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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

stitching snow

 making a little progress in my book, but ideas are swirling around in my head like a veritable blizzard and i'm running from one to the other, starting many, finishing only this so far...

 i don't mind though because i love this best 

paper, machine stitch, torn edges and appliqued circles in paper and silk

i considered adding hand-stitching to some of the open areas but in the end i decided to leave them plain; a nod to the unbroken swaths of snow found in the open spaces of a winter's landscape

 the thin edge of the upper right is unbelievably fragile so i have tacked this all the way around... unable to lift it to reveal the scene that lies beneath, as a child reading a story, you will have to imagine the rest for yourself...

and pale and faded as the page itself, i've added these little ghost trees to the inside of the back cover

it wasn't planned, doodling one in order to test a pen, i couldn't resist and so filled the page

i think it will be a good ending...

and it's just like me to turn to the back of the book first

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

inspiration versus limitation...

i've been known to be a bit scattered when it comes to all things creative

wanting to try almost everything i see, it can all get a tad overwhelming at times

not to mention the ensuing issues of cost and storage...

"artist's block" rarely ever happens to me - instead, i usually have more ideas than time, and that's certainly been the case with my latest online class

"stitching a story"

each of us have chosen a children's storybook and we're embellishing them in all sorts of wonderful ways... amazing stuff happening in this class by some very talented people...

my chosen book was "the bedspread", by sylvia fair... it's the story of two elderly sisters  who are confined to one very large bed, and, in order to ease their boredom, they've decided to each embroider their end of the white bedspread they also share

 the book is full of amazing illustrations which provided me with four full pages of notes - ideas drawn from both the images, and from the story itself - enough that it would take me a year at least to explore them all

added to that were all the scribbles done by a very young hand some time in this book's past
{i bought my copy from a book-seller on amazon, and it was an old library book, so well used}

i traced out some of the scribbles, identifying shapes within them that i could then take forward into more design work

below is an example of that - one scribble resembled a heart and so i stitched french knots all along it... love, love, love

 below is the beginning of a limited colour study

i had to set the book, as well as my pages of ideas aside for a few weeks whilst i concentrated on the quilt show our guild held back in early june, and though i thought i was keen to get back to class-work, i kept dragging my feet

i couldn't decide where to start

in looking over my pages of notes, and flipping through the pages of the book, i halfheartedly tried my hand at a small sample of tree-bark and colourful leaves

no go

overwhelmed, i think

and as i mulled it all over i remembered the book i'd originally chosen for this class, but set aside when i discovered "the bedspread"

"the red apple"
feridun oral

it had me at hello

soft brown and beige, off-white and red
trees and snow and animals

a winter's scene

in the end i'd decided against it because i thought there just wasn't enough design inspiration to work with... the scene rarely changes, only the animals do

it's always winter - bare trees, and snow falling incessantly

now i was thinking this narrow field of vision might be exactly what i need

today i dug it out of the closet and began what will be

"an extensive exploration of snow and winter trees"

 so far - a few simple french knots on the dedication page

one wrap, two wraps, sometimes three

a fabric bought a few years back - white, with raised star-shaped stitches arranged in circles - perfect for a tiny drawn tree

a scrap of fme lace makes perfect falling snow

 another of circle fabric circles, this one with the centre cut out helps define the fallen apple

 still trying to decide where to put thesnowball-tree

and what other shapes could be drawn in more of them - what kind of snow-storm to create?

a narrow focus this time, one with serious limitations, might be enough inspiration for me right now

 exploring limited shapes in unlimited ways has more appeal than dealing with pages full of glorious illustrations; a well-spring of inspiration can sometimes be far more daunting than working with one simple shape

"the bedspread" proved to be all too overwhelming... and i was always wanting to do something, yet never able to decide on just what that should be, and i ended up doing nothing

today all that changed - fabric and scissors flew, needles and thread all over the place, baskets emptied in the search for scraps of lace and paper-shapes

we're on a two week break from class, before it resumes for another 8 weeks, and no one in class knows i've pulled a switch-up... not even the teacher

 it seems i'll have an interesting "story" to tell about what i did on my two week vacation!

Saturday, June 11, 2016


really, that should read "finished"...

i made a little "art quilt" to display in the quilt show held last weekend by our local guild

but as there are things i added to make it look "complete" which i know i'll remove and re-work, "continuing" might be the better choice after all

i love that about pieces like this - they never have to be 'finished'

you saw some elements of this work a few posts back... pieces of silk and such

I basted, tacked, and stitched the silk background together using a very fine thread and tiny invisible stitches, a cotton diaper bought in the uk a few years ago is a supporting base

the only things i knew for sure when i began this piece were: there would be paper, and there would be queen anne's lace

if i was ever hard-pressed to pick a favourite flower this would be it

a very rough sketch

transferred to tracing paper, pinned in place

the design stitched with a very fine back-stitch and then the tracing paper torn away

some lace i made, some vintage
{since this photograph was taken another flower was added - i'll  show that in my next post}

much of the silk had subtle patterning, which was a perfect opportunity to add stitch detail

chain stitch to emphasize stems

fly stitch to bring forward "ghost" leaves

quilting stitches to lift surface design and add texture

the plant stems were stitched in a staccato-style - short, choppy stitches, layering different colours of thread, a single strand at at a time

trying for a "sketchy" look

plants printed on paper using water, steam and pressure, indentations providing stitching lines, the plants themselves giving colour

stitching these was a huge challenge - what to leave alone, how to add without taking away

creating fanciful flowers of my own

working with nature at a truly wonderful level

when i stitched these i felt like i only wanted to stitch on paper, ever again...

i got to this point, what you see below, and then had to step back to consider

as always, i learnt a lot from doing this, much of which i plan to take forward with me to other projects

i still can't decide if the paper is my favourite thing about this, or the transparent effect of the embroidered flowers - that I really want to pursue, learning better how to achieve it whilst maintaining a focal point - tricksy stuff

so now the show is over, my guild presidency is also finished, teaching is done... it's summer vacation alright

i feel like i've been away this whole year, my poor sad blog suffering from massive neglect and blogging friends who haven't heard from me in ages 
it's my hope to be able to return to posting here a couple of times each week as i've very much missed this - my way of "thinking out loud"

i have so many new ideas, things i want to try, stitching experiments, new directions to travel in... summer is such a great time for creative explorations

there's an easy freedom in the air and a needle in my hand

Friday, May 20, 2016

patched and pieced...

my daily stitch practice is alive and well - i'm rather proud to say i haven't missed one single day

each morning i sit in my favourite chair and root through my small basket of scraps, choosing something to add

the choices stem from where on the cloth i find myself drawn to - i thought at the beginning it would be what i wanted to add, but the reverse has proven to be true

it often looks lop-sided but i know at the end it will be ok

above you see it in it's entirety, as of today

 i first began by using a simple running stitch, about 1/8" in from the edge

over time i got tired of all the little stray threads that kept working themselves loose
{as did he who does the vacuuming}

so i switched to a very fine overcast stitch - too much coffee though, and the stitches aren't quite as fine as i'd like... but there it is - just more evidence of "me" on each day

tiny irregular scraps, some larger more even ones - a true mixed bag

i rarely trim them, usually only if a wayward edge will cover something i'd rather it didn't

 starting dark, lightening toward the edges

it's my intention to go very light all the way around before bringing it back to dark at the outermost edges

 the blue-grey part is my favourite - as i'm sure many of you who know me well would guess

when the patch is placed and the picture posted, the cloth is folded neatly and placed back on the scrap pile, ready for the next morning

sometimes, if i have a minute, i'll play with a few more scraps, considering options

but no matter how good a plan i make, the next morning i begin afresh with where and what

 light and shadows play brilliantly on rumpled cloth

 blending colour, easing it across the cloth

 ragged edges that still shed but somehow eventually it stops and the cloth and stitching hold fast

 i use a favourite art book to support it on my lap, "the scent of ink"

they've become a pairing for me, the cloth and the book, so when the patches are done, and i'm wondering where i go with it next, i'll look here for inspiration

i must say that even though i planned the value placements with a mind of keeping it whole and embroidering on the surface,  there is a part of me that has a hankering to cut it up... the only thing that stops me from doing so is that it would surely create even more scraps!

 today i laid it out and trimmed and straightened the ragged edges of the muslin - tonight i'll baste a hem, and then have a real sense of what's left to do

there was a time i thought it would take two years to fill in but now i can see it probably won't even take one and before the year is over i'll be ready for the next one

the same, but different