Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Stitching chickadees

Hubby and I both saw a doctor yesterday and were prescribed prednisone and antibiotics. We contracted a nasty respiratory virus at about the same time and suffered the exact same symptoms which have dragged on and on. Talk about togetherness!
Today, although coughing lots which is a good thing, our energy is up and we’re feeling better. Thank goodness!

It’s a damp day, a prelude to the snow coming in later tonight and tomorrow. Definitely a good time for the studio. 

Finally, I finished all the stitching on the birches. The blue berries actually belong to a wildflower found in our wooded areas called the Blue Bead Lily.

It needs only the backing and binding which are ready to go. Yippee!

I was happy to move onto the chickadees that I so love, beginning by using coloured pencils to add some base colour. It gives me something to follow when I’m stitching as well as providing a background colour that could show behind my stitching rather than white. I brush on a thin coat of fabric medium.

I back it with a layer of stiff interfacing and once it’s dry and ironed, it’s ready to stitch.

I’m not concerned about any of the background wrinkles as these will be trimmed away and the chickadees will be applied to another piece of work. These are only a few inches in size and require a little more  attention and slower free motion movement than most of my pieces. It’s important for me to adhere to my time limits also for my back. I feel happy at this point; I’ve gotten a good start.

When it’s time to rest, I put my feet up and pull out my knitting.  The latest is one of my favourite hat patterns with Noro yarn.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Back to some artwork

I took a little blog and fiber art break over the holidays, letting my time simply roll out doing what I felt like at the time. Getting in some real rest,  And, we were away for 4 days over Christmas spending time with my daughter and family. A 3 year old at Christmas is a joy to watch and play with! I’m not sure who was having more fun. Ollie or grampy!

We played and relaxed and didn’t even cook a turkey. I had baked a ham to take over with us and with little Ollie’s help,  made scalloped potatoes. We had some frozen lobster left over from Christmas Eve and my son and wife from Lunenburg came with a veggie lasagna. It was so different form traditional dinners but the main part was how nice it was to be together and enjoy a potluck type meal. Oh and my dil also brought an almond tart! Yummy!
We went out for walks each day under a dusting of snow on the trail near their home.

Since coming back home we’ve been relaxing, cooking easy meals, going for walks each day, and I’m happy to say, avoiding too many sweets.
Hubby moved a chair into my studio where I could sit doing hand work while watching shows on Brit Box tv. I’m now awaiting the arrival of a Roku stick which will enable me to stream Brit Box on my non smart tv in the living room. I live all those English mysteries.

I also did some regular sewing, finishing the baby quilt  for my daughter who’s expecting in 3 months.

I’ve got it 3/4 quilted, deciding to do it on my regular machine, straight stitching in the grid.. I like it’s simplicity.

I’m thinking of highlighting using a perle  cotton utility stitch.

I tied up some lose ends (literally) finishing 2 baby sweaters and a shawl.

Today, I returned to my studio finishing the free motion details on my birches and berries. When I’m working on fiber art pieces I sit at the machine that looks out the window while listening to classical music.

I’m so excited! I got it sandwiched with the batting and the backing and plan to lightly quilt it around the trees and the berries. I’m in the home stretch.

It was sunny outside the studio windows today. I’ve been out every day but not today as I wanted to get this done. The amaryllis in full bloom on my windowsill is so colourful against backdrop of  the snow outside. 

 I don’t know about you; I haven’t made resolutions for some years, often choosing a word of the year instead. I hadn’t really thought about it this year when the word center or spirals came to mind. I seem to be in a constant state of flux with my health; it’s a challenge trying to keep a balance. Sometimes I feel the circle or spiral expands when things are going well and if not, I retreat back to the center. My only plans for this year are to let this process unfold, not being hard on myself when I need to rest as I once would have done. We could be gentler with our selves and each other. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

A quiet week of little things

There’s not much artwork going on this week as I’m committed to trying to have a relaxing week attending to body and soul by spending more quiet time with my knitting and getting exercise. This morning, I mixed up cereals for the nuts and bolts mix, went out to pick up a couple of spices that I needed and when I went to make it at lunch time, discovered that I was almost out of Worcestershire sauce. I wasn’t heading back out so I covered it until tomorrow.

So....I couldn’t cross that one off the list. At least I picked up a ham which I will bake one day this week and I’ll slice it and freeze it to take away to my daughters.
On the weekend, I made gingerbread cookies to take with us. As part of my concession to taking it easier this year, I used little tubes of purchased decorating gel. Why not. They’re meant to be colourful more for the kids (and kids at heart) than the adults.

I also picked my little treat for supper as my husband is away for the week.

I took my tea to the studio this afternoon where I watched a quilting show and finished this little teddy bear that had been languishing in a corner.

I’ve got a few things - knitted blankets, the teddy, and a few toiletries items I’ll add to it - for the local women’s shelter.

It looks lovely out there but it’s about -7C with a strong windchill factor. An inside kind of day. I spent some time cutting tiny highlights for the berries and stitching them on. Picky work.

My goal this week in between some Christmas preparations is to finish the thread painting on the birches and quilt it, or at least get it batted and ready to go. I’m slow but persistent, having to take breaks to put heat on my back. That means I can grab a tea and write a post.

I ordered a little Christmas gift for myself. It looks very creative and full of lots of doodling inspiration.

I imagine some of  you, my readers, will be in the thick of shopping and preparations this week. I’m hoping you can find little ways to slow down and simplify; we don’t need all those gifts, do we. Take some moments to soothe your soul in whatever you like to do. Music, a good book, knitting, decorating, getting outside.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Birch fiber art

This season is refuted to be one of the busiest times of the year; however, this particular one has been crazy. I actually have kept my decorating minimal, adding a few pieces here and there to my already present collections of plants, feathers, and dried foliage.

We won’t have family staying with us this year and we plan to travel to PEI to visit with my daughter and grandson. 
I’ve had time for little baking and since I’m losing weight too, I don’t want masses of sweets in the freezer. Meatballs seemed like a good idea for a make ahead meal starter as they can be combined with so many things to make a simple meal - tomato sauce, pineapple sauce and pasta or rice. I made enough to take some to my daughters as it will be convenient for some fast meals when they’re working.

I chose a new sweet that I found on Pinterest which took about 20 minutes to make. They’re delicious if you’re a chocolate, salted caramel lover as I am! I’ll have a bit to give away if I need something small.

Also, I put up  my small tabletop tree along with a couple small ones, a polar bear and a Santa. 

I’ve been running to one appointment after another for weeks. It tends to wear me out and put me edge as I really need down time and the solitude of my walks and my artwork. It seems that all my follow ups have convened at the same time as well as new issues that arose - 3 trips to the opthamologist for dry eyes and inflammation which isn’t yet resolved and a cracked mouthpiece that I sleep with, so a few trips to the dentist.

I was out early to an 8:30 appointment this morning and thankfully had the rest of day to bake muffins, do a wash, write cards, and retreat to the studio where I did most of the remaining stitching on the birches and berries.

I think one more session may do it; I’ve a bit more to do on the trees, and then I’ll be ready to add the batting and lightly quilt. I’m fairly pleased with piece and will be happy to call it finished.

At night when I’m unwinding, I’ve been knitting a simple shawl.

Now I must get ready to leave; our knitter’s Christmas dinner is tonight and I have a couple stops on my way.

I’ve been enjoying watching and reading about Christmas with artists and crafters around the world on Instagram and blogs. We seem to all be trying to keep it simple and more about family and friends and the spirit of the season.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Snow day activities

This is what we woke up to this morning. I’m looking forward to seeing the glow through the snow on the rail when the snowflake lights come on at dusk.

My husband took my car with the all wheel drive to work as I decided not to venture out to knitting this afternoon. We are heading to PEI on Friday for our grandson Ollie’s 3rd birthday and it was nice to stay home and get some little things done so I won’t be stressed later in the week.

I’ve finished the advent calendar except for the hanging sleeve which is done and ready to hand stitch.

Then I wrapped all the little surprises.

I got a chicken and vegetables ready for roasting shortly. My oven was cleaned on Friday but I just cleaned the racks this morning. Done.

Sometimes I like to take a break from my fiber art pieces to make smaller gifts items like, zippered pouches, book marks, little notebooks, needle cases, etc. My last large piece of painted canvas is all used up; it was time to make a new one. I found some raw canvas and randomly coated it with a base layer of acrylic paint.

The picture appears a bit darker than the actual color but there will a few more layers of paint with stamping and screening. It’s large enough that I can cut it up when the inspiration strikes for me to make a small item. It is  a fun exercise, especially going through my stamps and screens to see what I’ll add next. It looks messy now but when it’s finished with all the layers and stitching it’ll be different,

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Winter is here, advent calendar

The choice is I can be cranky about the early snowfall or I can strap on the snow shoes and get out there. It took a little pushing myself though; one must set the intention first thing in the morning while planning the day and stick to it.

At least it’s mild today and calm- very peaceful out there. I tried to take it slowly and with intention, focusing on the stillness, the air, the smells, and the view. I’ve been feeling anxious and stressed- probably the time of year but also I’ve been detoxing off the drug Gabapentin which has been a real trial. I’ve been on rather high doses for years with numerous side effects including weight gain and decided I’d had enough. I’ve been slowly reducing the dosage for a long time and finally stopped it about 2 weeks ago. The first 10 days were the worst with terrible insomnia and nerve problems. It’s easing although I’m still having anxiety and sweating.

I also took a few pictures as reference for another chickadee on the hand piece that I’m going to start as a commission.

No chickadees today; I was just posing. This is how I get started beyond the spark in the mind. I’m testing out poses and backgrounds. The hand and bird are paper prints of my photo from another year.

So that’s percolating...

I also took a photo of some curly birch bark as I’d like to add some to my birch tree.

I haven’t yet added the berry stalks. They will come after the background stitching is done.

This morning I finally got all the pockets stitched down on the advent calendar for Ollie who is now almost 3 yrs. 

I still have to add a sleeve for hanging on the back and free motion stitch something on top. Maybe trees. I need to find some little books.

Finally, but most exciting is my daughter’s news this morning that she is expecting a second boy. She’s almost 5 months.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Thread sketching birch

I can’t believe I’m writing this - today was a snow day - and it’s been kind of a lazy day here. I’m slow getting moving in the morning, especially right now when I’m plagued  with sleep issues. I’ve been working on giving myself a break. I actually sat with my tea and watched an hour of a talk show this morning,  something previously unheard of unless I was sick. Then, I moved and slowly did a few little chores and by then it’s lunch time. Dinner tonight is leftover stew so I had the afternoon to stitch away in the studio.

How does one slow the clock? Here we are again slipping into winter with our first storm and it feels like I’ve just been writing about snow and wishing for summer and now it’s passed and we’re heading into the ‘dark again’ Ever conscious of not wanting to wish time away, I do try to take advantage of winter sports. It’s not that I prefer summer; I find it often too hot. Early fall is perfect and all too short. Ok, so that’s my little rant. Enough.

Some happy stitching time was needed.

Free motion stitching on all those organic leaf shapes is relaxing.

In my down time, I finished a baby sweater. It’s a size 6 months. My daughter is expecting our 2nd grandchild; we don’t know the sex yet. I enjoy knitting little sweaters though and can always use them for gifts. It was knit bottom up so I could adjust the neck. It seems a little loose.

This one that I’m knitting (it’s a top down) now would suit a boy I think.