Monday, July 1, 2013

What IS Dominion Day, anyway?

Here on this very hot Western Canadian afternoon, I'm thinking about a few Dominion Day memories (for those much younger, Dominion Day was the original name for the holiday we now know as Canada Day!).   For those who want more information on that name-change, here's an article about it.

 Just to keep this stitching-related first,  here's a photo of the piece of needlework I've hung in every place we've lived - the Provincial Flowers of Canada: 
Provincial Flowers of Canada
This was my first larger stitching project, ordered  from Chatelaine Magazine where it was offered as a kit in 1967 in honour of Canada's Centennial of Confederation.  Although it was just a stamped embroidery design, it was printed on a good-quality linen, and there were lots of different stitches, including stem, satin, buttonhole, straight, lazy daisy, chain, amongst others - oh, and of course, dozens of French knots!    I cringe now at how I executed some of them, but I did finish it in a reasonable time and my mother had it framed for me.   I've visited most of the Canadian provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland/Labrador and Yukon and points north and have seen most of these flowers growing in the wild. 

We've celebrated July 1 over the years with the usual picnics and BBQs at home and with friends,  but also in a hospital clinic in Manitoba during a cross-country trip, waiting for a doctor to check out a toddler with a fierce ear-ache; watching fireworks at Henderson Lake in Lethbridge and at Waterton Lakes National Park; cooking and serving burgers at a Stampede booth in a northern Saskatchewan town, with chuckwagons thundering past on the other side of the booth's back wall; canoeing on a quiet river in the Saskatchewan wilderness; riding back to a friend's ranch house in the southern Alberta foothills after a visit to a century-old homestead hidden back in the shadow of the Rockies; being the dinner for swarms of blackflies and mosquitoes while we were out on the lake fishing for pike, pickerel and trout  -  and so  many more memories than I can write just now.

Happy Canada Day, Dominion Day, Memorial Day, etc.  to my fellow Canadians, and wishes for a good summer to others  - O Canada, eh? 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Just a brief current events note .....

(This was to have been a stitching update, but at the moment I've delayed that for a couple more days.)    Thanks for all who've checked on us during the current flood situation here in Calgary - we're fine, "high and dry", though we did have an "interesting" trip home from Waterton Park yesterday, torrential rain in places, and  re-routing because of flooding.    Thankfully, we arrived home safely and the guys at home said that the sump pump was working well and no other problems evident.   The city's coping well with a changing situation, and troops are on the way from an Edmonton military base  to help out in some of the rural communities that need extra assistance and specialized equipment.   I won't try to post pictures as I don't have any of my own - there are lots of photos and videos online if people google "Calgary flood 2013" or something similar!  Maybe I'll be able to do lots of stitching in the next day or so :)  

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Twiggs and Birds and Flowers that Bloom in the Spring ...

The combination of a new computer and a new prescription for my glasses has finally led to better results in my stitching and photo transfer, so I'm glad to be back here again :)  

"The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la,
Are hidden by blankets of snow ....." 

Don't the lyrics go something like that?  Anyway, the pieces I've finished recently have both birds and flowers, so at least spring's around here somewhere,  though delayed outdoors.  I'll spare you photos of tonight's snow ......

First of all, I've finished both of the Twigg Miniatures from the Scarlet Letter. 

Sarah Twigg (Twigg Miniatures,
Scarlet Letter)
 "LT", completed earlier in the winter, is a little (5x5) sampler stitched over 2.  "Sarah Twigg", the other of the pair, is the same size, but stitched almost entirely over 1 linen thread.  I'd never tackled a whole piece over 1, and even with my improved eyeglasses, I'm not sure I'd be eager to do another one anytime soon, but there's tremendous satisfaction in having completed this one.  Although I had to do my share of "reverse stitching" with Sarah, especially early on, the rhythm improved and the pleasure returned.  There was one small part that I left off my version of the sampler - some additional lazy daisy stitches called for in the pattern didn't, I felt, add to the design so I exercised my right to eliminate them :)

LT (Twigg Miniatures, Scarlet Letter)

The Soie d'Alger used for these is a beautiful thread, having both sheen and depth. 

These were both stitched on one piece of fabric, with sufficient space left in between to make for easier separation and framing. 

Twigg Miniatures
(Scarlet Letter)

As a participant in Nicola's Scarlet Letter Year, I'm pleased to have finished these two that I've had for several years - although I do have another Scarlet Letter sampler pattern in my files (passed along to me by a Guild friend), I'm not sure that it's one I want to do at the moment  (a huge amount of over 1, for one thing ....).    These Twigg Miniatures were very simple samplers compared to some of the extremely detailed ones at that site - go have a look there to see some outstanding stitching!

In an entirely different style, Victoria Sampler's Sunflower House (one of Cathy Jean's designs) is finished now too - it has special meaning for a family member and I'll be framing it myself soon.   A bonus in that pattern was using a silk thread from Dinky Dyes for the first time - the bright yellow, Banksia, has a gorgeous depth of colour and glided smoothly through the fabric.  And the fabric is a 28 Cashel Dirty Linen, a comfortable size to stitch as a break from the more exacting Scarlet Letter pieces.   Stitching all of those glowing yellow-gold flowers was a real delight, bringing brilliance and brightness to overcast snowy days in March and April.

Sunflower House
(Victoria Sampler - Cathy Jean)

 Several pieces I've stitched in the past year or two remain unframed or unfinished up until now (stitching is done, but they're not yet fully completed, whether framed, made into a banner/quilt/pillow or other item).   Watch for an occasional "Finished Friday" coming up soon - at least that's the plan .......

One small project I'm in the midst of is a small pincushion-sized design from Cherished Stitches - the Feathered Friends peacock.  In our Guild last year we had a presentation about the associations and meaning of peacocks in samplers and art - did you know that some medieval paintings of the Nativity feature a peacock on the roof of the stable?  The peacock was symbolic of the Resurrection in that tradition at the time, and has been used extensively in many different artistic contexts.  

 Here's my progress so far on this little gift - I've set it aside for the moment until I have clarification of one part of the pattern.   There's a short motto that I've just begun, and more of the design and date need to be added - the colours are perhaps not quite as intense as the photo would suggest.
Feathered Friends - September .... Peacock
Cherished Stitches

Other works-in-progress at the moment include Amy Mitten's Ten, Drawn Thread's Violet Sampler, Gracewood Stitches Christ is Risen, and two or three small ornaments. 

One other stitching-related event I'm excited about is the arrival of a houseguest here in a few weeks - she's a textile enthusiast and designer, but using spindle and loom, natural fibres, and even beads,  rather than the needle, linens and silks that I use.   She's promised to bring along her latest creation, a gorgeous large shawl made entirely of handspun fibres.    The backdrop in my final photo here, our  Spring/Easter centrepiece, shows part of one of her woven fabrics. 

Till next time .....

Monday, February 18, 2013

Halfway through February already?

The days since December have flown past, full of celebration, snow, cold, appointments, meetings, marmalade-making, more snow, baking, writing, cold, visiting, everyday life - and of course stitching :)  
Cloister Garden

First of all, here's my Drawn Thread's Cloister Garden framed - the cut-out at the top was a surprise from my framer, and I love the way it adds to the design. 

It's now part of my sampler wall, although I may change its location as I add more to this wall throughout the coming year.  

Twigg Miniatures - "LT"
I've been participating in Nicola's Scarlet Letter challenge - so far, I've finished the small "over 2" sampler in The Twigg Miniatures.   The Sarah Twigg sampler (entirely "over 1") remains - I've  made a start, but it will be a while before I see a finish with it.  Here's the first one, known as "LT" - LT may perhaps have been Sarah's Twigg's younger sister.  

In October, I posted a photo of the first of the Tristan Brooks Christmas Sampler Trio that I'd finished, Goodwill to Men.  I've now completed the stitching in the second one, Peace on Earth - these are deceptively simple, but I found the eyelets and the queen stitches a real challenge.    Each time I work through this type of section, though, I learn more about how to improve my execution of the stitches, and gain a new appreciation for the sampler-stitching skills of the young girls of centuries past! 
Tristan Brooks Christmas Sampler Trio - Peace on Earth

Blackbird Designs' vintage-style "Tis the Season" was lovely to stitch and I look forward to having it on the wall for next Christmas.  I chose the wording in French, and changed one of the colours so that the words and snow would be more distinct on the muted hand-dyed linen.  Cardinals don't live in this part of the country, but as I grew up with them in our yard in Ontario, I like to remember them, especially at Christmas.  They still come regularly to visit my mother when she's outside on her patio there. 

Blackbird Designs Tis the Season

Currently I'm working on three pieces - a simple Victoria Sampler design, the second Twigg Miniature, and an Easter design from  Gracewood Stitches.  I'll add images of these when I have a little more to show.  

Besides stitching,  I'll be baking cookies and squares early in the week (for a funeral lunch) and more marmalade mid-week (the Seville Oranges are only in season for a short time)  -  hopefully the kitchen duties won't stretch into the evenings and I'll be able to see more progress in all of the handwork projects.  

Till later ......