SAL

My mind and energies have been elsewhere these last few weeks, so there hasn’t been any sewing. Instead I am taking an easy option.

Last time I showed you the embroideries I had been sewing as Christmas presents. From the comments you seemed to like like them. As many of you enjoy embroidering I thought you might like to know the stitches I used. The inspiration came from the work of Melissa Wastney.

The stitches are very simple and ones that you will know.

I started with the centre. It was made with large chain stitches, lying next to each other.

The petals are created in stem stitch. The uneven lengths give the flowers charm. I think the flowers work best in bold, jewel-like colours.

The leaves and stems are in feather stitch. To make the ‘leaves’ work, you have to start away from the flower and then work your way towards them. The threads were either in variegated green, two strands, or an olive green, one strand.

Lastly, the little French knots at the end of the leaves. While these are not botanically correct(!), I feel that they finish off the stem. Without them it sort of looks empty.

Maybe next time I will have some new stitching to show you. In the meantime do look at the work of the other stitchers. They all do such wonderful work, and such a variety of things.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Off the radar

I have been pretty quiet on WordPress for the past few weeks. There are medical issues that I am resolving. Nothing life threatening, but I need to get the issue sorted. So I thought I would just drop in and let you know I was still around 😉. And to let you know that I am reading your blogs, even if I don’t comment. [No need to comment here; I know that you would be wishing me well, because that’s the sort of person you are!]

SAL

I hope your holiday time was as pleasing as mine. It is Boxing Day today, and I am down at my sister’s beach house. We are sitting around, some are watching the Boxing Day Test at the MCG (a cricket match for those who don’t know ~ probably most of you!). I am getting organised, writing this Stitch-A-Long post to send off tomorrow.

Last time I showed you the gifts I was making for presents. Now I can show you, and tell you that they were received with delight.

This was to become a bag for Mum.

The backing material of the embroidery was linen, and I didn’t think about how bulky it would be when drawn. However, I am sure Mum will find something special to put into it. In my stash I found some pretty green cotton to make the lining.

The other stitching was to make a set of cards for Judy, my sister. She is one of those wonderful people who always remembers birthdays and sends cards. She said that these were too lovely to send, but I am sure she will find some special people.

I made some extra cards for a couple of friends.

It is so nice to be able to give the gift of hand made.

This Stitch-A-Long post is organised by Avis. We are a group of stitchers who post every three weeks (even over Christmas!) to show what personal stitching we have done. The variety of works is amazing, and the quality is always top notch. Use the links below to see their work.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

Can you help?

I know that you smart, talented and generous readers will be able to give me directions to my problem, especially those of you who sew clothes.

A year or so ago I made my elderly Mum this top. We had a lovely day choosing the pattern and material, and I enjoyed sewing. Unfortunately it wasn’t the right pattern to choose, and was way too big on Mum. She has always been petite and become more so as she has aged.

She loves the fabric, enjoys the idea of wearing garments that are not Little Old Lady Clothes. I think most of all though, she loves it because it was something we did together.

So she has asked me to make it smaller, which is where I need your advice. I can see two options.

  1. to take it in under the armholes and down the side. Would this create problems with the way the top hangs?
Obviously the seams would be way more symmetrical than I have managed to draw onto the photo!

2. to take it in down the middle, back as well as front, of course. While this option is the most fiddly (I would have to rebind the neck and redo the hem) I feel that the top will sit better on her. Also, the neck is very wide, and this option will reduce that.

However, I would like to know what the more experienced among you think. Is there an option 3? Any thoughts?

SAL time

Last time I was still working on one of my postcards. In the comments someone mentioned blue thread…It think it was the right choice, and lifts the stitching.

However, for this stitch-along I want to show you something completely different.

The background…I have been loving being part of the Soul Craft Festival, which this year has been run online. So many interesting ideas, which have challenged my thinking. More in another post.

As well as thought-provoking videos there have been workshops to make things. Melissa Wastney showed us how to embroider these simple but very charming flowers. (You can find Melissa on Instagram @melissa.wastney. Sorry I can’t embed the link.) It immediately solved my Christmas present for my Mum. As an elderly woman she doesn’t need more stuff, but does love things we make for her ~ and treasures them, like the plaster hand cast my brother made in kindergarten! As well she loves bags. Add in that my friend had given me French linen tea towels that were waiting for the perfect project. This turned out to be that project, and the linen is wonderful to sew on.

I might even get the bag made up today.

I enjoyed the simple embroidery in making these flowers and I was inspired to make more. This time they are to be made into cards. I am going to make a set of six as a present to another special family member.

I may even iron the linen before I give them away! 😉

This Stitch-A-Long post is organised by Avis. We are a group of stitchers who post every three weeks to show what personal stitching we have done. The variety of works is amazing, and the quality is always top notch. Use the links below to see their work.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

How does my garden grow?

A gardening guru recently used floriferous to describe his garden. It fits my garden well too; it is surprisingly floriferous. Surprising because it is not particularly planned, relying on some very welcome volunteers.

Like the pale blue/darker blue starry flower in the foreground. I think it is a delphinium. Do you agree? Its small shoots appeared months ago. As the leaves didn’t look like a weed I was familiar with I let it grow. This is how it has repaid me. Smiles!

Behind are white and blue salvias. To the right, out of the picture is a mass of nasturtiums, rambling around. I certainly haven’t planted them for ages, but they happily return year upon year.

The corn flowers are have also sprung from seeds of last year’s flowers.

I am very tolerant of volunteer plants, happy to wait for them to grow, to see what they will turn out to be. I quite like some weeds. I even did a zoom talk recently about edible weeds!

I love the seed heads of salsify. That’s another plant that many see as a weed, although the root is apparently edible, but I am happy to have its company. How can I resist admiring them as the morning sun shines through the delicate seed balls?

The front garden is another area that is doing its own thing at the moment. One half it is a parsley patch. The plants are almost a metre high and in flower.

Look at the soft yellow flowers and the umbral shape of the flowers. But what I love most is how it attracts so many insects. The bees! There must be at least a dozen working away every time I go past. Hover flies hover. When you look closely you see spiders and ladybirds, which means there must be many other creatures that I don’t see.

I wonder what the passerbys think…..

Which brings me to the verandah. You may remember that I was pondering what to do with the verandah-shaped space at my front door. After workshopping it through with friends and family, I decided to pave the area. I found some pavers, ordered 15 of them, only to find out that it was going to cost $99.00 to deliver them! After I picked my jaw off the floor I said “Thank you, but can you cancel the order”. So now I am on Plan N, or there abouts, deciding to have a proper wooden verandah built. Not that the plans have gone any further. In the meantime I have put two plastic chairs out there on the sand and enjoy cups of tea in the sunshine.

There is progress planting the other part of the front yard.

It doesn’t look much, but I can see the potential! I have planted:

  • Poa labillarderi ~ a native grass that will clump to be about a metre wide. At the moment they look like grassy weeds!
  • Copper crest grevillia ~ very low growing, and hopefully will not only cover a large area but also bring in birds
  • Wahlenbergia stricta ~ these are the native bluebell, whisky little things, but quite pretty.
  • Pelargonium australe ~ this was a surprise as I didn’t know there was a native pelargonium. It has a little, pretty pink flower.
  • The taller, broad-leafed plant is a sunflower, the only plant that came up from the many seeds I sowed.

There are plans for more. I am looking for some murnong plants (a native yam) and bright yellow billy buttons.

I must tell you of my David Attenborough moment. I was sitting with my cup of tea on the ‘verandah’, reading and idly watching the insect world go about business, when I looked down. I noticed some flying insects digging in the sand. From later research I think I was watching three sand wasps at work. The digging fascinated me, as the wasp madly dug a little, then moved to another spot, madly dug a little more. All three were frantically digging. I figured that they were testing out the sand, searching for the perfect spot. Then one started to be really serious about her hole. The digging action was rapid so the hole got quite deep quite quickly. At times she would appear with larger grains in her mandible and toss the grain away from the hole. In the end I think the hole must have been about twice the length of her body, which was a couple of centimetres.

My cup of tea caught my attention for a few minutes. When I looked back at the hole I was amazed to see that she had brought a caterpillar from somewhere, which she dragged down the hole. She spent a little time down there, so I presume she was laying egg/s into the caterpillar. Up she came, and fastidiously covered it in, caterpillar and all.

I helped me remember all the interactions that are happening that we have no knowledge of. We need to slow down and look.

I know that many of you are heading into a cold and anxious Winter, so I will leave you with some flowers from other gardens. I hope they bring a smile. Stay well, my friends.

SAL

Before I show you the work done over the last three weeks, I just want to say how much I appreciate the comments you leave. Of course I get warm fuzzies when you tell me how you like what I do, but perhaps even more I appreciate the comments you leave about what you see in my work, what they remind you of, how they make you feel. That there is something in my stitching that you respond is a good feeling.

I am proud to be part of such a warm and supportive community.

So, to this time….

….another postcard. The torn up work was a watercolour tree. I tried to make the pieces more horizontal, but somehow it still has quite strong verticals!

I am working on the cross stitching, but seem to have stalled over the last week or so. I think it needs some colours that I don’t have in my thread stash. Of course, that could just be an excuse to buy some more but now that shops are open and our restrictions have eased I feel the yarns and threads are calling to me!

This Stitch-A-Long post is organised by Avis. We are a group of stitchers who post every three weeks to show what personal stitching we have done. The variety of works is amazing, and the quality is always top notch. Use the links below to see their work.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

My online pottery class

You may remember that I signed up for an online pottery class, thinking “How on earth is this going to work?”, but loving the idea of it.

It worked really well, thanks to the good organisation of the tutor, Vincenza. There were four weekly online classes with clay and materials provided by her. Over the three weeks of making I made a flat plate, a little bowl, a vase and a bird.

My favourite is the little bird, because it sits so nicely in my hand.

The vase is a slab pot. To construct this you wrap a slab of clay around a cylinder. I used a beer bottle, which was the perfect shape! Decorating it was tricky, as nothing seemed satisfactory, until I saw the tassels on a scarf. I added some more marks.

The fourth week was glazing. We had dropped our greenware work to Vincenza, who did the first firing, the bisque firing. When she gave them back she added little pots of glazes in the box.

The finished pots…

My best results from the course was to rekindle my desire to do more pottery. I did it many years decades ago but it sat on the back burner during that time. Next year I will look around for a somewhere to do some more. That should be fun 🙂

Also it was a delight to do something unexpected during our lockdown.

Oh, fabulous day!

Today, Melbournians emerge with our unkempt hair and our huge grins into our new ‘COVID-normal’ life.

Because we have done something extra-ordinary; we have got our case numbers from over 700 a day to 0, and 0 deaths, for two days running. Two Double Donut Days! To put that into perspective, on the 5th August we had 715 cases while Belgium had 334. A couple of days ago Belgium had 15, 622.

I don’t want to gloat, but rather celebrate our achievement. We got here with a strict and long lockdown which has been very hard for so many people. So much repair will be needed.

Today, for the first time for months, we can sit down for have a coffee and a meal. We can go into a shop that is not an essential service ~ art shops! We can catch up with friends outside ~ I am off for a picnic with friends! We can leave our homes for whatever reason we like. (Previously we had only been able to leave for 4 reasons.) We can live our lives.

With caution, of course. There is no room for complacency as we have not eliminated the virus. Recognising that the home is one of the most dangerous places, visiting indoors is restricted to one family a day. Sitting with family and friends is something we have been longing to do, but because our guards are down, it can be the place where the virus will spread. Indeed it was larger family gatherings that rapidly spread the virus in June.

I can visit my Mum! I am seeing her on Friday, and the thought of taking her out for a coffee brings a smile to my face.

For a couple more weeks we can only travel within 25 km ~ the trip to Mum is 22km! There is still no travel in or out of metro Melbourne. Mandatory mask wearing will stay for quite a while yet.

To be honest, I am still a little dazed by it all, and still thinking it through, reflecting on that strange liminal time. Undoubtably I will have more to say in later posts, but for now I will enjoy my friends, my Mum and a latte in a glass rather than a takeaway cup, sitting at a table. And celebrate the simple things, the important things.

SAL

Another three weeks, another SAL, another “Postcard from liminal time”.

What a washed out photo…the backing cloth is actually a sage green, and the threads more vibrant.

As you can see I tore up a watercolour painting of a leaf. The leaf was quite curved, and I think this is why it didn’t work as a painting.

As the original painting was a single leaf I tore out around that shape, which left me with white edges around each shape. The other postcards, like this one, were larger shapes, in this case a shell, torn into smaller pieces. It wasn’t until I was into the work that the obvious white struck me. Tearing paper is always going to leave some white, but this is too much to my eye. I tried to break it up with the extra cross stitches, but I wasn’t happy with it.

So, it’s not my favourite postcard, but it taught me more about which painting to choose.

There are five in the series so far. Looking at them together for the first time I can see that they are vertical, with the exception of the eggplant, the first. Maybe the next one will be more horizontal.

This Stitch-A-Long post is organised by Avis. We are a group of stitchers who post every three weeks to show what personal stitching we have done. The variety of works is amazing, and the quality is always top notch. Use the links below to see their work.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen