Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

For most people the last day of the year is almost always a time for reflection and I am no different.

I have been thinking a lot in the past few weeks about what really matters to me, and, what doesn't. I have come to the realization that I spend an inordinate amount of time doing things that are of no real interest to me, they don't "speak" to me - and I don't "speak" through them. Now if they were the building blocks that would provide me with the needed skills to create something that was of interest that would be different. But invariably they are not.

So I am breaking my resolution of thirty some odd years ago (in a moment of teen age smart alec-ness I resolved not to make New Year's resolutions - and I did a bang-up job of keeping it all these years too!) and I am wading into the world of self-improvement.

I am resolving to spend more time making things that are not for sale, to creating more things of my own design, and to learning some new techniques. I have a plan, not a clear one, but it's a start. In the next few days I will define it more, set myself a schedule and begin. I am excited about a disciplined approach - it seems at odds with creativity but I am beginning to understand that in some areas and in low doses, organization may be beneficial. At least I am willing to give it a try.

Now I just have to unearth my Daily Planner!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Magical Christmas Eve

I still think of Christmas Eve as the most magical day of the year. Out of all the special days, it is indeed my favourite. And when evening comes and darkness has fallen the world becomes a very small place for me.

Some years our tree went up a few days before Christmas, other years, colder years, it might be Christmas Eve before we would finally give up on it getting warmer and go find the nearest Christmas Tree. Thankfully back then you didn't need a permit and could cut a tree anywhere on crown land - the good old days in the Yukon Territory.

Whenever the tree did go up, once the lights were arranged, the ornament below was the first to be placed. For every Christmas of my life he has been on our tree - you see he is a very old ornament - more than seventy, and of course I am nowhere near there myself!

He is an odd looking Santa - at least I have always thought so, and the colour of his chenille arms and legs has mellowed over the decades. When I was very young I didn't care for him at all but he grew on me year after year and now he is my most treasured ornament; a link to my past.

And it seems he has become a link to the future as well.

When my children were small they didn't much care for him either - funny-looking they decreed. I didn't say much for I knew full well his ability to grow on one. By the time they were teenagers they didn't mind him and I know when they are both home for Christmas they will each look at the tree to make sure he is in his place.

And of course he is.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snowmen That Ski?

I think my favourite part of Christmas is the tree. I love decorating it; it takes me a long time because I think about the placement of each and every ornament. I like creating little "pockets" in the tree where you can tuck in just the right ornament and the lights are just so - the effect can be magical!

And, as the tree is my favourite element, it follows that making ornaments for it is one of my favourite things to do. The little fellow below was made about six years ago and he has had his special place on the tree ever since. The skis are made from pipe cleaners that have strips of torn, tea-dyed muslin alternating with strips of torn red fabric, wound around and around and around until I was almost dizzy and hopelessly tangled! But I wanted the raggedy effect and that was the only way I was going to get it!

I didn't intend for his one arm to raise up like he is waving out from his perch - it just went that way of it's own accord. He was supposed to be holding little ski poles but I was late getting him to this stage and so he has gone without - every year I think I should make and attach them but don't seem to get around to it before it is time to pack the decorations away for another year.

I think he might just look hilarious with them so perhaps this will be the year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Tis the Season!

I thought my blog should have a festive look in honour of the Season!

I made this little ornament years ago while living in the Yukon - I was always on the lookout for ideas for my annual sale and found this in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. My good friend Charmaine and I spent a wonderful day crafting these little bear angels from homemade salt dough and what fun we had! Of course I had to keep my favourite...

I also promised to post some pictures from my bookbinding experience and thought I would start with these ... the first image is the inside cover - I had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to make the bookplate as I was more than hopeless on the computer, but as this book was to be my Daily Thanks Journal I thought the quote was perfect and wanted it in there! (If you click on the image you will see an enlarged version.)

The outside of the book cover is fabric with a proper book cloth spine and the inside covers are hand made flower paper. I folded and sewed the signatures by hand and then added a ribbon for the closure (there is a button on the outside of the front cover).

Inside Cover

Front Cover

I have almost worked out how to construct my quilted art journal for the upcoming class (at least in my head that is!) and have made the first fabric page - and it came out exactly as I expected. Now I just have to make more! And of course, figure out the cover. And think of a quote for the bookplate. And design the bookplate. And, and, and....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Inspiration Inspires!

I have been so busy teaching this Fall I forgot to think about what I wanted to teach in the New Year ... and of course, just as I am finishing up my last class, the questions start ... What are the classes we can put you on the schedule for?"


All I could think of were technique classes (which are of course my all-time favourite ones, hands down) - there were no projects that could get me to even think of turning them into a class. Until I looked at Rebecca Sower's blog (check out my "Blogs I Follow" list) and thought it was high time I made a quilted art journal for myself.

Years ago I took a few book binding courses and have dabbled in it from time to time. I love books and the idea of making them fascinates me even more than quilting does - Surprised? I was.

Anyway, I started thinking about what I would want to record in a journal of my own and decided what had always held me back before was wondering how I would make a journal that would allow me to incorporate writing, drawing and sewing all at the same time. Today I had the "Aha" moment.

My journal will have paper signatures (as all good books do), but they will be interspersed with fabric ones. It took a bit of thinking but I am now half-way through making my first fabric pages and so far I am exceedingly happy - no, that's not right - I am bloody gleeful about how well it's turning out. If this all works out like I think it could I will be downright thrilled.

Tomorrow I will post pictures....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Twelve Days of Christmas

This link button is too big to fit on the side of my blog with the rest but it's too pretty not to share!


You need to check it out!

'Tis the Season

Have you ever had something turn out better than you expected? It happens to me a lot, and the stocking below is a fine example of that! I wanted it be plain, but not too plain, floralish but not flowery, and small but not miniature - diminutive was what I had in mind.

Every Christmas I hang this little guy on the post of a brass lamp I have - it's an old fashioned looking one and the stocking looks perfect. Nothing has ever been found in it on Christmas morning even though I look hopefully every year - maybe this year I will surprise myself!

In looking for inspiration I have been wandering around in cyberspace and looking at other blogs - it is absolutely amazing to me what people create. I am adding a button for the "Where Women Create" blog which has a fabulous give-away on now; you really must check it out! I am also adding a link for a blog I found called Lilybean's Paperie. Melissa is the designer and paper is her medium and her work is simply lovely - just so inspiring.

Check them both out and see if you don't agree!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snowman in Flannel

I have always liked Winter - never loved but certainly liked. It must be from growing up in the Yukon - you might as well at least like it as you get a lot of it!

So when I wanted to do a snowman wall hanging for one of my class projects, I did one with a Christmas Tree, but it didn't make me happy. I think of snowmen as a generally "Winter" thing, rather than just at Christmas. And I had found a lovely hounds-tooth dark brown flannel... so I made another one...

I am not sure how many of you have combined flannel and cotton broadcloth in a single project but this is my first - and I am delighted with the results. You can see the texture and it calls you to touch it - well, really, to rub it. And let me tell you about the grey starry fabric I used for snow. Everyone in both classes wanted that fabric in the worst way. I had bought it years and years ago - can't remember how many exactly but I was up north when I got it. For some unknown reason I had a bought what was for me a fair chunk, I believe a whole metre, but had hardly used any up to this point. Well, I took it to both classes and I am now left with a smidgen of it!

Anyway, I was going to keep this as I loved it so much, but one of the people in my class was telling me she was making hers into a pillow and I decided I wanted one too. So this little fellow is off to a good home and I get to make him all over again, except this time he will grace my sofa (my husband's word - I say couch - what do you say?) for a few months. Much as I like him it will thankfully be for less time than if we still lived up North!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Time For Me!

The Sale is over and I only have two classes left so am thinking ahead to what would I like to work on for no other reason but that it interests me ... it is a very long time since I have had the luxury of doing that!

The photo below is of a project I started many years ago that is beckoning again. It has been so long I have forgotten the details of what I was planning for it but usually I find as I am drawn back in, memory clicks and I will remember most of what I had intended. Doesn't mean I won't decide to do something different though. I have learnt a few things along the way that may wiggle their way into the design!

This is going to be a small wall hanging that is inspired by the beach we used to go to when I was a child. My family had a cabin there and my favourite thing to do was go beach combing. I would collect sand, shells, driftwood, and seaweed, along with feathers (which had to be hidden as my mother was certain they harboured all manner of disease and germs!) and all of those things are what was inspiring me when I began and still speak to me now.

I think I set it aside because I had got as far as I was sure about what I wanted, and then hit a dead end - where to go next? I didn't want to make a mistake because I really liked this piece and didn't want to wreck it. Ever had that happen - you start out with something that is proving to be stunning, and the further you get the more afraid you are of messing the whole thing up? This has been my first experience with that feeling and I must say, it makes me a bit uncomfortable!

But I am ready now and so the decks have been cleared, room somewhat in order, and I am ready to re-acquaint myself with an old friend.