Thursday, December 27, 2012

say hello to my little friend

i've been accused of owning too many sewing machines. but i simply couldn't resist adding one more to my arsenal. i have always wanted one of these little singer featherweight machines but just never seemed to come across one that i just couldn't live without (i.e., one that was actually affordable!). then one day i was lurking around the back alleys of ebay when i found a little beauty that was still sitting at $150 with only 8 minutes to go. sure, he was a little dirty (but hey, i have lots of elbow grease for that) and he was missing a few of his attachments (a quick excavation in the treadle machine's drawers turned out quite a few 221 attachments) and he still have 8 minutes to go. if you have ever travelled through ebay, then you know a lot can happen in 8 minutes. so, with nervous fingers, i punched in a bid of $175.52 and held my breath. i didn't actually hold my breath. i walked away and assumed i would not get it since most of these machines sell for upwards of $350. imagine my surprise and delight when my smart phone dinged and informed me that i was the proud new daddy of my very own little featherweight!

he arrived today and i quickly set to work with that elbow grease and got him all spiffed up. he runs like a dream, so no adjustments were needed there! i look forward to a long and adventurous relationship! now i just have to figure out his name...


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

happy holidays

whatever the holiday (or holidays) you celebrate, 
this is my wish that you find it filled 
with love, joy and peace!


Monday, December 24, 2012

as the snow flies

there is nothing quite as disconcerting as crawling under the quilts for a few hours' sleep in the afternoon and waking up to find the entire landscape has changed. it's as if one had spent a few moments in summer-filled fairie and come back a hundred years later to snow and ice. where once there were roads, now there are great swaths of powdery snow. where the air was crisp and clear, it is now frosted and filled with flurries of white. for those around these parts who wanted a white xmas, prayers have been answered. with great abandon!


Friday, December 21, 2012

solstice pie

what better way to celebrate the turning of the sun's journey through the season than by baking a lovely raspberry pie! the berries, picked fresh in the fullness of summer and frozen until this morning, remind us of warmer days beneath a redolent sun. nestled deep in a flaky crust and bubbling happily from the oven, this is sure to please the mouth and warm the belly. a truly wondrous break from the day's activities!

now, raspberry pie can be a dicey proposition when keeping others in mind. some think of a jammy, super sweet concoction, while others, like me, long for a summery pucker! but since this pie is being baked with myself in mind (anyone else dipping into it will just have to enjoy it or leave it behind for the rest of us) i've opted to pucker the palate.

classic raspberry pie

1 recipe pie pastry, enough for double crust
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minute tapioca
1/2 lemon, rind and juice
4 cups raspberries, whole (fresh or frozen and un-thawed)
1 tablespoon butter

preheat oven to 425°F and place a rack on the bottom of the oven. line a 9-inch pie plate with your favourite pastry and pierce in several places with a fork. instead of a top crust, you can use a small cookie cutter and cut out shapes to be placed on top of the filling before baking, but i like a nice, full crust myself.

combine sugar, flour, tapioca and lemon rind in a large bowl. add the raspberries and toss gently, being careful not to squash the berries. spoon the filling into the pie shell and sprinkle with lemon juice. dot with butter (please, oh please, use butter! margarine has no place in the kitchen). place the pastry top (or cutouts) over the filling and flute the edge (unless using cutouts). don't forget to pierce or cut the top.

bake the pie on bottom rack of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. allow pie to cool. serve warm or room temperature with vanilla ice cream. i recommend you eat this pie the day it is that’s gonna be an issue!

perfect pie pastry

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold
12 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup ice water

in a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt and sugar. add the shortening and break it up with your hands as you start to coat it all up with the flour. add the cold butter cubes and work it into the flour with your hands or a pastry cutter. work it quickly, so the butter doesn't get too soft, until the mixture is crumbly, like very coarse cornmeal. add the ice water, a little at a time, until the mixture comes together forming a dough. bring the dough together into a ball.

when it comes together, stop working it otherwise the dough will get over-worked and tough. divide the dough in half and flatten it slightly to form a disk shape. wrap each disk in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. on a floured surface roll each disk out into a 10 to 11-inch circle to make a 9-inch pie.

of course, you may use your own favorite pie pastry recipe (just don't tell me if you buy that frozen, pre-made stuff...i'd rather not know!)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

hearing silence

today was a quiet, listening sort of day. it is strange how the quieter we become, the more we are able to hear. after dropping the saint off at doggy day care (to give her some time with other doggy types), i spent the better part of the day just observing and learning from piper. learning about silence. about nurturing oneself. about resting. about seeing what does not appear to be there. it is an exercise i have not partaken of lately. one that i realize i sorely miss and highly recommend!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

fragments for chanting

ah! it feels nice to be stitching again. i've pulled together some fragments of linens, silks, and hand block printed cottons together to manifest this little cloth. everything has been tacked down and is now waiting for some serious needle chanting to commence. perhaps even some beadwork will be in order. i'm still listening to its whispers. those organic bits on the sides may become wings. perhaps extend some of the stitching on the silk sleeve hem that cuts across the length of the cloth. some texture will need to be added as well. so many possibilities!



more of the heavy, white stuff came fluttering down with a thud during the night! wish i were stitching by the fire at home instead of at the cottage, but what are ya supposed to do? at least i get to stop from time to time and watch it fall outside the window before continuing on with stitch and cloth...

it is very quiet here tonight. i can almost hear the snowflakes sighing as they reach the ground.


Friday, December 14, 2012

time to get back to stitching

that fabrics are piling up and the whispers are beginning to flow once again. time to pull out the needles and start stitching!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

lest you think my hands are idle...

while i may have not been in a stitching mood these past couple of weeks, my hands have not been idle. i'm learning a new blues piece so there's been the moody tones of metal strings playing counterpoint to the crackling fire. i'll record it soon and post it here.

it's odd how sometimes creativity chooses one channel over another for its preferred expression.

perhaps thread and needle will chant again soon. my fingertips miss the familiar whispering...


Saturday, December 8, 2012

at the hermitage

we got more snow these past couple of days. though i've not been out to look at it much. i seem to have pulled in to some place deep this week. having little interest for anything but sitting by the fire and reading books that i've read a thousand times before.

a plethora of ideas run through my head, hungry for manifestation. but my fingers are interested in little more than the crisp pages of yet another book. it must be a combination of the holiday season where family and friends come into sharp focus while i find myself in this vast wilderness with all of mine living elsewhere, and my finally reducing my work week to a "normal" one, leaving me with four days a week to remember that i  have spent my past several years working every moment of each day, leaving no room to socialize and make new friends. for all the family and friends and good will at this time of year, it can be a very lonely time of year for some.

perhaps i can coax my fingers into partaking of a little needle chanting tonight?


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

fragments of word and cloth

i have a mind to embark upon a new journey. a journey of cloth. and words. i am done with attempting to coerce myself into completing cloths that simply don't have their heart in being completed. that's not to say that they will never find themselves finished. it just means that i am tired of beating myself into submission to try and finish something that isn't ready to complete its cycle of metamorphosis. to this end, i have designated my great-great-uncle's old steam trunk as home for wayward cloths and will continue to visit, live with, and work on (as they allow) on my various creations of cloth and fibre, have pulled my travelling boots on and pointed them in a new direction.

i have an extensive collection of thoughts and words. my own. those of others both known and unknown. while sitting by the fire and allowing my shoulders and neck time to heal this past week, i had a thought or two that ultimately lead me to an idea. one where fragments of word and cloth come together and instill deeper thought by their seemingly incomplete natures.

there have been many whispers bantered about in mind with regards to what will be done with these fragments. incorporate them into something more? or simply allow them to remain in remnant form? i imagine the answers to these whispered wonderings will emerge at a much later time...

in the meantime, the fragments will flow and manifest and simply be allowed to be what they choose to be. transforming a seemingly impossible situation into a very possible one!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

proverbial pain in the neck

i've been rather quiet this week because i have been unable to do much stitching. aside from doubles at the cottage, i have also managed to pinch a nerve or something in my neck and haven't been able to move much without excruciating pain. even sitting here trying to type this brief message is exacerbating the problem. my trusty tens unit is helping but i will be more than relieved when the kink works itself out!

meanwhile, i was playing around with overlaying some old sketches on that recent background cloth and am rather fond of this one...

but for now i need to step away from the computer and give my neck a rest.


Friday, November 16, 2012

just continuing...

working a string of 70+ hour work weeks in the cottage leaves little time for much else but sleep, so i'm just continuing to stitch some neutral backgrounds of rust-dyed cottons, linens and silk blends stashed in a small linen bag to help fill the between time with something useful. i would like to start in on something more. or continue something else more. but mostly am too tired to think. to tired to listen to the whispers. so, for the moment, i am just continuing thusly...


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

hellcat has arrived!

i am so stoked! my new tim armstrong hellcat guitar arrived today!  it is a stunning fender guitar based on tim armrstrong's beat-up old sixties acoustic on which he writes all the songs for the legendary punk band, rancid. of course, my baby is gonna rock out some awesome blues and will probably never know what punk sounds like. ha!

tim added some wicked flair and style with pearl hellcat logo inlays on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th frets, along with a couple of cool skulls on the 12th fret. of course, not to be outdone, i found an amazing canadian hand inlay artist, scott swirski, and commissioned him to make a new truss rod cover for my own personal hellcat made of ebony and mother of pearl. he finished it up over the weekend and it will arrive toward the end of next week (i can hardly wait for it to arrive and can only hope turkey day won't slow delivery down too much).  here's the pic he sent me of the finished truss rod cover:

this sweet guitar even has a pre-amp with a built-in tuner so i'll be able to take it to the clubs and not get lost in the din!  it has a rich, balanced tone with a nice bass line and responds well when played soft and easy with a warm, mellow sound, yet rings loud and clear when you dig in hard and get aggressive!

looks like i might have to get the mic out again and do a little recording...


Saturday, November 10, 2012

winter wanders in

it would seem our lovely, prolonged autumn has finally given way to winter. temperatures have dropped into the teens and twenties and six inches of snow fluttered down from the skies to blanket the countryside with glistening wonder.

not all of the leaves have had a chance to make peace with their lives and let go of the branches overhead. but they will find their time, perhaps sooner than they had hoped.

it seems they are not the only ones not quite yet ready for winter to wander in. i still have hoses to wrap and stow away and covers to put in place on the the barbecue and the swamp cooler. not to mention a bit of burrowing into the closet to find warm winter coats and woolen shirts.

i shall be looking forward to spending more time by the fireplace, stitching cloth and watching the cat purr and slumber on his pillow next to the embers as the snow continues to assert itself on what appears to be promising a long, frigid winter...


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

a little background boro

snow has been promised in the next day or two...and the heat is not working in my truck so i passed some time today stitching a little speculative boro background cloth while waiting for the mechanic to call me with news of its repair. stitching together bits of cotton, linen, silk/linen blend, and rust-dyed cotton, all salvaged from clothes and household linens, to create a background for some embroidery.

i have in mind one of two things. either a continuation of calaveras (perhaps this time with wings?) or the beginning of a series of figure studies in cloth and stitch. once this cloth is finished being needled, i'll have to scan it and print a few copies out in color to play with by sketching in some shapes and figures to see what happens...

it's been really freeing of late, not worrying about what i *must* stitch. but, rather, allowing my hands free reign in creating whatever they are inspired to manifest. even if it is *only* a background cloth!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

inspiration: susanna bauer

we all find inspiration in the world around us. sometimes, i spend hours contemplating the sources of my inspiration. wondering about who and what inspires others. i thought it might be interesting to you, gentle readers, to see, from time to time, where my inspiration draws from.

susanna bauer is a bavarian modelmaker in england who, in her spare time, does the most amazing things with leaves, rocks, and bits of wood. some of her concepts mirror those many of us explore and experiment with in cloth and fiber. especially in what she creates from leaves and thread! it seems most of her personal art is created from natural elements found during her walks. her sense of balance between the natural element and the man-made is provocative...

to see more of her work, journey across the web to here.

i hope susanna's work inspires you as well!