Thursday, October 27, 2016

creative synchronicity...

in my ever-present quest for finding my own true creative voice, i signed up for brittany mclaughlin of the weaving workshop's 

"spark your creativity challenge"

a three day challenge where you will be opened up to new creative possibilities

my path here was a little round-about... a few weeks ago i finally decided to join the local spinner's and weaver's guild
i'd been toying with it for a long time, not so much interested in spinning, but very much drawn to weaving
my hesitancy did not come from a place of debated interest - it was a direct result of my husband's constant urging for me to "focus"
{perhaps he hasn't fully come to understand my focus is more about "how" than "what"!}

anyway, i joined and later that night, whilst scouring the internet for all things weaving, i found myself ordering a frame loom from an etsy sellerand joining brittany's site "the weaving workshop" and enrolling in her free introduction to weave class

when the invitation to participate in this challenge arrived in my inbox i didn't hesitate

today is day one and our challenge began with quickly choosing three books from our bookcase{s}
i chose my toile book from the bookcase in my sewing room, the grandma moses one from the night-table, and "a child's garden of verses" from my special shelf on my special bookcase - these are the much-loved stories of my childhood

next was to choose a quote from each book, after which the work began
i use that word "work" pretty loosely, this wasn't work, it was pure joy

 In looking closely at these books, from cover to content, context, even construction, we looked for what drew us - what we enjoyed, and what we could take from them for our own creative journey

some of what i wrote in our facebook group:

these three books have qualities that are imbued in what i strive for in my work - to look at old processes with new eyes, eyes that haven't seen things in only one way, to be fresh and imaginative, and to turn things around on themselves
i love to know the history of a process, skill, technique or product, to embrace that, but also to ignore it
i want to find my own way, creating a narrative that speaks to me, showing me a truth i can't find in the work of others...

how can i call on these books to help me in my own work?

i can look upon them as a testament to the strength and beauty of originality - there is no cloth like toile, but it didn't come about over night; it was the coming together of weave, design, pattern, dye and process that brought it to it's full glory

there are no paintings like those of grandma moses, who refined her style over time but never deviated from what was true for her, resisting the recommendations of others, and improving as much from choosing better equipment and paint as from the experience gained from doing...

there are no children's poems as entrancing as those of robert louis stevenson, written from the author's authentic self, drawn from his own life's experiences and personal observations, using point of view as a powerful tool

these are all qualities i believe to be key in expressing my own creative voice; if i continually make them part of my process, i will surely create what is in my own heart...

and that my friends, was a glimpse at day one
you can join us if you like...

and now for the synchronicity part of this post

two days ago, as part of another class i'm taking on all things paper, i pulled the papers below in anticipation of a book making exercise

as i loaded the images for today's post, i realized the colours of my chosen papers, perfectly match the covers of the books i chose at random this morning

 two days, and two classes apart...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

seeing spots

lately i've been working with colour - completely saturated colour

the fabrics have been collected over the past few years, whenever we went down to visit family in sisters, oregon

the quilt shop there is heavy on the modern side of things and i thought it might be a good idea to break out from my usual choices and hearken back to what i liked during the '70s

bright, happy colour with no rules

i'm making a child's lap quilt, a simple rail fence design with three white panels that will have "fancy-full" flowers appliqued and embroidered

it's been a slow go though

i've pieced the rail fence blocks 
the layout was determined by the amount of fabric i have - no way i'm buying more, so when the blocks were pieced, i flung them out on the floor, moving them around until i came up with a plan

not saying it will stay this way, but it's a start
a guideline, if you will - not a rule...

the flowers will extend across the white panels, design components flowing from one to the other, across seams, no boundaries

so far there's one that has the petals appliqued and outlined with embroidery - the embellishments haven't been done
haven't even been thought up, actually

i did say progress was slow...

a couple of circles have also been added - they'll be centers for future flowers, but yup, you guessed it... not yet invented either

at least i've got a theme sorted out

but while i've been waiting for my brain to sort all that out, i have made some very pretty, spotty, dotty lace

circles of circle fabric, circles of lace, circular stitching

circular holes

 at least i have something pleasant to occupy me while the ideas stew and brew...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

playing about

 lately i've been obsessed with buttons...

remember these ones from a while back?

and this white one?

i still have a hankering to make more of those ones, but lately my mind's been on appliqued buttons

tiny little houses, trees, winter things

below is my first one

 a simple scene, easy enough for a first effort

trying to get a lay of the land, if you will... figuring out how the curve of the button form affects things

i like it well enough but it's just not that intricate - i want more detail

so, i've rooted out my thinnest needles 
size 12 quilting needles are the tiniest i have
and a super fine thread called "invisafil" - having the right tools might help in working with the teeny tiny pieces i'll need to be stitching if i want to create more detailed designs

i've sketched a half dozen different designs, all involving winter scenes... trees, houses, a snowman or two - even a tiny child

 this button is the largest form i can get - size 100, about 2 1/2" across

i have a few 1 7/8" button forms as well so once i perfect my miniature stitching skills on the larger size i'll try my hand at the next size down

the cabin is done with needle-turn applique so it's sturdy enough but the door, window, eaves and chimney are raw edge with a very fine over-cast stitch... i have no idea how they'll stand up to wear and tear, nor what one would actually put one of these buttons on, but then i haven't really given any of that a moment's thought

i'm just having fun making them!

Saturday, October 1, 2016


as promised, here is the circle page with the scratty pin-pricking cut out, replaced with a little bit of reverse applique

i'm seriously considering purchasing a circle punch as it's almost impossible to cut a smooth, even circle with scissors
the buttonhole stitch that is done around the edge (here in white) certainly helps cover some irregularities, but i think being able to punch out a perfect circle would make very happy...

at the lower right you can see the french knot/chain stitch circle - very happy with that -
fiddly yes, but i really don't mind

next to consider is what to do within them - pin-pricking may get resurrected but i'll definitely be practicing that on scrap paper first

and then there's the upper right - a big empty space waiting for something inspired

for now though, i'm working on the first flower, getting the petals appliqued onto the length of white cotton, dreaming of how i'll embroider and embellish it

 and below this is a little watercolour painting i did this summer

i signed up for an online summer painting class a few years ago and this summer i made an effort to re-visit it and try a few of the exercises i didn't get to the first time around

this summer fruit arrangement looked like a fun thing to try and i was amazed at how well it turned out - at least to my eyes
{perhaps that's one advantage to the whole "i'm getting older and my eyesight is getting poorer" situation - my painting satisfaction index has gone way up!}

pears, lemons, cherries, peaches and apricots - the leaves aren't correct but who cares?

not i - i'm pretending i'm mistress mary quite contrary and i'll paint them however i please!
{seems the list of all my favourite blogs to visit has gone away from the sidebar - i'll spend some time tomorrow getting that sorted out and then be around to catch up with all of you - i've missed everyone and can't wait to see what's been keeping you busy}

Friday, September 30, 2016

here we go again...

don't adjust you're computer - you are indeed in the right place...

i'm finally here with a new blog post - and yes, the colours are indeed bright!

we've been away for a few weeks and so september has flown by at warp speed... preparing to go, gone, and now home again with a laundry list of chores and yard work

when i travel i find it very hard to do much stitching, especially when visiting family - there are just too many other wonderful things to be doing
but now i'm home again, i find myself missing my daily dose of needle and thread and so, for the past few days, i've been immersing myself in a new online class

she's making one of her beautiful wrapping cloths but we can all do pretty much whatever we want (except talk in class or use staples or glue - none of us have tried duct tape yet but i'm sure it's on the "no-no" list)

i'm making a child's quilt - bright happy fabrics

there will be pieced blocks in a rail fence design, but i plan on doing a non-traditional layout, which will be interspersed with long panels of white cloth sporting appliqued and embroidered flowers, design ideas taken from the cloth 
no specific plan for the flowers, just letting myself wander down the garden path

alongside the quilt i'll be doing some sample stitching and designing on hot-pressed water-colour paper using the same fabrics and motifs as for the quilt but adding in a few things that perhaps aren't eminently suitable for a child's quilt - such as beads, sequins and gimp

simple shapes - infinite possibilities

this triangle is appliqued to the paper (not as easy as i thought it would be!)
gimp and beads add a fun fringe

the first fanciful flower

 a study in circles - the pin-pricked bit at the top left has already been cut out - it was a mess and i didn't like it so it's gone - what i've done in it's place is much nicer i think - i'll show you that tomorrow

the stitching at the right is a test piece - you could say, "sampling for the sample"

i want to do a circle outline with french knots enveloped in chain stitches so this is where i figured it out
{when stitching on paper there are not much opportunities for second chances - once a hole is made, it's there...}

i love the effect of this - i'm sure someone far more clever than i figured it out long ago but i don't think i've ever seen it done so it's a new idea for me

i'm half-way through the circle now so i'll post that tomorrow as well

i'm hoping so much to have more of a presence here again - i've cut my work back to just one day a week now, planned out a "schedule" for my days... channeling my inner nine year old's back-to-school longing where my favourite thing in the first days back was when the teacher had us write out our daily timetable

 working with the belief that if i plan it, it will happen

and so, here we go again...

Thursday, August 25, 2016


one of the things i love best about summer is just how random things are...

visitors dropping in now and then, things ripening in the garden a little at a time - tiny collections of this and that, rounding out an evening meal

it's been pretty random in my sewing room as well

i worked on a few more elements from the quiltmania "en attendant noel" advent from last december

the buttons done a while back are sewn in place, over top trailing vines with felt leaves

 a scrap of blue with silk ribbon embroidery, loving the effect the seed stitches give

layers of fabric and cheesecloth give structure

a linen heart with ribbon knots and a precious scrap of mokuba silk ribbon, i still want to try my hand at replicating it

the background ribbons, which form an "x" for the heart to rest on are making me crazy - i'm either going to stitch them down to tame their unruly ways or take them off altogether
haven't decided yet, but soon...

 and so it grows, slowly and surely

the next designs are definitely more christmassy in theme and while i'm keen to get this finished, i'm not yet in the mood for santas and reindeer

a day spent with my youngest niece yielded a lovely green rag quilt - she chose the fabrics herself, determined it be green - a quilt for her stuffed monkey "georgie" which grew to encompass them both

she did every bit of the layout and sewing and half of the snipping


 and finally,  all i've managed in my storybook is to glue down the tissue paper

though i don't normally glue my work, this piece was meant to be on the inside cover so no chance of stitching it in - i thought about double-sided tape but was worried about the delicate edges of the tissue getting destroyed... in the end i decided to glue it, and i'm so glad i did

it was tricky, but i love how the thin fragile edges have melted into the book, becoming one with the page - glue was the only way to achieve that look and for me it was worth it

 the embroidered pieces are stitched to the tissue so if i ever needed to i could take a seam ripper and very carefully snip the stitching to release it

next up for this book is a silk cape for the rabbit - there's an illustration where he's hugging himself against the chill and i'm going to channel my inner chanel  and make him something special

for now though, as summer wanes, random continues to be the order of the day...

Sunday, July 31, 2016

a story of my own...

progress in my storybook stitching is slow, each stitch, every idea painstakingly thought out 
some components made specifically for exact locations, other made simply from desire and then carefully considered on several pages before final decisions are made

here the rabbit is telling the mouse he's found a tree with one bright, shiny red apple... too high for him to reach alone

the mouses' mental image of the tree is presented in a beautiful paper and lace thought bubble

on the same page spread i've added a spirit tree

forests, especially the ones in storybooks, are filled with animals and trees, some of which you can see, and always those you can't 

over time, i'll be adding more white spirit trees to these pages, some with ink and others with stitch - i'm almost certain this will be the only paper one... i love it, it was the first, and so it must be special, separate...

the bear, sleeping in his den, stirs, and through misty, snow-filled dreams, he senses something going on outside

hand-embroidered machine-made lace makes a perfect blizzard

 trees figure prominently in the illustrations of this storybook and so they will in my work as well

this pin-tucked tree perfectly illustrates the delicacy of a bare tree's branches

and this one small tree, made on a whim, has given me a veritable forest of ideas

even the reverse side, seen below, has amazing potential...

fiddly, finicky, fragile

there's nothing for it but to glue this one down - the tissue paper foundation is delicate and needs to be securely fixed in place

and so it will be the frontispiece of this storybook

i like that, for as much as this book is about the animals working together, it is also about the beauty of winter...

the beauty of the winter forest