Thursday, October 17, 2013

latest quilting adventures

For weeks now, all I have really wanted to do was to make another quilt (or two, or three....LOL!)  With my first jewellery class put to bed a couple of weeks ago, I put off putting everything away* and starting going through my batiks, plucking out some possible contenders for my first project.

If you're interested in a bit of the how and why, read on....but I will warn you, it's not really all that interesting, unless you are interested!  No one will know if you just scroll through the pictures.... ;-)

Inspired by this, I knew that I wanted to start with squares of fabric as my base.  Since I already had a bunch of 10" squares (including those I won on Debbie's blog giveaway eons ago - thanks again Debbie! <3 i="">, it was a easy choice to go with a match (and use 10" squares for my starting point).  To make a quilt large enough for a Queen bed, I quickly determined that I needed 110 squares (later revised to 121 because I initially only factored in half of the seam allowance loss...sometimes it doesn't pay to rush through the math!).   I was determined that they would all be different fabrics, so I had to make several passes through my fabrics and broaden my range a little to include a few greyish greens and some lighter values than I would have otherwise chosen....

All of the fabrics lined along the back and in the first 2 rows in front (above) were pre-cut squares - the rest needed a quick pressing and a square cut.  This process took a couple of evenings....but by the Friday night, I was ready to start making little groupings of fabrics I would 'stack 'n' whack' (essentially stacking 5 different fabrics in one pile, then taking even cuts off of two sides and repeating a second time....then shuffling the pieces from the first pair of cut to reveal the fabric in 3rd place, and the pieces from the second pair of cuts to reveal the fabric in 2nd place).  But first I decided that I should loosely sort my final fabrics into lights, mediums and darks....

About half of my stacks of 5 pieces were lights + mediums and the other half were more mediums + darks.  I tried to make sure that I didn't pick two pieces that were too similar one after the other....but I later discovered that when a bigger piece is cut, it can almost look like the parts came from different pieces of fabric (since there is sometimes a lot of variation in both colour and value across the surface of a single batik, esp. in a 10" square piece) when some of my blocks were sewn together, there was a bit less definition (= more blending) than I would have liked to see.  All in all, I was pretty pleased with how it all came together. 

So on the Friday evening I started making sets of five fabrics and cut four of the stacks and sewed them back together again (=20 completed blocks).  Each set of 5 squares received a different set of cuts, so essentially there are really only 5 blocks with the exact same shape dimensions within the block (just look at the corner squares in the above picture and see the range....then look at other blocks with the same corner-square size, but likely different framing widths around it). 

For my attention span, I need to work with a system and it's especially important that I trim as I I would work on sewing two sets of blocks at one time (=10), chain sewing the first piece and then pressing (for all 10 squares), then attaching the 2nd piece to all 10 squares, etc.  Once each set of 10 blocks was completely sewn and pressed, I would trim (to 8 7/8" square) and then stack in a pile of either 'dark' or 'light'.

On the Saturday I was able to sew the rest of the blocks (= 101 or 121 in total), and I finished off my evening by starting to lay them out on the floor.  But before I did that, I did 'deal' my lights into five different piles, in an attempt to spread the fabrics around a bit (each fabric appears only 3 times - so I didn't want to have to worry too much about clustering them all together).   I was only able to fit about 4-5 rows at a time in my open I alternated between light and dark squares (on the diagonal), and then adjusted as necessary.   Once I was happy with the arrangement, I stacked up each row and kept the pairs/squares in order. 

Sunday morning I started working on sewing the blocks into rows and then joining the rows together.  By lunchtime the quilt top was all sewn together, save the centre seam (I really want to give it a good pressing first, and the smaller pieces will be a bit easier to handle).

Now I just need to piece together the back (yes it will be pieced, but more simply)....and then deliver it off to Sue to work her magic and make it into a quilt!  Hopefully I can get it put to bed (tee hee!) before I head off to Vermont in 10 days...

* in the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that for more than a week following the class, the wonky piles of baskets and bins from class were still cluttering up my mud room.  Right where I unloaded them upon arriving home.  Once again, it's a good thing that I live alone and get very little company.... ;-)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

cool beans

I received a v. interesting email yesterday from The Textile Museum about an upcoming event/workshop/project and wanted to share with those who might be interested.....

"We’ve partnered with Creative Matters (a Toronto based rug design firm) to host a display, a series of workshops and a lecture about rug design and production. The workshops are 2 hours each and invite participants into our exhibitions to design artwork for a rug design. The designs will be judged and the wining rug will be hand-woven by fair trade artists in Nepal."

You can learn more about it here.  Unfortunately I will just be flying back from Nova Scotia that day, so can't attend myself....but I would love to hear from anyone who attends about the experience... ;-)

+    +     +     +     +     +     +

I am so behind in my blogging lately, I might never catch up.....projects without photos, photos without posts, and a desperate need for an assistant!  Sadly, nobody wants to work for free, but maybe I could convince someone to work for wool...?  ;-)  The good news is that I am back in the habit of making AND feeling like blogging again (finally!), just need to make the time...

Thursday, October 03, 2013

yesterday at the Textile Museum of Canada

I am freshly back from a little whirlwind trip to the city, where I met up with Elaine and we went and took in the "Artistry and Ancestry: Maya Textiles from Guatemala" show at the Textile Museum and then returned for a hands-on, behind the scenes seminar to look at more items in the collection.

In short, it was amazing.  I would imagine that there isn't a rug hooker around who wouldn't leave the exhibit and not feel the urge to rush home and hook a simple geometric rug, be inspired to be more random in their colour placements, or just plain old use more colours in their work.  Yes, it is that inspiring and wonderful....and I am very confident that you won't regret going.  And the show has been extended to January 12, 2014, so you have time to plan a trip.

I took a few snaps - just with my phone, so not the greatest....

Here is a little tease about the rugs - but if you want to see them, you will have to go and see the show for yourself... ;-)

P.S.  If you do go, you should try to view the show in a clockwise direction from the elevator. or stairs - this way you will save the hooked rugs for last... ;-)

P.P.S.  There is also a great catalogue available at the gift shop.... ;-)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Coldwater is hot stuff!

A bit of a cheesy title, I'll admit.....but also v. true!  Needless to say, I had a wonderful couple of days in teaching at the Purple Sock in Coldwater, and everyone was very warm and welcoming.  And, I am sure you will agree that their projects are pretty awesome, too.

I was so excited to see everyone using my basic methods, but coming up with finished pieces that didn't look like I made them.  They were uniquely theirs – and that is a great thing!   Nothing pleases me more than people making things their very own....from choosing their own colours, to freely modifying techniques and putting their own spin on ideas to suit, and ending up with a finished product that reflects themselves.

On Monday, people started with a fairly simple first project, creating a smaller 'gem' and turning it into a pin or necklace.  The ladies made spectacular progress and most everyone left with their jewellery finished.  I think almost everyone come to class on the second day wearing their necklace or pin they made the day before.

On Tuesday, people worked on a more complex piece....and pretty much just ran with their own ideas for filling in their frames.  It was great!  Of course there was the familiar chatter and sharing of ideas all day long.  Some of us were a bit better at focusing on the project at hand than others....but as long as everyone has fun, it's really all that matters.  Plus those with a little left do finish can accomplish that quite quickly at home. 

Watching everyone's projects come to life over the last couple of days in Coldwater has just made me more excited about the workshops to come where I can share more of my ideas on making hooked jewellery....
October 31 to November 3rd   • Hooked in the Mountains held this year in Stowe, Vermont
November 15 to 17  •  Deanne Fitzpatrick Rug Hooking Studio in Amherst, Nova Scotia

I really must recommend Lynn's shop, The Purple Sock, to anyone within easy driving distance - she has a great selection of wool, lots of project ideas, delicious teas, unique products, and such a cosy atmosphere in her shop, that you will want to stay all day.  She also blogs here about upcoming events, new products, etc.  I know that both Wendie and I enjoyed shopping there this week... ;-) Just don't arrive on a Monday or Tuesday...she's usually closed at the beginning of the week. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

new + fun things

I've been scurrying to get ready for some upcoming workshops* - first up is at the Purple Sock early next week.  So it is crunch time.  I was relieve to receive my shipment of hand-dyed pearl cotton threads today....and took more than a couple of minutes to gorge on the yummy colours.  I was beyond thrilled to discover that the little balls I bought in Vermont a couple of years ago are actually from a Canadian company, Valdani!

Also exciting was the receipt of a second parcel in today's mail - double the goodness!  I ordered some more Washi tape and other fun stuff from another Canadian company, Omiyage.  Super speedy service (ordered Saturday afternoon and it arrived today!)

It's great to have a large selection again - I used up quite a few ends of rolls in bundling yarn for my class kits.

Better get back to work – there is always more to do when it's a new class....

* here is a quick list of dates + links for classes I am teaching this Fall....

September 16+17  •  The Purple Sock in Coldwater, Ontario (possibly one opening?  there was a last-minute cancellation)
October 31 to November 3rd   • Hooked in the Mountains held this year in Stowe, Vermont
November 15 to 17  •  Deanne Fitzpatrick Rug Hooking Studio in Amherst, Nova Scotia
November 25  •  The Purple Sock in Coldwater, Ontario

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Quilt: 8 Days in May

So it's taken me a few days to get the photos snapped...but if I am being honest, I will blame it all on Mother Nature.  We've been having such damp and humid weather lately...and it seems like we finally saw the sun late this afternoon for the first time in ages – or at least since Sunday. 

As soon as I got home from work tonight, I quickly grabbed the quilt and the camera, went back outside and snapped away....carefully laying it in the grass, running up and down the stairs to snap and adjust.  Of course things are rarely so simple.   Imagine my surprise when I came inside and tried to download all of my carefully snapped photos.....and there were none!  Now I will admit that I noticed the "no memory card" flashing on the screen, but I also kept hearing the camera 'snapping' the images...and assumed that the photos were being stored on some internal memory.  Note to self (and anyone else who is a foolish as me): no memory card = no memory card.   Even if the camera sound effects are identical to when it is actually taking photos.  Even if you think it might should be working.  Even if you are just too much in a hurry to take 20 seconds to come inside and grab one.   Get. The. Card.

So what to do?  After I had inserted a SD card, I headed back out....and not wanting to repeat everything a second time, I changed locations and layouts, and here are some of the actual snaps.  I have no idea if they are better or worse than the first lot...but they are okay.  And the whole episode has had zero effect on how much I love my quilt.  Nor has it managed to put a halt to all of the fantasy quilt planning and piecing I've been indulging in for the last week...

Random Details....
  • The front was based on this tutorial (with modifications, since I didn't really have pieces fabric wide enough to begin with complete squares).  Blocks were 10" finished, so dimensions are 100" by 80" wide.
  • I made all of the wonky cross blocks and pieced the front first, before starting work on the back.  The back is totally a improv, fly-by-the-seat of my pants creation.  But it worked!  :-)
  • I had purchased 3-4 fabric bundles and three .5m pieces and a larger 2m piece (the dark grey floral paisley) of Tana Lawn right at Liberty, on my trip to London in Fall 2011.  Of all of the random pieces in the bundles I only avoided using one (waaay too white - and even though I am learning lights are my friend, this piece was 'lit from within'). 
  • Most of the bundle leftovers were used up in the gradation on the quilt back.  I have still some larger pieces of the cut yardage remaining and a few scraps of the dark grey remain (I also used it for binding the edge).  
  • When I decided that I wanted to use all Liberty, I did some research online and discovered that the most practical (and cost-effective) source was the Workroom in Toronto.  I called to inquire about their current inventory (in May - there are some truly gorgeous prints that arrived recently) and picked the cream/grey/sage Pepper for the light half of the back (which ended up being about as perfect as thought I had planned it IMHO).  Very pleasant to deal with, speedy service, and a very fair price (£22 = $36.08 at current exchange rates (UK price at Liberty store) vs. $32 (Cdn price at the Workroom).

Sunday, September 01, 2013

binding my first bed quilt

For 8 days in May, I immersed myself in the bliss of cutting, pinning, stitching, and pressing, of my lovely Liberty Tana Lawn...and when then marathon was over, I was left with a finished quilt top and a pieced back.  Granted it was a bit of an impulsive beginning (I just decided on Victoria Day weekend* that that I was going to get started, and five minutes later I had my rotary cutter in hand), but I came to the realization that I was probably never going to love those fabrics any more than I did right then and there.  I'd been crushing on them for as long as I'd been back from my trip to England (2 years ago this month).  And while I didn't see that love fading any time soon, I realized that I didn't want to risk waiting until it had before I started using them.  Because sometime that happens - you use up all of your love for something in the imagining, the dreaming, the playing in your mind.....and when it's all said and done, nothing can live up to all of that imagined potential.   And that is never good!  Especially when you really $plurge -- and I think few would argue that making an entire quilt out of Liberty Tana Lawn is anything short of insanity a major $plurge.

For the last three months, my quilt has been sitting and waiting at the long-arm lady's to be quilted (machine quilting is not in my repertoire), and I was excited to finally go and pick it up a few days ago.  My first reaction was "I can't believe how light and airy it is....", which is because of the fabric itself and also the silk batting I chose (why stop $plurging at that point!?!?). 

I still had the binding left to finish, and I carefully pinned it in place and sewed it onto the front with my machine, yesterday.  Now, I am a novice quilter....and while I have sewn lots of binding onto hotpads, etc., recently, I have never had to bind something so large as a bed quilt, so I was more than a little nervous to begin. 

When I picked up my quilt, Sue had trimmed away the excess batting and backing about 1/4" from the edge of the quilt top.  I was curious about whether or not I should do further trimming before I attached my binding, and she recommended that I did not - the excess will help fill and firm the edge.  I was a bit skeptical at first, but decided to heed her advice.  I lined up the edge of my binding (2 1/2", folded in half) with the edge of the quilt top and pinned in place.  When I started sewing, I initially used a 1/4" seam allowance.  After I sewed several inches, I removed the pins and wrapped the binding around to the backside.  What I discovered was that the edge wasn't quite as full as I was expecting – or desiring.  So I quickly switched feet on my machine and changed the seam allowance to be a bit more generous, and re-sewed the same section over again.  A quick flip later, I was much happier with the results. 

Because I know that this is something I will be doing infrequently (and thus easily forgetting), I took a quick picture to remind myself of what I did – and which foot I used for the job.  And, posting it here on the blog just means that I will be able to find it more easily in the future!  :-)

I've hand-sewn about 2/3 of the binding onto the backside of the quilt so far.....and when I am finished, I will take some proper snaps to share.   I can already say that the promises of silk being as warm as down appear to be true – having the quilt on my lap while I was stitching quickly had me turning on the A/C!  ;-)

*I don't know what it is about Victoria Day weekend, but just realized that this is also the weekend I started working on Jumbo three years ago.....!?!?!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

handles are here!

It's been a while since I've shared snaps of the leather purse handles.  With a few new colours added to the mix, I thought it was time to post them.  All of the handles are the new reintroduced (the same as the original, from waaaay back, when I first started using the leather handles) saddle leather...which is a bit firmer than the softer drum-dyed leather that was available for a few years 1+ years ago.  They are still handmade in the USA...and still very easy to attach to your project (both styles come with pre-punched holes for sewing in place).

So without further ado, here are the colours....

 L --> R:  Black, Brown, Grape, Turquoise, Emerald, Olive, Hot Pink, Red

Please note that not all colours are available in both styles.  At the moment the Single Urban handle (with the buckles - $38 each) is available only in Black, Brown, Olive, Red, and, for possibly a limited time, Emerald (apparently it was a dyeing oops - but I hope they decide to keep making them.....).   The Long Rolled handles ($54 per pair) are available in all of the colours, except for  Emerald. 

My selection varies (you can always send me an email and I will let you know what I have on hand at the moment), but here is a peek at my current offerings....

 *the colour is pretty accurate on my screen - the background really is grey, not white!  ;-)

If you are thinking about making a purse and want to use these leather handles, I strongly encourage you to get your handles first and then plan the rest around the colour of your handles.  Otherwise you might be disappointed.  There are infinite colours of wools and fabrics to choose from, but just a handful of colours of handles available....and even so, they vary between shipments. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday morning...

It's been a great summer for camping at The Campsite. We've been enjoying our new outdoor kitchen, and our new propane coffee pots are the bomb, too. They definitely help us have happy mornings - even when it's chilly. LOL!

I've been up most weekends, and often bring projects to work on while I'm here. My favourite and most suited so far are the stockings. I like the limited amount of supplies required, the simple pace, and the ease with which I can pick it up, put it down, and look around to what is going on around. With an ever-changing group of people and kids, there is usually something happening to distract me a little... :-)

It's hard to believe there is just one week left until Labour Day...

I've had mixed success with my summer project plans. No failures, just less accomplished than I was hoping for...but hopefully this wee post will be the beginning of my return to blogging. It's been far too long. xxoo

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Welcome July!

May and June just zoomed right on by.....and it's hard to believe that it's already July!  In just two short months, it will be Labour Day.  Fall will follow, and the desire to burrow at home with my hook and frame will be strong.  I have already picked out my Fall project - and I am very excited about it.  I was up visiting artist/friend Bobbi (R.W.)  Haviland a couple of weekends ago and fell in love with a big canvas painting.  The dimensions are about 3' by 4', and I am planning on adapting and hooking it the same size, using a mixture of yarns and various fabrics.  So in between the summer camping, crazy-busy work life, and preparing for the Farmer's Markets and Fall workshops (more on those upcoming events below....), I am going to be planning the project...gathering up supplies...and trying to draw an outline for the pattern.  If you are in the Huntsville area over the next couple of weeks,  she currently has a show mounted inside the Algonquin Theatre (until July 30th).....and it includes the painting I will be adapting (with permission, of course!), Borodin Ponders.

Despite the quiet on the blog, things have been busy for the last several weeks.  Neighbours have organized a new Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, and I have committed to having a booth on July 20th (Cancelled - sorry!)and August 3rd, from 9am-1pm.  Depending on how they go, I might add another weekend or two.  I have been busy making Ewe-Fuse hot pads....and I am going to start making more jewellery this week.  I figure I won't know how it will go, unless I try.  I also want to try to set up some sort of an online shop, but that will probably have to wait until the markets are over.  I will keep you posted....

I have had amazing response to the jewellery I shared here a while back.....and several inquiries for workshops (thank you! ;-) ).  Some of the details and dates are still being worked out....and some of the classes will be exclusively for a particular group, but there are a few that are 'open'.  I will share what I know now, and when more are added, I will update here on the blog. 

I am thrilled to announce that I will be heading East this Fall....for more than just feasting on seafood!  ;-)   In mid-November, I will be teaching three different one-day classes in Deanne Fitzpatrick's Studio in Amherst, Nova ScotiaCoin Purses on November 15thHooked Jewellery on November 16th, and Christmas Stockings on November 17th.  All of the details, including registration information can be found on Deanne's site here.   It seems like ages since I was last there, and I am really looking forward to going back for a visit.

But just before that, I will be teaching at Hooked in the Mountains, to be held in beautiful Stowe, Vermont, again this year.   This will be a three day class on all sorts of small-scale projects (jewellery belts, etc.) ....and there should be ample time for everyone to finish at least a couple of projects over the course of the weekend.  The dates are October 31st to November 3rd, and more information can be found here

The next R.U.G. will be held on October 5th,and I will be bringing some of my wares to sell.  I have also been invited to have a table at the Powassan Hook-In on October 26th.  

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

random housekeeping

::  Guatemalan Textiles @ the Textile Museum of Canada
So exciting to know that three rugs, hooked by three lovely ladies I met on my trip will soon be on display at the Textile Museum in Toronto.  Definitely a road-trip worthy event - and one I will be making!

::  OHCG Kingston Annual
Sadly I will have to skip out on attending (and vending) at the Annual this year.   I had already decided that I wanted to be able to ride the creative momentum that was undoubtedly going to surge following my travels earlier in the year (and did!), and I was planning to take a year off from vending, so that I didn't have to focus all of my energy and spare time on getting products ready for market....but I was still hoping to be able to just go, see, chat, and hang out with my peeps.  Sadly, the %$^#&*@! day job is getting in the way again and I can't get around working that weekend.  So I am feeling a little bummed, but in the scheme of things it's a very minor.... ;-) 

::  R.U.G. on May 4th
Yes, I will be vending again at R.U.G., this upcoming Saturday, at the Simcoe County Museum.  As I am not going to be at the Annual this year, and I would really like to reduce a bit of my inventory and free up some space in my hallway.....I have decided to offer a rare sale of 10% off all in-stock and available items.  Discount available in person and at R.U.G. on May 4th, only.   Hope to see you there!  ;-)

::  May is Making up for Lost Time Month for me
For the past couple of weeks, I've been trying to tackle the growing list of things I've been waiting and wanting to do, but just never seem to get around to it.  So far I have finished a purse, made 2 pieced Euro shams, hemmed two pairs of jeans, caught up on my business paperwork and figured out my taxes (admittedly at the 11th hour, so it barely counts...LOL!), and other, more trivial matters.  I will share some snaps of the fun stuff soon.....and hopefully continue adding to the list.

:: Cool video site
I found a link to this site on someones blog - sorry can't remember where, just that it was a non-rug hooking one – to little scraps of paper.  The site contains many short little documentaries of various artisans, their studios, inspirations, glimpses of process, and bits of wisdom.  A great way to distract you from things you should be doing....and hopefully inspire you to get back to them!  ;-)  
I have watched quite a few, but am trying to draw them out a savour, rather than gorge.  Enjoy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

newest experiments in jewellry making....

For many months now, making some 'bib' or statement necklaces has been on my list of things I've wanted to do.  Maybe even years.  After much brainstorming and imaginary problem-solving, it was finally the right time to just sit down, try out some of my ideas, and make (it work).  Of course, creating a self-imposed deadline, by way of offering it up as a potential class*, certainly helped!  LOL!  Regardless of the why, the how and the when finally combine to start creating the what a few short weeks ago.  Easter weekend, to be precise.

I find, for me, the best approach to working out a completely new project is to make sure that I have a big chunk of available time when I finally sit down to start playing.  Regardless of how many potential process kinks I work out prior to starting - simply by spending a lot of time thinking, there are always some rude surprises along the way...and for me, I know that the absolute worst time to stop is right after enduring a disappointment.  So by setting aside more time than I know I will need, which in this case worked out to be a whole day/evening, with nothing else to do, on a long weekend...I was able to make some real progress.

Usually with new techniques and processes, there is a bit of a learning curve.  For the first time in a long time, I was able to witness a fairly quick evolution of my own ideas, practically right before my eyes...modifying, revising and fine-tuning my techniques along the way.  Such is the charm of a small, quick project: there is little time to forget what you learn before you finish the next one, and another, and yet another!  ;-)   It's actually a little bit addictive, to be honest.  And it certainly helps that I am so excited about the possibilities.....

I've even experimented with making belts...and soon hope to expand and play with the idea and basic techniques to incorporate them into other functional items, too.  Stay tuned....

Frequently, over the course of the last few weeks, I have been reminded about how important amazing it is to have a little stash of inspiring supplies on hand, at all times.  I've also been having a great time revisiting some of the trips where the various items were acquired – and let me tell you, some have been lying in wait of an opportunity to shine for years!  Many years....   Some items purchased with a project in mind that never came to pass, some things just because I thought they were interesting, and others just because they might come in handy, someday.  Jewellery disassembled and reinvented, breaths of new life into old beads, and merging memories with new possibilities.   Wow!  It's been so much fun to create something brand new and totally different, and using all stuff that I had on hand already.  Kinda scary, but also kinda great to be able to pull some things out of hibernation and use an eclectic mix of ingredients.  All were hooked over two 24-hour periods (including sleeping, but not including the assembly....LOL!)

So this is just a little glimpse into what has been exciting me and occupying me of late....back soon with more new projects.... ;-)

* I will be teaching class on these in Vermont this October/November.  All of the details available here.