Friday, 21 April 2017


Things are happening, but still we wait.
Anticipation is hard to manage at times. We are almost ready to move, and yet not.

I've been trying to Remain Calm and manage the list of Things Needing Attention. It's not easy to remain calm when everything is both urgent and important!

I've also been waiting for a new computer (I'm using it!!!) because my old one croaked, a longarm tool to help with a challenging project (it's here and I've started the project!), and a thread order (also here, as of today!) 

In the meantime, I've been finishing what I can on my quilty list of Very Important Tasks.

Finish #1
Today this little quilt went to its forever home.
It is an original design that I'd made in response to a Quilting Arts challenge some time ago. Yesterday I made the black "under quilt" to frame the image and give it more presence.

Canada Geese by Carole Gold

A quilted grid behind the geese provides structure so the piece will hang nicely, and random lines radiate out around the image. I think they complement the focal quilt without overwhelming it.

The back

The focal quilt is stitched in place using invisible thread around its perimeter, just inside the zigzagged edge.

12" x 12"

Finish #2
My guild has been invited to show Canadian-themed work at our local museum for the month of July.

I immediately pulled out some fabrics I'd previously discharged and imagined several possibilities. The piece I chose to work with has a cluster of leaves that look as if they are falling.

Oh Canada, by Carole Gold

I extended that idea with the quilting, using a jagged stipple around the leaves - and diagonal lines in behind - to imply movement. The idea of trees played out in the quilting of the brown frame.

Quilting close-up

Not in typical Canadian colours, but in my mind the piece fits the theme perfectly - and the leaves used in the discharge process came from my daughter's tree right here in Peace River. Can't get more Canadian than that!

Finish #3
Love it when a client says, "Go nuts!". ("But not too frou frou because it's for a guy.")
Challenge accepted!

Client quilt

Large, white circles were a blank canvas. As always, I began by ditching and stabilizing the quilt
(I've started pin basting in combination with ditching instead of thread basting, and I love it. Just as effective, but so much faster!)

Basting and ditching

Simple, strong lines look quite handsome, I think.

I treated this like a giant nine-patch and alternated the quilting designs. The quilting in the center block is identical to the quilting in each corner, and the remaining four blocks also match each other.

Client quilt

I really love how the light plays off the line work - it's almost mesmerizing!

Ribbon candy in the sashing added the final touch.

Finish #4
Another client quilt - squeezed in while waiting for my new longarm tool, this was a super-fast finish.

Sweet details in the applique add interest

Freehand loops and flowers filled the background, ditching and some whimsical details secured the applique, and boom! Done.

I also attached the binding so my client could get to the hand stitchery without delay. (I aim to please!)

Binding attached, ready for client to hand stitch

Here is (kind of) a Before photo of the quilt:

Before quilting

And here is an After shot of the same section:

After quilting!
Love it!

Finish #5
Attached a Precise Pantograph system to my machine so I can tackle a difficult panto.

Whoo boy, it is a challenge to do long, smooth, precise lines while moving such a distance.

This is a digital design that has been printed by the designer and sold as a pantograph. I think she has a streak of evil in her! Just Kidding! (not kidding...) (Please note - this is a reference to the panto's wicked level of difficulty, and is not intended as a personal comment at all!)

Trouble is, I am not a computer. I *think* it will give a decent effect even though it will NOT be computer perfect, so I'm going for it - but I sincerely hope my client can forgive the odd bobble! I am only human, after all!

Some of the lines are a quarter inch apart - gulp.

On the up side, I will be able to sit in my wheely chair to do pantographs on small-ish quilts from now on! (not large ones, though. The apparatus would get in the way, so off it will come.) Anything that reduces sore feet is a plus in my book!

Back to waiting...
We are also waiting for spring, so I brought home some tulips to make the waiting easier. Just because. :-)

Linking up with:
Whoop Whoop Friday @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Free Motion Mavericks @ Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing
TGIFF @ Charly & Ben's Crafty Corner
Finish it up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts
Show off Saturday @ Sew Can She

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Fast Work, "It Worked!", and More Work ahead


My notes for this quilt said, "Do whatever it needs" - loose custom.

Translation: make it look good, but don't spend too much time on it!

Client quilt

First, I ditched the idea of ditching, opting to do only one round inside the black border, and no more. (Just enough to stabilize the quilt, along with pin basting.)

I then chose fillers that were fast and hit close to the seams to help nail them down.

client quilt

A triangle filler I'd learned from Angela Walters worked perfectly in these giant geese!

The back looks really cool! It caught my eye as I folded the quilt after trimming.

Here is the top BEFORE quilting:

Client quilt, BEFORE

And here it is AFTER quilting:

(oops! fold marks will disappear once the quilt is washed!)

Client quilt, AFTER

And, done. :-)

It worked! 
My lino cut experiment (started in this post) has become a small art quilt!

When I carved my block, I imagined the horse overlooking a water scene. As it happens, I'd done some indigo dyeing last summer and had the perfect fabric for my idea.

Water challenge in progress

After printing and painting, the fabric looked promising.
The challenge became one of integrating the printed block into the rest of the scene.

First, I divided the space into pleasing proportions, with the lake becoming the intended focal point. Collaged squares and rectangles repeat the shapes of the quilt and print block, unifying the print with the rest of the piece. A little quilting helped to set the scene.

You Can Lead a Horse to Water, by Carole Gold
Here is the statement that goes with the piece:

You Can Lead a Horse to Water
The appearance of poisonous weeds in the foreground is a hint that more may be happening under the surface of the seemingly placid water. Or perhaps they are just weeds.

Warning - deep thoughts ahead!
As I worked, I was thinking of the toxicity of textile production on our water system - which is also why I incorporated "rescued" upholstry fabric as collaged elements to try and reduce wasting what was "costly" to produce. Blue is the most toxic dye colour to produce, yet to us it represents the sparkle of fresh water. These thoughts found their way into the piece and its statement, as did the idea that the situation is easy to ignore because textile manufacturing tends to happen on the other side of the world. Maybe the water is fine. (and as a quilter, ironically, I know I'm part of the problem...)

Also Fresh off the Frame

Client quilt - Whirlpool panto (reminds me of wind - perfect for pinwheels!)
I couldn't decide which picture to add of the next quilt - the floating illusion is so cool! - so I added two.

Client quilt - Ripples panto (something swirly!)

Client quilt - sorry for the fold lines! It's lovely and flat, and the floating illusion is super!

House Update
We are on the home stretch (ha! "home" stretch!) with the new place, and anticipate starting our move at the end of the month. ONE MONTH!!!

Okay, deep breath. deeep breath....

Client quilts (and related paperwork) will move directly into a designated studio closet where they will be safe while the rest of the household is moved. Their care will be my priority, as always.

I'm still happily accepting quilts from people, with the understanding that quilting will be put on pause for a couple of weeks at the beginning of May.

Nest, awaiting an occupant?

I'm probably going to regret ignoring the need to pack until the last minute, but that's my plan.

We will be moving everything ourselves, so it's going to drag on longer than it would if we hired someone  - BUT - it just seems too ridiculous to pay a couple of thousand dollars to move one block away!

We've done this before, and can do it again.

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Snip, Sew, Carve, Print

Accidentally disabling my touch pad put a crimp in things a week (or more?) ago. 
My fingers hit the wrong combination of keys and - BAM - locked out! 
So much for that blog post - ha!

That's what comes of writing in the dark, I guess. Which I do all the time. But maybe I shouldn't.

Luckily one of my sons already knew the fix. (This mayyyy have happened once before . . .)

Anyway, tonight I'm trying again - with the lights on!


I've been working my way from this:

Just call me a stripper!

 To this:

Strippy panel

To this!

Strippy block

Soon I'll get to the artsy part of my project, but in the meantime - on I sew!

Laina has been working on her Youth Challenge entry. 
It's so much fun to watch her project take shape and see her excitement grow! 

This year she is using all the tools herself, including the rotary cutter and the iron. She is growing up. (sob, sob!)

Laina, hard at work

In the interest of fair play, I'll keep her project under wraps until after the Viewer's Choice vote. 
She won last year, and was tickled pink about having done it fair and square! 

As usual, I'm encouraging her to make something she will enjoy on her wall even if she doesn't win.

This year, ALL of the youth entries get to hang at Quilt Canada in celebration of Canada's 150th year. She's pretty stoked about that idea, too! Not every kid has their work hang in a national show for two years in a row!

Why, yes, that is a heat register in my purse!

Not the strangest thing I've had in my purse!

Getting ready to sell our home of 20 years involves random tasks like replacing registers and updating tired cabinet knobs. 

Between the new place and the old, I make lots of trips to the hardware store every week!

Hello brushed nickel, goodbye brass
Another lino cutting workshop, you say?

In a moment of insanity, I thought sign me up!
And then I was committed.

A sensible person might have hesitated to add one more thing to her already busy weekend, but nope. Not me! 

Once there, I decided to try a complicated idea with a high risk of failure. Of course. 
(Is there any other way? ha!)

Lino cut printed on special paper #1

Working from my own photo, I split the image at the horizon line and carved the top portion in the positive, and the bottom in the negative. (or, maybe the other way around? doesn't matter!)

Lino cut printed on special paper #2

We learned (in theory) how to make a "key block" and a complementary background block to go with it. 

I may clean up the "chatter marks" (messy lines) in the top portion of this block and try carving a background block, just for the experience. (Can't learn if ya don't try!)

Last time I had carved a horse block (which I love!). It printed beautifully on paper, but I wondered how it would do on fabric.

Lino cut printed on white paper

Well. It looks worse than it is. With a little work and imagination, I think I can save this mess!

Lino cut printed on fabric

Fresh off the Frame

Client quilt - Drunken Feathers panto

Client quilt - Bountiful Feathers

Client quilt - Ebb and Flow panto

House Update

New kitchen, March 1st.

Before cabinets arrived

Kitchen, March 15th.

Cabinets! (no counters yet, tho)

That's our hard working contractor back there. I'm certainly glad he is managing this project!

Have a happy day!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

SheBANG - cram it all into a single post! (ha!)

O Canada! 

My client requested veins in the leaves and a swirly maple leaf filler in the colourful blocks of this quilt - and the rest was up to me.

Half a plan is better than no plan, so I dove in!

Client Quilt - very Canadian!

First I ditched the white blocks, stitched down the applique, and then added stylized veins to harmonize with the stylized leaves.

. . . well, okay . . . that's not *exactly* how it happened . . .
I ripped out my first attempt at veins because (yup) I hated them. They were too organic, and I didn't think they worked very well in this situation.

After sketching several different options I came up with Plan B.
Much better!

Love the look of Plan B!

Next, I filled the white background using loopy lines, alternating their direction in each block. I like how they add movement and soften all the straight lines of the design without being too curvy.

Soft and curvy complements strong and straight.

Meanwhile, I'd been considering the filler design for the coloured blocks.

It would have been tricky to freehand maple leaves that *look* like maple leaves, so I decided to use a pantograph instead. That meant I had to turn the quilt. (I also had to modify the panto to fit the space, but it was worth the time it took!)

Starting with half a plan sometimes means an extra step (or two), but it always leads to a finish - and I think this worked out beautifully!

Swirly (and leafy) adds another complementary texture to the mix.

BEFORE quilting:

The flimsy

AFTER quilting:

The quilt!

What a FUN finish!

Also Fresh off the Frame

Client quilt - Fantasy Flame pantograph

Client quilt - Hearts in Bloom panto

And a couple more that will have to wait until their owner sees them first!

Other Artsy Adventures

Adventure ONE:

I spent a whole, delightful weekend in a lino cutting and printmaking workshop with Mary Parslow!

It was my first time using carving tools, so I had much to learn.
I'm happy to report I only suffered one accidental finger jab, and it didn't even bleed all that much!

First up, I carved lines of many thicknesses - willy nilly, with no plan in mind - to try and get used to the tool.

As it turns out, I'm quite happy with this carving - it reminds me of a tree root or a seed pod,
depending on how you look at it!

I also decided to make ghost prints alongside the original - definitely not a printmaking technique, but it made sense to my fabric loving brain!

Other people created masterpieces with their first attempts.
I like to think of my work as "expressive". Ha! ;-)

So then I decided to try a butterfly from one of my photos.
I still couldn't wrap my head around the positive/negative aspect of the lines, but I figured, what the heck. I'll dive in and try stuff! (It's how I roll!)

Gotta start somewhere!

Still not a masterpiece, but I learned A LOT from making it!

Mary suggested that I could fine tune the wings, but I'd decided not to bother investing more energy into this piece. I had learned, and was ready to move on.

Chine colle technique incorporates thin Chinese or Japanese paper into the print.

After day one, I came home and browsed my photos from last summer.

My brain had grasped the positive/negative concept and I was eager to find an image that could become a strong composition.

I landed on a photo I'd taken from the back of a horse and knew it would be perfect as a line drawing!

I get it now! I love this image.

We used baby wipes to clean our lino blocks, and wouldn't you know - - - I couldn't resist lifting a print to see if it would work (and it did!).

Experimental print on a baby wipe - why waste perfectly good ink, right???

Now I have a little stack of baby wipe prints, too - Oh, my happy, quilty heart!

Once we had mastered the printing aspect of the process (well, practiced it, anyway...), we "graduated" to coloured ink, and learned how to create ombre effects using a single colour (dark to light), or a whole rainbow!

I pulled baby wipe prints every time I cleaned my block - heh, heh!. :-)

A wooden jig hooked over the edge of the table offered a corner to prevent the lino block from slipping during printing (or carving, for that matter). Very handy.

Curvy carving - trying circles and line variations

I quite enjoyed the whole process, and am excited to apply what I've learned to my quilted art.

Adventure TWO:

Laina has decided to enter the CQA Youth Challenge again this year. She has a vision involving local landmarks, so we traipsed through the snow for an afternoon so she could take reference photos.

I can't share yet, so I'm not even sure why I brought that up. Oh, wait! It's to provide the link and encourage you (if you're Canadian) to mentor a youth and enter the challenge!

Information for Canadian Quilter's Association YOUTH CHALLENGE

Adventure THREE:

Again, I can't show much - but I've started the "slicing and dicing" part of a big project!

It doesn't look too exciting yet, but it will get better!!!

And, final share of the night (morning?): Two new books that I can't wait to get my nose into!

Try, Learn, & Grow!