Saturday, July 22, 2017

exhibit "a"

must be a holdback from childhood but i find myself drawn to little bits and pieces of this and that...

perhaps it stems from watching my mom and a neighbour lady sewing and stitching and wanting to do a little of that myself - the only materials i had to work with were their cast-offs, the scraps of fabric and thread normally destined for the garbage were given to me instead to do with what i would

some of you may remember the cloth i was making a while back where each day i would stitch on a scrap... i began it in mid-february of last year and finished it in the cotswolds at the end of april this year... i left it in england, in very good hands - my friend christine who saved it from having to be anything but what it was - a piece of muslin with scraps stitched that formed a sort of square... 

coming home, i was at a loss - not for the cloth but for the practice - the daily endeavour... working patiently and slowly, making something substantial out of not very much

letting ideas percolate for a while, i remembered a calendar book i had that had nice large spaces, two for each day
one to write in, one for a stitched sample

and so a new daily practice was begun...

i love that i have space to write - "annotate your samples" mrs. ruane says

and she is right - sometimes i think the annotations are the best part 

some days an idea comes easily - other days it's a struggle

through doing this i am learning a little bit about what i like and lot about what i don't

 texture is huge

lace, especially when it's tattered and torn, "scratty" i like to say

soft faded colours

rumpled fabrics

a bit of stitching

my least favourite are the few that have stitch only

my most favourite are when all three are present

some days it's been a grind - some of these have taken more than an hour - they're usually the ones i like the best though so i recognize the value of the time spent

more than anything though, the pages, as they fill up and accumulate, are a delight to flip through

a true delight...

i've secured the swatches at the top with tiny knots - the bottoms are free so i can lift the swatch and see the underside - it makes them a little more fragile as the pages are turned but for now i'll leave them loose - i don't know about you but there's something wonderful about being able to look at the back of a stitched piece

mrs. ruane would tell you it's "evidence" and she would be right

so here then, is "exhibit a"

Monday, July 17, 2017


thanks so much for your very kind comments on my last post - it's very humbling to know that there are still some of you that come by here now and then to see what i'm up to and say hello

i'm going to set up a bookmark system for your blogs so that i can get to them with some regularity - usually i access them from here but that means when i can't face my blog, i don't get to yours

hopefully it will work better and i should have it done in the next day or two...

summer is always such a busy time for me but i think it's slowing down a bit now - the cherries are off the trees and in the freezer, raspberries are half-done, garden is plodding along, company has come and gone etc. etc.

 the other day i even said i like winter better - i have far more time for creative pursuits and i can make oven dinners!

anyway, enough with the whining and now a little show and tell...

i've been working away on the pages and additions for my artist book

 weaving has captured my interest of late, especially irregular weave and though i bought myself a rigid heddle loom and a small frame loom along with my wee weaver, i haven't really had much time to work with them lately so i've been playing a bit with fabric and lace, adding a little stitch to the mix as well

simple fabric buttons on a strip of lace

 this one i really liked doing - the appliqued circles, stuffed and surrounded with stitch are a delight to do - the one with french knots was a little tedious and though i was worried it wouldn't show well, what with all the background texture, i am very happy with the result

it's what's below that really has me fired up though...

a few years ago i pieced strips of silk and lace to make a background - for what i have no idea - likely nothing, if the truth be told - just an itch i had to scratch

anyway - i cut a piece off which i used on a page shown in my last blog post, and was then left with a fairly good sized remnant

it took a little doing but i rolled it into a tube, secured the side, threaded some gimp through it, threaded beads and a button onto the gimp, made knots and swirls and more knots and sewed it to it's own page

 don't ask me why, but so far, it's my favourite thing in the whole book

i am fickle though, and more often than not, each new thing i do becomes my favourite so we'll see how long this lasts

since i've taken these pictures, a few have changed: stitches and beads, more off-cuts, more cast-offs... the pages are filling up and it won't be long before i can sew the book together, and then it will be time to turn my attention to making a slipcase for it

and on it goes...

Sunday, July 9, 2017


it's hopeless - i'm hopeless...
every time i think "life' will slow down a little and let me back to blogging with some sort of regularity, things get in the way - really, it's me that gets in my own way

i'm lousy at sorting out priorities and tend to focus on the first thing in front of my face, forgetting all else around me...

anyway, i'm here now, melting in our bc heatwave, with trees full of ripe cherries calling out to me... keeping my head down and typing away

very little stitching has taken place these past six weeks but i am slowly carving out a little bit of time to work on a little artist's book filled with little samples of stitching

samples of stitches i like to do, samples of materials i like to use

 stitching on the pages themselves now and again

the one you see pictured above and below is actually the jazzed-up backside of a stitched flower - it was neat enough that a few beads knotted in the centre and a stitched fragment covering the back of a petal that was appliqued were all that was needed to let it be a stand-alone page of it's own

oddly enough, it's one of my favourites in the whole book

an artist's book is an ideas book - something i can look back on over the years whenever i need a healthy dose of inspiration
it can remind me of a favoured technique but also will sometimes strike a spark and set me off in whole new directions

memories in stitch, filled with a promise for tomorrow

sounds like a good read to me

Saturday, May 27, 2017

little girl, little girl... where have you been?

 i've been to london...

london from primrose hill
 my favourite city in all the world
{not that i've been to very many but even if i had i know i would love london best}

i've had trouble transferring photos from ipad to my laptop - i think it will be a long slow go but for now i have a few from the very first days of my time in the uk

in advance of the embroidery workshop with karen ruane on saturday april 1st, three of us went on a little shopping expedition of all things creative in a few of london's most charming of shops

we started at shepherd's bookbinders...


walls and drawers and tables full of amazing papers
i practiced a lot of restraint here, and the khadi paper on the table in the image above being the most foolish of all - i bought just two sheets of it, wishing now i had bought twenty...


one of the most beautifully presented shops i've ever been in, chock-a-block full of inspiration, i came away with a few new tools and supplies which will hopefully help me to improve my book-binding skills and a few lovely sheets of paper to inspire

more shepherd's!

 we wandered through a vintage button shop, a specialty ribbon and trim store, "the cloth house" on berwick street, lace stores and several silk shops in soho

the cloth house

 the windows of the cloth house were entrancing with the little textiles strung across them on  clotheslines

the cloth house

new cloth, old cloth, new buttons, old buttons... lace

i had a budget and i stuck to it though goodness knows how
the cloth house

inspiration at every corner, in every shop, and the kindest people

the best day

that is, until the next day...

saturday was my embroidery class with karen ruane

nine of us gathered in a lovely space in covent garden for a day of stitching, tea, cake and chatter
i'd been waiting for that day for months; the chance to meet karen, see her amazing work in person, meet people i had come to know a little during our online courses - just be there

below is what i worked on during that most wonderful day

my project

 karen made workshop packs for us filled with several surfaces to stitch, tear, stitch, and tear some more

workshop kit

 she gave us graph papers and bits of lace and trims to play with as well

workshop kit

 the metallic lace in my work was a gift from sue, shopping tour guide extraordinaire

i don't have much to show for six hours of stitching but i have a very good reason that - tea, cake, chat, tea, cake chat... look through karen's ledgers, stitch a little and then tea and cake again

we called it the "london cake day"

i've pulled this out a few times since coming home, thinking i should work on it some more - today i decided it will stay as it is and i'll be able to look at it always and say "i made this in london"

latest work

hard to believe it's already a month since we left - the only consolation then is that it's one month less until i get to back again...

Friday, March 24, 2017

a journey...

if you've been a follower of mine for any length of time you'll know i've taken more than a few online classes from this lady...

karen ruane of contemporary embroidery teaches online classes and i've been taking them since 2012

can't begin to tell you how many amazing things i've learnt over the years - wonderful techniques and ideas that have pushed and pulled me in so many ways, added such creative joy and brought me back to my first love...

hand embroidery

our latest class, "embroidery school" has karen making cloth sample pages and i thought i would do the same but mount mine on art paper

one side a diminutive cloth sample of something particular, the other a paper-based sampling of similar ideas

this spread is central to the hexagon shape

one side with fabric hexagons and stitch details

the other paper

taking stitches from one side to the other, matching colour and certain stitch details

not re-interpreting every element, just creating two sides that together, make a whole

such great fun - and wonderful like-minded people who do similar things in ways that are just a little bit different

feeding on each other's ideas and enthusiasm, it's an amazing group in every class

what's truly amazing though, is that in not a long time, i'll be winging my way over the pond to take a class with karen in london, england, along with nine other people i've met through her classes over the years

how lucky can a girl get????

i'll try to post here along the way, and i'll definitely be posting images of our journey on instagram, as we traipse through england, scotland and ireland... you can find me there as "jwafineseam" if you're interested...

it will be an amazing journey... i just know it...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

scratching an itch...

a while back i mentioned a hankering to learn to weave...

since then i've taken a one day introduction to weaving class, a one day class on reading weaving drafts, and i've played about on a frame loom

i also bought myself a 24" rigid heddle loom, but the most fun i've had lately is with this little "wee weaver" swatch loom by purl & loop

it measures a scant 4" x 4 1/2" 

i've woven some textured cotton yarns on it, played around with strips of fabric and yesterday i had an urge to weave with silk and lace

and to see what would happen if i strung beads on the warp before winding it on the loom

the challenge is to get the number of beads right - once you start winding the warp it's pretty hard to add or take away

but it's quite fun to slide them up and down!

 wide strips of grey silk, folded in half, alternating with ragged strips of very old lace

 it took a few tries just to get to here - the plan is that when the weaving is done the silk will fold to the back and i'll carefully stitch in down - the lace will come to the front

 i posted it on instagram yesterday and someone asked me what it was going to be

 "i don't know", i replied...

"right now i'm just scratching an itch"

stay tuned

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

paying the piper...

 probably one of the first expressions i learned that made sense to me immediately, no explanation required...

i've spent many, many happy hours dreaming away, la la land we called it when i was young
teachers often mentioned it in report cards, year after year, teacher after teacher
"jillayne is a day-dreamer"

lately my day dreams are more often than not about this room, my studio, and what's in it

it's chock-a-block full of all sorts of delightful goodies, most i've chosen for myself, some gifted to me through the recent craze of "de-stashing"
i'm much more judicious in my purchases than i ever used to be - never mind that i've run out room, i'm also mindful of the time i have available

i've learned  that the things i like to do the most are the fiddliest, most labour-intensive, using up next to nothing kind of creations you could ever imagine...

like the little scrap you see below

a very little bit of paper, silk and lace, a few beads, a modicum of embroidery thread
smoosh it all together and it wouldn't take up three square inches of space

but don't ask me how many hours...

 i love it though, on ever level
love looking at it, loved making it, love thinking about it, love sitting in la la land day-dreaming about it

 trouble is, at this rate of resource usage, i've enough supplies to last me a very long time

and i long for a room that has space in it, supplies enough, but not over-flowing abundance where to get at one thing, you have to move two

making fiddly things, while very delightful, is not going to help create space in here...

so this year i've resolved to make an effort to do things a little differently - making an effort, not just to use things up, but also to take the time to make some of the things i've wanted to make for a while but pushed aside when a bead glimmered at me in the most delightful way

i bought the fabric, surely i must have wanted to actually make something with it???

over the past few weeks i've doing some old-fashioned quilting, in new-fashioned ways

four little quilts, small table mat sized

a tiny four-patch

 my favourite one - a disappearing four-patch

 simple crosses

and finally, square in a square

this last one has a very strong appeal for me... beautiful quilts are wonderful things but quilts made up with a mish-mash of fabrics, some pretty, others, not so much- they're something special...

approachable is a word i like to use for them

a child would be free to drag them around, inside or out, the dog or cat can curl up on them at will
and they're amazing to have wrapped around you on an under the weather kind of day

the only thing is, little quilts don't help out much in the stash-bash department...

methinks it's time to scale things up a bit, make a few lap and bed-sized quilts, ease the load on a shelf or two and fill the cupboard with a pile of coziness

it's a start...