Friday, October 30, 2009

What Grabs You?

I was recently on a quilting shopping expedition with my friend Marj. We had decided to take a little road trip to a couple of quilt shops she hadn't been to at all, and I hadn't visited for many months. So we picked the day, which was thankfully a dry day, and headed out at 9 bells.

The thing I have noticed about quilt shops is that even though the owners make a concerted effort to try to appeal to most quilters, there are still things about each that make them distinct from each other. And this is a good thing for us quilter's - it would be sad indeed if every shop carried all the same stuff.

In the first shop we visited I was smitten with fabric right at the doorway. Lovely Christmas fabrics in an unusual shade of blue - I do get sick of red and green at times, and when I think of the V.I.P. pink poinsettia prints that came back year after year in the 1990s I almost feel ill all over again! I really liked them at first, but by the fourth year I was done! They did change up the colour-way from year to year and presented them on black, bright green, turquoise, forest green and white backgrounds, but it was always the same pink poinsettia!

But, I digress.

New and different Christmas fabrics caught my eye first and I then went on to buttons (which are an addiction, and no, I am not seeking treatment!). Charming buttons that will add just the right detail to my latest little project, or can just sit it my button box until inspiration comes.

The next shop offered up an old-fashioned print; a tapestry-looking fabric in black, dark burnt red and a deep olive green. A deep dark fabric propped in a corner that insistently drew me back to it over and over again. It drew Marj too and although we both wanted some, neither of us had any idea what we would make with it. A discussion with the clerk ensued as we debated the merits and pitfalls of a half-metre, .75, or a full metre. Marj was first up and decided a full metre would do and when my turn came I thought .75 was in order. When the clerk unwrapped the remainder of the bolt to cut mine it was just over the .75 metre mark! We both laughed at how perfectly it worked out and how lucky we were to both get what we wanted.

And what a perfect day it was!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quilting With Curves

Today I am seeing curves.

Seeing is one thing though, quilting with them is entirely another! Over the years I have taken courses and read books on working with curved shapes in quilting, in fact, I have a few books in my own library that I refer to now and again when I hit a stumbling block.

For the projects pictured here though, I have been working out my own way - nothing new technique-wise in the quilting world I am sure, but new to me! My first inspiration came from my recent trip to Vancouver. I was staying at the Granville Island Hotel with a friend and fellow quilter from the Yukon and she was continually distracted by the maple leaves that littered the ground under our feet. I have no idea how many she eventually took home with her but I suspect it was several!

I must admit I too found them a distraction. The colours ranged from the brightest of greens, through yellows, oranges, rust and finally deep reds and often times all of these colours appeared on a single leaf! And so, it was natural for me to be drawn to a maple leaf when I was thinking about something suitable for the Demo tomorrow. The idea for the curves came second, and here is a quick look at what I have come up with.

Detail of Vancouver Leaves

And as always with me, one thing led to another and I found myself thinking about curves in other quilting designs. I found the remains of a Patisserie Sweet Roll
(1 1/2") strips and have started to play with that too!

This one has been a bit more of a challenge - the technique I am trying is straightforward enough, but the design itself is giving me a bit of a's always something!

And here is the start of it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Symposium Thoughts

Greetings from Vancouver!

We have just had our third lecture of the Symposium Series, but as usual I am behind and so will begin with the first evening's which was "The True Miracle Fibres: Natural Threads of the World". The lecture was presented by Charlotte Kwon, owner of Maiwa Handprints and it was riveting from the first words.

Charlotte is not only passionate about traditional textiles, she is enormously involved with the crafting of them through the entire process. She regularly travels to India and works with the farmers to support sustainable organic farming, she is actively involved in teaching and preserving dyeing with natural plant materials and supports the textile artisans through an ethical business model.

It was surprising to learn how much knowledge of natural plant dyes is in danger of being lost as synthetic dyes increase in popularity in emerging economies. Traditional markets throughout the world are increasingly moving away from both natural fibres and dyes, and it was interesting to learn of the work being done to preserve both.

I have done very little dyeing at all, never mind with natural dyes and am not sure I need to add another hobby to my ever growing "To Try" list but I have to say fibres dyed with natural dyes have a different look to them. There is a subtlety to the colours; they can still be bright but are not harsh, they are shaded but there is still light and they inspire... they inspire you to take up a needle and create.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October Is...

October is many things to me, but most especially, it is the month of Hallowe'en. Below is one of my favourite mini-quilts; I like it because it has plaid fabric, an interesting background and the "appliques" are either paper, or buttons. It was so easy to put together but still fun to work on.

This year October also means it is time for the Maiwa Handprints Symposium in Vancouver, B.C. I am lucky enough to be here with my friend Carol from Whitehorse who knows more about textiles and dyeing than I could ever hope to! We are staying at the lovely Granville Island Hotel and have spent today exploring just some of what the island has to offer to artisans of all disciplines.

I have found some lovely treasures and am now heavily weighted for the trip home! And... tonight is the first of a series of lectures Maiwa has assembled; I can't remember what it is about as I am far too excited about tomorrow's - "Creating A Garden of Natural Dye Plants". I thought growing herbs was interesting enough but I have a feeling my garden plans for next year are about to expand!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall Leaves

Fall has definitely arrived here in Salmon Arm; the leaves are changing colour now and it's October.. and that means I must now kick into high gear! Not only are my classes in full swing, but the date has been picked for my sale as well - December 1st will come up awfully fast now that it is the designated day. My friend Glenda (even though I make everything, she's the boss of it!) has requested, advised, ordered, demanded (all of the above really) that I get busy and start producing!

So this week is probably one my busiest of the year, but don't be surprised if you hear me mutter that a time or two again... we have a Demo in the store Friday and my first Christmas Cupboard classes are this Thursday. Throw in working and/or teaching every day this week, a cocktail party and a outdoor fireside supper and you get the idea....

And to add to all that, we keep getting new stuff in the store! The most beautiful book I have seen in a long time arrived yesterday and I can't wait to make something from it; in fact, I will and it will be my first blog give-away! First I have to get it made though so this weekend will be busy too - watch for the post next week announcing the details.

Well, if I am truly as busy as I say I am, I had best get on with it!