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 🙂
April 20, 2015
Over two months have passed since I wrote last. As I explained in a comment on my previous post, https://isathreadsoflife.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/of-colors-and-winter/, I will not be able to visit you and write as much as I would wish. Therapies are going on, tiredness is still overwhelming but there are days when I feel stronger; the urge to go out and see nature and Spring brings me outside. Luckily so ! I always enjoy it, no matter the temperature, sun, wind or rain. It feels real good.Sight. One of the first senses of Spring one feels over here is certainly the view of the shy and fragile snowdrops emerging from a cold soil and opening to the morning sun. A familiar and yet always enchanting view. Smell. A visit to the nearby farmers’ market brings many delicious surprises these days. Amongst them, a bunch of tarragon, a sweet scented herb that I like adding to fish or some vegetables like green beans. Taste. And what about the fresh and appealing leeks ? I like them stewed and served with a vinaigrette or as a “gratin” with potatoes and a light béchamel sauce. Hearing. Can you actually hear them ? Your may not see them though, those lively and noisy birds celebrating Spring in a joyful concerto “con molto brio”. They are back from wherever they went to, jumping in and out of their little wooden house in the garden. Delightful Spring sounds. Touch. A gift I brought back home as I came out of hospital. A special heart sewed by women for other women. A heart-shaped cushion, so soft and light, that is meant to nest gently under your arm, ease the pain and warm your heart and soul. It was so touching and appreciated ! Much gratefulness to you, ladies of the “Cushions of the heart” group.
Wishing you all a Happy Spring ! Moments of joy when the birds sing “good morning” to you, wonder and peace as the tender green shades of the Season tell you about renewal and a real delight to taste the great variety of fresh salads and veges.
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
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.
April 26, 2013
A short, very short story.
Two cats in a garden close to my home, so close they often pay me a visit. One jump over the fence and here they are :
and Solero, the brown Bengali who reigns over our area and whose descendants are numerous and beautiful.
The garden they live in is just beginning to bloom and it is a real pleasure to look at it. What a gift to stroll through its alleys after the long Winter ! Its gardener, my friend Germaine, so loved by both cats, spends hours tending to it.
This is how Germaine’s garden looks through the eye of my needle.
A round ochre terrace surrounded by colourful bush, neat narrow alleys and a kitchen garden where flowers have nested too. In a secluded corner lies a small pond amongst pink flowers, home to golden fish and frogs.
Flowerbeds glimpsed at through Germaine’s kitchen window. Nature and beauty are all around.
Lovely and peaceful, yes, but on the other side of the fence is someone who is not in good terms with the feline crew. Worried and annoyed by the boldness of Renia and Solero, Ninio-the-Beagle shouts it loud and clear in the neighbourhood. Oh ! Happy Sunday mornings when our pets greet one another…
October 10, 2012
Today, October 10, is the 10th World Day for the Abolition of Death Penalty. Many events of all kinds are organised all over the world for this occasion. This year the emphasis is put on the progress that has been accomplished for the past ten years regarding a universal abolition of death penalty and also on the challenges to be taken up in the future.
This quilt is a common project created in fact for the International Day against Torture and Death Penalty, I sewed it a few years ago. The many embroidered squares of cotton were sent to me by members of various Human Rights organisations in my area, namely Amnesty International, ACAT, Lifespark. Each plain cotton square has been stitched with the name of an inmate, one who is sentenced to death. Behind each name there is a life, its history and a fate which in several cases has already come to its end.
This quilt took me months to put together. It is filled with so many various thoughts and emotions. It was definitely not an easy quilt to sew. Nevertheless it was one I wanted to create with others for this special day, as a mark of our engagement for this cause.
As I sewed along, my thoughts went to these inmates, men and women sentenced to death, waiting for years in their cells, a respite between life and death. In one month, one year, ten years, even longer often, they will be escorted to the death chamber. Some prisoners receive a brief letter about their scheduled day and time of death. Others will never learn about their planned execution but in the end, all of them have to follow the guards to a chamber or a yard.
How could I not think also of the victims and their shattered families and friends ? I thought of their loved ones whose life had been changed forever in the most devastating way. Never to forget. Some families have found inner peace in a forgiving process. They are members of reconciliation groups, like “Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation” http://www.mvfr.org/. I truly admire each and everyone of them, as I believe forgiveness is probably the most powerful action a human being can accomplish.
Then I also thought of other families, often forgotten, their distress and deep sadness is just as immense. They are the prisoners’ families, innocent of any crime and yet having to face this ultimate punishment : the scheduled execution of a spouse, a son or daughter, a Dad, a family member or a friend.
What about some of these death row inmates who had been claiming their innocence for years and who were proved right, only too late ?
So many thoughts went into every stitch of this quilt. Such inexpressible feelings under the embroidered names of those men and women whose life or mental state went very wild, violent and uncontrollable : feelings of despair, regrets, shame, revolt, remorse, indescribable sadness, loss, hopelessness although at times Hope would shine dimly in their borrowed time.
Yet, there is Hope that one day a universal abolition of death penalty will prevail. I truly believe that Justice, anywhere, can use other means than a penal revenge to protect society from dangerous criminals instead of killing them. Is killing a good response and example for showing that killing was wrong in the first place ? “An eye for an eye and the world is blind” said Gandhi.
I expressed my Hope in choosing colourful materials, mainly African, for sewing together the various embroidered squares. As if instinctively I wished bright shades could help healing painful scars in the heart of all those concerned, in an humble and compassionnate way.
Many thanks to all of you who joined me in this project.
We were out in the recreation yard, just walking in our separate cages, exchanging thoughts. After they came to take F. back to his cell, I waited for my escort but he didn’t come. I guess he forgot about me.
I walked about until I ended up by the gate. A nice breeze was coming through the bars. The sun was shining and I closed my eyes and stood there, facing it.
The rays warmed my skin. It felt good, like when I used to stand on the beach. My eyes still closed, I saw oranges, reds and yellows, and I was somewhere else.
It was still and I could hear a bird chirping somewhere in front of me. My eyes still closed, I reached towards it but my fingers collided with the gate instead and I was at once brought back.
Still, It felt good to have been away, if for only a moment.”
More information on this World Day for the Abolition of Death Penalty here :
(Human Rights Education Associates)
April 7, 2012
She arrived with a heart as big as her maker’s. A red and soft heart of felt, arms wide open for me to welcome her and eyes bright and cheerful as her dress. Who was that ? “Mara”, the cutest doll I ever received, she was created by Marie’s talented hands. A gift from her heart. http://ancientcloth.blogspot.com/
Ever seen such a pretty hairdo ? Mara also came with her arms full of presents, fabrics of all sorts, reproductions of antique materials that I cannot wait to use in a quilt, just for me. Thank you so much Marie ! For having lived several years in Africa, this adorable little doll touches my heart and brings back many memories of people, places, events. A time never to forget.
My little doll from the South arrived at the same time as Spring does in the mountains. Not many colours yet to brighten the landscape but for the catkins on some trees. Patches of snow remain in the cooler areas and green grass barely starts growing on the pastures. Still, walking along those tracks in a new Spring makes you feel good, it gives you energy and joy. It makes you feel grateful too.The new Season gives you inspiration for whatever you need or plan to do, or so I feel. No greenness outside yet ? No problem ! I can deal with it and create my own palette of colours. I did so in sewing (of course) a heart of “Forty Shades of Green” for Irish friends of mine brought together by destiny. A happy quilting, I assure you. There were really forty different scraps of green fabrics for those who might wonder;)I thought this fresh and green quilted heart would be nice to send you my best wishes for a Happy Easter. Green like the hope and light that we all need, at any time. A renewal in nature as in our life. A promise of better times ahead in a troubled world. I do wish you all the best.
October 20, 2011
This past Summer was quite busy, in a nice and interesting way. Yet every time I could, I managed to save some time for myself in sewing and quilting. My way of getting away from the busy surroundings and concentrating on new projects… although there still are some UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) !
One of them was this small square of dyed cotton where I embroidered a feather for a great project initiated by Jude Hill. The fabric is dyed with a wild yellow flower called “genista tinctoria” or “Dyer’s broom”. The jay feather litterally fell in front of me one evening as I walked on a mountain track at sunset. Here are more information about this wonderful project; anyone wishing to embroider another magic feather is welcome to join. There is a description and a free instruction here too.
Months ago when the terrible disasters occured in Japan, tsunami, earthquake, flood and more tragedies, I kept thinking of dear friends living there. I had been given some Japanese fabrics and I decided to sew a quilt using those and others that I thought would fit in my project. Sewing for a better future, for a reconstruction of the disaster area by the resilient people of Japan. This is only a small portion of the quilt. It has to be looked at from the bottom to the top, starting by the huge devastating waves. The more one looks upwards, the more hopeful, colourful the quilt will appear. From distress to hope.
Also progressing, a soft lap robe for a friend who has not been well for many months. She chose the colours: brown, yellow and green. I found in my precious collection of scraps the materials and patterns that would be meaningful to her. She loves reading in the garden of the home she is in at the moment and I feel she will enjoy wrapping herself in a warm friendship quilt.
And last but not least… every member of our quilting group had to sew those small “pochettes” or pouches ? Next May there will be a large reunion of quilters in our area. We will organise this event. Each participant (about 300) will receive such a little pouch as a gift from our group.“What is it for ?”, you may ask. Ah, that is the question ! The first one who guesses its use will receive a similar “pochette”. How about that ? 😉 In fact, there could be several utilizations for this tiny pouch but we have a particular one in mind.
Bonne chance, good luck !
June 27, 2011
Rules or improvisation ?
After reading Sherri Lynn Wood’s post in http://daintytime.net/2011/06/20/a-quilt-makers-memoir-of-rules/ , I thought a lot about rules or improvisation in the way I have been quilting for many years. Sherri is a wonderful textile artist and a great source of inspiration. Her “Improv Mondays series” particularly is a forum where quilters can exchange their experiences and learn from one another with Sherri’s encouragement and teaching. I started looking at pictures of my previous quilts and see how my own quilting has evolved over the years from rules to improvisation.
This is one of my first quilts. It is sewn and quilted by hand since I had no sewing machine yet. The materials are leftovers of curtains (silk-like) found in an interior design shop. I cut the nine-patch patterns around templates I was taught how to make. This warm blanket that has been mended countless times and I am still so happy with it. At that time I decided to name each quilt I sewed, adding a small fancy label at the back. Since I had very little knowlege about sewing, another rule was to start with easy patterns and move on slowly until I felt more or less confident with what I was doing.
When I joined a patchwork group later, we were proposed to sew a sampler of the colours of our choice. I bought the large turquoise fabric but used only scraps for the different patterns. No improvision yet for this quilt apart from the “crazy squares”; it was fun to learn new designs and techniques, like paper piecing for instance.
Later I ventured into curves. Controlled curves, mind you ! Four different shapes of curves cut with the cutter and assembled together according to colours and forms. I enjoyed this immensely for the surprise it created and the many variations. Not endless though, I knew there was more to learn and improvise about it. Another rule was : explore, try new techniques for a wider form of expression, even if it is not “perfect” according to some rules. Letting go of definite shapes and lines whenever I felt like it.
One of my all time favourites is this light quilt made in a very thin and sheer material, organza. There were also leftovers given by a friend who sewed the most beautiful little handbags.
I very soon realised that, wanted or not, there would be curves ! And folds and bumps and total “un-evenness” (if such a word exists in English;) The organza kept sliding under my fingers, there are few straight lines in this quilt. And guess what ? I simply loved it ! This quilt was and still is very alive, moving like a feather in its lightness and irregular folds. Another lesson I learned there : accept the fabric as it is, play with it and follow its weaving or movement while sewing. It gives more “character” to one’s quilt, I find.
Of course I have continued sewing with African fabrics since I came back home from a five years stay there. Improvisation came naturally, just by assembling colours and designs the way I thought they would complement one another.
“Africa in red and black”
Now I am trying to improvise in creating quilts that I sew for a particular person or occasion, in memory of someone or to remember a moment, a place, anything that I want to keep alive. Some quilts take time and much thinking, chosing the materials and design that will best show what I feel. I started this particular quilt over a year ago. It could be a “passage quilt” although no personal materials/clothes were available. This picture shows just a part of it, the correspondance that brings sunshine when one’s life is confined. I keep adding stitches and patches here and there as I remember events.
“R. quilt, letters”
Nowadays my quilts vary. I may sew some traditional pattern like the Seminole quilt I made a while back which was a real challenge for me. I may also follow my inspiration and put together scraps or carefully chosen fabrics and try to materialize an image, a thought, a memory. A way of expressing myself. Those are the quilts I especially love. No real “rules” as such, apart from some basic techniques but a lot of improvisation as I move along with pieces of fabrics and thoughts. For the pleasure of quilting.
Detail of a quilt where I joined the watercolour technique – learned in a great book by Gai Perry, “Impressionist Quilts” and my improvisation. I made books with selvages of various materials. A wonderful project based on a challenge about a French philosopher and writer, Michel de Montaigne.
Books and quilting, two of my favourite hobbies. Thanks Sherri Lynn for having brought up these thoughts about one’s way of quilting and expressing it.