Wednesday, December 31, 2014


as one year draws to it's conclusion and the next is poised to begin, I like to think on things a little

looking back, looking forward

i must admit i do prefer beginnings most, but sometimes in looking back one can see forward just a little better

this past year has been one of my favourites ever, a feeling that stems from inner rather than outer factors
and that in itself makes me happy indeed

it was one year ago i set out with the intention of writing every day - and in the whole of the year i have missed just one day
i've grown to love that daily ritual, sandwiched between morning coffee and breakfast...
words of wonder, of wisdom, wishing-words, great plans and idle thoughts, a little stack of notebooks growing ever steadily on the shelf in the closet

a feeling of contentment has fallen over me that grows just as steadily - "all's right with the world" echoes in my mind almost daily... lucky me

i have no guiding word for this year, no one thing I want to improve upon, nothing weighing on me 
i'm just thinking about what i'd like to do more of

more experimentation in my creative pursuits, more original work

like this dragon-scale smacking i tried but haven't done any more of since discovering it

making more useful things like this knitted hot water bottle cover - i did manage to finish it in time to be a christmas present for someone special… next year, i want all my gifts to be hand-made

i want to create a garden like this one, growing my own food finally, with enough to share

 i want to pore over seed catalogues while there is still snow outside!

read more, learn more: fashion, clothing construction techniques of styles long gone, embellishments like fly fringe and sequined beading
i want to learn more about fabric, such as toile and embroidery techniques - tambour work being one. sequined beading being another

walk more in green spaces
writing poems of green

i want to finish what I've started, enjoying processes but bringing projects to their conclusion, taking knowledge and discoveries forward

i'll be spending more time with friends and family - I've given up one job and cut back on the other, adding capacity, making time
since this earth wasn't lucky enough to get a thirty hour day i've resorted to finding my own ways of adding the hours i need!

nothing remarkable, nothing life-changing, nor dramatic
small enhancements for an already perfectly wonderful life

just enjoying the moments; moments of joy, of peaceful quiet reflection, of eye-opening discoveries, of laughter, of bliss

and i hope for you that you also have a year full of many special moments, of wonderful things

happy new year everyone!

- i forgot about monograms… i also want to learn more about monograms, and then there's exploring texture, and of course, fabric manipulations, not forgetting free-form piecing 
and remember there's also working with gimp and braid...

Monday, December 29, 2014


continuing along...

working with these soft, pale neutrals was soul-soothing during some very hectic days in early december... days when it seemed i would never get to the end of any to-do list

the pale beauty and subtle colour shifts captured my imagination... somehow the minor differences became amplified as i paid closer attention to each of them

as before, you begin with the taupe colour wheel, arranging the beige-tones and grey-tones, finding the "accents" and determining grey-beige proportions
This one turned out to be fairly equal, but I loved how the colours drifted into pale purple, lending themselves to the naming of the collection as a whole


which easily led to a shape to explore

squares stretching to diamonds

as before, all pieces cut without measuring
pieced by hand

then moving on to measured pieces, layering
Introducing darker values

i could fiddle with these colour collections for a long time, there's just so much to explore, to play with

i've had to resort to writing my ideas down, but it's hard to capture the excitement i feel - i seem to be able to record the mechanics of my "inspired" ideas well enough, but looking back on some i wonder why i was so excited about them at all

they lose their shine, the sparkle's gone and sometimes there's barely a dull sheen left

as if my diamond in the rough became an opal

so as this year comes to a close that's one of the things i'm going to work on for the new year
perhaps i'll make it easy on myself and make it the only thing
a focus on better organization and recording of ideas and plans
it may sound a little boring but i'm of the opinion it will be an exceedingly worthwhile venture

especially if it helps me sort out the ever-increasing pile of scribbled notes and sketchy diagrams i'm continually riffling through

time to make some plans...

Friday, December 19, 2014


working on this book still, following the path of yoko saito's taupe colour theory but adding in a dash of me here and there

a painted card purchased in oregon last summer has the perfect colour mix

part of it on the cover, the leftover parts inside

her theory is based on creating the perfect mix of grey-toned and beige-toned fabrics
creating a colour wheel, complete with light and dark accents

because her quilted items always incorporate embroidery I'm looking for ways to bring that element into the mix
after all, it's what drew me to her work in the first place

each colour group has a shape
this one is squares and rectangles - it's my way to make them regular, hers is to make them irregular
i kind of like the randomness of that

it's stretching me

pulling me in new directions
trying hard to be imprecise 
it's a lot harder than one might think!

i've been doing this piecing by hand and it has reawakened a desire for "slow" quilting in me, where i piece by hand, cutting with scissors, nothing perfect, no matching, letting it come together as it will... a slowing down

and then there's hand-quilting...

what i'm liking most of all is taking the time to play with my fabric, play with colours and play with shapes... I guess what i'm saying is, i think i've found a new playground...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

making magic

fabric and thread is a magical combination for me; thread joins fabric shapes to create something wonderful, but real magic happens when the thread lies on top...

when i first started on this circle bag i wasn't so sure about it - the picture in the book is lovely indeed but my few bare appliqued circles, all in light beigey-greys - well, it was a little barren

so i began with embroidering just one, and then another, and the more i did, the better it looked


the texture of the stitch, and the texture created by the slight distortion of the fabric beneath it

 keen to see how each fabric would change, i embroidered until the wee hours the other night...

and see those faint blue lines?

those will be darts

there goes the "no darts" rule...

i'll let you know how that works out

 after the circles comes hand-quilting

hand-quilted circles around each applique, then lines swirling off into the spare emptiness of the upper section

 still more circles need to be added but like i said, i couldn't wait to begin the embroidery
i kept telling myself i needed to see how they would look in order to balance out the colours... yeah right - i wanted to get to the magical part...

this bag is a sample for a new class of mine

  based on yoko saito's style of japanese quilting

exploring taupe colour arrangements
discovering shape
adding embroidery

i've been working in these colours for years, and much as i thought i knew them, there is so much still to learn

her taupe theory book breaks it down, building a taupe colour wheel, balancing the greys and the beiges, intermingling them, adding accents

 the first one i'm tackling is one she calls "nut-tart"
rich greens and browns, fawn, grey and pink

 the diagram for the blocks is a log cabin but her samples are actually courthouse steps

i chose to make mine the same
freely cut, adding angles where they wouldn't normally be, creating an orderly haphazard look - that was a challenge for me!

deciding to extend her ideas with my own, working with squares and rectangles together and separately

it never ceases to amaze me how different fabrics look when cut into tiny pieces

playing now with the nine-patch

a stack of fabric squares
"grown-up building blocks"

 in her book, ms. saito stresses you cannot truly understand a colour unless you think of it also in terms of scent, taste, texture, hearing
i'd never thought of it that way before, at least not in terms of fabric and quilting

i love it though

it's a wonderful, eye-opening, magic-making way of looking at colour

and i am spell-bound

Friday, December 5, 2014

since then...

words of change - since then... signifying something is different
sometimes the something different is big, sometimes, it's small and simple

since this picture was taken i have made a concerted effort to make better circles

funny thing to perfect, perhaps, but that's how it goes sometimes...

sometimes one just can't help one's self  

{i read 'gift from the sea" by anne morrow lindbergh this past summer and she often wrote in that context of "one" - i liked it so thought i'd try it... nowadays it's "you" more often than not - i don't know why that is but it's a thing i've noticed - "one" was how it used it be, since then, it's "you"}

i digress though... 

i'm making a bag with appliqued and embroidered circles in lovely pale neutral colours - a design from yoko saito's taupe colour theory book

my first circles were awful so i set about to improve them

google and you-tube are my fond allies when in need of instruction, especially late at night, when the thought strikes

search and you can find, watch, and you can learn

my first mistake had been making my running stitches too big - big stitches equal funny little
almost-points on the circles; small running stitches equal smooth curves

so, regardless of the size of the circle, many tiny running stitches is rule #1

rule # 2 is to "paint" starch on the gathered side and then press with a hot iron

rule #3 - do not remove the card circle until the fabric is completely cool

if one removes it too soon, one's circle edge will pop out causing said circle to resemble a bottle cap

no matter how hard one tries, it is impossible to get that edge to tuck under and stay there

and so i cut and gathered and painted and pressed

circles of many sizes of many fabrics

scorched fingers, crisp folds, smoothly rounded, over and over again
it was almost hypnotic

that was a week ago... since then, i have made fifty or more perfectly round circles - i am addicted

an early effort - embroidery helping to offset the irregular edge?

 since then i've found heat-resistant pre-cut mylar circle templates in a dozen or more sizes

i did say addicted, right?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


 a few years back, for my annual sale, i wanted to make the invitations extra-special
something that would give people a taste of what they could expect to find

that year i made little embroidered stars and attached them to tags that i coffee-stained and stamped, tied on with pretty bows in the palest shades of icy blue

 i embroidered "wish" on the back and called them "wishing-stars"

as i worked on them i thought about some of the things people might wish on a star for...

it wasn't long before i decided i would like to make them for people, people who read my blog, people that might have a wish they needed to make

the response was fabulous - i think i made about twenty... the recipients thought i gave them a special treat, but really, the treat was mine
time stitching is always wonderful
 reflective stitching is an even greater gift
each little heart i made caused me to ponder the recipient's word, why they might have chosen it, what that same word might mean for me, whether it might come true for them, what it meant in the world, and on and on...

it was a wonderful thing

and in addition to stars, i also love to make hearts

the little fabric-knot heart that graced the front of a book i made

 the heart that became a pocket-holder of dreams

 monthly word hearts

 a paper, lace and silk heart

and last year, tiny wool hearts with vintage buttons and scraps of lace

i have several of these, and still more i want to make

so i think it's time for word-hearts...

 if you would like a word-heart, with your very own special word embroidered on the back,
leave a comment telling me your word, and what colour you'd like your heart to be

pale neutrals, soft pastels, bright purples or aquas, rich red or burnished brown

lace or no lace

just say the word

Sunday, November 23, 2014

personal rules...

 when it comes to all things creative I have a few personal rules that have kept me in good stead over the years...

i only make things that are flat

i don't make things that need facings

i don't make anything that requires a rolled hem

although I have been known to have a glass of wine whilst machine quilting, i never do when cutting out a quilt... nor when buying fabric

and darts are out of the question

i've just added another no-no to the list

 karen's latest class "doodle, gather, create" intrigued me from the day she announced it
i loved doodling in high school
and i certainly like to gather bits and pieces of this and that

first task was to choose an inspiration fabric - the one above is mine

pale beige with blue branches, random smaller white ones thrown in for good measure

i set to work the other evening, dithering over pen choice... black too harsh, my usual dark brown colour of choice too dark as well

i finally found a nice lighter brown one and began doodling on heavy watercolour paper
it wasn't long before i became completely absorbed and progressed well, delighting in the design that emerged - smaller branches, the curve slightly exaggerated... similar, yet different

i was three-quarters of the way finished when, after holding it up at a slightly different angle than before, i realized to my dismay my light brown pen was red!


new rule - no more choosing pen colours at night

i couldn't bring myself to toss it and start over and so here it is, in all it's glory

after the drawing was completed i started in on the next part
isolation and definition

 getting side-tracked along the way with other circular ideas

putting this here and that there to see what other ideas take hold

embroidering on mulberry paper
slowly and oh, so carefully!

loving how they look, together and apart

thrilled with this paper-work

i have a notebook beside me where i am busily jotting down the ideas as they flow
karen said there would more inspiration in this work we produce than hours in the day, that it would inform future work and be an amazing reference to look back on
i am already seeing that and i've really just got started on this piece

 pen-work becomes stitch-craft

 i've finally decided what comes next with this and hope to get at it soon

in the meanwhile, i'm just shuffling all this paper around and about, entertaining myself in the most delightful way!