Thursday, August 30, 2007

random thoughts on quilting influences

Our Modern Quilting webring 'Mom' asked us a question this week, one that I've been mulling over. She asked:

What inspires your quilt designs, where do you get your ideas?
How has Modern design has influenced your quilting, is there a specific style?

I came to quilting from painting, from an art background. Hmm. That's not necessarily true. I come from a strong grounding and deep appreciation for fibre arts, handcrafts and all things hand made. For a long time I thought that my future was in capital-"A"- Art, and saw my hand craft as a way to enrich my lifestyle and surroundings, a way to make and give significant gifts.

My quilting has been informed the same way as my other 'arts'. From art history, from historical ornament. My current favorite period is the Renaissance, but that will change. I tend to dive into a specific time period and learn as much as I can about it, in all kinds of different ways.

My ongoing fave time is the 30's - 50's, in western culture here in North America. It was the birth time of so many things that are such a huge influence on our culture today - television, for instance - and the surviving textiles and print ads seem to encapsulate a sense of innocence and wonder that we don't come across often in the highly cynical, dissatisfied, 'why me?' culture that we are currently living in.

How does this relate to quilting? Well, our attitudes inform what we do. I'll be inspired by a motif in an old ad or piece of historical ornamentation and explore it in fibre. Sometimes I'll go through a long process of brainstorming and drawing different aspects of that motif and related motifs in multiple media, and often will throw many of those ideas away. Sometimes all of them. Or set them aside. Sometimes, just sometimes, a form or idea will rise to the surface. Those are the good ones. They have the weight of all the other (rejected) pieces behind them, they reflect more than one facet of the original idea. The path from idea to finished piece might be untraceable to the viewer, but the traces of it are there. When the work is done deliberately, with thought, it shows.

Most of the quilts that I do for myself these days are a deliberate exploration of colour, of form, of technique (hopefully not of too many things in one piece). They seem to be more and more informed by Western Culture, in deliberate ways. But, hey, what's a girl to do? I was born here, immersed in all of this! It's mine to claim or to reject (even though rejecting it is a way to claim it, too). Right now I'm going through a process of claiming it. I rejected it long ago, before I even knew what it was, now that works from that time seem a bit naive to my eye. Hmm. Maybe I'm growing up. Finally, eh?


Gratuitous photo post

Last weekend we spent a few days in the small city of Nelson ( pop. 10,000) that will soon be our home. Part of our time was spent in the amazing Lakeside Park on Kootenay Lake.

There are several art installations in the park, two of the sculptures are right near the playground area, near the public beach, near the Big Orange Bridge.

The boys and I spent some time exploring while DH was meeting his new staff (!).

The sculpture at right (with Oldest) and at left (from my diminuitive point of view) is called "Young Giant", the one below is "The Secret".

"The Secret" inspired Oldest to write a poem of the same name - we currently have it posted in the dining room, next to my cherub quilt.

Things are starting to move forward with our big change. The house is on the market, even though the new roof will not be on until the end of October.

The new windows should arrive any time now, and they'll need to be installed before we can go.

I've been doing all the misc. meeting with accountants, etc., that goes with my move toward selling the business...and the machine. That's got to have been the single hardest thing about all these changes - selling that big 'ol Milli.

I will be buying a smaller machine for my own use and continued fibre exploration - and panto design ('cause I just love it), but will not be taking quilts for customers in the new year. I've got plenty of work to do before then, though, as I'll be finishing this years commitments before selling the shop.

On a totally different tack, the boys have been working on entering a photo contest, trying to win a digital video camera. They make little stop motion animation movies using the regular camera and an editing program, as well as short films using the video capeabilities of our regular camera. They edit them on the computer, adding titling, soundtracks and credit rolls... and are very motivated to enter this contest - hopefully to win!

Yesterday they got Youngest all in costume and makeup and outside for a photo shoot. They did all of this...I can't take any credit (or blame)! In their favour, they didn't leave the bathroom covered in facepaint (as they often do).

Oldest took about 20 photos. This is the one they want to enter:

I don't know why they think that a clown on a cell phone is hysterically funny, but they do. They laughed their heads off over it!

Even if they don't win the contest they will have had a great afternoon together. DH and I often thank our lucky stars that our boys are such good friends with shared interests. I know a lot of kids are so bored that they're ready to go back to school and that for many families this last week before the 9 - 3 life kicks in is awful, with the kids fighting and bickering. Not us, so far. They just seem to have too much to do to fight, I guess.

Happy stitching,


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Big news

Some of our close friends already know, but we're starting to go public with the news:
DH got a job in Nelson, 150 km away from Nakusp. We'll be moving sometime this winter, probably, after I finish the quilts that I've committed to for the year.

We're in Nelson this weekend, introducing the boys to everything and just generally checking things out.

It's a big, big change, but we're excited about it!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Centre converged

Here are the strips cut and re-sorted for the next stitching's so important to keep them in the right order. I have a little heart attack every time I try to move one from the cutting table to the machine so that they're ready to stitch...
I do love how these fabrics look together.
There. The centre portion is done.
Now I need to dye some fabric for the accent border. How did I forget I have to do that?!@!?

Happy stitching,


Convergence begins...

As I mentioned in a previous post, part of the reason for making the dyed fabric over the past few days has been to make a super sized convergence quilt.

This is the original layout, working with 40" squares.
It's really nice to have the big machine and lots of space for layout - this quilt is made of a whole bunch of really big pieces that I want to keep in order. You can see here all the strips cut and placed in order (and my helper, Blackie):
This is the quilt top once all the pieces have been put back together the first time. Next step is to cut up the top again and put it back together one more time...
So far I like the way it's working out. The size is reasonably within what I expected, but this next cut and stitch part will let me know if my math skills are still worth anything.

Happy stitching,


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Yardage done!

The weather was perfect! I'm glad I did this earlier, because it's getting cloudy out there now.

I did another 2 pieces, both 1 1/2 M in length. These were done the same way as the ones from yesterday (wet-in-wet, on plastic, watered down Dye-Na-Flow, dropped on the fabric from a paintbrush, ferns placed on top of the wrinkly fabric).

Today's batch was really successful technique-wise - I'm really happy with the colour separation in the fabric, and with the sunprinting. I didn't know that the different colours would react differently under the ferns (there are two detail shots included here that you can click on for a larger version) some cases it looks like the fabric was underdyed in one colour, then overdyed and sunprinted with another...not so! All the colours were applied in one go (from lightest to darkest), and all left out in the sun at the same time.

Cool. I love happy accidents!

The sickly yellow colour was inspired by the look of the ferns on the red fabric yesterday...I loved the colour tension between the insipid green and the red...and tried to get that colour in the 'cool' fabric today.

Soooo...the final colours are one red, one orange, one greenish-blue, one purple-y blue.

I've done a couple of different runs at the math part, and think I'm ready to cut into this fabric now.

After I finish the quilt that's on the machine.

Happy stitching!


Short update:

The weather just would not co-operate with me yesterday. I ended up with surprise results due to sudden storm to the South completely blocking out the sun (no sunpainting effects) and then a little bit of sprinkling rain while I was downstairs in the studio (scattered dots), much lighter colour than expected due to things getting a little too diluted by the rain. Luckily, I still like the fabric!

Life in the mountains is always somewhat unpredictable, weather wise.

Today looks a little clearer, so I'll try to do the cool colour pieces today.

Back to quilting!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Uh Oh....

My new Dye-na-flow paint came from the Dharma Trading Co! This is a very dangerous situation, as evidenced by the photos...

I've painted (wet in wet) 3 M of bleached muslin today and have already prewashed some of the silk I ordered to play with!

This is actually two 1 1/2M pieces of fabric with a chromatic gradation. I'll be doing another set of pieces in cool colours as I'm putting together a super sized Convergence Quilt in the next few weeks and wanted to try doing it with hand-dyed fabrics first, then with print fabrics. Part of the reason for the first quilt is to work out some math questions I have about how this will go, and I wanted to use 'renewable resource' fabric instead of purchased fabric until I get the kinks worked out. Also, this way I get to learn more about what kinds of things I can do with this dye/paint.

These pieces are done by first wetting and wringing them out, then placing them on plastic. I don't have a big enough table to lay them out flat, so I crunch them up a little. The goal is to make peaks and valleys, rather than folds. I want light and dye to hit a lot of the fabric, not to have TOO many big whitish patches left over.

I do dilute the dye-na-flow somewhat. Never a good measurer, I eyeball this (no surprise there, eh Mom?). Once the paint is diluted, I drop it on from a big brush, lightest colour first. Usually I'll mix in a colour that doesn't totally belong - just for interest's sake, but today I was very restrained.

The leftover diluted dye was poured on in both cases, then scrabbled - that's the technical term - around on the plastic until the other colour just starts to blend with it.

It's not nearly bright enough today for the fabric to sunprint properly, so I have removed the bits of bracken that were scattered over it. I like sunprinting the uneven surface. It gives such lovely unexpected bits of shadow here and there.

I'll let you know how these come out. Promise.

Off to buy more muslin!


Monday, August 20, 2007

Weekend gone already

First, the big news:
Last night we finally did it, cut Oldest's hair. He's not all that pleased with it, but probably will get used to it over the next while...we hope.

On a totally different topic, our garden has been growing like crazy!

The boys helped me seed it this year, and have quite a bit of pride in how it has all grown. We just put in a little one, other years I have planted more than I could maintain...and have slowly learned my lesson.

The first photo is included here partly to show how darn tall our sunflowers are...the tallest one must be over 10 feet, now. I think the boys will want to enter it in the Fall Fair.

The other exciting development is that our pumpkin has three good-sized pumpkins on it! This is the one Oldest has taken to referring to as his 'prize pumpkin'. He wants to enter it in the fair, too.

The pumpkin plant was a volunteer...and has voluntarily taken over most of the garden!

We also have some very yummy beets and carrots. I'd been planning pizza for dinner (the dough is rising as I write!) but after some time pulling beets and carrots, we'll be having a veg side dish, for sure.

What pride, eh?

And here is one of the small sunflowers:

Grow where you are planted.


Saturday, August 18, 2007


4 things meme

I've been tagged by Vicki over at Field Trips in Fiber...

4 things you may not know about me:

1. I'm a voracious reader.
2. I grew up falling asleep each night to radio plays from the 30's, 40's and 50's. I would tape them onto cassette and listen to them over and over. I have a huge box, still, filled with them although I may no longer have a cassette player.
3. I have a 50 gallon tropical fish tank. I love it - and the fact that it's just conceptually really cool to have a small piece of what is essentially an alien atmosphere in the house.
4. My Oldest suggested that I include the fact that I and the pets (1 dog, 3 cats) are the only girls in the house. Not including the fish.

4 Jobs I have had:


director's assistant



4 Movies I could watch over and over:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Absolutely anything directed by Tim Burton (Planet of the Apes, Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands....does that count as one movie?)

Absolutely anything directed by the Coen Brothers

Spirited Away

4 TV Shows I watch:


Family Guy (I know, I know it's tasteless...but it makes me laugh so hard!)

My name is Earl

The Office

4 Hobbies:

(Awww...only 4?!@!??)


Jewelery making (wirework and beadwork)



4 Places I have lived




Nakusp (all of these are here in BC)

4 Favorite Foods


This goat cheese/fig spread that my buddy Allison makes...

homemade granola

fresh fruit in season

4 Places I would rather be

This is a toughie. Life is pretty good here. I could see myself and family in Nelson area, or somewhere else in the Kootenays, but all in all, what I need in order to be happy is my friends and family. It's a good thing that great relationships are portable.

4 Websites I visit daily:

My google page and the various things it takes me to, including news, gmail, and my blog reader.

Illustration Friday

My own site, Threads in Motion

And that's about it, really. Well, here, too. This blogspot spot.

4 people I tag to play this:

Well, I can't think of anyone to tag who hasn't already been tagged, so if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged, if you want!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A quick fix

One of my all-time favorite T-shirts got stained somehow at camp this year. Chances are it was lumped in with some wet towels that had not decided to keep all their dye yet...some of the dark blue transfered on to my fave green T, then decided to stay. I tried all kinds of things to get rid of it, short of cutting it out.

It is a $5 shirt...but I got it really far away and would have a heck of a time replacing it...and I love it. It's that wonderfully soft cotton that drapes well and feels yummy.

After Jodi's and my day on Sunday I had a bit of a brainwave...I mean, what have I got to lose? If this didn't work, it was only a $5 shirt, right?

Monday I set it up outside in the sun with some Dye-na-flow and ferns to sunprint it, and yesterday I spent a bit of my day cutting a stencil from freezer paper. I'd fallen in love with that little bird stencil I'd bought, so opted to enlarge it.

Last evening I stenciled the bird on using a metallic silver Shiva paintstick. I was a little worried, given the stretchy nature of the knit, but all in all it worked out rather well. I think the shirt has been resurrected.

I know one is SUPPOSED to wait 3 days for their paintstick work to dry, but I just couldn't. While still stretched on the cardboard, I ironed the dickens out of it, using some paper towels to pick up any loose paint. I was a bit ruthless with the iron, then left it overnight. This morning I spent a little more time pressing it, then threw it in the washer (saying to myself: "$5 shirt, $5 shirt"). It came through the washer and dryer without incident (to itself or the machines) and seems to be ready for action again!

A little side note:

Yesterday I was quilting along as I usually do, with my sound-reducing headphones on (listening to White Teeth by Zadie Smith - don't wait, just read it). I could hear a funny noise sort of at the edge of my first I thought my machine had developed a murmur or vibration sound, but once I took my headphones off, I could distinctly hear a cat purring. Our oldest cat, Bishop (12yrs) usually announces herself to me by purring, so I looked around for her.
I couldn't find her anywhere. Following the sound, I discovered her here, in the bottom of the quilts waiting for quilting. There are some baskets down there that she had set up shop in! She seemed to have mixed feelings about being discovered in there and left almost immediately after I took her picture.

Unfortunately for Bishop, I've had to make the space less attractive for her. She won't want to sleep in there now as I've covered it in plastic.

Like the rest of us, she'd snooze under quilts all day if she could.

Happy stitching,


Monday, August 13, 2007

There you go, new header

So I didn't end up using any of the others you were so kind as to offer your opinions on.

I 'auditioned' each one...some made me say 'ew!' some made me say 'hmmm' - and so far this one is the best. I'll probably change it again, though, so stay tuned.


Day with Jodi

Yesterday was tons of fun. Once I got down to Jodi's (3 1/2 hour drive - eep! I guess that's why we don't do this more often!) we got going on playing!

As it turns out, I brought WAY more fabric than I needed for what we were doing. I brought 5 M of black and 6(!) of bleached white muslin! We started things off with a little sunprinting (the weather and time of day were great for it) using Setacolour dyes. I hadn't used these before, and Jodi had a nice selection. I was pretty pleased with how this came out ...pleased enough that I'll probably put some of my own out here at home a little later if the wind doesn't pick up.

Most of the day was spent playing with Shiva Paintsticks. These super little numbers were really easy to get started with! My first piece used their Ginkgo rubbing plate. I enjoyed how we could layer the colours without waiting for the previous colour to dry.

We played for a while with the plates that are designed for the paintsticks, but after a while started branching out to other surfaces for rubbing. Jodi has an amazing collection of hand carved stamps from when she used to teach floorcloth painting classes - we found that they worked really, really well. They were tremendously versatile, too. She had some plastic doilies that got recruited as rubbing surfaces, as well.

I had a little stencil that I'd bought that morning (on my way there. Who from a town the size of mine can resist the WalMart craft section?!?!?) which I absolutely love. No suprise there, I seem to be partial to images of birds these days.

By far my favorite pieces were those done on the already hand-dyed fabric (thanks Jodi, for the apricot fabric) or on the black. Well, and the bird.
The ones on white background are calling out to me that they need once the paintsticks are totally dry and heat set (Wednesday) I might try immersion dying them to see what happens. I have a hunch that because the paintstick dye is an oil based surface paint, it may act as a mask. I'm hoping that an 'overdye' will appear to be more of an 'underdye' - does that make sense?


Now I have more ideas than I could possibly do in a single life time. Once I finish the quilt that's on the machine I'll get crackin'.
I want to make some custom rubbing plates using dimensional fabric paint on cardboard (the ones I tried using white glue just don't have enough, well, dimension to be effective). Those will take at least 24 hours to dry. I better get the sunprinting stuff outside, oh, and possibly send off an order to Dharma Trading Co. or Maiwa Handprints for more dye....

I knew a great day with a good friend would ultimately get me in trouble.

Thanks for all the fun, Jodi.


Long drive down the valley

I drove down the Slocan Valley yesterday to see my friend Jodi B (of Willow Leaf Studio) and spend the day printing fabric.

I'd forgotten until I got to Silverton that the road (the only road through this pass) had been closed for forest fire...what reminded me was the smell. If you've never been near a really big forest fire it's hard to describe - not just campfire on steroids, but bigger, greasier and dirtier smelling than that. And it doesn't go away...we seem to get used to smells pretty quickly and not notice them any more, but not this one...

It was about 6:30 or 7 am by the time I got anywhere near the fire site, and there was no other traffic around. The photo at left shows the first big piece of the burn visible from the road. And for comparison sake, our valley was completely clear blue sky yesterday - the sky here was completely obscured by the smoke. This one is a big fire. Around 3000 Hectares at last count.
Once I was stopped waiting for the pilot car I took the second picture. You can see how the whole slope is obliterated here. While I was waiting to be taken through the Flagperson told me that the geo-technical crews were up there testing the stability of the slope. There are no trees and no soil left, so nothing really there to hold all those rocks up. While we were driving through the burn area (I didn't take pictures, I was by myself in the car) it was easy to see big gouges in the road surface where large rocks had fallen. Many were still in the ditches along the sides of the road where they had been pushed to allow traffic to pass.
The ride home allowed me a better view of the burn area, but I didn't take photos. I think I must have come through during shift change, as several trucks full of firefighters were leaving the area as we were going through. The helicopters were going over us as we were driving through behind the pilot car, with their big bags full of lake water to dump on the areas that are still burning.
It makes me very grateful that we don't have any fires directly in our valley this year, but makes my heart go out to all of those who have been grappling with this one and ones like it this summer.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Completely unstoppable, once I get an idea in my head

Once I got to a certain point with the fabric I just HAD to keep going to finish the book.

I fused some lining fabric to the back (using Steam-A-Seam2). I felt that the stiffness of the SAS2 would be an asset to the project. On a softer project I'd use MistyFuse.

The flap edge has a strip of loop tape on the back of it. The reasoning for this was to try to ensure that the edge would seal well when the book is closed to protect it from wear and tear. (It also helps to strengthen the book edge - because the original quilting is done just with cotton batting, I wanted to add some 'ooph' and prevent the edge from curling)

I started out by placing the loop tape where I wanted it, then stitching a narrow satin stitch line down next to where I wanted the final edge to be. Once this was stitched, I trimmed away the excess (through all layers), then re-satin stitched with a wider setting, enclosing the raw edge.

I figured out where I wanted the cover to bend and stitched vertical lines in those places. The vertical stitching lines help to re-enforce the book and guide the folds so that the whole thing doesn't end up getting out of shape as it is opened, closed and re-opened. The stitching lines also prove to be a good guide for where to sew the signatures.

You can also see the strip of hook tape affixed to the front cover of the book. It should be completely hidden by the flap overlap. (The loop tape is on the flap so that when you're writing it is soft under your hand. If I'd put the hook tape here, it would catch on the writer's sleeve and scratch up her wrist.)

I hand stitched 4 signatures in of 10 pages each. I didn't embellish the spine as I wanted this to be something that can be tucked in a purse and pulled out when inspiration strikes (without getting caught in the keys).

I bound the top and bottom edge with my very last piece of this fabric (all the rest is quilted!). There was 2" more fabric than I needed - eep! I usually pad my amounts more than that!

Rather than turn the flap and front cover edges of the binding under, I opted to satin stitch them to match the rest of the edge.

The final book is 6.75" X 9.25". Big enough to write in, small enough to tuck into a bag.

And it has that lovely quilted texture that I'm so fond of.

I'm planning on giving it to a friend of mine this weekend.

The book itself was inspired by the book made in the class with Sue Bleiweiss through Joggles.

The fabric improvements, cutie pie motifs and uneven flap edge were inspired by an article at Fibre and Stitch called the Flexi Bag. Fibre and Stitch is a new magazine coming out published by Sue Bleiweiss...well worth checking out.

Happy stitching,


More fun with 'saved' fabric

I had a little time this morning while expecting a customer, so I popped the 'saved' fabric from the other day on to the machine and got going.

I love doing these little pieces. They go on and off the machine so quickly, it makes for a very nice completion rush!

I started out with yellow thread, just stitching around the shapes and adding some pebbly bits for texture..

Next a light celery green thread, more shapes, more pebbly bits, plus a few 'ghost' flowers for interest's sake.
Last of all I did some darker green thread. I'd thought originally that my darkest colour on this would be a deep purple pushed into the darkest shadows for some colour tension, but it didn't really need it in the end. The darkest green was sufficient. Any purples that I auditioned looked almost black on the fabric surface, so I nixed that in a hurry.

The final shot here is of the fabric before taking it off the machine. You can see where I used the darkest green to stitch a vertical line...that's my cutting line. I want to use part of the fabric to make a journal cover with a flap. The flap will have an uneven edge, so a cutting line is stitched for that, too (top left hand corner), to make sure that it will be a nice marriage between the cut edge and the fabric motifs.

There. Whew.

Now, the next fun bit, making the book!