Sunday, September 09, 2007

H is for houses

house (
a building in which people live; residence for human beings.

–verb (used with object)
to give shelter to; harbor; lodge
to remove from exposure; put in a safe place.

keep house, to maintain a home; manage a household.

"Dreams relating to a house often refer to various aspects of the Self. When trying to analyse the house in your dream, consider also how the house is kept and the condition of it. The rooms in the house relates to facets of your personality". (

I have always had a thing about houses. I don’t know what it is about them that attract me so. A house is not just a place to live. There’s the general design of the thing; walls, windows, roof, all the different styles and colours houses can be. The idea of having a house of my own where I can do whatever I like has always been attractive to me. Ever since I was in my early teens I have been buying home decorating magazines, and even magazines with blueprints for building houses, and I have spent hours studying the floor plans and mulling over what I would have done differently, how I would have decorated them and so on. I have always had an idea that I could be an interior decorator, and sometimes I have even dared think I might be an architect, but I have never taken it further than sewing houses.

I’m always attracted to quilting and embroidery patterns with houses in them, and I keep collecting houses in different shapes and forms.

These tins for tea and spaghetti, for instance, and

this cookie jar are among my favourite things. I have lots of little house tins for tea and spices and the like. Then there’s a little village from Latvia meant for candles. And once the Christmas decorations come out there will be several more. I seem to get an underwater quality to all my pictures today, so I'll have to wait for a clearer day to take more pictures.

Then there is this recent acquisition of a tin house. I don't know where to put it yet, and what to do with it (put a houseplant in it, a candle, display something...), but I just had to have it! I'll find a nice spot on a wall somwhere and think about it some more.

Recently I bought this picture by Michael Powell of a lovely Welsh village. He seems to have a thing about houses too - and they are such lovely colourful quirky ones! I might have to do a wee bit of shopping at that site soon...

Among my work there’s this cross-stitch,

my little night time village,

my red and white schoolhouses,

this 3D one, and

this more stylised rendition. Two houses for what I have intended to make into an entire town are hanging on my notice board and I have at least three more quilts planned that will contain houses, in some shape or form…

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sorting threads

It's amazing how a few days away and getting out of the habit of doing something can make you stray off path completely. I was really getting into this alphabet thing, and had even prepared a post to be posted when I was away to keep it going, and then all sorts of other things interfered with my plans. It started with trying to take some pictures for my next post, but because it has been raining heavily for what seems like weeks, I couldn't get any photos worth posting - I get the feeling of being under water lately what with the constant sound of the rain and the gloomy light. Quite cosy if you want to stay indoors and create, but not the best light for taking pictures.

I've been sorting and tidying all my "stuff" these last couple of weeks - the redecorating of my living room (pictures will follow...) brought a lot of clutter to the surface that need to be sorted - in heaps of "for keeps", "pending" and "going out". There seems to be a lot of this going on in blogs lately - maybe it's something to do with getting our "nests" ready for winter hibernation ;-) I also sorted through some of my threads, and since Alicia posted the question of how we deal with those tangle-prone cottons, I thought I'd show what I do with mine, even if my photos have that sub aqua-feel... Since I have a lots of DMC cotton floss - I have been doing cross-stitch for years and I'm for ever adding to my stash - I have made some plain cardboard strips with punched holes along one side. I cut the skeins in same size lengths and loop them through the holes in numerical order. If I use only two strands of a length, I can loop the remaining strands into the same hole and have them ready for the next project.

I keep all the cards in a tin box so that the threads are coiled underneath and all the cards rest upright on top - quite the archivist, oh yes I am! :-D Because I started this system years ago, and it has been growing little by little, adding to it doesn't take a lot of effort, but I doubt I would do it this way if I suddenly found myself with hundreds of skeins that needed sorting - I'm not tidy enough to keep it up for that long!
I also have some special threads, like perle cotton, this beautiful silk noil, some linen etc., and have been doing what Alicia did - pulling out one length at a time from the skein and getting them into a terrible tangle. A friend of mine showed me a trick that works perfectly for these, and I am sorting through them in front of the TV these last couple of evenings. What you do is to open the skein, which is kind of twisted around itself so you have one big loop of thread. Then you cut through it all at one point (preferably where the ends are) so you end up with a bunch of single threads. Loop the bunch around the index finger of the hand you don't work with (I'm left-handed, so I use the finger on my right hand) bringing all the ends together at the opposite end. Split the bunch into three smaller bunches and start braiding them from your index finger. After braiding a few times, you can lift it off your finger and continue braiding with both hands. I just braid as far as I can and leave it like it is. If you feel the need for a very neat finish you could tie a piece of thread or something around the end, I suppose, but I find that it isn't really necessarry - the thread stays braided well enough. If you need to keep the label, you can fasten it throug the loop end of the braid. When a length of thread is needed, just pull it out from the loop end. You'll find that you can easily do this while keeping the braid intact. Works beautifully!