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.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Today's a holiday!

Hi all, today is Thanksgiving and I'm lazing on the couch with a purring cat and a low battery in the ether machine.
Someone else is doing the cooking, I've already cleared the kitchen for that onslaught and the bathroom is clean.
I do have some interesting photos to share but not today. Some lovely cider is coming my way in a few moments....balancing a computer on my chest or a glass of cider....what would you choose?
Have a happy holiday today and see you tomorrow with yesterday's blog.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Floral bowls

That's the tentative title for this next few pieces of stitching. I'm not loving it yet.

Last week I watched the fifth season of Longmire and while gripped to my chair, I stitched some embellishments to be used in the next round of work. Above you see a little cluster of french knots that are in the tones of the threads I've chosen to work with the squishes of hydrangea, zucchini vine leaf, grasses and some heliotrope (don't try heliotrope, it disappoints but it is an amazing annual for the garden). Heliotrope is a wonderful dark purple with little bits of a lighter purple under the florets. Since that matter is squished onto the fabric, I gave myself permission to use the original colour, rather than the resulting nicotine colour.

These cluster will eventually be cut up into circles for Suffolk Puffs, or applique or reverse applique. I don't like to cut them yet, because I am uncertain as to where they will go best. I might also decide to expand the size of some of these. Aside from being very pretty, I can watch TV and not feel guilty about it.

And because I was bingeing on the series, I had time to work up these little scraps as well with the same future in mind.

The purpose of sewing these little fabric scraps onto scrim, using Free motion embroidery, is that I then have a wonderful organic surface to do button hole stitch on. You can see how the threads are stronger just outside each little stitched scrap.

The scrim allows the group of scraps to be anchored into a hoop for the French knots and white wrapped stitches. The bullion knots are done without the hoop, because I find it easier to get all the wraps of thread onto the needle without a tightened fabric.

These are the two pieces I am currently working on. I have ripped the fabric up the middle, making for two pieces about 8"x8".


Some placement of lace bits to set up direction and focal points. When I sew, I know i need to consider this sort of aesthetic guide, but as the stitching grows and makes curves and turns, I don't always keep to the original plan.

This is a detail shot of one of the squished zucchini vine leaves. To begin with, it was 90 degrees the other way but once I decided the piece need the equivalent of a horizon line in the guise of a bowl's curve, the leave moved all the way to the other side of the piece.

That's it for stitching related items. I just have to tell you that I really stumped a 20-something man the other day. I've taken up weight training to help with post-concussive problems with balance and stamina nearly two years ago. I'm a good 30 lbs. over weight and short. I am also over 55. On Monday, the day I use the leg press machine, I was waiting for the young man to finish up. When he finally finished with his texting and weight lifting, he moseyed around to remove the weights. I was impatient by then and told him to leave them as is. He didn't believe me, so I said, no that's fine. I can add my own weights. Don't you mean, take them off, he asked. Nope! I replied. I added another 10 pounds, sat down and casually, and I mean casually, leg pressed 190 lbs 10 times. He just looked at me. He forgot to say WOW. He wandered back when I did my next set, at the same weight. I was a little annoyed. He need to show more respect. These leg presses happen as the last thing I do before heading home, so I was a bit tired of messing around with weights. Instead of adding more weights, I decided on the final set to press for more than 10 times. I sat down and did a set of 15, not breaking a sweat and not having to use the handholds to help with leverage. I was suave. I stood up to take the weights off for the next person's turn and realized the young man had brought a buddy over to watch. Awesome, they both said. Yup! I said. And there's more where that came from.

So good stitching week, good gym week.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Saved by the Bell

Yes, it is true. The disaster of the last post is not complete. I kept muttering to myself that there had to be more squished samples around here somewhere. I was sure I had  rolled them up on an empty paper towel roll. I finally gave up, poured a scotch and grabbed all the things on my desk for a sort through.

Underneath the BELL bill, actually, ooozing out from under the Bell bill were the missing pieces of squished textiles, but not on a roll. Laid flat.

In fact, the larger one is the one I want to work on next and

the god-awful ugly one is the one that I have been looking forward to re-doing this fall with mountain ash berries and rose hips. Yahoo. The winter can come anytime now, I have stuff to stitch.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Success and Failure

Autumn squish time! Whee!
Ash Tree berries, Holly berries, two shades of mini petunia, zuchinni ivy (not the veg but an ornamental, blue hydrangea, asparagus leave (yes the veg, not the houseplant) and another grass I don't know the name of. All of these look so luscious. Ignore the yellow beans, that was dinner.

Sometimes I think I'm succeeding. I adore these blue hydrangeas.

I have been waiting with huge anticipation all summer for the blue hydrangeas to bloom. A friend gave me two flowers off her bush last week. I was so thrilled. We have had a terribly dry summer and I wasn't sure the hydrangeas would be up to it. But this lovely shrub was. Out came the rolling pin and for an experiment, some acrylic paper.

 Acrylic paper is the kind that is best for using acrylic paints on. It is not made up of acrylics. It is thick and takes lots of pin pricks well. A good candidate for stitching into. One big difference between this paper and fabric is that you have to use all your muscles to get a good squish going. The edge of the rolling pin is essential and the flowers move around willy nilly. Good, I love this kind of accident.
Asparagus frond before


Other times I know I've had a colossal fail.

The squishing on the fabric went as usual, but then..... Idiot me..... I soaked the fabric in vinegar to set the colours. WRONG. It should have been alum. I have lost ALL the colours in this fabric. I have been squishing for two summers and autumns and now my winter goal of stitching up these textiles is ruined. I feel sick.
The paper pieces are an experiment and I have no love for the process of stitching into heavy paper. I don't mind the lighter ones, I can iron on some interfacing on the back to support the stitching. Now what?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I'm on the trail of new works, inspired by my squishes of plant matter on paper or fabric. The blog header photograph is the first of these works. These two images are helping me to remember what I want to do with colour and pathways. The stitched piece is by me, an imagined water garden. The properly framed piece is by local artist Rosemary Clarke Young, a wax resist watercolour.

Stunning blue and purple hydrangeas are now out in gardens and I am hoping to snip a few blooms to add to my existing pieces. I have lovely blue florets coming to me tomorrow morning from a friend.

This is a combination of squished plant matter and some glued on bits under a synthetic see-through paper. I am ordering more tomorrow, so can let you know specifics next week. I use thinned out white glue. It probably has a host of reasons not to use it, but compared to all other glues I have tried, it does the main thing, and that is glues one thing to another successfully.

I have chosen thread colours that are similar to the colours of the plant matter that was used. There were blue hydrangea petals, red roses, small unfurled hydrangea buds that turned that dog turd yellow and some grass.  White threads and laces are also to be included.

This is a sample of squishing from last summer. I didn't use much over the winter, I wanted to see how the colours would fade out. As you will see in future posts, the colours is enough to move the stitching along. This summer I have added a few blooms and grasses to some fabrics, but not enough to make a huge change. Once the hydrangeas are added, some more grass (it has all turned brown and in Nova Scotia, that's saying something.) and hopefully some rose hips, I'll then have all I need to make up a little group of stitched bits.

I am not taking Karen Ruane's class this fall, mostly due to other commitments that need attention. The class sounds wonderful, I recommend it. Check it out.