Thursday, December 21, 2006

Now for something completely different...

Now that the year's scheduled quilts are winging their way through the mail to their various owners, I've got some time to work on quilts for family and friends. There are also a couple of art quilts that I'll be finishing in the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye on things here.

Yesterday after taking youngest son to school I got working on a quilt for my 4 mo. old neice, Zoe. I haven't made her birth quilt yet! Here are some photos of my progress. The photos don't quite pick up the real luminous intensity of the colours I'm working with! The pattern I'm working from is Judy Martin's current Block of the Moment called Parallels. I just got her 'Scraps' book last week and am itching to get to some of the wonderful things I see in there...but this is a great introduction to all the 'shadow' effect piecing that she shows in the book. Below you can see a detail of the block.

I like that I can't just strip piece this. Now that I've done 3/4 of the blocks I've got a system worked out, but I'm still laying out each block individually as I go as I want to have a pattern emerge in the brights (if someone cared to look for it). I LOVE the shadow effect. I think I'll quilt this one with butterflies and dragonflies 'floating' above the water surface. Whoohoo! Back to stitching!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Busy day!

Yesterday was tremendously busy. Aside from mailing out my last quilt for the year, I worked my 'other' job at the school delivering the Roots of Empathy program. I work in the grade seven classes at our school with two teachers who have been gracious enough to share their precious classroom time. In one class we talked about diapering -what a riot! The students ask really good questions, and challenge me to be clear, concise and straightforward. In the other class we had our parent/child come to visit. The baby in that class is 3 months old now, and we got to see how much stronger and capeable he is this month than last month. The unit we're doing in that class is centred on crying as a means of communication, and the students and parent had a really good question/answer period about crying and strategies that deal with crying.
In between classes at the school, I was here with our local newspaper editor talking about my shop, quilting and design business. I had a project come out in the Festive Issue of A Needle Pulling Thread magazine - which arrived day before yesterday! This is the first time I've had something published in a nationally distributed magazine! Needless to say I've been walking about 2" above the ground. It looks like the article that he's doing is going to come out in next week's or the following week's paper.
We had one of our son's Christmas Concerts last night. What fun. It was great to see everyone from the community out! Our other son's concert is tonight, then only a few more sleeps (in our youngest's words) until the big day!

Wherever you are, have a wonderful holiday with those you care about the most.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Countdown continues...

I just returned from the post from sending out my second and third-last quilts of the year. One left on the machine - it should be done quite soon too! We have a busy week ahead of us with all the school Christmas concerts, parties and family coming. I'm almost as excited as the kids!
This week's Illustration Friday challenge is 'help'. I have a drawing in mind for it but am being very disciplined about getting the quilting done first...
Back to stitching!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Customer Quilt

As promised, here are some pictures of Tracy's quilt. The photos don't really do it justice, but that seems to be par for the course lately.

The quilt is all velvet and batiks- a word of caution if you're thinking of doing this yourself: this is a bit of an unruly combination! Tracy is an amazing piecer and I know that she had trouble with this one. She brought in some gorgeous variegated King Tut thread to go with it, and chose a double batting of BlackHobbes 80/20 with a layer of Hobbes Wool on top of it. Very cushy and warm. The backing is a sateen sheet - I had my doubts about how the sheet would work at first, but the type of weave that it was gave me no trouble at all on the machine.

She opted for geometric stitching (which I did freehand) that seems to go really well in this masculine quilt for one of her sons. Unfortunately the colour in the photo leans toward purple on my monitor, when in reality it was a deep, rich blue with green combination.

I'm part way through my next customer quilt, a friendship quilt made for a birthday gift. It's wild and fun and full of generous-hearted sentiment.

Happy stitching,


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Musings on Creativity

This book I've been reading about creativity continues to be really interesting. After setting up the context in which the experiment is done, the author moves into talking about the creative personality - he cites 10 different pairs of paradoxical personality traits that he found expressed in a large component of his test subjects. From there he talks about the actual nuts and bolts process of creativity - this chapter really rung true for me. The way that Milhaly Csikszentmihalyi describes the creative process is as one that has 5 distinct steps:

  1. Preparation/immersion (essentially this is a gathering/research stage). I find that in my own process I try to keep this ongoing...I don't always have a specific project in mind while doing this, but that I'm always gathering motifs, information about colour, context and line. In recent years it's become apparent that even while (and sometimes ESPECIALLY while) doing other crafts I find the inspiration for something new in my quilting.
  2. Incubation. This is essentially a quiet time. It isn't necessarily a 'doing nothing' time for me, but sometimes it is. (Well, inasmuch as regular life will let me do nothing! I'm always doing customer quilts, but that is part of the daily fare, not always specifically a new creative endeavor).
  3. Insight. This is the 'aha' part - the part that sometimes I think we do the rest for. This is the moment when things seem to come clear on a larger level. This is when the real goal becomes clear.
  4. Evaluation. This is a really important step. Often the project will get thrown out at this point, or only parts of it will be retained, to wait and be incorporated into some later project. A really tough stage, I find that it can wander into self-criticism if I'm not careful.
  5. Elaboration. This is the big time consuming part. This is where all the bugs are worked out and all the actual WORK is done.
These stages, though laid out in a list, are in reality really non-linear. Sometimes the ideas at the insight have to go back through the incubation. Sometimes what has been elaborated upon needs to go through another round of evaluation. There's just no set number of times that any single project can go through the process, or part of the process.

There is one quote in particular that stands out to me out of this portion of the book. The words are those of Nina Holton about her own work - I think that they are relevant to anyone doing creative work, in any field (finance, art, music, counselling, administration):

"Tell anybody you're (sic) are a sculptor and they'll say, "Oh, how exciting, how wonderful." And I tend to say, "What's so wonderful?" I mean, it's like being a mason, or being a carpenter, half the time. But they don't wish to hear that because they really only imagine the first part, the exciting part. But, as Khrushchev once said, that doesn't fry pancakes, you see. That form of an idea does not make a sculpture which stands up. It just sits there. So the next stage, of course, is the hard work. Can you really translate it into a piece of sculpture? Or will it be a wild thing which only seemed exciting while you were sitting in the studio alone? Will it look like something? Can you actually do it physically? Can you, personally, do it physically? What do you have by way of materials? So the second part is a lot of hard work. And sculpture is that, you see. It is the combination of wonderful wild ideas and then a lot of hard work."

Amen to that.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Stitch Journeys

Hah! It was in my mailbox today! A book about how to use WonderFil specialty threads called "Stitch Journeys"...I've been looking forward to the release of this book for many reasons - one of which is that I got to contribute some photos and tips to it...there's the little quilt on P.19! That little quilt now lives at the main office of WonderFil in Calgary, and gets to travel around to different shows with them throughout the continent. It's so exciting to see it in print! There are lots of projects and ideas in it... it's a great 'how to' book for techniques of all kinds from free motion quilting and embroidery to art stitching and thread as structure. Super cool. I have a few copies available in the store (link at left), and one copy for little 'ol me.
Happy Tuesday,

Illustration Friday Challenge

Here's my little sketch about the Illustration Friday challenge "Mask".
A few different images were rolling around in my head most of the day yesterday while quilting, and late last night I got a chance to quickly put one down. This is my favorite composition of them all, I think. I've always been intregued by the idea of masks, a lot of my early drawings and paintings deal with masks in different ways. The sketch is entitled 'dressing room' and the character is getting ready for her day. I've always felt that we all have masks that we wear for different reasons, some that are a result of the situation we are in, some we wear in spite of it, or bring into a situation.
Not very 'quilt-y' I know. Please bear with me!
The quilt I'm working on right now is gorgeous - all in velvets and batiks in rich, dark colours. As soon as there is some good light in here I'll take and post a picture.

Monday, December 11, 2006

This beautiful place

The weather here is amazing right now. This morning on my way back from taking my youngest to school I found deer tracks all around our back gate. After following the tracks around it appears that they jumped the fence (gutsy, considering we have a dog)and wandered around our yard eating the few blackberries, grapes and rose hips that were clinging to the bushes. We try to keep the fruit-bearing plants really cleaned up in the fall as we don't really want to invite bears! This year, however, there were some little remnants of the season there - but no more! The tracks went back to the gate, over and out again. It looked like two, but there may have been more.
The photo above is from last Saturday, on the NewDenver/Kaslo highway. It was a spectacular drive...I tend to carry my camera with me to photograph anything that takes my interest...many times this is where colour schemes come from for new quilts, or the spark of a design for a pantograph pattern. Not all of our quilting equipment is a needle and thread! The sky last week was that amazing high-altitude, cold weather blue that is so rare and beautiful. The crisp mountain tops were the clearest white, and the air was at it's most transparent. So unusual, so perfect, so fleeting.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Zoe's Toes

We're on our way over to Kaslo today to see my sister and her family. It's her oldest DS's birthday, and we're off to play with the cousins. My boys love going over there and actually went through their books this morning to see what they could give! Ah, it warms my heart.
I spent a couple hours watching movies with all my men last night. Lo and behold, at the end of it all - voila! A pair of teeny, tiny socks. These will go over to Kaslo to go on the feet of little Zoe who (like the others) is growing so quickly.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Creativity Exercises 5

I've elected to take part in the Illustration Fridays challenge. This week the challenge is 'Mask'. Last week's was 'Might'- I had quite a few interesting ideas around last week's, but this week's is going to take some thinking about. Right now the only thing that occurs to me is around the 'mask' tool on Corel for cutting out around images. Hmm. Mask...mask...mask.....

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Well, I finished them last night (my sister will be so impressed). It was one of those "one more stripe", "I'll go to bed after the next stripe", "oh, look there's only 2 stripes left - I could finish this by the end of CSI"...any stitcher knows how that goes. Anyhoo, they're warming my toes as I write! They're made from Regia sock wool on 2.75 mm needles and the pattern is a 'toe up' one. It's the first time I've made 'toe up' socks and found that I quite liked doing the short rowing for the heel. It'll be interesting to see if the heel has as much long term strength in it as the ones I'm used to doing in the top down version. I don't know about how picky it is to start the toe, though. It seems like way too many needles for the amount of stitches for the first 15 rounds or so - BUT I like the 'no seam' look, and it was nice to finish without doing the toe grafting.

The main reason for doing a 'toe up' pattern this time was that I was hoping to use all the wool that I had (2 50g skeins). I still have loads of wool left over...these could have been as long as Wicked Witch of the West socks if I'd kept going! Ah well, time to cast on some baby socks for my niece, then...


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Quiet on the home front

I haven't been posting for awhile as things have been busy here. As most of you know, I'm in the midst of my 'Christmas Rush' - getting things done for people before the holiday begins in earnest. Although I'm putting more hours in than usual, I have to say that I enjoy this frenzied time! Something in my personality thrives on activity, I guess.
I'm also working on some new panto patterns (and something totally new,only to be hinted at for the time being), so all of my non-quilting machine time is fast becoming computer time. In the evening, I've been knitting more socks. Gotta say, those are addicting to make - especially with the self-striping wool. I have another pair almost finished and will post a picture of them when they are done.

Thanks to all those lovely people who have taken the time (in one way or another) to let me know that their happy with my quilting. It means a tremendous amount to me to know that you are getting the work that you wanted done!


Sunday, December 03, 2006


Let's try this again...

I got the scanner working. Here's a much better image of QuilterGirl, in all her pencil glory.

Thanks for all the sweet emails about her.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Creativity Exercises 4

Yesterday my boys and I took the challenge being offered by Blue Sky Studios for this week, which was to draw a new superhero. It was so much fun! I didn't limit the time to 1/2 hr. this time, and we took closer to 45 minutes to do our drawings. My scanner is on the blink, so these are photos of what we did.

Mine is QuilterGirl (of course)...I started out with a traditional hero costume for her, then decided she should wear comfortable clothes. No boots and spandex for her! Just good 'ol breathable cotton. Just in case you can't tell - that is a rotary cutter she is holding aloft - maybe at a later date she will be balancing her featherweight on one finger (wink).

I know we can all relate to her stance of triumph after completing something particularly difficult or time consuming! To have climbed the allegorical peak and reached the highest hights of our skills is an awesome feeling. Okay, sometimes just getting something finished gives us that feeling!

Oldest son's hero is on the left - Duckman. You can see the strong soundwaves coming out of his bill.

Youngest son's hero is on the right, Frostkill. He can breathe out icicles - chilly!

I could really use a ScannerGirl or ComputerWiz right about now. Maybe I should go back to the drawing board and invent someone who can fix my scanner!



Friday, December 01, 2006

Finished! - and the winter wonderland

I finished this quilt today - it's for a customer in Grand Forks. It's tremendously late getting back to her...I feel terrible, but there's not a lot I could do. I have one supplier that is sometimes veeeerrrry slow getting batting out to me - sadly it is my customers who end up getting the brunt of that. Anyhoo...this one's done, and I love how it came out. I did the whole works in Silco cotton thread, and it ran like a dream on my Millennium.
The quilt itself is so pretty. The picture doesn't do it much justice - the batiks are strong and beautiful, saturated colour.

I've also included a picture of our house taken around lunch time today...we have easily 1/2 M of snow on our roof. The weather has warmed up enough that it's nice to be outside again (it's only about -9 C). If I could, I'd go cross country skiing today. The last few days were so cold that the car froze completely shut. My DH thinks that the snowblower may have frozen! If the current rate of snow keeps up that may become an issue!

Enjoy stitching,