Saturday, April 16, 2016

a coming together...

sometimes i feel as though what i've been doing has been completely scattered... disparate ideas and workings that leave me with a heap of random bits and pieces and the wondering of what i'll ever do with it all...

we're having a quilt show here in june and i've been wanting to make something for it, something of my own design

even though june is rapidly approaching, and the registration deadline faster still, i've refused to force the idea issue, trusting that the right one will come in time

the beginnings of it floated about in my consciousness this past week - snippets of ideas, random flotsam and jetsam of the mind
a thought, a quick sketch, notes scribbled here and there, letting it brew

 as that was happening in the background of my mind, i muddled along with the stitching on this scrap of paper i eco-printed last summer

silk ribbon and variegated embroidery thread

all the while thinking that this year i would like to dye more of my threads and ribbons, a process also flirted with last summer

below is my effort with lavender

it was then that all the scattered thoughts coalesced, cohesion in that common thread

a wall-hanging, using my favourite pieces of hand-dyed and printed paper, the threads and ribbons that stewed and brewed for months in the little jars that were stacked in the bathroom window for so many weeks

bits of silk fabric from sample packs from here

 and many of my random stitching experiments: dragon--scale smocking, stitched and slashed paper and lace cloth, lace snippets on silk, pin-tucked fabric, lace cloth

 a coming together, i think

 in short order my work table was covered with all manner of bits and pieces, anything with commonality to the central idea

even a fragment of stitched silk from a piece worked on for our show of three years ago

and so an idea grows...

Monday, April 4, 2016

button up

ever since i was very small i've loved buttons...

my mom had a wooden box filled with them - beautiful sparkly "diamond" buttons, pearly white ones, plain ones, pretty ones, not-so pretty ones

on rainy days we four kids would dump it carefully onto the kitchen table and one would draw their finger through the shimmering pile, first down the middle, dividing it in half, and then cross-wise, through the centre again

we'd pick our piles and then the sorting would again, looking for favourites, looking to see who got the "diamond"button

no wonder then that i love to make them

first i made snippet lace, a wonderful technique i learned in classes over at karen ruane's site, "contemporary embroidery"

attaching one piece to some lovely crinkled silk, the other to rustic linen

lines basted, embroidery next

little ribbon roses, tiny french knots

clustered here and there

a buckle for a form

and then two little buttons!

 the round white one is made on the usual snap-form available in many sizes in general sewing stores

no plan for these pretties - i made them not to put on something specific... simply because i wanted to

someday they'll find their way onto a project or two but in the meanwhile i'll just enjoy looking at them

and you can bet i'll be keeping my eyes open for other unusual ideas for button forms...

Monday, March 28, 2016

about bloomin' time!

happy spring!

warm, soft, bright days - many still with early morning misty fog, but it burns off quickly and the sun shines brightly in a soft blue sky

yesterday i wandered out into the backyard and found chives almost a foot high already and my tiny lilac in bud

i've been working on a bit of a floral theme in my needlework as well...

my patched and appliqued pocket-piece is sporting a lovely textured flower, each petal different - one plain, a tiny embroidered flower adorning another, the rest cut from fme lace cloth made by yours truly

i stitched a tiny, tiny buttonhole stitch around the raw edges using a fine off-white linen thread that sinks right in to the fabric and is barely discernible... it added no "weight" to the appliques, nor did it alter their delicacy at all - simply just holding everything in place

i'm at a thinking point with that piece at the moment - a stand-still
not sure what i want to do next...

whenever this happens to me i turn to something new

taking the idea in a new direction, exploring a few possibilities, but on a different piece

i made a textured background using a piece of wool, a raggedy scrap of lace, a length of rayon ribbon and some bits of patterned cotton cloth

more "patches", here, pinned in place

 love how the little flower echoes in the lace

not taking too long with this, wanting something that will disappear a little, not in the fore-front... much of it will be covered by the flower-petals-to-come 

though it will add interest to the overall effect, i think... i hope

 then the decisions for the flower... colour, shape, number...

i settled on a brown check for the flower centre and a mottled red with dark brown accents for most of the petals but a few few in a lighter red

the differences are rather noticeable here, but i think they'll be less so as i add the embroidery - outlining each petal with decorative stitch and then even more on their surfaces

 that's the plan anyway - now to decide on threads, colours and stitches

 there's always something that has to be decided - planned out, just like a real flower bed

colour, spacing, height, fillers, edging plants, textures and so on

 first up is structure though - i need to applique these in place before i can do anything else

 and while i'm doing that, i'll think about what comes next...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

on a roll...

i wanted badly to do a blog post on the 29th, for posterity, because it's odd... i like things that are different so february 29 is a happy day for me

as usual, the best laid plans went the way of the saying... drifting off into space and time

leap year might be a good descriptor for this year, in more ways than one - it feels like we're already racing to the finish
yet here i am, holding on bravely to each minute, cherishing the everyday...
the older i get the better i understand the truth of "now"

i was thinking lately of many of things i have posted here over the years, of processes and systems i have tried - i realized i rarely post of how i progress with them

i still write every day, in the mornings... by lamplight in winter, sunlight now - usually three pages but when time is stifled, i sail through two
in the past 2+ years that i've been making morning writing a daily ritual, i've missed one day

the daily sketch went by the wayside pretty quickly - not enough inspiration and i found i couldn't let go of trying to make them perfect

the daily stitch practice is going great and my pieced cloth is growing already

the list of twenty-five whittled down to five - creative works to concentrate on in a limited fashion, a process used by warren buffet?

almost 18 months later, i adhere to this rigidly

this is by far the smartest thing i have ever done in my creative life - it has not stifled nor limited me in any way, shape of form - rather, it has freed me, mostly from myself
i choose better, smarter, am far more aware of how long things really take, and in the end, i choose what to do wisely

i've certainly stumbled with it, refined it a little, but wouldn't work in any other way - for me, it is brilliant

my last list included making three more components of my "attendent noel" roll, designed by bea for quiltmania

i am so in love with this piece - the random delightful-ness of it

 this time, a little ginger cat with a purple collar - she brings to mind miss josie... she always looked adorable in a purple collar of her very own

a collage piece - little girls looking up a chimney for you-know-who

 and two teeny-tiny little nine-patch quilt blocks

 they're all stitched in place on the linen strip - i just need to extend the vine upwards and trail it over and around some of these latest elements

slowly growing in length, the fabric is from an old linen damask-type tablecloth

it was fraying like mad so i took some extra time and buttonhole stitched around the perimeter to keep it in check

it's such a treat to work on these little pieces - they make up quickly, are simple to alter the design as desired, or even substitute, a great way to use up precious snippets of fabric and ribbons - buttons, especially

a place-keeper for treasures

knowing proper technique allows for changing things up; abandoning those old rules allows for more creative spontaneity than ever 

i really am on a roll...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

little things...

for the past few years i've been trying to keep a journal of sorts - a place to keep all my little bits of papers and ideas - instead of having little stacks of floaty bits of paper scattered around my workspace

sometimes they're a quotation, a design idea, an image that's captured my imagination - insights i've had, things to make
i move them from pillar to post and back again, every so often filing them in some random folder, or writing them down in a random notebook - quotes in one, poetry in another, my design ideas in a large sketch book, a smaller one for clippings from magazines
managing all of that gets discouraging and cumbersome and so i stop, and the floaty bits of paper start piling up again

i don't want four books - i want one

one i can take with me when we're on the road, that can easily move in and out of the house, nothing too precious nor fancy, just something soft and comfortable in the hand with nice paper inside, and not too big

i may have found it...

 i bought this little leather-covered book last week and already i love it

a simple leather cord stretches around the middle - perfect for expansion of the inside if i want to staple, tape or glue things inside

the paper is of a lovely weight, handmade, complete with the raggedy edges i love

it has a soft smooth sheen, lovely for ink - not so much for pencil, and erasing is not an option

not to be a diary - rather, a visual record

a favourite image torn from a magazine was the first thing i put in...

and then fabric... in amongst all the floaty bits of paper of my work table, i had been collecting a sizable stack of little scraps of some of my favourite fabrics

they were too small for just about anything but i couldn't bear to throw them away

as i was moving them aside to work in my new journal, i realized what i was feeling was akin to what earlier people felt, back in the days when cloth was precious, and not to be wasted

i decided to sew a few favourites into my new book, boro style, and as i was doing that an idea began to brew... 

i've long been drawn to the idea of a daily stitch practice

the thought of taking a few stitches each day, seeing the results grow over time, little things adding up to bigger things - well, it had a lot of appeal, but without a "plan", i couldn't figure out how to even begin

the questions "on what?", "with which thread?", "what stitches?", even "where does it end?"stymied me and so i did nothing

but these little scraps of cloth lit an idea

what about a daily stitch practice that wasn't so much about embroidery, but about piecing together these cloth-bits, too precious to me to be thrown away, but not enough for anything on their own?

why not piece them together boro-style and make quilt block foundations that i can applique on top of, embroider the surface, or even, leave them as they are

whatever i decide in the end will be fine - in the meanwhile, i've begun

 a 12 1/2" square of fine white muslin for the base, and a variegated taupe thread for the stitching, one patch per day

i gathered all the scraps into a pine needle tray my mother made for me, added a small pair of scissors, spool of thread, and then looked for a needle and a piece of felt to keep it in

when i spied a little needle book made for my by my friend sherry over at "creatology" 

sweet and simple, and the perfect thing

 as i gathered all the fabric scraps from both my work table and my sewing table, i realized i had several very thin strips of antique indigo cloth from japan, left-over from piecing the foundation for my kantha/boro bag

precious old cloth, some pieces just 1/4" wide

it took only a moment to decide to cover the needle-book with them

 above is the full outside cover with all the strips in place

below is evidence of the stitching i did... a meandering line, but in a way illustrating my own path to this moment

 the front cover, before trimming

i've since trimmed this neatly and it lays in the basket, with all the other bits and pieces

the basket itself sits neatly on a table, next to the chair where i have my morning coffee

after reading blogs and news and emails, and before coming up here to do my daily writing, i take five minutes, select a scrap of cloth and carefully stitch it in place

it's been three days now, and i already look forward to it immensely

a few minutes, every day, choosing a scrap based on either what i see out my front window, or what i feel in my mind, each month a new block

if you want to follow along i'm posting a daily image on instagram, in my own feed, and also with the hashtag #dailystitchpractice

the link is near the top of my blog, on the right hand side
feel free to join in if you like!