Saturday, July 19, 2014

Untitled, for Friends

Today, for all who have loved and lost loved ones.

What the Living Do

Marie Howe
Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through
the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,
I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,
I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.
What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.
Copied from The Academy of Poets  with thanks.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Up and Down

For the past couple of weeks the temps around here have surpassed their usual, pleasant early July pattern (mid-twenties Celsius) and soared up to 30 C or more (with humidex).  When there's been a breeze, it's been fine for being outdoors.  Work on my kitchen cabinet painting project has progressed.  All nine doors up above the counter have been finished -- and of course, what was taken down had to be put up again:

First Doors Up

Now I am working lower down, below the counter.  You can get a glimpse of before and after all at once:

What a difference between old (L) and new (R)!


Most of Wednesday was too hot for this project, so I spent hours researching abstract painters for my online class, "Abstract Art for Quilters" with the wonderful Elizabeth Barton through the Academy of Quilting.   I found a gem guaranteed to inspire and buoy me up when I'm down in the doldrums, as I have been much of this summer.  Her name was Agnes Martin (1912 - 2004), born and raised in Saskatchewan, who studied and lived most of her life in the art mecca that is New Mexico.  Some of her wisdom re: art and life:
Do what you were born to do.  That is the way to be happy.
Art is the concrete representation  of our most subtle feelings.
 Music is the highest form of art.  It's completely abstract.
Although I don't believe there's any relation, her paintings remind me of the work of one of my textile art heroes, Judith (Judy) Martin of Ontario. to wit:

The Islands - Agnes Martin
72" b 72" - acrylic and graphite on canvas

paradise is what lies beyond the horizon (one)
Judith e Martin - 2012
19" x 19" - domestic linen, acrylic paint, thread, paper

You can follow Judy Martin on her blog HERE, and from there follow links to her work.  Agnes Martin's work is still being exhibited by the Pace Gallery.  You can listen to wonderful discussions of her work as related to that of other abstract artists, and to an interview with Agnes herself on You Tube - "Agnes Martin on Not Thinking".

(NOTE: the clip is preceded by an advertisement.)


Art making -- doing anything with my hands, really -- anything rhythmic and colourful -- is soothing.  It lifts me up out of the world, up out of the griefs and sorrows -- the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' (Shakespeare - Hamlet) -- that conspire to keep our spirits down.  Like Agnes Martin, I'd like to train myself to stop have "...a clear mind, so that when something comes into it, you can see it" and take it from there.

(For SAQA members, there are a couple of recent conversations underway on the  SAQA Yahoo Group about art making while living as we do in the midst of personal and global tragedy, violence and unrest...)

And that's whats off my wall today, so I might as well link this up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and see what the others think (and what they're up to)!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

In Betwixt and Between

hot weather
monkey mind

landscape so beautiful it hurts

going underground for a while

Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important
calls for my attention—the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage
I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here
among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.
The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?
My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.
Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

PrayerMarie Howe, Poet

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Today in the Outdoor Studio

Some spinning for the Ravelry Tour de Fleece 2014

Bobbin #2 - almost full

Some quilting for the 15 x 15 Group challenge

Stitching down the facing

Some work in my sketchbook

And...some cross-stitch/embroidery

Linking this up with WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network...

Stay cool, everyone!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Of TDF, TSP and Toothbrushes

I was going to quilt yesterday -- really I was.  I have the facing strips for my 15 x 15 piece cut, as well as the pieces for July's "4 x 4" Block of the Month.   After spending the cool, cloudy morning washing 9 kitchen cabinet doors, and scrubbing their "retro" handles, I found the weather had turned sunny and pleasant (not too hot) with just a light breeze -- perfect for sanding said doors as Step Two in my Kitchen Reno Project.

Formerly grimy knobs, soaked in TSP and scrubbed with an old toothbrush

Sanding with my Black & Decker "Mouse" hand-held sander
Isn't it cute?!
The sanding took the better part of the afternoon.  After I changed my clothes and cooled off, I was ready for something different.  I caught up on my daily stitching of "MOB" and then turned my attention to the spinning I want to get done during Ravelry's annual 'Tour de Fleece'.  Faithful readers will recall that I participated in this bout of spinning craziness in 2012 -- and actually got quite a lot of batting spun up into usable yarn (which I have yet to use!).


I have more to use up, and I've decided I don't want to save it all for needle felting.

Quite a bit of it is labelled 'Shetland' -- one purchased package of roving (far left) two bags of batting that I prepared myself from a Shetland fleece I bought a few years ago (centre two bags) and some off-white batting of unidentified breed (right side of photo) that I was given by my friend B in Calgary.  (She's a wet felter but didn't have time, space or opportunity to use it.)  I've begun with the Shetland and will spin it all up before turning to the Unidentified Breed.

Today after church I went weeding again at my sister's cottage garden, as she can't get up there till after the Calgary Stampede is over (she's working double and triple hours as Marketing Director of the Ranchmans Cookhouse and Dance Hall, Calgary's only genuine western night-spot)...

Sis grows the finest chickweed this side of the Rocky Mountains! LOL!  In two sessions -- 4 hours on Monday and 2 more today, I've managed to locate her veggies at last.  :-)


Now it's time to enjoy the evening -- a little supper, a sip or two of wine, and some spinning in the Outdoor Studio!  Have a great week, everyone!

(P.S. Because I still can, I'm squeaking this into Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday for July 4!)

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Warm Weather WIPs last!  We're into some Very Warm Weather here right now (with apologies to my friends and/or colleagues in places farther south) -- currently sitting at 25 C (without the breeze, though, it would, according to the Weather Network, feel like 29 C) and forecast to actually reach 30 C (and feel like 34 C) by late tomorrow afternoon.

The Red Door
by Elizabeth Foster
Last winter was so darned long, I'm determined to enjoy it, so got up early for a jog, ate brekky outside, and spent some time there with my coffee and cross-stitch.  Each summer I like to work on a small piece of embroidery that I can finish reasonably quickly and pass on as a wee gift when an occasion arises.  This year it's "The Red Door", one of the "Little Leaf" designs by Elizabeth Foster.  It will finish at about 3" square.  Isn't it sweet?  Being a Certified Cat Person, I couldn't resist...and I will likely pass it on to another CCP.  :-)

"Blessings" Runner - quilted
When it started to get warm, I moved indoors to the sewdio for some quilting.

Having finished and bound the "Blessings" table runner yesterday, I decided to quilt my latest 15 x 15 piece.  It's now ready for its facing, label and sleeve.

This is the first of the three ideas I had for the current theme, "Memories", and is inspired by my faith practice.  As the 'Reveal' is not till July 31/August 1, I'll just give you this wee taste of a quilting detail or two:

After a walk to the Post Office and a light lunch, it was time to tackle what will be my Major WIP of the Summer: painting my kitchen cabinet doors, 2 of my kitchen walls, and having a new counter top installed (flooring later, too, if the budget can handle it!)

Today's First Step?  Removing the first 9 doors for washing with TSP, sanding, priming (outside) and painting.  These will be followed by the 6 below-the-counter doors, but I'm leaving those for as long as possible because those cupboards are at cat's eye level...if you get my drift...

Who knew you  could work up a sweat taking down kitchen cabinet doors?

Posting this to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network...and then...maybe a nap!

P.S. If you follow "Mark on the Body" was up-dated this morning...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Playing With Ricky

Tims, that is.

Some of you, Gentle Readers, may have picked up on the "blues and blahs" through which I've been wading for some time now.  They've been coming and going lately; some days I awaken energized and excited about the day, while on others...well, let's just say I'd rather not get out of bed.  I've been trying to counter-act the B&Bs with textile therapy, whether quilting, knitting or embroidery.

One of the exercises I did this past week was to make a new quilt using a technique I've been meaning to explore for almost 15 years now.  I bought Ricky Tims' book, Convergence Quilts sometime in 2000 (I think); I can't remember exactly when.  I also bought a piece of his hand-dyed fabric -- but that's not what I've used for this piece.

No.  A few weeks ago my friend C gave me two pieces of 'funky' fabric that she'd bought for a project -- fabric that just didn't suit the project in the end.

What to do with this?
I tripped over it earlier this week, looking for something fresh to start, and it dawned on me that Ricky Tims' convergence technique might just make something presentable.  First, though, I wondered who would create such odd fabric and why.

The information on the selvedge revealed that the fabric line was "Indiana Harvest" by Phil Beaver for Free Spirit Fabrics.  A little internet research brought up a pdf file on how to use this fabric which, it appears, had been created by Mr. Beaver specifically for the purpose of creating applique still life and landscape pieces.  I'm not sure if Mr. Beaver is still with us, but he is (was?) an award-winning quilter and designer, has taught workshops at Road to California and other venues and appeared on "Simply Quilts" in its day.  If you see his work, you will see why he created this fabric line and how it was used.

And so... to work on convergence!  Having never done this technique I decided to begin with a "level one" convergence quilt.  According to the directions, I cut squares out of the fabric. laid them out on my cutting table in a "square of squares", marked the top of the top 2 squares with an 'orientation line' (so I'd know which end was up!) and seamed them together at the bottom.  They were then ready for graduated slicing:

Close up of first slices - see the horizontal seam?
The next step involved moving them around, which I did on my design wall:

First slices re-arranged
Long story short, the technique involves sewing the re-arranged strips together, rotating the piece, doing some more slicing, arranging and stitching, to come up with something like this:

I really liked this -- and could see it simply faced, or mounted on stretcher bars/canvas (if you could find them to fit), but Tims suggests adding two borders, and as I was into doing the entire exercise, I found some fabric for the recommended very narrow (1/4" finished) border:

In his book and in the gallery on his website, Ricky Tims gives several examples of how to play with wider borders or otherwise to finish the piece.  I opted to try to use what I had left of this fabric to create the second -- wider border.  In the end, I had 3 borders that will finish at 4", and one that will be narrower, turning the piece into more of a rectangle -- but I'm still pleased with the finished flimsy:

Canola Convergence

As you can see from the caption, I've already given the piece a title -- Canola Convergence, because it reminds me of the fields of canola around here in mid-summer.  I've pieced together a back and have sandwiched it for quilting, which means I'll be binding it rather than facing it.  I have more of the fabric I used for the narrow green inner border, and plan to use that.

The second piece C gave me is in the same fabric line, but gold and brown, and I plan to do the same exercise.  Working title? "Desert Storm".  ;-)  Stay tuned...and be warned.  If you decide to try this technique, it could become addictive.  I'm already pondering other wild fabric in my stash, with "what ifs" rolling through my mind.

Though it's late in the day, I'm going to see if I can still link this up with Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday"...and see what else is happening over there.