elves? hell YEAH

My Mojo has been a Nogo for awhile. If you’re read previous posts lately, you’ll know why! I’ve diddled about with bits and pieces, but nothing really exciting, or terribly productive happened, small projects that will get done, but not honestly that i feel terribly interested in.

This morning i buckled down. I’ve wanted to do elves again for the last four years or so; i say “again” as they were a bread and butter item i made in the 90’s. All were very glitzy, and had green “skin”, so a late friend i miss still had dubbed them the “Yule Ghouls”. I made and sold probably 4 or 5 dozen of them, named Ruby, Amethyst, Sapphire, Emerald, etc etc etc all depending on the main shiny fabric i used (ha, i LOVED the glitz synthetics in those days) but alas along the way, i lost the original pattern. I have a few lousy photos of them, but they’re so lousy i won’t dig them out.

Of course, me being me, i thought i could immediately jump in and start pumping them out. No pattern though. Sooooooooooooo, brushing off basic skills again, i made a mockup in some cheap cotton, made some notes, adapted my pattern and started the first prototype.

It took 4 and a half hours from first pattern and the cotton test subject (right in photo below) to the first prototype (left). Still needs arms and legs, and the embellishments, but i’d say my Mojo is now a Gogo πŸ™‚

He’s a little shy at the moment. “Mockup says my ears are too big, my nose looks like a squashed potato, and how am i going to get anywhere with no arms or legs?” (Note: snarky Mockup has only one of each so he can only go in circles, i guess.)

“He’s just jealous ’cause Mom loves me better, even if he was here first.”

Arms, legs and facial features are coming up next, beading, hand embroidery etc–though i will keep it simple. The velvets, silk and lace i used are of course naturally dyed with quebracho rojo, madder and sandalwood. I was fortunate too that late MIL had bags and bags of stuffing, gawdz knows why though as she did nothing “crafty”. Finished size will be approximately 15″ head to toe.


I have so many velvet scraps in different colours that i’m quite excited to give some personality to them!

in praise of scraps

Tomorrow is the LAST day of this messy, chaotic, stressful move, the last bits and pieces of 10 years in an old house (and almost 16 years together of collecting..) that honestly made it easy to “accumulate” things. Funny though, the new place is bigger, has better storage and is more organized in layout, but we want less Stuff now… Another dump run, another donation run and the last bits and pieces from odd corners is by midnight’s goal……

The studio is slowly slowly taking shape, though one thing that is needed is MORE LIGHT. I discovered how bad it is down there when i realized the white thread i was using was actually a soft yellow……..

I’ve been itching to do *something* down there that doesn’t involve going through every bin and box, and then strewing things around because i get sidetracked. Found a bag of velvet scraps–they still got strewed πŸ™‚Β  —and spent some time digging through and fondlesorting, ending up with this gorgeous indigo piece. Close by also was the box of jewellry findings, so:

I made a Thing! A second Thing will join it, and maybe they will be worn at a company christmas party.

But oh to get back to the projects, especially Samara! And i need to find a new canvas for her—the one delegated disappeared on one of the truck runs……..

the new digs

It’s been a very tough 1 month and 22 days since MIL’s passing. Stress, grieving, anger, logistics, managing 2 houses for clearing, cleaning and moving, official paperwork, semi-serious health issues (yeah no cancer in bowels or gastric system!), family dramas (resolved), and just the day to day stuff of a normal life means i have lost 12 pounds (it’s a start…..) and am physically and emotionally depleted. There is light at the end of the tunnel though.

I now have a studio space that is bigger physically, a room that ironically started me on a serious look at textile art (as much as i hated being there with MIL constantly disrespecting boundaries and privacy), and that i have returned to after 10 1/2 years! I *will* miss my big studio window, and have to photograph things in the master bedroom because of the light πŸ™‚ , and no more easy access to plant materials as DogFaced Girl and i got our exercise in lots of green space, (this area is very residential), but i have more wall space, better storage options and even room for a table and 2 chairs should any one ever drop by for a cup of whatever. It’s not a magazine pretty place, but it’s out of the way (basement) and a definite, defined, definitive work area and that’s what i need, especially with the paucity of creativity for the last year or so. (I have never had a “pretty” studio and don’t give a shit about that anyways, so a moot point:) )


HA. I haven’t done anything creative since the end of September, unless digging up rhubarb roots for natural dyeing counts, so i’m itching to get this organized. There are two more of those big wall units to move in here, and a large 4×8′ table to set up. The RubbermaidsΒ  still have to be sorted as to garbage, donate or keep, (with 8 more still at the old place! SORTED! Only 5 full, 3 empty!) but what is left will be stored under the stairs out of the way. I got rid of 4 large plastic bin towers, but somehow “inherited” 2 from MIL that didn’t get tossed, so they will probably go against the same wall. Mostly useless as i found along the way–drawers too small, too many drawers for same thing because of the size, not very stable, not really stackable as the weight presses down and prevents easy opening of drawers below. Fine for small studios with less stuff to store, but ultimately not good for my purposes, and practice! Two though are manageable and will have the tiny stuff no doubt. Or i may just toss/sell after all. The walls have to be patched and repainted, and more lights put in, but it will be functional very soon.



Once the washing machine and TV are out of the way! The space is about 20 x15 in main area, with a little 8×4 alcove.


OOOO, i’ve found a LOT of spruce cones in the immediate area, so i’ll have to give those a go for dyeing with. Might only get tannin results, but wth πŸ™‚ And i have to amend that crossed out line in the first paragraph: we’re within a 25 minute walk to one of the largest urban provincial parks in Canada! Fish Creek Park here i come! I have to respectful though (as i always am when gathering) as it is a protected area, both for plants and wildlife, which means gathering only windfall and invasives. DogFaced Girl will have to stay on leash, not quite as enjoyable for her, but we follow the rules in this regard–and sometimes there are not only deer, porcupines, rabbits, skunks and snakes, but cougars and bears!!! And considering that when i stop to”harvest” she usually (and sometimes annoyingly) lies at my feet, it doesn’t matter that she’ll only be leashed πŸ™‚ (If i could just get her to hold the bags open for my collecting, or carry them after….)

In the flurry of tossing and donating my MIL’s “stuff” (i am SO tired of this), i did exhume some treasure, hidden under enough household linens to wash, dry and bed 5 households (i swear):



Gorgeous pristine white cotton crocheted tablecloths, embroidered and cutwork pieces, battenburg lace, filet lace, small pieces of crochet, needlelace, a few machine embroidered bits, these will be scoured, mordanted and treated to spa days in various dye pots. I’m thinking too of wearable art again as it would be a shame to cut up some of the larger pieces! (Note, these had been “collected” by Jane, as she sadly had neither the talent nor the will to do such work.)

Since i have a rather mundane sewing task today, sewing up privacy curtains for the old house (doing the landlord a favour, because we still love that place!), i’ll be starting the switcheroos down there today. Dig me out in a couple of weeks, would ya?

taking the roots with us

I’m digging up every potential dye plant i can, as we know already that our 100+ year old house will be torn down to squeeze in at least 2 McMansions. Β  Isn’t this gorgeous? Look at the rings! Rhubarb root to cut and dry for winter dye pots.

I still have a HUGE piece to dig up from the back corner, but fortunately Strong Son is here to help us, and can lend some considerable muscle to get it out of not quite frozen yet ground. There’s also two kinds of solidago, a pathetic dyer’s chamomile, and some hops. The hops though, i think i will just harvest and use dried. Not sure the new back15 will take a lot more!

big life changes, and more small Samara stitchin’



I looked for as many apple tree photos as i could, the beauty that was a big part of our lives, and yard.

And the apple tree is gone now. As i was writing this, the arborists showed up, and now it looks like this:

It *was* it’s time after all, i guess. Most of the core was rotted far down into the base of the trunk, so maybe this was a mercy in one sense. At least in the last 10 years, it had a lot of loving and attention, graced us with explosions of blossoms and battalions of bees, and organic limited edition coralpink applesauce. It’s kind of the last nail in the coffin for here, for us. I had one of the arborists patting me awkwardly on the shoulder as i howled.

BUT, then i had a clever idea and contacted the Calgary Wood Turner’s Guild about the apple tree chunks and the guys were ECSTATIC about the tree, and very very appreciative. They’re divvying it up at their next meeting, and are positive it’s going to make many many beautiful pieces, bowls, plates, chargers etc. That’s quite a legacy too for the tree, so we are thrilled as well. In a year, after a rough cut bowl has dried more, they will finish it and return to us a piece of that wonderful memory incarnate.

It’s the end of an era, a big chunk of our lives together, and perhaps the Universe giving a nudge. Co-incidental? Maybe, but a Strange Confluence of Events has happened, all in the space of less than a month…..

Guess who said they would never live in MIL’s basement again? Hint: both of us. Truth: we now own the basement (or are in the process at least, ’cause you know how long that takes.) (MIL died the end of August.) Actually, we will hopefully own the whole thing, top to bottom. It was and wasn’t a tough decision to make, but pragmatically we chose future stability, less yardwork (the Back40 here at The Stately Barr Manor is a LOT of work, and this summer we realized we spend more time on yard work than we do enjoying the results…….), something that will be OURS, and well, life changes, doesn’t it? There were more pros than cons in this decision, but we sure as hell will miss the back40, yardwork not withstanding, the location near the river and so much wildlife always passing through our yard, the privacy of a large lot and a landlord who was THE BEST LANDLORD EVER. (Really, he is. He got us, we got him, it was a fantastic relationship. Thank you Y, we’ve loved every minute of living in this 100+ year old house, a lot of memories, including being married under the 90 year old apple tree.)

I’ve had to choose carefully which treasured garden flora will come with us–we are going from an area that is approx 75 by 120 feet (minus where the house sits of course πŸ™‚ ) to about 15 by 15…………………… I can make this work though! Fortunately we are still not far enough into Autumn, that i can convince these perennial plants that they’re just being shuffled around (as i do sometimes) instead of being transported 18K! I won’t have a big dye garden, but i know how and where to forage πŸ™‚ even in the new neighbourhood.

Half of my studio is gone. I mean gone as in i got rid of half, not moved it to new digs: i was in the process of deep clearing anyways, and this situation made me realize there were (too) many things in there that i never looked at, used, needed, wanted anymore, so donations, throw outs and sells have been happening. I’m not missing a bit of it either! That too is why i have a good sale on at the shop–i’d rather art go to good homes, than move it.

Clearing out , packing and moving our stuff AND MIL’s stuff however is exhausting! I have limited amounts of time (and intent, because of the exhaustion!) because our deadline is October 31st. I have small projects in various “go bags” and work on them when i can. I desperately want to work on Samara, and am plugging away on her components, these being the latest parts:

LOVE these velvets, still a few left on the shop in mixed packs πŸ™‚

Wish us luck, buy my art, carry on!


Shop announcement: SALE

Art for C——-s for that special someone? πŸ™‚ FybreSpace’s physical studio is in the midst of a move, but the online shop is still in the same place, right here!

Save 25% off ALL items (art and fabrics), with the amount refunded at time of shipping, along with *as always* any extra postage paid. (I have tried to add the discount code thingie to the online shop, but it’s not easy to understand, so it’s better this way πŸ™‚ )

All fabrics, art and threads used are naturally dyed with accurate historical methods, no fugitive dyes anywhere!



Change is afoot. Big change, big afoot.

2.26 k of fresh rhubarb root, ready to be chopped and dried for winter dyeing. I still have probably 8k to dig but am hoping my big strong son can help with that next week before we have more than a dusting of S $#@ . Rhubarb root gives gorgeous metallic yellows to greeny golds through to corals and pinks depending on fibre type and mordants and modifiers use.

Roots coming up, roots going down.