Sunday, September 19, 2021

"Time it was, and what a time it was it was..."

 The content of this post references "Bookends" from Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel...but only in a very general way.

On August 24, shortly after my last post, I had a test for COVID -- and the next day it came back "+ve", as I pretty much suspected it would.  I hinted as much then...and I was right.  (I have my suspicions as to where it invaded...i.e. the hardware store in a nearby village, where at the time I and 1 other customer were the only ones wearing masks, and I let my guard down briefly...just long enough for the delta -- suspected because I was fully vaccinated x 5 weeks -- to grab hold.)

There followed a couple of Very Miserable Days, with incessant coughing, nose-blowing, fever and chills.  That said, by the evening of August 24 I was feeling much better -- and paid for the privilege by having my senses of taste and smell disappear!

There's something really weird about not being able to taste the toothpaste when you're brushing your teeth!  Just sayin'!

I recovered gradually over the course of the next week-and-a-bit, so by the time I'd finished my designated isolation period -- the morning of Sept. 3 -- I was well enough to go into town to run some errands.  

By Labour Day Monday (Sept. 6) I was ready to go-go-go -- and in that week mowed all my lawns (east and west) and dug sod for a modest 'wildflower island' bed.

But in between and every I recovered and past that...there's been a wide assortment of quiet crafting going on.  I'm going to try to summarize it, because it's easier that way...

Starting with the yard/garden -- a few "autumn approaches" photos.  

I ordered some seeds for native (that would be Alberta) wild flowers (see if you're interested) -- and I chose the "Wildflowers for Bees" mix, because the mix for birds and the one for butterflies, and the one for all three at once didn't quite suit my purpose or my plan for a gradual approach. 

At the same time, I knew that these seeds would have to be planted this month, because they need to over-winter to get started in their germination, so I created this wee bed at the base of the Big Old Willow(s) -- part sun, part shade, depending on the time of day:

Wildflower bed created around a two-trunk old willow

I also researched online for options re: dealing with the sod, and found that my instinct to pile it up -- upside down -- was pretty I added to the "bed" you see behind the "island" in the above photo, and then put down a new "bed" (sod upside down) at the base of the small Mountain Ash (Rowan in the UK) across the way.  It needs to be covered with newspaper and mulch over the winter; in the spring I'll remove the mulch, put a good layer of topsoil over it and go from there!  

I bought a special pack of wildflower seed for this bed -- the "Wildflowers for Kids" mix (😉) because it includes some "instant gratification" seeds that should flower next summer.  The mix for bees is for perennials which -- with respect to wildflowers -- can mean several years before anything much appears.  I knew that I'm just enough of a "kid" to want to have some "immediate" results in order to be encouraged and motivated to continue this project!

Sod bed created at the base of 
a young Mountain Ash

The seeds arrived Friday in the mail, and yesterday (Saturday) I was able to get them planted.  I have yet to prepare the sod bed, but that should happen later today.  Then there's cutting back the spent perennials and so on and so on and so on...

But is there stitching?? (I can hear you asking.)

Yes!  When I was recovering and in isolation -- but before I had my full energy back -- we were blessed with abundant pleasant, not too hot, not too windy weather.  

  • I added more motifs and borders to "What Remains is Love" -- but took no photos.  Sorry!  
  • I got Serious September Startitis: Knitting Edition.  This means I...
    • Finished my Socks from Stash August socks, mentioned in my last post, which will be a gift to my daughter for Xmas (yarn colour approved);
    • Decided Sweater Weather was approaching and started -- not one but TWO -- pullovers:
      • "Turtle Dove II" from L'espace Tricot, in Gathering Yarn's "Haynes Creek Heathers Aran" in a glorious teal -- purchased at The Crafty Lady in Lacombe before she took her show on the road.  (NOTE: Lori -- TCL -- still carries Gathering Yarn products, which can be ordered online at her shop HERE.); and
      • "Ranunculus", designed by Midori Hirose -- yes, I fell down a rabbit hole!  I've been pondering this pattern for months -- ever since I heard a fleeting mention of it on a YouTube 'cast from The Woolly Thistle.  
When I went to Edmonton to visit my daughter (more about that another time), I stopped in at The Fibre Nook (a favourite shop of mine there) -- by appointment due to COVID.  I was the only customer, and boy! Was I treated well!  I had a wonderful hour with the young man who was serving me -- and I bought 3 skeins of the most beautiful yarn -- BC Garn 'Bio Shetland' GOTS (now discontinued) -- in a dark navy, the last 3 skeins available.  In the shop there was a Ranunculus pullover made of yarn in a similar weight, which confirmed that I had enough in the 3 skeins to make one of my own. 

 About 10 days -- or so -- ago, I stumbled onto Selma and her Little Big Knits 'cast on YouTube.  She's Canadian -- from Ottawa, a place that has many special memories and meanings for me.  And she's made multiples of this sweater...and has been running a Knit-ALong (KAL) on the "Little Big Knits" group on Ravelry.  Well, then.  That's when I fell.  Hook, line and sinker.  So...I'm on the yoke now.  Fingering-weight yarn on 6 mm needles...with a top-down pattern that's simple but challenges the mind.  It definitely rivals the "Turtle Dove II" for a spot in my current affections...


The start of my Ranunculus pullover

It doesn't look like much -- yet -- but I'm having fun with it and it's going to be great!  😊

Of course, there are always socks!  This month's theme at the Socks from Stash group on Ravelry is "Food and Drink"; I'm making "Lollipop" socks in a self-striping, marled yarn in shades of purple and blue, with a bit of grey:

Pattern: "Lollipop"
Designer: ela m.
Yarn: Queensland Collection "Perth" in "Royal Blubell"
(yes, that's how 'bluebell' is spelled on the ball band!)

One finished September Sock yet another "Startitis" knit...I'm making a pair of fingerless mittens for a cousin of mine (late DH's family) who had a bad fall a good 18 months or so ago.  She sustained nerve damage that particularly affects her right arm, and her right hand is always cold.  A while back, when I still worked part time at The Crafty Lady (who still stocks the Queensland sock yarn, above), I was given a sample skein to bring home.  It's lovely stuff, and there's just enough of it to make these mitts, with perhaps a bit left over.  The first one is finished now:

Pattern: "Reciprocation"
Designer: Michelle Hunter
Yarn: Mirasol Sulka Legato in colour #13
- "Purple" -- for obvious reasons! 😉

The cable pattern is really cool -- and will be the mirror image on the right hand!  The yarn is 60% wool, 20% alpaca and 20% cashmere, so I think my cousin-in-law will love these as much as I love 'em.  (I have another ball -- a different but equally lovely yarn -- so I think I just might have to make myself a pair too!)

In betwixt and between, I've been sifting and sorting yarn and fabric.  This has resulted in a purge (pretty much 100%) of anything "bulky" in my yarn stash -- i.e., anything requiring needles larger than 6 mm...and even some of those.  A bag-full went to the local charity Thrift Store earlier this week.  Photos were taken of yarns being kept in my stash, and stash quantities have been up-dated.  To ensure I kept on track with Things I Want to Make, I put yarn(s) and patterns together in storage, so that I can grab a "kit" and immediately cast on a project.  I also ensured that WIPs/UFOs also had the patterns and notes that I'll need when I come to finish those projects.  A couple of "I'll never finish this!" projects were frogged!!

A labour of love, to be sure -- but at least now I know where I stand!

With respect to fabric...

I've cut up a batch of bits-and-bobs into squares and rectangles a la Bonnie Hunter -- i.e. her Scrap Saver's System -- and bagged them.  I found I had a batch of left-over half-square triangles (HSTs) from "Frolic!", so I turned them into this year's "Leader and Ender" challenge -- "Fish School".  Of course (Murphy's Law of Left-over Quilt Materials) I don't have enough to make anything significant, but at least there's an idea started...

My "Grassy Creek" top went to Sylvia-the-local-long-arm-quilter this week, to be quilted.  Here's my version -- before quilting.  Miss Pookie approves!

And here's the back -- mostly polyester, from my "inheritance", clinging to the rails on the back stoop (it was starting to rain and there was a breeze!)  My late friend Joan, who supplied most of the fabric in this quilt, was the "Queen of Polyester"!

There's been a bit of artful play, too.  While I was recovering, I dug through my magazines, and found an article in Quilting Arts -- April/May 2018 issue -- featuring the practice of Canadian Maggie Vanderweit of Ontario.  I decided to play with plant and rust 'bundling', and so created a couple of bundles from two old white tea cloths.  
  • I soaked one in the water from cooking purple cabbage (I ate the cabbage; it was from a friend's garden and it was delicious!).  I'd added a bit of powdered milk to the soak as a mordant.  
  • I soaked the second in the milk solution only.
  • Then I bundled the "cabbage" one with outer leaves (removed from the cabbage before cooking and saves for this purpose), some 'rusty bits' (I have a collection) and some assorted red and yellow onion skins (ditto).
  • And I bundled the "plain" one with more 'rusty bits' and more onion skins.
  • I steamed them for several hours, and then put the pot aside in my back room to cool; I left it there for 3 days.
  • Then I unbundled everything, threw out the leaves/skins, put away the 'rusty bits', rinsed the cloths and hung them to dry:

I think the one on the right had the cabbage soak.

These are now dry and ironed lightly, set aside for the moment when I'm inspired to work with them.  I expect they'll be cut up into smaller pieces and worked by hand, but one never knows.  It'll be up to them and the Muse!  

To wind up the past month* (!), yesterday I joined Joe Cunningham for another "Quilt Freedom Workshop".  This session, the topic was "Secondary Patterns" -- how the use of colour, block placement and other design elements can create movement and interest by leading the eye to more than one pattern in the same piece.   I dug out 3 fabrics from my stash, none of which I'd used nor had any idea what to do with, and came up with this:

 I call it "Secondary Rhythm"
and no, it's not perfectly rectangular; it's
a bit wonky!

I'll quilt it and face the edges, put a sleeve on it and see where it takes me.  The process has given me an idea for my strings...

And there you have it.  *I counted, and yes, it was really four weeks since my last post.  No wonder there's been so much to share in this one!  If you've read all this way, then I thank you, Gentle Readers -- you are more than patient with me!

If you want to read more, you can follow this link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday blog, where I'll be sharing this post, too.

Here in Alberta we're in a Public Health State of Emergency because of a Comedy of Errors and Egos (too much to go into here!), so we're all trying to cope with a return of public health protocols, dealing with Rebellious Nay-sayers, Vaccine Refusers and others, and just trying to manage with as much patience, kindness and civility as we can muster.  Our health care personnel are exhausted, overworked and underpaid.'s good to work with one's hands out in the yard and garden, and inside in the studio -- and to be able to share it with you.

Take care, stay safe, remember your manners and healthy practices -- and I hope to connect again soon!

P.S. One more thing!  My SAQA Benefit Auction piece comes up for bid in Section 3 -- you can see it and all the wonderful pieces available by going HERE.  You need to have a (free) account to bid, but you can look and enjoy without one.  Thanks!

Always Be Humble and Kind
(C) 2016

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Slip-sliding Away...

 I've lost count -- but I think we had four long heat waves, interrupted by brief bits of cooler weather (a day or two) and then...BANG! We're in "mid-September".  Except that we're only just finishing the third week of August.   Not even close to Labour Day.  Not.  Even.  Close.


It's been a tough summer -- especially for those in wildfire areas, such as British Columbia, Oregon and California.  To top it off, we're all still in the midst of a global pandemic, making fire, flood, earthquake and tornado rescue even more perilous -- especially for those who insist they won't get vaccinated (even though they're eligible) and "You can't make me!!".  


So...all of this noise has been rather dispiriting.  It's certainly put a dent in my "Get up and go!"   What's a person to do???

I decided on a few options -- all designed to "spark joy" with colour and freshness.  It's the only way to go when the skies are grey -- literally and figuratively -- as they often are these days.

  • Yard work.  We're in a drought here, so my rain barrels are low, but I've managed to carefully, judiciously use my watering cans with my hose to manage the flower/veg beds.  (I don't water my lawn; I'm not growing a golf course.)  And least some of the plants have come through and produced veggies!  

You can (almost) always count on zucchini...

And sometimes you can find beans...

And broccoli...

And even raspberries...
and of course, more zukes!

I had leaf lettuce too (now finished -- the photo below was taken 2 months ago...)

So it's been a pretty good year for the garden.  (We won't talk about the cherry tomatoes, started from seed in early March, and only just now producing tiny still-green fruit.)

  • Long walks.  If I've not worked out in the yard (mowing -- which has slowed considerably as the grass isn't growing in the drought), I try to walk 45+ minutes on any given day.  During the heat waves, this would be about 6:30 a.m., when it was just daylight enough, and definitely cooler, but nowadays, it's more like mid-to-late afternoon.
On these walks I continue to encounter new-to-me wildflowers.  These are a couple of the ones I came across in the last week or so, and need to identify.  Both resemble clusters of tiny daisies -- and I've seen a yellow version of this too:

Whatever they are, their tiny points of colour in the aging grasses is very cheering!

  • Quilting.  Not much of this lately...but I've returned to "Grassy Creek" (the Bonnie Hunter Mystery for 2020)...and am making slow but steady progress in putting the 4 rows together, with all of the complex sashing.  (I'm making it approximately 2/3 the size of the original).  Here are a couple of shots;

Last 2 rows on my ironing board

Close-up of a block/sashing combo

I also finished a small (maybe 30" x 40") quiltlet for charity -- without a home as yet.  It was a UFO from a pattern in an almost-forgotten quilt magazine (I found the magazine after I finished the top) and it turned out rather well, considering its chequered past!  😉

Pattern: "Beautiful Batik Leaves"
Designer: Debby Kratovil
Quick Quilts #52 - 2005

Quilting detail - photo taken after washing,
so all the quilty goodness shows! 😊

  • It's been harder to activate my "art mojo", but I did spend some time playing with paint, stretched canvas, 'canvas paper' and a recycled plastic window blind!  I was inspired to do this when Soraya Silvestri, a colleague in the Artists in Canada Art Facebook group posted about "Dip & Squish", a fun technique she was using with acrylic paint and ceramic tiles.  (The link is to her YouTube clip about it.)  I decided to try it out -- with fabric! 
First, I poured a few colours onto a recycled Styrofoam "plate":

White background, red-orange next, then blue,
then a bit of Jacquard Lumiere in metallic copper.

I then took two 4" x 4" stretched canvases -- one at a time -- and "dipped and squished" them into the paint until I got the 'look' I wanted:

This was fun!  So...I cut up a canvas page from a pad of it I bought a while back, and I cut up a piece of textured, recycled plastic window blind and dipped those (all close to 4" square).  This was a bit tricky because they weren't attached to stretcher bars or any sort of backing I could hold, but I managed:

Here they are on my design wall

And some close-ups:

(L) on plastic recycled blind; centre and (R) - on canvas

(L) on canvas; (R) on plastic recycled blind

More on the recycled blind

And on a strip of the blind

Except for the pair on stretched canvas -- which I've signed and propped up as home decor, I really have no idea what I'm going to do with these pieces yet.  I have some card stock I could use to mount them; time will tell.  For now, they remain on my design wall, where every time I look at them, they make me smile.

  • In the embroidery department...I've set aside the little Glasgow roses I was cross-stitching, because I fell in love with a sentiment.  It was on a sampler designed by Blackbird Designs especially to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of one of my very favourite stitchery shops: Traditional Stitches, just west of Calgary.  I don't do much of this sort of design nowadays, but I couldn't resist; I was smitten with the text:

Photo from Traditional Stitches

I had a piece of hand-dyed, 28-count linen from some long-forgotten, never started project, so I ordered the pattern and the hand-dyed cotton threads:

I began to stitch 10 days or so ago, and am farther along than this photo shows, but it gives you an idea.  (The fabric is darker in colour than the photo shows.)

Working on this is very rhythmic and soothing, especially with some quiet music in the background.

  • And of course, there's always some knitting!  Right now my focus is on the Socks From Stash August Challenge -- "Knit a Free Pattern".  I'm making a pair of "Thermal Weasleys" for my daughter (a Harry Potter fan) for Christmas, in a hand-dyed merino-nylon blend from the "odd lots and one-of-a-kind" folks at Gathering Yarn -- sold by my friend and former employer, The Crafty Lady. I've finished the first sock and am well away now on the leg of the second.

"Velino" hand-dye from Gathering Yarn

#1 sock finished -- longer leg; no ribbing on the sole!

Pattern texture close up; easy to memorize!

I'll be happily working on all of these 'fabric, fibre & floss' items over the next little while -- as at last we've had some welcome rain, and I'm lying low indoors with what I hope is only a cold (sore throat, cough, sniffles).  A test for What Shall Not Be Named is booked for Tuesday afternoon.

So I'm linking this up with Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and wishing you all a good week or two as we slip-slide into September.  Hugs!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Trees: After Joyce Kilmer


 - 1886-1918

 I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

March Trees (c) 2019
Did you learn this poem in school?  

I did -- and though I don't remember exactly when, I'm thinking it's got to have been close to sixty years ago now.  (How did my childhood become that long ago?!  Sheesh!)

But I digress.

I just know that for as long as I can remember, I've loved trees, walking in woods, sitting in a sunny grove...And when I create my landscapes, there are often trees included -- even if they're in the background.  

Now then.  This year's SAQA Benefit Auction begins a month from today -- and every year members are asked to create a "Dream Collection" and share it online.  Last year, I wrote about the pieces I'd purchase "If Money Were No Object" -- work contributed by some of the 'big names' in the studio art quilt genre.  This year...I was taken by the pieces with a focus on trees -- hence the poem, the memories and these pieces, which I think show trees in an assortment of shapes, sizes, colours and settings.  I hope you enjoy it!

Mel Beach - Dancing Leaves of Joy

Annette Boncek - Finding Peace in Nature

Libby Cerullo - Sisters

Ethelda Ellis Erasmus - Bluebells in Corrig Wood

Ann Flaherty - Cathedrale Naturelle

Cat Larrea - Solitude

Annie Smith - Moment of Serenity

Gay Young - Treescape

What about you?  To preview all the Benefit Auction contributions and to create your own "Dream Collection" -- maybe even make note so you can put in a bid!  -- visit the Auction Preview HERE. 

Monday, August 09, 2021

Joy in the Mix Too

 Today -- as I posted earlier -- is a Tender Day because it's a double anniversary, mingling joy with sorrow.

And now...a bit more joy, for I've just found out this has been posted on Facebook since Friday, August 6:

The Curiosity Art & Framing Gallery is located in Bay #4, 4676 - 61 Street, Red Deer, AB

and you can find a map and more info on the website HERE 

or on the Facebook page HERE.  

My Biggest Fan would have been so proud. 💕

I'm not certain when or if there will be a reception just yet -- it might be timed later in the year along with other arts and culture celebrations in the city as a whole.  Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, late as usual, I'm linking this to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  Have a great week!


 Married this day, 46 years ago.

Together 31 years.

Parted this day 15 years ago.

Remembered forever.