Friday, June 28, 2013

something new...

i haven't done anything on the piece i showed in my last post - it seems i like it so much i'm afraid of messing it up so i am thinking on what to do next and doodling on paper

in the meanwhile, i was inspired by some of the work being done in the class, especially what's been happening over here, so i did a woven background of my own to play on

soft colours, a little texture, some pretty lace...

 one bit that apparently needs some extra pressing
(cameras are so unforgiving!)

 nice light colours so the stitches will show

i like it but i don't love it

and hopefully that means i'll be happy to experiment and not fret over it like it's got to be a masterpiece or something silly like that

i like it because:
weaving is quick
and it uses up extra fabric
and you don't have to use a sewing machine
yes,yes and more yes!

 i am also happy to say things are moving along in the book room...
ten sets of covers are done
six book blocks are sewn
another 6 have been compressed and clipped

below is one that has been sewn, with the ribbon tapes in place

these have been a good challenge for me because of all the different sizes of papers and bumpy bits here and there... they won't be the "tightest" of bindings but the linen thread should hold them together for many, many years

and the different sizes and types of papers should afford lots of ways for you to add to them, with writings, and gluing in or sewing various pictures, and/or bits of this and that

 below is kind of how they will look when they do get stuck together

with of course, the button chains on the spines

i have decided i will leave the covers plain so you can add your own embellishments,
or leave as is, with the pretty fabric having centre stage
(many have this fabric, but not all)

 i think i will add a ribbon tie to them as well, so if you do load them up with lots of thises and thats, you'll be able to tie it shut

and perhaps a book plate, with a note from me to you?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

summer school

only one picture to show you today of my project from karen's latest class - this cloth is moving forward, slowly

i appliqued more "hexagons" and then using the same shape, outline stitched a few more - next up is to start adding in the embroidery

so far, i am liking this quite a lot but i am still not sure what it will be

and i'm not sure why i seem to think it has to "be" anything

maybe it just is....

one of the best things i learned in my early days of needlework was the value of a sampler

and when i teach a needlework class i suggest each student first work the stitch on their sample cloth before they add it to their project - a very smart way to work out the mechanics of a stitch without having to worry about "ruining" anything

i studied those early samplers for a course i took through the embroiderer's guild of america back in 1991, and was quickly entranced with the idea they were a visual record of the progression of skill of an embroiderer

highly prized by collectors and museums, those earliest of samplers weren't done in the pictorial style of the early american samplers

they evolved from the belief a sampler should showcase a needleworker's skill level, rather than detail the progression of it

I like the original idea best.... and it is my sincere hope to see at least one of them whilst on our travels through the uk this fall

i feel like a cat on a hot tin roof sometimes, when i think about our trip

hopping from a literary tour to an art history tour and side-stepping into a tour of architectural wonders

i've been reading up on dickens (and there's a new post up here telling that story)

and william morris

brushing up on poetry - i studied english literature in high school and loved it so much i scoffed the text book (it was with the teacher's permission so not as bad as it sounds) - and so glad i did as it not only has the best poetry of each period but also discusses the social, political and economic history of each period

and then there's the architecture....

but i am digressing and if i am ever to get anywhere on my list of things to learn about and brush up on i had best get busy

summer school indeed!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

a puttering kind of day...

today has been a happy, puttering kind of day

yesterday i thought our town would drown from all the rain we had - i've never seen it rain like that here - in fact, i've never seen it rain like that anywhere...

thankfully nothing serious except the highways all around are closed because of mudslides

and as it was far too wet outside still today for any kind of yardwork, i stayed warm and dry inside and worked on a few things...

below is the start of my sampler i'm working on through karen's simply stitch class

it's a "we're a fly on the wall watching her work" kind of class - so my project is completely different from hers, excepting of course that there is fabric, thread and stitches involved

over-lapped cretan using over-dyed thread

i started out with a piece of cloth i bought in calgary last year - i'm not certain if it's evenweave, but it behaves like it is!
what i do know is that is rough and slubby and reminds me of a coarse linen - i think it's only cotton - anyway, i like it, so i'm using it

i marked it off into three sections - don't ask me why - i don't know

but three sections it is

 hopefully i'll think  of a brilliant reason why soon enough

herringbone and straight stitch
 once i basted the dividing lines i decided i would stitch them decoratively as well - herringbone and straight stitch for one and over-lapped cretan for the other

the patchwork shapes are basted onto papers a la english paper-piecing and for this i am using my yarn-dyed plaids and some purple fabric... i love the softly faded look they have

so far two are sewn down and now i am playing around with the rest trying to decide how to arrange them

what i am wanting is some kind of lay-out with fabric shapes but also some spaces that are stitched around but no fabric applique - "blanks" if you will, or "negative space" might be a more accurate way of putting it

and in those blank spaces i will sample some stitches

at least that's the plan

 today i set that aside while i think on it a little and instead set to work on the signatures for the books

folding and cutting and choosing and arranging

playing all day with pretty papers

twelve are sorted out now, all in neat little stacks, arranged as i want them to be when you open your books and flip through the pages

 three are clipped; pinched tight to compress them - you get a better book if you do that but each has to sit for twenty-four hours and i only have three sets of clips...

 there's something about the process of making things that i really like, that knowing of how it will be but it isn't quite

a book that isn't a book yet, but has glimmers...

Monday, June 17, 2013

catching up

 so now the dust has settled somewhat, i have got back to the card books

cutting pages for the papers, folding them, clamping them

and even making them....

above and below are samples of the pages i made with the paper doily karen b. of todolwen sent me along with her cards for the swap

 and button chains!

i need 28 of these (i think!) and have just completed the tenth one - they are a fun and relaxing thing to work on in the evenings when i am feeling tired - simple yet still creative, and each time i finish one, i am sure it's my favourite

 beads, buttons, charms - any kind of bauble really - they all look so nice together and when they're tied on the spines they'll add a sense of whimsy to the books

i found some panel fabric at the shop i thought would be perfect for part of the covers but now i have it at home i think it might be too big.... so it seems you're each going to receive your book in a little bag.... it's amazing to me how quickly a new idea can form once you let go of an old one....

in other news -  i have started a new blog...

i'll still post here, as i have for many years

so many times though i thought of things i wanted to post about but they just didn't seem right for here - this space is for my creative endeavours

i wanted something for my thought-full ones

i set it up a while back and then pondered the whole idea 

realistic-ally and logistic-ally

and finally decided i can manage both - i think!

anyway, it's called "yesterday's grace"

and my thinking is, it will be a place where i ponder things i think about

about how we can live in the world today; a world that reflects the best of the way things used to be along with the hopes of how they could be

i hope you'll stop by...

Friday, June 14, 2013

roger says it best...

"engeland swings like a pendulum do..."

my dad played that song by roger miller on his reel to reel cassette recorder when i was four and i loved it!

"bobbies on bicycles two by two" sounded like something fun,  and i wanted to see the "rosy red cheeks on the little children" so badly
(the only time my own cheeks have ever been rosy was when it was -40 in the yukon!)

when i was 8 i remember telling my grandfather, whose parents emigrated from scotland just before he was born, that i wanted to go to england and scotland and see where our families had come from

it was a wonderful chat and it ended with him giving me a ten dollar bill to start my trip savings

((i put it in a book on the bookshelf in my bedroom for safe keeping and never saw it again... - i still shake out the encyclopedias now and again, hoping...)

when we were first married there was talk of travelling to the uk

i remember my excitement at purchasing 35 pounds to start the saving process again... but jobs and mortgages and babies came along and the pounds were changed back to canadian dollars...

but finally, a life-long dream is about to come true, thanks to this young man

five years ago our son doug participated in his first ever triathlon right here in salmon arm and this september he will compete in the world triathlon race in hyde park, london, england 

 and we will be there to cheer him on!

we are so very proud of him... there are just no words...

for those of you that have followed my blog for some time you will recall that he also qualified for the world triathlon race in auckland, new zealand last year

university committments and the high cost of getting there just didn't let it be possible so he did the next best thing - trained hard and qualified for the london race this year

doug and his partner claire
 we are over the moon excited to be able to go and see him run (and bike and swim!) and spend some time with him seeing the sights

and after the excitement of the race and london are over, marc and i are heading off on an adventure of our own - a five week circle tour of england and scotland

starting in the cotswolds and working our way up and around

my mind is a jumble: william morris, jane austen, charlotte bronte, wordsworth, byron, beatrix potter, robbie burns, dickens, tea and scones, gardens and castles,old books, natty sweaters, but most of all, 

moors and bracken

tartan and pipes

my great grandparents used to love coming to the yukon to visit but it made them sad too - it was much like home, they said... 

and so i am going to scotland, to tillicoultry, to their home

for them and for me
(and i bet i'll cry!)

 i'm already saving pounds and making lists

lace, woolens, tartans, old books, chintz, spode, and one of these:

a genuine bonafide mason & cash bowl pudding bowl!

"oh to be in england..."

Thursday, June 13, 2013


that's just the sound of me finally coming back to earth, off the high of the past week

what a great quilt show we had - so much inspiration... my fingers started twitching halfway through and by the time i left i had already planned my next three quilts
('cepting of course, all the ones i have started and really need to finish!)

i have to admit though, my first stop was to the merchant's mall... i knew my favourite online shop would have a booth and i was hoping they would bring some of their fabulous yarn-dyed cottons - and they did not disappoint me at all

(the stack in the back followed me home)

as did these beautiful embroidery threads.. .dmc is all we have around here and these beauties are like water in the desert to me... now they have my fingers twitching like mad!

and that my friends was all i bought

but it was more than enough - between these beautiful fabric and threads i will have more fun this summer than i did the summer i was four and could buy licorice as long as my two arms put together

and finally i have some pictures of my not-really-quite-finished quilt...

i'm starting to like it again - sounds odd, but the construction was done in such a different way - each section, on it's own, made up as i went - no plan, no sketch, no preliminary design - it just grew, section by section, notion by notion

and then the day came when i had to join it all together, trying to decide on a layout....
and once i got that done i was surprised at how different it all looked, together

i had only seen each section as a stand-alone piece and found when they were all put together, they seemed somehow to get lost... then i was afraid i hadn't decided well - designer angst i suppose

but when i saw it hanging at the show i saw that it all fit, and everything was in the best place it could be

and i had done alright

 i still have much seam embellishing to do (a la crazy-quilting) and a few other details to add as well

with projects like this, every idea, every stitch, leads to another
i know at some point i will just have to pronounce it done, but not quite yet

 i still want to add some hand-quilting details, where they will show

a special ornament
{i think it might be modeled after the one we bought in  north pole, alaska at santa claus'  house on our honeymoon}

 and some lacy, embroidered holly berries to go on here

 still trying to decide if the stockings should have hanging loops....

 and so it goes - the joys of designing your own quilt are that you can do whatever you like, the challenge is knowing when you're done!

i'm letting it hang out in the back bedroom for a few days while i ponder it all... and in the meanwhile, my thud back to reality happened with a vengeance today when i finally really looked at my surroundings after the past month of being focused only on my quilt.... and was confronted with a very thick layer of dust - and i mean thick!

so today instead of playing with my new fabrics and threads, i have been dusting and vacuuming and doing my spring cleaning... and i'll be doing more of it tomorrow... and likely on my next day off as well - time to pay the piper

and in all that spring cleaning, purging, sorting and tidying, i sorted through all my projects on-the-go and made a plan for them too

first is the christmas books
and the plan is for them to be finished by the end of the first week in july, mailed by the 10th

then we go to sisters, oregon to visit family and see the famous quilt show

then back home for two months.... and then.... we go to....

i'll be back tomorrow with that story!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

all wrapped up...

 yes, all wrapped up, in more ways than one....

one hour and 35 minutes ago i delivered my quilt

ten minutes before the deadline

six minutes after i took that final stitch
(all i will say is that it was a wild ride to the arena!!!)

i do work best to a deadline, but as usual, took it a tad too far - anyhoo, it's done and about to be hung

the last few days have been a flurry of needle and thread, the sheen of the steel glinting against the white cloth, the rhythm of the stitch marking the minutes and the hours - this is when that special bond forms, and the cloth and i become one

thoughts drift, the mind wanders and memories abound, and these last days were spent, not just on the details of finishing, but also working on the part that has the most meaning....

this small square, tucked away at the bottom corner is the key to the whole

the sum of the parts, the raison d'etre...

the story goes like this:

one of my favourite christmas memories was the arrival of the sear's wishbook catalogue, a mainstay in rural canadian homes

a treasure trove of christmas delights, harbinger of the season to come

i remember poring over it for hours, and not just the toy section...

ribbon candy
wrapping paper and bows
curly ribbon and pretty tags
fancy dishes
red and green tablecloths
pretty things to inspire festive times

but the arrival of the sears wishbook wasn't just a percusor to a present-filled morning and candy-laden afternoon

it also meant my mom would begin her part-time job working at the sears catalogue office

friday nights until nine and all day saturdays
on top of her full time job at city hall

with four children to provide for, and a husband who was - well, let's just say, a dud - she knew that for us to have anything special at christmas, she herself would have to find a way to provide it

and so for many months each year she worked two jobs
i remember that i knew why she did it
and i remember being thankful for it

but i don't remember if i ever told her...

and so we come to another special memory of mine

the momentous trip to the department store to find a special present for her
(my favourite find was always a beautiful boxed gift set of her favourite "wind song" by prince matchabelli)

and so i thought i would make a special present block in this quilt, just for her,
to remind me that giving is the cornerstone of this magical time of year...

i began by dividing the square into four sections

the one below has the tiniest scraps of lace, with french knots all around the edges

bits of lace that would have been consigned to the garbage, but in the spirit of mother's resourcefulness and sense of thrift, i rescued them to create something beautiful
(yes, i most definitely had already tossed them but sometimes she sits on my shoulder chirping like jiminy cricket himself, saying "waste not, want not"...)

 a needlework star

she was the first to teach to me sew, to inspire me to create, to give me the gift of curiosity, wondering always, what would happen if i tried...

four large stars in this section, one for each of us kids

and three large stars in this one

one for each of her step-children, who also call her "mom"

 and a pretty embroidered silk bow because presents for your mom are always supposed to be pretty and one year the prince matchabelli perfume had a light blue powder puff in it that was the prettiest thing i had ever seen so i had to buy it and give it to her right away even though christmas wasn't for days and days...

my mother always says life is what you make of it

and she showed me that holidays, especially christmas, are what you make of them too

she always made them great

thank you mom, with love,


Sunday, June 2, 2013

this may well be mine....

mine... yes...

my what, you may ask???

 if i were an artist of old, i would tell you this just might well be my life's work

everything i have ever loved about needlework is here: linen, lace, patchwork, embroidery

everything i have ever learned has brought me to this

 i can't tell you it's been easy though

well, the stitching and piecing is easy; it's the colour and stitch selection that gets me from time to time

too light, too dark, too pink, too white, too small, too big, too plain

sometimes i would rip out a section two or three times until i got it "right"

 today i have been patiently sewing it all together - and a very tedious process it is

which may turn out to be a good thing as it has provided me with a lot of time to think about what happens next - what quilting to do where, what seams need embellishment and what ones need to be left alone

communing with my quilt

and pondering what you see below....

karen calls this sort of thing an opportunity -a chance to add something interesting

something that wouldn't have been there otherwise - if all the parts had fit that is

i call it a royal pain

we shall see who is right
(personally, for what it's worth, i'd put my money on her...)

i have to hand my quilt in wednesday evening so in the words of jack bauer, i'm going dark for a while

i have probably already earned the distinction of bad blogger of the year over these past few weeks

but it will be a while before i'll be around to see what you have been up to, and to respond to all the wonderful comments you continue to leave me 

beautiful, thoughtful comments that i hardly deserve after neglecting all of you so much lately
so thank you very much for your patience, and i promise i will be around soon!

in the meanwhile, i'll be back with one last post about about a very special section i'm working on, and then on the weekend with the completed quilt

fingers crossed!