Saturday, September 13, 2014

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from rainy New York City.

Earlier today, as blustery breezes began to bring in thick grey clouds, I made a quick trip downtown to the Union Square Farmers Market.  It was my second trip to the market this week.

On Wednesday, I'd met my friend Elizabeth for a fruit and veg gathering session, followed up by tea, coffee and brioche and lots of chatting at a nearby cafe.

On that day I left my camera at home, but remembered to take it along with me today.

I wanted to take a few fresh flower photographs to accompany this post which is responding to a invitation from Jane of Jane's Probably Knitting.  I rarely participate in blog hops, but having seen some other folks' answers to the following questions, I thought that I would give this a try.

1.  What am I working on?

As usual, I have several projects on the go.  I've begun some sketches, playing around with various ideas that will eventually appear in this year's Christmas tea cup design.  For decades, I've been individually painting a tea cup design in watercolor for each person on my Christmas card list.

Color plays a big part in those cards, and also in whatever knitting projects I undertake.  I've almost finished a pair of socks begun ... last year, and already have lots of ideas about what color socks I want to try next.

Just today I finished another knitting project, and I will show you a picture later on in this post.

2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?  I don't quite know what genre my various mediums fall into.  I admire many artists from many times and places.  I usually sort of lose myself in my own work once I get going.  The rest of the world seems to fade into a far distant place.  I admit to being a fan of making things that take quite a bit of time.  

3.  Why do I write/create what I do?

I love making things.  I am intrigued by learning new techniques, and admit to having a little collection of equipment that I have not used in some years but still wish to find time to pick up again.  I learned etching, aquatint and drypoint printmaking and loved the process.  I have a spindle that could be used to spin wool.  I have a serious looking wooden handled hook that could create rugs.  

I love drawing, either with graphite or colored pencils or ink.  My oil paintings are very different from my watercolor work.  

Playing with color and texture and pattern in knitting or crocheting is endlessly entertaining and even relaxing.

I am so glad to have discovered the pleasures of writing a blog.  

Earlier this summer I was able to reduce the time spent weekly at my employer's location.  Although going out into the workplace in a dynamic city like New York is energizing and definitely helps to pay the bills, it's been grand to gain more time to explore my individual interests.

The strange thing is that I still yearn for more "free" time.  I would like to be doing some hand sewing, some embroidery, weaving, and learning much more about photography.  Developing my baking skills also interests me.  I dream of a garden.

4.  How does my writing/creating process work?

Once upon a time I made a point of keeping up with gallery and museum exhibits in New York City.  I still love to see what's going on, but now tend to equally appreciate time spent in Central Park, or browsing in yarn shops.  I have lots of books featuring favorite artists, and explaining various textile techniques.    

Daydreaming is often a starting point.  Sometimes an idea will arrive in a foggy version; sometimes I will have a much more definite notion of what I want to try.  Being a bit playful is important to me.

Last year I opened my online Foakley Arts shop on  I am enjoying having the shop and will soon be adding some new fair isle creations to the items already nestled there.

The Foakley Arts shop features my own designs, and each piece is a one of a kind.  

I also enjoy knitting some items for myself using patterns designed by others.  Just today I have finished the fair isle hat pictured below.

The design is called Shwook and was designed by a magnificent knitter named Hazel Tindall.  

I discovered the Shwook pattern, designed just for this October's Shetland Wool Week, via the marvelously inspirational and beautiful posts of Lori Ann Graham, lori times five.

A free download of Shwook is available via the Shetland Wool Week website.  It's a lot of fun to make.  Five colors are mingled throughout design, but you only need to handle two on any row.

I am inspired by many blog friends and have had the great pleasure to meet many of these folks in person.  The title of my own blog expresses my love for my own city views, while also having a yen for the countryside.  I wish for a garden, perhaps even a small garden.  My own city apartment's window sills do not encourage plants to have long lives.

Over the years, I have enjoyed using plants and flowers as subject matter for my painting.  As we enter into autumn and dahlias begin to appear on flower stands around New York, I thought that I would share with you all a painting I did ages ago.

Here's a close up view of part of the painting.  I am sitting on the chair shown in the picture, and the table holding the jug of flowers is the same table holding this laptop upon which I now type.

I guess that by now you all will realize that I have wandered way off topic as far to the blog hop questions.  All the same, I think that perhaps you may have learned a little more about my approach to creativity.

Old china and beautiful fruit and veg also inspire me.

I thank Jane for her kind invitation.  As Jane knows, I will not be tossing these questions to any other specific blogger.  However, if any of you all might find it intriguing to think about you own answers to the question, and to share your answers, I would love for you let me know, so that I might be sure to see what you have shared.

Meanwhile, I thank you for your visiting here, and for leaving me such interesting and kind comments.  Happy autumn to all.


  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on creativity I found them most enjoyable and feel your interests are diverse and not slotted into one category.

  2. Frances, I like your 'wandering off'.

    The photo of the huge chrysanthemum plants reminded me of the markets in France. These plants are always used to put in the cemeteries on All Saints Day at the end of October.

  3. A very talented and interesting woman indeed. I've been thinking of knitting again and would like to find the huge skeins of wool. Guess I'll have to look online since the shop where I bought yarn has closed.

  4. Oh beautiful flowers, beautiful knitting and most splendid painting - what a lovely talent you have. Lovely to read a little more about you
    Best wishes

  5. What an inspiring post full of beautiful colours. I especially love the photos of bouquets of flowers - wouldn't they make wonderful gift wrap designs or fabric!

    But I mostly admire your painting! The colours are gorgeous and it has a little of Cezanne mixed with Georgia O'Keeffe.

    You have reminded me to get down to painting again... but I am ashamed to admit I haven't yet. I wonder what is stopping me? It's like a fence I can't get through.

    C xx

  6. I think no matter how much time we have we always want more. When time is short we use it better. You should definitely take up your brushes again, that last painting is beautiful and skilfully executed. You have such an eye for colour and it shows in all your work.

  7. So many beautiful things Frances, thank you.

  8. Hello Frances,
    as always, i enjoyed your blog post and pictures, just wonderful! The 'selfy'(is that the right spelling?) however, is so lovely - you look very much like a girl from Paris. Are you sure you live in NY? ;-)

  9. Hello Frances,

    This is a beautifully seasonal post. All the deep colours of Autumn in the Union Square market are totally beguiling. We can well see why you pop out there so often as we would do exactly the same.

    It was interesting to read of the influences on your creative process. You obviously take delight in making things and we do enjoy seeing the fruits of your labours, even though we cannot thread a needle or operate a pair of knitting needles!

    You pay such attention to the small things in life. Whether this is in the Natural World in your walks or in the knitting, painting or sewing projects, you delight in the detail. And, of course, you delight us too in the process. For, it is in life's simple pleasures that true happiness lies. This we are sure you know!

  10. Such a fine post! I feel I know you a little better. And I love that painting!

  11. The quality of your knitting is breathtakingly beautiful. And I love you painting of the dahlias.

  12. Oh... Your posts make me want to be in NYC...Especially now we're heading towards fall... Thanks for sharing!

    BTW, I love your answers to those questions & I can really relate to how you nowadays love to spend more time in the park and in yarn stores. ;-) Which reminds me that the last time I visited New York was just before I learned to crochet so yarn stores were definitely not on my radar yet. How things have changed since then... Hahaha! I'd love to visit Purl Soho... Ah well, maybe next year...

    Love all your work!

    Have a great day, Haafner

  13. Hi Frances! Oh it was a lovely post...and you are an true artist!
    It´s always so nice to "follow" you in NY, looks really exciting so please show us more of your beautiful city!
    Have a lovely and happy week, take care...
    Love Titti

  14. Frances, your blog is superb - NY looking glorious in her early autumn mantle, gorgeous fairisle knits, and a painting that glows with seasonal colour - thanks for inviting me to take a look xox

  15. Such a colorful posts, vibrant with colors – colors from live flowers, your painting and original art knitting. I call your knitting “art knitting” because that is what it is. I enjoyed reading about your thoughts and am pleased that you have more time to pursue some of your favorite things. Your painting is lovely and would look good in any d├ęcor.

  16. It seems so little time since you were introducing us to the Spring flowers in New York and already it is Autumn. I love your sense of colour and style Frances and always enjoy my trips to your blog. I do hope peace now reigns in your apartment!

  17. Dear Frances,

    What a lovely post! I enjoyed reading what inspires you and makes you create those beautiful woollens and paintings.

    I hope that you will have your garden one day. I wonder, do they have allotment gardens in NY too?

    A beautiful photo of you too!!! You look very sweet on it!

    Wishing you a sunny weekend and lots of inspiration!

    Madelief x

  18. Dear Frances this post was such a good read. I loved hearing your thoughts on describe that state of losing yourself in creative work so well. Your colour choices and makes are always appealing to me, and I do love your paintings too. And what a nice picture of you!
    Happy weekend!
    Helen xox

  19. I did enjoy this post Frances, you drift off topic was most informative ... I always love to hear about folks working practices, processes and preferences :)

  20. I loved reading this post Frances. And your colourful photos and beautiful painting are just stunning. Lovely to see your smiling face too!

  21. hello dear frances,

    i'm late here, but i have a good excuse :) i've been traveling again. sad to say i was in your neighborhood but had no time to connect with you. i flew to jfk last week where hannah and i met at grand central and took a train straight up to connecticut (rented a car and drove north). we spent 2 days in maine and then raced back to the city for only a couple hours before i had to leave again. i saw my sons work in tribeca and hannahs wedding dress there too.

    oh my goodness the weather in the city was so lovely. i'm sure you are enjoying it very much. i love your hat, your painting and reading all your answers. we are so much alike, i understand the wish for more time to pursue all your creativity. i hope for that for you frances.
    happy autumn!

    xoxo lori

    p.s. thank you for kind words.

  22. What fortunate people you have on your Christmas card list! I love your painting. The detail is rotated I think. Good to see things from another point of view.
    Your view from New York is always a delight.

  23. Hello Frances I have tried to write a comment a couple of times and you may have received them but I think not. somehow I have made mistakes in sending the posts.

    I have recently discovered your blog and have so much enjoyed reading the posts right from the start, I feel I know you quite well.

    This latest post is a lovely read and I am so pleased to know you have survived the building works and still managed to be so . I look forward to reading more. thank you June

  24. Your little hat is very like the ones Ma knits for me - and which are so invaluable in the wet and windy west of Wales where umbrellas are useless! I very much enjoyed all the colours on your post and the insight into your creative process. Cx

  25. How did I miss this fascinating post!