Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday a Manner of Speaking...

It's been a good week.

On the 29th of each month (or as close as I can get) I update Mark on the Body, my project honouring those who live with and/or care for those living with Type 1 Diabetes.  The past few weeks have been taken up with Part II of this project, which is participatory.  I've asked interested stitchers to stitch on a small quilt sandwich (which I provide) and return it to me to be incorporated into a 'body' of work that expresses "Mark on the Body: Making My Mark".  I have been touched and honoured by those couple dozen who have participated so far -- some of whom have had no experience of T1D in their families or with friends. (If you are interested in participating, please e-mail me).  This week I received 3 finished contributions in time for posting...and today another arrived...

I also got two pieces quilted to send to EB in time for her month-end evaluation in the Master Class...on "Rhythm".  I knew she liked the rectangular approach, but the 'wavy lines' approach spoke to me too.  Both are quilted but...not faced or not quite finished (but that's okay).

First, the 'rectangular' approach.  I posted about this one earlier when I blocked it out.

Rhythm in Blues I - approx. 16" square (unbound)

Here was her feedback on this one:
This came out very well...I might have had one or two red notes for sforzando!!!  Sudden loud notes!!
and maybe made the black strips even skinnier...but I do like the way the blue notes glide through..different sized but fairly evenly paced...a very nice calm representation of syncopation.
And the quilting pattern definitely adds to it...that's a very good choice, perfectly supports and adds to the original idea.  Plus the squareness of it goes with the squareness of the notes.

Now the "wavy lines" approach.  I used hand-dyed muslin, and sections stamped with a self-made stamp using string on cardboard, and acrylic paint mixed with textile medium:

Rhythm in Blues II - approx. 45" w x 12.5" L (unbound)
And a detail shot:

And here was her feedback...
I like the idea of  the one above....I've enlarged the detail so that we can see the string print....I really think it would be worth pursuing further...the string makes a very delicate line...
I feel though it would be stronger if it were bolder, more varied and bigger. (NOTE: I responded with the measurements; she hadn't realized the size of this one.)

Imagine many more horizontal slices with just small background spaces and the string motif jazzing about all over  them.  Don't think you need the "hangers on"...they really don't make a telling point.  (NOTE: I like the "hangers on" as I intended them to add to the 'syncopation' of the piece.)
so I would say: great idea, but put it to one side - as a sample - and develop it much further when you have time.

 So...we shall see what transpires.  I am setting both aside for a while, because tomorrow there will be a new Master Class Theme...and Other Things are going on.

On the knitting front, I've almost finished a baby sweater (buttons to add; then a wash; then a photo!) for the latest grandchild of a cousin of mine "down east" in Quebec...

And I finished the July Socks from Stash:

Pattern: "Hummingbird" by Sandi Rosner
from Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Socks
Yarn: Celestial Merino in "Fiesta" colour-way
from Lucy Neatby (discontinued)

Next month's challenge?  Knit in a colour/pattern that reflects your favourite holiday.  This is a toughie because I'm not a big "seasonal" decorator/celebrator.  Even my Christmas celebrations are low-key and worship and family focused.  But...I decided to go with Christmas and a red-and-white pattern called "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?"  from "knittymelissa"...

Whoa!  Let's hope mine turn out as well, eh?

Now about those Other Things...

In addition to the two new-month-challenges (EB and Socks from Stash)...I have two friends visiting this weekend, and another the following weekend...through Aug. 12.  Sha and Mary are friends from Anna Hergert's classes in Calgary a decade or more ago...and almost every summer since I moved out here, we've had a long weekend being messy artists in my back yard.  Paint, dye, paper and fabric arts...whatever...we will play this weekend and leave with more inspiration and ideas than we know what to do with! I mowed the lawns (front and back), made a dozen rhubarb muffins (fresh rhubarb); prepped pastry for Bumbleberry Pie (rhubarb, Saskatoons and apples); made a couscous salad and set lamb cubes to marinate for kebabs for dinner tonight; did 2 loads of laundry (including washing fabric for indigo dye vats this weekend); prepared two guest beds...

And now posted this!

It's time to go to the Outdoor Studio with a cold beverage and some stitching (there's a binding going on the hand-quilted throw...)...and time to link to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" guests are due within the hour...

Have a good one, eh?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Tree-wrap Experiment

When I first wrapped "my" trees, it had been hot, hot, hot and dry, dry, dry for weeks.  But...a week later: deluge!  We had a full day of almost torrential rain and high wind.

Next day I went out to check.  Did my ties hold?  What did they look like now?

Post-deluge, July 18-2015

The good news: they were (and are) all still in place!  And...some of them have begun to pick up stains from the underlying bark:

Interestingly, the sheet remnant didn't show anything then...

Neither did a strip of synthetic sheer fabric...

But as of yesterday, the morning after the hail storm the night before...

Hail stone - July 21, 2015
I checked again.  All four trees are still wrapped firmly, and now all of the wraps are being impacted by the elements.

Stay tuned...!  (Linking now to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network...and going off to work at The Shop.  Lacombe Days sales begin today!)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Movin' to the Rhythm...EBMC July - Part II

Rain at last!  For the last 36 hours or so we've had torrents of it, beginning late Wednesday evening and moving with all sound and fury through the wee hours of yesterday a.m., on and off again...until sometime during last night, when it began to pour down in sheets, blown on occasion by the wind.  Rain barrels are over-flowing, and streams are running down the street.

Not to worry; no flooding. We have a sandy under-soil here, so I expect it will all eventually soak in...

Perfect weather for getting into the sewdio and tackling my "Rhythm" piece.

First, the feedback on my initial sketches, though, eh?

Initial doodles
EB thought my initial doodles were "...a great way to start and I think it would be really interesting to draw out a whole page with your rectangle idea - it's a kind of quilt pattern/plain chant hybrid!  It would be fascinating to see what happens.   You could also simply take the musical staff and see how that would work out into a design."

A full 18" x 24" of rectangle!

This morning, I took her up on her suggestion and did a full page rectangle...

Um...static, boring...and look at that vertical slice right up the centre!  Aaargh! 

About the drawings of rectangles, including the watercolour, she wrote:

I think you've got a lot of rhythms join on here, and a lot of variety in your shapes...even though they're all skinny rectangles!  I'd do two things...first you're always ascending - musically speaking that is, which means that your implied diagonals are all going in the same direction.  It's always good to counter the movement when it's unidirectional with something going the other way - a lot more interesting and it prevents imbalance problems.  So have a few notes coming down as well as going up!!  And I would pull the two line together so they begin to overlap which will make for a lot more excitement.  You might even have three lines...more depth, more fun!  don't limit yourself.

Rhythm in line
She particularly liked the line drawings, though, and wrote this about them:

"I can see... how you have started to be looser and also to leave more spaces and more overlap.  This is an excellent a LOT more, don't be in too much of a hurry to start sewing.  this has the nice drawn line quality of some of your earlier designs which I think is part of your style and it would be good to develop further."

I was blown away at the thought that my earlier designs had, in her opinion, a "nice drawn line quality".  I can suck on that sweet candy comment for some time...  :-)

So...I went back to lines, after listening at to "Rhapsody in Blue" three more times: once, the Leonard Bernstein version (from my last post), once a piano solo, and once Gershwin himself on the piano.

I got the sense that maybe the lines should be more least to reflect the wee section of the music I wanted to isolate and focus on, so I tried this:

What if I joined the lines?

 And then this:

What if I try curves or waves?

More curves

I followed the drawing by putting a piece of pale blue fabric up on my design wall and trying to arrange a deeper blue length of yarn on it, emulating the curves.  It ended up looking like a textile electrocardiogram...Not quite the effect I was after!

So...I went back to strips of fabric lying on the background.  At one point, after another hour or so of playing with it, I pulled on a thread and the entire piece fell to the floor.  No, it wasn't pinned.   

Sigh.  I was close to tears with frustration at this point.

"Breathe!" I told myself...and as I reassembled the bits and bobs it occurred to me that if I used fewer strips and values of blue, it might be more effective.

My first attempt was rather lop-sided and less than charming:

"Rhythm In Blues" (WIP) version 1
I kept at it...another hour went by...

"Rhythm In Blues" (WIP) version 2
Size: approx. 17" square (unfinished)

Finally something worthy of EB's consideration!  And something I can realistically assemble and quilt.  I even have an idea of how I would quilt it.

So...we shall see what EB has to say.

Meanwhile, I'm linking to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday and digging out my handwork.  The rain continues.  It's a good time for some quiet stitching and knitting while I catch up on blogs and some episodes of Design Matters TV (the Kemshalls) and The Quilt Show...

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

On Tap This Week

While I've been pondering exactly how to block out "Rhapsody", I've turned this week to alternate activities.

1. The kitchen walls now have two coats of primer on them, and are ready to paint.

View of the west wall...

2. I put the third piano-key border on the king-sized quilt under construction as a commission from my daughter (yes, she found more gold batik fabric!)

Just one corner...

3. I spent most of Saturday working through exercises in felting for my Whisper Felting class with Lily Kerns at the Academy of Quilting (4 lessons, able to take my time).  It focuses on needle felting, and as I've been meaning to get back to this -- with my embellisher as well as by hand -- when it cropped up, I was compelled!

There was a bit of playing at wet felting in miniature -- starting with layers of bubble wrap and roving in a small bowl of very warm, slightly soapy water:

And ending up with a wee round of pre-felt:

Then there were various exercises in needle felting.  I don't own a Clover (R) hand-felting tool, just used single felting needles and a block of foam that came in a beginner felting kit I bought a few years ago.  I used this sort of thing in the MAIWA class I took last fall, too, so these exercises were more of a refresher.

For example, I needle felted some roving in light layers, and added some ribbon yarn:

I compared light layers on two different backgrounds - high and low contrast:

Merino roving and synthetic fibres on (L) batting
and (R) acrylic felt backgrounds
And I created felted shapes on a wool felt background, using merino roving:

My favourite exercise though was a bit of practice on the embellisher (needle felting machine), which I finally did without breaking any of the needles!

Experimental landscape - machine needle felted
Materials: wool felt backing, wool roving, synthetic yarn

And a detail:

This gets to the heart of what I really want to do when I master this process: add needle-felting, whether by hand or machine, to my landscapes and/or create a needle-felted substrate into which I can work embroidery and/or quilting.

4. And despite the heat, there's been some knitting.  I've enjoyed knitting the July Socks-from-Stash challenge -- using a favourite purchased pattern.  Sock #1 was finished in a quiet moment at The Shop yesterday:

Here it is on the hoof:

Pattern: Hummingbird by Sandi Rosner
from Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Socks
Yarn: Celestial Merino (discontinued) from
Lucy Neatby

Today?  Linking up to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network...and focusing on "Rhythm" and "Rhapsody".

A bientot!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

It's Too Darned Hot write much, so I'm going to post these...evidence of activity despite the heat.

I've been hankering to do this for some time now...taking a page from Lesley Turner, yesterday morning, early, I wrapped four trees: three aspen and one Manitoba maple (I think).  They are on the edges of a vacant lot a few blocks over, owned by Maria and Dave, from whom I procured permission:

Aspen #1 - piece of cotton bedsheet

Aspen #2 - a strip of a synthetic --
recycled from a defunct bedskirt

Aspen #3 - another synthetic (I think)

Manitoba Maple - unbleached muslin (I think)

I say "I think" because I didn't record which fabric went where.  Will now have to go and do that, of course!  All were tied with plain cotton kitchen-drawer string, and each one is dated:

They're not very visible from the roads that intersect nearby (the woods border a corner lot).

Later in the day I checked on them, and again this morning.  I'll have to let that go now, check less often.  Leave them to the Elements and to Spirit...for however long it takes...

Linking to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and signing off.  It's Too Darned Hot!

Sing it, Ella!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

I've Got Rhythm

Scott Joplin
George Gershwin
Or...maybe not!  That's the theme for the EB Master Class this month: "rhythm".  Achieved by repetition, among other things.  BUT there's a catch!  EB wants us to work with syncopated rhythm: rhythm that's just slightly off-beat.  Think Scott Joplin, think George Gershwin, think jazz, even think Bach and Beethoven (sometimes)...

Now, I enjoy all of the above, musically, art?

Turns out there are many artists who've employed syncopation in their work...and this includes quilters.

Think about bargello quilts, for example.

Photo via

Or the work of Nancy Crow (specifically "Contructions #82: Breaking Control" - scroll down), Katie Pasquini Masopust (scroll down for Syncopation) or Liz Berg:

Syncopation -  Liz Berg

And remember that piece I worked on last year that was a "Convergence" quilt -- based on the work of Ricky Tims?

Um-hum.  Like that.

I tried a few doodles in a small sketchbook, just to get the flow going.

Stiff. Formal. Constrained.  Ugh!

But there was something about the staggered rectangles...that got me thinking about lines.  Dancing lines, like in a scene from Disney's Fantasia...

I got to thinking about Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.  I downloaded it from iTunes into my iPod, and I listened.  And listened.  And listened...

And began to draw...LARGE piece of paper, Sharpie (R) marker...

I turned the lines into rectangles (as if pieces of fabric).  There were two attempts at this on the one sheet of paper:

And then I tried it in colour -- smaller size, water colour paper, water colour paint and pencils:

It has the makings of a very "modern" quilt... but...we'll see what EB has to say first, won't we?

And as I wait...I'll work on other projects (like the 2nd coat of primer on the kitchen walls)...and link to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network.  

As you catch up with what other Canadian needlers are doing, grab a cuppa and have a listen (it's 16-17 minutes long) to Leonard Bernstein playing and conducting Gershwin' guessed it:

Hope you're staying cool (we're not!) and have some rain (we don't!)...

In any event, be well!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Prep, Prep, Prep -- and Knitting, Too

In life and art, there is always preparation...

To whit:  in July 2014 I painted my kitchen cabinet doors.  In July 2015, I'm painting the walls on which those cabinets are mounted.

In between the cabinets and the windows, those walls were covered with wall paper -- typical of mobile homes built in the '70's.  In the case of my kitchen, there are two layers of wall paper.  The plan was to wash with TSP, sand lightly, and prime the heck out of 'em before applying the paint -- likely two coats, too.

Prep #1 - wash, sand, wash
-- and try not to peel wall paper off

My Handy Neighbour, John, and Dave, the fellow who installed my new kitchen counters last fall, both recommended that I not try to peel the wall paper off.  Just wash, sand, prime and paint.

Well, I didn't try.  I didn't have to.  The effect of the TSP wash, the sanding, and the wash-the-dust-off-after-sanding was such that the newest wall paper (likely a good 20 years old) began to lift off by itself, often in swaths.

What to do?  Peel it off, of course, and sand again to be sure what was left was smooth.

My "other" mouse

Did I mention last year how much I loved my mouse?  The sander, that is?  I do.  It's a great gizmo and perfect for both small hands and small spaces!

Prep #2 - painters' tape!
Once the washing-sanding-washing was finished, I taped up what I could with my role of wide painters' tape.  Next up?  Priming...but that's for another day.

Time to get in to the sewdio.

Prep #3 - Materials for MOB II

Some of you who follow my other blog, Mark on the Body, know that I've developed a second part to my initial project -- one in which people can participate.  I've posted about it twice on that blog, and on Facebook and in the SAQA Yahoo Group.  To date I have a baker's dozen volunteers...and I'm hoping the numbers will increase.  Meanwhile, I'm going ahead with this group.  Today I prepped the materials for the project.  All that's left is to assemble the parts into tiny quilt sandwiches, cut lengths of thread, cut out the labels, and package the lot so I can get them in the mail to the volunteers.

I'm very thankful for the people who've agreed to help thus far.  If you're interested, you can find out more information on the MOB blog HERE (first post) and HERE (second post).

On the knitting front, June was a case of "so near, and yet so far" with respect to the Socks From Stash Challenge over on Ravelry.  I made it only to the heel flap of the second sock -- and only half-way through that -- by the end of the day yesterday (June 30).  Still plan on finishing though, as these socks are a gift for a friend.  She's a physics and calculus prof at the junior college level, so I'm hoping that this pattern -- "Angular Velocity" by Rich Ensor from the Spring-Summer 2015 edition of Knitty -- will tickle her fancy.  Here's what the right sock looks like:

Yarn: Arequipa Solids Collection
(discontinued) in colour #228

As today is July 1, it was time to cast on for the July challenge -- using a purchased stash pattern.  I've chosen "Hummingbird" by Sandi Rosner from Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Socks, and stashed yarn I bought eons ago at a Lucy Neatby workshop in Calgary:

Cast-on photo - July 1, 2015
Yarn: Celestial Merino! (discontinued)
from Lucy Neatby - in "Fiesta" colour way

It's so pretty that I worked up the ribbing and first 24 rows while enjoying the early evening in the Outdoor Studio.

And bed!  Before I go, I'm linking this with WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network.

All for now!