Friday, August 15, 2014

more or less...

i've been thinking about more and less a lot lately

and how they relate to "you can't have it all"

this year, in my year of taking better care of myself, i'm thinking a lot about what i want more of, what i want less of, and what i'm willing to do or give up so i can do or have what i want most

are you confused yet????

i want to travel more... which costs money so i'm working more

which means i have less time for sewing, gardening and blogging - i eke out what i can, when i can... some days it doesn't feel like nearly enough, but one of the rewards for doing more and doing less, was a fun weekend in vancouver, visiting a childhood friend...

we walked to her community garden plot and while she watered, i wandered...

charming structures in several plots, giant dahlias, taller than me, and a fig tree, complete with ripe figs - we ate them standing in the midst of the communal herb garden

 saturday started out with a trip to gala fabrics and meinhardt foods on granville st
treasures found...

 the rest of the day and evening were spent on granville island, soaking in the energetic artistic vibe i love so much

we gathered our picnic from the food aisles, eating outside on the benches, watching the boats in false creek

wandering the seawall, pausing on yet more benches in front of the granville island hotel

 when i'm an eccentric old lady i'm moving into the granville island hotel and never leaving
{if i ever win the lottery, i'm moving in sooner!}

 the building below is my favourite in all of the city
there's a starkness to it that, in certain lights, is almost forbidding...

peeking through spaces 

another community garden... i found scented sweet peas...
one of my very favourites from early childhood

more city skyline...

and in the heart of it, a hint of what it used to be...
cool and dark - calm... lush
it is a rain forest after all

in the heat of the day it felt wonderful to step into this earthy green space, this shaded grove
an oasis from the heat and from the noise of the city

i found lovely fabrics - silk, hemp - which is very like linen, a wonderful striped fabric, buttons, beads, silk threads, beautiful ethereal papers... treasures for creative moments, a renewal of artistic joy, pure, unadulterated fun

 in october i'm going back, to see this and this
the maiwa textile symposium will be in full swing and my friend and i love our art... there will also be a trip to the museum, shopping for art supplies, creating at her dining room table, eating, drinking talking, lapping up all the city has to offer - drawing on the sheer energy of it

i'm quietly learning the lessons of more for less and less is more

more or less...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

the tale of a pin-tuck schmuk

ever since i was very young i have been drawn to fabric with texture
it started with smocking and ruffles and gathers 
tucks and pleats

loved it all...

a few months back i bought a pin-tucking foot for my sewing machine and last night i finally tried it out


i kept getting two perfectly parallel sets of running stitches - pretty enough, but not quite what i had in mind

i finally resorted to google and within minutes the culprit was discovered - tension

i hadn't adjusted my tension, and it needs to be super tight

trying again, i got a slightly better result but not quite the beautiful raised rows i was hoping for

all is never lost with these kind of things though - just see how lovely and almost "puffy" it is from the back?

i'll definitely be doing some hand-stitching on this

 to tell you the truth, i don't mind the front so much either

but i was determined to get a better result so off to the quilt shop i went

and after a consultation with a friend and co-worker, came out with a handy-dandy little gadget for adding cording

first i tried perle #5 - lovely raised pin-tuck!

almost a little too raised though
{you can call me goldilocks...}

 the next one was tried with perle #8 and it was just right

  laying strips of lace on top of the fabric and pin-tucking over top added yet another lovely layer of texture

that is a technique i plan to experiment with a whole lot more

 i absolutely love these last two surfaces i've created, and am thinking about where i go with them next

really, even the crummy version looks pretty here... imagine what it would be like with hand embroidery? 
it would be like the ugly ducking, becoming a swan...

 who knew surface embroidery and fairy tales had anything in common?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

before i forget...

i started making lists again...
during my daily morning writing

it interrupts the flow of thought-streaming writing but before i forget what i want to remember i make a list

mostly it works out well but on occasion i've been a tad optimistic...

i'm also taking more pictures of things that inspire me - that spur me on in some way, influence me, give me ideas

there was no end to the inspiration i found on our trip to the uk last year and rather than furiously write down what i was thinking as i saw what i saw, i photographed some of it

below is a relief sculpture, part of the memorial to the great fire in london

i liked it for so much more than what it is - it makes me want to do more monochromatic work
it makes me think of the importance of value
i'm intrigued by the patterning on the right
i'm enthralled by the clothes, and the scrolls...

the picture below of the train station 
{it's in the midst of pictures i took at the york train station and i'm sure it was there but it somehow doesn't seem big enough to be york... what was i saying again about forgetting and remembering...???}}

i took this one for the linear aspects of it...
the snaking lines of the track, the straight up and downs of the pillars, the curving arc of the roof, all that combined with small pin-prick type dots and the lines of the roof cables

in cornwall, at the seaside, we had mizzle... a cross between mist and drizzle - i called it water falling through the air
it eased the hard edges of the landscape and cast the finest, thinnest skin of grey over all the colours, letting them hold true and yet softening them somehow, blending them together until the water and the sky and the foam on the beach were one

this tiny painting of the yorkshire moors, my most treasured souvenir

showing me how light and bright and dark and muted can work together to create a landscape that is at once moody and gentle and changes throughout the day with the light in my sewing room

below, a fragment of painted plaster in the british museum in london
antiquities from around the world
trying to take it all in was impossible and after about two hours i wanted to leave - hadn't seen it all but i was on overload by that time

there's only so much i can take in, before it all starts going in one eye and out the other

more often than not i can remember things i see well enough, but as the years go by i'm relying more and more on the camera as a  reference back to what i was thinking and feeling
coupled with a little notebook i carry around with me that has the most random collection of notes in it, from restaurant menu items, to names of hotels and towns to thoughts pondered whilst journeying... between the two i have found a method of recording that seems to be working well enough

next up i want to print these photos and put them in my design journal, adding notes, extrapolating on ideas, extending them - something tangible to reference back to, to help me remember what inspired me, before i forget...

Sunday, July 20, 2014


stretch(ing, ed, es)
any one of the above could be my theme for this month

i started a piece of white lace, paper and cloth
stitching the layers, creating openings

i did as much of the machine work as i could with my smallest hoop but had to finish by simply stretching it taut with my hands as the fabric was just too small

 love how it turned out, so different in colour from the first effort, yet the same technique for both

 once all the stitching was done i damp-stretched it

such a difference it makes - the most amazing transformation

from unruly, rumpled cloth to something so pristine it takes my breath away

i'm hoping tonight to sit down and begin the hand embroidery on this piece

but i'm stretched a little thin, what with my long to do list...
if not tonight, then tomorrow

 i stretched the green one from my previous post as well
and promptly noticed how one opening reminds me somewhat of a heart

 this week the tart cherries ripened and thursday i got out the ladder and started picking
it wasn't long before i had picked all the ripe cherries from the lower branches and began to set my sights on the higher up ones
beautiful, bright red, perfectly smooth and tantalizingly out of reach, no matter how far i stretched
tapping my fingers on the ladder, i pondered what to do
the extension ladder was out front in the trailer, but it's cumbersome and not easy to manage on my own

i reached up and grabbed the end of a branch; pulling it down toward me allowed me to reach a few of the cherries - close, but not quite...

so i got out the pruning shears and decided to kill two birds with one stone

i cut off a few branches and carried them down to the grass, laying them carefully under the tree

i would sit on a bench, in the sun, with the branch on my lap and pick cherries 'til the cows come home

 the mr. came outside and saw what i was up to

"it's much easier this way" i said

easy pickin's and the tree gets pruned at the same time
methinks i should be an efficiency expert...

nodding in agreement, he got out the saw and the next thing i knew half the tree was on the grass beside me!

i've picked and sorted my way through endless pails and pans of cherries and in the end, i've pitted and packed away upwards of 125 cups of cherries
the freezer is full

my fingers are red with cherry juice
{i pit them by hand so i can certify them worm-free!}

 beautiful, plump, organic cherries
i think there's going to be a great deal of jam and pie in my future...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

paper, lace, cloth and stitch...

that's what i've been creating with today

in that half-hour between afternoon chores and time to start dinner

i made my choices of paper, lace and cloth quickly - thread took only slightly longer

this is the second technique i've learned in the class of a similar name
{you can read all about it here}

 i didn't have a lot of choice in papers - but i found a scrap of a mossy green one that i've always liked
paired it with a piece of green-gold lace and a small bit of gold silk with pink embroidered flowers and green leaves

 exposing, defining, leaving some ares plain and adding texture to the rest

raw edges, rough with thread, fragments

 the piece i made is roughly 10" x 5" and i have plans for it already, and it isn't even finished yet

i'm hoping it can be worked into my tree quilt i'm designing in alchemy

the one with the non-traditional piecing, like you see above and below

inspired by the bird on a branch

the colours work well - seem i'm still drawn to the same old colour palette, but that's ok - gives me more to work with when it comes time to make the final choices

and as always with me, it's a combination of paper, lace, cloth and stitch...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

creating the day away...

some would call it working in a series...

for me, it's just being single-minded
nothing else can get in

right now it's hexagons
blue ones

this was the first effort at a "sky" block for my latest project
the hexagon suits my idea of a sky shape so i basted this block of various blues

using pre-cut paper shapes as a guide to cut roughly cut the fabric pieces using only scissors

i thought about cutting up some of my snippet cloth for a hexagon

 but i couldn't quite bring myself to do it, not yet

so i did the next best thing...

i sewed snippets to my hexagons!

and i love them... absolutely love them

i think i could be addicted to making them

i'm going to add some hand embroidery to these

and some other interesting techniques for adding texture to paper

figuring out ways to layer them

they're like building blocks...

pretty building blocks for playing with, and creating the day away

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


quite the post title - "seriously"

summers are supposed to be light-hearted, fun, easy breezy

from light summer reading to simple summer meals, the catch words are always reminiscent of porch swings and lemonade and bare feet on green grass

for me, they're also all about summer school...

 this summer is no exception... i always end up having to work a few extra shifts at both jobs so i console myself with taking a class or two

sketchbookery started on the 1st, lace begins on the 7th

and so yesterday i painted

i painted watercolour mixing charts

and discovered that payne's grey is the absolute best colour ever invented


 i fiddled about endlessly trying to leave a little white spot in each colour sample

i lost track of what colour should come next and missed one or two here and there - oh well, no matter really - easy, breezy after all

i saw for myself the difference between "artist quality" and  "works okay"

i played with blotting

 i made pastel paint chip cards and experimented even more with blotting

"when you look at this, tell me the first word you think of"...

i sat outside, at the patio table, under the green umbrella and i painted

enjoying the flow of colour, the swish of the water, twirling the paintbrush and experimenting my way through many sheets of watercolour paper

my husband came along to see what i was up to... cool... did i have a spare piece of paper?

in less than five minutes flat he sketched the sketch you see below

and painted it

using a permanent marker as his sketching tool... not a single line erased

i sat and watched him... amazed at how it took shape - so quick, so... right
out of his head... the mind's eye
jealous, yes
in awe - more so

this drawing, sketching and painting that intrigues me so - he just sat and did it, just like that - in the blink of an eye... easy, peasy

he smiled and went back to watering something or other in the garden

ten minutes later he came back and asked if i had any more paper...

this one took four minutes, start to finish

 it's amazing to me how someone can do this

how can you draw something like this with no reference in front of you?

i suppose it's some kind of innate knowing, but when you don't have it, it's almost impossible to comprehend

he smiled a half a smile and said, "well, i can't draw a horse"