Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Textile world losses

The textile community is mourning the loss of three very dynamic women this month: Joan Colvin, Laurel Burch and Susan Oroyan. All most individual in their own right, talented and very giving of themselves. The ethereal beauty of Joan's quilts, the vibrant colours of Laurel's fabrics and the whimsy and delight of Susan's dolls have given us such an amazing legacy to inspire and influence us for years to come. We shall miss their earthly presence but will long remember their magnanimous contributions to the world of fibre arts. The heavenly angels' wardrobes will surely be upgraded to near perfection!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thank your lucky stars........

Sometimes in this world, when we are hurried, stressed and anxious, we tend to take for granted all that we really have and how fortunate we are. Everyone has their ups and downs and we all cope differently with the hand life deals us. Slow down, stop to think for a moment , count your spoons and tally up all you have to be thankful and grateful for .........


Exciting days with Jan and Jean

The Canadian Embroiderers' Guild London is sponsoring Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn in an intensive three day workshop starting tomorrow! I've been anticipating this since March and can't wait to see them once again and catch up. They are always on the cusp of what is new and exciting and never fail to leave you inspired.
I'll be reporting back to you on what transpires - so watch this space!

Betty Pillsbury - CQ Queen goes Green

Many of you may already know Betty Pillsbury through her amazing talents as a crazy quilter and teacher of the needlearts www.bettypillsbury.com
What you may not be as aware of is the fact that Betty is also a passionate herbalist. Betty and her husband Dan, own an idyllic piece of property in the heart of the Catskill mountains in upstate New York, where they run a small family owned herbal business. They have worked diligently over the past few years to turn this pretty but once bare piece of land into three acres of paradise ! I would like to congratulate Betty and Dan on having their property certified as a Botanical Sanctuary this summer! Kudos to you both on being rewarded for your intensive labours and love of all things herbal and natural!
You can see photos and learn more about their endeavours at http://www.greenspiralherbs.com/ and check out Betty's new blog http://www.greenspiralherbs.com/ where you can follow their adventures, trials and tribulations and ultimate happiness in doing what they love.
Now to tie this back to needlework - many of us know all too well the aches and pains of repetitive strain injuries. It can be agonizing and debilitating! I have discovered a few sources of relief via Green Spiral Herbs that have helped me immensely and you may want to check it out for yourselves when surfing their site. I am not affiliated in any way with the business, other than I've been friends with Betty for a number of years and know the Pillsburys to be hardworking, honourable and dependable folks to deal with. In addition, I have personally found their natural products to be quite effective in dealing with stitching pain issues and let's be honest, anything that can give comfort and keep us doing what we love has got to be a plus!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Toronto the Good

This is $ 200 Canadian .....


This is $ 200. Canadian.......

Toronto 's Queen Street West can soon part you with your cash. This was one stop but when you are in supply land, like all good Canucks, you stock up for winter! I spent all Wednesday afternoon on Queen Street West, in Toronto. I never made it to Chinatown or Kensington market both of which were a mere kick in the butt around the corner. I had several projects in mind for the next few months and Queen West is a veritable wonderland for beaders with several new shops appearing in the last year or two. I am still more than loyal to my regular haunts but did manage to take a look/see in one or two of the newer shops which had a few unique items but quite frankly overall they don't hold a candle to my old faithfuls. In addition, I made a must-visit to Mac Fab for their amazing buttons and Sussman Bridal for trims and millinery supplies unequalled. I even managed to grab lunch today, something I seldom do when I go alone but it's been a bit of a frenzied week and I was near one of our favourite bistros, Shanghai Cowgirl and was drawn in. I mean, who could resist an offer like this one:

One has to keep in mind that Queen West is a very old district in Toronto and the shops , on average, are quite decrepid and packed very close together. I've often pondered about the fire codes and sirens play like constant background muzak in the district. Some shops are so crowded when you get inside, you can hardly swing a cat around. Known as the Arts and Design district on the newer street signs or just the " Textile district" to us oldies, you can expect that the shops are as individual and diverse as the owners themselves. Shanghai Cowgirl is a new business in the overall scheme of things but has existed on Queen for a couple of years or more. It is an eclectic place with an old forties type bar in the front with stools and a few tables and booths at the back. The infamous Brit chef, Jamie Oliver, has graced the premises and given it his thumbs up! The staff are all quite young and all very individualistic in their dress...no uniforms here, except perhaps for the tatts which are prolific, varied and colourful! In spite of the old worn wooden floors, the place is spotless and it is a kick to sit back with a " pop" and take in the atmosphere and "people watch" while you wait for your order. I think I was the only one there not sporting a pair of PF flyers ( or a tatt)! Oh, and did I mention the food is fabulous? I had a wonderful strip loin steak on a toasted bun with crisp tasty teriyaki vegetables and a side order of sweet potato fries ( one of the house specialties.) After a pleasant laid back break from arduous shopping, I headed out into the madness and flurry of Queen Street and dashed over to my old faithful, Arton Beads. The original shop, shown to the left in the picture below, is a tiny place which is packed to the gunnels with beads and findings. On the weekends, you literally cannot move in this place for shoppers and that's no exaggeration! It's literally " bum to bum" and every man for himself! Owners River and Alice, have opened a second shop right next door where you can buy one of a kinds, crsytals and more exclusive items. It is always a pleasure to shop at Arton's and you are welcomed with open arms. River in particular has a photographic memory and knows the prices of every item in the shop. When you take your baskets of merchandise to the counter, he swiftly writes everything down in pencil on a small pad and I actually priced everything on paper once myself as a little test and he hit every one spot on, right down to the tiny charms! He's a mathematical whiz as well as an excellent purveyor of beads .

And what would a trip to Queen West be without a stop at Mokuba? The name speaks for itself. The ribbons are to die for! Their newer location is so light and bright with a wonderful skylight and a contradiction to everything on Queen W. Very classy and upscale and of course, right in the heart of the textile district where you want and need it to be!

As six o'clock rolled around and weary shopkeepers were closing up, I lugged my loot towards the parking lot where my grateful bod sank deeply into the seat cushions of my car. Physically I felt knackered but mentally I was on a high and so satisfied with the day's acquisitions and events. Now to jostle and manouvre my way into the traffic ( a feat unto itself!) joining the surge to the Gardiner Expressway for the Formula 1 rally drive home!

Gardner bound!

Farewell beautiful, engaging, energizing megacity until October!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Here comes the wench?

Those of you who have ever been to a medieval re-enactment or know folks who indulge in this pastime, can appreciate just how seriously they take themselves in making sure everything is realistic as possible. Costumers spend hours stitching every little detail right down to the underwear, boots and gloves. Here is a link, yet to another wedding. This time 14th century traditions in the here and now:

In addition, I've added a few sites for you to peruse more medieval stitchery and costume. They are but a few out there but these alone could keep you busy for hours on end and contain some fascinating information:


Now back to the 21st century for a moment! I'm off to Toronna (that's affectionate Canadian slang for Toronto) on a " supply run" tomorrow and will be back with lots of news on what's happening in The Megacity. Thursday is the opening day of the Canadian Embroiderers' Guild Fall session so there will be lots of textile, stitching news and photos towards the end of the week!
Take care, be safe, stitch well and talk soon......

Monday, September 10, 2007

More colours to make you think!

Here's another wonderful site that gives you some amazing colour palettes to play with and there is an overwhelming number of combinations. Some of them will excite you, some will make you shudder but all will incite a reaction in you. You will also find news, articles and trends among many other colour related topics. You could spend hours here playing and learning.

In addition, there is a link to a most interesting colour and design blog, which I have enjoyed for some time. It's a fascinating read and will educate you daily!

After getting psyched up with all this colour stimulation, now go through your stash, beads or threads and pick out some colours you don't normally gravitate to and put some together...... mix and match and play! You'll be surprised what can develop from these exercises.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ah go on, be a kid again!

Although I am busier than ever with three or four large projects on the books, my mind has gone into limbo this past couple of days. Ever have that happen to you....the old bouncing brain syndrome when you just can't get the beano to settle in on one thing? In a way, it's a good sign as I know when this usually happens, shortly thereafter I have a flood of ideas and a flourish of creativity but for the time being, it's a bit frustrating and disconcerting.

I decided to putter through some of my old favourites online and came across this one.... a wonderful site from the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC - it's the Kids Art Zone and there are a plethora of things to do and play around with that just might stimulate your mind ( or mine!) Take a look-see.....

I'm toying with colour combinations these days and teeing up my stash with embellishments, threads, beads etc. I have on hand and playing 'Russian roulette' with some of them.
If you're playing with your fabrics and need a nice little colour boost, check out this wonderful resource.

I think I need a run to the Toronto textile district next week, with side orders of Chinatown and Kensington market - that always seems to stimulate me! Yeh, let's work that into the agenda!
Restless and ready to rip.....

Monday, September 03, 2007

Another wedding dress story

I'm not usually that struck on wedding dresses persé but I do love a bit of history. In today's edition of the British newspaper, the Daily Mail , there's an article on a wedding dress that has been handed down in a family. Six brides have worn the dress and it is very interesting to view the photos and see how the same dress has been altered and accessorized over the generations. Personally, I love the 1935 version. How about you?