I come from a long line of sign writers and am happiest with a brush and some paint! Add
paint to fabric and I get really excited!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

I have been keeping busy, mainly with things I wanted kept secret. Now that I know my sister opened this gift yesterday, I can share. 

This quilt is a top I pieced ages ago that Jo liked and took home with her to finish. Life got busy so when I purchased my longarm, I brought it back home with me to quilt. No doubt Jo knew it was being finished but she was too kind to enquire. Anyway, now it is done and I believe it will have a home on her brass bed, a suitable place for it.

Even though the day was sunny and I didn’t use my flash, the quilt still looks washed out in this photo.....

I quilted very simple lines and shapes in the trees and houses and also quilted some swirling wind motifs in the sky area.
Quilting this ribbon design made for quick work on the centre.
I used Wilton Easy Image T-Shirt Transfers to transfer the photos of my Mom.
I also made my sister a large bag. She and Mom used to run their errands together and I know going it alone without Mom is tough. This way, she can still take Mom along with her.

Mom’s loves were many, but she especially loved gardens. She always had a vegie garden, even if it was only tomatoes as it was this summer. She loved plants and flowers and I remember thinking when I bought it that I would use this whimsical fabric to make something for her. This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but I think both pieces are perfect backgrounds for the great photos Joanne took of Mom holding tulips she had bought for her.

Same bag, other side.

I used the simple photo editing on my Mac and Wilton easy image transfer sheets to transfer the photos. The sheets are available at Michaels and Wal-mart used to carry them though I am not sure if they still do. The directions are easy to follow and although you can use any iron with the steam turned off, I feel I have gotten the best results using my “vintage” heavy iron without any steam holes for the transferring. I have several of these old irons which are perfect for use when using transfer sheets, transfer paints and heat setting fabric dyes and paints. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cabbage Roses

I really planned on trying out a pantograph pattern with this quilt. But, somehow by the time I got it all loaded and ready to quilt, I was seeing my big cabbage roses scattered all over. Without even thinking about it, I started lightly sketching my designs in with chalk. And it appears I found a place to use those cotton candy bobbins!

This is a card trick top that I pieced eons ago. For many years there was a very successful Quilt Fair each year in Moncton that was organized by the local YWCA. It was billed as the biggest Quilt Fair east of Montreal and attracted many, both quilters and non-quilters. Numerous dignitaries came to buy quilts for gifts of state, to find quilts for their tourist shops, to decorate their clients homes. As well as displaying finished quilts, there was also a venue for craft items and tops. When my children were small, I used to piece tops for sale and this is one I kept. And now it is proving to be a useful part of my longarm training.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Snowless and liking it!

Sleep doesn’t come easy to me of late so I try to be productive if and when I am wandering round the house in the wee hours. Binding this quilt was one of those middle of the night projects.

The borders are balanced yet different because I cut up one screen printed panel for all four sides. I made the binding by cutting strips of 3 different fabrics (all of which are in the top), cutting each strip end with a 45 degree angle and then sewing the strips together randomly. I think it adds just a little more than a solid binding would have and ties it all together nicely.

Today I had the presence of mind to take a photo of it outdoors while the sun was shining. I would like to note the complete lack of snow on my deck and the green grass peeking through below! Each year I convince myself this will be the year snow will bypass us completely and each year I am so completely disappointed when it does snow. Once I have my annual hissy fit because I do not live under palm trees - and we all know that is where I should live! - I do embrace winter and snow shoe with the best of them. But, I could live without the snow and the snow shoes. 

Backing made with one screen printed panel bordered with a solid black.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Play and learn

This is my latest piece just off the longarm. I am learning as I go and this was no exception. I had a lot of fun with it because it is in essence an edge to edge freeform design with a bunch of circles and pebbles and echoing added to keep me practicing. By the time I got to the last of it, I had figured a number of things out - all good in my books.

Once again I used Glide marigold thread in the top and bobbin - a choice made easy by having extra bobbins wound from the last quilt. I assume I will eventually be able to better gauge the number I need for a project, but I guess that would also require me knowing what I was going to do before I started. Anyway, my way of solving the problem is to order more bobbins tomorrow. And maybe find a small table runner that would could be quilted with those 3 leftover bobbins of cotton candy pink....lol 

This photo looks a little wonky because the quilt is still on the frame and draped over the rollers. 

I happen to have a fair stock of fabric choices at hand and still, I went for these pigs.....hard to explain but most of my choices are intuitive. I get into trouble when I start ignoring that inner voice so I have learned to stick with what feels right to me. 

Hmmmm....now what next?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Anything Goes

This past weekend saw us on the road to Halifax, NS where we attended the 33rd annual "For The Health Of It", a fundraiser of the 8 Health Science facilities of Dalhousie University. My daughter is presently completing her Masters in Physiotherapy and her PT class was one of the schools participating. The show was hilarious and it felt good to laugh and be entertained. Each school had 15 minutes to preform a play and it had to include a dance number. At the 13 minute mark, a woman with a very large gong appeared on stage and if your play went to 15 minutes, she was to make that gong ring! A few of the groups eventually shared the stage with the gong lady though all managed to finish their performances before she could make some noise. We were all kind of disappointed....in sad little way....haha

Each school submitted the name of a cause and they voted to see who, or what charity or non-profit organization would receive this years funds. Then the schools competed to raise the most funds for the chosen cause. The PT class was very, very excited to have their cause chosen, especially since it was a program very near and dear to the heart of one of their own PT faculty! When we learned this woman was also the founder of the fundraiser when she was a student of the same PT program, it seemed serendipitous that her group finally received the monies raised.

Although the plays were all fun and well rehearsed, and all the dance numbers were excellent, we were of course thrilled for the PT class when they won Crowd Favorite as well as the coveted trophy! Add to that glory that they raised over 9000.00 of the almost 30,000.00 for Halifax’s Community Living program and it was an exciting night for the students involved!

Simone is no stranger to the stage, but it had been quite a few years since she had last stood under the spotlights in costume. So, it was indeed fun to see her in her Drama glory again and know how much she was enjoying it! We have a lot of stage history and I reminded of it when I spotted these photos from her high school drama days in some of my Mom’s things. 

These are from a production of “Anything Goes” and I can’t even remember how many costume pieces I built for that musical though I know it was well over 30. There was a vision for this production (as there was for them all) and I think I just ran out of steam and time because I know those 4 suits were supposed to have fur collars on the jackets. 

I especially liked the polka dot middy tops and twirly shorts! I think they were for a tap number.....

To be honest, I don’t think I made these halter tops, but I do remember something to do with those pants....slinky, stretchy and generally difficult fabric stays with you. And most stage costumes are made to shine and move and flow. So there was usually a lot of glitter and feathers and sequins and such involved. Every once in a while I spot yet another bit of colored boa that has been trapped under one of our heating vents for quite a few years, remnants of a life past....lol 

I miss the excitement of behind the stage. I met some great people, had lots of laughs, learned a lot!, and really enjoyed the time spent with my daughter and assorted family members who travelled from far and wide to help out. Our family is like that; not only did they come to see the finished show, they came to help build the sets and costumes. Good times. Good memories.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Will it go round in circles....

So, right now this is making me happy. It is not what I had “loosely" planned for the quilting design when I first loaded the quilt, but this appears to be where I am. I am really enjoying practising those little circles - which require me to be very patient. At this point, making them is very slow going.

I did take a break to get out of my jammies and go see Life of Pi in 3D and if you are considering seeing it, I recommend going. We really enjoyed it. As well as having a very compelling storyline, it is a visual feast! If you are still in the theatre when the credits start rolling, you will see just how many people were involved in creating the movie in the 3 locations of India, Taiwan and Montreal. Simply amazing. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Barbados sunshine

This quilt has almost felt like cheating, but I have to admit, this speedy quilting design is effective and I like it! I have loved this quilt top since I pieced it - quite a while ago - and I have wanted to quilt it for just as long. I made several tops in this design, a simple rail fence block with lots of opportunity for play and layout possibilities. I used to keep a basket of these blocks near my sewing and my children would spend hours laying them on the floor in different patterns. 

The majority of the fabric used in this top is from Barbados. My parents had a  second home there for approximately 30 years and when they were there, it was guaranteed that Mom would check out the many fabric stores for beautiful screen printed panels to bring back home. Mom was always excited to find sea island cotton to sew with and for good reason! This beautiful, luxurious fabric drapes amazingly and just feels so darn good. It has a sheen to it that most polished cottons nowadays cannot even come close to. And sewing with it is a dream! I remember Mom making me blouses and dresses from sea island cotton that I loved to wear because they felt so comfy yet were so crisp and fresh all the time. Some of these panels I used in this top were printed on this wonderful fabric and I even integrated a full panel as part of the backing. 

I didn’t want to quilt anything too dense so this ribbon design seemed a good choice. It was such a quick and fun design to quilt, I am thinking I may just have to use it again soon....as in on the next quilt to go on the machine! Quilt tops seem to be showing up in unexpected corners and this simple yet effective quilting pattern could work for a couple of them. I used this gorgeous marigold Glide thread by Fil-Tec and am loving how it works so well with the fabric!

I also find I am starting to relax a bit more too as I quilt - yesterday I caught myself driving one handed! Which is good except I had a snack firmly gripped in the other hand.....hmmm.....maybe I should follow the rules of the road and maintain the recommended 10 and 2 and keep the kitchen in the kitchen. Wish me luck!

Today I am connecting with The Needle and Thread Network.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

From November 18 to the 24th, Sew Sisters Quilt Shop is sponsoring Blogathon Canada

If you found my blog via this network, welcome! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Crayola Kid is back!

It wasn’t until I had hung up the phone (how else do you say ended a phone conversation these days, even if you are on a cell phone?) that I realized the colors I had chosen to piece with today were reflected in the colors of the sock I had started knitting. I know I am feeling the need for brights especially yellow these days, and was aware I was choosing a variety including them, but otherwise the recurring scheme wasn’t obvious until I laid the sock down near the fabric. 

I am going to start paying more attention to my color choices, to see just what they are reflected in from my day, or from my experiences.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Keeley Claire’s Quilt

I spent this past weekend with my Dad and brother doing some sorting and organizing and in the evenings managed to get the binding completed on this single bed quilt. This one is designated for my adorable little grand niece who at the ripe age of under 2 years had proven to be a girl child like the rest in this family - she has a mind of her own! I highly suspect she will let me know rather quickly that this quilt is not to her tastes and I will be making another. I remember collecting 20’s and 30’s prints to build a quilt for my own daughter and she told me very emphatically not to waste my time because those prints were just “too indecisive”.....she was about 7 at the time and already an old hand at making the rounds of quilt shows with me, demonstrating surface design techniques. I just hadn’t realized till then that she had been developing her own taste in fabric designs. She quickly set me straight when she told me I really didn’t have much “nice” fabric....lol

For the time being however, I hope Keeley, or Princess Keeley Claire, as her Grammie JoJo calls her in a song she created and sings just for her, will enjoy this one. I quilted butterflies and ladybugs along with swirls and such with that lovely cotton candy pink thread and think it will be nice and cuddly. Now whether it stays on her bed or stays on the floor...just as long as it is used. 

I used a polyester batt since I like the puffiness and I am thinking that when I next quilt one for a child, I will either use the heavier loft polyester, or even layer two batts. I felt that if I used cotton for this one, my designs wouldn’t puff up and I wanted that soft effect - so much easier for a toddler to trace the images with a finger or palm of hand.

That ripple on the bottom edge bothered me, but once off the clothes line and after a little round on delicate in the dryer, it disappeared nicely.

I am joining all the creative and talented folks at The Needle and Thread Network - there are lots of things happening all across Canada!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Trying to get back in the saddle

I have been working on projects. I finished a pair of socks I had been knitting for my son. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to having to create two reasonably identical items. I make notes - which make complete sense to me at the time - and then months and months later, I try to decipher just what it is that I am meant to do on the second sock/mitt/block.....Unfortunately, I pick up these types of projects when I need busy work and for me, thinking about what I am doing really shouldn’t be part of the process. 

I had placed several orders for large batts and thread for my longarm. I have just tried Glide thread and I am loving it! I have a supply of tops to quilt and in this Karen McTavish bundle was a lovely soft pink (Cotton Candy #70182) that I decided would be perfect for this single size top. It was! The thread is trilobal polyester; high sheen, twisted multi filament, colorfast and is one long continuous fiber so it is perfect for stitching at high speeds. I used it in the bobbin as well, and found my tension was easy to control. Now I am excited to try some of that red or orange from the other bundle in the photo.

I know my mind really wasn’t functioning when I loaded this quilt and started it. I used to be a weaver and when you set up your loom, you roll your warp onto your back beam, tie it to the front and then started weaving, sending shots of weft thread as you work from the front of your loom and then winding the finished yardage onto the front beam. Well, with a longarm, first you wind your top and backing onto the two beams close to your belly and then you wind them forward onto the back beam, sandwiching your batting in-between. Then as you quilt, you wind the finished quilt onto your back beam.

I must have been confused by the extra step of winding forward and also slipped through the cracks into some other time zone because I started quilting on the wrong end and was then mystified as to how I would wind this forward.....

So, I did some unpinning, flipped the ends and continued quilting where I had started, this time winding it correctly. Not exactly how I wanted this project to play out, but at least it is off, with a minimal amount of ripples.

At the advice of others I have purchased a selection of marking tools, but I keep going back to my chalk pencil for transferring designs to the tops. I just don’t trust water based transferable markers, but am quite willing to listen to anyone who can convince me I won’t be sorry to use them. I also bought a Frixion Pen (pens can be bought online, at your local quilt shop or at Wal-mart) to try and maybe it will be the answer. The marks are removed with heat and will come back in freezing temps (Hello! Canada.....) but once the fabric is washed, apparently the marks are gone for good. But, for the time being I have been either freehand drawing shapes, or as I show here, tracing some general shapes I cut out of bristol board. I know you can’t see this on my photos but I have quilted butterflies and lady bugs scattered across this with freehand scrolls and such as filler. The recipient is just a toddler and I thought these might be fun to find on the quilt as she plays. 

Check out what other Canadian fibre folk are up to at The Needle and Thread Network as winter started providing us with an excuse to stay indoors.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

June Scantlebury 1935-2012

It was a celebration of Mom’s life - which is exactly what she wanted and what she planned. 

I always knew my parents had a very strong faith, but it was never so evident as in the days leading up to Mom’s passing. Mom had no fear of dying. We all understood she was ill. It was just a shock to learn she had less time with us than we all hoped. Facing her fate and with incredible inner strength, Mom gave direction on just how we would conduct her funeral service, what hymns and songs to sing, what Bible passages to read, poems she wished to share and just who would read what and why....As someone said with a chuckle, June gets the last say.

As she had quiet time with each of her 4 grandchildren, she helped her two granddaughters chose the clothes they would wear for this celebration. There was to be no black and she would have been thrilled to know the funeral directors even wore grey with brightly colored ties in her honor. My sister and I and our daughters wore some of Mom’s many hats to the visitation and service and with the whole family decked out in brightly colored outfits, we had to explain we were not in costume and that these were our clothes from our own closets! Obviously we are direct relations of our Mom, our June who always dressed beautifully and loved her Le Chateau flowered shoes!

My husband and I put together a photo montage that played on large screens at the front of the church, a beautiful historic property of warm wood and high ceilings. Mom had always been full of fun and laughter and at Dad’s request, we shared this side of her with our family and friends who joined us that day. Mom had arranged for old friends to sing during communion though the first strains of Louis Armstrong’s “It’s a Wonderful World” was the undoing of us all. When Dad piped in with the last , “oh, yeah.....”, our balance was restored.

We were her pall bearers. We passed Mom’s urn from hand to hand down that long church aisle with Dad carrying her the last steps out the door. We stopped to sing “Soft Kitty” before we left and then gathered on the walkway for what we call “the wave”. Years ago Mom instigated this rather obvious way to say goodbye to any family member heading out. She had us all gather together in the yard and each of us waved in whatever style we happened to like at that moment. No doubt neighbours thought we were crazy, but sometimes traditions are just that and this one always made us smile, no matter how sad we were at parting. It had the same effect that day.

Kevin carried Mom to the church hall where we had an “un-birthday” party for Mom. She had requested a banner, there was an un-birthday cake and we sang the Happy Un-birthday song to her. Fellow members of Mom’s Alongsiders group had organized food and Dad’s sound system played some favorite Bajan tunes as well as songs from Mama Mia, one of the movies Mom enjoyed so much. My daughter later told me her grandfather was demonstrating how to dance Bajan style around the tables of food. 

We were fortunate that one of Mom’s dearest friends is a Deacon at our church. Madonna spent the week organizing this service and reception just the way Mom wanted it and we are so grateful she gave us this wonderful gift, this celebration of Mom’s life. She greeted us at the door of the church in a lovely red dress and sparkly sandals, sporting a gorgeous feathery fascinator and multi colored nails. After she dawned her robes, she wore a quilted stole that Mom and I had made for her years before. She conducted the service with the aid of another family friend, a retired Anglican priest who had preformed my marriage ceremony some 27 years previous, one of his first with this congregation. Hugging us, he told us he was honored to preform this last service for our Mom.

Our funeral director was Kevin. And he and Mom had a history as well. The morning Mom passed, Dad called Kevin and the conversation went like this....”First, I want to congratulate you on your recent acquisition of the Funeral Home (the purchase had just been made public the previous week) and, Kevin, my wife, June has just passed away.” Dad said Kevin was quiet for a moment, thanked Dad and then extended his condolences. He remarked softly to Dad, “25 years ago June wrote me a lovely letter when I entered this business. I never forgot her thoughtfulness.”

That was my Mom.

As we have been cleaning and sorting, there is so much more evidence of Mom’s graciousness and kindness. We keep uncovering notes and letters tucked here and there all saying similar things; thanks for thinking of me, thanks for caring, thanks for your help, your prayers, for being you.

Thank you, Mom. We love you like no other.

Our loss is immeasurable, our grief immense. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The past 2 and a half years have been extremely difficult for our family but most especially for my wonderful, wonderful mom. Her pain ended early Monday morning. We have lost the centre of our universe.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Oceans of comfort

I have always been drawn to the ocean, as have most members of my family. We seem to have a strong link to our ancestors who either owed their lives to the sea, or travelled over it to settle in a land new to them. I get much comfort from the rhythm of the waves, the continuity of the tides, the apparent simplicity of a complex force of nature.

Wherever I travel, I seek out water.

This is the Atlantic Ocean on the southeast side of Iceland. The beach is black lava sand, the water temperature is less than 9 degrees and the ice has broken off the glaciers of Jokulsarlon - the famous glacier river lagoon. This ice would be approximately 1000 years old. Incredible indeed. And oddly comforting.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Just thinking.....

My sister and I have often remarked that we were well into our twenties before we ever heard the word “dysfunctional” paired with "family” and even then, someone had to explain what it meant. 

We were supported by a family run business that kept our dad busy 24/7 and where our mom worked many years without receiving pay because you couldn’t pay your wife back in the day. Butter and ice cream were eaten at Christmas as very special treats and I know there were many, many times Mom stretched the few dollars they had left because staff got paid first. And yet our house was always full of close relatives - some who lived with us for extended periods of time, close friends who needed a place to stay for awhile and weekends were full of kids from the local orphanage sleeping over. Several of my Dad’s nephews lived with us for a year while they played hockey in our local league. Tony, a young adult at the time, lived with us for many years when his own family was unavailable to provide a home for him. The adventures of Tony deserve an entire post to themselves!! What a character!!

Our maternal grandmother lived with us for many years and when I was young I would rush home from school to watch “Another World” with Gram while we painted a Christmas tablecloth with Artex paints for my Mom as a surprise Christmas gift. When Gram was well enough to be in the kitchen, I used to pester her to make her fish cakes and lemon meringue pie....oh my....it didn’t get better than that!

Sundays saw Mom’s sisters and their families at our house for the afternoon which culminated in rowdy dinners. Over the years numerous card games were played at the same round table that always managed to squeeze one more person in for a meal. My best girlfriend spent weeks of her summer with us at our summer cottage where we amused ourselves performing episodes of  Bonanza and recording ridiculous renditions of “Strangers in the Night” on my dad’s reel to reel recorder. Our friends were always made to feel welcome.

When we visited my father’s parents home, the round dining table there was generally always filled with my grandmother’s sisters and an assortment of brothers-in-law, cousins, and uncles who...all...talked...at...once....It was incredible to listen as multiple conversations were carried on, words criss crossing the table like rapid fire gunshots. And everyone followed along, interjecting comments while maintaining the flow of the conversation they were having with another one, or two, or more people. What an art! First time visitors never knew what to think and few could keep up....lol

We always assumed all families were the same. This is what we knew. It was our reality. It never occurred to us that not all families lived this way, or communicated this way. But perhaps if more people were brought up like this, with an open door, open communication, open hearts and strong family ties, more people would have less opportunity to fall into that chasm called dysfunctional.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Rainbow is the Pot of Gold!!

For a number of years my Mom, sister and I have exchanged “12 Days of Christmas” gifts. I think it kind of evolved from filling stockings of each other, but this way we extended the holiday just a little longer. Each year it does get a little more challenging to find unique gifts or ones we haven’t already gifted to each other. Generally we try not to give repeats although some repeats are just fine with us, like our Mom’s creamy blonde fudge!!

We all have a difficult time keeping secrets and in holding back gifts we purchase early in the year. Plus we held Christmas in June this year so we are somewhat seasonally challenged.....

Today at my parents house we were looking for an envelope that had gone missing when I found another envelope with my sister’s name on it. Thinking she had misplaced it, I handed it over to her. She looked it, set it down and then picked it up and handed it back to me. An early 12 Days gift she said.

I believe I have mentioned how crazy creative my sister Joanne is....she has more ideas in one day than most people have in a lifetime. Well, here she goes again.....She had used approximately 400 photographs I had taken on recent trips and used them to design this fabric. Then she had it printed at Spoonflower!

I have 4 of these panels plus the smaller color samples along the right hand side!

I have a full yard of this great design to utilize!

Joanne used approximately 400 photos I had taken to create this design!! It is fun trying to identify what the photos are and where they were taken!
I have these pieces of fabric draped about so that I can enjoy them and dream about how I will use them. I know I am going to have a hard time making the first cut, just because I want to be sure I have decided on the perfect project first.

Thanks, Jo! Once again, you have outdone yourself! Lucky me!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Feature Friday on The Needle and Thread Network

Today I am the Feature Friday blogger The Needle and Thread Network! I really appreciate having this Canadian based network available and it is a pleasure to have been asked to introduce myself via this platform. 

These days seem to be a time for reflection as life moves far too quickly for my liking so I focused my choice of photos on pieces I have created using my children’s artwork as my source of design. I thought I would include a few more photos of our collaborations here. 

My daughter’s version of a moose nibbling a tree. 

The finished designs are always true to the original drawings, but I do take liberties with the fabric choices. These creatures are fused to some hand dyed fabric, then satin stitched, and I have added embellishments with sculpty clay and dimensional paint.
The outer rows are all drawings by my children. My favorites are my daughter’s witch and cat on broomsticks and my son’s skeleton, although the “Willing to Boo” is very clever and how can you not like an invisible man?

I have an incredible morgue of Gabe and Simone’s drawings and I doubt if I will ever tire of using them as inspiration. I so enjoy the freedom of thought behind their artwork. It always amazed me how relaxed they were about drawing and how they could sit and transfer their ideas to paper so quickly. I don’t recall erasers ever being used. That kind of confidence is what I aspire to.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Longarm Latitude

I had some false starts on my first single bed quilt but I am finally humming along nicely! There have been a few odd issues with my new longarm and it took far too long to figure out the latest problem. As an indication of how these machines are attune to every nuance, I discovered through trial and error and many hours of going back and forth and under the table, that there were 3 very, very small nicks in the aluminum carriage rail. So, every time the wheel rolled over them, my line of stitching went haywire. After getting my hubby to consult with me over this, I used some very fine grade black sandpaper to rub the nicks down. And now my machine glides just as I dreamed it was supposed to! Wonderful! And a relief.

The first idea I started stitching just wasn’t working for me and I am so glad I took the time to pull out what I had done and start again. I am quite happy with the direction I am going with this piece. I am about half way through the quilting. Now, as long as I don’t run out of thread....Today I am joining up with    The Needle and Thread Network.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Quilt Shop ala Iceland

There was one very large quilt shop in all of Iceland. Patchwork is very new to this country with quilting groups being organized only over the last several decades. Apparently there are now over 450 active guild members on the island. 

Other interesting statistics: there are 320,000 people living in Iceland and 37% of all residents live in Rekyjavik, the largest city on the island; there are over 500,000 sheep (so many that they only shear them once a year!) although after the recent freak snowstorm, that number has dropped by 100, possibly more(!); there are 32 letters in the Icelandic alphabet; there are 100 different colors of Icelandic horses, each with their own name. 

But, back to the quilt shop! The store is called Virka and what a beautiful store it is! They sell furniture, home decor and home sewing as well as anything and everything you could possibly need to quilt! The large bottom floor is entirely devoted to quilting materials and supplies. 

This was just one row of flannels between rooms....

This was the beige to brown section - I can’t begin to guess how many bolts this store has but you would be hard pressed to not find something in your color range!
Virka has an extensive selection of Bali batiks that would rival any American quilt shop - grounded or online! Unfortunately, I found the prices were on the high end as well, but if you were looking for a specific colorway, this was where you would find it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Visual Art in Akureyri

Akureyri, with 17,000 residents, is the second largest “city" in Iceland and along with being a very cosmopolitan area in its own right, has numerous places of interest within its radius - can you say geothermal hot springs?! We had booked ahead for two nights accommodation and found ourselves staying in what we laughing called our "Ikea showroom”! It was a lovely 3 bedroom flat with every last item (except for one very unusual and relatively unattractive lamp shade) being from Ikea!

The city is located on a busy harbour and is surrounded by snow covered mountain peaks with its placement on the globe making it very close to the Arctic Circle. It is home to the only Art Museum in Iceland located outside Reykjavik. The Museum is associated with a Centre for Visual Arts with an extensive art program for all ages. Icelanders are a very, very creative bunch and they support the arts in their communities with every town having one, if not two statues along with craft cooperatives, many individual craft shops and just about everyone wears a handknit lopi sweater!! The corrugate metal and concrete houses are often painted beautiful shades of red, blue or gold and they stand out like bright flowers against the incredible land and seascapes.

The current exhibit at the Art Museum, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of Akureyri, was called: Arsborealis - People and Culture of the Arctic. There were pieces from many artists of Northern communities including Iceland, Greenland, Norway and even Canada! There was also a photography exhibit on display with some huge photos printed and hung on the outsides of the buildings they were exhibited in.

The Museum advertised in this very unique way of using street art including a piece of sidewalk art which was secured to the pavement walkway. The dresses which hung over the road, flapping very aggressively in the strong Icelandic winds were approximately 12 - 16 feet in length! There were also rows of aprons, and various banners flying across the street.

Their means of drawing attention to their shows was definitely effective because we spotted them from afar and just had to get a closer look at these colorful banners. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Agony and the Ecstasy

"Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen." Leonardo Da Vinci

Hmmm....easy for you to say, Lennie....although, perhaps you are right. 

I am currently removing a section of longarm stitching that just didn’t work. And maybe I wouldn’t have realized this if I hadn’t been away where I could only ponder the project from afar. And realizing it now, before I get into the meat of the stitching, is no doubt best.

So, maybe Mr. Da Vinci did know of what he spoke. He does have a number of successes in his resume.....

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I have been gallivanting....but, I am back and ready to dive in!

Sometimes creativity is best served by a break in routine with an opportunity to draw inspiration from a new setting. And what a gloriously inspirational backdrop we had these past 3 weeks! Every turn, every corner, every way we looked, there was a new amazing and incredible view to admire. The accumulated number of photos taken by we five will take a bit to organize and edit, but I will definitely be sharing some of the beauty we were witness to while in the majestic country of Iceland. 

What a ride it was!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ryan: CAKEventure Part I - a series

“My eyes are starving for beauty! “ Andre Leon Talley to Vera Wang, The September Issue (2009)

My name is Ryan, and I am Jennifer's nephew, have been for all my life.

I, like my aunt, like my family, come from a long line of painters. There is a story to that, a story that may get corrected as family stories do by each generation, both those before and those after, but we haven't always been sign painters... go back far enough, to the origins of our family name and it means “Small House with Shingles and or Shutters”... which I take to mean that we were not rich, but we were by no means poor (I am sure shingles and or shutters were very expensive back then). When my family came to this country we were building carriages, and as the times were prosperous carriages became fancier and fancier and our family started to do hand pin stripping on the sides of the carriages. This began a passion for the brush, a passion for making and creating that still has not work its way out of our systems through all these generations.

As times are changing so much, I think we all find ourselves expressing these passions in different ways. It was my mother's choice (and gift to me) that I would not follow with the family business and be a sign painter like so many before me. She really gave me a gift to dream. To be anything I want. To express myself in so many different ways... so much so that somedays I think it will take a life time just to figure it all out. And with such a wonderful and support family I had the talents and love to do anything.

Although I do love to paint, I have been taught many family crafts from baking, to sewing, to furniture making (everyone remember that white leather sofa I made? Sure it had some nails sticking out of it here and there, but you couldn't see them from the front!) . I love to learn and try new things.

My current passion (I don't like to call them phases because they all build on each other in some way... even that brief stint with Live Art Performances.... oh, only in Montreal) is Cakes! Well, I should say, Cakes, Cupcakes, Cookies... you get the idea. So I decided that in order to bring some worlds together for myself I would enrol in a “WILTON CAKE DECORATING COURSE”... and I say that with all of the Marketing that backs it up... cause that seems to be a sizeable part of it.

It seemed neat. I had looked over a bit of information online about, and had done some deep soul searching (was I ready for cakes? *thoughtful pause*  Was I ready for a structured learning environment? *pensive pause*  Was I ready to give up regular Tuesday Night TV? *dramatic pause* At least for four weeks? I guess I was), so I tried to enrol in the class... the website had said something along the lines of “Show up the day before to enrol for the Class” like a friendly neighbour telling you to just drop by when you have the time. How much better could it be? Anyway, after finding that classes were booked up for the next two months I finally got into a class which started this week.
I am actually just back from my first class. It was a bit of a rush to get home from work get all my supplies and hustle myself off to class but I got it all done (sandwich in hand running out the door). Its late here now so I will have to try to make another entry in the next couple of days to tell you all about it.

Thanks to my wonderful and beautiful Aunt Jennifer for giving me this opportunity to guest blog my CAKEventure.

- Ryan

Monday, August 13, 2012

In the spirit of the Olympic Games, I am passing my blogging baton to my incredibly talented nephew, Ryan while I take a small blogging hiatus.

Ryan is one of those people who thinks in color, dreams in color and can paint and draw with color. Actually he fills the room with color when he walks in. If you have not met him before, in no time at all, you will love him just as the rest of us do. He is bright, articulate, outgoing and just downright huggable. And in our circle, huggable is everything!

I was lucky enough to be around when he was born and to watch him grow up. When he was old enough, he was my children’s first baby sitter. He baked with them, created with them, sang with them, drew with them, played games with them. I am positive Ryan was a contributing factor in their early reading skills and in helping them develop as such creative thinkers. 

For 4 years I was lucky enough to have Ryan live in the same city my daughter was studying in. Now I am lucky that he lives and works in the same city as my son.

Once again he is helping me out and lending me his time! Thanks, Ry! Love you like no other! xoxox
We refer to it as “the most fabulous trip ever”....and for very good reason. 

I was just finishing up my first year at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS when my dad called and said I needed to get home as soon as I could to help pack. Help pack? Yep! We are going to England!

To back up a little, my family had been living in a century home in downtown Charlottetown for a number of years and I was flabbergasted that the property had been sold. When we purchased it, it was my dad and I that viewed the property for the first time only days before we took ownership. The two sisters who lived there had left the home and the convenience store located immediately beside the house in the exact same condition it was the day their father passed away. In essence, the store and house were an amazing glimpse into the past. The house was so beautiful; full of original moulding, hardwood floors, fireplaces in every room, a back kitchen and maid’s quarters. We all loved this house and the history that came with it. My sister ran a very popular weaving studio and craft shop in the adjoining building.

But, a new bank manager had taken over and he “called” Dad’s loan with no notice. Dad felt he had no choice but to sell and move on. When the bank called the next day to say there had been a huge mistake and to say that the loan did not have to be repaid immediately as first indicated, it was too late. The property had sold in less than 24 hours and Dad had already moved on to the next step in his life. No regrets. Just accept it and move on. My parents secret to life. 

The next 6 weeks were spent on a trip of a lifetime! We rented a flat in London, got British train passes and lead a crazy, whirlwind life exploring England! My father is a huge history buff so we were regaled with detailed and fascinating stories of what came before. Once the month was up, we all piled into an RV - all 6 of us - and lived out of it for another 2 weeks as we explored some more remote areas of England, as well as Scotland. Ahhh, the fun we had!

I know we all have our favorite memories and we still laugh over some of them. Like the day Dad took us to Kew Gardens and insisted we go to the left to find the entrance. Turns out the entrance had been only 20 feet to our right and we ended up walking the entire perimeter of the gardens in order to gain entrance! The day my brother-in-law and brother were horsing around and my brother went right through a plate glass window in the flat, backside first (sustaining no injuries except to his pre-tenn pride!). Walking the ocean pier in Brighton, playing antique penny arcade games and sampling cockles and mussels, alive, alive, ho....The day my brother-in-law and I climbed the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral and clambered out onto the roof of the cathedral to the most spectacular view of London, fog and all. Buying fresh bouquets of flowers from street vendors and sugar cookies from the bakery; we dubbed the cookies chickie/duckies because no one could figure out what animal they were meant to be! Visiting the museum in York where whole London streets of the past have been painstakingly recreated. Visiting Westminster Abbey! Seeing cathedrals built on sweat and blood and sometimes even the bodies of people whose whole lives were given to these projects. Tasting TCP for the first time for a sore throat - this syrup was to become a staple in our medicine cabinet - not a wholly pleasant or unpleasant experience. Watching my brother-in-law stalk fields and fields of sheep as he tried and tried to photograph them and was continually outwitted by them.

When it was time to leave, my parents rented 2 Daimlers - yep! the same car the queen rides around in - to take us to the airport. Our arrival in Canadian customs was a nightmare for the officers as they processed 6 of us with a total of 18 pieces of luggage. We were waved through...lol....Piled into the family car, a Pacer, we drove off. With a total of $34.00 left in my parents pockets, we made our way home to what had been up until now, our summer cottage. And 36 years later, this is still where we refer to as “home” and is where my parents live a quiet, peaceful life with no regrets, but oh, so many wonderful memories.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fleeting Summer

I don’t know about you, but when August arrives, I usually start to take just a little more time to really pay attention to the fleeting days of summer. I try to focus on working on my projects, but it seems being outdoors wins most times. Going for walks, riding our bikes, finding a beach or a river for swimming....when you live in Eastern Canada, the time you have to do these activities is limited. 

I also like to take advantage of recording the beauty and mystery of summer with photographs. Looking at these images is usually what will carry me through the coldest and most desolate of winter days. So, yesterday I visited my Mom’s quiet little garden and captured some summer for later inspiration.....