Monday, April 24, 2017

Stitch a day sometimes

In 2015 or maybe even 2016, I decided to try this idea of stitching on a dedicated piece every day.

I also had the notion that I would restrict each season to a small colour palette. You can tell by the opening sentence I didn't have a lot of stick-to-it-ness. I was thoroughly bored in weeks. I changed the rule to stitching once a week. I tidied everything up, put it in a nice basket so I could get it out once a week, and forgot about it.

Months later I showed it to my gang of textile artist friends and there was strong suggestions that I finish it. Don't look a successful artist's advice in the mouth. Do as one is told to do. I finished it.

It's not so bad. Some parts are even good. As the eye journeys left to right, the first section of dark reds, golds and green are the palette for winter.

Then the colours overlap a bit for winter and spring.

They overlap once more for summer. I was going to swing up overhead and do fall as a kind of sky, but really, I had had enough. And the piece had too. It looked finished to me. Not just because I wanted it to be over, but because there weren't any more colours that were calling out to me, there didn't seem to be anymore stitch combinations that wanted stitching,

I felt I had explored all there was. Once I decided on how to treat the top edge, by having an uneven hem on the front side, it really did feel complete to me. The hem is the detail that pulled the work together for me and now I like it a whole lot more. I really don't mind an open ended stitching project, but the limited colour palette and the 'do something everyday' parts weren't up my alley. I like a lot of colour and to stitch as much as I want to. I can see exploring this again, but with slightly different rules. In 2018 or 19 or 20.

Monday, April 17, 2017

An Amazing Book

Today in the mail,

I received the most beautiful book sewn by Karen Ruane. Before I show you the book, look at the wonderful detail in the packaging.

String. It has been decades since I received a package tied with string. How lovely.

The book had been placed inside a box covered with butterflies.

Then inside a cotton a broder slip cover.

Finally the book.

Beautiful page,

after beautiful page.

Then some more beautiful pages.

I am so excited to have this book of Karen's. I can't wait to show my friends and to leaf through this over and over again.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Windows are Open!

Studio window is finally open and the cat is happy. See how she has perked her ear back at me to see if I have something of interest to her to say? She can't be bothered to turn her head to cooperate for a cute photo.

I went for a walk this morning, wearing a thick sweater instead of a winter jacket. Hurrah! The sun is lovely, kiddies are running on the paths of the public garden which is now open. At the moment, Michelle, the beekeeper and I have our hearts in our throats.

The bees in the backyard have taken a hard hit in the last two weeks. There have been two blizzards since March 30. Before then, the bees were coming out for short forays. There was also several sweepings out of dead bees. We would see the bodies on the white snow. I get anxious when I see the dead bees, but this is part of the housecleaning the workers do regularly. Did you know there are worker bees that have the specific duties of mortitians? Find the dead bodies, remove them from the hive, repeat. The last several days, the action at the hive has been invisible. Oh no!

But today, there are around 30 bees moving in and out of the entryways.

The number of recent dead bees is very high. Michelle is coming to see if the hive will recover or not. She might blend this hive with a healthier hive. Fingers crossed that I get to keep a hive in the backyard for another summer.

On the sewing side, yes, I have been doing that, but the excitement around spring is just too good to pass up.

Mid-March, for the first time in 20 years, I had my act together and managed to plant seeds for several flowers,


lettuce, white turnips, cipolini onions,

3 pots of fingerlings and 3 pots of potatoes from PEI to be transferred to larger pots in May

6 pots of potatoes and a couple of herbs. Mid-April and some have germinated and need better light and more warmth.

Steve pulled together a growing station for me in the storm porch and the seedlings are looking reasonably happy.

Stash busting -

I knit two scarves for friends of Phoebe's. I don't know why. I needed to get rid of some smaller balls of yarn and decided on scarves and as I knit, I decided Phoebe's friends are too polite to say no thanks to my face.

And sewing - not studio sewing but clothes.

Isn't this a lovely fabric? I meant to get it done by Christmas for chasing away winter gloom. Nope.

It needs the buttons and the hem. I can do that on the inevitable rainy day that ought to happen any time now.

Yes, there has been a bunch of studio work. I have been working on a painting class with Carla Sonheim (link on the sidebar) and damp stretching finished work.

It is a large piece, so I will show it next week with better photos. I hope you are getting a sense of Spring where ever you are and remember to buy both bug spray and sun screen.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Book Review - Contrarian view

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (here) is getting a lot of positive review right now. As a rule, I don't seek out book reviews, you will have to do that on your own. But be warned, Harper Collins has a big lust on right now for this book and reviewers are eager to please.

This reader just doesn't love this book. By a lot. Angie Thomas brings the issue of the shooting of black men into the spotlight. Khalil is killed by a policeman. Khalil has not provoked the policeman, nor has been detained for anything other than a broken brake light. He leans into the door to see if his companion, Starr, is alright, when he is shot three times in the back. He dies in seconds.

Starr is the main protagonist. She is a successful high school basketball player, going to a private white school outside of Garden Heights, Starr's neighbourhood. She travels two worlds, that of the very rich white teens and that of her deeply troubled inner city section of the city. At Khalil's death she is faced with the challenges of being the only witness to a race-related killing. She must tell her story to the police, to the DA, a grand jury and eventually, her friends. She has hidden her connection to the killing to her white classmates and white boyfriend.

Starr's journey to voicing in a public way is the main plot line. There is a large cast of supporting characters. Starr's father, Mav (Maveric) is the only well drawn character and that is only in relation to the others. I don't have any problem with the story line or the points of view. My problem with this book is that I don't think it is well written. I don't believe in the characters. The settings have a thin veneer. The characters are for the most part stereotypes that we expect to find in an inner city area, the tough gang kids, the bossy older ladies, the innocent younger kids, the gang lord, a few good guys hidden behind their tough exteriors and lots of references to popular culture to make sure you know where you are. In this book, emotions are the driving engine to action. I never really was convinced by Starr's grief, her anger and eventually her 'fuck you' attitude when she finally decides to really be Khalil's voice.

We are told everything. We don't see the dirt in the streets, the colours or smells of the two neighbourhoods, the wealth in the private school. We don't taste the barbeques or hear the music. If we don't know who Tupac is, we have to google it later. We are told Starr cries and gets a snooty nose. She doesn't wipe the snot on the back of her sleeve. I could not get into Starr or anyone else except her Dad.

And so, I couldn't get into the story Angie Thomas is trying to tell. It is a hugely important story but a decent journalist's article could do a better job. There is no reason for any person of any colour to be shot in the back by any trained professional. That's why they are trained, to know what to do before a gun needs to be drawn. The fact that this is happening to black youth, men in particular, is abhorrent. 

I return to my opening statement, this book is about telling us something is very wrong. It does do that, but it is not well written. To be a book that deserves all the hype it is getting, it has to have merit that goes beyond being timely.  It needs to capture our hearts, to feel the pain, to want to tell it's story to others to that they might read the book too. I'll donate my copy to the library so it can be read by others, but I won't recommend it. What this book has done has motivated me to get the the book (here) The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. I'll talk about it when I'm finished, to let you know if it does a better job of engaging me.

Monday, March 27, 2017


No blog to cough, cough day. Have a serious ahchooo head, sniff cold. Have watched wheeze over 50 people Ahchoo being killed on sneeze Netflix. Very good (not) cough for tense neck, (insert kleenex here) but too groggy or soggy -suck on lozenge - to figure something else out. AhCHOO.

Sneeze ya later.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Not a Selfie

The kids frequently make snide remarks about people who take pictures of themselves in bathroom mirrors. My take away from this is that a person can use a mirror to take a picture of themselves. My sister made me a lovely hat using a double strand of Koigu sock yarn. It is a beautiful shade of gold and the pattern is a honey comb. It is all meant to celebrate the bees in the back yard. I love it, it is just the right weight for cool weather and it comes down the back of my neck. It doesn't slip up past my ears. It is a grand hat. So, I tried to take a selfie of it to share with her. This is what ensued.

I don't think the video works, but it was lousey and only two seconds long. I didn't mean to take a video, it was part of the mystery of how to take a selfie.

Steve took the last two. They are not selfies, they demonstrate a small village helping the village fool.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Seeds and beads

Every year I battle the dream. The dream of having a vegetable garden versus the knowledge that our backyard is about the worst place for veggies there is. Deep north shade, shallow acidic soil, and a gardener with a wandering attention span if things go wrong. Every year they do. But I love the idea of a lush productive garden. Brain storm....

seeds for flowers. I can grow a number of annuals in the small pockets of sun and have hopes for a couple of veg that like cool situations. I watch a gardening blog (The hort channel tv) and laugh at how scruffy the garden, green house and shed are. Even the blogger, Sean, is pretty scruffy. But I get a kick out of it. This mess, my new 'greenhouse' is very tidy compared to Sean.

This spot is at the bottom of our basement steps where we have stored my computer and writing desk station, our son's computer station, worms, pantry items, a working loom, empty jars and jam and now...seed trays. I've seeded allysum, lobelia, red leaf lettuce, japanese turnips, nasturtiums, basil and parsley. I have 6 more seed packets to seed up, but have to figure out where the trays will go so that the cat doesn't eat all the new shoots. I set up my small device (how do people keep track of which computer device is which) and watched Sean do his March Allotment tour while I puttered. It was great fun.

I have used beads in my latest stitching sample. Not seed beads, although that would have been serendipitous.

The white woven bit is a small bridge shape.

Other samples include cheesecloth bobbles and layered applique circles.

When I finished fooling around with dirt and seeds, I used the sewing machine to make this free motion scrap. I appliqued tiny scraps onto the surface, going over it with the machine stitching. Then I went back over it all with a dark pink and made spots. Mending patches and adding button hole stitch is keeping me occupied as I think about what to say on an application for an adventure. Secret.