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 🙂 ) 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 🙂 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 🙂

Wish us luck, buy my art, carry on!


a little Samara somethin’ somethin’

Natural dyeing and hand embroidery are what keep me grounded, sane, functioning. Trying to stay focused while dealing with two sets of family, with two sets of issues that directly affect us, my own health changes, you know, Life (and Death…)……..But i have managed to at least finish the velvet hexes, and will start on the ones they replaced. Dyes are madder, quebracho rojo, osage, indigo, cutch, hexes silk, threads cotton.

Neither of us is getting enough sleep, though i’m trying to make sure we eat properly, especially the Greyman who’s appetite is bad at the best of times……

sometimes a week has a lot of days to deal with


The weight of the apples this year was too much. Picking before this happened would sadly have not prevented this: the big branches are thoroughly rotten inside where they “attached” to the tree…… And of course, this was the best year yet for the fruit. Golfball sized and rosy, they make an astonishingly deep pinkycoral sauce that needs no sweetener–but does necessitate hours of cutting up hundreds of them for a score of 3 litres of sauce.

The whole thing may have to come down, a very sad heartbreak. It’s 90 years old we bet, and if/when it’s gone, there will be no shade, no explosive mass of blossoms and bees, no woodpeckers or porcupines or deer visiting, and another part of this house’s history gone…..

There’s a new “baby” who has joined the family.

This is Sally, as sweet as her name. From the face, you’d think she was a grey tabby, but stretched out full, she’s a “torty” with tab markings. Sally belonged to my departed MIL, and it’s a good thing we rescued her when we did, the night before MIL passed away (Aug 30), because apparently after a death, only the executor of the estate is allowed to enter the home until everything has been inventoried. (We know they would have fed her, BUT they are still in a foreign country far away, and not back until Sunday night of this coming weekend! Try changing a whole family’s tickets for an early return–3times the price of the original airfare return!!!!!!!!!! She’s have been one very hungry and dehydrated kitty!)

We have wanted this girl for a long time. She lived under MIL’s bed for the most part as she was petrified anytime someone came in the house. We figured cleaning staff may be responsible for this and are so pleased, that while still skittish, she makes herself at home every night on my bed, with plenty of purrs, head butts and long luxurious stretches. She is HOME. Slapshot and Nessie are really not interested, except for the extra “Fud” being doled out 🙂 The family will blend well once again.

I am still trying to decide which natural dye i will use to transform the white swiss dotted cotton to the body of a dress.

I did two little tests (to the right) with quebracho rojo “leftovers”, the paler almost brown an exhausted bath, the pinker an alcohol extraction, less used. I’m leaning towards them with an overdye of tansy, to get the coral i want, but may slip some madder dips on some areas for a slight ombre effect.

I’ve also been working when i can on the new hexes for Samara.

They’ll replace the original ones cut from the background, which will also be embroidered this way and re-attached.

We’re just taking each day as it comes, slow, doing what we can as we can.






progress on second Suzani, and more importantly, Samara too!

I’m trying to spend less time on line, and more in the studio….ha.

Samara’s body is almost done. Her wings are pretty much done, if not in execution, but in idea. (You know that one: in your mind it’s done because you know what you are going to do to finish that section, and can “see” it done 🙂 ). I decided to change up the hexes along the right side though: the recent naturally dyed velvets are perfect to tie in with the areas around the wings. I’ll still use the cotton “solids” that were originally slated for there, and treat the stitching the same way.

I added another greenblue thread as well:

Same type of stitch in think as “Original Truths” was done with; i do like that organic root/branch/path idea:

I was looking at older work photo files again, puzzling over how to treat that big area of red background, and found progress shots of “Strange Soul Take Flight” (2013), a continuation and expansion of the root idea:

I need more threads in the blue/green range as that is what’s going to tie it all together. I may combine some cutch or quebracho rojo with the tansy and indigo: i don’t want this idea to fight with the hexes.


Now known as “Harlequin”, i could also jog the suzani part into ‘soupzani”……… I threw a bit too much at it, but i’m just going to go with it. It’s joyful, it’s fun to work on, and what the hell: whose rules anyways?


I know already that the edges will be bound with indigo, whether in silk velvet or cotton, solid or eyelet (?)


And the dress fabric from the previous post is now being mordanted 🙂

Samara coming sooner-ish

The colours of naturally dyed velvet lately are starting to show on Samara, apt because while she represents Autumn in all its glory, these colours too are part of harvests and landscapes. (Click on her for a close-up.)

I’m fondling these as well, with ideas percolating. Velvet is a bit tricky, requiring more patience to stitch, but simple shapes and manipulation techniques might work. Maybe a sister to Samara? (As long as she doesn’t take coming up 3+ years to create….)

Samara mock up, oh bugger

“Autumn after all is not just a time of endings, but of rich harvests and warm gatherings.” October 2017

So, now she is all colour, not rust and neutrals.

BUT. OH-OH. *NOW* we think of stay-stitching ALL edges????? Lesson apparently not learned well enough very long ago: bias stretches. Bias stretches a LOT. A LOT of LOT. Especially when it gets washed, dyed, washed, overdyed and hung to dry……

There’s a hell of a lot more space between edges now than i had envisioned. (This is a loose pin job, but even if i wonked her in there “correctly”, there’s still more space than originally “planned”……..) Shrug. More embroidery to add. (Oh darn.) I’ll also have to slightly, daintily, delicately manipulate by slight dainty delicate gathering to fit sides together, especially at the leg area.

However, we are happy to be working with each other again.