Friday, October 02, 2015

Summing Up

It's been A Week.  Actually, it's been eleven days since I posted  at length...and a very full 11 days it was.

To whit:

  • Sept. 22 I worked my usual Tuesday at The Shop;
  • Sept. 24-26, it being "Creative Stitches" 2015 in Calgary, I filled in at The Shop;
  • Sept. 27 I made two pies for our church's annual Fall Supper;
    Saskatoon and Rhubarb, respectively!
  • Sept. 29 I worked my usual Tuesday at The Shop -- sorting and counting and putting away inventory that hadn't sold in Calgary.
  • Sept. 30 I finished quilting "Edging into Spring" and sent it off to EB, who's speedy turn-around assessment took my breath away.
Plain Vanilla
September Socks from Stash
(before wash-and-block!)
Yarn: Paton's Kroy Socks
4-ply in "Winter Eclipse"
Somewhere in that time I mowed my lawns (front and back), fertilized and watered the front (fall fertilizer); planted spring-blooming bulbs by the south wall at the back (tulips, daffs and some croci); cut back some of my perennials to prep for winter; harvested my green-now-turning-red tomatoes; finished my September Socks From Stash challenge socks; cast on a comfort/healing/prayer shawl for a friend who's very ill; jogged several kilometres; sang at church; kept up my e-mail correspondence to the SAQA Western Canada Region and beyond; painted the 'person door' to my garage that had been repaired in the spring; kept MOB up to date; sent out the 20th packet for MOB II: Making My Mark; ate some, slept some, cuddled the cat some, enjoyed my roses...


RE: September's Master Class submission, "Edging into Spring" (Theme: Lost Edges):

Here's a photo of the quilted-but-as-yet-unfaced piece:

Edging Toward Spring - 18.75" W x 15" L (unfinished)
I really like the trees!  (Thanks again, arlee!) but was less happy with the fact that the hitherto 'lost' edges of the hills were now (having been fused and stitched down) far

And I was uncertain about the grass.  Did it need more stitching?  How to do it without its looking over-done or cliche or stilted?

E.B. came forward with her usual wonderful helpfulness:
A very nice job!  That mould and dirt dyed fabric* is so nice for the tree stems - really makes it.  
Yes you did make  the hill edges a little more distinct with the stitching.  It is hard to find a way to stitch to keep the edge very soft...what I have done in the past when I was using silk organza to create a soft effect was to take one strand of embroidery floss in as close a color as I could to the fabric and take tiny little hand stitches along the edge.  With a small piece it wouldn't take you long... (emphasis mine)
[Here she inserted example from her own work.]

Re your foreground...I like the could just have a few more clumps - very similar but a little bigger to give a sense of depth...don't make them too orderly!
Totally agree with you, you don't need leaves and buds!  There's plenty there to look at.  Nice color scheme, great sense of place....very nicely done!
*Note to arlee: please forgive her description...E.B. really thinks your fabric is pretty special!

I'm not sure I'm going to add "a few more clumps" to the grass...I'm letting it 'sit' for a while on my design wall.  Any feedback from you, my Gentle Readers, is appreciated!

Meanwhile, I've added an outer border (plain) and pieced the back for the Magic Tiles quilt...which is now about 55" x 57"...

Pieced backing hanging over the ironing board

and I cast on my October Socks (from Stash).  This month's theme: use a variegated, self-striping or hand-painted sock yarn...

Yarn: Opal 4 fache / 4-ply, "Le Petit Prince" colour#7764
Pattern: "The Desert Planet Tatooine" by  Heidi Nick

I pieced my October "Block of the Month" from my "Zen" collection which, despite all the pieces, was the easiest thus far in this series. Fewer bias edges at last!

"Jefferson City"

And... today I ordered more mats, picked up some nice, thin batting and some new landscape fabric (fat quarters)...Prep starts this weekend, and creation starts Monday...I have at least a half-dozen 'minis' to make for "my" galleries, and another as a commission.

Good thing the weather is cooling and most of the yard work is done!

This week Nina Marie asks about reading material.  For fiction, I enjoy (murder) mysteries that require me to use a few of my own "leetle grey cells" (Hercule Poirot/Agatha Christie)...and right now, I'm enjoying a trio from Simon Brett's Fethering series that features "Jude" and "Carole Seddon", as unlikely a pair of sleuthing friends-and-neighbours as you'd come across.  Not as meaty as Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Peter Robinson, Louise Penny or Deborah Crombie, mind you, but substantive enough and good for a slightly tired, idea-addled brain that wants to enjoy its end-of-day bed-time reading.

What about you?  Do you read to inspire your creativity?  Or to take a break from it all?

I'm linking up with Nina Marie's Off-the-Wall Friday to find out more...

P.S. If you're looking for some original artwork...check out the 2015 SAQA Benefit Auction.  My piece is on the block through October 3... :-)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Knitter's Delight

When you make something for someone...and you receive not only a 'thank you' but also a photo of her wearing it...  :-)

Sweet baby Alina, aged about 4 months...
Pattern: baby sweater from knitsimple - Holiday 2008 ed.
Yarn: Schoeller & Stahl Merino Stretch (discontinued)
Thanks to my cousin Kerry and her DH for this photo...and permission to share it.  :-)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Edging into Autumn

September is slipping through my fingers.  It's almost Autumn...which this year officially begins on Wednesday. of my favourite times of year despite the shortening days.  The air is crisp and fresh and some of the best trail runs take place because of the cooler weather.

My tomatoes are all in -- green ones in a newsprint-lined container for ripening.  My roses continue to astound me, as do the cosmos, so I'm leaving them alone for the time being.  And I still have to mow the grass at least one more time.  On the shopping list: spring bulbs, which I'll plant now with high hopes they will grace my south flower bed eight months (or so) from now.

It's a bit too cool to sit outside stitching so I'm back in the sewdio, working first on my "Lost Edges" piece.  I blocked it out on Friday using my usual technique of a foundation fabric (unbleached muslin) and lots of pins!  I wasn't about to risk fusing anything in place till I heard from EB!

While I like the piece, I was concerned it lacked a certain "spark"...

Materials: sky - indigo-dyed silk;
hills/"shrubs": assorted synthetic sheers;
background grass: "Fossil Fern", a classic
commercial cotton; foreground
grass: acid-dyed silk;
tree trunks: eco-printed fabric by arlee barr.

Detail 1

Detail 2

And here was EB's response:

I think you've done a very good job of contrasting the edges...and great fabric choices...I don't think you lack very much actually.  Perhaps some debris around the base of the trunks to "tie" them to the ground so they don't look as if they're superimposed...go back out to the area ...or ck your photo to see how the bases of trees  dovetail beautifully into the ground.  You want it to look as if these trees are just growing right up.  You might want to move the LH hand group a little to the left...allowing a view point through the gap...

I think the piece has plenty of pizzaz with that perfect mould (or whatever it was!) dyed fabric... and I love the way you have it going soft and it goes back.
don't think you need leaves...but maybe a couple of branches to tie the sides of the image to the frame....looks like a great place to go for a walk!
I grinned when I read "Perhaps some debris around the base of the trunks", because of course that will come with the stitching.  And arlee's fabric is printed with leaves...not mould! (grin) but yes, she still makes the best tree trunk fabric I've found!

So this morning I sandwiched the background, as I need to quilt it down (especially the sky) before I apply those trees...It will likely finish around 18" W by 14" L.

And what of the wrapped trees?  Just over two months in, this is how they looked on September 13:

Tree 1 - stains beginning

Tree 2 - staining too

Tree 3 - I'm wondering if'
these stains will last.

Tree 4 - least stained of all,
and I thought it was muslin!

The Christmas knitting is about to is the production of new minis for two shops, and one for a Christmas commission.

Speaking of commissions...My DD reported that her friends like the Maritime Memories pair...and this morning I picked up the medallion quilt from Sylvia Sawyer, long-arm quilter extraordinaire... Here's just a glimpse of some of the work she did...

Part of centre medallion, zinger, piano key border
Section of outer-most border (untrimmed backing on the right)
Part of inner border, zinger, piano key border

DD will select the binding fabric in a couple of weeks (Thanksgiving) and I'll bring it home to bind and wash before it goes back to her to wrap and give away.

I'm finding this balance of bed quilts and artwork healthy.  I find it satisfying to always have some of each on the go.  The bed quilt construction is rhythmic and methodical (for the most part); the artwork stretches my brain till it groans with that mix of pleasure and pain that is, I think, common to most artists.

This afternoon, I'm piecing the border for the Magic Tiles quilt I began a couple of weeks ago:

Pin carefully because this is sashed at an angle

You want the edges to be even in the end...

Linking this up belatedly to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...hoping you have a creative week and a happy change of seasons.

Till next time...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Process and Progress

Okay; so she didn't like the painted whole-cloth trio...

So I've created a couple of minis in "my usual style" (rough-edged applique).  I showed you the first one HERE...

This week I made the second, using colours as in the painted version, but all wee bits of cloth:

Inspirational photo, started piece, assorted supplies

It took me quite some time to assemble the jig-saw that was this piece, but I like the finished artful impression of Lunenberg, Nova Scotia...

Maritime Memories II  (C) 2015

Both will be in the mail to my DD tomorrow.

On to the Next Thing(s): finishing the Magic Tiles throw (beginning with the pieced borders); knitting my September sock (another plain vanilla pair in colourful yarn); starting Christmas Knitting (yep; it's that time of year again); starting minis for two shops and 1 commission...also for Christmas/Holiday giving...

And pondering how to block out in fabric the "Lost Edges" project for EB.  By the by, Elizabeth rather liked my watercolour.  Her feedback (emphasis mine):

I like the way you are approaching the assignment...and definitely lost/found edges is a great device to indicate the photo and in your painting you actually have about 5 different levels: grass and trees, far meadow, bushes or slope beyond that, distant trees and then clouds in the gradually softening the edges as you go back through the layers...and also increasing detail on the front layer will give you beautiful depth.  there are several different ways to use this device, but this is a good one...
Don't try to copy the trees too literally, go for a pleasing arrangement rather than an accurate one...and you may not even need the house...note also that the trunks are light on one side and dark on the can choose to make those edges stand out...or lose one of them!! will take some thinking....
good luck!!

RE: the highlight about copying the trees literally.  Clearly EB has picked up on the struggle I have with detail, and adhering far more closely to same than is necessary!

Somewhere in the mix there is yard work to be done, but it might be that this year there will be a prolonged 'Indian summer' here.  Whatever's happening weather-wise, I can't recall such prolific beauty from my Zone 3 roses in all my 38 summers out here...So before linking with Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, I'll offer you this eye candy...

(L) to (R): dark red "Hope for Humanity";
yellow "Bill Reid" (bud in centre, and full open on right;
 and yellow/pink "Campfire" rose
(to honour painter Tom Thompson of the Group of Seven)

Front and centre: deep reds and pinks
 of "Never Alone" roses as they open up.
Back: "Campfire" (Tom Thompson)

Close up: (L): "Never Alone" cluster;
(R): "Campfire" (Tom Thompson) cluster.

"Campfire" (Tom Thompson) close up

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

It's a Process...

Over the Labour Day weekend I met a relatively new quilter.  J accompanied her husband, G, when they dropped in to visit on their way up the highway to Bashaw to stay with friends.  I hadn't seen G in over 46 it was a great time of catching up, but also learning what each of us was up to now...and J was most interested in my quilting.  :-)  She confided that though she'd been quilting for a few years -- yet another one of us 'hooked' by a friend -- she liked using kits because then she didn't have to think about colour choices...and, she confessed, she was rather intimidated by her rotary cutter!

She wouldn't be the first one!

Years ago when I started to quilt, I was intimidated by it too.  So...I took a class.  It was at My Sewing Room in Calgary  (in their original location on Elbow Drive S.W.), and the featured pattern was Magic Tiles, created by Kathleen Bissett.  It's all straight-line cutting and piecing, and once you've spent the day (or weekend) making one of these, I guarantee you'll feel comfortable with your rotary cutter!

As it happened, when J visited, I had one of these on the go for a friend of mine -- a Red Hatter -- who's in a tough time right now.

So J, this process is for you...

First, you read through the instructions.  No surprises!

Cut yourself a number of 15" squares in assorted fabrics. I was using a collection of Red Hat-themed fabric I'd gathered over the years.  The pattern calls for 12, but I had only 9 that I thought worked well together, so this is a smaller quilt -- a 'throw' really -- an will finish a little over 50" in each direction.

Lengths of "grout"
For this pattern it is essential that you number each 15" square with a wee square of freezer paper, as you have to cut and shift and re-assemble the blocks in a certain numerical order.

In addition to the squares, you need to cut a good number of 1" strips of "grout" (sashing) using a solid or low-value print that will set off the blocks.

Then you prepare your Magic Tiles cutting guide, using freezer paper:

I couldn't find my white freezer paper so used brown for this project and I confess...I like the white better!  It's lighter, and doesn't curl as much when you're trying to work with it.  Of course, I found the box of white after I had all the blocks assembled!

Following the directions, lay your guide on your first square and cut.  You end up with two sections per square: one section with a number, and a smaller section without.  You sew strips of grout to the smaller sections and then re-assemble the sections... having first 'shifted' the fabrics...

Shift #1...

Re-assembling the sections
You continue to cut the squares using the guide, to shift the sections according to the pattern, and to re-assemble them with strips of 'grout'...until you have a set of fully re-assembled squares!  Note that if you use 12 squares and follow the shifts according to the pattern, you'll end up with one bit of each fabric in each finished block.  However, with 9 fabrics, you'll end up with some duplication instead (I've done this size twice and it's happened both times.  I'd have to do the math to figure it out for 9 blocks and I can't be bothered!)

As the squares develop, it's useful to pin the grout to ensure the sections don't wobble:

Yes, sometimes I like to pin!

Here's a view of the centre of the top hanging on my design wall:

I say "centre" because I am going to surround it with a pieced border...

Strips cut for pieced border

I've decided to make the top and bottom borders a bit deeper than the side borders, so the quilt will end up as a rectangle.  And...I may add a solid outer border if time and fabric permits...

While I was beavering away at this project, my mind was turning over and over the September Theme for EB's Master Class: "Lost Edges".  In between cutting and piecing I did quite a bit of thinking and researching (lost/found edges are used in paintings and drawings)...and this morning I sent EB my watercolour sketch...

Based on this photo (but without all the details re: the trees...just for now)...

And while I await her feedback, I'm linking to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network.

'Bye for now!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Before I was so Rudely Interrupted...!

I planned a post for Monday evening...a gentle, quiet, domestic post...

But my camera had other ideas.  It and my computer stopped talking.  It took me till this evening to find out the problem: an "old" (2 years!!) USB cord that had twisted and bent till it developed a split in its side...and became non-functional.  I have fabric older than that!  Sheesh!

So that I located a serviceable cord (left from the-camera-before-the-camera-before-this-one)...



Slept in.

On waking, did this...

On Saturday, neighbour Brian (bachelor trucker)
delivered a bucket o' wee 'golden' plums.
I shared some with DD and some with neighbour Edna.

I washed and halved the rest.  In the end, about 15 cups...

As they boiled up with sugar and a bit of water,
the pits came to the surface to be skimmed off...

And in the end...Jam-m-m-m-m-m!

Oh, and I worked on MOB some, and knit some, and stitched a facing some, and cut fabric for a new project some, and read some...

And now I'm daring to link to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network...


Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Photographer's Assistant

My DD came down from Edmonton for the better part of today...and we accomplished a number of things.

  • We delivered The Quilt Top to Sylvia Sawyer, long-arm quilter/proprietress of Windwood Quilts just up the road;
  • DD photographed some of my roses...while I held an umbrella to cast the appropriate shadows;
  • We reviewed her Maritime commission options and will go with 2 fabric minis -- the one that's finished and one other... and 
  • DD photographed three pieces I have in mind to enter into a couple of juried exhibits this fall.  She took the photos; I helped adjust the lighting.  :-)  She'll send me the shots, sized per requirements for the competitions...and I'll take it from there.
One of said pieces is "It's Still About the Sky"...the latest in my Master Class efforts.  In my last post I was awaiting EB's comments re: quilting.  She didn't disappoint; her thoughts were as follows:
Yes quilting skies is a problem, funnily enough that's exactly what I was trying to work out yesterday on the quilt I'm finishing right now.  I have different solutions...sometimes I just go with vertical lines - never horizontal because it seems to compress things.  and never ever those horrible wormy things that people call meandering - ghastly!!!

I do vertical, or diagonal usually...once in a while I'll look at the fabric and follow  the markings on it..and that might be your solution here...that expanding circle is really the focus of the piece...

I like to print out a few photos and draw potential quilting lines on them...and then I'll mark out the lines with a chalk pencil on the fabric to see how it looks too.

It's a great relief to me that someone of EB's stature agrees that "quilting skies is a problem"! :-)

Upon her advice, I added more quilting, following the "natural" markings on the fabric...and was so pleased with the results that I've faced it and am calling it "finished"! (Label to follow!)

Here's a photo I took of it right after facing it:

It's Still About the Sky (C) 2015
27.5" W x 23.5" L
Materials: hand-dyed and commercial cottons,
fusible web, cotton thread.
Machine pieced; fused, rough-edged applique, machine quilted

All in all, it's been a particularly satisfying month...Somehow, I feel that I've crossed a threshold...

And on that note, I'm off to bed...just as soon as I link up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she has a great wee post on 'critiques'.  (To my mind, EB's "crits" definitely fill the bill!)

Have a good one!

P.S. You can check out more of my daughter's beautiful work on her blog.