Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Hello dear readers,  Although having been quite absent from our blogging village, I've been busy...this is a brief catch-up as well as a hope to be more present in the future.  On a cross country trip in November, the idea popped into my head to have a show/sale at my house; there were many stumbling blocks, but it happened, and was grand!  It was VERY lovely to have friends over and to see what everything from the past few years looked like on display. What follows is a very incomplete survey but...here's the front door.

2 of the necklaces:
(twined string, thank you Jude and India!)

5 scarves I dyed using India's techniques:

Here's the quilt for my grandson Liam that I work on on the long train trip (it was draped over a chair for the showing):
(It just needs a little more around the top and bottom edge and then QUILTING!)

An Italian cookie, with hand-made almond paste and persimmon jam between layers.  I wish you were here to each have one, or maybe two?  as they turned out to be rather tasty.

The Angel of the New Light and the Unknown.  She/he is very small but mighty, and I think is responsible for giving me the idea for this event...

And now, with a big wish for joy to you and those you love, is Miss Gilly-Marie, all freshly laundered and with newly clipped toenails...

Merry Christmas (and all holidays) to you from us...may the New Year bring you love, peace and happy inquiry... xoxo, s.

Monday, November 11, 2013

More experiments

This has turned into a big adventure.  The best dyeing results from my backyard were the nice browns that happened when I tossed apple and maple leaves into the pot, along with the bundles. 
Above is the astonishing marigold bush that grew out of a very small pot from the nursery. The flowers make a warm yellow in a bundle, but I've only tried very small amounts. That's my wondrous first ever lemon tree in the background.

So far my method is to make the bundle...it seems to work best to use moist wool, sprayed with a weak vinegar solution...boil, or simmer it for about an hour, hang it up to drip dry, then let it dry in the oven, where, due to the pilot light, it's quite warm, overnight.  Then pop out of bed and open it before breakfast.

Here are a couple drying and looking prehistoric:

This is today's bundle which is partly clamped with old pennies and round plastic shapes to see if that will yield something interesting:
This cloth was previously dyed (by me), but I'm hoping to deepen the color. It's a fine Italian wool challis or crepe. I've been rolling the cloth around PVC pipes, but this one I tried using two lengths of pipe and an overcloth.  We'll see what happens! I just took it out of the pot, so results won't be available for a couple of days.

Now, some results.  These are 4 light wool scarves (ordered from Christine Mauersburger's Hank and Spool), dyed with an assortment of leaves...the browns are from my backyard leaf fall; the wonderful orange imprint comes from local eucalyptus leaves.  (The persimmon is from the tree in the front of the house.  I haven't yet figured out how to persuade much color to come out of its leaves.) 

I have been reading and re-reading India's book Eco Colour for guidance about all this, and especially about Eucalyptus, of which there is a LOT around here.  Not all of them are beloved by the local inhabitants, but by the freeway grows this tree, a Eucalyptus Pulverulenta (I think), from which I harvested windfall, yielding the results above:

And here is Miss Gilly, watching the crows circle around the persimmon tree.  The fruit on top is quite ripe and the birds are feasting regularly.  Also the raccoons.  But so far no one has bothered the ones I set out on the window sill to ripen.  What a harvest this year!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

First experiments

Here is my little back porch set-up!

First results...apple leaves yielded the yellowish, and maple leaves gave off this lovely pink:

Next, concord grapes and avocado skins:

This is a little bit of the above that I rinsed and hung out in the sun for a while to see what would happen:

All of these I did in a little copper pot...boiled the bundles a little, let them sit overnight and then I dried them in the oven, which is always warm due to the pilot light.

I also made a scarf but don't have pix yet.  Next experiments will be with steaming bundles!

There was a memorial service out at my favorite farm for Barbara, the matriarch.  I will miss her.  Here are the donkeys...they weren't feeling too sociable, but I can't go there without taking a picture of them, and they kind of know that, so they didn't run off altogether.

And here is Gilly who is learning to play ball!  (sorry for the fuzzy photo) I thought that, in a way, except for her hair, and the fact that she's a dog, and a few other factors, she looks a bit like a proud penguin who has just produced an egg...

That's all for now...I'm going to the ocean for a spell.  Love to all.

Monday, September 23, 2013


It was a good trip (understatement). The drive to Lopez Island was long and HOT but what a fine destination!  There are wonderful photos on India's blog,  Susan's blog here, and Christi's blog here.  I have only a few to add.  This is one of my wool bundles...I was so surprised at how the wool responded to the color...I think this might have been madrone.  (note taking is something I hope to get better at)

Here are some of the nine-patch cloths hanging in the barn (we had some rain!)

Below is my nine-patch.  Christi brought purple carrots which donated such superb color...there was a copper pipe down the middle of the two in the middle and a tea bag contributed the orange in those.  The wool pieces are top left and the three on the bottom.

After we managed to sew them all together and admired our handiwork,  India suggested we chop them up.  AACK!! (one vertical cut down the middle, and one horizontal across the middle), then rearrange the pieces to make a "disappearing nine-patch". Here's how mine turned out:
I love it that in three short days we made such a wonderful big piece (I've been making tiny things for awhile). And I loved sitting in Patsy's garden cottage stitching all together. This silky wooly cloth blows beautifully in the breeze...perhaps eventually it will turn into a lap robe.

We also learned to make string and a really nifty folded paper bag to put flat treasures in!!

Alas, we three off-islanders, who had all stayed together at Raiti's, had to wait for and board the ferry then wave goodbye to this lovely place:

We had dinner together in Anacortes, then went our separate ways.  The drive home was quite beautiful except for one monster rainstorm in which the trucks didn't slow down one bit.  So rude. But then the sun came out and Mt. Shasta was more beautiful than ever, hovering hovering, blessing the wayfarers.

And then sooner and later, I slipped into my home driveway!  The next morning I went out and bought a hot plate for cooking bundles made from very local vegetation.  So far I've made a few, and realize there is lots to learn. Today,  I carried home some eucalyptus branches that had been pruned along the path Gilly and I followed for our afternoon ramble.

Equinox, full moon and International Peace Day.  All at once.
(moon through the remaining apple leaves which are being harvested for color!)

I've had an idea.  What if I spend a year making little prayer flags using techniques from this workshop and Jude's classes?  How many could I make by the next International Peace Day? 100??  What would become of them...I could think about that later, but meanwhile I'm about to start #12, if you count all those little embroideries from before.  Hmmm....it's just a thought, a question.

Anyway, in other news, on the equinox we also had our first much needed rainstorm of the season. Here is Gilly in a state of wild-eyed ecstasy as Her Wetness nests herself into the bed.
That's all for now dear readers!  Love to you from me!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Heading home

What a wonderful workshop!  Will post photos when I'm home...am back in Ashland now.  I have eco-dyed fingernails and a happy heart.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

On the road

I've embarked on a big adventure...a road trip to Lopez Island, WA for a workshop with India Flint! Right now I'm in Ashland, Oregon, staying at a lovely AirBandB with my bike!  I rode around a little bit after resting from the drive...the mountains are so BIG.  To look at that is...I do not mean to give the impression that I am an athletic bike rider.  Gently hilly is kind of ok, but I prefer flat, and I like to ride on the sidewalk instead of alongside the cars.  Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to insert a photo...I would love to show you one of Mt. Shasta...alas the iPad is balky about posting photos.  It's a long hot drive...106 degrees for a spell.  Now it's cooling off and the crickets are singing...a homey accompaniment to embroidery...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

One month later

Hello everyone.  Well, I never thought it would take me so long to get back here!  But I've made some progress.  I did do some shop updating and more is to come.  I've been trying to clean up and reorganize whenever possible, and with that in mind I bought a New Broom:

In the gardening department (as you can see there are lots of apples)...I bought my very first lemon tree.  It's in a big half-barrel that my neighbor who passed away left behind.  This little tree has produced its first sign of what's to come...a wee flower bud!

Darling Gilly chewed a hole in the sofa cushion, so I found a new slip cover...it has purple in it!  It didn't look purple in the photos on the web, but now I find that I rather like it, and so does Gilly, plus it goes with the mohair throw!  So far so good with the chewing on it behavior...that is, the not chewing on it behavior. 

Here is a stitchery horse I've been working on.  While I've never owned a horse, the idea of them brings me great joy and when I'm feeling rather lost, it helps me to make images of them.  The little cows are from a pair of old worn out socks, and the things in the sky are fireflies, meaning to express gratitude for the little things that light my way. The indigo linen is from Glennis.

When I was in Vermont my friends introduced me to this wonderful fabric store, Delectable Mountain Cloth, in Brattleboro.  Oh my!  I've been using some of the cloth to embroider flowers and devils:
That's an interpretation of a blue geranium, which seems to like growing here. What follows is a relaxing devil.
Above is a devil whose feet hurt.

This is an upside down devil on different cloth:

And now back to a different sort of reality, here is the August full moon peeping through the apple leaves:
So I hope this has been a good month for you.  There have been lots of ups and downs in my month, that's for sure, but overall I'd say the challenges have brought growth and maybe some discernment.  We'll see.  Love to you, s.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Good News!

Hello everyone!  I'm so happy to report that my embroidery piece that went missing (as reported in last post) has been found.  This is a BIG relief.

I've just recently returned from another train trip around the country!  Now I'm going to see if it's possible to add a photo from my ipad.  Here goes.

Ha! It seems to have worked; although I'm not crazy about the fuzziness, at least it appeared.  This is a stickwork sculpture by Patrick Dougherty.  In front of it is The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.  On my way to Vermont, I stayed in Springfield, MA at a wonderful airbnb that was right around the corner from a bunch of museums.  In the courtyard bordered by the museums was a delightful Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden, as well as the stickwork piece.  There were rooms and pathways inside the magical stickwork house; the heat and humidity seemed unimportant in there.

I'm hoping to do some shop updating as well as creating a facebook page for the mostlythreads shop.  It is exasperating figuring out how to do it (the facebook part)!! So I'm going to let it be for now, walk Gilly, and be glad I was able to post this much! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Well then...

hello everyone.  To begin, here's another Tree of Life from the Victoria and Albert Museum.  I am in admiration of the borders:

Here is part 2 of my story border experiments:
 From the top...an elderly dog being pulled in a wagon: the fans we use in our new tai chi form:  the new lamp I bought for close work which has an icky plasticky smell that I'm hoping will go away:  the ants parading after the last rain:  myself with a giant doggy treat: a skipper (sort of a cross between a butterfly and a moth):  me feeling quite gloomy about an embroidery piece that has gone missing:  O.P., the central character of the piece:  another t-cell (representing an army of healthy healing cells) for a very ill friend:  a day of happy music when an old friend came to town.

Other signs of activity on the home front: a healthy bee brooch:

A very very small tree of life brooch (with rabbit):

This is the embroidery piece that went missing from a juried show in town.  There was an apology and reimbursement, and admittedly some gloom on my part.  I am working on letting go...things happen...but should you see it anywhere, please let me know, because it is not really supposed to be there!

In good news, Grace's beautiful Jellyfish Bride came here to stay!

And here is Gilly, wondering WHEN we are going to go on that walk I told her about:

So I'm hoping this new season will shower blessings on your beautiful tree of life...xoxo, s.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A story of Story

Hello everyone.  This may be long and rambling but I want to continue with thoughts from last post.
It started at the exhibit "Girl with the Pearl Earring" (Vermeer).  There were many portraits.  In asking myself which to study in particular, I looked at them from the question of which artist portrayed someone I would feel comfortable talking to.  Guess who won?  Rembrandt!  Sorry, no pictures, but his faces have so much Story in them...so much life and realness and mystery.  I had forgotten. Then we visited the gift shop and of all seemingly incongruous things, I fell in love with a book, Chintz, Indian Textiles for the West, by Rosemary Crill.  It just popped out at me, so I bought it.  Here is one of my favorite pictures from it:

So much activity, so much Story!  As I've become so aware of in Jude's work and online classes.  Because I'm doing alot of piecing work for my grandson's quilt, I have been neglecting day to day Story, and so in asking how I could bring that back into my work, I was looking at Penny's blog, and at her wonderful stitchings of story.  Then I noticed the borders around the Indian textiles:

and I thought, why not create my own sort of border to record daily events, such as:
This includes a friends' medical emergency, Gilly's toenail clipping adventure, a T-cell for a friend who desperately needs lots of them, 10 Chesapeake Retrievers jumping into the water at the dog park, some bees, an Oystercatcher bird, a snake we saw, and so on.  That was week one.  Inside the borders will be another sort of story (maybe)...perhaps trees and a lifetime of pets...a Memorial Day Landscape of sorts.

Here is the Plant Report: the persimmon tree is amazingly full of flowers.  Either I have never noticed them before, which is not impossible, or this year is so dry that it is a bit survival-anxious:
And lastly, this wreath of maple leaves fell, in almost exactly this configuration, into my backyard last week:
So, incomplete as it is, that's the story for now...xoxo, s.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Hodge-Podge

Hello everyone.  Back from my big circle around the country on the train.  Every day I think of things I want to say to you and then all sorts of things happen and another day has gone by.  So here is a smattering of it all.

It was a good trip...all kinds of weather!  Flooding on the Mississippi.  A blizzard in North Dakota.  Here are some woods in Virginia, on the way home. There was a hollow and every once in a while a dogwood tree or a redbud tree.  We looked down into the hollow from the train...it went on for miles and miles...

I went East across the continent on the California Zephyr and then came home on the Cardinal through Virginia and West Virginia to Chicago.  Then I took the Empire Builder on the northern route through North Dakota, Montana, along the Columbia River to Portland and then down the coast. This shot is approaching Glacier National Park from the East. First the mountains were tiny on the horizon, then bigger and bigger, then we were among them:

My goal on this trip was to fill out the foot square blocks for Liam's quilt...it's taking forever, but I love the way it's coming along and pretty soon I will have 9 of them ready to sew together.  I had to order more blue linen from Glennis and also am going to include some from Deb.  I'm "celebrating the seams", following techniques from Jude, and while I'm trying to keep things more or less square, I'm not worrying about absolute Right Angles.  I think Amtrak would look nice redecorated with hand-sewn quilts:

These pictures are from my camera, but most of the photos I took on the trip were taken on the ipad; however, I have not yet figured out how to post them.  Anyway, I was glad eventually to come home. The marmalade bush said, "Welcome"!

While there is no new picture of Gilly to include, for the animal portion of this report I offer this: just after Grace put up a posting about Buckwheat,  Liam and I stumbled upon one of his relatives in the Princeton Museum:

He has really been around:

That's it for today...I'm hoping to get back to more stories in the sewing...I miss them, and so next time will delve into thoughts about that, and possibly have some examples to show.  Meanwhile, eat well, stay calm, breathe, and get enough sleep.