Friday, March 24, 2023

Action on All Fronts!

 Here we are with only a week left in March!  

I know spring is supposed to be here but it's taking its time arriving in central Alberta.  There's still lots of hard-crust snow, melting only around the edges, and there's lots of ice on sidewalks in areas that don't get enough sun.

While there are buds on my lilacs (well, at least on the one I can see without clambering through snow pack), there are certainly no other flora attempting to peek out of the ground!  There are, however, more birds around too -- cedar wax-wings, pileated woodpeckers, a crow or two and maybe even some nuthatches have been spotted.  I'm not a birder, so except for the obvious calls (magpie, crow, chickadee), I really can't tell who's who -- but I love to listen to them call to each other and carry on their conversations:  "Hey! Hi!  Howarya?  How was your trip back?  Interested in shacking up this year?"  You know; that sort of thing! 😉

I've even managed to sit outside in the sunshine for 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour on a couple of afternoons this past week -- with knitting in hand -- just to enjoy the sunny atmosphere.

Given that the Art in the Park 2022 exhibit launched in Revelstoke a couple of weeks ago, I've turned my attention to preparint for the Encore! Lacombe Art Show and Sale, which takes place April 14-15.  I've given an interview to the Lacombe Express (though I've yet to see it in print) and I'm meeting with the current coordinator of the show on Tuesday for a video taping that will be published on Facebook etc.  Ack!  I've never done that before, but will try my best to appear confident and interesting.  I'll be taking some small pieces with me as illustrations of my work.

I've also managed to take one last small piece to my framer, and she is working hard to frame it and to mount two other rather 'experimental' pieces in time for the show.  I'll go back in early April to pick them up, plus others from the Gallery that I'll exhibit (and hope to sell!) there. 

Speaking of the Gallery, d'you see that rather large QR code in the left margin?  If you have some sort of gizmo that can scan it or whatever, I'm told it takes you to my artist's page at Curiosity Art & Framing.  I posted it on my 3F page on FB and a friend said it worked, so if you try it from this blog, please let me know if it worked for you or not.  

Most of the new work I've been doing is "soft", meaning it's not mounted on canvas and framed.  This past week I struggled to give birth to a new piece that I'd been carrying in my heart and mind for several months.  Here's the story:

I love to walk on the roads around the hamlet in which I live.  For decades, there was a large field at the edge of town -- only a couple of blocks north of me -- owned by a farmer named Jim.  On the southwest edge of the field, bordering 50th Avenue (the main street, paved) was a laneway.  Part-way north, it curved west, but there was also a path that continued north a bit farther before it turned west into a small wood -- trees on either side, wildflowers, and the occasional critter could be seen wandering about (skunk, deer, birds nesting).  It was pleasant to walk through, but only from spring through snowfall.  This made it a particular treat, because you could only enjoy it for a few months at a time.

Well, Jim's gotten older, like the rest of us, and has no children -- so in the last year or so he sold the field.  I didn't realize this until my first walk in the spring of 2022.  I walked up the laneway and kept going up the path to where it was supposed to turn into the woods. 

Instead of this: 

April 2021

I saw this...

May 2022

I started to cry.  Inquiries confirmed my suspicions: Jim had sold his field to a big crop producer who didn't want the north bank of trees to interfere with its ability to grow as much crop as possible.

That said, over last summer, the jumble of ploughed-over trees remained (they're there to this day), and I don't know what was planted -- maybe green manure.  It certainly wasn't canola, but it was cut down in late summer.  Heaven knows what will appear this year.  

But it lead me to make a piece.  

I've not made a 'proper' landscape since before Covid.  I really can't do it any more -- but I wanted to honour the death of this small, beloved wood.  So I tried.  I made this:

Background sandwiched for quilting

Quilting completed; thread painting of "ghost trees"

Close-up of trees

But it didn't look right. On waking one morning a few days ago, I knew what I had to do.

I did this:

Requiem for a Small Wood: A Diptych
(c) 2023
Commercial and hand-dyed fabrics.
Fused applique, collage. 
Machine quilted, thread painted;
 accented by Sharpie marker.

It's not my best-ever landscape, to be sure, but it says what I wanted it to say.  I've faced it, attached sleeves, and will hang it in the show -- but I've not put a price on it for sale.  Who can put a price on a destroyed woodland habitat?

I'm supposed to give the City a piece for its permanent collection.  I was going to give this, based on a location driving east from Lacombe to my home:

It's Still About the Sky (2015)

But maybe...just maybe...'Requiem' might be more important.

What do you think?

Meanwhile, I've been getting other 'soft' pieces ready to hang -- sewing on hanging sleeves. I've got 3 left to do.  Then comes "The Cutting of the Dowels" -- cutting dowels to fit, and inserting eye hooks in the ends of the dowels for hanging.  I picked up a good selection of dowels at the hardware store last week, and will ensure that I prepare them in time -- in case I need a couple more!

In the "utilitarian front" -- i.e., comfort quilts, cross stitch and knitting -- I continue to soothe my soul with assorted projects.

My "Triple Treat" units are up to 57 -- with 7 more to go to make 64, all on the 'browns and golds' theme.  It takes 4 units to make a full block, so 64 will make 16 blocks, 12 1/2" square (unfinished).

I've added a few more blocks to my postage stamp quilt block collection, and am working on another crumb block or two.

I've also decided that after a decade (or two!) of waiting, it's time for me to use a glorious piece of yardage for a "One Block Wonder" quilt.  I have the fabric, the instruction book and the 60-degree angle stay tuned!  I'll be using the book by Maxine Rosenthal from 2006.  See?  I told you it was from over a decade ago!

In cross-stitch, I'm focused on three pieces, one of which is a new start.  The "start" is a small piece designed by Jeannette Douglas, which I began on March 21 as an homage to spring:

Design: "Chubby Bird"
Designer: Jeannette Douglas
Fabric: DMC 28-count 'toile a broder' linen,
coffee-dipped to produce a creamy colour
Threads: mix of called-for fancy floss and DMC 
-- all from stash

The other two pieces are on-going -- and one I can't show you because it's a gift for someone who reads this blog.

I have, however, made progress with "Here Be Dragons" -- for my son's June birthday.  I've finished the wide borders on the top half!

Design: "Here Be Dragons"
Designer: Modern Folk Embroidery
Fabric: 28-count white Lugana
Thread: "Gomez" hand-dyed cotton from Roxy Floss Co.

I'm hankering to start the central design, but conscience says I should finish the lower half of the wide border.  Thoughts?

Aside from these three, I've my Sunday Stitch -- "Keziah Campell" and...well...others...but these are the priority for now.

As to knitting, I've finished the first pair commissioned by my friend:

Pattern: "Simplicity"
Designer: Janel Laidman
Yarn: Gathering Yarn One-Shot Wool/Nylon Fingering

And I'm well away on the first sock of the second pair she wants.  I've finished the leg, turned the heel and I'm making my way down the foot:

Pattern: "Simplicity"
Designer: Janel Laidman
Yarn: Patons "Stretch" in the "Licorice" colour-way

And I finished that second dish cloth, and started a third -- in a solid colour, a lovely burgundy.  Soon my linen closet won't know what hit it!

And so it goes. 

These tasks -- plus walks in the sunshine each day -- are what's keeping me sane as I wait for Spring to really arrive.

As usual, I'm going to leave you with a link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she's been Spring Cleaning her studio.  Me?  Not ready yet!  But as the racks that hold the baskets that hold my fabric will have to be available for my booth at the up-coming Lacombe Art Show & Sale...well...Spring Cleaning will happen soon enough!

Take care, gentle readers, and may your spring (or autumn for readers south of the Equator) bring you many blessings!

Till next time...

Friday, March 10, 2023

The Art of Utility and the Utility of Art

 It seems I can't manage to post more often than every two-to-three weeks these days; I'd rather be making!  And so it's been since I last wrote for you, Gentle Readers.  Life remains good, though there are days when the Sorrowful Demons try to nibble at the edges of my equilibrium, and sometimes succeed.  Often a walk or a session with my online Essentrics Classical Stretch class will break the ennui, and I feel more like myself again.

On the Art Front, "Art in the Park" opened yesterday in Revelstoke, B.C.  It's at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre, and will be there through April 2.  Earlier this week I received a series of photos from Meghan Porath, the Director at the Centre, showing how they'd hung my pieces -- from the ceiling!!  This took me quite by surprise and gave me a real thrill:

(L) to (R) suspended in the centre:
"Rails & Ruins", "Pretty Poison", "Meadow Impressions"
and "Fallen Log"

Because of the perspective in the photo, the "Meadow" piece looks a great deal smaller than it is -- but that's only because it's hung farther back!  Similarly, "Pretty Poison" appears larger, but that's just the angle at which it's hung.  The pillars under each piece carry my labels about each one in turn, plus the front one has my Artist's Statement about my Residency Experience (I think!)

Once my pieces were shipped to B.C., I turned my attention to what needs to be done to prepare for the first in-person Encore! Lacombe Art Show & Sale since 2019.  I've submitted all my info to the coordinator, Christina, including an outline of my Artist's Talk, which will take place at 2 p.m. on each afternoon of the show -- April 14 and 15.  I've examined my pieces, finished making hanging sleeves for the newer ones, and now have some hand-sewing on those to do.  I also will need a few dowels for hanging and will pick those up at the hardware store in the next couple of weeks, along with some more eye hooks.  

Yesterday I had a phone interview with Mark Weber of the Lacombe Express weekly newspaper; I expect the article will come out next week.  One of the first questions he asked me was why I make art (a common question, as y'all probably know!)  My main reason is this: it gets me out of my head!  

That is, it helps me express myself: what's on my mind and in my heart.  It could be through a landscape piece; it could be through an abstract one.  I don't make a great many political or social statements in my work, but sometimes the message is hidden, as it is in "Back to the Garden" from 2013, which was inspired by lyrics from Joni Mitchell's song, "Woodstock": 

Back to the Garden (c) 2013
15" x 15"
Hand-dyed whole cloth, machine quilted,
hand embroidered and beaded

One of my newer pieces (made in 2020 during the COVID pandemic shut-down) is "Order Out of Chaos (or Chaos Can Be Colourful)": 

Order Out of Chaos (aka Chaos
Can be Beautiful) (c) 2020-2021
Assorted commercial and self-dyed
cottons, machine pieced and quilted

This one will be at the Lacombe Show next month, along with some others that aren't statement-oriented.

And I've an idea floating around in my brain right now that may present as a landscape, but still make a statement.  These ideas often take a very long time to come out into the world, so stay tuned!

In addition, of course, I'm still working on comfort quilts.  The "Keep it Out of the Landfill Project" continues apace!

Some weeks ago now I used up all but the few charm squares I own by putting them into a crib quilt:

Pattern: "Chandelier"
a PDF from Vanessa Goertzen

I've had the pattern for a while -- I'm pretty sure it's a freebie, but it was originally published in Ms. Goertzen's book Charm School: 18 Quilts from 5" Squares.  The version I made is considerably smaller than the suggested 60" x 60" size; it's 37" by 57" and that's largely due to the borders!  I had 4" squares, and only a certain number of them went together well enough to produce anything.  In the end, I discovered that, given the horizontal layout of my design wall, I'd laid the blocks out so the "chandlier drops" look more like crystals hanging from an old-fashioned lamp (maybe something from Tiffany) than long droplets hanging from a ceiling-mounted chandelier! Ah well; whatever baby ends up with it won't mind, I'm sure! 😆

In my last post I mentioned that I'd started Bonnie Hunter's "Triple Treat" to use up my 1 1/2" squares and other scraps.  Each block is a 6 1/2" unit, and you need four units to make a full quilt block (12" finished).  I now have over 40 units made -- but there are more to come, as 40 units makes only 10 blocks, and that's not going to get me a throw-sized quilt.

I've laid finished units out on a recycled Styrofoam tray, with the dominant (dark) corners stacked according to their print.  

More often than not there are neutral squared from corner to corner in the centre, but not always.  I went through all the 1 1/2" squares I had, and have cut more from bits and bobs, along with the squares and rectangles needed for the "L"-shaped corner sections.  I decided as I went along, that these all have to have contrasting corners in browns, so that there will be some unity.  On another tray, I've started to collect a different palette -- reds/blues/purples with white or off-white as neutrals.  

And still the scraps keep piling up!  I have bags of "bricks" in light and darker fabrics, 1 1/2" x 2 1/2", using Bonnie's Scrap User's System, and have been longing to find a way to use such small pieces.  Enter Bonnie to save the day!  I found a "Butter Churn" block she's designed in the current (!) March/April issue of "Quiltmaker" magazine.  Ta-DA!  That one will be come a leader-ender project for "Triple Treat", which I used as a leader-ender-project while working on "Rhododendron Trail"...and so it goes!

At the same time, I've returned to assembling units for a postage stamp top which I think I want to make in sections to fit windows as curtains, in the style of Kate Jackson of the Last Homely House, to whit:

I've measured the windows that I want to cover, and well recognize that I've a long way to go before I get there..."many miles before I sleep", as Robert Frost said long ago.

No matter.  It's an easy project, fun to do, and eventually the blocks will add up into larger pieces.  And yes -- keep the fabric out of the landfill -- at least for now!

It seems to be all about "stash-busting" this year in the Knitting World too.  Certainly, I've been very aware of it, and feeling a bit guilty that my knitting mojo has been a bit low.  The baby socks, of course, have gone to their destination -- and now I've been commissioned by a good friend to make her 2 pair of socks, just like ones I made for her a decade ago that are finally wearing out.  I started the first pair about 3 weeks ago and am well down the foot of the second sock.  Here's what the first looks like, made from yarn in stash in a colour that my friend happens to favour:

Pattern: "Simplicity"
Designer: Janel Laidman
Yarn: a "One Shot" from Gathering Yarn,
superwash wool and nylon.

The second pair will be in Paton's North America's "Cotton Stretch Socks" so they can be worn even in warmer weather, if desired.

And inspired by a newly-arranged casual MAL (Make-Along) set up by Selma of the Little Big Knits Podcast -- under the title of "Scrappy Stashy MAL" on Ravelry (and also on Instagram, I think, but I never go there!), I'm dipping back into my other knitting WIPs that fit the bill -- like the hats I've been making, and the Sock Knitter's Sweater...and now, after far too long despairing of my sad and sorry dishcloth collection, I've dug out the cotton yarn in my stash and am making a new batch of Grandma Black's Dishcloths!  The only modification I'm making to the pattern is to knit to 49 stitches before I decrease, as I like my cloths a bit larger than suggested in the pattern.  I work on these when I'm in bed, reading (with an audio book or a book on my bookstand), as they are mindless and soothing projects!

And yes, there is still stitching!  I've taken to working on a red sampler on Thursdays -- in the manner of Sarah from Sarah's Stitch Spot flosstube -- and so am closing in on a finish with my "Ruth Gibb" sampler, started almost a year ago on Mother's Day, to honour my mother Ruth and her mother, Margaret Gibb.

My Sunday Stitch is now the "Keziah Campbell" sampler that my friends Mary D. and Sha gave me for my birthday last year.  I'm still on the border, but I'm almost finished with it.  It's on 40-count linen, so a bit slower going than other counts.  It's a Scottish-style sampler, and I'm going to personalize it -- i.e., use initials from my family -- when I finally get to the alphabets and motifs!

I've finished a Lizzie Kate design for a friend who's having a birthday soon -- but I need to fully finish it...

And I'm making good progress on the "Dragons" piece for my son's June birthday:

Pattern: "Here Be Dragons"
Designer: Modern Folk Embroidery
Fabric: 28-count white Lugana from stash
Floss: "Gomez" from Roxy Floss Co.

Since that photo was taken earlier this week, I've finished that top wide border and begun to go down the side -- about 3" of that done now.

And on that's time to return to any and all of the above -- before the day gets away from me completely!

It's been snowing lightly all day thus far, and it's forecast to continue on and off through tomorrow, so I've got no excuse to waste the wonderful indoor hours I've been given.  It's time to return to colour and creativity in the Art of Utility...practicing the Utility that is Art.

I'll leave you -- as I regularly do! -- with a link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she's talking about 'bad sewing habits'.  Do you have any?  I know I do, but I'm not ready to 'fess up just yet! LOL! 😆

Have a great weekend -- safe, dry, cozy, cool, with those you love, doing what you love.

'Til next time...XXXOOO

Friday, February 17, 2023

Life is Good

Indeed!  And moving right along these days.  It's been a full and rich time around here for the last couple of weeks -- on all fronts!

The baby socks are *all* finished.  I played "yarn chicken" with the Patons stretch from the first pair -- managed a 3rd sock but not a fourth, so will send along the extra one "in case one gets lost".  With that, I cast on a second full pair out of a cotton-wool-nylon blend (no 'stretch' feature), and finished those today. 
Pattern: "Baby Socks"
Designer: Kate Atherly
Free pattern on Ravelry
Yarn: Meilenweit "Cotton Fondo"
Colour #6507

Pattern: Baby Socks
Designer: Kate Atherly
Yarn: Patons Stretch 
in the "Kelp" colour-way

Both pair need to be washed, and then will go into the mail on Tuesday (Monday is a holiday here in Alberta).  And yes, the ends have been sewn in on both pair now! 

The Art in the Park 2022 pieces have all been shipped to the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre in B.C.  Canada Post Tracking says a Notice was left -- for pick up (2 boxes) on Feb. 14 -- so I can only hope they've been picked up and are safely at their destination!  (If you want to see what the pieces look like, check my post from January 28. 😊) could just check out the "Up-coming Exhibits" page from the Gallery itself...where you'll find THIS!!!

"Meadow Impressions" is in the upper left corner!!!

As if that weren't enough...I had a phone meeting with Christina, who's in charge of the Lacombe Art Show & Sale this year.  All is in readiness, as I sent her several photos for publicity, as well as an outline of my Artist's Talk for the Show.  She's been under the weather (hence the phone meeting instead of in person) but we hope to meet soon to do a short publicity video too.

All of this activity had me thinking that maybe I really am an artist -- still -- so I bit the bullet and took out a 1-year 'Basic Membership' in Artists in Canada -- you can see my slot HERE.

As for more utilitarian quilting...I finished the comfort quilt for my neighbour in hospital:

And I finally finished the flimsy of "Rhododendron Trail" -- Bonnie Hunter's 2021 Mystery quilt.  I made it 3/4 size (or so) and it's still a twin-sized 70" x 85"!  

For the outer border, I made a decision: I was not going to use a template in the centre of each border, to allow the "geese" to change direction.  That was okay but...I ran out of geese -- so the decision became irrelevant! LOL!  I got the long sides done -- but on the shorter top and bottom I had to "cope" and add orphan blocks from who-knows-where -- just ones that had suitable colours.  It's okay.  It looks fine and I'm happy with it, and that's all that matters!  It'll go to my local favourite long-armer later this spring, when I find enough backing fabric and $$ to pay for her work!

With one finished bed quilt top, it's time to clear out more stash with another -- so I'm working on Bonnie's "Triple Treat" -- the "leaders and enders" project for 2022-23.  Each 'block' is made up of 4 smaller blocks, so I made test blocks this week (the dark brown in the corners is all the same fabric; it's the photo that's wonky):

I've lots of 4-patch supplies; it's finding fabrics for the larger sections in the corners that is a bit of a challenge -- but I'm working on it!  Each group of 4 smaller units makes a 12" finished block, so I should be able to make a throw-sized quilt without too much problem,     quilting it myself...and it will be to give away.

In stitchy news...not a lot I can show.  I'm working on another birthday gift for a friend; it's tiny, so I'm almost half-finished.  I decided to follow Sarah of 'Sarah's Stitchy Spot' on FlossTube, and designated Thursdays as 'red sampler' days, so I can finish "Ruth Gibb" and move on to others I want to do.  And this week, the chart and Roxy Floss Co. floss arrived from so that I can start a new piece for my son's 38th birthday in June:

Pattern: "Here Be Dragons"
Designer: Jakob DeGraaf of Modern Folk Embroidery

My son's a long-time dragon afficionado (even has a tattoo of one on one arm) so...I'm hoping he'll like this!  The fabric is from my stash -- a 28-count white Lugana.  I got enough floss to do 2-over-2, but will change to 1-over-2 if I don't like the look.  It's a pretty good-sized I'm starting now!

That's all the news that's fit to print -- for now.  I'll leave you with wishes for a happy, cozy, stitchy, quilty, knitty, artsy weekend -- and with the usual link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday where, this week, she has multiple projects on the go too!  Proof positive that creative action keeps us young, imaginative, and vital!

Blessings, everyone -- all for now!

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Twenty Years...and I'm Still Blogging!


On February 8, 2003, I posted my first weblog.  It was short, sweet and simple -- a quote from knitting icon, Elizabeth Zimmerman

"...But I can knit.  I knit all year, day in, day out.  It is my passion, and I rarely knit the same thing twice the same way."

I don't remember the source of the quote -- perhaps one of her books (I own three) or perhaps from someone like Clara Parkes who, at the time, had created the first online forum for knitters, called "Knitter's Review", named for her website and her work, which explores all things knitting.  The forum is no longer -- Clara retired it after Ravelry took off -- but Clara is still busy exploring.  I have several of her books and get her daily 'Respite' newsletter.  I'm still a big fan of all things Clara!

My second post was several months later, but eventually I got into it, and posted regularly, blogging under the heading, "The Lady Who Knits on the Bus".  My "handle" on Clara's forum was "TLWKTB".  Seriously!

In that second post I described a cardigan I was knitting out of -- believe it or not -- Sugar 'n' Cream Cotton.  I liked the cardi and wore it quite a bit, but it's long gone now.  The pattern -- Sitcom Chic -- was from a new (to me) designer, a young woman named Bonnie Marie Burns, and it was published in an equally new magazine called Knitty -- which is still going strong today.  The cardigan was really cute -- I might even knit it again sometime, but not in that heavy cotton yarn! LOL!

In the early days of weblogs, I didn't have a camera that could download photos onto my computer -- which at the time was a tower, not a laptop.  I had to scan them in -- which means photos were few and far between indeed.  

Twenty years on, Elizabeth is no longer with us, but I'm betting she's still knitting -- probably using angel hair!  As for me, I'm still knitting too; it's the first craft I do each morning, with my coffee, as I read the headlines, check the weather and figure out the priorities of my day.  

In grief after my DH died in 2006, all my hands wanted to do was knit.  I can't remember the project(s) on the needles at the time, but knitting -- and cutting fabric strips for quilting -- were what kept me sane for a good long time.  They still do.

Now, of course, I have Ravelry to thank for tracking both my stash and my projects, and for introducing me to many new friends and acquaintances.  Recently an art quilt colleague and I discovered that before we met on Facebook as part of the Studio Art Quilt Associates community, we were friends on Ravelry!  Moreover, we share not only a love of knitting and quilting, but also a love of cross stitch.

Today, I'm thankful for the technology that's provided a platform for my writing, and a vehicle for connecting with friends and family across the miles.  I'm thankful for all the creative minds to which I've been introduced: all the artwork, all the designs, and all the patterns.  And I'm especially thankful for the communities that surround the various textile genres: knitting, quilting, spinning, stitching, fine art and fine craft.  With few exceptions the people I've encountered therein are friendly, inspiring and encouraging.

For example, in my SAQA Members Facebook group, I've been able to share my work, to see and admire and be inspired by that of my colleagues, and to have support and encouragement when needed.  Yesterday I asked for advice on how to write a certain style of Artist's Statement go go with my Art in the Park Residency paperwork -- and I got that advice quickly, with encouragement tucked inside.

So...thanks for sticking with me all these years -- if you have been -- and thanks for joining me more recently, if that's the case.  (You can get these posts in your e-mail if you submit a request through the "Follow It" box in the sidebar.)

Who knows what the next twenty years will bring?  I just hope they find me knitting every day.

-- With love and thanks,  The Lady Who Knits on the Bus

Friday, February 03, 2023

Existential Examen -- Onward!

 For those who've been following, you'll have noticed I didn't post yesterday.  That's because when I got up, I hit the ground running.  There was lots to do:

  • I finished preparing all the income tax receipts for my little parish church -- created, printed, folded, enveloped, sealed, and some stamped for mailing.
  • I finished the second baby sock of a pair and re-did the first one because I'd muffed the heel flap. (After 50+ years of knitting baby socks, you'd think...but !! 😆
  • I did up my dishes.
  • I shovelled the walks -- front, back, public -- again!
  • I went to the Post Office and came home with goodies:
    • Back-ordered hand-dyed flosses -- gifts from friends to go with the sampler they gave me for my birthday last fall; and
    • GADGETS!

I rarely buy anything from Amazon (goodness knows, Jeff Bezos doesn't need my money!) but when you live In the Middle of Nowhere, just hafta.  Take a look at the photo above (click on it to see it in a larger size).  First, see those funky blue and pink things on the left?  Yeah, those!  Apparently their normal job is to keep wires -- especially iPod and other skinny ones -- from becoming a tangled mess...but the stitching world has discovered they're wonderful for holding excess fabric out of the way when using a hoop or frame. 

I thought I'd try them out, because the clips I used for the Growth Chart project last fall were heavy, and generally got in the way.  (Sorry; I don't have a photo of it with those clips attached.)  These little wire-holder thingies have magnetized ends, so they attach top and back -- and they're light as a feather.  They don't interfere with the work.  (Yes, they're a perfect world that would be more environmentally friendly but...sigh...)

Next, see the needles, threaded, just to the right of those thingies?  Those needles are sitting on a teensy-weensy magnet; there's another one just like it underneath.  I got a pack of 'em -- each magnet is just 5 mm (about 1/4 inch) in diameter.  Perfect as needle-minders without the weight of larger ones.  

Now, I'm not averse to fancy needle-minders -- the kind I've been given as gifts or that you might receive as a souvenir from a retreat or with a limited-edition project -- but I find they're too heavy on my light-weight linens...and I had a problem with the magnets on a couple of the ones that came out early in the game (i.e., over 15 years ago).  Those ones weren't coated.  They were the 'ferrous' kind, and one of 'em left a black mark on some linen a while back.  Blessedly, I got it out (!) but decided those needle-minders were best left clinging to the metal base of my stitching station set-up!

I was a happy camper as I headed into my evening stitching.  💗

On today's agenda: quilting up "Sunset", the Thimbleberries comfort quilt I made for a neighbour who's poorly.  He's been in hospital -- again -- and I'm not sure he's home yet, but now that my Art in the Park pieces are finished, I can get to work on quilting this up, binding it and taking it to his care-giver for him.

Pin-basted and ready to quilt!

Today I'm grateful for many things:
  • The snow's stopped and milder weather is moving in so a daily walk will be more pleasant -- and no shovelling (for now!);
  • I've lots to do to fill my days:
    • I've a homily to write for Sunday;
    • I've got that quilt to quilt up;
    • I've got an Artist's Statement to write -- specifically about my Art in the Park Residency experience;
    • I've got another pair of baby socks to knit (twins, remember!);
    • SAQA Seminar is ON, and there's a Zoom chat -- with small groups -- this morning.  This year's topic: "Material Matters" -- about the materials used in the textile world, and how we can use them wisely, to protect the environment;
    • I'm having dinner with a friend Sunday evening;
    • I'm seeing my daughter for a brief visit next weekend; and
    • There are new floss-tubes to watch while I stitch...
And so...this is the last of my daily 'Examen' posts.  That doesn't mean I won't do another here or there, but the habit's been formed in my mind and heart -- finding "what sparks joy" (as Ms. Kondo would say) every day, and expressing gratitude, whether in public or in my journal...or simply in my prayers.

I leave you with a link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday (she's quilting a top this weekend too!) and these thoughts:

  • I'm grateful for the work of my hands; I'm grateful to have had this space in which to express myself for the last twenty years
  • I'm grateful for the knitting/stitching/quilting/art/faith communities to which I belong and for the friends I've made there; 
  • I'm grateful for my art and life adventures; 
  • I'm grateful for the technology that connects us best when we use it for sharing thoughts, kindness, ideas and creativity; 
  • I'm grateful for the 'gadgets' that help us in life and work -- 

and most of all, Gentle Readers -- I'm grateful for YOU!

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Existential Examen (Day 12)

 I was up early this morning -- 4:45 a.m. or thereabouts -- so I got dressed, brewed some fresh coffee and went straight to my studio.  Before I knew it, two hours had gone by!  It was time for breakfast...basking in the glow of the "flow" that had absorbed me as I worked with fabric and thread.

Hour-glass blocks for R.T.
During that creative time, I assembled two more corner triangles for the "Rhododendron Trail" quilt I'm making -- Bonnie Hunter's 2021 Mystery project, now available for purchase as a PDF download.

I finished a seventh crumb block for a charity quilt -- part of my "Keep It Out of the Landfill" project.  Each one is 12 1/2" (unfinished); in the process, I continued putting crumbs together for more blocks, of course! 😉

I figured out how I wanted to finish a tiny line sampler, "'Q' is for Quilter", so I can have it ready for giving: I'm going to wrap it around stretched canvas!  So, I ironed it, applied fusible woven stablilizer, then fused a narrow batting to it. With the edges finished against fraying, it's ready for me to do the final mounting to the 4" x 12" canvas:

'Q' is for Quilter
Designer: Thea Dueck, The Victoria Sampler


I zig-zagged a piece of linen for a new cross-stitch sampler.  It's a new month, so it's time for a new start!

In keeping with my focus in this "Examen" series, when I saw it, I couldn't resist purchasing it -- and I was delighted to discover this morning that I have all the "fancy" floss (hand-dyed cotton) called for -- but one, for which I found the perfect hand-dyed substitute.  All from stash!

Betty Sumner 1822
Reproduced by Red Barn Samplers

Can you figure out why this one speaks to me this month? 💗

Today, I am grateful for my cozy in-home studio, and all of the supplies it holds, just waiting for me to get to work.  I'm grateful, too, for talented quilt and stitch designers, whose creativity inspires mine.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Existential Examen (Day 11)

Are you a podcast listener?  I am.  Before YouTube was a 'thing', I listened to podcasts, and I still do.  I listen mainly when walking, but also, sometimes, when gardening, if I can manage to keep my aged iPod in my pocket!  And sometimes I listen with my laptop, as I stitch or knit or quilt.

I have a few favourites; one of those is produced by To The Best of Our Knowledge (  Yesterday, out walking, I listened to a rebroadcast of a piece that originated back in June 2022.  It's entitled, "You're Not Okay -- and That's Okay." 

As folks say in the current vernacular: "That really resonated with me."

It started with a yard sign back in the days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I hope it continues.  "It" is this: being vulnerable and brave enough -- in a culture that incessantly pursues happiness -- to say, "I'm not okay."  Being vulnerable and brave enough to solicit empathy and connection -- not pity and isolation.

Being raised in the "Keep Calm and Carry On" tradition -- which my DH and I tried to pass on to our kids, with less-than-stellar results -- I'm not very good at letting people know that 

  1. I'm not okay;
  2. I've not been okay for a long time; and
  3. I don't expect to every be fully okay this side of heaven.
In fact, I'm more than "not very good" at it; I'm terrible at it.

But in this, my 71st year, I'm taking a good hard look at my stiff upper lip, and the angst it's caused in my life, and (I expect) inter-generationally.

There are times when we all need to "Keep Calm and Carry On".  I'd have made a pitiful nurse and incompetent businesswoman if I'd worn my heart -- and my emotions -- on my sleeve in each and every stressful circumstance.  I'm not advocating that.

But what I'm learning is that not having a safe place in which to fall, to fail, to deal with all the emotions hidden inside while one is Keeping Calm and Carrying On, is traumatic.  And eventually, the trauma comes home to roost.

Today, I'm grateful for Charles Monroe-Kane and his yard sign.  I'm grateful for permission to follow his lead, and to not only be "not okay", but to admit it here, on the page.  I'm grateful for friends and family with whom I can connect when I'm feeling particularly "not okay" (some days I'm more "not okay" than others!).  And I'm grateful for the lessons in trauma, vulnerability and courage I'm learning from folks like him, and Brene Brown and Gabor Mate and others.

I'm not okay.
You're probably not okay too.
And that's okay.