Saturday, February 22, 2020

Almost Spring...

The weather's softened up around here, the days are getting just a teensy bit longer, and I'm getting into my new groove, working at home and only at home.  That first week after my last post was indeed a BLUE one, but I am on the other side of that least, where my little corner of the world is concerned.

I've made new work, and have more in process!  I've shared a bit of this with my colleagues on the FB page for SAQA - 100 Days -- but truth be told, I'm not very good at make-one-thing-a-day-every-day-for-X-days.  As I wrote in this post, I warned the group from the get-go that I was better at process and wouldn't post every day; blessedly, the moderators don't have a problem with that.

So...if you're one of the members of that group and have seen what I'm about to share here, it's okay if you wander off and find something else to do!  😉

Lemme see now...

Well, I finished that single sock.  And single it is likely to remain for some time.  The process -- the complexity, the density of the pattern and the results (small and a bit stiff) brought me to the brink of Serious Second Sock Syndrome!  I had to pull back, and bow out of the "Socks from Stash" February Challenge to prevent SSSS.  I apologized to the group, explained my rationale, and posted this photo of said lone lovely little sock:

It sports a 7 1/2" foot (heel to toe), a 7 1/2" leg (cuff to bottom of heel) and is only about 6" around.  It certainly won't fit me -- and I know of no one else it would fit either!  If the yarn weren't so intricately interwoven due to the nature of the colour work, I'd rip it out and do something else with it.  Sigh.  I made the smaller of the two sizes (64 sts) and the shortest toe motif, using 2.25 mm needles as required by the pattern.  My preference would have been 72 sts on 2.5 mm but...making this from stash yarn, and only partial amounts at that, I didn't want to risk running out.  So...there it sits.  One of these days I'll get back to it but...not now.  If I do the March Challenge, I'll be sure to select a simpler pattern!

Colour 4367 - "Gazebo" 
My "recovery" knitting is a simple pullover -- no photos to show you yet, but I can tell you the pattern is "Millie" from Nice and Knit, and I am loving every blessed simple stitch!  It's knit top-down, and is designed to create a loose-fitting, flowy body with 3/4 sleeves.  I'm using Berroco Boboli Lace in a colour-way I adore even though it's not my usual palate, and I'm hoping to finish it to wear at the SAQA Conference in Toronto next month. 

I've a very good chance of that, because I've finished the increases for the body and, having separated out the stitches for the sleeves, am merrily making my way down the rest of the body to the waist.

When you see the Sweet Young Thing modelling the sweater on its pattern page, you might roll your eyes and wonder why on earth a gal in her mid-sixties (like me) would select it -- but it's because I was introduced to it by the mid-life women of The Knot House Podcast, and it looks terrific on an older woman.  And...there's a gaggle of older gals who've made it and look well in it, so I am trusting I'll feel the same about mine!

Getting back into the sewdio, I finished "On the Edge of Mirror", which as turned out to be the first in a series of three pieces based on photos taken on one of my winter walks.  It's now been framed, but here's what it looked like before framing:

On the Edge of Mirror (C) 2020
12" W x 9" L
Self-dyed and commercial cotton; fused applique,
thread painting, machine quilting.
Wrapped around stretched canvas.

I started a second in this little series, too...but on Monday I woke with a compulsion to paint a canvas.  Say what?  Yep.  "Paint a canvas!" said my "Muse" emphatically.  Not simply a sky below which I could apply a quilted-and-stitched foreground.  Not a canvas on which I could mount a smaller piece, keying in with the canvas itself.  No.  Paint a canvas.  And not a particularly small one, either: one of the largest ones I have in inventory: 16" x 20"!

So I did.

The pile of stuff you see in the lower right corner is silk ribbon, which I considered using as lines of grass showing through the snow, as in the inspirational photo below -- but in the end I opted for something else.

I knew I wanted to stitch those trees along the horizon -- and that I didn't want to remove the painted canvas from the stretcher bars -- so I began by drawing the trees in on the back side of the canvas (look carefully; I used pencil!):

Manipulating it under my sewing machine foot was a challenge -- I had to remove the foot and the needle -- so I've determined I won't try that again!  I'll detach the canvas first.

And of course I couldn't stitch where the stretcher bars were, so those bits of trees I drew in with Pitt Pen, and accented later with paint.  Below, you'll see that stitching and the painted the barn, made of fabric fused to the surface, as are the two fence posts.  The field lines along the horizon and dropping down into the foreground are all pencil roving from the wheel of it (a "Rainbow Roll" from NORO Yarns), which I needle-felted onto the canvas, adding a touch of mat gel medium for extra security at the tips.

I added the barbed wire and some tiny grasses poking throught the snow, using Pitt pen and paint:

Finished?  Not quite...

It was at this pont that I began to fuss about wasn't quite finished.  There wasn't enough weight in the foreground (above) so I added more grasses:

That's better!
Title: On the Edge of Mirror III
Fused fabric and wool roving on
thread- and acrylic-painted stretched canvas

There was one more tweak I added before taking it to be framed -- but it's not shown above.  Can you figure out what it is?  Leave a comment...and I'll let you know!  😊

The compulsion to paint fulfilled, I went back to the second in the series, and finished it; on Wednesday, both went to the framer. 

I based it on this photo:

I set it up like this, with a hand-dye for the sky and commercial cotton for the foreground.
I fused both to a light backing. Before I began to stitch, I drew in the trees on the horizon,
using a fine-tipped Pitt pen in the 'sepia' colour-way.

After stitching the trees and some grasses on the horizon, I added thread painting
to show the grasses in the field, before superimposing the tree trunks and fence posts.

And here it is, finished, with all the stitching details added, and 
wrapped around stretched canvas:

On the Edge of Mirror II  (C) 2020
8" W x 10" L
Self-dyed and commercial cotton; fused applique,
thread painting, machine quilting.
Wrapped around stretched canvas.

Next up: another 9" x 12", wrapped around stretched canvas...using self-dyed silk (a scarf I dyed with a light dip in a friend's indigo vat a few years ago, knowing I'd never wear it) and a recycled cotton pillowcase, given me by my daughter because it had a bleach stain on it.  My solution? Over-dye it, of course!

Stay tuned for what transpires!

Yes, I'm going to leave you hanging there...till next time.
Meanwhile, I'm linking to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday,
and I wish you a wonderful rest of the weekend!

Saturday, February 08, 2020


Today I find myself hovering -- floating -- between what was and what will be.

The Crafty Lady (Lacombe, Alberta) store front closed a week ago, and Tuesday through yesterday I helped the owner, Lori, her mom, and my colleague-of-several-years, (Helen) Anne, sort through, count and pack the inventory for removing it from the bricks-and-mortar and placing it in storage for two new ventures: an online shop -- and a shop-on-wheels that will be popping up all over central Alberta come spring.  (The former isn't very user-friendly just yet; the latter is under construction...but if I know anything about Lori, both will be up and running as soon as she can "git 'er done"!)

The focus of the shop will be yarncrafts (knitting and crocheting) but there is still some stock of stitching and embroidery etc. to be do not despair!  It will be available for purchase online...until it's not.

Want to fondle yarn?  Sign up to get an e-mail to follow the store's blog...and/or "like and follow" the shop on Facebook.  That way you'll know when and where the mobile store will be available.

"So...are you retired?"

That's the question I got from some of our customers...and some of my friends, brows furrowed.  "Will you be okay?" (financially)  "What will you do?"



I've worked part-time one or two days a week at TCL for going on seven (!) years.  I will, indeed, miss it.  I've had to reconfigure my finances to replace the lost income.  I'm still processing the change in routine.

But...let's be clear, Gentle Readers.  I was a customer for several years before I worked there; this means I have a decades-long relationship with dear Lori and her shop.  Working there, I got to have my brain stretched as I helped people pick yarn weights and colours suited to their chosen projects.  I taught customers about yarn weights, yarn composition (wool, other natural fibres, synthetics).  I taught some about embroidery options: fabric types, thread counts, etc.  I taught others how to knit (I don't crochet), how to turn a heel, how to make a heel flap on a sock; how to read their knitting so they'd be able to fix errors.  There was lots and lots and lots of instruction on yarn weights and yardage (meterage) and colour theory.

I used every tool in my tool-belt.

I will miss that.

BUT...I am first and foremost a textile artist.  And one of Lori's last gifts to me was this cutting table -- used in The Shop mainly as a surface on which to put patterns etc.  I have added it to the very worn table I've had for 15 years, currently in my studio, a table that has lost its function on one side (stripped bolts).  The photo -- taken from the door-way looking into my studio, the largest bedroom in my wee home -- shows the new table up front-and-centre.  It's a tight fit, but it works, and I have room to move around it.  I may just have to bite the bullet and invest in a larger cutting mat (mine is 18" x 24")...(and yes, that is a wool pressing mat on the left side, just beyond the iron.)

Thank you Lori!

I will I laid low.  After four days on my feet for 6 to 7 hours each day, bending, stretching, counting, packing...well!  I slept well last night...and had two (2!!) naps today.  And I have been very quiet on line.

Why so quiet?  After this week's events in the U.S., the involved-with-the-world part of me had to lie low and lick its wounds.  I have many friends and family there...and my heart is breaking for the systematic, calculated, seemingly-irreversible damage being done to a country that is MY country's closest neighbour and once-upon-a-time ally.  I don't often allow politics to infiltrate my "art space" in this forum...but there is at least one more "statement" piece in the works, Gentle be fore-warned.

By the end of each of those very full four days at The Shop this week, I've been able to accomplish nothing.  Zip. Zero. Nada.

In the early mornings, I might get a few rows of sock knitting done, and at Lori's home on Thursday's Knit Night (where that will continue on an RSVP basis -- phone or e-mail or send a FB message) -- I managed to get to the decrease rounds on a hat.  I've no photo (yet) of the hat...but the sock...well...let's just say I'm now only 8 rows from finishing the leg chart on the first sock of the pair.  If I can get the entire sock finished by Feb. 14 1/2...I might just meet the Socks From Stash February 2020 challenge!

Pray for me, if you think it will help!  😉

And I go for now...linking up to dear Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and thinking ahead to a week wherein I won't be driving 43 km (about 25 miles) down the road to Lacombe for work at The Shop.

Tuesdays and Thursdays won't be quite the same...but there will be the work of my hands that I am called to do...and I will do it.

Have a great week, dear friends!

"May the favour of the Lord be upon us and our lands,
and establish for us all the work of our hands..."

-- Adapted from Psalm 90: 17

Monday, February 03, 2020

100 Days of Creativity

I know it's highly unusual, but here I am with my second post in as many days -- and it's all because of  a Challenge that I've joined with a gazillion of my SAQA colleagues.  There's a special group for it over on FB and probably on Instagram (I'm not on IG)...and it's lit a fire under my slow-slow creative mojo!

I did tell the others, though, that using a real camera (my phone is not "smart" -- it's a land-line!) means I wouldn't be posting photos every day.  Also, because I rarely complete something -- start to finish -- in a single day, my posts would be mostly process.

I figured, while I'm at it, why not share those posts with you?  I mean, I'm suspecting there are some of you not on FB.  So...

The 100 Days of Creativity (this iteration, anyway) started with this group on Feb. 1, so today is Day 3.  Coincidentally, the "Socks from Stash" group on Ravelry started its February Challenge on Feb. 1, so I've decided to include my sock project as part of my 100 days.

In my last yesterday's post, I mentioned the 100 Days project, showed y'all the socks I finished for the SFS January Challenge, and teased you with yarn selections and pattern choice for February.

In the intervening hours I have cast on and finished the cuff of Sock #1 of the February pair:

Sock #1 - Cuff.
Yes, it has ridges.  The ridge at the bottom is the top of the cuff, which is folded over and knitted down.  The ridge showing just before the patterning begins was created by turning the teal portion of the cuff inside out and knitting from there.  A bit tricky, but very effective in the end! 

Sock #1 - working the leg

The leg pattern is 44 rows...and I've managed to knit 18 of them -- almost half-way!  I'm used to knitting on DPNs but usually use 3+1, and this calls for 4+1 (it's the way the pattern is divided up because it's written originally for 2 circular needles, which I dislike -- too many floppy loops!) so it's a bit tricky, but it's working out.

I know the yarns are similar in value, but they're pretty and I'm enjoying the process.  The part completed is the part you see in the chart on the right of the sock...and I think that, however subtle, it's showing up nicely!  😊  I'm using the smaller size (64 sts versus 72) and 2.25 mm needles (US 1) and I have no idea if they'll fit me the marvellous Elizabeth Zimmerman is reported to have said, "[They'll] fit somebody!" 

And then there's the art work.  In yesterday's post I showed you the results of my dyeing with Dylon -- which was surprisingly easy to do with LWI (Low-Water Immersion).  Today...I took a piece of the "China Blue" fabric (the one on the bottom in the photo) and turned it -- and some other fabrics -- into this:

Working Title: On the Edge of Mirror - (C) 2020
Finished size planned: 12" x 14", wrapped around stretched canvas

Lest you wonder, no -- it's not finished.  There is barbed wire and tiny branches and field grasses to stich -- not to mention stitching down the fused fencing and tree trunks.  What you're seeing is what I did -- from "ground zero" -- over 3 hours of concentrated work, having prepped with a few tracings and a print-out of the photo a day or two ago.  I show it here surrounded by "elbows" that I've had for years -- cut from a very large mat. 

Stats?  Finished size will be 12" W x 9" L, wrapped around 1/2" thick stretched canvas and framed.  The sky is the hand-dyed 'China Blue'.  The tree trunks are courtesy of the natural dyeing process practiced by the wonderful arlee barr -- a dear friend.  The fence and the snow are commercial fabric -- some "wrong side" up.

Techniques?  I layered the fabrics on a thin backing (a piece of recycled bed skirt) to which I've applied fusible web; after fusing the layers I sandwich the piece with thin batting -- my favourite is Quilter's Dream -- and a light-weight backing -- whatever I have around (today -- more bed skirt).  As a water-colourist would do, I worked from the background to the foreground -- quilting the sky, thread-painting the trees/shrubs on the horizon, and moving on from there.

Such concentration is tough on my dominant left brain, so I left it there and took a walk.  This evening calls for knitting (another hat commission, and maybe a bit more on that sock!).  Tomorrow through Thursday I expect to be at The Shop, helping the owner pack up inventory, so...see you on the other side!

I'll be sharing this on FB...but also linking it to Off the Wall Friday (again!)...just because I can!

Thanks to all on FB who have commiserated with me about my children's health troubles.  I appreciate each and every one of you.

The yarn and fabric therapy have helped immensely, too. 

Hugs and have a great week! 

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Colour Abounds!

It's February...and out here in central Alberta, that can mean grey, gloomy skies with "mixed precip" (read: freezing rain/wet snow/whatever else Mother Nature has planned).  It can also mean brilliant blue skies with colder temps and ice/snow on the ground.

Ah...but least, chez moi, there is colour.

In last week's post I showed you a wee bit of that sky in the pieces I made -- one of which has been sent off to Ontario for the SAQA Spotlight Auction at the MoSAiQA conference in "Trawna" in March.  I also taunted you with colour when I wrote about my yarn dyeing.

Well, are the results of my test dyes with that 2-ply wool -- the original colour is on the left-hand side of the group, and the larger skein of crimson is the ugly gold over-dyed "Morning Haze" (no original photo). The underlying gold means that the crimson is -- in real life -- closer to a deep, rich wine colour than is shown in the photo:

Can you say, "WOW!"?!   Old dye.  Old yarn.  Spectacular results!  I couldn't believe it!
I am thinking it'll make the most beautiful Fair Isle yoke on the sweater I've started...

That said, my artistic mojo remains a bit "so-so".  I've tried a couple of ways to re-ignite my creative fire.  First, I tackled a project that I'd begun a while ago, but which had been languishing.

I took a piece of painted wholecloth (done before Xmas), sandwiched it and quilted it...and wrapped it around an 11" x 14" x 1/2" deep stretched canvas...

Working title: "Smokey Hills"
14" W x 11" L
Painted and quilted whole cloth
wrapped around stretched canvas

It has an interesting texture -- in part because I painted the top layer when it was laid out on an old plastic remnant of a house blind..which left an imprint on the finished piece.  It is now waiting to be framed and put on display in the Lacombe Encore! Art Show & Sale in April.

It was a tough piece. It took me ages to figure out whether I'd quilt it by hand or machine. And the sunset?!  I'd painted it but the paint didn't fully cover its I painted over that -- and it became gaudy and ugly. What to do?!  

First, I added some of the gold/bronze metallic fabric paint (Lumiere from Jacquard) to the sky and the landscape.  Then I took a light emory board (truth be told, an AVON nail file!) to the sun shape itself...burnishing it, if you will.  I think the framing (in a black floater) will set it off best.  Stay tuned for a new photo.  😊

Next, I signed up for the "100-day Creative Challenge" on the FB page that SAQA has set up specifically for it.  Next...well...I made no promises about actually finishing anything during the 100 days -- though I'm pretty certain I will.  I just decided to make my posts about process and if I get something finished, I'll add that to the page's "Album" for this go 'round.

I began by casting on a sock -- the February Challenge for "Socks from Stash" on Ravelry.  The January Challenge was to make a pair using some of the oldest yarn in your stash, so I came up with these, in a yarn I know I bought over 10 years ago at a shop in Calgary: 

Yarn: Schoeller & Stahl "Fortissima Socka"
Socka Colori
Pattern: my Plain Vanilla Sock,
adapted from the Yarn Harlot - in her book, Knitting Rules

February's Challenge is to make a pair using yarn given as a gift or bought because you couldn't resist.  I'm using remnants of a skein given me by my daughter, and one I bought a few years ago at a local festival, simply because I couldn't resist:

The pattern is complex, but addictive.  I've finished the cuff and am 10 rows into the 44-row leg pattern.  Stay tuned!

For the 100-day challenge -- in addition to the new socks -- I am working on a trio of small-ish art pieces.  To prepare for them, I dyed some Kona cotton.  But not with my usual Procion MX dye -- given that all I have left in the way of blue is turquoise.

No.  I bought a few packets of Dylon before The Shop closed its doors on Saturday -- and experimented with LWI (Low Water Immersion) using it -- and the help from a tutorial I found online.

China Blue sample 'percolating'

Ocean Blue sample -- but it looks purple!!

Top: Ocean Blue - 1st concentrstion
Middle- Ocean Blue - dlluted
Bottom - China Blue

Though the top piece turned out darker than expected, I'm pretty sure I can use it as well as the other two -- and I have the better part of each packet of dye powder left, so there's more experimenting in my future.

This will be on my agenda for work tomorrow.  Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I'll be in what used to be The Shop, taking inventory and packing yarn.  It's store-front closed last evening at 6 p.m. (Mountain Time)... the end of an era.  There will be an online presence soon and in the spring, a shop-on-wheels...but it won't be the same.

Change happens...

"...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.."
-- Psalm 30: 5 (KJV)

Joy Cometh in the Morning
(C) 2008
Hand-dyed wool, commercial fabric, assorted novelty ribbon yarn
Machine quilted, hand embroidered.

Wishing you all a good week...till next time...I'm linking this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  While I've been snug here at home, she's been exploring Erie, PA...inspiration for new work!  

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Bedding and Beading

My artistic mojo has been a bit so-so since my last post.  I've been feeling compelled to plug away at the "Frolic!" mystery that Bonnie Hunter introduced in November.  I wanted to get it to a point where I had all the "moving" parts and could assemble it a bit at a time.

Why?  Because it's an elephantine-sized quilt.  How does one eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!  So...I've been trying to put the "meal" together in order to do that!

Those who follow this blog might recall that at the beginning of this month I'd come down with a serious case of "start-itis".  It has abated somewhat...because I've been working at what I started.  With respect to "Frolic!", here's where I am:

Clue 6 - DONE!

Clue 7 - DONE!

Clue 8 - All pieces cut!

Now...see that row-and-a-bit of squares?  Those have now been put into 4-patches with the blue-and-aqua Half-Square Triangles (HSTs) from the top photo (Clue 6)...and these from Clue 1:

And those four-patches PLUS the rest of Clue 6 are -- as of this post -- being assembled into 25 quilt blocks, each of which should finish at 12" square.

Considering that some of my art pieces for sale are each 12" square, well!  For me, those are BIG blocks!  For the record, I have five (5) assembled (no photos yet).

In other "bedding" news...I've cobbled together the last few rows of blocks for the centre of my postage stamp quilt, and hope to put the entire top together over the course of the next month...or so.

But there are other commitments...

And that brings me to "beading".

In my last post, I asked for feedback about beading both the 'sample' and the second piece.  Each of them were inspired by photos taken of trees in my yard in December, when we had a lovely bout of hoarefrost.

The general consensus was"BEAD!" -- both pieces.

So on Saturday, I did.  The first piece (shown here without the beads) was really my 'sample' and...sure enough, it finished too small (by fractions of inches) to be submitted to the SAQA Spotlight Auction fund-raiser.  BUT not so small that I can't have a mat cut for it and offer it for sale as a 'mini' at the Lacombe Art Show & Sale in April!

I love it when that happens!  😊

The second piece was larger -- mainly because the piece of hand-dyed fabric I had for the background was larger to start with -- so I beaded it too...and now it has been submitted to SAQA for the fund-raiser:

When I Look Up: December
Hand-dyed cotton, ink-jet printed from a tracing;
machine quilted, painted, hand-beaded.
Size: 6" x 8" -- to be matted
with a 4" x 6" opening

My dear friend who bought my piece entitled When I Look Up in the Spring has said she'll be bidding. Much as I'd love her to win it, I hope there's healthy competition!  😉

In other 'art' news...I got a chance to photograph the six remaining pieces from the "Inspired by Scotland" collection, currently hanging at the Alix Public Library and yes, available for purchase.  The librarian has to hang them up high based on the configuration of the space, but they still attract attention.  Look up.  Look 'wa-a-a-ay up!

Abbey Echoes I

(L) - Mended Wall: Stirling Castle
(R) View from Eilean Donan: Loch Duich

(L) Impressions of Portree
(Centre) Blossoms: Gardens at Clan Donald House
(R) Loch View: Inverness to Eilean Donan

And...this week our County Councillor called to tell me that someone from The County News would be in touch with me in March about my being chosen as "Featured Artist" for the Lacombe "Encore!" Art Show and Sale in April.

On the knitting front, where the "startitis" really hit...I've been dyeing yarn!  Some months ago, in a bag of yarn donated to The Shop, there were batches of unusual skeins of 100% wool -- 2-ply! from two different (and very long-ago) makers -- Munrospun "Morning Haze" in a natural colour (sorry, no photo) and Patons...

There was very little difference between the two.  Both were 100% wool.  Both were 2-ply.  And both were put up in skeins of long "sub-skeins", 28 grams each.  BUT the "Munrospun had been dyed an ugly old gold.

Y'all know I prefer magentas, blues, purples, hot pinks, teals...jewel tones.  So...what to do?  Dig out the dye!

A number of years ago now (maybe 8 or 10?)  I bought some acid dyes from the original owner of Pam's Woolly Shop of Stony Plain, Alberta -- now retired (her shop was bought by a long-time employee and is now known as Jo's Yarn Garden.  If you're in the area you might check it out!)

I bought it at a retreat where Pam had a 'pop-up' shop...and at a discount because it was 'old stock' even then.

Old wool yarn.  Old dye powder.  What did I have to lose?  Nothing...and everything...

So I dyed the entire batch -- 4 skinny skeins of 28 grams each (112 grams total) -- a Crimson...

The results?  The colour is deep, rich and glorious! Even over that ugly gold!

So...I sampled from partial skeins (about 10 - 11 grams each) of the natural-coloured Patons 2-ply fingering

Preparing the sample dye stock: Scarlet, Golden Yellow,
Warm Yellow and Turquoise

Four samples in four dye-baths...
in ONE pot of simmering water

As you can probably surmise by now, this is a process that requires heat.  I have done it in second-hand pots never used for food, on my kitchen stove.  I wear a mask to prepare the dye powder and water intial mix, but after that, all is well.  I use tongs to lift and stir -- never used for food.  And I can put this on heat and go about my day, checking in from time to time.  This is ACID Dyeing...and I use vinegar as my acid.  I dye till the dye bath is clear or almost so...and neutralize with baking soda -- testing with Ph strips I bought at the local pharmacy.  In the summer I would "sun dye" because the heat of the sun would work beautifully...but there are no excuses for not dyeing at -35 C outside...when you have a cozy kitchen and the right equipment!

What will I do with the results, you might ask.  I have long wanted to recreate one of the 'percentage system' pullovers designed by the inimitable Elizabeth Zimmerman, so...from her book Knitting Around I have chosen her "Seamless Yolk Sweater" -- see her chapters two and three.  I have enough skeins of the "natural" Patons to make the body, and plenty of the dyed yarn for the coloured yoke, from which I have selected Scarlet, Golden Yellow, Turquoise, some of the natural...and I have some black (natural from another supplier) if I need it.

I've cast on 316 stitches in the natural colour on a 2.75 mm x 32" (24 cm) circular needle...and have managed almost 1" of 2:2 ribbing.  This will be a Long, Slow Project.  Sort of like running a marathon, without the blisters and the sweat!  😉

I think that's enough news for I will leave you with a wish for a lovely week -- no matter the creative journey you're on -- and with a link to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.

Just think!  Next weekend at this time we'll be watching for ground hogs and their predictions for those in wintry climes...  Hugs to you all and have a great week!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Branching Out

In my last post, I hinted that I'd be returning to the studio this week to begin new art work -- and I've done just that.  😊

Those of you who've followed my work for some time will know how fond I am of the sky and the trees in this part of Alberta.  A couple of years ago I did a piece entitled When I Look Up in the Spring, which was bought by my dear friend Jenny from a SAQA Benefit Auction:

When I Look Up in the Spring (C) 2018

Ever since then, I've wanted to make something else like this...because I keep looking up at the trees around here, tiny top branches silhouetted against the sky.

Like this one (from my last post):

Then there's this one:

Well now...hmmmmmm...

I began with the second photo, sampling with a piece of synthetic fabric that I hand-dyed. Polyester or poly-cottons (this was an old sheet so I suspect it was the latter) dye much lighter than 100% cottons do.

I decided to trace the branches out on Sulky Tear-away interfacing (light, thin), sandwich it and quilt it -- using free-motion, and Superior Thread's King Tut -- colour #979 ("Obsidian") in the needle.  I used a light-weight white backing, with Superior's "So Fine" in the bobbin.

NOTE: The tear-away worked very well...but tearing it away from tiny branches is a bit of a pain!

I was happy with the thread painting...but how to create the hoare frost??  I had 3 choices: two different threads...and paint:

In the end -- as you can probably tell -- I chose the paint (Seta Color 'Opaque' in a lovely opalescent or pearly white).

Lest you wonder, I auditioned the thread with hand-stitching.  For one thing, I don't do bobbin work because I find working upside-down unsettling -- and the thread on the left (YLI's "Candlelight" metallic yarn in "Rainbow") was too thick to go in the top (needle).  The thread in the centre (Sulky Metallic 142-7021) could have done so...but it was too thin to give the effect I wanted.   Using a very fine brush, the paint worked out very well!

Here's how the piece looks with a bit of a "frame" around it:

I've auditioned some very tiny beads -- Mill Hill's Petite Glass Beads -- in a browny-red (colour #42012) to create the berries for the full effect of the photo.

Then I wondered...what if I combined the branches from the second photo with a deeper blue sky (sort of like in the top photo)?

Why not just trace out that top photo and interpret it?   Well...I'm impatient, and the tracing takes work!  😉  Plus I think that top photo would look better as a larger piece and I haven't the fabric on hand for the sky; I'd have to dye it...or see if I could find something commercially that would work.

So I did this -- BUT instead of tracing the design onto tear-away stabilizer (tearing it away was no picnic the first time 'round!), I printed it out directly onto my fabric, using the 'freezer paper method' and my HP inkjet printer.  I stitched it this time with the same thread BUT I used 'regular' stitches with my Pfaff Performance 5.2, which has a built-in walking foot:

And yes...I like it.  Here it is..."framed"...with some "regular-sized" Mill Hill glass beads just resting on the surface for the moment...

Now...the question for you, gentle readers bead or not to bead?

NOTE: the first piece will have beads.  That's a done deal.  But the second piece?  Should it be beaded too?  Or should there simply be hoare frost?

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment...recognizing full well that I'll do what the piece wants, one way or the other!

NOTE TOO: Finished size of each piece is 4" x 6" inside the mat -- matted to 6" x 8" by the folks in charge of the SAQA 2020 Spotlight Auction...or by me...whichever one goes and whichever one stays...

And in other news...this week I've...

  • Finished the socks commissioned for a gift;
  • Signed the contract with the City of Lacombe for "Featured Artist" at the Art Show & Sale in April; and
  • Switched out my art exhibit at the Alix Public Library -- installing the six remaining pieces from "Inspired by Scotland".
Dear Nina-Marie is in what she describes as "a mess" this be sure to stop by Off the Wall Friday and give her some love.  I'm linking there now...and wish you all a good week!

(We're in the Deep Freeze up here... minus twenties with wind chills near the minus forties -- and that's Celsius! -- so stay safe, stay cozy, keep calm and craft on!)

Saturday, January 04, 2020

A Serious Case of 'Startitis'

It happens every year around this time: I catch "startitis".  You know, the urge to start something new...but not just one 'something'.  No.  Multiple somethings! 

It hit me when I was roaming around YouTube, clicking on video podcasts from yarn shops.  The first one I looked up was at the recommendation of a customer who was in the Shop last week.  She and her daughter were joining a Mystery Knit-Along (MKAL) originating with the gals at Cozy Up Knits out of Grande Prairie (Alberta, not Texas; you can tell because of the "e" in "Grande" 😊)  I checked it out and decided to take a pass, but if you're interested, it's not too late to join in.  You can catch it on YouTube HERE.

Not so interested in the Cozy Up project, I checked out Must Love Yarn -- shop owners in Vermont, who have an hour-long (or so) video podcast.  No MKAL that I could see, but their friendly chatter is pleasant background entertainment for quilting or knitting or whatever.  From there I hopped to The Knot House Podcast -- another video podcast from a yarn shop: this time, from Maryland.  These clips last only about 1/2 hour, which I found just right, because I can use them as timing devices.

Say what? of the symptoms of startitis is that not only do you have to start multiple new projects, but also you find yourself compelled to work on each one all at once.  Having a 20-to-30-minute video to enjoy while you work makes it easier to do this -- especially if you have a series of video 'casts lined up that you've never seen, so you can watch them one after the other.  You simply spend one video's worth of time working on one project; when that 'cast ends, you switch projects!  You have an opportunity to get up and stretch -- get more coffee or a glass of water or whatever -- and move to The Next New Thing. 

Pattern: Stepping Stones - Clara Parkes
Yarn: Jawoll Magic Degrade
Colour #85.0074
There could be one fly in this ointment, though.  I've been commissioned by my daughter to make a pair of socks as a birthday gift for one of her friends.  I have to have them finished within the next ten days or so, to get them into the mail to my daughter on time for the birthday gift exchange near month-end. 

Uh-oh.  They're not a New Thing.  I began them a few days before Xmas.  😞

But wait!  I finished the first sock of the pair last night!  That means I can start the second sock today.  And technically, I could consider the second sock a New Thing!  Reprieved!

So...start it I did.  As well as starting a Plain Vanilla sock in an old yarn from stash -- because, yes, when startitis hit, I rejoined "Socks from Stash" as a way to satisfy some of the urges, while simultaneously using up stash yarn.  And that's a Good Thing! 

Yarn: Fortissima Colori "Socka Color" - Colour-way: 9070.
Pattern: my adaptation of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's "Good Plain Sock" from her book, Knitting Rules. 

Between the two pair of socks -- and the latest two clues in Bonnie Hunter's 2019 Mystery Quilt, and the fact that I've resolved to start at least 2 new art quilts come Monday (January 6 being the official end of my self-imposed "holidays") -- you'd think my startitis would be cured...or at least tamped down! 

But no.

One more thing.  I needed one more thing.  After all, the birthday sock was really only Somewhat New, and the Mystery quilt has been going on since American Thanksgiving (near the end of November) so...yes.  One more thing.

The gals on the Knot House podcast had me looking at patterns they'd made up for their shop, including Eowyn Mittens by NeedleRogue, and "Bonjour/Hi" from Espace Tricot (yes, the shop in Montreal that I couldn't get to when I was there in June because it was closed for some sort of emergency). 

Smitten by both, with thanks that they were free patterns that suited yarn I own, I've downloaded them. But...I was also reminded I needed to look at my Ravelry Queue.  And there, near the top (for ages) was a Nora Gaughan pattern I'd lined up -- with the yarn, a cotton in shades of red -- the "Rhodocrosite" wrap from her Volume 7 collection.  I'll be using "Lara", a cotton yarn from's Endless Summer Collection, colour #335...bought in another place (Calgary) in another time.  Both the pattern and yarn had been lined up for far too long.  It was time for them to be used!

As a result of this hefty dose of New Things, I've managed to put my startitis under control.  With the ongoing quilt mystery, and new artwork on tap for Monday, I should recover nicely by mid-month, don't you think?  😉

I'll close with a few photos from the quilty side of things...

First...from the Mystery Quilt project:

Clue 4 finished

Clue 5 finished

Clue 6 -- in process!

And...some photos I'm considering as inspiration for new art be sorted and printed and planned out come Monday...

And there are more to come.  I've got a SAQA 2020 Spotlight Auction piece to create, and then a series of small pieces (6" square up to 12" square) plus another larger piece -- painted whole cloth, already auditioned...

So you can see I won't lack for New Things to keep my startitis at bay!  How about you?  Do you suffer the same affliction at this time of year?  Or ever?  Let me know how it affects you...and what you do about it!

I'm linking this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and turning my attention to casting on that Nora Gaughan pattern through a third episode from the Knot House.  Later there'll be another walk in the winter wonderland that surrounds my wee hamlet.

Here's to startitis, to inspiration, to New Things in a New Year!  May we all be so blessed!