Saturday, March 31, 2012

Come On A Tuesday...

When you say something out loud then you know it's true.

I received an email a few days ago that the dear, sweet, obstinate, opinionated, sometimes cantankerous, and always, always, delightful lady that insisted I come to her quilting group many years ago, had passed away.

That email puzzled me to no end and many times I looked at it, trying to figure it out.
Today I told my husband the news,  and then I cried; and I knew when I said it out loud it must be so.

Colleen knew me from the needlearts guild and kept telling me I should come to the Tuesday night quilting group; the Wednesday night group was more formal (they had matching napkins at tea-time) and dressed up a little, but the Tuesday group were just busy quilters, trying new things, excited for new books and patterns - it was the heyday of the quilting revival - 

Come on a Tuesday, anytime after 7...

Finally, I went, and I never looked back, until the day I left the Yukon.

What a wonderful gift she gave me.... this quilting thing I do.

I could tell you so many hilarious stories about Colleen... my favourite though, was her penchant for going on quilting excursions. She would sign up for this or that course with this or that famous quilter, pick up, pack up and head off into the land of plentiful fabric (which was anywhere south of Teslin, Y.T.)
and embark on creative journeys that made each of us green with envy.

And she would come back some weeks later with nothing to show for her efforts.... nothing at all...

Colleen really didn't want to make anything anymore - she had decided she was too old for all that nonsense - she just loved the classroom environment. So she would spend the day (or days) helping anyone who wanted help - un-picking mis-sewn seams and so on, always dodging the quilting project... until the day she met up with Philomena Durcan (of Celtic Flowers fame)

All of Colleen's usual excuses were water off Philomena's back... she was able to fend off every one and even provided Colleen with her own, hand-dyed-by-herself- fabrics that were simply amazing because Colleen had-forgot-hers-at-home...

and Colleen came home with an applique-in-progress

she flung her purchases on the floor for all of us to peruse, and under the stack of lovely fabrics and books,
I spied something that looked suspiciously like a work-in-progress...

I pulled out it out from under, lifted it up for all to see and asked 

"and what pray tell is this?"

She was almost sheepish in her mumblings and I asked again..

"Is this from your class?"

a mumbled "yes" and I burst out laughing

"What happened?" I asked

"She made me" was Colleen's reply, "that woman  - she made me do that", and all twelve of us howled with laughter...

Philomena Durcan wouldn't have any of Colleen's excuses and provided her with everything she needed to take part in the class.

Colleen had met her match.

What a wonderful soul she was... such spirit and spunk... the kind of person that shared her opinions... and was always ready for yours

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

She would want that needle so bad...


Thursday, March 29, 2012


A week ago, this is what I woke up to....

pretty, but not what you're wanting on the first day of Spring


lots of ice still on the lake and the feeling it just wasn't going to warm up at all
 I didn't even mind that I had to go to work that day....

my creative dry spell is still somewhat upon me so I have been puttering away at special orders

this mauve and taupe heart is one of them
I never mind making these
little bits of fabric and little bits of thread
not a lot of time, and something pretty at the end of it
I think this is my new favourite colour combination - I love taupe and smoky purple together, with a splash of fresh ivory

 old buttons and old ribbon just add to the charm

and I finally did something with that gathered lace
the simplest thing really...
heavy cotton canvas cut in a heart shape 
a smaller heart traced inside and the lace tacked along the lines

I didn't even turn the edges under or anything
I just have to add a hanger and it's done

I've been thinking a lot lately about creativity and what it means to me.

I've spent years, decades really, making things, trying new crafts and learning new skills and then either selling or giving away those creations. Sometimes I would make things for myself but at the end of it, decide I really didn't want it after all... it was the joy of creating it that I wanted, not the thing itself. And it was easy to let them go...

and I have learned that it isn't so much a collection of things I want, 
but the joy of learning how to do them

one thing I always wanted to do was make little books, write stories in them and do the illustrations - little story books for my kids

I always liked writing, learned how to make books many years ago, but the illustrating part stumped me   
I have no gift with a pencil

two weeks ago I got really tired of that so I signed up for Christy and Junelle's Art of Wild Abandonment class and I now have my very own sketchbook

The other night, sitting at the table, sketching radishes and cupcakes and so on, I had the most fun I have had in a very long time. As I was playing with the cupcake sketches, ideas started flowing - not from my brain to the pencil, but backward, from the paper to my head

I started seeing fabric cupcakes, fusible web and fabric knots 
(seems I'm not done with those things yet!)
and I felt as though the weight was lifting and I could breathe lightly again

and it was finally Spring

Monday, March 19, 2012

the bittersweetness of...

... a first love

I dabbled in different things when I was young: painting, knitting, crocheting, patchwork, sewing but at about 21, I discovered needlework - a different kind of coming of age maybe?

quilting took over though, after a few years...needlework supplies were hard to get and framing it all was frightfully expensive, so quilting became a new passion for me

but yesterday I went back


back to simple counted thread embroidery, where all you need is a piece of evenweave cloth and one colour of thread
I'm teaching a course in blackwork embroidery tonight and yesterday I played

the tree above and below is my own design based on 16th century stitches

I've always been drawn to the lace-like stitchery patterns
and the endless stitch combinations
how an extra stroke here or there can completely change the look of a motif

this little tree I adapted from a larger design I found on line (I can't find the link but will add it when I do!)
a modern take on an old art form

it wasn't until I began playing on the graph paper that I realized just how much I miss this
I've been in a dry spell lately, reading a book called 

by Julia Cameron

I started reading it just because, but quickly realized it is for creative people when they're not feeling so creative - yup, that's me
and I read something that stood out the other day...

when you are creating for a financial benefit it is easy to lose sight of your creative spirit

me again

some very good insights that gave me a lot to think about, and
coupled with the time I have spent with my blackwork yesterday and today
and realizing in my quest for other things, 
I have neglected some things that matter greatly to me

and I remembered what a wonderful time it was, up north, in the needle arts guild when we were so young and enthusiastic and tried everything... and my friends came to mind and their names fell from my lips as I said them out loud and I remembered...

 first love is the best love

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

ruffly, gathered lace...
makes anything look pretty...

I was taking pictures for this post and had it all in a jumble on the burlap,
when I thought it might look pretty gathered in to a heart shape...

now I want to tack it down and make a pretty picture of it

a friend asked me to make her one of these hearts, inspired by Terri of Whimsicals

with the sweet scent of lavender

and an order for three more
I do love making these things - playing with different fabrics and threads, all in little bits 


for this one I used a small piece of my treasured diamond-textured fabric and stitched tiny french knots at each intersection - texture on texture
 finding the palest shades of a colour


and finally!

all the Wishing Stars but two were mailed out today and these last ones will go Thursday
I had hoped to send them two weeks ago and then life got in the way
but they are on their way now
 and it is my sincere wish they work their magic and bring your word to life
they were a wonderful labour of love for me, all those words, inspiring me with each stitch...
and now I'm thinking of my next project, and wondering how long my worktable will remain clear....

bets anyone?


Friday, March 2, 2012

Cabin Fever

 Yep, I've got it.
A full blown case of Cabin Fever...

There's various names for it all over, but in the Yukon that's what it's called.

During the Gold Rush of 1898 the Sourdoughs (they were the Southerners who came seeking the gold) weren't used to a Yukon winter, where the temperature can go to 40 below or more for weeks on end, and back then there was no entertainment, other than the dance halls... and if you were out on your claim, twenty or thirty miles out of town, looking at a dog team for transportation, well, by the end of February you had Cabin Fever.

You're restless, fidgety, cranky, and nothing can please you whatsoever, until you're ready to put your own self in the corner and come-out-when-you've-thought-about-it...

winter's gotta go and where the heck is Spring anyway????

a little retail therapy can sometimes help....

when we were in the city for one day of tests, we stopped off at the mall afterward to run a few errands...

Marc wanted coffee but I secretly wanted to to peruse the dish section at the Bay
so I fobbed him off with some excuse or other and a plan to meet at Starbucks when I was finished...

In my browsing I found this - a lovely, perfectly grey-blue cake pedestal with brown edges and a raised detail, the outward curves perfectly matching the shape of my every day dishes 

and it was 30% off!

as I came around the corner, headed straight for the checkout I came face to face with you know who...


"Whatta ya have there Missy" he says

so, clutching the box a little closer to me chest, I started with, 
"It's the perfect colour, and it will go perfectly with my dishes" and finished up with "and it's 30% off!"


he shook his head, looked it over and said,
"what will you do with it?"

and with wide-eyed seriousness I replied,

"put cupcakes on it"

a long pause, a little sigh and then....

"well, bring your treasure and let's get out of here then"

and so it followed me home