Monday, August 29, 2016


Author at work.

All the action's on Blurb these days.

Meanwhile...over on MOB...

Stay tuned!

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Page from Judy's Journal

Today on her blog, Judy Martin's post reminded me of this...

October 1987/October 2012

And this...

At Sylvan Lake - August 2009

And this...
Sometime in the late 1990s/July 23, 2016

"Think with your heart", she wrote.


Where did August Go?

Heaven's Gate Detail
Hello, Gentle Readers!

Just a quick note to assure you I'm still here and all is well.  This month has dissolved into thin air somehow...

"I've been busy" is such a trite phrase, but it's been true in this neck of the woods!  Following my son's wedding, and finishing my 15 x 15 Group piece for July 31, as well as that one that came 'out of the blue', I've been focused on Handwork and Home Maintenance!

On the Home front, I finally swept last winter's detritus out of the garage, cleaned my eaves troughs (gutters), painted the railings of my back stoop and with the help of my neighbour, repaired the bottom step.  I still have to strip the last of the wall-paper off one wall in my bedroom, paint said wall, and while the furniture is out of place, clean the carpet!  Then...clean the carpet in the hallway and living room.  Oh...and freeze or bake up the last of the rhubarb.

On the Handwork/Sewdio front...

I sent my trusty Husqvarna Lily 555 sewing machine to the 'spa' for a check up, and am picking it up today.  Lily's in good health -- no repairs needed -- so she should be ready to go again right away.  And she'll have a new companion in the sewdio...

A good year or so ago, my friend B gave me an old Pfaff mechanical machine.  She'd been given it and her DH had cleaned it and installed a bolt (!) to replace its missing presser foot lever.  That said, she didn't want it and passed it on to me to use as a spare.  I played with it worked like a charm till said bolt snapped off! sat around till I could get my act together, and I took it into the 'spa' along with the Lily a couple of weeks ago.

The good news?  No repairs needed other than the new presser foot lever -- which was in stock.  Ta-da!  I end up with a decent machine for about $100 CAD all in, and  Ms. Pfaff is now ready to pick up any unfinished work that Lily leaves behind!

I've so much to do this fall that I'm seriously considering setting Ms. Pfaff up on my kitchen table, with Lily in the sewdio.  That way I can have two projects going at the same time and not have to worry about changing thread colours etc.

Here's the sewdio To-Do list for the next few weeks:

  • Quilt the background for Mark on the Body now that the hand-stitching is finished, and prepare it for hanging;
  • Assemble MOB II squares in a mobile;
  • Finish knitting the ninth and last stump sock for MOB III;
  • Put into final form the draft of my book for the MOB installation, and publish it;
  • Approve and select final head shots for MOB publicity;
  • Order post-cards for MOB.
  • Design and create the next piece for 15 x 15 Group, with the theme, "Botanicals";
  • Finish a commission knit hat and start on another knitting commission (more hats);
  • Work on three baby gifts (two knitted, one cross-stitch);
  • Work extra days for The Shop, at two out-of-town Creative Stitches and Crafting Alive! shows -- one in Edmonton and one in Calgary.
And that'll be September and early October accounted for...

Oh...and keep an appointment with a new-to-me gallery owner about showing/selling my pieces in her space...That's September 4...

So if I seem a bit quiet in blog-land, do please forgive me.  There will be MOB progress reports over on that blog around the end of each month (29th - 31st) at least until the Opening (October 20).

Right now, I've got to get going to Red Deer to pick up those machines!

Meanwhile, I'm linking up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and hoping you all stay in touch.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Out of the Blue

If you read my last post, you might remember that I was hankering to start something new -- probably related to the next challenge posed by my 15 x 15 Group.

That's not quite what happened.

Oh, I got an idea, alright, but not for that piece.

For the last long while (since June, at least), I've been meditating on the song by Tim McGraw, "Humble and Kind".

Since the RNC and the DNC (Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention respectively) in the U.S. -- to which I paid more attention than is probably healthy for a Canadian -- I've wanted to do something -- anything -- to keep our borders open, our long, historical friendship safe, to get rid of the vermin in the GOP -- but none of that is really within my power or abilities.  

I thought about posting a prayer a day, but in the end that's a bit "preachy" least, for a Canadian...

Then last night I got a picture of an art quilt -- dimensions, pattern, layout, etc.  This has happened to me before.  Anyway, it was based on the idea of staying humble and kind...a reminder to my American friends and family, and a warning to anyone (wherever) seeking any position of (perceived) power on this earth...

So first thing this morning I went into the sewdio and began.

I wanted lots of colour, so I created a 13 1/2" square string-pieced block:

I applied Wonder Under fusible web to the back, and drew the shapes of butterfly wings...and then cut them out:

Here they are, ready to apply to the background:

Once fused to the background, I backed the piece with freezer paper to stabilize it and wrote this phrase over and over around the butterfly: "Always be humble and kind."  I quilted around that in thread to match the background, and then quilted in the ditch of the strips on the wings using Superior Thread Monopoly "invisible" thread:

I decided it needed more quilting, though, so stitched around the outside edges and then echo quilted around the butterfly:

This evening I applied a facing to the piece, and so can basically call it 'finished':

Humble and Kind (C) 2016
12" W x 12" L

It uses so many traditional quilting techniques that I'm not sure it would sell in the SAQA Benefit Auction...and it's too late for this year's auction anyway...but it's what had to be quilted.  I don't think I've ever done an entire piece like this -- from inception to completion -- in one day.  Go figure.

It will end up where it's supposed to end up, I guess.  Meanwhile, this remains my daily reminder and my prayer for my American colleagues, family and friends...and especially for all seeking positions in the next U.S. election:

God be with you, every one.

Linking this up to the Canadian group, WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network...and heading off to bed!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Three Posts -- but Not Here

This weekend I created three blog posts -- but not here.

MOB I - thigh
First, I updated Mark on the Body for July 29.  The first section of this project -- MOB I -- is now in the home stretch, and you can read about that HERE.

Second, as part of my work as a Regional Co-Rep, I updated the SAQA Western Canada Blog to showcase one of our member's latest achievements.  You can read about Diane and the Alberta Society of Artists' touring exhibit HERE.

Heaven's Gate - detail
And third, I posted my contribution to the 15 x 15 Group's latest "Reveal"; this one's on the theme of "Architecture" and required the use of a stencil somewhere in the piece.  (You'll recall from my last post the challenge that presented for me!)

You can read about my piece and see and learn about all the wonderfully unique interpretations of this theme HERE.

As we move into August, I find myself with much to do...and more of the same.  I have a hankering to start something new, and as the next 15 x 15 Group theme has already been announced, I might just make a start on that -- with Scarlett O'Hara -- tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm linking this up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and am going to enjoy some Sabbath time.  Have a good week!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Oh, What the Heck!

Our 15 x 15 Group has its next "reveal" at the end of this month.  The theme? "Architecture -- with a Stencil".

As you know, Gentle Readers, I've had little or no time to devote to the topic since it was announced at the end of May.  Just a wee distraction... which came to a close a couple of days ago, and from which I'm still winding down.

(Digression: Is it me, or my age (early sixties)?  I seem to find it harder and harder to disentangle emotionally from either 'highs' or 'lows' -- especially involving family and close friends, recalling sweet memories and making new ones.  I need to snap out of this so I can get some work done!)

This afternoon I thought I'd tackle the vision I had for this project, and see if I could actually finish it in a condensed period of time.   I've had something rolling around in my mind for some months now, and this theme seemed an ideal way to capture it.

My inspiration is this Taize worship piece that I've performed countless times with the trio in which I sing at church:.

The Kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come now, and open in us the gates of Your Kingdom.* 
*Ateliers et Presses de Taize, France 

I had this picture in my mind of gates opening onto a celestial Kingdom...and when I remembered these photos I'd taken on my visit to Stratford, Ontario in May, I had the model for my gates -- from which I thought I could make a stencil.

Ha!  It wasn't as easy as all that.

Sure, I traced the shapes I wanted, got 'em on to printer paper, enlarged 'em...and then tried to actually create a stencil.

You'd think I'd never done it before!  But I have --  or so I kept reminding myself as I wasted piece after piece of the laminate off-cuts my daughter gives me (recycling from her workplace).

I have a wee problem with perception, you see...some of which is attributed to my wonky eyesight.  I tend to transpose images...and I have trouble differentiating depth (as in trying to parallel park a car) and positive/negative space.

I knew what I wanted to be the "empty" space on the stencil -- the space in which I wanted to either paint or apply resist while I painted the background...or both -- but I couldn't for the life of me cut it out without destroying the materials and ending up with gaps.

I went online for help and I confess, it was hard to find.  There were plenty of videos and articles on how to make stencils and what tools to use to make it easy...but precious little on exactly what to cut and what to leave intact.  I finally found this one from artist Amy Pearce...and the light went on.  As a result, I managed to cobble together a passable stencil, tape it down to my work surface, put the fabric over it and apply blue glue gel resist where I wanted it to go.  (I ended up making the stencil out of paper, and for this technique; i.e., with glue, based on Enid Gjelten Weischelbaum's article, "Drawing with Glue" in the August/September 2015 issue of Quilting Arts magazine, you place your fabric on top of your traceable design):

As I was laying down the glue, I thought to myself, "Oh, what the heck if it doesn't get done in time; this is fun!"

It has to dry 24 hours (which is fine -- I work at The Shop tomorrow)...and on Wednesday, if I'm able (I have 3 appointments), I'll play with the background colours...and Friday...might be able to stitch...

Blessedly, the 15 x 15 Group have forgiven me if I miss this particular challenge...but I'd like to try to get there on time.  Our "reveals" are always so much fun, and I want to be a part of this one too.

Wish me luck -- or say a prayer -- or both (whichever appeals to you)!  See you later...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

What's Kept Me Going

As my Gentle Readers will remember from my last post, I've been a bit preoccupied this summer...

With help from Ann Petersen, I did indeed manage to get this project finished at about 107" square, and presented it to the Happy Couple on Friday.  Yes, it was very joyfully received.  (grin)

Dreaming of Japan
- in my Outdoor Studio

Centre medallion detail

Detail - one of the corner sections

Formal wedding photos have yet to arrive, but here they are, just after the ceremony at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Edmonton, yesterday afternoon.  

May I present 

Mr. and Mrs. Marty and Chereena Blank:

Just Married!

*Linking up to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday....Sharin' the LOVE!

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Tree Wrap Experiment: Conclusion

A year ago, I wrote about wrapping trees...something I wanted to try after seeing it done by artist Lesley Turner of B.C.

As far as I can tell, the last time I posted about the project was six months December, 2015.

Well...Saturday (July 9) marked the 365th day of the Tree Wrap Experiment.  Here's the last photo of the fabric on the trees:

Last day - July 9, 2016.

Doesn't look much different than the first day, does it?

First day - July 10, 2015.

Close up, though...there's been some staining of the fabric and some interesting lines.   And some critters had to be gotten rid of...

I deliberately didn't want to wash the fabric, because I thought that might remove some of the stains -- especially from the synthetics (there were a couple).  So I bundled the fabric and string and put the bundle in a hot dryer for 20 minutes, as I'd read somewhere that this would ensure even ticks were eliminated:

Ready to disinfect!

 After this process, I laid them out on the freezer/work table on my back stoop:

Here are some close-ups...

Although they're really only stained -- no deterioration evident -- I have in mind a project...might even risk dampening them to add rusting...It will be awhile in the making...but I'm excited at the thought!