Monday, May 26, 2008

found treasures...

I've been going through all the boxes in my sewing room, getting organized and trying to decide what I really want (and what can be given away or sold) - uncovering partially finished treasures.

When I first started the machine quilting part of the shop I made wallets and tote bags for sale from my quilted fabric. It gave me a great way to sell off the practice pieces I was making, a way to use lovely fabrics in my practice bits, and to promote my quilting. People could hold in their hand a little bit of my work (usually with a business card tucked strategically inside) and I could get better at freehanding. It was a good system.
Lately I've been lamenting that my current wallet is giving up the ghost. Corners are worn through and it won't come clean in the wash anymore. I uncovered a box today that had several wallet starts in it, one that was so far along all it needed was the binding! I reached into my odds-and-ends binding box tonight, found an appropriate colour that was long enough, and VOILA! I have a brand-new, seven-year-old wallet!

Also while going through boxes I uncovered this little honey. I initially did the paper mache head, arms and legs in about '93, I'd guess. Her body is a little scrap of tea dyed muslin that I embroidered the bodice of at that time.

(Could someone tell me why blogger keeps over rotating my pictures?????)

I started stuffing her body tonight, and will glue on her hair, assemble her and make her a skirt tomorrow. I made two originally, and my sister-in-law has had the other one all these years, the only one of the pair that was completed.

I'm looking forward to seeing her finished...


Sunday, May 25, 2008

In pursuit of the perfect privy

Thanks to all of you who read my last post and talked or wrote to me. I really am okay - this came at the right time in our lives, it's the right thing to do, and today I feel really quite good (aside from the aches and pains associated with packing large chunks of steel up and down stairs, doing a couple (or more) dozen squats while putting the machine together, punctuated with two 3 hour stints sitting, driving)!

It was a tremendous gift for me to share the excitement of the recipient getting her machine - and all of the wonderful feelings that brought back for me. She's at the beginning of her adventure...I know it will bring her amazing things, as it has for me. It's a powerful thing to be a part of that piece of someone else's journey.

In the 'looking forward' department, my DH has been hard at work on a project for the property as we wait for the initial (and rather fundamental) building to take place.

A privy of prodigious proportions...

Never one to do things halfway, my fella has built a modular privy that incorporates our old screen door from this house, as well as cedar shake siding... and the crescent moon that is so symbolic, so archetypal, so associated with the private, contemplative moments so important in our daily rituals - no, no one will mistake this for a garden shed! It is what it is.

I love the way he thinks.

I'm very lucky that way.

To all of you who have been though large, perplexing changes,

I remain, simply,


Friday, May 23, 2008


Today I took apart my Milli, cleaned her thoroughly, and got ready to say goodbye.

We (the machine and I) are going on a road trip tomorrow to Grand Forks to deliver her to her new home.

I really thought I was ready for this, but when I turned her off for the last time (and thought to myself, "this is the last time") my throat closed a little, and I felt tears well up. It really is the end of an era in my life, in a big way. Somehow it is comforting and fitting that I finished with a customer quilt - a friend of our family's.

I have always been struck by the emphasis we (as a culture) put on 'firsts'. This is especially true when our children are little: their first steps, first words, first day of school, first day of college, first job.....

but we don't acknowledge the 'lasts'.
The last time I sang my boys to sleep, for instance. I wish I could remember that.

It's been a few weeks of acknowledging 'last times'. Now that we are seriously moving toward building on our new property I've been very aware of our 'last times'. On Sunday of the past weekend the boys, DH and I flew a kite in the big field behind our house. As I sat on the grass next to my fella watching the kids run around, bright Chinese kite up in the big, blue sky, I thought to myself, "we may never do this again, here". The day was gorgeous, sunny and windy- the perfect day to fly a kite, to make a memory.

I hope you remember the good 'lasts', the ones that make your heart swell. The bad 'lasts' can be lost to memory - good riddance, and all that - let's take all the good endings and move forward into our new beginnings.

Yours, humbly,

(as one door closes and another opens)


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ch ch ch ch changes

I'm at this odd, lovely, confusing juncture.

Usually it is New Years Day that gets me into this kind of philosophical mood, but I guess big life changing events can do it too.

I just got off the phone from my internet service provider, cancelling my domain for June 1. Threads in Motion will end...that day.

I've been going over the website info and photos, trying to decide what to keep and what to discard. I've had the shop for 7 years. During that time I've made and re-made the website several times (this last time with some help from a bona-fide web designer), written and re-written much of the content.

One thing that has stayed consistent since the beginning is my bio page - I'd just add to it as new things happened in my life. I love how it is written with a sense of adventure - that's what I get from it when I read it, anyway. Each of the things included was a thing of pride, of accomplishment, of risk taken and met. For those who do not know me personally, you might be surprised to learn that I'm quite conservative in my decision making and not a tremendous risk taker. I like to take calculated risks. Of course, in business, risks can only be so predictable...there are always surprises. I know I'm lucky, as most of my surprises have been good ones.

So here, for posterity, is my bio:

You asked for's the story:
My husband and I were married in 1995, not long after moving to rural Nakusp, British Columbia.
Like most people, I got started on my quilting journey with a baby quilt. Knowing nothing about quilting, but being an avid sewer and crafter, I combined all kinds of fabrics (velvet, velour, quilting cottons…). That first quilt was usable, washable, (just barely) - a very textural sensation!
Instantly I was hooked. My insatiable appetite and tremendous love for quilting in all of its wonderful, diverse forms began then.
Sometime later I enrolled in a quilted pillow class put on through one of our local shops. Surprising, fun and informative, I learned what ‘buried points’ were (what? You can’t square a quilt block just by rotary cutting it to size?!*!!) and that rotary cut strips are not really supposed to be ‘V’ shaped!
While enrolled in this 3 session class I was working on several quilt projects at home—two large quilts and a baby quilt for our expected first child.
I found that class as a direct challenge to do better work. Although there have been many, many quilts between then and now, the personal challenge remains the same.
It was also during that time that I discovered free-motion machine quilting. I spent hours and hours ( and hours and hours) practicing, learning, knowing that I was only scratching the surface of this art form.
After several years, many quilts, a new house and the birth of our second child I was lucky enough to be asked to share these acquired skills at our (then new) local quilt shop. So, in 1999, I started teaching. What began with sharing machine quilting skills soon expanded to include beginner, advanced , and project based classes.
After a year of research, in 2001, I bought a professional quilting machine, and started working with other people on their quilts. This business has been continually challenging, interesting and inspiring. I feel very lucky to meet so many interesting people from so many different walks of life, and to collaborate with them on quilts that will be part of their own families histories.
In 2004, I started travelling with my teaching, and expanded my home-based shop and website to include fabric!
In January 2005 I started designing pantograph patterns under the name '
Threadsongs' as well as co-designing a line of patterns designed for domestic quilting systems called 'Homelines'. They are published and distributed by Willow Leaf Studio.
Fall 2006 finds me looking forward to seeing my name in print for the first time. One of my patterns will be featured in 'A Needle Pulling Thread' magazine's Festive Issue, coming out December 5. I was also lucky to be one of the contributors in a book called "Stitch Journeys: Your passport to Sewing with WonderFil Threads" to be released later this fall. I have been privileged to make 2 quilts for the WonderFil thread company sales booth and office in the past year.
As things continue, I look forward to all the new surprises that this career will seems there is always something new around the corner!

It's a funny spot to sit, looking forward and looking back. Our lives really are a continuum.

Thoughtfully, thankfully,


Friday, May 16, 2008

Change of plans

I've been cleaning again, preparing for people to come and view the house. It burns my butt to go to the trouble of getting everything picked up and put away (you crafters know what I'm talking about) only to have no one show. In my heart of hearts, I know the house will sell someday, and try very hard not to get my hopes up each time we get a call. So far the house has shown very few times, so each call we get we do our best to make things as presentable as they can be.
So, I'll not be leaving this morning while people look at the house.

At least it's spit-polished clean in here.

In the process of getting my head around the change in my day, I couldn't help but notice a couple of lovely things:
First, the way the light comes in our kitchen window in the morning.

These beans are soaking for supper, but don't they just look beautiful? If I ever write a memoir, it will probably be called 'my life in canning jars' as they seem to be one of the major themes/props of my adult life.

Oh, and forget Strawberry Fields. We've got Dandelion Fields.

I actually missed my shot on this one by a day. The other field to the north of this one was absolutely spectacular yesterday, but overnight has all gone to seed. Magical to walk through, kicking the seed heads in a light breeze, but really hard to photograph.

This shot was taken from our back gate. It's for all you allergy sufferers who would never go walking out there, but can enjoy the colour.

It promises to be a beautiful long weekend.

Happy May Days,


Wednesday, May 14, 2008


This morning, while doing the dullest chore out there (taking out the garbage) I was treated to the sight and sound of a baby Osprey learning to fly. No camera, just me standing out in the back yard listening to it 'peep peep peep' at top volume while flapping, gliding, plunging, flapping again.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The joy of Rhubarb

Yesterday I harvested our first rhubarb of the year - it's hard to believe it's our last spring eating rhubarb from this patch. We'll definitely have to establish a patch at the new place...once we know where the buildings are going to be. Oh, and get the sticks off the ground (among other things).

I won't re-write the recipe, as it can be found here.

Making pudding cake has been a family tradition since we've been in this house. In terms of DH's and my lives that's not all that long, but it is all of living memory for our boys. Every year the rhubarb is greeted as it emerges from the ground, the first cake eagerly anticipated.

Every Mom should have seasonal treats like this in her recipe book - because the 'mmmmmmmmm's and the 'oh, this is so goooood's are so worth the little effort that it takes.

Have a sweet day,

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mom's Day fun

I got to spend my Mom's day relaxing and working on things I wanted to of which was a set of stitch markers for a friend at school. I hope she likes the star ones...the large one is the row marker one.

When we were in Nelson on Friday I'd picked up a few sets of charms that were destined to become stitch markers, as well as some other lovely jewelry-making tidbits.

I made this other little set for myself...I'm going to have to start a marker-heavy project of some kind. I've found myself looking at lace patterns (shawls, mostly) it completely backward to start on a knit project JUST so that I can use lots and lots of markers? Nah, I didn't think so either.


And last night I finished my Noro socks...the first pair...and started my second pair.

This wool is too yummy for words, now I know what the fuss is about. I love it, too.

A little abrasive to work with (with the occasional stick or twig in there), but it softens up considerably.

The next pair are also Noro (a different colourway), using the Jaywalker (may only be available to Ravelry members) pattern. I'll stripe them working from opposite ends of the that look on other's projects, can't wait to see what it looks like on this one.

Happy stitching,


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mom's Day treasures

My Mom's day brought some lovely gifts:

Oldest has been growing me a terrarium at school, and youngest has been crafting a stoneware chocolate bunny. Each has written me lovely, heart-string pulling poem as well...ah, Mom's day.

We got to spend Friday night with my Mom and Dad - a real treat.

A good portion of yesterday and Friday was spent at our new property...we got DH's van moved over there, and the boys and I explored the neighbourhood (including a spectacular hiking trail that I'm looking forward to getting to know really, really well - oh, my aching muscles). This morning was a sleep in, slow moving dream. I'm kicking back today and haven't done much of anything. Ah, life is good.

Happy Mom's day to all you Moms out there. Enjoy your day with those you love.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Spring's certainly sprung here....

This morning the dew on the strawberries was irresistible.

If blogger would stop hyper- rotating my pictures you'd be able to enjoy this little plant, as it really is, anchored to the ground. Try not to get a crick in your neck while noticing all those perfect little dew drops clinging to the points of the leaves...

The hyacinths have been more prolific here this year than ever. We actually have a little patch of them now, so I didn't feel bad bringing one inside to enjoy the heady fragrance.

And right now, at our back gate, are blooming these lovely, diminutive narcissi. So sweet, so tiny.
Happy stitching,


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Stitch markers tutorial (photo heavy)

It's been a tremendously long time since I did a tutorial, hasn't it?

I've been using some lovely stitch markers for my knitting, ones that I bought at Hide and Sheep. Today, as I was dozing off, I had a brainwave of how I could make stitch markers myself...I've been missing my big round nose pliers for several months, so have not taken a plunge into doing this, thinking I'd try once I found them again.

I just couldn't wait...and it turned out, there was no reason to.

You can see the basic supplies in the picture at right:
silver wire (half hard, 18 gauge)
Various beads, bead caps and spacers
wire cutters
chain nose pliers
round nose pliers (in this case, mini ones)

Start out by making a teeny, tiny loop in one end of your wire with your round nose pliers.

Next, string on your beads. Remember that the first bead you put on will be at the bottom of the stitch marker....

Using your chain nose pliers, make a right angle bend in the wire above the beads. Notice in the photo that I'm just holding the wire with the pliers and making the bend ABOVE the jaws of the pliers. This is important, as you want to have room to work later, and this builds in a little space.

Next, still holding the right angle above the beads in your pliers, wind the wire around your mandrel. This will give you the round top that your knitting needle will go through later, so make sure it's big enough to accommodate your favorite needle size. You'll notice in the picture that I'm holding the mini chain-nose pliers in my right hand underneath the mandrel. I want the loop to be as close to the right angle as I can get it.

Now, hold the loop in your chain nose pliers. wind the tail of the wire around that space you made below the right angle (trust me, doing it is so much easier than trying to explain it). Wind it around and around, keeping the wraps tight, until you run out of space. Use your wire cutters to cut off any excess wire flush with the wraps. If you leave anything sticking out here, it will get hooked up in your knitting! You can always use those chain nose pliers to force any 'stick-out'y bits into submission.

Et Voila! You have a stitch marker!

And you know me, I can never make just one....

Or just one variation, for that matter. The next set were done using a blown glass bead, bead cap, end, barrel spacer and wire with the same method. I think that's 20 gauge silver though, as I ran out of the 18 gauge.

Oh..and a quick credit to my oldest, who helped take photos of the 'in process' tricky bits above.

Oh, and who are these happy, happy people?

Me and my DH....happy landowners, leaving the lawyer's office. I had to get a snap of us in the first couple of minutes after we signed the final property transfer...after trying to take 3 pictures myself, DH took the picture. Like many things, I should just leave it to him. Really.



Monday, May 05, 2008

Blossom Girl...again....and other lovely 'B' things...

I spent a little time today working on Blossom Girl some more...

She finally has a little better context! I got some of the shading done on the ring she's sitting in.

Now is a good time to make decisions about binding, etc., so I've been auditioning bolts. Right now it's between the purple (which matches so much better in real life) and the Navy blue - my current favorite. I think I'll do a wide (1" finished) binding as I did on the Cherub quilt. It makes such a nice frame for the final piece.

I think I'm ready to quilt her. Just a couple more customer quilts, and she'll go on.

Something I've been meaning to post since I got back from New Hampshire...

While I was gone a lovely box that I ordered from Bitter Betty Industries arrived...isn't this the most beautiful packaging, ever?

Inside was my new Tokyo Star Twinkle necklace! I've been in love with Bethany's work for quite some time, and found her great blog through her Etsy shop.

I'd originally hoped that it would be here in time to wear to the banquet in NH, but will wear it for my next big day - tomorrow!

Tomorrow I get to go to Nelson and sign the final property transfer for our new property. We'll soon be acreage owners (only 2 1/2, I know, but c'mon, we've been living in town for the past 15 years)! After that I get to go to Castlegar for my school orientation day. My courses start in the fall in earnest. I'm looking forward to meeting my new instructors - somehow the whole thing feels a bit like a job interview. At least I know my accessories will knock 'em dead, even if my own performance is not quite as good as I'd like...



Sunday, May 04, 2008

The return of Blossom Girl

I've had a rather interesting weekend this weekend....some of which I'll share with you down the road (but not yet).

One of the lovely things that this weekend has afforded me is the chance to continue painting Blossom Girl. I get to spend a couple of hours today putting the shadows into the roses, making the dark purple much more - defined. The photo above is a progress photo (bad angle), and the second photo is with all of the dark purple completed.

There are still areas that I'd like to make a little darker, either with thread or with more ink. It helps to look at the photos on this scale, as I can see things in the image that I'm missing when I look at her regularly.

I'm excited about finishing her soon, and am looking so forward to finding out what she'll look like all stitched up.

Hope you're having a good weekend,


Friday, May 02, 2008

Vests for Afghanistan

This is my 300th post! I thought I'd use it to share some of what's been going on with the Afghanistan project at school....

These are just some of the vests (and socks) that have been made for the grade 7 knitting project. Each of the vests has a tag on it, saying who made it...many are made by the students, many are made by community members who, finding out about our project, wanted to participate.

Beautiful, aren't they?

Our classroom goal is 100 vests from the community and class. There are quite a few vests in the classroom waiting to go up, so the teacher/co-ordinator is going to set up another hallway banner. Pretty cool.

There are 20+ vests on this wall, and around that many in the classroom (plus what some of the kids still have on their needles).

I have another baby one on the needles, and am looking forward to getting it done to add to the new wall.

More Kool-Aid dying with them today, too!


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Fulled, baby

One of the peculiarities of fulling knitted fabric is the proportion in which it shrinks. Knitted fabric shrinks far more vertically than horizontally. I was astonished at how much more. You can see in the picture of the ruler on the basket bottom that the horizontal shrinkage was really only about 1 " over the 10.5" of the pre-fulled size.

The next couple of pictures are much more dramatic:

The side shrank from 9" to 5"! The whole basket now stands about 12", including the handles. The stitch definition is totally gone, and the fabric is thick, yummy, scrummy..... I think there are fulled slippers in our future. (Yep, definitely. The knitted socks would be p-r-e-t-t-y funny looking, pre-fulling!) One of the nicest things about this pattern was that it was written with this wacky proportioning in mind and the finished basket is a lovely, useful size and proportion.

Oldest did me the favour of holding it open so that I could take a picture...

Oh, and yesterday I did Kool-Aid dying with the grade 7 class. Here are the hanks drying at home. If you ever get the chance to go in and do this with a bunch of interested, motivated kids, it's totally worth it. What a great time!

May your day be full(ed) and Kool,