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


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!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


as i was sitting in my sewing room the other morning, doing my daily writing, the room brightened considerably in the most incredible way... slowly and steadily, over the space of about fifteen seconds, the level of lightness increased in such a manner that i stopped writing and looked around

it was the most amazing thing...

as i glanced around, i noticed the sunlight highlighting certain things and casting shadows on others

the shadow of the curtains, sunlight sparkling off jars filled with buttons, beads and baubles

 my linen rabbit from many years ago; i never did get around to "finishing" him and now i've decided to leave him just as he is

magnetic snowflakes sparkling like jewels

adding the softest sheen to the lid of a very old preserving jar

highlighting this delightful pin keep by lori ann corelis

late summer early morning sunshine - the best kind

sunshine through freshly opened leaves, the strong scent of green, their shadows dappling lightly on the wooden sidewalk outside our front yard - i was three and playing with my dolls sam, fred, george and charles, hidden among the low branches
{all my dolls had boy's names, even though they were girl dolls - my dad thought it would be a funny thing and so convinced me to name them all that way... i remember as i grew older that it seemed curious to me, but their names were their names and sam, fred, george and charles they were}

i remember sunshine on my shoulders as i played in the water at marsh lake when i was a few years older, humming "sunshine on the water makes me smile" over and over

as a teenager it was nazareth's "sunshine, every single day helps to light my way"

and then dr. hooks' beautiful, haunting "i can't touch the sun"

several years ago my daughter made a cd for me with all my favourite sun songs on it - i don't remember the order of them but i do believe the first one was "walking on sunshine" by katrina and the waves

my most favourite one of all though is by the beatles, and it's what i was humming the other morning as my room filled slowly and steadily with such glowing light...

"here comes the sun"
so beautifully fitting

 which sun song suits you best?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


here i am landing in blogland with a big thump after several weeks' absence...

the image below is pretty accurate 

it's mayhem, alright

not really controlled either... barely managed, mostly endured

the summer of easy relaxed days was not to be, but it was a good summer nonetheless

gallivanting around bc, alberta and the western states
visitors coming and going
canning and preserving
a quilt shop closing and another opening
work, work and more work

these past few weeks i've also been struggling to get my class samples made
i think i'm half-way through, and the first one done is my hand-made book
"a compendium of spells, potions and lotions"

the book-binding part is done - i have the spells and receipts to do next
know any good ones????

charms and beads and special buttons decorate the spine

the man in the moon is a charm from a pair of banana bob earrings from a decade or two ago

the stray cat strut below is from a funky bracelet that belonged to my grand-mother
i have enough cats to share one with each person taking the class

 the black net adds a little elegance i think...

hallowe'en fabric for the cover, deep purple ribbon for the tie

most of the papers are black, orange, purple, brown...

 with the odd spooky one thrown in here and there

i loved making this book and will love filling it even better

"eye of newt" and all that

a local outdoor theatre poster from last year makes for a fun fold-out page too!

teaching classes pushes me in ways i can hardly begin to describe - asking myself all the time, "what can i do to make this piece more interesting?"

"what detail can i add that might inspire someone to sign up? to say to themselves "i have to make this!?!"

and then of course, the desire to put your best face forward, do your best work, think of what else could be done with this technique, and wrap it all up in a fun-filled experience that would make them want to come back

it can be exhausting, but it's ever so exhilarating at the same time

all of this would be more than enough to keep a body and a mind busy to the nth degree

but life has a cruel way of coming back to haunt one from time to time

in this year of re-visiting words, about mid-august i was wondering about september's word and how that might possibly play out... two years ago the word i chose for september was "sorrow"

that was the month we lost bozzy, our dear little cat

and with cruel irony, it appears miss josie is herself failing on us now

she is terribly ill, frail, and in need of great looking after
tiny little cat who seems to be slipping away from us a little more each day

she sleeps a lot, so we all pile on the bed and hang out together, watching movies, reading books - she seems to take comfort from having someone close by


so if you know of a spell or a potion or an incantation or two that might put a spring in her step or a smile on my face tell me true and i'll write it in my wee book

and i'll be trying to wend my way through all this to see what y'all have been up to - i miss you!!

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...