Monday, January 23, 2017

Two by Each progress

One of the two pillowcase edges is coming along nicely. Each edge is about 3 feet long. I should measure it. They are each 3 inches wide, plus the lace edges. Below I have worked on the first layer of the first 12 inches.

I decided to use only one main fabric for applique and cut work. My first impulse was to go for a quiet blue or soft green. These were too quiet. This fabric has some strong colors, a red and a gold and a navy blue that I will down play.

I've appliqued a narrow strip and made button hole lace around it.

From the bottom of the other pillow case edge, I cut off enough for a small pocket and have lain it over the top third of the appliqued strip. I've used two sizes of yo-yo and a yellow button. This was a real pleasure to play around with.

A little below the pocket, I've added a small snippet from a doily and then a corner of a thin batiste hanky. I've embroidered the floral motif and pleated the corner of the hanky.

French knots for titivation.

I attempted a rolled hem on the cut edge, but it didn't work. Then I used a tight button hole edge to make it ruffle a little. Bullion knots on the actual edge of the hanky that someone did manage a rolled hem on. I'm going to put something under the unfinished edge. The part I love about this project is the wandering through my stash of lace trim and edges.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Embroidery School

Classes have begun again with Karen Ruane (here) for most of the winter months. This session, we will be watching Karen as she figures out what's what on her studio table. She'll be stitching, making journal pages and preparing for a class she has offered in London in the spring (it's full). The beauty of this class, is that there aren't any expectations. We can work on our own projects or we can mimic whatever Karen is up to.

A fun idea for appliqued hexagons was one of last week's projects along with a trick with bullion knots. I have set aside some white and blue/white fabric to play with while watching the videos.

I have also pulled out my wandering threads sampler and added the hexagon idea.

The second hexagon is a lot better than the blue and white one. I figured out how to cut the inner hexagon with more accuracy from the backside of the fabric. I'm keeping it short this week, sick husband trying not to sneeze all over the house means having to clean the entire house as he wanders through, because he has terrible aim. I have not reduced my behaviour to crawling after him in the pursuit of germs, but have instead wrapped my entire head in shower caps with breathing holes in the back of my head. It might work but it sure is hard to keep my glasses on.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Stalled in First

There's too much cleaning and organizing going on here. All my projects to start the year off are in neat little piles with the threads, textiles and notes.

 All these blank pages. It is much too neat.

Normally, there is a huge mess on the floor and I step over it and mix things around and then pick things out and put them in a pile and then do it again. Eventually, I get a few main ingredients sorted and then the stitching begins. This pile has been growing incrementally over the fall and the messy process has taken place over a long time.

The first step hasn't been missed, but altered. So instead of having several messy piles, I have calmly found containers and even rearranged a shelf so projects can be neatly stored away when not in my hands.

Sheesh, it feels too administered, too closed down for improvisation. Knowing me, I'll kick out against it and toss things into a heap again.

All these neat little baskets and bowls are making it hard to begin though. Which one to start with, which one to put aside for a few weeks.

They feel equally important and not important.

I decided to begin with the orange and red colour palette.

Being winter, it helps to have a good brisk colour in my hands and by the time the spring comes, I'll be ready for some blues and greens and can move on to that project. I have been excited by the prospect of the two pillowslip edges and that is also started now. Today is the first day of a new Karen Ruane class, and I have watched the first day's videos.

I have pulled out a few fabrics I knew I would want for this class and prepared them. I believe this class will be mostly about stitching and embellishment.(here) Go to her shop for more information. Karen has figured out a few new approaches to embellishment and I am looking forward to once again stitching while watching her videos.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Some show and tell finally

Now that gifts have been given, I can finally boast about a few things.

I knit these for Lucas in the summer, wrapped them up in several layers of zip lock baggies just in case moths found them and nearly forgot to put them in his stocking. A basic pair of socks, no fancy patterns, just good old green socks that work well as a head band.

This photo makes no sense in this post, but it is too funny to exclude. Lucas at the back door, pretending to be a cat wanting in. We didn't let him in for a few moments. That's what he gets for smoking behind his mother's back. Yes, he's nearly 30, and can smoke if he wants to, but what the hell is he thinking? His health, my health, his insurance costs, his budget, nag, nag, nag.  Done.

For Phoebe, who loves tea, I found this wonderful colour work pattern (here)

This is a much cuter pattern than it shows. The entire poem of  "I'm a little teapot" goes round and round with abstract patterning between the lines. I saw it done up in much more cheerful colours and loved it. It is pretty easy.
and gradually knit them up. You'd think that with her living in Ottawa I would have tons of time to complete the knitting without her seeing the gift. It always seemed difficult to get this project rolling but persistence paid off. I did do the steeks differently. I zigzagged up the steek lines with the machine twice, but then used a red cotton to edge the openings; One for the handle of the teapot, one for the spout. I like this better because it doesn't stretch out. Had I used a button hole stitch or a wrap stitch, the openings might have stretched out of shape over time.

Phoebe is pretending to be her teapot.

Poor Steve. I have a pair of socks on the go for him, but it was even harder to knit without him seeing this project than for Phoebe's. His socks are currently unfinished. He has lots of others. It's the thought that counted, at the time.

The Let it Snow cross stitch is finished except for turning it into a little pillow. What on earth a little pillow with a Christmas motif has to do with Christmas, I don't know, but this is the second one I've made.

Once Christmas was over, I cleaned up the studio (again) and pulled out this great horse fabric for a shirt for Phoebe.

I thought she wanted to make it, she was sure I did. It took us a day or two to figure out who was doing what. I sewed, Phoebe problem solved. There were several poorly worded instructions and the insets around the cuff were murder. I've done a few before on men's shirts, but these did not make sense. We invented our own method. The button strip in the background was also awful, but it turned out to be a cutting error, again due to poor instructions. Steve saved the day on that issue.

I'll be making this for myself in a few weeks and will discuss it more fully then. In the meantime, I have the projects lined up for 2017. Several paper pieces, several cloth pieces, a third Christmas pillow, a whole bunch of clothes to sew and several writing projects. I also have the alto recorder to learn, choir to attend, and a water colour  on-line course to work through. There will not be a shortage of projects, but maybe a shortage of attention span. This has been a problem for the last few months due to some family issues, but those seem to be unkinking.

To top it all off, the cat has acne! She was too embarrassed to pose. Have you ever heard of this before? She needs a daily facial cleanse and an acne cream. The shenanigans around this make those years of teenagers with skin blemishes pale in comparison. (ha ha, a pun)

To keep us all bright this winter, we are passing a travel guide on Iceland around the family. Each person gets to choose what to do for one day and the rest of us have to tag along with good cheer. We did this when the kids were around 10 & 12 on a trip to Washington and Virginia and those were the best days of the two weeks. Lucas gets the travel guide first, then we will mail it to Phoebe. Steve will be next and I will be last. We hope to go to Iceland in the early spring and we are all really excited about this.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Piles of books

People say they have a pile of books to read. I have more than one. I've photographed only two. What are missing are the pile beside my bed, the pile on my desk, the pile beside my chair in the studio and the pile in the storm porch that need to be returned to the library. The pile beside my bed is years old. It is the pile of non-fiction that I promised myself I would read once a month. I should be kind to myself and put these back on the shelves because it clearly isn't going to happen.

The pile on the desk and beside the chair are much shorter. They are directly studio related and when there is a lull, I tuck into these with a little glass of scotch and a sweet. They are usually sketching or gardening related and very, very soothing. So's the scotch.

This pile is of books I have spent money on or have been loaned. Every year my quilting bee gather for our Christmas blast and we exchange books. That is, we each bring books we have collected over the year, talk about them very briefly, splay them out on the floor and then wander among them, picking them up, choosing or rejecting them. We each go home with a different pile of books. Every so often, the books return at another get together and we all share around. After a year, the books have all more or less returned to their owner and we start again. This is a hugely popular event. Then we eat great food. This year it was a cheese fondu with bread and veg, followed by amazing butter tarts.

This pile of books is from the library. Sometimes I wander around the shelves and I can't find a darn thing. Other times, books seem to fall off the shelves into my arms. I like to have a stash of at least 5 books waiting for me to read, otherwise, in case there is a huge storm, I am restless. I could always read the pile of non-fiction upstairs, but that would be really traumatic.

This year's Christmas tree is something else. We asked for a skinny ugly tree because I like the way the garlands swing about. There were two un-groomed trees on the lot. This was the top of a 12 foot tree that they trimmed down for us. It is about 6 feet wide. We didn't have a wall big enough for it to go up against, so we put it in the middle of a three door passage way. We are all walking many extra steps to go around it. I love it though. The pile of books under the tree has been growing over the years. I would always buy Lucas and Phoebe a new picture books for Christmas, as well as a Christmas themed book for the family.

They have lost interest in this tradition. I find this a bit sad, because I love going through the children's picture books over the year and finding something special for each person. Steve bought me this new book, the Snow Knows by Jennifer McGrath, illustrated by Josee Bisaillon. It is really a beautiful depiction of animals and the snow covered forest. Last year's Christmas book is Dashing Through the Snow, a Canadian Jingle Bells by Helaine Becker and Werner Zimmerman. It is great fun.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dim Lights

Weirdly, all the major light bulbs in the house have died in the same week. Weird, because I know that several of them were installed months after others. I spent an hour at the hardware store trying to find replacements. It's like the toothpaste aisle, there are so many variations that it is nearly impossible to brush your teeth these days. In the light bulb aisle, there are LEDs, Halogens and Incandescents, there are various diameters of the screwy-in bit and there are several styles of screwy-in bits as well. Also there are Watts, there are Volts and hours of life. In the end, I asked boy-Lout for help. I asked for alternatives to the bulb box that I had brought with me, in anticipation of the lightbulb selection conundrums. Guess what! If it isn't on the shelf, they don't have it. No? Really? I was asking for alternatives, I could already see that what I wanted wasn't there. I sit in very dim rooms today. It is raining, the studio is completely without lights, the kitchen is going on a light over the stove, the living room has one working table lamp and the dining room is the only room with a working overhead light.

I spent another age in the broom/vacuum aisle, where I was looking for a carpet sweeper. Do you remember those, or have you ever heard of those? I know they exist, I bought one just a couple of years ago and loaned it to my son. Since it doesn't appear to be returning home, I thought another one would be smart. Saves on electricity, they are much smaller than vacuum cleaners and since we have so much activity going on with the wood stove, the carpet is chronically dirty. The blank looks from the sales assistants would have made a graffiti artist glad of the opportunity to paint something. I ended up buying an electric one. Sometimes I hate the world, when something as simple as a carpet sweeper or clothes line takes months of messing about to achieve. I anticipate that pails are next in the obsolete items pile.
Rant over, candles lit and the photos begin.

The curtains are hemmed. Hemming curtains is a two person job. Next up will be the Living Room curtains, and I am not excited about them.

Christmas decorating efforts. If someone wants the decorations badly enough, they can finish this off. I brought the boxes down from the attic.



Beautiful Coton a broder arrived from Hedgehog Handworks. here She is going out of business. Maybe that's why I feel so glum. Hedgehog has been my life saver for a few years. She has everything I ever needed ever and ever and now, what will I do.?????? Deep sigh of sadness.

I'm all set for the next project but, I might just have to buy everything in the whole store in January.

Cleaning up the studio floor, (before the lights died) I made a few paper pieces to add stitch to. Not sure why, but when the glue stick starts jumping up an down and the scissors won't stop squeaking, man you just gotta listen.

I have some cute Christmas items I've made but can't post photos until after Christmas. Between now and then, I will be hunched over, trying to finish up without anyone seeing what I am working on. I have plans to watch a couple movies the others won't like, so hopefully, I can work then. Wait! Who am I kidding? The lights aren't working in the studio. I won't be able to see well enough. It must be time to find another hardware store and try again

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Shortening - n. fat used for making pastry, esp. for making short pastry. Shorten - 1. to become or to make shorter or short; curtail. 2 reduce the amount of sail spread 3 (with reference to gambling odds, prices, etc.) become or make shorter; decrease.

It pretty much all applies because I have to shorten these curtains.

I've had the fabric since the spring and just could not bring myself to tackle making the curtains for the dining room. They are simple rectangles with rectangles of lining (the sail reference above). How simple is that. It was the hanging system that put me down. I do not love this style of big grommets or rings on metal or tabs that don't slide.

I was hoping a gathered sleeve might work, but once the curtains are open, they are all bunched up, blocking the view. I ended up going with the sliding rings. I hate the noise. Steve is very kind and opens the curtains in the morning, so I can start my day without an auditory horror.

In the past, every time I hem a curtain, it goes wonky, thus, the gambling. So this time, I have left the hemming until the fabric has rested for a few days and then I'll do them. Again, I have such a loathing to do this job. I know it will take less than an hour to complete.

I have promised myself that I can not move onto other projects until this and washing the kitchen floor are done. An Awful Tuesday is upon me.

Oh, the shortening in the pastry? The gentleman that borrows our driveway during the school term bakes for us every Tuesday. Today, Madelaines wait for me in the kitchen, with a lovely tea pot, already as a reward.