Tuesday, May 19, 2015


hey, remember me????

the best laid plans of mice and bloggers oft go awry...

the hot weather descended on us here in the shuswap with a vengeance, yards literally exploding with green

i love this time of year, when everything is so lovely and lush... before it all becomes crisp and brown in august's heat... though we're already being threatened with a long, hot, tinder dry summer 

i''m hoping that heat will translate into a wonderful and yummy vegetable garden - this year i am having my very first, legitimate, proper, raised beds kind of garden - over the moon excited about it!

The frames are stained, built and in situ, with rock supporting them at the sloped end

the sod has been cut out, by hand, and removed and the tilling has begun

tomorrow i need to line the inside of the side boards with plastic and then the mixing of dirt begins - i am hopeful i may be planting as early as thursday afternoon

i have such plans, and if the truth be known, high hopes
but really, just being able to mess about in the dirt is enough

and speaking of dirt - i spent a long time today cleaning it off my hands, out from the nails, because i need to get busy with a special project...

about 24 years ago or so i made a bunny pillow for our daughter

the design and pattern were found in a "cross-stitch and country crafts" magazine, with the pillow front done in cross-stitch and then fabric borders and a ruffle finishing it off...

 it's actually back at my house for repairs - i didn't know enough then to make it in a manner that would allow the pillow cover to be washed {tough lesson, well learned!}

so, it's been taken apart and needs a re-do

in the meanwhile, dd has a friend who just had a baby girl of her own, and so a new bunny pillow is in the works

 using laura's as inspiration, i'm going to applique this new one
{we do want it done in this century, after all}

the parents love the victorian design style, so the linen floral is my inspiration - and will likely be a border

the adorable light print with the random dot is the background of the centre front
{i do love random dots, and nice ones like this are so hard to find - i snap them up whenever i come across one}

the pink will be the bunny herself, the blue stripe, the inside ears, and a gold-beige will be the paw circles

isn't that dot just fabulous???

minty green, varying shades of pink and brown, spotty dots abound - it couldn't be more perfect

 i'm going to do a blanket stitch with embroidery floss around the appliques

and when i'm done i really do need to re-make the original

the girl has already been waiting patiently a year or... three

 i am amazed by how pristine the original stitchery is, after 25+ years - it's as pretty and clean and bright as the day i finished it - no yellowing, nor fading

and every bit as cute to me still... this "redux" is going to be kind of fun...

Friday, May 8, 2015

tried and true

here i am, as i thought i might be

sometimes i have a hankering to write a blog post but i feel like i have nothing interesting to show, nor even to write about

other times it feels like i could write a new post every. single. day. if i only had the time

lately it's been a bit of both

something happened this week though, that made me exceptionally happy and i thought i might share it with you...

you know how it is, when you feel like you've had an epiphany, a revelation, or the planets have truly aligned and delivered something wonderful, you just want to share it???

for my 50th birthday, four years back, marc bought me a brand new sewing machine - complete with all the bells and whistles, it did just about every thing but make dinner

all the space needed to quilt a king-sized quilt, five lights for excellent viewing, favourite stitch memory and hundreds of pre-programmed fancy stitches - a real boon for my aging eyes

i'd been schlepping along with my plain jane bernina for well over two decades and whilst i loved it, there were things i wanted to do that it just couldn't

regardless of it's limitations, i loved it dearly, and could not bring myself to part with it so i stored it in a spare room closet, bringing it out for the odd bit of sewing now and then

i enjoyed the new machine for the next two years, but discovered it too had it's very own set of limitations
ones i found very hard to accept, so in the end i traded up for the latest and greatest incarnation 

it was better - most definitely better, but even so, there was something lacking

namely, a clunky design that doesn't afford a good sight line at the needle, making machine quilting awkward at best

and a size that takes up a huge amount of space

 not deal breakers by any stretch, but having had a machine where sight lines are superb, and the basics are accomplished with amazing perfection, i just couldn't get attached

and you know i love my hand-work best...

i've been dithering over this for the past four months and this week i finally made up my mind to sort it all out

so on Tuesday morning i set up the bernina and did a little bit of machine quilting

and a little on the latest and greatest

and i made my choice

a phone call and an evening to ponder and the next day it was out with the new and back with the old

i've spent the past two days re-organizing my sewing room - loving the new-found table space

i've set the bernina up on the little table where i usually do computer work and writing and moved those activities to the larger table that was usually reserved for the sewing machine

you see, much as i love my bernina, i've discovered over the past four years that i really do love hand sewing

more than love it really - it's what i do, who i am - i'd rather make it by hand, or not at all

and it was all beautifully reinforced for me the morning before the deed was done when our janome educator came to town

i took part in her hands on demonstration, illustrating just what an $8000 sewing machine can do for you

we appliqued a flower, uploaded the same design to the computer embroidery machine which then created an outline for me so i would know exactly where to place a piece of fabric in order to create a second flower, which it stitched beautifully, programmed in a phrase of my choice, using the cursor to place the words exactly where i wanted them, and them selected a pre-programmed alphabet font

easy-peasy, lickety-split

i sat back with my feet up and watched the machine do it's thing

very relaxing

when all was said and done, i took it to show a co-worker

"look what the machine i sat in front of did" i said

and i knew then that new machine had to go

and so it did

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

petal power

april flew and we're already a week in to may - is this how the summer will be?

work is commencing this week with my brand new vegetable garden - major under-taking but i'm excited... and a little nervous
my mom and step-father live nearby and they're experts so thankfully i have a great resource close to hand!

whilst waiting on that i commenced this latest page, developed from drawings shown in previous posts

remember this idea/design stemmed from a sketch of a piece of jewelry in a liberty of london book?

well, i'm moving it along....

 changing the number of petals, adding spiky bits with circles

they remind of pearl stick-pins

i was working out border designs using pen and stitch, thinking one might be suitable as an accent detail on said page

 of the two options above, neither was quite right

fingers tapping, humming and hawing - finally decided to sleep on it and i'm so glad i did

in the morning as i looked at it i thought why not have the smyrna cross in pen and do a french knot in the centre - it would be like a lustrous pearl with rays coming from it

i also decided there was too much empty space in the centre area so an a "quick" fold took care of that

would you believe i worked the whole thing out on scrap paper so i would know exactly where the folds needed to be and which way they needed to be folded - i swear i'm dyslexic - if i'd been left to my usual devices this piece would look like origami, i can assure you

a cut-out painted petal with a decorative brad adds something amazing to the lower corner 

the ties... well the ties were meant to be long, to let one open the fold, to see what lays beneath, but as the paper is watercolour, and the fold extremely narrow, the fold wouldn't stay flat

in the end i had to tape it closed with double-sided tape so i tied knots and cut the ties short

i love it - really, really love it

it turned out far better than i hoped - better than i thought i was capable of!

 firmly attached to my ledger, that's two pages done - the next one is the colour study

i hope to make progress with that tomorrow

i hope to make progress with a lot of things - emails, reading your blogs, checking out what you're up to

i have three days off and list upon list - many things to tell you about so i'll be back on friday
nothing major, nor earth-shattering, just newsy bits of this and that...

Monday, April 27, 2015

unfinished business

seems i have unfinished business with the colour blue...

my "faith" piece features a soft grey-blue accent and that's the first colour i turned to when it came time to start colouring in some of my latest doodles

i even like how the old and the new look together - there is a sense of cohesion, that goes even beyond the colouring

painting this design sheet was a pain-staking procedure

my first try was too heavy-handed so i tried to lighten up the colours; delicacy as opposed to substance

leaving scratches of white here and there within the petal shapes helped a lot with that

experimenting with grey pearls and gold-toned ones

 the struggle now is to extend the shapes, change them a bit - a lot more difficult than i thought

i've used half an eraser so far and all i have is the bit below to show for it

i feel lukewarm about it - it's ok, but not really what i'm looking for

so today i consoled myself with playing around with some of my bits and pieces...

i may not know exactly where i'm going with any of this but i don't really care so much right now - while i wait for some bright ideas i'm having a great time laying little bits of cloth alongside the painting

adding, taking away, layering

 you know - even if i never did another thing with any of this, what i have right now would be enough


Sunday, April 19, 2015

starting somewhere...

just finished a crazy week - five days of work and one day of teaching with loads of prep in the evenings... last night i was beat

today i played...

we're doodling right now, garnering ideas, extending them

i started with a half-sketch of a piece of jewellery in my "Liberty" book...

i love jewellery, yet rarely wear it

it's entrancing just the same

the delicate petal shapes, as much like tear-drops as they are petals

little round pearls... or beads...

from that first simple sketch i have had such an amazing time!

repeat patterns

 the reverse petal shape line added within the point was my idea - i love it - love, love, love

it reminds me of a rosebud

 graduated pearls

the page below was the first one - i had a hard time getting going but once i did the first sketch the ideas came quickly and i just went with them - not trying to refine them much, just getting them down on paper - out of my head

but doing that just made room for more...

a border on the left

tiny tear-drop flowers

 i don't even mind the wobbly lines so much

sketching in pencil, now going over everything with ink

refining lines and shapes, rounding circles

ensuring graceful "swoops" with each stroke

i love that it's all hand-drawn 

revel in the irregularity of each shape yet marvel at how amazing it looks as a whole

how does that work????

i've done several more since taking these pictures and now have a pile of inspiration - myriad ideas to work with

painting comes tomorrow, and soon, very soon, stitching

the wheels are turning - it feels like a flood!

Monday, April 13, 2015

sunlight white

the truth of a colour...

when this idea struck me it seemed simple enough but as i delved into preparing for this first in the series i realized it really won't be that simple at all

-that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality... but so much of what we believe about colour is rooted in perception rather than in science - at least, for most of us that is...

the full spectrum of colour theory, scientific colour theory, can range from daunting to boring to fascinating - but colour is also emotional, full of meaning - cultural meaning, both present and past

 as in many things, to understand a colour is to take a trip into history - an interesting look at our own journey through the ages - what a colour meant and what it means today - what it is, and what it is not

far too big and broad a scope for what i intend so i hope you don't leave disappointed...

i'm beginning with what is called the colour that is an absence of colour...


 i always understood that to be the truth about white but it seems that is just too simple

i like this one better...

"white is the colour of sunlight"

the colour of truth, perfection, honour, cleanliness, purity

at one time also the colour of mourning

b5200 is the whitest of the dmc stranded cotton embroidery threads
 {viewed above and below}

whiter than "blanc" even

which itself looks pretty white, when viewed alone

 illustrating a perfect colour point - colour is relative, and what can be said about the colour of an object when viewed alone may change when it's placed alongside of another version of itself

colour is not absolute and so, you will find no absolute truths in these words

just a few things i have learned along the way

{above and below}

both colours above look white when viewed separately but when placed together, as you see below, there is a difference

 i suppose you might now say "white and off-white"?

vanilla, eggshell, ivory, soft-white, meringue, froth, on it goes
{and why do they say "vanilla" when vanilla itself is brown????}
{{i told you colour is complicated!}}

 then there's #3865
my favourite of the dmc whites

different again... perhaps a little yellower?

and then #3866, which is just slightly darker - viewed together you would most likely pick the top one if you were asked to point to the white one

when people come in to the store in search of white thread they choose one of these - oddly enough b5200 is chosen the least - not because it isn't thought to be the whitest, but because it's thought to be the harshest

when i'm working with vintage laces, they seem to range in colour in much the same manner as the skeins above... when i looked through my lace i found only two that were as white as b5200, all the rest were varying shades

white was not the colour i was going to begin with but last night i finished the cross-stitched piece you see below

on white silk, using waste canvas
{the layout of the letters is a mess as i'm going to cut it up and sew it back together but that's a different story for another day....}

i began the stitching with one white and somehow got mixed up and switched to another - as i was stitching on "white" waste canvas, in evening lamp-light, i couldn't tell until the whole thing was finished and the waste canvas removed... in the evening light the subtle differences were lost to these poor aging eyes

the piece below is made up of various strips of "white" cloth and "white" lace

the first image taken with the stitchery placed on a tan cloth for photographing, the one beneath on a white one

what's underneath definitely casts it's own shadow

 below is a sample made up of three layers  - white silk, white paper and white lace - all slightly different versions of white; layered, slashed and stitched, all melding together into a new white

 next is the same idea except instead of being layered and slashed, the lace and silk were cut into bits and stitched in place on top of the acrylic painting paper - here you can easily see the differences in shading, they haven't melded together so much - maintaining their differences, staying separate

clouds and snow appear white to us because when the sunlight enters them, very little of the colour spectrum which is contained in sunlight is absorbed, so ultimately, the sunlight is reflected back to us

thus snow and clouds are the colour of sunlight... the same effect is found with quartz or limestone beaches - they too are the colour of sunlight

and this is just the tip of the iceberg...