Monday, June 20, 2016

Crazy Ass Week number Two

Yes, a second demented week. Due mostly to a head cold that has ended in the demise of an iris. Last night I decided that it would be a good idea to take a Tylenol for the pain. Then I decided that it would be a good idea to take an Advil for the swelling. Then I remembered that a small scotch can be soothing on a sore throat. After a while, I remembered that a small scotch can be soothing on a sore throat. We went to the back deck and had dinner, along with half a beer each.

The cat did something unusual. She went into the garden bed and hid behind a small flowering plant. Then she leapt out and over the plant. After a while, about 3 seconds, I decided that looked like fun. So I went behind the same small plant, crouched down, called the cat to look my way (she was a good 10 feet away) and leapt over the flowering plant. I did not stick the landing. I was laughing too hard. I fell backwards and ruined the yellow iris.


The cat panicked and headed for the house but her leash caught her up. Steve didn't know whom to rescue. He chose the cat, as the lesser able creature. I managed to get out of the garden bed without ruining anything else, but couldn't stop laughing. Laughing that hard with a full on head cold hurts. A lot.

This anecdote is all part of demonstrating that my decision making skills have been rather poor this week. Part of the class work for Karen's course is to find an image in the story books we like, and trace it or enlarge it or repeat it and then embroider it on a piece of fabric the same size as the page in the book.

As you can see, I was not in a sentimental mood. I chose the owl about to murder the mouse because that is about how I felt. In the book, the illustrator has the owl far away from one mouse and there is lots of room for the mouse to run away.

Not my owl. It's gonna catch something.

Last Sunday, Steve and I drove up to Wolfville to retrieve my story books and art from the fibre shop. I've had my art with me all week and have managed to do only these two small bits.

They are old bits of  sewing ephemera. I have two small instruction booklets that I hope to embellish in a similar manner. Can't say that I love the bottom one. Oh well.

I also managed to sew two t-shirts and one blouse.

I want to wear this one in the winter, but it has been so cold here that I wore it for a couple of days. It has a bit of a super hero kind of action going on, I just realize.

The back is a bit crazy also. Well, I wanted something colourful for the winter, and now I have it.The other one is a nice blue, same pattern, but calmer.

I found this fabric last summer and just love it. It is feminine but not sentimental. It is a light weight fabric, maybe a georgette.

I like the flirty sleeve. I bet that lots of food will appear on the cuffs. I've used this pattern before on a black floral sheer top. It fits nicely across the chest and has a nice drape across the stomach. There is a beautiful blue voile in my fabric stash waiting to be turned into a summer dress.

My goal every summer is to have a blank calendar with nothing other than "Camp" written down as many times as possible. It looks like I might achieve failure this year. In two days we are off to Ottawa to see Phoebe, head to Toronto for a wedding, bundle up my mom and bring her back here for 10 days. My other goal every summer is to be around the house when these little beauties bloom.

I call them Veronicas, but no other person with plant knowledge knows what I am talking about. The are sweet blue florets on a tall stalk, but the plant stems tend do droop over. There is just enough of a hint for me to realize I will miss the best part of this plant.

After we see my mom off, I go to Lunenburg for a 5 day summer school on sketching. In the meantime, the camera is primed, I have recovered from my scotch/painkiller excitement and have enough sense to pack an almost complete suitcase for our upcoming trip. I wonder what I'll forget?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Crazy ass week

Let's see, I forgot my art work at the wonderful Gaspereau Valley Fibres shop after the gathering of my textile arts buddies. Couldn't do a thing on either my two story books or stitching on my latest project. That was a kicker.

This little piece has been started and isn't going well yet. The face of the mother from the book 'Mama' is meant to go in the moon on one of the pages and I want to stitch it into the lace doily as well. Maybe it will work.

Steve was away for a conference and was sick while in Regina. The man has an aversion to cell phones and thinks all those other devices he carries will work, except that I only know how to work the phone and the skype phone. Contact was scarce, I was worried about him and let's just say a few words were exchanged. Do you ever feel guilty about yelling at a sick person? I remember once our son was being miserable, I yelled and eventually it turned out to be an ear infection. Yelling always backfires.

The garden continues to look lush. That has a lot to do with the drizzly rain we are having. When this blog descends to the level of discussion weather, you know my brain is on the fritz.

The memory card for the camera went missing. My stitch ripper was in the location where I usually keep the gizmo that gets used for transferring photos from camera to computer. This should have been a clue. I found the memory card in my sewing basket. Found it last night. No photos this week.

It isn't fun to do a blog without photos, so I bid you adieu until next week. There better be some sun, for all our sakes.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Two Show and Tells

I have a great gang of women that I meet with twice a year. We are all textile artists of one kind or another. Many of us have been stitching for ages and ages. It is an exciting group and this post is about them.

We have gathered at Gaspereau Valley Fibres, here the most wonderful wool shop in the whole nation. It is housed in a barn that has slowly been refurbished. Chickens, Cotswold Sheep, Llamas and cats help set the scene, but I am always in such a hurry to get to the wool, that I forget to photograph the location.

We gather for the day, usually it is a bring your own lunch event and a few of us provide the coffee and tea and someone always bakes something delicious.  We stitch and talk and wander around looking at the wool and each others work.

Before the main event, the Show And Tell began, we were visited by a very demanding hostess.

Once everyone has settled with a beverage, the real fun begins. We go around the table showing what our latest projects are, explaining any techniques or motivations we have. This work, by Penny Berens, has threads and fabric dyed in her stream with natural elements, black walnuts or red mud or you name it. It is free form, distorted stitching.

Some projects are huge, as the one above is, while others are smaller.  Margi Hennen, known for her whimsical dolls has had a bit of a slump and decided that collage of magazine cuttings are pretty darn fun for now.

Cathy Drummond, a local quilter with a lovely sense of balance and colour is exploring how to translate water colour abstractions into cloth. These swaths of colour are just the beginning and she received more advice than anyone could possibly take in. The beauty of this gang is that there is never a lack of advice, on pretty much any topic, so beware.

Alex Schofield, a multi media artist is exploring textiles inspired by over six years of daily drawings. The stitching is an image based diary, not linear or narrative but more a collage of moments.

Celeste Thibadeau recently discovered that she has Celtic roots as well as her Acadian ones and she is exploring the goddess Brigit.

Kate Madeleso had this quilt on tour and is explaining the techniques used in the theme "Structures". The photos of the remainder of the group were back lit by the huge windows or too dark, and didn't come out so well.

Our demanding hostess was exhausted by the show and tell and demonstrated the best way to end the day.

It is pouring outside, I can't get my energy up to get to the gym and that is bad. The day is so over case that when I went into the kitchen just now, I thought the clock (not digital) said 5:00 pm. It actually said 12:30, but I believed it and started making dinner. So to cheer myself up, and those of you also sitting in a rainy day, here are a few photos of my garden.

This hosta is simply gorgeous this year. It has never been so sprightly. To its left, we dug out the orange day lillies and put in a blue hosta that should be huge in two years.

From the same view point, you see the beehive.

A lone little bee has come out to check the temperature. She wandered back in and a few minutes, the gang followed. The place literally hums when they all get to work.

The garden is a lovely place in June. Mostly it is green. Flowers show up here and there but those are extra. We have a small pond that struggles to drown out the sound of traffic. 


The pond area is getting a face lift this summer. We have never been in a garden for so long that it becomes overgrown. After 20 years, it is time to do a bit of pruning. Where the cat is sitting, we have dug out a pernicious weed (green goutweed). Beside her is a lovely Lady's Mantle that the weed hides under. Yesterday, before the rain hit, I dug it out. I am hoping to put a small fountain there to link up to the existing one. No real reason beyond that the hole is already dug. 

And that's it, Shows And Tells over.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Wandering Path One - a finished Squish

In the header image you can see the beginnings of this piece. It sure has come a long way. This is my first fully embellished piece using the squishing of flowers, leaves and grasses as a starting point. It is not damped stretched yet, why... mostly because all sorts of spare time is being spent on spring chores. You know them, the ones that you don't want to do.

The flowers used here are primarily forsythia florets and pansy bits, with some grass thrown in. I tried to stay in the yellow orange range of threads, but looking closer, that didn't happen too much, did it. Blue, green, whites, laces, some peaches and purples. I am not that good at monochromatic, colours just creep in.

The upper right is a section of a torn neckline lace. The background cotton is very common, a basic muslin. I have decided to like the contrast of lace against common cotton, simply because the flowers adhere to the cotton better than other textiles. The silk I tried just looked ruined.

The far left side has a strip of lovely peach silk with pale threads running down it. One of the reasons I haven't damp stretch this is because I am trying to figure out if the wrinkles add or detract. It is meant to be a piece that evokes a friendly, casual wander through a garden path. The rough edges, the wrinkles and the signs of the embroidery hoop are part of ethos of not making it precious. Will I keep the edges rough, or is there an edge finish I should consider? I am also thinking of hanging this from one point only, so that it drapes, rather than hangs flat. On the other hand, does it just look sloppy?

This close up of the centre is the climax of the walk, a bit of lace, georgette, a hole to peak through (that's why I am not sure if I should drape this or not. How can you look through a hole if there is wall or backing behind it?)

Just above centre are a few more holes, a lovely spray of bluets, and some more lace.

This little corner is about the grass. I've used yellow greens to mimic the lines of the squished grasses and leave the splops of forsythia on show.

Different layers of bumps for texture, french knots and other stitches as you reach the end of the walk.

The beginning and perhaps the best part. It shows the grass, stains, bumps, stitching, holes and a wandering path. And I love the blue bits.

The centre again showing off the antique lace scraps.

And back to the upper left corner. The journey really begins at the bottom left, but who can resist another look at beautiful lace?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Stitching a Story three and sticks

Every spring and summer I attempt seeds. It is usually a disaster, but this year, I think I might have sorted things out. That includes a beautiful tin to hold my unused seeds in. More importantly, I bought those stick things that you can write on to tell you what seeds are in what pots and when they were planted. Important why? Because I am usually flailing around finding little pots and fine enough soil and other sorts of dithering to label the seed pots. I have used the seed packets and taped them to the pots or stuck them in, or other irresponsible things. They get wet, I can't read the packaging after a few days, they fall off, or blow away and the seeds don't sprout anyways. This year, those little sticks were properly labeled, unused seeds remain dry for a second sowing, and low and behold, there are actual seedlings for a change. What a brilliant idea, those sticks.

Below, Rosie's Hat continues to be stitched. I've added some red beads to her hat and some red threads to blow in the wind. At her feet are some enhanced flowers and yellow gestural stitches.

On the back side of the first page, I managed to get the stitches to be more or less upright. The back of the French Knots have been left long to make tufts out of the knots. There is a red bead on the muffin for the gull to find.

Mama do you love me is coming along with more intense titivation. 

Here, Mama and daughter have had their skirts enhanced with ruffles and embroidery.

The green ruffle was a rectangle embroidered with lazy daisy flowers, sewn into a tube and turned right side out. The top edge has been caught down with small running stitches to get the curves to work. The daughter's ruffle has a couple French Knots to anchor each end.

Mama's ruffle is made the way a usual ruffle is, stitched down and then the orange chain stitch added at the end. That was a bit tricky as far as keeping the hands from banging the page up, but it is a short run of sewing and I kept it very much on the surface.

Here I am working on letters. The purple is meant to be the back ground, the piece of paper napkin the foreground. It was tricky to get the napkin paper trimmed to fit inside the purple edges. Very fussy.

It turned out the paper napkin was three plys of paper. Every thing was nicely glued down, then cut out, then as I was gluing it to the page, the coloured bits peeled off. More gluing.

Kunik means kissing on the nose in Inuktitut.

For those of you interested in our bees, the hive has been moved to a dryer sunnier spot beside the garage. Michelle is showing new to bee-keeping Nick, how to move the compartments around when there are gadzillion bees on them and flying around.

Michelle has added a decorative feature at the bottom of the hive, a turquoise base. Too bad about the concrete blocks, but this is a working hive, not a garden feature. But when I sit outside with a cup of tea or a beer, I just love watching these bees do their thing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Another season of Squishing

The forsythia is in full bloom and that means.... get out the rolling pin, we're gonna squish things.

I have several cotton swatches from last year ready to go. I've pre-mordanted them with alum, dried and ironed them, because I have a notion that heat will fix the mordant more firmly. Not based on science, just a whim. Then the cat and I headed out and peeled a few branches off the forsythia and we added yellow to last year's work.

I love the scattering of grass that happened by accident last year, and have decided that every piece needs a few grass etchings. I have a lovely epimedium blooming at the same time as the forsythia and decided to experiment. That's what this is all about anyways. Tossing blooms hither and yither all summer and seeing what happens. The epimedium florets are very sweet. Four petals of a lovely red/pink with an interior petal of a creamy white. There are about 11 or more florets on each stem, which is very slender.

The plant shakes in the breeze rather than bends over, so it is always 'alive' with movement.

In this squish, using Forget me Not florets,  I decided to keep the florets on the stem and see what happened. The colours smeared into a diagonal swath . At first glance, disappointment, but,

once the squished matter is removed, a nice concentration that gives an energetic focus.These are two different swatches. I was inconsistent in my photo taking, no surprise.

The above is a paper piece that has a very fine rayon paper glued over the dried hydrangea leaves from last year. I've added some grass and forsythia on the top layer. Now I like this better. There is a blue flowering plant I don' t know the name of that I have to out after dark and steal from a neighbourhood store. Not very friendly folks, so stealth will be needed. Besides, I like the occasional thieving opportunity, keeps me sharp. I realize now that I've missed several events in this project that might interest you all, so you know what will happen next week. More of this.

This next picture has nothing to do with squishing, but it represents a huge success for me. It is a rough outline for a suggestion on how to re-organize our back door deck. It needs replacement and an ongoing 'discussion' are the dimensions. The back door now slams into the back of a chair, and it has to be continually moved to sit in the sun and avoid being hit by the door. Moving the deck has caused years of 'discussion' because it entails moving a very well built path to the basement door, woodpile and barbeque. There is a step down from the driveway to this path. The existing steps incorporate a huge concrete step that would kill us to move. I suggested a wooden path level with the driveway to the back area, with a ramp so the wheelbarrow and snow blower can more easily be moved up to the drive. Hauling 2 cords of wood every September down that step is murder on the arms and back. The sitting area can expand 2 feet one way and 4 feet the other. I sketched up my idea, not in proportion of course, and Well, guess what! Steve went for it. Naturally he had to get out the measuring tape and consider every angle, but for the first time in dozens of years, an idea of mine has been approved without days and days and days of 'discussion'. The best part..... it doesn't need ANY adjustments to meet Steve's approval. This page is going to be framed and hung over the bed.