Author Archives: arlee

About arlee

I am a Canadian textile artist in Calgary, Alberta. As textile artists, we connect and are connected to communities larger than our Selves, or our immediate environs. We encapsulate culture, technique, history and innovation every time we touch cloth.

how to start again

 Sept 21/12 Though i’m looking at this as a sort of calendar for the next year, i look backwards also for reference and inspiration, digging through old sketches and peering at previous work, wondering why i forgot this stitch or that, why i swept aside a particular idea, an image or clue to what i’m doing. A calendar marks the days ahead, but is a record of the gone also. We plan for the future with one foot on the ground and the other trying to find the first ladder step up to the sky, the step off the cliff to breathless expectation, hope that we will fly rather than fall, or simply anticipating another solid space to keep going. Inspiration from older work can be surprising.

And now here it is, April 5th of 2015….the last time i touched it was April 1st last year—Fool’s Day indeed.

Did i put this aside from lack of interest, laziness or a dull sense of how much time would be invested, possibly “wasted”? Is it too big? Where did the intent go? Is it just going to be a big area of stitching that really says nothing? Was i overly ambitious with the concept? Is the size the thing?

What if i cut it up? It can always go back together. The very nature of stitching is to mend, alter, fit back together.

I feel i am disappearing. I need to start again to wave, not drown.

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Posted by on April 5, 2015 in process and reasoning


keeping track of the threads

This ain’t paint by numbers and i know i may sound neurotic about this, but it helps ME and that’s all right by me. I’m not going to defend it, i just do it. It’s part of my process. Period. You don’t sub sugar for salt. Work your intuitive, meditative, earth mother, contemplative way, and i’ll work mine.

Maybe you’re fine with just picking up any old thread that sort of matches or “will do”, but i like to keep some continuity. For several years i’ve kept track of the threads i’ve used in projects, right down to the brand, fibre type, and thread weight if necessary. (Perle #3, #5, whatever.)

thread notebook

My thread notebook, valuable when i forget what i used on a project i haven’t touched in awhile! Left is some of the threads from Nightmare Uninterrupted, right from Mother’s Heart

Because i use a lot of more “natural” colours and variegated threads, if i don’t keep track, it can suddenly change the look, or just not work for what i intend.

  • DMC Toasted Almond – Color Variations Floss (4072)
  • Caron Wildflowers – Prairie Grass (#252)
  • DMC Espresso – Color Variations Floss (4000)
  • Solidago and tansy dyed perle #3 and #5, 6 stranded embroidery floss
  • white floss and perles, various weights and plies
  • ecru floss and perles, various weights and plies
  • DMC 115 Terra Cotta (variegated)
  • DMC 111  Mustard (variegated)
  • DMC 3041 Antique Violet (haven’t got any on yet, but will use in small dashes–love it with the browns!)
  • Iris (a “craft” “brand”, very inexpensive but a good quality nonetheless, similar to Prism which is available from 123Stitch and a few department stores) rust perle #5 (Iris doesn’t have numbers)
  • Aurifil 2315 20wt (machine) I LOVE Aurifil threads and buy mine from Tristan in BC–great for hand and machine work.
  • might use some fine gold or copper metallic
  • no doubt i will add a few others along the way as inspiration and “need” require 🙂

I tend to order threads in three’s—-i expect to go through a LOT of some of these, especially the Espresso, the Mustard and the Terra Cotta!!!

Git’cher Neuroses ON–BWAHAHAHA HA



Posted by on April 2, 2014 in process and reasoning, threads


almost to the day

I sat with Anno last night for the first time in what tomorrow will be a year since i last put needle to her!!!!!!!!!!

First i had Greyman hold her up so i could see what *had* been done “to date”.

as of march 31_14 Oh my but there’s a lot of untouched expanse (half of it!!) that is folded up and under in this photo!


as of march 31_14b

as of march 31_14d

Stitching such a large piece by hand is a bit problematic. I have this huge thing to scrumple and borgle around trying to get comfortable enough to hold sections while i stitch. Since i don’t use a hoop, it must be quite entertaining watching me wrestle each area into submission, as i turn the piece to manoeuvre the needle! When i say it’s 48×72″ it seems manageable, but the reality is that it’s an unwieldy monster. BUT that’s part of the challenge and the reason i did leave the size of the cloth uncut as it was “treated” with rust!

Small changes in the amount done, but it’s a good start again. More of the honeycombs/cells:

honeycomb cells march 31_14

Snail guy has a bit more in his shell:

snail march 31 _14

I’ve decided too that unless i integrate the whole somehow, it’s going to look like a giant all over the place sampler of sorts. The rowan (mountain ash as we call it here) will be my anchor then, and will start appearing more around it as i go.

rowan march 31_14(The original inspiration for the Rowan is here.)

Sigh of content much evident last night 🙂


Posted by on April 1, 2014 in process and reasoning, stitch


hello my old friend

I feel SO bad! Poor Anno has been languishing in a drawer by my couch stitch corner. Everytime i open it, i hear this plaintive little voice “What about me? Don’t you love me anymore? Did you EVER love me?????” Sheesh, the last time i touched a needle to her compliant surface was April of last year!!!!

I promise to love, hold and cherish you again, Anno–and stick needles in your soft hide many many times 🙂



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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in beginnings and fresh plans


maybe i should add an s to Anno……………

Anno Suturae is packed in a box right now in the new stoodio—nothing has been done on her for months….lots of sketches, which kind of defeats the point of just reacting to the marks and the days, but oh well.

Certainly she won’t be “done” by the end of the year i chose, in August. Waylaid by life and laziness…..

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Posted by on June 16, 2013 in Uncategorized



Forty minutes one night……

as april1

Not overly fond of the little fellow, but he’s got a ways to go to being fleshed out, so i may end up loving him after all….

40 minutes annosut

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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in stitch


procrastinator’s progress is not progress

I’ve fallen “behind” terribly with Anno Suturae. I had/have given myself a year –hence the title (!)–but looking at that expanse just makes me quiver. A little has been added to it, but most of it is still in my head. I did have one entrancing moment when i realized that though it is to be a whole cloth piece, i can still add to it with other techniques–itching to add some more dimensional bits, perhaps like Mother’s Heart.(Still in progress at the time of this writing.)

I sort of make “rules” for each piece as i go along (this stitch must be carried through this area, the colour here has to make sense with the one on the other side, the motifs should at least be in the same family) so i don’t think i’m “cheating” if i add another element to the plan. Some works evolve as they want to, especially over lengthy (overly lengthy?) development. It’s fabric after all, not stone! If i wait until everything is Perfect, stars aligned, stitches professional, meaning artsy and deep but not a stultifying “intellectual exercise”, i’ll never get it done. Indeed, i’ll never finish if that’s the whole point!

Also thinking about “motifs”. The anatomically correct heart shows up in a lot of my work. And by “anatomical”, i mean not the cutesy commercialized heart symbol, but an artistic rendering of an actual heart. Waaaay back when i used it for the first time, i asked an actual doctor about the way the valves and chambers went, and my image, though still interpreted, was rather accurate in its working possibility 🙂 Since then, i have added, distorted and re-interpreted a lot of times–still recognizable, but now my heart. I OWN it 🙂

The very first anatomical heart:

from April 2006, fabric art journal page

from April 2006, fabric art journal page

And a plethora of them:

from 2005 to 2012

from 2005 to 2012


Obviously any added to to Anno will be in the neutral and earth tones i’ve chosen for this project.

Diddly squat so far on this one:

as anat heart as of mar27_13

I’m totally in love at the moment with that wrapped back stitch, here as the tendrilly blood spills coming out of the heart. I’ve been trying to not use it everywhere, but again, the rules can and will change, so i think this heart at least will be finished that way.



Best be getting off the thinking pot and get cracking.

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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in process and reasoning