Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thrilling Threads

All this year I have used Caron's "Wildflowers" thread as a major component to each piece I've punched.  Recently, I was wandering around my local needlework shop and realized that Caron makes two other threads -- "Waterlilies" and "Watercolours" and they come in the same color combinations as that of the "Wildflowers" thread. 


"Waterlilies" is 12 ply silk thread - a bit pricey but who can resist? This thread comes from Italy but is handpainted in the US.  "Watercolours" thread is  3 ply pima cotton, also handpainted.  My beloved "Wildflowers" is hand-dyed cotton. 


 I love the fact that because they are each a different texture and hue I can use the same color name but achieve subtle effects. 

Just looking at these laying here on my worktable makes my fingers itch to get creating.

"Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question." - e. e. cummings

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Shortest Day

Andy Goldsworthy

I am a child of light!  The light of day awakens me, the darkness means sleep.  I am most alive when the sun is shining, when a shaft of sunlight crosses the floor or hits my face as I step out the door.

Andy Goldsworthy

I welcome the Winter Solstice -- because I know that the shortest day will soon be past and I can look forward to each day getting a little longer, second by second, minute by minute until light is over the land for hours at a time.

I will walk today as if I were opening a door onto more light with each passing day.

"In every winter's heart there is a quivering spring." - Kahil Gibrah

Monday, December 19, 2011

Working The Design

Often, as I work, the design morphs into something else -- it can be a change of color, the 'finding' of the perfect embellishment or even the whole theme changing as I punch.  I like to think of it as a river finding a new path.  That's the thrilling part of creating - to not know until the very last stitch is taken exactly what you're going to see.

This piece involves reverse punchneedle in a couple of sections - something I've thought about but never actually tried.  If you're not familiar with the in's and out's of punchneedle -- the design is punched from the back (shown above). As I punch I see each stitch laid out much like very, very close individual stitches.  When I turn the piece over I see thick textured loops.  (the top picture is the front)

On this piece I decided to make a couple of sections using reverse punchneedle where I punch the design from the front making those individual stitches show  - does this make sense? *smile*  So now I have a pattern of flat stitches mixed in among the many textures of the loops.  I quite like it!

"Creativity can be described as letting to of certainties." - Gail Sheehy

Thursday, December 15, 2011

From the Beginning

There's always something very exciting about beginning a new piece of work.  My thrust this coming year is to create abstract wall hangings - breaking out of the box of 5x7 pictures and oh so structured hearts, pockets and birds.  Just sitting around I doodled out these two designs on a piece of lined notebook paper (the closest thing at hand at the time).

From the scrap of notebook paper to a larger piece of paper for the 'real' design to be drawn.  Although I want to be as 'free' as I can be - there are a few limitations in working loop pile embroidery.  The fabric has to be very taut so I use a frame to stretch it.  The largest frame I've found is 10" x 10" square and I doubt if I would be comfortable using anything larger just due to the sometimes cumbersomeness (is that a word?) of the larger frame. So, when creating a design I must take my framed space into account - while I can have wavy edges, or go from thin to wider, I do have to stay within a 10" borders.  A longer or wider width/length can always be achieved by making two sections and stitching them together but I've not tried that yet.

So here we are, with punching begun.  This is the fun part because, although I have my design drawn, I now get to fiddle with colors and fibers and threads.  I can change a design component as I go along if I wish.  Who knows what I will end up with -- and that is part of the joy!

"Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiousity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit". - e. e. cummings.

Monday, December 12, 2011


gift, n1. something given; a present. 2. act of giving. 3. the power or right of giving. 4. a quality, or special ability; natural endowment; talent.

I love number '3' in this definition of 'gift'.  Having the ability to give why ever would I not try to exercise that 'right' year round and in a variety of ways? I am so very, very grateful for my life, for the fact that I am comfortable, warm, never hungry and almost always happy.  These are gifts given to me -- and I want to share them with others. 

This is probably the worst time of the year to think about gifting - giving a gift tends to become a 'have-to' instead of a 'want-to'.  For those who aren't natural 'gifters' it becomes a chore to be endured.  For those who make gifting a part of their everyday life it takes the beauty out of a simple offering.

I love the idea of 'acts of random kindness' -- giving anonymously in little ways that might surprise the receiver and give me a glow for the rest of the day.  Those quiet, non-wrapped gifts of self, time or just observation of something that needs to be done, fill me with joy.  If I think about it -- giving to others is truly a gift to myself!

"The gifts that one receives for giving are so immeasurable that it is almost an injustice to accept them" - Rod McKuen

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Looking ahead to exploring new loop-pile embroidery pieces, I've created yet another workbook in which to collect my thoughts and ideas.

I have a workbook three-quarters of the way full of ideas, design, color and texture.  Not one picture in this little book is a loop-pile embroidery piece.  Its my goal to take bits and pieces of these ideas and make them into something of my own. 

Some of the designs, such as this one, came from a very old book on wall hangings.  I love the texture of this design - and would love to bring this type of texture into my work. 

Others, such as this one, are made of clay - no fiber involved at all.  And yet the colors, design and feeling of the piece appeal to me.  I see something like this in my mind's eye using punchneedle, fiber, found objects.

Just opening this book - gazing at each design - thinking of the possibilities before me - makes me want to put needle to hand and get to work.

"Everything that is new or uncommon raises a pleasure in the imagination, because it fills the soul with an agreeable surprise, gratifies its curiosity, and gives it an idea of which it was not before possessed". - Joseph Addison

Monday, December 5, 2011

Time to Reflect

After non-stop 'production' work for most of this year -- after creating for self-imposed deadlines over the past three years -- I take a pause to reflect.

Is it because my whole life has been a series of 'due dates' that my mind thinks this pattern must continue.  Am I addicted to creating something that will be shown, exhibited or sold?  Is it possible for my can-do personality to create for art's sake alone?

These are the questions I've been asking myself.  As I finish up what has been fun, but demanding, thoughts of purely 'me' designs that I could develop fill my head with possibility. 

Is it possible for a person such as myself to be working on several totally different designs at the same time?  Is it possible for me not to say 'I want to finish this in a week, or a day or a month' but to let the work flow at its own speed?  Is it possible for me to turn the whole thing over to the inner me, instead of the outer me (since that outer shell seems to demand a 'schedule')?  Will I be able to relax and 'go with the flow' - no destination, no time line - lots of exploration, relaxed creativity, starting and stopping with no clock nor calendar to guide me? 

Stay tuned - and to anyone who has overcome this 'compulsion' thing I welcome any and all support and suggestions *smile*.

"Art for art's sake...it is the best evidence we can have of our dignity." - E. M. Forster

Thursday, December 1, 2011

More Fiber Fun

Once the threads/floss were all sorted it was time to move on to the many fibers that I have 'hanging' around here.  I hang them over dowling -- so just taking them off the dowel can make a mess which has to be straightened. 

Piles of fiber lay before me, stubbornly clinging together as I tried to put them in order.

My goal was to sort into color families and to hang them back neatly back on the rods.

This small wire box holds some yarn fibers that I hope to incorporate into future pieces.  Now, I think I'm ready for whatever ideas come my way.

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble". - Helen Keller


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