Monday, December 30, 2013

twenty-four years...

 i had to wait twenty-four years, but i finally got my way...

the story actually begins two years before that, on september 25 to be precise

when our son was born

fast forward to december 23 and i had finally run out of time to make the beautiful christmas stocking i had planned in my head
i rummaged and found a christmassy piece of pre-quilted fabric and in a few minutes i had run up a simple stocking on my sewing machine, knowing there would be a whole year ahead to make a better one

that second year flew by as quickly as the first and another christmas came and went; the same stocking was hung for doug, with the same thought as previously... a whole year ahead to make the new one...

and then came year three, and as i gathered fabrics and bits and pieces a furor arose that would rival any clashing and prancing of hoofs on the roof

seems he quite liked "his" stocking, and didn't want another

and i was stopped in my tracks by one of the greatest forces i've ever encountered... thwarted by a combination of a two-year old's alligator tears and a temper tantrum

this year i finally got my way though - the stocking was nowhere to be found, lost somewhere between home, condos, apartments and a van

the same old issue of not a lot time presented itself, but i work faster now, and the general idea had had many years to percolate... an appliqued old-world style santa was what i had always envisioned

i decided to use some of the aberfeldy tweed i bought in scotland this past october as the base fabric...
lovely sage green with threads of red and blue

the old-world santa is an adaptation of a cross-stitch pattern designed by shepherd's bush, purchased in california while visiting family
(oddly enough, the name stitched on the cross-stitch design is "robert", my brother, doug's uncle's name)

 three of the applique fabrics are scraps from favourites purchased in the yukon when we lived there, many years ago

and plenty of snow at the toe and the cuff, complete with embroidered snowflakes

 doug loved it, i love it, but laura is not even remotely tempted by it - seems she's also quite happy to keep using her very own, beloved, pre-quilted fabric stocking

 i am nothing if not consistent!

Monday, December 16, 2013

the second step...

my second step back is another re-visit of sorts

we're in the thick of the season of people choosing words that they will wrap around themselves in the coming year

words to give focus and understanding, words to live by

words to draw strength from

two years ago i made the choice to have monthly words, thinking it would be allow for a better concentration on their meaning, and the impact they might have on me

 i would interpret each one in a stitched heart, at the end of the year, combining them all into a small wall-hanging that would be a forever reminder

it was a really good idea, and while a wonderful word did come to me each month, with it's message loud and clear, the attention i wanted to give each of them didn't quite happen...

i managed to make a few of the stitcheries

 but rarely truly pondered the word

a little bit here and there, skimming the surface... mere fragments of true intentions

and they were such good words...

i saved the list i had made, always intending some day to complete the project

the other day I came upon it whilst tidying in my sewing room, and a profound feeling of sadness came over me

another thing that had meant a lot to me, yet it had fallen by the wayside, as i was caught up in the day-to-day drudgery of creating for a commercial environment

as i read those words over, i realized how relevant they still are to me, how meaningful, even now, two years hence

april's "organize"

may's "snippets"

august's "sparkle"

so this year i am choosing them all over again

each month i'll think about, reflect on, and stitch my way through it's word, and i'll do it with embroidery, photography and writing...
continuing on with a journey i began two years ago, a familiar path in some respects, but with some new twists and turns along the way

 twelve little hearts, monthly word hearts, that will tell a story, with a special journal i'll create as i go

i may have upped the ante, but this time i have no intention of folding...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

one step forward....

two steps back...

when i made the decision to take more time for my own creative interests, ideas flitted through my mind at a rapid pace... when you finally decide you can make anything you want, how do you choose?

especially when there are so many possibilities

and as always happens with thoughts, one leading to more, i found myself reflecting on all the creative pursuits i have come to love

 from there, it was only a hop, skip and a jump to thinking about where it all began... such a journey it has been

 i can't remember a defining moment, nor a specific craft

rather, it's more like a montage you would find playing out on a movie screen

zoom in on mother's button box...

...pan to my first and only sewing box

a birthday gift from when i turned seven

it sits on my work table, open, filled with all my various needles

it came with a metal embroidery hoop and a white cotton dresser scarf that had embroidery transfer designs at each end; baskets of flowers, to be stitched with pretty threads, the whole thing trimmed with scratchy yellow lace

i laboured over it for years...

 knitting at seven, patchwork at eight, sewing in eighth grade, crochet in ninth

and of course there were people... the ones who entranced me with the work that fell from their hands

the clothes my mom made for me... the pink and white poncho, the dresses

 my best friend jessie's grandmother that taught me how to bead and work with leather when i was seven and eight... all my allowance went to beads that year...

doug's baby mocassins made by a yukon elder
 muriel, the neighbour lady that sewed pyjamas for her daughters, embroidering wynken, and blynken, and nod on the yoke, singing with her beautiful voice the whole time

the patchwork quilt my mom made for me out of baby and maternity clothes;  muriel's mother showing me the right way to join fabric together when i was trying to make my own


  on and on it goes - a lifetime of memories, of people and of the things they made

inspiring me on my journey with needle and thread

and so my first "step back" will be to record those stories, using stitch and words to create a song-book of needle and thread

remembering the past, re-interpreting old loves with new techniques, combining and binding the past with the present, adding blank pages for the future

 my story, wrought with my own hands

Saturday, December 7, 2013

my goosebumps...

many years ago, when my daughter was a little girl in grade three,
she had a thing for the "goosebumps" story books

every scholastic book order, each time she had pocket money of her own,
if there was a new "goosebumps" book, she wanted it

after the third or fourth request i decided it was time for a sit-down
after all, there were much better stories for a young mind to feed on

her response was so uniquely her - insightful and thought-provoking in it's simplicity, and to this day, her answer comes to my mind very often when i query my own creative urges...

"mom! i read "good" books all the time! why can't i just sometimes read something for fun?"

she had me...

 these little critters are my "goosebumps"

not serious art

not enlightening...

nor thought-provoking

 but they are highly entertaining

and relaxing

thar mindless relaxation of making something that doesn't put one in a design dilemma dither

as they slowly come to life they each take on their own character

quite fun really, in small doses -  not what i want to be doing all the time, but now and again, a boatload of fun

having said that though, i am ready for a new voyage of discovery...

i've talked on this blog now and again about time - how do you get more, make the best use of the time you have, make hard choices when there just isn't enough to devote to all your interests and desires...

with the talking came the thinking

 and with the thinking came the deciding

followed most naturally by the purging...

understanding the simplicity of making room for the things you truly want

i've purged many things from this house over the past few months - remember my pre-holiday goal of 150 items? 
i'm over 200 now.... patterns, books, ornaments, dishes, clothes... stuff

because one thing i truly want is neat cupboards and closets!

i haven't just been purging stuff though

through a good amount of soul-searching i have finally come to understand what it is that i want my life to be, how i want to spend my time, what the distractions are, and what's been getting in the way

oddly enough, at least to me, my annual sale at my house was one of the first things that came to mind
much as i have loved doing it, i can see now how much time and effort it takes

and so i decided on the morning after, when i got up and was thinking how much i felt like it was new year's day - unfettered, free to make whatever i wanted, that i didn't want to let that feeling go

and so i am letting go of the annual sale,
heading out into uncharted waters, finding a new path, a new creative journey of sorts...

just thinking about it is giving goosebumps

Sunday, December 1, 2013

galaxy's end

yeah, i like stars

but i think even i've hit the saturation point these past few days

looking forward to moving on to something else - i have a strange hankering to draw mushrooms

fanciful mushrooms... the red ones with white spots, and other wonderful ones...

but in the meanwhile, here is the end of my little galaxy i have been working on

the piece above began sometime way back in the spring or summer, and i have slowly added to it, bit by bit

there was a great, yawning open space at the top left that begged for something interesting

nothing interesting came to mind until one day i had the idea to try my hand at embroidered calligraphy

inspired by all the monograms i have been drooling over of late

but more with fabric than with thread

I found an "s" design online and added the star detail to the strike-through

incorporating them into the other letters as well

continuity and all that

i like what it adds to the design - in hindsight i wish i had beefed up the smaller letters, either with a stronger colour of thread, or more strands

but it is what it is and i am done with fiddling with it

this happens to have been the fiddliest thing i have done in many moons

trying to get the letters straight 

twinkle, twinkle

 i could have kept adding little stars here and there and everywhere

and on a final starry note...

the star books are finished

 i love this style of book-binding!

my first time trying it and i am hooked
(yep, i've already ordered more book-board and waxed twine)

i am a junkie and paper is my fix

 but aren't they just so cool?

the binding is only half the fun - decorating the pages is the best part

this is most definitely, positively a technique i will be back at in the near future

but i can assure you, the book may make a star shape when opened, but there won't be a twinkle anywhere to be found inside...

and... if you're a fan of karen at todolwen blog, she changed her web address and can now be found here:

if you've never been, you really must visit her... she has the most wonderful tutorials, and is a very gifted artist... inspiring, kind and a wonderful spirit

and a talent for turning "old to new"


Saturday, November 30, 2013

puttering away...

slowly but surely i am making some progress...

cutting up the fabric i made for book pages and cards

it's so much more fun to make unique things with well, unique things 

the starry fabric is getting cut up ruthlessly

no time for sentimentality, just snip, snip, snip

and little stars are appearing everywhere...

the card below is finished as well, stitched and stuck

little snippets of lace and silk, with tiny stitches... star stitches

a christmas card that can just as easily be framed and enjoyed year-round

below is a page from one of the star books

they're a new book-binding technique for me and I am liking it very much

little art star books

i'm adding only a few details, leaving lots of room for the recipient to add their own

i could spend hours and hours making these pages... but time's a'wasting and monday night is coming fast

tomorrow i'll be back to show you the books themselves...

and one last spectacle of stars

then it's elves!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

seeing stars...

lately i've been seeing stars...

i'm in the midst of two star books, which i will hopefully be able to show you tomorrow or saturday

one starry wallhanging

and a starry card

so today, to help me along on my celestial journey... i made this...

fabric stars suspended in a sea of froth

i suppose it's kind of like the milky way... in a way

it started like this

and ended like this!

 mostly blue stars, one white one

and some just stitched, over and over and over again

 i am so thrilled with how it turned out

it's even prettier in person

and now I am busily cutting it up, stitching them to paper and to cloth, adding embroidery and leaving them plain

 the sky's the limit when it comes to ideas for what to do with this magical one-of-a-kind cloth

the part i like the best?

 when i look at something like this, that has come from the work of my own two hands, i think how lucky i am that i got to make it

i made this

it sends shivers up my spine

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

it's only words...

words are on my mind these days

words and letters...

book-binding, calligraphy, monograms - they are all calling to me


there isn't time at the moment for all three so i am contenting myself with a little calligraphy in my embroidery...

the top left corner of this piece has been a mystery since i laid the first pieces of lace

which is pretty much why it's still a big, yawning expanse of white... what to do, what to do, echoing through my mind like a mantra

stars abound on this piece so it made sense to me to put it in blue and white...

the sketch above is the start - what i think i'll do.... embroidery for the thin lines, appliqued fabric for the thick parts

and then more embroidery in the background - that's the part i'm not sure of, which is why i haven't  attempted to sketch anything more than the basics

in my usual fashion, i'll do what i'm sure of first and hope for divine inspiration for the rest

that's how it usually work for me - i begin, and then the ideas start to flow

and this white space will be empty no more

in the meanwhile, i'm satisfying my monogram obsession by looking at this pretty...

a monogrammed napkin, given to me by my friend Vi

 every now and again she spoils me with a beautiful tidbit

this is the finest yet - what a beautiful treat it is!

and when the sale is over i'm going to dig out an empty sketchbook and play the days away...