Saturday, February 18, 2017

Learning to Float

As long as I can remember, I've loved the water.  My mother took me on beach (both Atlantic ocean and local lake) holidays when I was very little, and I loved it -- digging in the sand, playing in the water.  I was never afraid of it.

Mom and I
York Beach, Maine, USA, ca. 1955

After my mother and step-father married (1957) they built a cottage on a bay in the St. Lawrence River in SW Quebec, a place we always referred to as "The Lake".  Our family spent every summer there -- often moving there as early as Easter and staying through Thanksgiving (early October in Canada) -- till we were all grown and gone, and my parents continued to live there and winter elsewhere until 1978, when they sold up and moved West to be closer to my sister and me.

We all learned to swim early, and eventually to water-ski.  If my eyesight hadn't been so poor (I had to wear my glasses, tied on my head, to see the boat pulling me when on skis), I'd have likely trained as a life guard -- I enjoyed it that much.

My favourite moves?  The Crawl, treading water, and just plain floating.

Well now.  Here it is over 40 years since I last stayed at the cottage (DH and I spent part of our honeymoon week there in 1975, and my sis and I taught him to water-ski)...

And I'm now learning to float with fabric.

What's that, you say?


Modern Quilting, you see, includes a penchant for (usually colourful) shapes floating in an ocean -- or lake -- of  (usually neutral) background fabric...and Lesson 3 in "Mod Meets Improv" including an assignment to riff off a traditional quilt pattern while at the same time, trying to make the shapes in the pattern 'float'.

Oy vey.

Apparently I was getting close with my "Grid" piece, to which (at E.B.'s suggestion) I've now added a 'border' so that (apparently) the white spaces 'float'.

"Hole in the Fence" is now more like "Fenced In"...

Hmmm...I'm not sure.  I've thought about removing that blue-green border and using a wider white one instead, but I'm not sure about that either.

I decided that to make a new 'floating' piece, I'd riff off the old "Rail Fence" pattern.  After all, my very first quilt was a 'Rail Fence' -- which I made in a weekend class at a LQS 'way back in November 1984, newly pregnant with the wee person who is now my son.

Well first quilt
Rail Fence, 1984 would I do it and get the 'floating' thing right?


A few years ago (2? 3?) I bought Joe Cunningham's Craftsy Class, "Pattern-free Quilt-making".  I love Joe Cunningham -- anything he makes.  I love his sense of humour, his take on the world, his quilting style and his funky music.  If I could afford to take a class from him (he's taught at some pretty classy retreat venues), I would in a heart-beat.  And it just so happens that the first lesson in this class is a riff on "Rail Fence" or -- as it's sometimes known -- "Three Sisters".  He calls his version "Three Crazy Sisters".  :-)

I call mine "Off the Rails":

"Off the Rails" - finished top (not quilted)
Est. approx, 26" square (after quilting)

When I posted it on the Classroom platform, I got an excited response from EB and two other class-mates, including my former 15 x 15 colleague, Chris.  Apparently it reminded a couple of them of an early video game -- or one of those digitally-coded squares you find on some products.  Who'dda thunk it?!

Whatever it resembles, I like it, and am torn between making it as a hanging and turning it into a baby quilt...

While I think about that, I'm going to read my first set of class materials from my other (now concurrent) online class, Lyric Kinard's "Abstract-a-licious", which began Wednesday...and I'm linking up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she features a  wee interview with a SAQA colleague of mine, the talented Paula Jolly of Mossbank, SK (that's Saskatchewan, for non-Canadian readers).  Enjoy!

We've snow and freezing rain in the forecast for this evening and tomorrow.  If that happens...all I see in front of me is more cozy stitching (and knitting too).

Have a great rest of the weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

More Paperwork -- and Then Some!

This week, some bad news...and some good news.

The bad news: I received an e-mail Monday that the Ailsa Craig Quilt Festival had been cancelled this year for lack of entrants.  It was featuring Canadian artists...and I'd entered this:

Sometimes You Can Walk on Water
(C) 2017
Photo inspiration: Gina R. Blank


When I shared my mixed emotions about this on Facebook, two of my SAQA colleagues suggested I enter it into Grand National (Canada's art quilt show held at the Joseph Schneider Haus Historic Site in Kitchener, Ontario.  

I'd never even thought about it!  

Sure, I knew of Grand National from the awards won there by my first art quilting teacher, Anna Hergert -- but her work is so 'way above mine in finesse and perspective and...and...and...well!  It would be sort of like entering IQF in Houston, from where I sit!

But with Elaine Quehl's prodding, I asked myself, "What have I got to lose?"  -- and I checked the deadline.  February 24!  And I could do it online!

And so I did.

Wish me luck, everyone!

While I wait to hear the results, I'm going back to my Mod/Improv class...and starting that new one on abstraction with Lyric Kinard.

I've now done a "grids" exercise in the Mod/Improv class...and came up with this:

Working Title: "Hole in the Fence"

I've just posted it in the Classroom over at Academy of Quilting, so I'm awaiting Elizabeth's feedback.  At first I wondered if that big space just off centre needed something more...but having left it for a couple of days now, can tell by the working title that I'm now thinking of leaving it alone... ;-)  We'll see what EB has to say, eh?

As for the Canada 150 table runner, I've completed row 2 -- two of them, as required -- but remember, this is a mystery, so I'm not sharing a photo of that just now.

I mailed off two knitted gifts last week:

Baby Miranda's Feather-and-Fan Blankie

YinYang Kitty Socks for Chereena,
whose birthday is today!

It cost a pretty penny to send a light-as-a-feather-and-fan package to Quebec (the blanket)...tracked and insured.  If I get into Grand National it might be cheaper to fly to Kitchener and deliver it in person! 

I'm still working on Gina's Harry Potter House Socks (sorry, dear!) and am well into a wee knitted jumper (that's the North American idea of a jumper, not the British) for yet another baby in the Vancouver.  And I'm doing a cowl for The Shop in a new yarn we'll be getting in soon -- Tennen by NORO.  Stay tuned for photos!

Now...looking out the window, I see it's sunny and warm (Chinook!) so it's time to go out for a jog.  I'll leave you with a link to WIP Wednesday over at the Needle and Thread Network...and see you later!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

From Improv to Precision

More than 20 years ago, back when my DH was beginning his decline in health -- a decline caused by (then) 35 years with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)...I was a knitter and an embroiderer.

Two friends, Janet and Candy (neither of whom read this blog; of that I'm quite sure) decided -- separately -- that I needed to learn to quilt.  "Cutting fabric into strips", each one said (unbeknownst to the other), "is therapeutic."

"You'll like it", they each said.

Candy invited me to accompany her to something at an LQS (for knitters, this translates to "LYS but for quilters") called the "Saturday Block".  The deal was this: in January of the given year, pay $10 for a pattern and some fabric.  Make a block from that and bring it back -- finished -- the next month, and get the next pattern and background fabric FREE.

I tried it.

I was hooked!

Over three (or four; I forget which) years, I learned to cut and piece fabric.  I made many stars (somehow these kits always featured stars!).  I eventually learned to make 1/2-square triangles so that the points would match.

I still love to piece quilts...only now?  I'm learning to make 1/2-square triangles improvisationally, which means the points no longer have to match...except when they do (have to, that is)!

My next step in Lesson 2 of Elizabeth Barton's "Mod Meets Improv" was about triangles -- preferably free-cut, from squares that were free-cut...from fabric with a 'split-complementary' colour selection...

It turns out the hardest part was choosing the fabrics -- because I have precious few solids (or near solids) that aren't landscape fabrics (and therefore untouchable for purposes of this exercise).  I hauled out my colour wheel book* for advice:

That only took me the better part of a morning...

*colorWorks: the crafter's guide to color by Deb Menz -- Interweave Press, 2004.

Then I free-cut 5" squares (the best I could do with the amount of fabric available!) and sliced them in half diagonally (no ruler!)...and arranged them on my design wall:

I played with them a bit but frankly, none of them seemed to measure up to the I tested my choices by converting the photo to grey-scale, just to be sure the values were right:

I decided I liked I stitched the squares into rows and the rows into a single piece:

Everyone's Got an Angle
(C) 2017 

And I submitted that to EB for critique...and she loved it!  Whoo hoo!  Life is good!

This means that it will be sandwiched, quilted and prepared for exhibit...somewhere...sometime...

And so I took a break, and reverted to more precise piecing...with this:

A mystery table runner featured in a newsletter -- and in print -- by Canada's only commercial quilters' magazine, Quilter's Connection.  Now, quite frankly, it's part of a contest, which I have no intention of entering.  I just thought it would be nice to have a "Canada 150" - themed table runner on my dining table.  I found some appropriate fabric, and so far have completed the first row....

The pattern calls for two of "Row 1" so...there you are.  Because it's a mystery project, I'll not be showing more of this for a while, so as not to spoil the fun.   The deadline to finish and submit the piece is April 15.  Though I'm not entering the competition, I won't be showing the finished piece until the deadline has that wouldn't be fair, would it?!

All I can tell you is that I suspect with Weeks 3-5 remaining in my "Improv" class, and "Abstract-a-licious" with Lyric Kinard starting later this brain is likely to go into over-drive, trying to reconcile 'improv' with 'precision' with 'who cares?!'

Stay tuned for the fun!  :-)

Meanwhile, even though it's Sunday, I'm linking up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday. This week she's contemplating composition and lo and behold -- she talks about the colour wheel --  so pour a cuppa, read what she has to say about it, and enjoy what everyone's doing over there!  :-)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Shredding a Life

In between sewing and knitting projects, last week I spent part of my time shredding documents older than 7 tax returns, investment and banking statements and utility invoices.

This came about after our priest spoke about 'decluttering' her sermon a couple of weeks ago.  As I recall, she was referring more to getting rid of that which clutters our souls, our inner lives...but on reflection, it seems to me that this can work its way into our concrete, exterior lives too.

Clutter often arises out of an inability to let go of the past.  

Some years ago I bought a good, sturdy shredder, and began to get rid of some of the paper 'clutter' in my life.  Then...I stopped.  A year went by; then two; then three.

After her sermon, I knew it was time to face it again -- and I ended up with four and a half bags of shredded paper!

The first two bags...

I let go of all those old documents until...


Until I got to my late DH's Estate.  Now 10 1/2 years gone...

I couldn't do it.  

I managed one bank statement and a couple of cheques...but...

I couldn't continue.

Even though I have plenty of photos, old books he owned, memorabilia he saved...somehow, shredding the financial documents, cheques bearing his signature, would have been like erasing his existence.

I put them away.

I forgave myself my sentimentality.

Then I moved on into the day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Construction Continues

Since my last post, I took up EB's suggestion and added a narrow navy strip to the bottom of my "Shift" pieces from Lesson 1 of "Mod Meets Improv".  I like the way this bottom border gives the pieces just that wee bit of 'polish' and I will quilt them simply, mainly 'in the ditch' to allow the strips to be the focus...

"Shift" in Blue/Orange

"Shift" in Blue/Yellow

From strips I moved on to an assignment of free-cut (i.e. without a ruler) squares, set to float in a neutral background.  My first sampling was scrapped before it was completely assembled...and EB didn't argue when she saw the photo... ;-)

Nope, nope, nope!

I went with contrasting brights in the second sample, and it worked out much better.  EB was actually very pleased.  It will begin with in-the-ditch quilting too, but once that's done I might add a little something...we'll see what the piece tells me when it's that far along.

Too big for the design wall!

And yes, I know the seams don't all match.  This is 'improv' and they were free-cut, remember?  And working title as yet.  Maybe when I've quilted it, something will come to me...Any ideas, Gentle Readers?

This morning I struggled to find a good selection of double complementary colours for my next attempt -- a grid of 1/2 square triangles -- also free-cut!

While that project is under construction -- yes, at the same time! -- I'll be taking up needle thread to work on another, older, set of "statement" pieces that I'm considering finishing to enter into a new call for entry sponsored by the Artist Circle -- a Who's Who of  textile artists: Sue Bleiweiss, Susan Brubaker Knapp, Judy Coates-Perez, Jane Dunnewold, Victoria Findlay Wolfe, Jamie Fingal, Lyric Montgomery Kinard, Melanie Testa, Leslie Tucker Jenison and Kathy York.

This project is technically a triptych, so I've made a couple of inquiries as to how to enter it.  All I will tell you for now is that this is the Call:

To learn more about this very special Call for Entry...visit the above blog: and stay tuned!

Now...while you investigate those might also visit The Needle and Thread Network, where I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday!  Have a great rest of the week and remember...when the stress of World News gets you down...RESIST the urge to run screaming from the room.  Instead, pour yourself a cuppa or a glassa...and go forth to...

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Back to School

My online class with Elizabeth Barton -- "Mod Meets Improv" -- started last week.  True to form, EB produced an information-packed lesson (saved and printed) and requested both drawings and a finished top (not necessarily quilted).

She began by defining 'Modern' quilts as a genre and talked about the characteristics of a typical modern quilt.  She asked us to design three pieces, and gave some mathematical guidance (i.e. the use of a constant etc.) for doing so 'to scale' so that we could then extrapolate a finished size.

I made my drawings 4" W x 6" L, so I could fit two on a page, and copy it easily with my home copier and printer, thus:

Designs #1 and #2
Meant for two colours

Design #3
Meant for 3 colours

I chose Design #3 to colour in a few different versions, based on the fabric I had on hand -- and knew that I'd have to buy white fabric as I didn't have enough on hand (i.e. in quality and size of pieces) to make it work.

Here are my colour selections,  in sketches:

Blue Set #1 and #2

Blue Set #3

Purple Set #1 & #2

Purple Set #3

I think you can guess why most of us liked our three-colour designs best!  :-)

Reviewing my fabric, I went with the blue/orange/white and the blue/yellow/white combinations for construction.  It turns out my "purple" was really more "magenta" and didn't play so well with either the orange or the yellow!

Oh...and my blue all along has been navy, not 'royal' as in the photos...I just don't have a navy marker for colouring!

So here's the finished duo:

Navy combos - side by each
And the other way 'round... 

I have a feeling I'll be finishing these so they can be displayed either way 'round... I can't really decide which I like better!

Or...perhaps they'll be hung on their own, rather than as a pair...Again, either way 'round...




My cyber-colleague Chris is in this class with me...and she's an astronomer.  She said they reminded her of the concept of a Doppler shift (aka 'Doppler Effect' -from physics).  She thought I could use that as a title for the pieces.  Now, physics was the one science class I could never quite get my head around (I have a B. Sc. in Nursing, and preferred biology, genetics, and organic chemistry myself...), so I had to look up the term 'Doppler shift/effect'...and can't say as I can really relate.

I'm thinking of something more like, Shift Happens, or A Shift in Perspective...Time will tell!

Meanwhile, I'm going to link this up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and turn to Lesson 2!

"See you" soon -- and thanks for reading!

P.S. Title ideas and other thoughts welcome...  :-)

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Yesterday was full of it.  Paperwork: up-dating the Excel (R) spreadsheet that is my monthly cash flow (much of my income lands in on the third-last business day of each month); answering correspondence (e-mail); sending out cards (birthdays and such); filing a health insurance claim (new prescription purchased)...and most important of all, preparing my response to two Calls for Entry with pending deadlines.

The first, for the Ailsa Craig Community Quilt Festival 2017 -- Canada Sea to Sea to Sea, in celebration of our sesquicentennial (150 years since Confederation) this year -- has a deadline of 11:59 p.m. EST (9:59 p.m. MST) on January 31.  I'm pleased to say I made it -- with a few days to spare!

Yes...I got the sleeve on the piece and was able to hang it on a bedroom wall for photographing...and the final photo was trimmed to eliminate as much of the background as possible, per the rules of the Call:

Sometimes You Can Walk on Water
(C) 2017
42" W x 36" L
Materials: hand-dyed and commercial cotton,
fusible web, cotton batting, cotton and polyester
thread, perle cotton thread, crayon.
Techniques: rough-edged fusible applique,
free-motion machine quilting, hand embroidery,
fabric colouring.
Inspirational Photo Credit: Gina R. Blank

Sometimes You Can Walk on Water - Detail

The second application was for the 18th Annual Lacombe Art Show and Sale, which has an entry deadline of a month from now: February 28 at noon.  That said, the form's been completed, the cheque for the fees written, the Artist's Bio printed, and the photos of recent work and a sample booth set-up burned to an accompanying CD.  All will be delivered to the City of Lacombe on Tuesday at my lunch hour -- City Hall being an easy walk from my work at the Shop and the weather expected to be reasonable!

This is the first time in several years that my daughter Gina won't be with me in this venture, so I've got to be sure I have enough pieces to show -- and that includes making several new 'minis'.  In addition to artwork, I plan to have some copies of Mark on the Body for sale, which I will sign for each buyer.

Here we are in the booth last year.  That stand at the back won't be there (it's Gina's), and her pieces and cards won't be on the you can see what I mean: there'll be plenty of space to fill!

I had thought of answering another Call for Entry -- one from the Alberta Society of Artists for "New Works".  I wanted to see if it was a fit for my Mark on the Body installation.  I ran the idea past my wonderful SAQA mentor, Bonnie J. Smith, a few months back and she cautioned me to be sure it fit the Call's parameters.  I've tried to convince myself that it does but...truth be told...having printed out the Call, and having read and re-read and re-re-read  It's not really right for the proposed venue, and it wasn't created entirely in 2016-2017.  So...back to the drawing board on that score!  I may simply have to send out materials "blindly" to various potential venues, whether or not there is a specific "call", and see what transpires.  That will require that I "screw [my] courage to the sticking place", that's for sure!

While I ponder that, I'm off for a jog, and then into the sewdio to work on my first assignment from Elizabeth Barton in our "Mod Meets Improv" class online at the Academy of Quilting -- and I'm linking this up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.

Stay tuned -- and have a lovey rest of the weekend!