Monday, June 29, 2015

worth the wait

an old expression that - "worth the wait"

 to do with anticipation, just rewards, fulfilled longing... many reasons for it i suppose

today i have a few of my own...

saturday at 1:00 o'clock i finished sewing the final border on the christmas quilt

you can't imagine the relief i felt - what a long haul that was

i started that quilt back on march 11 - that's how long i'd been working on my last list of five things, and it took such a long time to get through

so many times, especially during the final week, my mind kept wandering to the next list... i even tempted myself a little, thinking perhaps i could begin the process of listing and choosing even though there was still a border or two 

but i didn't do it

there was a sweet feeling of truth in the wait, knowing that when i finally did sit down to do it it would be because i was free to, free to dream and plan, free to choose

one thing i'd been yearning to tinker with was a log cabin runner using both silks and cottons - no measuring, just random cuts  of random widths at even more random angles

it was the first on the list of twenty-five and the first chosen for the final five

i wrote it down as a runner but half-way through the first block i wanted it to be a bed quilt

i don't know if that's at all possible - i have plenty of the cotton fabrics, but many of the silks came in a small silk bundle from delectable mountain cloth and i have very limited amounts - we shall see

i gathered together all my bits and pieces ranging from grey to beige to deep chocolate brown, and then a little minty green

beautifully patterned silks

two are antique kimono silks from the "in the beginning" quilt shop in seattle {long since closed}
- they were bought for me by a friend from the yukon and i have been hoarding them for many, many years now, waiting for the right thing - they are absolutely perfect for this project - a light beige tweedy plaid and a deep, dark, chocolate brown with a fine gold stripe - every scrap and trimming is carefully set to the side

i'm not wasting a scrap!

the "deciding on the fabrics jumble" quickly gave way to a more orderly layout - decisions are easier made when all the choices are easily seen

chocolate and mint
{oddly enough - i do not like that flavour combination at all but lately i have been loving chocolate brown... after this combination i want to try my hand at chocolate and mauve - elegant, don't you think?}

the log cabin block is one of the first i ever did, and is still a favourite

but this business of randomly cutting and piecing with no rhyme or reason was spurred on by my latest research interest - the quilts of gee's bend

a fabulous story of women and what their quilts and quilt-making mean to them

using every precious scrap of cloth, almost all from worn out clothes, pieced together by themselves in a manner pleasing to them and then quilted as a group

when i first learned of these quilts several years ago, i wasn't much interested - i've always been a rather "precise" quilter and they were a little too "irregular" for me

but lately i'm finding myself fed up with the commercialism of quilting - the fabric manufacturer's have created an industry from that which was once borne of necessity and then a pleasant hobby

nowquilting is big business; they crank out dozens of fabric lines every month, complete with free patterns so the quilt shops can easily make kits, all packaged up with everything you need so you can easily buy it and then go home and without thinking a lot, easily make a quilt that will look exactly like hundreds of other quilts, all around the world... and next month they hope you'll be ready to do it all over again because they've cranked out yet more fabric and even more free and easy patterns... yuck

that's not what i want quilting to be for me

i've done many of my own quilt designs over the years but lately i've wanted to let go of the things i have thought to be true of quilting and explore a different way of going about it

a kind of making it up as i go kind of thing

and so i've started here, where i first began, with the log cabin block, re-visiting an old friend but learning a few new things about it as i go

the women of gee's bend didn't have fancy fabrics, nor even store-bought fabrics to make their quilts with but they made them beautiful with what they had available to them

and in that vein, i'll do the same

i'll work with what i have - silk to denote the richness their quilts have brought to the world, cotton, in reference to the beautiful, wonderful textile that has come to me through the literally back-breaking work of people around the world... cotton truly is the fabric of our lives...

i'll let the shapes come as they do, without pre-planning, nor trying to organize it in any way

i'll take my precious scraps and sew something that brings light and joy and colour and warmth to my world... i'll take my time, and i hope it will be worth waiting for

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

green acres...

and another two weeks flies past

this spring has gone by at warp speed and here we are just into summer... we have had glorious weather here in the shuswap

hot and sunny with only a few days of rain

this time of year is exceptionally beautiful, with everything green and lush... by august it will be as crisp and dry as can be, but at the moment, it's simply lovely

speaking of green and lush...

below is a picture of my two brand new raised garden beds

growing strong!

the picture below was taken less than three weeks ago - quite the change some sun and rain make

i am loving every single minute of this, from the building to the staining, and yes, even the weeding

it's all just so incredibly awesome!

today i noticed this little guy... tomatoes are popping out all over now

not really knowing how to grow anything much except for the hardiest of flowers, i planted what we like to eat... swiss chard, leeks, onions, carrots, tomatoes, baby kale, potatoes, yellow beans, radishes, spinach, turnip, beets and mixed lettuce greens

a little bit of a lot of things - this year it's kind of an experimental garden

trying this and that to see what's what

what's worth growing and what we're better off to just buy
it's all about maximizing space and managing yield

my little garden is big business - ha!

today's project was to take all the stone we found when we re-built my beloved herb garden and wall off a compost area

{previous owners of our home had stored the leftover stone from building the house in the base of the large garden planter that has been my herb garden for seventeen years - a happy surprise when we took it apart to rebuild the bed}

i've never had a compost either, and as there was a perfect spot in the yard for a little one, and we now had the perfect building material, it all came together -  so here i go on another learning curve - thank heaven for google!

 there's no mortar holding it together, but i can promise you it isn't going anywhere - i spent three hours mussing and fussing over this but it's perfectly level, all the interlocking and over-lapping correctly done, and every piece of stone was used!

i've wanted to build something like this for many, many years... today was the day and i enjoyed every second of it immensely

{to access it safely i can sneak in from behind and get what i need}

so it's plain to see there hasn't been much time for stitching in these parts... the centre of the christmas quilt is finally pieced and squared up and now the borders have to be added - that should happen tomorrow

a few days back i had a half hour between gardening and dinner and so i fiddled around with the sketch-applique ideas

remember this???

 the first thing i learned was not to make the shapes too complicated, or detailed - think splashes of watercolour paint with sketching loosely around them

the bit below is both too small, and too complicated; not "loose" enough

 my attempt with leaves was marginally better - a lifetime of making the pieces fit is getting in my way but i'm determined to persevere... i see glimmers in this, hints of what i want it to be

part of what's bothering me is the wobbliness of the lines - the lack of definition and strength - going over them just makes them worse... i'm considering switching from the pen to using thread

wishing i had more time for this right now but with the brilliant weather our growing season is slightly altered this year, and things are ready much earlier than usual - i just took the first fresh cherry pie out of the oven - a full three weeks ahead of usual

and so it seems it's cherry pickin' time!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

what's to do???

 many years ago, like about thirty, i took a course from the embroiderer's guild of america

"taking a step in the right direction"

it was an intensive course on all the aspects of teaching needlework - from colour, design, designing your own teaching piece in whatever needlework discipline you liked, writing instructions, lesson planning, classroom set-up and management and everything in-between

in addition to all that six  6 page essays were required, complete with foot notes and annotated bibliographies on each of the following subjects: the history and manufacturing process of scissors,  needles, pins, silk, linen and cotton
{plus another on the history of which ever needlework you used for your teaching piece}

my favourite part of all was the essays - the research was done at the local library and through my own three sets of encyclopedia...

a month or so ago i discovered my newest favourite quilter cassandra ellis had written a book titled 

projects to sew from linen, cotton, silk, wool, and hide

thirty projects plus a heaping spoonful of history, uses and how-tos - it took me back...

and so it became mine... sigh

i'm in my glory

one of the wonderful images in the book is the photo you see below... sewing tools scattered over a pale, water-coloury design on a piece of cotton fabric

now i love tools, but... that cloth - that cloth was divine

looking like it was just torn from an aged sketchbook, it has all the elements i love - beautiful colours, branches with pretty flowers, fern-type leaves...

and a sketch-like quality, just brushed with the softest of water-colours

 the tools look as if you could just push them out of the way, and believe me, i've tried!

but they won't budge, and as cassandra mostly uses vintage fabrics, it's unlikely i can lay my hands on any of it

so... i'm doing the next best thing

first i'm trying my hand at sketching it - just on drawing paper for now

and loving it...

when i get a pageful of designs i'll transfer them to water-colour paper, probably hot-pressed at first, for the smoothness factor... not sure about that just yet but i could try both types i suppose

 after that, i want to try to duplicate it on fabric - in applique

since i'm wanting some kind of water-colour, sketch-book kind of feel i'm thinking of various ways i can get the look i want

as i was playing around with my drawing and the reference page, i realized that without consciously trying, i had sketched the flower in the same scale as the fabric in the photograph, allowing them to line up with each other rather well

kind of cool

 you can't imagine how excited i am about this - my poor brain is just a-whirl at the moment

 some long-time readers might remember the snippety bit applique i did using iron on transfers and teensy bits of fabric, layered and held in place with a single tiny stitch

i don't want this kind of rough texture for this piece - i'm looking for something much more gentle, much simpler- but with the same sort of sketcy outlines

a few weeks back in her small journeys series {which is no longer available for subscription - sorry!} jude hill spoke of a technique she uses for needle-turn applique that gives a sketchy look - it intrigued me, and got the ball rolling, but i really don't want the substance of a turned edge

so... i'm thinking that i will be having raw edges, pale fabrics, pen-sketching, perhaps even machine-sketching

i just need to figure out the order of things...

well, actually, we all know the order of things don't we?

the first step is to finish the darn christmas quilt!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


i am honoured to tell you i've been featured on monica sabullo gruppo's beautiful blog

a beautiful artist i had the great good fortune to meet up with whilst on our travels in the uk in 2013

monica is publishing a series of blog posts featuring a number of different artists and artisans who have a daily practice of journaling and today she's featuring me!

we have spoken at length, both in person {joyfully}, and through wonderful long letters sent flying over the seas about how important our morning journals are to us... monica journals in the most amazing way
{you can read about her practice here}

i am loving this series - i've been journaling daily for some time now, and it has been the most amazing thing for me, in so many ways

if morning journaling, a practice of daily writings, and/or art journaling are something you do, or wish you did, please click here to be inspired

scroll through monica's lovely blog to read what all the others participating in this series have to say

visit here to read all about monica's newest venture... an online course like no other... tune your heart

and please go here to see images of monica's amazing art

beauty and inspiration are just a click away!

Friday, June 5, 2015


crash  bang


nothing serious - just me falling off the wagon

the creativity- stifling, list-wagon that is...

i spent a whole day piecing 212 flying geese blocks
along with five of eleven star blocks
and then proceeded to begin squaring up said 212 geese blocks

mind-numbing boredom???

not really, not quite - my mind wandered here and there and every so often an idea would pop into it and take hold
i'd stop what i was doing and quickly write out the gist of what i was thinking, along with a sketch or two

but after the third go-round i finally gave up - couldn't stand it anymore
i had to get my fingers "dirty"

 first up was a play on my word-hearts

remember them? - little felt hearts with words written on muslin and stitched to the back of them

i recently read about another artist making little talisman hearts and tucking inside a slip of paper with a meaningful word written carefully on it - a charm for the recipient to hold dear

i liked that idea, of the word tucked safe inside, but i also thought it would be lovely to see it - to trap it safely inside, yet gently visible
and then i remembered my experiments with trapping scraps of lace within silk tissue and other delicate fabrics

i found my sample and made some notes, gathered a few supplies... and let it be

back to the geese i went

not five minutes later i pondered a way i might make an interesting binding for a small applique project i've been planning for a while now

more sketching, more gathering, playing with layouts

rummaging in my scraps of silk and such brought back an old hankering to piece a table runner combining silk and cotton along with vintage silk kimono fabrics

the piece below, which is not vintage, is setting the tone

and now a nice little stack of possible fabrics patiently wait... whilst i patiently square up more geese

  rooting through all my stitching experiments whilst looking for that silk-lace fragment reminded me of a nifty idea for little books i saw over at karen ruane's blog the other day

which made me think of the little pamphlet-stitched books i made for my midori-style journal 
{i'll post about that soon}

which is when i started pulling all manner of papers and card-stock bits and scraps out of the paper drawer along with conducting a review of my stock of waxed linen thread for sewing said pamphlet stitch

which is about when i crashed

i couldn't stand it any more

i folded, pressed and clamped little bits of papers

and i sewed little bits of fabric into tiny strips 1 1/2" wide

 and then folded it over to see how it looked

i like the varying widths but it's all rather uniform in it's straightness

i want to shake it up a bit - angle some lines, rough it up a little

i want to try one with light pretty fabrics, maybe some lace - perhaps even some stitches that show - at least here and there

the urge to do was just too strong to resist - i can console myself that i haven't made anything 
{after all, the little books aren't sewn together yet, nor is the binding attached to anything... yet}

 but i do feel somewhat assured that i'm not likely to forget about these ideas, and that they're now safely imprinted into my creative psyche, and just as soon as these geese are all trussed up in their quilt, i'll be ready to go

in the meanwhile, i just need a hand up to my wagon seat... if you please

Monday, June 1, 2015


i've always liked the word "still"

loving the many different meanings - it rings of continuity, constancy, quiet - at rest

now that all the work-related stitching is behind me, i've turned back to my own stitching desires

my list of five is with me still

 i'm working on a list i created back in early march... the one thing left on it is a queen size christmas/winter quilt

every year, both before and after christmas, i swear to myself that the next christmas will see winter-themed quilts on each of the beds - not screaming christmas in either fabric or design, but a warm wintry feeling that would suitable for two to three months

and every year, the cycle repeats itself

so in early march when it was time for a new list of five things to work on until they're done, i finally put one of those quilts on the list 

i'm cutting and piecing away now with high hopes that the top should completed in about a week's time

i can tell you it's been a long haul with this latest list - so many wonderful distractions have tempted me fiercely, but a plan is a plan, and i've stuck to it...

there is just one little side-step though... in order to make it all workable, i decided early on in this methodology that one of the five things on each list would be any project already begun in any online classes i've ever taken

that gives me a few things to choose from for quiet evening stitching - i love stitching of an evening, after all the work of the day is done and the world becomes still

i've always got a nice little stack of things i can easily pick up and work on - i keep each project bundled with it's thread so i never have to try and remember colour numbers

yesterday i picked up this one...

 the light was already going when i took these photos - the colours are sage, pale peachy-pink, gold, cream

the fabrics are silk, cotton and lace

a simple weaving for the design, then embroidery to hold it all together and add some surface texture

 i started this one a couple of years ago and now have a hankering to finish it - i'll make it into a nice sized pouch to hold some of my special cloth

 random stitching here and there, no rhyme or reason to it

i don't want it to be "precious", nor contrived in any way

still though, i am very excited about the prospect of a new list

i'm already day-dreaming about just what i might put on the next one... what project has been put off year after year, what technique do i want time to really explore and develop, what would i make if i could make whatever i want????

i still don't know