December 29, 2009 10 comments

Well, hello there!

And welcome back to my blog.  :)

  I know that traditional Christmas is past, but we carry on until January 6, so this is still timely for me (not to mention, I didn't have internet access for 15 days!) 

I made this (and three other) wreaths out of the cuttings from our too-big tree, dollar store finds and a hot glue gun, and BSP asked why in the world we buy wreaths every year when I can make them for less than $20.  But my crafting wasn't limited to wreaths - I made quilts and quilted products too... 

First, I needed a tree skirt for the tree that goes in our basement bar.  I had planned to make one based on (I think it was) Crazy Mom's tree skirt - a square that a friend made and I loved her version.  But when it came down to actually making it, I found myself going more traditional and making a round one. 

(Excuse the threads on the floor of my sewing room - the photos were taken pre-vacumn.)  It's made with white linen, a "best quality quilting cotton" (that phrase always makes me laugh for some reason), gold crushed velvet and some taupe dupioni silk scraps from my wedding dress. 

Here it is in "action", so to speak:

Once I'd done that, I decided that our keyboard (which lives across from the tree on the other wall) must have a matching cover

(I was quite pleased with how it turned out). 

So, this break of mine was kind of interesting (if you're me, that is). I was experiencing a slight depression and so didn't want to create anything at all.  I made these five pieces (three wreaths, the tree skirt and the cover) the first weekend in December and then never entered my sewing room again until Boxing Day. 

During my time away, I thought about what it is, exactly I'm trying to do with my quilts.  I know, that may sound odd to some of you, but I've been feeling as if I ought/I am being driven or pulled by something more than just "wanting to make what I see in my head" and I wanted to sit quietly for awhile and figure out what's what. I've figured it out, but more on that in a later post.

After I'd "figured it out" (at least, what my inital direction will be) I suddenly wanted to spend time in the sewing room again, so I finished a queen sized quilt for my oldest son, and am "wrapping up" another queen sized quilt for my youngest son.

I'll post one (or both) of them next time, but in the meantime, this is what the quilting on the tree skirt looked like:

Thanks for your patience while I was away - I'm looking forward to spending time with you again in the new year, when I should be back to my Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule of posts. 

See you soon.  (I promise!)

November 30, 2009 11 comments

No heart for art...

I read that somewhere recently, and it's an accurate reflection of how I feel.  See that little piggy on the bottom?  That's me.

(Image by Sara Klocken )

I am in a fallow period creatively speaking - and am experiencing a slight depression  - I don't know whether the chicken or the egg came first, but the result is  - no heart for art. 

So, I'm taking a bit of a blogging break.  Be well, be kind. 

November 27, 2009 1 comments

Friday Flickr Faves - Future Tense

My creation
1. Lighthouse, 2. A marker - I was here, 3. Through the back of the wardrobe

Today's Friday Flickr Faves is an unusual one, in that they're all my own photos, rather than someone else's.
I am always pensive this time of year, slightly depressed, considering my successes and failures on this trip around the sun, planning for the next; but this year is different.  I have been considering future tense in the long term, rather than the short, and have come to the realization, that right here, right now, is where I choose.

Oddly enough, these pictures I took this past summer have led me to the answer.

My explanation, such as it is, follows:

1.  The Lighthouse

This light house it is at the end of the spit where I live.  The lighthouse looks old and abandonded, finished in its life's purpose, but look closely, and you'll see the solar panel that gives it life anew.  I have always loved the lighthouse for that reason.

But, too, I love that lighthouse, because when I stand underneath it, gazing at and becoming lost in the seemingly endless water ahead the wind ruffling my hair, and the scents rolling in with the waves beckoning me to a life of adventure; when I begin to move again, I always feel as if  I'm taking the first step in a great journey, even if it isn't by sailing off to the edge of the world.

But again, perhaps I am.

2.  I Was Here

At the foot of the lighthouse, there are piles of broken rock and granite, twists of rusted industrial wire coiled in fantastic shapes, brickwork whose edges are worn smooth by the passage of water and time. Someone had taken part of this detritus and made... what?

I wondered if its maker had meant it as art, or a marker - a message to the world. "Once, I was here."  Or was s/he simply bored while others in his or her party carried on pursuits they were uninterested in, forming this with as much reflection as someone else might skip stones?

I clambered down the preacrious edge of the spit to acknowledge and preserve  whatever it was intended to be in a photograph. And when I saw the way the photograph had turned out, I wondered about many things.  Including art, its makers and the messages - intended and not - and how the very act of observation assigns meaning and importance.

3.  In the Back of the Wardrobe

At the bottom of the spit, underneath the lighthouse, I had bent over to look at an interestingly raddled piece of paper, to see whether I could still read what was written there, and as I was coming up, I looked through this tunnel.

In my late 40's, my mid-life crisis has manifested itself in a recovery of child-like wonder and I am consequently given (and give in to) flights of imagination. I clambered down the rocks (against the protests of my Beloved Spouse) to capture this image,  I imagined it as portal to another place or being, a first step on a quest.

Sadly, my adult body, though far, far smaller than my imagaination, was large enough to prevent me from travelling that particular journey; so I left the portal for its intended traveller, and hoped for another path.


And so I am here, a fork before me, a new year about to begin, standing on the cusp.  I am both the princess and the prince in this story, but I still am not quite sure which door to pick.  The Lady, or the Tiger?
November 25, 2009 3 comments

WIP Wednesday, "Side Dish"

This bento box pattern I made very early in my quilting career looked kind of like a spring salad to me, so I called it "Side Dish". 

It's the next WIP to be quilted, and there are a lot of mistakes in it as you'll see, the first being that I tried to follow someone else's pattern!  (That never seems to work out well for me... consequently, I tried it  three times and never have done since.)

I haven't done any work on it, because I don't have enough batting for a queen sized quilt.  Normally, that wouldn't stop me' I would just whip up a couple of  baby sized quilts or a lap and be happy, but I've made a promise to myself:  "No more new quilts until ALL of my WIPS are done."  Since I only have four completed tops to do, I should be through those soon (I hope - they're all queen sized!) 

And, I'm still working on my magnum opus, "Sparrow in the Rain"; and I now understand why crazy quilts are respected so much in some circles - the amount of work that goes into one of those is well, .... crazy(!), but I hope to have that one finished by the end of the weekend.  

Speaking of the weekend, I am going on a road trip to Lens Mills, to buy batting direct.  Anyone wanna come on a road trip?  :)

See you Friday!
November 22, 2009 22 comments

Winter Moon

This past summer, when I made Coneflowers in Leslieville my mind was immediately full of ideas conceived using that same technique.  One such quilt finally came to fruition this past weekend; a winter quilt, inspired by that old (and extremely polictically incorrect!) Canadian Christmas hymn, written by Jean de Brebeuf in 1643, called Huron Carol.

'Twas in the moon of wintertime and all the birds had fled
November 19, 2009 3 comments

Friday Flickr Faves

Domestic Armor
Originally uploaded by Diane Savona

I was very moved by this piece and its meditation on protection and loss.

This piece is by Diane Savon. She says:

In ancient Japan, people would donate silk kimonos to the monasteries. These would be cut and sewn to make patch-work garments called ‘kasas’.

I liked the idea of a community combining used fabrics into one cloth. Over several years, I saved potholders from many different garage sales; I sewed together the protection from many different women.

Groups of women often come together to help each other, to provide emotional support. Of course, you must believe in and live by the values of this group. If you outgrow the values of your group, their emotional reinforcement can start to seem rather heavy, like the weighty protection of this armor

November 18, 2009 10 comments

WIP Wednesday, Love Drops

You may remember that I was working on this old WIP this weekend called "Love Drops".  I believe this kind of quilt is called a "confetti" quilt - it's made from the tiniest oddments of scraps - in this case, all red ones, leftover from Saucy Divo.

In it, there are bits of chenille, lame, cotton, cotton batik, silk taffetta, everything that I put in that first, very textural quilt (I keep meaning to make another); all pieced together with strips of leftover white fabric scraps (and finally, two different lengths of white yardage, because, if you should make one of these quilts, be warned, it uses a LOT of yardage).

I used some white minky for the borders (so sooofffffttttt - and don't mind the pic - the wind was blowing, making the borders wonky) and a double layer of batting for warmth and comfort, as this queen sized quilt is intended for winter use in a Northern climate!

(I can't show you the back because I finished it in the wee hours of the morning last night, and haven't clipped the threads yet, but you may remember the unfinished back from my WIP post,

I'd like to make another one of these, using multi-coloured confetti, and a different background - perhaps a shot cotton background, or other, highly textural cloth.

(pics are clickable)
This quilt was a bit of a pain - all those seams and doubled batting made it a bear to quilt on my little Singer (I really need to look into getting one of those frame systems for my larger quilts) and it ate needles like some kind of needle-eating monster (in the end I used leather needles!); but I love that it used up so many of my scrap and I'm pleased with the end result. 

I can cross one WIP off my list - I'm finally finished Love Drops!
November 16, 2009 5 comments

Making progress

A bit of a pan out of the same section:

I'm finding that as my quilting has improved, it has, paradoxically, become slower. More dense, more detailed, it takes time to make something that I find beautiful. The lack of speed was not helped by my absence from the sewing room this week, but sometimes a rest is as good as vacation, as they say.

Some of the stitching on one of the "crazy" blocks

A portion of the silk taffetta back:

~ selah ~

On Saturday, I made one of my rather frequent visits to the Textile Museum.  There was an exhibition of antique quilts there - many of which were very special.  One of the quilts I saw incorporated what I think of as "modern" techniques - i.e. the maker, in 1862, had included in her quilt, photographs printed on silk.  Very advanced!

There was a whole room of log cabin quilts, which made me laugh - as I said to BSP, this room is my nightmare and Crystal's (of Modify Tradition) dream!  In another gallery (just past the appliqued quilts) there was a string quilt  that looked astonishingly contemporary,

and there was a room full of crazy quilts - which made me feel quite crazy, frankly, though one or two were quite beautiful.

Sadly, though I took nearly 70 pictures, not a single one isn't blurry - I wore my new graduated lenses (in contact form) and though the pictures looked sharp and in focus to me, they were not.  *grrr*  So I can't show you anything.

For weekend reading though, I picked up the book Quilting Art: Inspiration, Ideas & Innovative Works from 20 Contemporary Quilters by Spike Gillespie from the gift shop, (although I'm very sad to say I didn't purchase it for the advertised Amazon price of $27.71!) and read it nearly cover to cover on Saturday night.  I didn't love all of the artists and quilters that were included (two sections I had to skip altogether - the busyness of their work gave me an instant headache); but Spike's writing is engaging and informative,  the interviews are an inspiration, and the photographs will be study and inspiration pieces for me for some time to come.  I highly recommed it!

And how was YOUR weekend?

P.S.  I guess I should acknowledge the new look of my blog, as well.  :)  I don't know if any of you noticed, but my prior template has been wonky ever since Blogger switched to XML, and last week, the modernist posey that used to live in the lower left hand side, slipped off the radar altogether.

I've long admired this layout on a couple of photography blogs I follow, and decided to try it here.  I'm finding it a bit dark, but I know that's only because my prior template was so very bright in contrast.  Overall, I'm very pleased with it - and think that it's reflective of the emotional and mental switch that has happened lately as I quilt and think about quilts - from my prior "Let's make this fresh and fun" attitude to "Hey, this is actually something I'm pretty serious about".  (Not that I won't continue to have fun!)  So, a new look for the blog to match the new attitude. 

Though I am now realizing that my latest pieces (in my head and in progress) are working "through" quilting rather than "making quilts" these days (as always, my abilities are not up to my expression!); never fear, I don't intend to become stuffy.  If I do, give me a metaphorical smack upside the head.  ;)
November 12, 2009 6 comments

Friday Flickr Faves and added bonus - Kit is crafty!

. Untitled, 2. Untitled, 3. Untitled, 4. handmade paper

Sometimes, the things that inspire me are not quilts at all. Sometimes, they are colours, or emphemera captured by a camera; sometimes its a piece of history; most often, it's a feeling.

All of these pictures evoke in me a feeling of calm, with a gentle (but strong) current, just below the surface.

You may have noticed


a distinct lack of Wednesday WIP.

Well, the tragedy continued... lol After I was done pouting about the kitty incident, I pulled out Love Drops to quilt. You may remember that I need to rip out my original stitching, as I decided that I didn't like the "double" heart effect.

Although I made that quilt top this past spring, which is not that long ago, I've made about 15 quilts since then, so I've learned a (tremendous!) lot since then, including that reallllllllllly closely spaced stitches are not a good idea.    Especially when you're trying to pull them out later. *ahem*

After spending nearly three hours unpicking (and having only ten or so unpicked hyperquilted hearts to show for it - or not show for it, if you know what I mean) I decided that I would incorporate the hyperquilted hearts into my new quilting design and have done with it.

Alas and alack (lol) new problems developed. 


It's a confetti quilt, right?  With oh, roughly 1 billion seams.  And though I had many, many needles on hand, all of them were of the skinny size, not quilting size, and I went through 6 packages of needles and  hours and hours wasted by constant putting in a new needle, re-threading, coming across another seam that was just a little too thick ten minutes later, and *poof!* another broken needle.

The stores were closed so I couldn't buy more, and I had already decided that 30 needles was the limit I would waste on this quilt.  Two thirds of the way through I reached needle number 30, and when it broke, I threw in the towel.

I'm picking up some new needles at lunch today and hope that I will have something substantive to show you tomorrow!

November 11, 2009 4 comments

Wednesday WIP - Part One

The cat is not the Wednesday WIP.  More about Wednesday WIP aftter the jump.

(Mitzie - the Matriarch, who gets along with everyone.)

We agreed, but the fostering process turned out to be a disaster for us.  After bottle feeding those little babies, stroking their throats to make them swallow, teaching them how to go to the bathroom,  and generally, being their "mommies" - we fell deeply in love and couldn't give them back. 

(Emma, one of the babies in question)

(Jack, her brother)
And that's where the problems began.  Because they were fosters, we kept them separate from the other three cats for four months.  And though my old girl (Mitzie) likes them as well was she likes the other two girls, the two teenagers have never integrated the babies or accepted them although it's been years! 

(the ringleader, Jessie - or Evil Flea as we call her - BSP's cat!)

So, during the day, "the babies" as we call them, live in the downstairs portion of our house, and "the three girls" live upstairs. At night however, we leave the doors open, close our bedroom doors, and let the wild rumpus begin!

(Maggie-May, my sweet but willing to follow where Jessie leads, cat!)

One morning, I found the two babies trapped on top a dresser in my sewing room, with the teenagers staring them down from a sewing table across.  I scolded the teenagers, rescued the babies and didn't think much more of it, until I went to sew the binding on my quilt, which was sitting on top of that dresser.

It's full of pee!

Needless to say, I won't be working with THAT quilt today. 

So, I'm going to pull out another WIP and quilt that, and will have another quilt to show you later on today for my Wednesday WIP.  *le sigh*

My apologies, and stay tuned...
November 9, 2009 7 comments

Monday Morning

I have 't been spending as much time in my sewing room lately as I would like - it isn't that I haven't had the opportunity, only that I have been feeling strangely unmotivated.

I realized on Friday night as BSP and I discussed our weekend and the usual question came up "What will you work on this weekend?" that though I have a host of WIPs to be completed and approximately one thousand quilts in my head to be made, none of them were speaking to me.

So, it was with some reluctance that I approached my sewing room on Saturday morning.  I worked on my Wednesday WIP for a while, but apparently, as I was quilting, a plan was forming in my subconscious, against my conscious will.

When I finished (well  thought I finished but that's a story for Wednesday!); I pulled out a group of fabrics that I had set aside for several months now, fabrics I had been collecting for a certain quilt; pulled out my notebook to refresh my memory about layout and began to cut and prepare the fabric for sewing (again, this quilt is a mix of silk, satins and a silk cotton blend from Japan, so stablizing of some of the fabrics was necessary).

And then I began to sew.  And as I began to sew, I immediately began making something different than I had planned.  The process was a meditative one, and when I post the finished quilt, I'll explain what happened and why.

But in the meantime, here is the finished top.  When done, it will be called  "A Sparrow in the Rain".

Our fence is not tall enough to hang this quilt in the right direction, so I've rotated the picture from its
 horizontal hang to the vertical you see before you.    Please forgive the odd folds!

Although i fear it will be as time consuming to quilt as Berkeley Square was, I'm really looking forward to quilting this.  I could see the quilting as I made the top, and I'm itching to get started. 

So how was your weekend?
November 6, 2009 7 comments

Friday Flickr Faves

1. dispersion quilt, 2. recycled fabric container, 3. Arlequin, 4. Expression libre

Why these are this week's Flickr Faves, after the jump.

Two of these quilts (the ones on the right) are by the same artist -  Cecile Meraglia. The red one is by Deborah O'Hare and the third is by Carol Taylor.   What all of these pieces have in common is an unabashed love of saturated colour and a certain fearlessness in their construction. 

I admire these women as artists - not only because of the beauty of their work, but their lack of inhibition in producing it. Some day, I too hope to produce work as beautiful and free as this - with my own voice.

In the meantime, I hope you have a weekend filled with beauty.  See you on Monday.  :)
November 4, 2009 8 comments

WIP Wednesday

I mentioned the other day that I've decided to once again join Jacquie in her pursuit of cleaniung out our WIP closets - she's doing something called Joy in The New Year. You may remember that I participated in her similar projects in the spring and summer.

I did manage to get quite a few WIPs done, but sadly, I still have more!  These days, when I make a quilt, I want to quilt it right away because the quilting is an integral part of my design right from the beginning.
But when I first started quilting, I was all over the map.

In the first few months, I was experimenting, creating things in my sewing room that were my dimly seen visions of what "quilts" were, with no knowledge and few skills.

But then I started looking around, in quilting magazines and online, and found a world wide community of quilters! I  decided to start trying different things in a more structured way, without any regard for those quilts I saw in my head, clamoring to be made.  But every time, when it was time to do the "quilting" part of the quilt, I was stumped.

My goal was to learn technique, develop the skills necessary to quilt, so I could  make those quilts I see in my head.  But in the process, I made a whole lot of quilt tops that are either "not so great", or are stylistically, quilts I wouldn't make today, or both. And now I have to quilt them, whether I like it or not! ;)

It's those WIPs that are languishing in my sewing room, and those are the ones I'm going to be working on for the next couple of months - on and off. I plan to finish a WIP, do something "fun", finish a WIP, do something "fun", etc.

So, strap yourself in, odd WIPs are ahead.  It's going to be a bumpy night!

November 2, 2009 11 comments

The Littlest Hobo

A while back, I showed you a sneak peek of a quilt I was working on. Well, I both started and finished it this weekend.
October 28, 2009 9 comments

Zen Garden

My sewing machine and I were reunited and immediately commenced to work together on our latest project.  She ran satisfyingly smoothly and well, and Zen Garden was finished in no time!]

That gorgeous Japanese silk fabric used on the back and on the squaures made me think of all things Japaense,
October 25, 2009 4 comments

Curses! Foiled Again!

I was feeling better on Friday as I posted then.  We had dinner plans with friends that evening, and Saturday was BSP's and my anniversary:


(I wish you could see how adorable BSP was on our wedding day, but I have promised (upon pain of death!) to never never never put BPS on the internet. )

So, no quilting was done on Saturday.   But today, oh how lovely, today I finally got to go to my sewing room after such a long absence. 

I happily created my new top and began quilting it, when ... DISASTER.

My usual sewing machine, Jezebel (a Singer Ingenuity) went to the hospital about ten days ago.  She needed a part not on hand, so in her absence, I've been using my old sewing machine, a little Kemore I call Connie.  I made all of my first quilts on Connie as well as host of clothing and home decor items, so I had no qualms about putting her to use and felt that she would be well up to the task. 

Sadly, she gave up the ghost on me this afternoon.  I spent nearly two hours painstakingly taking her apart, cleaning her, oiling her and putting her back together again, but she is still recalcitrant; so I finally came to the sad conclusion that there will be no more quilting today.

The good news is, when Connie stopped working, after my initial attempts to help her ended in ashes, I called the shop and found out that Jezebel is ready to roll.  BSP has volunteered to pick her up tomorrow so she'll be ready to go when I get home.  Hurray!

This is the backing fabric as well - I had to fuse it to give is some stability - it's a Japanese silk, but is fine and sheer like Sari-veil fabric.  If you click that pic, you may be able to see a really cool detail - those grey ovals and the insides of the flowers are slightly raised and feel like caterpillar fur.  So neat.  I picked up several yards of this fabric at the most recent Textile Museum fabric sale and while I was standing in line with it, people kept coming up to me and touching it!   It's extremely tactile - soft and smooth - it really invites stroking.

Anyway - my next post should be the finished product.

Hope you all had great weekends - and perhaps ones more productive than mine! 
October 21, 2009 7 comments

I'm still sick...

So this is the only activity going on in my sewing room right now...
Thanks for all your well wishes...
October 19, 2009 9 comments

Creativ Festival

This past Friday and Saturday I was at the Creativ Festival  (yes, it drives me crazy too that they've taken the "e" off of "Creative").  Kitschy spellings aside, it was the first time I've been. I was pretty "meh" on going in the first place, even though I had booked two classes - one  with Kaffe Fasset and one with a well known American art quilter.

As it turned out, I couldn't get out of work on Friday and missed both classes, only doing the first part of the Festival in the evening on the Friday, which in my feverish state wasn't very enjoyable! I missed Kaffe altogether (he was already gone from the festival by the time I arrived), but the art quilter had an exhibition up.

She does beautiful pictorial quilts, but upon examining them close up, I was really disappointed with her quilting - on the perhaps 25 pieces she had up - she never varied , not for a single stitch, from stipple, stipple, stipple! Don't get me wrong, atlhough I do appreciate that on some quilts - stippling is likely the absolutely perfect thing, but why limit yourself to those little puzzle pieces on every single quilt? And on art quilts!?!  BSP said that perhaps, in Lenore's view, the quilting was just what "holds it together", and the "art" was in the top. I agreed that that must be the case, but I'm not disappointed that I missed the class.  A beautiful top is a beautiful top, but, in my opinion, it can be immeasurably enhanced with quilting.  I spoke to her at the exhibition however, and did learn a good trick for surface design which will show up in my quilts - probably sooner rather than later.  ;)

On Saturday, by late afternoon, I was feeling a bit better, so we went back and spent 2 or 3 hours, exploring the vendors.  I decided to try some (new to me) cotton flannel batting.  Incredibly soft - it has a beautiful drape, so I'm anxious to see how it quilts up.  I bought eight yards.

I also bought the threads picture above only more of them - 3 or 4 spools each, plus some huge cones of basic beige, black, white and grey.   I also bought a huge roll of fusible web for a great price - I can't imagine that I'll be able to finish the roll in ten years, but if I have it I may use it more, y'know? 

I bought some beads to experiment with embellishing quilts,

and I bought this neat bobbin saver thing, which as advertised, will keep them from rolling around and keep them neat and tidy -some basic jewellery making supplies (I've been on the hunt for the pefect-for-Kit earrings for about 3 years now with no luck, and I've decided to make them  - I'll  post those when they're done. )

I also bought five things which shall not be seen because they're for my advent swapee, and I bought two amazingly beautiful waxed cloth panels made by artisans in Tanzania which will also not be shown here, because they'll be part of future art quilts.

It was a great, if exhausting day, and by the time we got to the car, I was burning up again.  I've been in bed all weekend, and am typing this on BSP's laptop from my bed, so I have nothing substantive to show you today.

I hope to be feeling better soon and have something fun to show you later.  I just have to put binding on one thing to be able to show it to you!  :)

Stay tuned...
October 16, 2009 6 comments

What I'm working on...

For those here for the quilt festival - please see my entry  HERE

(clicky clicky as per usual)

For a change, not much talky-talky today - I've had a recurrence of my illness from a couple of weeks ago, and I'm feverish, fretful and cranky. (Who, me?)  I'm a terrible patient.  (But an excellent nurse when it's your turn to be sick.)

More of that coral silk tulle, laid over a silk panel and flowers cut from coloured cotton.

That RED quilt I was working on last week which I hope to finish this weekend.  It would have been done by now, except I was distracted by Paths to My Bliss, No.1  and then my sewing machine went to the hospital.  It's supposed to be back today, though. 

And guess what?  I'm a winner, winner, chicken dinner!  I won this batch of loveliness:

from a giveaway at Green Fairy Quilts! Go check her out. :)  A pack of of charm squares, a layer cake, a honeybun, some already made up hourglass blocks and pattern to put them together! These are not colours I'd normally use, and as you know by now, I never use a pattern, so whatever I make with this little package will be sure to stretch me.  In order to continue to pay it forward (a concept I've become thoroughly committed to); the finished product - whatever it will turn out to be - and the pattern will be a giveaway.  Stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, I hope you all have a lovely weekend.  See you on Monday!