Sunday, December 24, 2017

oh christmas...

christmas eve... the quiet hour before dinner

time to pause, breathe, gather thoughts, anticipation

it's interesting, getting older...

it always surprises me how differently i see things as the years slide by

when i was young i was enthralled with the story of st. nicholas... "santa" was who i believed to be the bearer of gifts but in grade five i read a book about the story of st. nicholas and i loved it

i thought then, and do still today, that it was a better story, a truer belief and something we could all aspire to, every day

to give what we can to those who need it more than we do

to think about others before we think of ourselves

a few years ago i made a "wrapping cloth" in one of karen ruane's classes - she spoke of a wrapping cloth being a cloth you make in honour of a person, to symbolically wrap them up and keep them safe. stitching your love for them into every part of it

i made mine in honour of christmas and all the love and memories i have of those early christmases of mine

of my mom who did everything she could to make them special, of my brothers and my friends, the importance of loving and giving

of sharing

of the year my oldest brother went out after we younger ones were asleep

he cut down a tree, set it up in our bedroom, decorated it and put presents under it - what a grand surprise that was!
there are stars on it like these. for the wishes that need wishing

and hearts like this one, for those who need loving...

christmas, with all it's beautiful layers of meaning, might seem like an odd thing to want to keep "safe"

but sometimes this world would like to drag us down a different path

and the love and joy the season brings, and all that goes with that, need a helping hand


Thursday, October 26, 2017

plodding along...

a day, a week, a month and then two
i wouldn't have believed it if you'd told me

this month especially has flown by
the leaves are yellow and red, glorious against the bright blue sky, falling at the barest hint of a breeze

winter is not far off...

fall is without doubt my favourite time of the year, especially when it's slightly damp and there's a wooded area to walk through... smoke curling in the sky, peek-a-boo views that have been hidden since spring

i try and get out for a walk every day and though i easily managed that in the summer, this month tells a different tale
it isn't daily right now but it's as often as can be and i love it
i do my best creative thinking when i'm walking outside - just need to start carrying a pen and paper with me so i can jot some of that "brilliance" down - ha!

stitching time has been all about little pieces, tiny bits that are fiddly beyond belief but give very satisfying results

i am making cards these days, to sell at the shop where i work part-time, and have been experimenting with a few different things
below is the first one i did and though i love it, i won't be making them to sell there - for what i'll get paid, this takes way too long to do so i'm working on a simplified version

i do love little houses though, especially those made out of fabric so i'm working on a re-vamp of the design, simplifying it, wanting something equally as charming but a little quicker - maybe one house will do the trick?

I'm also wanting to make some abstract ones, cards that aren't necessarily seasonal or occasion-themed

art cards i guess

that idea is still percolating but has been fueled by something else i made a while back

the piece below is all sorts of tiny scraps of silk and lace, loosely stitched with a simple grid and now cut into three pieces

i've done a bit of stitching on one of the pieces already but am thinking that it might be worth trying out a few ideas on one of the two remaining

i love the colours and all the textures, the looseness of it all
and how fragile they feel in my hand
stitching on them is a huge challenge but i am reluctant to try and stabilize them in any way as I just don't want to detract from that soft fragility

careful experimentation then, with a light hand

i will be back, with more to show, and sooner rather than later...

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

tales of childhood

when i was seven we moved to our newly built house in a completely different area of whitehorse

having lived my whole life in the downtown portion of the city, being out in the country was a new experience... businesses and sidewalks gave way to houses on large lots with loads of trees
the new school was one block away
and no longer would i leave school every noon hour to go to my grand-parent's house for lunch

i loved lunchtime
my grandfather "papa" came home from work, as did my mom - they, my grandmother, and us four kids made for a pretty lively lunch hour... i was going to miss that terribly...

but my mom had a plan and it involved the lady next door

she had three small daughters, and was very young herself... a stay-at-home mom who loved to sing whilst she worked... cooking and cleaning, baking her own bread, washing and ironing... i can never, to this day, do housework without singing "scarborough fair"

we went there for a hot lunch five times a week and again after school until mom and dad came home from work

one day she was hand embroidering on a piece of the softest flannelet... it was the yoke of a nightgown for her middle daughter... three little heads, full of wavy hair, each one different...

as she stitched she sang the poem

"wynken and blynken and nod one night sailed out on a wooden shoe..."

i never forgot it, nor have i forgotten how i felt about what she was doing... a nightgown with an embroidered yoke for a three year old? 
i knew even then that wasn't a commonly thing done, even if it was 1968

devotion - and not just to her daughter, but also to the making

this poem then, for me, is all wrapped up in a beautiful telling of the imaginative workings of a child's mind, and the devotion of a mother, in time and thought in an artful practice
i've long wanted to make something inspired by that most wonderful of poems and now i've finally begun

i'm stitching the story, the poem "wynken, blynken and nod", making a little cloth book, complete with text and illustrations of my own design

 it's taken me a long time to work out the construction details but i finally have a plan that i think (and hope!) will work

one page with the text written out along with a few stitched details

and a facing page that illustrates that portion of the poem

it's a bit of a challenge as there aren't really many "scenes" but i'm making the most of every nuance in the verse

the details are tiny, time consuming, repetitive

but i don't mind

some of the applique is needle turned but much of it is just overcast along the edges

it'll rough up a bit as it's handling but i'm ok with that - i think it will just add to the tactile nature of the book

the pages will be about 6' square so just the right size for little hands to hold and turn

and a nice size for a scene - simple illustrations, fun with the details

i'm not just stitching a story though... i'm stitching a memory

a lasting memory of a very special person who has had a great influence on my life, and even more clearly, on my work


Saturday, May 27, 2017

little girl, little girl... where have you been?

 i've been to london...

london from primrose hill
 my favourite city in all the world
{not that i've been to very many but even if i had i know i would love london best}

i've had trouble transferring photos from ipad to my laptop - i think it will be a long slow go but for now i have a few from the very first days of my time in the uk

in advance of the embroidery workshop with karen ruane on saturday april 1st, three of us went on a little shopping expedition of all things creative in a few of london's most charming of shops

we started at shepherd's bookbinders...


walls and drawers and tables full of amazing papers
i practiced a lot of restraint here, and the khadi paper on the table in the image above being the most foolish of all - i bought just two sheets of it, wishing now i had bought twenty...


one of the most beautifully presented shops i've ever been in, chock-a-block full of inspiration, i came away with a few new tools and supplies which will hopefully help me to improve my book-binding skills and a few lovely sheets of paper to inspire

more shepherd's!

 we wandered through a vintage button shop, a specialty ribbon and trim store, "the cloth house" on berwick street, lace stores and several silk shops in soho

the cloth house

 the windows of the cloth house were entrancing with the little textiles strung across them on  clotheslines

the cloth house

new cloth, old cloth, new buttons, old buttons... lace

i had a budget and i stuck to it though goodness knows how
the cloth house

inspiration at every corner, in every shop, and the kindest people

the best day

that is, until the next day...

saturday was my embroidery class with karen ruane

nine of us gathered in a lovely space in covent garden for a day of stitching, tea, cake and chatter
i'd been waiting for that day for months; the chance to meet karen, see her amazing work in person, meet people i had come to know a little during our online courses - just be there

below is what i worked on during that most wonderful day

my project

 karen made workshop packs for us filled with several surfaces to stitch, tear, stitch, and tear some more

workshop kit

 she gave us graph papers and bits of lace and trims to play with as well

workshop kit

 the metallic lace in my work was a gift from sue, shopping tour guide extraordinaire

i don't have much to show for six hours of stitching but i have a very good reason that - tea, cake, chat, tea, cake chat... look through karen's ledgers, stitch a little and then tea and cake again

we called it the "london cake day"

i've pulled this out a few times since coming home, thinking i should work on it some more - today i decided it will stay as it is and i'll be able to look at it always and say "i made this in london"

latest work

hard to believe it's already a month since we left - the only consolation then is that it's one month less until i get to back again...