Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dog Star Quilt

I was asked yesterday by the folks putting together the Annual Firefighter's Picnic to donate something for the raffle. I decided on a quilt to go in the "Dog Lover's" package, and ran around like crazy to find the materials.

It's a really simple design, with appliqued stars. I used a bandana belonging to an old boyfriend for the stars, which echo the pattern of the main fabric (which features lively looking border collies), and fussy cut stars for the little inset blocks on the sashing.

Gracie gave it a test run. I tried to get her to wear a bandana herself, like all those fashionable dogs on the fabric, but she wasn't having any of it.

Still have the actual quilting to go, and I think it needs more of a border, but the picnic is on Saturday and I hope to have a life in the meantime.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mending at the Market

This week I was not only mending, but selling bread, cinnamon buns, sweet potato foccacia (recipe here), garlic, and raffle ticket for the quilt in the background. In spite of being in the unfamiliar role of a merchant I did have a good time and it was pretty relaxed. There were about fifteen other farmers and craftspeople there, grab a cinnamon bun and come meet a couple of them.

Here's Ingo, one of my favourite people on the island. He is a carver of beautiful bowls and spoons, and has a great sense of humour.

Here's Connie, former veterinarian, now market gardener. Her produce is beautiful.

The Bolting Brassicas, our local marching band, played a joyful set of gypsy/klezmer music, with a little James Brown thrown in.

Here's Gabe, an absolutely delightful young man, and quite a decent trumpet player. Which he should be, with a name like Gabriel.

Here's another angel, Pachiel, the band's fearless leader.

Lots of fun.

Bascom Hogue Rocks!

I may be late to the party, but I have a new hero. I'm not even going to post a teaser picture. Trust me on this one.
His embroidery is very cool too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sailing the Salish Sea

I went sailing for the first time in my life on Monday.

This is the beautiful natural harbour we departed from.

This is the sweet little houseboat my sailing host lives in.

These are the hippy/pirates next door serenading us on our way.

Here's Don, whose boat it is, looking very comfortable.

Ahoy, matey!

Thank goodness for Sheila, she is a very experienced sailor.

And me, with my hand on the tiller (although I cropped it out.) Looks like I enjoyed the experience!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Doggie

Gracie shares my interest in fibre. Now I just have to figure out a way for her to hold knitting needles and we'll be off to the races.

By the way, she just turned one year old. For her birthday I cooked her an egg and we went on a fantastic walk along the beach, with endless throwing of sticks and swimming. She continues to impress me with her beauty, charm, intelligence and athletic prowess. She's a champ!

Making a Significant Object

Sophia, an artist on the island, approached me with the idea of making a new bag for her tarot cards. The necessity she had was that it be made of silk. I said yes, of course. I have masses of silk scraps, mostly Japanese, that need a worthy home. Also, I understand the metaphorical and spiritual capacities of cloth, and the opportunity to make something so special for Sophia, who channels a great deal of spiritual energy to our community, was an honour.

Sophia was drawn to a very old piece of silk brocade, that although it came from Japan looks rather more Chinese. It had already been through a few incarnations, as the lines of wear at old seams and some new seams in different places would indicate. The piece was probably part of the front band of a kimono, which I guess because of the narrow width (about 19 cms.) The images on the brocade include phoenixes, winged horses, roses, and clouds.

I had a piece of silk charmeuse in a similar deep burgundy colour. I used it to make a simple 55cm square scarf to wrap the deck in, and to lay out the cards on. I made little tassels from some vintage embroidery thread in the same colour - see how all those bits and bobs in the stash find their true home? The tassels protect the corners. Tassels are accorded protective powers in many cultures, often placed on vulnerable entry points, ie the back of the neck, the head, or the corners of bridal cloths or baby blankets.

I made a simple drawstring bag, similar to the bags used for tea ceremony utensils. It took much longer to figure out than anyone would have guessed. The strip of cloth had already been cut once and resewn in a different configuration, probably to reduce wear, so I rejoined it in the original manner. Once I had a piece of whole cloth, I wasn't going to cut it again, so I ended up deciding to use the continous piece to form the bag, even though that meant the one way design was going to be upside down on one side. The lining is a piece of the same burgundy silk charmeuse, so to reach inside feels soft, luxurious, and sensual.

I made drawstrings out of more vintage embroidery floss and a strand of gold thread. I plied it on my spinning wheel, and cabled it back on itself to form the right thickness. I added small brass bells from India as further protection, and, since Sophia also is a musician, to add the component of sound to the bag.

Since I was now on a bit of a roll with the senses of sight, sound, and touch covered, I put a few drops of essential rose oil on a card of handmade mulberry paper and tucked it inside to scent the bag. Sophia might like to add a small chocolate heart for the aspect of taste, but I'll leave it up to her how far she wants to go with the sensory stuff.

I hand sewed the sides of the bag with silk thread, and voila!

In exchange, I will receive a reading. I have never had a Tarot reading before so am looking forward to the experience.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Okay, Everybody, Group Hug!

This is my 300th post. An accomplishment of sorts, I guess, although it took me years and years to get here. But along the way I have connected with so many wonderful people, which is the greatest gift the blog has brought me. I have found work, found love, had a nervous breakdown or two, explored ideas, and some days wanted to pack it in.

But most of all the blog has shown me that I am not alone in my peculiar obsessions. I have found that, all over the world, there are people out there who love textiles, and chickens, and gardens, and who are doing their best to help make the world a better place.

Big hugs to you all. And if you don't already have a cup of tea or a glass of wine in hand, go get one, and let's join in in a big joyous "Cheers!" to each other.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A New Old Sewing Machine

I had this crazy idea. As my crazy ideas go, this one's pretty good. On Lasqueti, there is a Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. It's a great time to pick up wonderful fresh produce, bread, chocolate and other edible treats, as well as the work of island artists. There is usually live music and chair massage, and there used to be a hairdresser.

So, I thought it would be cool to bring a treadle sewing machine down to the market and offer mending services while people shopped and chatted with their friends.

Like most things on Lasqueti, this one fell into place like magic (and the help and generosity of a few wonderful people).

One friend, Sheila, had a machine and was willing to lend it, but it was being stored at the home of Swiss Dave. Need I mention that Swiss Dave lives at the end of a trail, deep in the forest? Another Dave, the one who plays a great clawhammer banjo, volunteered not only to pick up the machine but also to wrangle the cast iron beast down the trail.

Once it was delivered to its temporary home on my porch, I gave it a good cleaning and oiling. The drive belt also needed to be mended. Singer has a fabulous website where I was able to find that my machine (a 127) was manufactured in 1936, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. I was also able to download the manual!

The 127 has a "vibrating shuttle" type bobbin. It works beautifully, somewhat to my surprise. An odd little device. The machine is quite lovely to sew on. I would agree with several treadle users (there's quite an online community) who say that the treadling action is very peaceful. It's much like spinning, soothing and meditative.

I'm down to the Market on Saturday, weather permitting. More pictures then, but in the meantime here's a happy snap of me and Gracie at Jodi Beth's birthday picnic at Boot Point. The fellow next to me is sharpening alder sticks to cook campfire bannock on.

Gee, you'd think the last century never happened!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Ode to Old Rick Rack

If it wasn't enough for me to collect old linens, I also glean old thread and sewing notions from thrift stores. Here is a lovely vintage card of rick rack, which manages to pack a lot of value into one 15 cent package.

On the back of the label it describes "Well Made Rick Rack":
Should have sharp, clean points -- not waves; the color should be clear -- not mottled. This is a fine all-purpose braid for trimming garments, curtains, tablecloths, etc. To apply -- stitch the Rick Rack through the center. Stitch wide Rick Rack at both edges.

The label goes on to ask "Does Your Child Sew?":
Send three labels and 10 cents to cover postage and handling for a generous package of clippings of Wright's products suitable for trimming doll's clothes.

Isn't that sweet?

Furthermore the Rick Rack is guaranteed to be perfect in workmanship. If it any flaw were found, the company would reimburse not just the cost of the braid, but also the reasonable cost of labor and materials for the article on which it was applied.

Take THAT, modern day customer service!!

Wm. E. Wright and Sons is still doing business today, still located in West Warren, Massachusetts. They have a fascinating list of products:
Satin, grosgrain & velvet ribbons. polyester thread, tapes, braids Stainless steel braid, Graphite thread, Nylon thread, Resin impregnated thread, Rubber or latex thread, Spandex thread, Asbestos thread, Cotton thread, Silk thread, Polyester thread, Polyamide thread, Bismalemide thread, Fiberglass thread, Decorative ribbons, Paper ribbons, Silk ribbons, Synthetic ribbons, Rigging tape

And they have a website. Amazing.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

She's Arrived

I put the last stitch in at 2:00 pm Thursday afternoon, then packed up the quilt, hopped on my bicycle, and rode down to the Community Hall to install my work for the Arts Festival to meet the 4:00 pm deadline.

It was a mad dash, but I am happy with the results.

The text is excerpted from a poem, Sunday Morning, by Wallace Stevens. I went to machine stitching in the quilts final stages, not just for speed but because I like the soft, blurry effect of the stitches. I tend to be too precise by hand.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Too Cute For Words

Well, maybe a few words. About a month ago one of my remaining hens went broody. But since she hadn't been near a rooster for awhile she didn't have any fertile eggs to hatch. A neighbour gave me a few Buff Orphington eggs, and Zelda was happily entranced by sitting on them.
Then there was that chaotic episode and the Zeldas were relocated to my friend Jay's place. Zelda lost her broodiness, but Jay's little banty DuckMom successfully took over the job. The chicks are only two weeks old now, but already getting too big for the wee banty.
Jay Rainey, who is a brilliant photographer, took these pictures. All copyright goes to her.