Murphy’s Law… an update

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Originally posted on Anna Hergert, Art & Design:
Summer is in full swing and after so many days of relentless heat it is a cooler day that helps us slow down and reflect. Colin and I have been busy (today…

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Small Spring Delights

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Let me tell you what this is not. It is not the three quilted pieces that I managed to get entered in the Edmonton and District Quilters Guild yesterday just ahead of the deadline. They are not finished but substantially on the way and far enough along to be photographed for the entry form.
There should have been four pieces however  I was fortunate enough to have a piece , “My Talisman” accepted into the Grand National Quilt Show opening at Joseph Schneider Haus in Kitchener ON today and running through until Sept. 3, 2017.
This year many goals have been set and so far accomplished close to on time. The one I started on today is to reclaim space in my studio. The plan is to spend part of the day there and part of the day in the garden. Once I got started in the studio today I just couldn’t stop and I am making progress and finding treasures.
The treasures today were quilt catalogues from the 1990’s . However the most fun was “Quilt Judging Standards” published by Alberta Agriculture. I found the updated 1984 version although I took my first quilt judging course with Alberta Agriculture likely in 1979 soon after I became a District Home Economist in rural Alberta.
The sun was beckoning so I grabbed my camera and went to the garden late this afternoon. There I found some tiny colourful treasures blooming. Some yellow crocus, a few tiny grape hyacinths, a small blue flower in a patch of green moss like foliage, some purple crocus,  blue scylla and one lone snowdrop. I share them with you hoping that they might bring joy to your spirit the way they did mine.

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Studio Sale Update II or Finding Inspiration in Purging the Space…

In case you haven’t heard. While Anna needs to purge there are some great opportunities to add a great piece of Anna’s to your home or some sought after books to your library or some supplies to spark your creativity or make your personal studio space more functional.

Anna Hergert, Art & Design


No, I have not dropped off the face of the earth… but am ready to escape the daily grind of sorting and purging. The last week went by in a flash and I decided to take the Easter weekend off from crawling around the studio storage space and sorting samples and handouts that were once helpful but have not been touched in the last 5 – 10 years.

A few minutes ago I sent off my final OK for the Kantha book. This time I had 24 hours to finalize the proof… and any changes were highly discouraged. Luckily there were no changes to be made… now it’s off to the printers!

I dream of a Zen environment, clean surfaces, light walls and no clutter (perhaps asking for no deadlines is pushing my dream too far…) – my resolve for our next place is getting stronger by the day. Meanwhile…

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Easter Greetings

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At last the sun is out and the snow is melting. No actual flowers yet but the scylla stalks are above the ground and I have high hopes. I hope you enjoy my collection of “bunnies”. they were collected over many years by my and my best friend and later my granddaughter.

Last evening when I was delivering the fabric Easter baskets shown above there was one lonely jack rabbit, just about brown but with its lovely fluffy tail still a beacon of white running across the lawns.
The baskets were  an inspiration for three little folk ranging in age from 1 – 3. The idea came from a book called “It’s a Wrap”. The colours of batik inspired the baskets and the handles are of flat webbing that was saved from a large box.  It turned out that the baskets were a serendipitous arrival at my cousin’s house as she and her husband had forgotten about the bunny coming this morning. While they had remembered in time to get chocolate they had not managed to get Easter baskets. So these were timely. Each child choose their favourite.  I have to say that the synthetic grass inside each one was the really big hit. Hopefully in the years to come the baskets will be something that they will enjoy.
An Easter gift to myself was taking the time to create them and the joy of working with the beautiful coloured batik.


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Stitching to Dye in Quilt Art

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Stitching to Dye in Quilt Art, Colour, Texture and Distortion by C. June Barnes

I discovered this book in our guild library. The author is an award winning quilt artist and teacher from the UK. This is evident in this book due to the illustrations, the clear exercise instructions and the variety of inspirational ideas. I could easily start at the beginning and work through the book both learning as I go and being inspired to make the exercises my own.
Ms Barnes begins with details on how to use the book.  When reading it I am reminded that my own learning experiences are most successful when starting a new technique if it is explained clearly,  in a step-by-step way. Once I have the basics I can proceed to exploring and developing my own concepts. This book provides that solid foundation for me and a beginner could start and be successful. Someone with experience can gain knowledge to take their experimentation up a notch,

The book includes information about equipment and materials (a caution here the reader will need to familiarize her/him self with UK terms for some materials). Fabric, thread and stitch are addressed. In my previous blog you will see an art deco piece that uses her granite stitch.

The next topic is Dyeing using recipes for Procion fibre-reactive MX dyes. Mixing colour and colourways suggestions are included. Then the text moves on to the main premise of the book which is stitching to dye. In other words first you create your top, then you dye it. The eight exercises in this section are intended leave the quilter with some samples rather than projects. To that end it is important to document what you are doing right from the start. Otherwise you can’t repeat your technique. This section is followed by a gallery for inspiration.

Then June moves onto Shrinkage. She uses wool for this, stitching, dyeing and ways to manipulate the texture. There are eight exercises in this section as well. Shrinkage is achieved through stitching and materials added,  The types of wool used will shrink differently and washing aggressively in hot water can accelerate the process. The author uses the Procion dyes but also suggests experimenting with acid dyes.  The exercises include incorporating materials and objects that will not shrink to create many different textural effects. The Shrinkage section is also followed by a gallery for inspiration.

Finishing, including embellishment presentation and troubleshooting conclude this informative book.  I am looking forward to some warm summer days to try some of these exercises.




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Machine Appliqué

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Last June I had the privilege to attend Quilt Canada in Mississauga.  Two classes were taken with Jane Sasseman. The first was on machine appliqué and the second on simplifying nature, ie. flowers in particular.   Jane Sasseman’s strong graphic images and bold designs using bright colour are particular favourites of mine. As I am fond of art deco and art  nouveau I believe that this is why I particularly respond to Jane’s creations.
The classes were enjoyable and challenging. I felt that I would have benefitted by working with Jane for 4 or 5 days instead of just two separated by a day in between. The learning and getting into a creative mode would have flowed better and been more sustained. However this was not to be as Quilt Canada organizers seem to feel that half day and one day classes are the way to go. I hope they will reconsider and offer some more in-depth class experiences for those of us who wish to invest creative energy and explore a subject in greater depth and benefit from working with an artist on a more sustained basis.
I focused quite intently the first day in learning Jane’s machine appliqué technique. It was a variation on the freezer paper underneath seams prepared method that I have taught for many years. Jane uses a non-woven fusible applique that remains in the piece. It provides greater firmness during the construction of the individual applique elements and the extra is cut away so that the final quilt is not bulkier. A bonus is that there are extra pieces that remain providing some inspiration for further pieces. Another benefit of this method of seams prepared applique is the opportunity to create long smooth curves.
Fortunately I have  a copy of Jane’s book : “The Quilted Garden”. It was purchased it when it first came out in 2000. I confess that I had never explored it in the depth that has now happened.   Instructions for the applique technique are very clear and easy to follow. The quilts themselves are beautiful and close study of the photos provide inspiration to fuel creativity. I heartily recommend working with Jane if you have an opportunity.
Over the years I have worked in my own way to reproduce flowers from my garden.  I learned a great deal from Jane’s expertise with graphics in making the simplification process more successful. Practice and more practice is necessary for me to arrive at something that I like.  Jane was most helpful in guiding  where she could see me struggling. She gave help with the type of photos that would be most successful.
I chose to begin working in a collage style. Jane recommended starting with three elements. My initial choices were a long leaf from a day lily, a pieced take on an oak leaf and a bee balm flower. Next three large and three smaller articulated leaves were created giving  lots of practice in working with the appliqué technique.  Three of the day lily leaves allowed practice with long smooth curves and finally two bee balm flowers consisting of two sections were created.
When I had these elements ready I started to organize them n different ways. The more   moved them around the more disjointed the piece looked. Finally I realized that I needed to take away some of the elements. The piece that emerged contained the three smaller leaves and the three day lily leaves. Next it seemed to ask for just the circles of the bee balm flower. Tracings of different sizes circles were created and auditioned.  I had dyed a series of pink fabric when I attended Art Quilt Campus last summer in Muenster Sask and these were perfect for the circles. An extra layer of batting helped to raise the “flowers” from the background and give the piece more dimension. Finally I tried a small quilting pattern called granite that is a continuous series of little circles to completely fill the background and complete the design.
Now I have a second piece on the design board. That is a story for another day.




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Happy Valentines Day


It has been a very long time since I have had time to write a blog.
Today really isn’t the day either as I am just putting the final touches on a presentation for the Edmonton District Quilters Guild for Wed. evening, Feb 15, 2017
There will be much to tell about what I have been doing once the presentation is done.
However I want to wish everyone a Happy Valentines Day. It is always a bright spot to look forward to in days that are often gray.


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Wool Appliqué


The dimension, texture and colour that develops in wool appliqué make it a pleasure to work with. This month a new book “Wool Applique” the Piece O”Cake Way by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins arrived in my hands.
This book features 12 projects that mix wool with cotton and linen.  Becky and Linda are known for their appliqué designs. Their designs feature clean lines and often appear folk like.  Many of their designs  work well in wool. This book focuses on wool.
The first half of the book is a primer on the how-to’s: basic supplies, properties of felted wool, cotton and linen, preparing to stitch, general appliqué instructions, stitches for appliquéing with felted wool, special techhniques for appliquéing with felted wool, appliqué on cotton and finishing techniques.
The second half provides details for 12 folk art projects. There are  pages in an insert at the end of the book that provide full size patterns for the motifs.  A beginning appliqué artist could undertake any of these with confidence and one with experience will be be equaly drawn in by the colourful compositions.
A reading of the first half of the book will prepare a stitcher of any skill level to undertake a project.  I have been appliquéing for a long time and taught appliqué as well over the years. I feel that if I didn’t know how that I could read the book and be able to begin withtheir techniques.  The steps to follow to get started confidently are provided.
One proviso – if you are looking for the steps of needleturn applique then you will need to look further afield.
I picked up a number of tips that broadened my knowledge, for example a thread I didn’t know about, some tips for sewing with vinyl.  There is a good definition of felted wool in contrast to wool felt.  They are quite different.  Felted wool is woven and then subjected to a washing process that helps the barbed ends of the fibers  enmesh closely and present a dense fabric.  There is a good tip about always using a fusible for wool felting. I personally use a fusible interfacing but Becky and Linda’s method works equally well. Another tip is to cut appliqué on the bias where ever possible to minimize fraying.  There is a very good section on preparing templates for either needleturn or fusible appliqué.
So I would give this book a two thumbs up.  To get a look at all the range of Piece ‘O Cake designs by Linda Jenkins and Becky Goldsmith check out their website.


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Glorious Autumn Day

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Today was a surfeit of delights.  Cool crisp morning walk with my sister along the top of the river valley.  Day bloomed into a bright blue and yellow. Leaves to crunch as I walked   to my friend’s home for a  Wooly B’s meeting this afternoon.  Stacks of silk and wool samples to be shared.  So luscious you could put them in a bowl and eat them, bright coloured patterned and solid textures silks, subtle fine wool suiting samples.  Also lots of  goodies you really could eat: veggies, fruit, cheese and new kinds of crackers topped off by slivers of mango chocolate.
We sorted wool samples outside that disappeared into our project bags.  The silk samples were held up and everyone democratically chose only a few each.  The munchies disappeared as we snacked and learned about a trip that one of our number had taken to Amsterdam Hamburg, Paris and points in between.  She came back with so many good books (among other things) that a new suitcase was acquired and still required assistance in heaving her carry-on up into the overhead bin.  The quilts at Patchwork Europe 2016 were reported to be spectatular and the show was said to be well worth attending.  She was there two days and the time really wasn’t enough.   Photographs will come at a later date but today was devoted to looking through some of the books.  The hostess also had some new books and there was the Maiwa catalogue to enjoy as well.  Mostly everyone gravitated to the Slow Stitching books and photographs.  Likely the others in the group like me left with heads dancing with new ideas.  We will likely focus on simple stitches this winter. Our variations will mostly be applied to wool.  I shared that my friend Anna Hergert has a book on Kantha coming out in the next while, a new Kantha class and is hopefully coming to Edmonton to teach it in the Spring at my invitation.  So now I have some folk on my list.
Enjoy every second of warm sunny weather as there will be lots of time this winter to develop those ideas.

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Many Hands

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This is a  story of a quilt. It begins once upon a time long long ago. In the early 1990’s there was a group of women, probably eight or more who met each month going home with  a project.   One month they decided to each make 9-patch blocks out of 2″ strips.  So it came to pass that the 9-patches were completed and exchanged at the next meeting with each person going home with a varied stack of 9-patches.  The hope was that each recipient would create something out of their new acquisitions.  Indeed I know of one person who did.  I also know for sure of two people who did not.  I know that I was one who did not and I also know that my 9-patches have been mislaid.
Erika did make something of her 9-patches creating a wall hanging top that used the jewel colours of an Amish palette.  Then at some time likely in the mid to late 2000 – 2010 Erika was cleaning out her quilt storage cupboard and decided that she wasn’t going to go any further with this quilt top. One day I was at her home an she tossed the quilt top in my direction saying you can do something with this.  I dutifully took it home and put it in a pile of unfinished tops.
Fast forward to August of 2016.  My cousin had a special birthday coming and I had an sudden thought that the appropriate gift would be a quilt.  (The birthday was August 30th and those who know me well will know that I would have had no pressing plans for my time in August (NOT).  I wanted the quilt to be a bed quilt. It seemed to me that a good place to begin would be with my  unfinished tops.  The top described above was the one chosen to complete.
The next step was to determine the size of the bed so I could see what needed to be added to the quilt top.  I agreed to meet my cousin’s daughter at my cousin’s home while she was at work so that I could watch the children in the car while my cousin’s daughter measured the bed size.  I was told that the three children were asleep in their car seats and I would just stand outside the vehicle to watch them.  When I arrived at the back seat I found that two of the sleeping children had become tigers.  The oldest woke.  I was told about tigers including the noise (roaring) that they made which promptly woke the other two children.  Luckily no one started to cry and I had the fun of enjoying a conversation the two tigers.
The bed size was unusual and clearly a wall hanging was too short for a bed.  I decided to make the quilt so that it could serve as a bedspread. Next challenge was how to do this with the least amount of work as time was of the essence.  I took the top to a friend’s when I went for a coffee and together we decided that some more 9-patch blocks would be part of the plan. However as I said my 9-patches were missing, i.e. somewhere in my studio stash not to be unearthed at this time.  My friend Bev jumped up from her seat and rushed into her studio, returning with her stack of 9-patches and handed them over.  Next step to find some solids that would work with the existing solid’s.  Goal was to have the additional blocks look colourwise as if they had been a part of the original quilt. I believe that this was accomplished. Next design challenge was to determine where to add the additional blocks.
The top, 9-patches and fabric was bundled up and went with me to Art Quilt Campus in Muenster Sask.  It went up on my design wall and I awaited inspiration.  I thought out loud  in conversation with Anna about how to do this while maintaining proportion and integrity of the design.  The light came on and I unpicked the existing border.  A row of 9-patch blocks were created to be added to each side of the centre portion of the top and two rows on the bottom.   The quilt was packed up again and made its return journey home.
Now I had two days to complete the top. The 4 rows were added on Sunday. Monday saw 4 new 9-patch blocks created for the cornerstones and a pink inner and a blue outer border added to complete the enhanced top.  Backing was found and prepared.
Next day the top went with me to a gathering of a small bee group where I cleaned the top with the help of Wanda and with the loan on her awesome new iron the top was readied for quilting.
I should say that when I decided to do the quilt for the birthday gift I immediately called Cheryl, a member of one of my bee groups to ask if she could squeeze me into her long arm schedule.  She said that she would be able to do it for me if I had it to her by the 15th.  It would be the last quilt that she could do before preparing for her son’s wedding on the 27th.  So I arrived at Cheryl’s home on the afternoon of the 15th and we spend a couple of hours choosing appropriate motifs of feathers for the outer border, circles for the inner border and some curving floral designs that complemented the feathers for the inner top.
Home I went to prepare the binding as Cheryl got to the long arm machine.  Cheryl was as good as her word and I had the quilt back the following Sunday.  Binding was sewn on and the next few evenings were spent hand stitching the binding.  Suddenly I remembered that hand stitching binding takes quite a bit of time.  The quilt was completed by the next Sunday morning, a label was added explaining the many hands that contributed.   There was just time to ice the carrot cake, pack the car and get to the surprise party before the birthday girl.
The older  “tiger” helped Grandma open the parcels as quickly as possible. He was  particularly interested in the large box.  It revealed the quilt. The two children knew just what to do and quickly rolled themselves into the quilt.
This quilt constituted another first in our family.  It was completely finished when opened and did not require taking back for finishing touched which is usual so I am especially delighted.




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