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!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

My Summer Thus Far

I feel as though my feet have barely touched the ground in the past few weeks, what with working some extra hours at the shop; travelling out to Sylvan Lake to monitor my sister's garden and then visit her there while she was on holiday; tending to my burgeoning raspberry patch; and working on various projects.  Often I've thought of updating this blog to share what's been going on, but by the end of each day I've been too tired to put posts together.

I finally decided I'd best empty the camera...and share with you "what I've done on my summer vacation"!

Every summer I weed and water my sister's garden in June, while she's tied up at work (read: hospitality industry, Calgary Stampede...):

WD's veggie patch - July 16, 2017

This year I found a great pattern at the Central Alberta Quilt Show in March, and "shopped" my stash to suit the colours of my sister's "casa" at the lake:

I've been assembling throw-sized tops to send to B.C. for quilting and giving away to victims of the wild-fires there.

String piecing under construction
Stack o' string blocks

String Throw - finished

Rail Fence under construction

Rail Fence throw - finished

I still have one more Rail Fence from the same fabric (it was a kit of fat quarters given me a few years ago by an elderly friend who didn't want to make it up), which will be a crib-sized top once I get some more navy for borders!

I've been putting up Saskatoon berries -- some of which I picked locally and some of which were given me -- and raspberries from my own garden -- in jam:

I've been enjoying the garden's floral beauties:

Bee Balm!

Bee Balm blossom close-up

Hollyhocks and friends

Impatiens in a pot

Campfire Roses

I travelled to Canmore (3+ hours each way -- there was construction!) to meet with a SAQA friend and colleague from California, Susan who, with her husband, was finishing a week of bicycle touring in Banff, Canmore and Lake Louise.  We'd never met in person, so we had a very special lunch and are both thankful to her DH for giving us time together!

I look a little...ahem...snooty in this photo, don't I?!  Have no idea...but while the other photo her DH took with my camera showed me in a better light, Susan had her eyes closed -- so I had to go with this one! LOL!

I also finished some knitting projects, such as this commission:

"Shawl in a Ball" - materials and pattern
from Lion Brand Yarns (provided by client)

Shawl detail -- pretty, eh?

And this shawl for a good friend...shhhhh...she doesn't know about it!

Pattern: "California Skies" by Evelyn Uyemura
Yarn: Painted Desert by Knitting Fever
Colour #1601

"California Skies" - detail

And just yesterday, this wee hat in left-over "Oilers" yarn, for a tot who's having a first birthday soon:

Pattern: "Scraptastic Hat" by Windy Prairie Designs
Yarn: "Hat Trick" from River City Yarns
Colour-way: Edmonton Oilers

Also yesterday, this project -- which I began in May 2016 -- for another wee tot, whose first birthday she shares with my 65th...

Kit from Dimensions

Detail 1

Detail 2

Today...I'm off to the shop to fill in for our manager, who's gone to a conference.  It's often quiet on a Tuesday, but never fear...I've begun a new knitting project... 😉

Monday, July 17, 2017


I'm having a tough time these days keeping up with life in Blog Land -- whether it be reading the blogs I follow or writing about what's up in the Sewdio.

This week, I blame it mainly on the heat -- and the insects!

Last Monday it was wasps, which I found when I tried to open an old shed with unpredictable sliding doors and was greeted with a couple of stings for my efforts.

By Wednesday a.m. I knew the nest was thoroughly dealt with -- and my neighbour had pointed out a second (old, also dead) nest in the same shed -- on the ceiling!  I've shut the doors on that building, and will return in the fall (after the first frost) to remove all traces!

Friday it was ants!  This is my own fault, I guess.  Sigh.  I love my peonies, but will have to resist bringing any into the house in future.  I've always shaken off the blossoms to rid them of ants before bringing them in, but this year I included buds...and I guess there were critters in there...

Anyway, they are now dealt with too, thanks to ant powder and floor scrubbing and the judicious placement of ant traps for any malingerers!

In between, I did manage to pick a crop of Saskatoons from a nearby farmer's berry patch (over a dozen cups -- some now in muffins and some shared with my next-door neighbour) and some of my own raspberries (4 1/2 cups now in the freezer) and to discover (with that neighbour's help) that yes, indeed, I needed new bathroom taps, as the current ones -- leaking badly -- cannot be repaired.  A new set has been purchased...but remains to be installed.

Sew what happened in the Sewdio?!

Not much... but I managed to get very close to finishing a x-stitch Christmas Stocking (only the details left now, and then construction), to finish a simple shawl (a commission)...

And to quilt and bind "Wall":

Wall (C) 2017
Hand-stamped and marked cotton and linen;
commercial cotton; cotton floss.
Machine quilted and hand-stitched.
12" square

Wall - Detail

I decided to quilt it 'in the ditch' with "invisible" thread (I used a clear mono-polyester from Superior Thread on the top and Superior's "Bottom Line" in black on the back)...and then added a few lines of running stitch (which go through to the back) using 3 strands of cotton floss, picking up the red in the 'wall'.  I finished it with a very narrow red binding.

Next week when I go into Red Deer, I'll take the piece with me and see how it might look mounted on a 12" square canvas.  If I like the effect and if I can find it, I'll also audition it then dropped into a black shadow box frame.

Thinking about "Wall" and my recent tree rubbings, I've come up with an idea for a second stay tuned!

To finish off the week, I went to Sylvan Lake yesterday after church, and finalized the new selection of my work Denise wanted for her Bonavista Fine Art Gallery.  (The above link will take you to "my" gallery on the website.)

I love the way she takes such care to show off the work of each of her artists!  This is how mine looked when I saw it yesterday afternoon:

You might recognize some of those pieces as I've posted about them over the years.  The ones with large 'statements' posted next to them toured overseas when I was part of the 15 x 15 International Group.  Both of us agreed that it was great for viewers to see those stories along with the pieces.

And now, because I still can, I'm linking up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and going back into the Sewdio to work on that new idea.  Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, July 10, 2017

New Work

I continue to play with making marks -- and have added painting and needle-felting to the mix.  All in all the perfect combination for someone who is currently artistically unsettled, yet determined to accomplish something!  ;-)

First up...these small canvases, inspired by a pair of online videos that I purchased from my beloved City and Guild tutor, Linda Kemshall, and the programs she produces with her daughter Laura on DesignMattersTV: "Painterly Acrylic Landscapes" -- Parts I and II.

I've created four small (5" x 7") canvases...and attached to them bits that I've needle-felted on my Babylock embellisher.  It seems I've finally mastered this (no broken needles thus far!)...and I'm enjoying immensely the process of creating these small things using acrylic craft felt from The Shop, pieces of felted wool, roving, hand-dyed cheesecloth (YUM!), sari silk ribbon, and bits of roving from NORO 'Rainbow Rolls' (also available at The Shop).  Each is to be inserted into a floater frame; I'll be in Red Deer next week and  hope to find some there.  If not, I may have to mortgage the house to purchase them online... ;-)

In Green Pastures (C) 2017
5" x 7" - unframed

In Green Pastures - Detail

Canoes on Cranna Lake (C) 2017
5" x 7" - unframed

Canoes... - Detail


Sometimes you think you've finished something, but it's not quite right...

Beside Still Waters (Before)

Something about this one fell into that category; the trees in the far background were too bright, so I went back in with some paint and...

Ahhh...that's a bit better...

Beside Still Waters (C) 2017 - unframed

Beside Still Waters - Detail

The fourth one is still Under's felted foreground isn't done you'll just have to stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I've quilted 'Wall'...and am preparing to apply a very narrow (1/4" or less) binding to it, preparatory to affixing it to a canvas.  I've trimmed it to 12" will be posted later.

And I've done some more mark-making...using a tree in my backyard and a couple of oil pastel 'crayons' I had kicking around.

Here are some samples of the Mountain Ash trunk (Rowan for my U.K. readers) 'subject':

And here are the samples/results in a red-brown and a dark grey:

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with these yet, except to know they invite stitch -- probably hand-stitch.  First, given the medium, they need to be 'cured' until later tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday.  Then I will heat set them (using a protective pressing sheet and a dry iron) and go from there.  I sourced the fabric from an online class in modern/improvisational quilting I took a few months ago. There was an awful piece...I cut it up and got all this wonderful white KONA cotton to work with.  The moral?  If you're willing to play, you can turn your "failures" into your next artistic "success"!  ;-)

P.S. for the knitters...I finally blocked this shawlette I finished a month ago.  It's a gift for a friend of mine...

Pattern: "California Skies" by Evelyn Uyemura
Yarn: Painted Desert by Knitting Fever - Colour #109
- Available at The Crafty Lady in Lacombe and elsewhere...

"California Skies" - Detail

Linking in to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday (at the last minute!)...and wishing you all a creative week!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Because She's One of My Favourites

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee,
aka the Yarn Harlot
in Edmonton, October 2014
This year, the Yarn Harlot was a tad late with her Annual Canada Day post...but as usual it was worth the wait.

If you don't know of can read THAT POST and more on her blog...and look for her books on and or and probably other places too.  I have them all and have read them all...and had a 'bucket list' item crossed off when a few years ago she came to Edmonton, and I was able to meet her, get her to sign one of those books, and knit on my sock.

In knitting circles, she's one of Canada's best and brightest for her wisdom, her humanity, her humour and her skills.  A yarn-lover's treasure -- and I'm grateful she's ours.