Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fairy Flowers

Who says there are no fairies?  I've seen evidence to the contrary!  First of all, the more magical the environment, the more likely there are to be magical things within it! 

I've emerged from bug hell this summer into a beautiful landscape that occurs this time of year here in the desert Southwest:  Monsoon Season.  The normally dry desert transforms into a lush paradise, if only for a few weeks.   And as in most desert climates, the flowers and foliage tend to be tiny...more to conserve moisture, I am supposing.  These tiny little flowers, leaves, grasses, etc, are enchanting, at least to my eyes.  I'd like to share with you some of the images I've taken of such flowers on my  evening walks down my dirt road after supper.  Then the air is cool and often, a thunderhead is brewing to the east.   So, to set the stage, here is a photo taken just the other evening, around 7:30pm.   Pretty magical, wouldn't you agree?

I should probably clarify that all of the photos are taken with my Droid phone camera.   Often the focus is on the background grasses rather than the flower, because this is a phone, afterall!  Also, because it is dusk, many of the flowers are folding up.  I should go out during the day to capture their full beauty, but the daily temps deter me from that exploration. 

I also need to say that I don't know the names of most of these little plants.  However, that doesn't stop me from admiring them.  I hope you will too!   (My comments on the photos are underneath the posted photos.

            What can I say?  Fairy pink, delicate, so tiny, so detailed!  I love the little stamens!

Look at the sweet little unopened pods on this plant, like Chinese lanterns.  Bear in mind their diminutive size;  these flowers are under 1/2 inch in diameter.

        They have a rather orchid like look, don't they!

The petals on these tiny flowers have a cottony texture.  Notice too, their unopened counterparts on the right hand side....a tiny ball of clustered knots.  Each knot is a petal waiting to be born!

I do know the name of this one:  Fairy Duster!   Of course it is!

This one is my favorite.  The flowers are barely 1/2 " across, and just so precious!  They look like tiny pom poms!  I can see stitching their portrait with a single strand of floss. 

 I know the name of these flowers too.  They are wild verbena, and look very much like the ones you can purchase in a nursery.  Often the clusters get very dense, just mounds of purple/pink!  Love them!

I don't know the name of these, but really now!  FOUR petals?  And how cute are they!
Again, I don't know the name, but so cute, eh?  Those stamens call for bullion stitches, for sure, if you were to stitch them!

                                                      A classic daisy, 1 inch across.

This photo is blurry, but I had to post it.  Believe it or not, this is the unopened bud of the daisy flower featured above.  It is barely 1/4" in diameter, and who would ever guess that color would end up as yellow and white?

Last, but not least, this photo features the flowers of the manzanita tree.  This is not a recent photo, but I decided to include it here because I've long thought of these precious little bells as fairy flowers.  This particular tree is next to my house, and there are many more on the property. 

I hope you've enjoyed "taking this walk" with me today.  The hunt for fairy flowers is just beginning though, as each day, I will be seeing more and more varieties of seasonal wildflowers appearing.   I'll be documenting my discoveries, and perhaps, posting more photos in the future. 
Keep your eyes peeled for ones in your area!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Perfect Stitch...

I've had blog block for over a month..maybe 6 weeks?  Partly, this was due to my summer battle with
those nasty little false chinch bugs.  They migrated from a field next to my studio, entering the building though the tiniest places; around the windows, under the doors, and even up through the floors.  I cried, I cursed, I swept, I cleaned, I mopped, I vacuumed, I sprayed, and then, I did it all over again the next day, each day,  for the full 5+ weeks until monsoon arrived, heralding their departure!  Oh, and I also fired our exterminator!

The other reason for my blog block is because I've not been stitching very much.  I've been working on finishing princess shoes when not ridding my life of bugs!  That said, I have now and then, added a few little stitches to my swan canvas.  Sitting down at night and filling in a few areas with mindless stitching is just what I've needed to relax.  Tonight, I was doing that very thing, when, (harp music here....) the blog block broke!  Yes, indeed!  I finally had an idea to write about!

This occurred as I was implementing a stitch for the waterlilies in the swan painted piece.  I've always known I would stitch them with a buttonhole stitch, and when I actually did it, omgosh!  It was perfect!  I used the perfect thread, of course, Caron's Wildflowers, with this perfect stitch!  See here if you don't think it is perfect.

I love the way the stitch creates an edge around the perimeter of the lily pad.  I also love that it creates 'movement' and dimension from the center, where all the stitches originate, and form a little bump.  It speaks 'lilypad'!  And the overdyed threads are a real pleasure to use..seeing the way the colors emerge effortlessly.

I believe the buttonhole stitch was one of the first stitches I learned to do as a child.  My mother taught me to sew at an early age, and she taught me this stitch so I could make real button holes in my doll's clothes.  Later, I edged blankets with it, and I think it made me feel like I was creating something important, 'cause it was 'fancy'!

Over the years, as a needlepointer, I've used this stitch often.  I used it on a Nancy Swan Drew piece to create angel wings on a canvas featuring a mother who never gives up on her kids!  Flair was the perfect thread to use, along with a little bead embellishment on top of the ridge.  (One day, I'll get around to actually stitching the whole design.)

Of course, buttonhole stitches make great leaves AND flowers.  Here I created both in my Funky Flowers canvas.

It works for the sea horses in my Coral Sea piece.  These little guys are nothing but buttonhole stitch with a seed bead added for an eye.  Buttonhole stitch works great because it follows curves and fills in spaces all in one step!

Here it is being featured on a desert plant, in my Bougainvillea Wall piece.  This time, it was a detached buttonhole stitch, worked over two long threads which formed each spike of the plant.

Sometimes, just a "little" buttonhole stitch will do, as in the scallop feature along the bottom and at the top of this beehive.  The design would have been sorely lacking without it!

Lastly, I show you the background of 'Cowgirl Up'.  Circular shaped buttonhole stitches form polka dots reminiscent of those found on a bandana.  I think they added just what was needed to an otherwise pretty drab background.

As you can see, the buttonhole stitch is very versatile and useful.  It is an easy stitch to generate, and the results are very satisfactory.  I hope you will look for places to use it in your work, in areas you might not have considered. 
PS...did you notice the border of my blog background?  I didn't construct this, but as you can see, it IS the perfect stitch!