Friday, September 08, 2017


I was hoping to coordinate my "65" (birthday) with "1500" (blog posts)...but it didn't work out that way, and I'm out of time.

I work tomorrow at The Shop.  I finish packing for Scotland on Sunday a.m.  I drive to Edmonton avec le chat (that's "with the cat", Miss Pooks) on Sunday afternoon...and fly to Glasgow (via Amsterdam) Monday evening.

No time.

Or, rather, what little time there is will pass too quickly to be captured in a "#1500" blog post.

So -- it shall wait till my safe return (God willing)...and perhaps be better for it.  By then I might have actually figured out a way to celebrate it!


Trio - (C) - 2012

In the hour-and-a-half that's left, I'll mark the end of my 65th year with a poem from one of my favourites...Mary Oliver. 

Here in Mirror, all the streets end in trees.  Most streets are gravel.  It is "Aspelund" (Aspen Land).  My art is shaped by trees.  Much of my work depends upon trees.  They shape me, they hold my attention, they shade and comfort me.

So...this gift from Ms. Oliver to me...and back to you.

When I am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myelf,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world,
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves,
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

And to hear it read aloud, the loveliest way to read poetry...

Please "read" and savour and walk among those trees nearest you.

Celebrate their lives and yours...till we meet again.

P. S. Linking this to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday".  This week she's talking about 'focal point'.  Artwork -- or at least, a piece thereof -- might have one.  Lives have one too...or two, or three, or four...sometimes vying for dominance, but ideally one at a time.  Wishing you all a smooth and easy journey to discovering YOUR 'focal point' -- that place in which you can rest a bit, knowing (for the time being) your Purpose in Life, or adjusting and adapting to What Lies Ahead, or simply loving Those Around You, and/or The One Who Created You to Start With.  Thanks again, Gentle Readers...I love you all!

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Primed and Pumped!

In my last post, I mentioned that I was going to visit with Mali Doktor, current President of the Alberta Society of Artists...and with Andrea Hatch, owner and star framer at her shop, Cabinet of Curiosities in Stettler.

Well, those meeting happened -- and left me with heart pumping, eyes shining, brain spinning in a gazillion directions about the pieces that need to be and will be made in the next several months.

First, the ASA.  Mali gave me my 'board' (resembles a canvas except that it's made out of wood) on which I'm to mount/create something "in [my] chosen medium".  It's 10" square.  The finished piece will be my contribution to a fund-raising auction event entitled "100@100".  That's me in the pink (!) with Mali in the right-hand photo.

I've never worked on a 'board' before so have to pick one up on which to practice before I make the final product.

I have it in mind to do something similar to what I've been doing on canvas -- in a much smaller size (5" x 7").  I picked up the first three finished ones from Andrea (my trusty framer and mat-cutter) yesterday.  Here's just one example:

She can produce 4 of these frames (with a bit left over) from one "stick" of moulding; the same would be true if they were 6" square.  Thus she could get two out of one "stick" if they were 12" square...and so on!  At the price she is giving me, I would be foolish to try to reproduce them myself.  What a blessing she is!!  Once I'm back from my Scottish holiday, I hope to create a good supply of these over the winter, for sale at the Lacombe Art Show in the spring (April).

Meanwhile, Bonavista Fine Art in Sylvan Lake is having its close-out sale, and I've given permission for a modest discount on my work.  Anything not sold will come back to me after September 30, when its doors are closed.

There's a bright side to that...because I've been booked by the LQS in Stettler (where I generally buy my backings and batting) to do an Artist's Talk and Trunk Show on the Saturday afternoon of a quilt retreat weekend.  Caroline, the owner of Homespun Seasons, has wanted me to do this for some time now, and seems to think that though Stettler is in the heart of what I call "Bed Quilt Central", there will be an interest in the whole process of coming up with original designs.  As for me, I look forward to any opportunity to show my work.  She wants me to include MOB I and my books...and will permit me to sell the books, given that the proceeds go to JDRF and Diabetes Canada. can only hope!

You can see I've much to think about and prepare for in the coming months...but my focus right now is getting ready to leave for the Celtic Quilt Tour to Scotland!  I fly out of Edmonton with my friend and colleague, Mary Wilton, on September 11 and will be touring there through the 28th!!

I decided that being away from the sewdio would make this the perfect time to take my Husqvarna Lily 555 in for her annual "spa treatment" at Red Deer Sewing that will happen on my way to work at The Shop today.  That said, I just had to keep working her till bed-time last night...putting together blocks for what I'm calling "My Quilt".

I've now managed to create six rows of six blocks each. My design wall accommodates only three rows of six at a time; here's what the second set of three rows of blocks looks like:

All in all, I plan for it to be 8 blocks per row x 10 rows (i.e., 80 blocks each finishing at 8" square) -- plus borders.  I doubt that I'll try to quilt it myself, but I've had fun playing will all these brights, knowing full well the finished top will look nothing like the original pattern.  The goal is to have a fresh new quilt for my bedroom, and in that, I think I'll succeed!  😊

Continuing my Utilitarian streak, I've now finished two dishcloths from stash cotton and have cast on a third, aiming to replace my sad and sorry collection with at least a half dozen new ones.  The patterns are all mysteries from an old Ravelry KAL (2009/2010), so I never know what they look like till they're finished.  Here's the first one -- from a pattern from the middle of September 2009:

Side One

Side two
Yes, it's reversible -- and yes, it's a diamond...
or rather, diamonds within diamonds!

The yarn is Nova Four Seasons Cotton from Diamond Yarns (I'm not kidding!) in colour-way #25.

And that's all the news from the Sewdio for today.  I may squeeze in one more post before I travel; we'll see.  Meanwhile I'm linking up with WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network, and wishing you a great rest of the week!

Saturday, September 02, 2017

And Today, This

I've been behind on my blog this evening I am trying to catch up a bit.

I can't now.  Not since this, which I looked up (I guessed until I found the right information) I can write, quietly and softly and gently, to the right person.

A knitter.

With a we all have mothers.

Whose mother has left this world, now, just a couple of days ago, after a brief illness.  Young (from my vantage point) at 74...

I am so sorry.

I will write to tell her that...But I thought, Gentle Readers, that those of you who are knitters, and who know of and love the work of the Yarn Harlot, that you might want to write too. Old school.  A real note, on real paper, in real hand-writing.

Stephanie, I am so sorry.

P.S. The official notice is HERE.  No mention of donations in memory but Stephanie is partial to Medecins Sans Frontieres and  PWA Friends for Life Bike Rally...just so you know.



My work is exhibited in 3 Central Alberta galleries/gift shops, as many of you know.  I've had pieces in the Bonavista Fine Art Gallery in Sylvan Lake for a good year or so now and was absolutely thrilled to show there, as the owner, Denise Milne, gave me beautiful wall space...

So you can imagine my emotions this morning when I opened my e-mail to find this, written last night:
Good evening artists,
I am writing today to regretfully inform you that Bonavista Fine Art Inc. will be closing it's doors September 30th, 2017. It is not financially feasible for us to continue operating.
I'm very sorry for any inconvenience I have caused anyone and to those of you whom I have set classes up with.
Thank you so much to each and every one of you for giving us the opportunity to showcase your unique and stunning pieces of artwork. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours! 
Please contact me to set an appointment for when you can come in to sign out your pieces before September 30th, or if you would like to leave your pieces up to the last day I can schedule your pick up appointments for the first  week in October, just let me know.
I will be discounting my pieces by quite a bit because I don't really want to take them all home ;) So if any of you would like to do the same please reply to this email with your desired percentage discount and I will change the prices in the gallery asap. 
Sincerely,Denise MilneArtist/Owner

It's a letter you hope never to get, signalling not so much a reflection of the still-wobbly economy in these parts but (and this is only my opinion) the challenges of trying to create a viable venue for artists in a part of the province where there are many practitioners, but not that many consumers or appreciators of art.  This is not the Big City.  Sylvan Lake is a large town that bursts at the seams in the summer, with cottagers and vacationers...a town that fosters (perhaps) a more casual lifestyle.  It has a Jazz Festival that has struggled in recent years to provide entertainment for all ages, for families as well as jazz afficionados and connoisseurs -- again (perhaps) because of lack of appreciation for the artistry involved.

I know I'm rambling here, Gentle Readers, so I will draw this to a close...but welcome your thoughts.

P.S. I offered to allow a modest discount to see if some of my pieces will sell before she closes the doors.  Her commission has always been very reasonable, so this wouldn't impact too much.  We shall see.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


It's been well over a month since my sewdio work focused on art.  Not that it's been far from my brain; it hasn't.  I still have ideas swirling around in there, but my hands have wanted no part of those.

While this is on the design wall...

(L) - tree rubbings - under construction
(R) - Wall (c) - July 2017

These are ready to go under the needle...

3" blocks waiting
to become 1/2-square triangles

And these have already been assembled...

7" square, 1/2-square triangles

They're going to come together with a stack of waiting rectangles, like this...

Pattern: "Summer Citrus"
Designers: Christine Baker & Nellie Holmes
Upper Canada Quiltworks Publishing
from A Needle Pulling Thread
Spring 2009 edition

Yes, that's 2009.  That's how long that faded purple sticky note has book-marked that pattern...and pretty much how long I've had most of that fabric -- with a sewing-related theme -- just waiting to be put into use.  Recently at lunch, my friend C gave me two fat quarters of similar fabric -- in a completely different colour palate -- and I was spurred to add it to the stack and get going on (Heaven forfend!) a quilt pour moi.  Heaven also only knows how long it will take for me to get it quilted (it will likely be large enough that I don't want to do it myself)...but the top is far enough along now that it should be finished this fall.

However, I was in Utilitarian Mode long before I started to put this one together.  I finished the third quilt top (crib size) for the B.C. fire effort...

Lest you think, "I've seen this before!"...well, it's the same fabric I used for a throw-sized top.  Originally, the kit from which they came called for it to be all one quilt...but I thought it might be more useful in two smaller ones instead.

All three tops were boxed up and sent to Coleen in Peachland, B.C. on Wednesday.  Now there's a fire threatening nearby I hope she is safe and gets the package in good that she isn't interrupted in this good work for the thousands displaced earlier this summer.

Also mailed out: the wee "Oilers" toque and a pair of "wristlets" -- fingerless gloves -- for the up-coming 65th birthday of a friend from high school.

Pattern: "Queen Vicki's Wristlets"
Designer: River City Yarns, Edmonton, AB
Yarn: Peruvian Baby Cashmere from

Here's what they look like on my hands:

Left Wristlet
Right Wristlet

A knitting UFO was crossed off yesterday, too, when I finished a side-ways knit garter-stitch (knit every row) cardigan I began in 2012.  I dug it out in June, figuring it would be ideal to wear on my up-coming quilters' tour of Scotland in September.  I started where I'd left off...and soon went off the rails.  It's shaped with short rows, using 3 stitch markers...but which was Marker 1? 2? 3?  I thought I knew -- till I finished the back and found the neckline had become woefully misshapen.  Sigh.  I turned to Ravelry for help, and sure enough, there was a 'help group' for the pattern.  One gal in particular set me straight.  I frogged back to where I thought I'd begun to go astray, and started again.

Now it looks like this:

Pattern: "Corinne Cardigan"
Designer: Crystal Urb Junkins
Yarn: Patons "Venus"(Vintage)

The apparent 'gathers'
smooth out when on the body.

Neckline detail.  See the short-row shaping?

The pattern calls for four buttons, smaller than shown, but I wanted to show off this one I bought years ago at my then-favourite LYS in Calgary, The Knitting Room.

Pretty Button!

I found out earlier this week that a friend from university days and her hubby became grandparents for the first time at the end of now a wee pair of socks from some cotton-blend stash yarn is on the needles, and will likely go out later this week.  I started them last evening in the Outdoor Sewdio.  It got a bit cool, so I put on my new cardi.  Perfect!

So there you have it, Gentle Readers: several weeks spent satisfying a hankering to create beauty, but not the kind one puts on one's walls.  It seems to come from a combination of wanting to Use Stuff Up, to Keep Hands Busy, to Enter the Creative Zone without too much strain on the brain, and to Give Something to Others at a time when there is great chaos, anxiety and turmoil in the world.  

All I know is, these projects have kept my hands touching textiles, fulfilling a purpose, finding meaning, and creating calm -- at least, in my wee corner of the world.  They've soothed my soul even as the summer sped by, and enabled me to spend time reflecting on the year ahead -- but that's a subject for another post!

Today I'm off to meet Mali Doktor (Vargas) the young woman who is the current President of the Alberta Society of Artists...and who's going to give me a 'board' on which to create something for an ASA fund-raiser.  It's my first contribution to the organization since I became an Associate Member several months ago, and really the easiest and most practical way for me to 'volunteer' for a group that is based a good 2 1/2 hours' drive southeast of here.  I've never worked with 'board' before, though, so it'll also be a learning experience.  Who knows?  I might just find another avenue for my textile ideas!

Monday I expect to drive over to Stettler to get an estimate on some floater frames from Andrea at the Cabinet of Curiosities (she's the gal who cuts most of the mats for my minis)...

So you see?  Art's been happening, is happening, and will happen here in the sewdio for the foreseeable future (God willing!)

Linking this up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday -- and wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Layer and Line

In my last post I shouted out that my 2017 SAQA Benefit Auction piece was included in the very first selection of quilts to be offered -- the week of September 18.  I've no idea how the coordinators of the Auction decide which pieces go into which section; for all I know, the selections are entirely random.

What's not random, however, is the selection of six of the pieces for a "Dream Collection".  I really enjoy seeing what others have curated for their online collections and for the past few years have had fun creating my very own.

This year I've entitled my selection Layer and Line, and have stated my inspiration thus:
For the past several months I've been exploring abstraction and dabbling in surface design -- ideas and techniques that took me by surprise.  This collection is composed of pieces that have drawn me to them by their creators' use of layering (or the appearance thereof) and line in abstract images.

Here they order of the artist, listed alphabetically:

To see larger views of these pieces -- and all the others that will be part of this year's Auction -- just visit the SAQA Benefit Auction site and click on the image to enlarge.

Oh...and you can see other Dream Collections HERE.  Maybe you'll be inspired to make your own!  😊

Friday, August 11, 2017

Section One!

Over the years, I've been a pretty consistent contributor to the annual SAQA Benefit Auction -- and have even purchased a couple of pieces myself.  This year, the Auction will be on while I'm away on a Celtic Quilt Tour in Scotland -- so I won't be tempted (too much) by the pieces, in large part because I generally stay off-line while I travel.

The run-up to the Auction is beginning though, as the "Diamond Day" is September 15.  That's the day when ALL the pieces are available at a price of $1,000 each. Then...the Auction begins in earnest with the first of three sections opening for bid at $750.  The prices decline daily thereafter.

And this year my piece is in Section One!  This section runs from September 18 through 24.

I fly home from Scotland September 28.  I'd love to wake up on the 29th to an e-mail that says someone -- perhaps one of you, my Gentle Readers -- has given my piece a new home and in so doing, has contributed to the proliferation and education of others about the world of art-in-quilts.

And to Camrose to view the Art Walk with my friend, travelling companion and SAQA colleague, Mary Wilton -- who has pieces on exhibit on "the Walk".  I'll leave you with a link up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday and wish you a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Working with the Weather

In a land of fairly distinct seasons -- the longest of which seems to be winter -- the weather is a never-ending source of fascination and discussion.  When I have snow, I snow dye.

And, when I have hot sunshine, well...

Friday, July 28 was hot and sunny -- one of many such days, often very hot for this part of Canada, this summer thus far.  I decided that I really shouldn't waste any more of the heat, and set out some jars of silk fabric and merino fleece in acid dye, for solar dyeing.  While I have the book Teach Yourself Visually Hand-dyeing by Barbara Parry, I also pulled an online reference from "jazzturtle", which I found to be the perfect complement to the process.

Following their instructions, I managed to fill nine large glass mason jars (ones too large for the jam-making I do) with combinations of silk fabric in various weights and weaves, and clean, uncarded merino fleece purchased on the cheap at a fibre festival several years ago.

The acid dyes I own aren't new either.  A couple -- hot pink and an orange -- are from Jacquard.  They needed the acid (I used plain white vinegar) added to them.  The others are from Gaywool, and already include the acidifier/mordant.  I bought them -- yes, several years ago -- at a knitting/spinning retreat.

Knowing the older these dyes get, the less effective they can be, nonetheless I persisted, and put the jars out in the sun:

Typically, the weather almost immediately got partly cloudy and cooled off.  I alternated setting the jars under a black plastic garbage bag -- to attract and hold in the heat -- and leaving them out.  We had a few evenings with thunder storms and at least one day of rain.  I remained undeterred; I had time.  I left them out -- moving them from time to time for better sun advantage -- for a full week. (Remember, this is Central Alberta, Canada, where temps in the high twenties and low thirties Celsius are rare, and don't last all day.  It cools off at night here -- and sometimes even before sundown, and doesn't get past the teens till well after sunrise.)

Last Friday, I decided it was time to reel them in.  The liquid in the pink and the orange jars (Jacquard dye) was almost clear, so I knew they'd be "done".  The deep reds and red-browns and brown-blacks?  Not so much.  I rotated ALL the jars through a 30-minute steam bath in a large kettle...then rinsed them in Synthrapol...and laid/hung them out to dry.  I must say, I'm pleased with the results!

Silk "brights"

Silk "earth tones"

Merino Fleece - "earth tones"

Merino Fleece - "brights"

I plan to use the 'earth tone' fleece largely in needle-felting projects; the brights I hope to tease out and try to spin them.  We'll see...because there are a great many "short cuts" in that fleece.  That's why it was so inexpensive in the first place!

As for the will make its way gradually into various art pieces, as the Muse leads.

The idea is to use the dyes and the fabric and the fleece, not treat it as 'too precious' and thus hold onto it.  Life's too short not to play with these materials while I can!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday on the Needle and Thread Network -- for the first time in ages -- and wishing you all a lovely rest of the week!