Monday, February 13, 2017

Blizzard day one

Today the city of Halifax is shut down. The buses did not start this morning, the management did not want to strand people at work or elsewhere.

I haven't heard a snowplow go by for hours. I heard an ambulance in the distance a few moments ago. It must have been quite a challenge to get to the emergency and to get back to the hospital.

Steve is pushing out the front door. So much snow is coming down and wind is blowing it about that we have about two feet of snow blocking the front door and more blocking the back door. We've decided to try and keep the area where the door swings open cleared of snow. I suspect that will have to happen several times before this is over. Last year, when this happened, Steve had to tunnel out of our basement door, which opens inwards. We filled up the laundry tubs and several tote boxes with snow as he dug a tunnel.

The house is chilly, we have the thermostat turned down a bit so that the furnace doesn't have to struggle to keep up. Why? Because there is no way the oil truck can get a line to our oil tank until we clear a path. The path is about 40 feet away from the sidewalk and three feet deep in snow. It will take me a couple hours to clear that out, so I don't want to run out of oil.

I thought maybe I was exaggerating, but Steve just heaved himself back in and says the driveway, where a boat is stored, has drifted up to 8 feet high. The boat is mostly covered. OK, it might take me two days to get to the oil tank.

I have a few pictures of some Geli Plate Printing I did last week and that's all.

I have been sewing clothes and reading books. I volunteer at a homeless shelter and find it has tired me out a bit last week. I did a shift last night from 7:30 to 11:30 pm, we fed over 40 people, supplied at least 12 with food to tie them over because they can't get to the shelter with the buses not running. Those folks have someplace to crash for a couple of nights. Those who didn't have spent today in the church basement, drinking coffee, watching old videos and hopefully, staying warm. I'm glad I don't have to go tonight, the walking is killer. I'm glad I have a warm place to write this. Hope you are safe and warm wherever you are.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Paper Day

Along with stitching on textiles, I also fool around with stitching on paper.

I bought some black drawing paper to see how it would respond to holes and gluing. In this sample, I set the sewing machine up for Free Motion Embroidery. Using an unthreaded needle that was dull and not suitable for textiles and the feed dogs lowered, I moved the paper around. I didn't use a hoop. This is a nice difference that tissue paper. Tissue paper, or other light paper really needs a tight hoop to get it to move freely under the needle. This stiffer paper needed me to hold on to the edges only. I did not have a picture drawn on the back to follow. I only knew I wanted circles in one section and loose lines across the page.

This little composition is on mat board. I've used the inside of a torn envelop, some japanese paper with a floral motif, some torn magazine pages, a bottle cap liner, and some water colour paper for the bird.

I used a glue stick to get things to stick. I am beginning to suspect that there is either a big difference in different manufacturers of glue sticks or the quality of the glue has plummeted. Several small paper pieces are losing their stick. I am going to switch to using a brush and the old fashioned white glue.

For the bird, I used scraps of water colour paper that had things on it that I didn't love. Cut up into smaller bits, it became a good resource. I've needle pricked the bottle cap liner and added some gold french knots.

Along the narrow edge of the envelope, I have crossed stitched with the same thread as in the circle motif.

For a completely different project, I experimented with making a slit in a thick paper and slipping a prarie point through the slit, then securing it on the opposite side with a running stitch or french knots. The leafy triangle is fabric, the stripes is Japanese paper. I'll have a few more paper pieces over time, but now, the kettle boileth.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Two by Each continues

Here is what I am not doing!

Are they mad? There were 6 or more people on the next beach surfing. We didn't get out of the car except to take the photo. I'm tell you, doing this kind of thing would certainly keep your mind off US news.

It was freezing rain and sleet. Steve and I had rented a car-share for a Sunday afternoon drive. We had hoped for some sun or at least, no rain. We headed to Lawrencetown beach, where the beaches are very walkable even in winter. Brrrrr.

Back at home, I curled on my chair and watched several episodes of Gardeners World 2015 while stitching.

After finishing the cross stitching, I looked around for my blunt nosed tweezers to take out the cross stitch grid (stiff stuff that allows you to do a cross stitch on cloth that is too fine to count the threads on) but couldn't find them in the usual spots. I had cleared out the medicine cupboard the day before and thought maybe the tweezers had ended up in the first aid kit. While standing in front of the cupboard, Steve leaned out from the bathroom. He was doing very messy things with the U bend in the bathroom sink.There was gook everywhere. He hands me my tweezers and says, "You better steralise these before you use them again." Ick.

  • Each strip has the first 10 inches or so embroidered for the first pass. As I move further down the strips, other ideas will come and I might want to repeat something at the beginning. I like to leave a few spots open in case I get a brilliant idea later on. In case I want to add beads or buttons, I also like to leave these off till the very last minute. They get in way of a good tension on the embroidery hoop. Then I'll get irritated, cut them off and then lose them. Bitter experience, you might say.

I like having bits that can lift up, with other bits underneath.

Despite using the grid for cross stitch, it wandered away from the edge.  I will look on that as an opportunity for some French knots eventually.

The hoop calleth.

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.