Thursday, 1 November 2018

Imagination Rejuvenation!

With so many things to juggle, you'd think my own projects would be cast aside completely. 
But I need them! 

They are a respite when I feel "stuck" in other areas of life (such as rockin' a seam ripper for two straight weeks - ugh). I always know what to do next because I can simply please myself!

For example, this piece of fabric was unloved, so I stitched the heck out of it just to see how it would change.

And then I made it into a zipper bag - just because I wanted to! (Here's a zipper bag tutorial for ya!)

I left visible tails whenever I began and ended a line of stitch - and, why not? It pleased me to do so!

Some lines of stitch align, and others do not. My project, my choice!

It's so freeing to do whatever captures my imagination in the moment!

Teaching others is another way to flirt with imagination! Prepping a new class is an opportunity to test ideas, create samples, and play with a purpose. 

This is one of many needle felting experiments, which I documented in my sketchbook for later reference. 
(I know. I'm such a nerd!)

Testing an idea for a needle felting workshop
The best part of teaching is enjoying the symbioses of shared creativity. So exciting when that happens!

Taking a class also stirs the creative fire - so I signed up for a two day workshop with Judi Madsen

I'd taken a class with Judi four years ago. With more experience under my belt, I hoped to glean even more inspiration this time around. I certainly did pick up on more detail - and there was a LOT of detail. The photo below shows only a small part of what we covered.

one of Judi's many demo pieces

A collage workshop hosted by my guild was another fun way to revive my creative spirit. 

Most people prepared in advance. Alas, thanks to my crazy life, I was pulling fabric and packing my bag at 6:30 on the morning of.
As a result, I spent my class time cutting strips. 

I'm okay with that. It was both restful and engaging - just what I needed.

I'll be making Abilene. (a Laura Heine pattern.) Moo.

(It's so nice to have a million projects on the go. Choices are good, right?)

Oh, hey! I finished my small collage started in April at our guild retreat. 
(A finish in the same calendar year it was started - Yay, me!)

Each of us received a kit containing the background fabric, a fat quarter of floral fabric with a fusible product on the back, a rectangle of yellow, and a strip of woodgrain fabric. The challenge was to compose a still life collage using only what was in the kit.

Auditioning borders from my stash.
Quite a creative group, yes? Each composition is unique!

I quilted an organic grid over my collage - the sacrificial quilt - to test the effect for myself. 
Even though I knew all would be well, the first few lines took a certain amount of bravado.
I'm quite pleased with the frame effect of the border.

One last project to show - it's not quilting, but . . .  the landscaping in our front yard is finally finished! (and we love it!) Sod and mulch cleaned things up in a hurry.
I made a plan, and then we hired expert help for the concrete work, rock placement (machines! YAY!), sod, and mulch. Hubby and I planted trees and shrubs (over 30 of them) with help from our wonderful son-in-law and a neighbour's skidsteer/auger.

It's a lot of work to get from mud and weeds, to "finished" - I'm so glad we had many helping hands!  

Fresh off the Frame

Hey, did you notice the frog block on the corner of the collage board in the photo up there, above the house?
Well, here it is again with all of its friends! 

It's maker persisted, sewing all eleventy-billion pieces into the cutest top. She may deserve a medal - but instead she has a super cute quilt to bind!

client quilt

And finally, a Before and After (one of my favourite things!)

Kool Kaleidoscope, client quilt

(The light is harsh, but you get the idea!)

client quilt

Ahh, I can feel the tingle of "creation anticipation" creeping into my bones again. Life is good!

Try, learn, & grow!


Friday, 21 September 2018

Finding Fun!

Approximately TWO SECONDS after arriving home from Peru, I decided to cut up some flannel for a new quilt. 

(Aaannndddd, through the magic of television . . . a finished quilt!)

Came home with a bronchial affliction that caused constant coughing (which is as exhausting as it sounds). In reality, it took a couple of weeks between piecing and finishing this project.

Here's what it looked like in progress:

Looks kinda ugly here - just had to trust my choices and keep going.

I quilted the bottom portion of the quilt with a pantograph and custom quilted the top portion to give the characters some charm.

Looks much better in natural light!

Once I recovered enough to quilt, I was so behind schedule! I loaded and basted a custom project, but was trying to "hurry", which is absolutely the best way to kill creativity. I wasn't feeling the usual "flow", so I stopped and took it off the frame again. 

Sometimes a person has to calm down and take the pressure off in order to proceed, so I shifted the custom quilt forward in my calendar. It means my client will have to wait a bit longer, but I feel certain she'll be happier with the result. Sometimes ya just have to do these things.

Meanwhile, I've enjoyed humming along with some pantographs. For me, quilting pantographs is a form of moving meditation - such good therapy!

Fresh off the Frame

Client quilt - modern twist panto

client quilt - modern twist panto

client quilt - bountiful feathers panto

client quilt, machine bound and completely finished - lounge lizards panto

client quilt - drunken feathers panto

With a few client deadlines met, I can now go back and focus my attention on that custom beauty!

And in my Spare Time . . . (ha!)

I had this crazy idea that I'd get more fun things done if I had to squeeze them into my calendar, so I made a bunch of (both paid and unpaid) quilt-y commitments. Maybe it's working?

  • Took a "four day weekend" to do some visiting and shopping in Edmonton. {Definitely fun!}
    Also picked up this needle felting machine - because I need another obsession!

  • Threw some Q of V Hug blocks at the design wall to find a balanced layout ("frames" will be used to calm things down and add visual impact.) {also fun!}
Planning in progress

  • Pulled thread through this small quilt sandwich. Repeatedly. {more fun!}
    It's an experiment in texture that will eventually become a zipper bag like this one.

    I forgot to take a "before" shot of this portion of the project, but came to my senses and grabbed one of the remainder. The whole point is to notice and compare. Must remember to take the dang photos!

  • Sorted and documented a handful of quilts I'll longarm for Quilts of Valour - have to write things down or I lose track. {similar to work, but actually kinda fun!}

  • Finding my legs as Canadian Quilters' Association's new Northern Alberta Rep.
    Not that I needed another thing to do - BUT - if we want the benefit of organizations, we have to volunteer! {not fun yet, but it will have it's moments, I'm positive!}

  • Prepping needle felting workshops for Fashion Studies teachers (as part of their ongoing Professional Development goals). {work-fun!}

Look at all that fun

Good thing I'm a night owl. I get lots of fun stuff done after my husband hits the hay!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Friday, 17 August 2018

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu sits at a lower altitude than Cusco - thank goodness! No more headaches. No more shortness of breath or dizziness. No more nausea. Yahoo!

We arrived in Aguas Calientes (AC) by train.

Trains are the lifeblood of AC, transporting local citizens, goods, and tourists to and from civilization. Tracks run directly through the business sector, and trains have the right-of-way.

(If ya hear one of those things comin', leg it off the tracks, pronto!)

There are no cars in AC. Just trains, legs, and stairs. (Yippee-skippy. More stairs. Ha!)

There is a bus service up the mountain to Machu Picchu, though! We rode up in the dark, which was rather disconcerting. It's easy to imagine sheer drops in the dark. Ulp.

Once at the top, daylight came quickly and we headed through the entry gate.

Arriving early meant we could take our time and breathe in the beauty of the site without being pushed along by the crowd.

Our perspective changed every few steps. All other thoughts were replaced with, "ohhh, wowww", and "wowww". (Eloquent, I know. ha!)

This is the view down to Aguas Calientes. Wayyy down!

And this is my favourite llama shot of the day!

Llamas are the "lawnmowers" that keep the grounds trimmed and tidy.

They can also cause traffic jams, as you can see here. (Llamas have the right-of-way, too!)

Derrick (our son), Brynne (his partner), and Brynne's folks climbed the tall peak in the middle of my photo ↓↓ while Chuck and I wandered the ruins. They said it was amazing, but it would have been a thing of nightmares for me. Nothankyouverymuch. I'll just look at their pictures!

I think I did well just keeping my eyes open during the trip back down the mountain!

We counted 14 or 15 switchbacks, and the trail was narrow enough that buses had to pull over as far as possible and wait for oncoming buses to pass.


I read that true courage isn't being fearless. Courage is overcoming the fear and doing things anyway. My fear of heights is visceral, so this was no small task for me. But I did it!

Living my mantra - Try, Learn, & Grow!


Thursday, 16 August 2018

Escape to Peru! (and some quilts, too!)

Carole Gold?


I've played hooky a couple of times since my last post: Once for a long weekend at the lake,

Beachcombing at Brightsand Lake, SK

and again for a trip to Peru.


My new friends at Machu Picchu!

Prior to leaving, I quickly finished binding this Quilt of Valour so it could be delivered to the Edmonton Rep on our way through.

Blocks represent Ontario, Nunavut, British Columbia - and everywhere in between - in this quilt!

Blocks of all sorts and sizes were made by quilters from one end of Canada to the other, and my job was to plan, piece, and finish the quilt so it can be given to an injured veteran as a thank you for their service.

A "row by row" layout gave order to the chaos of dealing with many odd sized blocks.

This is the second "Hug Block" quilt I've completed, and I'm going to keep at it.

It feels necessary to provide emotional support for folks who often feel unappreciated - or worse, ignored - after giving their all for Queen and country.

If you'd like to support Quilts of Valour - Canada Society, please follow the link and contact the Regional Representative closest to you. You can contribute at your own pace - from making a single block, to finishing an entire quilt, (or somewhere in between) - any help will be welcomed.

Between hooky sessions, these beautiful quilts came through my studio:

Fresh off the Frame

This one practically glowed!

Quilted with hearts and loops.

The next one was Super Fluffy - double layer of batting, PLUS a thick, minky-ish backing blankie! (Almost couldn't get my foot over the seams!)

So Cozy!

Rather than make one large quilt as a wedding gift, my client made coordinating "His" and "Hers" laps quilts.
This idea could catch on, methinks!

"His" featured a touch of black + Mimosa panto. "Hers" featured two purples + Popcorn panto.

And then I went to Peru. (pinch me!)

We spent time in Cusco, Aguas Calientes, Ollantaytambo, and - of course - we visited Machu Picchu.

First stop: Cusco city

This trip is not for sissies, I tell ya.

We spent our days in Cusco city with headaches and general feelings of malaise due to the lack of oxygen at such a high altitude. And the whole city is up-and-down hill. Not great when one is already short of breath!

The stairs go on FOREVER in places! (Hope you can zoom in and see for yourself. I count at least six tiers - unreal!)
Even the streets that *appear* to be flat are, in fact, giant ramps up and down.

Looks flat. Not exactly. This one leans downhill toward the city center.

(P.S. It took me a few blocks to realize that  ↑↑ *this* ↑↑  is a typical Cusco city street shared by motorists and pedestrians! People drive wherever it's flat enough to get through. Also, cars have the right of way - if they honk, you'd best hightail it out of the way!)

It was fascinating to see how people live with all the stairs in the old part of the city. Laundry, groceries, tanks of cooking gas, small children - you name it! - must all be carried up block after block of stairs without the aid of wheels. And then, when they finally get to their door, there are probably stairs outside, inside, or both!

I wonder if there are more stairs inside these doors? Probably.

More stairs, up

Inside this door in the wall? Stairs down!

And, ya never know what might be inside a door. Could be a corner store, a music shop, a jeweler, an art gallery, a bakery, a cafĂ©, a hotel, a private home, or . . .  ANYTHING, really!


Artists' workshops in there, despite what the sign says.

Hostel entry

Convenience store.

Sometimes a building needs propping up.
Life goes on around (and perhaps inside) it.
(People seem to live wherever a roof can be found, safe or not.)

Old buildings lean now and then.

People work hard in Peru. I wonder if they still see the beauty around them?

Views pop up where walls erode.

Built to last.

There's no shortage of goods at the San Pedro market.

Every part of an animal is used. Every. Part.

More my speed.

Out of respect, I refrained from taking pictures with people in them, so can't show what it was really like in the marketplace.

There were butchers, bakers, cheesemakers, local food vendors (it would have killed us had we eaten there, thanks to the water - but the food sure smelled good! The food prep was done on the spot in tiny spaces, and I saw a woman washing cutlery in a pot of hot water still on the burner. Rudimentary, but they pumped out dish after dish to hungry locals!)

In addition to the foodstuff (nuts, fruits, spices, veggies, etc.) and flowers (rows and rows of fresh flowers!), there were things for tourists to browse. Alpaca clothing of all sorts, acrylic knock offs, handmade books, bags, key chains, mugs and crockery, booze, and the list goes on. Lots of similar fare throughout, which makes me wonder if the vendors are all working for an overlord, of sorts. Central warehouse?

In addition to wandering the streets and visiting the market, we did some educational tourism, too. We visited The Museo Inka, La Catedral (impressive - highly recommend a visit), and La Compania (built on the ruins of an Incan palace). No photos allowed in any of them.

Add sore ankles to the litany of complaints suffered on this trip. Luckily, it was easy to ignore physical discomfort in a city that wowed us at every turn!

Adios, Cusco!

Too many photos?

Alrighty, I'll stop. (For now. Muahahaha!)

I wonder if you'd like to see Machu Picchu next time?

For a girl who's afraid of heights, I took some dang amazing photos of that place!

Try, Learn, & Grow!
(and play hooky sometimes!)


P.S. Find me on Instagram @ freshofftheframe (my bloggity-blog name, in case you didn't know!)