Saturday, December 24, 2016

christmas present, and christmas past

rolling through saved images on my laptop, it's lovely to look back on some of my favourite things that i've made over the years
in a fit of nostalgia, i thought i would post some of them here... memories perhaps for some of my readers who've been with me for a long time

the wishing stars were a favourite

i've forgotten now the exact number i made for those of you gave me a word
but i know it was many
the stars piling up, the image below one of my very favourites ever that i've posted on my blog

the year of the mice...
so much fun to make, especially when it comes to their faces
always amazing to me how the shape of the head has as much impact as the set of the eyes or placement of the whiskers

the santa mice, hats askew, the fiddly yet adorable glasses perched at just the right angle... these guys made me laugh over and over again

the little penguins, with stovepipe hats almost as tall as they themselves... tottering on awkward feet, unbalanced by their large bellies, anchored again by a tiny wreath

a santa stocking for a forgetful son, souvenir tweed from pitlochry, scotland

tiny patchwork and quilted cards... using the last scraps of favourite holiday fabrics

 i hope i'll always make things for christmas - there's just something so magical about this time of year, especially when it comes to making and creating

 inspiration and joy abound, perfection is out the window

unpacking some of these treasures each year brings back so many memories... the making of them, yes, but also the blog posts that shared them with all of you

i'm so lucky in my blog, it's readers, many of whom are now friends - i've only ever had wonderful, thoughtful comments; beautiful thoughts shared, from me to you and back again

one just recently by "ancient wanderer" was especially touching - i wanted to send you a personal reply but there was no email link...
please know it meant a lot to me that you took the time to leave it...

  the other day, as the sun was moving lower, not quite sunset but almost, the sky cleared a little {for the first time in ages!} and the far hills were kissed with the rosy glow
of the sun skipping along their tops, catching the snow and the whole world sparkled

it was one of those moments when you are so very glad you happened by a window, glad you can see, glad for a camera to capture it a little, glad for the world, and your place in it... grateful suddenly for every good thing in your life

i hope for all of you, in your lives, wherever you are, that you can be glad too

merry christmas to all of you!

Friday, December 16, 2016

an open heart...

continuing on with getting plastered...
{sorry - couldn't resist that!}

i'm still in love with this technique and though i haven't had a lot of time to muck about with it, i am on my second round of cards

i ran out of pale green silk ribbon, had enough cream for one card and so am now on to the palest pink imaginable
i tried brighter colours, really i did, but the trouble is, they completely overtake the design

their brightness overpowers the delicacy of the plastered stitching, to the point you really don't notice it, and for me, that's the main event, the "raison d'etre", if you will

so until i can get to a store with a better selection than what's available locally, it is what it is...

very pale, very delicate
 perhaps not terribly christmassy but certainly classy and sophisticated - i'll bling it up with the beads, paper and binding thread

 they do remind me of royal icing...

i'm working on a heart-shaped one to send to my best friend ever
she lost her mom a couple of days ago and is heart-broken

a heart-shaped wreath came immediately to mind

i like the open heart design - i like the space it leaves for what you want it to hold

full hearts have their place, but grief and memory need their own space i think

i can't imagine what the world must be like when your mom isn't in it... i think mothers are like anchors; not in a bad way, tying one down, but in the best kind of way - a mooring perhaps... safe harbour

 oddly enough, her mom was my "mom" for a while
after my parents split up, so did hers

we were in Grade 9 then, and so many people thought we were sisters {always together, same long blonde hair, same glasses etc. etc.} and one day we decided maybe we should be real sisters

so we fixed up her mom and my dad on a date

by thanksgiving of grade 10 they had moved in to our house - the four of them, and the four of us

three boys and three girls
people all over town called us "the brady bunch"

sadly, it was too much, too soon and by grade eleven it was down to dad and i again
{confucious' interesting times alright}

anyway, there are good and kind people who moved through my life, looked out for me and were helpful to me when i was young and lynne was one of the best
always calm, kind, reasonable and understanding
helping me learn to put in a zipper
unpicking it when i made a royal mess of it
patience to no end

managing two teenage girls with goodness and grace, and the freedom to roam...

i can still her saying, "you girls have fun... but be careful and don't be home late."

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


seems like everything i try and do these is pokey-slow
most especially with this poor old laptop of mine... it's over nine years old now and though it does everything i want it to, it does it very slllooowwwwllyyyyy...

it has taken me fourty-two minutes to transfer seven pictures from my camera to here

which might have something to do with my blogging less these days

but that might also have something to do with the light as well - it's a challenge to take pictures at all some days

the photo taken below is a mid-day shot, out the dining room window
we've had so much fog and rain lately that lights have to be on all day long - this day, where the sun finally poked out of the clouds was the first sunshine we've seen in these parts for weeks
they call it the "lake effect"
i don't mind the fog, except when it comes to taking photos


but the combination of sun and fog always delights

 a couple of posts ago i showed this new technique i've learned of late - my favourite ever, i think i said

i've taken it a little further and made some christmas cards...

 the candy-cane twine used to "bind" the card and insert paper together came at the suggestion of a kindred spirit who, whilst admiring the stitched portion and the selected card stock for the card itself, thought a touch of red somewhere might perk things up a bit

 when i tried adding red to the wreath itself it over-powered the design so this was a good compromise... i plan on making more cards as almost all of these sold so i'll experiment a little with ribbons and/or beads in the next round

 i do love the pale icy beauty of this version though

 and the little fragments of lace

 and of course the poked holes
texture upon texture, building up the layers
i made a tree version and am thinking a star would be lovely too
and then i have some beautiful snowflake cookie cutters...

and i'm off...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

this and that...

i've been battling a terrible cold for the past two weeks, cough, hacking, sneezing - laying low

the only good thing has been a pardon for all regular chores and each day, for an hour or two if the light is good, i work on my embroiderer's design ledger

i first took this class four years ago but with a full schedule of teaching classes of my own i did not get very far...

karen's doing a re-run of it, along with a bit of new material and i jumped at the chance to do this one again

an embroiderer's ledger is a design book you make yourself

taking an image of inspiration, identifying colour and pattern, working with that information and then extending it with your own ideas

you've seen a little already in my last post... here's what i've been up to since then

 the light here has been so terrible these past weeks that i have had to have the lights on all day, everyday, so my images are not the best... the bottom circle is actually a beautiful forest green...

but oh, how i love this page... love, love, love

 in a fit of nostalgia for much-loved classes, i re-visited another one i did with karen "lace, paper, cloth and stitch" and created this lovely strippy fabric - eventually it will make it's way on to one of the pages in this book

taking a page from my last post, i've since added simple embroidered detail - it's amazing how that can lift a design

 working with and isolating pattern

 more design work, extending pattern, yet another textured surface to work on

again, the addition of stitch can change things so dramatically

always working to maintain cohesion, trying to move things forward

i have already done much, much more in my book, ideas flowing faster than the pen can move, one building on another

right now i am happily up to my ears in french knots!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

ground, path, fruition...

i've written here lately, of brittany's creativity challenge i participated in a week ago, how much i loved it...
i find some of the discoveries i made still very much in the front of my mind - ideas, and perhaps even ideals, are constantly evolving, new insights developing, as if my creative brain is percolating away on high

i mentioned before i've had an interest in weaving for a very long time now
i remember grade school weaving with construction paper, graduating to yarns on a peg loom... a small hand-held nail loom for weaving long tubes that could then be made into all manner of various things

simple, childish weaving, the mechanics of which were fascinating

but there was more to the feeling, even then

i babysat once for a one-time weaver... her loom long gone but a set of placemats on the kitchen table begged to be handled -  the ridges and valleys formed by fibres of varying weights explored with gentle stroking and the feelings invoked were more than that of a new discovery; they felt more like the memory of a love

the frame loom i ordered a while back took a few weeks to arrive and i was itching to begin
i remembered a bead loom i had bought - not to do beadwork on 

i did a lot of that in my teenage years and have no desire to take it up again 

 i bought the bead loom for experiments with weaving fabric and wire (which i still haven't done!)

i dug it out, threaded it with plain dmc #12 perle coton and using an over-dyed valdani #12 perle coton, i painstakingly wove about an inch

it was such a pain - the bead loom set-up couldn't hope to hold the warp threads tight enough, which resulted (with my inexperience!) in a very uneven little swatch

but i was smitten

two weeks ago my frame loom arrived

i'm in a big hurry to learn as much as i can about all things relating to weave

brittany, who hosted the spark your creativity challenge, is the own/creator of " the weaving workshop " and she teaches an online class called 

"ground. path. fruition."

a class to motivate, inspire and challenge

"to focus on your creative weaving process and engage in weaving as a meditative practice, while exploring materials and media"

to develop a personal practice of weaving that includes more than the warp and the weft, where the maker works from both knowledge and compassion, mind and heart

the next session of this class begins on november 14... a little too soon for me
technically i could do it, even though i'm a beginner, but i want to approach this class from a place of a little more knowledge than i presently have

i want to weave a few things first, get better at setting up the warp, smoother in my technique
{i don't mind imperfections - i just want to know how they happened so if i like them i can repeat them!}

i highly recommended the "spark your creativity challenge" and while i can't yet offer a first-hand commendation for "ground. path. fruition. i can say that i have no doubt that it will be fabulous

no doubt at all...

{here's a wonderful article about brittany over at the textile artist website !}

Monday, October 31, 2016

sparking creativity

 the three day 

"spark your creativity challenge"

hosted by brittany of the weaving workshop has come to an end - well, perhaps the prompts have ended, but we've already formed such a delightful group and people are still posting away - i know i will in the days and weeks ahead
after all, this challenge did exactly what was intended

i am fired right up, let me tell you

the second day found us working with line and shape, one set of sketches using circles, the other straight lines
one from each group to be coloured

i thought at first that i would enjoy the circle challenge more - not even a bit
i found it difficult

i was way happier doing the straight lines, but as i type this i wonder if part of that might not have to do with them being done after the circles, when i was warmed up, knew what i didn't like

my favourite of all was the coloured blocks

i started by drawing drawing squares and rectangles, all inter-connected/overlapping
i planned to colour the parts that didn't overlap first and then go back with something different to colour the overlapping areas

that didn't work so well and i ended up leaving them unpainted - loved how that changed the look of the design and reminded me of the value of negative space

 below was a sampling of simple mark-making using straight lines - my inspiration for this was the simple "straight stitch" - a humble little embroidery stitch, the first one i learnt when i was seven, and the foundation for so many of the intricate stitches i love today...

 day three was collage

i haven't done a collage since i was in grade school - scary, but i held my breath and just started ripping things out of the three magazines we were to choose our initial components from

i also had a lovely currier & ives christmas card i had been saving for almost 15 years - a winter scene, beautifully drawn, gorgeous trees, tiny figures, houses and such

i decided to be brave and cut it, eventually slicing it into long strips of varying widths

because this challenge came to me through an interest in weaving i decided to work with weave - loosely, as a starting point

i loved that card and while i wanted to take inspiration from it, i would never want to copy it - i want to do my own work, with my own ideas, my heart...

so - underneath it i placed strips cut from the magazine pages, strips that represent, through their imagery, pattern, style, stitch and story

those four things are the foundation of everything i strive to make and they support the art itself

i was so pleased with how it turned out 

i like how you can see the image in separation now, reminding me of how i am inspired by the work of others, but that i don't recreate it

 i took the off-cuts from the magazine strips and glued them down in a random way, drawing circles and adding pin-pricking
wanting to do something quick, without planning, using various elements from the drawing exercises of the day before

and a reminder...

i have a tendency to over-think my work, to angst over the smallest detail - to always consider the whole picture, at each step of the way
i don't tend to take chances with my work and often find myself afraid of ruining something that i really like

i learned my creative blocks tend to rise from a fear of the unknown or unfamiliar 

i do not like to take chances with my work

yeesh - that was hard to write

i always thought i was an experimental creative, loving to just try things, but as wrote this post i realized that's not quite true - certainly not the whole story

i'm a scaredy cat

i am so, so glad i did this challenge - and if brittany ever offers it again i highly recommend it

three days, wonderful participants, eye-opening exercises


today i'm holding on to all i've discovered as i begin another class

i first did this class in 2012 but time and life took over and the images below are as far as i got
rather than starting over with a new design image, i'm going to continue right where i left off...

but with a whole new approach

Thursday, October 27, 2016

creative synchronicity...

in my ever-present quest for finding my own true creative voice, i signed up for brittany mclaughlin of the weaving workshop's 

"spark your creativity challenge"

a three day challenge where you will be opened up to new creative possibilities

my path here was a little round-about... a few weeks ago i finally decided to join the local spinner's and weaver's guild
i'd been toying with it for a long time, not so much interested in spinning, but very much drawn to weaving
my hesitancy did not come from a place of debated interest - it was a direct result of my husband's constant urging for me to "focus"
{perhaps he hasn't fully come to understand my focus is more about "how" than "what"!}

anyway, i joined and later that night, whilst scouring the internet for all things weaving, i found myself ordering a frame loom from an etsy sellerand joining brittany's site "the weaving workshop" and enrolling in her free introduction to weave class

when the invitation to participate in this challenge arrived in my inbox i didn't hesitate

today is day one and our challenge began with quickly choosing three books from our bookcase{s}
i chose my toile book from the bookcase in my sewing room, the grandma moses one from the night-table, and "a child's garden of verses" from my special shelf on my special bookcase - these are the much-loved stories of my childhood

next was to choose a quote from each book, after which the work began
i use that word "work" pretty loosely, this wasn't work, it was pure joy

 In looking closely at these books, from cover to content, context, even construction, we looked for what drew us - what we enjoyed, and what we could take from them for our own creative journey

some of what i wrote in our facebook group:

these three books have qualities that are imbued in what i strive for in my work - to look at old processes with new eyes, eyes that haven't seen things in only one way, to be fresh and imaginative, and to turn things around on themselves
i love to know the history of a process, skill, technique or product, to embrace that, but also to ignore it
i want to find my own way, creating a narrative that speaks to me, showing me a truth i can't find in the work of others...

how can i call on these books to help me in my own work?

i can look upon them as a testament to the strength and beauty of originality - there is no cloth like toile, but it didn't come about over night; it was the coming together of weave, design, pattern, dye and process that brought it to it's full glory

there are no paintings like those of grandma moses, who refined her style over time but never deviated from what was true for her, resisting the recommendations of others, and improving as much from choosing better equipment and paint as from the experience gained from doing...

there are no children's poems as entrancing as those of robert louis stevenson, written from the author's authentic self, drawn from his own life's experiences and personal observations, using point of view as a powerful tool

these are all qualities i believe to be key in expressing my own creative voice; if i continually make them part of my process, i will surely create what is in my own heart...

and that my friends, was a glimpse at day one
you can join us if you like...

and now for the synchronicity part of this post

two days ago, as part of another class i'm taking on all things paper, i pulled the papers below in anticipation of a book making exercise

as i loaded the images for today's post, i realized the colours of my chosen papers, perfectly match the covers of the books i chose at random this morning

 two days, and two classes apart...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

seeing spots

lately i've been working with colour - completely saturated colour

the fabrics have been collected over the past few years, whenever we went down to visit family in sisters, oregon

the quilt shop there is heavy on the modern side of things and i thought it might be a good idea to break out from my usual choices and hearken back to what i liked during the '70s

bright, happy colour with no rules

i'm making a child's lap quilt, a simple rail fence design with three white panels that will have "fancy-full" flowers appliqued and embroidered

it's been a slow go though

i've pieced the rail fence blocks 
the layout was determined by the amount of fabric i have - no way i'm buying more, so when the blocks were pieced, i flung them out on the floor, moving them around until i came up with a plan

not saying it will stay this way, but it's a start
a guideline, if you will - not a rule...

the flowers will extend across the white panels, design components flowing from one to the other, across seams, no boundaries

so far there's one that has the petals appliqued and outlined with embroidery - the embellishments haven't been done
haven't even been thought up, actually

i did say progress was slow...

a couple of circles have also been added - they'll be centers for future flowers, but yup, you guessed it... not yet invented either

at least i've got a theme sorted out

but while i've been waiting for my brain to sort all that out, i have made some very pretty, spotty, dotty lace

circles of circle fabric, circles of lace, circular stitching

circular holes

 at least i have something pleasant to occupy me while the ideas stew and brew...