Sunday, October 23, 2016

something epic this way comes

"but i love halloween,
and i love that feeling:
the cold air,
the spooky dangers lurking
around the corner."
-evan peters

like rabbit, i'm late, i'm late... i always seem to stumble across these wondrous things late.  ah well, at least i stumble across them.  in this case, i'm talking about the epic halloween quilt along but together by flying parrot quilts which you can stumble across here.  it's not your average halloween quilt either, it's epic. it says so right on the web page...and truly, it is epic indeed!   

i'm using the suggested fabulous fabrics: ghastlies by alexander henry; spellbound by cotton and steel; lost and found halloween by jen allyson; chillingsworth's spooky ride. but i have also dug deep into my stash and even did a little local shopping around to add my own touch to this twelve week quilt along gem (if you follow me on instagram, you've probably already seen a good portion of these fabrics).  though, since the quilt along itself is officially completed, i'm going above and beyond...i'm going to enlarge the quilt from a lap sized to a throw sized quilt (read: twin...cuz bigger is always better in my book). to accomplish this, i'll be adding in extra blocks garnered from here and there and even a few surprise touches.

to get started, i've paper pieced the first week's blocks above. candy corn and witch's hats.  i did, however, alter the witch's hat pattern (no offense to the designer) cuz i rather like a taller hat with a narrower brim.  next up: spiders!

wait, what?!? halloween is next week?  well, perhaps for most folks...but for me, halloween is all year round, so whenever i finish this quilt, it'll be cozily snuggled under no matter the time of year!

happy haunting!


Sunday, October 9, 2016

"we do not live an equal life,
but one of contrasts and patchwork;
now a little joy, then a sorrow,
now a sin, then a generous
or brave action."
-ralph waldo emerson

contrasts and patchwork. a fitting description for my life of late. and so i continue to stitch to distract my mind. digging deep into the stash of vintage fragments. the smaller ones especially. all i needed is an inch of each.  a thousand tiny stitches while the treadle rocks rhythmically beneath my foot. needle chanting in its own right. not as simple as when working completely by hand, but meditative just the same. 

now a dive into my stash of neutrals and whites to fine a border and a back. some more needle chanting, a little tying, and then a leisurely dunk in tea dye pot and a romp in the dryer.

hindsight being what it is, i'm wondering if i should have embroidered vines and flowers on the border. perhaps even a scattering of blossoms across the tiny 1/2 inch squares...  that could be an entertainment for another day.  i hear we are expecting 4 1/2 inches of snow on tuesday...


Saturday, September 24, 2016

being open

"we all get so caught up
in the moment
of what we're doing every day,
it's hard to hit that reset button
and get pulled away 
from all that and see
life from a different perspective."
-tony stewart

this year has been a year of thinking. thinking about doing. thinking about what to do. thinking about how to do. what to do it with. not a lot of doing. just a lot of being stuck. being. stuck. you have to hold on to those two words separately. together they are too daunting. too damning. strung together, they accuse. they mock. they label.

being stuck: you are stuck. 

but separate, they hold the key to liberation from that accusation.

being. stuck.  

separate, they allow growth and hope.  being: the state of life and experience. stuck: a lack of movement. dormancy. you don't condemn a seed for not yet blossoming into a glorious plant. you nurture it. encourage it to grow. so why do we disparage ourselves when we become dormant? stuck?

it is time for me to focus on the first word. being.  when we break the statement, being stuck, down this way, we can allow ourselves to grow. there is an open-endedness to being. a promise of something more. something different. now it is being full.

being full.
      of promise.
             of hope.
                  of potential.


Friday, September 2, 2016

an untrue story?

"if history
is any indication,
all truths will 
turn out
to be 
-dean kamen

"the untrue story of ship's manor"... how can you not be drawn in and enamored by an introductory line like this??  erik shipley, the mind and talent behind this untrue story of ship's manor, creates the most exquisitely hand-dyed cotton and silk threads that you could ever dream of needle chanting with! my very first selection of his threads arrived this afternoon and i've been stitching away with them all evening. they are a delight! so vibrant and full of energy!  now, as you know, i've never been much for flosses and silks, preferring rather to throw in with the more substantial wildflower threads from caron. however, these sumptuous strands of erik's have carried me away on gossamer wings into a rich landscape of stitching pleasures! of course, this means, naturally, that you simply must have some, too!

meanwhile, on the other side of the needle, meet my new old friend: a 1964 brother 300 deluxe push button zig zag sewing machine! this sexy little number, dressed to the nines in apricot and deepest charcoal, followed me home for a local charity shop. now, i won't be so ungentlemanly as to call her cheap, but she was as easy on the wallet as she is on the eyes, let me tell you.  included in her travel valise are all of her original accessories, original foot pedal, original manual & warranty card, and her original bill of sale. in a society that seems to worship nothing but vintage singers, it is always a joy to find a gem like this one quietly shining her light beneath a basket. she sews like a dream and has obviously been treasured for years and will now be treasured for many more to come! who says other machines can't sing? i have a whole choir in my sewing room, and only a few of them are singers!


Monday, August 29, 2016

ephalumps a'stompin' 'round

"i'm truly surprised
that we seem to get by
without polka dotted elephants,
serving us pie!"
-marc johns

this past month has been a struggle at best. between another lay-off, job search, training, bodhi having health issues, piper growing older by the minute, and the ephalump of depression stomping about in my brain, it's no wonder i've managed so little stitching!  today, however, was an ephalump of another color: no, i still haven't managed to find a polka dotted ephalump to serve me pie, but i did manage a little needle chanting beneath a shady tree this afternoon.  a little romp through a cloth fragment stash and a little playing about with sharp objects.  not sure where i'm going with him from this point.  perhaps i'll work him into a little pocket. a zippered vessel for bits and bobs. a keeping pouch.  i recently salvaged some lovely old metal zippers that i should be able to harvest one from. there seems to be a little story there, somewhere. whispering quietly in the background...


Friday, August 5, 2016

the slow burn of rust

"you know, rust is just oxidation.
the same chemical process as fire.  
oxygen interacts with steel,
electrons drift from one
element to the other.
so really, rust is a slow fire.
isn't that weird?
water causes something
to burn."
-leah raeder

i was doing a little rust-dyeing last night before the sun got away and while i was neutralizing the fragments, a thought kept crossing my mind like an anxious kitten. there is a strange idea circulating around the web about rust-dyeing that just makes no sense to me. i don't know if it is simply a misunderstanding that has taken on a life of its own (which is quite common on the internet) or something else altogether.  it has to do with the process of neutralizing the rust process. i have seen it stated, and repeated incessantly, that to do this one must soak the rust-dyed cloth in a salt water bath.

it seems strange to me that one would attempt to "neutralize" the rusting process with the very solution that causes the rust in the first place.  true, most people (myself included) use vinegar in the mix, as well.  but you can use simply water. water and salt. water and vinegar. water, salt and vinegar. or any number of other combinations as well.  so why would anyone think that salt water would neutralize the rusting process when salt water is used to foster it? oh, that's right....because somewhere, someone said on their blog/tutorial/article that was what we are supposed to do. it must be the way to do it.  it was on the internet...or in a book...or...or some highly admired mucky-muck said so!

hmmm...was that a bit curmudgeonly of me?  ah well, i'm getting old and take liberties from time to time.

now to be helpful.  the (ahem) "proper" way to neutralize your rust-dyed cloth is to soak it in a bath of baking soda and water. yep! this is the only way to do it.  you read it right here on my blog. here on the internet. in black and white and rusty orange. it must be true!  ring the church bells and shout it from the highest hilltops!  ha!

seriously, though.  baking soda and water is the way to go to actually neutralize the oxidizing process that is rust.  it also neutralizes the vinegar, making it a win win!

for those of you unsure of the entire rust-dyeing process, here it is (as i employ it, at any rate):

1.  gather rusty objects such as steel and iron in the form of springs, nails, metal plate, steel wool, cans, rods, hinges, architectural bits, etc.

2. soak cloth (i use primarily cotton, however, silk, wool, rayon, and even synthetics will work) in solution of water, vinegar and/or salt.

3. arrange/wrap/press/fold/etc. cloth on/around rusty object. be sure to do this on plastic sheeting or in a plastic box/bucket/etc.

4. loosely cover in plastic sheeting to slow evaporation (also insulates).

5. allow to sit until desired level of rust-dyeing has occurred (this is completely subjective! it could be in as little as a couple hours, or as many as several days. generally, however, 2 to 24 hours is a good rule of thumb, for those of you who truly must have a number.)

6.  hand wash with dish detergent (this rids the cloth of the vinegar smell, the salt, and any dirt that may have joined the party). i suggest you do this in a bucket or other vessel outside as you most likely will not wish to introduce rust to your household plumbing.

7.  soak in a solution of baking soda and water (approximately 1 cup to every gallon of water....which means, if you are doing only a small amount of cloth, then a couple tablespoons to a large bowl of water).

8.  rinse thoroughly in clear water and allow to dry. press, if desired.

a note of caution when rust-dyeing: rust can do all kinds of nasty things to your hemoglobin, not to mention that any cuts or scratches can become infected, so it is highly recommended that you make sure your tetanus shots are current and that you wear rubber gloves when handling rusty bits to be on the safe side!

most of all, enjoy yourself and find wonder in whatever it is you do!


Thursday, August 4, 2016

idle hands

"happiness is
a warm puppy."
-charles m. schulz

i've been so busy with building barns this summer that i've been tuckered out by the time i drag my butt home at night and can't bring myself to do much more than let my hands sit idle at the needles. this week i have been playing around with a some ideas for a slow cloth version of bodhi though. i really like the direction this one is going so will have to muster the energy this weekend to dig through my fiber stash and see what i can come up with. maybe i'll manage a little rust dyeing and stitching, too?


Sunday, June 19, 2016

the movement of color

"colors are the smiles
of nature.:
-leigh hunt

a gentle smile is slowly forming here. soft. muted. timid, even. pale shades of purples, greens, and pinks peeking amidst the rusty hues.  hinting at the possibility of larger smiles. or perhaps laughter in the near future.

this has been an interesting journey that i have embarked upon with you. sharing the emerging cloth from start to what will eventually be the finish.  not that i have ever intentionally avoided it. but that i generally skip around a bit. ok. a lot. from cloth to cloth. sometimes putting one or another away for months. even years, on occasion.  allowing the creative muse to draw me to wherever she pleases. i still allow her that license. only now, i'm trying to tie down at least one cloth at a time. see it through in a more chronological manner, rather than my usual rabbit trail method. hopping first this way. then that way.

of course, this doesn't mean that i'm not still exploring. beginning other cloths. like this rather large fragment of salvaged vintage cotton brocade.  it is nearly three times the size of the moose cloth. i was attempting to capture the sweeping nature of montana's landscape without losing the sense of the big sky we are so well known for in these parts. i look forward to working on this one, too. i can already see the blue waters of the lake. the piney greens of the trees...

and something a little different. a grizzly brizzly bear.  i've no idea what to do with him as yet. but i'm certain he will begin whispering once i have a chance to listen...


Monday, June 13, 2016

broken heart mending

"it is only with true love and compassion
that we can begin to mend what
is broken in the world.
it is these two blessed things
that can begin to mend all broken hearts."
-steve maraboli

ordinarily, the news is avoided in my house. too much hate and violence in the world. the news industry feeds on it. sensationalizes it. attempts to make it pedestrian in order to find new horrors to parade across our minds.  but in a world wrapped so tightly in social media and visual stimuli, some fragments still manage to find their way in. tv screens posted strategically at the gym. memes dancing across various streams on smartphones and tablets.  there's only such much one can filter out.  it is in times like these that i am grateful to lead a sheltered life with my saint bernard, bodhi, and the resident cat, piper.  their sweet soft eyes and truly unconditional love are a gentle reminder of just how healing love and compassion are. would that we could all see the world through such eyes. would that we could all remember that our own broken hearts are not unlike anyone else's. would that we could all see the beauty in the world through the kaleidoscopic cracks in our hearts. would that we could allow compassion to pour through those cracks in an array of rainbow colors.  would that we could all simply see. truly see with our hearts and know joy.