Friday, April 19, 2024

Is it Spring Yet?

 In my last post, I reported that I had "Spring Startitis" and wanted to start all the things -- especially knitting.  I was soooo optimistic that Spring was just around the corner, but Mother Nature's been fickle in this part of  Canada.  We long for rain as we're in a drought here, but aside from an over-night drop of sleet and wet snow Tuesday night, we've had only empty skies and, especially in the last few days, cold, bitter winds that sucked up all the moisture and made fools of us for thinking the sunshine was warm.  Hah!

The dry air has wreaked havoc on my skin.  I've been struggling with an extensive bout of eczema that my doctor thinks is a combination of the drought and stress.  I'm slathering myself with unscented lotions, and have a prescription for a steroid cream to apply sparingly to the most seriously-irritated areas.


This has affected my mood, leaving me "dumpy, frumpy, and grumpy" -- the phrase I used to describe myself when I saw the doc earlier this week.  Otherwise I'm fine -- but if this continues beyond another month, I'm thinking I'll have to go back and see if he has any better ideas.

To add insult to injury, last week I had a major security threat on my laptop, and had to have Windows techs clean it up.  I ended up purchasing Symantec security soft-ware, having learning that an anti-virus program isn't enough protection from the nefarious souls out there with too much time on their hands, who spend their days dreaming up ways to complicate the lives of others.  Symantec was the company we used in the financial services offices in which I worked for over a decade, so I'm hoping the $$$ I spent on that will be worth it.  It's a 5-year plan, so over time, it really works out to be not that costly -- and MUCH better than an invasion of cyber-idiots.

Meanwhile, distraction is the name of the game!  I'm listening to an abundance of calming music available on YouTube (I can minimize the window and not watch the screen) and on the radio (classical on CBC), and have turned to my most repetitive activities: knitting and cross-stitch.

First, the stitching.  This week I had the satisfaction of finishing the piece I'm doing for my friends' 50th Wedding Anniversary, which is next month!

Designed by The Wishing Thorn

Beading close-up #1

Beading close-up #2

Beading close-up #3

Beading close-up #4

This is really a very small piece, as I stitched it on 36-count "Grey" from Weeks Dye works, using a combination of 1 strand over 2 threads and 2 strands over two.  That was really unintentional, but when I'd discovered I'd done so, I decided not to frog it and just work the pattern so that it was balanced.  My friends don't stitch; they won't care -- if they even notice!  (The flosses were the called-for DMC plus 1 Caron Waterlilies floss -- the variegated sections you see in the photos.)

As they live in another province, my plan is to lace the piece to acid-free mat board, and let them frame it to suit their decor.  I think it's beautifully exotic, and really hope they like it!

I've also made significant progress on my #JacobSleeperSAL ("Jacob Sleeper Stitch-ALong") piece.  The SAL was organized by Carmen of the "Cardamen Pins" YouTube podcast, to encourage those who love Jacob's Modern Folk Embroidery designs to stitch one of his lesser-known or earlier pieces.

As I mentioned in my last post, I selected a piece that was a free pattern -- a section from one of Jacob's annual SALs from a few years ago: "Light a Single Candle".  I've been using it as a weekend stitch, and am now approaching the bottom border:

The remaining word is 'darkness' -- and then there is a lovely border that echoes the one at the top.  I'm using a piece of unlabelled scrap linen and working 2 strands of floss over 2 of linen.  I began with some leftover unlabelled red cotton floss, and when it ran out, I found some DMC 815 that works perfectly.  I've just enough of that to finish the piece.  I could make it into a little pillow, but I think I'll find a small frame for it instead.

Discouraged about Spring's 'non-arrival', I've not done much on the "Buttercup Alphabet" piece from The Victoria Sampler; more on that when I get back to it.  Even though it suits the "Something Floral" (my #18 from WIPGO that was called for April), I've just not been inclined to work on it of late.

The other WIPGO number this month was 21 -- and for me that could be a plethora of things that are "under 50% complete".  I've focused on the hap I'm making for the Woolly Thistle's Shawl KAL (Knit ALong).  I finished the central piece and have moved on to the first part of the lace border:

Centre: Heirloom Fingering - Black Welsh
Mountain - Innisfail, Alberta
Border #1 - Gotland/BFL Lamb Fingering,
Riverside Farms, B.C.

Close-up of the first border colour

There are 93 rows (!) of lace border, which I've decided to divide up so I can use four colours.  In my last post, I'd shown you only three neutrals: the black, the grey and a natural cream...

BUT on April 6 I went with some friends to the Rose City Fibre Festival in Camrose, Alberta, and came home with another yarn from Riverside Farms: this time a glorious skein of North Country Cheviot/BFL, hand-dyed with cochineal!  Yum!

So now I have a plan to inject a pop of this colour between bands of the natural cream, which in turn will be banded by the grey, and -- I hope -- ended off by more black on the outer edge.

In other knitting, I've finished the first of two mittens for a neighbour (except the thumb), and have completed the ribbing of the second.  

Pattern: "The World's Simplest Mittens"
Designer: Tin Can Knits
Yarn: Schoeller & Stahl "Limbo Mexiko" in
colour #2586 - Mango

And I've finished two more chemo caps for my UK friend -- something a bit lighter to wear if needed, before the heat of summer arrives:

Pattern: "Eyelet Rolled Brim Hat"
Designer: JoAnne Turcotte, from 
Knitting for Peace 
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, colour #415 - "Rainbow"

Pattern: The Martine Hat
Designer: Lisa R. Myers
Yarn: Queensland Collection
Uluru 'Rainbow'
in colour #1010 -
"Waratah Bouquet"

They're packaged up and will be mailed off to her later this afternoon.  😊

There's been "Happy Mail" in the last few weeks too -- which adds to my supply of Delightful Distractions:

First, the two braids of spinning fibre I won last September in the "Summer Spin-in" from Two Ewes Fiber Adventures arrived at last!  (Sorry, no photos as of now, but as I spin it up...stay tuned.)  One is 100% Falkland; the other, 100% alpaca.  Both are hand-painted in shades of magenta through peach through light grey to dark grey.

I decided that I want to marl one of them and simply two-ply the other.  At the Rose City Fibre Festival I found a reasonably-priced package of natural off-white alpaca roving -- 100 grams -- so I'm set to give that a try through this year's Summer Spin-in:

Next, I received the goodies I bought for stitching, with some of my annual tax refund.  The first is a pattern, fabric and hand-dyed floss that I planned for when Jacob of Modern Folk Embroidery introduced "A Quilter's Dream" as a new pattern several months ago:

Pattern from Modern Folk Embroidery
Fabric: Roxy Floss - 40-count "Porcelain"
Floss: Roxy Floss "Pippy" (red) and
"Greater Porpoise" (blue-grey)

The second is the pattern, floss and hardware for a scissors holder that Jeannette Douglas has designed to be kitted with Roxy Floss.  Those of you who've followed me for a while may remember that I used to do office work for Jeannette when I lived in Calgary, and consider her a dear friend as well as one of my favourite designers.  For this project, she selected small motifs from a larger sampler reproduction.  When Caroline of Evertote showed this new kit on one of her floss-tubes, I fell head over heels.  I have a piece of fabric that's perfect for this tiny thing, too.  (NOTE: in the photo, the scissors displayed are my own; they don't come with the kit!)

The last bit of "Happy Mail" is adding to my 'Dreaming of Shetland' collection.  Some weeks back now, Misa Hay of Shetland Wool Week and Shetland Knitting Tours fame, offered back-issues of the Shetland Wool Week annuals at fifty percent off!!!  I decided to take a look, and see if -- after converting the British Pound to Canadian dollars and figuring in shipping -- I could afford one.  Yes!  That discount was large enough -- and the Brit's flat-rate shipping for certain items, like books, of a certain size and weight -- meant that I paid less overall than what the book at full price (before shipping) would have cost! I am savouring Wool Week Journal #3 with it's patterns, articles of the isles, history, geography, recipes and gorgeous photography. add to that same collection, along with my friend Anne, I've registered for a class on knitting Shetland lace -- which will take up the day at the Prairie Fibre Festival down the road in Lacombe, in mid-September.


I've not done any quilt piecing for over a week, but now have well over 60 "Four Patch Fun" blocks finished, and another 3 prepped.  I also finished the April blocks for the Block-of-the-Month project from A Quilting Life:

As I think I've mentioned before, there are options for an 8" finished block and a 16" one.  I've chosen the 8" finished block -- but decided to make two per month.  I'm using up Thimbleberries fabrics, and have plenty of that background neutral, I'm sure, to get through the rest of the year.  The outer star border colour is currently dominated by red star points but that may change as time goes by.  These are fun, and require a certain accuracy which, despite 30 years of quilting, I still struggle with.  That said, this designer's patterns, like those of Bonnie Hunter, make my piecing look great! 😆

On the art front, my Artist's Talk at the "Craft and Care" exhibit in Red Deer's Viewpoint Gallery went very well; it was an enjoyable evening.  I began by talking a bit about my start as an art quilter, and showed four of my landscape pieces, made between 2012 and 2022 -- moving from "pretty" to "statement" work.  Of the three pieces I have in the exhibit, of particular interest to the viewers seemed to be my piece, "And It's Only June", a wholecloth done on raw tussah silk from MAIWA in Vancouver.  

The show comes down April 26th -- how the time has flown since it went up in mid-February...

April 26 and 27th are the dates, too, for this year's Lacombe Encore! Art Show and Sale.  I'll be taking it in as part of the viewing audience this year for the first time in over a decade.  

I confess...I've been thinking for some time now of just letting go of the original work -- or, at least, the pressure I've been feeling to keep trying to make original art work when my heart just isn't in it.

I've let go of my Quilting Arts magazine subscription, and will pick up an issue here or there only if I think there's enough in it to interest me.  I've finished my term on the SAQA committee on which I served for 3 years.  I've not found the SAQA Journal to be all that interesting (for me) for over a year now -- and this year's online SAQA Seminar (for members) held little fascination for me.  Ditto for the topics at the 2024 conference, which is currently going on -- also online, because it's being hosted by the UK, Europe and the Middle East Region.  I just felt my money would be better spent elsewhere.

Even the SAQA Members Only Facebook group is holding less of my interest.  Blessedly I am friends -- in person and across cyber-space -- with several of them, and I don't think that will end if I retire from the organization.  

I'll never stop making -- with fabric, fibre, floss, yarn, and in my yard and garden, where I'm "making" a meadow.   

The only thing that gives me pause, Gentle Readers, is the thought that after taking years to acknowledge that I was an artist, will 'retiring' from making original work mean that I no longer am?  Or -- worse to contemplate -- that I never really was?

That's a rather pitiful note on which to leave you, though, so cheer up!  I'm linking to Nina-Marie's wonderful Off the Wall Friday blog, where this week she reports on a "Sewing and Quilt Expo" she recently attended.  

Her post brings up thoughts of my trip to Red Deer in early May to see the Central Alberta Quilt Show, and later, in June to go to Quilt Canada, being held in Edmonton this year.  There I'll be taking in a lecture by Lucie Heins, a curator at the Royal Alberta Museum, and author of Alberta Quilters and Their Quilts, a beautiful history book that I purchased when it was first published (I might take mine and ask her to sign it!)

Those events are so full of colour and life, good ideas, new fabrics and notions, fabulous displays by those creative with fabric, thread and stitch -- and so rich with connections to friends old and new.

Maybe being an "artist" will be whatever I decide it is.

A bientot!

1 comment:

Kate said...

It sounds like you have lots of wonderful outings planned. I'm looking forward to your reports.

I read the digital copy of Quilting Arts and other magazines through the public library's digital app "Libby". I have it marked to add to my magazine rack when a new edition comes out.

Check and see if this is an option from your library.