Saturday, June 25, 2016

In the Middle

My creative focus for the past while, as you know, has been the JTQ (Japanese Taupe Quilt), also known as the WQ (Wedding Quilt)...and the wedding is now only four weeks away...!!

The quilt is being constructed in sections, quilt-as-you-go, which is reassuring because each time a section is finished, I can remind myself that it really is -- finished, that is -- because the quilting is done.  That's a relief when one's on a deadline that's looming ever nearer!

So.  There are four square 'corner' sections, each measuring 45" square (finished) -- here's a sample:

Section 1 (as in first one I made)
 - before quilting

Three of the four of these are now completely finished; the fourth is sandwiched for quilting.

The top and bottom two square sections will be joined together with pieced and appliqued mid-sections that are 18" W x 45" L (finished):

One mid-section, sandwiched for quilting

First two mid-sections, assembled

Both of these are now quilted -- the pieced sections by machine and the applique blocks, by hand:

Quilting motif close up

One of the applique blocks, quilted

The last part of this project involves attaching those mid-sections to their respective corner sections, creating a "three-patch" top and bottom section.  I still have 12 pieced blocks to cut out and assemble for this bit...

These will be joined by a long middle piece that consists of two more of these 'mid-sections' (pieced and appliqued), and an 18" square centre block:

18" square (finished) centre block

I apologize for the poor quality of that photo -- it was taken over 2 years ago, and I had trouble getting the lighting right.  :-(

While all of the blocks I'm using for this piece come from Sue Briscoe's Japanese Taupe Quilts, the layout and quilting have been of my own creation.  Once again I've been reminded of the challenge of quilt design -- that it's not any easier creating a bed quilt from scratch, mainly from stash fabric, without a pattern, than it is designing a landscape. :-)

So...I'm off to do some piecing...leaving you linked from here to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.   This week she contemplates picking up where one leaves off...which is what I'll be doing with my next 15 x 15 Group piece...after the wedding!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lawn and Garden

Having a lawn to mow is a mixed blessing.  It's tough growing "nice" grass around here, unless one wants to use poison to tame the weeds...and even then, the sandy soil and periodic droughts mean brown patches and a regular onslaught of dew worms and dandelions.

Yes; I've sung this song before.  :-)  Blessedly, the treatment I applied last year (epsom salts followed by 'Turf Builder' and water) has improved my front lawn...and the dew worms seem to have moved elsewhere -- for a while at least.  That said, the dandelions are as fierce as ever, and as I refuse to poison them -- and as 'home remedies' I've tried (involving dish-washing liquid) manage to kill the grass and feed the dandelions rather than the other way 'round -- all I can do is mow them down.

This is where the blessing comes in.  There's something very therapeutic about doing that -- mowing down weeds during turbulent times.  It's perversely satisfying to see them fall beneath the mower, when murder and mayhem, fueled by political bigotry, seem to have taken root too close to home.  On the head of each dandelion I can imagine the face of a certain particularly vitriolic politician...If you get my drift.

Then, to soothe my soul and restore my faith that God's in God's heaven and all really is 'right with the world', there are the flowers...

My ornamental almond in April

Forget-me-nots in May

The first of this year's peonies - June

A petunia and some begonias - June

A Campfire Rose - June

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth --
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

-- Dorothy Frances Gurney from God's Garden

Monday, June 13, 2016


Perhaps we all need a little peace and quiet right now...

Carrie Newcomer

Holy As The Day Is Spent (Lyrics)

Holy is the dish and drain
The soap and sink, the cup and plate
And the warm wool socks, and the cold white tile
Showerheads and good dry towels

And frying eggs sound like psalms
With a bit of salt measured in my palm
It’s all a part of a sacrament
As holy as a day is spent

Holy is the busy street
And cars that boom with passion’s beat
And the check-out girl, counting change
And the hands that shook my hands today

Hymns of geese fly overhead
And stretch their wings like their parents did
Blessed be the dog
That runs in her sleep
The catch that wild and elusive thing

Holy is a familiar room and the quiet moments in the afternoon
And folding sheets like folding hands
To pray as only laundry can

I’m letting go of all I fear
Like autumn leaves of earth and air
For summer came and summer went
As holy as a day is spent

Holy is the place I stand
To give whatever small good I can
The empty page, the open book
Redemption everywhere I look

Unknowingly we slow our pace
In the shade of unexpected grace
With grateful smiles and sad lament
As holy as a day is spent

And morning light sings “providence”
As holy as a day is spent

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Things are Getting Done Around Here

I've managed several "finishes" this week...especially on the knitting front, to wit:

My tunic purple-blue ( be a bit more romantic about it)...which I plan to wear with white flowing pants, for my son's wedding:

Pattern: "Asymmetry" by Jamie Thomas
Yarn: Louet Euroflax 14/2 Linen

Left side detail

Right side detail

When I washed it, it sloughed off an enormous amount of purple lint (!) and may have shrunk a bit (in length) -- though I followed the care directions on the yarn label, the lint took me completely by surprise.   Still, I think it will work well with the selected pants, and some heavy gold jewellry -- a necklace and hoop earrings that I love but don't often wear.  And there's a hat.  Yep; a hat.  A grand purple summer hat.  But that won't be revealed till the wedding.  Sorry!  ;-)

Then there's the "baby dress" I made in a 1-year size for the soon-to-be-one granddaughter of a cousin of mine.  Her name is Beatrice May and she's a dark-haired cutie I've never met.  Come to that, I've never met her parents.  Her father is the son of my third cousin...whom I haven't seen either since...well...I think he was in high school and I was at McGill U. in Montreal...about 45 years ago... but Third Cousin and his younger sister -- also a Third Cousin -- and I are FB friends...and he posted about sweet Bea May after a visit in January.  I was smitten, so knew I had to make her this...with yarn I had in my stash that was just the right colour:

Pattern: "Eli Baby Dress" by Leyla Alieva;
Yarn:  Micro Cable Color (discontinued)

Back neck detail

Front bodice detail

And the hat...a commission for my friend D.  I confess I had my doubts about this one.  Though produced by Rowan Yarns, the ball of Pure Wool Super-wash Worsted I used had several flawed sections and a tendency to split...and the product seemed to me over-sized and floppy.  That said, D really liked it and it fit her perfectly!

Shown: Back
Pattern: "Cloche Divine" by Meghan Jones
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Super-wash Worsted
in colour #152 - "Oats"


Bow detail

D likes it so well, in fact, that I've been asked to make another -- in black!  It will be later this summer, though, for first there is a Wedding Quilt (aka the Japanese Taupe Quilt) to finish...

The good news is that Sections 3 and 4 are both sandwiched -- and the machine quilting on Section 3 is about 75% finished (the rest will be done after this blog post).

Section 3 under the needle

Section 4, sandwiched and waiting

At the same time, I've begun knitting a shawl for myself for the wedding...

Pattern: "Sundae Shawl" by Lois Young
Yarn: Paton's Lace Sequin in "Crystal"

Though the self-striping Paton's Lace yarn is called for, I don't like the colours on I call my piece, "My Vanilla Sundae Shawl".  ;-)

And...I'm working on Sock #2 of a pair for my nephew George, who'll be 24 in early July...

Pattern: "Trekking Socks" - E.J. Slayton
Yarn: Zitron "Trekking XXL"

The above photo belies my progress, as I've finished one sock and am more than half-way down the leg of the second...And then there's the 'Feather and Fan' baby blanket I'm working on for a relatively new baby girl (3-4 months old now) in the photos I guess I need to up-date my photos!

But a gal can only do so much...keeping up with the garden, mowing her lawn, making sure her cat doesn't interfere with the swallows raising a family in one of her birdhouses...

And letting the dishes pile up in the kitchen...

While I link in to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday... Why don't you pour another cuppa, pick up your latest WIP and go for it...  And while you're at it, have a great week!

Monday, June 06, 2016

More from "MCOTW"

It's a thrill for me to see pieces in exhibits that have been created by artists I know...and even more so, when I didn't know the artist but met him/her at the exhibit.

In my last post about the "My Corner of the World" dual exhibit, I pointed out a piece from Jenny Lyon and from Gwyned Trefethen, both of whom I've met at SAQA conferences.  Here's one from Marie McEachern of Calgary, whom I've known since we were both students with Anna Hergert...a good dozen years ago.

Downtown - (C) Marie  McEachern, Calgary, AB

I like the way she's hinted at the Canadian Rockies with her 'rocky' upper edge, and has included what Albertans have often referred to as our 'Provincial bird': the (building) crane.  Great fun!

Then there's this poignant piece by Mary Pal of Almonte, Ontario...someone I've also met at SAQA Conferences but who, alas, didn't make the opening due to illness (from which she's since recovered).

Courage - (C) Mary Pal, Almonte, ON
Portrait of a homeless man, Toronto

When I was at the opening I also had a chance to meet a few artists I'd never met or corresponded with before.  

Here's Peggy Blei-Hracho of Pennsylvania, with her piece, Home: Noun, A Place Where Something Flourishes:

Peggy and Home: Noun...
Opening, My Corner of the World
Stratford, ON - May 21, 2016

It was delightful to talk to Peggy and to learn more about the unique collage she created for her entry, which is based on the view from her studio, in her home.

Another artist I met was Joan Reive, who has a piece in each of the twin exhibits.  Up in her eighties, lively and colourful, she attended the opening with her husband, who is clearly her biggest fan.

First, from the All-Canada exhibit, a piece inspired by one of her own paintings, made on a trip to Westport, Ontario a few years ago:

A Fall Day in Westport - (C) Joan Reive,
Belleville, Ontario

And next, from the International exhibit, a piece inspired by a watercolour she painted (to quote the catalogue) "in one of the rugged lake districts of Ontario":

Lake Vistas #2 - (C) Joan Reive,
Belleville, Ontario

A third participating artist I met at the Opening was Bobbe Shapiro Nolan, travelling with her sister Gee Gee (dubbed "Marketing Director").  Bobbe hails from the Midwestern U.S. but now lives in Texas, where a piece of large, highly technical caught her attention and inspired her piece:

Clutch Manifold - (C) Bobbe Shapiro Nolan,
Texas, USA

And there's this lovely colourful piece by my colleague and friend, Bethany Garner, curator of the All-Canadian exhibit, who was too busy at the opening for me to get a photo of her with it!  This piece is part of the International exhibit:

Turning Point -  (C) Bethany Garner, Ontario

What a delight it would be to find myself in each of those corners of the world!

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Around in Circles

While I spent the last 3 weeks going around in circles -- or so it seemed -- my colleagues in the 15 x 15 Group were putting the finishing touches on their pieces for the "Circles" theme.  Our latest works were revealed May 31 -- check them all out HERE!

Blue Plate Special  (C) 2016
15" x 15"
for the "Circles" theme

Friday, June 03, 2016

A Bit Much of a Muchness*

*That's how my mother used to describe something that was over the top.  It's the perfect description of my last three weeks -- from the wedding shower trip to Edmonton, to securing a venue for the debut of my installation, Mark on the Body, to the whirlwind trip to Stratford, ON and the Opening of My Corner of the World's twin exhibits, to the day at Ailsa Craig with the art of the Latvian quilters and weavers, to two days of stitching with Monika Kinner-Whalen -- her "From Sketch to Stitch" class -- at Fibre Potpourri, held at Olds College, Olds, Alberta.

Each event, taken separately, was delightful, fun, and interesting.  Each was a blessing.  Each was full of surprise, colour, fabulous food, and friendly faces.
There were many hugs and some tears and lots more laughter.

Therein lies the rub...or at least, the challenge.  It's tough to articulate, but as much as I tried to find a way to decompress, each event was so full and rich that I couldn't fully process it before moving into the next one.

I didn't know where to put it all -- especially the attention I'd received about Mark on the Body, and at the Opening, which spilled over into the Fibre Potpourri weekend.   Suddenly I was being recognized, even sought out -- to talk about myself and my work -- an experience hitherto totally foreign to me, and completely against my upbringing.  My mother loved us and was proud of us, I'm sure, but spent much of her parenting time drilling into us that we had to put others before ourselves at all times and in all places, lest "your halo pinch your ears".

By Monday evening of this week, I was ready to explode -- and I did!

Blessedly, I was alone, and it was dark and rainy, which suited my mood down to the ground.  I can even tell you what set me off.  I was gathering packages of yarn to put in the car for the Annual Yard Sale at my church.  They began to slip and slide and eventually I dropped one on my way to the car (in the garage).

That's it.

Just that little thing.

But it was enough to bring out of me yells, screams, rants, raves.  I picked up the errant package, stuffed everything into the back seat of the car, and beetled back into the house -- where I continued my hissy fit for a good long time...

Until, at last, a bit out of breath, I was empty.

Empty of anger, empty of fear (of success).  Rid of those over-loaded emotions.

I went to bed.  And Tuesday was a new day.

Now, for you, Gentle Readers, a few of my favourite photos from the MCOTW exhibits.  (If you want to see them all, visit the SAQA website for the slideshows or better yet, try to see the exhibit when/if it travels near you in the next two years.)

My colleague, Jaynie Himsl of
Weyburn, Saskatchewan,
with her piece, Poplar Point

Looking Down - Janet Scruggs, Calgary, Alberta

Time Passes Over the Earth - Judy Martin,
 Manitoulin Island, Ontario

Tradition is Growing on Me - Hilary Rice,
Stirling, Ontario

You've Got Mail - 
Susan Tilsley Manley - Westville, Nova Scotia
Concerning the gradual demise of the rural
Post Office in Canada

Barbara Schneider - Illinois, USA
Line Dance, Tree Ring Patterns,Var. 13

Me - showing off Jenny Lyon's
Prairie Afternoon
Born and raised on the US grasslands,
Jenny now lives in California

Me - showing off Gwyned Trefethen's
Deconstructed Sunrise #3
I didn't realize the size of it when I was
following Gywned's process on her blog!
Gwyned resides in Wisconsin, USA

Laura Wasilowski - Illinois, USA
Blue Chair in the Library
with a Candlestick

Before I head out to mow the back lawn and plant my tomatoes...I'll leave you with this question:  have you ever had an experience (maybe more than once) such as I described?  If so...what did you do?  How did you respond?

Okay; that's three questions...But I'm curious.  Any fear of success in any of you, Gentle Readers?

Linking this up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and wishing you a wonderful weekend!