A Touch of Irish Lace

May the saddest day of your future
be no worse

than the happiest day of your past.

You may have gathered that I love my Irish heritage.  😉  So, when I was looking for some quick stitching projects I seized the opportunity to work with some Irish lace that I was fortunate enough to find in an antique store in Westport, Ireland. Combining the lace with a silk background and some embroiderie anglaise fabric in my stash, I had the makings of a small pin pillow.


Irish pin pillow

The lace was used for the mid-section of the pillow to give it a place of honor. I used a variety of stitches including French knots and web stitches to embellish the rest of the pillow.


Irish lace section of pillow

I used a few small beads to add a bit of sparkle among some of the bullion knots and to scatter amidst the gimp that adorned the lower third of the tiny pillow.

bullion knots clustered with beads

Close-up of some bullion knots with beads

The pillow is already on its way to a special person to whom I hope it will bring a smile of pleasant memories.

Linking to Nina Maries Off the Wall blog.


Knowing When to Stop!

Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself.”
Zen Master Dogen


With hand stitching, as with art quilts, the artist could continue to embellish and tweak till eternity. It takes a goodly dose of self awareness to hear that inner voice whispering (or eventually yelling) ‘That’s enough, dear!”.

So it was this past week   – I realized as I completed some inserts  that I had been working on for a few days that the pouch in my hands was done. I know I have shared some glimpses of it these past few months. Here it is, finally complete. :)

Hand embroidered pouch

This piece is a happy reminder of our trip to Normandy in May. The fabrics were purchased in London, the white overlay, shown below, is a clipping of a handkerchief I picked up at an open market in Paris.

hand embroidery

You can see from these detail shots that I made good use of that Liberty fabric I have been blogging about! The pouch is actually lined with the fabric as well.

liberty fabric insert

I added a few tabs to the bottom front of the pouch. I am not sure what I will use this pouch for, but if I do travel with it, the tabs will give me a place to place a few needles while stitching.

tabs on body of pouch

There is a special glow that comes with working with such beautiful fabric and from finishing the composition. It inspired me throughout the week as I took up some new projects. Hope to share more on them next week!

In the meantime, I will be linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog tomorrow, so be sure to check out everyone’s posts.

Summertime contemplation

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.

Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts, 1858

I have found the ideal way to brainstorm with myself on a design for a new art quilt — hand embroidery! While pondering the possibilities for stitching some tree trunks, I quietly sit and work on my Liberty London fabric pouch that I wrote about a few weeks ago. It is a wonderful way to pass some of each day in the beautiful summer weather we are having. It seems as though as I carefully stitch on the pouch, my mind slows and opens to possibilities for those tree trunks!

Here are a few glimpses of my gradual progress:

photo 1

hand embroidery

hand embroidered pouch

A week of adventures with Judy

The past week was one of those weeks where I was drawn in many directions.

Last Saturday found me at our wonderful aikido dojo opening a practice where Kokikai students from Western New York State gathered.

Aikido Kokikai Rochester

The next day I was en route to the Miami Florida area to visit our son and some good friends. After a long, hard, snowy winter in western New York, it was nice to see that the sun does shine in some places!

Aventura Florida

View from our son’s balcony

Art was very much on my mind while visiting Florida. I found these beautiful samples of hand stitched children’s clothes in a store in the Bal Harbor area.

frenchembroidery frenchembroidery_2


Our friends have an exquisite condominium on Hutchinson Island. I particularly loved their master bath where they have incorporated a flow of river rocks into the wall – love the way the ‘flow’ matches, don’t you!


While Florida was great, the best part of my week was visiting with my beautiful granddaughter and family. She is, of course, a budding artist.


But, did I find any time for my own projects in all this activity. Most definitely!

Here is the second of the pillows from my class with Karen Ruane that I have been taking online.


It has been a pretty full week but wonderful. I will link this post to Off the Wall Friday so you can check out what other artists have been doing as well.

What is it?


During our fiber arts group monthly meeting yesterday, I was circulating a project I had just completed and one of our members quizzically mouthed What is it? to me across the room. I smiled. 

It‘ is a pin cushion with a pocket. Huh? That’s right.  😀

I have been participating in Karen Ruane‘s Pillows and Pages class for the past two weeks. It has been an adventure. Since the class included three separate pillow projects, I wisely opted to create small pillows. Karen also chose to work on small size pillows that could be used as giant pin cushions. As she drew near completion of the first pillow with us, she decided to add a ‘pocket’ for storing small supplies you might need as you were stitching. I followed suit.

Here is what my completed pin cushion with pocket looks like now that it is in use:

pin cushion with pins, etcIt actually folds in half for easier carrying about my home.

folded hand stitched pin cushion

I am totally enjoying the class. It is giving me an opportunity to create something useful while learning from Karen and honing skills. Over the three pillows, the many elements covered have included  ties, tabs, inserts, varied stitches, and, of course, damp stretching.

close up of pin cushion

PS I am linking this post to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog so please enjoy browsing some other artist’s blogs.

Love those French Knots!

From what I can tell the stitch called the French Knot made its appearance after Chinese embroidered items began appearing in Europe in the 1690’s. It’s predecessor was the Peking knot which was also went by the title of Forbidden Stitch – supposedly because it is so fine that there was fear young girls would go blind from stitching it.

The French Knot has always been my nemesis. I tried to incorporate it into various projects but never could pull it off.  Finally, I have broken through that barrier and now it is one of my favorite stitches.

In Memories, I have used it in a number of places. Clusters of knots appear in one strip; on another strip, French knots are scattered through across the fabric to carry over some of the off white color that appears in the other strips.