Wednesday, November 15

New Beginnings


Three weeks of October our routine was thrown off course when the caretakers simply upped and left one fine day, after getting their Diwali bonus. It was a nightmare to deal with guests, cooking, washing,cleaning and taking care of the dogs.
There was no time to update my blog or work on any of my projects.
There's so much truth to the quote
'New Beginnings are often disguised as painful endings...'  Lao Tzu  
There were days when I would despair and wonder if we would find good trustworthy people who would love the dogs and I must say I have to learn from the dear husband's 'can do and everything is going to be fine attitude'. He sure was a pillar of strength and support. 
Since the 1st of November we have got good help and I can sit down and try to complete some of my projects. 

The image above shows where I've got to in the 1 year of Stitches Challenge. The end of 2017 is fast approaching and there's still considerable amounts of blank fabric waiting to be filled  with stitches but I can do something about that. I'm saying that from a stress free position unlike the three weeks where I was like a headless chicken. The three weeks taught me some valuable lessons.
There's always scope to simplify our lives further.
Learn new skills and be more self reliant.
Angels exist.
Help comes from unexpected sources.
There is so much to be grateful for.

To New Beginnings. Cheers!
I hope you have a good week.     

Sunday, September 17

Progress on the Stamp Quilt



Harsha's contribution. Harsha is a letter writer and these stamps came from her stash of letters and cards. 
 Here's what I got from Deena in Washington DC.Deena got to know about my project from a friend who  sent her the link to my post about the postage stamp quilt. I'm so touched Deena, by your generosity.
Deena must have an impressive stamp collection because she inherited her great grandmother's stamp album which was published in the United States in 1920. Deena herself started collecting stamps and adding to her collection in 2012 and friends and family have been sending her stamps.
She's also the recipient of a stamp collection which a friend gave her. It belonged to missionaries who lived in Taiwan and the Philippines.
Deena I'd love to see your stamp collection some day and hear all the stories associated with the stamps which are so fascinating.
Deena has sent me stamps from Canada, the USA,Philippines,Hong Kong, France and China.
Like a quilt which began as a thrift activity and there would be stories associated with each piece of fabric , this stamp quilt or quilts which I make is not going to be just stamps joined together to create a pretty pattern but a collection of stories as well.
I've managed to remount and stitch around all the stamps Harsha donated. Since they were multiple Gandhi stamps and  few others I've started arranging them - in a nine patch. Should I make a block of a certain size? and then stitch the blocks together? Or should it be like a crazy quilt, different sizes together? So many questions.
In the mean time I have to start with Deena's stamps this week.
Not sure when I'll start 'piecing' the quilt together.

Wednesday, September 6

Project 105

During one of my blog hops I came across Project 105.  
I forget the actual route of my blog hop but the discovery of P.M. Neist and Project 105  was well worth the meander.
P.M. Neist says of the project 'Art is meant to connect us to each other. It is a privilege and honor to share my art.'
Giveaway #10 - The Seer's Dog.
The Seer's Dog reminded me of my own pet, Blackie and I requested P. M. Neist to consider me for this particular piece of art. She was generous enough to send it half way across the world to Coonoor.
I particularly like the way embroidery is incorporated into the original artwork.
The illustration of Gus came carefully sandwiched between sheets of paper and cardboard and wrapped in a map with a card and a handmade gift tag. Absolutely delightful, did you know I'm partial to maps P. M. Neist?
Thank you for your generosity. It's wonderful to have met you. I'll be framing your illustration and placing it where all those who visit our home will get a chance to admire it.

Saturday, August 26

A New Project - Postage Stamp Quilts

One of those days while browsing the images on Pinterest I happened to come across postage stamp quilts and this got me thinking. 
I like to work with paper as much as I like to work with fabric and with my tiny collection of postage stamps I decided to use them to make an actual postage stamp quilt.   
.First Step: Sort through stamps. I found stamps to be clustered together and it was just a couple which were individual stamps which had sufficient paper of the envelope on all four sides.
So with one stamp I just tore the paper away so I had this uneven edge and did a simple blanket stitch all around.
With two others I used a metal scale as a guide and tore the envelope paper away on all four sides. I got a frayed edge but it was a straight edge rather than an uneven edge.
For the sake of symmetry and else of joining the stamps together I decided to go along with the second method.  
Step 2 : Soak  all stamps clustered together or with insufficient paper on all four sides in water. 
 
Step 3 : Remount dried stamps on discarded envelopes. Stitch around each stamp with blanket stitch and I put the name of the person from whom I got a card or letter. I've decided I'll put down the country as well.
A wealth of inspiration on Pinterest

There are so many ideas I'd like to try but unfortunately I don't have sufficient stamps to try them out with.
I've put the word out to family to collect any and every stamp that they or their friends and colleagues get and can spare and send them to me.
Would you like to contribute postage stamps to my project? Leave a comment and I'll share my postal address with you.
I'll put your name and the country you are from on the reverse. It will be very interesting to see the reverse of the finished quilt. A patchwork pattern of colours. 
I'll wait until the end of October to lay out all that I receive before I start the composition of my first quilt.A small baby quilt. It would be great to make one with flowers, or birds. 
In the meantime I'll be working on the stamps I have and what I can gather locally.

A long weekend here in India. Have a great week.

Wednesday, August 16

Irreverent quotes

I've been in the habit of scribbling down quotes in notebooks since I was in school. Never did anything with them. My mother is discovering them now when she flips through the odd book she finds.
Once I discovered embroidered cushions with irreverent quotes on Pinterest I decided I was going to embroider quotes irreverent, sarcastic or otherwise and get them framed.   
 This will be an ongoing project.
I intend getting them framed.Let's see if I can find some place to display and sell them here in Coonoor. No stores or galleries in this town.
I have a glass fronted cupboard in our B n B where I'll put them for our guests to view and hopefully they will want to buy. At present the cupboard is bare. Need to  stitch a little quicker I think.
Have a good week.

Wednesday, August 9

July just flashed past

July went by in a flash. 
 Got to spend quality time with my family. Drinking tea and eating breakfast on the verandah at my mother's place is something my sister and I cherish. We colour a page in the colouring book, read the newspaper, are delighted by the antics of the cats or kittens. Neighbours drop in , I do origami with the flyers in the newspaper.
 
Rusty, the cat at my mum's place had a litter. Meet the kittens Google ( under the leaf) and Safari(. with paw extended)
I've made progress on my 1 year of stitches project.
In other exciting news I have been interviewed by Sharon B of Pintangle and the interview can be read here. This interview is part of a series of interviews which will run in 2017 as part of the Take A Stitch Tuesday which has been running for a decade. Thank you Sharon for your generosity and for getting me started on blogging.
See you more often in August than we did in July. I hope to be more disciplined and get back to posting more often.

Tuesday, June 20

It's June

 With all the storms and rain in May the tea is doing very well. We could do with three pluckers to pluck the tea in our small holding but for the first time in two years we require two days with four or five pluckers to get the job done. We also have gathered enough firewood for the winter and to cook the dogs food each night. Yes, they get to eat food cooked on a wood fire. Very fancy.
 June started on a shocking note. I lost a dear friend. A friend I went to school with and the bond was deeper because we went to boarding school and grew up together. The class of twenty girls are more like sisters to each other. Dengue got her. Such a warm, joyous and lively person. She died too young.
I was introduced to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 by my biological sister and it's been delightful. A lot of my stitching of 1 year of stitches has been done listening to Elif Shafak, Whoopi Goldberg and Ed Sheeran. All of which I enjoyed. Bill Gates was boring, I loved Liz Lochhead's Scottish accent and got to know that the Makar is the title given to the Scottish national poet.
 Have a good week.

Friday, June 2

At the end of May

 May, this year was unlike the past two years. We had two power outages. The first for 5 days and after two weeks another one for 4 days. We weathered it and realised we are calmer people who deal with such situations pretty well. I think my husband deals with it better than me.
 My Mum turned 80 in March.
 A landmark for a remarkable woman.
 Mamma loves flowers and gardening. So I had to embroider some flowers - some wonky roses and lazy daisy flowers. These were the colours of a beautiful boquet of flowers a friend sent her.
That's what 1 year of stitches looks like at the end of May.

Friday, May 19

Getting back to 1 Year of Stitches

I got back to the 1 year of Stitches last week after a month long break.
I decided to add a strawberry to the 12 inch circle.
In the process I've learnt two new stitches. The first one is Strawberry stitch. It's a composite stitch and I followed this tutorial on YouTube and the results are terrific I think.
The second stitch I learnt was Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch. I used it to embroider the stem of the strawberry.
It's season time here in the Nilgiris. Lovely cool weather with the occasional thunderstorms and the rest of the country is reeling under a heatwave. Our B n B has seen a steady stream of guests since April. People trying to escape the heat for a couple of days. I've been busy with laundry and cooking.
Ben the St.Bernard we adopted, two months back has settled in and made friends with Blackie our indie. He still has to make friends with Pepper the cat.
Hope you have a good weekend.

Sunday, April 30

The Sun Temple at Konarak

On a hot Sunday morning in March I went to see The Sun Temple at Konarak. I didn't expect to see such a huge structure.
Every inch of the temple is carved intricately.
Naga figures, amorous couples, vines and geometric motifs which form a texture. Such wealth of patterning.
The temple is in the form of a chariot and the wheels are iconic of Odisha.
One would require a lifetime to examine and appreciate the wealth of detail and iconography in this temple. It's simply mind blowing.
The person who conceptualised and directed the creation of this masterpiece must have been a master at his craft.One assumes it was a man but I wonder if were a woman.
In any case the person's knowledge of material, architecture, Hindu iconography and sculpture must have been unparalled.  

Wednesday, April 19

My trip to Odisha finds a place in 1 Year of Stitches.

 
 20th March.2017. I was looking to add a motif which would mark my visit to Odisha. I picked Jaganath. He's special to Odisha. He's the only Indian god who is worshipped along with his older brother and sister. Most Gods and Godesses have a consort but not Jaganath
 30th March.2017.
The day was spent in airports. Flying from Bhubaneshwar to Chennai with a four hour wait in Hyderabad to catch a connecting flight. Time well spent working on the Jaganath motif.
31st March.2017. 
The Jagannath motif is complete.I embroidered the pupils of his eyes and the motif was complete.
30th March.2017
It was so hot in Chennai my brain seized functioning and I could only think of adding some cast on Stitch leaves.

Monday, April 10

Progress on 1 Year of Stitches in the month of March

   A teaching assignment in Odisha took me away from the Blue Mountains for a good three weeks. 
I carried the 1 Year of Stitches with me.
   
 At the beginning of March here is what the twelve inch circle looked like.
 7th March.2017
 15th March 2017.
 16th March 2017.
20th March 2017.
I seem to have come to a creative standstill. Only adding little Algerian eye flowers and Lazy Daisy leaves.
Didn't get a chance to update my blog all that time I was away.
How did March treat you? The teaching assignment went well and I spent a week with family, celebrating my mother's 80th birthday with a thanksgiving prayer and lunch.

Thursday, March 16

A Gift of Books

Books are such wonderful gifts and I was the recipient of not one but two books from friends.  
 A Book of Simple Living by Ruskin Bond was sent by a dear friend. She sees my life mirrored in the stories in this book and I must say she's right.
You can open the book at any page and start reading, the stories are more detailed observations and advise which springs from experience.
 
Let me share what I found on page 30.

'The smallest insect in the world is a sort of firefly and its body  is only a fifth of a millimetre long.One can only just see it with the naked eye.Almost like a speck of dust, yet it has perfect little wings and little combs on its legs for preening itself.

That is perfection.'

The second book is from a friend who is a foodie, enjoys my cooking and sends me recipes. He knows I like Bengali food and has brought Mutton Kosha all the way from Bangalore.
I have yet to get started on The Calcutta Cook Book but it's my type of cook book it has stories about the food along with the recipes.
I must add some simple dishes from this book to my repertoire and I'll have a Bengali to critique the results so I can hone my skills of preparing Bengali cuisine.

I hope you have something interesting to read. Have a great weekend.

Sunday, March 5

1 year of Stitches at the end of February

After the 17th of February I didn't find time to do any stitching, not until the 25th.
 25th February 2017. A Woven Wheel.
26th February 2017. Love the circular puffy structure of the Woven Wheel and I couldn't stop at one so I went ahead and made a few more. Looks like the flowers of the Acacia tree which is in bloom and visible from our deck.Like little powder puffs.
27th February 2017. Couldn't think of how to connect or embellish the woven wheels so I decided to start on a butterfly.
There are a number of butterflies to be seen in the Lamb's Rock area where I live so I decided a couple of butterflies should be featured.

 28th February 2017. The place I live in is very popular for those interested in butterflies.On weekends you'll find camera toting enthusiasts peering into bushes and lying flat on their stomachs to get a shot of these delicate creatures.This is the first of two.

Monday, February 27

The Kochi Muziris Biennale



 The work of Eva Schlegel caught my eye at Aspinwall House.
 A long corridor with windows which would normally let you see ferries plying in the sea between Fort Kochi and Ernakulam now had these laser cut words cut into sheets of translucent paper and stuck on the window panes. The words were from quotes and one needed to walk back and forth along the corridor to read the entire quote.
Spent just a day at the Kochi Muziris Biennale.

Sunday, February 19

A tumultous month

We're past the middle of February and I'm wondering where the days have gone. 
February began with a wedding in my husband's family. So not many days were spent doing embroidery. 
I picked up the needle again only on the 8th of February.
Embroidered these composite flowers - combining lazy daisy stitch and woven wheels to create these poinsettia like flowers.


 In the garden there are red, salmon pink and white poinsettia.
 13th February 2017. In memory of a my school principal Ms. G. Devadason who passed away today at the age of 89. She was called Dodo for some reason. Must try and find out why.
 14th February 2017. a little cross stitch heart for Valentine's day.
15th February 2017. Cable chain, the name comes back to me, encircles the heart.
16th February 2017.

Health issues with elderly parents continue. Either my husband or I are taking a bus at short notice to go be with our respective parents.
They live in a world which was relevant probably fifteen years ago.They live a slow life.Smart phones, internet banking, shopping online is amazing and confusing at the same time. Have to get my mum familiar with the working of a smart phone she's curious and willing to learn.
Just curious, do you utilise all the features on your smart phone? At times do you feel it's all Greek?
It's so important to keep abreast of technology. But it's funny I live in a small town where cash is required and credit or debit cards get to be used sparingly, you ask someone on the road for directions to a place but the moment I get to a larger town or city it's all cashless and life is technology driven - ordering a cab or food, finding a location or getting driving directions. I have one foot in both these worlds and I think a number of people in India find themselves in a similar situation.
We moved to this small town to lead a slow life but technology has come to stay and to stay relevant or function in the wider world I have to keep abreast with technology. So it's a hybrid sort of life I lead.
Have a good week.

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