Friday, April 19, 2019

Blessings for Passover...and Happy Easter

Tonight is the first night of Passover...
Today is Good Friday. This is the sweet-sour juxtaposition of the intimate worship practiced by Jesus of Nazareth -- a Jew -- and his people. It's the intersection of His Last Seder Supper with his closest followers...and the remembrance by all of them of their history, their liberation from their Egyptian captors and their entrance into the desert...*long before* they reached their Promised Land.
I am a Christian. My late DH was a Jew who believed he met the Messiah when he encountered Jesus. This will forever create a tension in the wider family to which we belong...but the beauty, the loveliness of all of this is...the Man on the Cross all those centuries ago was the One who tried to unite us, who tried to make us see that we are all of a piece. We are all in love with the Creator, the One God who made us. And that God's essential commandments are:
"The LORD your God, the LORD is ONE; and you shall love your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength -- AND your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang ALL the Law and the [teaching of] the Prophets."
Blessings for Pesach to my Jewish friends and family; I love you as I love myself.
Blessings to my Christian friends and family: I love you as I love myself.
Thanks be to God!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

MORE from the Sewdio

The 20th Annual Lacombe Art Show and Sale is less than 2 weeks away now.  With the Bursary applications I was working on (see my last post) completed, packed up and sent back to the Educational Foundation last Monday, I was able to get back to show prep...and other things (READ: yard work).

It's about time -- as the wind howls outside and the rain comes down in fits and starts -- that I shared with you more of what I've been doing to get ready for this show, and other studio news.

Before the Crowds (C) 2019
In my last "studio post", I'd finished "Before the Crowds" and submitted it for consideration by the Grand National jury.  The deadline for entries was now I wait.  It needs its sleeve nonetheless, and that will happen this week, because if it isn't accepted at GN, it will go with me to the Lacombe Art Show/Sale.

Since then...several pieces have been finished -- mainly mounted on canvas -- and most have been framed.  I have three that are being framed now, and that will be the end of it for the time being. 

So let me start from the top!

The problem is, it's a bit of a blur!  I've just been making and making...

A couple of Sundays ago I got a chance for my favourite walk around Cranna Lake in Lacombe, and shot some tree photos, like these:

Yes, this one's been cropped!  😉

I just love these "March Trees" with their bits of berries and detritus, and all the layering, so I decided to do a series.

The top photo served as inspiration for mono-printing:

NOTE: the front piece wasn't mono-printed, but if you look closely you can see trees drawn on the surface.  It becomes something else, so read on! 

I ended up with two pieces, one of which became a new "mini", mono-printed and beaded:

March Trees II (C) 2019

Another one became a piece that was faced and beaded and mounted on painted stretched canvas...and is now in for framing (stay tuned for a photo sometime after Easter).

And then there's that photo of a myriad of trees over-looking the lake (scroll up).  This one is now finished and at the framer's...but here are some of the steps I took to creating it:

1. Quilted the sky; 2. needle-felted the grey "trees on the far
shore"; 3. layered those "trees" with "grass" on the shore:
4. attached both to the background.

Auditioning the evergreen branches on the tree trunks.

Auditioning and positioning deciduous tree trunks
over and around the evergreens.

Message from my Pfaff Performance 2.0:
"Take a break, would ya? I'm working too hard!!" 😄

Sorry; you'll have to wait for the final photo -- this is one piece that's over at the framer's and might not be finished till a couple of days before the show!  It's mounted on 12" square stretched canvas...just to let you know the size.  Title: March Trees I.  

And yes, there is a "March Trees III", resembling the mini (above) but larger and mounted on painted stretched canvas (it's also 12" x 12").  It too is in for framing.  Stay tuned!

Continuing in the 'tree' theme, in the process of making sleeves for a couple of soft pieces (In the Bleak Mid-winter and Content of Our Waiting, now finished), I came across a piece of fabric on which I'd made marks in a short workshop with Susan Purney Mark at the SAQA Western Canada Regional Retreat a couple of years ago.  I hadn't filed it with my 'samples' because I knew that eventually I'd want to make it into something, and this week it became another new 'mini':

Night Woods (C) 2019

And remember that piece of sky and foreground with trees drawn on the surface (scroll up)? became a mini too...

Rear Guard (C) 2019
Yes, that mat is not my "usual".  It was one I got on sale from a shop that's now closed. It has a "faux suede" surface and I've been waiting a good 3 years till I found a piece it suited!  This piece is based on a memory I have of a trio of grain bins set against a tree line that I drove past on my way to work in late winter/early spring this year.  Slices of blue in the sky amid the clouds, and snow still on the ground.  I had to hold on to the memory until I could sketch it out in my sketch book as I had no camera handy and I was driving!

The New Directions series has continued.  This is New Directions 2, mounted on canvas but of a size that it won't be framed -- just wired for hanging.

New Directions 4 and 5 have been framed but -- sorry, no photos as of this writing.  Clearly they got lost in the shuffle!  😉

Remember "Blue Pot"?  It was a piece I made for an Alberta Society of Artists fundraiser last fall.  Well...I've followed it with the smaller "Red Pot", based on a photo of lobelia I've managed to over-winter in my sunny back room...

Inspirational photo

Before framing - mounted on painted artist's panel

Red Pot (C) 2019 - 8" x 8", framed

Red Pot - detail

I certainly hope some of these sell at the Lacombe Art Show/Sale, because pieces are starting to pile up!

Blessedly I was able to take six (count 'em!) older pieces -- in a 'rural' theme -- over to sell on consignment at a new shop that opens next week at the nearby Village of Alix.  I went over there on Friday morning to mount them, with Carrie, the owner's, help.  Her laser level is amazing!

Here they are, on two different walls:

Left to right: One Step Ahead of the Gulls, Rural Rhythms

Clockwise from top: The Old Corral, Uphill to Mirror,
Canola, Waiting for the Train

This second one is on a narrow hallway without a way to take a really good photo, but you get the idea.  Carrie loves them and is sure they'll be a hit.  She's a bit more optimistic than I am here in Bed Quilt Central! -- but at least I've got them out and into the world, so I need to remain hopeful.  I certainly appreciate her support!

And now, my friends...that's it.  You're all caught up except for a few photos!  The knitting and spinning continue, as I'm determined to spin up roving that's been around for far too long.  I'm determined to finish a shawl and a wrap before I begin my "Summer of Socks".  And there's a bedroom wall to paint and an old trunk to refurbish as a planter this

Onward and upward!  Linking this to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Friday", and thinking perhaps a retreat like the one she just enjoyed wouldn't be a bad idea!  😉

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Eye Opener

In 2004, our family endowed a pair of bursaries to graduating students at my former high school.  A point system was developed, and has been refined over time. 

The applicant is allowed 10 points for each of the following: his/her personal application letter; two letters of reference (one from an educator and one from outside the school, but not from family); and his/her high school record (marks).  This makes 30 points. 

An additional maximum of 20 points is given based on a financial needs assessment.  This was created so that the applicants could develop an awareness of the cost of post-secondary education, as well as to determine need -- so that students weren't just being assessed on the basis of scholarship.

 I believe that a post-secondary education is not found in universities alone, but also in various trade and vocational programs, and so students with talents and goals in these areas of endeavour should be given an opportunity to go to school -- and financial need shouldn't be a barrier.

Since that time, I've been honoured to be part of the committee to assess the applications submitted each spring.  The bursaries amount to two prizes of $500 per year, one given to a male and one to a female.  Every five or six years, I fly home (i.e. back to where I grew up in Eastern Canada) to give out these prizes in person.

For years it was like pulling teeth to get boys to apply.  One year the application review time line was shortened considerably, simply in order to get some boys to answer the call -- because, you see, if no boys applied, the money wouldn't be given to a girl -- nor would the selected girl get double funding.  The funds would just go back into the endowment investments till the following year.

This year I have 64 applications to review -- 35 from girls and a whopping 29 from boys: the greatest number of male applicants I've seen in the history of the program! Wow!

I try to review each application twice -- and as of this morning, I finished my first 'fly-over' of the boys' applications.

Again: WOW! 

Very few of these applicants, this year, are aiming for university.  One wants to be an engineer, and two, teachers.  There are several who want training to be light-body (i.e. cars, trucks) mechanics.  One wants to be a chef.  Two want to become carpenters.  Some want to develop skills and knowledge in computers and digital technology and/or graphic arts -- and two or three want to be entrepreneurs with training in business and marketing.  Two want to be police officers, and one wants to be trained in Border Patrol.

In addition to the crop of trades and vocations that dominate these applications, there are some very interesting stories.  Several boys live in single-parent families, whether due to death or divorce.  This is becoming more common each year, but this year, at least two applicants mentioned that their mothers had also gone back to school for opportunities to make a better living and accomplish something long desired.

Then there are the other challenges faced by these students.  There are learning disabilities, physical injuries overcome, a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, and heartbreak at abandonment by a father "who cares for no one but himself" -- this last written as a footnote to his Financial Assessment, by a boy who, as reported by one of his references, has regularly helped her in her home to do the things her multiple sclerosis prevents her from doing. 

Why am I telling you all this, Gentle Readers? 

Because after yet another Winter of Discontent, with continued corruption and strife in political leadership, with concerns about climate change, with natural disasters of the like not witnessed before, with terrorism and bouts of violence still cropping up to jar and shatter innocents around the just might want to fling up one's hands in despair.

But these applicants -- these young men who've stepped out with faith and courage to actually express themselves on paper and assess in their hearts and minds what they'd like to do to move forward in life -- these young men have opened my eyes to HOPE once more.

I know full well that their futures will not be all milk and honey, all smooth sailing -- but they're setting their faces like flint towards what lies ahead, and for that I applaud them, and thank them, for as Max Ehrmann opined in his Desiderata...

"...with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."  

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring Greens!

Today's the First Day of Spring -- so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o long awaited -- and Mother Nature has obliged us here with a clear blue sky, lots of sunshine and temps so warm I had to switch up to a lighter jacket, remove a sweatshirt and change from a toque to a cap for my afternoon jog-walk.  Whoa!  Who'd'a thunk it?!

I'm feeling so chipper and cheerful (after a couple of tough weeks) that I'm even posting on a Wednesday -- and will be linking up to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network for the first time in ages. Wonder if anyone there will remember me?!  😉

While I write, my bread maker is cheerfully churning up a loaf of multi-grain bread for me to take to church Sunday for the weekly Lenten Lunch.  It's soup (usually 3 varieties), bread and/or buns, and the usual coffee, tea or juice...all for a free-will donation.  Tired of trying to figure out the best way to schlep soup 43 km. over a country highway into town, I've opted to contribute bread the past few years and it works a treat. 😊

Meanwhile...what's been under the needle?

The plan for today was to stitch down the background for a small art piece and photograph and enter an up-coming art show -- Canada's "Grand National".

But first...

There was a call out from Helen at Angels in Gumboots in New Zealand quilters for quilt blocks -- with the goal of making (at least) 50 quilts to honour those who died as a result of the mosque massacres there last weekend. 

There are two types of 6 1/2" unfinished blocks -- hearts on white backgrounds -- being requested.  One features green hearts on white; the other, hearts in other colours on white.  I made 1/2 dozen green-on-white and put them in the mail this morning...

Heart blocks started, prepped

Heart blocks - 6 1/2" unfinished and ready to mail!

From there I went into "show entry mode". This was the planned "destination" for that beach-with-picnic table I've been working on.

It took me some time (over an hour!) to get just the right photos I wanted for this Grand National entry.  The piece isn't huge but it took quite a bit of work -- dyeing and then over-layering the sky to get the right blue, and hand-stitching the grass in the foreground.  In the end I sent in these two photos, with hopes that they'll be just right:

Before the Crowds (c) 2019
27" W x 16.5" L
Materials: self-dyed and painted synthetic fabric,
commercial cottons, hand-dyed cotton embroidery floss
Techniques: fused layers, machine quilting, hand-stitching

Before the Crowds - Detail

I had trouble getting my photo program to save the photos in the size the entry required (max 2500 pixels on the longest side) and still come up with a file size between 2 and 4 MB. Mine ended up with the right pixels but a smaller file size, so I advised the curator of that and told her if she wanted the originals she could have those too -- but that they were larger as to number of pixels. 

All this trouble was caused by a recent Windows update such that my favourite -- ancient -- Canon photo program ("ZoomBrowser EX", not supported by Canon for years) has finally stopped being compatible with my PC and had to be retired.  The "newer" program ("ImageBrowser EX") that came with my camera -- a program I've never liked -- isn't as user-friendly, and now...well, I'm coping!

It will be what it will be.  If it's not accepted and I find out about that before the Lacombe Art Show and Sale, well -- I'll just have one more piece to hang in the show!'s time to relax a bit with some knitting and a touch of my new favourite YouTube video-cast, Last Homely House East of the Sea with Kate Jackson.  She's funny, prolific with knitting, spinning, quilting, gardening, preserving and enjoying her hens, goose and cats...and she shares her life online, which delights me no end.

Linking up, as I said, with WIP Wednesday...and see you later.

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Stitch, Stitch, Stitch...and Some News

In last week's post, I showed you the start of a new landscape, concerned about creating the table as shown in this photo:

This was a fussy bit of work that took a couple of hours.  First I traced the table onto tracing paper; then I put it in my scanner/copier and doubled its size.  Next, I traced it onto a piece of laminate off-cut, so I could turn it to the reverse and trace that onto Wonder Under fusible web.  I didn't do that last tracing as a whole table; rather, I traced it in bits and pieces, because I needed to have some of the fabric show the "sunny side" of the table and the rest, the "shadow side".

Once I cut out all the pieces, I "fused" them onto a Teflon pressing sheet so I could assemble the table as a unit before pressing it onto the landscape itself.

Once it was on the landscape, it looked like this:

If you look closely, you'll see that since my last post, I also added some texture to the sand and grass using machine stitching and a narrow slice of cheese cloth (at the water's edge).  Some grey needs to be added to that cheese cloth but first...

Hand-stitching on the grass for more texture:

The bit in the photo above was only the start of the stitch.  As of this writing I'm now about 1/2-way across the grassy section, covering it with seed stitch in a hand-dyed 3-strand embroidery floss (JP 8 - "Spring Leaves") from Valdani that I confess I've had for so long, I no longer remember where I got it!  I'm very pleased with the effect, as well as with the table and the machine stitching I did to accent it:'s coming along, and I'm aiming to have it finished well ahead of the entry deadline for which I'm aiming: April 24.

I'd better have it finished well before that date -- because (and this is the news) once again I've been juried into the Lacombe Art Show & Sale!  Whoo hoo! 

This news also means I have a chance of recouping some of the costs of framing that I just picked up.  😉  And don't these look lovely in their frames?

Fire Moon  (c) 2018

She Thought He Hung the Moon - (c) 2019

Where do I Go from Here? - (c) 2019

As I picked these up, I dropped off two from the "New Directions" series that I showed in my last post.  There'll be at least two more to frame before the Art Show begins.  Maybe more, if I can get that stitching done!

All of this is keeping me sane, in the wake of the deaths of two special people in my life: one of my late husband's cousins in California, and a fellow with whom I sang at church, who died of Type 1 Diabetes -- a cause which most of you by now know is very close to my heart.  The two of us who sang while Dwight picked his guitar so beautifully, will be leading the music worship at his funeral on Friday.

Studio work, beautifully soothing YouTube broadcasts from Kate at Last Homely House East of the Sea, hand-stitch, knitting and long, quiet walks (now that we have both sunshine and above 0 C temps)...all of these bring comfort and balance to my days.

As does Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday to which I'm linking -- belatedly yet again! 

Wishing you all a lovely week...and leaving you with this sneak peek at this year's Art Show, with featured artist, Donna Spencer.  (note: she is special to me not just because I simply love her work, but also because she's the one who bought "Sometimes You Can Walk on Water" for her daughter  AND because she's done another simply wonderful and lovely thing for me:

She suggested to the Lacombe Arts folks that I be asked to be Feature Artist in 2020!!  Well...they took her up on it, and I said "Yes!" (when I found my voice).  So...the next year brings many good things from that blessing, and I am deeply grateful to Donna, Maureen and all the Lacombe Arts community for this honour.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Because It's Been Long Enough

I confess, Gentle Readers, that I've thought almost weekly about posting, but have, instead, used the time for MORE studio work -- and other things. 

So this post will be a bit of a catch up, with lots of photos.  I hope you enjoy it!

The Finishing Frenzy continues -- especially on the knitting front:

In February, I finished this jacket which, my having made it much shorter than the pattern -- due partly to my short stature and partly to insufficient yarn -- is really more of a long shrug:

Pattern: "Round Trip" (Medium Weight Yarn)
Designer: Kay Dahlquist
Yarn: NORO Silk Garden 

And here's the back...
The fact that I was working out of Knitter's Magazine, #72 from the Fall of 2003 should tell you something -- but I'm not sure what!  When I'd picked it up again, it needed only 2" more and then the cuff of the second sleeve!  It's knit in one piece and has no sewing -- except the ends -- so why it took me 16 years (give or take) to finish is anyone's guess!  Still, it fits, and will make a lovely spring jacket. My favourite colours, too!

At the same time, my "purse knitting" (also known as 'what to knit while waiting at the train crossing') was finished:

(Yet Another) Multi-directional Diagonal Scarf
Designer: Karen Baumer (free pattern on Ravelry)
Yarn: Schoeller + Stahl "Limbo Mexiko Color" #2591
It's gone to the charity tree at church, and will likely be followed in a few months by at least one more, as I have another 2 balls of this yarn in a slightly different colour-way.

My new "Purse Project" is a pair of lined mittens -- a commission from a friend from church who's worn major holes in the ones her late mother made her, because she wears them over sturdy gloves when she walks her dog!  I've had to use the mittens as a model, and in conjunction with "The World's Simplest Mittens" from Tin Can Knits, I'm doing a new pair in the grey Berroco Vintage DK yarn she chose (colour: #2107 - "Cracked Pepper").  I just cast on, on Saturday, and it's a 3" cuff to start...

Figuring out size based on the "model"

On the quilting front, the "Spectacle Quilt" is on it's way to Baby Emory back East now. Here's a photo of it, post-laundering -- just a section.  It finished at about 54" square.  Used up a batch of charm squares, some left-over backing fabric as the white background, and other left-overs for zinger and border:

You Are My Sunshine
Made for Baby Emory McGuire 

As for UFOs...I've plumbed the depths of a Quilt As You Go (QAYG) project I began when I lived in Calgary.  From the documents and pattern, I took it at the now-closed Freckles Quilt Shoppe in the winter of 2006 - 2007.  It's called "Bali Sunrise"; when I opened the box in which I'd stored it, I found the mother lode of fabulous batiks -- strips and backing squares cut, metres of uncut fabric, a bit of batting, and a dozen 6 1/2" squares done.  The pattern calls for 120!  Whether or not I'll get there is anyone's guess, but by the end of Friday afternoon, I'd prepped the backing/batting for another 20, and finished six!

Strips ready, finished blocks and prepped blocks

Now that I have 18 of these, I could put them up on my design wall,'s preoccupied with this:

Say what?  I'ts a quilted sky/horizon/lake, with a bit of beach and beach grass in the foreground.  The sky is two layers: a light gauzy fabric I dyed turquoise (too turquoise), over which I fused a sheer fabric I painted a sky blue.  The effect is great movement, and just the right colour.  The horizon is a very thin slice of fabric left over when I dyed the sky for "Sometimes You Can Walk on Water".  The foreground fabrics are commercial ones, which after being attached to the background, will be thread painted, and then...there'll be an addition that -- if I can get it right -- will make the scene:

Table on the beach at Rochon Sands Provincial Park

I'm making it with hopes of entering it into a major Canadian competition (the one that turned down "Sometimes You Can Walk...")...but it remains to be seen.  That table has to be right...or the entire thing will flop!  Quilt design prayers appreciated!  😉

What else have I been up to?

Though I've yet to finish "New Directions 2", I have finished 4 and 5 in the series.  I've mounted them on painted stretched canvas and plan to put them in floater frames.  The buff material you see behind them in the photos is carpet -- I photographed them from above on my living room floor!

New Directions 4
Canvas: 11" x 14"
Materials: commercial cotton, hand-made
paper, blotted recycled book page,
hand-made button

ND 4 - Detail

New Directions 5
Canvas: 9" x 12"
Materials: commercial silk blend fabric,
commercial cotton, painted hand-made paper,
painted tea bag paper, glass beads

ND 5 - Detail

These are rather fun to do -- who knows how many more reside in my brain?  The plus is that they're helping me use materials I wouldn't put in landscapes!

Speaking of which, I am still enjoying the occasional cup of tea.  I've discovered a new version of Tetley's black tea -- called "BOLD" -- which I really like.  If you're not careful, the cup you brew can look like coffee -- it's that dark!

Anyway, I amassed enough bags to make a small piece in a series I'm loosely calling "Mother was a Lady", and this is the first in that series that will be constructed as the mood strikes. 

I began by layering the tea bag paper over Stitch Witchery (akin to Misty Fuse), covering the paper with white tulle, fusing the lot and quilting it down.  I then trimmed just the one side with a lace remnant I'd cut out:

Take Some Tea with Me? - unfinished

Take Some Tea... - Detail

These are photos of the unfinished piece.  I've now added blanket stitch -- by hand, using silk floss in a creamy colour -- around the edges, and embroidery and beading.  I want to mount this one on canvas too, but at the moment don't have one quite the right size.  I'll be going in to Red Deer in about 10 days and will look for one then.  Stay tuned for final photos!

Last but not least, in the spirit of MORE (the word that chose me this year), I've created MORE SPACE in my sewdio by reducing a great pile of clutter. 

I have two bookshelves along one wall of the sewdio.  One is a faux barrister's book case -- tall, with glass doors.  The other is a low case from IKEA (one of the Billy series, I think).  Just two shelves -- but with a row of boxed magazines lined up on the top.  And on top of those magazines...there were heaps of notes, drawings, recycled plastic laminate used as templates, photos, sketchbooks, other books, and miscellany put aside to be "finished some time".  Aaaargh!

When I knocked off a pile of the stuff for the umpteenth time, Saturday, I decided enough is enough!  And I got out some page protectors, a couple of binders, and a bag to hold recycling and went to work.  I ended up with two binders: one containing materials from classes on Modern Quilting (Craftsy, with Weeks Ringle), on Improv quilting (Mod Meets Improv with Elizabeth Barton) and Abstraction (Abstract-a-licious with Lyric Montgomery Kinard); and the other, chock full of inspirational photos and "patterns" I made for pieces thus far -- to be used for future reference.  Duplicates and uninspiring materials when into the paper recycling or the garbage.  Smaller photos got pasted into a sketchbook with relevant notes about the planned piece(s).

What a weight lifted!  Now I have a small sheaf of photos set aside for new work, and the rest is neatly away, where I can refer to it if I need it.

And so, Gentle Readers, now we're all caught up -- and I can get back to working on that landscape and the Challenge of the Picnic Table.

I'm belatedly linking this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and wishing you a creative week ahead!

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Managing More

I's been almost 3 weeks since my last post, and over a month since I posted about what's happening in the sewdio.  Time to rectify that!

I'm still on a Finishing Frenzy -- trying to get Unfinished Objects done and dusted!  Most of these are knitting related, to whit:

This tiny cardigan got it's buttons and was put in the mail for a new baby cousin in SW Quebec.  It's a 12-month size, and he's just turned 5 months, so I hope he'll be able to wear it for more than five minutes!

Pattern: Little Coffee Bean Cardigan
Designer: Elizabeth Smith
Yarn: Schachenmayr Nomota 'Bravo'
-  colour #8182 (marl) - discontinued

I also finished a cardigan so old that I didn't get it into my Ravelry records.  I made it shorter than directed, simply because I made it in a slightly lighter weight, and I'm a short person.  Called "Round Trip" it's featured in Knitter's Magazine #72 -- the Fall 2003 issue!  At present I've not photographed it, but I'll tell sat for years (I brought it with me when I moved here in 2008), when all it needed was a few inches and then the cuff on the second sleeve.  And at's got them!

The "Spectacle Quilt" (pattern from "We All Sew") is now quilted and has it's binding on -- I chose the same yellow as the zinger because...well...truth be told, it's what I had enough of to work with!  I have to hand sew the binding onto the back.  The baby for whom this is intended (another Eastern Canada cousin) is due...momentarily.  I hope to get the news before I finish the binding so I can put his/her name on the label.

Finally, I finished a pair of finger-less mittens for The Shop, to be used as a sample whenever we get the delicious yarn they're made in:

Pattern: Holt Wrist Warmers
Designer: Libby Summers
Yarn: "Herriot" from Juniper Moon Farms
100% Alpaca....Yummy!
In the sewdio...I've been playing with more inspirations -- from Susan Lenz and Cas Holmes.

Susan wrote a blog post last month about her button collection and how she felt compelled to use more buttons in her work.  To that end, she created some rather large pieces (30" x 38" or so) and framed them.  She called the series, "Things Kept".  Now, I'm pretty gob-smacked by all of Susan's work, and she's so prolific she makes many of us look slothful, but I have to tell you, these pieces captivated me.

Though as you know from some of my earlier posts, Gentle Readers, I struggle with collage work, I've been longing to become more relaxed with this, to just dig out paper and glue and thread and floss and fabric and "stuff" and get on with it!

I also wanted to make a wee piece for the up-coming SAQA Spotlight Auction at this year's conference -- and I often take this as an opportunity to experiment with new techniques.

I began with this piece, which turned out to be too small for the Auction but just right to become a new 'mini' for (I hope) some future buyer:

New Directions 1
Materials: commercial cotton fabric,
purchased hand-made paper, silk fabric,
perle cotton, vintage button
5" W x 7" L, matted to 8" x 10"

I decided to try a second in a larger size, using more of the same materials...with a bit extra detail.  It's still on my design wall, needing a facing -- and it may end up mounted on painted stretched canvas.

New Directions 2
Same background materials, but
added - couched hand-dyed thread,
vintage buckle (some sort of plastic)
Currently, 12" W x 16" L, unfinished

With this practice under my belt, I decided it was time to return to the Auction piece, and was happy to get the size right this time:

New Directions 3
(C) 2019

Next up, I auditioned different fabrics etc. for a fourth piece, now finished except for sewing down the binding (which matches the background), but here it is, just taking shape on my cutting table:

New Directions 4 - shown in fabric audition
Materials: commercial  cotton and batik fabric;
purchased hand-made paper; blotted torn book paper;
purchased hand-made button

Photo to follow when finished!

Cas Holmes' new book, Textile Landscapes, which I may have told you I received as a birthday gift last fall, calls for practicing with layering in 'dry collage' and then, in practice, attaching layers with gel medium and/or stitch.  She does so in a remarkable, loose way.  Having created rather orderly, formal collages, I thought I'd try to loosen up a bit more.

I took a length of a synthetic sheer that I had in my stash, and applied to it layers of linen that I'd stamped and/or scribbled on (credit to Valerie Wilson and Susan Purney Mark for encouragement to do those things!).

The results are...ummm...rather mixed, to say the least.

Once a whole piece, sliced in half, trimmed

Left side, 6" square, unfinished

Right side, 6" square, unfinished

I'm undecided about these -- whether or not to add stitch or just file them "as is" in my 'samples' binder.  I think they have rather more glue between the layers (even though I diluted already-liquid gel medium with water), so any stitching would need to be by machine.  You can sort of tell I was in a 'landscape' mode when I played with this stuff, but it's not based on any particular scene.  Time will tell, but I'm thinking 'funky' landscapes aren't my style!  Still, it's good to have the inspiration (i.e. the book) to draw from, from time to time.

There was a kind of 'release' from these experiments, so I was able to return to creating pieces in a style for which I'm better known.

First, another new 'mini'.  I started by painting some tea bag paper to create a 'moon'.

I then backed some eco-dyed silk (from my friend arlee) with fusible web, on which I'd loosely traced trees from a wonderful tree stencil that I bought somewhere.  The moon and trees were fused onto the same background as "New Directions 3", and thread for quilting the trunks was auditioned:

Once the trunks and background were quilted, "snow" and "fog" were added...and the piece was ready for its mat:

January Moon (C) 2019
5" W x 7" L, matted to 8" x 10"

I've finished off this period of "MORE" with another, larger piece -- one that I've carried around in my head for a good year now.  It's based on a photo of a tree, bare of leaves, that's one of a small group on the edge of my favourite walking path around Cranna Lake in Lacombe.  It's a good thing I printed a couple of it -- because I can't find the photo to show you!  (I can, however, take another next time I'm by there, in the right season.  Sigh.)

I beavered away on this one without taking any process photos here you have it:

In the Bleak Midwinter (C) 2019
Commercial cotton fabric, cotton thread,
mono-poly filament, water-colour pencils
17" W x 27" L

In the Bleak Midwinter -  Detail now I've caught you up on MORE in the studio for this year so far!   As Madeleine L'Engle wrote about writing, and which I paraphrase here...

Discipline is essential in the artist's life...but when you start to [create], don't think.
[Create.]  If you think when you're [creating], it's no good.  You have to have done your thinking just as you have to have gone through the emotion.  You get out on the other side of the emotion, and out on the other side of thinking, and you [create].

It would appear that once I 'got out on the other side of the thinking, the emotion', I could give birth to January Moon and In the Bleak Mid-winter.  Nina Marie's taken a creative day this week -- and I'm betting she's got something brewing that's on the other side of both 'the thinking' and 'the emotion'.  I'm linking to her "Off the Wall Friday" page...and leaving you wishes for a creative weekend.  

What are you birthing in your sewdio?