Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Taking A Breath

A heartfelt thank you to everyone for your kind wishes, thoughts and prayers; we feel very lucky and thankful for all of them!
It has been a blur of Insurance Adjusters, Restoration Specialists, and Trades as we begin to deal with what needs to be done. We still aren't sure of everything but a new roof is the priority as nothing else can be done until that is in place. Several rooms were without electricity, including my Work Room but that was sorted out this afternoon and I can sew again!
I had a few minutes today while betwixt and between to get in there. I had signed up last week for KC Willis' Collage Camp (one of the smartest things I have done in a very long time!) and spent some time watching some of the videos last night; thought I would check today  and see if I've learned anything... I think I have.
I have a real penchant for the things I make to be nice and neat and tidy with pointy points and matchy seams and all that good stuff a quilter does...
So today I picked up the crazy quilted piece from last week's Artful Thursday, removed most of the embellishing I had done and started rippin' and tearin' - oooh what fun!
I only had 15 minutes before appointments but you can see in the photo above I have made a start.
I am thinking Collage is my new favourite technique!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Strange Thing

There must be an angel watching over my house...

Last night at about 8:45 pm we were out having dinner to celebrate my husband's last day of work (he retired!) when the strangest thing happened.
Our friend was called away to a telephone call, came back to the table after a few moments and said, "There's no easy way to say this but your house is on fire".


Funny how timing is; they had just brought back the receipt from paying the bill so there was no momentary thinking of who would take care of what, we just got up and ran out the door.
We still couldn't believe it - our house couldn't be on fire - I had just been home two hours before and everything was fine... but then all the "Did I turn anything on when I was home" started. I had been home for an hour after work, watering the gardens and getting ready, letting the cats in and feeding them. That was when my heart truly sank - I started to shake and said "The cats are in".
All the way up the hill we were searching for smoke; if our house was on fire, surely we would see smoke, but there was none, at least none that we could see.
Salmon Arm is a small town and we were home within five minutes to a block full of fire engines, ambulances, police cars, scores of people and house that looked fairly intact, except for a steady stream of firefighters going in and out the front door and at least 8 on the roof.
The very first thing was a rush of neighbors surrounding us and all reaching out and patting and hugging us and all saying the same thing "The cats are out, S-- (our best neighbour) got them out." 
And then we breathed. Bozzy and Mistress Josephine (she's a girl cat, he's a boy, she has ears, he doesn't) were safe - ran away from the yard because of the commotion but holed up somewhere until things quietened down. Funny thing was, when I went in from the garden I didn't bother to lock the back door. So S-- and another neighbour were able to walk right in and get the cats, and unlock the front door for the firemen so they didn't have to axe it when they arrived.

The rest of the story is pretty simple: a fan in the attic above our bedroom closet caught fire and set the attic on fire. Our neighbours (it seems many of them!) saw the smoke and flames coming from vents in the gable-ends and not only called the fire department, but rescued our cats. We have a 36 square foot view out our roof now, almost no smoke damage, very little water damage, a great pile of clothes that need to be cleaned and a wood floor that may be in need of refinishing - best you can get if you have a house fire!

And my "Workroom"? Well, it was across the hall from the fire and seems to be spared from any of it, save a lingering smell of smoke.
Cats and quilts, all safe and sound...
How lucky can you get?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Artful Thursday - Crazy Quilting

This last week has been somewhat crazy so it's entirely appropriate that Part Two of last week's Artful Thursday be Crazy Quilting!

It's my favourite technique (or genre, if you prefer) for so many reasons: you can use all manner of bits and pieces and types of fabrics, ditto for the threads, ditto for the embellishments, once I piece the foundation I can work on it anywhere, less can be more, or more can be more and the stitch variations are endless... in short there is just about enough scope for my imagination...

I used a scaled down version of the words from last week and made a new "Fleur" panel - this time I fused the letters as before but instead of a blanket stitch around the edges I did a simple running stitch through the centre of each letter. (Click on picture to see)

Once I had the "Fleur" part finished I trimmed the panel to a size that could easily be divided by three - this is my loosey-goose way of designing, on the fly and hoping it all comes out right in the end! (I do make sketches but the proportions that look great on graph on paper don't always translate as well in reality so I make changes as I go.)

Then I designed the three rectangles above, all different and only one in traditional crazy-patch. The others are simple piecing because I like the contrast when they are all put together.

Detail of the crazy pieced square.

Here's what it looks like all sewn together with borders. I did the decorative stitching on the squares before sewing this all together because it's much easier to work on a little square than a bigger piece. I make them all slightly bigger than required and after the embroidery is complete I trim them back to size, then sew the quilt together.

Closer view.

After all the piecing is finished I baste the quilt top to the batting; I find adding the embellishments works best when you have that added stability - some of the things I use can be somewhat heavy and having the batting there helps prevent stretching.

I like playing with stitches and threads and often use a "Blended Needle" which is combining either two colours of thread in one needle, or two types of thread (for example, one strand floss and one strand blending filament). As I used three strands for most of this, I chose two strands of the colour I wanted to be dominant and one that would soften that slightly. It's subtle but adds an interesting look when you're up close.

Now for the embellishing - I only just got started! Buttons not only add a decorative element but they hide a multitude of things, one of which can be an awkward connection of two different seam decorations! The corners of the borders were tricky too as I did a buttonhole stitch along the bottom of the panel and a herringbone around the rest. i did that because herringbone along the bottom would have interfered with the stitching on the smaller rectangles and I would not have liked that at all. I will eventually cover all four corners with little buttons.

If you are interested in crazy quilting this book is the best I have seen; Elegant Stitches by Judith Montano and published by C&T Publishing, ring bound so it lays flat (you'd be surprised how important that it when you are trying to stitch and refer to a diagram at the same time!) and the stitch diagrams are large and clear.

And the photos are inspiring beyond words!

I am halfway through the embellishment so hopefully I'll have the pictures up here on Tuesday. I have to work for the next three days (yep, three in a row - so much for it being a jobette!) and my husband is retiring tomorrow - EEK! So I will be busy until Monday... Have a good weekend and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Party's Over!

Well, the party's over and it's time to get back to work... if you're here for Where Bloggers Create that post is here, and welcome back to everyone else!

So it's back to reality and here's what my room looks like now:

Fabric squares strewn on the floor while I try to figure out a layout...

My work table with lots of ... well, work.... I am puttering along on last Thursday's Artful Thursday idea.

Several people who came to the Blogger Party commented on my sewing machine cover. I did make it and thank you for the great compliments! My house gets awfully dusty and I often felt guilty about what that might be doing to my poor sewing machine; the party was an excellent excuse to finally get something made. And - from start to finish it didn't take three hours!

I found the pattern at the Moda Bake Shop. They have fantastic tutorials by many talented people and this is one of them. I changed it a bit - I didn't bother to make the "stepped-down" part, where my extension table ends but there is still more machine, I just made it the same length all across.

The other thing I did differently was not do all the ties - just one tie at the bottom of each side and to make the top neater I folded down one corner, then folded the other corner over top and sewed a button there to hold in place. I thought it looked neater and although it was not fun to sew through all those layers, I like the look better!

Cute, practical and quick - my kind of fun!

I'm off to the gym - my Quilted Exercise Program is not working as well as I hoped. Apparently a woman my age (icky reference point) has to put forth a bit more effort to stay in shape so it's off to the treadmill for me. More ick.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Where Bloggers Create!

Welcome to my Workroom. It isn't a Studio or an Atelier, although I have on occasion been known to refer to it as "The Warehouse" - it's a Workroom, pure and simple. 
You see, when the pull of creativity grabs me I am far too messy for it to be pretty and there is a lot of creating that goes on here! I have tidied it a bit for you  - actually, what I really did was move the mess to my bed!

The photo below is where a lot of what I do happens - my trusty Bernina resides under that little quilted dust-cover, the wooden boxes hold some of my thread and the white iron basket and shelf hold finished creations. (Click on any picture for a better view!)

The tomato pin-cushion is one I made, in honour of Home Ec classes years ago! On the bottom of the shelf in the picture above you can just make out "Ouch", my snowman pin cushion, designed by yours truly!

Here's a straight on view of my work-table - I bought all my furniture unfinished and then painted and stained it myself. It was a stinking lot of work but at least I had what I wanted! 

This dresser hides - er, rather - I mean it stores a lot; every drawer is full of supplies. It's a great way to store things and no dust, highly recommended!  (I really don't dust, just blow things off now and then so this dresser is a God-send!) The larger framed piece is a stitched sampler I did many years ago, the green "thing" with the yellow flower is a Fairy - oops, I mean Flower Press and then there are various boxes, tins and jars to hold various bits and pieces of my little treasures.)

This drawer holds my collection of Japanese fabrics and wool.

This is the closet - stuff crammed in every single nook and cranny and I take something out at my peril!

 The top of a little bookshelf I have with a pail of fabric, and my French Market bag designed by Fig Tree Quilts embellished with a fabric flower designed by Rebecca Sower.

 My bulletin board, where I can pin up whatever inspires me. (The young man in the photo on top of a mountain is my son and he definitely inspires me!) It's an antique printer's tray I refinished, added fold-back clips and hung it with a chain. This was a fun project and as soon as I finished it I went straight back to the Antique shop and bought another one - I am making it half bulletin board and half blackboard. It's almost finished and I think it just might make a great Artful Thursday post...

And, my work table. This was the tricky part. What I really wanted was a potting table. Can't you just imagine it, all rustic, with shelves above and below and a great work surface? And of course it would be at the right height... Imagine was all I could do - it was the dead of winter and there was no hint of any thing to do with potting anywhere...
So I wandered into the garage to see what I could see... and I found my old crib. Mine - from, well, a very long time ago.

Two metal ends but nothing else. I stood one up and thought hmm... if it had some sort of shelf across the bottom and then a slab of wood on top - it might work - maybe...
I nattered something about it at dinner that night, "Honey, I might have figured out what to do about a work table." And Honey listened.

This is the shelf; I painted the crib ends black and stained the shelf and top with a walnut stain and it's stabilized with bungee cords at the back. Now that's a construction job!

And if all that isn't enough - I even have off-site storage. This cabinet is the best investment I ever made as it keeps my fabric organized and dust free - oh, and out of the light. It currently resides two floors below my Workroom. You see, I have a theory... it is possible to get a great workout while you're quilting; I am up and downstairs umpteen dozen times a day looking for this fabric and that fabric and as the light is better upstairs, I have to take all the possibilities up and then bring all the rejects down. And - if you'll remember, my ironing board is a low-down model (a table-top, on the floor). Every time I have to press something I either do a deep knee bend or a hamstring stretch! Soooo, one hour in the Workroom is the equivalent to one hour at the gym. That's my story, and you know the rest...

Fabric, books and pretties.

The blue wash tub holds piles of fabrics for future projects plus projects that are not yet finished.

And the suitcase holds the best thing in my Work Room - the one who does no work, my dear cat Bozzy. I made this bed specially for him and he is quite at home in it!

Thanks to Karen Valentine of My Desert Cottage for putting on this event. Click on the "Where Bloggers Create button on my sidebar to go to her blog and see all the amazing rooms that house some very talented people!

And thanks to you for coming!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Artful Words


This is a quick and incomplete post - it may be Artful Thursday but it's also the eve of "Where Bloggers Create"!

Why, oh why, oh why, do I get myself into these scrapes? I will only say I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the work of stylists and photographers - and to be truthful it's the photographers who blow me away. I have to take 30 pictures to get one decent one so I know it's time I sign myself up for a course...

But, it is Artful Thursday and here we go... I bought this little box in a flower shop last year. I am a sucker for taupe, French, and words, and if it is all of the above, well... willpower and wallet go the way of the wind.

And of course, what ever can be done with wood and paint can be done with fabric and thread...

The hand stitching around all the letters is done - now it's borders and embellishments. I drew my own letters (while looking at the box of course!) because although I want this to be of my own hand, I have no imagination when it comes to lettering. And I would ask my husband, who is a genius at it, but then he gets all smug...

I buy these graph paper pads by the pound - very handy.

Because I like to do fusible applique for things like this I needed the letters reversed. There is  absolutely no way I can draw backwards so I taped these sheets up on the window with the lettered side facing out and traced them - and Presto! They were now backwards - easy as pie. You can get a copy shop to do it as well but more fun this way. Except for getting the tape off the windows...

 I wanted to use these letters in a table runner that would hearken back to the Inspiration Board of last Thursday but they were too big. So I did head off to the copy shop after all and got a reduction. Easy as pie again!

Stay tuned, same time, same place for the conclusion...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thinking of Home

I'm feeling nostalgic today, reflective; going back to my roots. 
I am off to the Yukon in August for a much needed visit with my home-land and my friends. And now that I know I am going I am feeling more homesick than ever! This time of year especially, my thoughts turn to  North - the long days and the clear bright colours of the water, sky and forest, and of course, the Fireweed.

I stitched this so long ago I can't remember when but I was inspired by that little verse "The flowers that grow always fade and wither but the ones that are stitched will live forever."

When I went looking for this, in my fit of nostalgia and reminiscing, I found my needlework portfolio. I haven't looked at these for a long time...

This is a little piece of Blackwork I designed and stitched when testing the Blackwork Embroidery Course for the Embroiderer's Association of Canada (EAC).

This was for a Silk Embroidery course through the Embroiderer's Guild of America - twenty 2" squares, all in one colour, each had to be a different stitch, all bordered by two rows of plain stitching and each and every single thread had to lay side by side. My eyes were crossed then and have never been the same since!

More Blackwork for the EAC course - this was intended to be a frame for a mirror - albeit a very small mirror! Someday I will have to get that done... It took me a long time to design and stitch this piece but I think of all my needlework it's my favourite.


more detail

Have you heard of this one?

"I pray that risen from the dead
I may in Glory stand.
A halo perhaps, upon my head,
But a needle in my hand."

Kind of quirky but I like it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Swan Court

First of all, a huge thank you to Diane Knott for posting about my blog - the comments and new Followers are welcome and appreciated so very much. I have been absolutely amazed and gratified by the response!

The quilt below is the catalyst for the living room re-do I am about to embark on; I finished it for a quilt show here in Salmon Arm in 1998 and it has yet to be hung! It is my favourite piece of all; favourite in the doing and in the having. 
It is based on an adaptation of Pat Goffette's Shadow Lake, which is an adaptation of Arboretum Swans by Joan Colvin. Joan featured both of those quilts in her book The Nature of Design by Fiber Studio Press and it is my favourite quilting book of all time. Joan passed away a few years ago and the book is out of print but if you are interested in this type of quilting it is worth trying to find a copy.

I apologize for the quality of the photos - once the walls are painted and the quilt is hung I will get better pictures to post!

Joan's aesthetic was to design non-traditional quilt blocks and set them in non-traditional ways to create some very unique quilts. I have made four different quilts of this type (this is the only one I kept) and learned so much from them about working with fabric, print and colour.

This quilt took hours, working on a design wall, and placing and re-placing each and every fabric, then sitting back and looking at it - over and over and over again - until I was cross-eyed! Once I had a section the way I wanted it I sewed it together, preferring to do that kind of work at night when the light wasn't great.
It was a wonderful, thinking process and I am so glad I spent the time on it.
I can't wait to hang it and see it every day!