Friday, October 24, 2014

an undoing...

thanks for all your wonderful comments about my sewing mishap - you know, as i thought about it i realized that wasn't the first time i'd blogged about doing that same thing - seems i didn't learn my lesson at all but at least this time it all worked out

i've been working on my bling cloth a little this week... gimp was on the menu in class 


i looked here and there online to see if i could find any for sale but all i found was coloured and i wanted white or off-white

i had just resolved that i would have to do without when an idea came to me on awakening wednesday morning... buy gimp braid and take it apart


i had some icky gold-coloured flat gimp braid in my stash so i tried my idea out first on that - worked like a charm, so off to the fabric shop i went

above is a very fine twisted cord which i untwisted - i like the kinks well enough but found that if i held it over the steam of the kettle most of the kinks went away

below is a piece of pale pink from a twisted cord i already had


i bought two flat braids in different widths so i could have two sizes of gimp cord to try out


laying it in place, couching down, i kept wanting to form it in to something, a daisy flower, or a weaving pattern, something - anything that would be regular and have some sort of patterning

i wanted to but i didn't - forced myself to do something abstract, not sure if i like it really, but determined to do something different


 a piece of the silk i had to cut away from underneath now resides proudly on the top, surrounded by many french knots


i also added clumps of knots on to the strip of lace next to it, there was a patterning to the lace that had solid flat motifs so i piled the french knots on those and when all the hand embroidery is finished i'll beads to the top of each cluster



a scrap of cut away lace, like the silk, now tacked on top
 

thinking ahead to the blingy bits, wishing i could add them now but not wanting to crush them in the hoop - i laid a strand of my beads from vancouver on a stretch of the silk - love, love, love


 i've hardly done anything on this piece but i already love it


even the random swirls of gimp are growing on me, inspiring me to untwirl a little more and see where it leads me...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

cutting my losses...

yep, cutting my losses, literally...

see the pretty little bits below?

they didn't used to be ragged bits and pieces of cloth and lace - they used to be neat and tidy squares of lovely silk, lace and metallic silk tissue

they used to be basted on a piece of the finest weight of muslin ever
{of which i have less than a meter, and since i can only get it in john lewis department store, i apparently need to plan a trip to london soon - and furthermore, since i now have a brand new ten year passport in hand, it's possibly possible!}


i'm in the midst of simply stitch five

karen ruane's current online class - fly on the wall kind of class, which i love

i'm seriously behind the group so i'm only just getting to the bit about bling
bling being pretty, sparkly and shiny bits and baubles

friday i laid out and basted bits of cloth to make two foundations for bling, both with silk, lace and silk metallic tissue, one in strips and another with squares

last night i sat down to do the free-machine embroidery work on them, beginning with the strippy one


 a perfect foundation on which to sew sparkly bits and shiny things along with lovely embroidery


 i had trouble getting it in the hoop, which surprised me as the fabric is all so very light

but i persisted and the stitching went quick and easy...


 taking it out of the hoop every so often to re-position it, still struggling with how tight it was

after one particularly difficult time, i turned the fabric over to check something on the back, and then it all became clear...

when i started, i had picked up both pieces and now the square piece was firmly attached to the back of the stripped one

you cannot even begin to imagine how upset i was
 i was undone

but there was undoing of the stitching - fme is way to tight and there was far too much of it - trying to unpick it would ruin both pieces

but it was what it was and there was no changing it so i picked up my best pair of scissors and started cutting every bit of the extra layer that i could, managing to salvage a six-square section, along with a few bits the can be used in snippet cloth down the road


the silver lining became apparent pretty quickly too...

seems a bit of the lace of the square piece just happened to position itself nicely underneath the silk metallic tissue and subtly showed throw, adding another dimension to an already lovely piece of cloth


the six-square salvage turned out rather pretty too i think

a bit ragged around the edges, to be sure, but lovely in spite of it


 and so, these are ready for the fun part now... let the bling begin!


 in the meanwhile though, i decided to try out the lace-under-the-tissue effect on purpose

you can see it in the top right and lower left squares
subtle, yet there


in cutting my losses i think i may have found a silver lining after all....


Friday, October 17, 2014

fishy, fishy...

the crazy busy days might finally be slowing down a tad... maybe

just returned home from a few wonderful days spent with a my best friend cheryl in vancouver

we decided a few months back to take in a couple of the maiwa textile symposium lectures
every fall maiwa on granville island hosts a textile symposium extending over a period of three months - lectures and classes in all things related to textiles from all over the world

we took in two by japanese textile artists noriko narahira and kyoko ueda
wonderfully wonderful

at the end of her lecture noriko spoke of a project she was involved in titled "shake hands"

in japanese, shake is the word for salmon

the area of tohoku in northern japan was hit hard by the tsunami of 2011 and has still not recovered, with many people not yet returning home to live there

it is the hope of noriko and others involved in this project that funds raised will help restore tohoku to a place where the people can come home, to live together again


many of the women of tohoku have worked together to create small salmon made of cotton, lightly stuffed to make them 3-dimensional with a small hanging loop at the snout end

the fish are sold as they are for $5 each - they can be embellished in any manner or technique desired and then returned to noriko

the salmon will be displayed in kyoto in spring of 2015 and then sold to raise money for the restoration and re-vitalization of the tohoku area

at the end of the lecture cheryl and i each purchased a fish to embellish

driving back to her condo, mulling over ideas, wondering what to do when i was far from home and my stash...

earlier that evening i had serendipitously purchased a packet of hand-dyed japanese fabrics along with several strands of very sparkly clear and smoky beads

i had some more mulling to do...


cheryl set to work right away - chain stitch in a heavy ivory thread, wrapping and twining around the salmon, reminiscent of fishing lines and nets, coiling and swirling, making me think of catching up all the people and taking them home again... a single circle of gold chain stitch, because as cheryl said, even in great tragedies, all that is beautiful is not lost, not forever



for mine i decided on snippety bit scales with a bead in the centre of each

oddly enough, as i removed the label from the packet of clear beads, there near the top, hidden by the label, was a single red bead - shining clear and bright and vivid against the bright whiteness of the others
reminding me of the japanese flag

cutting tiny squares of various colours, securing them in place with a single bead, working from side to side to maintain balance, trimming the corners every so often


the image below is what i thought to be right side up, why i have no idea but i think i couldn't let go of the idea of an outward curving backbone... cheryl pointed out the issue of the dorsal fin being on the belly then - argh!


 i had been quasi-trying to get the shading of the scales with the pink on the top and the darker bluey-green on the bottom... now it would be all upside down...

but as i turned it right-side up i proclaimed that tsunamis make everything topsy-turvy anyway so i had just interpreted that!


the scales are closer together near the head, and there are many, tapering off and drifting away toward the end - that i did on purpose, to represent the people being pulled or drifting away
 

 we worked until we were drop-dead tired and then got right back at it the next morning, working steadily until they were done, handing them back that evening

for some odd reason i had thrown my sewing case into my bag at the last minute - no project to work on, nothing that could easily have been taken, but i saw it sitting there and thought it should come...

so very glad it did


Friday, October 3, 2014

fast forward...

fast forward and rewind... loved those buttons

remember fighting with them to get exactly to start of your favourite song???
the cd player in our car isn't nearly as much fun as my old tape recorder was - it's always taking you right to the very beginning of any song with the touch of a button - technology sometimes takes the fun out of things...

i did do a bit of a different kind of rewind this week though

one of the earliest issues of victoria magazine featured a woman who collected vintage linens and lace, having combined a number of them into a tablecloth that featured prominently at family weddings

i thought it was a wonderful idea and hoped someday to make one - "the want"

fast forward to a few years ago taking a course from karen ruane where she showed how to combine scraps of vintage linen with embroidery to create something extraordinary

so now i knew "the how"

fast forward to a year ago when i was gifted with a selection of vintage embroidered doilies
the kind you put on the end tables in your living room after you had dusted everything with lemon fresh pledge
at least i did - dusting the living room was often my chore and my favourite part was choosing which doily to put where

many of the doilies given to me had stains here and there, many more were just fine

yesterday i started sorting, washing, ironing, plotting and scheming


choosing scraps of 30s prints that are perfect with the yesterday charm these pieces hold


i laid my favourites out in a kind of nine patch, pinning them to the ultra fine muslin i purchased from john lewis in london last september


cutting up some of the stained ones to cover paper hexagon shapes

i'm making a table cloth - about 36" square
the kind we used to put on the kitchen table when i was a little girl, after all the cleaning was done


 i'll join them together, adding embroidery and applique in the style of the 60s


 charming, but fun


some parts soft and delicate, others colourful and playful

beautiful edges, pretty lace


 and in the end i hope to create something kind of retro, a rewind to the decade when i was little and furniture polish was the sign of an orderly home


 with a little fast forward to where i am now, all grown up, eco dust cloths and all
no doilies on the end tables any more though...


 but the table, well, a special cloth on the table is still a sign of being in a special place at a special time


and since my mom just bought a brand-spanking new table, i think it deserves a brand-spanking-new-old tablecloth


i just hope she doesn't make me dust it first!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

lessons learned...

seems every day i learn a new lesson... a different awareness settles on me, puzzle pieces suddenly coalesce into a picture i can understand

the one i have been coming back to again and again of late is that a clutter of objects clouds the beauty of the individual

another way of saying less is more, perhaps, but somehow slightly different

the flowers below were crocheted on a very fine crochet hook using size 8 valdani perle cotton

i love the effect achieved with the over-dyed thread - subtle, soft


three are pretty

two are sweet


one, enchanting


the quilt shop where i work has moved, and in that process of moving, many hundreds of bolts of fabric were put on sale 

as the move progressed, and more and more shelves were taken from the store, the bolts were moved about
along the way, the sense of order in their arrangement became lost and they ended up in rows of mish-mashed colour and style, randomly put back into the first available spot after each purchase

it became very hard to look at!

i had the honour of being the one to work on the very last day, when the discount deepened to 70% off

making use of the early morning quiet, i tried re-organizing the bolts as best i could into colour and style groupings, trying for a sense of cohesion and organization - i didn't get very far before it got busy

as people began coming into the store you could sense the difficulty they had in trying to make sense of the mess, finding it difficult to find fabrics they wanted to buy - a mess of bolts leaning this way and that, colour everywhere; bright pink in the midst of green, garish in it's differentness

together, it all looked cheap

but as people began to find one or two they liked, and brought them to the counter for cutting, others stopped to take notice of this fabric or that

"if you're not taking all of it, i'd like a piece" was heard over and over again - many bolts never did make it back to the floor, but were cleaned out by people farther down the line, waiting their turn, watching...

on their own, they looked like something special

as the mr. was safely in alberta for a few days, i brought that lesson home on the weekend and spent a day and a half pulling all my fabric out from every nook and cranny
 
i sorted and stacked and grouped and organized every single bit of it, including scraps - there wasn't a piece of fabric in this house that i didn't lay my hands on and consider, by itself, for itself

it wasn't just a great purge, although there definitely was some of that, rather, i like to think of it as a re-connection

reacquainting myself with the tools of my trade

fabric isn't just a thing i use to make a thing i want

it's a living, breathing, inspiring, can't be without thing 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

a beautiful life

a brave little fighter who fought the good fight...

over and over and over again

she stole our hearts twelve years ago - the only little girl cat we've ever had
a tiny little green-eyed feline with dainty white feet

we all tried so hard, marc, doug, claire,  the vet... this time, the third time, was not the charm


more than any other cat we've had, josie knew how to sleep the best



feet straight out in front


a princess at rest




we miss you girly-girl

 thank you to everyone for your suggestions, well wishes and wonderful thoughts... they were all so very much appreciated...

Monday, September 15, 2014

if two wrongs don't...

well, if two wrongs don't make a right how do you feel about three?

i feel pretty good about it myself - it worked quite well the other day as a matter of fact...

i had a hankering to make a snippet cloth snowman christmas card
winter's coming and all that

and as snippet cloth is so artistically unusual i wanted an interesting background for the snowman to sit upon

i thought about hand embroidering a tree but it seemed like it would be too cute somehow...

so i decided to try machine embroidering one

i have no idea how to do machine embroidery

and even though i have no idea i thought i would just give it a go - you know, thread up the machine, cut a piece of fabric and sew

ha!

first effort - thread too light, background too dark, fabric badly puckered


second effort - change the orientation

why i thought that would help i have no idea

it didn't


i sewed over the lines more times but it didn't really make the trees stand out - just made the fabric pucker more


and the scale is wrong - the snowman is so big!


from any angle, too big

i knew then what would the perfect background fabric would be - icy blueish grey, fossil fern pattern... scraps left over from many years ago


still wrong, perhaps even more so
 

 wrong, wrong, wrong

then a thought crossed my mind - a hoop perhaps?

good gracious - i knew that, of course, you can't do this kind of thing without a hoop but somehow or other i thought it would be ok

a big piece of the original fabric, a large hoop, darker thread and bingo!


much better

the only thing i will differently next time is to use a permanent marker to trace the tree
i did this in a wash away pen and the slight puckering happened after the washing - permanent marker, no water


and the scale doesn't seem so bad now


from every angle


a single embroidered snowflake, hanging on a high branch


arms raised in a proclamation of joy 


the wonder of a winter night's sky


i don't mind when things go wrong - i don't see it as a failure, just that i haven't got it right - yet

i know if i keep trying i will sooner or later

how does that go???

"i haven't failed, i've just found a thousand ways that won't work"

i am glad, however, that this was solved a tad sooner!