February 25, 2010 7 comments


I'm a INFJ - some of you will know what that means, some of you won't.  It's short hand for "I like people, but I prefer to not be around them."  *laughs*

I do like people, I'm gregarious and outgoing, but what feeds that is alone time, and LOTS of it. 

So, because I like people, I'm a joiner.  I like being a part of something bigger than myself, but once I'm in, I don't like it, because there's, you know - people, and they want stuff from you, but even worse, they expect stuff from you, and what if you can't (cuz you probably can't!) meet their expectations??!??   *eep* 

Given my druthers, I'd really much rather be with a book in a forest glade with nothing around me but the wind soughing through the trees, or better yet - in my sewing room, deep inside my head.

So, when 3 Creative Studios offered a quilt challenge, it seemed tailor-made for me. I get to participate in a group, but there aren't any real demands on me, other than a timetable that I can fudge a bit, because no one's actually waiting for me to show up with a product. Hurray! And, there's a challenge portion of the game - somethng that will help me grow.

In real life, it didn't work that way.  *s*  I became so intimidated at the idea of producing something that I would have to show to other quilters, some of whom were artists, that I froze. 

Our first challenge was to produce, by the end of February, a quilt on the theme "puzzle". I was stumped. I mean everyone knows what a “puzzle” is – and I didn’t want to do that - i.e. no jigsaws, no rubiks cubes, no labyrinths with a Minotaur hiding somewhere… (well actually, I'd love to do a labyrinth with a Minotaur hiding in it, I just don't have the skill to produce such a thing yet!) So, I was trying to think of something that would connote “puzzle” without being too literal. And I came up with... bupkus. *le sigh*

I was starting to feel a bit panicky about my lack of an idea, I even went so far as to canvass my friends for what their idea of a "puzzle" was (sudoko, crosswords, riddles, jenga) but my cats provided the answer the other night.

I was in our home office, doing something on the computer, when one of the cats began playing chase in the hallway with a toy mouse.  I noticed it was Maggie, one of two of our cats that doesn't like toy mice, so I looked a little closer and realized she was batting around a REAL mouse. 


I followed her down the hall as she picked it up in her mouth, trotted off to the kitchen, dropped it, and began batting it around again.  Two of the other cats came into the kitchen to see what she was doing, so at one point, there were three adult cats surrounding the baby mouse.   The mouse - well, it's best we leave the mouse merrily "playing" in the kitchen with the cats -  but later, when I went back to the office, I wondered, "How in the world does a house with five cats* in it, have a mouse?

And I had my puzzle.

I immediately did a quick line drawing of my puzzle quilt: five bowls of food lined up in the kitchen representing our five cats, our white porcelain tile floor as a background, and our dark wood kitchen cabinets. 

I like the little bowls - composed of the tiniest bits of scraps; the black sequined mouse, and the little silver tracks of where the mouse has been. 

I think that with the next puzzle, I'll be less intimidated and be able to produce something that's more "me"; and though, as usual, I see all the places I could improve it the second it's done (from both a technical and artistic perspective); but in the meantime, I'm pleased I got over the hurdle.
I'm looking forward to the next challenge!

*When BSP and I married, I had two cats, and BSP had two, one of whom passed away.  We later fostered two four week old kittens, and then couldn't bear to give them up, so ended up with FIVE cats.   The craziest thing about that is not that we have five cats, but that we're DOG people.  But that's a whole other story.  ;)
February 22, 2010 5 comments

My Magnum Opus

Is not the one pictured below.  *s*

I am continuing work on "A Sparrow in the Rain".  I had hoped it would be ready for a reveal today, but I had to spend hours yesterday unpicking a portion that I had quilted.  It was beautiful quilting (even if I do say so myself !) - along the lines of my previous "magnum opus" (pictured here)

close up quilting

but it just didn't suit this quilt.  While unpicking it however, I came up with the perfect quilting pattern for another quilt top I've had made for a few months.  I just couldn't figure out how to quilt it.  Now I know.  (Sometimes mistakes are good.)

I also spent some time making the whole darn family pajamas on Saturday.  BSP requested a pair, and then I made myself a pair  (the top is too big, but I'm hoping it will shirnk down ).  When I modelled it for BSP I also wore my "domestic goddess" rubber gloves [complete with "diamond" accents], announcing upon my arrival in our bedroom that I was in my "evening wear". *hee*

Mine are flannel - I know, I know, flannel shorts?  But I'm at that time of life - and I can be hot with the heat of thousand firey suns and then freezing cold within five minutes of each other.  Ergo, flannel shortie pjs.  *laughs*

Oldest son then requested some "Bill Cosby" pajamas, and then youngest son wanted some too...so I didn't get any quilting done on Saturday at all. I did have nearly as much fun though (I always forget that for 30 years my first sewing love was sewing clothing!) and came up with some really fun pajama patterns.

That said, enough fun and games (!); I have to finish my quilt in time for my guild meeting this Sunday!  I'll be quilting furiously all week.

If you've got a magnum opus you're working on - link us to it!  :)
February 19, 2010 0 comments

Friday Flickr Faves


1. TheTerrace_TheMET (27), 2. TheValleyoftheNervia_TheMET(1), 3. The Forest at Pontaubert, 1881, 4. Dover Fantasy3

Back in my undergrad days, in my first year classical English lit class we studied Keat's Ode on a Grecian Urn.  The discussion about the poem was wide ranging, but strangely, a couple of throw away comments the Professor made - in total - four or five sentences, are the things I remember most clearly  - the way he looked framed against the pale winter light, the clothes he wore, even the sweater another student he was engaged with was wearing.

He said something like "The poem is an example of 'mimesis'* and is also ut pictura poesis  - poetry inspired by art." 

From there, the conversation was wide ranging as we discussed themes, but over the years, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about mimesis (the imitative representation of nature or human behaviour) - in fact I couldn't begin to tell you how often I have turned these two concepts over and over  - in circumstances where one might expect it (visting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example); or in more prosaic circumstances - staring out the window of the streetcar as I go to work.

The idea that ALL art is a representation of nature or human behaviour is arguable of course (but it is one I agree with); but what fascinates me constantly is how many different kinds of ways we find to make those represenations.

And I often think that quilts - not only "art" quilts, but even the humble Sunbonnet Sues or the sunflower quilt that someone tried to commission from me recently - are yet another form of mimesis.

There's no question that the quilt I'm working on now is the most direct translation of mimesis in quilts that I have yet to make (more on that when I make the reveal.)

But what I have spent a suprisingly vast amount of time thinking about in those intervening years is whether ut pictura poesis might not be broadened to include any art form, inspired by another art form. Because when I look at these paintings: all I can think of is how I would interpret them in quilt form As an imitation of an imitation, it's a poor form of mimesis; but it may very well be ut pictura poesis.

If you would indulge me in the pleasant fiction that a "poem" can also be  - a quilt.
February 17, 2010 3 comments

Instead of WIP Wednesday, I give you "Gift Wednesday!"

Today when I came home from work, I collected the mail, and amongst the usual bills and importunate letters seeking my time, vote and/or charitable donation(s), there was a squishy package.

Now, ordinarily, squishy packages are a cause of much joy in our house, but I wasn't expecting anything, so glancing quickly at it, I saw that it was addressed to me and said "important documents enclosed".

I didn't think anything of it and brought it into the house with the rest, putting the mail in its accustomed place, (a large, flat, ceramic bowl on the kitchen table).  While I was taking off my outerwear, BSP sorted through it and inquired "Oh, did you get a present?" 

"No." said I.  "I don't know what that is." 
"It's a present" replied BSP.
"Really??!!??" I asked excitedly.
I gladly grabbed it and sure enough, it was indeed a present, from Elaine of Ultra Violet Yarns at La Belle Helen.

Inside I found the cutest little hat!  (Which I am modelling above.)

After trying it on several ways I've decided to wear it with the ruching on left side of my head above my ear.  That's probably exactly the wrong way to wear it, but I think it looks quite saucy.  *s*

BSP prounounced it "Very french."  It's chic and adorable at the same time.   

Thank you so much Elaine!  I have two coats and a jacket that this petite chapeau will provide a lovely contrast to.

I love it! 

Lovely readers, please take some time to visit Elaine's shop and her blog.  You won't be sorry you did!
February 11, 2010 5 comments

The deity of your choice is in the details...

For today's Friday Flickr Faves, I thought I would post some of my favourite detail shots of quilting.

1. Just Leaf It, 2. xylemdtl1, 3. convergence quilt 007, 4. Quilt Whisperer 101

From the beginning, as much I love colour and landscape in quilt tops, for me, the real beauty in a quilt is the  quilting . I have often spoken on this blog about "making the quilts of my dreams".  That phrase has always referred to learning enough to be able to quilt the patterns I see in my head.  I'm not there yet (yet!); but I'm getting there. 

The kind of quilting in these pictures inspires me.
February 8, 2010 2 comments

A couple of small projects

I'm still working on my "long quilts" (as in, "Wow - these are crazy labour intensive") quilts, so in order to have something new to post today, tonight I whipped up a couple of small projects. 

One of which was this gym bag!

 Because I joined a gym in my neighbourhood today!  :)  I'm going to get fit - but first, I'm going to get really cute accessories!

(With cute pockets inside them!)

And I'm also going to make a little drawstring bag for my flat iron, combs/brushes and a little matching make up case, but this is all I have for now.

It was really fun making this bag (about 20 inches long by 10 inches tall) but I think my next prototype gym bag will be a rectangular one with removable inserts for stuff. 

And this is a not very good picture of the bag (I have the handles stretched so they look wonky but they're really not) because I wanted to show

part of my thread collection.

I've been collecting old spice racks at thrift stores and garage sales and re-purposing them into thead racks.   It seems like the more of these shelves I get, the more thread I accumulate, but I off-set the consumerism with eco-friendly storage.  :)

Hopefully, next Monday I'll produce something finished.  Or who knows - maybe this Wednesday!

Happy Monday everyone!
February 5, 2010 1 comments

Friday Flickr Faves

1. Block 23 detail A, 2. Nevena Uzurov - Water crown, 3. Under water world, 4. Astrattamente colorata

On last week's Friday Flickr Faves post, one of the commenters said something like "I'm curious to see what quilts you might make based on these photos".   So this week, I thought I'd show you how something like that might happen.

None of these photos are related, nor are any of them taken by the same photographer, but you can see in the quilt photos how someone might have been inspired by the water photos.

The photos I choose for Friday Flickr Faves are chosen for many different reasons.  Sometimes I choose them because I want to make direct interpretations:  the green fog with the tree in the foreground from last week, for instance I want to interpret quite literally and have asked the photographer's permission to do so.
But others may just be a "feeling" they inspire, whether it's an emotional feeling (hope/drama/intensity/etc.), physical feeling (movement/texture/shocked into stillness) or sensory feeling (lush/rich/voluptuous), or some combination of any of those. 

But sometimes it's as simple as the fact that I'm taken with the order in which the colours are falling in the original compostion as in the water photo on the right.  Blues into greens into golds into teals into loden into brown into blue into gold  - punctuated with intense dark red and feathered with icy blue-white highlights - I love the way it all draws your eye into the edge of...?  Whatever's next.

Also relating to last week's post - someone else asked how I make these mosaics.  I would have been happy to answer them directly, but their profile was set up as "no reply".  So, Michelle, if you're around, I make these and other Flickr toys through  Big Huge Labs.   There's a lot of fun stuff to tinker with there!

Have a great weekend.  See you Monday!
February 3, 2010 8 comments

I defy those Groundhogs. I DEFY THEM!

And in my defiance, when I went to my sewing room tonight, I didn't work on my Black History Month quilts, nor did I work on something warm and wintery/cuddly (although it's snowing like mad out there); no, no, I decided to make something to welcome spring!

It's a crazy drunk tote.  *laughs* 

I'm exploring my continued interest in this pseudo-crazy quilt thing that began last December (and looks like sticking around for awhile); and because my brain leaps like that, as I was pulling fabrics, I pulled the largest of my drunkard's path templates too.  And the result was a crazy drunk tote. 


SEVEN fabrics in this tote (which, is mind boggling to me - unless it's a monochromatic quilt, I rarely use more than four) so maybe I was druink - drunk on fabric!

But they blend together so seamlessly that I didn't feel like it was too much.  

As is my usual thing when making totes, I did a co-ordinating but different back (sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't);

And with my new seaming technique (okay somebody else probably invented it already, like somebody else [apparently] invented pinwheels, but I digress); with the seaming technique - the bag is reversible:

So, you could actually use it three ways! (Once I trim that errant thread, that is.  *ahem*)

I used blanket binding for the handles and the trim, batting throughout, and quilted the handles with extra batting for more stability. 

Fifteen by 14 inches wide, it's a Goldilocks tote (not too big and not too small) and I really like it.  Originally, it was going to be a market bag (which is why I didn't add pockets); but when I was adding the lining, I couldn't resist the lure of quilting.  *hee*  And now I have a crazy drunk tote.

Take that, Groundhogs of North America!
February 1, 2010 5 comments

Our Mothers Danced

Housekeeping Moment before I begin. 

I like to reply to every comment, especially those who ask me questions, but several of you who have done so in the last little while have been "no reply".  If you'd like me to respond to you, please set up your profile with access to your email address or I can't answer your questions or thank you for your comment. 

Okay - on to the post!

After some thinking last week, I decided to give myself a break and make something new. And I was pretty excited about it!

Around this time last year, I had made my second-to-last visit to a quilters' shop, and came across a fabric that I found sort of broadly appealing, but couldn't imagine actually using.  I circled the store a couple of times, and finally went back to it, deciding to pick up three yards of it despite my ambivalence.  I had the feeling that if I did find a use for it, I would want a lot of it.  *hee*

Although I have lots of quite concrete ideas for quilts dancing in my head, for some reason, when I gave myself permission to make something new, I pulled out the "African ladies" fabric, as I call it.  And the second I touched it, I knew what I wanted to do with it.  (The subconscious is a strange place.)

Without hesitation, I gathered together my scraps in golds and browns and oranges, rusts and greens and creams, and as if I'd been thinking about it all along, the pattern for my next quilt was in my head.   I made a couple of sample blocks for sizing and calculating fabric usage, and began sewing.

I decided that I would feature a single lady in each block, and scatter them with crazy quilt blocks in complementary colours.  I made enough crazy quilt and dancing woman blocks for a queen sized quilt, but once they were done, I realized that three metres of my cream linen would not be enough.  So, I'm going to make two versions of this quilt, both lap sized, one in cream and one in black. 

I'm really excited to be making these quilts and am looking forward to showing them to you when they're completed.  And when I'm done those, I'm sure I'll be content to go back to finishing up a WIP or two.  ;)

P.S. I started a Modern Quilt Guild and our first meeting was on Sunday.  If you're a local follower, please come and join us - clicky on the linky!

E.P.S. - Holy cow!  The last time I checked my followers in September, I had 35.  Now I have 89!  Welcome to all of you - thanks so much for joining me here.  :)   I think when I get to 100, I'll have to have a giveway celebration.  That'll be fun! :)