Wednesday, January 31, 2007

First time out with the Tsukineko inks

This is a hard one for me to post, as it's all in progress - and I'm not so good at leaving my unfinished things hanging out there for all to see.

Anyhoo - I did a small tester painting with the inks tonight on muslin, just to see how it would go. It was a little trickier than I first mistake was watching the How-to video. The lady on that talked about working with the fabric wet... and what a mess. That was not the type of work that I wanted to do tonight!

As you can see in the picture at right I had some real problems with the colour bleeding out of the areas that I wanted it in. Luckily, the inks are heat set-able, so I ironed the heck out of it to dry the fabric and get things back under control. Once I started working nearly completely dry brush on dry fabric there was much more control. The whole piece is only about 6" X 12" in size, so there isn't a whole lot of room for dye traveling.

What I learned? Work as though it's a watercolour, layering up from the lightest to the darkest colour. Let the light colours travel, control the darks.

Keep an unloaded paintbrush and water on hand for blending. If the colours have not been heat set yet, you can reasonably control the travel and blend with a clean, stiff, damp brush.

The piece at left is what I have now. I worked the darks in while the fabric was so hot it was almost burning my fingers, but it gave me some really nice, crisp lines.

The next step for this piece is the stitching. I'll treat the thread much like I would a marker at this stage, and tighten up all the details now, in the quilting process. Wish me luck, I'll be holding my breath the whole time.

Just for fun, here's a picture of the schematic drawing for the cherubs.

The original print of these honeys is only 1 X 2". I've redrawn them to 12" X 24". I can't decide if this is still too small, and how I'll make it bigger if that's what has to happen. I'll sleep on it I think, make that decision in the morning. If you want to see any of tonight's pictures bigger, click on them and you should get to look at a larger version.

Oh, and I feel like I should apologize to my Mom for the snakes - SORRY MOM!

Happy stitching,


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This is me, still being VERY good

I have not opened the inks yet. But! Last night while DH and I were watching HEROES I did some sketches that will be the outline for my first ink experiment.

It's hard to see here, but it's some characters lifted from a frieze - Renaissance? - of little cherubs with wine and glass respectively.

I'm already layering up the colour in my head. Maybe tomorrow...


Monday, January 29, 2007

This is me, being VERY good

My Tsukineko inks came today. Yes. Finally. I'm so excited to try these out, that I'm about busting! Please note - the seal is still on each and every bottle!

I'm being very, very disciplined. I do peek at them, from time to time, and have even petted the packaging, picking them up and looking in the box at all the applicators that came with them...but I have not opened them. I will finish the quilt on the machine before I get my hands in there. I will. I promise.


Better get back to the machine!


Sunday, January 28, 2007


I belong to a group called the HeartStrings Quilt Project. We're a pretty far flung group, mostly North American based, but with an Australian contingent as well. The whole point is to make string quilts and donate them to local charities. At first we were looking at all donating to a central charity, but as the numbers of quilters grew, we knew we had to work more locally. There are currently 247 members some of whom are piecers, some quilters, many are both. We communicate through our Yahoo!Group:

While I originally signed up to donate my time quilting someone else's top for them, I've not had any takers. I thought, "why not make my own?" Goodness knows I've got enough strings here to get going on something. Here it is, today's efforts. I have a bin of strips that I don't tend to work with very often - It seems they are two narrow for most of what I do these days. I also have a lot of leftover batting chunks of odd sizes. The guidelines for the HeartStrings quilts is to work on a foundation, then assemble the blocks. Because I'm quilting my own, I can bend the rules a little. I'm doing a quilt-as-you-go method based on 10" blocks. My centre strip is red, then I'm attempting to use light strips on one side, dark on the other. I'm already running out of light coloured strips!

As you can see, the untrimmed blocks leave a lot to be desired - but clean up really nicely!
The light/dark balance starts to really show once the blocks are put together. The last picture here is of my first 6 blocks, not assembled, but laid out.
I'm not sure yet how big this quilt will be or where it will go, but there are a couple of charities close to my heart. I hope wherever it ends up it will be used and enjoyed.

Happy stitching,


Panto patterns released in Digital Format

I was just over at DigiQuilter, and saw that there are now 4 of my patterns available in CQ, IQ or DXF files - Catalina, Cogs, Delicious and Flurry. Jodi is building that site up bit by bit, and it's looking really good. My patterns can be seen here.

By the way, thanks for comments on my IlloFriday contribution. It was a lot of fun to do, and I look forward to next week's challenge.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Illustration Friday - RED

I know it's a little departure from the ordinary, but here it is: my Illustration Friday contribution. This week's theme is 'RED'. My first thought on reading it was a kid holding his breath because he wasn't getting what he wanted! I talked to my boys about it, after a few poses for photos (what a blast we had doing that!) and a couple of drafts of different pictures, here's the outcome. For those who are interested, it was done with CorelPaint.
The photo I was working from was one of my youngest - NO! Neither of my boys actually ever held their breath in order to get his way. YES! My seven year old looks that ripped!

Don't worry, I'm still quilting!


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Birthday Blocks

I'm part of a birthday block swap through the APQS bulletin board...I got my first block in the mail this week, and will be sending this one out in return.

This is my Featherweight - it's running so beautifully! I used it for my block exchange block. The stitch is nice and straight, and I find that I have a more consistent seam allowance on this machine than I do on my Janome.

I'll be mailing out my block today!

Happy Thursday,


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Found Cloth

Last night (after reading my Quilting Arts Magazine) I finally decided to do something I've never done with my Longarm: make found cloth.
I started out with a modest pile of fabric and thread bits that are left from the last few projects I've worked on ( you know, all those wee bits from trimming up, all the threads that are cut and discarded during machine quilting) and some backing fabric that I wonder why I ever bought, and got to playing.

The first step for me was to lay some batting on my backing, a top fabric (you can barely see it here, the white/pink/blue blotty fabric). Next, I got to laying out all the bits and pieces on top of it in a mosaic-like way, layering them and trying to cover my background fabric. (Later I didn't bother with background fabric, but layered directly on to the batting).

With a wild colour of thread and whatever bobbin thread I wanted to use up, I got busy stitching it all down. It started out as a somewhat random process, but as I went, I found myself looking for specific colours and threads for rather deliberate placement.

After years and years of being so careful not to stitch folds into fabric or leave an extra thread hanging this was immensely liberating! I folded and bunched threads and fabrics, then stitched the heck out of them to make them lie relatively flat - I could give this little quilt a haircut!

Here are some photos from the final piece. I'll make more later today (as long as my scraps hold out), then cut it all up. I think there will be a piece for my January Journal quilt, then I'd like to try the wallet and coffee clutch patterns from the new Quilting Arts magazine. I'll keep you posted.

Happy quilting,


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Oh Baby, we got SNOW

I felt compelled to put some photos up of the amazing amount of snow we have here so far...

You can see by the picture at left that the front of our house has over a metre piled up in front of it! The shot that gives the best impression of how deep it is on the roof is this:

Just for fun, compare the height of the back of our car to the top of the trunk with the amount of snow on the roof - it hasn't been this deep here in around 10 years.

Imagine walking through the carport, through the wood shop, then into our back yard. Thanks to my hard-working husband, the path to our back door looks like the photo at the height of the snow with the door!

As all good motorcyclists do, my DH put our bikes to bed at the end of riding season last year in here, our bike shop. There is a path to the big door, so that he can start them up from time to time and make sure they still running. They are babied with a low heat on in there.

Notice the depth of the snow at our 4 foot's a good thing our dog has lost her wanderlust. She used to just step over the fence whenever the snow has been this deep in previous years! DH would get out there and dig a big, deep trench along on our side of the fence so that she couldn't get out. Not anymore. The old girl would rather stay in the house and nap.

And one last shot for fun...
Driving has been really interesting lately...rather like piloting the car through a network of tunnels. There is no way to see oncoming traffic at intersections, as the snow on the sides of the road is higher than most of the cars. I did have the experience today of parking at the grocery store between two VERY large trucks - the kind that have wheels almost as high as our whole car. They may not be having the visibility troubles that some of us regular car owners are having.
Today has been beautiful, though. It was so wonderful to see the sun after at least 3 days of nonstop snow.
I'm hoping the road to the X-country ski trails is ploughed by morning...

Friday, January 19, 2007

More about the Hummingbirds

My sister made the LONG drive from Kaslo today with her lovely kiddies to come see us for the day. I got to return her NY Beauty quilt to her and pick her brain about the final borders for this little quilt. Here's what came of that!

Thanks to everyone who gave input on an earlier you can see, we've kind of split the difference - the lightest green is in the top right corner, echoed with a little lighter colour in the lower left. It's almost imperceptible in the photo, but the bottom border is a little wider than the sides, which are a little wider than the top. It's only a smidgen of difference, but it does add a little more weight to the bottom while keeping the top airy and open. We talked about no borders at all, as an alternative, but finally decided that we liked it better a little contained. It just makes it look a little more finished.

Now to QUILT this baby! I'm really looking forward to the next piece here, with the embellishment and quilting. I don't know if you can see it in the above picture, but I've already started chalking in some guidelines!

For a customer right now I've got this gorgeous piece of Chinese Silk on the machine. I'll trapunto some of the areas for her, then she'll make it into a duvet cover. I think it's going to be sumptuous and beautiful. I'll post a pic if I can, once it's done.

Happy stitching!


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Heather's Quilt is done!

Here it is - done!
My sister's NY Beauty quilt - and isn't it a beauty? Heather worked on this for about 4 months, on and off, finishing it this January. I got the quilting done last night and hung it up in the studio - my oldest son came in, shouted, "WHOA!" and went over to check it out quite thouroughly. There you go, Heather, it appeals to all ages! I hope she doesn't want it back TOO soon, I'm really enjoying having it up in my space.

The stashbusters out there might be interested to learn that it is mostly from fabrics that Heather had in her stash - this is remarkable to me, as her usual use of colour is sophisticated, but restrained. This certainly is sophisticated - but she didn't hold back and used all the bits of the colour wheel! For what it's worth, I got to bust out a lot of thread stash on this quilt, around 14 colours worth - I actually have some empty bobbins now. The quilt is done using a black batting made by Hobbes (80%cotton, 20% polyester). The dark batting really lets the colours glow and the black fabric be really, really black. No batting pokies on this quilt!

Heather did not use a specific print pattern for this, but collected many different NY Beauty block patterns, then played with it until she came up with a setting she liked. She designed the border treatment and much of the quilt was paper pieced.
Woohooo! I can't wait to see this at the quilt show!

Monday, January 15, 2007

More hummingbirds

So now, about those borders....
decisions, decisions. Which is better? I have to say, for once in my life, I'm leaning right.
Any input? Please comment if you like.

Little bits of progress

Here it is again, the Hummingbird quilt. Slowly but surely it's coming together!
Last night and this morning I spent some more time piecing this challenging quilt - it's an evolving process, one that finds me inventing techniques on the fly. The biggest challenge met (and conquered!) today was an irregular angle set in seam. amazingly, it worked, and the quilt top continues to evolve FLAT. The top bits were not all that tricky - more of a training ground for this work at the bottom getting the different leaves attached and making the transition from blue to green. The quilt is coming out somewhat bigger than originally intended, but I'm not sure that it could have been done on the originally planned scale. It's already 26" wide and about 41" long. It'll be a little bigger, yet, I think, before all is done.
A little later today I'll get back to quilting my sister's NY Beauty quilt. I'll post a picture of my progress as soon as things start to come together. It's beautiful - lots of colour and contrast - truly a joy to work on.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Not about quilts...(well, mostly)

I posted this photo today for a couple of reasons -

1) I rarely see 'the girls' together anymore in a quiet moment...certainly not when I have the camera. If they are together they are often wrestling! With the our children having gone back to school today the girls are rattling around the house saying, 'hey! where'd everybody go?!"

2) - there you go, for all you doubters out there...I do have TWO black cats, not just one that seems to teleport to different parts of the house! (They do have a strong sibling resemblance though. The funny thing is, the one in the back of the photo is MUCH larger than the one in the front! You would never know by this picture...)

The second photo here is of Saddleback, the peak in the far left of the picture. It's hard to believe that our sons and I climbed that in August last year. It'll certainly be around August again by the time all that snow has melted away again. We've had a stunning amount of snow here over the past few days, followed by a little rain (just to keep the roads interesting). The snow banks in the laneway by our house are over 6 feet deep from ploughing the road! It was -8 this morning (that's in Celcius) and our forecast is to go down to -14 by tomorrow. Good thing the house is nice and snug. This is the best time of year to be a quilter!

I was talking to Jodi Beamish over at Willow Leaf Studio last weekend and she asked me to let you know that Cumulus will soon be available in digital format, that the release for that will probably be this week. You can find all the Willow Leaf Studio and associated patterns at
I've got one more week of playtime before beginning work on the customer quilts. Stay tuned!
Happy stitching,


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Photos of a couple of those 'little' quilts from yesterday

The first one is from a pattern I was honoured to be able to submit to this month's Unlimited Possibilities magazine. This a stand-up quilting machine focussed magazine produced in the 'States by Vicki Anderson. She often has a free pattern included in the magazine (previous ones have been submitted by the likes of Jodi Beamish). It's page sized, and I did up a couple as little seasonal wallhangings for gifts - yes, this year I haven't even sent out my cards yet! I think I'll be writing New Year's letters instead...

This next one is from a photo transfer that I did back in August. Back then I had the bright idea to do a series of little journal quilts and tried really hard to find people in my area who would be willing to try to do them to, to no avail. Not to be discouraged, I started with photos I took of myself on my 36Th birthday, played around with them in a photo manipulation program I have until they were just hints of outlines, then transferred them to Bubble-Jet Set treated muslin. They've been sitting next to my domestic sewing machine in that state ever since. Yesterday while doing all the little quilts I popped this one on the machine and finally got started - it's a little self-indulgent romantic, but it's done. The shiny stuff is my first experiment with Angelina Fibres, as easy to use as everyone says they are. The binding is from fabric I dyed a couple of years ago, and the thread is all Aurofil. Three colours of thread, but that's hard to see in the photo. There's the turquoise, of course, but there's a dove grey and a warm gentle tan colour, too. This first one is quite subtle - rather a departure from my usual colour-soaked habits - but I think that will change as I get to doing more of them. The original idea was to do one per month but it's starting to look like a semi-annual thing.
Back to stitching,

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Off the machine

I thought I'd include this here as I don't know how many other people with longarm quilting machines do this:

I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but what I had done was put on a really big backing, much bigger than the quilt (Zoe's) that I was going to do. Once I got to the end of her quilt, I put on little pieces that I have here that I never seem to get around to quilting...using leftover bits of batting that are just the right size. This one got me right to the end of the backing. I'll cut apart all these little quilts and bind them over the next day or two.
Anyone else out there do this? I think it's the only way I'd ever get the little stuff quilted.
Happy stitching,

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Needle Pulling Thread, New Panto Pattern

It's taken me a little while to get this on here - what with the holiday season and all - but here it is:

This is the cover of the issue that my project is in! I walked into my Overwaitea yesterday and saw it on the shelf. I wonder if the excitement of having a project published wears off? I've been anticipating this for months - so much so that it's strangely anticlimactic having it finally out. All the work that I did was 'way back in the summer for this (talk to me sometime about trying to find beautiful Christmas prints in August...). It's interesting that most of the 'major' publicity work that I did over the course of last year all came out the week before Christmas. I guess I'll have to work on my timing!

Anyhoo - the project is called 'Noelle', and is a little angel wall hanging. I hope you like it.

On another note, Jodi Beamish released a new panto pattern yesterday on my behalf, Cumulus. It's based on a freehand cloud pattern that is very popular with my customers on their 'woodsy/outdoorsy' or star and sky quilts. It's fully interlocking with a two row repeat. The clouds in it are sunny day clouds, I find them kind of cheerful.
Well, I'm back to work on Zoe's quilt. It's almost done. I was having a little bit of thread tension trouble, but think it's working now. It's good to get back to stitching after a break.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Like many others, I find the Old Year's passing a time that encourages reflection. 2006 was a good year for me, both in my work and private lives. It's good that our culture has this little landmark day once a year built into it for those who would like to take advantage of the quiet, new January 1st to contemplate our changes. Looking back one, or even 3 or 5 years shows so much change, anymore. Our boys are growing so quickly that it's hard to keep up.
We are in the midst of building a back entryway on the house. It's a huge project that is keeping my DH busy in his spare time. Once everything is done and all of our boots/coats/sports gear is moved out of the dining room and into the entryway I plan on moving my secretary desk over into the corner by the back door. Once it's there, we'll set it up with our daily paperwork (you know, the bills, the notices from school - all those things that can't get put away until they're dealt with, but can't be dealt with right away). Yesterday I spent some time readying the desk for it's move by emptying some of the drawers. The bottom drawer has had all the keepsakes relating to our family since the boys were born, and a few since we moved to Nakusp.
I've not been as diligent as I'd planned with keeping their baby books current - there are almost no entries at all after our youngest was born! But everything was there, including each of the calendars from each of the years in reverse chronological order. There are newspaper clippings, scripts and playbills from plays, photographs, letters (some to and from the tooth fairy) and all the other amazingly significant detritus that our lives have produced in the past 11 1/2 years. I spent a couple of hours going through things thinking at the outset that I'd pare it down some. This was not to be the case. I kept everything: The pressed leaves and flowers from the days our children were born, the ticket to seeing Lorne Elliot perform here in Nakusp.
In the end I decided that the stuff of 10+ years fitting into a small drawer was not too much to bear. That, if anything, I've been quite spare in what qualified to go in that drawer in the first place. It has all been lovingly transferred into a nice solid tub with a tight fitting lid and is now waiting at the top of the stairs to be moved down into our storage space, to take up residence with the two other time capsules that hold the remnants of Randy's and my lives from before our marriage.
This morning I added the household calendar from 2006 to the new, blue tub, with all its records of lost teeth, births, deaths and silly things like dental appointments.
I opened up our new calendar made by my sister in law, and marvelled at the photos of our families and that another year has passed. I wrote all the known birthdays and anniversaries on it, and know I will add much, much more as the days pass.
The cycle renews itself, and we begin again.