Friday, November 28, 2014

Snow Days

Yesterday was my usual day to work at The Shop.  Today I was supposed to fill in there for the other part-time gal.

Both days, I stayed home instead...because of the snow, blowing snow, drifting snow...and today the temps dropped into the mid-minus thirties Celsius.  Brrrrr!

With an hour "off" here and there to shovel the walks and driveway, I spent the past couple of days on these projects:

Baking for the Second Annual Open House & Tea
at the Mirror & District Museum, Sunday, Novembeer 30

Turning 'strings' into blocks for a quilt top

Prepping more strips and strings for quilt tops
Left & centre: for a string quilt; right: for the Postage Stamp Quilt

Working on Wild Sock #2 -- I'm on the heel flap now -- and adding inches to the "Martyn" infinity scarf.

And what's several feet of fresh powder snow without a bit of snow dyeing?

I quickly soaked a batch of miscellaneous pieces -- one large piece of silk and several bits and bobs of cotton muslin -- in soda ash.  Then I laid the pieces out in a criss-cross fashion on a rack in the bottom of a plastic tub:

I covered the lot to the brim with fresh snow, and sprinkled it with MX dye powder:

Half covered with turquoise; half, with Sky Blue;
then centre third sprinkled with Golden Yellow.
All dyes from Dharma.

The resulting pieces have been washed and are drying.  Photos to follow in another post...

The highlight of today, though, was the release of Clue #1 in Bonnie K. Hunter's 2014 Mystery Quilt, "Grand Illusion".  I'm aiming for half the size (so...44" square vs. 88" square) and am starting cautiously.

For example, the first clue calls for 280 half-square triangles (HSTs); I'm planning on 140 and have, to date, assembled 60. Of the 280, 200 are to be used to make 100 small blocks along with squares in two other colours.  I'm planning on 50 small blocks, which will take 100 HSTs...but will begin with 25 small blocks and 50 HSTs to see how far my fabric will take me.  Capisce?  ;-)

Here's the start of my HST construction.  I'm using fairly deep colour values for the 'geranium' and 'turquoise' -- all from stash.  I'm determined not to buy any fabric for this project!

And here's the first 60 of my HSTs in stacks of 20.  Don't they look pretty?  Order out of chaos!

At 2 1/2" square, they'll finish at 2" in the quilt

I found a stash of "Thangles" triangle paper that is speeding up the construction process; here's my bag of discarded foundation paper from the "Thangles" and from the string blocks, waiting to be recycled:

Don't you recycle your foundation paper?  ;-)

All in all it's been a rewarding couple of days.  On tap for this weekend: start on Christmas cards, sing at church, "pour out" at the Museum's Open House & Tea...

And MOB's First Anniversary is tomorrow.  There will be a special post on the MOB blog for the occasion.  Stay tuned!

Linking this up now with Nina Marie's Off-the-Wall Friday...and will follow that with a cuppa and a good book.  G'night all!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Shedding a Wee Tear...

Peter Robinson, Louise Penny and Deborah Crombie have big shoes to fill.

P.D. James, the marvellous author of so many mysteries, creator of Detective Inspector (later Superintendent) and poet, Adam Dalgliesh, died quietly this morning at her home in Oxford, England.  Though she was 94 -- a venerable age! -- she was one of those people one thinks will go on forever, purely because she was so beloved of cozy mystery readers. I've read all of them featuring Dalgliesh...and have her biography on my bookshelf in the 'to read' section...must now begin.

Read more in this article from The Guardian HERE.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In Production

This time of year there's never a dull moment around my sewdio.  As Joni would sing, "It's coming on Christmas; they're cutting down trees.  They're putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace..."

And me?  Not cutting any trees here, but fabric, yes.  As I mentioned in my last post, I've caught both the piecing and the clear-up-scraps "bug" and have been doing some of both lately -- sometimes even simultaneously!

The pieced greens I showed you have now been cut up and a portion inserted into my latest 15 x 15 piece for the theme "Roads", which will be revealed at month-end on the our 15 x 15 blog.  Stay tuned!

Having emptied one bag of crumbs into a basket and assembled a few into 3" squares, I tackled a large hanging container that's mostly strips, sorting them into two projects.  Wider, longer strips will be cut into 2" x 7" pieces for a postage stamp quilt based on this pattern and tutorial I found on "Red Pepper Quilts".  Call me crazy, but I've wanted to make one of these for a long time.  It also might take me a long time -- but so be it!  ;-)

Narrower strips in random lengths will join assorted scrap rectangles and squares and be pieced on 8" paper foundations -- a la Bonnie Hunter -- for the "Easy as 1,2,3" quilt I found in the Victoriana Quilt Designs free patterns section.

I'd cut a stack of 8" paper squares (from advertising/junk mail flyers), and they were just waiting for fabric, so I put one together.

8" x 8" of fun!

Turns out the middle section -- a row of flip-and-stitch squares that starts in the centre of the paper foundation and works its way outward -- is a bit of a pain to do.  Unless I'm missing something, it doesn't lead itself to chain piecing like the attachment of the longer strips -- edge to edge.  Thus I'm only going to create other blocks like this if I already have a piece that consists of sewn squares -- and I've found a few of them from earlier projects. I'll treat it as a "pieced string" and go from there.  Might even make more from my crumb collection.

The above projects are ongoing types that will be finished over time -- they've been keeping me out of trouble till BKH announces Clue #1 in the Grand Illusion Mystery.  ;-)  Neither are they meant for Christmas gifts.  On that front, I've been knitting madly, to wit:

Gina's infinity scarf is now about 74" long.  Only ten more inches to go.  I'm doing two 10-row pattern repeats almost every day so I'm looking at another week or so and it will be finished, ready to sew the ends together.  Pattern: Martyn from Berroco booklet #334. Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Tonal (now discontinued) in browns.  This is no surprise to my daughter; she's given it her stamp of approval -- so I can show the photo here.  :-)

Then there are gifts for Relatives Who Can't Be Named in order to keep the surprise:

One Wild Sock
ONLine Supersocke 4-fachNeon-Color
Colour #1724
First Fair Isle Anything (Cowl)
designed by Irene Ramalho
Left-over Katia 'Darling' colour #208
and Patons Kroy Socks - black
I've started the second Wild Sock and am approaching the heel.  The cowl needs to have its ends sewn in and then to be washed and blocked.  Another cowl is on the needles and another pair of socks is waiting in the wings...and a throw quilt is sandwiched and ready for quilting as a gift to my next-door neighbours who take such good care of me all year.

Thank goodness for "palate cleansers" like these projects, which rest and refresh my brain.  I'm gearing up for a new year of study and travel, including some pretty intense original work/sampling, so I'm more than delighted to spend December "playing" with Other People's Instructions.

And that's all the WIPs I have for this Wednesday.  I'm linking this up to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network -- and going out for a jog before the snow starts and the temps drop.

Happy Thanksgiving for tomorrow to my American readers...may you have a blessed time with family and friends.  I'm thankful you read my ramblings, and encourage me with your comments!

Till next time...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Channelling BKH

I enjoy the work of Bonnie K. Hunter.  I've made two of her mystery quilts -- "Orca Bay" and "Easy Street" (though both tops remain to be quilted -- they're huge) -- and am considering making this year's offering, though 1/2 size.

Lately, though, I've been watching her Quilt Cam episodes on YouTube while I work on my next 15 x 15 challenge quilt.  As I mentioned last week, the theme this go 'round is "Roads", and I decided my piece needed a pieced background foreground.  I had a pile of green scraps of assorted values and sizes, so decided to use them for this purpose.  I ended up with a fabric that's more than three times the size I needed, and only a partial dent in the scraps.

Assorted Assembled Greens

I also ended up with an urge to merge more scraps into blocks -- to finally tackle the sack of bits and bobs I'd saved over time to use as 'piggers' at the start and stop of my regular piecing. (I was told years ago that 'piggers' was what they were called; no idea why!)

Crumbs, that's what they are, really.  Crumbs.  I knew Bonnie had written something up about how to use these tiny fabric treasures; sure enough there's a page on her blog and a link on that page to even more crumby ideas from a gal named Barb Horte. (Forgive me; I couldn't help m'self there!)  

While I pondering how best to assemble my "Roads" design, I transferred the crumbs from the zip-lock bag to a handy basket and began to piece:

Basket of crumbs, sack of assorted triangles,
crumb blocks started and ready to trim 

True to Bonnie's piecing practice, I decided to go with 'whatever' cotton thread I could find in my stash, thus saving "the good stuff" (my Superior Threads collection) for Priority Piecing.  This is a wooden spool of 50-weight 100% cotton from Coats & Clark.  I filled a bobbin with it, and am using it top and bottom for as long as it lasts -- for crumbs only, you understand!

When the spool is empty, I'll save it to send to my friend Susan Lenz, who collects them for one of her magical installations, "Stitched Spools".  :-)

This morning, besides doing up some more crumb bits (I have assembled only 2 full blocks at 3 1/2" each thus far; the rest are coming along.)  I worked out more ideas for my "Roads" piece.  Still in a 'crumby' mood, I decided that instead of using a full slice of fusible web (Wonder Under) to attach a long narrow strip of foreground fabric, I'd dig into my WU scrap bag and use up guessed it!  Fusible web 'crumbs'.

Wonder Under bits on one edge of a fabric strip.

I keep these bits sealed in a zip-lock bag to keep the web "fresh" -- or at least to have it last as long as possible in this dry prairie climate.  Most of the time, I can find just the size I need and make it work; this is especially handy for my miniatures.

The "reveal" of the "Roads" theme is at the end of this month, and I'm on target to finish on time. Next up?  Sandwiching and quilting.

Meanwhile, I'm linking up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, where today she's wondering what's on our 'Creative Christmas' lists.  

Hmmmm....for me?  I'm all for NM's Item #5: a great creative book (or two or three).  I'm looking for gift cards for Chapters/Indigo (a Canadian 'Barnes & Noble' or 'Borders') and/or -- because there are some very creative books on my wish lists there, to wit:
And there's more...non-fiction, poetry, memoir...things I wouldn't just buy for myself but also wouldn't want to just borrow from the library. (I borrow fiction; I prefer to own the other.)

How would you answer Nina Marie's question?  ;-)  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Two Minutes to Remember

Wherever you are today,
What ever you are doing,
at 11:-00 a.m.
\in your time zone

For 2 minutes...
To remember.

It's a Pittance of Time.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

First Snow of the Year

Not counting the freak snow storm in Calgary in September, this weekend we've seen the First Snow...the one that has not only arrived, but also is ongoing as I type and is fixing to stay around.

I've decided that even if the winter ahead is as long and cold and snowy as the winter of 2013-2014, this time 'round I'm not going to let it get the best of me!

This year, I'm ready.  I've several coping methods up my sleeve(s); to wit --

  1. Lots to do in the sewdio -- Christmas knitting, my 15 x 15 challenge(s), some major family-and-friend commissions, and the chance I'll get to be one of the new students in Elizabeth Barton's Master Class.
  2. My second year as a SAQA Western Canada Co-Rep, with the objective of learning how to host an online webinar/conference sometime in March.
  3. And last but not least...

The Ideal Single Female Home-owner's Winter Work-out.

Optimum Conditions for the ISFHWW:  
  • Light, steady snow;
  • Little or no breeze;
  • Moderate winter temps -- -10 to -15 C at the coldest and little or no wind chill;
  • A layer of at least 6" of the white stuff, preferably powder.
  • Not just a deck or sidewalk that needs clearing, but also a driveway -- preferably double-wide.
Optimum Equipment for the ISFHWW:

Sturdy, light-weight shovel

Sturdy, warm boots
Warm, wind-proof jacket
Warm pants - even layered with tights
Warm hat - *must* cover ears
Optional: protective eye-wear

Protective gloves/mittens*
*My personal favourite: layering dollar-store gloves under cozy hand-made finger-less ones -- either hand knit or, like these, made from recycled cashmere sweaters.  I bought my pair at a recent "pop-up" market at Latitude 53 in Edmonton...Maker: Lynne Fortowsky of the Sashiko Studio.  Love 'em!

Best of all, when you've spent an hour or so outdoors shovelling, you can come in for a hot cup of Dark Roast...and some cozy stitching...

Shown here: finishing the binding on a Magic Tiles
quilt for baby Kieran James Rennie Ward

P.S.: For Inquiring Minds: these pieces are now finished:

See You in the Spring  (C) 2014

Tipsy Autumn (C) 2014

Five minis will be delivered to Gracie D's tomorrow.  Tell your friends!

Friday, November 07, 2014

A Day Late...

This week I missed posting to WIP Wednesday over at NTN because...well, I had WIPs on Wednesday but no time to post.

Did I mention I'm working at The Shop two days a week right now?  Have been since after Thanksgiving.  It's Prime Yarn-craft Weather and customers have been flocking to the store for yarn with which to knit and crochet gifts for Christmas and whatever other holidays they celebrate -- on top of newly-arrived babies and grand-babies, etc.

In quiet moments there I've been able to work on my own knitting...but there haven't been that many quiet moments!

The days are long -- I leave here around 8 a.m. (yes, it's still rather dark then) and don't get home till close to 7 p.m. (yes, it's dark again then)...which makes for a fulfilling but lo-o-ong day.  By the time I've sorted myself out and read/responded to correspondence and fed the cat (and sometimes, me)'s time for bed!

To keep Wednesdays and Fridays from feeling like 'catch-up' days, I'm trying to spend more (structured) time in the studio.  By Wednesday evening this week, here's what was going on:

  • First, a reprise of "Gone South" from this time last year.  Here it is with my "test mat".  I was checking to see if I'd stitched in enough wee branches.  I test my pieces several times while under construction; using the mat helps me see what needs to be added -- or not.  Another example of what was added in this case was some stitching across the bottom to give the impression of snow banks, even though in this piece the background is a very pale grey.

Having decided the branches looked right, I began to add tiny beads to represent the small "apples" that grow on this particular tree (it's in my back yard).  (Yes they are the same beads that are featured in "Winter Dinette".)

The shadow is caused by the position of the piece on my worktable (a keyboard shelf at my desk; I was watching a PBS program on computer while adding the beads).  :-)

Today I will finish adding the beads, trim the piece, put some stay-stitching around the edges and apply the mat.

  • Then I hope to start the stitching on this piece -- another WIP from Wednesday:

"Tipsy - Autumn" - WIP
The piece is based on a photo from another corner of my favourite field:

Until earlier this week, there were hay bales all over that field.  (Don't be confused; the bale is not larger than the building!  That's just the angle at which I took that photo, which I was taking not so much for the building but for the colours of the trees and grasses.)

That said, the presence of the bales has given me an idea for some of the stitching on the 'field' in the foreground of the piece.  :-)

Being reminded of the quilting design was a lesson I re-learned Monday and again Wednesday as I watched my former tutor, Linda Kemshall, on an episode of DMTV entitled "Art as Inspiration".  I watched it three times, I think, as I prepared for my next 15 x 15 piece on the theme, "Roads".  As usual, I have several ideas buzzing around in my head.  The DMTV episode helped me by reminding me of the steps I learned in my C&G -- inspirational photos/research; sketchbook notes and perhaps a drawing or two to get the colours and impressions in mind...etc.

Adhering to that lightly structured process is very freeing, really, because it slows me down, requires me to really look at my sources of inspiration, focus on the colours, lines and forms that appeal to me, which I can then extract for my quilt design.  It has a calming effect, serving to "unscramble" the ideas and thoughts crowding my brain.

The sorting-out thus far is both in my sketchbook and on my wall...

Mapping "Roads"

And the process continues... 

I'm now linking to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  The plan: stitch those beads to "Gone South II" while I sip a fresh cuppa coffee and read what others are up to.

Looks like EB is using a section of her Abstract Art for Quilt-makers class with the current Master Class Students.  Why don't you visit too...and see what's going on?  Happy Friday, everyone!