Monday, October 15, 2018

And So It Goes...

I promised in my Thanksgiving Post that I'd share news from the Sewdio soon.  So...this post has some of this, that and the other!

The Bookshelf Quilt got finished and is now happily (I think) ensconced in its new home.

Since then, I've made a top that will be a gift for a friend (no photos; she might read this post) and finished (except the binding and sleeve) a commissioned hanging for another friend (again, no photos as this is a gift for someone who might read this).

J's Xmas Socks 2018
I'm working on Xmas socks now for my neighbour E, wife of J.  His socks are finished.  These two are so very good to me all year -- with advice, sharing garden seeds and veg, house-watching etc., that they are regulars on my Christmas gift list, and this year it's socks!

If you're curious, they're made with 6-ply sock yarn from Online, and the pattern is my adaptation of the Yarn Harlot's Sock Recipe, found in her long-published book, Knitting Rules(Lest you're wondering, E's socks are in reds. Same yarn source; same pattern source.)

And...I've actually managed to create an original piece!  My contribution to the 2018 "100@100" fundraiser for the Alberta Society of Artists was mounted on its artist's panel today and is ready to ship as soon as I can find a box that will accommodate it -- without being too big!

I call it "Blue Pot", and it's taken from a photo of the geraniums I have over-wintering indoors in my sunny back a ...well, that should be obvious!

Inspirational photo

Blue Pot (C) 2018 - 10" x 10"
Machine piecing and fused applique,
machine quilting, faced and affixed to an artist's board

Blue Pot - Detail

I got to play with the free-motion quilting on my new machine for this one, which set me up to do FMQ on the commissioned hanging (mentioned above).  I still have to practice to get really good at it, but I certainly appreciate the features on my new Pfaff Performance 5.2 and the 'hovering' darning foot.  I may explore a more traditional spring-loaded foot as time goes on...we shall see.  For now, this does the trick!

Mosaic Wrap - first panel
Outside the Sewdio, I've been working on a mosaic stitch 'wrap' for myself from stash yarn, using a pattern found in the Vogue Knitting magazine -- Holiday 2016 issue.  It's a simple construction of two panels, sewn together and bordered in a 'tweed' pattern.  I'm now on the closing border of the first panel, and manage to do a few rows a day.  No rush!

I'm able to do this because, outside the above-mentioned socks, I'm making fewer knitted gifts this year.  I've made one (a small scarf in exquisite yarn) and am building a long, cable-trimmed hooded coat for my daughter -- which she knows about because fittings have been involved -- but that's it.  There will be the Annual Xmas Boxer Shorts, of course...but they're not quite on the radar yet.

This has freed me to work on some embroidery kits I purchased long ago -- in another life, it seems -- which I've offered to donate to the gift table at our annual church Bazaar and Bake Sale.  The kits even include frames, and they're turning out quite well, so I hope they will find new homes!  Each one is a tiny gem -- no more than 4" to 6" square -- in simple cross- and half-cross stitch, so a bit of time stitching each morning with my coffee and reflections...and two of the three of them are now finished.

Meanwhile, my Sewdio Assistant keeps me company...

And my leaky 13-year-old hot water tank is on Permanent Vacation (awaiting replacement on Wednesday!) vien bien!  (It goes well!)...

How have you been, Gentle Readers?

Linking very late to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and hoping she's well too!

And because this post is that sort of late re: last week, it's early enough to be shared with the Canadian-based Needle and Thread Network for this week -- so I'm linking to that too!

Have a good week -- what's left of it!

Saturday, October 06, 2018

I Am Thankful...

This weekend, Canadians are celebrating their Thanksgiving holiday.

I am thankful that I am a Canadian living in this generous, open-minded (for the most part) land.

I am thankful to live in a country...

The Peace Tower
Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario
With a parliamentary system of government that can be voted out of (or into) office earlier than (but no later than) every five years. With a system that votes for political parties rather than political personalities. Where there is (at least as long as I can remember) no longer 'gerrymandering' -- excluding voting rights for Canadians of colour or race. (Yes, Canada had 'gerrymandering' once upon a time. Look it up.)

Where we continue to try harder to be better citizens in the world. Where our armed forces are tough fighters against dictatorships, violent theocracies etc., but are also brought in as peace keepers.

That has laws that control the use of firearms by those not in the military or police service.

Where we welcome those seeking asylum, who are willing to put up with our winters because what's winter when you've faced persecution and death threats for your faith or your race?

Where we are trying to do better with relationships between the founding European nations and the pre-founding Aboriginal/First Nations peoples.

Where we are trying to encourage more equal representation of genders in government at all levels (and we hope one day for another (wiser) woman to become Prime Minister will be 20..., right?).

Where a woman has the final say over her own reproductive system (whether or not her sisters and (br)others agree. (If you want to know -- and I can tell you are itching to ask! -- I don't support abortion as a matter of course; I believe in adoption as an alternative. And education -- LOTS of education!)

Where I am hopeful that victims of serious sexual assault (i.e. more than a tickle under the shorts or a hasty "goosing" as it once was called) are beginning to be believed and their assailants brought to trial -- and where, if an accused assailant was a nominee to our (appointed) Senate or Supreme Court -- that person would be denied the privilege.

Where people are people. put a finer point on it, persons are persons.  

Next year, on October 18, 2019, Canada marks 90 years since the "Persons Case" -- wherein a handful of women from across Canada took their petition to Westminster in the UK and were HEARD -- and moreover, determined to be "PERSONS" under the law, such that they could vote and hold office and become active in the political life of this young country.  And where, in 2015, the Prime Minister selected a capable, well-qualified cabinet that was 50% male and 50% female -- because...

This means that try as some might, there can no longer be dividing lines in this country between who are considered "persons" and who are not. If women are persons equal with men, this means ALL women -- not just Caucasians, but Aboriginal/Indigenous women, refugee women...ALL women. All residents, equal in the eyes of the law and -- once confirmed citizens -- equal in voting and other political and socio-economic rights.

I am thankful that I was married to a man who recognized me as a person.

I am thankful that we tried our best to raise our daughter and our son to know the truth of their person-hood...and grieved that through our history, this has not been supported this as well as it might have.

I am thankful that I live in a country that hasn't (at least in my living memory) politicized religion, and that the faith expression I practice refrains from preaching politics along with its Gospel -- but that it expects followers to live out their professed faith - "...and when necessary, use words" (attributed to Francis of Assisi).

And...I am thankful to have had this forum within to showcase my work, to express my thoughts and to share with my readers ideas and information these almost 16 years.

Happy Thanksgiving to Canadian celebrants!  Fervent prayers for unity and so much more, for those readers in the United States...and blessings to Gentle Readers everywhere...

An art post is pending.  Soon.  I promise!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

First Snow of the Year

I'm pretty sure that most kids who live where there's snow in the winter look forward to that first one -- at least in part because it's a change from spring rains, summer heat and autumn leaves.

Parents -- at least based on my own experience -- have mixed feelings about it. If the snow is wet and heavy -- also known as "snowman snow" -- it can be great fun for the kiddies, but a heckuva thing to shovel (if it shows signs of sticking around for a while).  And then...there are icy roads to worry about as we get ourselves -- and perhaps our kids -- from one place to another.  Not fun!

And when that first snow arrives unexpectedly early -- rather like a house-guest who invited him/herself at short notice -- the First Snow of the Year can be distinctly distasteful.

Especially if, like I was this year, you're away from home when it begins, have to drive home a long distance through it, and have no small children at the other end waiting to enjoy it.

This year, in these parts, the snow arrived Saturday night -- a wee bit before the exact time of the Fall Equinox.  

I arrived home late that evening from a long drive in freezing drizzle, rain, fog patches, dry patches and (yes) snow, to find this:

That's a large branch from high up in the Mountain Ash (Rowan) tree next to it.  The photo was taken this morning from my back stoop.  Blessedly, the branch missed the roof of the stoop and an overhead wire (I think it's the phone line) you can't see from the photo.

Later this afternoon, when some melting had begun, I was able to go around and clear snow off the other (undamaged) shrubbery.  The downed branch looked like this:

The highlight at the bottom left is to give you an idea of the size of the break.  Here's the other end (as close up as I could get it; again, I refer you to the circled area:

It's 'way up there in the tree, and yes, that's the wire it missed that you see running across the bottom of that photo!

My neighbours had some damage to one of their aged willows, but all in all I must admit that -- compared to folks in the southeastern U.S. coping with flooding, and folks in the Ottawa-Gatineau area in Eastern Canada handling the aftermath of tornadoes (!) over the weekend -- I have much to be thankful for.

Still, I don't think this First Snow of the Year -- 2018 Edition -- was quite what Hawksley Workman was getting at with his song...

(with thanks for Jason Hammond and You Tube for the video.)

Monday, September 17, 2018

More About 'Them Books'

I love books.  I began to read around age 5 -- as did each of my children.  My father's sister -- a K-2 teacher -- used to say "Readers are Leaders".  I dunno about that, but I know that I agree with Emily Dickinson...

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away,
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry – 
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll – 
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears a Human soul.

All the homes I've owned over the years have been filled with books.  I have a bookshelf in the kitchen (mainly cookbooks), my bedroom (five, if you count the self built into my headboard and the two built into each side of my desk), one tall one in the guest room, two in the studio -- not counting the boxes of magazines and pattern booklets -- and then there are those in the shelves in the base of the coffee table in the living room, and still others in a basket beside the love seat, art books stacked on an antique round table in the front window, and the art/craft magazines in the wooden rack next to an over-stuffed chair.

And did I mention the stack(s) on the pass-through shelf from the living room to the kitchen?  Or the ones on the top of the coffee table at any given moment?  What about the ones on the 1910 pine pedestal table next to the computer desk?

No?  Oh well...   😉

I had a birthday about 10 days ago -- and now await eagerly the two books I bought from my Chapters/Indigo 'wish list' with a gift card from my son and his wife:

Brand new...just out!
Textile Landscape - Cas Holmes


Ten years old but speaks to me now...
the art of felt - Loumange Francoise Tellier

Both should be in my hands by early October.  Yummy!

Meanwhile, I've spent the last four days finishing the Bookshelf Quilt.  

Five of six rows joined together

What the back sashing looked like
before it was hand-sewn down

Quilting Detail - bottom

Quilting Detail - side

Quilting Detail - top

Ready for binding

Label Detail
You Can't Tell a Book by Its Cover

I confess it's taken me much longer than I expected -- due in part to the customized quilting and then again, in part due to my learning curve involving adding borders to the centre six shelves (a 'medallion' of sorts).  I am so thankful for my new Pfaff (Performance 5.2) that has enabled me to finish it up with even stitch tension etc.  😊

I'm on the home stretch...and soon my friend will have her throw.

As for me, though the application for a solo exhibit at the Leighton Centre didn't pan out for 2019, I've got a 10" square panel to do up for the 2018 Alberta Society of Artists 100 @ 100 Fundraiser; I have a piece coming up on the block in Section 2 of the 2018 SAQA Benefit Auction -- next week; I have more features of my new Pfaff sewing machine to explore; and I have more ideas and experiments to play with in the coming months so...

All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.

Here's to books -- and here's to a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


My father was the hero I never knew.  He did his best to shepherd Displaced Persons (DPs) from WWII to safe havens at the end of that war, and died in 1952, a few months past his 47th birthday, of his second heart attack, suffered because of the work he did in military government, seconded to the British Army of the Rhine and trying to give refugees a fair shake in the face of Communist Russia.

My step-father was a hero too.  As a Sergeant in the Canadian Black Watch, Royal Highland regiment, he lost two (2) fingers off his right hand and took a bullet through the same arm "somewhere in France" in WWII -- and never talked about it. 

His father died "somewhere in France" in WWI -- 1916 -- leaving behind 3 sons; the youngest -- my step-father -- was aged 2.

Viet Nam was the war being waged when I was in my teens.  I knew that some of the young men in our area -- 16 miles north of the Canada/US border -- went 'south' to sign up and get an education and training in the US Army.  I don't know their names (most were older than I) but...there are those who do.

I couldn't understand that war, and know now -- almost 50 years later -- that many couldn't.  I had rip-roaring arguments about it with my step-father who, having served (and lost) so much,  believed that if/when your country called, you should go.  Even if you had no clear reason (like stopping Hitler) why.

In my early university days I dated a fellow (I still think of him often, and fondly) whose parents were from the U.S. and had moved to Montreal, where his older brother and he were born.  At 18 he renounced his right to US citizenship, in favour of being Canadian -- and a few months later he -- an employee of Canada's Militia that does the Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill in Ottawa every summer -- found himself guarding our Governor General's home in Ottawa in the midst of the October Crisis, as part of our government's calling on the War Measures Act in the face of terrorism perpetrated at the time by French Canadian nationalists.

He was a hero too.

But the greatest hero in my life was the one I married, the one I knew best, the one who lived with a terminal, incurable illness for almost 47 years.  He loved me, he loved our children, he inspired all of us to be better than we ever thought we could be.

He found his faith later in his life.  He knew he was blessed.  He honoured his parents -- and he honoured me and his children.

He had many friends. 

Living with him in his last decade was indescribably difficult, especially for his children.

There are no easy roads for heroes.

Today, as I see photos of Mrs. McCain paying tribute to her husband Senator John McCain, another hero -- one about whom she will tell stories as I do about mine -- all I want to say to her is:

"I've travelled your road.  Our husbands lived very different lives, experienced very different challenges and traumas.  They were, each in his turn, heroes -- particularly to those who knew them best.

"I hold you in my prayers and in my arms as a companion who has loved a hero, who has children to comfort and stories to tell.

"May God bless you and keep you; may God's light shine upon you and be gracious to you; may S/He lift the light of God's countenance to you and give you Her/His peace, power and love."  AMEN.

My Dream Collection

One of the most fun activities associated with the Annual SAQA Benefit Auction is being able to pick a "Dream Collection".  I become a curator of my own six-pack of art pieces that have some meaning for me, and might just inspire others to participate in the auction for real -- to the benefit of both SAQA and the artists.

This year, I'm calling my collection "Pet Project", and here's what I've written about that theme:
I'm a Certified Cat Person -- and recently lost a scrawny stray despite my attempts to save him.  I don't understand animal abuse any more than abuse of humans or the environment.  I'm honouring "Mr. Man-cat" and my very lively Miss Pookie-cat -- as well as all other pets -- with my collection this year.
Here are the pieces I chose:

Have some fun!  Pour a cuppa, visit the Benefit Auction Preview Page and pick the ones you'd put on your walls!

P.S.  Many thanks to Iina Alho, who chose my piece as part of her Dream Collection, "Rhapsody in Blue".  😊  Click the link and scroll down to enjoy!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Two New Ones Up!

Can you handle two artsy blog posts less than a week apart?!  😉

Here goes...

Fridays this summer have often been an "Artist's Date" kind of day.  Today was no exception.  Having finished the two pieces I needed to replace the "sold" ones at the Camrose Art Walk, and having taken them in for framing, I had to pick them up today and deliver them to the Walk's organizer.

I invited my friend G along for the ride, for a bite of lunch and for a viewing of some of the other work in Section II of the Walk.

The artwork had to be picked up in Stettler, which meant approaching Camrose from the east end -- something I'd never done.  After meandering for some time -- and getting confused as to the order of streets and avenues! -- we found the Chuck MacLean Arts Centre and dropped the work off to the lovely and capable Jane Cherry, organizer of the Walk.

Starving (it was then after 1 p.m. and neither of us had eaten since early morning, a good 6 hours before) we went to Fiona's for lunch (and to admire more art).  We both agreed it was the best chicken noodle soup we'd had in a long time!

We followed that by crossing the street to see the art featured at Candler Art Gallery this time the work of Cindy Bouwers.  Getting into the car, we drove down to City Hall to enjoy the Paverpol sculptures of Beverly Oliwa and the wet-felted creations of Kathy Warren -- a student of Mary's in a wet-felting workshop last year!

From there, we went on up to the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta to see the work Mary and I had in the foyer of the Jeanne & Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre -- and to my delight, those new pieces were already hanging in place.  Even lovelier was the news that Mary had sold another piece that day!

Here are those pieces, framed and labelled, in situ...

View from Eilean Donan: Loch Duich - (c) 2018
Needle-felt, commercial fabric,
machine quilted, painted,
mounted on stretched canvas.
10" W x 10" L

Loch View: Inverness to Eilean Donan - (c) 2018
Commercial fabric, wool felt, machine quilted;
applied to painted stretched canvas.
12" W x 12" L

We ended the afternoon with a bit of grocery shopping at the local Safeway, and our favourite coffee selections -- while viewing yet more art! -- at the Starbucks in the same outdoor mall complex.

All in all, a very satisfying day!

Have a lovely rest of the weekend, Gentle Readers.  Linking this up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday -- with the hope that she's inspired to break through her current 'writers' block'!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Oh, What a Time It Was

The "detour posts" about my disconnected comments aside, I left off with a brief post as I was leaving for an "artsy" weekend south of Calgary with two good friends, visiting them at their new home (of about 18 months) on a small acreage in an area known as "Foothills" -- somewhere near Okotoks and Dewinton.

We had a lovely time!  Not much in the way of dyeing, painting or otherwise messing about, but a great deal of good conversation, long walks, good food, good books, and wonderful feasts for the eye: a yarn shop, a quilt shop, an art gallery, a museum and the Leighton Art Centre.

Tower Gallery,
Leighton Arts Centre

The latter is the place in which -- you may recall -- I hope to have a solo show -- and I was delighted to be able to meet the Curator, and have a wee chat.  I was also able to see the Tower Gallery, which is the space in which I'm hoping to show my work.

I'm rather relieved to realize it's not as large as it looks in this photo I found online!

The day after I returned from this mini-vacation, I was adopted by a stray cat.  The poor wee thing came to my door on the Tuesday evening around supper time -- likely drawn by the smell of the chicken I had on the barbeque.  It was very scrawny, a brown-black long hair with very matted fur, and what appeared to be an abscess on its left shoulder.

I got hold of a good friend who's very knowledgeable about animal care, and then got hold of my vet -- a stocky fellow of Ukrainian heritage and indeterminate age, who makes his living mainly with cattle and horses, but who has a soft spot for the smaller animals as well.  I arranged to bring "Mr. Cat" in the next morning.

Mr. Man Eating After Surgery
He weighed in at only five (!) pounds, even with all that fur, and the abscess turned out to be a tumour.  The vet anaesthetized him, shaved him as best he could to get rid of most of the matting, and removed the tumour, sending us home with antibiotics and instructions to come back in 2 weeks to remove the stitches -- but to keep him posted in between on progress.

The next week was a real challenge.  Miss Pookie wasn't at all happy about this interloper, whom I'd now named "Mr. Man" -- expanded to "Mr. Messy Man" as I watched him eat!  His tongue was not only swollen, it had an old wound -- a split -- that probably came from eating out of a can at some point.  He had trouble grooming himself, and confused his litter box and a 'nesting' box I'd set up for him.

It was a roller coaster experience, with the two cats sometimes tolerating each other, but more often than not, not doing so.  Cleaning up the widespread mess Mr. M. made when he ate -- and then watching that improve as he became re-hydrated and the swelling in his tongue went down.  He was a real lamb taking his liquid antibiotics, and letting me wipe his face after his meals (I had a face cloth just for him).

I slept poorly, sometimes with both on the bed with me, and sometimes worrying about Pookie, who spent more time than ever outdoors and seemed to be subsisting on air, as she was refusing her food.

And was over.  Wednesday this past week, Mr. Man collapsed after a warm sponge bath (I was cleaning his nether parts as he'd managed to mess 'em up).  It appeared he'd had a stroke.  Back to the Dear Vet, who took him into a heated kennel, and said he'd try to feed glucose and see if Mr. M. would revive.

I had to be away that evening, so followed up with a phone call the next morning...but Mr. Man was gone.  He'd tried to stand in the kennel the evening before, but collapsed again, bleeding from his nose, and quietly succumbed to whatever abuses and illnesses he'd experienced.

A bouquet of comfort
from my good friend, G.
It never ceases to amaze me how loving a creature even for a very short time can be such a risk -- for relationships always involve risk of loss, with attendant grief and pain.

But there's no way around it; we must love anyway.

Blessedly, the comfort of good friends and the need to return to my work has restored my equanimity (for now!)

Inspired by Scotland -- A collaboration
with Mary Wilton 
The evening Mr. Man left us, I was at the Artists' Reception for the Camrose Art Walk, with my friend and colleague, Mary Wilton.  The event was held where our work is showing -- the Jeanne & Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre -- which added extra excitement to the evening for us.

The attendance was not as great as expected, but the smoke from the fires in B.C. and Northern Alberta were having an impact on people's leaving home, as visibility was affected on the roadways, and breathing was a challenge for patrons with heart, lung and allergy issues.

Still, we met some very interesting folks -- and each of us ended the evening with two pieces sold!

I worked in The Shop on Thursday, and was in Sylvan Lake much of Friday, due in part to a meeting with a young woman in the Tourism area of the Town, working to establish an Artists' Co-op Gallery there.  She shared the concept with me, and gave me time to show her some of my work.  A very exciting prospect about which I expect to hear more in the fall.  Stay tuned!

Then Saturday -- back to work!  I'd been asked to replace the two sold pieces at the Art Walk, ASAP, please -- and so promised to do so by this coming Friday.  I called my framer, Andrea, and found out that she has enough moulding in stock to do at least one piece.  She'll also be able to get more moulding this week...and would get them framed so I could pick them up on a circuitous trip that will end up in Camrose on Friday afternoon.

I've never worked this quickly -- but by Saturday night I'd chosen my inspirational photos and had one 12" square canvas painted, and the background prepped for a 10" square piece.

This one has inspired the 12" x 12"...and is still under construction.

This one..."View from Eilean Donan"...

Has become this...

View frome Eilean Donan -  (c) 2018
10" x 10"
Wool, commercial fabric, paint.
Needle-felting, machine quilting, painted,
mounted on stretched canvas

So there you have it..."[the] time it was" in my life these past couple of weeks.  Probably pretty much like "[the] time it was" in your lives too, Gentle Readers -- ups and downs and sideways moves, love and loss, excitement mixed with anticipation and not a little joy.

I wish you fewer 'downs' and 'sideways moves' this next week or two -- and much more peace and joy.

Linking this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday..."see you" soon!