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!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Power hungry

My husband has been sick with the current winter flu for the past 3 days and I have to admit, I am starting to bite at the bit. Why, oh why, are all my toys noisy? He is the best patient when he is sick - never complains, doesn’t “hear” my noise, and all he wants to do is sleep and be left alone....Still, I feel guilty if I start a motor and I know my sewing machine plus some music or a DVD playing would no doubt be annoying. And it is too damn cold to stay outdoors for more than a few minutes. 

I have multitudes of quiet occupations I could pursue. I don’t need to sew that binding on right now, or piece the back for the next quilt to go on my longarm, but I want to do them. Now. Honestly, I am like this when the power goes out, too. All of a sudden, when faced with no access to my “power” tools, I need want to use them all at that very moment, even if I had been dreaming for days of time to read, or knit, or sketch. Even my spin bike is magnetic (no plug in required!) and so quiet, I could bike and you wouldn’t hear me 10 feet away. Well, except for my laboured breathing. And my very loud techno music which is a requirement for spin. Of course, I would wear my earbuds. But, breathless or not, I sing along. Loudly and badly....”Starships are meant to flyyyyy....”  So that’s out. No matter. I am totally unreasonable and I know it.

As much as I love to use my hands and create within quiet occupations, I am completed addicted to power cords and electricity. And my longarm is just the latest in a long line of things Jennifer needs to plug in to use. For example, today I used the kettle, toaster, magic bullet, blender, iron, computer, sewing machine, TV, oven, microwave, second computer, landline, charger, photocopier and I should have used my flat iron ( trip the hair salon soon - yippee!). My heat is electric, I used the overhead lights, woke up to the alarm radio and the hot water wouldn’t have been hot without the power it takes. And this is when I am trying to be quiet. Sigh.

I can survive without a power bar and a place to plug it in. When we travel, we camp a lot and our tent isn’t rigged with electricity. I manage. Quite happily actually. Perhaps the main difference is that this is planned time away from my toys and tools. If I know and am prepared, I am content. And as long as I am in some connected to my family via technology, I am fine. Although I have learned that 48 hours is too long without contact when your holidays conflict with natural disasters. And we do seem to have a track record for attracting or travelling in areas where the earth is having issues....ask our kids.....

Anyway. I think he is awake and my sewing machine is calling my name. Time to sneak in a seam or two.....

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy Birthday, Gabe!

Today is my half birthday and my son’s 26th! I really have no idea how 26 years have gone by so quickly. I remember the details of his birth as if it was only yesterday....though I promised 3 years ago that I would stop regaling him with those details. He doesn’t ask much from me, so I feel it is the least I can do. But, when you become a mother, it is an experience like no other. And though women seemed to be drawn to sharing their birthing experiences, especially with new-to-be mom’s (!), our experiences are unique to us and will forever change us. I will never be the same person I was before children and I guess it is something I am compelled to keep reflecting on because for me, the change felt so profound.

We were fortunate. We were living in Goose Bay, Labrador when we had both our children. The medical system, dubbed, “cottage hospital” did have some interesting procedures that we needed to adjust to but they were minor and never awkward or an inconvenience. Some were rather liberating! Actually, one long night after I had both babies and both were sick with high fevers while I was home alone and my husband was stranded on the coast, the nurse at the hospital stayed on the phone with me until I got their fevers under control and both were asleep.....I haven’t had that kind of service from the medical system since I arrived in NB.

Having mid-wives for both births was hands down the best health care you could ask for. I wasn’t sick, I wasn’t pampered, I was having a child and they knew what I needed and when. My husband was allowed to stay in the labour room with me - they actually made up a bed for him - he helped me shower and then he walked with me to the delivery room. After Gabe was born, the news went through the community like wildfire and the visitors started showing up at the delivery room door moments later while the attending R2 and my hubby sat eating a bag of chips beside me and our new son. 

July 1989
Ahhhh, but time has passed and the 26 years have flown by. It has been wonderful watching my sweet son grow and mature and turn into the confident,  talented, generous of spirit and heart young man that he is. He is quiet by nature and sensible by default. The last year has been a difficult one for him in many ways and he has dealt with it all with a quiet strength that I am in awe of. He lives too far away from me, but I understand. I enjoy every second I do get to spend with him, whether it is in person or via technology. He is out making his way in this world and I couldn’t be prouder. I love him like no other. xoxox

October 2012

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Snow + shoes = nice day!

The temperature warmed up to reasonable for January.

I bit the bullet and embraced winter.

Our daughter joined us on x-country skies and provided endless amounts of entertainment. I have refrained from posting the videos I made of her antics. Suffice to say they keep me chuckling! Thanks, Mony! You are a sport!

Friday, January 11, 2013

A block

My goal these days is to keep busy. And productive. And to remember to come out of my “cave” every once in a while and have a conversation. I had several projects I needed to get completed asap and now that those are done, I need to make good on my promise to my hubby to edit the photos from our Icelandic trip. I am going to start.....soon.....

As I sewed the last stitches on a recent project, I looked over the assortment of piles near and about and remembered I had taken a kit to complete a block for the PEDVAC, a volunteer group in nearby Port Elgin. Since I have picked some very delicious blueberries in that area and because we often bike their section of the TransCanada Trail, I thought I could help out in this small way. They were collecting blocks for a bed quilt to raffle off to help raise funds for a new building.

I was reminded of many things as I stitched this block....
1. Don’t take short cuts when you applique
2. Press, and press again
3. Batiks are a bugger to applique with and I should have ordered that silk thread 
4. For heavens sake, use a new needle
5. And yes, your eyesight is slowly deteriorating, get up and get your OttLite....

Anyway, it is done. Not my best but it did encourage me to start a new Baltimore block for "the quilt that will never be finished”.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Somehow this turned into a rant...sorry....

I finished the second cushion for my son. Originally I had planned to paint a ship on white cotton and I spent a few hours searching for inspiration, then sketching a schooner and making a second copy using black marker. I kept hesitating over the project, decided I didn’t want to wait for paint to dry and did a quick search for copyright free clip art again. This time I printed the design on Jacquard inkjet fabric sheets, gave it a firm press on the back with a hot iron and sewed it up. Technically you could say it was quilted because I did some stitch in the ditch on the machine with a layer of batting to add some puff. 

Gabe was needing those shirts I had altered so I mailed the whole kit and kaboodle off this morning. Being a list maker of the pro/con variety, I often suffer unnecessarily over decision making, and deciding what service to use this time caused me a great deal of inner debate. I have sent Gabe parcels via Purolator and they have taken much longer than the two day delivery I have paid for, ending up with him having to go to their terminal to pick the parcels up. Excuse me? How much did I pay for this lack of service? I have sent him parcels via Canada Post before, only to have them “go missing” (their words, not mine), but eventually they have been delivered. The only thing I have learned with CP is that if you pay for that extra insurance, you have that tracking number and your cost of shipping will be refunded when they don’t deliver on time. 

So, I went with Canada Post and bought the extra insurance - which galls me each and every time I do because I feel like the crazy amount I have paid them in the first place should guarantee they will actually make sure it gets delivered to the right address in the designated amount of time. And like the cost of everything else this winter, the cost of insurance seems to have increased at a rather high rate. Can you tell this is a touchy subject for me? This comes from much experience mailing/shipping care packages and parcels to my kids, family and friends. 

Over the years my absolute favorite way to send parcels has been the bus. The cost was reasonable, buses keep to a schedule, and you got a tracking number without having to pay extra. And the folk who worked at the bus terminal here were always really friendly, handled your parcel with care, and made sure it got on that bus even if the bus was already loaded and starting to pull out of the parking lot! Unfortunately that bus service has closed its doors. Hmmmm. Maybe they were too nice, and too reasonably priced. But, there is a new service that has just started up in its' place. The next time I have to ship something in our region, I will be sure to give them a try. For now, I will track my parcel’s progress online and hope it arrives where it should when it should.....

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Comforting cushions

My holiday gifting included some cushions. Again I used the Wilton easy Image transfer sheets along with simple photo editing in my Mac to print the images I wanted to use.

I made my Dad this cushion using a photo he took of Mom on their honeymoon over 59 years ago. They had travelled from PEI to Truro, NS and were staying in the cabin situated behind Mom in the photo. I simply love the look on Mom’s face as she sits reading....as Dad said, the photo should be titled, “ I got him!!”  My parents married young - Mom made Dad wait until she turned 18 while he was a mature 21 (!) and their running story was how Mom chased Dad till she caught him, and Dad chased Mom till he caught her! Of course we are all really glad neither one of them ran too hard, or too far.

I used this beautiful poppy fabric because Mom loved flowers, especially poppies, and her absolute favorite color was red! And I am pretty sure Mom bought me all the fabric I used for this. She was always doing that; feeding my fabric habit.

I made this cushion for my son, who like his grandfather, loves all things nautical. I found copyright free clip-art of these mariner’s compasses online and printed it, ironed it on white fabric, and then added a simple black border. My son actually hasn’t seen this yet as I will ship it to him with the shirts I altered for him. I am pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog so I am safe in sharing it here. Just a small, easy project that I think will look good in his new apartment. I have a second, larger cushion for him in the works and am hoping to make headway on that tomorrow. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Snow dyed, then buffed and fluffed

In the end, I added three different shades of blue setacolor transparent paint, one at a time to the pieces I had scrunched on that piece of PVC pipe.These pieces are the ones pictured with the latest sock I am working on...notice the similar color way? Honestly, it is subconscious; I don’t realize I am choosing like colors for the different projects. I find it amusing.

I took a selection of the other snow dyed pieces and after wetting and manipulating the fabric, I did a bit of microwave over-dyeing. Microwave dyeing is a quick, easy way to get fairly strong colors. Over the years I have taught this method in dyeing workshops and organized sports team t-shirt dyeing sessions multiple times. My daughter and her friends have dyed t-shirts and socks as entertainment at her birthday parties. All it takes is 4 minutes in the microwave, a lot of rinsing and a hot water wash for almost instant gratification. Perfect for kids, and impatient people like me!

At this point the fabric is fairly saturated with dye so over dyeing achieves a crystal, uneven effect. Also, this is the first time I have used this brand of Procion MX dyes and I found the blue didn’t dissolve well in the solution. Consequently the dye sits on top of the fabric and looks grainy in some places.

However, I am wanting some fabrics to mimic the ocean and underwater areas, so I think these will fit the bill nicely. All in all, I am pleased with the results. Cut up into smaller pieces, they should work well.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Snowing shirts

I have been a sewer of clothing for many years and one of my biggest beefs over time has been how poorly made some clothing lines are. If I buy an item of clothing, I expect strong seams with a sensible seam allowance, buttonholes that do not unravel, top stitching that lasts, and buttons that stay on. I think some of my expectations rubbed off on my son.....I just finished altering 7 dress shirts for him and 4 more that were his for his Dad. The boy choses clothes well and I can’t say I am sorry to be done. I gotta say, Calvin Klein knows how to construct a shirt!

To give myself a bit of play time while doing that, and since we have had some substantial snow falls here, I tried some snow dyeing. I used the instructions for Procion MX dyes from Pro Chem. I have been dyeing fabric for years and I aim for strong, bright colors. I have to admit, I am not completely satisfied with the results of my efforts with this method. I did get some great, crystal effects and some interesting lines where I folded and pleated. But, my pieces are too pastel for me.

Various stages of process

Fabric manipulation, dye solution and dye powders

I did figure out a couple of things I could change to get the results I prefer: I will use a thicker layer of snow although I used more than the recommended; I will pour the blue dye first as I was hoping for more blue and green than yellow; I will use less water than they recommended for my dye mix; and I will try mixing the dye directly with the snow rather than making a dye solution. The one thing I did do was toss in a piece of fabric soaked in soda ash in the bottom of each dishpan to catch all that draining dye solution and those pieces gave me the intensity of color I was looking for.

A variety of the results

So, I am currently trying layering some Setacolor paints after completing some fabric manipulation. We will see how that goes.