Friday, August 27, 2010

There's A Land - Oh, It Beckons and Beckons

The Spell of the Yukon by Robert W. Service is one of my favourite poems.
I have always liked the easy rhythm of verse, especially because it makes his poems easy to remember!

 This is not Service's cabin in Dawson City, but one of a long-time Yukoner that lives here in Whitehorse and I love it.
What character in such a tiny little building...

Cabins like this used to be commonplace in Whitehorse and area but have fallen into decay over the years, crumbling and falling back into the earth. Not Cora's. She lovingly maintains and cares for it and it is a beautiful little gem, tucked up on the shores of Schwatka Lake, within earshot of Whitehorse.

And no cabin would be complete without the woodpile... there is a real art to stacking wood so it stays in place!

No! There's the land. (Have you seen it?)
    It's the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
    To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
    Some say it's a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there's some as would trade it
    For no land on earth -- and I'm one.

Tomorrow I leave and begin the journey home - should be arriving Thursday so will be able to get back to visiting all my favourite blogs - I have missed you all!

You Can Go Home Again!

I finally have access to the Internet so I thought I would show you a little of what I have been seeing...

Stone Mountain Provincial Park, B.C. - this is between Ft. Nelson and Watson Lake.

Muncho Lake, B.C. Gas here was $1.89 per litre and there are 3.78 litres to the gallon - now that's real highway robbery!

A herd of bison just past Muncho Lake

A mountain at Jake's Corner, Yukon, about 70 km from Whitehorse.

The Yukon River with Grey Mountain in Whitehorse, Y.T.

Signpost in Watson Lake, Y.T.

The Signpost Forest in Watson Lake.
This started in 1942 when a homesick American soldier who was working on the construction of the Alaska Highway put up a sign for his hometown with the mileage. People bring them from all the over world and there are now more than 67,000 of them!

More of the Signpost Forest.

We had such a great trip up but no lights in the camper so Mom and I weren't able to muck around with needles and thread. Hopefully the battery issues will all get sorted out before the return trip so we can play.
The flip side was we had some great talks and went to bed went the sun went down!

Now I'm visiting with friends, walking on the old trails and just breathing it all in. 

Today was the Farmer's Market and my friend Carol and I feasted on fresh Arctic Char - yummy!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Quilting Wedding

I'm always on the lookout for quick and easy table runner patterns for teaching and for my Sale.
Sometimes I find them where you wouldn't expect...

This one for example, started it's life as a pattern for a runner featuring coffee cups. And while I like coffee, cups on a runner doesn't hold a huge appeal for me. This pattern is perfect for any applique because of it's open design, and I had designed a poinsettia a few years ago for a different runner (which I should do again as well...) So I married them. 

The perfect pattern and an applique design that were meant for each other!

And I think it's a match made in heaven!

When I first designed this poinsettia all the leaves were separate, but as this is for a class that is suitable for all levels I wanted something with a few less pieces.
So, I did each of the "petal/leaf rounds" as a single unit - much easier!
All I have to do now that the blanket stitch is complete is run a stem stitch from each petal join into the centre.
I had thought of appliqueing a holly leaf or two in the open areas bordered by the light green but I think that would fight with the strength of the poinsettias. Instead, I'll do holly leaves in a quilting design only.

I think I have just the perfect template...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Crafting On the Go

Somewhere along the Alaska Highway, my Mom and I are playing with all of this...

I spent many happy hours gathering little bits and pieces of fabric, ribbons, laces, buttons, charms, threads etc and then thinking of creative ways to parcel them up for safe passage.
I started this in an Artful Thursday post a few weeks back after seeing Rebecca Sower's article in the latest issue of Handcrafted. She had some charming ideas for organizing things but I was limited in what I had available so had to come up with a few of my own.

A wooden Velveeta box holds spools of thread, ribbon and lace along with a cloth tape measure I got from French General. A little ink bottle with a cork top hold buttons and to the right of it is a small leather box my Mom gave to me a few weeks back. It belonged to my Grandmother, is made of Italian leather and held her miniature decks of playing cards (there was even one card inadvertently left in it!) which now holds beads.

The little cloth bags on the right hold a box of silk pins and spools of cotton sewing thread and directly above them is stacks of coffee and tea dyed tags wrapped with ribbons and more lace.

Here you see rolled fabric bundles - three of them, and the project bags I made for my Mom and I.

This is another ink bottle that has beads and as there was a perfect groove in the glass, it has French ribbon wound around it. The stack is bits of fabric: some cotton and some linen, some plain and some stamped, all tied up with burlap twine.

Torn strips of tea-dyed muslin stamped with all sorts of different images - I even found an Eiffel Tower stamp. (Someday I will post about our trip to Paris and the Eiffel Tower; it's a lesson in how you don't always know what you want...)

Tins of vintage sequins and glitter, again from French General.

Tea-dyed cheesecloth and brass star paper clips.

Bobbins wound with embroidery thread and strips of muslin just waiting to be made into flowers - no, not ruched ones - I think I'm done with them for now!

So there you have it - a portable studio filled with anything you could want. And yes, I remembered scissors and needles! (Can you imagine if I hadn't? Maybe that's a vision of Purgatory for a needle worker - stacks of beautiful fabrics and threads and not a needle to be had. Maybe that's why God invented weaving...?)

The one thing I took to heart from Rebecca's article was not to plan projects when stocking the case - it's way more fun to be creative by working with what you have.
I'll be sure to take pictures of us hard at work and hopefully they will be my Artful Thursday post for the 27th!

If you have a hankering to make a travelling case such as this, you must go to Celestina Marie Designs and email her - she collects train cases and refurbishes them in the most beautiful way. Someday I will upgrade and get one for myself because I think this little art-on-the-go case will be a big hit with me!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Artful Thursday - More Art To Go

This is a little wristlet travel notebook-thing I adapted from something I saw in a book a few years back. I think it's ideal to take to Art Shows and such...

The wrist strap is attached with a clip so you can easily remove it if you find it inconvenient.

On the left inside cover there is a variety of pockets - you can see them much better if you click on the picture to get the enlargement. 
There is a thin pocket centred on the inside spine which is perfect for a pen or pencil.

The right side has a pocket for sliding the back of a notepad in. I added the fabric topper to the notepad to match the cover fabric. The easiest way to do it is to fuse paper-backed fusible web to the wrong side of a piece of fabric that is slightly larger than you need it to be. Trim to the size required, brush the paper with a thin coat of white glue and apply. Protect the fabric with an old magazine page and burnish slightly with a bone folder to remove any wrinkles and ensure a good adhesion.

This was fun to make and will handy-dandy for taking on my trip.

Which, I should now be on! 
This is a post-dated Artful Thursday post and I have a few other posts that should hopefully pop up between now and when I arrive in Whitehorse.
I'll take pictures along the way and try to do a few posts when I get there of the trek up the Alaska Highway.
Winding in and winding out...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Swap Update

The first parcel for the Swap arrived from Dorthe in Denmark last week!
And from what I have been hearing in the last few days, more parcels are on their way.
Now I am really getting excited!

Below you will see I have started The List - and Dorthe's name is first on it.
As the parcels arrive, the sender's name will be recorded in the order received and that will be the order for the Swap draw - so the first piece of all will go Dorthe! (If any parcels arrive while I am away, my husband will be here to receive and record them so no worries on that front if you have already mailed it - otherwise, I am home on the 2nd of September and you can mail them to arrive after that.)

I'm not going to open any of the parcels until they are all here and then I will take pictures as I go so I can post the Swap in process -  it should be fun and Lucille has said she will help me with it. I wish we could all be together for it but posting it will have to do. When I'm ready for the Swap I'll send out an email so you will all know to watch for the blog post.
I won't take pictures of what you will each get though - that way you will be surprised when your return parcel lands in your mailbox!

This week I happened to be at the little antique store in Enderby which had just happened to have received a load of beautiful lace doilies etc. I didn't have a whole lot of time to paw through them but I did manage to find a few treasures...

When I saw this one I thought right away it reminded of Diane Knott! So Diane, I snagged it for you if you want it - just let me know and I will send it off in a couple of weeks.

And these little beauties are for me!
I am seeing a wall hanging of some sort and these will be snowflakes, with the one in the picture below and a few others that are lurking somewhere in my Stock... er, um, Sewing Room.

Somehow or other I am seeing them randomly scattered over a batik-type background with glittery accents like silver beads or sequins or those shiny crystal things you press on with an iron. It could be fabulous but sometimes my mind and my hands are at a disconnect and I don't want to get too attached to an outcome that hasn't happened yet!

Thread Mess!

"Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we learn to stitch and weave."

Thread messes are a constant for me, perhaps because I am always mucking around with it in some form or another!
My first mess was courtesy of my baby daughter and husband. Laura was two at the time and they were sitting on the couch having a cuddle while watching hockey and I was upstairs making dinner.
I came down a short time later, appetizers in hand, too find Laura happily sitting in front of my thread shoe box (yes, it all fit in a shoe box at one point in time, a very, very long time ago!). She was having a ball pulling the little gold wrapper ends off all my DMC and then "stirring" the threads with her fingers into a beautiful, tangled mess, saying "Pretty", over and over again. Dad was oblivious...

How could I be upset at that scene?

And thus began a two-decade struggle of dealing with thread.

These boxes were handy for bits and pieces of leftover threads - but it isn't pretty!

The ubiquitous little white cardboard bobbins, now also available in plastic - ugh!

The other day when I was making the fireplace bundles I came across these as well and that started me thinking...
I have seen people all over the Internet wrapping ribbons and things on these so why not thread?

All I had to do was cut two little snips on each side to secure the thread when the wrapping was complete and then tied them all together with a bit of burlap twine. A ribbon would be pretty too though, or that neat bathtub chain, or key chain, or a twisted cord made from some of the threads, or...

"May your threads never tangle..."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Stocking Seams

I have been frantically working on my class samples before heading out on Thursday for the Land of the Midnight Sun. When I get back, I'll only have a week before the big Sign Up to get them all done and that's not much time given the number of classes I am teaching!
I am almost finished the seam decorating on the stocking but a few of the stitches are a bit plain to my eyes so I want to add a few more elements to them. I prefer not to add any other embellishments until all the seams are done so I need to hurry up as I am eager to get going on the fun part!

So far I have done different variations of Buttonhole, Herringbone,  alone and with added Straight stitches, Feather Stitch, and an Overlapped Cretan.
You can see the Overlapped Cretan in the picture below - it's the one sort of in the centre: the first pass of the stitch was done in pink and the second in white.

Here I have laid down a couple of heart charms I am thinking of incorporating...

A bit of a close-up,

The fun part is digging through all manner of charms, buttons, beads and ribbons to add just the right touch. I have to keep reminding myself this is a sample for a beginner's class and I had best not get too carried away.
Not like the Victorians!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aiders and Abettors

They're out there - those people in your life who are aware of what you like.
They're like an extra pair of eyes that take notice of something they know you would love. And sometimes, they bring it home to you!
I call them my Aiders & Abettors...

Sometimes my family doesn't "get" me; they seem bemused by my penchant for things that are old and worn, or my desire to use things for something other than what they were intended.  "Getting" me seems to be mostly reserved for a few select friends and, so it seems, a few acquaintances as well.
I suspect it's the same for some of you other creative people out there. 
We see possibilities where others do not; they see junk, trash, things that are well past their prime, they don't see a treasure-in-the-rough.
And when someone I really don't know that well "gets" me, I always feel very honoured (and that I'm possibly not that odd after all - my husband says I'm "quirky") Hmm...

Anyhow, the other day I was surprised with a bag of very icky, dirty, crumpled, rumpled and downright nasty-looking bits of lace. The story was it had been donated to the local Thrift Store who promptly banished it to the garbage, firm in the belief no one would pay a nickle for it. But my friend knew me...
And she presented me with a little pile that would rival anything Pigpen from Charlie Brown could conjure up. I should have taken before pictures but I was too eager to wash it and it was late at night and I am no good with flash and I just had to know if it could be pretty again...

I used my homemade lavender laundry soap, filled the sink with hot water and hoped for the best!
After some gentle agitating by hand, I rinsed the clump thoroughly and then gently disentangled all the bits and pieces. Rather than blotting it in a towel I did the same thing I do with my Hardanger pieces: lay them out on the counter sopping wet and when they are completely dry I peel them off and it's as if they have been ironed!

I really like these little medallions and can all sorts of possibilities for them, especially the square one.

And these would be ideal for those wrist cuffs that are all the rage right now...

I have several of these in each of the two sizes - I've never had a hankering to do a pennant or banner but I think there might be one in my future...

The best part of someone presenting you with a treasure like that is when you can tell by the look on their face and the inflection of their voice that they are truly excited about what they are about to give you. They know, in that truly understanding way of knowing, that you are going to be jumping up and down with glee.

I have been on both sides of that equation (or "occasion", if you like) and I still can't decide which is best!