Thursday, March 28, 2013

seeing stars

last night i went for a walk
it was late, after nine already and the air was crisp

the night was dark, the full moon gone 
even the streetlamps seemed dimmer than usual

when i walk, for the first 20 minutes i am in my head
not really noticing anything around me
lost in thought... what i've been doing, what i'm going to do - the usual sort of stuff

and as the noise in my head gets quieter, the world creeps in
and that's usually when i look up

last night when i looked up, the sky was awash with stars
glittering, twinkling, so many that the sky truly shimmered
it was amazing!

and when i came home, i sat down and did this...

no metallic threads here, no shimmer or glimmer
just my own little constellation of softly coloured stars and snowflakes

in my usual palette of blue-grey and whitish-greyish-beige, like greige, only whiter
with clusters and clumps of french knots up above, and in between, on each scallop of lace, an elongated smyrna cross

 stitched on a piece cut from an old damask napkin, and layered with bits and pieces of old, discarded linens that i am re-working into something new

 this is a new section for my wrapping cloth and so far, it's my favourite!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

trying not to see the forest for the trees

background is done - for now
i may still make a change or two but it's time to move this thing forward

today i started on the trees
using tissue paper
i was surprised how easy it was to do the backstitch through it
i've only ever done a running stitch - back in my days of silk and metal thread embroidery

but as a pattern transfer tool, you just can't beat it
especially when you can't sketch worth beans
but have a big eraser!

it took a lot of discipline not to start removing the tissue paper until all the outlining was done

but then i was rewarded with this

some parts are definitely awkward, but others are unexpectedly graceful

next comes stitching and couching some pretty, sparkly threads, all designed to fill in the trunk and heavier branches, all the while adding glittery frost

i am still thinking i might try to work in some snowflake "leaves"

so much more to do still, and with each step i take i worry more that it will be far too busy, that i have used too many fabrics
in real life, it's much calmer and subdued than it shows here
at least i hope so!

i've updated the frost queen page above as well, located just under the header - there's a few extra photos up there, along with more natter...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

a day in the life.....

of a dopey cat!

mistress josy-phine is up to all sorts of antics now she is feeling good and finally gaining weight after almost two years of worry

 morning tub time - dry play only, no water allowed!

a fluff and a comb-out are required regardless of not being wet

orange cats love orange marmalade

yes, she really does!


and then a nap... an all day nap.... from pillow to couch....

to perch....

it turns out, despite three vets telling us josie had kidney problems and would never get better, that she had a diet problem

and the special vet food we were giving her, meant to  help her, was actually the problem

she is now happily chowing down on a wholesome and healthful type of cat food, available in specialty pet stores
 and is gaining all her weight back

playing like a kitten again
(when she's all rested up that is!)

thanks to our son Doug and his partner Claire
who took josie to calgary for six weeks and experimented with different cat foods and different feeding methods
persevering through endless varieties

they found a selection of cat food that she not only loved, but has restored her health and vitality

we have our little cat back, and we are so grateful!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

TFQ(cqp)= 2(work) +1

that translates into
The Frost Queen (crazy-quilt project) equals twice the work of one project

everything i have done, i have done at least twice
except the stream which is on it's third incarnation

when i dreamed up this idea i decided i wouldn't piece it on a foundation the way you usually do - i'm doing a scene, in a make-it-up-as-you-go kind of fashion so that doesn't really lend itself well to piecing on a foundation - 'lessin' you want to draw it out first
(which i didn't)
{but maybe i should have!}

instead i pieced it in sections: sky, palace, rocks, snow, and sewed the sections together as and when it seemed fitting
then i unpicked most of them and did it again
and sometimes again

the first palace looked more like a mud hut - now it's much leaner and closer to what i had in my mind's eye, arches and windows that will be etched with frost, with the fabric starting the work for me

and when i had it all done i taped it up, pinning on the stream i had crazy quilted on tissue paper, and i realized i had a bit of a problem

i had pieced some darker fabrics into the snowy foreground area, adding them randomly to create shadows

and now realized i had inadvertently pieced in a perfect echo of the stream - i could not have done that if i had tried - in fact, the whole reason i was appliqueing the stream was because i had thought it would be downright impossible to piece it in

silly me

there were a few options for fixing it , and it was decided i would applique a lighter piece of silk fabric over top of one of the offending sections - and it worked!

here's the corrected version,  with the stream slowly being fitted and curved into place

in the early days i did think it wrong to applique the stream on top of the background - the background really should come over the stream

see how it "sits on top"?


that idea came with a whole different set of logistical problems
so in my usual fashion i ignored it and kept on with the rest

but now the rest is taken care of and it's time for the stream
as i was working on it today i kept going back to the notion i was doing it the wrong way around
but dreaded the thought of cutting the background from underneath and peeling it away, folding the raw edges under and appliqueing it on top

 i know me well enough to know that when something is nagging at me like this it will never stop
and that i am better off to at least try it and see, even if it means hours more of work

so i removed the basting threads at the foreground, re-basted a little farther from the edge, cut the background fabric, pulled it from underneath, folded under a seam allowance and appliqued it on top of the stream

 and in this photo you can hardly tell!

in real life you can definitely see the difference, but not so much here...

so now i am thinking about doing the bottom part like this, background on top and leaving the upper portion as it is, with the stream appliqued to the background

all of the edges (the stream banks) are going to have stitching, snow, rocks and boulders, shrubs and driftwood so there will be be  nowhere that you actually see the seam

i'm not afraid of the work of changing it now but i'd rather not if i don't have to - i want to get to the fun part!

and all this beautiful, textured fabric is crying out to me to embellish it with trees, and snowflakes, and ice-crystal flowers

not mess around with the stream for a fourth time!

what do you think???

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

confessions of magic and mayhem

seems like my last post impressed some of you to no end...
my list of accomplishments...

truth to tell, i was home alone for 8 days
no vacuuming, no dusting, ate salads so no cooking
no laundry

it's easy to get a lot accomplished when you don't have all of that
so i'm not really so stunning after all

that's one confession... here's another

i like wine
i like paypal
sometimes i mix them
separately they are great, together, well, they can be magic or mayhem

but i'll begin at the beginning...

somewhere back about 1997 i started doing crazy quilting using only neutral fabrics: ivory, cream, beige, taupe and stitching them in the same colours of threads, sometimes adding icy blues

i loved, loved, loved the look
and i started to wonder what if i pieced quilts using those same fabrics, traditional block patterns and then embellished the seams with embroidery in the same neutral coloured threads

 this was my first experiment, started round about 1998

a square in a square wall hanging, four blocks, all in neutrals

the first block i did was this one, sand hills, shells

and the second was this posy of button flowers
simple and delicate

herringbone stitch and french knots 
textured fabric
sublime ({at least to me!}

and then i put it away because i couldn't think of what to do with the last two squares
and i liked it so much i didn't want to mess it up

fast forward 15 years
early evening
a lovely shiraz
and a notion to go in web-surfing

 and i am now the proud owner of modeles de broderie par yoko saito
in french
cost me a boatload, worth every penny
thank goodness my french is pretty good
i am learning all about "point lance, point de noued, point de croix, fait les pochettes et les sacs

c'est tres bien

and today i got an idea for the last two squares, thanks to a little bit of inspiration from this new treasure - stay tuned tomorrow....

my husband just looked at it and said "it's all in french!"

mais oui, monsieur, mais oui

Monday, March 11, 2013


my head is spinning...
(this version on youtube has the perfect visual!)

this is the song that has been roaring around my head this past week as i flitted from one project/technique to another, all the while thinking about many more

 i finally got back to my "wrapping cloth"
which i am actually going to finish as quilted wall-hanging so it can go in our upcoming local quilt show

 corners cut from old stained napkins and doilies, now adding embroidery to some of them 
(the lazy daisy flower and french knots on the one at the far right were added by me)

 before i added this row of "points" with a lacy edge i had decided this block was going to be my least favourite
now i am sure i will like it best

call me fickle
(insert heavy sigh here)

 i attached the strip of lace with french knots and now i wish i hadn't

should have been web stitches

think i'll add them in between, on the section with the slit opening - that will be fun, stitching over those openings - yeesh, i do it to myself!

this little pointy corner makes up for that though - it turned out exactly as i hoped for

give, and take

 i have gotten this far with the next round of pages for the cc book project - see the lace?
i love it - now that turned out better than i thought it would too!

 the cheesecloth also makes me pretty darn happy!

 some laces worked better than others, some more obvious, others less so

 thinking about adding some hand embroidery to these

...and also thinking i might be wise to leave well enough alone

  the heart i spoke of trying - simple, and wouldn't this be pretty attached to the front of a card?

these just might be my christmas cards for this year

liking this one best of all

also this week i layered four table-toppers, now ready for quilting
(i am doing an in-depth study of table toppers and have made seven in the last little while - they're like little quilts and so addictive!)
 crocheted a scarf
 did some sketching
worked on the frost queen
started another table topper and cut out a lap quilt
cleaned two closets
emptied two fabric bins
completely sorted and re-organized my ribbons and trims - that was a nasty job!
dealt with my wool situation - yes, it WAS a situation
 organized all my "stuffed" supplies
 got depressed about how many things i want to make, how long they will all take and how little time there is

and then i sat down for lunch and a chat today with a good friend and
got happy again, thinking about how lucky i am

and i realized it was time for a cool change
(and this is the most amazing video ever!)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

the reese's pieces theory of creativity

i've been spending a lot of time these days flitting between the three courses i have been taking from karen ruane: an embroiderer's ledger, embroider, embellish, create and alchemy

working with paper and thread and lace

and today all that flitting collided into something new
(think the reese's peanut butter cup commercial where two people, separately eating chocolate and peanut butter, are coming to the same corner and bump into each other....)

i'd been thinking up different pages to put in the card books i'm working on
and a couple of you sent your cards in very pretty tissue paper....
i saved all of it and made these!

collaged tissue paper pages, embellished with free-motion stitching and hand embroidery

 beautiful bits of colour enhanced with thread

some i stippled

 others have random squiggles

 you can't see it here but this tissue had sparkly bits which peek through here and there - i may even add some more....

 beautiful, elegant paper, just waiting for a little added sparkle

some poinsettias are machine stitched

 and some are hand-pricked

 random bits of paper and thread

 it occurred to me as i edited the picture below that the coloured pieces form a heart in one spot - i like that idea and am going to play with it next, also adding bits of lace and cheesecloth to the mix

 you never know where you will end up when you learn something new....