Friday, April 14, 2017

A Good Friday Poem...for Parents

It's Good Friday today.  God's Friday.

And as so often happens on a Christian holiday/holy day, I search out poetry to help me sort my thoughts and feelings.  This year I stumbled upon this one here, posted by an author named Ellen Painter Dollar.  I don't know her or her work, but from a brief read of her biography, she's dealt with issues similar to those in my life: faith, disability and parenting.

In the past year the impact of this challenging combination on my life and the lives of my children has become ever more evident to me...and so this work by Wendell Berry speaks to my heart today.

I share it here for those Gentle Readers who might find solace and support in his words.

Easter cannot come without Good Friday.

The Way of Pain 
For parents, the only way
is hard. We who give life
give pain. There is no help.
Yet we who give pain
give love; by pain we learn
the extremity of love.
I read of Abraham’s sacrifice
the Voice required of him,
so that he led to the altar
and the knife his only son.
The beloved life was spared
that time, but not the pain.
It was the pain that was required.
I read of Christ crucified,
the only begotten Son
sacrificed to flesh and time
and all our woe. He died
and rose, but who does not tremble
for his pain, his loneliness,
and the darkness of the sixth hour?
Unless we grieve like Mary
at His grave, giving Him up
as lost, no Easter morning comes.
And then I slept, and dreamed
the life of my only son
was required of me, and I
must bring him to the edge
of pain, not knowing why.
I woke, and yet that pain
was true. It brought his life
to the full in me. I bore him
suffering, with love like the sun,
too bright, unsparing, whole.
                     - Wendell Berry

Monday, April 10, 2017

Stamps and Strings and Other Things

I've written about this before...the idea of a break for my brain -- a 'palate cleanser', if you will -- after a spate of solid creating.  For me, this comes in the form of cutting and piecing strips, which I find very soothing -- and for which I'm very grateful that my hands are still supple enough to permit doing.

Since January, I've created a multitude of new 'pieces' including assignments for three online classes in modern/abstract/improvisational quilting, a piece for the latest 15 x 15 Group "reveal", and fifteen sixteen new miniatures for the up-coming Art Show and Sale.

Yes, sixteen.

After I finished the three 'Mug Shots', I found I had at least one more landscape tugging on my brain -- a combination of fabric, thread painting and needle-felting:

'Homeward' (2017)
I got to use the pencil roving I recently purchased at The Shop -- NORO's "Rainbow Roll" -- or at least, some of each of two of the three colour-ways I now have in my possession.  I really like the way the colours of the roving complement the horizon and the fields, along with some "mini-boucle" yarn I found when cleaning out the sewdio, and the wonderful eco-dyed silk in the foreground, purchased some time back from my dear friend and colleague, arlee barr.

So, there you have it; sixteen minis for the Show & Sale.  The new minis are finished -- for the time being.  All my pieces are priced and packaged.  All that remains to be done is to cut 10 new dowels (mostly for my 15 x 15 pieces that were either on tour in France and Taiwan for a couple of years, or for the ones that were new in 2016) and prepare price cards...

And write my talk for the Battle River Quilters' Guild in Camrose, for its meeting on April 19.

And box up supplies for my mono-printing demo at the Show on the afternoon of April 21.

Just a few things.

So...I decided yesterday to take a break, and do some piecing.

Those of you who know me from Facebook may have read that I've been Spring cleaning the sewdio.  I do this every year once my fabric storage rack is dismantled, ready to use to display my work at the Show.  This year was no exception.  The baskets that hold my fabric now look wonderful, and are ready to be re-installed on the rack once the Show is over.

However, I can't say as much for my scraps.

Just a drop in the bucket...

The above ignores completely doesn't include the other large basket-full, the packets of those cut into reliable sizes (a la Bonnie Hunter and her 'Scrap Saver System'), and the bag of 'bonus triangles' (another of Bonnie's ideas) and the basket of 'crumbs' (ditto)...

What the above represents, however, is not the pile with which I began, and from which,  yesterday afternoon and evening, I added to two pet projects:

My string blocks -- which now number 25 out of a goal of at least 48:

Stack o' String Blocks - April 9, 2017
8" square, unfinished

My 2" x 7" strips for a postage-stamp quilt:

Stack o' Stamp Strips

And my postage-stamp blocks -- of which 28 out of a hoped-for 81 are finished:

Stack o' Stamp Blocks
6 1/2" square, unfinished

Good thing these are rather addictive...because I've a long way to go!

And now for a break of a different kind.  The sun has come out for the first time in almost a week, and my lawn is calling to me for some Spring cleaning of its own.  And maybe a short jog after that.

So, Gentle Readers...I'll leave you with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday (always a good read!) and see you later.  Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, April 03, 2017

Inspired by Deborah

I admire the work of SAQA colleague, Deborah Boschert; in particular, I was taken by her series of 'bowls' that was written up in Art Quilting Studio -- the Winter 2017 issue.

The article sparked in me an idea and a desire to work it out in a similar fashion.  The past three days have been spent doing just that...with the hopes that this trio will be of interest to and go home with someone at the upcoming Lacombe Art Show & Sale.

The first in this wee series took me most of Friday, but by that night it was finished and I'd already laid out a preliminary idea for the second.  By Saturday evening the second was finished and I knew how I wanted to work out the third.  By Sunday evening, the third was finished.

I have more of the materials, but not an idea for any more than three at the moment.  With the Show & Sale less than three weeks away now, I am in "final prep" mode -- attaching sleeves to larger pieces, ensuring I have enough dowels for those sleeves, attaching hardware as required to framed and stretched pieces, making sure my spotlights have working bulbs and my pieces, I'll be making little or nothing new till this 'to-do' list is finished.

 "Mug Shots"
Each is 6" square and 
is wrapped around stretched canvas.

Mug Shots I

Mug Shots II

Mug Shots III

Linking up at the last minute to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and wishing you all a wonderful week!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Whole Lotta Makin' Goin' On!

Fun videos aside, I really haven't posted any artistic progress for over two weeks.'s going to be April on Saturday.  Who'dda thunk it?!

The time has flown, what with work at The Shop, and buying a new car, and making new work for the up-coming Art Show & Sale in Lacombe (April 21-22).  

With that video I proved to myself that I could actually do a demo about something -- so I quickly asked if there were still a slot open for one at the Art Show and -- YES!  I'll be doing that same wee mono-printing demo there on Friday, April 21 at 3 p.m.  They'll give me an extra table on which to work, and I'll have access to the janitor's work room and sink for cleaning up.  All I need to supply is something to protect the table, and my mono-printing supplies.  The great thing is that I'll have at least four minis done with that technique, plus the one large piece I did last year for my 15 x 15 Group.

These new ones include two of the birds-and-beads pieces that people really seem to like...

"Town Hall Meeting" - 2017

"Family Reunion" - 2017

And a couple of new ones based on a photo I took of the sky in September...sometime...and can't locate (at least at the moment!)  

"Golden Autumn" - 2017
"Spring Greens" - 2017

Yes...the branches of those are mono-printed before stitching and yes -- they've been framed!  My manager at The Shop had taken them out of inventory because they'd been there for ages and not sold; she gave me a good price...and I bought several.  The two pieces above have mats and glass.  The one below does not:

"January Moon-set" - 2017

Also in the "something new" category of minis this year are these two, that I finished this morning...and as I want to make at least two more pieces, there may be more in this vein...

Needle-felted minis, mounted on mat-board:

"Coming Home" (2017)

"Spring Rising" (2017)

I've played with needle-felting before -- I even have an embellisher and I've taken a class -- but this time, inspired by my friend Mary who's taken up wet-felting with great results, I was determined to make it work.  I finished each piece with a bit of gentle wet-felting to 'set' the felt, but in truth they are quite soft.  "Coming Home" has had a light non-woven stabilizer fused to the back of it as it's composed of pre-felt (the sky) and acrylic felt (the land) sections.

"Spring Rising" is felted onto a square of recycled wool blanket that had been washed (and therefore lightly felted) before using. Not wanting to put them under glass, I searched the internet for mounting ideas and settled on one: I marked a hole in the mat under each corner of the given piece, and punched it out with an aul.  I then ran embroidery floss through the hole into the back of the piece and out to the back, and tied it there in a double knot.  I further secured each knot with artist's tape, thus:

I really enjoyed the process, and hope that others will like them enough to take them home.  Meanwhile, I have a few more minis to make, and some sleeves to attache to larger I'm going off to link this to WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network.

Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Margaret Makes a Movie!

I don't know quite what got into me this morning (Spring Fever?), but while I was in my messy room (where I do painting and dyeing and what-not) painting some birches a la Mary Wilton, I decided I should make a video.

I played with the camera; it was no surprise that my first attempt -- while painting those trees on fabric -- didn't work out.  Still, I persisted!  😉

I finished the birches and moved on to some mono-printing, which I figured I could describe without a script as I've now done this particular type of mono-printing several times.  I set it all up, began to work and talk at the same time -- et voila!

Here's my wee tutorial on mono-printing.  Not sure I'll make a habit of this...but let me know what you think!  😊

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Making Time for Knitting

I'm surrounded by yarn at least two days a week -- at The Shop where I work on Tuesdays and Thursdays, The Crafty Lady in Lacombe, AB.

And...I'm surrounded by yarn at home, as I have a fairly (ahem!) healthy stash.  :-)

Recently Lori, my employer, asked me to make up a sample for the shop in some new NORO yarn we're expecting.  The supplier had left us a skein of "Tennen" in a wonderful tweedy grey; I promptly looked the yarn up on Ravelry to see what folks have made of it.  Being a new yarn, there weren't a lot of examples, but I fell hard for the Snowy Winter Cowl -- a free download from designer Laura Reinbach.

This is usually knit in a more solid colour but it turned out just fine in the wool/mohair/silk, slightly thick-thin, slightly striped "Tennen"...

Then there are the "House Socks" inspired by -- you guessed it! -- Harry Potter.  My daughter, as I've mentioned before, is a die-hard fan, and requested a pair in Gryffindor colours.   I've been working on these on and off for a couple of months now.  The yarn (Diamond Yarn's "Footsie" in "Maroon" and Regia Yarn's "4-fatig" (4-ply) in yellow -- now discontinued) is quite fine and I was using 2.25 mm needles!

The pattern, designed by Alison Hansel, is found in her book Charmed Knits (Wily Books, May 2007) which, in addition to being available for purchase online, is found in our Regional Library.  When I began,  I was interested in only one pattern -- the socks with narrow stripes, per my daughter's request.  Just finished, they're now washed and will be wrapped and in the mail to her tomorrow...

However, the book contains more than sock patterns: sweaters, an owl "stuffie", at least one blanket...I might just have to get my hands on a copy before it goes out of print!

On the needles now?

  • A pair of plain 2:2 ribbed socks from scrap yarn;
  • A "Reverse Psychology" shawlette, designed by Mindy Ross, which I'm making for a friend, knit in "Cottage Socks", a hand-dyed yarn from Canada's own Fleece Artist yarns;
  • Another pair of "Little Red Riding Slippers" (DROPS Designs) for my daughter to replace ones that came to a sad end at the hands of her washer and dryer... (!)  These ones are being made from Vintage Chunky by Berocco -- a machine-washable wool-and-synthetic blend in colour #6154 -- "Crimson", a yummy red; and
  • An afghan square -- one of several in the "Knitterati Mystery Afghan Knit-Along" from Cascade Yarns.  I've decided that for now I'm making only the whole-knit squares (not Fair Isle or intarsia) as I am using a lovely 'aran' weight yarn in a blue green heather that has great stitch definition.  

Fleece Artist "Cottage Socks" yarn
Colour-way: "Sangria"

These projects are a combination of mindless and complex...and should be enough to keep me out of trouble when I'm not in the sewdio, eh?

The snow's stopped falling; the sun is out; the sky is blue; the walks have been's time for a nap!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

All Work and No Play...

Yes, I've been doing more paper work,  but I've also done some paper play this week.  (Advance Notice: lots to see here...this is a rather long post!)

I spent Monday assembling my first-ever Proper Proposal to an Art Gallery -- i.e., an Exhibit Description/Proposal for the Art Gallery of St. Albert near Edmonton, for Mark on the Body to appear there in 2018.  While I have two more of these to do, this one had a deadline (March 14)...and a timeline that says the Gallery will respond to all applicants by June 3, 2017.  In other words, "Hurry up and wait"!  :-)   The good news is that I had it in the mail on Wednesday, the postage to send it with tracking was reasonable, and it was delivered in St. Albert on Friday.

Next up: the McMullen Gallery, which is part of the University of Alberta Hospital Complex in Edmonton -- a key place for me to show this work, as that's where many of the latest advances in research about Type 1 Diabetes -- its causes, treatment, prevention and cure -- have been made, and where that important work continues.  Deadline for 2018 submissions: March 31.

And last but not least, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge -- 'way down in the south of the province -- it's a five-hour drive compared to two hours for those other galleries.  There's no deadline for this submission; the SAAG accepts proposals on an ongoing basis -- thank goodness!

The other hard slogging (!) came in the form of paper play with Lyric Kinard in her "Abstract-a-licious" online class.  I'd fallen behind a bit in the exercises since I last reported, and with the course now half over, realized I had to get going or I'd miss out!

In Exercise 2 -- entitled "The Borrowers" -- we were instructed to riff off one (or more) of the paintings offered which had been altered to grey-scale.  I chose Van Gogh's "Starry Night", which appears below in colour:

Starry Night - Vincent Van Gogh, 1889 

There were several tracings involved -- identifying background shapes, the largest shapes, groups of shapes and that sort of thing.  I came up with a few images...

Largest Shapes

Grouping Shapes (this was tough,
and I'm not sure I got it!)

Background Shapes

Having chosen one of the paintings and traced its shapes, we were now challenged to "make it our own", again using tracings that we'd change a bit at a time till something new was created.  Here's my final composition, on paper:

It may be different from the original,
but it still looks like a landscape...
Why am I not surprised?  It even has a wide sky!

Then we were asked to add colour -- playing once more with the colour wheel.

 Again, no surprise -- I began with a monochromatic scheme in greens (upper left), moved to an analogous scheme of greens, blues and blue-greens (upper right), then as suggested, tried a 'triad' in primary colours (lower left) and finally a complementary scheme in blues and oranges (lower right).

I like all but the one in primary colours; my favourites, though, are the monochromatic and the complementary schemes: the former, because it is so close to what I see around me (when it's not winter!!) and the latter, because it strikes me as other-worldly somehow.  I'm thinking about replicating these in fabric, and depending on how it goes, might actually break down and do all minis.

Exercise 3 required doodling -- something I've not done for a good fifty years and which has been exploited of late by folks making money by selling instructional books, special pens and special papers for it, putting me off entirely!  I was comforted to encounter kindred spirits in this class, for whom 'doodling' was the last thing they wanted to do.  That was a revelation to me, because everywhere I look it seems that folks have been smitten by it as a stress-release.  It did that for me when I used to chat on the phone in my teens, doodling away with my free hand, decorating my mother's grocery list.  Now I neither enjoy doodling, nor being on the phone except to very special individuals on very periodic occasions.  For stress release, I knit!

But enough of that.  I slogged away, dutiful student that I am, and made a few doodles.  I figured to make them true doodles, I needed to go back to the tools I used as a kid: a message pad (this one was about 3.5" x 8") and a ball point pen with a propensity for blotting!


Next: add some patterning, first with a pen.  I outlined the ball-point with my favourite Pitt Pen "brush tip" in black, and went to town.  While I can't see doing this regularly (it got rather boring), it was fun for the time it took.

Doodles with patterns

Continuing with the theme of patterns, we were asked to take one of the doodles, and layer underneath it a batch of papers that contained black-and-white photos of patterns.  We were to cut out the shapes we saw in the doodles, mix them up and reassemble them with tape.

Now, I've never been good with paper and tape.  I get all caught up in the tape; it sticks to me, to itself and to the paper in places where I don't want it to stick.  Here are my sad and sorry combinations.  I managed only two samples and threw the other pieces into the recycle bin!

The one thing I learned (besides the reminder of why I never play with paper and tape, and use gift bags where possible) was that either my patterns were too similar or there was just too much pattern in the top sample, rather like the fabric block I made from large prints in my Craftsy class a few weeks back...

Too much pattern!

One last exploration remained in this lesson: positive and negative space.  Cut out one of the doodles that had been done on white paper, and play with it against a patterned background.

This was tricky, because the paper bounced around on itself, and I was determined not to use any tape for fear of getting tangled...but still, I persisted:

The underlying pattern is a grey-scale photo adapted from a coloured original that I'd taken of berries and leaves on the grass in autumn.  While I didn't enjoy the process (too fiddly), I did rather like the results.  That said, all the bits joined the others in the recycling bin shortly after this photo was taken!   :-)

There was one last exercise to do before I was fully caught up.  Exercise 4 -- "Reality Warps" -- involved tracing a pair of scissors (that is, a real object that is pretty easy to trace) and manipulating the tracing, adding to and/or subtracting from it, altering it...creating an entirely new image or motif to use as a springboard for a larger piece.

I chose my kitchen scissors which I use for picking lettuce and herbs in the garden, etc.

The original (upper left)
 and the first two variations.

As I reported when I posted in the 'classroom':
 I found this tricky.  I kept getting distracted by the **entire** shape being traced, and found it hard to isolate parts so I could either re-trace or alter them.  Still, I persisted.  The following is a series of 3 photos showing the original scissors (I chose my kitchen scissors because they seemed the most interesting) and two variations on the theme.  First, "original" plus #2 and #3...I rather liked #3 -- especially the "floral" centre.  

The original --
and the next two variations.
And my report in the 'classroom':
....[the] "original" plus #4 and #5...Both 'variations' are rather ugly, but #4 (bottom left) is workable.

And finally...

The original --
and the last two variations.

On these, I commented...
...For these, I started again and created a riff off the original (top/centre right); from there I created the tracing I like best (#8).  Again, I was drawn to create something floral...or maybe it's an attempt to depict the "Star in the East" that hung over the stable in Bethlehem...who knows?!

The last section of Exercise 4 had us taking 'elbows' and cropping some of the above doodles, scribbles, and tracings, as well as the chosen sample painting(s) we'd borrowed from the order to come up with "New View(s)" for further creating and abstracting.

For example...from my explorations into "Starry Night" -- a few items with potential, especially (or so I think) for hand-stitch:

I've yet to translate these into anything, but I think there's definitely some potential for developing these.

You can bet, however, that I'll be doing it with fabric and pins on my design wall, not with paper and tape!

Now, having been snowed in (again), I'm off to do some shovelling.  Once I return, I'm pouring a cuppa and heading off to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, where this week, she too has been playing with her cropper!

Have a great rest of the weekend!

Friday, March 03, 2017

Coming Soon... the City Hall in Kitchener, Ontario!  As described by curator Joan Hug-Valeriote, and posted on the SAQA Central Canada blog:

Contemporary Canadian Art Quilts : 
From Fine Craft to Fine Art

Kitchener City Hall, in the Berlin Tower Artspace,
200 King St. W. Kitchener, Ontario, 
April  8th until  May 30th, 2017. 

Joan Hug-Valeriote is curating the highly anticipated multimedia art quilt exhibition which will take place at Kitchener City Hall and invites all area art quilt enthusiasts and arts supporters to visit the  exhibition during its run from April 8-May 30th, 2017.

The “virtual” component of the show is a continuous video display of over 100 Contemporary Canadian Art Quilt photographs compiled in a dynamic video collage of several universal themes. The quilt artists come from across Canada and their work will be displayed over a 5 foot square array  of 20 screens , plus a selection of the beautiful art quilts on the walls .

Two of my pieces join several of those by my colleagues in the "virtual" component of this exhibit; one -- Wide Alberta Sky --  is part of the about 9 seconds in...

If you're visiting the area in April or May, be sure to stop in to see this unique exhibit by an all-Canadian cast of textile artists, celebrating Canada 150!