Wednesday, December 30, 2015

stitching, patching, playing...

time is standing still a little this week - the days move along at a nice quiet pace

there's no rush to be anywhere... 

back in late november, early december, whilst wandering about on the internet, i came upon a "stitch along" on quilt mania's website

hosted by bea

the videos are all in french, but i found them surprisingly easy to understand, and the more i watched the more my french improved until after a while i wasn't even trying to translate them in my head

and then of course, embroidery and patchwork have their own universal language

 too busy to get started, i printed off the pdf documents, gathered some supplies and set it all aside for this week

i was so entranced by the random nature of this work that i decided to follow along fairly closely, at least at first

each section is completed on it's own, and then in groups, they are attached to a long foundation cloth {i'm using a piece of  a very old damask tablecloth - it's exceptionally unruly but i love it so am persevering!}

bea used a vintage piece for her monogram but as i had nothing with a "j" i had to create my own

i remembered a pretty alphabet pattern by alicia of posie gets cozy , found a fragment of an doily, and made my own

 layers of cloth, layers of stitch

 favourite buttons and pins

bea's method for piecing this tiny new york beauty block is brilliant

i hate foundation piecing on paper but this is done without ever having to sew through the paper - brilliant!

after laying out these first four components, a vine with felt leaves was randomly stitched - the leaves are layered with cheesecloth to add texture and dimension and then veins stitched with variegated embroidery thread

 trying to be as random as possible, i didn't draw any lines on the ground fabric, just going with it

the more you add, the more you want to add even more - layering stitches, adding dimension, integrating all the components into something whole

 the branch with tiny felt leaves and embroidered fronds adds such a woodland feel to this - i'm envisioning it winding it's way here and there, all the way to the top

there are so many wonderful ideas in this project, and the pieces are all so easily done - tiny treasures

the perfect thing for quiet snowy days when you have nowhere else to be

Thursday, December 24, 2015

christmas eve..

it's late

the house is quiet... christmas eve and i'm the only one still up

the tree is still lit, the candles glowing and i'm on the brink... the end of one amazing day, the edge of another

 i love this time of year, from now until after new year's

a time of awareness, of remembering - an acknowledgment of the past, enjoyment of the present and anticipation for the future

the tree is decorated with ornaments dating back to before my dad was born, ornaments gathered on whilst on holidays, some made by me - an eclectic mix for sure, but somehow they all work together and the tree sparkles and shimmers and shines 

i can never look at it enough

a pure celebration of light and love

i wish that for each of you too ... a magical time of love and sharing with all you hold dear

merry christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

a "growing" collection...

i've been meaning to write this post for many weeks now - a month or two at least, but between dark days that made picture taking impossible and a schedule that wouldn't quit, it never happened

it's almost better to be written now though, on this winter's solstice day

last summer i had my first vegetable garden

pure heavenly delight

to wander out there in the bright sunshine and pick food for our dinner was a wonderful thing... most of what i grew we ate fresh

there were a few things that were more abundant and i did freeze little bundles of swiss chard, raspberries and homemade tomato sauce, full of onions and herbs and simmered to a lovely rich thickness

i also made several batches of strawberry black pepper balsamic jam

and then i harvested little bits of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers to dye embroidery thread...

oh what great fun it was

little jam jars filled to bursting with carefully tied skeins of white embroidery thread

and here and there a snippet of silk ribbon or cloth

cotton muslin and cotton cheesecloth

they looked so pretty stacked up on the windowsill, letting the waning autumn sun work it's magic

i experimented a fair bit with this process - scouring the thread, but adding the mordant to the dye jar... sometimes adding vinegar, sometimes not

above is avocado without vinegar... pearly greyish taupe

below is onion skins - brown and red, all mixed together in one jar

then lavender, this one with vinegar

below is the thread from my first attempt, back in september

marigold, lavender, blueberry and raspberry

 a better look at the avocado

below is beetroot

a piece of old linen towel that was ratty with holes so i did fme on it
i love how it took the dye

 more lavender

marigolds again
the difference between the cotton and the silk is quite amazing - same jar, same mordant

 below is rosemary, with vinegar

they were crammed in the jars pretty tightly, left to sit in the sun for four weeks

i'm so pleased with the results and have been quite diligent in my record keeping so i'm getting a pretty idea of what worked well and what didn't

i'm writing up little cards, attaching samples, doing light and colour-fast testing

plotting and planning and reading up on all sorts of ways of doing this

i want to try processing the jars in a water bath and leave them for a couple of months to see what the difference is

i want to try different mordants, different threads, different plants

i want to try freezing the plant material first to see how that works

i want to figure out how to get all the colours, bright and dark, pale and muted

then i want to paint little cards with images of the plants and attach small twisted hanks of pretty, plant-dyed embroidery thread to each of them

and then i want to stitch the plants with the threads they made

when i titled this post "a "growing" collection", i wasn't really referring to all the threads i've been creating...

i was referring to all the things i now want to do that stem from a lovely sunny day when i took a few pretty plants, some nice white thread and a few simple jars and made something wonderful

it seems those ideas are the collection, and i am a collector of desires

Saturday, November 28, 2015

stringing you along...

"dragging you along" might be a tad more accurate...

may i inflict one more mitten post on you????

as i was working away on the mittens from the previous post i happened upon a package of paper napkins with an image of felt mittens strung on strings that reminded me of a clothesline

they inspired me to scoot home and try my hand at my own designs...

these ones are all felt...

the pattern is my own - but seriously, it's a mitten... how many ways can there be to draw one???

there is a wonderful satisfaction though in taking pencil in hand (and a rather large eraser in the other!) and coming up with your own

i wanted a fatter, curvier mitten than the ones in the previous post

with simpler appliques - less contrived, more "me"

this white one with pale blue and grey is my favourite

but this tree one is a close second... very close

i do love how the blue seems to glow

 a ragged star on green hounds-tooth

{my favourite gets two showings!}

perfectly paired with a grey heart on dark brown with a pink cuff


even the cut-out is pretty...

 five little mittens strung in a row

complete with pom pom snowballs

i feel an addiction coming on...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

little mittens...

been awhile, since i've posted here - seems i ran out of words for a while and now here we are,  it's almost the season for this - building snowmen

we've had a skiff of snow now and again, nothing lasting, but the hills all around the lake are sprinkled with it

local folklore has it that it's a six week span from when it hits the top of the mountain to covering the ground at our feet

building a snowman  - the rites of winter-time childhood, mittens on strings, pom-poms on hats

a few of my favourite winter-time things

 the pattern for these cuties is by primitive gatherings

at just over 3" long, they are fiddly 

 but ever so delightful

the pattern's instructions are for them to be finished as ornaments, and i do have a set of those almost finished

but what you see here is a wall-hanging, long and narrow

six mittens in a row, they'll be "hanging" from a loopy string

it's actually yarn, and i'm thinking i'll twist or braid a few strands together, making small tassels at each end

thinking about how i may or may not incorporate these lovely little birch bark trees into the mix

but knowing for sure there will be pompoms!

the border fabric has been kicking around here for a long time - by "whimsicals" 

i adore the smokey blue-grey of it, the grubby, slumpy snowmen and the tilty off-kilter words

when i appliqued the ornaments in place i left the tops open, in case i want to add anything else - perhaps a rickety candy-cane or two???

a wonderful little project to work away on in the evening hours, when it's too dark and the light is too dull for anything but quiet lamp-light stitching...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

stitch, patch, play

once upon time, long, long ago...

the best stories when i was young always started that way

this one began a few years ago... i had a hankering to play about with fabric and stitch - no direction, no plan, just pick some fabrics and some threads and make something pretty

a little while ago, it came out from the pile and i finished it 

it was another in a long list of things i started with no plan for what they would be in the end

i like that - working that way

sometimes i think we are too attached to making a thing, to being finished, like it's a great big mark of achievement... making this or that in only this much time

"get 'er done"

i try hard not to be annoyed by it, letting others have there fun, but sometimes i just shake my head

i'd rather be the one that made it than the one that has it, and i like it best when i have no idea what it will be

 i went to a daytime quilting retreat for three days in september - oddly enough called the 

"git 'er done" sewing weekend

i was the only one in a room full of quilters that didn't bring their sewing machine

instead, i elected to bring hand-work... three projects, all being done by hand, all having been lurking about in my sewing room for at least a year or two

i decided to make this one into a pouch to store my liberty of london fabrics

 the flattened hexagons you see above were all that was done before the weekend began

i added the flower below to what would be the bottom front of the pouch - pentagons arranged to form a flower, gathered seam binding for a ruffly flower centre and a bit of embroidery to add interest

the top portion of the front got simple square patches of fabric appliqued in place - i love this part best

hands down

the simplicity of the patches, appliqued in a row, with breathing space between them is my new very favourite thing

i want to applique squares on everything now 

simple patches, simply beautiful

i liked that i left space in places, outlining, but not filling

pretty stitches with pretty thread

in the end, it's probably the most under-stated thing i've ever made, but it's high on my list of favourites

people at the retreat kept wandering over to my table, usually in disbelief - that i was content to sit, with all my threads and scraps spread out before me with no sewing machine to be seen

content, i was, to play the day away...