Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Parliament Hill came under attack today after a man with a rifle shot and killed a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa, before seizing a car and driving to the doors of Parliament Hill's Centre Block nearby.
MPs and other witnesses reported 30 to 50 shots fired inside Parliament, and a gunman has been confirmed dead inside the building, shot by the House of Commons sergeant-at-arms [Kevin Vickers], according to the MPs' accounts.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on the Hill at the time of the shooting, but was safely taken away.
Ottawa police confirmed early Wednesday afternoon that the soldier died from his injuries.
*Source: CBC News:
"...Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven..."  
- Jesus of Nazareth*
*Matthew 5:44 - New International Version

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ditching It

:-)  No, I'm not about to "ditch" blogging -- or anything else, for that matter.

"Ditching" is how I spent most of this afternoon.  Remember this wee quilt?  It's been almost a year since it was sandwiched for quilting...and put away.  It was being made for a babe that didn't survive to term.

The good news is that the young couple involved tried again, and baby Keiran arrived safe and sound just over a week ago!  Thus...the quilt has been brought out, it's folds opened and pressed, and the quilting has begun.

"Ditching" is what quilting guru Ann Petersen calls the machine preparation of the lines of a quilt -- from the borders inward and back outward again, and top to bottom -- before the body of the quilt is filled with the desired quilting design.

Using my walking foot, with a variegated (greys to black) cotton thread in the top and black Bottom Line thread in the bobbin, I "ditched" both sides of the narrow border of this Magic Tiles pattern, and then both sides of the main horizontal and vertical lines.  Now it's ready for some free motion fun!

Because the pattern is all irregular shapes and angles, I'm thinking of a 'free-hand' Baptist Fan.  This means I won't draw precise, evenly-spaced curves for the fan; rather, I'll aim for smooth curves but some might be closer than others.  I found a neat tutorial on this by Victoria Findlay Wolfe -- on her blog -- and decided to go that route.

It'll have to wait till Saturday, though; I'm working all day tomorrow and in Red Deer winterizing my car (winter tires, replace heavily chipped and cracked windshield, repair block heater cord) on Friday.  It's the windshield that takes the time...I'll be spending most of that time knitting.

These may be finished, but there's another pair on the needles and two more waiting in the wings.  Then there's a Fair Isle cowl and an infinity scarf to finish...

And so it goes.

"What about the needle felting?" you ask?

I returned a week ago from a three day needle felting workshop at the MAIWA loft on Granville Island in Vancouver, taught by Briony Jean Foy of Madison, WI.  Formerly a lawyer, Briony went back to university in 1996 for an MFA, first working in weaving and then falling in love with needle felting, usually using a single needle, by hand, creating unique patterns and shapes.

This workshop was an introduction to her world.

I'd enrolled hoping to extrapolate the information to work on my embellisher (needle-felting machine)...and I believe I still will do some of that BUT I have also discovered more of what I can do by hand to add interest to my landscapes (my miniatures) and to create other pieces that stand alone.  Suffice to say I have a great deal more learning to do in this medium...but here are some photos of the samples I made in the workshop:

Day 1 - first samples with yarn, ribbon & fleece
on commercial acrylic felt substrates
Introducing grids -- roving, yarn, pre-felt strips
on plaid wool suiting substrate

Free-form grid - commercial felt, roving, ribbon

Day 2 - Leaves of yarn & fleece on commercial felt
Day 3 - a free-form tree: yarn, roving, fleece on same substrate

Day 3 - another tree experiment -- roving & fleece

Close up of tree trunk

Although I particularly enjoyed playing with the roving and hand-dyed fleece (brought from my own stash), I also tried my hand at making a more dimensional shape with a single needle:

Manipulated floral shape on 2 layers of commercial felt

Even more than the workshop, I enjoyed the entire experience of being on Granville Island for the better part of three days.  There are two MAIWA shops on the island -- "Hand Prints", the source for clothing and home decor items, largely from India, hand-dyed and embellished; and "Supply", my favourite place, brimming with bolts of hand-dyed fabrics (usually natural dyes), undyed silk fabric and yarn, hand-dyed yarn, wool roving (merino, blue-faced Leicester, Corriedale...), silk roving, mulberry silk yarn...shelves of books, shelves of containers of dye powders -- madder, marigold, cochineal, indigo, logwood, walnut (to name a few) -- fabric paints, stencils, knitting, embroidery and felting needles, packages of pre-felt sheets -- it's a textile artist's dream.

Also on the island was a silk-weaving shop -- with a floor loom in action most of the time; a tapestry shop; B.C. Arts Council shop; Opus paint supplies; stationers; pottery studios; glass studios; a micro-brewery; restaurants galore -- and of course, the indoor market with every conceivable foodstuff for sale.  The colours and scents were dazzling and a bit overwhelming.

Here is a glimpse of one side of our classroom in the Loft -- the table immediately behind mine:

Imagine that abundance multiplied in the rest of the room...and spilling out into the entire environment...and you will understand why I came home not just with samples and a binder of instructions, notes and resources, but also 3 lengths of undyed silk fabric, 2 skeins of undyed lace-weight silk yarn, extra felting needles, a length of madder-dyed Indian cotton fabric, and a package of merino-and-silk roving in shades of greens and blues...and a head full of ideas, such that I've had to put it all down till I can focus.

And yes, there was other scenery too...but this post is long enough and it's time for bed.  I'll save that for another time.

Before I go, though, I'm linking this to WIP Wednesday on the Needle and Thread Network...Catch you later!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Mountain Ash (Rowan), prairie sky - Oct. 10, 2014
This weekend we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada (L'action de grace in the French-speaking parts of the country).

As statutory holidays go, Thanksgiving is relatively new in Canada -- having been proclaimed in Parliament as recently as January 31, 1957 -- when I was a few months past four years old.  It's not even a universally statutory holiday here -- it's "optional" in the Maritimes (but I hope they observe it in most places there too).

That said, the history of Thanksgiving in our country dates back to the early explorers -- Martin Frobisher in the Arctic and Samuel de Champlain in what is now Quebec.

Religiously, it corresponds to the English and European traditions of Harvest Festival, and today's service in the Parish of St. Cyprian (Anglican) in Lacombe was no exception, with bowers of flowers and baskets of locally-grown fruit, veggies and preserves decorating the sanctuary.  Special prayers were taken from the "Harvest Sunday" section of the prayer book, and special hymns were selected.  Coffee hour included the leftovers from our Annual Fall Dinner (October 9) and a cake celebrating 40 years of marriage for one of the couples in the congregation -- lest anyone go home hungry.  ;-)

Afterward, I drove out to Sylvan Lake for an early dinner with my sister.  Tomorrow I welcome my daughter.  We'll indulge in ham, yam fries, salad, wine and Saskatoon pie, likely followed by a long walk!

I have much to be thankful for this year -- not the least of which is for good health!  I contracted a nasty cold in Vancouver this past week and am blessed that by this morning, it had all but disappeared!  It means that very shortly I'll be able to fill you in on my MAIWA adventure in needle felting.

Happy Thanksgiving -- and "see" you soon!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

For a Friday: A Few Finishes!

It's rather refreshing to have a few 'finishes' under one's belt when one is flying off on another adventure.

The pies for the church's Fall Dinner are baked.

The dishes are done.

The cat box is clean and fresh.

The laundry is done.

The yard work is done.

MOB is up to date.

Christmas knitting is on track.

"Stepping Stones Socks", pair #2
from The Knitter's Book of Socks - Clara Parkes, 2011
Yarn: Opal Handgefarbt in "Afrika" colour way

And I finished a couple of miniatures -- one for my host and hostess this next week, and one to kick-start a batch for Mirror's new gift-and-antique shop, Gracie D's.

Prairie Peace - High Spring
Prairie Peace - High Spring (Storm Building)
These were the ones I posted about before, under a different working title.  I'm really pleased with how they turned out.  :-)

Linking up now with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday for the first time in ages...and I'm going off to pack. 

See you after The Adventure.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Getting Back to a Routine...

Sort of.

First I have one more out-of-town trip.  The good news is its an Artist's Date of a sort, as it's to a by-hand-needle-felting workshop at the MAIWA Studios on Granville Island in Vancouver -- part of the annual MAIWA Symposium.

  • I'm flying on "points";
  • I'm staying with family (husband's cousins); 
  • I have a good friend checking in on Pookie-cat regularly;
  • There is a limit of 14 for the class, a nice, intimate number -- and it's not full yet; and
  • I get to play with fabric, fibre, floss for three uninterrupted days...
What's not to like?  :-)

Meanwhile, though, I have been trying to get back into some sort of sewdio schedule.  It's been a challenge.

First, I had to catch up on my correspondence.

Second, I had to keep up with my SAQA Co-Rep Stuff -- which is really ongoing.  Now that the September workshop is over, my mind has turned to SAQA's 25th Anniversary Trunk Show -- in this case, Section F, which is currently showing in B.C. but will be on its way to Alberta at the end of October.  I've been trying to line up places to show it, including two major shows -- one in April (Central Alberta Quilters' Guild) and a BIG one in June (Quilt Canada, at the University in Lethbridge, AB).  In between, the Trunk will travel to Saskatchewan, Manitoba, back to B.C. and then again to Alberta.  Phew!  I'm so grateful for my Co-Reps in B.C. and SK/MB who are sharing the load!

Third, I have minis to make...and I began a pair, one of which will go to the local gift gallery and the other, as a 'thank you' to the family with which I'm staying in Vancouver:

The working title was "Fifty Shades of Green" (grin) but during my morning jog I came up with the idea of doing a series of them across the seasons, so this will likely change.  Stay tuned!

Then there are various projects in the planning stages...and knitting (ongoing progress) for Christmas....Here's a quilting teaser...yes, OPI, in lovely, rich colours:

As I cut and pieced for the minis and the squares, I watched several episodes of The Quilt Show -- catching up before I have to renew my subscription (this week).

Definitely an ideal afternoon in my 'happy place' -- but it's a mixed blessing.

The past few weeks, for the first time since last November when I upgraded my internet speed/service, I've been able to watch programs without the glitch of constant buffering.  I suspect it has something to do with the new tower planted in a field down near Clive (about 20 km from here), like I say, it's a mixed blessing.  I can enjoy a one-hour video in one hour, not three, yes, but it's taken out a chunk of a rancher's field...


And on that wavering note, I've got to get back to those minis!

Linking in to WIP Wednesday at the Needle and Thread Network.  Catcha later, eh?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The 15 x 15 "Reveal" is Up!

Learning Curve (C) 2014

The September 30 'reveal' for the latest 15 x 15 Group challenge, "Progress", has been posted.  You can check out all the pieces HERE.  Another set of diverse interpretations of a particularly challenging theme.  Pour a cuppa and enjoy!  :-)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Up for Bid!

Today marks the start of the second section of art quilts up for auction online in the 2014 SAQA Benefit Auction.  One of the contenders is my submission, Reach for the Sky! Bidding on Section Two starts at 2 p.m. EDT...

Reach for the Sky! (C) 2014
Hand-dyed cotton and silk, commercial fabric
Fused applique, machine quilting

I'm honoured to be in the same section as Susan Purney Mark, Sheila Frampton Cooper, Sue Bleiweiss, Elaine Quehl, Linda A. Miller, Jenny K. Lyon, Jaynie Himsl, Wil Opio Oguta, Desi VaughnSusan Lenz, Jamie Fingal and Marilyn Wall -- several of whom are cyber-colleagues, some of whom I've met, and all of whom I admire.  :-)  

Why don't you grab a cuppa, take a few moments to browse the artwork, and enjoy?