Friday, October 13, 2017


Today, between more demanding projects, I have been practicing making wrapped cords, with FMQ'g.  Recently I purchased the book "Stitch and Structure", by Jean Draper.  It was not what I had expected, but was absolutely a "good" purchase, as it was full of inspiration, mostly in directions I had never considered for my work. 

While I would like to experiment with some of the techniques in the book, I knew that I needed to brush up on some basic skills first.  At the same time I had been "culling" the huge amount of perle cotton in my stash, and saw an opportunity to use some of the excess in producing wrapped cord.

So I spent most of the day at my machine.  The base of the wrapped cord is several strands of the perle cotton, the number of strands, and size of the perle cotton determining the actual size of the finished cord.  I experimented with size #5 in both 8 and 12 strands of thread, and #3 in 8 thread strands.  All the threads had to be twisted as they went through the machine-tricky!  I used a free motion zig-zag, with the free motion zig-zag foot that came with the machine.

The machine was threaded with various threads, but for each cord the top and bottom thread was the same.  I used various types of thread, including an entirely mysterious shiny white polyester, Superior Threads Fantasico  #5002, # 5024, # 5027 ( My favoutite thread for any number of different projects--love it!), Fantastico # 5009, and a Coats and Clark variegated  40wt. rayon, machine embroidery thread.

The trick with this technique is to pull the twisted threads through the machine with a smooth and steady pace.  This is easier said than done, and the skill I spent the day practicing.  

Normally, I use a push button start and stop, but this technique is definitely one that requires a foot pedal.

I ended up with several cords, in different sizes.  My favourite is the red/orange/purple one, worked over a #3 burnt orange perle, with the Fantasico #5027.

I plan to link this with Nina-Marie Sayre's "Off the Wall Friday".

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


I didn't have pictures for my last post, but took a couple this morning.  First the Christmas stockings.  Each is about 20" long and 9" wide, at the top. I admit that I was thinking more of boys than women, when making them, and, as mentioned in the last post, having no Christmas fabric in my stash complicated the whole thing. 

This one is not quite finished, and yes, those are hand basted hexies, machine sewn to batting.  I hope to find some sort of plaid or checkerboard blue-ish ribbon to add a bow in the cuff.  The original pattern seemed to call for a loose cuff, but I decided that, technically, it just wasn't feasible--for me.

This one is a very nice slightly off-white cotton twill, and a LWI-dyed blue cotton.  I was experimenting with some programmed machine stitches for the embroidered band.  I added snow flakes to each blue square, in a effort to make it a little more Christmass-y.

Then, again in the previous post, I spoke of finding some ufo's that could, maybe, work as mandalas.  Here is the first one, a Shibori dyed piece that would finish to about 14" in diameter.  Not sure about this one, but it might be fun to play with.

These two were originally planned as mandalas, but the painted image was thought to be too faint to work successfully. Having now finished 6 mandalas, and received some very positive feedback on both the concept and the result, I want to take another look at them.  The actual image can be seen but is not a consistent image across the whole piece.  My plan is to photocopy the original ceiling medallion they were created with, and trace the actual image onto the piece, using my jerry-rigged light box, and then quilt it with mono-poly, creating almost a ghost image, which would then be beaded and finished.

All together this is starting to sound like a week or more of experimentation, and creative fun.

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network

Sunday, October 8, 2017


The last week was spent making Christmas stockings to be filled, and  given to residents of a woman's shelter and, and any children involved.  There is no Christmas fabric in my stash, and I don't like to have to purchase anything for my charity work, so they have turned out red and purple, blue and while, and scrappy blue. ( The charity work is definitely aimed at stash reduction) The pattern we had been given, without instructions, was a technical challenge, but I figured if it had been super important that they be made in a specific way, we would have been told, so I did the best I could.  But each still took about 6 hours of steady work, with the last one being finished last evening.  Sorry no picture.

Lately, it seems like I've been working my heart out, in the studio, with little to show for it.  The mandalas are now all finished, backed, and labelled.  Two are being saved for the gallery show in November, and the other four are committed to a boutique sale during the quilt show in April.  So much of my time over the last year has been devoted to that November gallery show, that now that I'm ready, I felt the need to develop a concrete plan for my studio work over the next while.  I now have a list, of about 11 potential projects.  Then, today, while giving some thought to those future projects, I found three more pieces that will make up very nicely into beaded mandalas, so they go on my list, since I have a least one potential outlet for them.

I have also wanted to make another reliquary, even to the point of assembling the fabric, braid, thread, and beads for three of them.  So today I took a look at this stock pile, and selected one colour-way to pursue. The reliquaries feed my creative soul, and I usually try to make about one per year.  I say "try", but maybe the word should be "need"?

But the priority for the immediate future is some actual dress-making, something I haven't done in years.

Monday, September 18, 2017

More Mandalas

The quilting is now finished on the four hand painted mandalas I posted about earlier. I'm quite pleased.

This one and the other blue/grey one will likely become a formal piece with two components.  So I have quilted both of them in quite similar patterns, using a twisted thread that reads as almost a metallic "gunmetal", but I have no idea where it came from.  Perhaps Marathon threads?

This one have been quilted with  variegated yellow/orange Fantasico from Superior Threads.  The working title for this is "Here Comes the Sun".  Titles are difficult for me.  I have a piece in a gallery show right now, that has the title "Shattered Dreams".  An acquaintance, whose opinion I trust, saw it and remarked on how joyful the piece was.  Once he said that, I could see the joy in it.  Guess I'm going to have to change the title.

I showed you the quilting on this one previously, but I've now got a good start on the beading, using Miyuki #10 crystal beads.

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network

Future Perspective

Assuming that no news is good news, I have decided to post some photos of the piece Future Perspective, which I've made for the November show that has a theme of Prairie Perspective.

First is the whole view.  (Please ignore the strange background-I did the best I could)The piece is 36" by  24".  The statement to accompany it is that from the mountains and deserts of Alberta to the Canadian Shield in Eastern Manitoba, we need to look to the North, the "Land of the Midnight Sun" for future growth and prosperity.  All of the fabrics, except the dark red of the sun, are my own hand dyes.  

While it may look quite plain in an overall view, most of the detail and colour comes from the free motion, contour quilting, that covers the whole thing, with lines less than 1/8" apart. this was done with variegated thread, mainly Superior King Tut or Fantasico, but there are a couple of Sulky Blendables, that provided the colour I wanted. I tend to want to add white center line to the highway, but the proportions are just too bizarre, if I do.

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network.

Monday, September 11, 2017

New work

Over the last couple of weeks, I've finished a new larger hanging, intending to enter it in my fibre art group's November show at a local gallery.  Knowing that it might be shown, I've not posted any pictures of it.  By Thursday I'll know if new constraints on entries will result in it being disqualified.  To have new constraints imposed at this late date has left me PO'd, to say the least.  I'll hold off posting anything until the matter is clarified, at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening.

In the meantime, I've painted four more mandala images over bas relief sculptures.  I got the first one FMQ'd today, ready for beading. This is the largest of the 4 pieces, being just over 12" in diameter.  The colours are paler than most of my mandalas, but a pretty good representation of the  misty, moody dawn light.  I have opted to do the FMQ'g  with clear mono-poly thread to maintain that atmosphere. Here is a full view and close up, of both front and back, as I think the quilting shows up so much better on the back.

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread network

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Another bit of navel gazing

working on experimental fibre art usually results in a lot of either failures to re-purpose, or left-overs.  Often these end up in small projects, such as one-of-a-kind purses and such that, in the past, have done well at craft shows.  For the past three years, while addressing some health issues, there have been no craft shows, but this summer  I was encouraged to try again, which I did, last Sunday.  Did not sell a single thing. We were set up early, and after the first half hour of the sale, knew that it would probably be a bust. 

In the past such sales have contributed a bit to replenishing my supplies, and we have missed that tiny bit of income,  ( So tiny that neither the provincial nor federal governments require me to report the income or collect sales tax.)  Since we had so much time on our hands during the sale, we spent some time analyzing the problem.  Here are a few things we thought about.

1. Our prices were high for the audience.  I calculate the actual cost of supplies in making items, and price for a small profit ( less than a dollar an hour).  Additionally, I am proud of my technical skills and  believe that there is quality and value for money in my products.  At this sale I was competing with  a lady selling off her personal jewelry at far less than cost , "just to get it out of the house".  There was a man selling jewelry made from the pony beads that are sold at dollar stores, and selling for an appropriate price  for that product--mainly less than $5.00. This was what the audience was expecting.

2. I had been mislead  about the type of sale it was to be.  Evidently it has been exactly what it was, in the past, but the organizers had wanted to create a higher quality presentation. While they tried to attract more up-scale vendors, they knew their market would be expecting food, and filled most of the booths with food vendors, who did well.  At the same time, they were charging a healthy admission fee.  

3. I was treated well, by the organizers, and wish them well in future, but I won't be there.

4. In the back of  my mind, I know that many craft items are faddish.  Since it's been awhile for me, maybe my type of item has gone out of style.  Hate to think so, as I sometimes need the pleasure of making something other than fibre art.