Friday, July 15, 2022

Christmas in July -- and Other Adventures!

NOTE: I started this blog post almost two weeks ago.  I've decided to continue it, so many Gentle Readers may find it long.  I apologize for the inconvenience. 

It's July!  How'd that happen?

Sigh.  It seems I've been asking myself that very same question every month -- since January!  How about you?  Decades ago my mother (RIP 2004) told me that "after age 21, time disappears".  The older I get, the more I acknowledge how right she was!

This July hasn't been particularly July-ish as to weather in these parts -- far more rain and cooler weather than expected.  Heck!  Last week -- just at the end of  June -- I had to have the furnace ON for a while a couple of mornings to take the chill out of the house!  Go figure!

No matter.  The rain has made the yard and garden Happy, Happy, Happy!  So almost everything is BURGEONING with growth and blossoms.  Why "almost"?! pansies...planted in a rather heavy but shallow planter...have barely escaped drowning.  Some of them have died.  I've had to put a mini greenhouse over them to try to keep the water at bay -- but that's only worked when the winds permitted.  Sigh.  "It is what it is", as they say.

On the "Not Gardening" front, all of this moisture has meant it's been too wet to mow the grass! 

It's also given me more time indoors -- for stitching, knitting and quilting!

The main quilting going on has been the completion of three comfort quilts for two Ukrainian families soon to be arriving in the area.  One is "Hearts of Hope" (the Bonnie Hunter pattern); the other two are nine-patch variations.  All are quilted, and two are partly bound -- with a deadline to deliver them on the weekend of July 9.  

As for thoughts of Christmas, well!  I seem to be on the "Christmas in July" bandwagon this year.  I've often started making Xmas gifts in July -- or even earlier -- depending on the number and type of gifts in question.  Stitched gifts often take me longer than knitted ones.  However, this year there seem to be a number of "alongs" -- knit-alongs and stitch-alongs in particular -- that have given me a) motivation to keep going with what I'm currently working on; and b) an excuse to start new projects!  😁

With the start of this new month, Jeannette Douglas has put out another mini-bouquet pattern in her series of twelve for 2022.  Because she teaches so many classes in the US, this is a nod to July 4th; however, many of her Canadian followers -- like me -- will be doing it in red and white, for Canada's flag.  This month's pattern is the first on the third of four rows in all -- so I had to begin by extending the left side border of the piece, and then stitching enough of the second horizontal border to accommodate the new pattern, a pretty blue-and-yellow floral garland:

And here are the threads I picked for my Canadian version of "Patriotic July":

DMC 934 (dark green), DMC 3831 (red),
DMC "Blanc" (white), and
Classic Colorworks "Pine Needles" (dark olive green)

I've made quite a bit of progress on two other summer-time starts, too.  First, the "Growth Chart" that will be a Baby's First Xmas gift -- I hope!

Isn't he cute?  And the strawberry fine is great fun to stitch.  Because this is an old and rather poorly done chart -- hard to read the symbols, as I think I mentioned in my last post -- I've had to 'fudge' some of the placement of the colours, but I think it's turning out alright.

I've also done a great deal more on the "Summer Bird" -- part of a series of three from Black Bird Designs, in the "Loose Feathers" line:

That large flower is just so pretty!

Once I get the leaves etc. near the flower finished, I have to map out the bird, which I'm doing as a red-winged blackbird, common here in these parts in the summer.

Then there have been a couple of finishes!  First, "Gingham Summer" just breezed along.  I'm thinking it will soon be a little pillow for my bowl:

The second was a start and a finish in the last couple of weeks: "Summer Bower" from Modern Folk Embroidery.  I saw it on a podcast -- "Curious Crafters" flosstube -- and fell in love.  What's more, I had the perfect little piece of fabric and the perfect overdyed floss to do it the way I wanted -- both from the supplies I inherited from my late friend Candy.

No idea what the linen was (no label) but it was the right count for the project, and worked beautifully with the floss.  I don't know how much there was in the partial skein of floss when I began, but I had very little left when I finished: 18" of 6 strands and 18" of 4!

Front - mystery linen, Needle Necessities floss.

Backing.  The arrow points to a slit
in the cloth that will be used for stuffing
the cushion, and then sealed over with
a scrap of fabric and maybe embellished.

So what about Christmas pieces?  I'm not a seasonal decorator -- I don't even put up a Xmas tree some years, and when I do, it's usually up from mid-December to Epiphany (January 6) and that's IT.  So I'm not talking about tree ornaments.  Rather, in addition to the "Growth Chart (above), I've got at least one more stitched gift planned:

"Q" is for Quilter
from The Victoria Sampler
No hardanger this time! LOL!

I bought the pattern and accessory/thread pack years ago -- it dates from 2007 and I think I got it when on a retreat at the VS in 2008 -- and I found just the right piece of white linen: 28 count, but unlabelled, so again it's a mystery.  I have several friends who quilt; this is for one of them, but I'm not telling who!  😉

The other piece will be just for me; it's a Jeannette Douglas from 2003, which I probably bought around 2005 -- fully kitted at the time:

"Red Christmas" -- Jeannette Douglas Designs

It finishes at 3 5/8" x 8 1/8", so I may just make it into a needle roll for my bowl. Time will tell!  I've never worked on a red linen -- and the fact that there's Kreinik Very Fine Braid (#4), bugle beads, petite seed beads (Mill Hill for both), as well as white Soie d'Alger Au Ver a Soie to work with -- that'll be an adventure!

There's at least two knitting projects lined up for Christmas -- a pair of socks and a cowl.  The socks are boot socks -- promised for some months now to my dear friend in Montreal.  I've cast on "A Nice Ribbed Sock", and I'm using ONLine Supersocke "Worker Color" yarn in "Blue Jeans" (my friend's fave colour).  This is a lovely, relatively mindless 3:1 rib -- and this will make the fourth time I've made this pattern up.  Clearly a winner in my books!  😁 Based on notes from a prior pair in a similar-weight yarn, I'm using 3 mm needles and cast on 60 stitches.  They'll probably be worn over another pair of socks or tights or whatever -- for warm winter walking!

And I know that if my sock mojo flags -- as it has so much this year! -- I'll have a motivational resource at my finger tips: I've linked up with the "Christmas in July" KAL over at the "Frivolous and Frugal Podcast" group on Ravelry!

Pattern: "A Nice Ribbed Sock" 
Designer: Glenna C.
Yarn: ONLine Supersocke 6fach "Worker Color"

The ball of yarn looks that way because...well...a while back I started a different pair of socks with this yarn, got bored with the pattern (yes!  More boring than ribbing!) and frogged what I'd done.  These will serve a better purpose.  

In other knitting, I'm working on at least 4 pullovers, all in various stages: a Millie in a bright, multi-coloured synthetic yarn; a Turtle Dove II in a rich, heathered teal wool; the Sock Knitter's Pullover from sock yarn scraps; and a new one: a bottom-up pullover with some Fair Isle colour work on the yoke: the "Man's Fair Isle Sweater" (in the smallest size, for me), designed by Wendy Baker in Rowan's Scottish Inspirations. I'm making that in some Classic Elite Tweed I bought in another life (i.e., 20 years ago in Calgary), and enjoying the mindless 'round and 'round of it, as I'm on the body, headed toward the sleeve shaping.  

On the "Millie", I'm still doing yoke increases; on the TDII, I'm working on the first sleeve; and on the Sock Knitter's Pullover, I'm working on the body -- headed toward the hem.  The sleeves will follow!

On the quilting front -- no new artwork, but I enjoyed an Artists' Date (a la Julia Cameron) with my dear friend Mary W. and new friend Arlene W. almost 2 weeks ago now.  Mary lives in Camrose; Arlene lives some distance north and I, a similar distance south -- so we met in the middle.  We enjoyed a long, delicious lunch at Mainstreet 1908 -- new to Arlene, who'd not been to Camrose before, but a favourite with Mary and me -- and now a favourite for all 3 of us!  We followed that up with visits to two locations that defined us as art quilters: Quilting from the Heart and Candler Art Gallery (and shop).  Yes, there were purchases: fabric for some...but not me.  I bought, instead, packages of "quilters clips" -- one in each of two different sizes -- to use when creating flat-folds for my stitching!  And I got a spool of "regular" white thread in order to quilt the "Hearts of Hope" comfort quilt for Ukrainian refugees soon to arrive in our area.

Yes.  A friend of mine who attends a church in Red Deer contacted me a few weeks back because she knows I make comfort quilts and have made some for Edmonton-area refugees.  Did I have any I could donate to two families -- currently in Poland -- who were sponsored by a member of her church?  YES!  I had "Hearts of Hope" finished, as well as two other "nine-patch variations".  

Blog post paused...and continued again on July 14, 2022...

RE: those aforementioned quilts: It turns out that the families are still in Europe, so I was able to slow down my efforts.  That said, all three of the quilts are quilted, and two are bound:

Hearts of Hope
Designer: Bonnie Hunter
53" W x 55" L - borders modified by me


9-patch variation

9-patch pieced backing
48" W x 61" L

The beautiful backing fabric on "Hearts of Hope" was a gift from my dear friend C., whose sister bought a roll of it with which to make curtains -- and had a good portion of it left over.  The fabric is 55" wide, so there was some piecing in the back of that quilt, but it's wonderful polished cotton -- a bit heavier than 'regular' quilting cotton, but it doesn't affect the drape.  I will make use of it many more times before it runs out!

There's been progress in some of the cross-stitch since I started this post too.  After I finished the border work on the "Mini Bouquet" series (shown above), I began the July motif (sorry; no photo) -- and I started the two new "Christmas in July" pieces.  Both of these involve specialty stitches, which are fun -- but need to be done when I'm fresh and thinking clearly.  If I get too tired -- watch out! LOL!

July 7 - my start -- Queen Stitch blue flowers!

July 10 - progress -- metallic threads in the top
flower, and a quail done with silks, 1 thread 
over 1 thread!

July 13 - more progress -- white silk Queen 
Stitches, a cross-stitched "Q" and quince blossoms

I've left that one there for the moment.  In the midst of it, though, I also started "Red Christmas" from Jeannette Douglas Designs:

Fabric: 32 count Zweigart red  Belfast linen
Threads: Kreinik #4 Very Fine Braid - 032 Pearl
and Soie d'Alger - Blanc

The stars are in the Kreinik; the moon is in the silk -- again, one thread over one thread.  This -- and the quail in the "Q" piece -- were the first times I'd ever done one-over-one, to my recollection.  I'm rather proud of myself for accomplishing that!  Note: this pattern is dated 2003, and I think it's out of print now.

On the art front...

First, a bit of rusting, as for the past few days we've had nice hot, sunny weather (quite a difference from that at the start of this post!)

Last spring I was given a large rusting grate -- something my neighbour was going to throw out, till I spied it.  Finally, I got a chance to use it!

Fabric placed on top of the rusty grate,
sprayed with vinegar-water, wrapped in plastic 
and put out in the sunshine.

Rusted fabric soaking in a baking soda 
solution to try to neutralize the corrosion a bit.

Muslin pieces dried and ironed

Assorted scraps of linen and even-weave
fabric, dried and ironed

I've no particular purpose for the larger pieces yet, but an idea is brewing for the linen strips. Art Adventure!

As those of you who follow me elsewhere likely know, I was selected to be part of a small group of artists from across Canada, who would spend several days in our Glacier National Park -- near Revelstoke, British Columbia.  This event, known as Art in the Park, is usually biennial -- ie., every other year -- and it was to have happened in 2020, know.

So it was rebooked for 2021 -- and know.

SO, it was rebooked for 2022 -- and it's happening!  I leave Sunday for Revelstoke, and on Monday, drive up to the Rogers Pass to stay at a Parks Canada venue there until mid-day on Friday.  There are eleven of us, including at least one more artist from Alberta, one from B.C. and one from Ontario.  We're expected to get to know each other a bit, be inspired by each other's work, hike in the area, be inspired by what we see, hear and experience, and return home to make at least three art pieces by the end of the year.  In January 2023, these are to be sent back to Revelstoke to be exhibited at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre, after which it will go on a 1-year tour.   A portion of the proceeds from the sale of any of the artwork will go to the Revelstoke Visual Arts Society.  😊

The first day includes an orientation to the Park, and then a tour of the area.  The next three days focus on "art and exploration"; each evening there's a group campfire for anyone who wants to go.  We help clean up and leave mid-day on Friday.

I've been vascillating between excitement and anxiety for the last couple of weeks, as details began to come together.  I've not driven through the area since 1994, and never on my own.  I've bought a little cell phone -- with a 1-month voucher -- in the event of emergencies.  Though there are several 'dead zones' along the route through the Rockies, I've got a plan with a major provider that reportedly has fewer dead zones in its service repertoire.  There's only cell service at the venue -- no wifi.  I don't expect to have my phone on me most of the time; I have a camera for photos.

I'm determined that this phone is -- for me -- just a phone.  It's a computer-wannabe and isn't very good at what it does -- mainly because the keyboard is so useless for someone who learned to type 50+ years ago on a Remington manual typewriter.  I've mastered electric typewriters, computer keyboards and laptop keyboards, but my phone doesn't type as fast as I do and tends to misspell everything.  Sigh.  

If I didn't have my laptop, I'd have never been able to use the darned phone, because it was set to time out so quickly, I couldn't get it to do what I wanted.  We don't speak the same language so when I look up something, it has no idea what I'm talking about!  Blessedly, I found out via my laptop how to prolong the 'sleep' time on the phone, so that if I pause to think, it won't doze off.  

I've made a little case for the silly thing, and that's where it will rest most of the time -- even if it's plugged in for charging.  And because the phone number is only good for 30 days, I've written it on a scrap of paper and pinned it inside the case; it's not worth memorizing! LOL!   

I've not owned a sleeping bag for decades, but have to provide my own bedding and towels.  My bed-roll will include a quilt, of course!  😉

I had my car inspected on Tuesday -- no problems at all; it's Good to Go, which is a relief.  It was worth the $70 at the local mechanic's outfit.  I told them I made the appointment because I could hear my late hubby's voice in my ear:  "Get the car checked out, Sweetie."  He was no mechanic himself, but he was very particular about ensuring our family car was in tip-top shape for all those trips we took with our kids over the years -- from Calgary to the Okanagan, and/or Vancouver, and/or The Island and back, visiting The Grandparents and Cousins.   

I'm driving up the day before and staying over at the end, so that I can take my time and be rested and refreshed -- it's over 6 hours' drive each way without stops, which of course means it'll be 8 to 9 hours for me!  I've got new paper maps to refer to (no point in using GPS on my phone on a route full of dead zones!), and have planned where I'll stop and refill the car, in order to do this as economically as possible (the price of gas is higher in B.C., especially in the summer tourist season, and especially this year, given all that's been going on in the world).

I'll have my laptop with me for those two nights in a motel in Revelstoke...and I've sourced the local supermarket and...yes...for the Friday afternoon, a yarn shop!  Fondling yarn will help me to unwind and process the experience, and there might just be a bit of 'souvenir yarn' coming home with me too.  😁

Of course, I've assembled art materials, including a sketchbook with removable pages -- because  "Part of the project will include keeping a journal of your experience in Glacier National Park.  Artists should be prepared to share parts of the journal as storyboards to accompany the exhibit."

For any bit of down-time I can find, I'm taking my knitting (goes without saying), possibly some cross-stitch (something fairly 'mindless' -- that wee gnome-studded Growth Chart might be just the ticket!), and several art pieces that have been waiting to have their facings sewn down and/or their hanging sleeves attached.  I figure that I could share these with the other artists as examples of my current work.

And so, Gentle Readers, you can see why it's taken me so very long to get this post written.  I'm going to link it to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and bid you adieu; stay tuned for the Art in the Park Report when I return home!

In closing, I want to say a special thank you to Teri, Mary, Elizabeth, Jenny and Phyllis, who each bought some of the art I had on exhibit at Curiosity Art & Framing -- helping me defray some of the significant increases in the cost of the trip since 2020, particularly with respect to fuel and motel accommodation.  I'm at a loss for words in appreciation of their support and encouragement.  And thanks to my daughter Gina and my cyber-friend Susan L., for assuring me that I really could do this!  You are all the Very Best friends and family I could have.


Kate said...

I'll be over here, cheering you on, as you go on your big adventure.
I was humoured by your discussion of typing. I was given a passing grade in Grade 9 typing, I think because they didn't want me back. However, I was told I needed to work hard at my acedemics because I had nothing to "fall back on".
I've used computers my entire career, even taught others how to use them, and still use a hunt and peck method.
Enjoy your trip, ncluding the journey!

Judy Martin said...

Oh Margaret

I wanted to find out about your big adventure because I follow you on facebook and saw that it was starting! and i didn't know what it was.

Wow - what a huge thing to do. A drive into the mountains by yourself - and to have an art date at the other end.

Best of luck on it all - I am sure you will enjoy yourself and have a great time. Learn lots!! xoxo

Martha Ginn said...

Margaret, I loved reading your post, and I read it all. Counted cross-stitch was my go-to that sent me into quilting in 1980s (when my dau and I made a quilt of x-stitch squares). Loved reading about your rust dyeing and the upcoming retreat. Yes, I agree on your bravery to make this drive. I live 60 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and you are so waaaay up there, but your FB posts and comments make me think we are kindred spirits in many ways. I cared for my husband with Parkinson's for ten years and can relate to your life. My main SAQA region is NCAL/NV and I have two pieces in their Prism Play exhibit.
I clicked to follow your blog; and I know from experience how we put off writing until the job is monumental. I'm also on Blogger but no longer know how to tell people how to "subscribe," or I'd ask you to follow me. Keep safe and healthy--lots more stitching to do!
Martha Ginn