Monday, September 18, 2017

Almost there

Composure nearly reigns. I can see, I can smell, I can almost taste my routine. It would help if the cat stopped pacing. She is a very little cat but manages to thump around quite disgracefully when she is irritated about something. No one will take her outside for a morning glare at the birds, she has to do it through an open window. Not good enough apparently.

She has chosen the best lace and finished items to express her ire.
But onwards.

Last Friday I was invited to join a group of fellow textile artists for the day. They work mostly with quilting techniques, while I have stopped. We ooohed and aahhhed over each others work, as is half the point of meeting up. 



We also had an artists talk by one in the group, Regina Marzlin. Regina has a solo show, exploring line, form and colour at the Antigonish Public Library and not only is it very well presented, but the work is really enjoyable.


Regina has been fooling around with ovals lately.


She uses a combination of machine stitching and hand stitching as well as various surface markings. It was a real treat.

(oops, this is sidewise, sorry Regina)

Regina gave us the artist's talk that she had presented at the library earlier this month. We gave her a critique on it, helping her to shape it into two talks, one for a general public, one for fellow textile artists or other artists. It was fun.

Afterwards, we stopped in the little chocolate shop, Peace by Chocolate, run by a Syrian refugee family. Their web page is here (here) They sell online, and the maple leaf dark and milk chocolate combination is wonderful. Just this weekend they opened their factory. Kudos to them. The chocolate is delicious.

I have been stitching between major clean through events. Pictures next time. A return to routine involves getting to the gym at least twice a week. I have my gym clothes on and am ready to go lift weights.  The cat has stomped off, o bliss.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mid September

Somewhere I read that most people don't get back into a routine until mid-September. I certainly am not. Today, I did not get to the gym, clean the upstairs, paint some baseboard trim or even get breakfast before lunch.

I look at the world right now and can't even think how many millions of people are seriously out of whack with life, routines, and even decent lives and all I can think about is my kitchen.


Every once in a while I think stress is a choice. The kitchen mess hovers over my head and I can't breathe.


I walk into the same kind of mess in the studio, and I relax. Same kind of breathing, same kind of mess, different responses.

I've written this paragraph several times and have no idea what message I want to send out. I firmly believe that to be peaceful in the world, you have to be peaceful inside yourself, then with the people and circumstances right in front of you. Looking outside at the world in important. The old ostrich with her head in the sand is irresponsible. But what on earth am I trying to process right now, I don't know. So let's call this a failed blog post. I wave hello to you all, hope you are strong and in love with someone or something and that next week, I'll know what I am doing again.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer stitching

Besides squishing the heck out of unsuspecting plant matter, i am also stitching on pieces that have been assembled over the winter. Following is a selection of nearly completed pieces, all requiring some stitchwork.

Oops, forgot to rotate. This is a collage that looks so much better in real life. The back ground is a warm pumpkin. There are some XXX's in orange along the bottom edge of the paper. It is larger than all the other bits and I am struggling to make the stitches in fear that I will wreck this. I think I should have done a bunch of stitching before attaching the cut out bit, so that the stitches rested in the back ground. It is set aside for a long movie so I can tease it apart and start again.

I like this one. I have used a product called Swedish Tracing Paper. Super expensive and really useless. I do sewing and this paper product would make a terrible pattern piece. It tears so easily. But, it does do marvelous things when water colour, or other thinned out paints are applied. I then cut free hand flowers out and added some stamping lines to make stems. I think I'll add some floral details and maybe some leaf gestures.


These two are from Carla Sonehiems Flower Power Two course. Lots of messing about. I'll add some fun sort of stitching to make the flowers a bit madder and some in the bottom to weight the images.


I feel these two are done. I haven't added any stitching, but whenever I consider them, I can't see a clear opportunity that isn't just adding stitch for the sake of adding stitch.

As well, I have torn collage pieces that really need stitching to complete them. These are bits torn and glued (not using conventional glue but a wheat paste) that are then meant to be sewn into assemblages. The white on white images aren't very good, but it allows you to see that stitching is need to lift the lines and emphasize the intriguing areas.


I do love tossing things around. I was cleaning up the small bits from the above photo and dropped one piece on top of another and blimey, if I didn't love what happened. Things come together when I work this way. Carefully laying one item on top of another sometimes works, but more often, a gentle tossing of things works better for me. That's why I often leave work on the ground and literally walk over them. The breeze of footsteps, the cat charging through, moving things aside to make room for something else lets lots of opportunities for serendipity to enter in.

I place these two bits together and they don't marry up as nicely as the one above. See, too planned. But, If I pin it together, because it almost works, then something else will enter in eventually.

So I am looking at the images to include in this post and forgot to rotate this one as well. As a result, I see a really funny flying chicken in the top collage. Do you? This is a combination of a green dot Japanese paper I love and a torn bit of an unsuccessful watercolour of a cemetery in Port Medway that I tore up.

I tried laying the two parts together and I can live with it, but the flying chicken has captured my imagination.

You can see the process, but the flying chicken idea won't leave me.

This is the Swedish Tracing paper, painted and the circles torn, rather than cut. I lined them up and with a sewing machine, sewed the centres with free motion stitching. I will add centres of stitch to these before I find a home for them with something else. I want the edges to remain unfettered when I join it up to whatever.

And finally,

Cleo Belle finds it hard to leave me alone, especially if I am trying to use the camera, lay one thing on top of another. It is so hard to make a human understand how to really do things properly.

It can cause despair.


and exhaustion.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Squish and Harvest

I'm squishing it up, I'm squishing it up. Do you remember the song about squishing up a bumble bee and licking it up? Gross, but given the bees in the backyard, I could do it. Instead, I continue to squish up backyard plant matter. Below is a single peony petal. It gave a lovely soft pink. Beside it is Saphire Blue Lobelia. I love it. It is a very pretty flower, lasts ages and gives great colour.


I have added some Lady's Mantle florets to the page. I am using a Japanese paper, I think it is called Koziko but I always get it wrong. I like the pale yellow.


The florets have tiny little bumpy bits to squish and it can be hard to not smear them as they slip around. I used the end of a handle on a thicker paintbrush. A pestle would have worked as well, but I was lazy and didn't want to go back into the kitchen. I had a brain storm. Instead of cutting flowers and taking them into the kitchen, doing the squish and then heading out for more flowers, I clued into the fact that I could work outside because it is summer. Sometimes I can be stoom.




Since the Lady's Mantle gave such a nice yellow, I decided to see what it's leaf would do. Not too much as it turns out. It has a very nice gestural appeal but the colour is a bit too vague.



I tried a bit of leaf from a Liatris plant. Worm like smears but a nice intense green.

February and March and into April, I worked so hard to get seedlings to go. I had massive failure. Even the little poor wretches that made it to their secondary leaves didn't thrive. I managed to get these Japanese turnips to a transplantable stage. I used a different soil in the hopes that this would improve conditions. Nope. This is a plant, like radishes, that children can do. Not me.


That's my pinky finger to give you scale. These should be the size of golf balls. Normally ready in 4 weeks, I lost count on how long these took.  These 8 little turnip buttons are what is left of 24 seedlings. Sigh.


My herbs, on the other hand, were bought as small transplants and have done well over the years. In fact the marjoram and oregano can take over if I don't give them a good haircut or two. This week I am drying herbs for winter use. There is marjoram on the left, loveage in the middle, a fabulous celery substitute all year round and on the right, golden oregano.

It is time to put seeds into the ground for a fall harvest. Since I am a sucker, I'm going to try again.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Summer hours for July

Mondays have just become more interesting. Not that blogging isn't interesting, but we are coming back from our camp on Monday mornings to get the most out of being there.


My day is significantly shorter as a result. We all love being there, so it isn't a hardship.


Here are the yarns from Iceland that I didn't have photos for last week. The yellow/orange combination is dyed with Lupine leaf. It is so cheerful, I will have to make it up into something before winter arrives. The yardage isn't part of the label, so some fooling around with the swift and ball winder will have to happen.


In the second set the brown and gold are dyed using Rhubarb root and different mordants. The colours aren't showing true here. The brown is a rich red/brown, the gold an old fashioned gold and the top whitish looking one is really lime green. The lime green is dyed using Lupine florets. The lupines in Iceland are a dark purple with a white strip at the lip. I am hoping i have enough for a loose striped tunic. I may even overcome my aversion to knitting lace. There are a few lacey stitch patterns to choose from rather than something complicated. I will take it to camp with me in August and fool around.

This is the time of year when stitching gets easily overlooked.


I do a lot of writing in the summer. The best spot in the world is at that little table behind the screen door. We have just arrived to open the camp up, so not everything is in place.


This is one of my views. I blithered on for years about how I needed solitude and inspiration, when finally Steve pointed out I had it, I just wasn't seeing the trees for the forest. How apt. 

There isn't any electricity up at the camp, so all computer work has to take place in town. I write mostly with old fashioned paper and pencil. As for my studio work, it is frequently in whites and the camp is very....well.... dirty. Lots of pine needle duff and bugs squished in a hurry. I would hate to have a dead mosquito on stitching that has taken hours. Given how many dead mosquitoes I have on my T-shirts or jeans, it seems a likely event.

Squishing happens at this time of year and I will organize that for the next post. I get so excited as I strew bits of plant matter on my fabric and paper that I forget to take a before picture.


This is an after image with pansy bits and some perennial geranium added to last years. I think I should make notes on the back of the paper so I can tell the truth and not be tempted to tell a fib. Time for me to pay attention.

Tuesdays became a whole lot more interesting as well. I have engaged a trainer at the gym and she is very kind, and very merciless. Today, after showing me how to use a bunch of new machines and some exercises that I have been avoiding, she ended our session with two minutes of steps at a furious pace. Oh my god, my legs hurt. I had to carry home about 30 lbs in groceries afterwards. It has taken me a while to recover. But all in a good cause, as in working to avoid Diabetes. It runs in the family and given my sweet tooth, I think it likely. Exercise is one of the best ways to control it, so I'm working for the future. And the present, because I don't want to buy another pair of pants.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Crazy Iceland

Some more photos of Iceland and then, next week, a return to studio work.


Phoebe fools around whenever the camera comes out. It is hard to get a focused shot of her.


Lucas and Miss Ryan tend to appear sedate, but lurking behind the beard and sun glasses are two wonderfully silly people.



This poor image (without and with flash) is of a rather large hand stitched farm. Typical of Icelandic farms are the turf houses that are linked together with narrow passages. Sheds, barns, bake ovens and sheep stalls are all linked.

We went to an open air museum (I love them) and these three buildings are a later example of the linked homes. The building farthest in the view is a shed, then workroom, then kitchen, then forge. Here, the roofs are not turf.


A typical link between buildings.


A more typical turf house construction.


Then we fooled around on a go-cart.


We visited Gudrun Bjarnadottir, (here) or (here) who dyes yarn using plant material that was available during Viking times. Except for Cochineal, which modern day Icelandic women want, everything has a Viking influence. The yarn is a single ply, more tightly spun than lopi and a fingering weight. Her samples of a sweater, or lace shawl or child's cardigan were very clever. I purchased some amazing colours from Lupines and Rhubarb. It seems I haven't taken any photos. Next post I will show you.

We had an amazing time riding Icelandic ponies and then a soak in a thermal spring. Oh man, are those thermal springs amazing. Large, warm, relaxing. Otherwordly. Despite about 30 people in the pool, the temperature and the setting were sublime. I had a pool noodle and floated and left this planet. Wonderful.I didn't have a camera for either the ponies or the pool, but others did. Looks like the Icelandic posts will continue afterall.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Iceland - Yeah!

The family went to Iceland for a week.


We had such a great time. No body slept well, it was full light for 16 hours a day and when it was dark, it was light. We were continually shocked by the prices of everything. Eventually, we had to decide to ignore the prices and just go for it. The chances of us all going back again are close to zero, so...what the @#@#. Just go for it.

We started at Geyser, an active geyser that spouts about every 15 minutes.


The first one took us by surprise. As Lucas said, "The earth just blew up at our feet". 
There were signs all over warning people not to touch the water. Phoebe and I just couldn't stop ourselves.


Some was hot, some wasn't.

From here we traveled to Gullfosa (water falls). Oh. MY GOD.


I thought I had seen some amazing places before, but these waterfalls were so incredibly shaped. They came down in several ledges. The speed of the water was crazy. There was a near permanent rainbow.  Niagara Falls should feel embarrassed.


Then, it all just dropped out of sight. Down a 90 degree precipice. For several hundred feet. Boom. The river continued on between two steep gorge walls.


I admit the walls were nothing like the Grand Canyon, but the waterfall just blew that thought away. We were all so excited and impressed, we just spun around taking pictures. It was a collective "Holy Cow! family moment. We didn't want to leave but rain was coming down and spray from the falls meant the cameras were at risk. What did we do next? We hit the road and went back to the apartment. We managed to find a small convenience store and get enough ingredients to pull a diner together and we all collapsed in bed. No one slept. Time change? Lightness? Awe? It didn't matter, we were all eager for the next day's adventure.