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!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stamping out those urges to clean!

I feel like my house is falling in ruins around me. I have piles of my “stuff”, my creative play tools and materials, everywhere. I have to be careful when I let this happen because eventually it eats at me and then I run in circles tidying and not accomplishing anything creative at all. I purposely refused to schedule any more paying work this week, just to let myself have some creative time. This is also the time when popcorn can be an entree.....

Although I am biting at the bit to finish a quilt on my longarm, I have been doing anything but. I have managed to fill my hallway with piles and piles and tubs and tubs of fabric, all in a feeble attempt to organize, or perhaps integrate the new fabric purchases. I like to mix my fabrics up. That way the newer is not playing so much on my conscience if I don’t see a stack of new stuff shining bright as a new penny (remember those? I loved pennies!). Maybe that is why I always rush to pre-wash my new pieces. Makes me feel like they have been here longer. For whatever reasons, I am organizing. Well, sort of. It should be organized when I am done. I hope.

I have sewn some bindings on so that I have some handwork, if I should happen to remember how to turn my TV on. Don’t ask. I am not technically savvy.

I also started some blocks that I have been wanting to try since my Mom gave me a lovely quilt book last summer. I have some 30’s prints and I love 30’s designs, so it seems I should get myself in gear. My biggest problem is that I am not so great at making repeat blocks. Case in point? I made one and stopped. BUT, I am planning on making more. Just not today.

I have also been sketching. I am a summer sketcher. Maybe it is the light. Maybe it is easier to sketch when you aren’t wearing 3 sweaters and gloves. Anyway, I am doing some of that. And when I was cruisin’ through my moleskin, I apparently was “drawn” to a little flower sketch I did two summers ago. Without really thinking about the process, I replicated it on a piece of Soft Kut and made a stamp. All of a sudden the morning had passed and I have a nice little stack of stamped bits and pieces.

I refined the stamp as I made prints until I was happy with my design. I decided to not carve the centre but will pop some little stamens in with paint later on. I know I drew this from a flower on my deck but it has a Hawaiian feel  to it to me. 
I also decided to try some other stamps that I had been carving in spare minutes. Good thing I did because sometimes I have a tendency to over carve my design and I had been considering taking the knife to them again. I learned I am happy with them just as they are. Well, for now at least.

Reminds me of a cartwheel. Must have been all that Americana influence on the weekend. And the one on the left is blurry because I overprinted it. The gold I used first was too light so I mixed some Green in and printed again. 

I really like using metallic fabric paints for stamping, especially on my hand dyed fabric. I tend to use two colors on each stamp although the ones above are just one. I used two with the odd star design.

I almost didn’t try this stamp, dismissing it as too simple. Ah, sometimes I need to step back and remind myself of that great creative advice: Simplify, Exaggerate, Repeat.....

Check out The Needle and Thread Network with me and see what’s up with Canadian fibre folk.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Coasting along nicely

I took the starfish pieces I stamped last week and made my sweet Simone some simple coasters. She will have 6 semi-matchy ones stamped on a dark blue fabric and one odd ball stamped on a lighter blue fabric. I am guessing perhaps she can used the oddball for her tea mug when she starts work.
The fabric they are shown on is another piece I dyed. It is from my snow dyeing attempts this past winter. 
I have soooo much thread, yet I don’t have a lot of metallic threads for my domestic. I did manage to find some blue and gold though and did some simple quilting which adds builds on the shine of the metallic fabric paint I used for stamping.
The hand dyed fabrics sandwich some fusible timtex which helps them keep their shape and adds an extra layer for protection against dampness.

Hope she likes them! Surprise, Mony!

Thelma and Louise Ride Again!

I have been gallivanting!

This weekend the Maine Quilt Show was held in Augusta, Maine. My partner in crime, Nancy aka Louise, and I headed out early Thursday morning and surprised ourselves by arriving in Augusta with a whole afternoon and evening ahead of us! We booked into our hotel, had the best crabcakes at Joyce’s Restaurant overlooking the Kennebec River and then wandered the streets of the mini metropolis of historic Hallowell checking out local handcrafts and of course, a quilt shop.

Thursday evening brought us to the quilt show where I registered for a class on Friday and we enjoyed a champagne preview. Once again it was re-inforced to us that it is indeed a small world when two quilters from Fredericton joined our table as we drank and munched! The wheeled bags they pulled behind them told us they were very savvy, experienced shoppers and armed with tips from them, we made plans for future shopping!

I spent most of Friday taking my first long arm instruction from DeLoa Jones. I feel her rulers are exceptional and extremely user friendly and her class on continuous quilting will definitely be helpful in future projects. DeLoa is relaxed and casual and has almost 35 years of hand and machine customer quilting under her belt. 

I had hoped we would be working on APQS machines, but the local Gammill dealer graciously supplied the machines for this show. After using this machine for a day, I am so incredibly pleased with my Millennium and realize just what a great piece of machinery I own! I was also happy to make the acquaintance of Marcia, the New England APQS dealer. It is great knowing she and her husband are just a phone call, or a 5 hour drive away, should I need assistance! She patiently listened to my frustrations, answered my questions and offered help as well as a spot in her next beginner class so that I can take advantage of my free day of instruction that comes with the purchase of an APQS machine.

The show itself was interesting. It is not a juried show, so you see all levels of quilting. We immediately noted the quantity of machines quilted pieces, as opposed to hand quilted pieces. Even five years ago a lot of viewers were not so very accepting of machine quilting, whereas now they gush and ahhh as they examine the quilting with a close eye. The other interesting thing I noticed was the number of machine quilters. There have got to be soooo many more quilts being produced and completed with that many quilters owning these machines. No wonder quilting in North America is a multi billion dollar industry.

Amazingly, I only took one photo the entire trip! Not like me at all, I know.....
But, truly? I was all shopped out! 

Louise and I had very defined shopping lists! Except when it came to fabric. I am actually very impressed with her restraint, whereas me....well, its a good thing they didn’t weigh the car coming in and out. We did visit the merchants at the show and several quilt shops in the area and tried to do our part to help support the independents. But, I have to admit, when I find great quality fabric at Marden’s for exceptionally low prices, I quickly remember just how hard I work for my money and how nice it is to maximize my limited budget. And I did have specific projects in mind.....though a few extras did make it into my cart.....opps.....

So, I am back home, with a new wardrobe thanks to Kohls and am happily wearing one of my Vera Wang bargains!! It is still raining here, and I have numerous projects spread out and ready to get rolling! Nothing like a trip with a good friend, a change of environment and some fresh supplies to get those creative juices flowing!!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Stamping

I keep some sheets of Soft-Kut and my Speedball carving tools next to my ironing board. My iron takes no time to heat up, but I like to pretend it does and in the time I have decided it takes to get hot, I work on hand carving stamps. So, every time I iron a shirt for work, I spend 5 minutes or so working on a stamp. 

This weekend my daughter spent the night with us on her way to her next placement. She came to say good morning to me and saw the materials near the board. As I sat at my sewing machine fixing a blouse for her, she carved a stamp. She hasn’t had much free time in the last 7 years for anything not directly related to school, so it was fun to watch her sit and focus on a random act of creativity.

So, today I decided it was time to collect all the stamps scattered over my work table and try them out. I gathered up some of my hand dyed fabrics and some bottles of fabric paint and headed to the deck.
Have I mentioned how much I enjoy my outdoor studio space?

This was the perfect spot to do some stamping - the sun was now on the other side of the house and there was a slight breeze blowing.

Simone’s starfish stamp!

And because I can’t resist......here is the token tomato photo for the day......
Grape tomatos - coming along quite nicely!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Watching tomatoes grow.....

You can’t imagine how much pleasure I get from watching my little pots of tomatoes grow! I am sure I drive everyone right round the bend when I ask repeatedly if they have checked on their growth from day to day! I spend a fair amount of time on the deck, fussing with them. As the sun moves, I move the pots to best advantage and I water, and I fertilize, and I water some more! My joke is that I will have such a huge crop, I will be opening a vegetable stand at the end of my driveway, when the truth is, I just hope I get enough for a couple of lettuce and tomato sandwiches! Ah, that would be bliss!!
I am also enjoying my flowers and although I know I have over crowded my window boxes and pots and beds, I don’t care. They are full of color and fragrance and I simply breathe it all and enjoy the festive atmosphere they create. And the calm.
Dandy pink rise ivy geranium

Pansy in the rain

I love how the rain pools in the petals of the marigolds!

Dandy white rose ivy geranium
I seem to spend entirely too much time taking photos of flowers. But, some days that is all the creativity I have time for. 
Not sure why, but this pansy reminds me of a little man....

Friday, July 19, 2013


The last several weeks have had me contemplating the fragility of life and how our lives can change so very quickly. Someone I had recently met and felt a very strong and almost immediate kinship with, had been struck down at what I feel is a very young age. She suffered a stroke early in the morning as she prepared for work and subsequently passed away 17 days later.

I don’t know her family, except for the stories she shared of them. We exchanged bits of information as we tested the waters of compatibility. We shared details and jokes, lots of laughs, a few whines and complaints. I was impressed with her work ethic, her ability to make people smile, her strong faith and openness of its importance in her life. She told me once that she sang in her church choir but couldn’t read music, so if the choir master sat anyone beside her that sang off-key, they had to move her because gradually she would be singing off-key, too! I am sure she exaggerated because many of her co-workers have told me her voice was that of choir legends, but that was her way, to take the focus off herself and her enviable talent.

We had made plans for me to join her bowling league and I had to promise her I was as terrible a bowler as I suggested I was! She warned me that the goal was always to laugh, although there was a slim chance I might improve if I played every week! And then she laughed that golden laugh and hustled off to the next thing she had to complete.

As we started to get to know each other bit by bit, one day she looked at me and paid me what I consider a huge compliment: she said she thought she and I could work together. Coming from someone who did the work of four people, I felt honoured indeed. Growing up in family businesses taught us lots about pulling our weight, doing our share, being proud of helping out and investing in our own livelihood and future. It felt good that someone recognized that in me and valued it.

This was a woman who was active. She was very involved in several sports, worked hard at home looking after racehorses with her husband, was very active in her church with youth leadership and she still found time to bake for the multitudes. She was only 53. But, as her family said in her obituary, she will be forever 28.....

It has been especially hard that as she was slowly slipping away, I celebrated my birthday and achieved an age she will not. I have no real right to the grief her family is suffering and that they will continue to live with as they try to come to terms with her passing. She has left so, so many people that miss her and who feel the loss so immensely. 

Me? I am missing her and that budding possibility of friendship. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Gabe’s Wall Hanging is Finished!

This project has been a labour of love. I am really enjoying bringing the artwork to life and experimenting with the best way to do that. The fact that the artwork is my son’s is a bonus.

The procedure was labour intensive. Gabe sent me the drawing, I enlarged it via my opaque projector, then outlined and filled it in with Sharpie markers. Then I traced it on Steam a Seam 2numbered and coded all the pieces, cut them out roughly, ironed them onto the backside of the fabrics, and then carefully cut them out.

Then I made a pounce pattern of my original enlarged copy, pounced the pattern on the background, placed all those little pieces and pressed them on. The background we chose was a double dip black cotton I found at http://www.hamelsfabrics.com/. The black is wonderfully deep, but boy, is it hard to get anything to stick to it for long. I assume all that dye and processing is responsible for that.

After that I sewed each individual piece to the background, bringing all the thread ends to the back and tying them off.

Using black batting and a great black/grey/white fabric I found at Connecting Threads for the backing, I loaded in onto my longarm and quilted horizontal lines every 1.5 inches.

Then I spent approximately 15 hours burying threads.

I sewed an invisible binding and two sleeves (one at the top for the hanger and another smaller one at the bottom to house a weight to help it hangs's straight) and now it is packed and ready to be mailed to Gabe who lives in Toronto. He has a place of honor all ready for it to reside in his lovely downtown apartment and I can’t wait to see it hung!

Friday, July 12, 2013


In this part of the world, we take our summers seriously.

The East coast of Canada is a wonderful, spectacular place to live. Ask anyone who has visited and most will tell you that they will return soon, retire here, buy land here so they can retire here. They love the peace, tranquility and slower pace of living. Atlantic Canadians are friendly and welcoming. Proximity to the ocean is a therapeutic thing; ask anyone who grew up near it and then moved away. We all head to the shore as soon as we can and as we breathe in the salt air, we exhale our worries and stresses into the soft ocean breezes. We don’t even have to touch the waves to feel better; the promise of being able to is enough. 

But, not many outsiders visit in the winter.

Winters here can be harsh. And long. And although we try to embrace them, we are really just marking off the days on the calendar until summer arrives.

Summer is here. It arrived overnight, it seems. Although we watched spring carefully for signs summer would come soon, it still took us by surprise when it showed up with a brilliant sun, greens beyond description, blazing temperatures and that smell.....the one that means renewal and peace. 

My simple little flower boxes are blooming. I eat basil daily from pots on my kitchen deck and I have fragrant fresh rosemary in another if I should decide to ever cook again. I have several types of mint growing that I use for making delicious iced tea. This year I am trying to grow three types of tomatoes in pots on the living room deck where the raccoons do not have access. I am not really a gardener although I realize I am gradually learning bits and pieces as I go. I am trying to remember all those tips my Mom offered me over the years. 

I struggle to find time to create, beyond my bits of garden. But, for today, that is enough.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A New Canadian Quilt Podcast!! Check it Out!

Many thanks to Monika at The Needle and Thread Network for bringing this great blog and all Canadian Quilt Podcast to our attention!!

Head over to Facebook and check out BC quilter and Canadian Quilt Talk host, Brandy Lynn and learn of her exciting new podcast spotlighting Canadian fibre talent! Or, go right to her blog, Explore Fibre and sign up for the weekly podcasts via email.

This is an exciting new avenue for exposure to all that great Canadian creativity that is happening under our very noses. Generally laid back and mellow, Canadians tend to receive less exposure on a national and international scale, so it will be wonderful to hear a few horns tooted for some of our home grown talent!

Kudos to Brandy Lynn on this project and looking forward to more!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Flowery Eyecandy

Some summer projects

The most recent project to come off my longarm is a piece my son designed that I am interpreting into fabric for him. We are creating a wall hanging for his apartment and clean lines appeal to him. So, when it came time to quilt the piece, I stayed with horizontal lines of stitching spaced equally apart. I quilted around each design element as well and that means I have a lot of thread ends to bury. A LOT of ends.

I also sewed up a cushion for my daughter, using her brother’s owl drawing with a minor change in color. I added my dyed fabric to his drawing printed on a fabric sheet. She likes purple so we went with that palette for this cover. I cheat when it comes to pillow forms - I simply cut up full size pillows into the size that suits my covers. That way I am not restricted to the standard commercial pillow from sizes.