Sunday, June 19, 2016

Tidy But Curiously Frustrating

Having spent so long last weekend making things tidy at Shoestring Cottage in the sewing room, and in the whole place in general, I was determined that never again would things get into such a mess.  I sat about for a while in my favourite chair surveying things in all their tidiness.

The dish with the serviettes was full to overflowing with nicely pressed napkins, awaiting use.  The bowl with the napkin rings was neatly placed beside it, similarly ready to be pressed into service.  

 The china on the mantelpiece was standing in an an orderly fashion with not too much dust about

 and even the doggy salt and pepper shakers seemed to be alert and poised expectantly, not slouching or lounging


The bed was neatly made and the cushions maintaining an orderly arrangement

The needlepoint project was awaiting attention but I didn't dare interfere with the wools and spread them all about the place

Eventually I could stand it no longer and dragged forth the quilt which is still needing completion but never seems to get anywhere near the final stitches. 

It did make a bit of a mess but a contained mess with just a few reels of quilting thread, some scissors and my favourite needle.  I beavered away and got a few more squares quilted

but I think that this might be my last quilt with a lot of hand quilting because I am such a slow quilter.  I read of people who can take seven stitches onto their needle at one time and despair, for me one stitch is the norm, two good and three excellent.  It will be worth finishing this one off but after that I may have to abandon my grandiose plans for an armoir full of heavily quilted works of art for the sake of just completing what's started and maybe even moving on to some of the projects swirling around inside my mind.  

Mr Shoestring has been very busy this weekend raking up the leaves from the grass and also was very kind and hung up this brass rack for me, which we bought months ago (possibly years ago) at the op shop and which has been languishing ever since.  I am thrilled with it and of course I won't use its existence as a reason to buy yet more books, oh no no no no.  

The lemon tree which went in as a tiny seedling has yielded up its first fruits, cause for great excitement.  I feel sure that the liberal doses of compost and coffee grounds which have been lavished upon it have contributed to its flourishing and eagerly await the day when there is a glut of fruit and we are casting about for more things to do with lemons.  Lemons would have to be my all time favouite ingredient, there are so many things which are enhanced with lemons from savoury to sweet and they are such a cheerful looking fruit was well.  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Oh To Lead A Tidy Life

It's all very well and good to spend the weekends in creative pursuits inside and out, and having a lovely time playing with fabric and thread, but sometimes life catches up with us and we realise we can't go on much longer in a state of chaos and that Something Must Be Done.  Such was the case for me this weekend. Having dragged out a miscellany of stitching projects last weekend and strewn things hither and thither, this weekend I resolve that It Would Not Do and that some order must be imposed on the chaos.  Of course this is more easily said than done and how it turned out in the end was that I spent a very warm morning scrambling up and down the ladder to the uppermost cupboards in the sewing room, tossing piles of books and stitching supplies up there in a random fashion until the floor was visible once more.  Then I sternly reprimanded myself and reminded myself of my resolution to finish all the quilts I already have on the go, and not to start another thing until this is done.  So out came this old chestnut which I was quilting last winter. It's a very simple quilt, a colour wash of florals with black to set them all off, but I made the mistake of wanting to hand quilt the squares and so it is taking a long time to complete.  (Actually an eternity is how it feels at present.)

In my own defence I can only say that it has been too warm this year to do much in the way of quilting, but now it really is time to take up the hoop and thimbles again and get going.  At least now there is a place to sit once more in the sewing room. without the whole area being covered by fabric scraps and bits of wool and cotton threads.

The most gratifying thing was that The Canucks called around for a visit and Mrs Canuck commented upon how tidy my sewing room was compared with the last time she had visited.  Long may it last (though it probably won't).  Shame it wasn't looking like that last weekend when a steady stream of visitors must have left shaking their heads and wondering how a person could live in such a disorganised situation.

When the crystal garden sculpture mania took hold I had the idea that rather than having single ones dotted about the place it would be much more attractive to have groups of odd numbers together, but it didn't work out that way because of the inconvenient fact that there are so many plants cluttering up the place (most unusual in a garden) and that I could only squeeze in singles.  This weekend this was put to rights by the judicious use of the spade and removal of the acanthus (which was on a campaign for world domination and badly needed to be taken in hand).  We have managed to put three sculptures in place together, which looks so much better.  The earth in between them is looking rather bare but in no time at all there will be new groundcovers in there to fill the space.

I feel very pleased with the look of these three and can't wait to put other groups together where up until now there have only been singles.  Woe betide the poor unsuspecting plants which get in the way, they won't stand a chance once my beady eyeball falls upon them.  

In the garden the purple passion continues unabated and as I was looking up at this pretty deep purple geranium in its hanging basket it occurred to me that in such a small garden it would be good to make more use of space by having more hanging baskets, climbers and vertical elements.  (Particularly as there is no room left now to jam in the new treasures which beg to come in.)  This geranium with its silvery foliage and obliging ever-blooming nature would look good with this tradescantia

which can't be scorned as it is so vigorous and rampant, and for good measure some of this oxalis would be pretty when viewed from below.

plus there is this new ajuga, similar to the purple one I already had, but with paler pinkish tinges

and this ground cover would also be good with them

Maybe next weekend we can investigate this further, but this weekend after the massive tidy up, the quilting sessions and catch up with friends I somehow ran out of time. 

It's time to start thinking about winter deco again, so exciting to be dragging out the accessories and plan the costumes for this year.  This "new" leather clutch bag from the op shop will fill the bill nicely and can hold the powder compact which hasn't been on an outing to winter deco yet.   

And I think these hats will make the cut for day wear, having auditioned after the big clean up.  

Monday, June 6, 2016

Long Weekend Frolics

I'm very grateful to Her Majesty for having had her birthday and granting us all the pleasure of an extra day to our weekend.  No matter that her real birthday is in April, I suppose the powers that be thought we would all benefit more from having a holiday in June when the weather begins to be less than pleasant and we are all suffering from the early winter blues.  The only problem with a long weekend is that it can lull a person into thinking they have all the time in the world and then it's over in the twinkling of an eye.  Somehow I have come to the end of this one and wonder how it is that I didn't achieve half the things I had planned.  Even so, it's been good to be able to get out the scissors and threads and give things a good shake up.

Mr Shoestring and I made the most of our chance to visit op shops on our way to Shoestring this weekend and I was excited to find this cache of brooches which I suspect may have all come from the same proud pin-loving owner.  For now I have put them onto an old velvet cushion where they look satisfyingly twinkly and sparkly but in time they will be adapted into craft projects,  I very much like the thistle with the red "stones"

and also the Limoges one of the lady and gentleman,

 and the star shaped twinkly one.

Not so sure about the one with all the spikes, which seems a bit fearsome and prickly, but it's sure to come in handy for something.  It seemed unkind to leave it languishing alone and forlorn when I took away all the other ones, and I'm sure it will be perfect for something one day.  

In walks around the wetlands I have been very taken with the look of all the seedheads on the grasses and other plants and it inspired me to decorate a skirt with some allium-like seedheads in different colours, which has been interesting to do.

Only one of them has the stem in place so far, and the stems are going to prove rather problematic to complete.  The first one I worked using embroidery thread to couch a couple of pipecleaners in place, which gave a nice three dimensional stem which was very satisfying.  Once I finished it though a bit of movement in the fabric caused the pipecleaner to pop free of the stitching at the top so it might be a case of unpicking (very laboriously) and starting again using something else to give the three dimensional effect I want for the stalks.

Another skirt which was languishing and beginning to be less than inspiring has been given the crazy quilt treatment and its hem is being gradually covered with odds and ends left over from patchwork and embroidery projects.  It might be a good way to use up some of the favourite buttons and labels which are awaiting their turn in the sewing room, maybe mother of pearl buttons on the seams and some of my favourite labels off silk ties and woolen blankets could fill up a bit of space.

I have used an old embroidered table napkin scrap, a piece of black and white ticking left over from upholstering furniture, a favourite piece of Japanese cotton kindly given by my dear friend Sparker, an old bit of blue toile and some silk tie remnants so far here and only scratched the surface of the bits and pieces on hand, the possibilities are endless!

In the garden the cyclamens are the stars right now.  I didn't realise at first what a  lovely scent they have, very light and lemony and fresh.  The satisfying thing about them (or one of the many satisfying things) is that they manage to give such good effects of colour arrangements using only white, pink and red tones.  The combinations are always surprising and interesting.  And then there is the added interest of the shading and veining on the grey-blue leaves, which is worth looking at even when there are no flowers.  

Inside the plant we used to call the Watties Pea Plant has been happy with the long Autumn and lots of sunlight and warmth.  The "peas" on the stem catch the light and look almost as though they are illuminated from inside sometimes.  

And so that's it again for another weekend, where does the time go to?