Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What beautiful gams?

My Dad used to speak of  a woman's legs as 'gams'.  Now I tried to find that in the dictionary but the closest I came was gammer, which is a rustic word for an old woman and gammon whose first meaning is a bottom piece of flitch of bacon including hind leg (gambe leg). 

I am ready to send my 2 chairs and foot stool to the upholsterer. These are indeed rustic ladies.  One chair has painted woodwork.  I am using my new chalk paint and waxes to pretty up the woodwork.  I'm just trying a couple of colours and experimenting with the light and dark wax.

How is that for a beautiful gam?

Monday, January 30, 2012


I think today is a good day to reclaim my life and my daily routine.  The events that happen are not always something that can be predicted nor pigeonholed but I'm hitting the refresh button to remind myself of my Triple F goal for the year.

FOCUS:  The ideal is not going to happen.  While I rebel at same old/same old, I do recognize that I do my best with some sort of a routine. A rigid schedule seems to be too constricting and worse I lose abilities and momentum when I lay things aside.  I can't do it all so I've chosen some. But the few I've kept need to be done more regularly rather than my usual sporadic bursts.  So my question is how can I keep all my balls in the air and not let any roll off into a corner.  I've defined the main players at least.

FIND?FIDDLE:  Driving hither and yon these last few weeks I have tried to figure out how to be more  creative in better ways.  If I identified my style and could incorporate it into all aspects of my various interests I could stay current in most things.

I was reminded of a small book I had bought a couple of decades ago.  It is a little Anchor book on Crewel Stitches and Patterns. I luv the asymmetrical positioning, the quirky motifs, the curves and swirls.   I had thought I could turn the little diagrams into applique projects.

Sewing and fabric is a MAIN thrust.  I need to get Nina to the spa for her tune up and continue my thread experiments.

But what if I used the patterns for free motion machine stitching?

I also like the Jacobean style of applique. What if I took the individual motifs as jumping off places for my own designs and incorporated them into some mixed media art with hand dyes, stencils, beads, etc.

What if my luv for words and letters could escape the blog posts and altered books and flow unto my fabrics?

FINISH:  A great deterrent is my work space.  I try to do the somewhat organized and dry stuff here in the Coop and Saucer Playroom. It isn't a large room, only 11 x 12 feet.  It is the original master bedroom so this is as big as it is gonna get.  I don't think there are any 'what if's...' left as I've organized and reorganized it for optimum use many times. My basement laundry area is cramped, cold and cluttered as well as being 2 flights of stairs down.  I am just going to have to try to keep the wet mess to one side and the dry piles to the other.      If the two meet well then, more creativity will have to happen!  lol

I use creativity everyday to problem solve and now I'd just like to have some creative art projects to show for all my problems!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Slightly off centre with the WOW

The bubble in the level isn't quite in the centre so this is not the post I was hoping for.

The hospital patient is improving but now the grand kiddies' mother is down with a nasty flu bug. 'Of course', I'll take the grand kiddies.

I thought an action packed and song filled dvd on my 'puter would leave me free but...

I lined up my supplies and did some cleaning in Nina's innards but seems Nina has a tummy ache as well.

I suspect this is operator error as I think I have the springy thing in her bobbin case in wrong.  But she is really due for a cleaning and the tune up will bring her back to GO!  I should also book another hour of instruction so I don't give her and me any more headaches.  This makes perfect sense because the thread tests should be as perfect as can be.

And it is not as if I haven't other things I can do on my worktable.  But I think I'll wait till I can get things not only level but quiet.  Now where is that action packed and catchy music dvd???

Monday, January 23, 2012

This picture pretty much sums up my life!  I've also come to the conclusion that Normal is really only a setting on my dryer and I'd probably get pretty bored with only folding towels.

So where was I before I added hospital visits to the daily routine?

My thread testing is still top of the list.  I got some stabilizers and fusibles to try.  I also got a great number fabric.  I'm counting the days for a lot of things.

I'm very intrigued by the new chalk paint that has become available.  I ordered some and I'm anxious to give that a try.

First up will be the wood work on the 2 chairs and foot stool we nabbed at an auction sale.

I'm deciding fabric and have rejected the teal/aqua fabrics as that will make the front room too complimentary ( red/green) and I'm happier with an analogous colour scheme of red/yellow.   I will be toning them down to gold and cranberry with some aqua accents.

I picked up a Quilting Arts magazine on my travels and the article on digital monoprints by Margaret Applin reminded me of my Photoshop program.  I'm needing a graphic to 'make mine' and I'm considering the style of leaf depicted in crewel patterns.  This little embroidery book was an early find when I began to do applique.  I luv the Jacobean style.

Lastly, I'm considering offering my playroom for informal craft sessions to a young gal.  We are thinking beads so I am long on beads, tools and ideas but short on a good basic beading book. If anyone has any suggestions I'd be most grateful.

So the dryer is set, the surf board  the ironing board is at the ready, and the basket awaits.  C'mon LIFE!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weather happenings

The problem with such a lovely early winter with warm temperatures and little snow is the terrible shock to the system when the windchill hits minus forty. Yikes!  Talk about not being prepared.

But it isn't only the weather that changes nor our readiness for it.  But that is life isn't it.

After a warm sunny almost vacation stay a little south of the border we immediately got some stormy weather as the youngest peep was admitted to hospital and now we have all the dynamics of that white world to deal with.  But I'm optimistic the diagnosis will be a good one and the golden egg that this particular peep comes from will be paying off dividends for the future.

Thanks for the well wishes.  Bloggers really are the best.  I'm off to cuddle the grand kiddies today.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And speaking of flying...

One of my dear peeps is having some trouble flying solo so Mama hen is gonna be doing some brooding!
It is all going to be fine; it'll just take a bit of time and some nesting.

The Colour of Happy

 My good friend and I were called south to babysit 4 great kids.  We were happy to help out.  We were 'in the Pink', so to speak.  Emily Hannah came along to play with the youngest.

We did an awful lot of playing.  These kids had their homework, both academically and chore related, all done.  We had lots of time for play.

The birds were part of a Christmas sale so I went back and captured more of the flock. :)   But the vase was a thank you present from the kids and was very sweet of them.

 The grass wasn't too much greener but they did have a little less snow.

We upgraded from thrift shopping to Antique stores.  Oh, my!  My last runner shows off my cranberry crystal wonderfully and I was in pink transfer ware heaven.

My bluebird of happiness will remind me of time that  just flew by and now I need to turn my thoughts to my threads project.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A fly by

I did finish the bindings on all three runners.  See how little snow we have, although I gather my first step out this morning will be into an inch or two of the fluffy stuff.

The third runner was done late last night and as I'm going to be flying the coop in the next hour I won't be showing that one.  I'm off to spend the next 5 days south of the border while the Rooster keeps things well in hand here.  I'm not sure what the plan is but top of the list is FUN!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

wowing slowly

To have a visual record of the samples I'll make during the journey through Threads- The basics and beyond, it is recommended to make little quiltlets.  These comprise fabric, batting and a stabilizer.  When the technique is done, pairs of the quiltlets are joined together back to back.  I'm looking forward to trying  the various edging techniques.

I can get quite stalled trying to coordinate colours and much as I enjoy that,  this is about thread techniques not Art.  So I decided to precut 6 inch squares from my black stash and I'll let the thread colours be the colour design element.  I am using Pellon stabilizer to begin with and a strip of warm and natural batting that is in the leftover pile.I'm thinking 40 squares of fabrics should do it.  I found a nice box and that determines my finished size, 5" x 6".

That is as far as I got.  No excuses.  Life just happens.

I have been doing some machine quilting.  My thoughts on the walking foot and the stitch regulator are here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Walking before galloping

 I have doubted myself.  I had pretty much relaxed with my free motion quilting abilities.  The basics I had and I could push those limits.   Then Nina arrived with the Bernina Stitch Regulator as part of her arsenal.  Surely that much money and that much technology must be right.  But I have found the BSR awkward and well, intimidating.  I think I will go back to what I knew to do all by myself.  But first I have to find it!    I can't find my old foot so I may be purchasing a new one.  Drat.

In the mean time, I'm beginning to restore my confidence with some walking foot exercises.  And actually, I do like the channels and the straight lines.  I considered the backings as I thought about design.  The centre runner is the channels.  Easy Peasy. I moved the needle position because I like wide channels and I use the edge of the foot for guide lines.  The narrow piece on the right is a spiral. The centre of the log cabin block is off centre and I like that contrast to the even spacing of the quilted line.  The larger quilt on the left had sashing so I emphasized that and then did the centre square of the block and echoed the shape.

The faster speed of Nina makes this a real pleasure.

The wide space under Nina's arm makes turning a breeze,

even with the larger size.

Walking fine! Now perhaps a trot (?) canter (?) but perhaps not the gallop.
Same horse, different gaits.
Same foot, different  paths.

Next comes the binding and the walking foot absolutely shines at bindings!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back in the saddle

A little trip over the horse's ears, so to speak but I'm back up and gathering the reins.

I'm starting off with some straight line quilting on the smaller of the three table runners I unearthed in the ufo pile.    Kind of a slow start but then everything doesn't have to be at full gallop.  Especially since my horse riding experience is pretty much limited to the kiddie track at the beach a very long time ago. Can you actually fall off one of those fat little ponies?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wow, that's fine

The theme for this Winter is thread.  I want to learn all about this basic material and how it can be best utilized. I've chosen 'Threads- The basics and Beyond'  by Debbie Bates & Liz Kettle.  There is a web site for those who want to work through it and keep in touch with other like minded students of thread. I study better alone but it is certainly a good resource.

There are 8 main sections and a lot to learn.  I began to read.  I know thread comes with numbers and I did know it is not a world standard.  In fact the numbering is quite confusing so many  recommend just dividing thread up into 5 sections:  ultra fine, fine, medium, heavy and ultra heavy.  I must admit I thought okay, let's skip to the actual sewing but there is value in following the directions. So I needed to compare all these.

I had stored my thread by colour and I use little baggies to contain those slippery rayons and keep bobbins and thread spools matched. Thread does have a shelf life and should be stored out of the elements.  I also don't do my creative best when I have sensory overload so I store mine in those clear plastic drawers, handy but not highly visual.  I may go back to the colour system, in fact, I luv the artist's colour wheel and that is the way I sort fabric as well.  I just never thought of thread as another  'paint' in the tool box.  DUH!
But I am really lousy at deciding/analyzing nuances of thickness and colour.  The pile almost did me in but then I figured ultra heavy shouldn't be too hard. It is mostly too big to pass through the needle's eye easily and is relegated to bobbin work or couching.  Wow, I had a lot.  Who knew?  Then I went to ultra fine which is my silk hand applique thread and the mono filament invisible thread.   Not so much ultra fine but by eliminating the extremes there is less in the 3 middle sections to do.  The bulk of my thread is the regular falls into the cotton, polyester and rayon threads that define medium.  Then there are some iffy's and some of the brand names listed in the book really help with deciding which designated pile.

Now that took some time and I'm quite the better informed for doing it.  It isn't 100% but certainly a place to start and definitely shows what I lack.  I learned that both the fines will show the least which is good for applique, stabilizing and fine work..  The heavy section is where you get the most bang for your buck in thread work.  And that is where my biggest lack is.  So is it off to fill in the thread stash?  Uhm, no!  Some of these brands I've never even heard of. Thank goodness for the give away I won that included new thread brands. More importantly,  this will be all about finding the ones that Nina, my main sewing machine, and I like.  I shall now be much more aware of my options and I'm not talking about colour which turns out to be  in an whole other section.  lol

And now I must confess this is not such a fine day, but more like a tea and blanky day.  So,"Threads at ease.  Be ready for your marching orders when things are fine."

Monday, January 2, 2012

In the beginning...

First there was a void and then the light bulb came on!  Aha, "now I see",  says the blind man.

So a first thing to do is clean the clutter and open things up and let the sun shine in.

Next is to grab the new calendar and start getting things into manageable bites.   1 year, 52 weeks, 12 months, 4 seasons.  Ooooh,  that is almost 12 weeks per season. I knew 12 was a good idea!

It is fitting that we start with the land at rest.  Winter's first day was on Dec. 22  but I have a few extra weeks left over from  my guzinta's. That is,  4 will guzinta 52  twelve times and some.  
It is a low light time and I'm hoping the January starting gun gives the slower body rhythm a jump start.  This is no time to burrow under the hibernation quilts.

The winter decor is at its most traditional and most cluttered with cozy quilts within reach, books stacked and leaning crazily, candles dripping and hot cups within arms reach.  I luv the richness of the colours and textures that winter evokes.  Plush velvets,  deep cranberry, shiny gold (brass) and sparkling crystal.  I found 3 small runners ready for MQing.  To tweak the decor I added some clear snow flakes and clear drops.

Decorating is not the focus for this season but I did get the Rooster to put together an off white (winter white?) wardrobe for the bathroom.  It was on sale at Canadian Tire and I'm really liking what I got for the price.  I do collect white dishes- pitchers, soup tureen's, bowls, STUFF!  ;^)  This winter white wardrobe is making me think ahead to the kitchen and what colour the inside of the thrift shop hutch top should be since the cupboards will likely be a creamy mellow yellow.  I do need time to consider things because I'm getting kinda tired of redoing things.  :0

I will not be talking about food but in order to be moving instead of musing I need to eat better.  And drink more water which means less coffee.  vbsigh  But that'll translate into more productivity.

The spotlight for the next 12 weeks will be Threads.  I will also be using Nina's manual a lot and wouldn't you know it I see all kinds of opportunities to join all sorts of things to enhance my Focus. Who knew?  They all would help but I'm afraid I'd sink under all the deadlines, fun would flee and I'd not have fine tuned my skills.  Sew...

My main book will be Threads- The Basic and Beyond by Debbie Bates and Liz Kettle who have a site where you can join others to work through the book. That would be a resource if I had a question but I must remember not to type or cruise sites but stitch and stay focused.   I've somewhat divided up the table of contents.  Depending on time and expertise, I may add some of the books that I have that relate to the various sections.  Intro tomorrow and some seriously fun fiber optics!

I'm starting to see the light!