Sunday, April 18, 2021

A Little Bit Here, A Little Bit There

I don't often post two weeks in a row, but I've been thinking.  I do a lot of that (thinking, that is).  My mother used to tell me I did too much of it, and that it might cause problems for me as I got older.  She was right about that -- at least some of the time.  

The talking to myself (which is not to be confused with "self talk") has continued, as it gets me from one day to the next.  I've come to realize that some days are filled with "BIG" things -- a long list of errands requiring dressing up and going into town -- and others, not so much.

But this week it was the little things that made me happiest:

  • Mailing those small socks off to a little boy in Ontario;
  • Going for a walk -- or two -- almost every day;
  • Pruning the dead "blossoms" off my budding lilacs so they can focus on the buds and not the old stuff;
  • Starting up my new compost bin;
  • Swapping the winter floor mats in my car for the summer ones, vacuuming out the car and polishing up the interior;
  • Sweeping the dust, dirt, spilled bird seed and dead leaves from the garage floor --  much of which ended up as a layer in the new composter;
  • Sweeping the cobwebs from around the inside of my rolling garage door, and oiling all the bits and bobs to make sure it runs smoothly;
  • Adding another square or two (or three) each day to the slowly evolving mitred-square "something" that I've been making from left-over sock yarn;
  • Putting together several rows of QAYG (Quilt As You Go) blocks; 
  • Continuing to sift and sort through drawers, boxes, books, patterns; and
  • A bit more stitching on "My To Do List"  ...

Here are some of the photos from the last few days, just to illustrate...

There's a short wooded path on the north end of town that's navigable now that the snow has gone; I love it's sunshine and shadows.  Here's one view:

And here's another:

I got a lovely piece of art fabric this week from cyber-friend, artist Susan Purney Mark; it might work for some of the trees in a piece inspired by these woods -- or if not, definitely for something in the future.  I am pondering another few art pieces but treading lightly, as my hopes for the Lacombe Art Show's actually happening at the end of May are very wobbly.  

COVID case numbers are rising here in Alberta (though not as badly as in highly-populated Ontario, and my heart goes out to friends there); there are a number of "COVIDiots" in my neighbourhood and a business that's been closed down continues to open its doors, even raising money for its court fight for the "right" and "freedom" to infect anyone at will by not obeying current protocols.  We have fewer than 500 people in this hamlet, and reportedly 2 employees of the business in question are out "sick" (no admission of what it might be) it's only a matter of time.  But I digress...

I am gratified that in the SAQA Spotlight Auction at this year's Conference (online now), my wee contribution has garnered some bids.  That warm's my heart.  Lest you don't remember it:

Spring Run-off (c) 2021
Whole cloth, thread painted, 6" x 8" before matting
Matted in white by SAQA

You can view all the auction pieces at the link above; bidding is open through April 25 -- when the various tables close at staggered intervals.  

  • Pieces are exhibited alphabetically by FIRST NAME of the artist (so you'll find mine in the "M" section; and
  • All prices are in USD and shipping to US or Canadian addresses is $15 USD -- not sure if that's per piece, so check it out carefully!!

On a different topic, here's my new compost bin -- the second of two.  It's stationary, while the old one (more than a decade) is a rolling version.

On the knitting front, my mitred-square blanket is growing daily.  As of this writing, it's got 22 blocks and a 23rd under construction; here it is at  15-going-on-16  blocks:

Each block is about 2 1/2" square, and I figure I need 25 x 25 to get a lap blanket!

I've had two block-by-block 'QAYG' projects underway for months now.  I pick them up and put them down as the mood strikes, and I know I've posted about them before.  

The "Easy Breezy" block is from Bonnie Hunter -- her 'Leader/Ender Challenge' for 2020.  It runs from July to July.  I decided to make a small version as a tummy-time quilt, and to do it as-I-go.  Here's what it looked like on my design wall in early March.

And here's my progress to date:

Four of nine rows have been joined by sashing -- but (and yes, it's a good-sized but) I have yet to do the hand-stitching of the sashing on the back.  Yes, I know there are people who do both front and back by machine -- I'm not one of them!  I don't like the way it looks.  Sorry, eh? 😉

The second QAYG block-by-block is "Bali Sunrise" (also shown before) -- from a workshop I took in another life at the long-gone (and missed) Freckles Quilt Shoppe in Calgary.  It's a bit farther along than "Easy Breezy" due, in large part, to the fact that I have an elderly friend from church who I think might like it -- also lap-sized.  No, not the same friend who's received (and is thrilled with) the "Traffic Jam!" quilt.  There are just a goodly number of elderly people in my parish -- most of them women!  Anyway, I'd like to get it done in reasonable time so I can send it to her.  (It will be a surprise -- she doesn't own a computer so she won't even be able to guess.)

Here it is on the "design bed" thus far.  Two rows are completely together, with all hand-stitching done on the back as well (far left side).  Four more are joined by sashing and all of that hand-stitching is done, so the rows have to be assembled.  And three more rows need to be joined between the blocks etc.  You can see those on the right, with some of the strips cut for the sashing:

Each block is 6" square (without sashing) and there are 9 rows of 6 blocks each, and (so far) only an outer binding, not a border.  The sashing ends up at just shy of 1/2"...So the piece should measure in the neighbourhood of  40" x 60" (give or take) -- unless I make a QAYG border...we'll see!

In the "Long Forgotten UFO" category...this week, in my sifting, sorting, giving away and/or tossing practice, I came upon an unfinished little quilt top -- 30 1/2" x 40".  Another one of those "other lifetime" projects.  I do remember that it came from a magazine (haven't dug that out yet; it may be long gone), but I don't remember the name of either the publication or the pattern.   It didn't need much to finish it -- just to machine applique some of the 'leaf' shapes with a blanket stitch.  The spool of thread was even bundled in with it!  I decided to sit right down at the machine and 'git 'er done'.  

The kicker?  The shapes were pinned to the top!  What was I thinking?!  Pause.  FUSE!  Once they were fused in place, I tested out a few blanket stitch options (I was using a newer machine and didn't want to set up the old one to do this), and got them stitched down.  

I confess, I wasn't thrilled by the top.  I realized my colour choices, while decent, weren't stellar -- but clearly I'd gone into the project as an experiment and was using what I had to hand.  After time for it to "percolate", I decided it's "not bad" -- and will be turned into a tummy time blanket, with a prayer that it will be sturdy enough to last at least a little while!

Here's the top, in the sunshine on one of my garden benches:

If anyone knows this pattern, please let me know!

Pattern detail

Yeah, I know.  Not one of my best pieces...but in the immortal words of knitting guru, Elizabeth Zimmerman, "It will fit somebody!"  😉  In other words, some kiddo somewhere will lie on it, carry it about (like Linus from "Peanuts"), love it...and use it for a bed for their first pet.  And I don't care one whit!

As for "My To Do List"...this week's been challenged by the afore-mentioned COVIDiots...hence the phrase I've just finished as a reminder:

There's a bit of a floral motif that needs to go in that space on the right between "kindness" on the top and "control" on the bottom.  You'll have to wait till my next post (or two) to find out what that is.  

And so, my friends, I leave you to stitch, walk, knit, spin, quilt, piece, applique, read, write, ponder...whatever little bit here or there helps you in these fast-evolving times.  I'm linking up (late as usual!) to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday", wherein just 'showing up' is enough.

P.S. The Psalm for Morning Prayer today was Psalm which the psalmist prays "May the favour of the Lord rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us -- yes, establish the work of our hands."

May the "work of [your] hands" -- incorporating your heart, mind and soul -- flourish this week.  I hope to "see" you again soon.  From Steve Bell, a Canadian singer-songwriter...(please ignore advertising, with thanks...)

Sunday, April 11, 2021

A Little Brown Pot and Other Things...


Do you talk to yourself?  If so, do you find yourself doing so more often during these pandemic times?

I do!  It's part of my "stay well, stay safe, stay sane" practice these days.  I find that when I talk to myself, I'm prodding myself into activity, reminding myself of what needs to be done, what I want to do, what day of the week it is and where my happy places are.  

To respond appropriately to myself, I have to make choices -- and this keeps me from procrastinating (too much) about both chores around the house/yard and creating in the studio.  

The added benefit of this practice is that I get involved in something healthy or routine or creative (or all three), and stop worrying about the pandemic, ruminating on the stupidity of the "I have my rights!!!" folks who live in town, challenging the health and safety of the rest of us, and/or taking on the challenges and tough times family and friends are facing and have shared with me.

It's paid off -- most of the time -- in the past couple of weeks.  It's helped me get past the tricky questions I'd posed in my last post, and has moved me forward in both practical and creative ways.

I got through Easter -- and the one-year anniversary of the death of my BFF from high school, which was April 2 -- and enjoyed the company of each of my two "designated close contacts" -- or as I call them, "my designated single people".  Good food and conversation is always a boon to one's spirit!

I got my car's spring maintenance service done (including swapping out my winter tires just in time for it to snow again)... and in the process managed to visit my nearest Chapter's store, where I found the Spring 2021 issue of Art Quilt Studio -- including articles by Wen Redmond and Jaynie Himsl, SAQA colleagues of mine whose work I admire.  And I treated myself to 'grab and go' lunch and coffee at the Starbuck's outlet nextdoor.  From there I visited a dear friend -- appropriately distanced, and with my own coffee in hand.  All in all it was a lovely day.

Back left: 2 zucchini.
Front left: over-wintered basil.
Centre/right: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cherry tomatoes.
Right: a pot of lobelia and one of oregano.
In between snow squalls, I cleaned up the oldest of my two raised beds, adding sheep manure and topsoil, and then added topsoil and compost to the newest of the two beds.  My seedlings are chomping at the bit to be allowed larger pots -- or even direct transplant -- but it's not quite time yet!  

And remember the plant I'd given up on for dead when it made a surprise appearance in early March?

Just look at it now!

I still don't know what it's called, having thrown out the tag, but next to that tall sprout (circled) there's yet another coming up!

My sister gave me a Lowe's gift card last year for Xmas.  I really was at a loss as to what to do with it, as I'd never shopped there...but on another recent trip into Red Deer, I went in and bought a new bench for the "East Lot" (that plot of land next door to my house that I bought in the fall of 2018).  When I told her about it, she asked, "Did you get a cushion for it?"  

Duh!  No.  I'd seen them...but set that aside as something for another day.  

After I got home I thought more about this...and remembered three aged bed pillows I'd been hanging onto -- for "back-up", I suppose!  😄  Anyway, I dug them out: two "standard" sized, and one "large" one.  Then I routed about for something with which to make a pillow case...and came across two 'samples' I'd made for an online class with Elizabeth Barton -- "Mod Meets Improv" -- back in February 2017!  Lo and behold, each piece was just the right size for the "standard" pillows.  Routing about in the bin of fabrics from my "inheritance", I found a good-sized piece of light-weight, brushed denim -- perfect for the back-side of the pillow cases.  One afternoon's sewing et voila!

Cushion #1 on the storage bench.

Cushion #2 on the storage bench.

Both cushions in their intended home 
on the new garden bench

You'll note, of course, that the cushions aren't entirely matching; one is flatter than the other.  It doesn't matter to me.  They'll serve the purpose just fine.  The third -- and larger -- pillow has yet to be covered, but I have a sample piece for the top side of it too; all that's needed is to find suitable backing (another dive into the "inheritance") and to put it all together.

Still in the studio, I finally created another of my "Pot" series -- this one inspired by the stout little strawberry pot that I use for plantings of baccopa and impatiens every summer:

The above photo is a few  years old -- I can't seem to find the version I printed out for my piece!!  The difference?  The bacopa (the garden variety, not for use as a medication!) in the photo I used is white (not pink) and the impatiens are red, not pink.  

The piece finishes at 9" x 12", mounted on stretched canvas, but started out like this:

Auditioning lay out on my ironing surface

From there... I added some quilting and some paint.  Having pressed the piece, the pot is showing the quilted lines underneath, but that will disappear as I work on the piece.

Quilted white stones with grass peaking through,
and a bit of old lichen painted on the pot's surface.

Next I added flowers and leaves:

Almost there...

But it needed more quilting and some thread-painted stems to make it "done".  I faced it and affixed it to a shallow stretched canvas using fusible web.  Ultimately it will be put in one of my favourite black 'floater' frames and -- God willing!! -- shown (and sold!) at the 2021 Lacombe Art Show & Sale, scheduled for May 28 and 29.... 

Brown Pot (c) 2021
Commercial cottons, cotton thread,
paint, water-colour pencil.
Fused applique, painted accents,
thread painting, machine quilting.

Somewhere in all this, And It Was Good got finished -- thread painted, quilted and faced.  All it needs is it's hanging sleeve and it will be ready for the Art Show too.

And It Was Good (c) 2021
14" W x 22" L, faced.
Self-dyed and commercial cottons.
Fusible applique, thread painting, 
machine quilting.

And It Was Good - detail

Another finish (but for the sleeve) was Accidental Cityscape, which I'd tried on in February and then set aside for a bit.  Like On the Straight and Narrow, it's a "quilt on a quilt" in that the small focus piece is quilted and then attached to a quilted background.

Accidental Cityscape (C) 2021
18" W x 14.5" L
Commercial cotton and synthetic fabric,
Machine quilted, faced.

Accidental Cityscape - Detail

On the Straight and Narrow (c) 2020

Of course, there's always a bit of knitting to focus the mind; this week I finished a pair of socks for a little guy in Ontario who turns 5 in September and is eager to get into his hockey gear.  His entire family's a fan of the Edmonton Oilers and, having some Hat Trick Yarn in that team's colours left from earlier projects, I've made him a pair of socks.  Once they're washed, they'll be off in the mail...

"The Thing with Wings II" is out for framing, as is the Lizzie Kate, "I Am Only One"...and I've started a new piece by that designer.  Entitled "My To Do List", it's another project guaranteed to remind me of what's essential every day.   Beginning in the centre, I've just finished this little bit of it...

And on that note, Gentle Readers, I'm linking this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday and leaving you with wishes for a lovely rest of the weekend.  'Til we meet again...'stay well, stay safe, stay sane' blessed.  😊

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Tricky Questions...

First, a bit of back story: for those with whom I've not shared this, in 2020 I was named the Featured Artist for the local Art Show and Sale -- the first textile artist so named in its over twenty-year history. COVID = show post-poned to 2021, along with my appearance as Featured Artist.

My creative mojo went into hybernation for several months and when it woke up, it took me in a very new direction, involving a lot of piecing and working with scraps in a very improvisational way -- a far cry from the landscapes for which I'm known in that marketplace -- and I've made several new pieces that I want to exhibit at this year's show.

This year's show. It's due to open in two months (May 28 and 29) -- God willing and the provincial government permits it, given the state of our COVID case numbers, even with the ongoing vaccination roll-out. I continue to live in hope!

The result? I've been having an argument with my Voices. You know -- the ones someone once referred to as "The Committee". 🙁 So I went looking for some thoughts from people who may have had the same argument.

Coping with Chaos
(c) 2020
Two arguments, really.

The first is: to face or not to face? I usually face my work, but this
Chaos Series, composed of crumbs and strings and has multiple seams -- plus I've chosen to quilt the pieces with straight lines in "invisible"
thread and have finished the edges with a regular zig-zag stitch.

Two of the pieces are mounted on stretched canvas and framed (I shared these some time back); three more are "soft" pieces with sleeves and dowels -- and one isn't even sandwiched and quilted ("Frayed", meant to be seen from both sides). I think the rougher edges add to each piece but worry that not finishing them with more than zig-zag stitching might be seen as...I don't know...Lazy? Tacky? Unprofessional? Sigh.

The second question is: how to price? I usually work pretty small,
and have -- to date -- calculated my prices using a "square inch" method common among my Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) colleagues. In recent years I've managed to gradually increase my prices, as my work
and my skills have strengthened. Two pieces entered into shows, which I had formally appraised, have affirmed this is a good price point.

But these pieces -- especially the soft ones -- are larger than most I've made before, and with their improvisational style, quite different. They all range between 675 and 840 square inches.
Some of you have heard me call my locale "Bed Quilt Central" -- referring to the fact that as recently as my last show (2019), I've had soft pieces referred to as "blankets" or "cushion covers". I'm wondering how to price this new series, given that to the ininformed eye, they might look like stiff, flat crib quilts -- whether in the end I face them or not.

The Voices insisted that I *face* the soft pieces, and told me that there's NO WAY anyone would pay THAT price for any of them.

I went looking for thoughts and advice and blessedly, I found some!

First, from the SAQA Members Only group on Facebook. SAQA has been a boon to my work for over a decade, and its members didn't let me down now. They listened, they didn't judge -- most of them have had similar experiences -- and they offered food for thought.

On the subject of facings, their advice can be summed up thus: "Whenever possible, use a facing (or a binding)". These finishes give a more polished look to a piece, especially when it's hanging free and not mounted on a canvas. Other finishes include trimming with cord or satin stitch or even paint -- none of which I'm particularly good at! I felt that a binding however narrow, would put too formal a 'frame' around these pieces, so...facing it would be!

As for the subject of pricing, I received a great deal of encouragement to stick to my usual format ($ per square inch). One colleague suggested that even in doing so, I might consider using this year's show as simply an opportunity to exhibit my new work, and not worry about selling any of it. Another asked whether or not selling the work was a main focus -- which is a different way of expressing the same thought. (Truth be told, I sell my work because I live in a small house, and it piles up! 😆) And there was the reminder that I needed to remember my market place, which was what was giving me pause in the first place.

Enter the ArtistsInCanada Art group on Facebook, to which I also belong. Most of the artists are painters, but there are practitioners in other genres too, including textiles. Yesterday, a painter who'd been out of circulation for twenty years was returning to painting and opining, "...times have changed!", asked "How do other artists price their work?"

What ensued was an interesting and most helpful discussion -- from artists who exhibit to sell, sell what they exhibit, work on commissions, make installations...all over Canada. Aside from the Canadian setting (which, it must be noted, is different from that of the UK, Europe, Asia, Oceania, and the U.S.), much of what they said has been discussed at length among my international SAQA colleagues as well.

  • There was mention of the quality of the work: "not all 8" x 10" paintings are created equal".
  • There was one who did a spreadsheet for materials per square inch plus time spent.
  • It was pointed out "Consumers aren't interested in what we have to say" -- rather, they're interested in what the work says to them; and..."not all art is saleable";
  • There was some philosophizing about the nature of art versus art as a commodity;
  • There was the reminder that as an artist improves in skill and develops a following, a reputation, she or he can sell work at higher prices because the work will be viewed as worth more;
  • There was the admonition to "Never reduce your prices" -- which I read as "never under-value your work" -- and the story many of us have heard about reputable artists in a rough patch, selling less work, deciding to raise prices -- and, lo and behold! -- sold more work than she had for years!
  • And many of them reported pricing per square inch or square centimetre -- but admitted that doing so requires "scaling" to suit not only the marketplace but also the size of the work. Therein lay my dilemma!

Enter group founder Paul Constable with a link to a blog article he'd written about pricing work. (Paul is a landscape painter from Saskatoon, SK.) In it, he compares pricing per square inch -- length times width -- to pricing per linear inch -- length plus width. Two sides only, not the full perimeter of a piece.

I decided to try the linear inch method on for size (pun intended! 😉) -- and I feel more comfortable with it for my larger work. In a market where something pieced and quilted will still be seen by many as an item for a bed and not a wall, the linear method produces a price that I can live with -- because for me, it doesn't under-value my work. The process of not "scaling" a price per square inch -- reducing it, say, from $1.00 to $0.75 or less -- was challenging my "Voices". The linear inch method for my larger pieces keeps the price per inch consistent -- while apparently more palatable not only to me but, perhaps, to a potential customer.

The next challenge? Finding out whether or not a "blanket" for the wall has the power to speak to the viewer. Hmmmm...

Rhythm In Blues (c) 2021
34" W x 24" L
Assorted cotton and synthetic fabrics,
machine pieced and quilted.  Faced.
Hanging sleeve/dowel.

Rhythm In Blues - quilting detail

Order Out of Chaos* (c) 2020
21.5" W x 31" L
Assorted cotton fabrics,
machine pieced and quilted.  Faced.
Hanging sleeve/dowel.
*aka "Chaos Can Be Colourful"

Order Out of Chaos - quilting detail

And on that note...I'll bid you "adieu" for now. I have yet one more piece to quilt (and face!) and a great number of hanging sleeves to attach!

For those missing the knitting etc., there'll be a later post about that because there are some finishes to show. However, for now I'll leave you with this link to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday -- wherein she's posted a reminder that's timely, and as often is the case, is somewhat related to my "tricky questions". Have a great rest of the weekend everyone!

Friday, March 12, 2021

It's a Colourful Life!

 This month is all about colour!  Gone (most of the time) are the grey days of February, and spring is definitely in the air!  

This week I've found two bits of greenery poking through the leaf mulch on my garden beds, and was taken completely by surprise by a sprout on a plant I'd been over-wintering and had pretty much given up for dead!  I don't even remember its name -- I bought it at the Wal-Mart in Sylvan Lake late last spring, enticed by its glorious pink blossoms.  

Eventually the blossoms died and it took the rest of the summer off, producing a few more blooms in the early fall.  I decided to see if it would last the winter and brought it in to my sunny back room (south-facing).  Eventually the leaves dried up and fell off, but I kept watering, having no clue if it would work...but it has!

By the end of the weekend, with temps forecast as high as 8-9 C (high forties Fahrenheit), I'll have planted my seed pots to get a head start on a couple of veggies -- zucchini and broccoli.  (I still have some brussels sprouts seeds from last year but they're slow-growing and were attacked by those darned cabbage worms/butterflies -- so all I got was chewed leaves.  In the fall the deer ate those, and I didn't begrudge them!)

Aside from greenery -- and potential greenery -- I've been enjoying colour elsewhere in the house too.  

Online I've been enjoying this year's SAQA Seminar* which is all about colour. The video interviews have been very interesting, and I've played around with a couple of the exercises, and had fun with the colour quizzes, which have engendered much conversation in the SAQA Members Only Facebook group.  

*These Seminars have been an annual event -- usually in the fall or winter months -- free as part of a SAQA membership.

Of course, I continue to work with colour.  The "Traffic Jam" top is now finished, sandwiched and pin-basted -- ready to be quilted.  Here's the top out on my back stoop before sandwiching; it measures about 57" square:

"Traffic Jam" designed by Pat Sloan

I plan to quilt it fairly simply, with wide cross-hatching, and hope to get it quilted, bound and washed within a week or so, as I want to send it to an elderly soul I know in need of a wee bit of comfort following the loss of her husband a few weeks back.

Meanwhile, "Grassy Creek" is in the slow-and-steady assembly phase...with a couple of blocks and some sashing up on my design wall. 

I'm finding it a challenge because -- as you might be able to tell from the photo -- the edges of the blocks appear to "run into" the sashing, and it's hard to find where one leaves off and the other begins.  Because of my tendency to get units turned around, I have to take my time, checking and double-checking as I go!

For play-time, I've been planning a few new art pieces (nothing to reveal yet; it's all in my head thus far), while playing with crumbs and strings.  I've a stack of 5 1/2" blocks composed of these scraps, all in blues, plus a growing stack of the same in the ever-popular "whatever the heck colour I have" variety.  

And I've signed up to take yet another Quilt Freedom Workshop from Joe (the Quilter) Cunningham.  This Saturday morning I'll be studying "String Theory" with Joe and his friend, quilt collector and historian, Julie Silber.  

To prepare for the class, and to make sure I had at least a few inches of space on my sewing table, I've decided I have to deal with THIS:

So...this morning I began to sort the longer strings by colour, putting them on hangers.  I began with the greens and greys, left from making the string-pieced sashing for "Grassy Creek" and followed that with purples, just because they happened to be there:

Next up will be reds and blues.  This sorting, though, won't include the Carefully Curated Collection of Strings in Assorted Colours that are stored below my ironing board...

(Pay no attention to the piles of fabric or the basketful on the floor...😉)

There's still knitting, of course.  My March "Socks from Stash" have been languishing in favour of finishing the comfort wrap for my friend with cancer.  I'm on the last of five skeins of the yarn, an alpaca/silk blend, and it too needs to be finished and in the mail soon!

Pattern: Simple Comforts Wrap
Designer: LIsa Santoni Cromar
Yarn: Diamond Luxury Collection "Tafi"

I'm still working (a bit) on the baby sweater for an expected cousin Back East (no news yet), and have offered to make socks for yet another baby boy (3 weeks old yesterday) well as a little guy who's now 4 years old, the son of a couple of bit Edmonton Oilers fans, who himself is gearing up to play hockey...

Left: "Oilers" colour yarn from "Hat Trick Yarns",
exclusive to River City Yarns, Edmonton;
Right: Schoeller & Stahl's Fortissima Socka Colori
in colour #9096 - "Blau Wei"

And then there's the impetus to dig out yet another UFO -- this one, barely started before it was set aside -- inspired by Kate Jackson's recent Last Homely House video over on YouTube, in which she, too, is sifting and sorting fabric and yarn scraps, with a view to (eventually) clearing it out...

Mitred Throw
Pattern: "Knitted Patchwork Recipe"
Designer: Martine Ellis

There are several patterns for this sort of thing on Ravelry; I just happened to use this one, but have also used this resource from Georgie Nicolson, as I really appreciated the clear layout photo.  I'm making mine in sock yarn left-overs, using 3 mm needles (somewhere between a US 2 and US 3).  Like Kate, I prefer to use double-pointed needles for these squares, especially with this weight of yarn and working with only 32 stitches at any given time.  You can use any weight of yarn, of course, and adjust your needles accordingly. 😊

Anyway, I dug it out and started again...and will pick it up and put it down as the mood strikes.  Given it's in fingering-weight yarn, it will be a never-ending project...and that's just fine!

Tomorrow will be filled with the Quilt Freedom workshop, so I'd best get a move on and get the rest of that Pile o' Strings and Scraps taken care of.  It'll give me a better idea of what I've got to work with -- and more space in which to do it!

I'll leave you to take up your own colourful projects.  If you need more inspiration, I'm linking up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week, her own colourful journey continues as she studies with the wonderful Rosalie Dace.  Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 26, 2021

A Bit More of Everything

 I'm still working on Everything All at Once -- but never fear, Gentle Readers -- I am pacing myself!  😃  And of course, what comprises "everything" is evolving over time.  

First, what's finished?!

"Frolic!", that's what!  Yes...I've finished the top for the Bonnie Hunter Mystery from 2019.  It's double-bed size -- 86" square -- and I'll have it quilted by my long-arm friend, Sylvia Sawyer at Windwood Long-arm Quilting just up the highway.  I found the perfect location from which to photograph it on Monday this week, in the February sunshine:

I'm rather non-plussed that it turned out so well, but then again, Bonnie's patterns always make my shoddy piecing look fabulous.  One goof: I applied the borders with the blue side of the arrowheads next to the top itself, rather than the pink.  It made positioning the corner-stones a challenge, but...I just went with what pleased me, and in the end, it'll all work out!

What continues?  

Well..."Grassy Creek", Bonnie Hunter's 2020 Mystery -- but now I have 9 blocks finished and 1 nearly there.  That's more than 1/2 the number needed for the size I'm making.  

And..."Traffic Jam", that scrappy free pattern from Pat Sloan  that my friend A. shared with me.  It now has enough 6-patch units for borders on two sides!

Shown here: centre block plus layout for border on right side.

It takes 11 of these units to go down each side, and each unit has six 2 1/2" squares.  Then there'll be the top and bottom borders -- each of which will take 11 units PLUS "corner-stones", which are really 9-patch that's a lot of scraps!  Of course, because of how they breed, I'm not really noticing much difference in the sewdio...Sigh.

Sock knitting continues too.  I'm well on my way down the foot of the second sock for the February Socks from Stash challenge, but I Must Knit Faster to ensure I finish by Sunday evening!!

And what's new?

In the Knitting Department, I've cast on a Comfort Wrap for a friend who's recently been diagnosed with cancer....

Pattern: Simple Comfort Wrap
Designer: Lisa Santoni Cromar
Yarn: Diamond Luxury Collection "Tafi"
-- 60% alpaca, 40% silk
Colour-way: 7594 - "Mesa" (red on red)

It's a simple enough pattern repeat, but somehow, every once in a while I drop a YO (Yarn Over) here and there; I've already had to TINK (KNIT backwards) at least twice to get it right!   I really must slow down so I can finish this faster... 😉

In the Art Department...this week there's a new "finish" and a second piece underway.

For several weeks I've been 'auditing' a class in mark-making on paper and fabric, taught online by Canadian textile artist Susan Purney Mark.  I've met Susan and took a short session with her in person at a SAQA Western Canada Regional Retreat a few years ago.  Before that, when I was a Co-Rep for our region, she taught a workshop for us in Calgary. I enjoy her work and have one of her small pieces  in my home.  

Her workshop,"Cloth to Codex" (usually taught in person but not this year!) has been an interesting program.  Even though I am not fond of working on paper or making books, and not an enthusiastic 'mark maker' either, the substrate of the work is inspiring.  One of Susan's practices is asemic writing which I really like -- but I like *actual* cursive writing even more and so...

On Tuesday I dug out a stretched linen "canvas", and made this:

The Thing with Wings II
8" x 10" (unframed)
Pitt Pen, machine thread-painting

I reprised my piece for the SAQA Benefit Auction in 2020, entited The Thing with Wings, inspired by the poem on hope, written by Emily Dickenson.  First, I wrote the poem out on the "canvas".  Next, I sketched the tree on the back of the 'canvas' and outlined it in free-motion thread painting. That took some doing, because in order to get the stretched piece under my needle I had to remove the foot and the needle from the machine -- and put it all back together in order to stitch!  

I cut a piece of mat board and inserted it in the back of the stretcher bars to support the linen, and will have the piece put in one of my favourite 'floater frames.  I like it very much, and have hopes it will show and sell at the Lacombe Art Show and Sale this year, which is booked for the last weekend in May.

Then yesterday (Thursday) I started another new piece.  It's inspired by a photo taken by my talented daughter, Gina, which she included for the month of February, in a 2021 calendar she gave me comprised of her photography.  A few years back she purchased a glass 'ball' that she uses in her work, and she used it to take a photo of a tree in the vicinity of the High Level Bridge in Edmonton, Alberta, where she lives.

I took inspiration from that round image, blue on blue, and from some thoughts I've been pondering in recent weeks, about the 'little blue planet' on which we live.  The tree in her photo inspired my creation of a similar 'Tree of Life' image, and the circular image, my creation of a kind of globe.  The working title is "And She Saw That It was Good".

Here is my first draft:

I looked at it, let it sit for a bit, and decided it required a bit of tweaking.  Here's my second draft.  

Can you tell what I did?

Self-dyed and commercial cottons
Fused applique
Approx. 15" x 23" before quilting

Here's a close-up of the motif...

There's still quite a bit to do to finish it, but I'm letting it 'percolate' now.  Eventually it will be finished with a facing as a soft piece with a sleeve-and-dowel hanging system.

It was so warm earlier this week that I found myself outside on my back stoop, stitching in the sunshine!  I put a cushion on the little chair I keep out there, and wore my Harris Tweed cape over a couple of layers, and was fine.  My hands didn't even get cold!  

I spent most of that time stitching down the facing on the back of "On the Straight and Narrow".  Now all it needs is a sleeve!

Today, however, we're right back into February weather, with snow flurries and gusty winds.  It'll be a good day for assembling those 6-patches into a border and attaching them to "Traffic Jam"!  

Later on, I'll curl up with some of my knitting, and -- oh yeah!  -- do the suggested reading for an online Lenten Retreat I'm taking online at 2 p.m. tomorrow, and for the following 2 Saturdays.  Whether you're registered for a spiritual retreat or one that will find you exploring new artwork, as Nina Marie is this weekend, it pays to be prepared!  I'll leave you with a link to her Off the Wall Friday -- and wish you all a weekend filled with creative blessings.  😊