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Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday Links :: Flickr, Mandalas Giveaway, Feminist Art

Cap Gris Nez
I somehow fell down the rabbit hole that is my Flickr account. Just scrolling through page after page of photos from years ago. I think I opened my account in early 2005 (!) although I didn't really use it much until my trip to California that summer.

It is a wonderful thing to have, this record of (part of) my life. So many things I've forgotten. And I found a photo of a painting I did many years ago. I gave it to a friend of the family and I thought I only had a blurry print photo of it, so I was very happy to come across a nice clear photo of the painting.

I really, really, really must get on with making printed photo books. I treasure the one I made for 2010, but that's the only year I made one. I do have some for our honeymoon and our first trip to Wales. It really is a lovely thing to have a photo book to flick through...

Pop over to Feeling Stitchy to read a review of Mandalas to Embroider, and a chance to win a copy of the book. :-)

Beautiful Intricate Landscape Paintings.

I came across Rebel Women: The Great Art Fight Back on the iPlayer. "Out of the tumult and fervour of the late 1960s emerged a generation of artists who set out to start a revolution. As women around the world joined forces to fight for liberation, the formative art movement of the last four decades was about to explode into being. " It's worth an hour of tv watching time if you're interested in women's/feminist art. It's available for a few more weeks. But just FYI: it has nudity a plenty so you might not wanna watch it at work or with little ones. ;-)

Dreamlike Landscapes Grow from Sculptural Portraits.

If the human requires help, what should a service dog do?

Defunct Old Cars Given New Life as Pools and Pizza Ovens. The caravan turned into a pool made me chuckle. :-)

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Books That Are Like Old Friends

Reading: A Small Place in Italy
I finished the stack of library books, so I've turned to an old favourite until I get a new pile of library books. A Small Place in Italy by Eric Newby. It is still in print, although with a different cover.

Here's what the book is about (from Goodreads):
In 1967 Eric and Wanda Newby fulfilled a long-cherished dream when they bought a run-down farmhouse in northern Tuscany, in the foothills of the Italian Alps. They were the first foreigners to live in the region. "A Small Place in Italy" describes how the house was restored with the help of their neighbors, a colorful east of characters who quickly befriended the Newbys.

I bought my copy in Denmark, probably 20 years ago. Randomly picked it up in a sale bin, a bargain at just 29 Danish kroner (around £3.5), especially considering how many times I've read it, or atleast partially read it. I sometimes pick it up and start reading it but don't finish it. I don't always need to...it's just one of those books. Like an old friend where you can pick up as if no time has gone by even if it has been months or even years :-)

Do you have books like that in your life?

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday Links :: Truck Gardens, Dog, Orcas

Mason Jar Bouquet
I remembered that I was working on this pattern this time two years ago, the mason Jar Bouquet. Nice and summery bouquet of wildflowers. Get a copy here if you want to stitch your own bouquet. :-)

8 Things You Never Knew About the Tailor’s Clapper. To be honest, I'd never heard of a tailor's clapper until now!

Surreal Paintings by Matthew Grabelsky Take the New York City Subway for a Wild Ride.

Chelsea Clinton at the Hay Festival. Very interesting. And I was impressed to see how she didn't dumb down her answers to the little kids.

This is quite possibly the world's most blissed out dog. :-D

The Japanese Mini Truck Garden Contest is a Whole New Genre in Landscaping. The world should have more truck gardens!

Help the orcas! It's not right that these magnificent beasts are kept in the equivalent of a bath tub for the entertainment of humans. Ask Thomas Cook to Stop Supporting Orca Abuse.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Different Icebergs :: Quilt Pattern Tests

Iceberg quilt
This is my original version of the Iceberg quilt from the Polar Bear Country ebook. The pattern is a little bit of a brain teaser, so I thought I better ask a few others to test the pattern before releasing it. I'm glad I did, although on the whole it was ok. But the testers spotted a couple of errors or made suggestions which make it a better pattern. So hooray for excellent testers!

Buy your own copy of the Polar Bear Country ebook here. :-)

Thank you to Jo at myBearpaw, Catherine at Knotted Cotton and Irina for their enthusiastic reviews of the ebook.

My testers very kindly let me share their photos of their quilt/tops. One of them is quite different from mine and I think it turned out pretty amazing!

First up, Nicole made her top from a mix of solids and prints. I thought it worked so well that I when I worked through the pattern to test it myself, I was inspired by that. See my second top at the bottom of the post.

Ruth, a fellow member of the London Modern Quilt Guild, did her version in these beautiful pastel colours. Isn't that fabulous? I really love her quilting too and the great name she gave her quilt because of the colours she used: sodafloat. Check out her blog post about it here. :-)

Here's a detail of Ruth's excellent quilting.

Lynette, also a member of LMQG, made this scrappy version using only fabric from her stash. It is absolutely gorgeous.

I am so excited that the quilt works both in solids, as in my original idea, and in prints - or a combination.

Iceberg quilt #2
Here is my second version. I used mostly prints for the iceberg itself and solids for the sky and water. In this version I used fabrics from my stash, so part of the iceberg in the water is lighter than I would have wanted. But I still like it. :-)

Buy your own copy of the Polar Bear Country ebook here. :-)
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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Delectable Mountain Quilt Top

Delectable Mountain quilt top
This was an interesting quilt top to make. Making each block is quite time consuming, but it was worth the effort I think. :-)

We need a second quilt/coverlet for our sofa. It is light grey and it is starting to look a little worse for wear because Blake climbs all over it with his grubby paws. ;-) So I figured I'd make coverlet to go over one armrest to hide the grubbiness.

The inspiration for the top came from Wise Craft Quilts by Blair Stocker. I've followed Blair's blog for years and years and I am really glad I got the book because I absolutely love it! :-) Hop down to the bottom of this post to see a few pages from the book.

Delectable Mountain quilt top
This is one of my favourite blocks in the top. I love those roses combined with the ditsy blue fabric. The blue fabric is actually from Aldi! I know!

I bought a few fat quarter packs there a couple of months ago. They had some nice prints, although the quality isn't quite as fine as regular quilting fabric. But it is perfectly good for quilt backs or cushions or bags. Worth keeping an eye out for.

Delectable Mountain quilt top
Do you see what happened here? I didn't mean to put two of the same fabric together like this, but I only realised this had happened AFTER I had sewn it all together and, frankly, life is too short to pick it all apart.

Delectable Mountain quilt top
I like a folded quilt. Unexpected colour and print combinations....

Wise Craft Quilts
Wise Craft Quilts. On the cover, the book handily has a picture of the quilt I was inspired by. It is made of old jeans. Nice way to reuse jeans that you just can't wear in polite society. ;-)

The whole book is very much about reusing textiles from your life. Jeans, table cloths, handkerchiefs, wedding gown, shirts etc.

Wise Craft Quilts
I really like this 'Star' quilt made of re-purposed shirts. I have a big stack of Tony's old work shirts and this is inspiring me to get on with it and make another shirt quilt. I made one in 2010 (how is that EIGHT years ago?!)

And I am very intrigued by cyanotype/sun prints, so I am very inspired by that quilt on the right...
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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Milky Way Embroidery

Milky Way embroidery
Here's the finished (I think!) embroidery I started last week. I love how it turned out. The colours are quite unusual for me. It's usually all about the bright rainbow colours on a white background for me.

But I really like this dark blue background. Although I was continually reminded of why I don't generally use a dark background. Blake sheds a lot and those hairs just stick to e-ve-ry-thing. I got rid of the larger ones in the picture above but if you zoom in you can still see some.

I want to do some more "fill in the shape" embroidery like this. It is really relaxing. It is BOTH mindless and mindful. I can do it while watching TV because I don't have to add stitches in a particular pattern. But at the same time, I do have to keep an eye on the overall effect and make decisions about where to add a particular type of stitch and distribute the colours evenly.

Although the colours were somewhat out of my control because I mainly used variegated thread so the colour of each stitch is pretty random. I like that randomness. The colours are fairly evenly distributed, but then there are also clusters of a particular colour which appeared on their own...

Hoop guts!
Keepin' it real on the back of the embroidery. See what I mean? Dog hairs all over the place!

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Monday, June 11, 2018


I haven't done any painting in a very long while. But this weekend I got out my paints to work on a special present. :-)

It feels good to swish paint around again, although I am feeling pretty rusty. I need to remember how to do it. Do I prefer to mix paint on the palette or on the canvas? Do I like to add a bit of water to the acrylics... but there is muscle memory, I can feel it. I just need to keep going, despite the painting being at the "this sucks" stage right now. :-D

I really should paint more, so I would get better at it.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Friday Links :: Scandi-Noir, Pockets, Royalties

Tony is the best. He knows I love poppies so when he spotted some while walking Blake the other evening, he took a couple of pictures and sent them to me. I hope to have poppies in our garden once we get it sorted out. It's still basically a lawn with a bed of self sown weeds wildflowers and grasses.

Sculptural Chalk Drawers. They look so fun!

How Do Book Royalties Work?

Delicate Paint Washes Offer an Ethereal Touch to Stitched Hoop Art.

These NYC sketches by Eleanor Doughty are inspiring. I hope to do a bunch of sketching while we're in New York.

Knitwear in Scandi-Noir Thrillers.

Fabric Tree Stumps Formed From Pieces of Discarded Clothing.

Artists need pockets.

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

New York, Baby!

NYC books
Later this year, Tony and I are going to New York! It is our first holiday abroad since our honeymoon. Sure, we've visited my family in Denmark a bunch of times since, but it doesn't quite count as 'abroad'. ;-)

We are of course really excited; neither of us has been there before. Lots of research is going on! Although, I've had to ban myself from spending too much time (yet) on that, because I can get a wee bit obsessed. And there is still time to make lists and draw/print maps etc. It's half the fun of going somewhere!

But I would be grateful for some tips about what to see and where to eat. We will be staying in Bushwick in Brooklyn.

Are there any little known gems we shouldn't miss? In Brooklyn or Manhattan. Is it worth it to go on a day trip to New Jersey?

I can hear Tony groaning already, but I am going to drag him to craft/fabric shops (or park him outside with a book) - do you have any recommendations?

I would especially be grateful for tips about places to eat, because we have a bit of a challenge when it comes to that. As you have probably gathered from reading this blog, I am vegan. But Tony is pretty much as far away from vegan as you can get, he barely likes any vegetables! ;-)

So I'd be very interested in info about places where we can both eat. Inexpensive mainstream places that also have decent vegan options would probably be best.

And, randomly, what's your favourite thing to do in New York?

xo C

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Embroidery Mojo

River of stitches
From time to time I get in this period of feeling 'meh' about embroidery. Not because I don't want to do any embroidery ever again, it's just a feeling of not wanting to work on any of the projects I've already started (because there are always embroidery WIPs lying around!) and not having any ideas for a new project.

Instead of forcing myself to pick up one of those WIPs, I do the opposite. I tell myself that I can't do any embroidery. I can work on other creative projects, drawing or sewing for example. But I can't touch a hoop.

Until I reach a point where I have to. I must pick up a hoop and thread and get stitching. It is more difficult than it sounds, because I always feel like I should be stitching. Work on a new pattern or whatever. But sometimes I need that break. My hands or my brain need that fallow period, to get ready for something new.

And then one day, I find myself tracing a pattern on fabric, picking out thread colours and I feel super excited. Once I get started, I barely want to stop to go to bed and I can almost hear myself going 'woohoo!' inside.

That happened yesterday with this embroidery. It's just a simple idea but I'm excited to finish it and see how it turns out. You can be sure I'll be in my armchair tonight, hoop in my hand and stitching away. I can't wait! :-)

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Read :: An Unsafe Haven

An Unsafe Haven
I really like historical fiction and fiction with a bit of a magic touch to them. Those are my go-to genres, I think. But because I'm making an effort to read more this year, I want to expand my reading to other genres as well.

I picked up this book, An Unsafe Haven by Nada Awar Jarrar, at the library a few weeks ago. At first I was a bit skeptical, but I actually became pretty captured by it.

Here's the first bit of the synopsis on goodreads:
Hannah has deep roots in Beirut, the city of her birth and of her family. Her American husband, Peter, has certainty only in her. They thought that they were used to the upheavals in Lebanon, but as the war in neighbouring Syria enters its fifth year, the region’s increasingly fragile state begins to impact on their lives in wholly different ways.

The book is set, mainly, in Beirut in Lebanon. A friend of mine lives in Beirut so that was another reason to pick this book. :-)

There are themes in this book, the uncertainty of living near a war zone for example, that I can't relate to as such. But there are also themes regarding what home is and belonging to a place. And those I can definitely relate to.

It is a fairly short book, just shy of 200 pages, I think. When I finished it, I wished that it were longer. I wanted to know what happened to the characters. They felt like real people. Which is interesting because often characters feel just like that, like characters, not people you would see on the train or at the supermarket. (Or maybe that's because I read historical fiction and Eleanor of Aquitaine isn't in the habit of going to Tesco!)

The book is beautifully written and there is a sadness in most of the characters. Or maybe it is something else.

I finished the book several weeks ago, but moments from it keep drifting through my thoughts. Almost like memories of a place I have been (although I've never been to Lebanon). If that makes sense at all?

Any book recommendations you want to share in the comments? xo

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Forest Bathing

Morning walk
This is where I walk Blake on most mornings. A pretty boring road next to a field. The other side of the road is probably pretty boring to other people too. But not to me. Here, oak trees grow. And other trees too, but I don't know their names. Between the trees grow grasses, weeds and wildflowers. It is like a stretched out mini forest.

There is something very soothing about these trees, the oak trees, in particular. With their twisted branches and gnarly bark. And now they have leaves, their rustling in the breeze. I think there may be something to shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. The Japanese have poetic sounding words for everything, don't they?

On some days, I very much need the solace of being in nature, even if it is just this small stretch of a dozen or so trees.

Morning walk
And of course, my (almost) daily photo project is still going strong. I go and take a picture of my oak tree pretty much every day. Yes, it is 'my' tree now. ;-) I was very sad to see that someone had lit a fire at its base the other day. Why would you do that?

Morning walk

Under the trees
A couple of days after I took the pictures above, the council had been out and cut down all the pretty wildflowers and I had a bit of an aha moment. Those wildflowers had grown really tall and the little road was pretty secluded from the houses overlooking the other road behind the verge where the trees grow. That quiet road, with the wildflowers 'protecting' it, had felt like my own little place. It's a quiet road, there's rarely anyone else there, except for the occasional dog walker.

With the coverage of the wildflowers gone, I suddenly felt quite exposed. Not that I think the people who live in the houses care much about some random person walking their dog! But still.

Now I'm waiting for the wildflowers to grow back... :-)

Under the trees

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Double Exposure Experiments

Fun with succulents
Playing with Inkscape. I took a picture of one of our succulents and made this drawing in Inkscape. And then I made a couple of versions with different pot colours.

Succulent illustration
I turned the pink pot into this illustration with a few circles added. I guess it's a sort of spot illustration.

Double exposure plant illustration
Then I decided to try this Gimp tutorial for making a double exposure effect using one of the pots. I think it turned out ok. But I wish I'd adjusted the photo because the water is at a bit of an angle and that's kinda making me crazy. ;-)

Succulent double exposure illustration
Then I decided to use the spot illustration with the double exposure effect. The photo I used is mostly water and sky with a few clouds. I love how the clouds give this stripy effect and there are lots of different shades of blue.

I am really into these experiments! Because I'm using new-to-me techniques, I can't really foresee what the outcome will be so everything is a surprise. And sometimes I get a step wrong but that creates a different effect which is fun too.

The cool thing about experimenting on the computer like this is that I can keep different versions of a drawing/photo/whatever and play with the 'mistakes' as well. :-)

Succulent watercolour illustration
On a whim I decided to try the watercolour effect from yesterday on the illustration and I am REALLY happy with how it has turned out. I might actually print it out and put it in a frame!
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