Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Lovely August Finish!

I enjoy finishing a project every month for A Lovely Year of Finishes. If you haven't joined in, why not start now? All you do is set ONE goal for the month (big or small), link to the goal setting party with a post about it, do the work, and then link up again at the end of the month to show it off!

Here is where I set my August goal, and below is my August finish!

This project was started way back in March as part of a Guild sponsored workshop. 
Actually, I chose fabric and prepared strip sets even earlier in the year.

As you can imagine, finally finishing feels FAN-tastic!

Thirty-six and a half inches, square

I have fallen in and out of love with it a few times as I worked.

Luckily, I'm in love again!

My husband built a frame so I can mount the quilt before our Guild's annual exhibit in November. The frame will give it extra presence when it's hung.

In the meantime it is laying flat on my sewing room floor. In the way. Guess I'd better paint the frame soon and get on with it.

To see other kaleidoscopes started in our Guild workshop, click here. Hopefully a few more will be ready in time for our show!

In other news, as threatened promised, I bit the bullet and cut strips off my newly minted hand dyes and started working on therapy strips a la Rayna Gillman. I've sewn exactly three strips together, and now I'm stuck. Hmph.

Feels like I need a plan. BUT, I'd like to keep with the spirit of the project and at least attempt to work without one.


This is going to take some time.

Needing a break (Ha...I know! Three strips, and I needed a break!), I slipped out to the Gnome House and finished a customer quilt this afternoon. It was soothing to do a simple pantograph on a simple quilt.

Guess I'm back in the swing of quilting after a summer of travel, surgery, family, gardening, and cooking. Yesterday I even deciphered a pattern and made a sample block for a workshop I'll be teaching in October. (Still more prep to do, but at least I know the pattern works!)

Linking up with:
A Lovely Year of Finishes, at Sew BitterSweet Designs
Let's Bee Social, at Sew Fresh Quilts 
I Quilt Thursdays, at Pretty Bobbins
Needle and Thread Thursday, at My Quilt Infatuation
Free Motion Mavericks, at Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing 
Whoop Whoop Friday, at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Fabric Frenzy Friday, at Fort Worth Fabric Studio 
Finish it up Friday, at Crazy Mom Quilts
Show off Saturday, at Sew Can She

Try, Learn, Grow!
Comments are welcome and will be answered by email where possible. 
Thanks for looking around!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Genesis of a Free Form Quilt

Making a free form quilt has been on my radar for a while. I've decided to use my new hand dyes and quit stalling!

I laid out all the fabrics for a look-see.

Should I plan a colour scheme, or randomly use 'em all?

They do look gorgeous together. 

Okay, I don't want to make a plan. I think I'll just have fun cutting and piecing as my mood dictates...truly free form!

Good thing I joined the Library Project Quilt Along, or I may not actually get on with it. The LPQAL has forced motivated me to do things I might otherwise have left on the list...maybe forever. (Like this and this.) Things I'd like to try, but never seem to get around to...ya know? That list.

For some reason, it's hard to cut into newly minted fabric. To get over it, I'll (close my eyes and) cut a chunk off each piece and make a pile of colour. Gulp.

To be continued...

Hey, want to give fabric dyeing a try?

You don't need much! Here is a shot of my equipment. The blender is optional.

  • a cheap, plastic dishpan holds wash water to keep my gloves clean as I work
  • an old towel dries my gloves after washing
  • I use a j-cloth (rag) to keep the counter clean as I work
  • dye powders (MX Procion fiber reactive dye)
  • measuring spoons (dedicated to non-food use)
  • dust mask to prevent inhalation of dye powders
  • plastic to cover my counter
  • containers such as old mayo, mustard, and ketchup bottles to hold dye concentrate once it's mixed
  • an inexpensive blender, also dedicated to non-food use (OPTIONAL - you can easily mix dye solutions by hand with a whisk)
    a measuring cup, if you don't use a blender with markings on it
  • NOT SHOWN - assorted plastic cups, yogurt and margarine containers, buckets, trays, etc. in a variety of sizes to fit your needs. I scavenge practically everything from my kitchen. IMPORTANT: Once something has been used for dye, it is no longer fit to use for food.
  • NOT SHOWN - soda ash to activate the dye
You also need access to running water for rinsing dyed fabrics. Dyeing is a great activity to do outdoors in summer, but can just as easily be done in a basement or garage.

Oh, yeah, and fabric to dye. That helps. Ha!
That's it! 

So, find a tutorial (I've linked to a good one in My Favourite Tutorials tab), take a class, or borrow/buy a book and give it a go!

Remember my kool kaleido quilt?

It's one step closer to being done! 

Here it is, laid out to dry before I finish the binding. I've spritzed (drenched) the black fabric with water to remove markings I'd made during quilting. 

I could have waited until the binding was finished to remove the marks, but was afraid they would set when I pressed the binding out from the front of the quilt (like a wing) before wrapping it to the back for the final stitches. It's best to remove marks before applying heat.

It should be dry by tomorrow. I'm excited to finish it and get it outside for some beauty shots! Woo Hoo!!!

Linking up with:
Show Off Saturday, at Sew Can She

Try, Learn, Grow!

Comments are welcome and will be answered by email where possible. Thanks for looking around!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Delightful Dye!

There's nothing like mixing a spot of dye and turning plain, white fabric into colourful cloth! I feel a bit like a mad scientist when donning my elbow-length rubber gloves and dust mask before prying open cans of dye powder.
Five step colour gradation from yellow, to fuchsia.

Because I can easily mix secondary and tertiary colours, I only buy primary die powders. I also have brown, a couple of other earth tones, and black.

Normally I would dye larger pieces (at least a fat quarter), but for this session I wanted smaller ones. I can rip a metre of muslin into 9 equal(ish) pieces measuring roughly 12.5 x 14 inches. 
Yes, I've used both metric and imperial measurements...welcome to quilting in Canada! ;)

Working with small pieces allows experimentation without pressure. If things go well, the pieces are big enough to use. If things go off the rails (a distinct possibility!), it's no big loss.

Washed to remove manufacturing chemicals, dried (NO fabric softener), and then ripped to size.
Soda ash must be used to activate the Procion MX fiber reactive dye. It can be added into the process in a number of ways. I decided to soak my fabric in a soda ash solution as a first step.

Fabric soaking in soda ash solution.
1/2 cup soda ash to a gallon of water.
Call me crazy, but I just love doing things for the sake of having fun!

Memba tie dye?

I happily tied, scrunched, crumpled, swirled, pleated, folded, and twisted fabric in preparation for dyeing.

Some pieces went into baggies or Styrofoam cups to keep them compressed. Compression helps create more texture because the dye cannot penetrate the fabric evenly. 

Pieces that would hold their shape in a bucket or on a tray were dyed in place. I used very little dye solution (low immersion), so I covered the dyed fabric with plastic wrap to keep things moist.

Results are more predictable if you understand how colours mix, but serendipity plays a huge role once the dye is added. It's fun to sling the dye around and see what happens!

Bound with rubber bands & dyed with yellow and fuchsia.

Pleated, folded in half, and possibly twisted. Dyed with yellow and brown.
Does anyone else see trees?

Swirled on a tray and dyed with turquoise and fuchsia.

Folded and compressed with flat objects. Dyed with yellow and fuchsia.

Pleated and folded in half. Dyed with turquoise, yellow, and brown.

Rubber bands. I may have used clean, dry fabric, adding the soda ash solution along with the dye.
Can't remember now...shoulda written it down!
Dyed with all three primary colours (yellow, fuchsia, turquoise).
Could have made "mud", but the dye was applied in a tray so there was less mixing.

More pleating...obviously one of my favourite things to do. I mixed an orange from yellow and fuchsia.
Dyed with orange and brown.

"Parfait" dyed in a cup
Dyed with yellow and turquoise.

Tightly folded and secured with rubber bands.
Turquoise dye at half strength (I added more water to my dye mix).

Scrunched in a cup (I love the texture!). Fuchsia dye at half strength.
You can see this has become a bit of an addiction, and I haven't even shown you everything! ('cause I like you too much for that! Ha!)

I meant to take more "in progress" photos but, once the rubber gloves are on, it's hard to remember to pause and shoot.

Between rounds of dye, the apples needed picking...

...and several of these needed to be made and frozen.

My garden is always demanding attention, too. I've been busy watering, weeding, hacking down overgrown shrubs, and making huge pots of soup with homegrown vegetables. Yum!
Yesterday I visited my lonely longarm for a quick hug and kiss. Soon we will be back together. Summer in the north is fleeting so I'm making the most of it, but I sure do miss quilting!

I think this one will be up next:

Floral Fireworks
Ugh, I must take a better is gorgeous, but you can't tell from this!

Does anyone else find it challenging to quilt in the summer, or is it just me???

Linking up with:
Show and Tell Tuesday, at i have to say
Linky Tuesday, at Freemotion by the River
Let's Bee Social, at Sew Fresh Quilts
I Quilt Thursdays, at Pretty Bobbins

Try, Learn, Grow!

Comments are welcome and will be answered by email where possible. Thanks for looking around!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The ABC's of Feeding the Soul


I spent quite a bit of time with this piece, but forgot to note the title and artist's name.

During my recent visit to the  Art Gallery of Alberta, I tried to pay close attention to how I interacted with the artwork. What makes certain pieces captivating?
  • What drew me in for a closer look? What did I skim past?
  • If something was ugly or trivial (in my view), did I still want to spend time with it?
  • How did the artist successfully give voice to a concept? 
  • What was memorable? Why?
  • Which pieces did I spend the most time with? Why?

"SSSSSSSS", Greg Payce, 2000
Exploring the imagery created in negative space. Cool, hey?

"To Touch", an installation by Janet Cardiff, 1993
Move your hands over the table to activate the installation.
This was a fascinating experience! I loved it.
Having time to ponder + an idea-rich environment = soul, fed.

Baking & Berries

Rhubarb raspberry, and lemon meringue - double yum!
I thought saskatoon pie would be a great idea, too, so I grabbed some family and headed to the berry farm.

Picking saskatoons on a glorious summer day.
Berries were clustered like grapes...we picked by the handful!

On our way home we decided to visit Harmon Valley Park. It's been YEARS since my last visit, and I'd forgotten almost everything about it. 

My granddaughter was excited to find possibly the tallest slide in the World!

My six-foot son "spotted" my granddaughter on the 14 foot ladder!
What goes UP must come DOWN!
The zen of baking + berries + summer fun = soul, fed.
Creative Messes

Low immersion dyeing
T-shirt for grandson

T-shirt for granddaughter
Fun project + (grand)children = soul, fed.

I feel revived.

What feeds your soul?

Linking up with:
Anything Goes Mondays, at Stitch by Stitch
Linky Tuesday, at Freemotion by the River
Let's Bee Social, at Sew Fresh Quilts

Try, Learn, Grow!

Comments are welcome and will be answered by email where possible. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Finishing, Sorting, a Goal, and Summer Delights

This poor thing was abandoned, half done, when I went for surgery in June. After recovering, and then taking a holiday, I was anxious to get back to it.

Mission accomplished! Kool Kaleido is (finally) fresh off the frame and ready to be bound.

I also finished this pretty customer quilt. 

"Bluster" pantograph
After that, I couldn't put off cleaning my work room for another minute...!!!

Here is what happens when you shove things any-old-where for about a year.

I am usually super organized, but this room was morphing without a plan. Supplies didn't have homes, so they were set wherever there was space. 

I functioned by grabbing what I needed and running for the back yard! Though I love working outside in summer, it makes sense to have an indoor option for the rest of the year.

At first it seemed overwhelming, but it only took a day to sort the mess.

The pile of fabric on the island is destined for the dye pot!
Soooooo much better! 

I "found" the floor and cleared the counters. Everything now has a designated place. 

The room is broken into zones for different hobbies (stained glass, fabric painting/dyeing, lapidary), and the island offers space to work.

Look! Bare floor!
Facing the stained glass zone.

Now I can actually use the room again.  I love it!


My A Lovely Year of Finishes goal for August is to bind Kool Kaleido and get it mounted on a frame. Not a lofty goal, but realistic!

Summer Delights

Here's what I stumbled across in the heart of Edmonton last week when I walked to the Alberta Art Gallery from our condo. I love finding gems like this on my little adventures!

And, here's our supper from last night - flown in fresh from Nova Scotia (traveling with Amy's folks). Quite a feast!

Amy & her folks provided a fantastic feast!
Being a landlubber from Alberta, I requested lobster eating lessons. It was pretty easy with expert guidance and the right tools!

Time to check out the wonderful blogs I've been missing while AFK (away from keyboard), starting with these linky parties. Come along, if you like!
Linking up with:
A Lovely Year of Finishes, at Bittersweet Designs & Fiber of All Sorts
Anything Goes Monday, guest hosted by The Sassy Quilter
Fabric Tuesday, at Quilt Story 
Show and Tell Tuesday, at i have to say
Linky Tuesday, at Freemotion by the River

Try, Learn, Grow!
Comments are welcome and will be answered by email where possible. Thanks for looking around!