Monday, 22 August 2016

Apples, Quilts, and Doing it All (or not!)

An overcast day allowed me to capture a delightful reflection inside my apple picking bowl!

Our small tree is an enthusiastic producer. Earlier today, it's thin branches hung to the ground, heavy with fruit.

Beautiful fruit.

I think the tree sighed audibly as its branches were relieved of their burden.

Some will be eaten fresh, and the rest have been earmarked for baking.

 We made some headway on the baking today, tucking a few cobblers and pies into the freezer.

My husband used his drill to spin the apples, and a sharp peeler blade to take off the skin. Pretty slick!

An "eat fresh" pile.

I'm so happy to have this little tree! It's one of the things I will replant on our new property as soon as I have the chance.

Fresh off the Frame

The "Flirtatious" pantograph on this adorable monkey quilt reminds me of the hands on the plastic monkeys in the old game, Barrel of Monkeys. (Remember that?)

Client quilt,

"Flirtatious" also makes an appearance on this Christmas runner, but here it brings to mind wind and swirling snow. Because it is so flexible, it's one of my favourite pantos!

Client quilt,

Time for a little "Before and After" . . . one of my favourite games!
I'd decided to use a panto on this gorgeous bargello to create an overlay of stitch that wouldn't detract from the fabric or the scene. Pantos have a way of adding structure while visually disappearing.

Client quilt, BEFORE

The vertical center of the quilt was quite tight, so it took a bit of convincing to square things up. This often happens with bargellos, I've noticed - things tighten up where the piecing is the tiniest.

Client quilt in progress
It was a bit of a gamble to use a triangular motif instead of something swirly.

Client quilt, AFTER
Well, too late now!
I think it's kinda cool - and I like how the shape created by the piecing is repeated in the quilting.

My client is a creative maverick, too, so I'm betting she'll be just fine with this experiment!
(Plus, when the quilt is hung on the wall, the quilting will be less obvious. I deliberately show texture in my photos because I'm writing about the quilting.)

Building Update
Basement plumbing has been roughed in, wall forms are up, and both machines were busy moving gravel when we checked in today. We are hoping for a concrete pour this week, if the weather holds.

Thanks to Total Cleaning Neglect, I've spent time making art this weekend, too! Yay!

I'm working on a piece for our November quilt show. It's so exciting to be back in my sewing room!

Does anyone else neglect chores in favour of fun? It seems I can no longer "do it all" the way I could when my kids were little. Now I see my daughter in that phase of life - doing more in a day than many do in a week. Whew. Makes me tired just thinking of it!

At any rate, I must allow TCN more often! It's fantastic for motivating creativity when one must choose between making art or cleaning toilets. ;-)

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Art Quilt Campus 2016

Sun Printing
Brynne and Derrick have moved to the west coast, as planned. They left on the same morning as I headed off to Art Quilt Campus in Saskatchewan. Up until now I've been too busy to truly miss them, but I'm home again and the house is pretty quiet.

A couple of days before they left, Brynne and I spent a happy afternoon sun printing in the backyard.

Brynne, placing leaves for printing.

We made some excellent prints and textures. I have a "froggy" quilt in mind for a little someone special. Turns out nasturtium leaves look a bit like lily pads - handy!

Still damp when rain came, so we moved them under cover to finish drying.

Art Quilt Campus 2016
This charming birdhouse instantly alerts visitors to the creative vibe at St. Peter's Abbey; the setting for AQC2016.

St. Peter's Abbey, Muenster, Saskatchewan
In addition to being the oldest Benedictine monastery in Canada, the Abbey is an accredited learning institution with university transfer courses available.

As part of a tour, we visited "the dungeon" - in reality, it's a huge root cellar with extra storage space for canned goods. The monks grow enormous gardens, and their harvest feeds hordes of hungry university students and visitors, year round.

"The dungeon"

With the exception of the monks' private quarters and the industrial kitchen, we had the run of the place. 
The buildings felt a bit Harry Potter-esque! Old and new buildings are connected with long passageways that can only be accessed by climbing up-and-down flights of stairs to find the "right" hallway.  (Trust me. The many "wrong" hallways were no help at all. Ha!)

On my way to lunch one day, I heard one of the monks playing the pipe organ and singing to himself. Imagine having this beautiful instrument at your disposal!

The venue, itself, fed my creative soul.

What is Art Quilt Campus?
AQC - developed and facilitated by Anna Hergert - is a week-long gathering of textile artists who are engaged in self-directed activities.

Anna offers a wealth of information, and works independently with each artist, providing critique, suggestions, guidance, and instruction for those wishing to learn new skills.

During the first three days, a dye kitchen is available. As you can see, our time in there was productive!

A small group of us dyed a 24 step run of brights to share.

I'd come with the idea to try stitched shibori, and then discovered I could learn how to start my own indigo vat  - a perfect match!

Stitch, gather, dye

We were generally left to our own devices to do as much as we could manage, but Anna was always available to answer questions as they arose. Communication was key - plus I think she had wings on her feet!

Oxidizing between dips

Stitches removed.

Great visual texture!

Naturally, by the third day everyone had fabric to rinse. The sink in the dye kitchen was busy, so I went to my room to finish up.

Rinsing fabric in my room.

As I worked, it started to rain. What to do with several meters of wet fabric?

The rooms were sparse, so I had ample room to push the beds aside and improvise a solution!

Improvised clothesline.

Eventually, I shifted focus and started sewing. Again, Anna checked to see how she could inspire my thinking.

I'd brought a handful of projects for discussion, and Anna always asked about my thoughts for each piece. At no time did Anna "push" ideas on me - she is skilled at listening, and then offering practical tips to move things forward - leaving me with the sense that my work was still my own. This is the space in which growth happens. This is the true value of a self-directed, facilitated, workshop.

Now. I cannot show you the work done in class. Several participants enter shows, so any photos must remain private. I can direct you to Anna's blog, though! She posted photos throughout the week, and is currently leading a second week of AQC. You can easily get a sense of the experience through her lens.

The focus, fearless exploration, and high caliber of work done by fellow participants also added value to my experience. So many techniques! So many distinct styles! So many possibilities!

My brain crackled all week long, and it was invigorating!

Storm moving in. Lloyminster, AB (on the way home).

On the Home Front
Things are happening!

Our basement is underway!
Amazing what can happen in a week!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Monday, 1 August 2016

Wedding Quilt

I'd been holding space for this wedding quilt, so it went on the frame as soon as it arrived. With no time to mess around, this became my "before" photo.

Beautiful wedding quilt, BEFORE quilting.

Baste-y baste baste. So important to hold the quilt square throughout.

Basting is a must!

Ditch-y, ditch, ditch. Lots of ditching here. So important for sharpening the lines and popping out the applique. (See where the fabric is taut because I've ditched around the applique? Magic!)

All of the borders are ditched, too, except for between the blocks in the patchwork border. I had a leaf motif in mind for each patch that would be faster and look just as good.

Applique and borders are ditched.

Stitch-y stitch stitch.

Special motifs were stitched into the background without marking the quilt. The white fabric was untested and I didn't dare take ANY chances with it.

White marker on white paper, on white fabric, using white thread. Can you say eye strain?

A bit of accuracy was sacrificed for safety, but the overall effect is quite nice in the end, as you will see in the AFTER photo.

Oh, okay, I can't resist - here is a sneak peek at a tiny detail that I'm quite pleased with! This bit (the two heads) is only about two inches tall. Yep. Tiny!

Tiny detail.

Leafy filler surrounds the applique (and the stitched motifs). I love how loose fabric gets "eaten up" by quilting stitches! (And, there is always loose fabric after the quilt center is stitched.)

Leafy background filler wraps around the applique.

After miles of leafy filler came miles, and miles of border fillers.

Sticking with a leafy, vine-y theme in the borders.

Special touches included stitching a pair of tiny Ukrainian Easter eggs in gorgeous colours,

Special for the family.

and adding the newlyweds' initials as though they were carved there by the lovers!


My client came armed with line drawings of family crests and symbols to be stitched into the quilt (we'd talked previously, so she came well prepared), and our ideas merged as we discussed quilting possibilities for the rest.

I am so blessed to have clients with strong vision AND realistic expectations!

The result is a quilt infused with meaning for both the giver and the recipients - a true Family Quilt.

Beautiful wedding quilt, AFTER quilting.

Trying to catch the light so the stitched motifs show is a bit of a trick, but you get the idea!

 And it's off to be bound and given to the happy couple. Whew!

On the Home Front
No basement, yet.
Equipment not available, so we have to be patient until next week. Phooey.

However, Chuck did break ground!

Chuck, digging the ceremonial "first hole" where our house will be.

This is what we have so far.

Well, it's a start!

Pretty nice, hey? (lol!)

We also have a large shed that now has power and a gas line for the heater.

While I was there, Chuck had me hold a wrench outside the building so he could tighten something up inside. I'm including this shot of me "at work" just for Tracy - hopefully she will get a chuckle out of it! (It would be even better with painted nails, but I was unprepared!)

Until next time,
Linking up with:
Main Crush Monday, @ Cooking Up Quilts
Monday Making, @ Love Laugh Quilt

Try, Learn, & Grow!