Turn a black and white photo into a fabric portrait

My father’s 80th birthday was fast approaching and I wanted to give him something a little more special than a tie and socks.

I had some monochrome fabric remnants collecting dust in my craft cupboard and after admiring some impressive applique projects by other crafters on the Web, I decided to try making a fabric portrait of my dad. I found the perfect shot to replicate—his passport photo when he was 21 years old.

How did I make it?

In Photoshop, I just pixelated the photo a bit so the shadows would stand out more. Then I printed the photo to fit a piece of 11” x 17” bond paper.

Next, I made my pattern pieces by placing tissue paper over the printout and tracing all the various parts that I would need to cut from fabric.

Then I selected my fabric: light grey for the main face, medium grey for the shadows, charcoal for the hair and eyebrows, white and light grey for the shirt, and actual grey suit fabric for the jacket. Then to add a bit of interest, I used a deep crimson fabric for the tie.

I chose a plain white fabric with a bit of texture for the background and penciled the basic outline and main features of the picture onto the fabric for placement. Then I cut out all the pieces, allowing for overlap in some places, and basically just laid the pieces out on top of the background, layering them as they would appear naturally in the photo.

Initially, I used straight pins to fasten the pieces to the background, then carefully hand-basted everything in place.

Last, I used a small zigzag stitch on my sewing machine to stitch it all together.

Believe it or not, the bulk of this project was finished in a day! Once all the pieces were cut out and pinned down, the rest was a piece of cake.

Now, wasn’t my father a handsome fellow? (And yes, you still are, dad!)

(Below, left to right, my dad’s passport picture that I worked from; my finished and framed fabric portrait; an 80th birthday card/book I made for him as well.)

quilt_applique karl1


I love love love the ocean

In yesterday’s post while talking about my friends’ summer trip to the East coast, I got thinking about how pretty much every trip I have ever taken was contingent on being near a sea or an ocean. I feel alive and joyful any time I’m able to gaze out over a large body of water. Maybe I’ll come back as a mermaid in my next life? For now, I’m content with seaside trips whenever I can afford to take them. Here’s a poem I wrote that captures my feelings about the sea/ocean.

The Meaning Of Contentment

Nothing compares


To the gentle chafing

of powdered grains


as scarlet shadows

tiptoe quietly

across an umber sky.



To the scent of salt

as the ocean sighs

and sends her mighty breath

to kiss my neck

and caress the fronds

of silhouetted palms,

bent in humble servitude

before their

omnipotent mistress.



To the whitecaps

as they wave goodbye, then—


with a tender push,

send their young

to ripple out on their own,


washing themselves

upon my toes

like frothy liquid joy.




My painting of Jelly Bean Row

Have you ever heard of Jelly Bean Row? It’s a quaint street lined with colourful row houses in downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Some friends of mine spent their summer vacation in Newfoundland and came back with so many wonderful stories and photos of the vibrant scenery and friendly people there but one of their favourite excursions was their walk along Jelly Bean Row.

Now I’m Canadian, born and raised, but I’ve never traveled in my own country, outside of my home province of Ontario. Sure I’ve seen Mexico, the Caribbean, and the southern U.S.—places I can fly to in under five hours and be surrounded by white sand, turquoise water, and waiters who bring me drinks with little umbrellas in them—but I’ve yet to explore my homeland.

These friends of mine know I’m a create-a-holic, so they brought back a really interesting flat rock from a beach in Newfoundland and asked if I would agree to paint Jelly Bean Row on it. As if I could turn down a challenge like that?

I thought the job would be easier than it was (don’t we always think so before we begin a craft?!), but I have to say I am pleased with the final results even though they’re far from perfect.

Here’s a picture of the gorgeous hand-painted mailbox (by artist D. Bird) featuring Jelly Bean Row that my friends’ kids brought back for me as a gift for looking after their cat while they were away. And right beside it sits the rock I painted. If you look closely, I used tiny crystals for the doorknobs.

Newfoundland is now definitely on my bucket list of future trips to take!

newfoundland row houses1 newfoundland row houses2

A short story with a twist

Here’s a very short story I wrote based on the prompt: Write about a memory. Enjoy!


To him, time held no meaning. It was a thing that trickled, one tiny grain at a time, into a murky, unmoving pool that curled around him and made him yearn to sleep.

He knew that he was old. He could feel it deep in his bones and he could hear it in the sluggish slapping of his feet against linoleum.

He remembered vaguely a time when he had been light and nimble (was it so long ago?). A time when he had been sprightly and robust and bursting with vigor, when he had been able to run until he’d thought his lungs might burst and so would continue to run harder.

He remembered how simple it had been to beat the boy in their racing challenges. He sighed. Now he would be fortunate to beat a tortoise.

A staccato of horn blasts outside shattered his thoughts, prompting him to rise with a groan and shuffle over to the window. Peering through glass lightly fogged with his breath, he focused on a car that idled in the driveway across the street.

A grinning girl emerged from the house and bounded toward the waiting car. The tip of his nose grazed the cool pane of glass and his eyes followed the car as it disappeared from sight. Turning away, he headed back to his sofa, cozy as a nest thanks to his favorite fleece throw. He stretched out his body and yawned.

When he was much younger (was it really so long ago?), he and the boy had loved to hunt together. He could once again feel the heat of the sun warming his taut, muscular back and hear the creek as it bubbled away the silence while he and the boy waited, camouflaged by dense foliage.

His veins hummed as he recalled how still, how patient they both had been. Frozen into position, adrenaline building until he’d itched to burst, to fly, to spring at the slightest hint that their prey was near.

Sometimes the boy would shoot a hare or a bird of some kind and they would hoot and holler and dance together in triumphant celebration.

Somewhere along the way, their hunting expeditions had dwindled and then ceased altogether. He supposed the boy had finally realized that the old fellow just didn’t have it in him anymore.

His eyes snapped open at the sound of footsteps on the porch outside. As he heard the metallic click of the lock, he eased from the couch and shuffled toward the door as quickly as he was able, joy flooding his senses. He knew it would be his beloved boy. The boy was always the first one home to greet him.

When (finally!) the door swung open and in bounded the boy, his heart hammered merrily in his chest.

Tossing aside a load of schoolbooks, the beaming boy stooped down, arms flung open to receive his best friend. The old body maneuvered itself easily into the boy’s arms and the love that encircled him ignited that same surge of exhilaration that he had known in his youth. The boy always made him feel that way. He felt needed and loved (and—well yes!—younger!) whenever they were together.

With a silent but hearty laugh, he followed the boy into the kitchen and all the while, his tail wagged with glee.

A crochet clutch that holds my Kobo Arc perfectly

I discovered a very simple pattern at the Lion Brand website for a crocheted clutch purse, so I thought I’d try it. It was quick and easy to make, and I used gold flecked yarn for the lacy flap, so it ended up looking really nice too. Because I don’t really have much use for a clutch purse (I just liked the look of the pattern and wanted to try it) it was sitting around collecting dust in my craft room. Lo and behold, when I bought my first tablet purchase, a Kobo Arc, guess what it fit into like a glove? That’s right! My pretty clutch purse became the perfect tote for my new tablet. If you want to try the pattern, you can find it on the Lion Brand website at this link: http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/80459AD.html


More acrylic painting on ceramic tiles

Every so often, the painting bug bites and I have a need to play with my acrylic paints. Sometimes I paint on canvas, but I’ve discovered that it’s lots of fun to paint small pictures on plain white ceramic tiles. You can display them on tiny easels found at the buck store or at Michaels. I picked up a carton of tiles from Home Depot and I’m sure they’ll last longer than I will!

I featured three of my paintings on ceramic tile back on my first blog post in 2013. Here are another fourpainting_camp davidson.

painting_wild rose coasterpainting_girl with sunflowerspainting_baby cardinal


Another summer’s end. Sigh.

With September upon us already, I can smell that fresh hint in the air of all the cool days soon to come. I’m a summer girl through and through. The changing seasons don’t interest me at all…I want my summer back!

With that said, here’s a poem that takes me back to childhood summers of an era long ago.

The Ice Cream Truck

It was such a long, long time ago,

When summers crept by long and slow,

Breakfast done, outdoors we’d play,

Till street lamps signaled end of day.

Building forts from lumber scraps,

With trash-bin treasures filling gaps.

Sprawled supine upon the grass,

Watching Heaven’s candy floss drift past.

Flushed with the joy of heavy play,

Anticipating that time of day,

When abandoning our mud-pie muck,

We’d flee to greet the ice cream truck.

Distant bells upon the breeze

Meant tearing home for nickels, please!

A jostling line aside the road,

Awaiting the truck and its cool, sweet load.

It wasn’t just the treats inside

That stoked our grins and pie-plate eyes,

It was a sensory amalgamation

That fed our mood of pure elation.

Organ tunes so sweet and merry,

Twinkling lights in pink and cherry,

A plastic ice cream sundae stood

In lifelike splendor on the hood.

Gold letters glittering in the sun,

Spelled “Yum! Good Eats For Everyone!”

And the jolly laughter on the breeze

Of driver, Gus, who loved to tease.

One by one we’d pay our dimes,

And up into the truck we’d climb.

Rooting through the freezer bin,

As Gus wisecracked and beamed his grin.

Clutching treasures cold and sweet,

Then back into the summer heat.

With a chuckle and a friendly wave,

Gus beeped the horn and rolled away.

Before he’d disappeared from sight,

We’d peeled, unwrapped and savoured bites,

Sticky hands and chocolate faces,

Returned to forts and far-off places.

How I miss those ice cream days.

A passion for all things creative

Although I’ve been exploring and delighting in the work of other bloggers for many years, creating a blog of my own is an entirely new experience. Exciting, but also a bit intimidating—Am I doing it right? Am I disciplined enough to post as often as I should? Why should anyone out there give a damn about what I have to say anyway? Yikes.

The bottom line, I suppose, is that sharing my passion for all things creative outweighs my blogging failure fears. And I’m thinking that maybe if I put my love of creating out there—whether through my needlework, fabric arts, fine arts or creative writing—I’ll forge a connection with like-minded compadres.


Soon after developing my crochet addiction, I discovered the fun of crocheting baby things. There are so many adorable patterns to be found in books and on the Web, I would have to live on Venus (where one day equals 243 Earth days) to make them all. (Imagine having a day that long to devote to crafting?! Weekends on Venus—whoo hoo. Workweeks—not so much.) Anyway, the book Oh Baby! Crochet by Glenda Chamberlain, features a baby dress that just made my heart melt. I had no choice but to make it. So now I’m wishing I had a baby girl shower to go to!

(You’ll notice Mouse in the background of the second picture, trying to steal Miss Teddy’s spotlight.)

baby_dress purple1_sept5baby_dress purple2_sept5

I love to crochet!

I’ve been crocheting for a few years now and I’m SO hooked (excuse the pun). The thing I love about crochet is that the possibilities are endless. There are so many different variations and types of projects to work on. I’m an impatient person so if it takes a long time to finish a project, I get bored. Not so with crochet. Results are quick.

This is a sun hat that I made the other day. It’s quite vibrant but actually looks cute on. Believe it or not, I crocheted it with coated string I discovered in the hardware section of the Dollar Store! Unfortunately, the only colours available were neon orange and neon pink, but then again, it would fit in nicely on a beach in the tropics, don’t you think? 🙂

It only took a day and a half to make and I used a cheap straw hat (thanks again, Dollar Store) as a liner that would help stiffen the brim. I just used regular thread to hand sew it in place. For anyone who would like to make a similar hat, I used the free pattern compliments of pinkmambo.com at this link http://pinkmambo.com/crochet/hats/tropical-sun-hat/

hat_neon orange & pink sun hat

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