Saturday, 30 October 2010

Um.... Autumn Jewellery...

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So, I was going to show you my Halloween costume.... but I can't get the photos off my camera just now! I managed to take the memory card out so the photos are on the internal memory.... and I don't have the cord with me.... Stupid Joanne!

While I work on getting the photos off my camera, here's some autumnal jewellery for you instead :-)

In my stash of beads there has been a bag of leaf shaped beads. It has been sitting there for a while, waiting for me to find a use for them. Finally, the idea for my autumnal wire and bead necklace seemed the perfect project!

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This necklace is made from copper and brass coloured wires, wrapped together with glass and plastic beads from Europe. Scattered between the gold, red, brown and orange beads fall the leaves, whilst displayed in the middle, wooden seed-shaped beads remind us of pine cones and chestnuts descending as well.

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This necklace is fully adjustable with a gold ribbon closure. This piece will make a statement worn against dark colours or will nestle warmly with a harmoniously coloured ensemble. Bring the warmth of bonfires and the crisp crunch of Fallen Leaves to your jewellery box!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Subversive Stitch


The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine
by Rozsika Parker is a must read for anyone interested in the world of Embroidery. Primarily it looks at how embroidery and its usage has shaped what we believe is 'feminine' and how women, society and artists and embraced or rebuked this.

As a woman I found this text to be very interesting. Seeing over the course of history how what I am perceived to be (or should be) was built and who influenced this opened my eyes to a lot of things. As an artist and one who is not a painter (and therefore not a 'fine artist) is was also very interesting to see how what is considered 'craft' was pushed away from the 'fine arts'. Back in the middle ages Embroidery was considered as fine an art as sculpture or painting, but gradually the disciplines broke apart and the 'arts and crafts' movement appeared.

This book is not only for the women, however. A Manbroiderer will find also find it interesting as it looks at the styles of embroidery over the years and their uses. I found this a useful jumping off point to explore the styles that I found most interesting and wanted to try.

As an art student I always found art history and textbooks to be hard going. This isn't too bad. At times it can be wordy, but the information it contains is well worth it. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in embroidery, be it for it's history or for it's art. Now that it is republished it should be easy to find as well!
Find it on amazon here

Monday, 18 October 2010

Feminism Has Fought No Wars

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I can't remember where I first saw the inspiration for this quilt square - it was either on Mr X Stitch or during a search on Flickr. Anyway, a while ago I saw
this piece of embroidery based on a quote by Dale Spender from her book For The Record: The Making And Meaning of Feminist Knowledge. The Quote reads thus:

Feminism has fought no wars.
It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties.
It's battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions, for safety on the streets, for childcare, for social welfare, for rape crisis centres, women's refuges, reforms in the law.

I thought the piece was beautifully executed, but most of all the quote was poignant. I decided to use it in my own way on my Feminist Statement Quilt.

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Second attempt at layout

As I have mentioned before, I have read The Subversive Stitch by Rozsika Parker and was interested in the way samplers were used to 'train' women in the feminine ways. I decided to create my own sampler around the quote. I wanted to use shades of pink for the colour scheme to keep within the stereotypical feminine frame.

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Work in Progress - text finished

The amount of text I was using posed a problem. I had not stitched this amount of text before and started off having trouble getting the size right. I wanted to fit the text in the space of the square, but not have it too small that when stitched it would be illegible. The piece you see here is actually my second attempt - the first having smaller text. After I had already stitched up half the text I decided it was too small to read properly. I threw it in a drawer for a few days until I could bring myself to start again. I want to do the piece right after all!

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Top banner in progress

I drew out the top and bottom banners by hand, using a pattern that I felt would be thought of as 'feminine'. However, I wanted to use a few different decorative stitches on this piece. It seemed like a good opportunity to play with some new ones! I left straight lines in the design of the piece to be filled in with decorative stitches later.

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Detail showing the variety of stitches

I found a couple of interesting stitches in
The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden. I used Portugese border stitch with a backstitch through the centre and coral stitch along with my usual backstitch for the text and split stitch, whipped split stitch and satin stitch for the main borders top and bottom.

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The finished piece

After a false start I like the way this piece came out. In a way it is my own training sampler. I spent time on it and forced myself to try something new instead of staying in the safe confines of the stitches I use regularly. It may not have instilled a sense of the feminine in me, but it has allowed me to explore new knowledge and skills.

Finally, my Phat Quarter Movie Swap piece was shown in
this Mr X Stitch blog post... go check it out!!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

For the Honor of Grayskull!!!

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On Saturday we (ie my cast and I) were told we were hosting a party on Wednesday.... A little short notice but we worked it out :-) We decided to host a Super Hero party.... and so came my excuse to make a She-Ra costume! I have been waiting for this day! I knocked this sucker up in about three days and I'm pretty proud of it. I made everything - top, skirt, head piece, gauntlets, necklace, cape and even boots!

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Craft Night!

My friends and I had a little craft night in wardrobe to get out costumes together, at which point I put together the top and started work on the boots.

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The boots took me about three hours to make, which is pretty good going I think! I used gold Lycra and a pair of old tan character shows as the base.

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I my boots!

I love hot glue! That's pretty much all that's holding these puppies together. I did reference a tutorial I found online, so if you want to make some check out this tutorial.

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I am She-Ra!

I love my costume, I just need to find the photo of me as She-Ra when I was 5 now to go with it!!

The Craft Night Posse in their costumes

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Introducing Halifax!

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A while ago I tried out wet felting and made myself a necklace (I'll post it next post) and found it a lot of fun. I had heard about needle felting and seen the results, but it seemed complicated.... well it isn't! After listening to the Stitching 'N' Junk podcast interview with Moxie about needle felting I really wanted to give it ago.

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The Loop, Halifax, Nova Scotia

While I was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I found a craft store called The Loop. I didn't catch the name of the lady that runs the store, but she was super nice and really helpful, so the next time you're in Halifax go check out The Loop. I found a needle felting kit from
Woolpets there. I was daring and went straight for an intermediate, instead of an easy, and this is the result - Halifax the Fox!

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Woolpets kit in a cute takeout box

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Needle felting supplies

Needle felting is really fun to do, so long as you don't stab yourself. It's really nice to see and feel what you are making coming together in your hands just from a few stabs of a needle. I want to try some more, I found some roving in Charlottetown in different colours. I think I'm going to try out some abstract stuff next. I'll keep you posted ;-)

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Ain't he cute??

Monday, 4 October 2010

New England Beer Adventures!

Sam Adams Octoberfest and Brick Red in Boston

For a month in Autumn my ship changes itinerary to do a New England and Canada run. The passengers come to see the Fall leaves change colour and feel the crisp air… we come for the beer!

The New England and Canada itineraries are fondly known to the crew as the Beer Run because there are just so many tasty local beers to try in the ports we go to. Here are a few of the delights I have had the pleasure to try:

Boston, Mass. USA

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The Sam Adams Brewery Tour

Boston is home to my favourite beer of all time – Sam Adams. Britain might call me a traitor for saying such things, but it’s true! My first time in Boston I made a beeline for the Sam Adams Brewery. If ever you are in Boston, you should take this tour. Not only do they show you around the original brewery, that now produces small batches of newer brews, you are given a free glass and get to try three different types of Sam Adams beer. They very cleverly send you out through the gift shop after plying you with beer so you buy things! They also give you directions to the first bar that ever sold Sam Adams on tap - Doyle's Cafe. If you have the stamp on your hand from the tour and order a Sam Adams with your food, you get a free Sam Adams glass!

These are the Sam Adams types I have tried:
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Samuel Adams Irish Red
Samuel Adams Winter Lager
Samuel Adams White Ale
Samuel Adams Summer Ale
Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat
(a fave!)
Samuel Adams Brick Red (Only available in Boston)
Samuel Adams Octoberfest (probably my favourite beer ever)

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Sam Adams Cherry Wheat at Doyle's Cafe

Bar Harbour, Maine, USA

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Bar Harbour Blueberry Ale at the Thirsty Whale

Bar Harbour is famous for it’s lobster and it’s blueberries. It’s beer is no exception – you can find some of the best blueberry beer here. Sea Dog is a local brewery and it’s Blueberry wheat is so fruitful you wonder if there’s any beer in it. We also found a gluten free beer here for my friend who is a coeliac, which made her very happy. We recommend going to the Thirsty Whale is you’re in town.

Beers I have tried from Maine:
Bar Harbour Blueberry Ale
Atlantic Brewing Company Leaf Peeper Lager
Sea Dog Old East India Pale Ale
Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat
Sea Dog Octoberfest
Redbridge Gluten Free Beer

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Redbridge Gluten Free beer at the Thirsty Whale

Newport, Rhode Island, USA

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Newport Storm Octoberfest

Newport, home to all the mansions and sail boats, is also home to Newport Storm beer. Their lager and Octoberfest are quite tasty. Have a drop with a lobster roll in any of the pubs on the wharf.

Beers from Newport:
Newport Storm Hurricane Amber Ale
Newport Storm Octoberfest
You can also find a good selection of Sam Adams and Sea Dog available here.

St John, New Brunswick, Canada

Moosehead Lager in St. John

Now we move up to Canada, out first stop being St. John. St. John is the home of Moosehead Lager, which is a fine, refreshing beverage for a hot day. It even comes with lime now. I also recently discovered Russell Brewing Company here which makes a nice selection of ales. My favourite was the Cream Ale, a red ale with great flavour.

Beers from St. John:
Moosehead Lager
Russell Honey Blonde Ale
Russell Cream Ale
Russell Extra Special Lager

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Russell Honey Blonde Ale in St. John

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

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The selection of beer at the local market in Quebec City

Quebec City is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. Whether you are sitting in a restaurant having a beer or going on a picnic with food bought from the local market, there are some good beers here. There are a couple of local breweries there, St. Ambroise does a great Pumpkin Ale that is great for Halloween, and Chambly has a refreshing Blonde Ale. I prefer the red ale of theirs though. The local market has a great selection of local and import beers including Le Mondaine which has beautiful artwork on the label.

Beers from Quebec:
St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale
St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout
Blanche De Chambly
Rousse De Chambly
Le Mondaine

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La Mondaine and Blanche De Chambly from Quebec

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

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My favourite, Garrison Raspberry Wheat at Maxwell's Plum, Halifax

The last, and my favourite, stop on our beer run is Halifax in Nova Scotia. There are quite a few local breweries in Halifax, the most famous being Alexander Keith. You can tour the brewery and be taken back in time to 1867 – it’s cute! I’m not a fan of India Pale Ale, which is Alexander Keith’s main ale, but their dark ale is tasty. Propeller Brewing Company is also in Halifax, they don’t have a tour but you can taste their wares. Their Pumpkin ale isn’t too bad. Garrison Brewing Company is probably my favourite in Halifax, their Raspberry Wheat is one of my favourite beers ever!

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Maxwell's Plum, Halifax, Nova Scotia

If you are in Halifax you should definitely go to Maxwell’s Plum. This bar has 130 beers to choose from, including 60 on tap! The food is great too, I could spend all day there. Check it out next time you are in Nova Scotia!

Beers from Halifax that I’ve tried:
Alexander Keith Red Amber Ale
Alexander Keith Dark Ale
Alexander Keith Premium White
Propeller Brewing Company Pumpkin Ale
Garrison Raspberry Wheat
Pump House Blueberry Ale
Fruili Strawberry Ale (this one might not be from Halifax but I tried it at Maxwell’s Plum)

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Alexander Keith's Brewery, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Garrison Brewing Company, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Propeller Brewing Company, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Mmmmmm I beer!

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