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Curls and stairs

I’ve been working on this piece over the last couple of days.

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I needed to go to the city yesterday. While there I visited one of my favourite places, the Nicholas Building in Swanson Street. It’s a glorious small building, with an old cage lift, internal arched stain glass ceilings and little details everywhere that surprise. It also has four GREAT shops: Buttonmania, Maria George beads, L’ucello and Kimono house. I visited the latter and bought some vintage japanese fabric. If you’re a crafty person visiting Melbourne, you HAVE to visit this building and venture upstairs.

And THOSE stairs.

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So beautiful.

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Still going…

It’s been hot and humid for a few days. The blueberry plants seem to enjoy this, but I don’t.

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Javi has been struggling to stay cool. But then he does keep pressing himself into the warmest places in the apartment. The windows are hot.

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I’ve been stitching. I’ve been embellishing the bird book pages in an attempt to create a sense of place for each bird. And I’ve been naming and ‘verbing’ each bird. To suggest story, but not with any planning, just going with it. And not to over-tell a story, but to allow a child to weave their own.

I admit that I put myself through hell embellishing Walter. That brown sheeting is so tight, it’s not fun to hand stitch.

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And I don’t usually do this, but I have another project on the go. One evening when the light wasn’t so crash-hot, I started randomly piecing some scraps. And I liked the base it created.

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Then I thought it was such warm, dark colours: maybe it’s a place a cat could curl up. And dream. So that’s what this is becoming.

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I worked on it some more last night, now the dream is twining more and there is a moon.

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Fruitful

This morning: some fruit picking in brilliant sunshine.

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Home with a bounty. Raspberries, youngberries, loganberries. We will eat some fresh, some will go into frozen yoghurt. Yum.

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And back to birds this afternoon. Beautiful fabric from Deb, I don’t even know how to explain how perfect it is. Bright and soft and textured. Stitching between eating berries and drinking wine.

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And a package arrived from Dharma trading. Fabric samples and harem cloth. Precious, soft things.

Now I have enough to keep going.

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The satisfaction of pairing

Today was a bit more productive, I am very happy with this bird from this morning’s stitching. His name is Mr Swampy.

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And that’s it for the bright fabrics I own. His body is beautiful blue silk from SpiralDyed on Etsy. I only have one piece and it’s blue, so at the risk of making too many blue birds that’s all I’ll make from this fabric, for the book. The blue/green stitches down his front are also from SpiralDyed. I would order some more (thread AND fabric) from them, but they are on a break at the moment. It was my first purchase, so I only bought a few bits. But I’m VERY happy with their products.

And so I felt at a bit of a loose end. I surfed the blogosphere and re-watched some of Jude’s Feel free videos. I watched her video of free piecing and was reminded of her most recent ‘stray’ cat piece, made from small scraps that she joins.

I stared at my small bundle of scraps and decided to do some what-iffing of my own. I just pulled out my little collection and spread it out on my board and just played with colour, joining as I felt I liked.

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I’m really pleased with my combinations. And now I’ve begun a little stack of bases and possible figures to make into something larger later. Some of the details leapt out at me as I went.

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And now I have fewer scraps. It feels good. And it was something easy and mindless to do while I boiled the christmas pudding and made dinner.

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I love the little dimples of the basted pieces.

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And I also realised that I accidentally made double the pudding mix I usually do. OOPS. Two full basins and just as much still in the bowl. Looks like I’ll be steaming puddings tomorrow too. Ah well, they make nice gifts, and they mail well.

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And inspired by reading Caro-rose’s blog, I pulled out this old piece and blocked it out so I can frame it.

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And for some reason laying in bed this morning, the light on the ceiling seemed very beautiful.

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It was a good day.

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Boids

This morning was a long walk to South Melbourne market, around the lake. And then back home, around the lake. About two hours walking on a sunny morning. The flies were horrendous on the way back. It’s a bad year.

Once we were back from our treks, I felt inspired to stitch some. I’m trying to lift some of my duller fabrics with bright threads. I worked on this little fellow. He tells me his name is Egbert.

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So I have three pages with recognisable birds now.

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My plan is to stitch their names onto the pages (e.g. Egbert Marchbird) and then the babe can make up her own stories for each of the characters.

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After the names, I will stitch a ‘ground’ of some sort for each.

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I’m still not happy with the fairly dull colours I have in my fabrics, but hopefully that will change soon. I’ll keep on stitching in the meantime. Gotta keep going :0)

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The sky this evening portends a very warm night.

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Hopefully I can sleep, I’m not keen on heat at night. And last night was a disrupted one.

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Flat

Feeling flat this evening. Not sure why.

Sitting on the floor as his royal highness stole my stitching spot when I attended to the laundry.

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I’ve ordered a Fat Baggy! Which is exciting, but I think it’s partly responsible for my ‘funk’. I’ve started to talk myself out of making too many more bird book pages ‘until the magical fabric arrives’.

Well I do have a couple of pieces of brightly coloured fabric (no I mean literally a couple, in case you thought I was joking). So I made two little bird body beginnings. This one is well under way.

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I’m not happy with the wing though. Not enough contrast. Hmm. I may add another line of darker green stitching under the wing to see if that helps.

I’m tossing around whether or not to stitch little names for each bird. The idea is for the book to be for a baby or toddler, read with a parent. For it to be very textural and rugged. But to be fun and bright and silly. So I have some silly words I think I may stitch around each bird, so that adult and child can read together and come up with their own stories, and touch/play with the birds. I’m also thinking each page will have a ground (or branch or water or whatever) that I’ll suggest in stitch that will also be quite tactile. Still thrashing that around.

Despite all that thinking, I’m not doing much ‘doing’. Maybe tomorrow will be a doing day.

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Birds marching

Tum tee tum tum.

I started this project with a plan: a series of silly birds to make into pages. I’ve already deviated from the plan. I’ve drawn a series of bird shapes (or potato shapes or circles or whatever) onto some fabrics.  I’ve prepared some little pages and I’m just blatting the bird shape onto the page, and appliquéing it down. Like this.

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Then I’m either stitching little features on as I go. just as the needle takes me. Or I’m taking a photo and sketching some ideas out. (Thanks eternally for this idea, Jude.)

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I like this marching bird and his crazy bill. Not sold on this diving bird.

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I’m learning a lot about the fabrics as I go. This black cotton is soft and almost sheer. Lovely to work on. The pale brown is an old sheet… Which would be fine except the threads are SO tightly woven together, the needle doesn’t like it so much. Not sure what to do with the rest of the sheet if it doesn’t like being stitched…

Yesterday was a farmers market morning. And among other prizes, I came back with the most beautiful little bag of chat potatoes. We basically never have potatoes but I love them. Tonight I baked them, with whole garlic cloves, and asparagus spears. I made a herb butter. There was red wine.

Potatoes. Such creamy perfection.

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Moving face cloth along

Last night I finished my crystallising rock man and put my face cloth aside for a while, deciding what to do next. I pulled out one of my newer books that I’ve only partly explored, The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff. She talks about a really simple ‘envelope’ method of finishing very small quilted pieces and I realised that that was how I wanted to finish my face cloth. Very simply backing it right sides facing, then turning it right side out, then quilting it.

So I ‘enveloped’ it before bed, and started quilting it this morning.

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Again, I’m keeping it fairly simple and freeform, allowing the needle to go where it wants. I want the stitches to be visible, part of the energy between the faces, so I’ve started multiple rows of running stitch, using Jude Hill’s method of making stitches tiny on the surface as they flow *through* the faces. And then in places I’ve started to flow *around* the faces too, and then spiral into the spaces between them.

For this whole project, I’ve just been using bits of leftover embroidery thread I have from old kits. I have them sorted by colour(ish), so I’ve just been drawing out whatever colour appeals to me as I go. I’ve been applying the same procedure to the quilting stitches, keeping the colours fairly soft, but varying them between pale golds, dusty pinks and greys. I want them to be visible, but not take over.

I’ve needed to stop this afternoon as my fingers are getting sore. As they do with too much in and out. But I love the soothing rhythm of repetitive stitching, both physically and visually. I love running stitch. My running stitch isn’t always neat and even, but I enjoy the outcome anyway.

I should finish this tonight or tomorrow. I already have my next project boiling away in my mind, so I’m enjoying taking my time on the running stitch and letting the new thoughts simmer.

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Flame manes, ladies, rock men

The flame mane lion creature is done.

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Stitching the mane was a slow and satisfying experience. I enjoyed the split backstitch, and can see myself using this again and again.

I also completed this lady… I think she’s river creature, flowing and spiralling.

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And have started this rock man, crystallising and extending into the space around him.

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Faces so far. Almost done with the faces, but I feel they need some space-embellishment. Then backing and quilting. I can see spirals.

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