Category Archives: hand embroidery

UFO’s off the pile!

Before i jump into new work, there are several pieces i wanted to finish! Started in October of 2012, and still un-named, though i suppose i could take the easy way out and call it “Love Letter”. The right top corner is a rough translation into embroidery from a fragment of a torn up letter i found on a walk.

unknown languagelitpanI do love that cabachon rose though, and the technique may show up elsewhere in the future.

sra oct1212 cIn part, this one languished because it really was not saying much to me. After finishing the 5th of 7 bees on “A Birth of Silence”, i realized the bees were the answer, and sprinkled the bee jar over the top. And that bound edge of rhubarb root dyed silk makes it sing too! All of the fabrics are ecoprint on cotton or natural dyes on silk, though the threads aren’t, as i hadn’t done any serious thread dyeing yet.

love letter

love letter detail 1

love letter detail 2Available.

The second one i finished was a funny little piece called “Alien Twitter”, sometime in June 2012. The orientation could be scroll like or horizontal to be “read” 🙂 Appropriately, i finished this while we were watching “Babylon 5”, one of the Greyman’s holiday prezzies. Rust, potassium permanganate and brazilwood, this fabric again is from my 2012 ACAD residency, bound with indigo overdyed ecoprint.

alien twitter

alien twitter detail 1

alien twitter detail 2


When i signed these, i dated “Love Letter”, something else i’ve been doing for the last 3 years, but somehow it seems wrong with these as i only finished them long after the fact of creating them, so “Alien Twitter” is signed only, with no date…….an unimportant issue really, but i feel strange about adding them to a dated gallery!


And i’m still finishing up a third one, started in October of 2012 (what is it with the 2012/3 works????)

jam day oct26

These darn things hang around, whining and complaining, but rarely getting full attention, i think because a. i get bored of them, and b. i forget about them when they get shuffled away. Some still left to do may never be done, or may end up being cannabalized. I hate to “waste” work!

Red and colour is on my mind again–plans are afoot for new work.

january hibiscus

january hibiscus c

january hibiscus bTime to clean up and re-organize the stoodio, to begin again.


better detail shots of “A Birth of Silence”

Still not the whole thing as i am finding it hard to find a good spot for space and light!

detail shot dec 30_15 ABOS

detail shot dec 30_15 ABOS bAnd now it’s time to turn my thoughts to new work. I have goals again, one of them being not to get SO immersed in something that it becomes a Herculean effort to finish! I’d like to work a bit smaller again, with colour and more sculptural (ly?).

Probably my last post of the year, so i wish you all the best in whatever *you* wish/plan/desire/do. See ya on the other side of the calendar.


“A Birth of Silence” makes her debut

I can’t believe how slow i was with this one! Started at the beginning of April, i had some real time lapse moments–as in, i let it lapse in time to work on! Don’t know why i had such a block with it: Padded Cell took 7 months, and it was at least as much stitching as this one, give or take a hundred hours! *I sort of kept track at the beginning of how much time i was putting into the handwork, and gave up at around 142 hours–add another 76.675459 or so, and that means a lot of myopic moments!

So, nine months later, here it is, “A Birth of Silence”.

We are losing our habitats, our rivers, indeed much of our planet, to irresponsible stewardship, on global and personal levels. Without pollinators, our food supply and natural reserves will be devastated. I have chosen to represent these necessary life forces in “A Birth of Silence”. Bees hover around a butterfly egg, the honeycombs and pollen grains are suspended in space, perhaps to disappear forever. Without the key element of pollinators in the world, there will indeed be a colossal birth of silence, a death rather, of everything we need and desire in our world.

I am truly horrified by how even locally this mismanagement is so striking. I learned this past week that my beloved Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and the local “wildlife habitat” area are in jeopardy of becoming simply open spaces with no real natural benefit to the local ecosystem. Invasive plants, non-native plants, no water in the marsh areas, plowing over the area that was used as flood mitigation repair which opens it to more invasive and non beneficial plant life, plowing which also destroyed the natural land formations of small hills and barrows and all of the trees remaining after the flood, no long term plantings for birds and small mammal food supplies and nesting/shelter areas, removal of beaver populations, improper stewardship of new plantings, construction of touristy buildings and well meaning but spurious “art projects” gawdz, the list goes on and on……….I suspect some eco-activist action may will be upcoming in my future.

Through the local fibre arts group Contextural, this will be part of an exhibition at the Alberta Craft Council Gallery in Edmonton, Alberta. X3 features 3 organizations on the cutting edge of fine craft: Alberta Potters’ Association, Contextural Fibre Arts Cooperative and the Nina Haggerty Centre.


This is the starting fabric, the base, created in my 2012 residency at ACAD. I had deliberately done large pieces, intending to use them as start points for future work. (Some of these are still sitting in the stoodio, waiting for inspiration.) You never know where these will lead you until the time is ripe. Through the last few years, my intent is faster than the implementation though, truly “Slow Cloth”! (Note though, “slow cloth” is NOT just about hand work–it’s about intent and commitment.)  I know too that sometimes–for me at least–my ideas can’t come to fruition until i have the skill set to make them real, whether it be a particular technique, or a concept, or a deep seated NEED to do that specific work.

I flipped the fabric though so the orientation is this way (hence the upside down ©) :

big expanse orientation

After exploring this technique for the past two years, i am still thrilled by the dimension and texture created.

ABOS pre exhibition 1

ABOS pre exhibition 2

ABOS pre exhibition 3

ABOS pre exhibition 4

ABOS pre exhibition 5

I don’t yet have a photo of the whole hanging properly (the top 6″ of this is folded over behind), but am hoping to amend that by seeing it at the exhibition on January 16th–i might just finally show for an artist reception 😉 Measuring the final result with the draw-in and tension, the size is 36″ wide by 43″ height.

(I just realized, the conception, gestation and birth of this one was indeed 9 months……..)


 *I don’t normally count the hours, but i was curious myself to see how much time does go into these works. It doesn’t make me any “better” than anyone else who puts time and serious effort into their art, but i had to laugh after seeing an article about a young man who puts THIRTYFIVE HOURS into each piece 😉 HA! There are many of us who put in much more than that!


Bags of colour=thread porn!

Because i had thought i was going to run out of my trusty Caron Wildflowers “Pebbles” colourway, i had ordered more. (Fortunately, i didn’t run out for “A Birth of Silence”.) When it arrived, i realized my thread drawers were a royal mass of mess! Some of the threads were colour grouped, some were lumped together for dismissed projects and some were just all adanglish and twangled.

I spent a happy three hours sorting, tidying up and organizing. My naturally dyed threads have their own cabinet now as well–what a treat to go to Princess Auto again 🙂 I used to store my flosses on those stoopid little cardboard or plastic “bobbins”, until the day i realized there were almost permanent kinks, and i had waaaaaaay too much to wind this way! I like these little drawered storage units, because the whole floss fits in, unwound and with label still attached, i can see the colours, and they look rather cool grouped on the shelves in the stoodio!  Admittedly though, there are also three drawers in a larger unit, but all the threads there are now bagged, and organized by colour range, thread type or “value” (as in this one is silk, this one is cotton, this one is hand dyed.) I keep ziplocks on hand in various sizes for organizing project use, or possible combinations!

Since i have had some of these threads a long while, there are colours i rarely use now, except as flashes of contrast. It might be time to work some dedicated pieces with less favoured minions.

I thought i had a lot of threads in 2012:

thought i had a lot in 2012Nope. But now i do!


black grey white ecru

oranges specialities blues

white thread cabinet


purples and browns

yellows and reds

red thread cabinet



mostly variegateds

naturally dyed threads

unfiled for project

thread journal

thread journal pages


And with the Canadian dollar so low in comparison to the rest of the world, well, i best be getting on with using what i have! My last purchases worked out (factoring in exchange to US$ and the shipping) to almost 7.25 for each skein, and unfortunately, even if i had bought in Canada, there wouldn’t have been much of a difference in savings……




fair flying

nov 10 abos

The centre of the butterfly egg has really lovely raised texture and height—-partly planned and partly serendipity in attaching the whole.

nov 10 abos detail

Four hours yesterday and four today have resulted in most of the bees and pollen grains being done, the centre holes of the butterfly egg attached and the final vision for what this will be is cemented in my head.I had to push through to get enough done to photograph for our next Contextural show at the Alberta Craft Council in January. My eyes are so tired, but my fingers, while sore and pricked, are loving the textures.


miles to stitch before i sleep (again)

ABOS to nov 3 a

ABOS to nov 3 b

ABOS to nov 3 cI have not been stitching much in the past two or three weeks…..It’s time to gear up again and get more done, consciously, purposefully and with that looming deadline in mind. I consider it barely over one third completed…..

Photographing this one as it is to this point though, has made me fall in love with it again. When you work by hand, especially on large expanses, becoming myopic is a constant danger. The old “can’t see the forest for the trees” thing holds true: you literally can lose sight of what you are doing. Perhaps i needed to step back, physically and emotionally, to get back to this.

I have taped a checklist to the wall for this one, reminding myself of steps and desires.

Comments Off on miles to stitch before i sleep (again)

Posted by on November 3, 2015 in "Art, fear and permission", A Birth of Silence, hand embroidery, in progress, lessons to learn


texture, it’s all about the texture

aug 25

fb abos 1


Posted by on August 25, 2015 in A Birth of Silence, hand embroidery, in progress