Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thrifty - maybe to a fault

One of the things that has always bothered me about quilting is all the waste thread. Once I started quilting for others I was amazed at how much thread did not make it into the actual quilt! Considering that the genesis of this craft was the use of things past use for their original intended purpose, it has always seemed wrong to be wasteful. That, and I just have trouble throwing things into the landfill.
This is a cloud of waste thread from the past month or so's worth of quilts:

And this is what I did with it this morning before school:

The spindle is a home-made one, using a piece of dowel sharpened in a pencil sharpener with a craft-store wooden wheel glued at the cup-hook end. The whole works cost me about $1.15 to make...and I have enough materials to make another just like it, maybe a low-whorl version.

What'll I use the spun thread for? Well, I've got a couple of ideas...

Happy stitching (or spinning)


Hallowe'en fun

We had our annual pumpkin carving session yesterday...with rather the largest two pumpkins we have EVER carved!

Oldest is carving the second of the two big pumpkins that he grew in the garden (we ate the first one!) and youngest picked out his at the grocery store the other day....a really BIG pumpkin!

To succeed you need a lot of concentration...

And a very steady hand....

The thing that didn't get captured in the photos is the cats. Our cats wandered around and through all of this, very curious as to why and what we were doing (well, the young cats were curious. The old one just came up and did what she did every year: eat pumpkin innards right out of the bowl! I don't know if that's her very own peculiarity or what, but it seems pretty strange!)

Hah! Success!

For those out trick or treating in our neighbourhood...You are not seeing double - and - fear the reaper. Yes, fear the reaper.



Monday, October 29, 2007

Blossom Lady gets a new dress

Again, not the greatest angle, but things are starting to really take shape now. I stood on a chair to take this picture, so the angle is slightly 'up' the figure, further accentuating the bottom part of the piece.

The dye I used for the dress and hairband is 'Sky Blue' - a lot like a nice cerulean blue. Having some of the sepia ('Autumn Leaf' - much like a burnt sienna) lightly pushed into the shadows was really helpful when it came time to do the blue for the dress. I've never worked a single colour over such a large area before and there were many challenges to be met in getting the colour even in the large, open, lightest areas. I tried several techniques and finally settled on working with a really dry paintstick in large motions in the 'grain' of the fabric's wrinkles.

I didn't want this to get too dark yet because I'll eventually fill the inside area of the ring with some very dark colours, and I want to be sure to have enough contrast to let the figure remain in the foreground. It's hard to let it go, but there are many hours of painting left and only so many for sleep before the new day comes. I love how the few 'tightened up' roses have so much dimension. It bodes well for the rest of the piece, I think.

I should probably go and try to sleep now.

All the best,


Blossom girl sepia wash...

Pardon the oddball angle, but with this on the table it's hard to get a good shot of her. I've been doing the sepia toned wash today, and you can see that I'm setting up some shadow areas in the drapery of her dress. Just a sense of where the shadows will fall, nothing too definitive just yet.

I love this stage (do I say that at every stage?) as the image really does grow and change from minute to minute.

I'm looking forward to working on it more after supper. The sepia is not done yet.

Don'tcha just love how the contrast just brings the image into 3 dimensions? I think I'll cutaway trapunto or false trapunto the figure and maybe the roses, too. We'll see.

Happy Monday,


*edited to add - the funny line shadows that are in the left of the photo are actually shadowing coming through the muslin from the big ironing pad that I have underneath the piece (It's a big machine quilting practice sandwich. Multiuse). On the right, the big shadow is the iron. I tend to work really hot and dry (fabric, that is) for the detail stuff, and a little more loosely in the larger areas. If you've ever used these inks you know that they want to BLEED. Any time there is a hard line I've really heated things up so that the ink is drying almost as it's applied.*

Blossom girl continues...

No, really, I do other things than going through old knitting magazines...
Thanks for the comments, though. Gosh, they're fun. Don't encourage me too much, ladies, 'cause I've also got some Beehive pattern books from the '30's and '40's that are ripe for lampooning!

Yesterday afternoon and last night I got back to working on the Blossom Girl. Once I traced her on to the fabric (Roc-Lon bleached muslin with mechanical pencil) I untaped everything from the wall upstairs and moved it down into my studio. I'm pretty lucky with the size of my space - there was room enough for both drawings to be pinned to my design wall, then to work at the sewing table (a twin to our dining table...DH made them both for me).

When working with Tsukineko inks I find it's best to work up in layers of colour, much like watercolour (all those who followed me through this process in Jan/Feb for the Cherub Quilt might not find this part all that interesting).

The first wash was done in Banana Creme (their colour name). It was applied to the parts of the painting that are going to have skin tones, or as under painting for areas like leaves and the circle that she's sitting in.

The next wash was done in Apricot - again focusing on the areas the will be warmest in colour.

This time, just so that I could keep an eye on how the whole piece is developing, I started in with the Orchid colour, then the Celadon. Normally I'd work the warm tones all the way up through their next two (at least) washes, but because the piece is so big, it was better to work over larger areas.

If you enlarge the photo at left you'll see some of the roses to the far left have already had some dark purple (purple mist? I'll have to look up that name) shadows pushed into them.

I know things look a little amorphous at this point, but stick with'll all come together. And if it doesn't? I've got another piece of muslin waiting in the wings.

Happy Monday,


(P.S. I'm totally jealous of all you Houston travellers out there....have fun, have fun, have FUN)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

John and Mary - a Threadbare tribute

The last thing that I heard her say before the phone line went dead was, "He made us MATCHING gotta get me out of here!"


Enough of this frivolity. Back to work.

Happy Sunday,


Oh - those knitting patterns...

Francine can put in a zipper, but she doesn't have to like it.

Charlotte thought that her best feature was always covered up. For years she went through life, feeling that she was hiding her special light under a bushel.
One day, she got her chance... she won a radio contest in which she got to be a clothing designer for a day. She knew exactly what to make! The dress she'd always wanted, but never found anywhere else, the 'peek-a-boo sternum', in two lengths, one for day, one for evening.


60's knitting patterns

So. I've been leafing through these knitting books, thinking about what I might like to make, what would be fun to wear. I come across something like this and think, "yeah. I could wear that."And when I look at the next book cover I think, "maybe in different colours, but I CERTAINLY could wear that!"
Then I turn the page and think, "What the? Did people ever ACTUALLY wear things like this?" Then I remember the '80's. And the things I wore. And the things I WISHED that I'd worn. And it all starts to be a little more believable.

But this? Oh. My. Goodness.
A garment like this would cause SERIOUS marital stress. Not only that I would consider making this for my fella, but that I might expect him to wear it?!?!! - Oh, please note, the socks are only stripes...these leggings have footsies. How - uh - inventive? Like long johns for Robin Hood. Note the 'ready for anything' posture.

I think I'm going to pretend I AM going to make these for my fella, and see how long it takes him to catch on...


yarn winder fun

So if you've been reading for a while you've probably come to the conclusion that I'm not someone who just 'dips a toe in' to anything - I'm kind of a 'both feet at the deep end with a large WAHOOOO!' type (Hi Mom, hi Dad, you know better than anyone).

I mentioned at the end of my last post that a knitting machine came for me in the mail yesterday...and when DH came back from Nelson he brought me two more that I'd arranged to have come live with us.

What does a girl who has never used one before need THREE knitting machines for?
That's a good question.
I wish I had an answer.

Anyhoo, in the box of machine parts that came with DH there was a yarn winder. I've been looking at these little beauties on the internet for a while now, thinking...'I've got to get me one of those'. It turned (quite literally) all my misc. balls of yarn into lovely, centre pull skeins. Aren't they pretty? And ready to use with my - er - one of my new knitting machines. (Not any time soon, mind you, as I have no idea how to put them together and am now waiting for machine manuals to make their way here from the U.K.)

My mention of the pattern books that came with the Passap prompted Arlee to mention in the comments Threadbared.

Truly hilarious! If you are having a bad day, or a good day for that should surf on over and have a read. Especially if you are a knitter/crafter.

I have a few posts in mind as Threadbared Tribute Posts...
Stay tuned,


Friday, October 26, 2007


I got some rather diminutive parts in the mail today from Linda Lang over at

While I was working the other day, I noticed that the pigtails (both of them) had deep grooves in them from the path that the thread has taken through them over the past 6+ years.

I tried to capture it in the photo at left, but my camera was much more interested in focusing on, well, anything but the pigtail. Can you see the groove? It's only about the depth of two pencil lines (done with sharp pencil), but on a piece of metal that small it makes a difference!

Two minutes with a screwdriver (not the beverage kind) and all is well, I'm back in business.

Thanks, Linda!

I also got something not-so-small in the mail today...a Passap Duo (pinky) knitting machine. And a TON of books with patterns for knitted clothes. OH! How I love those 60's and 70's fashions! I'll share some of the more hilarious photos with you in a later post. For now, though, back to quilting!


Thursday, October 25, 2007

More Blossom Lady

Well. This is the second go-around for this post. It seems that blogger or my computer lost that last one. I've been having some computer problems lately, so maybe the fault is mine. If you never hear from me again, it's because my computer(s) crashed.

Anyhoo, I got the blossom lady traced. The first photo here on the left is to give an idea of the scale of the drawing.

After dinner I taped another layer of vellum over the drawing and traced it with Sharpie - note! I can use a Sharpie without it bleeding through thanks to the quality of the vellum I'm using. If you are following along, doing a project of your own at home, be sure to test your paper before using a Sharpie on it!

I love this stage. The whole thing starts taking shape at this point a bit more. Now I can get a bit better idea of the colour balance and composition of the piece. Often at this stage I'll spend some time working with a few black and white copies (MUCH smaller) and a stack of pencil crayons until I get a colour scheme that feels right.

Is she Demeter? She just might be.

Happy Thursday.


Making lemonade

I had a bit of a rough morning. Yes, it even happens to quilters!

After wandering around my space for the morning unable to concentrate on anything for others, I figured I better just take a day and do something for I got going on a design for a quilt, one that I've had pressing at the forefront of my mind for several months now.

I'm hoping to do it in a similar technique to the cherub quilt (Bacchanalia), but wanted to do it bigger. After lunch I closed the door on my studio downstairs, cleaned off the dining table upstairs, spread out my vellum and got to work.

The piece I'm working on is based on a little (1 1/2" X 2") drawing on page 97 of a book called 2,600 Typographic Ornaments and Designs published by Dover, edited by Maggie Kate. Most of the designs fall into the broad category of the Art Nouveau movement - a movement that's rather close to my heart. Both DH and I are big fans of the kind of work that emerged during William Morris' Arts and Crafts movement in the 1870's, and hold many of the principles embodied there dear.

The piece got big, fast. The vellum I'm working on measures 36" wide by 47" long. Originally I worked on the table, but soon found that I'm just not long enough to work on the top of the drawing with it down... so I took the cherub quilt off the wall and taped up my vellum! MUCH easier.
The photo at left was taken standing on the table. My Oldest was home today with a stuffy head, and he had set up his drawing space at the other end of the table. Gotta love the reaction of a 10 year old when his mother STANDS on the TABLE to take a think I'd ever let him stand on the table? I'm such a hypocrite.

The photo at right is taken for comparison sake, so that one can see the actual size of the original drawing with my sketch. Of course the translation from something so small to something so large means many, many differences in the final work...I changed many elements quite substantially.

In the small picture it looks as though she has cherry or plum blossoms behind her (impossible to tell for sure, the flowers just loose, cloudy shapes), and the flowers she is unleashing, sprinkling from the cornucopia are roses. I've opted to make them ALL roses, for continuity's sake. I'm sure there will be botanical-minded viewers that will find the rose on the tree-like branches to be anachronistic, but so be it.

Sadly, as she is done only in pencil at this stage, she is hard to photograph. I've sized the photos so that you can click on them for a large version, if you like, and hopefully that will give you a better idea of what it looks like. Or not.

I'm not sure what to call her yet, but I'm sure that will emerge as the piece progresses. So far, she's just 'the blossom lady' and she feels like a tribute to spring, to renewal and regrowth.

Here's to a day making lemonade out of lemons.

All the best,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A peek at Digiquilter reveals...

Jodi has been very busy. She's posted several more of my designs there in digital form. For those of you who have computerized quilting machines there is now:


Let it snow



Briar Rose (yup, the one in the blog header)

And finally, Caring Hands. My proceeds from this pattern go to Support Services in Kelowna for women in treatment for Breast Cancer.

If any of these strike your computerized quilting fancy, they are available at Digiquilter!



Okay, for you fellow cat lovers out there...

This is Bishop. She's a venerable 12 years old, soon to be 13. She's a sweetheart with me, but despises our other 2 cats (who are almost 3 years old, birthday on Hallowe'en.)

She's a good ol' girl and she (along with one of the black cats) keeps me company during the day, always curled up nearby. The reason I posted the photo yesterday is because I was absolutely shocked to see her up on my desk! This is a cat that has trouble with anything higher than a stair riser...partly due (we think) to arthritis, but mostly due to her Rubenesque physique.

I'm not usually someone to post pictures of my pets, but now I've done it twice in two days!

And just so y'all don't think I've abandoned my crafty ways, here's a picture of what I did on Sunday...Burda 8407. Not the greatest picture, but it gives you the idea. Yes, it still needs a good pressing.

With moving on the horizon I've been going through all my old boxes of art, craft and sewing supplies in an effort to pare down. If I haven't used something in the time we've been in this house, why do I still have it? Rather than have a garage sale, I've been selling most of my old (but good) yarn and fabric stash on eBay, or giving it to local charity.

While going through my boxes of fabric I ran across this gray wool suiting, a piece of fabric that I bought about 15 years ago, when I lived in Vancouver (Oh! Vancouver! Land of inexpensive and plentiful fabric!).

Last weekend on my way back from Rossland I bought this sweet skirt pattern, and - voila! A skirt!

Back to quilting,

Monday, October 22, 2007

Morning silliness

I came downstairs to the shop this morning to tackle my stack of paperwork - and look who is LAYING on it? I don't know how this old, arthritic gal got up here, but she was quickly evicted (after a brief photo shoot).

Ack. Obviously I need to get going on this paperwork. Especially now that it's insulation properties have been proven.

Happy Monday!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Socks - finished!

HAH! I finished Youngest's socks yesterday morning....and here he is holding the sum total of the remaining wool.

I think I got lucky this time! Boy, did I knit quickly toward the end there, though. Gotta finish before the wool runs out....

Here are a couple of photos of our feet, boy's feet and Mom's feet, all clad in our Kool-Aid socks. This is right before the big Kitchen Floor Slide Fest commenced...

I think I'm done with sock knitting for now, and am movin' on for a while. There are some garments I'd like to sew, and some more quilts to finish.

Thanks for all the comments, and for putting up with my sock-knitting whimsy.

Have a great weekend,


Thursday, October 18, 2007

New patterns released at Willow Leaf Studio

I just got a note from Jodi saying that my two newest patterns are available through Willow Leaf Studio (link at left). The first is 'Bombay Blossom', and it's based on one of some lovely hand carved wooden tsaps that my parents have had for years, originally from India.

The second is called simply 'Mums', and it's some sweetie pie flowers that I often am called upon to do freehand on customer quilts. The nice part about this is that now you can use them too.

Happy stitching,


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More gratuitous colour

Doesn't the wool for Youngest's socks go well with my jammies?

I know, I'm such a colour tart.

Happy stitching,


Sunday, October 14, 2007

More socks - and what I've been up to


I tried the weigh method, you know, to make sure I didn't have to dye more wool for Oldest's socks...and wouldn't you know it, 8 rows from the end, I ran out of wool. AGAIN.

So disappointing. I thought I had this one figured out.

Today, after dying a SMALL quantity more of Kroy, Oldest's socks are done. And keeping his feet warm.

Others who are parents of 10 year old boys will find it interesting to note that the first thing he did when he put them on was to test them for their 'run and slide' qualities.

Apparently they rate high in their 'slideability'.

This is a desired quality in a 10 year old's sock.

And now I've gotten started on Youngest's socks.

Here's a little peek of my current knitting corner in the living room...

Just so that you don't think that the blog has been hijacked by my alter-knitting-ego, I'm happy to report that I took a lovely drive yesterday down to Slocan, Castlegar and Rossland to deliver quilts and take in the Rossland Quilt show.

I've been reluctant to post pictures of quilts lately as I only like to post pictures of ones that I have permission for when they belong to customers. My regular work days are quite full of quilts, thread and fabrics, just not my own lately - ergo, little quilting related material to post. Let it be said, though, that I'm really enjoying the quilting and hope to be able to post something of it for you soon.

Back to yesterday...
I got to have a lovely visit with my friend Debra in Castlegar - she is always a lovely hostess and we always have more to talk about than time to talk about it in.
The Rossland quilt show was wonderful. Only their second show, it was really well hung and diverse! The guild there held their first show 2 years ago, and it, too, was really good. The group is very prolific, taking classes and doing challenges, as well as many, many individual quilts from individual members. It was a little bittersweet, as part of the time was spent goodbye to customers as their machine quilter.
A Hard thing.
This work has been an amazing opportunity. There are so many lovely people that I would not have had the occasion to meet had I not been in this line of work. I know that this is only one of the many aspects of this work that I will miss.

Happy stitching,


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gratuitous Fall Colours Post

I recently was reconnected with a friend I grew up with in the Fraser Valley, but have not seen for many years (thanks Facebook!) . She has since moved to a rather arid part of the U.S. and mentioned that she missed all the green. Susan, this post is for you!

Things are pretty glorious here right now. We are nestled in Columbia Mountains in B.C. along the Arrow Lakes. At this time of year we can look up and see the snow advance toward us, day by day. Youngest keeps asking if we can "get the winter clothes out YET? MOM?"...I haven't gotten all our summer clothes out of laundry rotation yet! I'm not going to throw the winter clothes into the mix!

Remember a few weeks ago I climbed Saddleback? This is how the peak looked yesterday. Yep, if you click on it to enlarge the photo, that little dot on the right-hand peak is the cabin I was taking photos from!

Things are not nearly so stark down here. We're surrounded by riotous colour at every turn. I always forget that many of the gardens here have been planted taking their fall colours into consideration as much as those that grow and show the rest of the year!

As evidenced in the photo at upper right, even the bamboo at the school next door will not be outshone colour-wise.

This is 5th Ave. I find myself going out of my way to go downtown along this route these days because the Maple trees are in such glorious form.

Here's one of those Maples from a little closer up, looking up, 'way up:

And this little honey...I don't even know what it is, but am amazed by the coral colour that it achieves at this time of year.

And it's all so fleeting. A good rainstorm or high wind will take it all away in a couple of hours.

Happy Fall!