Monday, April 27, 2015

Friday Finishes...

On a Monday.

In preparation for my trip to Portland (Oregon) for the SAQA conference, I had to Get Stuff Done! the past few days I not only finished the EB assignment, but also the wedding shawl, my 12" square donation to the 2015 SAQA Benefit Auction April Socks from Stash Challenge socks!

With EB's and the Auction piece finished, I could return my back-up-to-my-back-up sewing machine to its rightful owner.  My Lily 555 is fixed -- it was "just" the timing -- and I'll run in to Red Deer and pick it up after I get time for EB's May assignment!

April Socks from Stash Challenge
Pattern: "Show-off Stranded Socks" by Anne Campbell
Yarn: Spirit Trail Fiberworks Colour #414 (discontinued)
Socks in the tree on the edge of the Outdoor Studio this afternoon.  Look, Ma! No more snow!

Yellow Tree (C) 2015
Inspired by "Daddy Played the Banjo",
a Bluegrass song written by
Steve Martin and Gary Scruggs
2015 SAQA Benefit Auction starts online Sept. 18.

Oh...and the dishes, laundry, garbage disposal, dead tree branch trimming and vacuuming are done too.   Can't have C, my Pookie-cat sitter, think I'm a total slob, eh?  ;-)

See you next week.  Have a great one!


What?  You want to know what EB said about the minis?

I blush to quote:
Student 2 made two little miniatures out of her 'new' set of colors.  Lovely delicate color scheme -- all the colors go together beautifully and make the scene fee very peaceful and coherent.  Also very real life sometimes you have to squint and imagine very hard to see such nice colors!!  But the artist's eye...and mind...can always create them.  Very nice!!
I'm sure you can see the flush of delight in my cheeks from where you sit.  If I didn't respect EB's ability to evaluate objectively...I'd be asking, "Are you sure?!"  Even more pleasing to me is an appreciation of the "pretty" and the value of creating peaceful landscapes in an age when so very often those qualities in a given work are no longer considered "art".

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sure is Pretty, Though, Eh?

When a tree [limb] falls in the forest into the empty lot next-door...

Limb broken - Mountain Ash (Rowan)

When I went out to see to my cedar and junipers, I found that my west-side neighbour wasn't the only one with a limb down on a tree.  The Mountain Ash (Rowan) at the East corner of my house had lost a limb too.  It's not a break at the trunk; it broke several inches out.  It'll need to be sawn at the trunk, though, once the snow clears.

So I rescued the evergreens...

Cedar and juniper at front of the house
Some of the mugo pine near the Outdoor Studio

(L) rear: Mountain Ash; (R) front: Cotoneaster
Centre Starring Role: Miss Forsythia

She made it!  Didn't even lose a blossom!

As my neighbour John opined as he went for his saw, "Sure is pretty, though, eh?"

Sew Day

I couldn't face calling today what it is: a snow day...but that's what it is.  I was due to go out to the library in the next village (Alix) to pick up a book I'd requested, and to go on from there into Lacombe for a bridal shower at the church.

Yes...that bride.  Blessedly, I took photos of the finished piece outdoors yesterday:

I also got a shot of my forsythia in full bloom for the first time since I pruned it back a few years ago:

This is what my back garden -- and Outdoor Studio -- look like this morning.  You can see the slumping cotoneaster in the background...and the forsythia is behind that...

It could be worse.  My next-door neighbour's large front yard tree has lost a big branch -- currently hanging by a thread at the trunk of the tree, and spread out over the public sidewalk.

It could be even worse...thinking of those poor people in Nepal in the aftermath of this morning's earthquake...So much pain, loss and challenging days ahead, sorting and sifting, and trying to adjust to life again...

On a cheerier note, I "finished" my two miniatures in the 'colour' theme for this month's EBMC -- at least for the moment.  I'm out of Framer's Tape -- it's now on order from the gallery that cuts my mats and shows some of my work -- so the photos below were taken with the pieces lying flat, and the mats simply placed on top.  It's interesting how the colour of the mat influences each piece:

Sunset by the Slough I (C) 2015

Sunset by the Slough II (C) 2015

As I explained to EB, I'm not entirely satisfied with these.  I played with the fence in the first one -- moving it from left to right and back again, trying 5 posts and settling on three as in the original.   As for the second, it seems as if perhaps there should be some texture added to the foreground by way of seed stitch.  I may go back into both of these before I call them truly finished.  EB's feedback will undoubtedly help!

Given that I'm not going anywhere today, I'll finish stitching down the facing on "Yellow Tree"  -- my piece for the 2015 SAQA Benefit Auction -- and attach the sleeve, and then see how far I can get on the gusset and heel of the second sock for this month's Socks from Stash challenge which -- ideally -- will also be finished before I leave for Portland on Wednesday!

As I stitch, I'll be reading through the link-up at Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.

But first...time to dig the shovel out of the back shed, and get the heavy snow off my cedar and junipers!

Friday, April 24, 2015

That Thing That Hand-makers Face

I make stuff by hand.  I sell some, and I give a lot of it away.  Last weekend, two people "stole" my artwork at rock-bottom prices at a silent auction ($30 and $35 respectively) because they figured they could get away with it (they were within what had been set as minimum bids -- not by my recommendation), and still get Brownie points for donating something -- however paltry -- to a non-profit organization.  And they did get away with it (the framed, editted* photograph nearby got bids over $200).

I chalked that one up to experience.  Not happenin' again any time soon.

Listen, fellow textile artists.  Knitters are textile artists too.  Sometimes they make original designs.  Sometimes they "just" knit socks.  Plain Vanilla Socks.  With great yarn.  And they run into the same thing.

Thought you might enjoy what my favourite knitter, Stephanie (The Yarn Harlot) had to say today...Hint: the title of her blog post?  "No, I won't make you a pair for $10".  Go, Steph!

*editted = beautifully and skillfully altered by a photo-editting program.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Facing & Finishing

Confession: putting the finishing touches on a project is my least favourite part of the process.   This probably accounts for why I love to knit socks.  There are no seams to sew save the wee bit of grafting at the toe, and there are very few ends to sew in -- most of the time.

However, if one is going to donate pieces to benefit auctions, put pieces on show and/or offer them for sale, one has to finish them, and do so properly and well.

Facing & Finishing - (Back) "Uphill to Mirror" (2014)
(Front) "Yellow Tree" (2015)
Next week I'm sending six of my "15 x 15" pieces to Ontario, where they'll be given to my colleague Chantal.  She will take them back to France and from there, to Maastricht, The Netherlands, for the Open European Quilt Championships competition and exhibition, which runs from October 29 through November 1, 2015.  Yes!  Our group is but one of several which have been accepted as a Guest Collection for the show!  Each of us is sending 6 to 8 pieces, so it will be a great collection of our work over the past three years.  

Then there's "Yellow Tree", my piece for the 2015 SAQA Benefit Auction, which has to be ready to go to Portland with me next week so I can deliver it to the curator of the Auction, Gale O-P.

Today I sewed down the facing and applied the sleeve to "Uphill to Mirror", the 15 x 15 piece, and started to sew down the facing on "Yellow Tree".  The sleeves for all of the 15 x 15 Group's pieces are 2" deep (finished) and mounted 1" from the top and 1" in from each side.  For each I include a tiny pleat (see photo at left) to facilitate hanging.

The sleeve for "Yellow Tree" will be similar, but made of the same fabric as the backing and facing.  I like to have them all match and blend in if possible, so they are don't take away from the "main event", which is the front!

Speaking of finishing...I am closing in on the end of the Wedding Prayer Shawl too.   Turns out the women in our parish decided to hold a shower for our young bride...on Saturday (April 26)!
This is a good month before I'd planned to finish the shawl, and I'm not prepared to go to the Shower with a different I'm trying to finish early.  As of this writing, I'm at 23 1/2 of 25 pattern repeats...with 20 rows of garter stitch edging to follow, plus washing and blocking...!

It may or may not be 'on the needles' when presented to the bride-to-be...

At about 21 pattern repeats...

Lace detail
Pattern: "Kimono Shawl"
Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle
Blessedly I was able to do most of this handwork in the Outdoor Studio, which I opened this afternoon for the 2015 season!

Opening Day 2015 at my Outdoor Studio 

Being here makes facing and finishing so much more enjoyable -- don't you agree?

Linking this up to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network.  What have you been working on lately?

Friday, April 17, 2015

EBMC April - Seduced by Colour, Part III

I sent my blocked "quilts" to EB about half an hour ago.  In my e-mail I told her...

Given all that's going on this month -- including assorted deadlines, sewing machine repair, and leaving for the SAQA Conference in Portland on the 29th -- I thought I'd try killing 2 birds with one stone.

A bit of back story:

In 2013 I made my first "miniature" -- a 5" x 7" piece matted to 8" x 10" for a benefit auction at the SAQA 2013 Conference in Santa Fe.  I discovered I really liked making these tiny pieces, and since then have finished several dozen.  Many have sold and I have about 2 dozen out in 3 small Central Alberta galleries.

One of those galleries recently sold 3 and wants replacements.  I promised the owner, "after Easter".  Here it is...A.E....and they're more than past due!

I decided to take my selected colour palette for this month to make a couple of the minis.  
I started with a different inspirational photo, because I can't get the notion of a sunset out of my mind:

Sunset...somewhere in Mirror, Alberta, Canada

Then I laid out a background...and tried on a couple of alternatives (because, remember, I have to make more than one mini for the shop in question)...

Sample #1 for "Sunset by the Slough"...
Remember the fence?

Sample #2 for "Sunset by the Slough"...
Reminiscent of...

Red Shed (C) 2013 (sold)

I closed by admitting to Elizabeth that taking a scene like "Red Shed" and tweaking the colours so they admittedly border on the unrealistic was definitely outside my Comfort Zone.

And yet...

And yet...

Reading my friend elle's guest blog post today over on "And Then We Set It on Fire", I know in my gut that there's a larger piece -- in that 'wilder' palette, in a very abstract form -- just clamouring to be created.

Now that I've hived off enough fabric for those minis, maybe I'll see what I can do...

But first a walk, some knitting, and a cuppa while visiting the others joining me over at Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  See you there?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Squeezing Lemons

"When life hands you lemons...make lemonade" -- right?

Today I've been squeezing lemons.

Monday I got my 'back-up for my back-up" sewing machine ready to go with free-motion quilting on my SAQA 2015 Benefit Auction piece.

Today?  Couldn't get the tension right for love nor money!

Solution?  Make do with 'regular motion' quilting. walking foot (which I usually use for RMQ) doesn't fit my double back-up machine...and that machine didn't come with it's own.

"Okay, Lord", I prayed,  "If I'm meant to contribute this piece to the 2015 Benefit Auction, You're going to have to help me with this!!"

I cleaned all the dust bunnies out from under the needle plate and around the bobbin.

I put on a new needle (90/14 Superior Top-stitch).

I filled a bobbin with Bottom Line thread and inserted it.

I installed a fresh spool of King Tut thread -- to match the grass -- on the spool stand and threaded the machine... the end of the morning, all was quilted --  except for the tree, which was fused...

Yellow tree...under construction...

I went for lunch with a friend...Thus fortified, I came home and quilted the tree.  Then I trimmed the piece to 12 1/2" square, ready for facing:

"Yellow Tree" (C) 2015 

And a detail shot...

"Yellow Tree" detail (C) 2015

All of this was done with a conventional foot, feed dogs up, no free- motion in evidence.  I'm thinking I'll be doing more work this way.  Keeps my blood pressure under control!  ;-)

That finished, I can get back to blocking my EBMC piece for this month.

On the knitting front, Sock #1 for the April Socks-from-Sash challenge is finished...

And...the Wedding Shawl is at 18/25 pattern repeats...

So I'm linking to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network...and starting shawl pattern repeat #19.

Have a great rest of the week!

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Not sure.  With the back-up sewing machine, definitely.  This morning I was taking it out for a spin, so to speak, and had just finished various stitching samples.  I was pretty satisfied, having also figured out how to change the foot, where the feed dog controls were, etc.

I was now ready to see what kind of seam it could sew, before moving on to free-motion experiments.

Did I tell you that this machine had been given me by my friend B, who'd had it given to her?  B's DH takes care of much of her machine maintenance -- except for the computerized stuff -- so he'd tweaked this Pfaff 1222-E.  One of the tweaks was to replace the presser foot lever, which was missing, with a long bolt and a nut to hold it in place.  It worked fine -- that is, until the socket in which the bolt had been riding disintegrated...

What's left of the socket on the wall of the machine

Replacement "lever" and the other 1/2 of the socket

There's no gluing it back together, either.  If I want to keep the machine as my back-up (to the Husqvarna Lily 555 currently in the shop) I'm going to have to have it properly seen to as well.


Blessedly I have a back-up for my back-up: I may be able to borrow an older Husqvarna from my friend J.  I did this a couple of years ago and it worked well.  I've left J a message and am hopeful...

Meanwhile, I'm blessed to have other things to do in the Sewdio...

Backing up a bit...before the sewing machines went to heck in a hand-basket, I finished my April "Zen" BOM (over a week ago now!)

"Triangle Squares"
I enjoyed this one rather more than its predecessors, and was pleased with most of my 'points'.  I had to give it a good zap of "Best Press" (R) because as is typical when using assorted fabrics, some of them are flimsier than one would like...but their colours are right!

On Thursday I received EB's feedback on my "Colour" sketches and selections -- and this fired me up yesterday to go in search of that field and fence for more photos.  EB wrote:

Color scheme looks good, - but if you notice she [Referring to Sharon Lynn Williams' painting] really doesn't have much green in there....she has a complementary scheme of red/orange versus the blues  and I think it's the orange blue combination that really makes it.......

Red brown is a difficult accent color because brown is a neutral - being a mix of all three primaries, so it will be hard to get it to stand out.  In the above photo, the very saturated red is the one that stands out - so that's the fabric you should use in those accent areas - which usually are not large, but pull your eye  to the focal point - the center of interest.
And now for the key comment (the one that really 'spoke' to me:
you could go with either sketch but I think if you go for a landscape, it will be easier for you to be adventurous with the color!!!  If you decide to choose the fence, crop right down in close to the fence and imagine the boards having LOTS of different colors in them - not brown!
Thus my search for the fencing yesterday...and I found it...and took many photos...and got back and printed several off...and tried to express in another painting session how I felt and what I wanted to demonstrate.

I was out on my back stoop (it was sunny and warm, even if a tad breezy), painting, pacing and muttering to myself.  (Good thing my neighbours were out for the day!)  And this is what my 'gut' spoke:

No matter how I looked at it, the piece must be dominated by the sky and the land. "The Fence is Man's Mark on the Land".

Next up: audition exact fabrics to use and block out the piece (deadline: April 20).  Dunno where I'll put the 'orange'...if anywhere...

And YES, there is knitting...

The Wedding Shawl is now into it's 17th pattern repeat (of 25)...and I am about to turn the heel on this pretty April sock - #1 in this month's Socks from Stash challenge on Ravelry...

Yarn: Spirit Trail Fiberworks - Colour #414 (discontinued)
Pattern: Show-off Stranded Socks by Anne Campbell
(a free Ravelry download)

 The purple perfectly matches the one jolly-jump-up pansy bravely blooming in my plot east of the garage.  :-)

Linking this up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  Let your imagine take you away...and have a great rest of the weekend!