Stitches and more time, please (a tale of too many projects)

Hubby and I have spent a good portion of the winter sitting in our cozy living room working on our personal crafty projects. He makes things out of leather, I make things out of fibre. Crafty couples are happy couples.

I’ve made progress on several projects.

  1.   Needlepoint Table Runner                                                                                                 I made a sketch on craft paper to use as a guide, then stitched together three, three foot lengths of Aida cloth. The finished project will be a runner just shy of nine feet long. When it’s done I will edge it so it will likely end up about 15 inches wide.             It’s taken me just over a year to finish a 27 inch long section. It’s definitely a multi-year project.             feb-8-2017-crop-brighter
  2.   365 Day Embroidery Challenge                                                                                         I got this idea from an article on Facebook. I started on Jan 1, 2017 with my embroidery co-conspirator Ashleigh.                                                                                 I make some basic stitches with thicker strands of thread. Looking at Ashleigh’s finer work I decided I was falling behind because my inability to focus close (old age sucks) so I bought some cheaters and am now able make the finest stitches. As I chose the project because I wanted to master the satin stitch, the cheaters are a blessing.                      feb-8-2017-crop-brighter
  3.   Woven Placemats                                                                                                               My always doting husband bought me a 24 inch rigid heddle loom for Christmas. After weaving a few throw away bits of cloth I decided my first full project would be a set of placemats.                                                                                                                 I bought five skeins of yarn in complimentary colours and tried to sketch some pattern ideas in crayon, but in the end just ended up warping the loom with no plan. The resulting plaid was gorgeous.                                                                                       So far I have five placemats done and five more on the loom.                 plaid-1
  4.   Celtic Cross-stitch Triptych                                                                                               I came across a half finished cross-stitch of a Celtic inspired boar in a dusty box last year. I finished it up on planes and in airports.                                                           It pleased me. As my husband has often noted I tend to do things in multiples, and in true form I decided to make a triptych.                                                                   I started a raven on planes and in airports over our Christmas holidays. We go to New Orleans soon and I’ll be taking the project with me. On some future trip I will stitch a salmon.                                                                                                    feb-8-2017-crop-brighter

Winter isn’t over, but a spring deadline for the interior arts looms large. I figure I have until the crocuses bloom to work on these projects un-distracted.  

 

 

 

 

Dream weaver – my new rigid heddle loom

I had a rather unpleasant junior high school sewing instructor and because of that I img_20160626_224632resented sewing, yet was obviously drawn to it.

I made doll clothes and little pillows from collected scraps of fabric and yarn.

I was and still am fascinated by colour and texture.

I even collected art books about the textile arts.

My final year high school art project was to choose an image and depict it in four different media. I created my image in pastels, watercolours, as an etching, and I cut shapes in coloured denim and stitched them together to make a geometric representation of my image. I got an A+ and a special img_20161231_143219compliment on the innovative use of fabric in fine art.

For some reason even with that success, I dropped my pursuit of textile crafts. Until now, that is. Now, approaching 50 I have shaken off that bitter home economics experience and am diving headlong into my love of fabrics.

I’ve written about my cross stitching, embroidery and sewing. This blog is about learning to weave.

For Christmas my doting husband bought me a 24″ rigid heddle loom. To help me get going I ordered an img_20170117_151945instructional video from Craftsy.com.

I started weaving with some spare yarn I had left from a costume I made for my son a few years ago. Once I got the feel for the loom and managed to get my edges pretty straight I decided I would make placemats for my
dining room table.

img_20170118_144459I was going to do simple stripes, but one yarn lead to another and I ended up creating a plaid. The test mat turned out really nice. I love the way the colours work and they look great in my dining room – which has a paprika red feature wall behind the fireplace.

I plan to spend the next month or two slowly working on 12 place mats. I say over two months because I will be weaving in between cross stitching the table runner, my 365 day embroidery project, some paintings of my family, painting my upstairs hallway, painting the downstairs bathroom and some small sewing projects I have on the go.

Hopefully I get it done before early spring when I’ll want to move outside to work on some garden decoration projects. I’m pretty sure I’ll die with 20 unfinished craft projects. What a wonderful way to go.

 

Another day, another stitch – 365 days of embroidery

Ashleigh's first day.
Ashleigh’s first day.

I have been cross stitching for years, but I have never sat down and really mastered the related art of embroidery. So when I came across a blog recently about a person who had stitched every day for 365 days I decided this would be just the project for me.

I shared my crafty plans on Facebook and a young woman who is friends with my son said she’s like to stitch along with me.

I have everything we need. I have two unused embroidery hoops. I have a large scrap of cloth that would work well for embroidering on. I have plenty of colourful bits and bobs of

Darcy's first day.
Darcy’s first day.

embroidery yarn from past projects. And best of all, I have an accomplice.

I’ve looked up the various stitches. I cut the fabric to fit the two hoops. Beyond that I have no plan. The plan is not to plan, just to do. Chaos lives in poorly thought out plans, but creativity lives in well thought out spontaneity, right?

Here we go, Jan 1, 2017. Day number one of 365.

 

 

See below for some stitching guidance if you want to try this yourself.

http://www.molliemakes.com/cra…/library-embroidery-stitches/

https://www.craftsy.com/bl…/2014/…/hand-embroidery-stitches/

Now playing – Shakespeare on vinyl

2012-12-19-17-34-29This is not about one of my projects, but it is about an add-on to the first home project my husband and I undertook in our house – our library.

We’re both bibliophiles, we both brought boxes of books with us, and we had purposefully bought a house with a room that could be converted to a library.

But in addition to my love of the printed word, I am a fan of theatre and music. My portion of the library includes several plays; and yes it does include the complete works of Shakespeare.

place-to-be-libraryWhen we had the carpenter build our library I made sure that one section was set aside for my stereo, turntable and record collection.

My music, literature and theatre had one home.

I have just acquired a finishing detail quite by accident.

A few weeks ago I got a message from an old friend. She had spotted something at a fundraiser that she believed would appeal to me. Among a lot of items donated to a fundraising rummage sale was a boxed set of LPs with complete readings of Shakespeare’s plays by actors like Richard Burton, Vivian Leigh, Peter Finch, Peter O’Toole, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, and Maggie Smith.

She was right about this being up my alley.

They are a fabulous find. They are in good shape. The sound is good, the boxes look worn in a stately way.

I’ve given them a home beside the treatable and above the leather bound set of Shakespeare’s plays that I bought in my early 20’s. I think this spot is their destiny.

now-playing

 

Imagine Mr. Tumnus

The first year we moved into this house I began an ambitious clay project.

Illustration by Pauline Baynes, from my 1978 Penguin Books copy of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Illustration by Pauline Baynes, from my 1978 Penguin Books copy of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

In the yard, out our front window there is a light-post under the boughs of a spruce tree. The spot reminded me of one of my favourite childhood novels, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, and of the character of Mr. Tumnus specifically.

He’s been done for some time. He’s definitely dry. I have toyed with the idea of having him fired, but because he’s made of thick slabs of clay joined together I am afraid he contains a bubble that will ruin him in a kiln.

I think I have figured out how to make a mould of him so I can cast a copy for firing.

When I start that I will document my process, but for now here’s a timeline of the birth of my Mr. Tumnus.

I bought myself a box of clay from Plainsman Pottery. This project used the entire box of clay.

I decided that I was not at all confident in my ability to make a free standing Tumnus, so settled on a Tumnus seated on a stump (waiting for Lucy of course).

I made the centre hollow to cut back on the weight so that it would be easier for me to move around as I worked on all sides.

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Mr. Tumnus has been sitting in my art room since the winter of 2012.

Hopefully this winter I manage to get a good mould of him, cast his likeness, fire that casting, and set him out in the yard where I originally envisioned him.

 

 

 

cropped-stilemom.jpg

 

 

 

I had a little cedar, I made a little moose

pretty-ghettoMy kitchen, back hall and front entrance are out-of-bounds as the floor is being ripped out and new tile is being installed. I’ve been pushed out of my usual in-house activities.

My art room is the temporary home of all my refugee kitchen items and pantry staples so painting or sculpting are out of the question. Same goes for sewing – the sewing table is in the art room and the microwave is where the sewing machine should be. I have two needlepoint projects on the go, but I do them in the evening on the couch next to my husband so I already get enough of that.

I don’t do nothing very well. I had to come up with a project outdoors. I didn’t want to give up completely on the garden quite yet and had done all the yard work that our short season would allow until I’m ready to put the garden to bed for the winter.

1001552_10151869114209715_53356817_nPuttering around the garden in quiet desperation 11745435_10153500895664715_3784684250315692719_nI noted a thin spot in the hedge around our yard. I have, in the past few years, already filled two other thin spots in the hedge with whimsical fences – the family fence and the deer fence. Obviously, to be consistent, the other gaps needed to be fence-filled. Right?

So while tradesmen ripped my kitchen apart, I bought some cedar and pulled out the band saw. I made a moose.

moosefencenext-to-deer

My husband also suggested two more wood projects and I came up with one as well, so I have a couple more years of cedar fence art keeping me occupied.

Here’s a little number

I’ve been distracted by a kitchen renovation. A lot of my time has been taken up by moving my pantry and dishes to a temporary home and dealing with the insanity that comes from not being entirely able to organize my life or clean properly.

I have managed to complete one little project that has been in the back of my mind for a old house numberswhile now. New house numbers.

When guests look for our house they usually drive by a couple times before they are sure they’re at the right address. We’re a corner lot surrounded by a tall hedge and old spruce trees. The driveway is a car and a half long for the house numbers are relatively far from the curb. All that can be seen from the road is our garage IMG_20160823_191050door and the brick surrounding it. The house number is next to that garage door in very small inconspicuous brass on that brick.

The numbers were basically camouflaged.

housenumbersinstalledI wanted bigger and better. I looked around but found nothing I liked. Nothing
significantly bigger. Nothing simple.

So I made my own out of a discarded piece of oak. I painted them white, which is way more visible from the street, particularly at night. They’re three feet tall, and easy to read from a distance.

I also think they suit the house and us. One small project off the big project list.