Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Got all of yesterday's list done, but later in the evening received a phone call about a death in the family--my Aunt and godmother. She was the last of her generation, and quite elderly and frail. But a very sad day none the less.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lists are done!

Funny thing. By the time I had listed all of the chores, and organized them into what would be done on what day, and am or pm, I realized that there just isn't that much to do. And maybe that's the joy of lists--they bring the whole thing into perspective. Anyway, yesterday I was to prepare a grocery list and shop, make mince tarts, and go to the library. By the time I finished shopping, I was exhausted, it was 2:00, and we hadn't had lunch yet. Didn't get around to the tarts.

I got my Christmas present to myself yesterday. I ordered three instructional video's from Quilting Arts. I managed to watch two of them last night, ( had to take a break to watch Celebrity Rehab, you know) One on Needle felting was fantastic and I sure plan to try out a few of the things recommended in there. The second one on Mixed Media techniques was a loser. Very disappointing. I sure can't recommend that one. I haven't had a chance to see the third one on fabric painting, but I hope it's better than the mixed media one.

While I was shopping I dropped into Dollarama to look at yarn. They have some very loosely spun acrylic yarns, that are very easy to unravel, fantastic colours, and perfect for needlefelting. I picked up five different ones, and plan to try them out asap. If I'm just experimenting and trying out techniques from my video, I don't want to waste the very beautiful silk/wool blend that I bought awhile back. Of course, now I have a problem with storage of yarns! My huge baskets are suddenly too small.

Monday, December 29, 2008

And now down to work.

The more I think about this family dinner on Thursday, the more I realize how unprepared I think we are. So, this morning over breakfast, I'm going to make lists. Talk about habits! When I feel overwhelmed, I make lists. LOL. I came to realize that it's possible that people will be sitting down stairs. We have a little sitting area there, and there are two very nice tables in the area where people could eat, if necessary. No big deal--right? But--that's where my studio is, and this means tidying the whole studio and putting sharp cutting tools away. OMG! There's almost a week's work in just that!

Along the same vein of thought, I'm re-thinking some of the "Call for Entry" that I've been looking at. One requires a formal entry by Jan 15th, and I still haven't figured out how to get my entry information and pictures onto a CD for mailing. I know this is going to become a problem any time I want to enter a show, and I'm going to have to find a workable solution, but the deadline of Jan 15 means finding that solution this week. A friend told me that If I have a re-writable CD, I just save to CD on my computer, but that doesn't make sense to me. While I have a CD drive, I thought I had to have a CD burner as well to actually put anything on the CD. I hate being so ignoraant about these things, but I know how much time, effort, and expense it would take to learn.

I'm almost finished dealing with the scraps I've been working with over the past two weeks, but I may have to put them aside while I clean up the studio. I'll try to get a picture of what I have so far, before I quit. I doubt there will be much sewing going on around here over the next few days, and I had set a deadline of Jan 1st to finish the scraps. After that I have a special project that is going to take all of my time--or it looks that way. I have to confess that I haven't made the lists for that yet.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Family and then a Studio Day

Friday, our DS and his children visited for a little while. He only had them for about 4 hours, and they had things to do. Both of them are on the verge becoming teenagers. I took a good look at the older boy and saw my father in his build, and even to a very small extent in some of his mannerisms--although I don't think they never met. I mentioned this to my son and he said that he had often thought that he saw a resemblence to a male cousin, who has been said to resemble his grandfather ( my father). It made me think about family traits. My father was very close to six feet and lanky. I have a sister who is taller and resembles my father in her gait and posture. The cousin I mentioned is the child of my other sister, so the build etc has shown up in that generation, and now I'm seeing it in my son's son, and my daughter's oldest child is also tall and lean. ( She's only four, but the pediatrician is predicting that she will likely be close to six feet, although both her parents are quite short.)

Later in the day, we ended up watching the two youngest grandchildren for awhile. I was playing dominoes in the kitchen with the older girl when my DH softly called me into the livingroom to look at the 13 month old girl. With her older sister out of the way, the little one had taken the opportunity to play with her sister's baby doll. She was cuddling it, rocking it, trying to feed it, and even trying to wrap it in a doll blanket. I never expected to see that type of play in a child so young. It was almost beautiful to watch. This carried on for between 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, the older girl is learning that games have rules--and she doesn't like it!!

At the end of the day, we realized that they were all coming for dinner on Jan 1st, including my DS's girlfriend, and my husband's sister. We have very little food in the house and absolutely nowhere for anyone to sit. Should be an interesting day.

Saturday I spent in a friend's studio playing with polymer clay. She had hurt a hip and was barely able to get around, so it was a good day to sit to work. She showed me some awesome ideas and techniques. She had ordered some tools over the Internet, and we played with those. This is an amazing woman who is very skilled in fibre arts, but has recently become involved with a sculpture medium called Paverpol. She is producing and selling small sculptures, but is also combining her fibre work with the Paverpol and the polymer clay, with some very interesting results. She showed me a work in progress using all three of the techniques.

Today is our wedding anniversary--43 years. We plan to attend an Open House at my DH's sister's and then head out for supper.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day is winding down. We've had our dinner, the little ones have opened gifts and had tantrums.. The littlest grand daughter had a great time chasing the cat and trying to put ribbon and bows on him. Dinner wasn't great. For over 10years we've had our dinner at a local restaurant. Ten years ago we got a traditional WASP type dinner. Turkey, ham, mince pies and sugar cookies, along with salad and veggies. A few years ago we started to get pyrogies and holubchi, along with the turkey ( no ham)and mass produced white cake. This year we had Fried Asian noodles and Italian sausage, the worst turkey I've ever eaten, and bread pudding. And the price had gone up by almost 20%. So DD and I talked about it and decided to try again for a home-made dinner-next year. Not a very satisfactory day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Still plugging along

but the enthusiasm is dwindling. Yesterday I made the small (38" by 36")quilt I had planned, and then two small purses from the pattern in QA Magqzine, and 6 coffee cuffs. These purses are experimental ( I've never met a pattern I didn't want to change), but I'm finding that this pattern is really quite good. The changes I'm making are turning out to be not good. With these two I found that I didn't do enough quilting in the body of the purse. I'm judging the purses by asking myself if they are good enough to give to friends--so far I've got three that are worthy, out of the six that I've made. Thank Goodness I can use budget zippers with them, but I did find that I must use the correct size. There is no way I can cut down the zipper in this pattern, the way I do for so many others. (That way I can buy off-size zippers on sale and save a few cents.)

The coffee cuffs are fun. I take my quilted scraps and re-join them into sizes to suit the coffee cuffs. I do this by butting the edges together and sewing them together with a wide satin stitch. When I attach this to a stabilizer and backing, they are quite secure., but I've also made quilts with this method and found that it works well.

Before I started with the quilt, I shortened a pair of dress pants for my daughter. These were good slacks and I wanted a good appearance, so, for the first time, I used the blind hem process with my sewing machine. It took a few minutes more as I wanted it to be right, so did a little hand basteing. It looks good! I also had to fix the elastic on DGD's ballet slippers. I hope I did it right. They had been fixed before and the elastic was twisted. I straightened it, but then thought later that maybe it had been twisted on purpose to give a more secure direction of pull.

So yesterday was spent at the sewing machine. Today I face a pile of 3 1/2" squares and a pile of long strips 1 1/2" wide by anywhere from 10 to 15 inches. At this point, I really have no idea what to make. I'm actually thinking of using the squares to experiment with different ways of piecing. The strips will probably make up into the little purses that I've been selling for years. Although, it might be nice to have a beaded collage with more of a rustic appearance. I wonder if I could pull that off?

Monday, December 22, 2008

I realized yesterday that my Grandchildren have not been to visit since before I put up the Christmas tree December 3rd. They were ill, and it was so much easier to visit them than to drag them out in the very bitterly cold weather we've been having. They are still a little under the weather, but much better than a couple of weeks ago. It's hard on little ones to have to dress in so many layers and then be strapped into the car seats in order to go anywhere. And their Mom loves to shop. I would think that taking little ones in to the stores these days would be a trial.

I took a good look att he pile of dark coloured scraps I have to deal with and decided that I may have enough to make a small quilt that I could donate to our guild's ABC quilt donation project. I haven't given them anything since the summer, so it's past time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Here are all of the things I made out of the light coloured scraps from my "Sticks and Stones" quilt. There are four coffee cuffs, two very small change purses, and one larger purse, (from the pattern in QA Magazine). I forgot to include the slouch bag, but there was a picture of that earlier. And I've finally finished the hand beading on the collage, that is now mounted ready for packaging for a future sale. There is a close-up below, but it's not a great picture,

I'm particularly pleased with the collage. I found a matt that fits and matches very well, and then found thread to match the matt, that I used to free motion the flower cetres. The beads are some that I've been saving for awhile, waiting for that special project. I think they work very well here. I'm sorry it's such a poor picture, but you have to realize that there's a dummy operating the camera.
Well, in response to popular demand, I've added a picture of the quilt top I've been talking about the last few days. The pattern is called "Sticks and Stones" and it is one of those patterns they sell as being "Fat Quarter Friendly". It is made of 8" squares and each square has 29 separate pieces. As you can se there is much less light coloured fabric than dark, and this is the same with the scraps. I've got a lot more dark than light. I've just about finished the light scraps. Everything is put together, but I have to add beads etc to the matted collage. Looking at it, and then at the other collages I have, it's very obvious that I am just doing the same design over and over again, but in different colour-ways. I really have to think about this. The advice I was given was to find something that would sell, and then make lots. I think I've found that in the sun prints. The collages were things that I hoped would sell, because they gave me more pleasure to make. Given the economy, I think I need to go for "tried and true".
Reading back on my posts, I see a real search for a sense of direction--some sort of focus. If I go further back into my days of Morning Pages, I find the same thing. Nothing has changed in my life over the last 3-4 years. How very sad!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Here is a picture of the scraps I had left after finishing my quilt. As you can see, most of them are dark fabrics. When I took the picture, I had already made one small purse, from a pattern in the most recent Quilting Arts Magazine, out of the light coloured scraps. You can see it in the upper left corner of the pile. Since then I have finished the slouch bag, ( see previous post), two small purses of the style I've been selling for years, and a quilted embellished hanging, all from the light coloured scraps. I have a few brown scraps left from the slouch bag, that have been addded to the pile. I still haven't decided whether the hanging will end up as a hanging, or if I'll cut it down into a matted collage and a couple of coffee cuffs. I have a couple of sales scheduled for the next 8 months, and would prefer to produce stuff that I might be able to sell, and I have enough hangings for 20 sales.
These scrap challenges are a great creative spur to me. I guess I don't feel that I'm wasteing supplies, but rather that I'm making something out of nothing. The other way of looking at it is that it's "busy work", and I can use it to avoid "real" creativity. So I have to search my soul, as to the "why". ( As you can see, I'm still navel gazing instead of doing real work) I've decided that I don't really care. I'm playing, and having fun, and that's why I was a wage slave for forty years.

The slouch bag is finished. The technical skills fell apart late in the process, and I didn't fight it. Then I wondered why not? I think I didn't care because it just wasn't my colour. I had used a dark brown for the body of the purse, and brown just isn't my thing. So now I have a nice bag, quite presentable, but not likely one I'll, personally, ever use. Because of the technical flaws, I don't think I could ever sell it either. Since this is my own pattern, and one I've had in mind for awhile, I priced it out in terms of selling a similar one, should I be able to conquer the technical flaws. If I pay myself minimum wage, I would want to be offering it for between $80.00 and $90.00. Ho Ho H0!! Not in Manitoba!
A more realistic price for around here would be $45.00 to $60.oo, and it would have to be to the right person at the right time. Not likely! So I don't think I will start producing them. Still it was a good exercise and got one nagging job off my mind. If the economy every brightens, I'll have the pattern ready to go.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Played with scraps. I found I was going back to my "tried and true" projects, little purses etc. This lead to a lot of navel gazing. I came to realize that I really prefer to stay in my own comfort zone. This means that I'll never gain any ground as an artist unless I face the demons that keep me from trying anything new. This is quite an epiphany for me. While my technical skills are excellent, my creative skills need work. And I'm basically a very lazy person. So I decided to make the slouch bag that I've had at the back of my mind for a couple of years. What has held me back, you ask. I'm too lazy to make my own pattern and have been searching everywhere for a commercial one! Legally I can't sell anything Imake with a commercial pattern--so what the He--? So I knuckled down, and tried to design one. Even while working on it, I kept trying to avoid the task. Finally I got the pattern drafted and started working on the flap, where I was planning to add a decorative panel ( which was the basic idea behind a slouch bag in the first place). That's as far as I got yesterday. My flap is made ( too well as it turns out--it's a little stiff) Maybe today I'll work on the rest of the bag, but I still haven't settled in my mind, how I'm going to work out the strap. But the fridge needs cleaning, and I have some typing to do--and procrastination continues.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Yes, that's how I spent most of yesterday. However, the traditional Quilt is put together. I'll get it quilted sometime in the next couple of months. So today I can play with my scraps. I'm not sure what will happen but I have an idea for a large purse/tote bag in my brain. If it works out, I may make two or three to offer for sale over the next few months. I played with numbers yesterday. I very much want to go to a retreat in just outside Edmonton next fall, and our arrangement is that I find the money somewhere other than in our household budget. I've managed to do this through sales etc, but I'm concerned about making much at these sales this year, given the economic climate. Last year I usually made just over expenses, so it was touch'n'go to find the money for my trip to BC. So starting now, anything I make with my work is going to get put away. I've been quite casual about this in the past, so this will be difficult for me. I got a small ( read "small")cheque from Wilno this week, and made my first deposit into the special "Travel" account.

I've had two "Call For Entry" notices arrive in the past few days. I wasn't going to worry about this sort of thing, but these more or less fell into my lap, and I just happen to have pieces that would be suitable for them. So I think I'm going to go for it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I thought that it had been quite awhile since I wrote anything, but I see it really hasn't. I'm still plugging along working on my quilt from the kit. The pattern is called "Sticks and Stones", if anyone is interested. I bought the kit during a shop hop to Langdon North Dakota about 2 1/2 years back. It was quite a bargain. $50.00 for 40 fat quarters, the pattern and fabric for binding. Once I started, I realized that the kit was for a class they had had, and the finished result was lap quilt size. I added enough to make a good size single bed quilt. Now, once this is finished I'll have big bag of scraps to play with. That'll be my Christmas present to myself.

Monday, December 15, 2008

busy day

I actually cleaned a cupboard in the kitchen. Discovered a casserole dish that I thought was only a serving dish is actually safe for the dishwasher and microwave, so should be good for the oven. I was going to get rid of it, but it's a good size for two, so now I'll try to use it. Then I wrapped all of the presents. Four of them are quite large, and we'd bought special paper for them. So I had to sort out all of the wrapping paper we've accumulated over the years. I actually found some stuff I can use in my collages. At noon DH headed out to see if he could find pumpernickel bread for DD. He did, and after a heated discussion with a lady who also wanted to buy the bread, ended up with two loaves. He seems to get into these discussions every time he goes shopping on his own. Funny about that. The DD asked if we would be willing to drive out to the country to look after the little ones while she and SIL went to a Christmas party. So we spent the rest of the day doing that. Glad I wasn't planning to do any sewing. We got home just before 10:00,went to bed and slept almost round the clock. Children are hard work.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Well, maybe not...

Tried to work on the quilt again, but my hands have decided that they need a break. Yesterday evening they wouldn't even let me do cross stitch. They've never been that bad before. It all started when I tried to make cookies. I only have an old, decrepit power mixer. The house is cold and the margarine wouldn't soften enough that the mixer could deal with it, so I had to mix the whole thing by hand--and I mean by hand, --couldn't even use a wooden spoon with it. As soon as it started to hurt, I got DH to help out. Then, the quilt I'm trying to make requires a lot of "squaring up", using a roatary cutter, which again, is hard on hands and wrists.

So no sewing for awhile. To me, this means going quietly crazy. Or it means looking around and noticing how much I've neglected the housework. And acknowledging that scrubbing is just as hard on my wrists as using the rotary cutter. So then I can go crazy with inactivity and worry about all the work that isn't getting done. OMG--I could use a drink and it's only 8:30 in the morning.

So I'm not sure what the day holds. I'll probably put the quilt away for yet another year, and wrap presents. If I get desperate enough I could work on the borders of the quilt--they don't need squaring up. I DO know that I won't be going outside--it's just too darn cold!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Worked a little more yesterday on my quilt. It's just a simple utility-type quilt, but it was all cut out and half put together and sitting on my shelf for the past two years. DH had his usual comments. " What the H--- are you going to do with that?" " response- " I'm going to finish it" question-"Why?" I think he's just afraid that I'm going to want to spend money to have it quilted. He's right, but it won't have to be done tomorrow. Had a Guild meeting last night. We have a new executive this year, and the energy is palpable. The room just buzzes. I was in charge of selling a major workshop. This is where we bring in a teacher from out of the area ( This one is from Windsor ON) There wasn't time to give the Guild members any warning, but we still managed to sell 12 seats out of 20 in one class, although only 3 out of 20 in the other. There will be another chance at our January meeting, and I know there are a couple who are interested, but not in a position to sign up right now. Now I want to get something about it on the web site. I'll have to work onthat this weekend.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy Dance

Mailman just came, and brought me a letter telling me that I have been selected as a teacher for the Embroiderers' Association of Canada Seminar 2010 in Regina. I have been anxiously waiting to hear about this, probably one of the reasons I have been procrastinating so much over the last little while. Now I will have a focus for my work for the next few months, as I will have to prepare a set of new class samples, and other display samples by the end of March this year. Better get busy!

Followed by a rough day

Little one and Mom got home yesterday morning. then the whole family slept. DD was sounding much better when I spoke to her later in the day. She was surprized that the little one was sleeping most of the time too, but she is ill and on meds--so who knows. DD had a laugh at thehospital when they brought breakfast for the little one: a huge ( read humungous) bowl of Cheerios, coffee or tea--DD wasn't sure which, milk, and four slices of toast. They couldn't provide food for mom, who hadn't beeen admitted, but they could sure make sure the little one was well fed.

We had some errands to run yesterday, some printing I needed for a meeting tonight, a visit to the bank, and a few groceries. Picking up groceries out of the cart to put them through the cashier, I lifted something the wrong way. I felt it in my right wrist immediately. So I spent the rest of the day with the wrist in one of my Velcro splints. Thank Goodness I kept them. I still use them once in awhile, over night, when I've had a rough day. But what a nuisence! They sure interfere with function. I know! I know! That's what they're supposed to do. It seems a little better this morning, but I'll have to be careful for a few more days. And wouldn't you know that the work I'm doing in the studio takes a lot of rotary cutting.

I decided to tackle a pile of UFO's that have been hanging around. It's just "donkey" work, and DH keeps asking what I'm going to do with them, but I believe that I'll have a better chance of finding a use for them if they're finished than if they are in pieces in a plastic bag. Some of them may end up in the local Guild's UFO auction next month--who knows!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

rough night!

Our littlest DGD was not well yesterday. DD called us about 7:00pm, to ask for help. Talking to her I found out that she had been up since 3:00am, had spent the day at work, and was only now getting home with the two children, and no-one had eaten since noon. The little one was having trouble breathing, and DD wanted to take her into emergency. But as she spoke, I realized that she was really "frazzeled", and not really thinking clearly. She wanted us to drive out to the country to stay with the older child, so that she could then turn around and drive in to the city to an emergency dept. Thankfully my SIL arrived home, bundled them all into the car and took them to a local hospital, just a short drive away. ( Ste. Anne-for those who know the area) The doctor wanted to keep the little one under observation for awhile after giving her some medication, so SIL and the older child went home, leaving DD at the hospital. We were on alert to drive out to stay with the older child, should SIL have to go to pick up mother and child later. We got a call at about 3:00am that the little one was being admitted for the night, and Mom would stay with her. My DD had been up for 24 hours at this point, and I was glad she was going to be able to get some sleep. It appears that the little one has some sort of viral infection similar to croup, that was causing a sore and swollen throat, but her lungs were fine ( no asthma--a fear we've had). We've had no word this morning, which I hope means that things are okay for now.

I remember those days. Young Mom with a demanding job, and no option to stay at home. Constant stress, lengthy days of nothing but crisis after crisis, and constant guilt and fear about not being a "good Mom". Add to that no time or energy for the less important things in life, such as house cleaning, and the added stress of believing you are being judged for everything you do.

So now about studio time. I seem to be having a bit of an artistic block--probably because I seem to be fighting a cold. Lying awake last night I remembered advice I had once given another artist about how to deal with this. Get into the studio and do something--doesn't matter what. Working with fabric and colour etc will bring back the "muse" if she's in there. So I don't think I'm going to worry, I'll just go and make pretty things and not worry if they aren't "great art"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Last week a friend had told me that she had a pot of indigo dye, and if I wanted to use it to call her. So yesterday I did. Just in time, as it turned out, as she was ready to throw it out. She invited me over right away. It was a little surreal. She had this big, black pot simmering on the stove, but at one point her son also had a big pot simmering on the stove as he and a friend were making beer. Since the indigo requires lye, I sure hope no-one got the pots confused. So I cooked two pieces of fabric and a hank of cotton yarn ( DMC Floche, if anyone wants to know.) After taking them out of the pot, and exposing them to air, they slowly appeared to darken, but not as much as the yarn she had done awhile back. Once I got them home, I hung them in the laundry room so tht they would be well exposed ot air and oxygenation. By the time they were dry, the colour is really quilte pale, so I have to assume that the dye bath was pretty well depleted. I think my best bet is to overdye them in some way, although I seem to remember reading in her instructions that there is some reason that indigo shouldn't be overdyed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Yesterday we went out to finish the last little bit of our shopping. It was so-o-o good just to get out of the house. I actually got into a mall!! I so very much miss the people and activity, even if I don't mix with them or talk to anyone. It wasn't until I was out there that I realized how very much I need it for my own soul. It came home to me when I was walking down the mall and realized how happy I felt for the first time in weeks, and again when I wanted to stop for coffee and DH didn't. He was quite willing to take me through the drive-through, but he didn't want anything. I was devastated. I really wanted to go into that coffee shop and sit down, and be part of the milieu. This is giving me a hint of why I've felt so "down" the past couple of weeks, when we haven't been out. I don't know how I'm going to deal with it in future, but, obviously, I have to find ways of getting out and about, even if DH is quite happy sitting at home.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Well, I promised you a picture of the piece that I was working on last week. The one I planned to finish as a gallery wrap. I just doesn't work. I have no idea what title to give it. The base fabric is 100% cotton in a yellow ochre. First I added the gold areas by padding the shapes with felt and then hand appliqueing a gold fabric on top. Then I needle felted various yarns and then added olive green silk roving on top of the felted yarns. I auditioned quite a variety of beads bfore deciding to go with dark brown wooden bead, some with stripes of lighter coloured wood as well. I'm really thinking that this needs to be professionally framed and I'll keep it pinned to the design wall for awhile to see if I can find the money. Not easy to do this time of year.

Here is a close-up of the needlefelted and beaded piece that I had planned to finish by using a gallery wrap around a frame. Suggestions for a name would be welcome.

Here is Mother Earth-In the Beginning. You'll notice that I changed it from a horizontal presentation to vertical. It just works so much better that way. I've finished it as a show piece, by putting on a show sleeve. There is a show in the spring that I hope to get it into. The show theme is based, somewhat, on the elements. Interesting that when I view it on here, I start to see abstract female figures in the swirls of disharged fabric. I guess that goes along with the title.

Here is a close-up of Mother Earth-In the Beginning. You can actually see the parallel quilting lines in the black. All of the black areas of the quilt are quilted this way. The gold areas are free motion quilted along the lines of value change.

Afternoon outing

I'm not sure what to say. It was a pleasant afternoon stitching at MAWA. I sat at a table with the only other woman in the room who was anywhere near my age, but we talked with the younger women around us. I belong to many volunteer organizations, and this is the only one with any percentage of young people. They are friendly and energetic, but I wonder what role I would be cast in, if I were to become more active. Would I be seen as a mentoring elder, or as the crazy aunt, who must be humored? I will put future sessions in my calendar, but I don't think they'll be a priority.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fabric Shopping

I did get to the fabric store to buy zippers on sale, and discovered that thread was on sale too! But--I had spent all of my money on blue yarn last week! Oh darn! I got six spools of thread and six zippers. I very much want to try the little purse pattern in the most recent Quilting Arts magazine, and that takes the same length zipper as I use in my little purses, so now I can play with both patterns. But--I found a bolt of Heirloom Quilting cotton--great for dyeing--on sale for 60% off. Now in my richer days,I would have bought the whole bolt, but I controlled myself and only bought 5 metres. So now I have lots to keep me busy for the rest of the month, because I sure can't afford to leave the house! I still plan to go the the Stitch'n'Bitch session at MAWA later today. DH is out shovelling snow so we can get the car out. It is the coldest day we've had yet -22C with windchill at -32c. I had to promise to make him a cooked breakfast, but it sounds like a good deal for me.

We're finding it difficult to keep the house cooler this winter--63F. Gradually we've been adding a degree when it gets uncomfortable and are now up to 66F. I'm reading on the internet about people in the USA who are trying to live with their houses at 55F. Last evening, when we were both just sitting, I broke down and put it up to 69F, after I had showered and washed my hair. I don't know how long we can keep this up, and when I read my Hydro bill, it's the electricity that's costing the big bucks. Still a bit of a stretch every month.

Friday, December 5, 2008

donkey work

Spent yesterday just puttering around the studio. Did a lot of clean-up, and then did the basic construction for a bunch of small purses. These are the ideal thing to take with me to do hand work at meetings etc. Tomorrow I plan to go to a Stitch'n'Bitch session at MAWA. This is the first one, and I have no idea what to expect. But I want to have quite a few of these purses ready for the sales next spring and summer. They sell really well, although not a great profit margin. I used to make them out of left overs, but they're so popular, that now I have to actually cut into good fabric. It's the same with my "coffee cuffs". The "coffee cuffs" use quite a bit of thread. Now, I have lots of thread, and some of it is quite old ( wooden spools anyone?), but thread will deteriorate over time, so some of this needs to be used. It's a P--s Off because I've been warned that thread will be going up in price in the new year, and I notice that no-one is having sales on thread anymore. But--there is a sale on zippers today and tomorrow, and I need a variety of colours, so I plan to stop in and see if I can get some pastel ones.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

City Across the River-Nightfall.

Here is the small landscape I finished yesterday. It is about 11 1/2' by 11 1/2" . I was surprized at how much the base fabric pulled in with the needle felting process. I started with fabric 13 1/2" square. I felted in yarns over the entire surface and then added free motion embroidery for the city itself. This was done for the Fast Friday Internet challenge, and was supposed to be either a very close or very far view with demonstrated use of value. When I sat down to plan this, I checked out my three ( count'em, three!) large baskets of fancy yarns, that I use for embellishment, and discoverd that I had no blues. So, of course, I had to go out an buy blue yarn Now I have lots of blue yarn, but I'm much poorer. (lol) It had been suggested that I check out a shop called Wolseley Wardrobe for yarn. It turned out to be a scond hand clothing store, but with a small section in the back of the most interesting imported yarns. Some that I used was made in China, and another skein made in Turkey. I had originally planned to bind the edges of the piece, but when I got to that step, it resisted. So they are simply sewn , and left raw. The other needle felted piece I'm doing is not quite finished yet. I had planned to attach it to an open wooden square ( called a frame in embroidery jargon, but not a real picture frame as is generally known). It is attached using what is called a "gallery wrap". But when I tried it, it wasn't right. The piece calls for professional framing, and I just can't afford that right now. I'll post a picture when I finish the stitching.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Work

Got to spend time in the studio yesterday. I'm working on a piece that uses my needle felter. I've hand-appliqued some gold "lumps". I used the technique that I learned in studying goldwork embroidery, where I padded the shapes with felt and then stitched the final fabric over the padded areas. In goldwork the final layer is often kid leather, but I used a man-made fibre. It is gold and, because it's been folded up in a bin for years, appears somewhat 'distressed". Then I needle felted some fancy yarns in a top to bottom pattern working around the "lumps". None of the yarns I had originally wanted to use were"right", and I ended up with some light green ones. On top of that I needlefelted some olive green silk rovings. Then I scattered the beads I had planned for "Mother Earth--In the Beginning", but half of them were wrong. So I've ended up with only dark brown, patterned beads for the top. I'll try to get them sewn on today. Now I have to think of a project for the beads that have been rejected yet again. My group, Ravenesque, will be here tonight, although a couple of the members can't make it. So I will be able to spend the evening sitting with friends in the studio, and hand-stitching beads.

Spoke with my DD last night about Christmas Day. I think she agrees that, after our dinner, which is usually at a local restaurant, we will go back to her house so the children can open their gifts from DH and I. She agrees that this will be much easier on the children than hauling them over to our house for gifts, and then dragging them back home. My DS will have his children for only a few hours later Christmas day, and prefers to have a quiet celebration with them at home.

So, very little in the way of active Christmas celebrations at our house. Regardless, I plan to have a tree. DH helped me get out the Christmas dishes yesterday, and my DGD noticed them right away, which made the whole thing worthwhile. Besides, how can we have Christmas without DH and I having our annual "discussion" about where the tree will go. I want to put it in front of the livingroom window, where I placed a table I bought with just that in mind, but DH refuses to move his Christmas Cactus, which is in full bloom. The "discussion" is just for show. Having the tree beside the kitchen door is much more convenient, especially for plugging in the lights, and it can still be seen from the street.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grandbabies visiting today

I think I've hidden all of the Christmas stuff. I lent out my tree and won't get it back until Tuesday. I had planned to get everything setup this weekend, but without the tree that isn't going to happen. I was going to get out the Christmas dishes, (putting away the regular ones for a month)and I still might, but DH objects to any sort of fuss disrupting his routines. I've spent time thinking about baking cookies,but, as DH pointed out yesterday, I would be the one eating them, and I really don't need that. I'll talk to DD today and figure out some way we could do something like that with the little ones, and not end up with millions of cookies here. The other Grandma would like to get involved with something like that too, I'm sure.

A couple of days ago, I cut the end of a finger. It's making typing difficult. It's not the pain that is the problem, but the stupid thing keeps bleeding all over the keyboard. I know I'm being a baby about this. Often it is the little hurts that are the most nuisence. So-o-o short notes for a bit.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Studio Time

After tidying the basement-more or less- I was able to spend some time in the studio. I have finished "Mother Earth"--except for hand stitching the binding. I've decided to re-name it "Mother Earth-In the Beginning...". The simpler name just never felt right, and the new name gives reason to the lack of defined shape. But the seams and the organized quilting give hints at a "Plan". So now I'm trying to put something together that will use the beads that I bought for " Mother Earth-In the Beginning..." and never used. I had a small piece all planned out in my head, but after having worked on it for only two hours, several main parts of the plan have been changed. Instead of brown with gold-y accents, I'm looking at a yellow ochre background with green and brown highlights. And rather than having the beads as the focal point, I'm doing some goldwork-based applique. Who knows--maybe I'll fool myself and end up not using the beads--again!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Still searching for myself

Last night I went to the AGM of a local organization Mentoring Artists for Women's Art ( MAWA) A small but obviously, active group. I found them friendly and interesting. I ran into a lady who assured me that she had sorted out all of the membership problems I had run into with the Manitoba Crafts Council, another lady who has agreed to participate in the Sharing Craft sessions I've been helping organize in collaboration with a local book store, and a third lady who just happened to have been involved in a program that I was interested in and could explain it to me. This makes me a little happier about my decision to leave some of the special interest groups that I've been with for many years, and seek out others that might be of more benefit to me. Now I don't join these groups just to benefit. I fully realize that you get out according to what you contribute. But lately I've felt that I 've been contributing a lot more than I benefit.

I'm also realizing that you need to initiate your involvement--they don't seek you out. So I've found two activities within the next week that I plan to attend.

Got to babysit with my two youngest grandchildren yesterday for a couple of hours. This is always a delight, especially for just a couple of hours. The youngest has not been well, and although she is doing better, just wanted to snuggle--not that Grnadma would object ot that!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


We were doing more cooking today, and needed a couple of things including hamburger, so DH went to the store ( he really is a dear). When he got home we discoverd that he had bought extra lean ground Bison, instead of hamburger. Now he insists that it was mixed up with the hamburger, and it probably was, but I think I get teasing rights for the next couple of hours. Anyway, now we get to find out what chili tastes like made with Bison.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kitchen duty

Spent today in the kitchen but not the way I had planned to! Yesterday we cleaned the freezer, and realized how empty it was getting. So today we started to re-fill it. Two hours of grocery shopping and then many hours of "power cooking". We also paid some bills and got the rest of our Christmas shopping done. I found out something nice about Christmas shopping in November. People aren't as cranky. The Christmas spirit is fresh and new, and shopping is a pleasure. Even the clerks in Wal-Mart seemed to be having fun. I know that in a couple of weeks it will be entirely different. We found the gifts we needed for our last two grand children, in exactly the colours they wanted, and at a price we could afford. It doesn't get any better than that.

And--Ta-da--my DS got the best Christmas present--a new job!! This is the one he has been preparing for for a couple of years. He went through an interview process about a month ago, and someone else got the job. Great disappointment, but today he got a call that another position had come up and he starts in January. I'm so pleased for him. He has really been looking for a change. He did a six month term in a similar position awhile back and really loved it. With all that has happened to him in his life, it's great to see something actually come together for him

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Searching for inspiration

For some reason I don't want to sew right now. I have a couple of ideas in my brain for projects, but until I get them sorted out, and the process for each planned, I don't want to tempt myself to get started. I've always been one to plunge in and hope for the best, but what I have in mind needs more careful planning, and maybe even a pattern drafted (OMG--what have I got myself into??). So today I did housework. That'll tell you how mixed up and desperate I am. We ( the royal "we") even cleaned out the freezer. I even spent time watching a documentary on crime in Great Britain in the 1970's--with most of the pictures in black and white.

So now I think I need to have a strong drink ( one left in my bottle of brandy) and head for bed. Tomorrow is another day, and I think I need to tackle the Kitchen--and isn't that an exciting idea. I'll get back to you all if I ever actually get to my studio this week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

And how do you get ready for Christmas/

As for me, I make jam! Yes, that's how we spent the day--making jam and jelly. Actually it had nothing to do with Christmas. We needed to clean out our freezer. So all of the out-dated fruit etc had to be used. I made my usual bramble berry jelly ( 27 jars). and a batch each of Rhubarb and pineapple jam and strawberry jam. All of that done, we looked at the two batches worth of Nanking cherry juice, an empty sugar bin, and both of us ready to drop, and decided to throw out the Nanking cherry juice. Neither of us is that fond of the jelly, and we're too broke from Christmas shopping to head out to buy more sugar. I wish I had planned all of this better. Now we have the whole evening ahead of us, no energy, and nothing on tv. One good thing about searching for canning supplies in the basement--we found a bottle of Crown Royal. It was probably a gift a few years back, and had been put away for a special occasion. Now I don't drink whiskey, but DH will certainly enjoy it!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sales over--

Over all I brought in --gross--just over $500 over the three weeks. So Christmas is more or less paid for. That puts my total income for the year at under $1000--gross. I sure hope I'm having fun, "cause I'm sure not making any money!! But we decided awhile ago that we will consider this to be our entertainment and amusement. I guess we have to look at it that way.

After I got home and made supper yesterday, I was exhausted--probably more of an emotional tiredness than anything else. I spent most of the evening baking savory snacks to give the family at christmas, which is mainly a "hurry up and wait" activity. So I read a book. I can't remember the last time I spent an evening reading. It was a mystery by P. D. James. These are very long very involved stories, and you really have to read a fair bit of the story at a stretch, or you get lost in the people and plot. Certainly not a "bathroom book".

Today I have an afternoon meeting, out of town. The lady selling me the sewing machine lives in the area, and we will get together. Then it's my youngest DGD's birthday celebraton, again out of town. We should be able to get supper there, so I don't have to cook.

For the next week, while I have some computer writing to do for my volunteer work, I've decided that I really can't ignore the housework any longer. Kicking and screaming, I will drag myself into cleaning. Of course, I also know that I'lll be procrastinating as much as possible, so you may find some long messages here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What a day!

Most of it went as planned. Christmas shopping, and home to drop off the loot by 10:30 am. then off to the other side of the city to drop some receipts off at Blue Cross and head south for silk. I found some silk to match the other colours I'm using ( $$$-Ka-ching!!) but no the pink. so we went to the other embroidery store in the city, and no luck there either. So I had to reconcile myself to using cotton floss instead of the silk. Then I spent most of last evening picking out what I had done so far so I could replace the pink that I had been using. Now I've got the cotton in and I think it was a good decision. Today I have to tag and inventory all of the stuff that has to be delivered for the sale tomorrow. Sounds like a huge job until I realize that I don't have very much to go. I was going to relax tomorrw, but now I'm told that they will need help at the second sale I'm in tomorrow. No sale stuff there, mainly donated goods, as it's for a charity.

Of course , the afternoon was spent returning and replacing a couple of things. One was a cute little doll ( Dream and Glow Pooh)for the youngest, whose birthday celebration is this weekend. It was on the list, and when I saw only one on the shelf, I grabbed it. Got home and discoverd that it didn't work. I would have tested it in the store, if I had any idea of what it was supposed to do! Now I can't stop playing with it. The other is a video. We had to visit a couple of stores to find it When I told my DD that we had it , she told me that it had been a birthday gift last week! So it goes back today.

Finally, just before bedtime, I got an e-mail offering me an unbelievable deal on a sewing machine. I had wanted to get one for my DD for Christmas, but had lost out in an auction. The first deal fell through, and she has now offered it to me, but at a slightly higher price than I had bid. I told DH and he thought for a minute and said "buy it". This puts me wa-a-a-y over budget for Christmas, but DD has a birthday in January, so we'll see. I'll have to spend some time learning to use it, as it's not a brand I'm familiar with, and we know who will have to teach DD. So I sure hope to sell stuff tomorrow, or else we eat KD for the rest of the month!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Christmas Shopping

Today! I hope to get everything I need for my DD and her family. SIL is always a problem, but I have an idea that fits into the budget, and would benefit the whole family. My plan is to hit WalMart early today ( they're open 24 hours) I have a list of "Must-Have" toys, and figure that the prices should be as good there as anywhere. If I can't find what we want there, then we hit Canadian Tire. ToysRUs will be the last resort, as they tend to be pretty pricey. Then comes the biggest decision of the all--Do I buy more wrapping paper? Several years ago I bought a bunch of paper on sale and still haven't managed to get rid of it. I think the family are getting tired of the same paper year after year. I don't think they are thrilled at getting birthday gifts wrapped in red and green paper either.

I've also made a decision to buy a different colour of silk for my"special project". This is a project just for me, --pure self indulgence. Before I retired I bought supplies for several major projects, but now that I have the time to plan and design my own original work, these are just sitting on the shelf. Lots of money tied up in them. My life plan is to slowly work my way through them, but I'm very reluctant to spend any more money on them. But both DH and I looked at what I had done so far last night, and the pink I have just isn't right. I'm also worried about not having enough silk overall to finish it. Guess I didn't plan so well after all.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

strange day yesterday

I finally got in to the studio after dinner. There was nothing on tv, so I had the whole evening to myself. Lately I've been working on a special hand stitched project whenever there is a show I want to watch ( not often enough). I finished the bird hanging, and it's not as special as I had wanted. I lost one of the special hand made beads, so compromised the design a bit. The cord that actually holds it together wasn't strong enoug and frayed a bit, so I had to try to reinforce it. Still looks good, but not good enough for me. I had hoped to price it at about $50.00, but looking at it now, $25.00 would be more reasonable.

Then I sat down and started going through magazines, and thinking and dreaming about future projects. I haven't done something like that for months and months. I was trying to come up with something to make with my needlefelter. I spent about an hour doing this and now have a couple fo ideas to think about over the next little while. I would be great to complete some new ideas. I've been thinking that I've been through all of the ideas that I had in my mind from all the years I couldn't do much because of other responsibilities, and that there was nothing new. Scarey!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Supper out

Last evening was a fund raising dinner on behalf of the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library. It was arranged with a small local restaurant called Muddy Waters Smokehouse. Well, of course, DH couldn't go as he is allergic to smoked food, so my DD and DGD went with me. What a delight the little one was. Her mother took a small colouring book and a set of markers along. Now the little one would only sit at a table with a red tablecloth, which sort of messed up the seating plan, but once she was there she quietly coloured until everyone was seated and had ordered. She told her mother she was hungry ( this was after 7:00 and she had been on the go all day). DD asked the waiter if she could get a small package of crackers. They don't serve soup and there were none, but the manager came over carrying his coat, and offered to go to another nearby restaurant to get some and did!! Talk about service!! We were seated 12 to a table, and a kind gentleman on the other side of DGD took to drawing on the back of the paper menu we had been given, making fierce animals for her to colour.

Now attached to this was a silent auction. Even the waiter and restaurant manager bought tickets. I brought home a sushi set. I hadn't known what it was, but had put my ticket into the draw for what I thought were pretty dishes. This is only funny because DH and I had been talking about sushi earlier in the day, after noticing that there seems to be sushi house opening on every street corner. He won't touch the stuff, so I guess the set will become "pretty dishes" after all.

Today I hope to finish the Christmas stocking for the other DGD. I've started cutting the piping and lining. I also want to finish the needle felted bird garland that I was working on awile ago. I have so little left to take to the sale this weekend, and this will be something very different.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thank you Linda!

I knew Linda had taken pictures yesterday, and I know how much nicer the blog is when there are pictures, BUT I've mentioned before than I'm picture challenged. It is such a treat to have something like this up. Thank you Linda!

Guild day - Teaching and more

This is Linda uploading a picture for Pat. While at our guild meeting yesterday, I took the liberty of taking some pictures of Pat at her vendor's table since it was "Members Vendor" day as well as during her class which I attended but did not do the project....yet (today hopefully)....

Well here are some pictures. I hope you enjoy them. The first picture is of Pat and you can see some of her creations hanging on the rack as well as on her table.

The second picture we're all listening to her instructions.

On this third picture here she is working on her project showing us just how to incorporate paper with fabric. It looked complicated when you see her beautiful finished projects but in fact it's so easy to make.. The only complicated thing about it is to attempt and make yours look as pretty as hers.... Can you tell that I'm a big fan of her work?
See Pat? The pics went up quite easily....

Another one bites the dust!

Can you tell I watched a documenary on Freddie Mercury of Queen on Thursday evening? The second sale is over, and I was very pleasantly surprized at how well I did. I sold mainly stuff that I've been making for years, such as wallets, and sewing kits. I was amazed at how many people came up, looked at the stuff and said "Oh, I've got one of those. I bought it years ago". So I made a joke of it, pointing out that my stuff is so well made that you never have to replace it--sort of like that chewing gum commercial you see on tv where the fellow is saying that his customers are still chewing the first stick of gum they ever bought.

The class went well too. Everyone went home with a piece of fabric paper. And they had such very different ideas of how they wanted their work to look! As bit of a hoot when you think about it, because if they actually make something out of it, most fo the surface will be covered. A couple of them said that they were going to trim their work and frame it!?! Of course, now I have 10 bottles of fabric paint that was left over. This will have to be used within the next couple of months, or it will deteriorate. Maybe I need to call on Ravenesque to have a painting day.

I haven't slept well the last couple of nights, and I have the grandbabies coming over for supper tonight, so I'll need to be on mybest game when they while the're here. Too much going on in my head, I guess. My last sale is next Saturday, and while I will send some stock, I don't have an active role to play in the selling part of it. But this week, I have to gather together appropriate stock to send. I don't have much! There are two wall hangings that I have taken to every sale for the last 12 months. If they don't sell next weekend, I think it will be time to retire them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Endless search

for peer support. I would so much like to find women to whom I can relate on a peer basis, in reference to my art. There aren't many around here. How does one find such people? Maybe I've reached the stage when I need to just get my art out there, and hope that the right people will come to me. The basic problem is that I don't--deep in my heart--believe that my stuff is that great. I don't believe that my skills are, at all, on a par with others who have taken things like Cities and Guilds courses. And yet a well qualified friend is very encouraging, whenever I see her. I would hate to think that I'm just seeking out adulation to satisfy my own ego. However, it's important to me that my work be respected. A-a-argh!

I finished the embroidery on my DGD's Christmas stocking last evening. Now I have to do the beading, and put it together. It would be great if it could be ready for her birthday, which we plan to celebrate on November 23rd. I seem to remember that my children tried to use spoons to eat their first birthday cake, but this little one hasn't yet started to use one. I think her mother dreads the associated laundry.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bithday Parties

My DGD seems to have had a good day yesterday. Lots of loot. Unfortunately one guest cancelled as she was ill, and a second one didn't, and then went home sick. Since there were only three invited guests, it was rather a quiet party. We arrived after cake--about 3:15. The other Grandma was there and cooked super and generally took over the hostess duties. DH was really not feeling well--two immunization shots the day before--so he was quiet and just sat watching a movie with the smallest DGD, until she went downfor a nap. I've wondered why, after little contact for years, the other grandma has become so involved with them. Yesterday, I realized that she very much enjoys being part of family life. She was a single Mom, who sometimes worked three jobs to support herself and her son, while living with her mother. Now she can take an active role in the family without that role having to be "bread winner".

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Birthdays coming up

for two of my grandbabies. So yesterday we went out to Toys R Us, with a list of suggested gifts in hand. What a scarey place! I finally had to get someone to help us find our way around. We only shopped for the two birthdays this month, not yet for Christmas. If the sales go well the next two weekends, I'll do the Christmas shopping. I think that with some of the popular toys, you need to buy them early. So this afternoon we are off to a birthday party for a four year old. The other Grandma is going to be there early, and they are going to have Princess Party. The three little girls will dress up and get tiaras and have make-up put on and then Grandma Judie will do their hair.

Now this all sounds like great fun, and I'm sure the little girls will enjoy themselves. But what does this say about society?? Four year olds spending a party afternoon making themselves into something they aren't --and this means make-up and hair do's and fancy clothes. Four year olds!!! Most ofthe items on the wish list were along the same vein--dress up Barbies, Bratz and Bratz wardrobes. I refuse to buy that sort of thing. She's getting jig saw puzzles and Robert Munsch books. Not that I believe that my small resistance will alter anything.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life Sucks!

Just heard this morning that a friend has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This is, at least, the second friend that this has happened to, as well as having been through a bit of a scare myself (benign cyst). I guess I think of that quote of Bette Davis--"getting old ain't for sissies". I think I want to spend the rest of the day sulking.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

One Down!

quite a weekend,but one sale is history and now we have to gear up for the one next weekend. We sold a little bit this time, enough to cover expenses and enough to go out for supper last night. The rough part was getting out into the country to the sale site during the first bad storm of the winter. Normally this is a half hour drive but Friday morning it took the best part of an hour and we passed several cars in the ditch (empty--we wouldn't pass a stranded person). My DH is normally a fast driver but we went the whole way with the cruise on 80Km/hr--on divided four lane highway. Saturday we drove out and then I had to turn around and drive back to the city for a class, and then drive back to pick him up. Thank Goodness the roads were much clearer by then.

The class was a little disappointing. I was quite looking forward to it. It was on mixed media collage, which I found out was quite different than multi-media collage. I think the difference comes in the number of human senses that are stimulated, with mixed media remaining basically a visual experience, and multi-media being more associated with vison and hearing--such as video's and concerts etc. In any case, it was the first time the class had been taught, and I think the timing got a little lost. There were three stages to the collage, and we spent 1 1/2 hours of a two hour class doing step one. Once we had the first layer glued down, we were to augment the surface with drawing, or painting or some sort of surface work that would either emphasize the design or alter it. I had great difficulty with this. The class had been advetised as a study in combining textures. During the first stage we weren't allowed to use people, animals or buildings--which was good. I used some very, very textural papers for stage one, but found it very difficult to mask or minimize the edges of the papers, between design elements, for stage two. We were trying to develop some sort of flow and it just wasn't happening. Stage three was to paint over the whole thing, again to either emphasize or mask various elements that had been developed in stages one and two.

Driving back to Beausejour I had a chance to think about the whole experience. What I'm doing in my collages really isn't that different. I build up a surface with paper and fabric, mask it to a certain extent with a final layer of tissue paper, or mulberry paper. I add a wash of paint, let it dry, and then add a third layer of more paper and/or fabric. This third layer may or may not have a lot in common with the first layer. IMHO, my work ends up looking much more controlled and planned (anal??), but I'm much more satisfied with it.

I have taken a few more traditionally "arty" classes. My work is much less mainstream, but much more reflective of me as a person. In the end I have to be true to what satisfies me. But I know that I'll be doing a lot of navel gazing trying to figure out if I'm just rationalizing an unwillingness to stretch myself. I think the answer to that rests with my age. If I was 25, the need to stretch and explore would be paramount, but at my age I've grown more comfortable in my own skin, and with the skills I've spent many years developing. The only area I want/need to explore is in making my designs better. So I think I'll limit further exploration to design principles and elements, but explore it from a perspective specific to fibre arts.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Here is full view

of the piece Rain Forest Retreat. I used sunprints of leaves, free motion quilted the veining, adding some quilting in the background, and then joined them by butting up the edges and using a wide satin stitch. I had a lot of fun, and when I was finished, I had three pieces, not one. Well, two of them are okay but the third is just my monthly contribution to my crap quota.

Again, I've had a very frustrating time loading these to the blog. There was no way I could get them from my Zoombrowser program, and finally, I had to up load them directly from the camera. This is really making me both frustrated and angry. So I doubt there will be many pictures on this blog in the future.


I've managed to get a picture on here. This is the close-up of my piece Rain Forest Retreat. These are sunprints made from leaves that I brought back from my recent retreat on Vancouver Island.

Calm before the storm

My horoscope today says that I need to find some time for myself, to spend in quiet renewal. Really?? Say what?? You think?? Actually I was thinking the same thing myself before I read the silly paper. The next two days will be busy with the art show in Beausejour, and with me having to drive back into the city Saturday afternoon for my collage class. The weather isn't supposed to be great, ( snow and freezing rain predicted)and I don't get to do enough driving to maintain my skills. There is nothing I can do today in terms of the show. If I'm not ready then I'm not ready. So other than hitting the bank to get a float, my time will be mainly my own.

Yesterday I managed to hand embroider the insert for the lid of a wooden box. I have another box, and I'm tempted to do another insert. I'll probably work on that a bit today, but I also have a Christmas stocking to finish. Neither of these things could be taken along to work on while I'm at the sale, so I may just put together a few simple hand projects to take with me. I would prefer to be busy with cutomers, but I have to be realistic--there will be lots of down time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Today I'm really going back in time. I'm actually doing some hand embroidery. I'm making a box top insert. I've used a bit of the silk I have--an orange silk carrier rod. It's not a real orange but rather a vermillion type of orange-y red. It matches very well a pink-y orange piece of duipioni silk that I'm using for the background. Add some Rose Quartz chip beads and some overdyed silk thread, and I think I'll end up with a fairly nice piece. It's been so long since I did this type of work that it's almost like learning all over again. A meeting tonight. We are under a storm watch, so I sure hope that it doesn't catch me tonight. More and more I'm having trouble driving at night. Getting old is a b--ch!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Last evening my satellite group, Ravenesque met. This is always such an inspiring meeting,as these ladies all have very divergent ideas related to their art quilting. We talked about needlefelting, and fabric altering and retreats--three of the four of us had been to a retreat since our last meeting. We each see a different value to the retreats. Those with family responsibilities see being able to work without worrying about cooking meals etc as an absolute indulgence. One lady loves the chance to take courses without the hassle of travelling etc., while another finds the socialization stimulating. I have to wonder if these benefits would accrue from any sort of retreat from "real life". As always at these meetings, there were books. I finally got my copy of "The Painted Quilt", but I also saw a couple of French magazines with some intriguing pictures in them. I showed off my silks. No-one seemed to see any potential use for silk carrier rods, whereas I'm just starting to see uses for them--and I've owned them for about three years. (LOL)

Today I get my flu shot, and then I think I'm going to spend a bit of time planning my creative activities over the next 6-9 months. I've been so immersed in creating for sales that I haven't really spent any time creating for shows. I have four potential shows in the next year, and i think I would like to be able to enter all of them.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Odd jobs

Got a lot of fiddly odd jobs done yesterday. DH helped by making wooden hangers for those hangings that I plan to take to sales this month. I have more than enough stock, since I don't expect to sell much, but I made tags and priced everything, so that it's ready to go. The sale at the end of the month is supposed to be for embroidered goods, and I don't have a lot of that. I'm going to set up a couple of pieces for inserts of wooden boxes. They can be quickly done and are one-of-a-kind. The boxes are professionally made and I can get a good price for them, if the embroidery is well done. This could be something that I could work on during the sale this weekend.

I did do a bit of housework and discovered that I need to do a lot more. We have an errand to run today that will take a bit of time, and then tonight is the meeting of my satellite group, Ravenesque. So it looks like my time is filled for the next little while.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Nope! Didn't get the housework done

DD called to say that they wouldn't be in for dinner today. She starts back to work tomorrow after 12 months maternity leave, and she wanted a day to just veg out around the house before leaping back into the real world.

So I sort of veg'ed out myself. I put together the sunprints I made from the leaves I brought back from BC. I had hoped for a small hanging but ended up with three of them!! And I still have some prints to use!! Two of the hangings will be okay, but the third one is not really good and will only count toward my "crap quota" for this year. The sunprinted hanging was also supposed to go t0ward fulfilling my commitment to the Fast Friday Challenge for October. I had read the requirements as being a mono-chromatic piece, that was supposed to emphasize value as the main componenet. Well, I missed the second sentance stating that it was also supposed to demonstrate perspective. ( I read the challenge at 4:00, while half asleep) Not much perspective in a sunprint.

I bought some clothes while we were out the other day. I've spent quite a bit buying clothes this fall. It hit me that I needed clothes when an outfit, that I clasified as to be worn at home but otherwise never see the light of day, was actually in better shape than most of the stuff I was wearing out to meetings! The old stuff that I used to wear to work five years ago, is just getting too-o-o "ratty", not to mention dye and paint spotted. A couple of things that aren't in too bad shape, are that way because I don't wear them. They just don't flatter me. So they are being demoted to "wear around the house". Where I'm going with this is that today I have three new pairs of pants to shorten. This is a very simple job, but one I hate and I really tend to procrastinate. One of the pairs of pants was bought last spring! The worst part of all of this is that in gathering clothes together to take to the thrift shop, I realize that quite a few of them aren't good enough to go to the thrift shop!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The sewing machine is back. I evidently did a number on it wth the mono-filament thread I was using. I'm going to have to change a few habits. However, in fixing it up for me, she's done something strange with the upper tension. This means that I'm going to have to learn to use it all over again. That's a real nuisence. We spent most of yesterday running errands--spent lots of money. But I got the matts I needed to finish the few sunprints I needed to. Matts are getting very expensive.
I have three sales over the next three weekends. This means spending a fair bit of time getting ready and making sure that I have the stock I need. I signed up for a short workshop on multi-media collage for next Saturday. This means leaving my DH to manage my booth out of town, while I drive back in, attend my course, and then drive back out into the country to pick him up.
So, today I may actually have to do a little housework.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just a note to say that I'm okay. Friends have been calling with concern. I still have bruises in strange places, but I seem to be managing fine. Babysat my youngest grandchild yesterday. It was a treat to have her free to play and explore without her sister either fighting over toys or playing "mother" and not letting her explore as she wanted to. I worked on a post card yesterday. It called for couching so I framed up a piece of fabric and got out all of my metal thread embroidery stuff--three boxes worth. It's been awhile, but I managed to do up a small piece with couched Japanese gold. I used the old Elna machine to do the edge, and that machine doesn't like metal thread. Anyway, it got done. It doesn't look as spectacular as I thought it might. I did find out that I can still work the metal thread, even if my skills are a little rusty. Today we grocery shop, and then this evening I'm going out for coffee with my cousin Beryl. Usually we just see each other at family weddings and funerals. She is a geneologist, and always has questions about the family.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Things Happen in threes

or so I've been told. Well, yesterday, my sewing machine just stopped working. I have no idea what happened. I was working with mono-filament thread, and I'm worried that some of that broke off and got mixed up in the machine. I use mono-filament a lot. I had also been sewing steady for a number of hours. In any case, it goes to the shop today. While I'm hoping everything can be fixed, I'm sure it won't be cheap. My biggest worry is that they'll say it can't be fixed. It's five years old, and I'm not sure that they are meant to last much longer than that. Certainly I know that Singers used to have that sort of useful expectancy. I had actually looked at a new machine early this year. They are beautiful, but almost all of them are computerized--and computers and I don't get along. When I actually think about how many of the features I use on this one, I'm surprized at how simple my needs are. I need to be able to free motion quilt, and sew straight seam and zig-zag. The old Elna I have does many things beautifully, but I can't lower the feed dogs. Anyway, maybe I'm buying trouble. I'll take it in and see what they say, but I have to admit that I'm already thinking of how to carry on with life without it.

Life without it--hmmm. I have no tv guide (newspaper still on strike) so I'm not watching tv much these days. Last evening, I spent an hour reading an old National Geographic, (that I bought at Value Village), and watching a documentary on Lyndon B. Johnson. How exciting. Maybe it's just cabin fever, since I haven't been out of the house since Friday--when I had the car accident. My one thought was that maybe I can spend some time doing hand work. I haven't done a lot lately, and so many of my ideas require hand work that I should take another look at it. But--I hurt my wrist when I fell on Sunday. Someone is trying to tell me something, and I'm not sure what that message might be. Don't drive, don't sit and don't sew. Which leaves cycling and lately we've had winds with gusts of 40-60km/hr. Heaven forbid that I'm being pushed toward housework!!

Monday, October 27, 2008


I had a wee accident with a chair yesterday. I use a "steno" chair with arms at my sewing machine. It's an old chair that we bought at a garage sale many years ago. There is a wheeled base and then the actual seat sits on top of a plate that reclines back a bit. The seat is held to this plate with four screws. Well, I was sitting, and must have shifted my weight. The seat and base separated. The base shot off to one side and I ended up on the floor on my right side, still, sort of, sitting in the chair. I must have tried to grab the sewing machine because al of the stuff that rests on the top of the cabinet was all over the floor with me. When we had a chance to look at it, there were only two screws --not four---holding the base, and those screws were either crystalized or sheered right off. DH has replaced all of the screws and the chir seems to be working fine now. I, however, appear to have a few bruizes, aches and pains.

What was so upsetting about this was my reaction to it. I was quite "shattered". It was an emotional reaction far beyond what I should have felt over a fairly minor accident. I had to wonder if this was residue from my problem with the car on Friday. In any case, after the grandchildren left, I was absolutely exhausted and was in bed before 10:00, sleeping until 8:00 this morning--a very long night for me.

So, what was I sewing , at the time, you ask? Well, I've finally got to work with the sunprints I made with the leaves I brought back from BC. I'm taking each one and FMQ'g it to batting and backing. Then I plan to put them all together, like a jig saw puzzle, by butting them and sewing them flat with a wide satin stitch. I have a few done and have them mounted on the design wall. I looked at it and thought--"I've seen this sort of thing before". Darned if I know where or when but the concept has been done. Regardless I'm going to carry on. After all, I banged up my car going off to buy the thread. So I figure that the thread alone cost me over $700! (lol)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Still cold

I notice we're sleeping more too. Actually we've been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately. Over the past while we've been becoming more and more congested while we're trying to sleep. So I went out and bought some unscented hypo-allergenic laundry soap, and washed all of the bedding and most of our clothes. For the past two nights we've slept like babies. Maybe catching up from weeks of poor sleep. It was a lot fo work, and the soap isn't cheap, but I think I may be onto something. Any other time that I've found a laundry soap that worked for us, they stopped manufacturing it within a couple of months, but I noticed that Tide now has a hypo-allergenic soap. It isn't labelled as scent free, however, so I didn't buy it. somethign to keep in mind.

Got a couple of wallets almost finished yesterday, and then spent most of the evening workingonthe little Christmas stocking. It's long been my habit to do the machine work during the day and then the hand work in the evening while I watch tv. Without a tv guide--the newspaper is still on strike--I just don't watch tv. I've actually found CBC Radio 2, and listened for awhile yesterday. Some of it is okay, but later in the afternoon I just couldn't stand what was on and turned it off.

I have a lot of volunteer work to do today, and then the Grandchildren are coming over for supper, so I'm not sure what sewing I'll get done. Actually that's not true. My DD told me that she has some clothing that needs altering, and that she'll bring it whn they come for supper.

The tires are replaced--all four of them. They checked the wear on them and it looks like we might have had to replace them in a couple of months anyway. It cost over $700.00, so it looks like an austerity program around here for awhile. And then this morning I got a two page "wish list" for my grand daughters, with both birthdays and Christmas coming up.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I was right

That volunteer commitment did take most of the week. I've just now finished and sent it off for review. I did get out of the house for a bit yesteday, and managed to hit a curb with the car, ruining at least one tire and maybe two rims. So DH is off at the dealership getting everything fixed. So much for my Christmas fund! We are still trying to keep the house cooler than we did last year, but I noticed that DH had the heat turned up a couple of degrees yesterday. I think he got cold while riding his bicycle over to help me change the tire.

It's just been too cold and windy to sunprint outside, so I've been doing it in the basement, with good results. It makes me wonder if the trouble I had last year was because my paint was old and diluted. This time I put the fabric over a framed screen so that the air could get at it from two sides, instead of resting it on plastic. This may have allowed it to dry a little faster, and I'm convinced that drying time influences the quality of the print as well.

I'm going to try something new with the sunprints. If it works, I'll post a picture. but I also need to make sure I have enough stock for sales. So today I'm making wallets. I bought the fabric awhile back, and have been wanting to use it. It is so pretty!! But I have to keep reminding myself that the Christmas stocking I'm making for my DGD has a time limit on it too--and there is more to be done than I think. So off to the studio while DH is away. Actually when he's out, which isn't often, I usually sneak in and play a poker tournament, but too much to do today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In a Dither

I just can't sem to focus on any one thing, as far as my next project. I have some leaves that I brought back from BC, and an idea of how to use sunprints quite differently in a iece, but I think it's really too cold to try to work outside, although it's sunny out. The prints are always much nicer if they dry inthe sun as opposed to the basement under the full spectrum lights. I think the difference is in the drying time. I suppose I could paint in the basement and then just put them out to dry. A couple of the ideas that I have would be hand done pieces. The silk carrier rods I brought back could be worked into a hand embroidered piece very nicely, and I will. But I first have to finish the Christmas stocking for my DGD. I have come to realize that I have very few small matted sun prints and two sales fast approaching. I also made a volunteer commitment at the retreat that will take up most of my time this week. Maybe I need to paint fabric, put it out in the sun and then come in and work on my computer while it dries. My enemy will probably be the wind.

Our local newspaper is on strike. What a difference this makes to my morning routine! But I'm pleased to say that, with doing more reading, I'm having to branch out into a better class of literature. I've spent the last couple of days reading a collection of short stories written by Ruth Rendell. ( bought it for reading on the plane) Now there is a twisted mind! Not much inspiration for fibre work, but maybe a very dark piece with Ravens or vultures etc. Who knows.

The plumbing work at the lake isn't finished. The fellow had a death in the family. But he is supposed to be working on it this week, and then we are going down on Thursday to check it out and pay him. Yesterday, we also heard of a death in our family. A remote relative, a grand-nephew by marriage, whom I've only met half a dozen times, over the past twenty years. A young man with two teenage daughters. It made me look around at family, especially DH's family, and I realized that we are quickly becoming a family of women. I'm not sure if that has any deep meaning, but I think it may be a reflection of society. Certainly I've read of whole levels of society where single women with families are the norm. I'm not sure where that thought is going.

Anyway, time to get moving. DH was up late again last night , on the computer, so he is still sleeping. It's always a challenge to see how much I can get done without waking him.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And home again!

very late last night! I had a marvelous time, but have no pictures. This group has run into some copyright problems recently, and no-one was taking any pictures. We stayed at a very (ver-r-r-y) nice c0nference centre that has a nation wide reputation for its gourmet food--and is it ever well-earned! Our meeting room was on the top floor with a tremendous view of the Channel Islands. I had no idea that Saltspring Island was so very close to Sidney.

I bought silk!! I saw a wonderful art show with out of this world prices--and quite a few of the pieces were sold! There was a very good representation of fibre work in the show, which was nice to see. Well, we had unbelievable show'n'tell. When I tried to pick one or two pieces to take, I realized how little I've actually done this year, so I decided to be up front with them and tell them that I had spent all of my time making product to sell so that I could afford to go to the conference. They were interested and several more people came out of the closet--so to speak--and admitted to making things purely for sale. One lady is a well respected artist, who does a lot of commission work. But she turned out to be making sunprints very much like mine, matting them, and selling them through the Alberta Crafts Council. She uses some simple embroidery rather than beads, for her embellishment. I was impressed with her hand work and she was impressed with my beading. (lol)

I got home late yesterday, slept late today and then went shopping for food. So now DH is having a nap and I'm preparing supper. Is there something wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Off I go!

To my retreat. I got my boarding pass off the Internet this afternoon, and everything looks good for tomorrow. I'm not sure how I'll get my boarding pass in Sydney, as I won't have access to the Internet. So I'll be out of touch for a few days. I get back very late on Sunday evening. everything is packed. I hope I've packed the right clothes, as I'm not sure what the weather will be like, and one afternoon we are going to a community arts festival. It doesn't matter. I fully intend to have fun.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Great results!

from the discharging of the quilted fabric. I used both hand and machine quilting so that I could compare the results. I'm very pleased with the effect in the first picture, where I've done the close together geometric lines. The other two pictures were so fuzzy when I actually got them on the screen that I just deleted them. A similar effect but with different types of quilting. I really want to do more of this, but at the same time, I want it to be my work and not just a knock off of the stuff in the book. I sure wish I could take better pictures!!
Today I'm off to see the fibre art at the CMU Gallery. The reviews have been excellent, and since I know all three of the artists, it wil be more personal. Then home to do laundry and pack for my trip on Thursday. I have a meeting here tomorrow afternoon, so would be more comfortable if the laundry was done today.

Monday, October 13, 2008

New direction

I spent sometime yesterday reading "The Painted Quilt" by Laura and Linda Kemshell. Many wonderful quilts and many wonderful ideas. This was a borrowed book, and my friend Linda, will be ordering a couple for us later in the month. I was looking to see if anything caught me eye for something to try first. I was intrigued with the idea of altering the surface of a quilt after the quilting is actually done. I spent part of yesterday watching another friend play with discharge paste, so that's in my mind. So, I think I want to try doing some machine quilting and then discharging the colour after the quilting is finished. The other thing that was brought home to me, in the book, was the idea of discharging dark colours other than black. In particular they mentioned dark grey. Since I have at least 1 1/2m of dark grey/black fabric from when I did the gradation dyeing, I'm thinking of using that. I know that Procion dyes were used for the original colour there. I also have at least two big pieces of charcoal grey commercial fabric that I can discharge and compare to the hand-dyed pieces. I'll limit myself to making samples,at first, and keep a record of what happens. This will take awhile, but it's not as though I have anything else to do over the winter.

However, this week is my trip to BC for the FAN retreat. I'm very much looking forward to that. While I'm away, DH will be down at the lake fixing the plumbing--hopefully before freeze up.

Yesterday, I had hoped to update my section on the website. We spent quite a bit of time working on it, but when I checked later last evening, it seems that we forgot to hit the "save changes" button. So I guess I'll be spending some time today re-writing that to send off to the webmaster.

Grandbabies are coming for supper. We have everything planned, and are very much looking forward to it. They just have so very much energy, and we're both exhausted by the time they leave.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The little quilted piece is finished, but needs to be trimmed and bound. Some really weird trees--guess I need to work on trees. It's not great art, and is a little too traditional for me, but I sure learned a lot making it--which was the goal. I know others have tried to make fog/mist by using organza overlays etc, and I'm not sure that the needle felted roving is much of an improvement. Now I'm having an argument with myself about what sort of sleeve to put on it. Do I just put a little sleeve for a piece of doweling, or do I get all arrogant and put on a show sleeve? It really is a piece of junk, IMHO, but lately others have thought my work was better than I gave it credit for. I had orignally planned to take it tothe FAN retreat, but those ladies can be too honest. I think I'm answering my question--I don't really think it's worthy of exhibition-- no matter how much I want to build a body of work of show quality.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Again, a dull, dreary day. I've been re-thinking my little piece and plan to add another feature that, I hope, will bring it to life. However, the end result will be very traditional. Funny how I revert to traditional when I really need to develop a design that works. What I plan is developed from a class I took at Quilt Canada in Ottawa a couple of years ago. It was a terrible class, and I was quite critical of the teacher in my evaluation, but when I was looking for a feature, this one little thing out of the class came to mind. So, my "Trees in the Mist" will now form the background of a pumpkin patch. It means working in layers, but rather than layers from lowest level to highest level, I'll have to work in layers from left to right. I hope to get most of it done today, as I just don't want to think of going outside.

We went shopping yesterday for food for Monday. We had a big turkey last weekend when the whole family was here, so this time we chose a very nice eye of round roast. I'm going to roast some veggies as well as potatoes, and with pumpkin pie, we'll have a feast. I love roast veggies such as turnip and beets, and I think DD does as well, although DH hates veggies in any way, shape or form.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

thoroughly miserable,

depressing weather-chilly and wet. I started on a small quilted project today with the idea of trying to incorporate my needle felter for some small part of it. I took the time to draft out a pattern and now have about 20% of the top and quilting done. Darn if I didn't screw up the quilted part, not the needle felting! I figured it might have been an example of poor judgement as I've been fighting a cold all day--at least that's what I thought. But I spent the evening watching tv and sewing binding on some pieces that I finished awhile ago, and now my head seems clear. I have to wonder if I was so stuffed up because I was working with wool roving, and I've always known I had a slight allergy to wool. However, I had thought it was a contact allergy, not respiratory. Go figure! Anyway, I'm pleased with the technique I'm using with the little hanging, even if my fabric choices aren't the best. So now it's off to bed and try to do a bit more tomorrow.

thoroughly miserable,

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Ravenesque meeting went well. It was a real pleasure to have my friends over. Quite different from hosting a meeting at the house. DH was in our home office on the computer for the evening, while the ladies and I were directly below in my studio. He said that at times the giggles were quite loud, and he could hear us having fun. They got to try my needle felting machine, and I think at least one of them may be looking at buying one. So far, I've just been playing with it, but now I have to start trying to figure out how I'm going to use it in my work. For many years I've had an image in my mind of a row of trees in the fog and mist. I've even taken pictures of just such a scene. This time of year I used to pass a section of highway on my way to work, at just the right time of morning--about dawn--to see the mist and trees. I could also use some of my gradation dyed grey fabric, as at that time of day, there is very little colour.

Not today, however. I have a meeting at the house tonight. It is all a plan, you see, to only have to clean the house once, by piggy backing the meetings on top of one another. I have another one next week, and should be able to get away with just surface cleaning. Darn! I hate house work! DH baked some very nice fruit bread for me to serve. Now I just have to find those bargain paper napkins that I bought on sale and tucked away for just such an occasion!

The other thing I need to do this week is get out to see a fibre art show at a high-end local gallery. I know all three of the artists involved, and the reviews of the show have been excellent. My friend, Shirley, and I have been planning to go, we just haven't been able to set a time. So I may not be able to blog eveyday for the next little while.