in!


Diane Krys: Important Things


“The most important thing is to keep the most important thing the most important thing.”

Zita Cobb’s former boss

My Mum had a passion for cooking and our family Christmas dinners were something to behold. For many years after we switched the festivities to my house she still liked to cook up a storm. Mum and Dad would pretty much bring the whole Christmas dinner over in pyrex casserole dishes wrapped in towels. They would pull up in their little hatchback and we would start a relay run from their car to our kitchen. Inevitably the time came when it was too much for my Mum so my sister, husband and I planned to take on the whole shebang (with her blessing). Oh we had big ideas. We were like 3 Martha Stewarts; ambitious recipes, fancy ingredients, special kitchen gadgetry; we were pulling out all the stops.

On the morning of our inaugural dinner the Marthas popped a turkey in the oven and went on to have a grand day visiting with a few close friends and relatives that dropped by. We were all entertained by the kids opening gifts and running around fuelled by chocolate. It was good times until the moment they left and the three of us looked at each other and realized we had a whole lot more cooking to do. What were we thinking? As much as we like to make nice food, a big multi course extravaganza was not our passion or forte by a long shot, not to mention we were already tuckered out from the day’s activity. It was like we had snapped out of a spell. How bad would it be to just have turkey and a salad? We willed ourselves into motion, scrapped our fancy pants notions and pulled a few dishes together. Good thing my folks have a sense of humour.

After that fiasco I realized how much I don’t want to orchestrate pots and pans on Christmas day. What my Mum could do with grace and joy is stress and aggravation for me. I realized the most important thing for me is giving my undivided attention to the family and friends I’m sharing the day with so I can enjoy every minute with them. I embrace getting carried away with a bit of foolishness and don’t want to be reigned in by a kitchen timer calling me. And so in the spirit of keeping the most important thing the most important thing, we adopted a new dinner tradition: Christmas lasagnas. Yup, I make them ahead of time and freeze them. There’s love in every layer and I think the spirit of my Mum’s feast is there it’s just all in one course.

Even though our Christmas dinners have changed over time, the real family tradition and the most important thing all along was simply spending time together. I believe the magic of the season comes alive when we know and honour what’s important to us. Sometimes that means steering clear of a seductive rabbit hole in pursuit of a hollow Christmas fantasy world of someone else’s design. Ultimately, I think we have be true to our own joy to give joy.

On that note, I wish you all a Joyous Holiday Season and may you find a way to keep the most important thing the most important thing always!


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Diane Krys: Jordi Bonet

When I’m driving downtown and heading east on Jasper Avenue I say a little prayer to the traffic light gods as I approach the 121st street intersection. I’m not wishing for a green light as you might expect, instead I have my fingers crossed for a red light so I can stop and face the 1960 built Jasper House apartment building. High on a smooth facade sits a sculpted mural I never tire of looking at. It’s stunning and dramatic like a beautiful brooch on a sleek column dress.


I love the collage of colourful squares set atop a doodle of line work. It’s a contraction with lines that look so delicate and threadlike yet stand strong and endure the elements year after year. The shadows intrigue me as much as the piece itself and create a playful kinetic quality.



It was created by Quebec artist Jordi Bonet (1932 -1979). He was a painter, muralist and sculptor. Although he primarily worked in Quebec, his works are peppered across Canada in places like a metro station in Montreal,Quebec or a mural in Moncton, New Brunswick to name a few spots. Often his work is integrated into our landscape and daily routines and because of that we relate to it differently I think. It seeps into our soul and intellect from a different angle compared to when we go to a gallery or museum with an intent to view and analyze. This piece in particular opened my eyes to all the little known gems that live without fanfare in our cities and towns yet offer so much. I’ll let Jordi Bonet have the last word in this post. I’m always moved by this quote.

To often we work in solitude, far from the fields of action where our destiny can blossom, towns are built around us but we are not there. Yet art is as at ease in the streets and public places, as in the museums, it is the collective richness of all men, everyone has a right to find it in their homes, in the objects they use, everywhere in the country where they live.

If as artists, we must express the anguish of our tormented civilization, then our work must, above all, express hope and what we will become.
Close our eyes, open our minds, see
“Art is the scripture of visions to come”

Jordi Bonet  

Diane Krys: The Lazy River

One of my favourite features in the recreation centre where I swim is The Lazy River. It’s a winding channel of water with a current. It swoops and curves in an irregular circular formation so you can float with the flow or go against it for more of a challenge. I start with a workout against the current and then I let the river take me. As I bob along I often think of how the experience reminds me of creativity and developing ideas.
I think letting go is important to really see where an idea can go. That point in my creative process feels like going limp in the water where I let an idea push me around like the waves and currents. I let them roll me away from where I think I want to go. There’s no straight line or destination. I am adrift like a leaf that floats along the water’s surface: still, swirling; gentle movements, frenzied spirals. Forget strength and technique. Flailing is good. My jellyfish limbs move in different directions. No more strong, symmetrical, measured strokes. I invent new moves. The water is my choreographer. As I tumble and turn I see things differently; details, patterns, compositions.




Diane Krys: Scraps

It was so well worn from a bygone era of worldly travels on ocean liners I expected to find something rare and exotic inside. Sadly, this lovely old steamer trunk could only offer a dense assortment of small fabric scraps. Within hours of jettisoning the mishmash to the charity shop pile I started getting flashbacks of everything I had just rapid fired into bags.  I was seeing connections between those bits of fabric and other things we had discovered during my parents’ downsizing. Over the next few days, I came to realize that trunk held a textile record of everything my mother had ever sewn. The fabric bits spanned decades and included swatches from square dancing outfits when they were Tartan Twirlers to cozy flannel pyjamas I remember wearing as a kid. There were memories and feelings embedded in these scraps and there was an unusual beauty to the random mix. It was a palette of colours, patterns and textures that could only come together over time.  They haunted me and by week’s end I was back in the garage digging to find the bags and snag a small sampling for my own stash. Crazy I know but it was a lightbulb moment.

There are textile traditions from every part of the world that are solely based on the use of scraps: crazy quilts, hit and miss hooked rugs, Kantha cloth made from old saris to name a few. Scraps have a former life and when brought together their random associations can bring something new and fresh, as well as, connect to a history. After finding Mum’s collection I reflected on a few on my own experiences using scraps and leftovers.


I used leftovers  from two very different rug projects to make these pillows. I created colour combinations and designs by responding to a sense of randomness and limitation.  Even before I brought materials( and memories) from different projects together many of them had a life as a wool shirt or skirt.  All those layers of history were with me when I made these pillows.


Using the “standing wool rug”  technique I dove into a six month pile of leftover wool strings to create this piece in progress. There were lots of colours and widths that seemed incompatible but I played with them like a game of  improv. I’m fascinated by the endless combinations and permutations that can come from this fixed group of materials collected by circumstance.

I have a new appreciation for a pile of scraps these days. Using scraps and leftovers can be more than just a practical gesture. A pile of textile scraps is unpredictable and pregnant with creative possibility. They are like maps encoded with our experiences and the life of our material choices. It’s a magical confluence when they are combined into something new. When I think back to that well traveled steamer trunk it did indeed hold something rare and beautiful and I’m glad I recognized the treasure in time to keep a little bit of it for myself.

Thanks for stopping in!

P.S.  In my last month’s post I gave you the head’s up on my workshops for Newfoundland’s  Fibre Art Conference this October. There was a computer glitch with their website.  A few workshops including mine were showing as completely full when in fact they weren’t. So for anyone who tried to register and couldn’t there are actually a few spots still available.

Diane Krys: Threads on the Edge

IMG_7973 In 2006 I bought a new sewing machine. I didn’t sew but I had dreams of stitching things. When I wanted to turn some of my rug hooking into pillows it was a good impetus to take the plunge. I was  eager to explore the wider world of my new found passion for hand made textiles so I opted for a basic mechanical workhorse I hoped would take me into more creative explorations down the road. It’s 2015 and my machine has served me well in the pillow making department and that’s pretty much all I’ve done with it. I used it sporadically so I’m always a little intimidated when I set it up. I still relied on the owner’s manual just to get it threaded. It seems my sewing machine and I have been driving on the straight and narrow together for a long time yet we’ve never really gotten to know each other well enough to deviate into the wilderness or go on a spontaneous adventure. I didn’t know what I needed to tap into this unfulfilled potential until an artist friend invited me to stay with her in Calgary where she was bringing the knowledgeable, talented and daring Karin Millson to her home for a small group session on how to abuse your sewing machine. It sounds like we might be running around like reckless rocks stars smashing our machines but in fact the session was about taking every mechanical sewing machine variable and breaking the rules to stretch and mine them for creative effect.

Ironically, I finally got to know my sewing machine by playing around with what I wasn’t supposed to do with it.  Karin led us on a methodical, thoughtful, progression of experimentation with tensions, threads, stitch lengths, widths, you name it. It provided me with a view into the full potential of my machine to really understand how it works and responds. I felt like I was driving my sewing machine like my standard car with all the knobs controlling stitch length, width, etc. becoming different gears I could change on the fly. What I explored is but a small sampling of possibility but I already feel I can create stitches with character and free motion sew where my hand is in the stitch work even though it’s articulated through a mechanized machine. At the end of the session we had to put our machine back to a factory setting. I must say I found a great sense of liberation in taking things to the brink and then coming back to a perfectly balanced straight stitch. Suddenly my sewing machine looks far more inviting that intimidating. I think it’s about time we went for a spin and had some fun.


IMG_7969   IMG_7967   IMG_7970 By the way…. I’m scheduled to teach 2 workshops based on my combination rug hooking/ knitting/crochet work at the Fibre Arts Newfoundland Conference this fall!  Here’s a link for more information.  It’s an international gathering to be held in the beautiful Gros Morne National Park.  It should be a spectacular, inspiring event- hope to see you there! (If you’re interested in any of the conference workshops, please keep in mind that it’s better to register sooner rather than later to ensure the workshop you want has the registration numbers needed to run. ) Thanks for stopping in!

Diane Krys: A Show of Craft

LSP_1136With Craft Year 2015 in full swing here in Canada there’s lots going on in provincial Craft Councils and communities nationwide to celebrate. The Alberta Craft Council recently opened their Language of Craft group exhibit which I’m very happy to be participating in with a new piece of work.

This exhibition’s “call for entry” piqued my interest when it asked “What does Craft mean to you?” Craft is a word with a wide arc of meanings and values so the opportunity to clarify and explore my own thoughts compelled me to apply.

Even though I can be quite content to work and create in my own little nest, I push myself to invest in a small number of show opportunities that resonate and offer a seed for growth. I’ve come to realize the exhibition process is an important part of my creative development even if I don’t always make the cut.

I’m attracted to exhibits that inspire me to take my visual language in different directions and I don’t mind letting a thought provoking exhibit theme drive the bus. It was after a deeper dive into my own thoughts on Craft that I surfaced with the inspiration for the show piece, Maker’s Mark. It draws it’s title from the British practice of stamping gold and silver work to denote who made it.


Maker’s Mark,  Diane Krys, 2015  The details in a piece of Craft work are richly embedded with the unique hand and story of it’s maker. This piece may look like a cloud of white texture punctuated with splashes of colour yet on closer inspection it’s a mosaic of individual characters, each one imprinted with a fragment of myself and my experiences.

A “call for entry” can also be a call for experimentation. This concept for this piece challenged me to work with a large number of multiples, 100 to be exact, and to build a flexible sculpture that allowed for different configurations.  Future explorations are percolating.

Since I do work quite independently exhibiting feels like taking a field trip complete with a party a.k.a. an artist’s reception where I can connect with other artists, friends, family and interested viewers.  Participating in a show creates a different kind of dialogue for me and my work.  I delight in those moments when this new context has me seeing things in a new light.

I’ll leave you with a few quotes from the show and a question…What does Craft mean to you?



Related links:

Alberta Craft Council’s Language of Craft

Craft Year 2015

Thanks for stopping in- see you next month!

Diane Krys: Memory Lane

IMG_7669Thanks to a few big boxes of Christmas decorations we uncovered during my parents’ downsizing, I’ve been on a trip down memory lane. Growing up, Mum always decked the house to the hilt. She draped handmade Christmas blankets on every chair to keep us cosy. We had Christmas centre pieces, doorknob hangers, advent calendars, Christmas card holders, and festive linens galore. Dad, my sister and I were in charge of the tree. It was always real and no matter how carefully we chose it there was an inevitable weird, sparse side we didn’t discover until the tree was half way decorated. And then there were the boxes of bright, delicate glass ornaments; the kind with the hand painting and indented centres; they’re still my favourites. The final touch was the tinsel. Strand by strand we would place it. Occasionally, I may have tossed a small clump or two- I’ve never liked things too perfect! The tree was flanked by “giant” plush Santas; there was a time when I remember they seemed as tall as me. There were elves, little bottle brush trees and a Christmas village that I loved to set up in a cloud of angel hair. When this transformation took place the air also filled with the sweet, spicy smells of lots and lots of baking. Everyday in December it seemed like we would come home from school and be greeted by wire cooling racks full of the day’s bounty. As a teenager this magical setting had the power to enchant me out of the basement where I usually holed up and actually hang out in the living room. For all this evocative stuff what I mostly remember is how warm and loving our home felt. Not unlike a lot of families,there were difficult times yet Mum knew how to carve out this special time and space to acknowledge the meaning of the season and be grateful for each other. Whether that means a simple star, evergreen bough or a houseful of decorations to you, I think it’s important to do what we need to do to find the meaning amongst the chaos and bring those we love close. The smallest gesture can create the most loving moment. This afternoon, I’m taking a few of these markers from our Christmas’past and doing a little bit of decorating on my parents’ mantle in their new condo. These decorations have been boxed up for so many years I think it’s time they sprinkled some of that love again.






Diane Krys: 5 Days in Vancouver

I recently attended a Maiwa Symposium workshop on Granville Island, Vancouver. Tilleke Schwartz’s free form, graffiti style embroidery inspired me to pick up needle and thread and try my hand. In and out of class I found a feast for my eyes and imagination.

Funny how I can get up at the crack of dawn when I’m away!  What a lucky break to find myself in a room with this   view of False Creek and downtown Vancouver.


Since I was up so early, I would visit the Emily Carr University of Art + Design library en route to class. It was a treat for a magazine lover like me, to indulge in the most interesting,international art, design and textile magazines imaginable.


Maiwa has also compiled an extensive collection of textiles, books and artifacts, primarily from India. It acts a resource centre and workshop space. It was wonderful to be surrounded by this rich textile history as we took in Tilleke’s presentations and worked on our own creations.


Tilleke brought a work in progress to share.  Her pieces are a mind map of her wit, whimsy and response to the world. You can be familiar with something through images but there’s nothing like a personal encounter.  Awesome!


I would lunch across the street at the bountiful Granville Island Market.  Every basket of fruit and berries was piled meticulously to a perfect peak; it made for a stunning “fruitscape.” I thought this attention to detail was like the repetition of a tiny plain stitch to create larger,dynamic rhythms and patterns. Clearly, I had stitching on the brain.


I never knew what would catch my attention walking back to the hotel after class. It might be a piece of art or a guy making giant bubbles with a couple of sticks and a string. I was as mesmerized as the kids in this photo. I couldn’t help thinking of Janet Echelman’s aerial sculptures as the bubble moved and morhped.

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Friends picked me up for dinner one night and we went out for Italian food tapa style. I love sharing plates and sampling-you get to try so much more on the menu!  Isn’t it lovely when food looks so artful and appetizing.


On an after school excursion I whipped over to Knit City,Vancouver’s big knitting event. CaterpillarGreen was a find. Their hand dyed self striping yarns are ingenious.


I had the last day to myself so I decided to visit the Museum of Anthropology. They have an extraordinary collection of First Nation totem poles,art and artifacts, as well as, other ethnographic collections. I’m always awed by the quiet dignity and magnificence of totem pole carvings but the simplicity of these Haida bentwood boxes is also beguiling.



Given I had just spent a few days stitching, I was drawn to the needle work in their collections. Somebody please stop me if I ever want to take up making bobbin lace!


This bright, little piece of Ukrainian embroidery touches on my own paternal Ukrainian heritage. There are so many stories, connections and history in textiles. I feel a tenderness for it’s hand stitching; the variances all show the maker’s hand and soul.


I’m home now with a suitcase full of laundry and a mind full of new ideas.  It’s a good trade.  It’s refreshing to take in the thoughts and ideas of another artist, try out a few new techniques and breath in the culture of another city.  Vancouver was trip to savour during the cold months ahead.


Diane Krys: The Sweater

I’m in the thick of downsizing and transitioning my parents from the house they’ve lived in for over 40 years to a small condo. They are excited for the change so spirits are high despite the amount of physical and emotional work. It’s a sensitive transition going through a lifetime of possessions and then having to part with most of them. Our things can be so embedded with our histories, stories and identity.

For the last few days I’ve been working in my Mum’s old sewing and craft room which was my childhood bedroom. Talk about layers of history-my Elton John Captain Fantastic poster from the 70s is still clinging to one wall. Mum hasn’t done a lot of sewing or knitting in the last years so it’s become a catch-all space. A couple of old Singer sewing machines and stacks of boxes lined the walls and an assortment of bags filled the centre. It was a bit of an archaeological dig but as a maker with a penchant for vintage things it was potential treasure trove to me. In short order I spied a hand knit sweater I clearly remember Mum wearing a lot when we lived in Nova Scotia in the 60s. Now that I’m a knitter I could appreciate the complexity of the pattern and how well made it was. It was a sweater with a story and it was a lovely moment to be able to bring it out to Mum, who was working away in the living room, and share it’s history. It even fits her again!

IMG_7301I also found a stash of vintage knitting patterns and books going back to the 40s. They’re coming home with me- I’ll worry about my stash later! I marvel at how elegant and stylish they are especially the Vogue Knitting magazines from the UK.  Mum and Dad lived in Scotland for a couple of years when they were first married so some of the books are from 1955-57 when she was knitting up a storm with all those beautiful Scottish wools.


At the end of a long dusty, day I was going through one last box of stuff destined for the Goodwill bag and to my delight I saw a little magazine bent open to reveal the very pattern for the sweater I unearthed earlier. Another one for my pile and another story.


My parents have given themselves a number of months to transition to the new place. Even so, the impulse for us helpers is to rush, rush, rush, like all the goodness is waiting on the other side. Who doesn’t want to get through a move like this quickly, however, now that I’m in the middle of it, I think the process of getting there has value and can be a quality experience too. Possessions can be memory triggers and there is something very powerful and meaningful in allowing some time and space for those stories to be told. I’m so grateful for these “sweater” moments. I will savour them and they will no doubt become fodder for future reminiscing when we’re all sitting around their new condo. This move is a whole lot of work to be sure but I wouldn’t trade this time with my parents for anything.


Note: I have an article in the new Sept/Oct issue of Rug Hooking Magazine where I write about my combination hooking and felting work.  The article also features images from my Illusions, Revelations and Transformations solo show. See you next month and thanks for stopping in!

Diane Krys: Driving Under the Influence

With a title like that you might be thinking this is going to be about some wild party or a cautionary tale but it’s not.  It’s starts with a safe, responsible drive home though the countryside. On this drive there was a beautiful quality of light where a sunny summer prairie sky was transitioning to evening. My husband was at the wheel and I happened to have my camera on hand. I was moved by the light and the passing landscape so I poked my camera out the window every so often and snapped.

At home I sorted through the blurry and nondescript. I didn’t create any jaw dropping photos but I did find a few that held fragments of the strong impressions I felt. There was such stillness in the landscape it seemed surreal; almost like we were driving through a diorama. The colours were smooth and flat and the whole landscape distilled into simple colours,shapes and forms.











The simplicity of the photos brought my thoughts to the late abstract painter, Richard Diebenkorn’s work. A genius painter’s work and random amateur photos don’t compare but there was a kind of reduction that connected these disparate things for me.  After reading a bit about him and exploring his paintings a few months ago I found myself especially mesmerized by the way he captured a delicate space and balance between realism and abstraction in his landscapes. Perhaps it was looking at his work months ago that brought my awareness to these recent moments where a row of old granaries fused into a singular graphic shape. The light at the  time of our drive seemed to bath the scenery in a way that removed the extraneous details and left the essence.  Perhaps that’s what my subconscious was really responding to when I felt compelled to randomly stick my camera out the window.








That how artistic influences work I think. We may take things in with one intent but we actually have no idea if or how they will expand our mind or views down the road. Often we’re not even conscious when we are under their influence. Influences can be like new windows lined up and waiting in your mind; poised to give you a new view at unexpected moments like when you’re driving through a landscape you’ve experienced many times before and suddenly it feels different.

Sitting in front on my computer with Diebenkorn back on my mind, I took these thoughts a step further and played around with my photographs.  A horizontal landscape turned vertical further removes it from reality. There can be a completely new story in a different orientation. It can be a story about process and mining imagery in a new way or it could be a view to the essence of something once it’s stripped of preconceived ideas.  I think it’s possible for someone to drive around the world and never really see anything new and yet, you can sometimes find a whole new world on a small stretch of familiar road.

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I have a new post on my Diane Krys Studio blog, “A Western Wedding”


Diane Krys: Buttons


A weekend crop of garage sale signs caught my eye. One was close to home so took the bait. I circled around and around the tables until my inner magpie spied a small basket of buttons. I have a thing for buttons and like to pick up a few interesting ones when I find them. I use them in my creations or just keep them to look at. I think my fascination goes back to the jars and tins of buttons my mum used to have when I was growing up. My mum is a waste not want not homemaker and when our clothes were ready for the rag bag their final gesture was offering their buttons for the jar. I remember gleefully dumping and sorting them. These were the play things for a pre-technology generation.

One of my favourite button finds was during a holiday in Nova Scotia. A yard sale right on the side of the highway brought my husband and I to a screeching halt. Actually, the screeching started when I yelled stop, stOP,STOP! I had never seen home made button cards before yet they seemed such an obvious progression to sorting through the button jar. These particular buttons weren’t extravagant and the cards themselves rather primitive, but I found them oh so charming and could just picture someone extracting these little collections from a stock pile of saved buttons.


IMG_6996When I described these cards to the woman hosting the garage sale it triggered a dash into her home to bring out some of her button cards to show me. She was clearly a very serious collector and her cards were stunning. They were full of large, highly detailed antique buttons; the likes of which I have never seen before. By conversation’s end she had generously extended an invitation for me to come back to her home for a proper show and tell and to join her sometime when she attends a gathering of local button enthusiasts. Who knew a delightful portal into the world of international button collecting lived right in my neighborhood. The thrill of a garage sale treasure hunt is the unexpected find and in this case the gold had nothing to do with the wares. Of course,I did pick up a few buttons from the basket, how could I resist.

Here’s a few buttons from my collection.








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Diane Krys: Artful Gardening


Some years my backyard patio is chock full of blooming pots and other years I feel like I only need to plant a few for colour. For many summers my plant containers were found objects like vintage kitchen canisters or rusty buckets from my dad’s farm. I’ve even used old metal bedsprings as trellises. Lately, I’ve taken a simplified approach with a few groupings of plain terra cotta planters. My patio is not so different from the interior of my home where I like to change things up.

Our outdoor spaces are another canvas for our creativity and they can evolve over time. My back yard has dramatically changed over the years. When we realized we couldn’t keep up the giant garden we inherited we consoled ourselves with all the great farmer’s markets we could support and went for a “clearing in the woods” look by planting an abundance of hardy, low maintenance trees and shrubs. For a city space my yard might be considered over treed and a little on the wild side but I love how it attracts the birds and makes me feel like I’m living in the country instead of a hop,skip and jump from downtown.

I used to keep thriving raspberry canes in check using discarded black metal store fixtures until our maturing trees obstructed the light and dwindled the raspberry patch.  I enjoyed this black tubular “sculpture”  intertwined with tasty raspberries until our butternut tree grew into it’s full magnificence. We now enjoy it’s waterfall of graceful palmate leaves instead. I find it incredibly beautiful to watch nature take it’s course; the energy and vigour, and the quiet recessions. Gardening is like a call and response dance between nature’s impulses and our own; ever changing and always surprising.

I marvel when we can harmonize with nature and bring our own creativity to the mix. When I travel I love taking photographs of these artful expressions. Here’s a few photos that inspire me from trips I took to our east and west coasts. What’s going on in your garden?









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Diane Krys: Western Threads

Last month the Royal Alberta Museum opened it’s much anticipated Western Threads exhibit in their feature gallery. Western Threads celebrates the history of fibre art in the western provinces. The exhibit showcases the Heritage Rug Hookers of Saskatoon, Studio Art Quilt Associates (Western Canadian Branch), and a retrospective of the Focus on Fibre Arts Association’s biennial exhibitions.

Elevator Sunset detail

It occurred to me when I was dropping my piece off for the show, the majority of this work would most likely never be shown together through normal channels. This show was mixing work from artists at different points in their careers and development, as well as, bringing together technique specific communities. It was going to be a coalescence unique to a museum setting and it filled me with curiosity and excitement.

The excitement really started a few days before the opening with a yarn bombing at the museum grounds. There was a great vibe to the event with museum staff, artists,friends and family all chipping in. It was a pop up fibre community that perfectly reflected the spirit of the exhibit.

A07V7285Featured artists gathered the following day for an exhibit preview where we heard remarks from the executive director as he showed off his new fibre lingo (apparently, embroidery floss and yarn bombing are not in everyone’s lexicon!), as well as, a speaker from each of the three organizations represented in the show. Listening to the presentation I felt a great sense of pride to be  part of this event and the larger fibre art community.

The Western Threads exhibit is a feast for the eyes and one I will see a few times to fully absorb. My piece, Roundabout(2007), is exhibited as part of the Focus on Fibre Arts Association’s retrospective. Roundabout’s experimental nature helped pave the road to the artwork I create today. Participating in the Focus on Fibre Arts Association biennial was also my training ground to learn and experience the “call for entry” proposal process and show my work for the first time in a juried event. All three organizations offer important developmental experiences and provide gathering points that bring various guilds, fibre artists and artisans together through their programs, events and passion for fibre art.

I believe there is great power and goodness in these “Western Threads” beyond the visual beauty so dynamically displayed in the exhibit. These threads connect us and build our sense of community enriching our lives, artwork and culture. Wherever my fibre art journey takes me, it’s comforting to know my grass roots were planted in this warm and fertile soil.

If you happen to be in Edmonton between now and August 4, I encourage you to explore Western Threads for yourself. And if you feel inspired to try your hand, they have something going on for that too!


Fibre Arts Waiting For Her Audition


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615 Golden Mean Meets Fibonacci 2 in 1 Fun by Anna Hergert


Agriculture Alberta by Sharon JohnstonRelated Links:

I have a new website with images and more information on my contribution. dianekrys.com

Western Threads-Royal Alberta Museum
Try Your Hand-Royal Alberta Museum

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Diane Krys: Beginnings

I recently showed my friend Rita how to rug hook. It brought me right back to my first rug hooking experience. While nothing could be easier than pulling a loop, it can feel awkward until you get comfortable holding everything and handling the wool. I felt such tenderness for all beginners when I watched my friend take her hoop and hook out for their inaugural spin. She fumbled and wrestled a bit and was very intent on trying to make her loops the same height and perfectly spaced. I remember feeling the same way. In fact,once I had made some progress on my first piece, I wanted to go back and rip those wonky beginner loops right out. I’m glad I resisted the urge. They’re an important part of that rug’s story and I like that I can pinpoint my first steps.


First loops,2004.

To start with I set Rita up with a bit of backing so she could noodle around. When she leaned over to show me her first doodles she was all too aware they were wiggly and wildly spaced. Where she saw imperfection, I saw beauty. There was a lovely innocent flourish to those sweeps of color. Honestly, I found them way more appealing than a tidy grid of loops. I didn’t think to take a specific photo of them at the time but later I made a few doodles of my own inspired by her baby steps.

IMG_5658To me, those inconsistent lines begged to be embellished, not ripped out, so I showed her an option to bring a bit of yarn in like another swoop of the paintbrush.

IMG_5668Now you might think I have something against neat loops and tidy rows but the reality is I like to rug hook corn rows too.  I don’t view any loop; big,small, tidy or wild, as right or wrong. They are all options and a design choice. Because there’s such a wide range of work you can create with rug hooking techniques,from functional floor coverings to art pieces,I like to play around and teach my hook more than one dance move.

We worked away side by side for a few hours and I found it refreshing to keep company with someone just starting out. I often find a lot of inspiration and charm in the unfiltered, uninhibited impulses of early work. We are all children again when we try something new.

Our afternoon had me thinking back to my earlier pieces and I realized my current rug hooking work has areas of wonky loops exactly like the ones I was so eager to pull out all those years ago. The difference now is I create them with intent. In certain projects I like mixing even rows and uniform loops with sections of kookiness for more textural variety.  Sometimes progress takes us right back to where we started.


Detail of D.T., Diane Krys,2013


Detail of Sawtooth, Diane Krys,2013

I spoke with Rita the other day. She hasn’t trimmed any wooly tails off the hooked surface yet because she’s unsure of the best way to cut them. She’s popping over this week and she’s anxious to mow them down. Personally, I can’t wait to see her shaggy pillow top. I’m thinking it might look kinda great.


Serendipity, Diane Krys, 2006

Recent work on display at the Edmonton International Airport


“It took me four years to paint like Raphael but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

Pablo Picasso

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Diane Krys: Shades of Gray

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I’ve had a very tumultuous relationship with the color gray.  It started in my teens. It was the 70s and I was in love with a 3-piece gray wool pant suit. It’s hard to believe I ever wanted a suit never mind what colour it was or why, as a teenager, I felt I needed one, but there you have it. All my enthusiasm flatlined once I tried the thing on. I looked sick. Not just a little under the weather, more like I stopped in to pick up an outfit on my way to the emergency room.  My beloved suit stayed on the rack along with countless other pieces of gray clothing over the years. They called to me like siren songs only to leave me standing in the fitting room feeling disappointed,duped and looking sickly. I eventually dismissed gray as a killjoy and not for me. By extension, when I came to the world of rug hooking and fibre art, gray was simply not a part of any color palette I chose. Ever.

A few years ago I was challenged to wet felt something using a color I didn’t like. I could have fudged it, no one knew my true feelings and sordid history with gray but I decided to give it a go. With a heavy heart I went to the various shades of gray roving pile and made my selection. I covet gray in many contexts but with our checkered history I didn’t want to touch it or have it on my work table. Face to face with this fluffy, innocent pile of rovings I became aware of the depth of my aversion. Without fully realizing it, I had completely blocked it’s creative potential and taken it right off my radar.

You can probably guess what happened next.  When I started to work with it I saw it differently. Like every colour there were at least 50 shades, some warm;some cool. Initially, gray and I found common ground with the warm pewter tones. They played really well with the bold, bright colours I’m obsessed with. My stash of gray yarns and materials is growing all the time and gray continues to charm it’s way into my colour palettes. I’m even sporting a gray wool winter coat these days.(with a mandatory bright scarf) After a long exile,gray seems fresh and new and gives my creativity butterflies. I’m all dreamy and  fantasizing about an all gray, tone on tone, art piece. We’re getting along so well I want to doodle D.K. + G. and draw a big heart around it speared by cupid’s arrow. I may as well just confess- I love gray!

A few shades from my photo library:
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East Chezzetcook, Nova Scotia

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Fish Market, Venice, Italy

IMG_2027.JPG - Version 2Off the coast of Vernazza, Italy

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My Backyard



A nighttime view of my Alberta Craft Council show from the outside looking in.

Diane Krys: Jasper in January

I’ve been enchanted by tropical tales from my snowbird friends but when we have the chance for a mid-winter getaway my husband and I travel right into the belly of the beast and head to the Rocky Mountains. We’ve been doing this since we were young pups and one of our favourite spots to enjoy winter’s splendour is Jasper, Alberta where we recently spent some time.


There’s a lot of action despite the soft silencing of heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures. The mountains have their own winter culture and activities.  When we were first going out together, about 100 years ago, Frank and I were ski obsessed. That’s what we all did back in the our late teens and twenty something years. Those kind of excursions waned over time as everyone’s lives blossomed in different ways. In the last 4 or 5 years we’ve revived our Jasper love affair with a trip almost every winter, sans skis mind you, but there’s still lots to do.Image

By coincidence we were able to catch the start of the “Jasper in January” festival this year and spent a day at Pyramid Lake. There were a myriad of activities going on including dog sled and sleigh rides. Snowshoers and cross country skiers wove tracks across the frozen lake and our future Canadian curling team practiced with birch stones. The plowed oval invited skaters and strollers. It was a beautiful day in so many ways it gave me a lump in my throat at one point.





I’m never more keenly aware of my body’s fitness(or lack there of) than when I’m in the mountains, especially in the winter. I think a big part of mountain culture is about fitness, activity and doing it all in a spectacular natural setting.  It begs you to take the challenge and join the fun.


It hit me on this trip as I saw skiers jaunting around town in their brightly coloured tech gear, how much I miss the intense physicality of skiing and experiencing the mountains on a downhill run. I felt myself longing for it and a nice Canada Goose parka!


It also occurred to me I’ve been living like a head in a jar lately. That is to say, detached from my body in a sense because I’ve been so deeply focused on other things. In some ways new challenges have become my mountains to explore and master. It’s gratifying for sure but it doesn’t doesn’t do much for leg strength when you’re hiking up an incline.

I guess it’s about balance and perhaps I’ve lost it in this area of my life lately. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and finding the balance between giving my “all” to something and taking care of my physical fitness is sometimes a struggle for me. I do a lot of work to stretch my mind but am I doing enough to stretch my body. The burning and fatigue in my thighs tells me apparently not.

When winter comes I don’t dream of palm trees. I dream of a view of the mountains and being in them.  They connect me more deeply to nature and remind me that I am nature like the elk and crows. It’s a magical experience. It’s also great inspiration to keep my body moving. Who knows maybe by this time next year I might even find my ski legs.


Diane Krys: Thoughts on Home

Winter hones my nesting instincts. It reconnects me to my domestic landscape and gets me thinking about how we live in it. This year we made some changes to our open plan living, dining and  kitchen area. We parted with furniture that didn’t suit anymore and then rearranged the rest,editing and simplifying as we went. For me, there’s an aesthetic appeal to a simple layout and less furnishings but it’s just as much about taming the dust bunnies. I’d much rather be creating than cleaning!  At one point almost all the artwork was down and everything else sat in clusters all over the house waiting for a new spot.  A different seating arrangement  created new vantage points and suddenly everything needed to shift.  It took a few days but it was a brain teaser I enjoyed and I could feel the transformation with every move. It’s exciting to create with what you already have and make a space feel completely different. I find myself looking at our art and furnishings with new interest and appreciation. Just having a chair in a different place puts me in an afternoon sunbeam and has me purring like a cat. The house feels rejuvenated. It comforts and stimulates me anew. I feel rejuvenated!

To some degree we furnish our home environments like a puzzle and once we get things fitted and working it’s locked into place. It’s understandable,who has time to regularly do a wholesale switcharoo. We need our homes to provide a foundation of functionality as we go about our lives. Le Corbousier,a pioneer of modern architecture, believed houses are machines for living. I think both the structure and the interior furnishings should support our needs, interests and lifestyle. To me, it’s not about a particular style or precise order versus a scattering of possessions, our nests and arrangements express our individuality and ideally allow our homes to bring ease and joy into our daily lives. I want my home to feel like a nurturing hug when I walk through the door.

After a period of time with the most pleasing, practical set-up I still love to blow the puzzle apart to see what can be reconfigured. I believe different settings bring out different responses and interactions. I experienced a good lesson a few years ago at a week long wet felting workshop where we changed work tables and table mates every morning.  Why would the instructor take time to daily dismantle a perfectly functional set up? Surprise, surprise, as the week progressed I noticed things.

Although they were subtle, there were a lot of variables depending on where I worked in the studio space and who I was paired up with: outdoor views, interior architectural details, extroverts,introverts, proximity to a gorgeous buffet of class supplies or the instructor’s station. My work, productivity and creativity were all influenced. That daily exercise attuned my awareness to the different kinds of energy and opportunities that come with even a small change in space and surroundings.

My new home set up has inspired me to make a few new functional rug hooked textiles to spruce things up-something I haven’t done in a long time. It will be a nice contemplative stint of hooking while this year’s plans germinate and unfurl. My home is both an anchor and a launching pad.

Once a shipment of backing arrives in the mail I have my hook revved up and ready to jump into 8’ hallway runner.  In the meantime I’m using up my smaller pieces of backing to hook place mats. I like the cushy feel when I set down a plate or mug. To me,the most beautiful floor covering in the world is a hand hooked rug and I can’t wait to start mine. I hope the mailman is packin’ some backin’ tomorrow.IMG_5367IMG_5361IMG_5368