Sunday, November 22, 2015

little mittens...

been awhile, since i've posted here - seems i ran out of words for a while and now here we are,  it's almost the season for this - building snowmen

we've had a skiff of snow now and again, nothing lasting, but the hills all around the lake are sprinkled with it

local folklore has it that it's a six week span from when it hits the top of the mountain to covering the ground at our feet

building a snowman  - the rites of winter-time childhood, mittens on strings, pom-poms on hats

a few of my favourite winter-time things

 the pattern for these cuties is by primitive gatherings

at just over 3" long, they are fiddly 

 but ever so delightful

the pattern's instructions are for them to be finished as ornaments, and i do have a set of those almost finished

but what you see here is a wall-hanging, long and narrow

six mittens in a row, they'll be "hanging" from a loopy string

it's actually yarn, and i'm thinking i'll twist or braid a few strands together, making small tassels at each end

thinking about how i may or may not incorporate these lovely little birch bark trees into the mix

but knowing for sure there will be pompoms!

the border fabric has been kicking around here for a long time - by "whimsicals" 

i adore the smokey blue-grey of it, the grubby, slumpy snowmen and the tilty off-kilter words

when i appliqued the ornaments in place i left the tops open, in case i want to add anything else - perhaps a rickety candy-cane or two???

a wonderful little project to work away on in the evening hours, when it's too dark and the light is too dull for anything but quiet lamp-light stitching...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

stitch, patch, play

once upon time, long, long ago...

the best stories when i was young always started that way

this one began a few years ago... i had a hankering to play about with fabric and stitch - no direction, no plan, just pick some fabrics and some threads and make something pretty

a little while ago, it came out from the pile and i finished it 

it was another in a long list of things i started with no plan for what they would be in the end

i like that - working that way

sometimes i think we are too attached to making a thing, to being finished, like it's a great big mark of achievement... making this or that in only this much time

"get 'er done"

i try hard not to be annoyed by it, letting others have there fun, but sometimes i just shake my head

i'd rather be the one that made it than the one that has it, and i like it best when i have no idea what it will be

 i went to a daytime quilting retreat for three days in september - oddly enough called the 

"git 'er done" sewing weekend

i was the only one in a room full of quilters that didn't bring their sewing machine

instead, i elected to bring hand-work... three projects, all being done by hand, all having been lurking about in my sewing room for at least a year or two

i decided to make this one into a pouch to store my liberty of london fabrics

 the flattened hexagons you see above were all that was done before the weekend began

i added the flower below to what would be the bottom front of the pouch - pentagons arranged to form a flower, gathered seam binding for a ruffly flower centre and a bit of embroidery to add interest

the top portion of the front got simple square patches of fabric appliqued in place - i love this part best

hands down

the simplicity of the patches, appliqued in a row, with breathing space between them is my new very favourite thing

i want to applique squares on everything now 

simple patches, simply beautiful

i liked that i left space in places, outlining, but not filling

pretty stitches with pretty thread

in the end, it's probably the most under-stated thing i've ever made, but it's high on my list of favourites

people at the retreat kept wandering over to my table, usually in disbelief - that i was content to sit, with all my threads and scraps spread out before me with no sewing machine to be seen

content, i was, to play the day away...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

a little of this... a lot of that

last year i developed a penchant for fashion books, specifically, a series put out by the v & a museum in london

fashion in detail for the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries

as well as 

a history of underwear, in detail

beautifully photographed examples from the museum's extensive collection along with wonderful anecdotal information and sketches

i'm in a class over at contemporary embroidery where karen is having fun trying to keep us all somewhat contained - this class is so amazing and everyone is doing wonderfully inspiring work

I'm a little behind, but plugging away

we're sampling all things stitch and design related, working loosely in the format of the design industry itself - at our own pace

it's fascinating

for my inspirational jumping off point i chose this...

line, contour, detail - many elements, yet so simple

i had a copy made of the original - far more orange than what it looks like in the book, so i thought i might pursue that a little in my early stages

first came an inspiration board of sorts

looking at certain elements, creating a kind of story board

 extending some of the lines

doodling shapes

 then another sheet, a little more abstract this time

now creating surfaces

always pulling out different design elements, enhancing some,  exaggerating others

interpreting and re-interpreting

taking a construction element and creating a design one

stitch, rip, tear, glue, sew

today i'd had enough of the orange - not saying i won't go back to it along the way, but for now, its off the menu

 this one's full of smoky neutrals, with a hit of duck-egg blue

my favourite colour combo these days

machine lace, reverse applique, even tried my hand at drawing lace

quite fun, quite forgiving - i'll be trying my hand at this again!

 I'm learning so much about how to look at things to garner inspiration, how to stretch out an idea, creating surfaces and so on

as i said, we're sampling ideas, building a library of them, to be referred to time and time again - all beautifully mounted in a lovely ring-bound sketch book i bought last year at granville island

i'm making an investment in my own creative future, to refer to when i'm feeling stumped, a place to turn when i lose the map and can't decide on a direction

 a book i can curl up with on a rainy day and remember what i did on a different one

Thursday, October 8, 2015

an undoing and a doing again...

so can someone please tell me where september went???

i'm not sure i've ever known a month to fly by so fast... i'm still feeling like it's late august

in some ways though i'm not so sad it's early october

having always liked fall best, i'm glad of shorter days, cooler weather, oven dinners and more time for stitching and sewing - i've even reduced my number of work days from three per week to two

i have high hopes of finally getting some long awaited projects off my work table, and perhaps a new one or two begun

what you see below falls in the first category... begun back in the early spring, perhaps even late winter, now i think about it

as is often the case with me, the story really began long before that...

two large boxes of embroidered table linens were bestowed upon me a few years ago - and soon after i spent a blissful morning sorting through them; one pile for pristine pieces, another for the too far gone to be good for anything ones, and a third for things that had salvageable parts but that had stains and/or tears

one in particular had such bright happy colours - it was a square table cloth, about 40" x 40", with an embroidered hanging basket of flowers in each corner
three corners were in good shape but the fourth had stains, as did several areas of the cloth

using my large square quilting ruler, i worked out a good block size, and cut the three out, after which i framed them with different brightly coloured thirties' print fabrics

i thought about removing the few lines of the hangers but decided that you would most likely see the holes, as well as colour transfer from the dark floss, so in the end i thought i would leave them - they're part of the provenance of the cloth and i like that

 three squares, in a row, setting triangles in white on the sides and ends, forming a rectangular runner

the white cloth came pre-embroidered with these wonderful circles which i like very much

as i was figuring out what to do for quilting, i thought i'd like to add a little embroidery of my own - 

i'm thinking of a few lazy daisy flowers scattered within, and perhaps without, the circles - i'll start with that idea and see how it goes

rummaging through my box of embroidery threads, i found matches for most of the colours - except the purples

i'm not a great fan of purple - i like looking at it and wearing it, but not working with it 
weird, huh?
i can't figure it out but there it is

anyway - in my determination to drastically reduce my supplies, and to make do with what i have rather than buying more, i hummed and hawed for a bit... a skein of floss is still less than a dollar, would only take up a little bit of room, etc. etc. etc.

thrift won the day though and i spent some time with scissors, needle and magnifying glasses and carefully unpicked enough embroidery from the fourth remaining corner to have a few small lengths of thread that i can use to add a little embroidery to the new piece

extremely fiddly, some stitches came undone easier than others, but as i went i found my mind wandering to how it might have gone the day were made... who was she, was she sitting comfortably in a chair, on a sunny porch perhaps, or did she stand by a window like i did, in order to see better? 

was it a gift for her mother's table, like mine is, or perhaps the reverse is true

  working quietly, mindful of the fragility of the thread, concentrating on the in and out...
the undoing of someone else's work is a humbling task , almost an apologetic one

and then i came upon a tiny knot

was it to anchor a beginning, or an ending, i wondered?

i saved it, and will use the same knot in my stitching, to bring these two pieces together at yet another level

maker, and maker

not just using, but an integration perhaps?

 where one couldn't be without the other

i do like that

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

colour play

the days and weeks have flown past - i have no idea whatsoever how we've gotten to the last days of september but the calendar tells me it is so...

we've been away - down to oregon to visit family, and a wonderful visit it was
there was even a baby to play with - happy days indeed!

finding my way back to the everyday - the garden is still growing, albeit more slowly than on warm summer days, but there is still turnip, swiss chard, leeks, beets, carrots, arugula and kale - now i understand the the true meaning of harvest!

i will miss my garden during the months of winter but will be planning and dreaming of playing in the dirt again next year...

just before we went away i took advantage of what seemed like the last summer day

i sat out on the patio with a pile of bits and pieces and played with colour

the image above was cut from a magazine - an inspiration piece, something to pull colour ideas from

starting with a row of smyrna crosses

 one of my favourite stitches, highlighting some of the colours that appeal most to me

 choosing fabrics that replicate some of the characteristics of the cloth in the picture, then isolating some and pulling yet more colour ideas from them

a very fiddly but oh-so-glad-i-did-it row of french knots on a tiny strip of water-colour paper

 interpreting ideas with buttons
{i think i liked the button exercise best of all!}

 unsure of how i wanted to paint a colour card, i first tried circles with french knots...

and then rectangles with seed stitches

i liked the circles, loved the rectangles

that's the value of play - you can't know if you don't try... yes, it all takes time, but it's in the doing that comes the knowing and with each thing i try i get closer

closer to understanding what i like, and what i don't

and it was a most beautiful day to play