Saturday, May 25, 2024

Time Flies When You're Growing Slow

How can it be almost the end of May?  I was sure I'd posted earlier this month, but no!  My last post was April 27.  Ah well...My mother used to say that after someone turns 21, time evaporates.  She was right!

The last almost-four weeks have been...(pick one) interesting; challenging; quiet; busy; full; slow; unsettled; rewarding; lovely... 

My answer? ALL of the above! 😉😆 

To  update from my last post: 

  • I gave the mittens to my neighbour and he's thrilled. "Perfect fit!" he told me.  That does my knitter's heart 💔 good;
  • I've quilted and bound the Postage Stamp Quilt for my young friend T:

Close-up of the very utilitarian simple quilting


True to my style, the blocks don't always match up!

  • I started a new pair of Simple Ribbed Socks for this same young woman, in case the ones I made her not long ago went up in smoke.  The photo is just the cast on; I'm now 9" down the leg, with another inch to go before I start the heel flap.  Yes: 10" leg; 2" heel flap = 12" before I turn the heel and start the gusset/foot! And yes, there'll be a 9.75" foot (heel to toe).
Pattern: Simple Ribbed Socks
Designer: Angela Law
Yarn: (DEEP Stash) Sock-it-to-Me Harlequin
from elann.com


  • I also decided to start the vest I've promised my daugher for Xmas 2024/Birthday - January 2025: the "Presto Vesto" by Amy Gunderson, published in the Winter 2023 issue of the online Knitty.com magazine.  It's a beautiful lo-o-o-o-o-ng vest -- my daughter resembles the model in the pattern! -- and I've bought a $$$ of hand-dyed (in Watrous, Saskatchewan) yarn -- merino/nylon in (supposedly) superwash, sport-weight yarn for it.  So far, I've done the back ribbing (yes, a 1:1 twisted rib) and the multiple rows of Feather Cable pattern...and I've been challenged by switching to the Body Ribbing. I've also discovered that the way the text instructions are written, I may have made too many repeats of the Feather Cable pattern. Sigh. I've written the designer and hope to have it resolved soon.

Here's what it looks like so far. 




As I mentioned, the yarn is glorious (though a bit tricky to work with on those cables).  It's Midknit Cravings Yarn Co. Comfort Sport in the colour "Shiraz".  Yummy!


The colour of the fabric and thread isn't really showing well in the photo.  I stitched it on a pearl grey linen -- 28 count -- with a single strand of a lace-weight tencel yarn, hand-dyed, that I purchased at Olds College Fibre Week last year.  The yarn has a bit of a sheen to it and is prone to wear, so I had to use care when stitching.  I used a #24 tapestry needle, a bit larger than I usually use, to ensure smooth stitching.  The colour of the yarn is a tonal purple with grey-purple -- just lovely! 

  • I also finished that "Jacob Sleeper SAL" piece -- "Light a Single Candle" -- on which I was so close in my last post:


Again, the colour of the fabric isn't true in the photo -- it's a 28-count natural flax linen, using an unlabelled red cotton floss rescued from an old kit -- and a bit of DMC to finish.  

I confess that my single candle's flame is prone to wavering most days, and sometimes goes out altogether, leaving me cursing the darkness.  Sigh.  I've a ways to go in my Growing Slow journey!

In the stitch world, the Nashville Market was at the end of March.  Some 'floss-tuber' or other mentioned working on an item previously purchased from Market, to "may way for new purchases in 2024".   Given that I'd ordered 3 patterns from this year's offerings, I thought, "What a good idea!"

In 2023 I'd purchased Jeannette Douglas' reproduction sampler, "Ann Perrin 1841" from Traditional Stitches' Market offerings...so on March 1 this year, I started it, but set it aside for other work.  Once I finished "Peace" and "Light a Single Candle", I dug Ann out again and have worked very steadily on it for the last couple of weeks.  I've finished the first page -- the upper left section -- and am about to move into the upper right section, which is the second page of the pattern:


I'm working it on 36-count Vintage Country Mocha, using the called-for over-dyed flosses and DMC, one strand of floss over two fabric threads.  It's a lot of fun, even with all the colour changes in the alphabets, and I particularly love that pretty border!

Part of my "Grow Slow" practice has taken me away from floss-tubes that focus more on "haul" (acquisitions) than on the stitching itself.  Recently I came upon Sharon, the Every Day Stitcher, and discovered that we've not only stitched some of the same patterns, but that she's also a new knitter and wanna-be quilter.  In a recent episode, she discussed patterns she'd purchased that she wanted to start -- and pulled out this one: "Fred's Ewe-nifying Question" from Silver Creek Samplers.  Well!  I'd had that one for at least a year -- since I first saw it and fell in love with that sheep -- so I dug it out, and over last weekend, I worked on it exclusively:


I'm working it on 36-count "Wisteria" -- a pale blue linen -- from Lakeside Linens, using the called-for Weeks Dye Works and DMC flosses.  I'm about to get into some very dense stitching with the body of the sheep, and her amazing red "Fred Rogers" sweater.  It makes me smile just to think about it.

All of this activity has been done indoors, for the most part, as we've had a very chilly spring, punctuated with much appreciated rain.  There's a bit more in the forecast before this month ends -- and some southern parts of the province have even had snow!  I've only just managed to put out my bedding plants -- some deer-resistent verbena, and a couple of new perennials: a peony to replace a dead potentilla, and a pink to replace a dead flowering thyme.  I've also had to seriously prune my aging hardy roses, as the lack of snow this winter meant they've needed rejuvenating.

Last fall I planted a new addition to my south-facing perennial bed: two Allium bulbs -- and they've come up beautifully:



The photo was taken when they were just very young.  They're lush and in full leaf now -- and one is sporting a stem with a bud at the top.  I can hardly wait for it to open!

And the much-needed moisture has given my 'meadow' a full crop of dandelions, so the first batch of jam for the seaon has been made!



I used up all my supplies with that batch, so had to replenish my larder.  Later today I hope to pick enough for another batch -- and later, one more before the end of the season.

Sadly, though my meadow is full of blossoms, and my flowering ornamental trees are opening their blooms, there's not been much bee activity yet this year.  I hope everything will be humming soon!

So with a sunny day ahead of me, I'd best close this off and get some breakfast to fortify my for som "jammin'".  As usual, I'm linking to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday; this week she's waxing poetic with a quote from Seth Godin about the nature of art and artists.  I wish you all a safe, healthy, creative few weeks...A bientot!



Saturday, April 27, 2024

"Growing Slow"

 

That's the title of a book I got recently, through our library system.  It's full title is Growing Slow: Lessons on Un-hurrying Your Heart from an Accidental Farm Girl -- and it was published in 2021 by Zondervan Books.  It has a Christian approach to the subject, which may not suit everyone, but the main body of the work is speaking to me.

It's not the only thing, though.  

In Lacombe yesterday, I went to the opening day of the two-day Encore! Art Show and Sale -- the one for which I was Featured Artist last year.  My friend, painter Marlene Kallstrom-Barritt is in that spot this year, and was speaking at 2 p.m.; I wanted to catch her Artist's Talk.  She'd told me some months ago that she was asked to be the Featured Artist for 2024, she was in an artistic slump, but accepted the honour anyway and set to work re-energizing herself, taking time to simply play with paint and other media, to see what would come of it.  In her Talk, she spoke about the evolution of her work and how she came to try new things -- from looking quietly and closely to the little things around her, things we all see every day.

Before going to the Show, I'd stopped for groceries, and on my way out of the store, picked up a copy of this week's Lacombe Express.  Leafing through it later at home, I came to an editorial article by Kevin Sabo of Black Press Media.  The title? "Sometimes pushing forward means pulling back".  Using the analogy of a bow and arrow, he wrote that often pulling back creates energy to propel something -- or someone -- forward.  He'd had personal experience with burn-out from his early profession, and from 'workaholism', and knows whereof he writes.

Well, Gentle Readers, I don't know about you, but in my experience, when events or 'messages' come in threes, I tend to sit up and pay attention.

A couple of days after my last post, having requested Growing Slow from the library, I made two decisions: first, to not renew my SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) membership this year; and second, to take six weeks away from church.

Huh?  Church?  Yes.  I've been in that little parish for almost 16 years now.  I've seen one priest retire and another come -- but shared with another parish, meaning lay people having to take services twice a month.  I've seen the congregation broad-sided by illness, age, infirmity and a pandemic (including those leaving because the church was closed for "too long", and the requirements to return to worship in person were "too stringent").  

I've got three roles in the parish now: Lay Minister, Donations Secretary (tracking donations and preparing tax receipts) and...music.  We've two very-very-part-time musicians -- a pianist and an organist (haven't had a choir since before my time there).  One of those dear souls has moved farther from the location of the parish, meaning a longer drive to get to us, and the other has been off sick for six months -- and is only now able to return...but not sure when.

So...going to church has become, for me, a 'job'.  Showing up to worship on Sundays has become 'showing up to work' -- to facilitate music by plunking out a few bars on the piano (my abilties are very limited as I don't have a piano or keyboard any more, and I've never developed the skill required to accompany singing).  I do most of my leading with my voice, which, thankfully, hasn't been altered much by age (yet).

It all got to be just "too much of a muchness", as my mother used to say.

So...I'm about to have my second Sunday "off", at the end of my first week "off".  

And I'm already seeing a difference.  I'm feeling less 'wired'.  I'm feeling less call to 'numb' myself with a stiff drink (or two) before dinner (or any time).  I'm making what I want when I want.  I'm enjoying my yard and garden (when Mother Nature permits).  

And my skin is healing.  The rash is fading (with the added help of prescribed cream and lots of lotion).  It's still present but oh! So much less irritating and in some spots, less visible.

I've finished the mittens I started for my neighbour, who'd helped me with some home repairs:

Pattern: "The World's Simplest Mittens"
Designer: Tin Can Knits (on Ravelry)
Yarn: Schoeller & Stahl Limbo Mexiko
super-wash wool in the "Mango" colour-way

I put together my postage-stamp blocks to make a throw quilt for a newlywed couple of my acquaintance who lost their home last weekend in a fire (related, I think, to nearby wild-fires in northern Alberta, where that home was):


As for the "Four-patch Fun" blocks I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I now have 84 of them done:


And a whole lot of 2" squares ready to put into more blocks.  


I figure I'll need at least 100 to to make a large enough throw.  I'm not sure if I'll sash them or simply add borders.

Once that second top is done, I'll quilt them up and send them off to the couple, along with a couple of smaller, funkier quilts they can use for their two dogs, whom they managed to save from the fire.

The first border -- grey -- on my hap is deeper; only two more rows and I get to switch colours!

And as for my little piece from Modern Folk Embroidery, for the #JacobSleeperSAL -- well...it'll be finished later today:



That sentiment speaks to me too.  By deciding to pull back, to "grow slow", to take more naps, to resist FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) by following my own creative path and watching less of what other's are doing (or buying), stepping away from social media that would tempt me to push past the mental and physical exhaustion I've been feeling, taking more naps, listening to quiet music more than listening to the news...

I've decided to light my own single candle, rather than "curse the darkness".

So, Gentle Readers, if you've read this far, thank you for your patience, your support and  your continued readership.  As usual, I'm leaving you with a link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she asks the musical question, "What rotary cutter are you using now, and why?"  (Mine's a thirty-year-old Olfa that I simply love.)

And until we meet again, may you be safe, well, and walking comfortably along your own path.  A bientot!


Friday, April 19, 2024

Is it Spring Yet?

 In my last post, I reported that I had "Spring Startitis" and wanted to start all the things -- especially knitting.  I was soooo optimistic that Spring was just around the corner, but Mother Nature's been fickle in this part of  Canada.  We long for rain as we're in a drought here, but aside from an over-night drop of sleet and wet snow Tuesday night, we've had only empty skies and, especially in the last few days, cold, bitter winds that sucked up all the moisture and made fools of us for thinking the sunshine was warm.  Hah!

The dry air has wreaked havoc on my skin.  I've been struggling with an extensive bout of eczema that my doctor thinks is a combination of the drought and stress.  I'm slathering myself with unscented lotions, and have a prescription for a steroid cream to apply sparingly to the most seriously-irritated areas.

Sigh.

This has affected my mood, leaving me "dumpy, frumpy, and grumpy" -- the phrase I used to describe myself when I saw the doc earlier this week.  Otherwise I'm fine -- but if this continues beyond another month, I'm thinking I'll have to go back and see if he has any better ideas.

To add insult to injury, last week I had a major security threat on my laptop, and had to have Windows techs clean it up.  I ended up purchasing Symantec security soft-ware, having learning that an anti-virus program isn't enough protection from the nefarious souls out there with too much time on their hands, who spend their days dreaming up ways to complicate the lives of others.  Symantec was the company we used in the financial services offices in which I worked for over a decade, so I'm hoping the $$$ I spent on that will be worth it.  It's a 5-year plan, so over time, it really works out to be not that costly -- and MUCH better than an invasion of cyber-idiots.

Meanwhile, distraction is the name of the game!  I'm listening to an abundance of calming music available on YouTube (I can minimize the window and not watch the screen) and on the radio (classical on CBC), and have turned to my most repetitive activities: knitting and cross-stitch.

First, the stitching.  This week I had the satisfaction of finishing the piece I'm doing for my friends' 50th Wedding Anniversary, which is next month!

"Arabesque"
Designed by The Wishing Thorn

Beading close-up #1

Beading close-up #2

Beading close-up #3

Beading close-up #4

This is really a very small piece, as I stitched it on 36-count "Grey" from Weeks Dye works, using a combination of 1 strand over 2 threads and 2 strands over two.  That was really unintentional, but when I'd discovered I'd done so, I decided not to frog it and just work the pattern so that it was balanced.  My friends don't stitch; they won't care -- if they even notice!  (The flosses were the called-for DMC plus 1 Caron Waterlilies floss -- the variegated sections you see in the photos.)

As they live in another province, my plan is to lace the piece to acid-free mat board, and let them frame it to suit their decor.  I think it's beautifully exotic, and really hope they like it!

I've also made significant progress on my #JacobSleeperSAL ("Jacob Sleeper Stitch-ALong") piece.  The SAL was organized by Carmen of the "Cardamen Pins" YouTube podcast, to encourage those who love Jacob's Modern Folk Embroidery designs to stitch one of his lesser-known or earlier pieces.

As I mentioned in my last post, I selected a piece that was a free pattern -- a section from one of Jacob's annual SALs from a few years ago: "Light a Single Candle".  I've been using it as a weekend stitch, and am now approaching the bottom border:


The remaining word is 'darkness' -- and then there is a lovely border that echoes the one at the top.  I'm using a piece of unlabelled scrap linen and working 2 strands of floss over 2 of linen.  I began with some leftover unlabelled red cotton floss, and when it ran out, I found some DMC 815 that works perfectly.  I've just enough of that to finish the piece.  I could make it into a little pillow, but I think I'll find a small frame for it instead.

Discouraged about Spring's 'non-arrival', I've not done much on the "Buttercup Alphabet" piece from The Victoria Sampler; more on that when I get back to it.  Even though it suits the "Something Floral" (my #18 from WIPGO that was called for April), I've just not been inclined to work on it of late.

The other WIPGO number this month was 21 -- and for me that could be a plethora of things that are "under 50% complete".  I've focused on the hap I'm making for the Woolly Thistle's Shawl KAL (Knit ALong).  I finished the central piece and have moved on to the first part of the lace border:

Centre: Heirloom Fingering - Black Welsh
Mountain - Innisfail, Alberta
Border #1 - Gotland/BFL Lamb Fingering,
Riverside Farms, B.C.

Close-up of the first border colour

There are 93 rows (!) of lace border, which I've decided to divide up so I can use four colours.  In my last post, I'd shown you only three neutrals: the black, the grey and a natural cream...

BUT on April 6 I went with some friends to the Rose City Fibre Festival in Camrose, Alberta, and came home with another yarn from Riverside Farms: this time a glorious skein of North Country Cheviot/BFL, hand-dyed with cochineal!  Yum!


So now I have a plan to inject a pop of this colour between bands of the natural cream, which in turn will be banded by the grey, and -- I hope -- ended off by more black on the outer edge.

In other knitting, I've finished the first of two mittens for a neighbour (except the thumb), and have completed the ribbing of the second.  

Pattern: "The World's Simplest Mittens"
Designer: Tin Can Knits
Yarn: Schoeller & Stahl "Limbo Mexiko" in
colour #2586 - Mango


And I've finished two more chemo caps for my UK friend -- something a bit lighter to wear if needed, before the heat of summer arrives:

Pattern: "Eyelet Rolled Brim Hat"
Designer: JoAnne Turcotte, from 
Knitting for Peace 
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, colour #415 - "Rainbow"

Pattern: The Martine Hat
Designer: Lisa R. Myers
Yarn: Queensland Collection
Uluru 'Rainbow'
in colour #1010 -
"Waratah Bouquet"

They're packaged up and will be mailed off to her later this afternoon.  😊

There's been "Happy Mail" in the last few weeks too -- which adds to my supply of Delightful Distractions:

First, the two braids of spinning fibre I won last September in the "Summer Spin-in" from Two Ewes Fiber Adventures arrived at last!  (Sorry, no photos as of now, but as I spin it up...stay tuned.)  One is 100% Falkland; the other, 100% alpaca.  Both are hand-painted in shades of magenta through peach through light grey to dark grey.

I decided that I want to marl one of them and simply two-ply the other.  At the Rose City Fibre Festival I found a reasonably-priced package of natural off-white alpaca roving -- 100 grams -- so I'm set to give that a try through this year's Summer Spin-in:



Next, I received the goodies I bought for stitching, with some of my annual tax refund.  The first is a pattern, fabric and hand-dyed floss that I planned for when Jacob of Modern Folk Embroidery introduced "A Quilter's Dream" as a new pattern several months ago:

Pattern from Modern Folk Embroidery
Fabric: Roxy Floss - 40-count "Porcelain"
Floss: Roxy Floss "Pippy" (red) and
"Greater Porpoise" (blue-grey)

The second is the pattern, floss and hardware for a scissors holder that Jeannette Douglas has designed to be kitted with Roxy Floss.  Those of you who've followed me for a while may remember that I used to do office work for Jeannette when I lived in Calgary, and consider her a dear friend as well as one of my favourite designers.  For this project, she selected small motifs from a larger sampler reproduction.  When Caroline of Evertote showed this new kit on one of her floss-tubes, I fell head over heels.  I have a piece of fabric that's perfect for this tiny thing, too.  (NOTE: in the photo, the scissors displayed are my own; they don't come with the kit!)



The last bit of "Happy Mail" is adding to my 'Dreaming of Shetland' collection.  Some weeks back now, Misa Hay of Shetland Wool Week and Shetland Knitting Tours fame, offered back-issues of the Shetland Wool Week annuals at fifty percent off!!!  I decided to take a look, and see if -- after converting the British Pound to Canadian dollars and figuring in shipping -- I could afford one.  Yes!  That discount was large enough -- and the Brit's flat-rate shipping for certain items, like books, of a certain size and weight -- meant that I paid less overall than what the book at full price (before shipping) would have cost!


So...now I am savouring Wool Week Journal #3 with it's patterns, articles of the isles, history, geography, recipes and gorgeous photography.  

And...to add to that same collection, along with my friend Anne, I've registered for a class on knitting Shetland lace -- which will take up the day at the Prairie Fibre Festival down the road in Lacombe, in mid-September.

Ahhhhhh...

I've not done any quilt piecing for over a week, but now have well over 60 "Four Patch Fun" blocks finished, and another 3 prepped.  I also finished the April blocks for the Block-of-the-Month project from A Quilting Life:


As I think I've mentioned before, there are options for an 8" finished block and a 16" one.  I've chosen the 8" finished block -- but decided to make two per month.  I'm using up Thimbleberries fabrics, and have plenty of that background neutral, I'm sure, to get through the rest of the year.  The outer star border colour is currently dominated by red star points but that may change as time goes by.  These are fun, and require a certain accuracy which, despite 30 years of quilting, I still struggle with.  That said, this designer's patterns, like those of Bonnie Hunter, make my piecing look great! 😆

On the art front, my Artist's Talk at the "Craft and Care" exhibit in Red Deer's Viewpoint Gallery went very well; it was an enjoyable evening.  I began by talking a bit about my start as an art quilter, and showed four of my landscape pieces, made between 2012 and 2022 -- moving from "pretty" to "statement" work.  Of the three pieces I have in the exhibit, of particular interest to the viewers seemed to be my piece, "And It's Only June", a wholecloth done on raw tussah silk from MAIWA in Vancouver.  

The show comes down April 26th -- how the time has flown since it went up in mid-February...

April 26 and 27th are the dates, too, for this year's Lacombe Encore! Art Show and Sale.  I'll be taking it in as part of the viewing audience this year for the first time in over a decade.  

I confess...I've been thinking for some time now of just letting go of the original work -- or, at least, the pressure I've been feeling to keep trying to make original art work when my heart just isn't in it.

I've let go of my Quilting Arts magazine subscription, and will pick up an issue here or there only if I think there's enough in it to interest me.  I've finished my term on the SAQA committee on which I served for 3 years.  I've not found the SAQA Journal to be all that interesting (for me) for over a year now -- and this year's online SAQA Seminar (for members) held little fascination for me.  Ditto for the topics at the 2024 conference, which is currently going on -- also online, because it's being hosted by the UK, Europe and the Middle East Region.  I just felt my money would be better spent elsewhere.

Even the SAQA Members Only Facebook group is holding less of my interest.  Blessedly I am friends -- in person and across cyber-space -- with several of them, and I don't think that will end if I retire from the organization.  

I'll never stop making -- with fabric, fibre, floss, yarn, and in my yard and garden, where I'm "making" a meadow.   

The only thing that gives me pause, Gentle Readers, is the thought that after taking years to acknowledge that I was an artist, will 'retiring' from making original work mean that I no longer am?  Or -- worse to contemplate -- that I never really was?

That's a rather pitiful note on which to leave you, though, so cheer up!  I'm linking to Nina-Marie's wonderful Off the Wall Friday blog, where this week she reports on a "Sewing and Quilt Expo" she recently attended.  

Her post brings up thoughts of my trip to Red Deer in early May to see the Central Alberta Quilt Show, and later, in June to go to Quilt Canada, being held in Edmonton this year.  There I'll be taking in a lecture by Lucie Heins, a curator at the Royal Alberta Museum, and author of Alberta Quilters and Their Quilts, a beautiful history book that I purchased when it was first published (I might take mine and ask her to sign it!)

Those events are so full of colour and life, good ideas, new fabrics and notions, fabulous displays by those creative with fabric, thread and stitch -- and so rich with connections to friends old and new.

Maybe being an "artist" will be whatever I decide it is.

A bientot!



Saturday, March 30, 2024

Spring Startitis

 And some finishes...

March has long been considered a fickle month, weather-wise, and this year's no different!  I've had 2 or 3 days outside, spinning at my wheel in the sunshine -- and a whole lot of other days watching it snow while I pieced quilt blocks or knit or stitched.  And then there were sunny days too cold for sitting out -- but just right for shovelling said snow, or trying for a brisk walk on streets patched with ice.

Such fun, eh?!

At left: the latest bobbin of 2-ply "Mystery Mauve" from a batt I was given years ago. All of it's spun up now, thanks to those few days earlier this month, when I could spin outside, which is my preference.  There's still a teeny bit to ply up, but as you can see, this bobbin was full!  

That bobbin was one "finish" this month.  Another was a small Lizzie Kate cross-stitch piece that I've backed and will stuff as a wee pillow to go in my glass bowl of such things.  I need it nearby for frequent inspiration and reassurance:



I also finished the lo-o-o-ng ribbed socks I started a few weeks ago; they're going to my friend's daughter to wear under work boots as she treks around the farms she visits and around her mother's ranch:

Pattern: Simple Ribbed Socks 
Designer: Angela Law
Yarn: Estelle Yarns Highland Alpaca Fine in "Gold"

Yes, I could have knit them without a pattern, but as you can see from the length of leg and that of foot, I wanted some guidance as to size.  I was hemming and hawing about number of stitches, size of needle (2.75 mm in the end) etc. I think they turned out well; they're now washed and ready to wrap and put in the mail after this holiday weekend.

I managed to finish one of my WIPGO calls for March: the 7 days work on yet another Advent hap -- but still no photos, as it looks like scrambled eggs on the needles.  Suffice to say I moved from row 98 at the beginning of this month, and have now completed row 129.  There are 369 stitches on every row, so even though I've only 25 rows to go until I cast off, it's going to take a while.

As for the other WIPGO call -- to work on my oldest cross-stitch WIP -- alas...I didn't even make the attempt.  Too many other more interesting things going on to bother with a hem stitch/weave stitch I'm not keen on.  I'm not ready to ditch the sampler as a UFO; I just need to come up with an alternative motif for that space!

The Spring Startitis really kicked in about mid-month.  I've had some blood pressure issues (better now) and around that time developed some sort of dermatitis or eczema that's been making me very itchy.  The earliest I can see my doctor about it is April 17, so I'm living with it -- and need distraction!  (That's my story as to the Startitis, and I'm sticking to it!)

Summter Bower
On the stitching front, the above-mentioned Lizzie Kate stitch was a start and finish within days.  I also joined a SAL (Stitch-ALong) with Carmen of the Cardemen Pins floss-tube.  She's an avid fan of Jacob of Modern Folk Embroidery, and invited stitchers to pick one of Jacob's early designs, something that's not (yet) popular, and stitch it -- calling the project the "Jacob Sleeper SAL".  I love his designs and reproductions too, having finished "Here Be Dragons", as well as the delightful "Summer Bower". 

 And I'd made a start on a fairly new design -- his miniature "Vierlande" sampler entitled "Remember Me", even getting the Roxy Floss Co. hand-dyed floss in the 'Vierlande' colour-way.  In fact, I stitched on that yesterday for Good Friday:



For the "Sleeper SAL" I picked one of his little patterns that was actually part of a SAL a few years ago:  "Light a Single Candle".  I'm doing it on a little scrap of linen using some dark red floss -- unlabelled -- that I resurrected from a long-abandoned UFO kit, and I'm praying I have enough of that red to finish!



I'm doing  this as a Sunday Stitch.  However, with Spring in the air, and the new WIPGO numbers out, I had to dig out a "floral" -- it's my "#18" that was one of the numbers called for April.  Now, I have more than one stitch with flowers on it, and it's not April -- yet -- so I decided to start a new one to add to the mix!  (What?  Don't look at me that way! 😉  Don't tell me you've never done that...!! 😆)


This is "Buttercup Alphabet" by Cathy Jean at The Victoria Sampler.  I bought it -- with thread pack! -- at a retreat Thea Dueck gave back in October 2008, in her then-home in Victoria, B.C. -- and wondered why I'd never stitched it up.  I'm using a piece of 28-count "Toile a broder" from DMC -- a rather light-weight fabric, but it seemed to me to suit -- and I'm using 2 threads of floss over 2 of fabric.

With all that going on, rest assured I've not forgotten the Wedding Sampler I'm doing for my friends' 50th Anniversary in late May.  I'm about 2/3 finished -- coming down the right border.  The other three borders are finished and so is some of the text.

"Arabesque Wedding Sampler"
Designed by Birgit of The Wishing Thorn


I'm working it on 36-count "Grey" from Weeks Dye Works, using the called-for DMC and one silk from Caron Watercolors (the variegated thread you see there.  There's Kreinik "Old Gold" to come, as well as beads from Mill Hill...but those will be done last.

There've been knitting starts too. A couple are so new there not ready for photos yet.  I mean, who needs to see a photo of two rounds of 1:1 ribbing?!  😆  

First, a pair of mittens for my next-door neighbour, who helped me repair a collapsed shelf in my laundry room a few weeks ago (don't ask!)  When I asked how I could compensate him for his hard work, my neighbour asked for a new pair of mittens because the ones I'd made him a few years ago had worn through the fingertips.  He wears them under other mittens when he's shovelling/blowing snow or doing other sorts of work outside in the cold.   I'm using stash yarn -- a self-striper -- and the Tin Can Knits pattern, "The World's Simplest Mittens".  I've made these many times and they're just right. 

Next a couple of cotton-based chemo caps for my UK friend who's still having treatments for cancer, and will need something lighter than wool/cashmere to wear this spring.

And then...another hap, because, why not?  The Woolly Thistle -- an online yarn shop in New Hampshire -- is having its annual Shawl KAL.  They're purveyors of 'woolly wool', which I love, and of which I have quite a bit in my stash.  While I drool over the stuff TWT sells, I can't afford to buy it (exchange rate) and have it shipped here (exchange rate), and I don't need to -- when I can get some of the same brands locally, and others, besides.  For this KAL I'm going local -- as in Western Canada:


Top: Heritage Black Welsh Mountain Fingering
from the Alberta Yarn Project;
Centre: Gotland/BFL Lamb Fingering dyed 
with logwood, from Riverside Farm, Brisco, B.C.;
Bottom: Hill & Down Fingering from Kalea
the Luddite
, Edmonton, Alberta

The KAL began yesterday, so here's my wee start.  The pattern is a hap created by Julie Kabitsky for an Advent KAL in 2018, which I never joined at the time.  Better late than never! LOL!



Finally, on the quilting front -- no new artwork, though I am going to be giving a short Artist's Talk at the Viewpoint Gallery in Red Deer on April 5th.  

Piecing continues apace, though.  I finished the March Block of the Month (BOM) from A Quilting Life.  I'm using Thimbleberries fabric from deep stash, and I make two of the same each month, 8" finished, just using whatever takes my fancy from that fabric collection.  They all have the same background fabric (I have scads of it!) and all have that same outer border, though not necessarily with the same contrast fabric:


And I'm working in earnest to create about 100 "Four Patch Fun" blocks from Bonnie Hunter's 'Addicted to Scraps' column of a couple of months back.  I'll need that many because I've trimmed them to 6", so they'll finish at 5 1/2" in the quilt.  The photo below was taken a few days ago, when I'd completed 34 blocks; I'm up to 51 blocks now, and more prepped!


I clip them in batches of 10 to make them easier to count!

While some may "match", in reality they're a very scrappy bunch indeed.  No idea how I'll set them yet.

And as "leaders and enders" I've been working on two other projects: assembling four-patches for one of Bonnie's "Easy Breezy" quilts, and assembling rows of postage-stamp blocks -- five per row -- with which I hope to make a set of curtains for the west-facing window in my living room.  I've got 12 rows of five blocks each assembled, and blocks for at least two more rows.  

I figure if I just keep my hands busy, it'll take my mind off my physical challenges.  I'm thankful too, that I'm still mobile and relatively healthy -- and hopefully will find out soon what to do about this dermatitis!  The best way to scratch this itch is to keep my fingers and my mind otherwise occupied!

And so...it's time for a walk in the brisk, breezy sunshine.  I'll leave you with the usual link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  She's been exploring improv piecing and having great fun with it!  

Thanks for stopping by, Gentle Readers -- and blessings for Easter to all who observe.  Until next time... a bientot!





Friday, March 08, 2024

Marching Right Along...

 Since my last post, I do confess, I've been more contented and less disappointed -- and that's a blessing!

Some of that has to do with sunnier weather -- despite another couple of snowstorms and days of bitter cold.  The sunshine lifts my spirits, while the stormy days give me time to do what I love to do indoors, broken up only by shovelling work-outs.

The good news weather-wise is that -- at last! -- it's warming up, so that I can resume my regular afternoon walks. The county has ploughed the streets and sidewalks of our wee hamlet, so I can march along (ahem!) at a good pace, too.

And when I'm inside, well -- the stitching and quilting continues!

This week I sent another three quilt tops and two more hand-knit hats off to A. in Leduc, who tells me that now that the Ukrainian refugees have arrived, the volunteer quilter is busy quilting, and assorted other household items are being gathered and distributed.  

In addition to the "Scrappy Starburst" top and the "Scrap Happy Stars" top I posted about earlier, I finished the string pinwheel top and added it to the package:

Shown 1/2-size - folded on the ironing board!

It measures about 57" square.

And I included the two hats I was still working on at the end of February:

"LOSY" (Left-Over Sock Yarn) hat
Designer: Barb Engelking

"Mash-It-Up" hat 
Designer: Babs Ausherman

Of the two, the "Mash-it-Up" was more fun for me, and I think I'll make more of them -- maybe even one for myself! 😉

When the WIPGO numbers for March were called, I got these "picks" to work on: first, my "oldest cross-stitch WIP"; and second, "something that's more than 50% finished" (knit or stitch).   

Aside from my full coverage piece -- the cats in paper bags, which I worked on in January -- I have one that's at least as old: "Benjamin's Sampler" from "Simply Stephie":


The copyright date on it is 1994 (!) and it had an original selling price of $7.00 (!).  It's a hand-written chart, and the instructions are rather "mixed" as to clarity.  The stickers on the plastic envelope in which I've kept it shows that I bought it several years later -- for $1.00 (!) from The Purple Needle, an LYS in Calgary, back when it was closing its doors.  I finished quite a lot of it before I set it aside -- completing the text except for the back-stitching of the letters.

But there are gaps in the work, and those gaps were the clue as to why I stopped working on it, for that's where the "Re-weaving" and "hemstitch" sections are.  I did the first one right at the top (under the row of fish), but after that...nothing.  

As far as WIPGO goes, I've yet to do anything more on it.  I'm undecided.  Part of me wants to finish everything that's not cut work and then go back to see if I can do it -- risking ruining the entire piece if I screw it up -- and part of me wants to forge ahead and take the risk now.  

Whaddya think, Gentle Readers?  What would you do?

Blessedly, I've another cross-stitch project to take my mind off "Benjamin's Sampler" -- and that's the "Arabesque Wedding Sampler" from the Wishing Thorn.  Yes, it's a new start -- but it's the project for which I'd ordered the thread that took several weeks to arrive.  Seeing as it's for the 50th wedding anniversary of some dear friends -- which is May 24 -- I've got to make it my focus for the time being.  "Benjamin" has waited at least 20 years; he can wait a bit longer to be finished!

I started "Arabesque" on Feb. 27 and here's where I am as of last evening:


I'm working it on 36-count "Grey" (formerly "Confederate Grey") from Weeks Dye Works, using the called-for DMC plus 1 silk -- the variegated thread in the motif on the left and some of the border above -- Caron "Waterlilies" in colour #077, "Royal Jewels" (the thread that took so long to come in).  It's a tiny piece -- I'm stitching it with 1 strand of floss over 2 fabric threads -- but it's dense and a bit complex.  There will be beads and Kreinik Very Fine Braid #4 in antique gold -- I'll add those after the main stitching is finished.  I'm loving every stitch, and not missing "Benjamin" one little bit! LOL!

As for "something that's 50% or more finished" -- for that I've resumed a knitting WIP, a little "advent" shawl designed in 2019, which I started in November 2021.  Alas, I've taken no progress photos -- but it's a 154-row pattern and I've now finished row 110, so I'm about 2/3 of the way along.  I'm making it from a set of six minis that I was given as a gift for Xmas 2019.  In the photo you can see my wee start, back in 2021.


It's a pretty simple knit, so I do a few rows here and there, but my main focus is another pair of socks, promised to a friend last fall -- for her daughter (a gift, not a commission).  The young woman who'll get these works in agriculture, both ranching with her mom and doing some sort of ranch/farming inspection work, so when I made her mom a pair of wool/alpaca blend socks, I promised I'd make her daughter a pair too.  These ones are simple ribbed socks, out of the same yarn but in an 'old gold' colour-way:

Yarn: Estelle Yarns Highland Alpaca Fine

A lovely, simple, mindless knit that's completely relaxing!

That's pretty much how life's been rolling along these days, at least in my little corner of the world.  Given all the turmoil swirling Out There in the Wild, I'm thankful to have creative routines to keep me from being overwhelmed with things I can't control.

So I'll close off this post with my usual link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she's talking about Organizing Your Studio...and the use of peg-boards to do so.  I 💕 peg-boards and have three small ones in my studio -- one for my embroidery floss and hoops, one for my knitting needles and one for assorted other supplies. In her post, Nina-Marie shows the results of some of her research into studio organization -- and how peg-boards enables small spaces to be used more effectively.

Studio re-org can be a chore -- but it can also be energizing, so I hope you find something in her post that will boost your spirits and give you ideas to use in your own space.

Till next time, Gentle Readers, thanks for stopping by.  A bientot!