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 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.
January 31, 2014
Back with you , my friends, after a demanding month of January. I had very little time to write and download more pictures from my stay in Istanbul. When I did so, I realized there was a lot of turquoise color in them. You surely have heard this lovely song “La Vie en Rose” (seeing life through rose-colored glasses), so why not seeing “La Vie en Turquoise” in some streets of Istanbul, Turkey ?
Turquoise, the blue cousin to lapis lazuli, has been known and valued for thousands of years. The early mines in Sinai, Egypt, were already worked out in 2000 B.C. Today the best quality Turquoise is found in Iran. Turquoise was first sent to Europe through Turkey, hence its name, which means “Turkish” in French (turc or turque).
Turquoise has long been appreciated as a holy stone, a good-luck-charm or a talisman. It is believed to promote good fortune, happiness, and long life.
You often get surprised whether you look up or down. Here, an artistic minded mason had decided to embellish the pavement in inserting typical Turkish tiles… or what was left of them. Isn’t it charming ?
I stood a long time there. In front of the shop various jewels decorated the wall. Turquoise necklaces of all sizes, shapes and lengths. On the right hand side, several “nazar” were displayed (Turkish: bazar boncuğu) . A nazar is an eye-shaped amulet believed to protect against the evil eye, they are seen and sold all over the city.
Turquoise and golden shades are engraved in the Ma’mun globe (a Caliph who reigned from 198-218 H./813-833 CE.) in front of the entrance of the Istanbul Museum for History of Science in Islam. A great achievement. The map on this globe displays, with surprising accuracy, the geography of the part of the world which was known at that time.
Maybe your weekend is in the grey shades ? or all white with so much snow ? or golden with a hot sun ? blue, if you live near the sea ? No matter the color you are living in, here is Edith Piaf singing for you “La Vie en Rose”. I hope you will enjoy it.
Happy weekend to you 🙂
April 8, 2013
On April 8th, I posted this blog about the colour green in a way of feeling closer to a Spring that was lazying somewhere but definitely not here ! Guess what ? One week later a friend of mine, Karen at
proposed one of her photo hunts : “Colors of your world”. The deadline is on Sunday, April 28th, please have a look at her blog if you feel like participating. I chose to send this post as my contribution to Karma’s challenge.
St Patrick’s Day has come and gone as well as the green wave that is associated with its celebration all over the world. Originally though it seemed to have been the blue colour. Green is the shade many of us long for at this Season in the Northern hemisphere. Winter is not in a hurry to give way to Spring this year. Personally I cannot dissociate green from Ireland. For having lived there years ago, I remember marveling at the infinite array of greens in the Emerald Isle.
It is a colour I use a lot when sewing. I find it relaxing. Like in this small scrappy quilt where I put together some Irish memories. Edna O’Brien’s “Mother Ireland” is the first non fiction and most personal book of the famous novelist. Her memoir (1976) includes seven essays written in her lyrical and sensuous voice. E. O’Brien wrote many other works (she is a playwright, poet and author of short stories) and had to see some of her work banned.
“Irish ? In truth I would not want to be anything else. It is a state of mind as well as an actual country. Perhaps it is that, the unmitigated challenge of landscape, of rock, of meadow, of woodland, of rain and of sheer desolating emptiness that makes people hurry there and hurry from it”.
There are magnificent black/white pictures in this book. They were taken specially to illustrate “Mother Ireland” by the acclaimed Irish photographer Fergus Bourke.
Another Irish writer and philosopher John O’Donohue, born in the West of Ireland, expressed so beautifully what the colour green meant for him in a book: “The Invisible Embrace of Beauty”. Here are some excerpts of a particular chapter entitled : “Green : The Colour of Growth”.
“One of my favourite images from childhood is of meadows. Often the sheep would be let in to graze there. When you opened the gate, you could almost feel the meadow breathing. It was absolutely carpeted with grass. The colour of this grass was so rich as to seem blue-green. The sheep needed neither introduction nor persuasion; they simply gave in and became instant addicts !”
“Gravity cannot keep it down; the call of light is always stronger”
March 5, 2013
For the past two years, I have been sewing this quilt by hand, on and off. I started assembling fabrics after the shock and distress I felt when a major earthquake hit the Eastern coast of Japan in March 2011. The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves devastating everything on its way and caused nuclear accidents. Friends of mine were living in the same area. They barely escaped this disaster but so many, many people lost their life, were injured and are missing. Towns, villages were destroyed, homes broken, roads and railways heavily damaged, whole landscapes disappeared.
The quilt is better looked at from the bottom to the top. This is how I started assembling my thoughts and fabrics. Scraps of materials like the broken pieces of a familiar world that suddenly was “deconstructed” by powerful and unstoppable natural elements. Layers of fragments and leftovers remaining after the devastation. Phases of life after the tragedy.
Destructive waves moving further inside the country, over scattered parts of houses and objects that were discarded and that used to be part of people’s life.
Little by little as waves receded, life went on when men and women overcame their indescribable fear, loss and distress. With immense joint efforts, resilience and great courage, people started reconstructing homes, birds found their way in a nature that slowly came back to life.
The top part of the quilt is sewn with some Japanese fabrics. Symbols and tribute to the People of Japan, survivors of many tragedies, moving on with life courageously, great willpower and hope.
The quilt below, “Friendship Squares”, is one I sewed several years ago; it was sent with many other quilts made by quilters all over the world to various Japanese rescue associations that distributed them to people in need after the devastating events in 2011. My quilt was not very large, but I like to imagine it warmed the body and heart of a child.
December 1, 2012
Last July my family celebrated my only and favourite sister’s birthday. It was special. A birthday with a round number, the type that is more striking than a yearly celebration, you know? We had planned a beautiful celebration for my sweet little sister. Each of us had a personal and particular idea for a gift. I had mine too but I needed everone’s help. By now, you should know what I had in mind 😉
A quilt of course ! Here it is : our common project and my personal gift for Françoise’s birthday. Improvisation for the sewing part but not for the preparation ! When I asked family members and friends to give or send me one or two pieces of their used clothing, they did not know what I was up to (at least not all of them) but they joyfully agreed. The most difficult part was to get some used clothing from my sister herself. She was not meant to know anything about our project.
Spring and particularly Spring cleaning helped me. Some time in February I told Françoise of the great feeling I was experiencing in sorting out my wardrobe, getting rid of clothes I no longer wore even though I liked them a lot. Which I absolutely meant.
“What a good idea ! I think it’s time for me to do the same.” said my nice sister.
Taking a deep breath I told her : “Great ! why don’t you send some of your used clothes to me ? I know what to do with them”.
And this is how it all started. After a few weeks my sewing room looked like a “souk” or African market. I was a bit panicked before sorting out the clothes I could use or not (too beautiful to bring my scissors close to them). The leftover garments I gave to an “Emmaus” charity shop.
The overall blue material in the quilt comes from a pair of linen trousers my sister wore and the grey stripes used be a shirt belonging to her companion.This silk blouse and black velvet pullover, for instance, were amongst the favourite clothes worn by Françoise. I hesitated a long time before cutting through them but I knew she would love to find pieces of them again on her quilt. Underneath the block, Ninio-the-Beagle is “stuck” in total admiration 😉
A precious block made of one of my mother’s aprons bordered by a piece of her embroidered handkerchiefs. The hook belonged to my grandfather and the heart is sewed in one of my grandmother’s dish cloths. The three of them were very present in our hearts all along the birthday celebration.
Precious : one of my sister’s best friend clothing, her checked black and white trousers and rose t-shirt. My sister immediately remembered those clothes.
“We all love you, Françoise” (title of the quilt)
Françoise was So surprised ! and delighted. Such excitement as she tried to recognize what belonged to whom, including her. A lot of fun. And a happy quilting that brought back memories, places, events. Sewing together all kinds of materials was not exactly easy but I enjoyed the slightly wonky look of this quilt. Different.