Wednesday, October 31, 2018

what's in your pocket?

I'd love to say it all started here...

England's Lake District, a year and a half ago

having such a habit begin in a place such as this would surely make it far more respected than if it began in almost any other place on earth

for in this landscape, which is steeped not only in an unparalleled beauty in nature, but also, and perhaps even more importantly, steeped in a history of poetic and artistic observation, one could easily be forgiven for gathering just about anything if it inspired one to write or paint or draw... 

but I just can't say that...

stuffing things in my pockets has been a lifelong obsession

 sticks and shells and leaves and flowers and heaven knows what else

an unusual colour or shape of an everyday thing that catches my eye
anything that strikes my fancy or sparks an idea is sure to make it's way into my pockets or handbag - whatever us handiest

several years ago I broke down and bought a gathering basket...
an ingenious contraption with a strap for putting it around your waist or over your shoulder

a hinged lid for easy emptying

a small hole in the side for easy stuffing any bit or bob that comes my way

the trouble is, I never have it with me when the really interesting stuff captures my eye... but I almost always have pockets

the stick and stone and sheep's wool followed me home from a walk in the hills above Ambleside 

I have no plan for them other than to look at them any time the mood strikes

and each time I do I see something different, even though they've sat like this, on a dresser-top, since the day I came home

a few weeks ago my son suggested we go to see the Adams River salmon run
we took my mom and step-father and it was a grand day

such a beautiful place...

though you could see the fish well enough in the deeper water, it was in the streamlets where they were most visible

As we walked toward the river I saw several birch trees downed

already cut into smaller lengths, most with the bark curling away from the trunk itself

naturally I peeled some off and stuffed it in my pockets... interesting driftwood and rocks followed suit

by the time we got back to the car and my son held out a bag he found in the truck, my pockets were bulging, and as I emptied handful after handful, his laughter grew... shaking his head the whole while

back home, I washed the bark and then pressed it, between sheets of drawing paper, weighted down with a stack of heavy books

{I had to improvise as my flower press is still full from foraging whilst in the Yukon in August!}

and last week I read about making twine by twisting the leaves of day lilies, irises and cattails

day lilies and irises are in my back yard, cattails, just down the hill at the little lake...

these are my day lilies

I've been mucking about, experimenting with how to preserve them 

after twisting, I want to weave with them, but as they dry they'll shrink and become brittle

I first thought of rubbing some kind of oil into them but plant-based oils might go rancid, and petroleum-based ones just seemed wrong

then I remembered some roses I had bought many years ago that had been preserved with glycerin

they looked dried but were beautifully soft

information online was sketchy at best so I've been experimenting 

it's kind of a goldilocks sort of thing... you don't want them to soak for long or they'll be oily, nor for too short a time or they'll be too brittle

it has to be just right - soft, but natural

I think I've just about worked out a method I'm happy with that yields the results I want

this is just one of my twisted twine - I still have to snip off the bits where I've added a new leaf, but it's coming along just fine

soothing and addicting

the irises are just about ready to pick and soak

cattails are in a bowl soaking as I type this

and there isn't a plant out there safe from scrutiny

so much fun...

and my pockets are empty and ready to go

Friday, October 12, 2018


When I was about seventeen my favourite perfume was "Y" by Yves Saint Laurent

I remember it as being a very nice scent, but if truth be told, I also liked the responses I would get when people me asked me what perfume I was wearing and I answered them

I hadn't thought about any of that for years, but today the memory drifted through my mind as I once again took up my fountain pen and practiced a little calligraphy... 

I first learned it in an evening class almost twenty years ago - I believe we met for about five or six weeks and we played with several different fonts

 the instructor had a penchant for swirls and flourishes 

it was great fun

this time, I'm entranced by what has come to be called 

"modern calligraphy"

I think of it as handwriting, elegant and flowing

practicing up-strokes and down-strokes, thin lines and thick

graceful, flowing curves

over and over again

when that became tiresome, to relax, I turned back to what I first learnt...

one or two spins through the alphabet and muscle memory kicked in, my hand and head in concert

this was part of today's effort...

and below are pages from my first go round with the craft

I loved adding the roses - now I want to try tree branches

the "Merry Christmas" you see below was coaxed out of me, rather unwillingly, but I'm glad I did it

I doubt I would ever do anything this fancy ever again, but it was fun to fiddle about with it for a while...

I've also been busy with the coasters... and below are more bases, that, in the evening, when the day is done, I stitch on a little more

making them up as I go

the only "plan" is that I don't stitch on all the sections; some, mostly the florals, are left plain

resting places for the eye

I love the light-coloured patch above, with two rows of over-lapping cretan and one of herringbone with straight stitches

below is feather stitch, and below that is a favourite scrap with simple cross stitches in the open space

the weave details on some of these fabrics is amazing and I try not to have the stitching I add interfere with that - enhance maybe but not detract

it's a delicate balance but I do find that using just a single strand of dmc helps a lot

I did use two on the feather stitch though - it needed oomph

and then smyrna crosses, always a favourite 

I've figured out the packaging for sets of four

the calligraphy is part of the plan for the sets of two

it's fun to swing back and forth between the two...