Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stitching to Keep My Balance

Good health is a gift that we take for granted most of the time. Actually, we should give thanks for it every day. The past month found me struggling with the illness of a loved one, and the past four days have been spent in hospital waiting rooms. So I have stitched my way through it.
The complexity of this stitching represents well the complexity of my emotional state. Yet, taming the various strands of fabric allows me to focus on a problem that can be solved, a bit at a time. 

At the hospital, people look at me oddly because I’m the only person doing anything while waiting. I can’t figure out how they do it, doing nothing, which would drive me nuts.
Fortunately, we arrived at the hospital in the nick of time, the prognosis appears good, although the road to recovery will be a bit slow. And at least we found the road to recovery. It was dicey for a while.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Take the Time to Look: The Gate

Yes, one should take the time to look around and appreciate. Sometimes we simply don’t pay attention--too busy. And so, because of the beautiful spring-like weather, I went outside and LOOKED at my wrought iron entrance gate. I like this gate. It's standard for the region, but it contains a few decorative details--like the spikes at the top. It's well made and has stood the test of time. However, it looked more shabby than chic. The Before:
Admittedly, rust can create beautiful color combinations.
However, rust also creates holes in metal and who needs a hole in their gate? Since street signs and numbers are unheard of in this area, we would say to visitors "Look for the green gate," and they would get lost. That should have been a sign. 
          So out came the bucket of paint (future mosaic plant container) and the brushes. Once I got started, I remembered why I had put off painting this baby. The size is formidable. The new look:
Ahhhhh, that's much better. It took me four afternoons of laborious work.
Of course, such an event made it into the sketchbook. First, the sketch on fabric sewn to sketchbook paper: 

Then laying down the fabric and machine stitching.

I remember when we first moved to the farm (m-a-n-y years ago), there was only a row of trees with a gate. Now we need walls...and a gate.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Something Cheerful

This year’s winter has been very mild, so the garden has been getting attention. Wild flowers have begun to appear. Still, something cheerful in the middle of January would be welcome, something with my garden theme. Here is my choice :

Geraniums from My Garden (42x52½”/1m07 x 1m33, Feb. 1998), 
machine pieced and quilted, some hand-painted fabrics
This quilt appeared at the 1998 International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX. Was it that long ago ? It seems like yesterday. It’s an old friend.
The colors are off in this detail photo, however, the stitching can be seen. I’ll have to photograph it when I see it again. 

 And may your day be cheerful!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shopping in Tunis

The problem with living in Africa: manufacturers (of anything) show no signs of remorse selling substandard merchandise to people who can't defend themselves in the so-called "Third World." My sewing machine bobbins (plastic) reminded me of this painful reality as the ones I recently bought from Singer break apart after being wound two or three times. Really substandard. So I had to go to the Singer store to buy the largest quantity I could get. They only had sixteen bobbins left--that will have to hold me for awhile.
Then I walked up the street,
past the "Place de l'Indépendance,"
which now looks like this (some independence, huh?),
and on to the Rue Charles de Gaulle, a busy downtown street 
where my favorite notions shop is located.
The sign proclaims "articles de Paris," suggesting high quality imported products (and rather high prices), and the neatly arranged windows show all kinds of tempting notions and goodies.  
Like most shops in Tunis, the space is limited, however, the owners keep it well organized and clean. Not very many customers however.
This is where I find my milliner's needles and my favorite Thiriez cotton thread (French made). I needed the purple and brown, but obviously couldn't resist the dazzle of the other colors.
 Then I walked a couple more blocks, noticed an interesting old door along the way,
and arrived at the shop where I buy batt. This shop is the opposite of 
my favorite notions shop, and a total adventure!
One can't miss the batting. The owner uses it to stop cars from parking in front
 and blocking access to his tiny shop. 
Ali Baba's cavern comes to mind.
This very narrow shop has a high ceiling, a back room, and a narrow ladder to a mezzanine storage area. Miraculously, the owner knows exactly where everything is stored. Despite space constraints, a continual flow of customers crowd in. 

                And to finish off a good day, I found a shop that sharpens knives 
                                           and (more importantly) scissors. 
With the exception of the large Singer scissors on the left, these were my mom's. The black-handled scissors are made by Wiss and still going strong after 50 years of use. When I got home, I tested them all out on a piece of white scrap fabric and realized I had been using dull scissors for the last 25 years.

All in all, it was an excellent day.