Saturday, September 27, 2008

Not much stitching

I went to the official opening of the embroidery exhibit at the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library on Thursday evening. It's a lovely exhibit. It has been in the making for over two years, and worth every bit of effort it took. Then yesterday was "payday" , so we bought groceries. Not a lot of food to show for over $300.00, but I got a free turkey. Superstore had a promotion. If you spent more than $175.00 you got a free turkey. Last time we got a free bottle of laundry soap--a big one. Then I sat down to watch Dr. Who last night and it was stupid. The first 5 minutes turned me right off. So I switched to Torchwood, and it was a hoot! While I watch tv I've been working on a Christmas stocking for my most recent grandchild. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now, so have been working a bit more often. I have a few other hand-stitched projects waiting in line,so really need to get this done.

But I know I have difficulty sticking to something. Once I get started, and start to have problems, I procrastinate. But I've learned that, if I'm procrastinating, it's usually because something isn't right with the project. I may not know what it is right away, but if I let the whole thing percolate in my brain for awhile, it will usually sort itself out. So I've given myself today and tomorrow to play/work in the studio. I have a friend coming over for a studio day on Wednesday and we plan to do some more gelatine printing, so Monday and Tuesday I'll have to be tidying the place up, moving furniture and rolling up the rug. we'll have to see how much I get done.

At the same time, I had wanted to be more active in the internet Fast Friday challenges. This is a fibre art challenge that is issued the last Friday of every month. You then have one week to finish a project and get it posted on the Yahoo site. This year, the year long theme is to work in series with a recurring theme of some sort, and the challenge of the month is to use a complimentary colour scheme. And I have to have it finished by next Saturday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I spent time with my little machine. It will do a good job on most things. When I tried to felt a tinselly type of fabric it was a disaster, but do I ever like the effect using Duipioni silk. I tore the silk into very narrow strips, which created all sorts of loose threads, and then fellted the whole thing down. Threads and all. Long "eyelash" yarn just became "mush", but I can see a place for that, too. I'm going to start working my way through the Quilting Arts Gift Book. There are several projects in there that will give the machine a good workout. Now I have to figure a way to have both my sewing machine and the embellisher up and ready to go at the same time. They both fit beautifully into my cabinet, but it's a bother to be switching them back and forth.

I saw a picture on the internet of some sunprinting done with black paint. Wow! Do I ever want to try that! I had thought that I was finished sunprinting for this year, but all I need is one bright sunny day! I have in the back of my mind a series of pieces done to explore the grey scale. This might fit very nicely into the series.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I did it!

I bought a cute little Husqvarna needle felting machine. I have wanted one for ages but thought they were much more expensive than they actually are. We looked a a cheaper Pfaff machine, only to find out that it is no longer manufactured and, while they had a few needles in stock, there was no guarantee that I could buy replacement needles. As well, the machine they had was a floor model. So I went for the more expensive Husky. ( insert smell of burning plastic credit card here) So now I plan to spend the rest of the day figuring out how to use it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Relax at last

The big weekend is over, although I won't really relax until the last plane takes off this afternoon. We drove three ladies to the airport for 6:00am . I badly miscalculated the traffic at 5:00 on a Sunday morning and we got them there a little early. Now we'll probably sleep most of the day. We plan to go out for supper tonight--not something we do often. I ended up coming home for the pot luck last night with a huge tray of veggies--enough to last the two of us for a week--all cut up and ready to eat. It would be nice to get into the studio today, but I'm so punchy that it's probably not a good idea, although I could putter a bit and maybe do some tidying.
Once we got home I started to be able to look forward a bit. I suddenly realized that the polymer clay class--that I've signed up for and paid for--is the weekend I'm going to be at the FAN retreat in BC. Sure hope I can get my money back! I'll have to find out if she's teaching anywhere else in the near future.

Anyway, we're alive and well but likely won't be competent to communicate for a day or so.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thank you Linda

for taking the following pictures and encouraging me to try to put them in the blog. Linda is far more knowedgeable about computers than I am and has been helping me with this blog from the beginning. Some of us need all the help we can get, and everybody should have a Linda in the background when we need her.

This little picture is a small book I made to act as a sample of what can be done with the fabric paper. I was presenting it my Guild last night as an introduction to a class I planned to teach in November. I must have done a good job as the class filled up very, very quickly. It is type of book called a Chap book, and the fabric paper was used as the cover. the book is only about 5" square.

Here is Courage. This is inspired by the Serenity Prayer. The large arrow repesents the Celtic Rune symbolic of the Warrior Spirit, courage and strength. The gilt leaves are gifts from a friend's stash. Her Mother had been somewhat of a mentor of mine. This is my first attempt at using polymer clay and was before I took the class in polymer clay. I had used a poor quality clay and the little pieces have warped a bit, but they still stay on and do their job. Part of the fun of doing these things is in tearing up pieces of silk to get the silken threads that are imbeded in some of the sections. Courage is aobut 12" by 14"


here is a picture of my very first mixed media collage. I may have put this up before,but I don't remember. It is called Midnight , and is fairly small.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Last day before the Big Event!

The weekend is coming fast. Then three days of "hurry up and wait" activity. Everything is in place. I had e-mail this morning that one last glitch had been dealt with. I have an appointment to pay the caterer for the Saturday food this afternoon, and will pay the caterer for the Friday food on Friday afternoon. I need to make a couple of phone calls this morning--such as arranging to pick up the van we have borrowed. I get to relax this afternoon at a friend's house-- My Tuesday Night Stitchers That Meet on Wednesday Afternoon group. Not that I'm doing that much hand stitching these days. Tomorrow I have to spend a good part of the day getting ready for the Quilter's Guild meeting in the evening. I have so many various things to take with me that I'll need to rent a truck!

I got a cheque from the Wilno Gallery yesterday, andI just about have the package ready to send her. She really hasn't sold that much of my stuff, but has asked for Sunprints and small stuff. It would be good to get it in the mail in the next day or so. A lot of it I had on hand, but have to make coffee cuffs. I put together five sunprinted hangings yesterday, and got one of them FMQ'd. When I put the binding on it, I realized that the fabric I had backed it with was stained. Can't do anything about that one, but I need to take the others apart and put new backing on. It was a subtle stain that didn't show up until the white backing fabric went over the white batting.

My friend Dianne phoned yesterday. She had received an acceptance for her piece "My DNA" for the Pacific Inernational Quilt Festival in California. This is very pretigious, and she was overjoyed. We talked for a while about our different approaches to our work. The gist of it was that, if I want people to see my work, I have to enter it in shows. She is encouraging me to enter my "Value Study" into the show it was designed for--the show deadline in September 28th, and I can enter electronically. I think the first step is to finish the piece.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Best intentions

While I had planned to spend today in the studio working on hangings, the sun was out and it was a beautiful day--so I sun printed. Got 12 very nice pieces done. They are really intended to keep me busy over the winter, but my hands are itching to get sewing on them. I know that the longer I can give the paint to cure, the brighter the colours will be. Do you think I can wait a week to wash them and get hem ready for use? Probably not. But it feels so good to be antsy to create. It's been a long time since I felt this anxious to get going. To slow me down I had a few minutes later in the day to get into the studio, and I cut three hangings out of sunprints I did awhile ago. So hopefully I can be content to work on those tomorrow and not give in and put the new prints in the washing machine.

and now it's Monday

got a lot done in the studio yesterday. I made and packaged 5 matted sunprints and one matted gelatin print. Late Saturday evening I was going through all of my prints looking for inspiration when I suddenly got an idea of how to use the gelatin prints. I made those last March and have been trying to figure out how to use them ever since. So one of them was free motion quilted and then beaded and matted. One of them I made into a hanging about a month ago, and today I'll be looking at the rest. they aren't so good and I may just make them up into the background for a collage. The gelatin prints aren't nearly so crisp as the sunprints, and the colour s are much softer. I had used a thickening agent in the paints to control their spread on the gelatin and it softened the edges and appears to have softened the colour as well. I quite like the gelatin prints. As the gelatin deteriorated the prints developed a very characteristic ripple effect, probably from the effect of the brayer moving over the softening gelatin. I also used a variety of paints that had been lying around the studio, including some silk paints. I'd not tried those on cotton before. Now i have some better quality cotton, and I'm anxious to try again.

The grandchildren were over for supper last night. The baby seems to be teething, although there are no signs of teeth yet. Nine months old, and the doctor isn't worried, so we don't worry either. She is starting to develop personality. Last night was the first time I'd seen her get angry at her older sister--who tends to take things away from her. The older one is pretty rough with her, so it's good to see the little one starting to stand up for herself at last. The older one starts nursery school this week, and started dancing class last week. The battle is going to be getting her to agree to have her hair put in a pony tail for dance class. She is very, very opinionated about how she dresses and how her hair is done--at three.

Everything seems to be ready for the big meeting weekend. All of the billets are lined up, I have cheques to cover catering for both the catered events, and I've paid the rent on the hall for the pot luck supper. I've found a secretary, after the first one had to back out, I have the coupons for the stores we're going to visit, and I think I have the drivers all set up. Sounds too good to be true.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

You say it's Saturday??

But it was just Tuesday!! I haven't a clue wht I've been up to lately. Most of my time has been spent in the studio accomplishing nothing. The Wilno Gallery in Ontario wants more stuff. No clear instruction about what stuff she wants--just more stuff. I really have done nothing since I was in Sioux Narrows, so it's probably time to get busy. My next sale is early November, so I only have six weeks to replenish by stock. I went through my sunprints this week. I have a fair bit, but nothing small enough to make gretting cards out of. I have some very pretty ferns prints, but when I tried, they are just too simplistic to make up matted prints with. I spent too much money on matts, so have to find some way to use them. I'm dithering again. DH, DD and DGD are at the church across the street at the"Free Neighbourhood BBQ and Children's Carnival". I know that there's no free lunch, but DGD loves the attention and the carnival games. Last year she won some stickers. We have to put up with a few minutes of listening to what the church does and stands for. Cheap at the price for what is really joy at watching DGD having fun.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Getting things done

Making those lists really helped. I'm accomplishing all of the little things that tend to clog up my mind. You know--the things that will only take a minutes but mean actually sitting down and doing them. Knowing that I tend to procrastinate means that I can blame it on that, and not on the knowledge that difficulty initiating activity can be one of the first signs of dementia--let's not go there. When I looked at what needs to be done for the meeting tonight I found over 20 pages of documents that I need to review pending discussion at the meeting. These are policy drafts, strategic plan drafts etc. Really exciting stuff. The meeting tomorow only has 5 pages of stuff. So I guess that's what I'll be doing for the next day or so.

Yesterday evening I tried something a little different. I printed on fabric using a celery knob. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to use paint or dye and ended up using paint because my celery knob was getting old, and I hadn't pre-treated the fabric to make it ready to take dye. I'm not sure that it going to work with the piece I have in mind, but the result was interesting. It looked like a rose. I thickened the paint so that it would be easier to control and used it on dry fabric so that the shape wouldn't wick out.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I made my "to do" list and several things came up that I really needed to do--soon. So I got on the phone and touched base with the last few ladies who have volunteered to host guests for the upcoming Embroiderers' Association of Canada, Prairie Pacific Regional meeting. I need to write up a few notes to mail, and one more phone call and the arrangements are done. Now I keep my fingers crossed that nothing comes up. I had trouble contacting one of my billet hosts, but she finally phoned yesterday, having just come home from the lake. I had visions of having to find another host at the last minute. I made preliminary contact with the three ladies who have agreed to participate in a presentation with me on Art Quilts in January, and then, I realized that I have to come up with four volunteers within the next week, for a session on crafts, at a local book store.

I checked to see if there was anything I needed to do before meetings tomorrow and Wednesday. Yup! Things to do. So I tried to make some samples of little , hand-sewn, quilted Christmas ornaments yesterday. I was tired and out of sorts and this just wasn't fun. So I'll try to finish them today. Then I have to write up the instructions so that they can be run past a test group. What I'm really doing is procrastinating over my B&W challenge quilt. ( Picture in a previous posting) I put it up for a critique, on the Yahoo group. I only got one response, and she said that she could see a face in my piecing. No other response. Not being stupid, I figure that this is an example of "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". So, while I may finish it, I don't think it will be entered in the challenge.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Life goes on

I taught my design/beadmaking course yesterday. Not as many students as I had thought--only four showed up. This class came out of a design /dyeing course that I team taught with a needlework designer last spring. The ladies enjoyed it and wanted to continue. So the class yesterday was to discuss the format of future meetings, and set up topics etc, so that the shop owner could publicize them, and maybe work some sort of profit into the process, since she is giving us the space to meet. I made a few beads myself during the afternoon, and then came home and made a couple more. While I was working, I had design ideas come to mind, so maybe my creativity isn't completely dead. Unfortunately, they were all emboidery ideas, and a little more difficult, and time consuming to work up. Over the past six months, I've come up with several embroidery ideas, and got them all set up--fabric framed and ready, thread all selected and sorted out, and embellishments as well--and then not put a stitch in.

So maybe I've reached another point in my life where I have to step back and give some thought to future a direction, and the small steps I need to make to start me along the path. Sometimes when I reach this stage, it's my first hint that the depression is coming back. Over time I've learned to pay attention to these moods. Daily journaling and making lots of "To Do" lists is often a good strategy to turn me around. (Gives me a focus and a concrete list of things to keep me busy and on track)

Had a friend call me early this morning. She is an older woman, living in an assisted living facility. She had signed us up for a guided tour of the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden and lunch at the Conservatory, but was calling to cancel. During our conversation she mentioned how depressed a close friend was, because her SIL had been diagnosed with ALS at the age of 60, and how devastating this was to the family. Having seen this during my working life, I knew exactly what she meant. Still, it gives one pause to consider their own mortality. AHA! Another route to depression!

No supper guests today, so I have the whole day to play in my studio. However, DH has decided that today is the day to finish washing the basement floor. He's probably right. I've pretty well cleared off the table in the middle of the room, and, if nothing else, I really need to vacuum my beautiful rug. So regardless of the nice fall weather, it looks like I get to spend the day in the basement. Whoopee!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Guild meeting and guerilla warfare

last night. A strange event to observe. Quite placid on the surface, but obviously some sort of undercurrent. Well I knew what the undercurrent was-- An unpleasant event that impacted on the Guild and needed to be dealt with. Various people would disappear into side rooms for intense conversation periodically. This is related to the Big Weekend I've been working on, and the end result is that I will have to be the one negotiating and smoothing ruffled feathers. For me, personally, I came home emotionally exhausted, and sensing that I have lost a friend. Over the past 12-18 months, I have been aware that I have seriously over-commited, and have been stressing myself to the point of being quite unhappy. So I have been letting some of my affiliations go, and picking up new ones that, I have felt, offered me something more in return for my involvement. This has not panned out the way I expected. The new associations haven't been as rewarding as I expected. Now I have a vision of the future that sees me quickly becoming quite isolated, as my previous involvements come to a close, and I have nothing to replace them. Last night was to have been my last meeting with this Guild, and as well as losing the affiliation, I have now lost the few friendships that I thought were there. I've always said that there is nothing as viciously political as women's volunteer organizations.

So I'm not a "happy camper' today. And the weather is matching my mood-slow drizzle from a very grey sky. The critique on my "urn" was neutral, with no suggestions for improvement--talk about "damning with faint praise"! Today I make beads. Since I'm teaching it tomorrow, I figure I need to brush up my skills. I sure hope that turns out okay.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Preliminary work

On my piece for the Black and White Challenge out of the Fiberart Connection of Southern California Yahoo group. These are my gradation dyed fabrics, using the group that were created with the grey dye. There will be a little more value change once I've added the thread painting and quilting. I'm fairly pleased but a little disappointed that there isn't a greater value difference between the steps in the gradation. As it is I skipped every second step as I was working my way up from black to white. The horizon line to the right of the vase and just below the handle isn't as visible as I had hoped, but I should be able to correct that with the thread painting.

Wow! Expensive!

I found my hard cover journals in Office Depot. Any like I had in mind were over $10.00 and some up to $18.00. I found a one style($4.99) but they were all damaged. I asked if there might be a discount for the damage ( after all, it would have saved me some time de-constructing them to get them ready for altering), but "no". I finally found one that is probably okay for playing with. The cover is shiney, and I'll have to rough it up quite a bit to glue anything on, but I can play.

Then I went to buy the supplies for my class on Saturday. The price has sure gone up there! I had set a kit fee based on the price when I checked about a month ago. So I won't be recovering my cost on the kits, but I'll be paid as a teacher, so that may cover my costs.

A nice thing happened in Office Depot. As I was checking out the clerk asked if I was a teacher. I hesitated and then said " Well, yes I teach but I'm not a school teacher", as I knew what she meant, even if she didn't specifically ask. So she asked what I taught, and I told her, and we had a bit of a chat about it, and I showed her the copying I had done for the class Saturday. Then she said " Just a minute, I'm going to give you something anyway". So she went and got me a very nice fabric bag ( some of the freebies aren't all that nice) and inside there were coupons for various services, a mouse pad, various pens including two Sharpies, Glue dots, a blank computer disc, and felt marker, and scratch pads--all stuff that is neat to have around.

Today I have to go and buy a few vegetables to make tomato sauce. I have a very good recipe, and we've already made some, but DH brought in an armload of ripe tomatoes yesterday, that need to be dealt with. The beets are about 2 inches across now, so should be eaten soon, and we've already eaten some of the carrots--good nibbles! But it's obviously fall now. The cooler nights and the smell of the air. DD was out buying jackets and coats for the children yesterday--a sure sign.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Well, maybe it's not working as well as I thought. Now that I'm starting to try to fit all of the very irregular pieces together there are gaps. I'm filling them in but it looks bad. I'm hoping that I can smooth it out with machine quilting. I had planned to use the Sulky Blendables, and will be shoping for them today. I have to go out rergardless to get some printing done. I hope to have paperwork to take to the Embroiderers' Guild meeting for all of the ladies who have offered billets for the big meeting later this month, and I'll have to have handouts for the class I'm teaching on Saturday. I really need to review my notes for the class, and buy some more supplies. So it looks like a busy day shopping. What fun!

One of the things I want to look for while I'm out is hard cover journals. Several times recently I've seen suggestions for decorating these. I looked at what they had for hard cover journals in the cheaper stores and found nothing, so I guess I'll have to try book stores or the big box office supply store, where I've found them before. This might be something to try out when I need something quick to lift my mood.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Finally working

I took all of my gradation studies to my support group--Ravenesque-- last night, and the ladies seemed to agree with my plan to use the grey gradation against a dark background. I've started putting it together and it seems to be working. Now let's hope the jurors in the B&W challenge thing it works and that it gets into the show. I have so many other ideas in my brain. I know that if I don't do something about them, they'll get lost in the mess in there. I'm thinking that I need to use my sketch books more effectively. So I think that will be my goal for this month--to make myself use those sketch books.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back in the studio

I finally insisted that we take a break. I did my dyeing yesterday. Two gradation sequences, with each taking about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. It had been suggested that I combine two different black dyes, each with a different colour base, to try to get a gradation that remains black/grey. This was the dye that I had to order from Toronto. This gradation turned out to be the most beautiful deep teal blue--go figure! The second one was a gradation of grey dye, and this one isn't that bad--probably the best one I've done. Each gradation costs me about $10-$12 in dye, and four metres of fabric--$36 when it isn't on sale. So I can't afford to do too many of these. Deadlines loom, so I'm going to change the background to dark and use the lighter grey gradation for the piece. The very darkest value in the gradations is close enough to the right hue to use,-- it's as I move down the gradation that the hue goes wonky. Today I'll actually start the piece.

My DD and her two children came for supper last evening. both the children were tired. The older one had spent the night with her other Grandma, with her Mom picking her up on the way to my house. She was exhausted and on a sugar high. Finally her behaviour got so bad that her mother gave her a time out. This means that she sits on the floor of the open closet by the front door, where we can see her and she can see us but, since it's across the room, there is no interaction. She takes a pillow and a small quilt with her. Well, she fell asleep. What to do?? My DD didn't want to let her sleep to long, but knew she needed the nap. We didn't want to let the baby, who is now crawling, start climbing on her, and baby needed a nap too, but was refusing to stay in the relining, vibrating chair where she usually naps. So baby sat in her high chair, and ate Cheerios, fighting sleep, while we played cards. Sleeping beauty woke up in time for the last hand of the game, and needless to say everyone went home early. Then Grandma went to bed. Not all of the visits are a joy, but each of them has joyful moments