Sunday, March 29, 2015


it started out simply enough...
{really, it always does}

i saw a picture of a braided tea cozy in a uk home magazine i purchased at our local magazine stand

made with strips of wool cut from worn out jumpers - here, a jumper is a kind of dress that's worn over a shirt or turtleneck but there, i think a jumper is a sweater???

anyway, i had none of either sort but i do have a little bit of cotton fabric {hehe} and thought if i cut strips and wrapped them around yet smaller strips of plain muslin, i might have something that would work well enough

i no sooner got just around the top of the teapot when i thought perhaps if i used some of my heat-resistant batting in place of the muslin i could make a hot-pad

the tea-pot and cozy were pitched aside for the time being and a hot pad begun - cutting the strips wider along with the switch to narrow strips of the batting yielded something much more substantial - i do love the feel of this in my hands - very sturdy, yet not at all stiff... it yields slightly to pressure and i quite like that

as you can see... it isn't finished either

i got not quite as far as you see above when i was struck with the next idea... i needed to make an ornament designed by bunny hill... anne is offering a new free pattern for a snowman heart ornament on the 5th of each month and our shop has a little challenge going on with it

march's offering has a sheep in front of the snowman and i had been pondering it for days, wanting to do something a little bit different...

what if i cut very narrow strips of muslin with a pinking blade and braided them, coiling and tacking it within the outline of the shape of the sheep
{if you go to the bunny hill link you will see her sheep is of quite a different shape than mine - i took artistic license and drew my own!}

the muslin strips were cut about 3/8" wide and when braided the pinking detail was kind of lost, replaced with something fuzzy... unexpected, but...

i just love it!

so sheep-ish, don't you think????

no in-progress photos for you, but all i did was draw the outline of the body, and beginning at the outer edge, laid the braid along the drawn line, tacking it with matching sewing thread, round and round until i was in the middle and it was completely filled in

the background fabric is pale green with little white outlines of umbrellas, rain clouds and birds - perfect for spring, don't you think?

i still have to finish this... eyes and ears and noses here and there

it was such a surprise to me how it turned out - completely unexpected, and better than hoped for

sometimes i feel as though i have a form of creative a.d.d.

always jumping ahead, trying new things, putting things aside when an idea strikes

i've found though that if i don't, i lose it - maybe not the idea so much as perhaps the enthusiasm

and if i'd waited i know i would likely have tried the hot pad at some point or another - maybe, but i wouldn't have made the jump to the sheep as that project needed to be done asap
and after all of it, it's my favourite...

Friday, March 20, 2015

doodling with thread

when the local quilt shop sold a year ago the new owner brought in a number of different hand embroidery threads
people have been looking at them, oohing and aahing but more out of curiosity than of planning projects with them and then i was asked by a customer-friend to teach a class

thinking it should be more about the threads and stitches and less about the end result, a kind of thread exploration, along with some of the fun doodle-style of embroidery i came up with a little sampler of stitches

trying to keep it lively and fun, remembering the riot of colour and patterning of "doodle art"

remember that from the 1972???

i was given the signs of the zodiac one for christmas that year - it took ages to finish, in fact, i think about 5 or 6 years... i don't remember the date but i do remember the day
i had made such a mess of the rays, where they came into the sun at the very centre of the poster that for a long time i couldn't face finishing it - i thought i'd ruined it... one bored day i took it out, thinking how much i really liked it, except for that, wondering what i could do and then all i could think to do was to colour the sun in with black

it was so unexpected, so striking and so unusual

it made all the other colours pop, pulled the eye in, and made the whole thing amazing 

i loved it

so i wanted this "stitchery doodle" to have the same fun, funky, colourful randomness of the original doodle art designs

trying a few old favourites in different ways
layers of fly stitch in different colours makes for an interesting filling stitch

rows of chain stitch with over-dyed thread

back stitch with french knots as an outline

 tiny random straight stitches


there was supposed to be a peace sign but i messed that one up with the drawing so it's kind of a funny wheel-type thing but i'll add more to it later perhaps

that's what i love about embroidery

you don't have to call it "done" until you want to 

you can keep adding, here and there, layer upon layer, for as long as you want to, for as long as there are ideas flowing through your mind, and for as long as there is thread in your needle...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

what now...

so what am i up to now, you might wonder???

a little of this, a little of that - not a lot of anything grand...

i'm supposed to be working on a class sample, but it's making me crazy and i had to stop for a day

it's a hand embroidery piece, doodle stitching, using some of the new embroidery threads our local shop is carrying now

i quickly realized my first design was not at all what i wanted so i went back to the drawing board and came up with something that was more along the lines of what i had originally wanted

half-way through the stitching i realized the colours weren't working out as planned
i ripped out the worst offenders, assessed the whole issue, figured out a new strategy and set to work - it's better and i have hope...

in the meanwhile, i got a tad fed up with myself, for an entirely different matter...

i've been wanting to sketch and paint for eons - for sure since i was in grade 8 when i had delusions of painting grandeur a la rembrandt

i've since taken several courses in watercolour and sketching, but i only ever sketch or paint during the class itself
 the rest of the time, the pencils and paints lie dormant in the bottom drawer

a couple of weeks ago i read an interesting post by this artist about how she had decided to take up a daily sketching practice

i was intrigued and after watching her a while i decided to do the same, sandwiched between my daily writing practice and breakfast... a very good spot for it, for two reasons....

the first because, if i do it before breakfast i likely won't tarry over it for too very long

  the second because, if you tag a desired habit to an existing habit you have better luck staying with it; i always write before breakfast and i always eat after writing - putting sketching in between the two gives it a much greater chance of being done every day

today was the third day, and today i read this, from here, which i am positively sure was written

"it's not the things we learn nor the dreams we envision that determine our results, but rather the habits we practice each day"

well then

i wish i'd read that when i was 17 or 18
or even 26 or 27

maybe it wouldn't have sunk in before, sometimes words only really speak to you when you are ready to hear them

today i was

my first daily

nothing fancy, nothing "complete", but it was in front of me and i was in the mood for red

 and this - well, let's just say england is on my mind now - again

today was a part of a little button angel i made years ago

nothing amazing, nothing that needs to be laboured over - just something

in the same manner as the writing is meant to be thought-streaming, the sketching is just whatever comes to mind

or rather, to eye

 three days of it now and i already look forward to it

i have some paints, pencils, erasers and prepared papers all to hand

my "canvas" is 4.5" squares of torn water-colour paper - a nice size, easy to fill
i think i might make the next batch slightly smaller still
better use of the paper and even easier to fill

 i'm so happy i'm doing it - no goal, no agenda, other every morning, after emptying my head and before filling my tummy

i make a picture

Saturday, February 28, 2015

gather ye rosebuds...

that poem came to mind, not because of this first image, but for what comes after...

i'm afraid i might be a one-hit wonder

remember my banana painting?
it came out much better than expected - i guess maybe i thought i might be alright at painting and sketching - i've had a bit of a comeuppance i think...
blow to the ego and all that

these little rosebuds are comfort food - a little reassurance that it's possible for me to draw and paint something i like

 what gave me grief today was this -

 the very kind lady at the flower shop down the street gave me a lovely bag stuffed full of flower petals
to practice painting with

 when i was working on it i couldn't figure it out - now i think i was busy trying to capture every little detail, every single nuance of colour
i ended up with a very blended blob

i've sharpened these images but not messed with colour saturation or contrast - the one above is closer to how it really looks than the one above it - that one is very washed out

below shows the image after i added a little detail with my trusty brown pigma pen
i'm addicted to them - have one in each size, in brown
a few other colours in random sizes, but all the browns

it's kind of like my embroidery - i never ever use black, always brown-black
{same with my mascara!}
weird huh?

i'm much happier with it since adding the pen but still...
 i think i need to capture the essence of the colours rather than the literal???

i was already to put my paints away when i decided i needed a little reassurance
so i sketched a row of rosebuds

quickly drawn, the pen lightly scratching the page - a hint of colour

i adore them - it's like they want to take flight


 i looked at a few images online and decided to define the shapes a little more - it's time to go back to botany school - i remember calyx but that's about it

the little leafy tendril things that encase the rosebuds - they needed to be a little more pronounced 

 i sketched a larger one, made it blue and added some creamy yellow, realizing too late they would make green
ah well, i don't mind it after all

poetic license...

finally, i deepened the pink of the first rosebud, intending to add the dark just at the base but it spread quickly and enveloped almost the whole bud

i like it anyway

i actually like them quite a lot

and if i may forever tarry, i think i'll be quite content if i've a paintbrush in one hand and a pencil in the other

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

something blue...

today the sun shone brightly

it has been shining off and on for a few days now
we've had a very gloomy, foggy winter but lately the sun has come back and there is real warmth in it

i feel bright and shiny and happy myself

today i had time to work on something i actually felt like working on...

 i found the stack of bits and pieces that make up the "faith" piece i started working on many weeks ago

the scrim lace has been stitched around all the openings and today i cross-stitched a little blue flower on one

a little bit of colour, of substance, perched delicately on a bit of froth

 a detail taken from the lettering i did before

everything working together, one borne from the other, all relative

 it will take me a few days to get reacquainted with all the parts of it, find my way back to what i had planned, knowing some plans will seem less rosy now and may give way to new ideas... i don't care really - i wasn't so attached to any of them that they can't be let go

i'm more inclined to let this piece unfold as it should, happy just to be able to pick it up again

even with the waste canvas work still to be done

 i'm considering what else to add to the scrim lace - be it more flowers, or perhaps tiny rosebuds?

yes - i think rosebuds

they're simple, sweet and can be tucked in here and there - the idea of rosebuds excites me greatly

i've done some calligraphy in the past where rosebuds were incorporated into the words so i'll first see if i can rustle up those samples 

then i'll find myself a new blue pen

i love how ideas wait until you're ready for them

i've thought about this piece a few times over the past month, wishing i had the time for it, getting cranky because i didn't, wondering what i would do next, reluctant to think about it too much, knowing it had to wait 

but it doesn't have to wait anymore 
and neither do i...

Monday, February 16, 2015

a mish mash...

time flies when you're having... fun???

well yes, i have been, somewhat

sort of

maybe a little

been visiting with our son these past five days - he's headed to florida for two triathlons in early march so we feel pretty lucky to have had some time with him, what with all the training he has to do between now and then

before, during and after i snuck in a little creative play, some worked out alright, some, not so much

mixing blues and yellows for green

then mixing blue yellow and green

and green, yellow and brown

then mixing the results

it's like being five again

 great fun to do something that isn't anything but still somehow is something

if you follow my drift

 then i tried a leaf

that didn't work out so well - i'm not finished yet, but so far, not so good

all the green leaves in these parts are solid dark green right now, nothing interesting, no shading - it's still winter after all
wednesday i'm going to buy some flowers - well, actually, i'm going to buy some leaves which will likely have pretty flowers at the tops

i may or may not paint them

 then i did some tissue paper collage, complete with machine and hand stitching - this i like!

it feels amazing to hold this - light, delicate, like a fragile wafer that will burst into a thousand pieces if your hold it too tightly

 i found the tissue with red lines tucked away and adore it in here

i'm going to add some red embroidery to this later in the week, when i clear out some pressing obligations first

 i've also been making scrim lace

sewing on the machine, cutting holes, stitching them, round and round again

i'm not sure how much i like this first one - too holey i think

this version has much more appeal to me, but both are valid, both worthwhile

now i know, right?
{don't make so many holes - keep more surface!}

the picture below really shows their differences

it's been a busy two weeks of this, that and the next thing...

the next thing being something to do with sewing and paper - stay tuned...