Monday, January 22, 2018

Inspiration and slow work

Sunset on the Atlantic Ocean
I'm back and hopefully I've missed the coldest part of winter in Ottawa this year! I could really get used to being a snow bird :-) Spain and the Canary Islands were not that warm, but it's all relative. I'll take 15C (59F) over -35C (-31F) any day :-)

As I mentioned in my last post before leaving, I really had a hard time figuring out what to bring with me - sewing/embroidery wise. On a whim, with my embroidery projects, I added a small bag of scraps. That turned out to be brilliant since the embroidery alone wasn't enough for my re-kindled creativity!

Travel Art Quilt

I hand pieced some of the scraps and then started embroidering this flower using it as a practice piece for techniques that I learned from my downloaded Craftsy course, Embroidering Texture & Dimension by Hand with Sue Spargo. I didn't have any wool, but I just used cotton fabrics instead.

First attempt at embroidering on my pieced background
I practiced the Pekinese stitch on the flower petals. It was simple enough although the trick is in the tension. I worked on making it looser and tighter to see the different effects.

Sample of the Pekinese stitch
After I finished the flower, I decided that I wanted to use my pieced fabric to make a little art piece commemorating my trip. So I took the two above pictures and then ripped the petals of the flower out. It was a lot faster to rip out than it was to stitch!
A park in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

As we toured the Canary Islands, I jotted down ideas and made mini sketches of some of the memorable things that I might add to the quilt. For instance, the red flower at the bottom of the piece is a poinsettia. They were growing outside in the city parks in January - you don't see that in Ottawa!

There were also palm trees everywhere. Can you tell that I desperately needed to get out of the great white north?

A little to cold for me to go swimming
On the first stop in the Canary Islands, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, we walked for hours, touring the city and the Playa de las Canteras, a 3km beach at one tip of the city. The Atlantic Ocean was a little too rough for swimming and it was rather cold, but what an amazing city. I even found a little boutique where I bought some more embroidery thread and a little piece of sailing fabric that I used in the applique below.

My husband and I were also excited to visit another type of desert - the type that occurs when the place is full of volcanoes! At Teide National Park on Tenerife Island, we took a tour of El Teide volcano. We weren't able to go on the cable car since they were having ice issues (it was cold!) 
El Teide National Park on Tenerife Island
On the drive, I was intrigued by a long skeletal-like plant. It turns out that it's a red bugloss (Echium wildpretii). The skeletal part is what the plant looks like in the winter, when it has lost most of its blooms. You can see the pink flowers at the bottom of the plant. I bought a few postcards of the plant in full bloom. They are gorgeous.

Red bugloss plant in the winter
I added the red bugloss plant at the bottom right.

Details of my trip art quilt so far
I haven't decided yet what to do with the circle that was the middle of the flower. I think that it might make a nice sun, but I would probably have to move it. 

I'll continue blogging about my trip as I add to my art quilt. See you soon!


I did get a chance to work on my embroidery pieces, but not while lounging in the sun as I had hoped. It was a little too windy and cold for sitting outside for long on the cruise ship.

Embroidered FMQ motifs
 Both pieces are mostly made up of stem stitches, except when I forgot and defaulted to the running stitch.
Étude in Stem Stitching
Today, after taking pictures of these two embroidery, I used a frixion pen and drew a border around both pieces. Now I know how far I can embroider to fill in the design. I have no idea what these will end up as, but it doesn't matter - it's all about the enjoyment of practicing and creating.

Batik Lap Quilt

Since I got back, I've been able to finish the quilt top of the Batik Lap Quilt I started this fall. That's a good sign since it means that I have a little energy. I was wondering if it would ever come back, since the only thing I had done since coming home was sleep and read! I think that my jet lag and post-trip exhaustion are over!

This lap quilt is made of two Los Cobos Batiks charm packs (5 inch squares) by Moda and some blocks from my stash.

I just love the colours - they are even brighter than in the picture!

Batik Lap Quilt Top Finished
 As I mentioned, I will probably use an all-over free motion quilting pattern, with a twist. Come back to see my progress!

What I learned
  • Travelling is a great way to get your creativity back. Everything I saw was inspiring!
  • Travelling is also very tiring. I'm glad that I finally have some energy back since I would really like to do some quilting while I'm still on holidays.
  • This was an amazing trip. I find that it's usually the unexpected that makes the trip. We were not able to go to Casablanca, Morocco because the ocean was too rough. That was disappointing because I had done my homework and was really looking forward to it.
  • I had no expectations of the Canary Islands and was blown away. I would love to go back for a month and just tour the islands. They were so different. The landscape is very diverse, the people wonderful and the food fantastic. I'm looking forward to going back one day :-)
  • Embroidering is enjoyable but it can be a little boring when I'm just following the lines I've already drawn using only a stem stitch. It was great to be able to play with some scraps, hand sew and create something from nothing!
  • I've really missed blogging and reading your posts. I'm looking forward to getting back into it 😊
Related Links
Linking Parties: I'll be getting back into the swing of things by linking up to many link-ups and reading what's going on. Come join me! MOP Monday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall Monday, Quilter's Monday, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Needle & Thread Thursday, Off the Wall Friday, Finished or Not Friday, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Slow Sunday Stitching, Oh Scrap!


  1. I agree that travelling is both tiring and inspiring! Your embroidery pieces are just amazing, so dynamic and fun on the pieced background! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thanks Alida. I just love throwing those fabrics together for the background:-) The hard part is then to figure out what to do with them. It's really coming along. Almost ready for the next post!

  2. I love seeing what you have made. I cycle tour - usually with a tent and take sock wool to knit when we are travelling for a few weeks. Maybe I should take some stitching with me this year. BTW my brother has an apartment in Tenerife and goes there during the winter to escape the dismal winters here in the north of the UK.

    1. Hi! I'm sure that knitting is good for travelling since what you need is not too small but still portable. I used one of my mother's make-up/jewelry travelling fold-out bag. It worked out very well, but I still needed a fairly level place to work on. Sounds like your brother has the right idea. I really hope to do that one day!

  3. Bonjour Andrée ! Magnifique voyage, et de belles découvertes, je connais les Iles Canaries pour y avoir passé des vacances, et j'adore ces îles ! Good to know that's not a good plan to bring embroderies into travel ;))

  4. You are creating some lovely "souvenir sewing" of your travels.

  5. Travelling is definitely tiring and inspiring - I usually need a vacation after my vacation!

  6. What a trip! I am so jealous. I’ll bet it was good to get back to your sewing machine though. The batik squares is a perfect project as you can sew away to your hearts content and you can go wrong with those colors (also reminiscent of your trip)

  7. We are about to head out for our longest vacation ever. I will be bringing knitting, but you have inspired me to think about some small stitching project, too.

  8. I love your idea for travel stitching, and especially how you are adding in little designs that reflect what you saw! I'm going to try to remember that. Sounds like a really interesting trip!

  9. It's obvious that you really have a gift of creativity and love the process of discovery as you work through a project. So go for it! Don't follow a pattern all the time but trust your instincts.


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