Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye to 2015

December 29th. First snow -- finally. Really more a mix of snow and icy sleet but enough to coat the green grass still growing . . .

This time of year, on the crest of the new year, I feel a bit depressed . . . tired . . . longing for a kind of hibernation of my own. Darkness creeps in so quickly, like fog, all grey and dim.

I think that's why I'm posting these "petites broderies" (sounds so much better than small embroidery). Quiet stitching, slow stitching. Stitching that soothes, that's random, repetitive . . .

So under the glow of a fire burning, the silky threads pick up the flickering light. The hubbub of the holidays is finally drifting away. Quiet returns. And slowly, steadily the light begins to return.  Each second precious against the gloom of winter. 

And yet there is such a different beauty to winter that I only wish I could appreciate a bit more than I have been -- the fleeting seconds of a warm peach sunset as I drive home from work.  The silly dance of birds on snow hunting for scattered seeds.

Quiet stitching, slow stitching . . .

Wishing you a peace-filled
New Year's Day!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Goodbye to summer

Vintage Summer Postcard (by moi!)
It's been sooooo long since I posted anything on my blog.  Summer just doesn't seem like the best time of year to spend on a computer posting pics, etc.  So on this rainy, cold day (48 degrees!), I'm sending out my vintage postcard as a "how did you spend your summer" posting!

While at the Cape I worked on my crocheted fabric coasters -- hard on the wrist, but worth the time and effort!  But I truly have to figure out an easier method.

 Before the heat had a chance to take hold, I finished off some of my "gargantuan granny" afghans -- there's always one or two in the making at any point in time. 

Then later when the heat finally did strike (over 90 degrees for almost two straight weeks), I switched to cotton yarns and tried my hand at mandalas -- some came out better than others, that's for sure. 

But now with the cooler weather moving in, my thoughts turn to heavier yarns -- isn't this just delicious?  Like a big wad of colorful cotton candy!  Not sure yet what I'll make -- maybe a big chunky pillow cover . . . ?

And how about these luscious yarns -- awesome jewel-like colors!  I think definitely a big floppy cowl to wrap up in when I take those long winter walks?
I hope to continue posting more frequently now that we're gravitating inside more often.  Later today I'll throw some logs on the fire, pour myself a glass of wine and read through my favorite crochet and knitting magazines for ideas. 

Ah, bliss!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Crocheting in Color:

     Where does color inspiration come from? Where do you turn when you just can't seem to settle on color combinations? Lately, I've found most of my inspired choices from those juicy, rich batik fabrics that I find at quilt shows and shops. So the rich cobalt blues and deep purples of this quilt scrap led me to the crochet sample below, in which I was attempting to follow a pattern by the wonderful Lucy of Attic24

The vibrant hues of this little patchwork piece led to choosing similar colors for these granny squares and mandalas I was practicing with -- so yummy you'd love
to pick them up and munch on them!


So where does your
color inspiration come from?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Craving Color:

Oh, this craving for color is driving me wild! We are inundated with about 2 feet of snow and ice here in New England, with two more storms coming through later this week. 

Ugh. And ugh, again. 

Last weekend I was poking through my baskets of quilt fabrics -- way too many for my health, I think -- and nothing seemed to strike me. I have piles of UFOs (unfinished objects) and WIPs (works in progress), but have not put all these random pieces together into something whole and complete. 

Another round of 'ughs,' please! 

And then just as I was about to abandon my workroom/studio for an afternoon by the fireplace, I looked over at my painting area and spotted this book about the Scottish artist, Barbara Rae, which I've had on my bookshelves for several years.

Every time I open it, I am astounded at the range of colors, textures and patterns she creates through the monoprint and stenciling processes she utilizes in her work. If you ever have a chance to buy or borrow this book, do so! 

I stood for a few minutes flipping through the pages, half my mind still on the waiting fireplace upstairs, when I opened to the two pages displaying "Carrowteige-Yellow Field."

"Carrowteige - Yellow Field" by Barbara Rae

I stopped and sighed. The rich purples and blacks, the striations and that powerful vivid red/pink rectangle made my skin tingle [this image I found on Google does not do the work justice, sadly]. I carried the book back over to my sewing table still filled with scraps and started to sort through, pulling colors and patterns that I thought would evoke Rae's own. 

I found myself selecting colors I might not normally choose -- dark, brooding, heavy except for the vibrancy of the red/pink shape. So this is what I created in the next hour -- my humble ode to Barbara Rae's 'Carrowteige-Yellow Field.'

I think of this 8"x8" work as a color study for a future art quilt, possibly incorporating the other half of her work. But for now I plan to stitch this to a large piece of heavy watercolor paper and frame it.  I want to hang it in the living room by the fireplace so that I can rest my winter-weary eyes on it whenever I feel the need. Perhaps this will get me through February and March, nourishing my spirit? 

All I know is that just when I was about to give up and walk away, a vibrant piece of artwork shook me up and inspired me. 

A random moment, yet ever so welcome.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Staying warm

It's always about this time of year that I begin to crave color -- lots of color! The hotter, the better. 

I've been sewing together pieces of fabric from my Batik Stash, a great and mighty pile of scraps that I've accumulated over the years. Don't you just love these colors and prints? 

At some point, I'll figure out how to put them all together from either a wall hanging or a small lap quilt to throw over my sofa, which is a cream color. 

I have several of these small quilt projects going at any given time. I tend to work on them mostly in the summer because fabric scraps are so much lighter than yarns. My problem arises when I have to sit at the sewing machine to assemble them all -- I hate being trapped at the desk in the lower level of the house. 

But right about now -- at 25 degrees and under gloomy skies! -- sitting in my toasty work studio in the lower level is not all that bad -- kind of cozy actually.  Hopefully, I'll have something to post later in the month. Right now, I'm heading upstairs to the fireplace with my "gargantuan granny afghan" and my crochet and craft magazines piled by my feet . . . what better way to spend a quiet Sunday afternoon?  

 What am I reading now?  The wonderful French mystery writer, Fred Vargas, and her first book in the series: The Chalk Circle Man.

Actually, I'm re-reading it because it is such an amazing mystery!  I do that from time to time -- re-read favorite novels and mysteries.  You just cannot get around darn good writing, and Fred Vargas is one of the greats.  She is an historian and archaeologist and here is a list of her works.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy 2015!

Well, the new year has begun and our few weeks of mild weather has come and gone -- with a vengeance!  The temperature hasn't yet broken 20 degrees and we've been pelted with snow, ice and wind.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

I've been burning logs non-stop for days now.  As soon as I come home from work, bam!  On go the logs and the candles on the mantlepiece, I pull out my favorite I-9 hook, my yarns and crank away.

These little do-dads I hooked up recently. I ripped a ton of old quilting fabric scraps, tied them together randomly and began to crochet in the round.  Very rustic looking, a bit like rag rugs, don't you think?   A great way to recycle bits of cloth and they make great coasters.

Well, it's getting time to find that fireplace once again.  I think I'm going to try Lucy's pattern for crocheted granny triangles, which I just found today via her Flickr site.  Something different from my "Gargantuan Granny Square" afghans I've been working on lately!

by Lucy Attic24

Aren't they beautiful? Check out Lucy's tutorial by 
clicking on the image above!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Stitching with memories

image by K. Marszycki

There's something about the winter months that brings on such a strong sense of nostalgia.  I find myself hunkering down for the onslaught of snow, ice and extreme cold, lighting fires in the fireplace by 3pm because the light is fading quickly -- which reminds me that Winter Solstice is tomorrow!  At least we have the comfort of knowing that slowly the light will return, minute by minute.

I've been reading a fun mystery series for the past few months -- once I get on a roll with a series, I tend to follow through until the latest book -- and this series is written by Monica Ferris.  It's all about various types of needlework because she runs a small, busy shop in upper Minnesota.  Brrrr!  And, of course, in her spare time solves murders and such.

Ferris writes well.  That's important to me.  I cannot tolerate sloppily-written novels that read more like a TV script.  And lately there's many on the market, amateur detectives dashing here and there, jumping around, just like the jerky sentences written by their authors.

Okay, I digress.  Ferris is a good writer and her stories are more thoughtful than violent and probably meant for those of us who are stressed out and a bit older and wiser (!).  Anyway, each mystery has a different focus on needlework -- cross stitch, needlepoint, hardanger, etc.  She even works in some knitting and crochet.

And this brings me back to my original thought when starting to write this entry -- memories.  My grandmother was an avid cross-stitcher, and I can remember large works hanging in her living room and dining room of deer and pheasants.  She was a tiny woman, about 4' 10" tall and weighed nearly nothing.  She'd sit in the living room by the window, busy stitching away on a large hoop with a bowl of pretzels by her side.  My mother was more into crewel work and was often stitching up something, usually pillows. So it seems to be in the blood.

image by K. Marszycki
Today, as I was toodling around Pinterest, I searched for cross-stitch images and boards, as I want to work on a series of small cross-stitch birds.  I have 3 feeders and love to sit with my morning coffee and watch the birds.  So I thought I'd get an idea on how to create my own designs.  Right away I thought of Pinteres, and it didn't let me down.  About an hour later my brain was overwhelmed with the possibilities, and so I created a new board (see the link to your right).

Well, I guess I know what I'll be doing after the New Year . . . :-)

Happy Stitching,
whether you use needles or hooks!