Wednesday, December 30, 2015

stitching, patching, playing...

time is standing still a little this week - the days move along at a nice quiet pace

there's no rush to be anywhere... 

back in late november, early december, whilst wandering about on the internet, i came upon a "stitch along" on quilt mania's website

hosted by bea

the videos are all in french, but i found them surprisingly easy to understand, and the more i watched the more my french improved until after a while i wasn't even trying to translate them in my head

and then of course, embroidery and patchwork have their own universal language


 too busy to get started, i printed off the pdf documents, gathered some supplies and set it all aside for this week

i was so entranced by the random nature of this work that i decided to follow along fairly closely, at least at first

each section is completed on it's own, and then in groups, they are attached to a long foundation cloth {i'm using a piece of  a very old damask tablecloth - it's exceptionally unruly but i love it so am persevering!}


bea used a vintage piece for her monogram but as i had nothing with a "j" i had to create my own

i remembered a pretty alphabet pattern by alicia of posie gets cozy , found a fragment of an doily, and made my own


 layers of cloth, layers of stitch



 favourite buttons and pins


bea's method for piecing this tiny new york beauty block is brilliant

i hate foundation piecing on paper but this is done without ever having to sew through the paper - brilliant!



after laying out these first four components, a vine with felt leaves was randomly stitched - the leaves are layered with cheesecloth to add texture and dimension and then veins stitched with variegated embroidery thread




 trying to be as random as possible, i didn't draw any lines on the ground fabric, just going with it


the more you add, the more you want to add even more - layering stitches, adding dimension, integrating all the components into something whole


 the branch with tiny felt leaves and embroidered fronds adds such a woodland feel to this - i'm envisioning it winding it's way here and there, all the way to the top


there are so many wonderful ideas in this project, and the pieces are all so easily done - tiny treasures


the perfect thing for quiet snowy days when you have nowhere else to be

Thursday, December 24, 2015

christmas eve..

it's late

the house is quiet... christmas eve and i'm the only one still up

the tree is still lit, the candles glowing and i'm on the brink... the end of one amazing day, the edge of another


 i love this time of year, from now until after new year's

a time of awareness, of remembering - an acknowledgment of the past, enjoyment of the present and anticipation for the future

the tree is decorated with ornaments dating back to before my dad was born, ornaments gathered on whilst on holidays, some made by me - an eclectic mix for sure, but somehow they all work together and the tree sparkles and shimmers and shines 

i can never look at it enough

a pure celebration of light and love

i wish that for each of you too ... a magical time of love and sharing with all you hold dear

merry christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

a "growing" collection...

i've been meaning to write this post for many weeks now - a month or two at least, but between dark days that made picture taking impossible and a schedule that wouldn't quit, it never happened

it's almost better to be written now though, on this winter's solstice day

last summer i had my first vegetable garden

pure heavenly delight

to wander out there in the bright sunshine and pick food for our dinner was a wonderful thing... most of what i grew we ate fresh

there were a few things that were more abundant and i did freeze little bundles of swiss chard, raspberries and homemade tomato sauce, full of onions and herbs and simmered to a lovely rich thickness

i also made several batches of strawberry black pepper balsamic jam

and then i harvested little bits of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers to dye embroidery thread...


oh what great fun it was

little jam jars filled to bursting with carefully tied skeins of white embroidery thread

and here and there a snippet of silk ribbon or cloth

cotton muslin and cotton cheesecloth

they looked so pretty stacked up on the windowsill, letting the waning autumn sun work it's magic


i experimented a fair bit with this process - scouring the thread, but adding the mordant to the dye jar... sometimes adding vinegar, sometimes not

above is avocado without vinegar... pearly greyish taupe

below is onion skins - brown and red, all mixed together in one jar


then lavender, this one with vinegar


below is the thread from my first attempt, back in september

marigold, lavender, blueberry and raspberry



 a better look at the avocado


below is beetroot

a piece of old linen towel that was ratty with holes so i did fme on it
i love how it took the dye


 more lavender


marigolds again
the difference between the cotton and the silk is quite amazing - same jar, same mordant


 below is rosemary, with vinegar


they were crammed in the jars pretty tightly, left to sit in the sun for four weeks

i'm so pleased with the results and have been quite diligent in my record keeping so i'm getting a pretty idea of what worked well and what didn't

i'm writing up little cards, attaching samples, doing light and colour-fast testing

plotting and planning and reading up on all sorts of ways of doing this

i want to try processing the jars in a water bath and leave them for a couple of months to see what the difference is

i want to try different mordants, different threads, different plants

i want to try freezing the plant material first to see how that works

i want to figure out how to get all the colours, bright and dark, pale and muted

then i want to paint little cards with images of the plants and attach small twisted hanks of pretty, plant-dyed embroidery thread to each of them

and then i want to stitch the plants with the threads they made

when i titled this post "a "growing" collection", i wasn't really referring to all the threads i've been creating...

i was referring to all the things i now want to do that stem from a lovely sunny day when i took a few pretty plants, some nice white thread and a few simple jars and made something wonderful

it seems those ideas are the collection, and i am a collector of desires