Saturday, December 26

Wishing you a blessed Christmas

I ushered in Christmas with family and friends at a candle light church service where the Christingle has become something of a tradition introduced by my mother who saw the same at a Christmas eve service in Hong Kong. It was a beautiful service.
Let me share the significance of the Christingle with you
A Christingle consists of four things. The Orange represents the world. The lighted candle represents Jesus, the Light of the World. The four sticks of raisins and sweets represent the four seasons and the bounty of the earth. The red ribbon is circular and represents God's unending love.
I hope Christmas was a warm and blessed affair for all of you and I hope 2010 is a happy, healthy and prosperous year for all.

Thursday, December 10

Wednesday, December 2

Elephas maximus - up close and personal

Our safaris into the jungle have always been rewarding with some spectacular sightings. So, it was with great anticipation that we drove down the Sigur Ghats in the Nilgiris to meet friends staying at Tusker Trails in Bandipur National Park.
Close to two hours and we had left the winding ghat roads and hairpin bends behind and R decided to stop and answer nature's call before we got to the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. R got back rather quickly and told me there was a tusker standing behind a spindly tree. I turned and just then the large tusker stepped out onto the road and turned to face the back of the car.
I had the camera in my hand but it was forgotten as we watched to see whether the tusker would charge. Lone tuskers are unpredictable and therefore dangerous. We obviously weren't perceived as a threat because in thirty seconds it turned and crossed the road to the scrub land on the other side. That was a little too close for comfort but suprisingly both of us were calm and I remember there being some discussion about taking photographs.
It was a massive specimen with long tusks pretty much like the one in this picture and R didn't have even the slightest inkling of its presence just ten feet away from him, until, he happened to glance to his left to see if he could discover the source of a strong animal odour.

The evening safari brought more elephants. Cows with their young calves, not sure what to expect of the large contraption which heaves and jolts down the jungle tracks.

This little fellow came out of the thick jungle and was feeding quite happily, unperturbed by the rumblings of the open truck we were in.

Another pair of young mothers and calves at a salt lick. The calves are behind a thicket of bamboo.

This encounter with the elephant is another first for us and we hope it will stay that way. Any guesses what we were thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend?
Next post will be a tame one related to fiber and book making I promise.

Monday, November 30

TAST Linked Double Chain

Just checking in to let you know R & I had a great Thanksgiving weekend which involved the hills , golf and wildlife.
More about the weekend and the work I've done on the Story of the Traveling Pages a little later in the week when I've settled back into a comfortable routine.

Friday, November 20

Allotment Garden Blogging Bee

My allotment garden is imagined because such a concept does not exist in urban India but its a concept worth implementing. read on to find out what I would grow in this allotment garden, what I'll be wearing and what I would snack on when I take a break from weeding and watering.
What would I grow in this little garden? Coriander/Cilantro, mint and fiery hot chillies. The requirements for my cooking on a daily basis. A couple of types of spinach, cucumber and tomatoes. Maybe I could squeeze in a banana tree or a drumstick tree. How about a papaya tree, one which produces those small sweet papayas which they call disco papayas.Haven't figured out how that name came about. A vine of betel leaf. I don't chew it but it has medicinal properties.
I'd like to have a bee hive too. Bee hives are probably not typical allotment garden fare but I've always wanted to give bee keeping a hand so a bee hive most certainly.
You'll find me tending my plot in rubber slippers/flip flops, sunglasses, and an old t-shirt combined with cut offs or a salwar. For a snack I'd probably take a sandwich or chapatis with jam or cheese and water.

India Flint over at Not all those who wander are lost is hosting a blogging bee. Its the first one I'm participating in. If you'd like to join in, you can read more about the event which has a giveaway worked into it by clicking here.
The images in this post are from a piece I created about seven years back of a little wild garden bursting with colour and texture. A teeny tiny tropical jungle in a forgotten hidden portion of this apartment complex where I've made my home.There's one such space right outside my bedrooom window where the wandering jew grows uncontrolled and a tropical jungle is in the making.
I hope your weekend is wild or tropical or both.

Tuesday, November 17

Friday, November 13

How I make my Fiber Books

Here's the method I've devised to make the Take it Further Fiber Book and the two volumes of Take a Stitch Tuesday stitch sampler.
The Take it Further Fiber Book is my first fiber book ever and this is how I went about making the book.

Using running stitch I mark the 'pages' on the cloth. Each page has two halves or portions , one on the left and one on the right.
The size of the portion where the embroidery stitch is done is 3.2" x 5.75" with a 1/2" space between the two portions (the running stitch done with black thread) . Each page has a line of blanket stitch done around it. The blanket stitch is the means to joining the pages.
Once a sizeable number of 'pages' have been completed they are cut and seperated leaving a small seam allowance of about a quarter inch or so on all four sides beyond the blanket stitch.
For The Take it Further Fiber Book I ironed fusing onto the back of each page so they are quite stiff. I've decided to leave out the fusing in the Take a Stitch Tuesday books because the pages are about an inch or so smaller and since two layers of fabric make-up a page, the pages are fairly stiff.
The blanket stitch along the 1/2" portion between the left and right halves/portions of the page are not joined so that the page can fold.

Corners of pages must be matched and pinned and then the pages need to be joined, sewing and connecting blanket stitches on both pages.The left hand portion of the first page is left and you begin by joining the right hand portion of page 1 with the left hand portion of page 2. Once that's done you join the right hand portion of page 2 with the left hand portion of page 3 and so on.
In doing this you create little pockets. If you find your page is too floppy then you could slip pieces of card paper into the pockets if you want a stiffer page.
In the Take it Further Fiber Book I used black thread to join the pages and every five or six stitches I introduced a clear seed/sugar bead. In the Take a Stitch Tuesday books I'm joining the pages with a clear plastic thread which is as fine as a single strand of hair. Not sure what the name is but it can be used on a sewing machine.

For the cover itself I used a single piece of felt which simply wraps around the book. I edged the cover with blanket stitch and embroidered the front cover and the spine portion of the book.
The left hand portion of the first page is stitched onto the inside of the front cover (visible in picture above) and the right hand portion of the last page is stitched onto the inside of the back cover.
The 'pages' are joined to the cover only on the inside of the front cover and the inside of the back cover. They aren't stitched or connected to the cover on the spine section of the cover.

I hope I've been able to describe the method I employ to create my fiber books clearly for you to give it a try. If there's something confusing or unclear leave a comment and I'll try and sort things out for you.
I've stitched the pages of the first volume of Take a Stitch Tuesday together and I begin the embroidery for the cover this weekend, so next week Volume one will be ready to view.
Have a great weekend.

On a separate note - I've become an affilate of Amazon and Flipkart. You will see the banners on the side bar. Should you wish to shop online I would appreciate it if you could click on the Amazon or Flipkart banners/buttons and make your purchases.Amazon and Flipkart will pay me a small percentage of the value of your transaction without increasing the cost for you by even a cent. Thank you and happy shopping.

Thursday, November 5

TAST Knotted Buttonhole Band

As I type its begun to rain, really pour yet the setting sun is still shining bright. How strange.
The unprecedented traffic on this blog because of the Take it Further Fiber book has proven to be good for my creativity and has spurred me on to plunge into fiber book making in a big way.

The TAST(take a stitch tuesday) embroidery samples of which the Knotted Buttonhole Band is the latest one to be completed are being made into a two volume set of embroidery samplers. Volume one has been sewn together and is waiting for its cover, volume two is in the process of being assembled as the samples are completed. So next week I plan to show you how I go about making my fiber books.

The second bit of news is that I'm participating in a fiber page swap with fourteen other participants to create a unique fiber book at the end of fourteen months. The Story of the Traveling Pages starts in January 2010 but it already has its own blog where you will get to see how the pages and books are created. This is the first time for me and needless to say I'm all charged up and excited, the theme for my book is leaves, by the way. Click here to read about the other participants and what their themes are.
Looks like I'll have to give BJP ( Bead Journal Project) 2010 a miss again this coming year or should I take the plunge and make a small little book with beaded pages the size of an ATC ?Need to give this some serious thought.

Have a great weekend, mine involves Goan food so R tells me.

Wednesday, October 28

My Cup Runneth Over

Million Little Stitches has not seen the type of traffic witnessed in the past five days ever before.
Last night I was surprised to see on maploco that 1605 people had viewed my blog from 987 places.I had to wake up R so he could see this phenomena. Wow! Almost all of North America and Europe have disappeared under scores of blue dots.
27 comments for a post is another record and followers up to a magical 77 makes my head spin. I'm going to be replying to those comments and visiting your blogs in the next couple of days.

I'd like to thank Mr XStitch and Craft zine for featuring the Take it Further fiber book on their respective sites and for this cup runneth over state I find myself in. Thank you.

Friday, October 23

Take it Further Fiber Book

The Take it Further fiber book is finally complete. My first fiber book, I'm over the moon.
The cover is felt which I've embroidered and it opens to reveal the page above.
Flipping through the pages. One for each month.
That's the last page. The free form Cable chain stitch is an attempt to imitate the end papers in very old hard bound books which are marbled.
The edges of the pages have sugar beads at intervals. You can see I got carried away.
Click on the months to see each page of the book.
On to making more fiber books. The Take a Stitch Tuesday samples will be made into a sampler book as well. I need to start assembling the pages but there will be no extra embellishments like sugar beads along the edges of pages (what got into me to do that I wonder!).
There's The Bead Journal Project for 2010 which I shall join. Last year I had already committed to Take a Stitch Tuesday on Stitchin fingers.
There's a discussion on at the Fiber book group at Stitchin Fingers about a fiber book page swap. That could be interesting. A book compiled on a particular theme, with pages contributed by different people in the group. I think I must participate.

So what do you think of my first ever fiber book? I hope all who visit have a great weekend.

On a separate note - I've become an affilate of Amazon and Flipkart. You will see the banners on the side bar. Should you wish to shop online I would appreciate it if you could click on the Amazon or Flipkart banners/buttons and make your purchases.Amazon and Flipkart will pay me a small percentage of the value of your transaction without increasing the cost for you by even a cent. Thank you and happy shopping.

Tuesday, October 13

TAST Square Boss Stitch & Rice Stitch

I think I've gone ahead with TAST. Fifteen stitches, fifteen weeks to go before TAST ( Take a Stitch Tuesday) is completed. So early next year I'll begin the process of sewing the samples into a fibre book - my second.

TAST Cable Chain Stitch

I quite like this stitch and I'm going to use it on the inside back cover of the Take It Further fibre book.

TAST - Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch

Thursday, October 8

Sea Glass

What do you get if copious quantities of beer is drunk in a tropical environment which boasts of sun, sand and a rocky shoreline? Fabulous quantities of Sea Glass.
Waves pounding rocky outcrops work a certain magic on beer bottles and turn them into sea glass and this is the perfect setting. I regret not having made my own offering of empty beer bottles to the sea and at this particular rocky outcrop in an attempt at making it a sustainable process. Putting back what I was going to take out so that those coming after me would be enchanted when they discovered sea glass. I don't think I need be overly concerned in a place like Goa where the liquor flows all year round.
You need a sandy beach like this even if its just a tiny crescent where you can go down at low tide and start the process of beach combing. Be warned this sport requires a large reservoir of patience, walking slowly and great hand and eye co-ordination because at times you have to be quick to spot the sea glass and pluck it up from the sand from amongst the pulverised sea shells, pebbles and some other undesirable stuff like plastic garbage, before the next wave rolls in.
Sea glass is like treasure for me. Two evenings on the beach above netted me a jam bottle full of the stuff. The sharp edges and the entire surface is worn smooth like a baby's bottom. The pieces are of varying opacity or translucence and no two pieces are the same shape or size. Each one unique.

This is the base of a glass which i found wedged between the slippery rocks near the rampart. The largest piece of sea glass in my collection.
Read about Freebirdsing's celebration of sea glass here.
I've only ever looked for sea glass in Goa because the conditions are perfect.
Are you a sea glass collector?
Which are your favourite beaches for gathering sea glass? in India / the world.
What do you do with the sea glass you collect? I've incorporated some tiny bits in a page in the Take it Further fibre book and I know its used for jewellery which I'm considering trying out.

For more about sea glass go here and here.

Friday, October 2

TAST Shisha Stitch

Shisha stitch is one of my favourites.For the sample above I couldn't find any mirrors in my stash so I decided to make do with what I could find. Beer bottle tops flattened out, a one rupee coin and a button.Shisha stitch is also used quite extensively in certain regions and communites in India. So I thought I'd include some images of Shisha stitch done on garments and samplers in my collection.
The women of the Lambani tribe uses mirror work or shisha stitch extensively on their highly embellished clothes.
Examples of shisha stitch on a sampler which Lambani women created for me. They inspired me to use other embroidery stitches around my own explorations and samples of shisha stitch. You can see more pictures of Lambani embroidery here.
I bought a beautiful skirt in Jaipur two decades ago and the picture below is of the border.

The weekend began yesterday in India this week, because October 2nd is Gandhi Jayanti.

Thursday, September 24

I'm inspired ...I say!

The muse seems to have deserted me but I've showed up and put needle to cloth. Yet, the last pages of the fibre book are incomplete. A week of embroidering telephone numbers with a single strand of thread leaves the 4"x6" page looking incomplete. There's a million stitches on that page already.
The weather is all grey and dull and I have a dry cough.Priya speaks of the healing qualities of black pepper and ginger and I take to brewing and drinking copious quantities of ginger tea. Changes occur. The cough abates ,I'm hooked on black pepper and ginger tea and the last 4"x6" page stares back at me - blank. Ok I'm inspired to use some red ribbon on the page but there's something lacking.
I decide to take a break for a day and step away from my work to indulge the senses and come back refreshed. Click here to see what made me laugh until I had a stitch in my side and here , as well as here for what tantalised my taste buds.

I gave my credit card a bit of a work out and acquired some Putumayo music which I'm listening to as I type out this post and two books.Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi and a collection of short stories entitled Death Dines In.
So much promise.The skies darken and there is promise of a heavy downpour.I must brew some black pepper and ginger tea and settle down to work - I feel little wings of inspiration stirring.
Where did you find inspiration the last time you went looking?

Thursday, September 10

Churches & Chapels

R and I have always been to Goa during the monsoons when the crowds are tame and actually avoidable. Its our favourite destination to recharge our batteries simply by staring at the sea. We're not given to careening across Goa on a bike, drinking and partying hard, so I have no typical pictures of Goa to share but I do have pictures typical of Goa. The little white chapels and
churches which are distinctly Portuguese.
Every lane and community boasts of a little chapel.
This chapel is in serious disrepair but people still seem to be worshipping here. That's candle wax on the doorstep.
The simple refined white forms amidst wild tropical vegetation. The contrast is startling and arresting.
The facade of this chapel appears to be top heavy and I feel it will topple over but then again its probably the angle at which I've photographed it.
The sculpted domes, pilasters and niches on the facades of the chapels and churches remind me of elaborate sugar confections. I don't know why I make that connection but I do.
The monsoon rains which lash Goa take their toll of pristine white facades. Maintenance must be a labour of love.
Beautiful classic proportions. Distinctly Portuguese architecture in a typical Goan landscape of coconut palms. Doesn't feel alien or wrong. How do you achieve eclecticism? ( Is that even a word?)

Textures. Smooth white plaster and grainy rough laterite. Makes an interesting marriage of textures which work. Didn't see it used anywhere else. Is it a new direction or simply new for me?
Goa is also seafood for us. Click here to see pictures of what we ordered.