Wednesday, February 17, 2016

little things...

for the past few years i've been trying to keep a journal of sorts - a place to keep all my little bits of papers and ideas - instead of having little stacks of floaty bits of paper scattered around my workspace

sometimes they're a quotation, a design idea, an image that's captured my imagination - insights i've had, things to make
i move them from pillar to post and back again, every so often filing them in some random folder, or writing them down in a random notebook - quotes in one, poetry in another, my design ideas in a large sketch book, a smaller one for clippings from magazines
 
managing all of that gets discouraging and cumbersome and so i stop, and the floaty bits of paper start piling up again

i don't want four books - i want one

one i can take with me when we're on the road, that can easily move in and out of the house, nothing too precious nor fancy, just something soft and comfortable in the hand with nice paper inside, and not too big

i may have found it...


 i bought this little leather-covered book last week and already i love it

a simple leather cord stretches around the middle - perfect for expansion of the inside if i want to staple, tape or glue things inside

the paper is of a lovely weight, handmade, complete with the raggedy edges i love

it has a soft smooth sheen, lovely for ink - not so much for pencil, and erasing is not an option

not to be a diary - rather, a visual record


a favourite image torn from a magazine was the first thing i put in...

and then fabric... in amongst all the floaty bits of paper of my work table, i had been collecting a sizable stack of little scraps of some of my favourite fabrics


they were too small for just about anything but i couldn't bear to throw them away

as i was moving them aside to work in my new journal, i realized what i was feeling was akin to what earlier people felt, back in the days when cloth was precious, and not to be wasted
 

i decided to sew a few favourites into my new book, boro style, and as i was doing that an idea began to brew... 

i've long been drawn to the idea of a daily stitch practice

the thought of taking a few stitches each day, seeing the results grow over time, little things adding up to bigger things - well, it had a lot of appeal, but without a "plan", i couldn't figure out how to even begin

the questions "on what?", "with which thread?", "what stitches?", even "where does it end?"stymied me and so i did nothing

but these little scraps of cloth lit an idea


what about a daily stitch practice that wasn't so much about embroidery, but about piecing together these cloth-bits, too precious to me to be thrown away, but not enough for anything on their own?

why not piece them together boro-style and make quilt block foundations that i can applique on top of, embroider the surface, or even, leave them as they are

whatever i decide in the end will be fine - in the meanwhile, i've begun


 a 12 1/2" square of fine white muslin for the base, and a variegated taupe thread for the stitching, one patch per day

i gathered all the scraps into a pine needle tray my mother made for me, added a small pair of scissors, spool of thread, and then looked for a needle and a piece of felt to keep it in


when i spied a little needle book made for my by my friend sherry over at "creatology" 

sweet and simple, and the perfect thing
 

 as i gathered all the fabric scraps from both my work table and my sewing table, i realized i had several very thin strips of antique indigo cloth from japan, left-over from piecing the foundation for my kantha/boro bag

precious old cloth, some pieces just 1/4" wide

it took only a moment to decide to cover the needle-book with them


 above is the full outside cover with all the strips in place

below is evidence of the stitching i did... a meandering line, but in a way illustrating my own path to this moment


 the front cover, before trimming


i've since trimmed this neatly and it lays in the basket, with all the other bits and pieces

the basket itself sits neatly on a table, next to the chair where i have my morning coffee

after reading blogs and news and emails, and before coming up here to do my daily writing, i take five minutes, select a scrap of cloth and carefully stitch it in place

it's been three days now, and i already look forward to it immensely

a few minutes, every day, choosing a scrap based on either what i see out my front window, or what i feel in my mind, each month a new block

if you want to follow along i'm posting a daily image on instagram, in my own feed, and also with the hashtag #dailystitchpractice

the link is near the top of my blog, on the right hand side
 
feel free to join in if you like!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

patches and pockets

lately i've been drawn to simple patches, old linens, hand embroidery - making things up as i go

there's sometimes a plan, albeit a loose one, but sometimes there isn't

i've learned i can waste a lot of time trying to figure out a project, beginning to end, before i've even taken up a needle, much less a pair of scissors

nowadays i just jump right in and get started, making it up as i go, hoping for a brilliant idea or two along the way


 we're making "patched pockets" over in karen's latest class, and in honour of her being both an exhibitor and an instructor, at the amazing "pour l'amour de fil" in nantes, france this april, i thought i'd make a pocket with a french twist

red and blue, new cloth and old, designs by french general and liberty of london

i'm in heaven

i started with an old tablecloth, lovely linen, all neatly hemmed with faded blue embroidery transfers in each of the four corners, but not a stitch taken

there were several stains on the cloth, so i took a deep breath, and cut off one whole side, leaving the hem intact on the three remaining

my plan is for an envelope-style pocket, with a fold-over flap

not having any designs ideas, as mentioned above, i decided to start on the back

in not much time i'd appliqued the first four squares - then i sat and looked at it, wondering what to do next

i wondered for a long time... days - winging it wasn't working!

in the absence of a better idea i started making red cross-stitches along the hemmed edge and while doing that i was reminded of laundry marks... the whole thing was immediately cast aside and an internet search on laundry marks began

there isn't a whole lot out there readily at hand but i found an issue of piecework magazine from 1999 that was available for digital download that had a very good article - it was a beginning...


an etsy search revealed french laundry tape - white, with red letters, monogrammed by machine

they looked awfully familiar so the ipad was dumped on the cast-off embroidery and upstairs i went, pulling out boxes and drawers, and a half hour later held up a 5" white strip with lovely little "J.A."s embroidered in said red - a little gift tucked into a textile order from long ago

"J.A." not "J.W." but it will do just fine



back to work again, this time embroidering some of the faded transfer lines on the cut-off piece

this will in turn be cut up again i think, and appliqued on to the pouch in some fashion, but just how hasn't quite come to me yet


while waiting on that idea to develop, i turned to the next thing i knew for sure

i embroidered a tiny white flower on a scrap of the cut off material  and then darned it to the main piece in the open space between groups of the "four-patches"


there was no tear here, no stain that needed covering, just a desire to bring some of the cut away part back home, darning it, connecting it in a way that is somehow as close as it can get again to being part of the whole


and that's as far as my thinking's taken me...