Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monday's Late-Musement - Will Quilt For Winel

A few days ago I received a desperate phone call from a long-time quilting student of mine...
She had signed up for a round robin, where each participant provides a centre-piece and then the quilt travels throughout the group with each person adding a border.

Above is the centre started by someone in her group and my friend was to add the first border, which had to be 8 1/2" wide and needed to have triangles.

The measurements of this centre block are a little odd so it was kind of hard to come up with a block pattern that would fit on the sides as well as the top and bottom, and needless to say, it didn't.

And so the phone call... did I know of anyone, anyone at all, that might consider, would think about, could possibly... 

So I said yes. And then I found out she owns a winery...

So I was promptly delivered of a centre block, orphan blocks from the first border attempt, a pile of fabrics, and a bottle of red and a bottle of white to set me on my way.

The tulips above are the start of what I am doing and I am about to head off to finish up so as to meet the April 1 deadline.

Round Robins can be a lot of fun and I was thinking it might be fun to do something like that with collage.
Each participant would start a collage, and then within a prescribed group, it would get passed around with each person making a contribution to it before passing it along. When all is said and done, your collage that you started would come back to you to finish and to keep. It's fun to see what other artists would add to your work, and can be very inspiring. I'm thinking four people for each group, with one starting and then the other three adding to it in turn. It wouldn't happen until June though...

What do you think? Any takers?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Special Somebunny!

Have you heard the news?

I'll whisper it in your ear...

Not that ear?
How's this one?

It's Shell's (Raspberry Rabbit's) birthday today and Donna at Brynwood Needleworks and I thought it would be fun to host a link up Birthday Party over at Donna's blog.

Shell, you are one of the kindest, funniest, sweetest bloggers I have met and I hope you have the happiest of days.
I am so glad I met you, and your bunnies.
You add a great big bold splash of colour to my world!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


"We're not in Kansas anymore" comes to mind when I look at this photo...

Bozzy and Josie-phine are getting a new outlook on cooking (Josie is the one with ears, Bozzy has only bumps)

If you have been to my house you will know this is the spot where the wall oven usually resides...
But not no more!

It broke and it broke really well and I am glad, glad, glad.

If you've been to my house you'll know why I'm glad... it was twenty-seven years old, wouldn't hold anything bigger than a 12 pound turkey, and that was a tight fit!

My husband packs these darn pillows (I made four) all over the house so the cats will always have someplace comfy to lay and he couldn't resist putting one in the oven-hole.

This is a fitting spot as Bozzy adores food, especially people food and you would swear he is a dog in disguise. His favourite? Pringle's Potato Chips, Low Salt. (I may have had a teeny bit to do with him liking them...and probably also with him liking Cheezies second best)

I wish I could write pet-speak like Shell does with Sugie and Sir Harrington - she always makes me laugh over their antics. (You really must go to her blog and scroll until you find a post about them...)

And so now we get a new oven! The new ones are taller and wider so we have some cabinet renovating to do but I am finally going to get a brand new big oven for the first time in 14 years!

In the meanwhile, cooking lessons seem to be in store for these two - it has a direct view to the counter top range...

And because Bozzy is the most food-oriented cat I have ever known, he will be the one to park here the most.

I think his food issues date back to what happened to him when he was small, before we got him...

Somehow or other he was left outside for over a week (the Vet's best guess) during the coldest Yukon winter in 60 years, with the average temperature of that particular week between 45 and 50 below Celsius (minus 55 F). He was found on Boswell Crescent in Whitehorse by some kind soul and taken to the Animal Shelter. A picture and write-up were placed in the paper, which our daughter Laura found one day as she read the news. Knowing her father's penchant for ginger cats and his inability to ignore a cat in need, she read him the ad.
They were in the car before you could count to three but were told they couldn't adopt him for several days to give the rightful owners a chance.

Long story short, no one else came forward and we got him. He was starved and frozen and in great need of cuddling and as I was a stay at home mom, that job fell to me. And because he had been starved, he wanted to eat anything and everything, hence the Pringles - my favourite junk food!

After a few days one ear fell off, then another. A week later I found him playing with a pompom which turned out to be the tip of his tail... one friend suggested Bits & Pieces for his name.

I remember one morning at breakfast Laura asked if next time we could get a whole cat...
I can tell you though , no cat has ever been more welcomed, mollycoddled or loved and boy does he know it!

So now we get a new oven and when it's in, Laura will come and we will christen it with cookies - it's a family tradition! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Do We Bloggers Blog?

In the past two weeks, three bloggers I have always enjoyed have decided to quit. 
The reasons were similar for all three, spending more time in the real world, with the people in front of them. And so I've been thinking - again...

While I completely understand where they are coming from, this is part of my real world.
I can tell you about my latest, greatest idea... 

After all, I told you about my first one...

I shared my quirky side...

and my quirky pet...

I've shared holiday wishes...

and you've propped me up when I've been feeling down...

I post, you comment - give and take that makes us both happy...

And in the end, I thank you. 

For as much as I may have given you - you have given me more.

With extra special thanks to Diane, Dorthe, Marj, Lucille, Shell, Sherry, Maggie, Becca, Debbie, Deb, Susan, Mags, z, Celestina, Marie, Freda, Tina and Patti.

You lot have inspired me, both through your own blogs, and through our back-and-forth comments. I love that you take the time, and think enough of what I may have babbled about to tell me your thoughts.

Monday, March 21, 2011

People and Places

Today I was thinking about our trip to France we are planning...

One thing I have always done on vacation is keep a journal of some sort. Oftentimes it's just a play by play of each day but every once in a while I see something that makes me go off on one of my pondering tangents and my journal is where I question, examine and wonder. When I delve into them months and years later, those are the parts I enjoy the most; I usually remember what I saw and did without a written reminder, but what I was thinking was long lost to me. 
So I love to come upon a query, or a ponderance I had when I was wondering about something. (Not sure if that last one is really a word but I'm going with it - my blog, my words Missy!)

So today I started on my journal cover.

I found some nice moleskin journals at Chapters (Canadian equivalent of Barnes & Noble, complete with the requisite Starbucks) and decided to make a removable cover.

We had got some nice canvas in at the shop, lots of texture, but not as stiff as the last batch. So I decided on that for the outer cover, a favourite fabric with French text (very apropos, don't you think?) for the inner flap, and the same canvas for the inside, which will be covered by the journal anyway.

I found instructions for a Randomly-Ruched Carnation so gave that whirl - not at all enamoured with the process but I do like the end results...

I have to say I have not enjoyed this project - it will be one of those "I'm so glad it's done" ones. I can tell you it was a whole lot of fun figuring out how to get the writing fabric so it would be only on the inside and that both sides would be right side up with the writing going in the proper direction - NOT! (Btw, this is the second version!). Because I had to get all that sorted before embellishing the cover, I am now trying to sew bits and bobs on without having ugly starting and ending threads showing, as well as dealing with the flap pocket.

Another great idea, poorly executed. 

I'll persevere though, because I want a nice cover to inspire me to write great things.

A lady came in to the shop a while back, we were chatting and it came out I was going to France and she questioned why. She said she emigrated to Canada from Europe many years ago. She thinks we have everything here: a beautiful, natural environment, little development, indigenous people and a true connection to the earth. With our history here relatively new, our connection to the undeveloped Earth can be very difficult to find elsewhere, so why go there?

I told her Canada may have a connection to the Earth but Europe has a connection to us - a history of our civilization, our art, architecture, a history of us. When I am there, surrounded by things made several centuries or millenia ago, I feel a connection to people that is tangible. I can touch something someone made five hundred years ago, look at a painting with brushstrokes three hundred years old, walk on a cobbled street worn by footsteps of a thousand years and I am comforted. We have been here a long time and  regardless of bombs, reactors and earthquakes, we will be here a long time yet.

And that is a true comfort.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday's 'Musement - Lessons from the Far East

Yesterday was a tough day.
In fact, the last four yesterdays have been hard and and in the wake of what is happening in Japan, it was also hard to find my muse. I think it's a form of survivor's guilt really; it's very difficult for me to think about making things when thousands of people have lost every.single.thing.they.own.

I have learned over the years the way to feel close to people, to understand them, is to try to put yourself in their shoes. (Another of my Mom's admonishments from years past, and a very good one I might add.) 

So yesterday I rooted through my unfinished project pile and found these little quilts. The first two are a study in shape. I had cut piles of triangles, all the same size in various colours and fabrics and then played with layout.

The one in these first three photos is somewhat symmetrical in design using the square in a square format. 

I have found it interesting in my studies of Japanese art that while they are masters at symmetry, asymmetry is where their design aesthetic really shines.

The little quilt in the next two pictures is an example of that - it isn't completed yet as I still have to add the borders but I love this one. I love how it moves from dark to light with the red carried all the way through. This one I will hand-quilt.

There is nothing more fun than a stack of shapes and a design wall!

After I played with the first two I moved on both in colour and design. This time I worked in a long, narrow format and although I started this two years ago, I still haven't decided whether it needs a border or just binding. I love the vertical orientation of the design, long and lean with nothing more than it needs. The Japanese are masters at that and I know I have to lot to learn. I don't think it's so much that are minimalists as they are sufficientists (I know there is no such word but it's my blog and I can make 'em up if I want to!).
A Japanese design will never have any component that isn't necessary but will have all that is. 

In Japanese textiles, the crane is representative of longevity and good fortune - and I did take that into consideration when planning this design; I have found it makes my projects more interesting to me when I incorporate things like that.

And finally, a beautiful piece of Japanese fabric that I had to buy and have been reluctant to use. Someday the right idea will come to me and I am happy to wait for it.

The news out of Japan has been weighing on me, as have the images. They are people of great dignity and stoicism, not ever wanting to be a burden on society, not asking for more than can be given. They deal with what is rather than what may be. I laugh when I read stories of foreigners who are frustrated about the lack information, believing that a culture that is not as verbose as ours must be withholding. 

It's easy to look at the complete destruction of a town and understand what a people can be going through. It takes a lot more effort to look at a people and understand that how they react may be very different from what we would expect.

That's what I'm working on today.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Concoctions and Confessions

This story begins at Christmas long ago...

I know, I know, we're all wanting Spring but this is supposed to be my Year of Preparedness... 

It first started when my children were very small, smaller even than they can remember they ever were, and they began helping to decorate the Christmas Tree. Once all the decorations were hung, and the memories were shared, it came time to put the presents under the tree - but first of course the tree skirt.

Except we didn't have one. 

I couldn't find one I liked well enough to buy and never seemed to have gotten around to making one for myself.

So we rummaged in the fabric cupboard until we found a piece big enough to do the job, pressed it well and draped it around the base of the tree, covering the stand and tucking all the selvages and raggedy bits underneath. And so a tradition was born... every year someone (often, but not always me as I knew what wouldn't be needed for the few weeks of multi-tasking) would pick out the tree skirt.

Now we have two trees, one small one that sits on an end table and another bigger one that stands on the floor. And so now, I have to select and press not one tree skirt, but two.

Enough of that nonsense, I decided, time to make something for myself. And this is what I'm concocting for the little tree. A Dresden Plate design all in creamy beiges and taupes. I  just have to sew them together into a circle and then applique to it's base - a beautiful brown wool with a tiny check - love it!

I cut way more than I needed so I could play with placement, and since it's for me I used some last treasured bits of favourite fabrics.

If you click on the one above you will get a better view of the fabrics and the wool backing. I'm thinking I'd like to make a smaller one for a table centre, using plainer muslin and then embroidering the seams? Opinions? Suggestions?

Now for the confessional part of the post...

Sherry from Creatology said I was the best for sharing honestly so others may learn from my mistakes... in keeping with that, here's what happens when you don't keep your area neat!

After you sew something and then turn it over to trim the edges, you find a wayward piece of fabric has worked it's way in. Five minutes of unpicking and re-sewing later, all the while reminding myself of the merits of clearing off your worktable every once in a while!

Or, inspect both sides before sewing!

Monday, March 7, 2011

'Musing Mondays - Flat As a Board!

A while back I took part in a heart swap hosted by Debbie of Mosaic Magpie; we were to make one heart, in whatever medium we wanted and send it in. A few weeks back I heard from Becky of Heart in My Hand - she was the person who had received my heart. 

I didn't know at that time who I was swapped with so Becky and I had to wait... and wait... and wait some more (Canada Customs has no respect for Swaps!)

Last week the parcel finally arrived with a beautiful heart that was indeed made by Becky. When I opened it I was thrilled  - love the words and the tin, the shabby perfection of it.

And on the back, a simple label and a tag pinned on with Becky's info. 
Becky has a heart wall in her studio where the heart I made hangs; I have a little iron basket on my sewing table where a few special hearts are nestled together and this one fits in just perfectly.

Debbie also tucked in this sweet little heart, made from batting and bits of lace,

with a beautiful red toile on the back.

Just when the swapping was about to begin, Debbie's husband became seriously ill. She has had a string of challenges in the past few months but this was a big one and not only did she complete the Swap and get all the parcels mailed out, she made each of the participants one of these charming hearts. Thankfully her man is on the mend!

Now for today's 'Musement -  I dug deep in my box of unfinished quilt tops. A couple of years ago I got intrigued by blended quilts and gathered some fabrics and made some blocks. Some became table runners for my sale, some landed in the reject pile and 9 became a wall hanging.

When I unearthed it the other day I noticed it kind of bubbled up in one corner - bubbled up like a 34B... Yikes!!
So I stewed and brewed - I'm usually optimistic, but no way was quilting going to deal with that; it rose up like a mini Mt. St. Helen's.

It was pitch it, or fix it.

As I quite liked it I decided to fix it. And to be truthful, it was also a form of punishment; I am always baffled by how I don't notice these things as they happen. It's always well after the fact and so I decided if I had to really deal with the consequences, perhaps I might just be a little more "present" in my next project.

So I picked it apart. borders and all (wondering why I thought two borders was a good thing), pressed the squares, squared them up again and started over. I had found the reject blocks and decided they weren't really so bad after all (time and distance meld expectations with outcome) so I expanded the wall hanging to 12 blocks instead of nine.

I love how the values change block to block and the mishmash of colour and pattern...

And I realized why I had got into trouble in the first piece - the red toile was a fabric I really wanted to use but it's directional - so, I fussy cut it to get the print straight, which happened to make all four sides of each square on the bias - big ick. I should have interfaced them to add stability but I was the Shortcut Queen and didn't bother.

After two day's work it's flat as a board and all ready for quilting and I love it.