12/30/2010

There Be Bears Everywhere!


Once again I get caught up in the flurry and rush of daily life (and Christmas festivities) and find myself neglecting this blog. If I make any resolutions at all this year it will be to get better at posting here. It's not like I have a lack of things to post about. I have been very busy!


Today's post I wanted to show you a bit of the decorations in downtown Strasbourg for the holidays. It was a very beautiful and I really enjoyed going there. We made several visits the last few weeks. One thing I noticed that i just really loved is their use of polar bears in their christmas decorations. It is very popular here and I think the effect is adorable!



There were trees and banners everywhere


and lots of windows to peek into


carousels and Christmas booths galore.



Strasbourg is truly a wonderful city to visit. I also did a post over on the Handmade in Europe Guild blog about my visit to the Strasbourg Christmas Market. Lots of pictures of their wonderful wares. It was such a fun visit! Be sure and drop over there and check them out.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and I am wishing everyone a peaceful and prosperous New Year!

Much Love, Diane
12/13/2010

Redecorating the Living Room

Since we moved here we haven't been happy with our livingroom. The dining room and living room are actually one long L shaped room and it never seemed to be set up properly. So the last few months D and I have brainstormed how to make the room flow better and make it so we used it more. I spend a lot of time in my studio and he at his computer. We just weren't comfortable in the living room.
So we completely rearranged things two weeks ago. I can't believe the difference in there now. We switched the dining room into the living room area and it made everything better. I decided that with the change we needed new curtains, lots of pillows and a table runner. I went right to work on them. I want this finished by next week when the family arrives so it will look nice and be comfy for Christmas.


I dug around in my shelves full of clothes to be used in projects. (I try to reuse and recycle every chance I get) I came up with an old pair of jeans, several black tshirts and an old velvet shirt that already had part of it used in something else.


These I will be using to make a coffee table runner. I have it all planned and well into halfway completed for the two wrap sections. I hope to finish this by the end of the week. I have a trade going with a wonderful felting artist who is creating a table runner for the dinigroom table to match everything. I am excitedly waiting for it to arrive!


I also dyed yards of this beautiful colorway to make curtains. They sit here patiently waiting for me to sew them. I am making simple panels that I will tie with black scarves. I think this fabric is gorgoeus enough that it will look perfect like that.


And last but not least I have a few yards of this. I will be covering several pillows with this to toss about the room. I am considering some saffron pillows also but haven't decided. The room is decorated in blacks, whites, reds and golds so I think these items will really bring a nice finishing touch to the room. I can't wait till it's done!

I promise once I get it finished I will post pics for you all!
12/07/2010

The Northern Winds Blow


I bought a winter coat last month. I havent really had one since I came here. Mainly relying on my lovely wool cape and a jacket underneath. I found something in the style I wanted and a price I could afford but it wasn't very warm. I decided that instead of continuing to search for another coat that I liked that I would buy this one and add some extra lining. After all, I have tons of old sweatshirts and such in the studio just waiting to be used for something useful. So I spent a few evenings this week working on my coat. I cut up a nice thick sweatshirt and pined it to the inside of my coat and then took bits from another sweatshirt to fill in the blanks. I stitched it all in by hand and found it very enjoyable. I know I could have just taken the satin lining out and apart and made new pieces to sew togethr on the machine and then slapped it back in. It would have worked but would I have had the satisfaction I got from this project? I dont think so. I just enjoy the neat stitches, the way it all joins together and knowing the job is well done. Will anyone ever see it now? No. But I know its there :)
12/02/2010

Winter Flowers


Outside here it is a winter wonderland. So freezy cold and nice fluffy snow everywhere.
Inside is another story though. I was marvelling at my pretty flowers today


The fuchsia is just blooming away, bringing such bright and cheery color to the room.


The rose has a bud on it! I know this is a bad photo but you can still see it there. Soon I will have a rose too!


Even the rosemary is blooming


But what was the most surprising was this: Under my plant table was the pot with the hyacinth bulbs. I didn't even realize we had brought it in, since it is supposed to be hibernating. Look what has happened...fat little blooms nestled inside of those leaves, I do hope they pop out of there. The smell coming from inside there is heavenly though. What a treat!
11/29/2010

Lovely lacy christmas trees...






Hello Everyone! I posted a tutorial on this lacy Christmas tree over on my guild blog. Go have a peek if it interest you.
Hope you are all having a great week!

11/26/2010

RainbowFingers Giveaway and Dye Experiments


Before I say anything else, I want to congratulate Cat's Wire for winning the giveaway today. I will be sending out your goodies as soon as I get your address :)

So this week has been a busy one for expermentation but I think I finally have a handle on how to get nice dark colors on habotai. I learned a lot of things about dyeing this week and that is a good thing to me. I want to know everything I can learn about what I do. I dont like running into brick walls, standing there scratching my head and thinking, "Now what do I do?" Never a good feeling.


So after lots of research (because I always have to do LOTS OF research before I do something) I did some experiments with little bits of silk.


I did a lot with my MX dyes and vinegar because I knew that using soda ash and vinegar gives distinctly different results with some colors. Then after finishing with those, I did some Dupont dye experiments.


Now everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, I read said I HAD to steam these dyes for something like 3 hours. I wondered how on earth I could accomplish this. Then I decided to throw caution to the wind and try the microwave instead.


Now the microwave seems to work well with the procion. I do get dye run off when I rinse but very little, the colors are set well. I even ran them though a hot wash after with no change in the results. The dupont, which was what I was worried about has NO dye run off. It was completely stable after a very short stay in the microwave.


I have yet to try doing a 2 1/2 yard piece of silk in there so I guess that will be my next experiment, but the results so far are VERY pleasing! I only have the three colors in dupont but I will probably get a few more. Truthfully just using the vinegar with the Procion MX will satisfy more of my needs. Silk doesnt like a lot of the deep blues and greens with Procion MX and soda ash and will not dye the black no matter what. Well now I can get great black...and brown and the beautiful black brown mix there in the middle was what I was shooting for. Perfect!
11/22/2010

Something warm this way comes...

One of the things I have been putting a lot of work into lately is different scarves. I have been making all of this beautiful fabric and wanted to do something with it. Since I love scarves so much and I know other people do to, I decided to make several kinds. I know I talked about this a few times back when I was first thinking about it but I dont think I have shown you the results. I thought I would show you a few pics of some of the finished items. I have just started listing these in the cymberrain shop on Artfire

I started out making these long and sinky scarves and I think I showed you a photo of a few of these:


Then I went on to making some larger scarves with the silk velvet and these I lined in silk charmeuse. These scarves are so wonderfully plush and the charmeuse is softer than butter. Just lovely!


I have also been making some yummi warm double thick flannel scarves. I just LOVE this one!


Besides these I have made a rainbow of cotton scarves that are still sitting here waiting to be photographed. Hopefully soon but with everything I have piled up it might take awhile!


I am chipping away at the piles as fast as I can. I have a mountain of silk ribbons to list in my shop, more floss and some lovely silk habotai pieces and larger silk gauze pieces for the nuno felters out there. I am also starting to experiment with some silk dyes and might show you some pics of my experiments. I want to be able to get some nice deep blacks and super bright brights on the silk habotai and gauze and that will never happen with procion mx so I must expand my horizons.



Lastly I just wanted to send you all a reminder: Dont forget I am having a giveaway on my Artfire Blog and you are almost out of time to sign up. Go there now if you dont want to miss out!
Have a great week and a Happy Thanksgiving!
11/18/2010

Recovery

Well I did it, I pushed to hard and down I went. I got the worst case of the flu that I have had since Talence. Lots of coughing, sneezing, sniffling, tea drinking, sleepless night cause I can't breathe, and then...just when I thought I was starting to get better...another bug, Stomach flu and all the fun involved with that. So ten days later, I am here, still a bit slow and sore, and definitely ten pounds lighter! I plan on continuing to take lots of time to rest for awhile but hope to start getting something accomplished again. I have been working a bit when I could but most days I simply had no energy and could care less what was happening.
It seems this year more people have been down sick than I remember in a long time. Not just sick, but sick for days on end sick. I hope everyone out there is keeping well. Get your flu shot. Take your vitamins. Whatever you can do to stay healthy. You don't want what I've had. Trust me!
11/07/2010

RainbowFingers Giveaway


Hello all, hope you are keeping warm! As you all know I have been a busy bee here in my studio, sewing, dyeing and all kinds of busywork. I have finally completed my first group of Silk Velvet Square Packs and in celebration I am having a giveaway over on my RainbowFingers shop blog Head on over there if you are interested in winning a rainbow silk velvet square pack and be sure to check out all the new items there, including all my velvet square packs.


I am getting closer to finishing the big update to that shop. I finally got my business cards and new packaging for my items. I really like how they turned out. I still have a large backlog of ribbons to add to the shop and some silk gauze but once thats finished I can start concentrating on my sewing again. I have been working on lots of scarves and such but right now they are all buried under stacks of pretty hand dyes. It has been a bit of an elephant, these tasks I have been tackling these last few weeks, I am slowly conquering them though! When I am finished I will have things streamlined and easier to go forward.

I rearranged the studio because no matter how well you think it out at the beginning you find after you work there awhile that things would just work better a little differently. D also set up some different lights to make things brighter in here. The dye studio was just too dark. I also set up a photography corner. I can already tell even though things are still a mess that it is going to be easier to get my work done. We all know that the easier it is to get our work done means the more time there is for SEWING!

So I know I have been absent a lot these days but soon things should be a lot calmer (who am I kidding with Christmas heading our way) I have been promising myself time to stitch for quite awhile now and keep pushing it away, I am going to put my foot down soon and just insist. I love my dyes. They are beautiful and they inspire me but my first love is my sewing and no matter how much I love my dyes I will not allow them to push everything else out of my life! So keep your eye out and you will see some stitching content returning soon, really!

Dont forget to check out my giveaway!
10/31/2010

Halloween...where?



Me as a tattooed lady one year for Halloween

Here in France Halloween is not really celebrated. Too many people here view it as a commercial holiday and have no interest in it. If you are lucky you might see a few children wondering to and fro, hoping to find someone with some candy. Occasionally you will find a store that actually has a selection of costumes and decorations, but for the most part it just isn't happening. I miss it, a lot. When I lived in Seattle it was all out craziness. Everyone I knew dressed up. There were costume parties on every block. Decorations galore! It has always been my favorite holiday and my friends and I would sometimes plan months in advance for our costumes. My favorite one was the dark fairy costume I made with the mini skirt made from iridescent taffeta leaves, black fish nets and combat boots. It was a blast!
So today I guess I am feeling a little bit homesick. I am wondering what everyone will be up to, what they dressed up as and anticipating great photos on facebook later this week. I am finding comfort though in my studio. I come in here and find myself surrounded by the things I love. I have been so hard at work and I see it in evidence everywhere I look:


The scarves hanging on the door patiently waiting their turn at the sewing machine,
which is patiently waiting for...


My new walking foot! It finally arrived :)


Piles of velvet squares sorted into packs, waiting for their photography session.


And pretty little pieces waiting to be made into tarot card bags.


I finally have these two finished and mounted on velvet, all they need is a session with the sewing machine, ties and tassels.

So I may not have Halloween this year..again, but I have this wonderful studio full of beautiful materials to play with to my hearts content. I let a little spookiness shine through with my last few pieces and that was fun!


10/26/2010

And we pass into autumn


The days are growing shorter and the leaves are finally starting to change color. The heat is on and I keep my blanket on my lap while I work these days. I love this time of year though. Mother Earth prepares for sleep and I see long quiet days ahead of me. Time to create. I no longer cringe at the thought of the holidays. They are not so hectic here. The crazy shopping frenzies are behind me.


I have still been busy with the last dye batch . In fact I still have things waiting for their dose of dye but all in good time. I have wrapped piles of floss and took lots of pictures and I am happy for it, but my mind is turning away from all of that. I find myself looking at my pieces that are waiting for my attention. "Soon" I tell them.


Last night I played with this little piece. It is fun and I like it. Soon it will also be mounted on a silk velvet bag...a place for someones treasures.
10/22/2010

Explosion of color

I have been working myself silly here, so much so that the days have just flown by. I was kinda shocked to realize that it was Friday already and I hadn't posted here all week. I went a little dye crazy...well actually a LOT dye crazy, and I'm not even done yet. I still have a pile of ribbons in the soda ash waiting their turn on the dye table. I have spent days ironing and photographing. I have made a promise to myself though. Once this batch is finished I am done for awhile. Seriously. I hadn't planned on doing this batch, I really wanted to get to sewing two weeks ago but realized I needed to dye more velvet for tarot bags or steal some from my shops inventory. Since I am trying to build up my inventory that didnt make sense. Then I sold a bunch of ribbon and gauze so I decided I needed to dye more of that too. Next thing you know this happened:


and this happened:


and I'm not even going to show you all the gauze and charmeuse and velvet...LOL! Just take my word on it, this studio is like an explosion of color right now. I have to say though, I am LOVING these silk ribbons. So pretty! And some of my new floss colors are just dreamy. I worked on a new method to try dyeing 8 skeins at once instead of 4 and I was quite happy with the results. I dont know if it will work as well for stripped floss but it does for the mottled effect. This is good news because some of my customers are interested in several skeins of one color lot and now I can provide them with ones I know are an exact match.

This last pic is for my sis. She wanted to see Old Man Sun and Star Dreams side by side. Quite a contrast if you ask me. I am still resisting ripping up Old Man Sun. I do think I just need to leave him alone for awhile. There are certain things that I am definitely changing but I think it might not be so drastic if I wait for awhile. I like a lot of it so...later.

Have a great weekend everyone!
10/17/2010

Dye experiments and more quilting


I have been busy at my dye table. First off I decided to make color samples on velvet so I have a reference point. I will be working up combination recipes also. I like the convenience of quick mix colors but I started with a few colors and learned to combine them into more, and I like to have a nice list of known colors that I can make in an instant. I will never stop my experimenting and love just throwing colors willy nilly and seeing what comes of it but there are times when I want a bit more control. So this has been one project I have been busy with this week.


I also did a color experiment on this piece of flannel. This is wonderful thick soft fluffy flannel. It is a double weave and a double wide cut. I have decided to make some nice warm scarves from it and wanted to gauge the color depth to know how to proceed. I was quite happy with the richness of this piece. Flannel does seem to lend a dreamy note to it though, doesn't it? I ripped off four scarf lengths to dye, the first one going to my dear daughter. I think they will have a fringed edge all around, the sides being about 1/4 inch and the ends longer. I washed them and though they seem to matt enough to keep the fringe from fraying I am wondering if I should stitch them anyway just to ensure they stay in place. Cotton isn't wool for sure so I guess it is better to be safe than sorry. Anyone have any experience with this type of flannel?

I also ripped a pile of velvet, cut lots of ribbon and gauze, some quarters and some scarf blanks. I never did get any input on different sizes of gauze so I will continue with those two sizes for now. I have a nice batch of all of them washing away right now in the machine. I cant wait to see what comes out!

Lastly, I have been spending my evenings quilting on this. I am really enjoying this piece and the peace that comes with it!

Hope you are having a peaceful and creative weekend!

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