Wednesday, August 28, 2013

it is what is...

i was supposed to be getting some small hand-work projects organized to take on the trip

and tidying up my sewing room... instead of making an even bigger mess and working on something
that i really shouldn't be working on...

time's a' wasting

but a healthy dose of inspiration from karen ruane in our simply stitch 2 class tossed those foolish notions right out the window

and i spent the rest of the day playing...

 pleated silk, old linen and lace

i'm not saying vintage any longer - i'm saying old... it's old, and that's what i'm calling it

i'm struggling these days with writing and words that gloss things over, make meanings vague, and fill pages with ambiguous innuendo

some of which is confusing to me

for instance, when did people start "passing" instead of dying????

I hear that all the time now, read it in newspapers

 no one dies, they pass

pass what?

i hear it and i think of monopoly and then i smile and then i'm embarrassed...

anyway, back to my old linen and lace

i'm trying to figure out a christmas card

with hooks and eyes for wreaths and stars

 and little bits and pieces, left over from bigger, grander things...

i want to embroider a word on the top left but haven't decided which one



then to trim the edges and attach it to a card

 i thought it would be quick and easy

but it seems i can angst over a small project just as easily as a large one - wanting to embroider just the right thing, using just the right colour thread, adding just the right bits and pieces

no matter how big or small

i will suffer the details until it's just so

and it can be as it should be

 and is what it is

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

traveling lightly

hand-stitching is back on the menu...

i've been making some progress on this latest piece, filling in empty spaces, adding layers of stitch,
covering raw edges

it's starting to really come together now

i think it's the layering that does the trick

along with pretty stitches traveling lightly along raw edges and seams

trailing and dancing and skipping along

but then again, there's the blended needle too

where you combine either different types of thread, or different colours

i'm playing with white and blue - such a soft effect

especially with the french knots i used to fill in the centre of the star

the patch on the top has only white knots, the line below has white, and white with blue... still more to be done here

 an idea is already percolating for the next piece... i'm thinking three squares/sections, oriented vertically and finished into a small wall hanging... i'm thinking...

i have fours days off in a row this week

so excited

planning and scheming on what's to be done... a few must-do's, and a few want-to's

perhaps some new walking shoes...

three weeks until we leave on our trip and the lists are getting longer

packing isn't an issue as i love to travel light, easy wear clothes and a little art kit

and as I am thinking of all i can do without while we travel around on our five week grand tour, i am wanting to extend that feeling to the rest of my life, to where i live, and most of all, to where i create

i set myself a goal of fifty things per week to leave this house

for the next three weeks

that means i would come home to 150 less things to manage, to make space for, to clean, to tidy, to dust

sounds like a lot doesn't it

150 things that i don't use, love or need

i started gathering the first week's lot the other day, truly looking at things, contemplating their actual usefulness versus their desired usefulness - i love the ideal of certain things... of wearing a brilliantly coloured scarf, carrying a funky, trendy bag, sewing with purple fabric

but the reality is i don't, i won't and i wouldn't

would you?

Friday, August 16, 2013

quenching a thirst

seems lately as if my life has been about quenching all manner of thirsts...

thirst for adventure, thirst for understanding and contentment, thirst for organization and structure, thirst for creativity, thirst for knowledge

today i read up on oxford university, and cambridge

robert louis stevenson

i organized my sewing room a little more

and made myself a travel journal...

 a little larger than is wise for hauling around the countryside, but as we are going to be on the go for five weeks, and as i have such varied interests, it's as big as it needs to be

i had it in my head to use my yukon tartan for the covers: sky blue, gold, fireweed pink and forest green, but it was just far too colourful for me

so i settled on the red and black tartan of calgary, alberta, where both our children live

pages are comprised of cardstock, fabric, watercolour paper, drawing paper, writing paper, acrylic-paint paper, and fabric...

isn't the texture of this fabric gorgeous!?!
i am already dreaming of embroidering on this...

 hand-made flower petal paper and diamond embossed card-stock
(kind reminds me of argyle socks in a weird sort of way)

 a christmas card from a kindred spirit and sometimes travelling partner

 pretty floral paper that reminds me english chintz

coarse woven linen, with decorative machine stitching to join the two pieces along the top edge

 the sides and bottom edge are left open for now so i can add whatever embroidery or needlework i like and, once completed, i'll stitch those edges closed

there are three fabric signatures and i chose a different stitch for each one

 lined card-stock

now to gather embroidery threads, needles and small scraps of linen and lace

although i do hope to find some along the way that can also be incorporated

 various sized envelopes to attach to a few of the pages, perfect for tucking in the small scraps and bits of things i seem to collect along the way

and a rusty tin maple leaf to remind me of home

i have a little more work to do on it before it's ready and that will be one more thing off mt list

yes, i'm still listing things, but i have separated them out for daily and weekly and in order of importance - helps immensely

slowly making headway with changing how i spend my days... i have learned i need the same structure for each day, not "this way for days when i work" and "that way for days when i don't"

i have learned my best creative time is early in the morning, and my best computer time is early in the evening - normally i work exactly the opposite but i am going to switch them around

this week i also tried formal meditation for the first time - i think i'm hooked! 

beginning slowly, and in a small way but i am already feeling the benefits and they are said to be huge... evening seems to be the best time for that as well, but i would like to try early morning before i decide

finally, i bought a book of poems last week and just as i got it out to type a poem for you, i noticed the title of the book...
by mary oliver
i suppose it has stuck in my head even though i didn't realize it
i bought it for this poem:
when i am among the trees
when i am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
i would almost say that they save me, and daily.
i am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which i have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "stay awhile."
the light flows from their branches.
and they call again, "it's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light , and to shine"

Sunday, August 11, 2013

it's all in the details...

today was trip planning day

 plane tickets are bought, rail passes and pounds sterling are ordered, the london hotel is booked and today was all about the itinerary...

we have a beautiful large work table in the garage, just the right size to spread out an extra-large map and just the right height to stand and pore over it for hours... ipad in one hand with the britrail map in view... pen in the other for making notes

mentally over-lapping the two to see if we can get where we want to go

it really didn't take all that long - we had a fairly good idea of where we need to go to see what we want to see - it was more a matter of deciding how many days to stay where

 in looking so very closely at the map, it was amazing to me how many of the place names are familiar...the early canadian settlers were not very imaginative when it came to naming towns and rivers...

and along with finding the original holders of many canadian place-names, i found reading the map was also like re-visiting old nursery rhymes...

"ride a cock horse to banbury cross
to see a fine lady upon a white horse
with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
she shall have music where ever she goes"

sometimes i get overwhelmed when i think of how much england and scotland are so completely entwined with who i am... nursery rhymes, poetry, high school english literature and western civilization classes, geography and of course, family history

the people in the photograph below are one set of great-grandparents, the ones that emigrated to canada from scotland less than 100 years ago; above is where they came from

the child in the photograph was my grand-father, pictured below with his wife, my grand-mother

my grand-mother's mother emigrated from england along with her mother at around about the same time, her husband following a little later

the ring you see above and again below, was given to me on my wedding day; it belonged to my grand-mother's grand-mother, my great-great-grandmother julia

 oddly enough i've managed to trace julia's family back to scotland as well, to a small town about 12 miles from where my grand-father's family had lived for generations... small, small world

i'm taking the ring with me

maybe i've seen and read "lord of the rings" too many times, but ever since it was given to me i have known i would take it back someday... for whatever reason, i know i have to wear that ring on this trip

after scotland we go to the south of england

marc has a hankering to go to penzance

"a cannibal bold of penzance
ate an uncle and two of his aunts
a cow and a calf, an ox and half
and now he can't button his pants!"

 in my searching out of family history, i have had less success with my mother's side... her maternal grand-parents also emigrated from england, from westham but so far that's all i know

gentleman, caddy, turvey, eadie, henderson, whitehead, roberts, marshall, their names are tumbling around in my head, fleeting images of sober faces in dark clothes

(sometimes i forget that though their pictures may have been taken in black and white, the world they lived in was filled with the same beautiful colours we see today...)

i want to see where they lived, look at the same stars sparkling and wheeling in the night-sky, watch the same trees dancing in the wind, older now, and bigger, follow well-worn paths, smoothed a little by their very steps, and marvel at the water that still runs in the same river, sparkling in the sun as it streams through the little villages they called home...

Friday, August 9, 2013

bah humbug!

lazy days of summer my foot

i am never busier than i am in the summer , and i don't care what all you fair-weather friends say - i like winter best

it's quieter, less chores, more cozy comfort time, oven dinners, reading at night... warm slippers...

so in an effort to at least feel cool, i am stitching stars and snowflakes

 i've added the last point to my star... vintage linen embroidered with running stitch and tiny smyrna crosses and simple cross-stitch

i'm liking it so far

i still need to add some white embroidery to the blue points and perhaps a little more blue to the white ones...
it's still a long way from completion and now i am even pondering removing the lace strip to the right... i think it's too wide and it overpowers everything else

 the embroidery i am adding to the one edge is only exacerbating the problem for me, as it makes it look even wider still

 the star i love though...

 i'm also puttering away at my calendar/schedule plans - there were some very good ideas in your comments... what i'm thinking of, loosely still, is using the top squares for the "chores" and the bottom squares for the "arts" and incorporating karen's suggestion of it being a design ledger - i love the idea of it being a visual and written record of my journey through each day

i think it would be a wonderful treasure to look back on - a true "day in the life"

i have also come to understand the importance of organization, discipline, freedom to experiment, controlling social media (including email), and scheduling - the benefit of a plan...

if i don't make a plan to make my dream come true, how will i ever do it?

and if i don't set a barrier for the rest of the world, it will surely continue encroaching, eroding the best of my intentions and enveloping me in all that it wants

slowly but surely my ideas are coalescing, and real and definite ideal is emerging
it will mean big changes, giving up some things i thought were important to me, finding a way to simplify - i'm not in a rush though - there's a holiday to enjoy, a sale to prepare for and then... a new year... a new slate

if scrooge could be reformed, well - then, so can i!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

it's all black and white...

the thunder is rolling, lightning flashing and the sky is dark, dark, dark

they have been warning of this storm all day, and as is the case with many other weather events, the weatherman's bark was far worse than the storm's bite

i suppose they're erring on the side of caution, but honestly...

it seems it's more of the exaggerated reporting style we are stuck with these days 

if nothing else though, it was a good excuse to bunker down in the sewing room and work on this...

 no matter how hard i try, i just cannot get into my other cloth - it isn't speaking, whispering or even yelling at me

so i have gone back to white

and am making a miniature-sized appliqued version of a "wrapping cloth"

when i was making my white quilt for the show (the one you were stuck reading about for months on end) it was pieced and embroidered in sections, then joined together to make a quilt

i had a hard time when i first did the joining... i was so used to seeing the parts as separate things, that trying to view it as one piece was difficult - i didn't like it so much at first 

so now i am making small sections and keeping them separate

little quilts

 i'm quite enjoying myself too... the idea has captured my attention and i am going to play with it some more... so far i've imagined three but i think there are at least two more lurking in the recesses

below you can see three of the four star points appliqued in place - one to go, which is just being embroidered, hopefully to be appliqued in place tomorrow

i think these will be ideal projects to take along on our trip in september

 the backgrounds and applique pieces for each can be sorted and packed before we go, along with embroidery thread

and of an evening, when i am tired from the busyness of traveling and sight-seeing, i can curl up in a cozy chair and applique and embroider away, reflecting on all i have seen

here at home though, the storm has finally blown past, but below you can see how it looked about ten minutes before the wind blew...

the sky was so amazingly black yet a short hour later and the sun is out, the air is calm and the storm has blown over

kind of like how i feel about finally about setting aside my other cloth