Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From Brokenness to Creativity and Healing

I recently watched a program on CNN regarding the recent massacre of the Syrian people.  I woke up haunted by it. This isn’t exactly a subject for my Little House Blog or is it?

My eldest daughter has been teaching me about blogs and her rule number one stressed that I should NOT write about my political or religious beliefs (she knows me too well!).  My blog is about my day to day creations in my Little House Home Arts. And I am not breaking this rule!

This program was about the reality of our world.  It is not a secret to any of us that there is so much brokenness…broken hearts, promises, bodies, families, relationships, nations, governments. I thought this was merely a dark Lenten day for me, but I realized that the story doesn’t end there for any of us. There is healing through love and passion and that is what art is about….. taking bits and pieces of materials, with bits and pieces of time, and bits and pieces of love and passion to create something new and different. With it comes healing and a wonderful feeling of satisfaction.

My Little House Home Arts, from it’s conception has been about making a little house into a home stitched with love, healing and warmth. My “business” has come together from a collection of hope lovingly given to me by others who have shared the bits of their lives, often in the form of scraps.  Many were small and unmatched, and some came with shared patterns and their dreams of me making something beautiful out of their "little bits".  My husband would likely smile and comment about our basement being filled with rooms full of bins of "bits", but that is the way collections grow.  It is truly more than an assortment of material scraps. It is a vast collection of precious love that gets stitched into our personal creations.

I am not meaning in any way to trivialize Syria and the devastation there.  I cannot imagine what it would be like to survive under those circumstances, but I can speak to the healing effect of taking what we are given in life and creating all that we can from it and sometimes under some pretty difficult circumstances and/or health conditions. Our rich heritage of traditional arts was based on the need to do just that.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

From Cutting to Stitching

I go from cutting to needle-felting and hand stitching. My earliest goal of 2012 is to complete many small wool purses, checkbook covers, button bags and pincushions for the Local Artist Market Weekend May 12th and 13th (Mother’s Day weekend) at 70 Main Street, Greenwich, NY 12834.  This venue will include several local artists’ work and is currently being planned by Zaidee Bliss of Align Again Yoga. I am thrilled to be included and hope that many of my readers might get the chance to come. She is planning to have the participating artists there throughout the weekend to meet and visit with guests. Jon Katz, a local New York Times Best Seller author is to speak on Saturday at 2 p.m. He is a delightful story teller and a most entertaining and inspiring speaker. His wife, Maria Wulf will be one of the featured artists. For more information about them and their work see their websites at:  www.bedlamfarm.com/ and  www.fullmoonfiberart.com/.  Hours for this show are Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 11-3. I can’t wait to meet the other artists that will be featured.

Having my projects pre-cut, I can jump right into sewing.  I group my work in terms of tasks.  I first do my needle-felted items. This process will be discussed in detail in a future blog, but for now I will include my photographs of some of my current projects.

Then I fuse my linings to my bag pieces.  These will all be stitched in place as well.

I then assemble the pieces, sew zippers and do decorative blanket stitching around the edges.  Choosing contrasting or matching colored zippers and threads of various weights add to the rich detail that I like.

I also embroider, my bisornu pin cushions, and also the tops of my tomato pin cushions and make their stems as well preparing them for machine stitching and then filling them with crushed walnut shell.

One of my readers noted my organization.  It is my strength to be sure and counters my weaknesses, but that is for yet another blog.

I cannot wait to share more of my work that will soon be available in my Etsy store! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I cut and cut and cut and fill up table tops, bags, big and little, and bins with projects all cut out and ready for stitching..  I must warn anyone who follows my methods that this can produce a bit of anxiety as to what order to sew them in, but there is no thought of that now.

I now have fleece socks to sew.

A basket full of projects packaged up into bagged kits: wool doorstop hens in pieces like freshly cut up fryers (see my recent pictures of chicken wings and pincushions pieces on the table); pieces for primitive frame-able hand-appliqu├ęd  pictures, waiting for each to be richly detailed with embroidery and quilting;  penny rug pincushion pieces, and tomato pincushion :body parts, leaves and unrolled stems; and squares of felted wool to make my wool biscornu pincushions of all sizes.

In another container, I have my organic catnip mouse parts and hermetically sealed organic catnip… Is that why Zeldie, my cat, is stalking me around the house? (Where’s Wald...Whoops, I mean Zeldie?)

This bin holds my ornament and needle book pieces, all waiting to be needle felted and/or embroidered.

And I save small wool scraps to cut up into tiny flowers for my flower pot pincushions, and in a cupcake carrier I have all my pieces for my flower pots, “dirt balls” and other mini pincushion pieces.

Did I already tell you that I love to cut and how fun it is to simply pull out the next project all ready to go.  When I was a child my mother would buy me kits to make special felted ornaments with sequins and embroidery thread.  Mmmm? No idle hands, child or adult!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Life’s Goal

I must rest my fingers from quilting for a while.  I never have grown accustomed to using a finger guard on my finger beneath the backing of my quilts, the one that feels for the tip of the needle coming through.  Not having quilted for a long while my fingers are too soft.  Quilting with soft, tender fingers is like playing guitar without calloused fingertips. I will switch to sewing French knots on my strawberry needle books, all pre-cut.

Every year after I do my State Sales Taxes and gather and tally information for my income taxes, I reward myself with one of my favorite tasks of all…planning projects, pulling fabrics from my material stashes and cutting them out. Now that my children are raised, my life’s remaining goal is to cut up all of my material before I die.  To assure my longevity, I continue to buy fabric and fortunately I’m not close to reaching this goal!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Breaking the Rules: Sashiko Quilting pt 2

Rules might exist for a reason?
Results aren’t always predictable when rules are broken.  With my lap robe I am using different weights and textures of felted wools and I must remember my “no failure philosophy” as soon as I start my stitching.

My stitches are big and primitive as even with much pressing, many seams are bulky and my stitches less even. I have to work at keeping them as straight and even as I can. Sometimes I can take only one stitch at a time and other times I can do a regular running stitch.

I always feel underneath for my hand-stitching to come through the backing before using my thimble to redirect my needle. I also work my diagonal stitches in one direction, smoothing it as I go.  Using my traditional hand-quilting techniques I work from the center to the edge of my quilt with each row of quilting.  Then I turn my quilt and do  diagonal stitching the other direction, forming an “X” in each block.  Again I work from the center to the edge.

Will I like this primitive quilt, like I had thought I would? I stitch on as only more stitches will tell.