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.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Two done

There is a gardening vlog that I've been following for a couple of years now and his motto is "Do a little, often" With stitching, this is good advice. Over time a lot of stitches finally add up.

This paper piece was sitting on my table for ages and it just did not satisfy. I took it with me to a gathering of other stitching women and I received some advice. On this piece, the line is not distinct enough.

So, I distincted it. By adding some dimension and bringing the pink into the line, as well as strengthening the green, It has a better focus. Not that the photo is any good of course (as I discover once all the photos are uploaded and re-taking photos would mean no time to blog ---- choices).

I used Sulfolk Puffs or Yo-Yo's to do the job. Looks like a better close up photo is in order also. My cloth piece, "Yellow Bowl" is also done to my satisfaction.

Here, I also knew the focus was unfocused. My supportive stitching friends gave several suggestions. In this case it wasn't dimension and texture that were missing, but depth of colour.

I added the blue dots behind the lace flower and strengthened the blues and purples threads in the other flowers.

These two pieces are now in the queue for decent photography, a project I leave for very snowy days. I have started two new pieces. The one is a squished piece that has Rowan (or Mountain Ash) berries squished first, with a wild briar rosehip squish over top. Lots of oranges and red and dark greens. I have sent off to Hedgehog Handworks (here) for supplemental threads and a new to me white thread that has a flat matte that allows for larger french knots.  I've bought threads and an embroidery hoop from here in the past, Coton a Broder and Floche a Broder, which is slightly different in hue and thickness. 

The second piece is a surprise to me. I received the ends of two pillowcases, the parts where the lace is sewn on. There is a band of about 3 inches of doubled cotton, then the original lace, possibly tatted. The two were lying on the table, side by side and a Eureka moment happened. It will start as a white on white piece, until I become bored and then we will see what happens. It should be a nice change to all the oranges and reds of the squished piece. If the threads arrive in time, that will be next Monday's post.

In the meantime, I am headed off to Toronto. I'm taking my mom to see the musical "Matilda" for her Christmas present (early) and then going to hours and hours of sitting at a two day long business meeting for Quakers. For that, I am taking socks along to knit, so I don't kill anyone. Quakers are supposed to be non-violent but there's nothing like a long business meeting to make me reconsider.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Newfoundland 2016

30th Anniversary ! We've been married that long but snogging for a lot longer than that. I thought it would be fun to celebrate by doing something bigger than a dinner out. Tickets were almost booked to go to New York when experienced travelers suggested that might not be the place to go with the US election happening. We turned north and decided that St. John's Newfoundland is the place to go.

Steve has a habit of getting a brilliant idea while on the plane and surprising me with somewhere to go immediately, despite footwear, travel wear and empty stomachs. This trip it was Signal Hill. The sidewalk was closed for construction; we hiked the stony path to the top. I am so proud of myself, I hardly puffed at all. The weight training is really paying off. What follows is a photo essay of our trip. Back to stitching in the next post.

A six gun overlook to the Narrows, and in the distance.... nothing.

On our shore drive to the south, we stopped in at the Ocean Sciences Centre, a Modern building in the shape of a sea anemone.

And there we saw some charming seals. They heard their keeper coming long before she showed up.

Cape Speer, the eastern-most bit of land in North America. The view is from the parking lot. The climb was up Quad-drillion steps.

Again, not much puffing going on, up or down.

Hello Portugal, the nearest land in an easterly direction.

I couldn't remember what this photo was about, and there is a double image in it. Then I remembered, it's about the fog. On Wednesday we visited the museum and art gallery, The Rooms, and the fog was dense. From out the upper viewing windows, there wasn't a view. And like Halifax, it can be so moist a fog that it seems to be raining

I love the look of our Coast Guard ships. They are a bit sporty at the front and have a bit of an ice-breaker look and the back has all kinds of room for different adventures. There were three in port while we were there.

I also like a working port. There are so many interesting lines and shapes and things just are always happening. It's a real verb kind of place.

This gives you an idea of the crazy assedness of the topography. We are at the bottom of the city, and up the hill you see a stair case that goes up two streets worth, followed by another hill and then all the houses at the top. Walking these streets makes the hills of Halifax and Lunenburg look like little berms.

And we survived climbing up Holloway Street. There should be a t-shirt. Most of the sidewalk was made of steps. Thinking back on it, these steps were harder than the climbs up to Signal Hill and Cape Speer. The couple at the upper photo... Buddy there decided to make adjustments to his coffee cup and was holding the stroller with one hand while fiddling. If I had been breathing, I might have run down after him to hold the stroller while he figured himself out. But Missus seemed calm about it and the baby didn't scream, so maybe it is a local immunity to the steepness? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Yellow bowl, pink sweater

Before I forget, there won't be a blog next week. Steve and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and I don't want to have to have any responsibilities then. Much fun is planned. That means photos.

For this week, I have managed to get a good amount of stitching done on my yellow bowl piece. Above is last week's stitching.

This is this week's.

I like many of the individual elements, especially the coral looking white with the French Knots of two pinks.

I also like these little puffs.

I think I may have put these two pieces of lace up too high, but since they have been embellished with more lace and stitching, I can't imagine cutting them out and lowering them.

I can't seem to get them to coalesce with a focal point. Just above where the rim of the bowl "is" should be something wonderful. I can't get wonderful to happen. Maybe I should draw a mustache?

And, the sweater is done. A few moments of threading in the last strands of wool, a bit of wet blocking and Bingo. I'm not sure I love the collar. It is meant to be a stand up crew neck that is a bit taller than ordinary. I'll have to wear it a bit before deciding if I want to make changes. However, I am so sick of knitting this sweater that I threw the instructions out into the wet compost so there was no chance of rescuing them. Luckily, I have no idea from where the pattern originated, so it might be a case of Doris Day "kay sera sera". See you in two weeks.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Ark

I'm going to boast about my husband Steve, for a change. We've just returned from Prince Edward Island where Steve had a show open, "Living Lightly on the Earth, Building an Ark for Prince Edward Island, 1974-76".

Steve and his amazing assistant, Megan, standing beside a model

The show opened at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown. About 100 people attended.

Three other exhibitions also opened that night, but I prefer to think that they were there for Steve's show.
In the background an exploded version of the interior of the Ark showing the green house and living area
The Ark was a building from the 1970's that demonstrated how integrated systems, such as agriculture, aquaculture, solar power, wind power and humans could live in a very habitable home.

On the opposite wall, the other half of the building.
 It was both a scientific experiment as well as a sociological one.

A life size section of the kitchen greenhouse. The video shows the family as the kids did homework and hung around in the family room
At the time, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau flew in by helicopter (not to oil sensitive) to make opening remarks.

A different model of the final building design showing the greenhouse and solar panels
Steve and many others worked together to find design drawings, concept drawings, systems drawing, students made models of different versions of the Ark as well as the final design, videos were made and discovered and it was all pulled together by a fabulous team.

Megan was amazing. Two years of hard work and many problems solved. Thank you so much!
 Wine was served, canapes eaten and applause. It was a good night.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Creeping increments

Creeping increments might be one of those pairings of words where one means almost the same as the other. I forget what that is called? A redundancy? A trouser/pants? Despite this being the situation around here, it still feels good. I have managed to get around a few hairpin turns of decisions. First up though, the little table topper that will be mailed out tomorrow along with a handful of chestnuts.

Each 2 inch strip has a 2 inch square at the end with a little triangle of colour.

The squares alternate left and right.

There isn't any brilliance here. I looked at a bunch of "Modern Quilt" sites and pulled the idea from various places. The animal prints came from a local fabric store, Patch (here) that has fun cottons, some cotton/linen blends, some double gauze and some knits. All the colours and print motifs are super fun. The stack of fat quarters changes regularly, making it pretty hard to walk past. I'm always a sucker for an impulse buy there and be assured, I really don't need more cotton prints.The third fabric down, a very lightly sketched set of animals and plants, was used to make four table napkins and the remnants have been used for the backing. The fun bright Jacobean print is a favourite of mine and it has finally found a place where it goes well.

Every year I collect chestnuts from the sidewalks and the cemetery. I hand them out to people for their pockets. They act as worry beads but also help us to remember the passing of the seasons. I usually have one in each coat pocket, whatever the season. I am sure they have chestnuts in Ottawa, where my daughter lives, but just in case, she is getting a handful. 

It is amazing how long small projects take. There are about 8 hours in this set. But it's the love that counts.

On another incremental project, I had to tear this sweater back from fully completed and fitting poorly, to the armpits where it fit well.

It is now back up to the beginning of the neckline on the front. I'm short but have boobs from here to New Brunswick, meaning the diameter of shirts and sweaters is much more than I like. Mostly it bothers me because it takes so long to knit one round.

Tearing sweaters back is a heart breaker. I've been watching "Drop Dead Diva" while working on this, a silly legal + reincarnated dead model show, and am into season 4. The sweater needs to be done before the season runs out.

I did manage to get some stitching done on my latest squish piece, but nothing too obvious.

Hmm, I forgot to rotated the image. There is the beginning of some white french knots, some pink bullion knots, a little blue and purple spiral and a couched yellow thread, indicating the top of the bowl. The next step will be to get lots of green in the spaces and then the layering of more lace and applique and who knows what can start.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

sewing machine power house

It has taken an extra day to write the post I promised, because no sooner did the cider hit my hand then the power went out. Lucky for us the dinner was nigh unto cooked. After dinner, to make things really exciting, 7 police cars, including two paddy wagons pulled up outside the house. It seemed that a break-in was in progress across the street. A sniffer dog even showed up. The torrential rains had finished and there was debris everywhere on the street. I think Haligonians (Halifaxians) have a fascination with "what caused the power to go out" and there were people "walking the dog" up and down the sidewalk numerous times. Since we had a front window view, we merely opened the curtains, sipped our cider and speculated wildly. For us, it was a fun Thanksgiving and better than a family movie.

I am back to sewing clothes on the weekends and have a few things to show.

I wanted a bright shirt type item to wear in the dreary months of winter when for some reason, Canadians insist on wearing dark life sucking colours. I wanted turquoise and coral. I can wear this over jeans or my jean skirt. I have already worn it a few times and really like how it fits. I made an orange/red t-shirt to wear underneath and boy, do the colors slam home.

I've begun a cute little table topper for someone special. It is done and about to be given, so more on that next post.

I have also made a black knit slip and two wrap around sheer skirt. This one has autumn colours of red and gold and the other,

are in blues. They are very swishy. This is all part of my goal to get several patterns that fit well and can be reused, so as to increase my purchasing of local clothes. This makes three uses for this pattern. I was seriously unhappy with the winter selection of fabrics at the local big fabric store, everything seemed to have polyester content, spandex and lycra. Torn between wanting to support the only remaining textile shop for clothing and hating their choices, I am moving to finding online options. Not local but maybe more environmentally sound? Time will tell.

Studio projects continue. Several months ago I began a small project while in one of Karen Ruane's classes. I decided to make small patches of mauves and purples, especially the colour 'lilac' to eventually make a larger container for letters I continue to write to my Grandmother-in-law, Grammy.

All the patches have been hand sewn and are now ready for titivation.

I'll use mostly white threads and because this is also about me, some blues and greens to spark it up a little.

I have received some lovely buttons from a dear friend,

and will add those as the titivation goes along. I think these will be sewn together in an accordion booklet format, so the pockets can hold the letters that can no longer be sent.

I have also just received these beautiful lace pillow edges and a hand embellished hanky.

The florets are sort of a thistle shape but the stem and arrangement suggests lupins or lavender. It is very pretty and delicate.

And last, I was also given these sweet finger towels. The cotton is very fine and the stitching very small. They are much smaller than today's hand towels or guest towels. A tip of the finger kind of ablution could only take place. Thank you, you know who.