Saturday, 24 September 2016

Muzzy Me!

My frame ate my yardstick!


I often use it to support one set of straps for my side clamps.
Well, this is what happens when you forget to remove it before rolling the quilt!

The yardstick is steel, so you can imagine the force this took.
It was a good reminder to quilt only when rested and alert.

Fortunately, no quilts were harmed due to my muzzy brain!
I had spent a bleary weekend on the couch with a head cold . . . probably should have stayed there a little longer. ;)

Fresh off the Frame
Despite my lack of energy this week, I've managed to finish three client quilts (start a quilting project with my grandchildren, help my daughter with some painting, and tick a few "house building" tasks off my list . . . but I digress.)

I'm not exactly sure which way is "up" with this beautiful quilt.
I've chosen this orientation for the photo, but it could easily go the other way.
Client quilt

The back shows the texture beautifully.
"Popcorn" pantograph

Next up were two (almost) identical quilts, done with two different pantographs.

"Quilt One" features the "Halcyon" design . . .
First of two similar client quilts

"Halcyon" pantograph

. . . while "Quilt Two" features "Pieces of My Heart".
Second of two similar client quilts

"Pieces of My Heart" pantograph

Cool, huh?
Both designs work equally well.
It just goes to show - there is no "wrong" choice. If you like something, go for it!

House Update

I think half the house is rafters.
Looking at the plan, it never really occurred to me how high the roof would be. Nor how complicated.
I'm so glad these guys know what they're doing!

Now, If I only knew how to straighten my yardstick . . . ha!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Fanciful Flowers

Fresh off the Frame!
After ditching the vertical rows, stitching down the applique, and then quilting in some whimsical details, I used echo quilting to fill the remaining spaces in the body of this client quilt.

Here is what it looked like before quilting.

And, this is one of my favourite views - only the kitty faces left to stitch.

Almost done!

The quilting density was determined, in part, by the amount of stitching needed to secure the grass along two edges of the quilt. Consistency across the quilt helps things lay nicely.

Securing the applique was an important step.

A slightly denser, "fabric eating" filler controls the fabric immediately adjacent to the grass where things wanted to ripple.

Sweet kitty smiles!
The vertical sashing was kept simple to allow some breathing space in the design. I'd originally intended to fill it with cute, little insects, but the quilt called for something geometric instead.

Fanciful flowers
The cozy, flannel backing has cornered the market on cute bugs, anyway!
I hope this quilt will be loved - I'm still nervous with every, single reveal! (I get how emotionally invested people are in their projects, and never, ever want to disappoint, ya know?)

House Update
The guys are framing our bonus room down on the main floor, and tomorrow it will be hoisted into place above the garage.

Framing the bonus room

Okay, so we are not strictly sticking to the "everything on one level" plan. Just mostly, with the odd exception. Ha!

Since my studio eliminated two bedrooms on the main floor, this space will become a bunkhouse for our grandchildren -  and they can run up and down the stairs!

Linking Up With
Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation
Finish it up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Forward Motion

On the Frame
Ditching - check. Applique stitched down - check. Whimsy added - check-ity, check, check!

Sweet, appliqued flowers are dressed up with stitchery.

Fanciful butterfly

Each flower is different, so the quilting is varied, as well. Motifs have been repeated here and there across the quilt to create cohesion, though - I like to repeat something at least three times to make it look like it belongs. Echo quilting will finish these sections, and then it will be time to decide the next step.

Crazy petals branch off the stems.

This quilt should have been finished by now, but every time I get on a roll, I'm interrupted. The interruptions throw off my groove, and it's hard to get my head back in the game, ya know?
Ah, well. Some weekend quilting will keep things moving forward. :-)

House Update
My main interruption is very exciting!
(See, it's not a bad interruption - on the contrary! It just takes time and energy away from quilting, is all.)

Decision eleventy-billion-and-one.

There are at least eleventy-billion (I'm sure that's a real number!) house building decisions to be made every day. Some are urgent. Some are for later so materials will arrive on time. Some ALL are expensive, and cannot be changed later if we're unhappy. Once an order is placed, that's it. So. This explains my distraction from quilting. Apparently my brain can only handle so much spatial visualization in a day!

We have walls!
The framers worked their buns off getting ready, so the exterior walls went up like magic this afternoon!
(My husband texted photos so I could see the process without being there - I was quilting!)

Oh, ya!!! Wall going up.

Forward motion is a beautiful thing - especially when it happens in giant leaps!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Hiccup! (And the fix)


See the fern?
It has been waiting to become.

Like a dozen other fabrics I've painted, dyed, or printed.
But this one has a real chance!

Now it's waiting for a weekend when my frame is free (and so am I). Not this weekend - I've loaded a client's quilt, ready for Monday - but soon!

My own work in progress.

Ever have the kind of hiccup that gets in the way of progress?
Yep. Me too.

The first two rows of quilting on this beauty looked great, so I relaxed and quilted the next two rows.

Client quilt - bayside panto.

Not good.
When I went to advance the quilt, I noticed a couple of spots in the third row where the tension was off.
Exasperating, but fixable.

When I checked the fourth row, the tension was crap in more places than not.
WTF??? (Feel free to insert fudge if you like, but that was not my descriptive word of choice!)
It was time to rip instead of fix.

It takes ten times longer to rip than to stitch.


This exact scenario has happened once before, and now I think I've nailed down the culprit.
Black thread.
Tightening the tension (both top and bobbin) fixed the issue, then and now.

I've read that black thread can be thinner than other colours of the same kind and weight, thanks to the extra processing needed to make it so dark.

I can't explain why it works for the first little while (when I watch my tension like a hawk), and then decides to slip (as soon as I take my eyes off it), but that seems to be a pattern . . . if twice can be considered a pattern.
It's a mystery.

Thank goodness for flowers!

Zephyr lilies make me smile. :-)

And for meeting deadlines despite a little hiccup. *whew*

Client quilt - modern twist panto.

No deadline for this t-shirt quilt (below), but it feels great to be making progress in the studio again!

Client quilt - ripples panto.

House Update
Lots of rain.
The basement walls were poured one day when there was a break in the weather.
Puddles and beams.

Weeping tile and damp proofing are almost finished - it's slow work because of the rain.

Slumped dirt in the back corner of the hole where there should be a nice, crisp cliff. :-(

Wet dirt has slumped into the hole around the basement's exterior and has to be dug out by hand so things can proceed - makes me feel better about ripping stitches, I tell ya.

One pump has already burned out, and another one had to be brought in.
Maybe we should build an ark instead.

Oh! Today, floor beams appeared!
Our contractor is multitasking to keep from falling too far behind.

Guess what's in the forecast for tomorrow.
Notice it is not a question.

Time to change the subject.

Here's what's on the frame for Monday - cheerful!

Client quilt - ditching (and extra basting) in progress.

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

P.S. If you'd like a quilt done in time for Christmas, please reserve your spot now. My calendar is starting to fill, and spots are limited!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Apples, Quilts, and Doing it All (or not!)

An overcast day allowed me to capture a delightful reflection inside my apple picking bowl!

Our small tree is an enthusiastic producer. Earlier today, it's thin branches hung to the ground, heavy with fruit.

Beautiful fruit.

I think the tree sighed audibly as its branches were relieved of their burden.

Some will be eaten fresh, and the rest have been earmarked for baking.

 We made some headway on the baking today, tucking a few cobblers and pies into the freezer.

My husband used his drill to spin the apples, and a sharp peeler blade to take off the skin. Pretty slick!

An "eat fresh" pile.

I'm so happy to have this little tree! It's one of the things I will replant on our new property as soon as I have the chance.

Fresh off the Frame

The "Flirtatious" pantograph on this adorable monkey quilt reminds me of the hands on the plastic monkeys in the old game, Barrel of Monkeys. (Remember that?)

Client quilt,

"Flirtatious" also makes an appearance on this Christmas runner, but here it brings to mind wind and swirling snow. Because it is so flexible, it's one of my favourite pantos!

Client quilt,

Time for a little "Before and After" . . . one of my favourite games!
I'd decided to use a panto on this gorgeous bargello to create an overlay of stitch that wouldn't detract from the fabric or the scene. Pantos have a way of adding structure while visually disappearing.

Client quilt, BEFORE

The vertical center of the quilt was quite tight, so it took a bit of convincing to square things up. This often happens with bargellos, I've noticed - things tighten up where the piecing is the tiniest.

Client quilt in progress
It was a bit of a gamble to use a triangular motif instead of something swirly.

Client quilt, AFTER
Well, too late now!
I think it's kinda cool - and I like how the shape created by the piecing is repeated in the quilting.

My client is a creative maverick, too, so I'm betting she'll be just fine with this experiment!
(Plus, when the quilt is hung on the wall, the quilting will be less obvious. I deliberately show texture in my photos because I'm writing about the quilting.)

Building Update
Basement plumbing has been roughed in, wall forms are up, and both machines were busy moving gravel when we checked in today. We are hoping for a concrete pour this week, if the weather holds.

Thanks to Total Cleaning Neglect, I've spent time making art this weekend, too! Yay!

I'm working on a piece for our November quilt show. It's so exciting to be back in my sewing room!

Does anyone else neglect chores in favour of fun? It seems I can no longer "do it all" the way I could when my kids were little. Now I see my daughter in that phase of life - doing more in a day than many do in a week. Whew. Makes me tired just thinking of it!

At any rate, I must allow TCN more often! It's fantastic for motivating creativity when one must choose between making art or cleaning toilets. ;-)

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Art Quilt Campus 2016

Sun Printing
Brynne and Derrick have moved to the west coast, as planned. They left on the same morning as I headed off to Art Quilt Campus in Saskatchewan. Up until now I've been too busy to truly miss them, but I'm home again and the house is pretty quiet.

A couple of days before they left, Brynne and I spent a happy afternoon sun printing in the backyard.

Brynne, placing leaves for printing.

We made some excellent prints and textures. I have a "froggy" quilt in mind for a little someone special. Turns out nasturtium leaves look a bit like lily pads - handy!

Still damp when rain came, so we moved them under cover to finish drying.

Art Quilt Campus 2016
This charming birdhouse instantly alerts visitors to the creative vibe at St. Peter's Abbey; the setting for AQC2016.

St. Peter's Abbey, Muenster, Saskatchewan
In addition to being the oldest Benedictine monastery in Canada, the Abbey is an accredited learning institution with university transfer courses available.

As part of a tour, we visited "the dungeon" - in reality, it's a huge root cellar with extra storage space for canned goods. The monks grow enormous gardens, and their harvest feeds hordes of hungry university students and visitors, year round.

"The dungeon"

With the exception of the monks' private quarters and the industrial kitchen, we had the run of the place. 
The buildings felt a bit Harry Potter-esque! Old and new buildings are connected with long passageways that can only be accessed by climbing up-and-down flights of stairs to find the "right" hallway.  (Trust me. The many "wrong" hallways were no help at all. Ha!)

On my way to lunch one day, I heard one of the monks playing the pipe organ and singing to himself. Imagine having this beautiful instrument at your disposal!

The venue, itself, fed my creative soul.

What is Art Quilt Campus?
AQC - developed and facilitated by Anna Hergert - is a week-long gathering of textile artists who are engaged in self-directed activities.

Anna offers a wealth of information, and works independently with each artist, providing critique, suggestions, guidance, and instruction for those wishing to learn new skills.

During the first three days, a dye kitchen is available. As you can see, our time in there was productive!

A small group of us dyed a 24 step run of brights to share.

I'd come with the idea to try stitched shibori, and then discovered I could learn how to start my own indigo vat  - a perfect match!

Stitch, gather, dye

We were generally left to our own devices to do as much as we could manage, but Anna was always available to answer questions as they arose. Communication was key - plus I think she had wings on her feet!

Oxidizing between dips

Stitches removed.

Great visual texture!

Naturally, by the third day everyone had fabric to rinse. The sink in the dye kitchen was busy, so I went to my room to finish up.

Rinsing fabric in my room.

As I worked, it started to rain. What to do with several meters of wet fabric?

The rooms were sparse, so I had ample room to push the beds aside and improvise a solution!

Improvised clothesline.

Eventually, I shifted focus and started sewing. Again, Anna checked to see how she could inspire my thinking.

I'd brought a handful of projects for discussion, and Anna always asked about my thoughts for each piece. At no time did Anna "push" ideas on me - she is skilled at listening, and then offering practical tips to move things forward - leaving me with the sense that my work was still my own. This is the space in which growth happens. This is the true value of a self-directed, facilitated, workshop.

Now. I cannot show you the work done in class. Several participants enter shows, so any photos must remain private. I can direct you to Anna's blog, though! She posted photos throughout the week, and is currently leading a second week of AQC. You can easily get a sense of the experience through her lens.

The focus, fearless exploration, and high caliber of work done by fellow participants also added value to my experience. So many techniques! So many distinct styles! So many possibilities!

My brain crackled all week long, and it was invigorating!

Storm moving in. Lloyminster, AB (on the way home).

On the Home Front
Things are happening!

Our basement is underway!
Amazing what can happen in a week!

Try, Learn, & Grow!