Saturday, May 20, 2023

Rollin' Right Along

 Several years ago, author, speaker and podcaster Gretchen Rubin opined, "The days are long but the years are short."  She was right then, and that thought still rings true -- at least for many of us.  When I was in my teens, my mother told me, "After [age] 21, time simply disappears."  She was right, too.

Outside observers -- at least in the culture in which I live -- would look at all that I've been experiencing in the last six or seven weeks and comment, "You've been busy!"  And I suppose that's one way to look at it.

I've decided, however, that I'm going to drop the word "busy" from my vocabulary.  "Busy" and it's close relative, "productive", have nearly undone me as I've gotten older -- and particularly since I entered my 8th decade last fall.

Instead, I've decided to define what occupies my time as -- quite simply -- living.  Some days the pace is faster; some days there are several other people involved.  Other days...not so much.  Each day has a flavour and tenor of its own.  

I've discovered that looking at my life in this fashion keeps me from dwelling in the past, keeps me from wallowing in self-pity and regret, and brings me much more peace and contentment.  It might even help me have live longer -- and heaven knows, my stash(es) need that to happen!

Enough philosophizing! What have you been up to, girl?!


When I last posted, I was in the middle of the first in-person Lacome Encore! Art Show and Sale since 2019.  It was a terrific weekend.  I loved telling others about my work -- and did my best to grin and bear it when someone referred to it as a "nice little hobby".  There will always be folks who just don't 'get it'! I sold enough to buy a bit of art from other artists there, and went home exhausted but happy.

Less than two weeks later, I was on a plane to Toronto for the 2023 SAQA Conference -- again, the first in person since 2019, and the first in perosn conference held outside the US.  It was another whirlwind -- meeting up with old friends, making new ones, taking in the excellent speakers and visiting both the Textile Museum of Canada and the "Colour with a 'U'" SAQA Canada exhibit at the Campbell House Museum -- both within walking distance of our hotel downtown.

I do confess, it's been a very long time since I've seen that much pavement all in one place! 😉😆

I won't overload you with photos, but here are a few.  This first trio were part of the Textile Museum exhibit, "Refuse", created by artist Padina Bondar.  I was completely fascinated with this work, the textures and the sculptural nature of it took my breath away.

Knitted lace -- from recycled black
garbage bags.
Artist: Padina Bondar

Material samples - 2019-2021
Artist: Padina Bondar

Cosmic Waste Dress (2021)
Artist: Padina Bondar

After the Textile Museum, my friend Bethany and others all trooped over to Campbell House Museum to see "Colour with a 'U'" -- an all Canadian SAQA member exhibit that was created originally to open at the Toronto conference -- when it was supposed to be held, in 2020.  Since then, it was in lock-down for a while and then, as venues opened up, it toured parts of Canada.  Alas, it made it no farther west that Saskatchewan, so I wasn't able to see it out here.  That's why it was so good to be able to be in TO to see it at last -- in this, its final venue before being retired.  

It's up till June 5 if you haven't seen it yet and are able to get to TO to do so!  And if you simply can't get's a video slideshow of the full exhibit, from the SAQA website. 😊

I did get a few photos, but it was a very busy and somewhat crowded venue at the time.  Here are a few favourites:

Three Artists -- Three Amigas! 

Left to right above: my friend and intrepid room-mate at the conference, artist Bethany Garner; our friend and artist of reknown, Mary Pal (watch for her episode this weekend on The Quilt Show with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson!); and me.  

Behind us: celebrated author and Canadian icon, Margaret Atwood, done in Mary's unique style with cheescloth, fabric and thread.

Typically Canadian, here are a few examples from this diverse exhibit:

36 Million Stories: The Fabric of US (2019)
Artist: Linda Finley, Bear Cove, Nova Scotia

Green to Make My Heart Sing (2019)
Susan Selby, Navin, Manitoba

Cold Magic (2020)
Janet Harper, Vancouver, B.C.

Rue de Buade #2 - 2014
Heather Dubreuil, Hudson, Quebec

The Urgent Colours of a Summer Garden - 2019
Wilma Brock, Surrey, B.C.

The Here and Elsewhere Bee - 2017
Andrea Tsang Jackson, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Through My Eyes - 2019
Michele Craigen, Weyburn, Saskatchewan

As to speakers, the highlights for me were Dorothy Caldwell -- the keynote speaker first thing Friday morning; Lindsay Olson, one of the 'break-out' speakers on Friday afternoon; Lorraine Roy -- the keynote speaker first thing Saturday morning; and my friend, Susan Lenz -- the keynote on Sunday morning.  All the speakers provided inspiration and food for thought, but these four stood out for me.

After the conference ended early Sunday afternoon, I was driven out to Don Mills, and spent a very hectic day and a half with my old university friend, Karen, her husband Brad and their family.  It was their daughter's birthday on Monday, so the family -- said daughter, her hubby, their two little ones; her older brother and his wife and two little ones -- all gathered at K&B's home on Sunday evening for dinner and celebration.  It was a swirl of activity, noise, good food, conversation, excitement, Lego, dogs etc....and then at 8 p.m., it was all over, and the three of us left -- K, B and me -- had a quiet drink and went to bed! Monday, Karen and I had lunch with a friend of hers; then K napped while I stitched and Brad worked in his upstairs office.

Tuesday a.m. found me on a full flight home -- and I was glad to be on my own again to process all of the activity of the last week.

What made this easier was that I could channel energy in to yard work.  The weather had warmed up and there was plenty to do.  

Now all is planted, and when it's not too smokey -- due to a record number of wild fires in the northwest part of the province as well as in BC -- I can sit outside and stitch, while I listen to the bees humming in the blossoms of my ornamental fruit trees.

I've been able to trim some deadwood, and have added more wildflower seed to my meadow garden beds, in addition to planting fresh annuals in my decorative planters.

The outdoor studio is open for "business" -- but I can't burn the deadwood (yet) due to the province-wide fire ban.  I certainly don't want to tempt Fate by even trying!

Instead, Miss Pookie and I sit and stitch, and watch Flosstubes on my laptop! 

The other Outdoor Adventure (of sorts) that will be happening around here in the next week or so is the replacement of the shingles on the roof of both my house and my garage.  The existing ones are twenty years old or more, and are curling badly (especially on the garage), so it's time.  The packets were delivered on Wednesday afternoon, and await installation, depending on the schedule of the crews (there are 6 crews working for this company) and the weather:

Shingle packages on the garage

Shingle packages on the house

It will be a blessing to have this done!

Before the smoke hit in earnest, and before the roofers run their truck over my 'meadow', I managed yesterday to harvest some of my dandelion crop, for the first batch of jelly this year:

I managed to cull 6 cups of petals from the first picking.

Here's Batch #1 from the first 3 cups of 
dandelion "tea"

Here's Batch #2 from the next 3 cups of
dandelion "tea" - the 'remnant' on the right
will be eaten first!

I got 6 cups of 'tea' from the 6 cups of petals, but as I was boiling jars and lids in my largest pot, I could make only 3 cups of 'tea' into jam/jelly at the same time.  The first batch was made last evening (May 19) and the second, early this morning (May 20).  I let the second boil more aggressively so it was finished more quickly and is a darker colour and more jelly than jam -- but still delicious!


On the stitching front, I've been marking "Maynia" this year with a selection of five WIPs, each of which I've been working on for five days at one go.

My first one was "Here Be Dragons" from Modern Folk Embroidery -- and I've made terrific progress!

The second piece is one I started in on the plane flying out to Toront; it's for a friend's birthday next month.  In the five-day focus period set aside for this one, I got very close to a finish.  It's the second in the "Kitchen Counter" series from Hands On Design, and is called "Take Whisks".  (Yes, my friend loves to bake!)

The third in the 5 x 5 project was the "Summer" Bird from a trio of "Loose Feathers" from Black Bird Designs.  I'd started it almost a year ago, when my friend Annette lent me the patterns for all three.  Last evening, I came up with a Friday Finish!

As I reported to fellow-stitchers on a couple of FB groups, it's not perfect.  I've no idea where I erred in the spacing but I've decided to leave it alone -- I rather like it this way!  I used a 32-count Antique White Belfast linen from Zweigart, and most of the called-for DMC cotton floss, substituting colours to transform the bird from a brown one to a red-winged blackbird, as we see lots of them in these parts in the summer.  

The "Autumn" bird is designed to butt up right next to the right border of this one, and that's fine as I have enough fabric for all three of them to be in one piece.  I'm not going to change up the colours of the wee brown bird in that one, though, as it rather suits the autumn theme, and looks like a sparrow, which are ubiquitous all year 'round here.

Next up is my work on the Spanish sampler, "Bernarda Bellon" from The Wishing Thorn but I'm taking 3 days off to start a piece in honour of the "May Long" weekend, which is this weekend in Canada.  It's really the Victoria Day weekend, remembering Queen Victoria, but in these parts it's often called simply "May Long".  

For the occasion, I've dug out the first in a trio by Just Nan, called "Barnabee's Quest".  I've had these patterns -- and the accompanying beads and charms -- for years.  It was released in 2001 (!) and can probably be found only on the secondary market now.   As bees are "in vogue" and very much need to be supported nowadays, I thought this would be a great way to celebrate the weekend Canadians look at as the start of summer -- even if our schools don't let out until the end of June.  

I'm going to do each piece on its own, on three small scraps of fabric -- two of which are the same fabric and one of which is a bit of an oddball, but should work just fine.  They're roughly 32 count or finer, so each will be quite tiny; I'll probably make them into a set of little pillows.


And then there's quilting.  I've returned to work on more scrap quilts.  With the wildfires causing so many evacuations and lost homes, I am hoping to get a few tops done so that they'll be ready to quilt and send off if or when they're needed.

In the week after I got home from the conference, I finished my "Triple Treat"-- a Bonnie Hunter pattern -- in browns.  It's a throw size, made that way by wide side borders.  It used up all the bits and bobs of fabrics in the colour theme, so I couldn't really make it any larger!  I've got a stack of purples, reds and pinks set aside to make a second one in those colours.

Meanwhile, I've started a batch of "Butter Churn" blocks -- based on Bonnie's pattern from her "Addicted to Scraps" column in the March/April 2023 issue of Quiltmaker Magazine.  I was determined to get a pattern that would use up my collection of "bricks" and 3" or 3 1/2" squares that I'd cut and packaged from Bonnie's Scrap User's System -- and this one fills the bill.  Here are some of the blocks on my design wall.  Each one will finish at 6" in the quilt, so you can see I have some distance to go before I have enough for a throw-sized quilt -- or even a lap-sized one! 

But never fear; I have plenty of scraps that will work!

And speaking of quilting, last weekend my friend C and I went to the first Central Alberta Quilters' Guild Show since 2019.  What a treat!  It was in the new hall at Westerner Park in Red Deer -- and it was huge!  There was lots to see and lots of great vendors, but the best part was the surprise and delight of meeting up with quilters I'd not seen in years.  It was Old Home Week at its best!

Here were a few of the pieces that caught my eye:

"Fabric Scissors Only"
Maker: Karen Yetter
The 'Tamarack' jacket pattern, 
with personal modifications!

"No Beard, No Way"
Maker: Thelma Mellafont
Pattern from "Fabriculous"

"Ewe Are Loved"
Maker: Diane Andrews
Pattern: One Sisters Designs

One of a trio from Patti Morris, this one was a collaboration.
"Festival of Trees Quilt"
Makers: Care Group, Central AB Quilters
Designers: French Braid (background) by Karen Montgomery,
Applique (foreground) by Patti Morris

There was a section devoted to the "150 Canadian Women" quilts -- mostly red and white -- made to honour 150 Canadian women in our history, inspired by Canada's 150th anniversary as a confederation (2017).  This one was my favourite:

And last but not least, this one got my vote for "Viewer's Choice".  I loved the use of colour and the placement of the fabrics.  The border is particularly appropriate and striking.  I just loved everything about this quilt!

Maker: Elizabeth Russell
Design/Pattern: taken from 
Quilters' Colors Club by Christine E. Barnes

As if we weren't already worn out from all the quilty goodness, this year the quilt show coincided with "Fibre Potpourri", a quilting retreat up at Red Deer Polytechnic, hosted (in turn) by the Calgary Guild of Needle & Fibre Arts or the Edmonton Needlework Guild.  And yes, of course there were vendors!   So C. and I drove up to the campus and checked it out.  First, one of the vendors -- and a teacher at the event -- was a long-time friend of C's, so there were hugs all 'round. She was selling off out-of-print magazines, patterns and kits at deep discounts.  I got a Lizzie Kate for my collection, plus a Winter 2004 issue of  Sampler & Antique Needlework magazine.  C stocked up on many more!

The next booth was the purview of my former silk ribbon embroidery teacher and a dear friend, Betty Caskey of Olds, AB.  More hugs, and more yummies to see!  And then there was a new vendor to both of us -- Embroidery Marketplace.  Gold!  We both got fabric and threads.  

Here's my collection of goodies:

The 'white' fabric is really a print -- 32-count 'Vintage Smoky White' Belfast linen from Zweigart.  The 'green' one looks more grey in some lights -- and it's a hand-dyed piece: 32-count 'Valor' from Picture This Plus.  The 'fancy' flosses were three that I have nearly run out of and thought would be good to have on hand for future projects.  And can't have too many tapestry needles in one's favourite sizes (mine are 24 and 26).

And that, Gentle Readers, is what's been feeding the fires of my heart and soul since my last post.  Every day brings something to do, to learn, to delight in -- whether indoors or out -- and as long as I have the work of my hands, my mind rests more easily, my sleep is deeper, and my tendencies to ruminate, over-think, and/or relive the past in grief and pain are kept at bay.

I like myself better this way, and I hope you will too.

Now, as I usually do, I'm closing with a link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and a wish to you for safe, contented, creative days until we meet again.  A bientot!

1 comment:

Kate said...

It looks like you have had wonderful travels and used that fleeting time wisely. Thanks for sharing the quilt pictures.