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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Cara's Leaf

We're grandparenting this weekend, normal service will eventually be resumed after I've recovered... Today, we took Cara to gymnastics, then had lunch out, wandered round a garden centre, followed by Serious Cake for Cara and Grumpa (who knew a child that small could eat that much meringue...?).  And then we topped that off with a play park, in the Kinneal Estate.  On the way back to the car, Cara really wanted a leaf from one of the many trees surrounding us.  Grumpa obliged (Granny did try to put her off til autumn, but with no success). 

So, I thought, what can I do with this?  Pressing it, of course, would have been a possibility, but I've never really got my mind round what you do with leaves that size once they're dry.  So... I drew round it.  My initial intention was to let Cara colour it in, and I will still do that (she's pleased with the idea), but I'm thinking, applique.  I'm thinking cushion.  Or memory quilt (though there would need to be a lot more memories than just one leaf to make a quilt...maybe it needn't be all that large,though...).  Or just a singled blocked applique quilt.  Yes, okay, I'm wondering what got into me, too, it's so not my kind of thing....clearly the granny genes are kicking in...

And here it is.
And that's as far as it's likely to go, this weekend anyway.  I'm exhausted already, and there's a day and a half left... so won't be playing with the idea any time soon.  I'll keep you posted.

Finally, thank you to everyone who was so supportive after my last post.  I really appreciate it.  Blogging is a bit like talking to yourself, sometimes, hearing other people talk is lovely.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Look Before You Leap

I've been spending a bit of time getting ready to teach several it came as a surprise to get an email today telling me that I was no longer required.  Apparently nobody wants to make cute little cushions, and someone else has been lined up to do the linoprinting workshop we'd been discussing, which is unprofessional, but without a contract, there's nothing I can do.  Wish I'd known that before I bought the soft cut for it.  So...that was something of a waste of time... and money...and materials... I now have three wee cushions made up as samples.  Oh well, they'll be useful for something, I suspect.  It was suggested that I rent the space, but given that I'm not welcome to do workshops for the shop, I don't think I'll bother renting the space.  My idea was to support a new local business, and meet a few new people into the bargain, not to become a workshop provider.  Yes, I'm offended.  And upset.  Won't be leaping before I look in future.

The image is pure eye candy, dyer's chamomile from my Norfolk garden.  Reminds me that I want to try growing it here, too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Pacing Myself

You may  have noticed it's been quiet on the blog this week.  My sister had a party at the weekend, and I'm still paying for it in reduced energy, so very little sewing.  I thought you might like to see how the Borderlines piece is progressing (I talked about it here), so...

Regular stitching, irregular sizes, round and round, I hope it suggests a field.  And then some much more intense stitch in the lighter area of paper.

I hope it supports the texture of the paper, which sadly, you can't really see clearly from the image.  It's really quite fragile, though it has a rough look. 

The real challenge, though, is the background.  All that white.  I really don't like white, don't use it much at all.  My original intention was to use a dark blue/pinky purple hand dyed thread as the background, in a similar fashion to the yellow stitches in the image above, but now I'm not so sure.  Maybe a variety of different colours, grouped in different ways; rectangles, or circles.  Rectangles are more reflect the idea of a patchwork of fields.  If that isn't enough, I dare say I could use a wash of either a herbal tea or a watercolour paint... but I think I'll wait to see how the stitching turns out. 

Ideas tend to shift and change, to develop, as the work goes along.  I like that.  Art is a living thing, in its way, a relationship between the maker and the thing he or she is exploring.  It ought to change as more is learned, more uncovered.  It's all part of the process.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Relative Normality

Well, you didn't really think it was going to be tidy for long, did you?  Note the strategic placing of the coffee cup, and the small photograph waiting for stitch which has nothing much to do with anything... oh well....

The reason for the relative chaos is the creation of a sample for the class I'll be teaching at Fabric And More in Bo'ness, called 'Patchwork Without A Pattern'.  I have thought for some time that when we teach basic patchwork, we really ask a lot of beginners.  We want them to line up corners, get points right, choose fabrics that work together, make blocks that look similar and fit together, all sorts of competing priorities in a skill that's new to them.  If you take away the need to line things up and fit together properly, then learners can practice the whole quarter inch seam thing along with the suitable fabrics thing, and still produce something that's worthwhile.

So...I took some scrap, and fiddled about with it... the panda was a pure fluke, a strip that someone had given me...I think he's rather cute, despite semi decapitation...
The deal was that I'd make a small wall hanging, but when I assembled it...

It shrieked cushion... so that is what it became.

Ideally, it should have lavender in it, but my lavender went the way of most craft things in the great move, and I've no idea where to get it locally. I'm going to play with this idea a bit more, see what I end up this space.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Something To Refer To.

We went to visit my sister yesterday, to celebrate, a tad belatedly, her 30th wedding anniversary with the rest of the family.  Being half an hour early, we detoured to Leven, meaning to enjoy watching the water sparkle in the sunlight, which we did.   On the way to the house, though, Robin stopped to buy some rolls from a particularly good baker, and I spotted this...

I admit, it's not an obvious photograph to take, but then, I'm the girl who used to get down on her hands and knees to take photographs of roots and stones... There's a lot of texture in this image, and, sadly, more reflections than I wanted; didn't think to roll down the car window.  What I was after, in actual fact, was the cracks in the stone underneath the sign, the one to the left of the image in particular.  That said, I like the whole of it, it's interesting, I think, though I'm unlikely to do anything with the whole thing, really.

The main problem is that this was taken using a phone: you never have your camera with you when you need it.  Given that I have two, perhaps I should take to keeping one in the car.  So the image is small to start with, and it starts getting a bit hairy when I try to crop down the image to study the crack itself:

At this size, they're okay....ish... a tiny bit of pixellation.  Smaller, though, and we get this:

Still fairly adequate.  But looking at a smaller area, the bit I'm really interested in...

well... I dare say a photographer would just delete it.  I, on the other hand, think it's fab.  Firstly, it suggests ways of rendering it, like pointillism, that I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.  Secondly, it isn't my only reference; I can look at the larger images to get a crisper look at what's going on.  Finally, I didn't take the photograph as a photograph, an end in itself.  I took it as reference, to remind me of what was there, to use as the basis for textile work and/or drawing.  As such, the smallest of them, and the one we might usually discard, is probably best.  

Friday, May 11, 2018

Reverting To Words...

,,,because sometimes, only words will do.  This week is ME awareness week; read more about it here.  There are a lot of events happening across the country, across the world, in fact, including Millions Missing, where shoes are set out, labelled with their owners' stories, to indicate the way in which they are missing from the event, and indeed, to some extent, from their own lives.  I can't go to the Edinburgh event (at the Mound, if you want to go along), so I thought I'd mark it with a poem.

Wasting My Energy : A Poem For ME Awareness

You. Yes, you. You who can dance
Whenever you want.  Stroll
Unconcerned wherever you
Wish, run for a mile, or a
Bus without thinking.  Work, laugh or play
Without consequence.  
You really don’t get it, now do you?
Here sit I, wheels for feet,
Buses a distant memory.  Oh yes,
My legs work, and the rest of me: I can
Stand up, point a toe, take a few
Careful steps, then sit down hard
Gasping for breath.
And that will make me
A fraud in your eyes;  that is,
If you see me at all.  Invisible,
That’s me.  (It’s got something to do
With the chair).

Humour me, just for a moment.
Imagine a world filled with pain,
Every action carefully planned, consequences
Weighed up and measured, that is
If just rising from bed can be managed..
Imagine your life without action,
Interaction, meaning: you’re imagining
Mine.  Nobody asks for ME; it just
Happens one day, irreversible,
Misunderstood.  No testing,
Diagnosis or cure.  No treatment.
No sympathy.  Just judgement,
And the shaking of heads. It’s no
Way to live. It’s all there is.
You still don’t get it, do you?

I really tried.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Stitch Sabotage?

So... I thought I'd start the stitch on this piece, Borderline...well, okay, continue the stitch. Except... I couldn't remember which threads I'd used.... but I did work it out, eventually.

And here they are...

So far, so slow.  And it got worse.  Much worse.  

I had a clear idea what to do with that upper right hand circle...this, to be precise...

And this is where it all went to hell in the proverbial handcart.  Texture in the centre, I thought.  French knots, I thought.  Wish I'd left it well alone...  Turns out, I used to be able to do French knots...and the first one turned out fine... but it was all downhill from there.  I looked up my favourite stitch book, and followed the instructions and got another one out of six attempts.  Then it was joy.  Yes, I could see the woman demonstrating, doing beautiful stitches.  I did exactly what she did, and got damn all.  By this time, I was incandescent.  Had the piece not had so much potential, I would have thrown it out the window and been done with it.  However.... 

So I thought somebody might as well have a laugh out of it, and posted on FB.  Yes, they laughed (and I'm very happy for them, I'd have laughed as well, had it not been two hours of my life I won't be getting back again...).  And then someone said, Colonial knots.  Three different someones, in fact.  Reader, those kind women have changed my life.  I will never again mess about with the French version.  Here are the instructions I was sent to; do yourself a favour, go and have a look.  

So... I now have a collection of knots...looks better in real life, to be honest, but hey.  I wish I had put more space between the individual stitches, but it took so long to get the end result, I'm rather loath to unpick it.  And when there was space between them, I'm not convinced it looked any better.  Sigh.

But that's not all.  I did a bit of work in another section...and then put the work down, so I could have a rest.  Apparently that was an invitation to Merlin...
And this was bad enough...but this annoyed me...
Dammit, that paper is fragile. I remembered too late that it's easier to handle paper if it has a light interfacing attached (though not necessarily easier to hand sew, admittedly, which is why I didn't do it).   And then, to add insult to injury, he started playing with the thread.  Reader, I chased him.  I've come to terms with cats sitting on my work, but that was a paw too far.  
He got his own back, though.  I must have left the thread on the sofa that night, as in the morning the ball was on the other side of the room...he (or Mollie, perhaps) had clearly had a great deal of fun winding it round the scratching post.  Cats?  Can't live with 'em etc.  

More on this piece as it develops.