September 29, 2016
…our weather has obviously been changing. Although we still get to see a bright blue sky during the day, temperatures have dropped. Evenings and nights are cooler, quilts are welcome ! Mountains are often hidden behind a morning mist and parasols stay closed, a colorful reminder of our sunny Summer.
There are still some flamboyant colors left in the garden, like this red/orange gorse or broom ? that are brightening up any day.
In town, Fall and Winter clothes are blooming in the shop-windows. A little dog is sitting outside; he looks at the passersby as if saying : “Here is the new Fall fashion for you, ladies”. A nice encounter with this irrresistible and patient doggie waiting for her owner who went inside the boutique. For how long ? Who knows ? He will wait for sure.
On the way to the forest, I made another encounter that attracted my attention. A small yellow leaf was caught in a late afternoon sunray and shone in all its glory. Could this be another sign of Autumn settling down around here ?
Ninio has felt something too and is trying to blend in. Hunting season has started, his instinct for camouflage is awoken but I keep him on a leash…so as to be sure we walk back home together ! And avoid trouble with the hunters.
Feeling like more color ? Then I am happy to share with you my latest quilt. One I started sewing when I received the bad news of my cancer. It has been a great help all along this past year. Sewing by hand, having it close by wherever I went and whenever I felt like adding a piece of material carefully chosen for all it inspired me. I loved searching in my baskets of scraps for the right material or pattern. There are circles, many circles, more or less round – you could say like cells, breasts, life circles. Some are looking healthy but in others you can see wounds, pain, you can imagine hope too and whatever you feel like. (if you click on the picture, you may be able to see the details).I called this piece :
“Quilting for healing”
Circles … each one a precious life
Circles of all kinds
Circles of pain
Circles of fear
Circles of hope
Circles on the mend
Circles of gratefulness
Circles for Life
Quilting for Life
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and colorful Autumn.
February 14, 2016
I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day !
This small heart, made of joyful scraps weaved together like a tapestry of friendship and love between us all, is my gift for you. I had so much pleasure sewing it slowly, seeing how simple stitches could create such movement on the various materials (cotton and wild silk). This is just the beginning of a new technique I discovered in a book by Claire Wellesley-Smith “Slow Stitch” (mindful and contemplative textile art).
Many Valentine’s gifts of all kinds are shown in our shops. I chose a window presenting books for children. Love stories with happy endings, questions like “What is Love” ? and many more tales about those unforgettable friendships with a beloved dog, a horse or a rabbit.Maybe these books will remind you of those of your childhood or the ones you read to your kids later on ? I do remember “The Family Bear’s Picnic”, a book brought back from the States and that I read countless times to my sons. Being in English, I had to translate this story for them every evening for quite a long time. Sometimes I would not find the very same word as the night before and…it was a drama: “No, no, Papa Ours (bear) did not say that !” or “His sandwich was made with ham and not cheese”! Memories of love that made me smile today.Nature offers us hearts and signs of love in places you do not always expect them. Like this piece of snow stuck between two branches and that I had not noticed when taking the picture. In fact, I was more attracted by the setting sun caught in the forest. Hasn’t it got a shape of a heart too ?And here is another gift of friendship and gratefulness for you on Valentine’s Day. Thankfulness for your visits and support even though I have not been regularly posting and visiting you these days. This is the landscape I saw this morning as I opened the shutters of the chalet up in the Alps. I am never tired of looking at it, morning or evening, at sunrise or sunset, in Winter or in Summer.Wishing you well on Valentine’s Day and on the other days too 🙂
December 25, 2015
Wishing you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS, moments of joy and peace, togetherness, sharing the light and warmth of this special time of the year. Moments that I hope will last long after this day.
This is also a time when my parents are both very present around us. They both left days before and after Christmas. Here is the quilt I made in memory of my mother, gratitude and happy years together. Little pieces of materials that belonged to her or that she used a lot : pillow cases, towels, aprons, napkins, handkerchiefs, curtains, cushions, tablecloths. I felt good sewing it slowly, thinking of her and smiling.
A crib in town. There were many of them, nicely built and decorated along the “Path of the Cribs”. I like this one for the feeling of peace it conveys as well as togetherness, offering, sharing, realness.
These images are my gifts to you on this Christmas Day, dear visitors, friends who happen to stop here today.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
August 25, 2015
Summer is not over yet but the extreme heat we had just a few weeks ago is gone. We are left with memories of hot, very hot days. Like during a late afternoon when the sun shone brightly through the window and reflected its rays in a mirror. How grateful I was to dear Dena who had sent me a beautiful and exotic fan for my birthday which, of course, was a delight to use !
Lawns were rather neglected this year but not all flowers. Here in front of our hospital a flowerbed was being watered. I was surprised to spot two unexpected plants… Will you find the odd ones out ? Fresh looking “intruders” indeed.
In the blue Summer sky, silent visitors flew along with a light wind they only seemed to feel and breathe. Underneath the heat was sometimes unbearable but what a lovely sight !
The pleasure of reading Amanda Enayati’s book in the shade : “Seeking Serenity”.
“In your world, mind and body,
Use mindfulness to heal and transform the brain, and its ability to cope in stressful situations.”
One of the ten rules on your road map for health and happiness in the age of anxiety. A much-needed guide to these difficult times. I really enjoyed this book as well as the beautifully embroidered bookmark made with care by my friend, Janice. http://janiceheppenstall.com/blog
Barriers, fences, walls and other man-made obstacles are bound to be crossed, aren’t they ? Those were my thoughts as I looked at the clematis flowers meant to grow along the green metal fence. And yet, quite naturally, they went over… A Summer of crossing borders, deserts and seas for so many people.
Even my energetic Nino was affected by this particularly hot Season. He squatted my couch in the shade. We finally came to an agreement and each of us found its place.
Maybe you can feel the heat that had accumulated on the stones of this old house. It could be quite cool inside though because of the narrow windows and the width of the walls. I liked the plant and colored scarf that added a hint of freshness.
My favorite time of the day was at sunset. The air was still warm from all the sun, even in the mountains but there was a touch of coolness and of course the brilliant light behind the Alps, the sun rays on the old wooden shutters made it a special moment. Every evening.
February 9, 2015
Don’t we all need colors in Winter ? More colors than the occasional yellow or red leaves that highlight a green bush ? Thanks for them Colours that strike you vibrantly and bring a smile Colours that make you blink as if the sun had hit your eyes Or as if a rainbow from elsewhere would bend down gently over you to warm your heart I send you the gift of a quilt I sewed recently, digging into my scraps boxes with the utmost pleasure. I will be kept away from my window to yours for a while. Should you wish to send me a message, it will definitely bring more colors to one of those mailboxes, and to the other too since they are so close together. Wishing you all the best. With love Isabelle
October 17, 2014
On a hot Summer evening under the roof of his attic apartment. my eldest son was busy preparing a Thai meal to celebrate my birthday. Great concentration for adding the many ingredients that were chosen for this special and delicious meal. Thanks JB !
The problem was that our Summer was so cold and rainy that picnics were too rare. Fortunately Autumn has started beautifully and warmly. Sooner or later the colorful blanket will be part of a joyful day in the open.
Oh, the great moments I spent reading these books during last Spring and Summer ! Not always cheerful stories but certainly all different and fascinating in many ways, locations, times, styles and characters.
I remember with emotion the outing my family and I made – as well as many cousins – to an unforgettable place in the Alps. 300 hundred years ago a major rockslide hit a small mountain village, killing many of its inhabitants and their cattle, destroying their rough wooden chalets.
Last August a day of remembrance was celebrated up on those mountain pastures where rocks are still covering much of the landscape. “Emotion”, I wrote because this area is where my mother grew up; she and her siblings used to go up there every Summer looking after the family domestic cattle. Those were hard times but “some of the best of my life”, my mother used to say. All day long I thought of her and how she would have loved to be there with us. She certainly was in my heart.
Another moment to remember of this past Summer was my father’s significant birthday ! Having owned a garage almost all his life, we thought it would be a nice surprise for him to rent an old Londonian taxi (Austin 1970) to drive him to the place where family and friends were waiting to cheering him. He was hugely surprised and absolutely delighted.
What a great moment too when I was able to pick the first apples – boscop – in the garden ! Not exactly shiny nor smooth, they are nevertheless tasty and just perfect for pies or compotes.Guess what other moments I always like to remember ? The adventurous walks Ninio leads me to. Nature in all its forms. Wild most of the time. Not that he refuses to go to my chosen destinations. But his eyes and slower pace tell me : “Now, how about going on exploration to places that smell interesting ?”
June 15, 2014
As I received this image (in B&W), together with a fine poem by W. Whitman, I could not but try imagining how this world must have looked in colors. I spent a quiet moment painting it according to my own wishes. WHEN I HEARD THE LEARN’D ASTRONOMER
WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams,
to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer,
where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
” Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass, 1867
Have you ever stopped and looked up at the sky on a clear night ? Have you ever taken time to search for stars, the brilliant ones and the more dimly-lit ones ? Have you ever felt dizzy while looking up, your head pulled back and you neck sore from observing the vastness of the sky ? Dizzy, amazed and feeling so small under the celestial vault. We obviously need to be grateful to science and scientists to research and explain all kinds of phenomenons. Don’t we also need taking time to look behind the charts, figures and diagrams ?
Here is something I liked and felt like sharing with you ? 😉 http://io9.com/5973932/walt-whitmans-when-i-heard-the-learnd-astronomer-in-comic-form
April 15, 2014
Did you think Spring had come ? I did too last March. Then one morning I felt everything looked too white, too cold. Different. A patch of Winter had covered the landscape. Again. Just to give us a fright. It did not last long though. When snow melted, the soil got warmer by the day and little by little tiny flowers, daisies, appeared in the grass. Some were quicker to open to the sun, others more shy, stayed asleep. Dialogue between two cotton sheets in the open. “What is Isa thinking to hang us outside today ? Early March is too cold and what a Siberian wind this morning !!”. “I know, I am freezing. Let’s huddle up together, get warm and dry. Isa will come over, bring us down into her basket and put us back nicely onto our beds”. Hiding in the grass ? I saw you, pretty white primrose. You made my day. Thank you. Spring can affect some animals, apparently not these quiet cows grazing along the railway road. As I and other passengers were waiting for the train back in Fribourg, we were told that the train would have an indeterminate delay. We waited as the same message was repeated again and again. Finally we knew what it was all about : heifers were on the tracks and all trains from Zurich to Geneva (half of Switzerland, North-South) were delayed. Maybe it was the cows’ first day out in the pastures after a long stay in the barn ? Such an excitement and joy ! There must have been some serious gap in a fence somewhere too. Fortunately nothing wrong happened to anybody, the cheerful cattle was driven back home and the train moved on. Missed connections but more time to admire the scenery. Spring can also make you feel more tired. This is my case. I do not seem to be the only one… I was looking for Nino at home, no sign of him. I found him upstairs, dozing lazily on a comfy quilt, eyeing gently at an exotic parrot. Oh well, change of Season, you know.Since we are in a patchwork mood, let me show you my new Spring project. Something I have been planing to sew for a long time : a picnic blanket for Summertime. All different scrappy squares, economy blocks or diamond in diamond. I really enjoy going through my leftovers boxes. The quilt is far from being finished; I plan to separate each square with a plain fabric, white or green. Spring has just started and I hope to sit in the open on this blanket next Sumer. How I love picnics ! Just a few touches of my Spring that I felt like sharing with you, hoping yours is pleasant too. Any project on the way ?
February 21, 2014
It all started about one year ago after I visited a friend’s exhibition near my home. My friend is a sculptor, someone who looks at things she finds here and there in a way you and I may not always do. Marie-Chantal collects driftwood, pebbles, metallic parts, all kinds of abandoned objects transformed over time and permanent evolution. Corroded steel is probably her favourite material to create her sculptures. She associates stone to solidity, wood is her symbol of evolution, paper means malleability, glass she uses for transparence. Marie-Chantal likes to cite the philosopher Heraclite :
“The absence of consistency of things which move endlessly, never stay like they were originally and that can transform themselves into their contrary”
To show you how her sculptures look like, you may wish to open this link on her website and see how inspired I was by her creativity :
Here is the result of my inspiration.
A quilt made little by little putting together many scraps. Rough and soft materials that looked “rusty” to me, textures like gunny, raffia, corduroy, copper threads, cotton, linen, wool or softer fabrics like gauze and raw silk.
It was a challenge to work with materials whose texture did not always blend in nor fit perfectly with others. I used my scraps like Marie-Chantal used her little bits of stone, wood, corroded steel or glass. Looking differently at things bring you lots of joy too.
And now, a long delayed work that I look forward to create. More scraps and more memories, dear ones. Pieces of materials, handkerchiefs, aprons, pillow cases, napkins and more that belonged to my mother. i am not sure yet what I will do at the end but I do look forward to remember moments, events, words and thoughts as I will sew these small pieces together.
June 22, 2013
It is such a joy to be back on my blog and back in this community I am grateful to belong to, dear readers. I have a lot to tell you and pictures to share after returning home from…(It will be a surprise in my next post) But for now I would like to share something very meaningful to me. Before I tell you more, let’s take a pause, sit comfortably in the sun or in the shade, and enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of your favourite fruit juice. I am so happy to tell you about a book I read recently, that I loved for many reasons. It is called How to Make an African Quilt: The Story of the Patchwork Project of Segou, Mali. The book is written by Bonnie Lee Black.
This is a memoir, not a crafts book. It contains so much more than the making of an African quilt. Why am I telling you of this book in particular ? Because it touches me personally. The true stories Bonnie tells about her experience in Mali are about solidarity, friendship, determination, cultural sharing and hope. Bonnie created a women’s project that one cannot but love and feel proud of. This book is precious to me because it was written by a friend of mine, whom I did not know as a writer when I first “met” her.
About 14 years ago, I responded to an item in a French quilters’ magazine that mentioned Bonnie’s Patchwork Project in Segou. Bonnie was asking for used French quilting magazines with patterns she could use for her project in Mali. I found quite a few on my bookshelves that I sent her and her Malian friends. At that point we started writing to each other now and then, and we’ve kept in touch over the years.
Guess what ? Today I have the immense pleasure and honor to welcome Bonnie Lee Black as my guest writer on this blog. I am also very thankful that she has offered to share her life-changing experience in Africa as well as some patches of her life. Thank you, dear Bonnie, for telling us more about your book, your quilting project in Mali and what your hopes are.
“Thank you, Isabelle, for this honor to share with your readers my wonderful experience in Mali, now encapsulated in my new book, How to Make an African Quilt. The title, as you suggest, is really a metaphor for “connection” – cultural connection – and I’m hoping that theme comes through in its pages.
This book is actually the sequel to my Peace Corps memoir, How to Cook a Crocodile (Peace Corps Writers, 2010), about my two-year service as a health and nutrition volunteer in Gabon, Central Africa. When I completed my service in Gabon, I decided to go to Mali (rather than return to the United States) and do independent economic development work there. I was in my early fifties and felt I still had more to give.
Soon after settling in Segou, Mali (which is the textile “capital” of the country), I met a group of talented Malian seamstresses who asked me to teach them patchwork quilting. Well, that was a challenge for me because I’d never done patchwork quilting. But I soon taught myself from a quilting primer and happily created the Patchwork Project, which the women loved. In the book I share their stories and show their joy, especially as they sat together at the quilting frame (a makeshift contraption I made from lenghts of bamboo) laughing and singing as they stitched.
I took the project as far as I could in the thirty months I lived in Segou. But it could go much further to help the women there earn extra income. I wrote this book in the hope that someone, somewhere, some day might read the book and be inspired to take the project further. That someone would have the business-and-computer knowhow that I lacked – and still lack. When the talented graduates of the Patchwork Project of Segou, Mali begin to make patchwork quilts to be sold internationally over the Internet, then I’ll feel that my dream for these women has come true and my book has done its job.”
Bonnie Lee Black
Amkoullel, l’Enfant peul, 1991
by Amadou Hampate Ba,Malian writer and ethnologist, 1900-1991
Here is a link to the Wandering Educators website which shows a video about Bonnie’s book.