Friday, November 30, 2012

going dark and other such things

this post will likely be as scattered as i feel right now - the sale is less than a week away and i think i might just have to break down and make a list or two...
which would make the manager quite delighted as she is all about lists
degree of importance

you name it, she lists it
(i did put her at the top of mr. claus' lists... you guess which one...)

she's a gemini and list are part of her life

i, however, choose to be the "arteest"
(which means " i make it up as i go...")

below you'll see what i made up for the mice

for mr. and mrs. claus to be precise
seemed appropriate

so after much fiddling with the computer and paint, this is what i parked them on

probably spent far too much time on it but i like the detail it adds without being in your face

the poem is there (in part)
and they're strategically placed so you can read the most relevant parts

so much time though...
from their clothes to the hands and feet, the candy cane, glasses and hair
and furry trim

which is a story in itself - painted mohair with bits of sparkly white fibres snipped and glued on, all distressed with a fork... 
overkill maybe, but i got the look i wanted but couldn't just go out and buy

i love things where all you get are snatches of the story,
you're not given it all - have to fill in a little for yourself

and i so love the twiggy hands and feet - love!
 then this came in the mail...
and i've been tempted to lose my focus

when this sale is behind me, and the joyous festive season is over,
the decorations packed up, and memories folded away

i will be playing with this little bundle that arrived yesterday

book board

yes, it's here - all the bookboard and the beginnings of some special papers for the christmas books i'll be making

a while back i posted about my idea for a christmas card book and asked who might be interested

the list below is all those who expressed interest
i sent out emails a while back to every one except mary and kim b 
(you haven't got an email address attached to your profile so couldn't send it, but you're in if you still want to be...)
i hated the idea of leaving anyone out so decided we were all in 

here we all are:

kim b
mary walden

mary and kim - hope you are still wanting in - please email me with your email so i can send you the card sizes and my address

i can't tell you how excited i am about this project

you only have to send five cards for the group and one for me
and if you have changed your mind i understand - just let me know that you won't be sending any so i am not waiting for them

and in january, i''ll still be humming a christmas tune
whilst i think of you and how special you and this project are to me

making something that lasts

and now, in the words of jack bauer from "24"

i'm going "dark" for a week...
i likely won't get around to your blogs until next weekend, or answer emails
(which i'm slow at at the best of times!)
but i'll be thinking about you and looking forward to seeing what all of you are up to when i'm finally not up to anything at all!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

for karen....

lately my posts have been about christmassy things
not because i'm some sort of weirdo christmas fanatic

just that's what i've been working on for my sale so have not  had much of anything else to share

not a bad thing, but it gets a little tiresome, especially as we can get bombarded with it by retailers as early as mid-october

a few weeks ago i begged to be let in late to karen ruane's latest e-course

i was perfectly happy to sidle in through the back door and quietly take my seat - observing and studying to catch up with the class, getting ready to begin

 karen's "style" of work "contemporary embroidery" doesn't say the half what she does with needle and thread

we're taking old linens and lace, mixing them with new, embellishing with stitches of old, and adding new twists, all the while learning the best of the best of the disciplines of good needlework

my kind of wonderful
and then i hit my first snag...

i've not had great luck finding many vintage laces - I have a few that are working well, and was gifted with a pile of old linens which yielded several good pieces I could work with

so i sorted and washed and sorted again

 and commenced with the ironing
i love ironing
i adore it actually
it's like i'm communing with the cloth
(when i was a child my mom's friends would bring their ironing when they came for coffee and i would do it for them - yes, i'm weird - oh well...)

anyhow, the snag hit when i came upon the lovely napkin below
as i was ironing it (i iron, i don't press) i noticed how truly beautiful it was
the lace was handmade, and attached all by hand
hundreds of tiny stitches

the effort it would have taken to make this...

and while i can usually be pretty ruthless with most textiles,
knowing they can be re-invented into something new and beautiful, if someone has the vision and is willing to take the plunge, 
and that the flip side is they will languish in a drawer, in the dark, never being used, never seen, saved for "good"

 i just couldn't cut it up

so i set it aside and continued working my way through the pile...
and came upon seven more

a set of eight
too beautiful for words
and while even just one would take what i'm doing from good to stunning, i still can't cut into them

some day perhaps, but not this day

especially as i have no clue what i'm doing, and in possession of enough odd bits to manage just fine

 i've been cutting and pinning and basting away

 folding, re-pinning, and basting again

linen and cotton and silk
with a little lace

 and while karen works her perfection mostly in white
many of my linens are a creamy taupe

so i'm using muted shades of blue, grey and taupe

with a smidgen of white to spark things up

 working on an edging of french knots
first in one colour, now inlaying with a blended needle, two strands of one colour, the third is something else

tying the colours together softly, looking aged already

i'm stealing time here and there
minutes not hours
and counting down until two weeks from now when i can play with this all day

 now that i have finally made a start i'm off to the flickr group
to see what everyone else in the class is doing
i wouldn't look until i basted my first two sections as i didn't want to be influenced by what the other's were doing - i didn't want to wish i had what they have, to do what they're doing or follow someone else's path

but now - i'm ready to be inspired!

you should come to....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

a tale of mice and women

still playing with mice....
seems it's a recurring theme

now it's mr. and mrs. claus
and they're almost too cute for words!

still lots of detail to finish

but oh so much fun to play around and fiddle with!

so much fun in fact, i had to share it with my friend marj
who lives three towns over
we email back and forth pretty steadily about this and that...
family and life and what we're creating now, what's next, what's fun... that kind of thing

 so naturally i told her about these little guys
and she was as enthusiastic about them as i am
(you can find the patterns here)

and since then the emails have been flying back and forth as we share our thoughts on how we are progressing, what we like, what didn't work so well and so on and so on...
kind of an "einstein" thing happening here!
 sometimes as i'm writing her about what isn't going well a solution will come to mind
and so many times when one doesn't, she'll suggest one

 we share ideas for fabrics, for techniques, for supplies...

(waiting on arms and caps and whiskers and things!)

and she's inventive
a fabulous sounding board
and a great source of inspiration

i was still reading the directions when she emailed me this photo of her first mrs. claus

isn't she adorable!?!

"mrs. claus", by marj

i've always said there is a great joy for me in making things

but it's way more fun when the experience is shared with a good friend

thanks for always being there marj!

Friday, November 16, 2012

heart's content

i told the girls at work today that i liked making the little felt hearts so much i was going to sit in the easy chair and make nothing else for the rest of my days....

i even bought pieces of deep rich red, blackish/brown and forest green felt
and a whole bag of stuffing
colourful skeins of embroidery thread
so i could settle in by the winter's fire... and stitch hearts to my heart's content...

(insert sound of screeching brakes here)

 but it isn't to be
the invitations for my annual sale are done and being hand-delivered as we speak
the date is set, less than three weeks hence

on our last vacation, i was inspired by the markets of france
of baskets and boxes filled with the loveliest of things

so when i sat down in the summer to sort out what i wanted this year's invitation to be
i came up with these

 little collage post cards
torn papers, music, images of paris
stamps and paint smudges
and little hearts made of knotted strips of torn fabric

 in the colours of france

i'm not usually much of one for themed events
but i thought if i was going to give it a go, paris is the best theme of all

i think i've made about 35 or so... and may need to conjure up a few more yet

 a few people have commented on how much work i put into them
how many hours they must have taken
"and isn't that kind of crazy" they said

 nope, not crazy at all

this is a special night to me
my one time each year i have my very own little store
a place of treasures and delights
of beautiful things

where people can browse and shop
and ooh and aah
and nibble on tasty treats
the kind of thing i would love to be invited to!

i spend a lot of time and effort making the things i make
lots of care and attention

doesn't it make perfect sense then, that i would give them the best send-off possible?

for me, the invitation sets the tone
makes the announcement
"you are special"
to both the people that come and the things i have created

yes, they take time
and yes they take money
but i wouldn't have it any other way

and in precisely three weeks i can finally settle in by the fire and begin my new life's work....
stitching those little felt hearts to my heart's content
if i can stay away awake that is!

Monday, November 12, 2012


there's a mouse in the house!

or two, or three, or four even...

trying my hand at something new and having fun


i've never painted on muslin before
have no idea how you're supposed to do it
but i took a notion and gave it a whirl and am thrilled with the results

 these little guys were meant to be coffee stained
but i didn't think i wanted coffee-smelling mice
and after mulling it over for a day or two, and being determined not to go out and buy felt or anything,
i decided i would try painting the muslin

and i'm happy to report  i have only one poor "guinea-pig" carcass on my worktable
poor little gaffer, sacrificed himself for the greater good
(maybe someday i'll make him into a dark brown mouse...)

 the funniest part was how i found my self chattering away to them as we went
even arguing a bit now and then about who got to wear what and why

and why so-and-so was always getting dressed first and this one was always last

and who got first pick of the buttons
and was i positively certain there would be a fabulous scarf to go with that shirt?!

and what made me think that black pants, a green shirt and a yellow scarf matched? certainly not with red mittens!
and this shirt is yicky because the trees on the sleeves are upside down...upside down, you know!

"i hate liney pants!"

 "jingly bells make my ears hurt..."

yep, i heard it all
but they are oh so cute and now that they're all dressed and almost ready to go i've already forgotten all the complaining

almost ready.... except for one tiny detail... but i don't have it in me to fight this fight with them

they need names

and as i can hear the cacophony about to begin, perhaps you have a suggestion or two?
or three
or four?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"i remember", i said

"i remember" i said to the sea

far out, the swell of green
nearing it's destination, the tumult grew
heaving, thundering, crashing

the lightness of the sun one way
billowing dark clouds another

standing on the shores of normandy
echos on the wind

"i remember" i said to the river
  green and shining, always moving, never still

 to the grasses blowing and the poppies growing
in the fields of flanders

"i remember you" to the soldiers
who lay at my feet

the whispers of the trees
branches dancing in the wind

the cawing of the crows
told me they remembered too

 standing on the edge of the vimy memorial
the country lays at your feet
bending in gratefulness, remembering

chiseled in granite
unyielding stone

known and unknown
i remember you