Friday, November 14, 2014

Channelling BKH

I enjoy the work of Bonnie K. Hunter.  I've made two of her mystery quilts -- "Orca Bay" and "Easy Street" (though both tops remain to be quilted -- they're huge) -- and am considering making this year's offering, though 1/2 size.

Lately, though, I've been watching her Quilt Cam episodes on YouTube while I work on my next 15 x 15 challenge quilt.  As I mentioned last week, the theme this go 'round is "Roads", and I decided my piece needed a pieced background foreground.  I had a pile of green scraps of assorted values and sizes, so decided to use them for this purpose.  I ended up with a fabric that's more than three times the size I needed, and only a partial dent in the scraps.

Assorted Assembled Greens

I also ended up with an urge to merge more scraps into blocks -- to finally tackle the sack of bits and bobs I'd saved over time to use as 'piggers' at the start and stop of my regular piecing. (I was told years ago that 'piggers' was what they were called; no idea why!)

Crumbs, that's what they are, really.  Crumbs.  I knew Bonnie had written something up about how to use these tiny fabric treasures; sure enough there's a page on her blog and a link on that page to even more crumby ideas from a gal named Barb Horte. (Forgive me; I couldn't help m'self there!)  

While I pondering how best to assemble my "Roads" design, I transferred the crumbs from the zip-lock bag to a handy basket and began to piece:

Basket of crumbs, sack of assorted triangles,
crumb blocks started and ready to trim 

True to Bonnie's piecing practice, I decided to go with 'whatever' cotton thread I could find in my stash, thus saving "the good stuff" (my Superior Threads collection) for Priority Piecing.  This is a wooden spool of 50-weight 100% cotton from Coats & Clark.  I filled a bobbin with it, and am using it top and bottom for as long as it lasts -- for crumbs only, you understand!

When the spool is empty, I'll save it to send to my friend Susan Lenz, who collects them for one of her magical installations, "Stitched Spools".  :-)

This morning, besides doing up some more crumb bits (I have assembled only 2 full blocks at 3 1/2" each thus far; the rest are coming along.)  I worked out more ideas for my "Roads" piece.  Still in a 'crumby' mood, I decided that instead of using a full slice of fusible web (Wonder Under) to attach a long narrow strip of foreground fabric, I'd dig into my WU scrap bag and use up guessed it!  Fusible web 'crumbs'.

Wonder Under bits on one edge of a fabric strip.

I keep these bits sealed in a zip-lock bag to keep the web "fresh" -- or at least to have it last as long as possible in this dry prairie climate.  Most of the time, I can find just the size I need and make it work; this is especially handy for my miniatures.

The "reveal" of the "Roads" theme is at the end of this month, and I'm on target to finish on time. Next up?  Sandwiching and quilting.

Meanwhile, I'm linking up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, where today she's wondering what's on our 'Creative Christmas' lists.  

Hmmmm....for me?  I'm all for NM's Item #5: a great creative book (or two or three).  I'm looking for gift cards for Chapters/Indigo (a Canadian 'Barnes & Noble' or 'Borders') and/or -- because there are some very creative books on my wish lists there, to wit:
And there's more...non-fiction, poetry, memoir...things I wouldn't just buy for myself but also wouldn't want to just borrow from the library. (I borrow fiction; I prefer to own the other.)

How would you answer Nina Marie's question?  ;-)  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Two Minutes to Remember

Wherever you are today,
What ever you are doing,
at 11:-00 a.m.
\in your time zone

For 2 minutes...
To remember.

It's a Pittance of Time.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

First Snow of the Year

Not counting the freak snow storm in Calgary in September, this weekend we've seen the First Snow...the one that has not only arrived, but also is ongoing as I type and is fixing to stay around.

I've decided that even if the winter ahead is as long and cold and snowy as the winter of 2013-2014, this time 'round I'm not going to let it get the best of me!

This year, I'm ready.  I've several coping methods up my sleeve(s); to wit --

  1. Lots to do in the sewdio -- Christmas knitting, my 15 x 15 challenge(s), some major family-and-friend commissions, and the chance I'll get to be one of the new students in Elizabeth Barton's Master Class.
  2. My second year as a SAQA Western Canada Co-Rep, with the objective of learning how to host an online webinar/conference sometime in March.
  3. And last but not least...

The Ideal Single Female Home-owner's Winter Work-out.

Optimum Conditions for the ISFHWW:  
  • Light, steady snow;
  • Little or no breeze;
  • Moderate winter temps -- -10 to -15 C at the coldest and little or no wind chill;
  • A layer of at least 6" of the white stuff, preferably powder.
  • Not just a deck or sidewalk that needs clearing, but also a driveway -- preferably double-wide.
Optimum Equipment for the ISFHWW:

Sturdy, light-weight shovel

Sturdy, warm boots
Warm, wind-proof jacket
Warm pants - even layered with tights
Warm hat - *must* cover ears
Optional: protective eye-wear

Protective gloves/mittens*
*My personal favourite: layering dollar-store gloves under cozy hand-made finger-less ones -- either hand knit or, like these, made from recycled cashmere sweaters.  I bought my pair at a recent "pop-up" market at Latitude 53 in Edmonton...Maker: Lynne Fortowsky of the Sashiko Studio.  Love 'em!

Best of all, when you've spent an hour or so outdoors shovelling, you can come in for a hot cup of Dark Roast...and some cozy stitching...

Shown here: finishing the binding on a Magic Tiles
quilt for baby Kieran James Rennie Ward

P.S.: For Inquiring Minds: these pieces are now finished:

See You in the Spring  (C) 2014

Tipsy Autumn (C) 2014

Five minis will be delivered to Gracie D's tomorrow.  Tell your friends!

Friday, November 07, 2014

A Day Late...

This week I missed posting to WIP Wednesday over at NTN because...well, I had WIPs on Wednesday but no time to post.

Did I mention I'm working at The Shop two days a week right now?  Have been since after Thanksgiving.  It's Prime Yarn-craft Weather and customers have been flocking to the store for yarn with which to knit and crochet gifts for Christmas and whatever other holidays they celebrate -- on top of newly-arrived babies and grand-babies, etc.

In quiet moments there I've been able to work on my own knitting...but there haven't been that many quiet moments!

The days are long -- I leave here around 8 a.m. (yes, it's still rather dark then) and don't get home till close to 7 p.m. (yes, it's dark again then)...which makes for a fulfilling but lo-o-ong day.  By the time I've sorted myself out and read/responded to correspondence and fed the cat (and sometimes, me)'s time for bed!

To keep Wednesdays and Fridays from feeling like 'catch-up' days, I'm trying to spend more (structured) time in the studio.  By Wednesday evening this week, here's what was going on:

  • First, a reprise of "Gone South" from this time last year.  Here it is with my "test mat".  I was checking to see if I'd stitched in enough wee branches.  I test my pieces several times while under construction; using the mat helps me see what needs to be added -- or not.  Another example of what was added in this case was some stitching across the bottom to give the impression of snow banks, even though in this piece the background is a very pale grey.

Having decided the branches looked right, I began to add tiny beads to represent the small "apples" that grow on this particular tree (it's in my back yard).  (Yes they are the same beads that are featured in "Winter Dinette".)

The shadow is caused by the position of the piece on my worktable (a keyboard shelf at my desk; I was watching a PBS program on computer while adding the beads).  :-)

Today I will finish adding the beads, trim the piece, put some stay-stitching around the edges and apply the mat.

  • Then I hope to start the stitching on this piece -- another WIP from Wednesday:

"Tipsy - Autumn" - WIP
The piece is based on a photo from another corner of my favourite field:

Until earlier this week, there were hay bales all over that field.  (Don't be confused; the bale is not larger than the building!  That's just the angle at which I took that photo, which I was taking not so much for the building but for the colours of the trees and grasses.)

That said, the presence of the bales has given me an idea for some of the stitching on the 'field' in the foreground of the piece.  :-)

Being reminded of the quilting design was a lesson I re-learned Monday and again Wednesday as I watched my former tutor, Linda Kemshall, on an episode of DMTV entitled "Art as Inspiration".  I watched it three times, I think, as I prepared for my next 15 x 15 piece on the theme, "Roads".  As usual, I have several ideas buzzing around in my head.  The DMTV episode helped me by reminding me of the steps I learned in my C&G -- inspirational photos/research; sketchbook notes and perhaps a drawing or two to get the colours and impressions in mind...etc.

Adhering to that lightly structured process is very freeing, really, because it slows me down, requires me to really look at my sources of inspiration, focus on the colours, lines and forms that appeal to me, which I can then extract for my quilt design.  It has a calming effect, serving to "unscramble" the ideas and thoughts crowding my brain.

The sorting-out thus far is both in my sketchbook and on my wall...

Mapping "Roads"

And the process continues... 

I'm now linking to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  The plan: stitch those beads to "Gone South II" while I sip a fresh cuppa coffee and read what others are up to.

Looks like EB is using a section of her Abstract Art for Quilt-makers class with the current Master Class Students.  Why don't you visit too...and see what's going on?  Happy Friday, everyone!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Remember to Read the Fine Print

Being early in the month, yesterday I took some time to piece the November "Four by Four" Block of the Month -- the project in Christmas fabric I've been working on all year in order to finish the kitted tops I collected over time from Freckles Quilt Shoppe in Calgary (now closed as the owner retired).


I didn't have a block for Month #11 -- November.

I'd discovered this some time back, and decided to select an alternative block that I thought would suit -- one from a BOM in 2006.

It turned out very prettily re-interpreted in Christmas fabrics, don't you think?

"Grandma's Favourite"


The "Four by Four" patterns finish at 12" square -- but this isn't written on the pattern.  I didn't think twice about selecting "Grandma's Favourite because I liked the pattern and thought it would fit well with the other blocks I'd pieced


It finishes at 10" square -- and this is written right on the small print.

I'd missed it entirely.

Ah well; if/when I put the blocks into a top, I'll just have to cope

Lesson: it pays to read the fine print!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Too Pretty? Too Precious?

I've worked "small" for some time now...and seem to discover my niche with the creation of 5" x 7" "miniatures" since making a piece for the first "Spotlight" silent auction SAQA fundraiser at the Santa Fe conference in 2013.

I've lost track of how many I've made since then, but suffice it to say it's been a few dozen...and I'm currently making another few pieces for a local gift/antiques/collectibles shop that has agreed to take a chance on me.

Today I finished the one I had under construction earlier in the week.  Clearly the original, nearly-finished version needed something --  and I didn't think my machine could do it so I turned to hand stitch.  This took several hours.  I blended two strands of DMC floss in two different colours to get the effect I wanted.  Then, once the 'branches' (or twigs) were in place, I could see that the impression of bush needed to appear in the background and again, I knew my machine couldn't do it; I had to do it by hand.  This is the result:

Wishing Pond - (C) 2014

I have one more piece in the "nearly-finished" position -- "Winter Dinette".  It emulates "January Afternoon" from last year -- but has berries on the trees for a pop of red.  I marked the 'pops' out with red marker and then  Tiny beads were needed...and so I have begun:

Winter Dinette - WIP (2014)

Winter Dinette - Detail (2014)

I began to wonder if I was taking too much time over these pieces, which will sell for no more than $35 retail, and of that, there will be commission to pay...

And so I went for a jog to clear my head and relax my body -- and I listened to a podcast -- "Writer's Almanac" with Garrison Keillor.  In the entry for October 28, Mr. Keillor read this poem...

I Love all Beauteous Things*

I love all beauteous things,
      I seek and adore them;

God hath no better praise,
And man in his hasty days
      Is honoured for them.
I too will something make
      And joy in the making;
Altho’ to-morrow it seem
Like the empty words of a dream
      Remembered on waking.

..and I knew I was doing the right thing by taking time and attending to details.  It's all about the process, eh?  :-)

P. S. Linking to Off the Wall Friday over at Nina-Marie's, because it's been too long since I've done so.  See you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Meanwhile, Back in the Sewdio

Christmas Knitting continues...but not fast enough!

And miniatures like this one are Under Construction:

First, the inspirational photo, taken last May a few kilometres up a gravel road south of Tees, Alberta:

Inspiration for "Wishing Pond"

And the fabric piece, currently submitting to hand-stitch:

"Test Mat" - "Wishing Pond" - WIP October 2014

There's another piece -- "Winter Dinette" -- also under the needle, getting some beads.  Photo will follow eventually!

Each of these finishes at 5" x 7", and are matted to 8" x 10"...and hopefully will be on display by mid-November -- along with "Storm Building" -- at Mirror's "Gracie D's Antiques, Collectibles & Giftware".

I'm linking to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network and then heading off to bed...tomorrow is another day at The Shop, followed by picking up my car...and the long drive home.


Auto Adventures

I've been giving my wee 2002 Toyota Echo, Cutie Pie, some LUV in the past few weeks -- getting her ready for winter, plus some upkeep/maintenance.

October 17 I was due to have installed:
  • Windshield #3 (I live in a major Rock-throwing Zone);
  • New bushings (to replace dried, cracked 12-year-old ones);
  • My winter tires; and a
  • New block-heater cord (as my original one was clipped off by scamps on the Labour Day weekend.)
Well...2 out of 4 ain't  The winter tires were put on, and the block heater cord repaired...but it turned out that the glass installers didn't have the right-sized windshield, and the Parts Department 
Toyota Echo Sway Bar Bushings
 discovered that the sway bar bushings they had in stock weren't the ones that would fit my Toyota.


Parts ordered "STAT!" and appointment re-booked for today.  I drove my car off the lot and home-ward.  Then I noticed a knocking when it was idling at a stoplight.  I figured I'd have them look at it when I came back in for the windshield and bushings.

It turns out it was my water pump...and that the water pump is an Important Part.  And they didn't have one in stock but could rush one up from Calgary (2 1/2 hours' drive away).  Fed Ex to the rescue...but it meant keeping my car there over night as the part wouldn't arrive early enough to get everything done before closing.


They offered me a "loaner".  


You see, I drive a standard shift car, because then I know I'm The One Doing the Driving.  I don't like cars that want to drive me.  I prefer to drive them!  

I was afraid the "loaner" would be a Big Bad Automatic...'s a Yaris, they said.  Same size as your Echo.  And PLAIN.  Very Plain.  

They were right.

The "Loaner" in my driveway
Aside from the fact that its covered with logos and advertising, and is an automatic transmission, and is black, I could drive this car.  Now.  Maybe forever.

Of course, I'm not ready to buy a new car.  My 12-year-old Echo has only 224,500 km on it (give or take) and is in pretty good shape (or will be, with new bushings and water pump and windshield #3).

But if I were...

I mean, this Yaris sedan is a car that's a car.  It doesn't try to drive for me.  It lets me do my own shoulder- and mirror-checks.  It doesn't tell me where to drive.  It lets me use a map.  It's dashboard doesn't look like it belongs in a 747.  It has an AM-FM radio and CD player, and neither of them phone me. It's the right size for my garage and has a capacious trunk.

Now install a 5-speed manual transmission and paint it red...

I'm praying they still make them when I'm ready to buy!

This is not my Echo, but one just like Ideal Car