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!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Herding Cats

I find I'm restless and unsettled these days.  Likely, it's due in part to the fact I'm paying far too much attention to what's happening (or not happening) Down South.

Then there have been a couple of recent deaths locally -- or connected locally -- young people in late teens and early twenties, one by her own hand.

Our priest is retiring at the end of this month and there's no one in sight to replace her -- at least, not that I know of.  Our Parish needs to update it's profile, discern changing needs, that sort of thing, before it will be ready to consider applicants for the post.

I continue to wait of news about the two exhibit entries I've put out...

And the weather is turning at last...longer days but very windy; snow is unpredictable, as is ice, on the roads.

Topping that is my online studying which is challenging my late-developing Artist's Brain to stretch and move in very different directions.

I feel like I've been hired to take charge of a 'herd' of cats!

There are some finishes and near-finishes to be pleased about.  The little dress I made for Baby Adina (who turns 1 year today) is in the mail.  Alas...I've discovered that while I thought about taking a photo of it -- I actually didn't.  :-(

The cowl I'm making for a shop sample is more than 1/2 done and will be finished tomorrow at The Shop.

Gina's Harry Potter House Socks are proceeding apace -- I'm well down the leg of the second sock of the pair...and

I've just sent off another $163 and change -- divided equally -- to the JDRF and Diabetes Canada (formerly the Canadian Diabetes Association) from sales of Mark on the Body (see the link in the side-bar for an online preview if you like.)  That brings the total so far to very close to $620 -- for which I am truly thankful!

And...there are some up-coming exhibit opportunities...such as the invitation from a quilt guild in Camrose to do a talk and trunk show at their meeting in mid-April, and a possibility of reprising that talk for the LQS in Stettler in June...

So this post is really about a follow up to my previous one!  (GRIN)

I got the "Windows" piece sewn together and tried it on with EB over at the Academy of Quilting -- with four different rotations.  Can you guess which one she liked best?  ;-)

Which one do you like best?

And...I've been working away in Lyric's "Abstract-a-licious" class, turning those thumbnails into colour and then into a motif I could translate to fabric.

First, my favourite motif (the one on the far left HERE), in colour -- two complimentary colours plus 'white', but done with differing values in coloured marker and crayon:

My favourite of these is the top left one -- here's a close-up:

Lyric liked the one on the very bottom, but it was too close to "Christmas colours" for me!

Today I began to work on this as a piece in fabric -- quite a good size, really...aiming for about 16" x 20" finished.  First, I pieced the background (with the sample on paper inset):

Then I took aim at the white, curvy overlay.  I decided that rather than fuse it, I would needle-turn it...but first I had to draw it out.  I cut a piece of white Kona cotton about the same size as the back ground fabric, and laid it over top of said background on the design wall.  Then...I literally took a mechanical pencil and drew the shape, matching the beginnings and endings of each curve with the stripes of the background, just as it was in the sample...but adding a bit extra fabric for turning under.

Then I tried it on in two different orientations...

First, like the sample

Next, in reverse

Believe it or not, I'm kinda favouring the second one...

Any thoughts?

While you ponder that, and get back to me, I'm linking up with WIP Wednesday on the Needle and Thread Network, and preparing to drive into town for the Ash Wednesday Service.  Maybe that will help me herd some of those cats!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

About Windows...

No, not MS Windows which, blessedly is working just fine on my computer (I have Windows 8.1).

Rather, for my "Mod Meets Improv" class, I'm struggling with creating a piece that has "windows" or window-like shapes as its motif.

As I reported when I posted my attempts to EB on the Academy of Quilting classroom for "Mod Meets Improv", I enjoyed making my last piece so much -- using a ruler rather than free-cutting -- that I decided to use the ruler again.

Hmmmm.  Somehow, instead of it making my work easier, I found the more precise cutting influenced the way I looked at the pieces, and that I was beginning to fuss over them.  I should say here that unlike "Off the Rails", I wasn't creating blocks this time.  Rather, I've been making free-sized pieces and trying to fit them together, like a puzzle -- some rectangles, some squares...that sort of thing.  It's made for a higher level of frustration than I experienced with the Rails piece.

Still, I've managed to come up with two designs which you can clearly see aren't stitched down yet.  NOTE: the background is actually more purple than you might see on your screen.  :-)

"Through Any Window" - V. 1

"Through Any Window" - V. 2

I prefer V. 2...but E.B.'s opinion is that it has 'too much' going on.  I can see where she's coming from so have replied that I will likely settle for something in between.  :-)

From there, it will be on to Lesson Four which deals with taking what EB calls 'motifs' and turning them in to quilt art.  This dovetails beautifully with the other class I'm taking...

To whit...

In my "Abstract-a-licious" class with Lyric Kinard, we've also been looking through windows -- using a small 'viewer' cut in paper to look at our environment and then make thumbnail drawings of what we see.

It began with lines...

Thumbnails 1

Thumbnails 2

We were then to use shades of black and grey to add values -- but not colour -- to our three favourite thumbnails:

Thumbnails with Value Added

My very favourite of the three above is the one on the far left...but making it in fabric would be a definite challenge.  Do-able...but a challenge.  This weekend I am working on adding hues (colour) and values thereof with a thought to translating this to a fabric sample.  Looking at them as I write this post, I just might try it with all three stay tuned!  :-)

Meanwhile, I'm linking up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she's talking about negative space which -- as you can tell from my recent posts -- is of great interest to me as a key component of what I've been studying in my two current online classes.  Nina Marie enjoys working with it, and you can see it in her work.  I, on the other hand, would like to get better at using negative space but have to admit that I usually have trouble separating the trees from the forest...

On that note...have a good rest of the weekend!

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!