Saturday, March 24, 2012

Behind in Tast, Felting and other goings on

Time sure does have a way of flying away on you... It's been an incredibly busy couple of weeks.

Last time I posted, we had a huge unexpected thaw and there was some minor flooding. Well, after that flooding, we got just about the worse storm we've had all winter. It didn't leave alot of snow, about a foot or so, but the storm went on for about two days so it was hard to leave home because of bad roads. Just when we thought that winter wasn't done with us yet, we got a silly heat wave this past week. Totally unheard of for us islanders. We are in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and usually surrounded by ice and/or very cold water so our spring is a very long time in coming but our falls are usually long and gorgeous. We may get the odd day of +10 or +15C temps in April or May but the really nice weather doesn't really come until June. This past week we actually had days in the mid 20'sC (almost 80F).

It was a time to start raking outdoors and catch up on laundry that didn't get done when the ground was too wet the last few weeks to do unnecessary laundry. We are out in the country and on a septic bed so when the ground is saturated, we have to watch how much water we are putting back into the ground. Add to the outdoor work, laundry, housekeeping, some very long drives and picnics in enjoyment of the weather and needless to say, there wasn't very much stitching done.

This past Wednesday, my husband and I and the dog took a long walk along Cavendish beach. Its always a shock to see what damage the wind and waves have caused during the winter storms. The dunes keep getting chewed p and knocked back.
You can see that there is still a bit of ice along the beach.

I am beginning to think that I have ADD. Attention-Deficit Disorder. I seem to be jumping from one project to the other, but in reality, I've felt for a very long time that I was destined for more than just cross stitch. I've been interested in art quilts and fabric manipulation for a very long time but just didn't know where to start. I seem to be flogging this point, but I really do have to thank Sharon and her online classes for getting the ball rolling. I just can't stop learning now!

I think I mentioned last time that I had tried to paint on some fabric. The fabric painting got started when I looked thru a book my husband got me for Christmas called "500 Art Quilts". Every once in a while I get the book out and look through it and on this one particular day a few weeks ago, I was totally awed by a quilt done by Sylvia Naylor. Particularly, it was her quilt Fall in a Northern Wood, which is similar to the quilt on her web page, "Fall in the Boreal Forest". I loved the lighteness and airyness of it, and I love the trees. Sylvia fabric painted the quilt and added some thread painting. I wanted to learn how to do the fabric painting and the thread painting and thought the best way to learn would be to try to duplicate what Sylvia had done.

I would have posted photos of my attempts at fabric painting but the colours were so light and faint that the photos didn't really show anything at all or the colours were all muddy. In any case, I don't really have any fabric paint and didn't want to add more supplies to my stash, so I decided that I was going to try to duplicate the quilt done by Sylvia in felted wool format. I figured I would learn to felt a scene and still learn the thread painting. The photo below shows my first attempt at felting Sylvia's art piece. I wasn't thrilled with some of the colours used but like with all things, I didn't have all the colours I wanted in the merino wool silk that I had.
If you compare my felted piece to Sylvia's painting you will seee that my piece is heavy and dark and I had a heck of a time trying to make the trees.

Some friends and I headed off island this past Friday to do a bit of shopping in Moncton, New Brunswick. We did alot of shopping at stitch and quilt and fabric stores, but did not have time to stop at a particular wool store I have wanted to check out for quite some time now. Along the way though, I took a photo of a sign that is quite common in New Brunswick but probably pretty scarce in other parts of the world. Be ware of moose when travelling at dusk or very early morning hours in New Brunswick!

Hubby and I headed back to Moncton on Saturday to the wool shop I wanted to see, London-Wul. What a treat!!! So many different kinds of yarns, wools, merino wool silk and felted art! I spent some time talking to Heidi who was so incredibly helpful and inspirational. I just can't wait to go back! Some of her art was hanging in the shop and was just amazing as you can see on her web site, link above in London-Wul. She is so talented!

I was so eager to get home and try out a few things I learned from Heidi that I took out a new wool base sheet and started felting the same Sylvia painting I had previously done. This is what I came up with the second time around. (I might add that I also came home with some merino wool silks, among other things)

Well, the next step was to try my hand at machine thread painting on the felted pieces. What can I say? I have a tendency to learn things the hard way and this project is no different. I learned that I should have waited to start the second felted piece after I had done some thread painting on the first piece. When I started to try to machine sew in the smaller birch trees, well, quite obviously, I had a heck of a time stitching between the larger trees! Lesson learned? Felt the background, machine stitch in all the little trees and shrubs and then felt the larger trees on there!!! DUH! I didn't get too far with stitching in smaller trees because I found it very frustrating not being able to get the tree shapes I wanted to sew. This is what I ended up with:

It was my first time ever thread painting, so it was some getting used to stitching with the feed dogs lowered, a darning foot and just guiding the felting along with my hands. As bad as it was doing the skinny little trees, it was harder yet trying to do some normal looking spruce trees without touching the larger trees on either side. So, big lesson learned there! Now that I have the second felted piece done, I think what I will try is to hand sew the red and yellow leaves on as well as the small trees and see how that goes. I will have much more control over my stitching if I do the hand sewing.

And what about TAST? Well, with some minor flooding and the storm etc, I just didn't have time to work on it. Also, I was chomping at the bit to paint fabric and then felt the Sylvia Naylor scene. Also, when I read Sharon's notes for Week 11 "Whipped Wheel" stitch, I just had to join Stitchin' Fingers to see what on earth she was talking about when she mentioned "The people over on stitchin fingers who are working pebbles will have no trouble finding a use for this!" What a tease!!! lol Well, her bait got me! I joined Stitchin' Fingers and had to find out what "Pebbles" was! OMG is all I can say! So, again, no time for TAST, because guess what I am doing? Had to get some coton fabric, wash it, iron it and get the template ready as well as the items to be used between layers.

I'm a bit nervous. I am finding in my ripe old age, that when I am faced with something new and "scary" (not really but challenging maybe?) I tend to freeze up and need to gather up some courage before taking the first baby steps.

So what are Pebbles and what the heck am I up to in the photo above? I have been in the U.K. Embroiderers Guild web site on and off for a few years now. They in turn, publish a magazine called "Stitch". And I should clarify that I don't know if they actually publish it or are just connected to the "Stitch" magazine in some way. I have subscribed to "Stitch" off and on for a number of years. To have it shipped to Canada is quite expensive, and alot of the projects in it call for materials that are just not available here in Canada. In any case, I had already bookmarked two links from the "Stitch" site, but had forgotten all about them. This is one link, Encrusted Calico, which is what "Pebbles" is.

The other link is for a "Mermaids Chatelaine". Both of the two links involve the same sort of stitching and if you want to learn more, you can always take Sharon's "Sumptuous Surfaces" course. It was just about the best course I had ever taken in my life and I have enjoyed nothing more than working on the elements being taught and doing the stitching.

As far as the baby alpaca yarn and sari ribbon that I mentioned a few posts ago, I started that project one evening but... (Always a but....) This winter has been terrible on my hands. The tips of my fingers are cracked and my hands are dry and flaky and sore. Though I grease them up with petroleum jelly when I go to bed, it has just been too cold and dry for it to help much. In any case, I tried working on the project but the yarn and ribbon kept catching on my rough hands and so I finally gave up. I will continue when conditions improve! Actually, you should have watched me felting a week or so ago when the ends of the bandaids on my finger tips started to curl up and the wool felt kept attaching itself to the sticky bandaid! What a mess!

After that lovely two day "heat spell" there are just two small patches of ice/snow in the yard and the grass is starting to grow.

But I don't think it will be doing much more growing for a while. The temps are back to a normal 0, +2 or +3 C during the day and - 4 C or more nights. There are even snow flurries in the forecast for some days in the next week or so. In reality, we can expect snow into April and even May so I won't hold my breath for anymore warm days, tho I will add that the robins and gazillions of Canada geese have returned to the island, so it can't be all bad!

There is lots to do here so I better get my butt in gear and do something! Better catch up on my TAST first!

I am not going to post a poem today. I suggest you click on "The Sunshine Deli" above right and take a look at their site. The poems are delightful, entertaining and fun! As are the drawings! Well done ladies! Love the crocodile poem!

Have fun!

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