May is slipping through my fingers, and I can't seem to hold onto it. That's probably a Good Thing, though, because it's been three weeks of very dry, very cold, sometimes snowy and at least one (good) day -- yesterday -- rainy. Just enough to frustrate the 'Gardener' in me and delight the 'Stitcher'. Sheesh!
So...what have I been doing while waiting for Spring to actually arrive?
I've managed to baby a few tulips into blooming. I've planted some seeds in my raised beds -- ones that don't mind the cold (lettuce, mixed greens, dill, zucchini, carrots) -- and some in those two 'wildflower islands' I talked about last year. Under the big willow I transplanted daisies and yarrow -- and they survived the winter! I also planted some narcissus (deer don't like 'em) -- and they're coming up. No blooms, yet, but no matter. I'm just glad they made it!
I've removed the burlap from my baby apple trees and they're putting out leaves. The Parkland looks like it might even produce some blossoms, and where there are apple blossoms, can apples be far behind?
I set up a mini green-house over the herbs (thyme and oregano) and greens, to protect them from both the cold and the deer, and they seem to be happy. I think I'll get another one of these to protect my carrots when they start to come up. 😊
The wee Sasaktoon bushes are leafing out, and show signs of growth and spread, which is another Good Thing.
I've mowed the East Lawn and might get to the West Side tomorrow -- if it warms up and stops blowing!
There's much more going on. Lemme see...where did I leave you a couple or three weeks ago?!
1. "Hearts of Hope" -- well now! All seven rows of seven blocks are together, and I've begun to add borders.
The inner border is "the called for" -- 1" finished -- but not the next one. I didn't have enough blue to make strings for a cross-cut pieced border. What I do have is 98 half-square triangle (HST) blocks that I constructed when I was trimming the yellow heart shapes. I dug out one of my last suitable (i.e. large enough) pieces of "blue" fabric -- geometric blue-and-white -- cut squares to match et voila! A border is born! I'll put the same on the other sides -- with solid royal blue cornerstones to make it "pop". It should probably still have another border to make it large enough; I'll cross that bridge when I come to it! 😉
2. Cross stitch continues to hold me in its thrall. In fact, it's taken hold so firmly that I was inspired to create a few project bags to accomodate it.
Now then. Those of you who know me, know that I "don't do fiddly" -- or at least, I do it only under protest, and then I don't do it well. On the other hand, I had these linens and "samples" that needed homes...weren't being used...shouldn't end up in the landfill. And I wanted nicer packages for my stitching projects.
What to do? Suck it up and make project bags!!
I started simple: take an old linen 'hand towel', an old linen napkin, a bit of batting, some ribbon and a button. Hearken back to six years of Home Ec and what you know about Putting Things Together...et voila!
|Finished Project 'Envelope'|
|Damask lining -- a recycled napkin|
|What's in the pockets?|
I liked it so much, I thought I'd try my hand with two more.
First...(drum roll, please!) one with a zipper! Note: I've not put a zipper in anything for decades -- since I left garment sewing behind to follow the siren song of quilting. And I'd certainly not tried out the zipper foot on my current sewing machine -- bought a mere 3 1/2 years ago! But I had this odd piece of "art" created in a Craftsy class with my favourite teacher, Joe (the Quilter) Cunningham. I don't even have a photo of it from when I made it in that class -- but it's composed of two colours: deep purple and knock-your-eye-out yellow. It wasn't going anywhere...till it became THIS:
|Front - with 14" zipper|
And then...there's this one. Another envelope. It's composed from a piece I'd made out of four 'Drunkard's Path' blocks, constructed in an in-person class in another lifetime, long ago, with fabric choices that make me ask myself, "What WAS I thinking?!" As a square piece (4 blocks, joined with sashing) it was an abject failure. I didn't even want it as a table topper, for pity's sake!
But...folded and quilted and stitched into a 'project envelope'? It has new life, new purpose!
I didn't put pockets in it, but that's okay. It's large enough to accommodate a "mini bag" inside. So far I've not assigned a project to it, but there will come a day...
Meanwhile, the purple one travelled with me this past weekend to Edmonton, and handily housed my "House of Cooking" cross-stitch piece, the zip-lock bag of floss, my scissors, my magnetic board, folding stand and magnets to hold the pattern, the pattern itself (of course!), the project in a 7" hoop (it could have accommodated a 9" one) and my clip-on magnifying glass. What's not to like?!
I've made good progress on that piece (sorry, no photo -- birthday gift for a friend who's an Occasional Reader of this blog!)...and on others since my last post.
On May 1 I made a tiny start on Jeannette Douglas' mini-bouquet for the month, having added to the horizontal border between the first and second rows:
I've not got back to it since, being preoccupied with "House of Cooking" -- and with the other May start: Ruth Gibb (1866) from Hands Across the Sea Samplers. I started it on Mother's Day because -- you may recall -- "Gibb" was my mother's mother's maiden name. It's a pretty piece and an easy stitch -- if you can get the border right! (Yes, I did. I paid attention to the note that points out the replicated 'error' in that border, made by Ruth at age 11.) I've set it aside for a bit ("House", remember?) but will definitely stitch it again on June 8, my mother Ruth's birthday (she'd be 106 this year)...
When I got home from Edmonton, I returned to "Marching Orders: the Sampler" -- because Brenda and Laura were at it again in their latest YouTube video. I really want to get this done this month, so I can do the 'finishing' -- one as a needle book and one as a 'flat fold' -- and send them off. I'm definitely making progress, and at this point am approaching the last 1/3 of the sampler. What you see below is my "start" -- but as of this writing I've completed that entire section that you see in the centre, and I'm moving on!
Flat fold? "What's a flat fold?" you might ask. Well...it's a way of mounting something so you can stand it up. I've been watching a variety of tutorials (once again, thanks to YouTube!) and there are a few ways to approach this, but they all end up with the same result. I'm thinking that because (as you know) "I don't do fiddly!" 😉 -- I'm going to have to make a sample before risking this precious embroidered piece. I have mat board. I have glue. I have mat and liquid gel medium (artist's ModPodge). Stay tuned!
Part of my time in the past few weeks was taken up with the wonderful SAQA Conference, an annual event organized by SAQA and a 'local' committee -- this year, working out of St. Petersburg, Florida. It was to have been in person, but changed to 100% virtual at the last moment -- and so many more of us were able to attend.
Now, Gentle Readers, I've mentioned before how I'm prone to Zoom Fatigue -- as I know many of you are, too. But this was so very well done! It was stretched out over 10 days, with many sessions recorded, so that if there were concurrent ones you could go back and watch them later, and you didn't have to be up at 2 a.m. to watch everything in real time (depending on your time zone).
I skipped several sessions to work in the yard and take a break, but always enjoyed the ones I did "on schedule". The "Coffee and Cocktails" (with a nod to time zones!) were delightful (if too short!) break out sessions. There were meet-ups organized for special interests -- and I took in one on working with rusted fabric (which I love to do), that was great fun.
I've gone back to watch at least one keynote over again, and here's the best part -- I have until the end of July to re-watch any of the recorded sessions that I want. Lovely!
During the sessions I worked on my knitting or hand-stitch as I listened and made notes.
I met new people and connected with old friends -- and extracted promises from many that it would be "next year in Toronto" -- in person -- for all of us!
My wee SAQA Auction piece sold...and I was outbid on the ones I wanted, but that's okay. That was a fun thing too.
And yes! Like all good conferences, there were goodie bags! Mine arrived in the mail yesterday...
I'm still trying to figure out how the organizers knew that one of my fave colours is fuschia, and that I wouldn't want an art piece featuring a fish, and that I can't afford a subscription to art quilt quarterly, let alone a single issue! WOW! I am over the moon with it and of course...it's the perfect size for another (wait for it!) Project Bag! 😉😆
To end this "All SAQA, all the time" segment...well...there's another fund-raiser coming in the fall: the Annual Benefit Auction. I've donated almost annually since 2008 and have had all but 3 of my contributions (thus far) find new homes -- and bring funds into SAQA for promoting the art quilt and its exhibits.
The last couple of years (as you know) I've been low on art-making mojo. My 2021 contribution (made a bit earlier) didn't sell, and it's back here at home. I had no fresh ideas for 2022...but as you might recall, I had this stack of green fabrics...and a vague idea:
One thing a conference with like-minded colleagues will do, is provide energy and motivation. After the conference ended, I went into the studio and made this:
|Prairie Spring II - 12" x 12"|
Assorted self-dyed and commercial fabric
Machine pieced and quilted, faced; hanging sleeve.
|Prairie Spring II - detail|
It's a miniature reprise of a line study I did years ago in Elizabeth Barton's Master Class; this time it was made with more improvisational piecing and plainer stitching. It's on its way to the auction (which starts online in September -- stay tuned!!), and I hope it finds a new home.
Of course, through all of this there's been knitting. It's how I begin each day: coffee, Morning Pages (journal), knitting to the news.
I'm attempting Socks from Stash (yet again) and making a bit more headway, as I'm on the foot of the first sock. Here's the start, but of course I'm 'way past that now:
|Pattern: "Grandma's Socks"|
Designer: Amanda Bourke
I finished the "Dissent for Ukraine" cowl -- using the 'Dissent Cowl' pattern from Carissa Browning on Ravelry, and the yarn combo (fundraiser) from Fleece Artist in Nova Scotia. It's very cozy and even though these aren't colours I usually wear, I just might keep it:
|From the front, lining folded inside|
|From the side|
|On my rather short neck!|
The gals over at The Woolly Thistle (I watch their YouTube podcast) just had to start a 'hap KAL' -- and being of Scots descent, I just had to join in!
What's a 'hap'?! Well, 'hap' as a verb is Scots Gaelic for warmth -- and "a hap" (as a noun) is a large shawl -- square (to be folded) or triangular, with a lace border, often featuring a "shell" or "auld shale" striped pattern.
I made a one-colour hap some years ago, using a pattern designed by Sidna Farley for Knitter's Magazine -- and it's been a faithful companion, especially on frosty winter mornings:
My new hap is the Hemu, and has a main colour and a striped border. Though the pattern calls for four colours -- a main one and three others -- I've decided to use only three, two of which are yarns from sheep raised here in Alberta, and one from a yarn shop in Edinburgh, made by a company with my family name (Rennie).
My progress is slow, but I'm nearly finished the main body of my chosen pattern. Again, the photo shows the early days; I'm much farther along now.
And then...there are a couple of new starts. I made a "Millie" pullover some time back, and decided I wanted a spring/summer version, so cast this on a couple of weeks ago. I'm now well along the increases for the raglan sleeves:
The yarn is a colourful (!) synthetic -- Silky Look DK from Sirdar -- that I bought eons ago, in Calgary, in another life. Even though I'm moving away from synthetics, I hung onto this one for the colours -- and it's finally found its perfect project!
And just today, watching the Woolly Thistle YouTube, and seeing them talk about a new unspun yarn in their shop, I got to thinking about the Noro Rainbow Rolls I'd bought back when The Crafty Lady had her brick-and-mortar store. I got them for needle-felting but, truth be told, there's far more yarn there than I could ever use for the occasional art piece. I've thought about spinning with it (and I might, yet) but...today I found a pattern for a simple shawl with it, and cast on. So far, so good, so stay tuned for photos!
It's all designed to keep me sane in these challenging times -- and so far, so good.
I'll close with my usual connection to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and wish everyone a great weekend. Here in Canada it's the "May Long" -- i.e., the Victoria Day Weekend -- a time to relax, plant gardens (weather permitting), have family gatherings (pandemics permitting) and so forth.
Whatever you're up to in the next few days, stay safe, be well, and take time to stitch!