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.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Stitching mosses, thread lace

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours cutting the rest of the leaves and most of the shadows or highlights on the birch 🌲  piece. 

Then I tacked it up onto the design wall in order to eye it over the next few days checking for anything I need to change or add. The berry stalks are Once the under-layer is done, I’ll add the leaves atop. I can’t wait to start stitching them down. 

I did a short video showing free motion stitching on the thread lace moss.

Last night I finished up the needle lace moss and cut it off of the netting.

This morning, I had an appointment with the specialist for my shoulder and my foot. She gave me a cortisone shot to  the shoulder and ordered one done in radiology for the foot.

We are expecting some snow in the next couple days, yuck, so I thought I’d better get out for a walk today. Picked up a friend and did a nearby woodsy trail. I had to push myself but I’m glad I got out. The forest never fails to relax and inspire me. It’s all about balance.

Finally, I got the piece under the needle where I temporarily removed some leaves and stitched on some black wooly texture as well as some moss.

I did a short video of free motion stitching down some moss.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

A quiet Sunday

Do you like to try to relax a little more on Sunday or even treat it as a more special day, doing things you especially enjoy? Religious or not, I’ve always tried to keep Sunday a little quieter than most as I think one needs it. Of course I’ve never had to do shift work but any other day would work.
Today, I slept in a bit, made eggs for breakfast and then went for a trail walk in a different place than usual.

The riotous colours have faded to more neutral and soft greys and holds. It’s quiet and soothing.

After my walk, I headed out to visit the in laws. My mother in law gifted me with one of her quilts. She was reluctant in the past to give me one, believing that I could make one better than her. (I know your reading this!) I don’t believe this and besides quilts are more about making something handcrafted with live, given with love and really appreciated. 

I will cherish sleeping under this quilt.

When I returned home, I headed to the studio for a bit where I hooped up 2 layers of green tulle and commenced to free motion stitch the base for some tree 🌲  moss.

A couple more layers are required.

In the evenings while tv watching, I’m making socks. The grey ones are done with Merino wool for my daughter and grandson, Ollie.

I started a third pair which I’ve nearly finished made with a Christmas wool edition.

For my outdoor activity yesterday, I picked more of our apples - most of which my husband already picked - and picked some kale, a wee bit of Swiss chard and final bits of lettuce.

We are lucky to have a cold room where we were able to keep apples through the spring last year. After looking on line, I wrapped every apple in newspaper and packed into Rubbermaid boxes.  It worked well.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Retreat and back to my fiber art

What a nice weekend I had at retreat. There were quilters from various New Brunswick guilds besides our own,  an interesting mix. We stay at the resource Center in small cozy rooms that used to be inhabited by nuns. It’s quiet and a really nice way to get away from a busy life. All the meals are providing and are homemade by the resident staff. Of course entering the big room where all the machines are going there’s lots of excitement, laughter and conversation going on all hours of day and night. 
Here is a sampling of some of the projects in progress.

I think this pattern was called something like Mariner in a Pickle.

There were a few stack n whacks in the works.

I was working on a couple small items. The Halloween wall hanging which is now ready to quilt. Button eyes and embellishments will be added after that.

And I started a quilted advent calendar for our grandson, Ollie, with coordinated pockets in random sizes.

I made 24 pockets and then started stitching some trims onto them.

The background I sandwiched using the envelope method. The quilting will happen when I stitch the pockets in place which I couldn’t start yet because I need to add the numbers. I bought a number stencil today.

Monday was a catch up day and yesterday, I was able to get back to my birch tree stump with berries.

I continue to cut out fused leaves, berries and stalks. Very time consuming.

I’m ready to stop and add a few more painted details to the birch and then thread paint on it so that I can add the foliage in front of it.

I came home to find that hubby had hung a vintage light that came from a church that I’ve been revitalizing with paint. 

I’m happy with it, especially the shadows it gives off, however; it’s a bit darker than the light that used to hang there. While it’s a nice ambient light,  I have to rethink it as I need good lighting for knitting.