Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mini Mary Anning

Miss L loves her dinosaurs.  She also loves her dolls.  And she very, very much loves to have her dolls play paleontologist. 

So, bright idea...outfit her dolls as her favorite lady paleontologists!  Sadly, American Girl does not yet have a line of famous historical scientists.   (But get on that, AG, seriously.) The remedy?  My sewing machine! 

Meet Mary Anning:


To refresh your memory, Mary Anning was a 19th-century woman who lived on the coast of England.  As a girl, she would explore the cliffs with her fossil-collecting father.  She went on to discover the ichthyosaur and become an influential early paleontologist, despite the boy's club of the time. There are many good books about Anning, including the novel Beautiful Creatures by Tracy Chevalier, one of our favorite children's storybooks, Rare Treasure by Don Brown, and an early-reader book Miss L has attacked many times, The Dog That Dug For Dinosaurs by Shirley Raye Redmond.
I used the illustrations in Don Brown's book and a famous portrait of Anning as my inspiration for our doll outfit. 

The cape pattern was from McCall's M6526, with the overskirt from McCall's 2609.  These were my very first doll garments!  Encouraged by how the cape and overskirt turned out, I turned to the dress itself, another 2609 pattern, modified a little to be more like the simple dress a poor woodworker's daughter would be likely to have, and more like the girl's dress shown in Don Brown's illustrations. 


OK, WAY harder, all those little curves and gathers.  I'm glad our model Saige here doesn't complain much about seam puckers and fraying.  Good sport, that one. You can't see her books or petticoats here, but we just borrowed some from another AG historical doll outfit (Caroline's winter boots and her underthings).  The bonnet was found cheap on etsy, I added the red ribbon. 
And the crowning touch, of course, is the little doll-size hammer!  An inexpensive little jeweler's hammer. 
This was a challenge but I learned some new sewing skills...and Miss L loves it, so we will probably need more paleontologist and science-lady outfits!  For all my googling, I don't see any to purchase available, so looks like it is on me to fill the void.  Next on the docket are Sue Hendrickson and maybe Marie Curie.  Who else would be on your must-list?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Metta at the Mudflats: Or, How to Take your Heirloom Project to the Beach

she gets out of the box!

We've had a stretch of unseasonably nice weather and my fantastic husband gave me the gift recently of a the day off.  So I did!  I went shopping, and toodled around a bookstore or two, and found a little corner of the world nearby where I've never been before.  I serendipitously found myself at Mud Bay, the southernmost extent of Puget Sound.  Mud Bay is aptly named. 

See?   Muddy. 

But, since I couldn't find my usual travel project on my mad dash out the door, I decided to take Metta Putfarken with me. She's my favorite right now anyway, and even though she's a big ol' broad, she travels ok if you treat her right.

What you see there is only three pages of this huge, 35-page Vierlanden sampler.  So I might still be at this one a while and if I don't bring her sometimes she'll never get done.  Even though the pattern is a reproduction, I can't leave well enough alone so I'm doing my version in shades of green rather than the original red.  With Metta's seemingly-infinite variations to the pattern, you can't tell me she wouldn't have liked it this way, too.

Unless she hated green or something.  But she is long since gone and *I* like green so that's good enough for me.

Those seven spools are different shades of solid, variegated, and "twisted" dark green HDF single-strand silk.  The linen is 40-count Sassy Fabric linen in a color I can't recall right now but it's a pretty, warm-toned off-white. 

I admit to some initial trepidation about shlepping this big, heirloom project all around creation, but to me, something I spend this much time with on the couch should share the rest of my life, too.  So this is how I am careful to manage it.  Turning around at taking a picture of the work space I found here in the muddy environment, you'll see it is relatively mud-free:

This is a perfect stitching-in-the-wild spot.   Relatively sheltered logs and roots over coarser gravels with less sticky mud.  And a view.  I find the best style of travel projects are geometrics and those which I don't need to refer to the patterns too often; if the second half of a sampler element or a rosette is a mirror image of a first half already completed, I might not need to pull out the pattern at all while I am sitting in a spot like this.  Less bobbling about = smaller chance of slipping and dropping something in the dirt.  In this case, the pattern is still safely in the project bag propped up on the right. 

A pouch to manage the threads is also important, of course.  Many of my projects use little 'floss-a-way' bags on a ring, with a hole punched in the corner to feed thread through from a spool, and in my opinion good travel projects are monochromatic or often use only a handful of colors.  But because this isn't my first rodeo, when I travel with Metta I still travel with the handmade pouch I made for this project, though, because I just get so much satisfaction from using pretty things.  And look, this one matches the mud!

You might also notice that I am managing all the excess fabric by loosely rolling it up.  I really like these little stitch clips for that.  I only use them when I am actively stitching in a setting like this and otherwise they live in the project bag or floss pouch.

And, my final tip: always remember it is just fabric and thread.  A little sand is just going to brush right off. Worst comes to worst, it can be washed.  

For me, stitching in nature is even more therapeutic and meditative than stitching in front of the tv.  And if you're spotted, good!  The handcrafts can use more visibility.  And if you get a little mud on the corner of your linen, oh well.  Think of the stories that piece of cloth can tell, someday. 

If you ever stitch in the wild, take a picture and show me!  I'd love to see where your creations have gone.  Maybe we can start a movement.   Or just get a lot of satisfaction from fresh air and fine linen, at the same time.  Ahhhhh.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pretty Little Pansies

I've always liked the happy little Pansy.  Some think that the colorful nodding blooms look like faces in deep thought; the name comes from the french word for thought, pensee

When I found Diana Lampe's Embroidered Pansies, it went on my 'must list'. Look at the variety!

Fun little things.  There are hundreds of long-and-short-stitch pansies in this book, as well as a few violas, projects, and crocheted pansies. I was pleasantly surprised by my first attempt, though it certainly could have been better.

And my second attempt (the blue one in the first picture) was much better.  Turned it into a little birthday card for Grandma. 

I have so many long-term projects underway these days, I love these little projects that give me a feeling of accomplishment after only a few hours. I am sure these two won't be my last! 

Nobody can keep on being angry if she looks into the heart of a pansy for a little while.
~ L.M. Montgomery

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rings and Things

A finish!  They DO exist!

Hot off the needles and not even fully ironed, it's my 3-years-in-the-making version of Ink Circles' Growth Rings!

Threads are HDF BeSeeded and BeFuddled on 40ct off-white linen. 

This blog, it's not dead yet!  (It's feeling much better!)

Monday, March 18, 2013

They Leave a Mark on You

Not too long ago, a friend forwarded me an article about cave paintings.  Not just any cave paintings, but 13,000-year-old cave paintings in France.  Not just any 13,000-year-old French cave paintings, but a cave chamber full of 13,000-year-old French cave paintings that appear to have been made by children. 


And people have been leaving their mark on the world ever since.  Most of our marks will be lost to time, are mere chicken scratches in the dirt.  I suspect our modern impulse to blog and facebook comes from a similar instinct as the one that drove the ancients to draw pictures of animals on rock walls. 

I started these negative outlines of my kids' hands after stewing on similar ideas and Aboriginal hand stencils.  Dang, these kids grow fast.  Their hands are already much bigger than the outlines.

So these photos now join my other scratchings on the walls of the internet.   Positive and negative effects on the world and those closest to us, dark and light.

Or maybe I should leave the philosophizing for the philosophers and just enjoy the pretty blue beads.  Oooo, shiny!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thoughts on 300 years

For mother's day this year, we went to a ghost forest.  It was my favorite kind of day.  Serendipetous, relaxing, interesting, and inspiring. 

This particular forest, now just a bunch of stumps on the tideflat, was a true forest 300 years ago.  An earthquake in the year 1700 lowered the shoreline in this area, drowning this little copse of trees and causing a tsunami across the ocean in Japan. 

Along with exploring the tidepools and the sea stacks and finding agates, I was able to sneak in a few stitches while leaning up against some driftwood. 

Start of Essamplaire reproduction sampler, "Aagie Jans, 1732".  Stitched with substitute DMC colors on 40 ct linen.

The choice of pattern seemed appropriate--it's also about 300 years old-- a reproduction sampler from a girl from the Netherlands named Aagie Jans, who stitched the original in 1732.  Aagie lived on the isle of Marken, famous for its boldly-colored and heavily patterned samplers, filled with geometric and nautical motifs.  As you see, I'm not too far along yet, but astute readers have probably figured out why my stitching-related posts have become so scant.  Such is life, filled with big and small earthquakes. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Scissors and books and excuses, oh my!

Yes, I've been scarce.  Many good excuses I won't bore you with.  But, new scissors and books found a home with me! And they are all so different.  Bunching them together like this really shows the diversity in the needlework world that can be found if you care to look.

New Gingher Alicia!

I love the blues so couldn't resist.  You can't really see it in this photo, but the design on the blue background appears to be tiny little peacock feathers.  The Alicias are resting on the completed half of a new piece I'm working of my kids' hands.  If I ever finish the second half (and I must, before my son's hand grows much more) I will do a real post showing off both.  Someday!

And pretty little dovo gold handle scallops. 

Aren't they sweet?  They are resting on one of my new book acquisitions, Scandinavian Needlecraft by Claire Young. 

I love the simple elegance of the Scandinavian folk art-inspired projects in this book!  Some of the embroidered felt swedish horses may make in onto the Christmas tree this year.  Or these charming stockings onto the mantel:

My other two new books, Makoto's Cross-Stitch Super Collection and Drawn to Stitch could not be more different.  Probably the only thing they have in common is that cotton fibers are frequently used.

Makoto's Cross-stitch Super Collection by Makoto Oozu is chock-full of quick little cross stitch motifs.  Many are very non-traditional and quirky, like insects, robots, space creatures, electronic gadgets, and other fun stuff like that.  My daughter quickly declared it one of her favorites and wants some of the brightly colored little dinosaurs and monsters stitched on everything, she says.

Drawn to Stitch: Line, Drawing and Mark-Making in Textile Art by Gwen Hedley is 180 degrees in the opposite direction.  It is full of ideas for the experimental and artistic end of the stitching landscape, using a variety of techniques including resists, transfers, and printing in addition to stiches to explore "innovative uses of line".  Now, I am not a trained artist, nor do I have the resources to explore many of these techniques, but reading this type of book does help get my creative juices flowing.  This page alone, I think may have blown my mind a little:

Those beige squiggles, were stitched using padding and wrapping techniques with fibers of different weights, to imitate worm casts in a rock.  Amazing!  Many of the pieces shown in this book were inspired by rocks or landscapes or even things like eroded walls, so this was a title I had to have.  Gorgeous.  Now if I could only find a little more time for the inspiration to carry through into execution.