Summertime in the City

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I confess I was motivated to write by reading Anna Hergert’s blog about creativity in the summer.
When I opened my blog I realized that it has been a year since I last posted. Where has the time gone.
What have I been doing in that year. Well here’s a quick catch-up.
Last June I judged the National Juried Show in Vancouver and made a road trip back to Edmonton with a friend. It was a great trip. Then I spent a month in the east with a friend who needed a companion. Out of that came a lovely long shawl knitted in KidSilk Haze by Rowan.
Back home catch up in the garden, a fall workshop with Sue Spargo and the beginning of some reorganization in my studio. The stress is on the word beginning. I am still at it
The Sue Spargo work is another story to come and used a lot of my time this past winter?
Some of you know that another of my passions is politics and as this Spring was election year in Alberta I spent an intensive time working on my MLA’s campaign. Soon I will be onto doing the same for my MP’s campaign as a Federal Election is looming this fall.

But this summer – what have I been doing.
Well my garden consumes me,  starting as early as I can get out and it is the priority for the summer. Over the past two years I have converted my front yard to plants and despite having the whole yard dug up because of a water main break I kept at it and replaced things and am now nearly finished. A garden however is always a work in progress and a labour of love that demands daily work to keep it an earthly delight.

Work progresses in getting my studio under control and it is a major job, however as I work I am discovering projects unfinished and so cleaning up means sorting and finishing some things. That keeps me interested in the sorting and organizing process.

Several years ago I spent a couple of winters working in an experimental monthly workshop with Darlene Bayley. Out of that came a number of interesting pieces and one that I found unfinished was a sampler collage piece using Tyvek, Lutradur, metal, corrugated cardboard, paper, paint, fusible film and other fancy things that can be manipulated, distorted, painted, stamped etc. I am now in the process of stitching it. I plan to mount it on a canvas board.

Early mornings (too early to be in the garden because of mosquito’s ) sees me sitting and knitting on another long scarf. It was the inspiration of my cousin who owned Wool Revival. It is pinks and oranges and different yardnis used to knit two rows. I am knitting from about 28 balls of yarn and friends have contributed some small pieces of yarn so that there is as close to an infinite variety of variation to choose from. I find that I can knit about 5 – 8  two row sections at a time and then need a break for creativity to be refreshed.

That really speaks to my summer, trying to finish up  things but going at it in a way that is relaxed and moving from project to project gives me energy and helps me feel relaxed and I actually get more done.

I am preparing to start work on a new project that combines my love of clothing, and hand stitching. I have been wanting to do this for years and this summer the right ingredients have come together to stimulate a start on that.

So in spite of me thinking that I haven’t accomplished much or have much to say there are some things to tell. Hope that this update gives a good catch-up. I hope that I will be able to be more regular in my posts.


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Ordinary Women

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I don’t think that I know any – ordinary women that is.
Just home from our Guild Banquet and feeling very fortunate to be in a community of such talented women.
Women who quietly step up and do what needs to be done to keep our Guild running. Women who cry for another’s misfortune, who smile for someone who has come through a difficult time. Women who hug when needed and just because the human touch is healing. They restore my soul.

Tonight I am grateful for the Past-President who shouldered all the responsibility for creating a wonderful evening. For her creativity in choosing a challenge that brought truly remarkable entries. (More on this later). For her networking and choosing a guest speaker who inspired us and awed us with her creativity. For the woman who creates and donates the centrepieces for each table. A lot of time lovingly and freely given to contribute to making it a special evening,  To the woman who helps with the judging of the challenge and arranges to take the afternoon off and carefully devises the way to hang the show so that the eye of the viewer moves smoothly from one quilt to another. To the woman who every year creates the small works of art that are our ribbons for the challenge and highly coveted. To the women who have given their time and expertise to sit on the board and to those who have stepped up for another year.

Our Guild contains a mix of traditional and art quilters. During the year and at our meetings the show and tell is predominately traditional. Our Prairie Rose Challenge is to a larger degree art quilts.
This year is our Guild’s 40th year. To pick up on that theme our Past-President collected page 40 from a wide variety of magazines. Each page was put in an envelope and people who wanted to participate drew an envelope and that was the inspiration for their quilt. When I viewed the 24 quilts and looked at the page 40 mounted below the quilt I was impressed to see that each person had taken their page 40 and had interpreted it in a unique way.  There wasn’t one that directly copied the page but had drawn inspiration from it and created a unique piece.

My page 40 was from Fashion magazine and was a March calendar.  It was chock full of many ideas. There were two that spoke to me – International Women’s Day and the first day of Spring.  This past winter has been a time when a number of strong feminists have come into my field of perception. It has been a winter when women have found their voice and spoken out against harassment in the workplace.
I can certainly say throughout my career that I experienced times that help me identify strongly with #MeToo.  I strongly feel that what was a moment has become a movement and we must seize the day and help those who have had the courage to tell their stories or those who are in a position to make changes in the workplace. We as women must sustain this. It is a step towards equality.

The black line drawings of women in my  patch quilt are Joyce Buchwald, Eleanor Roosevelt, Linda Duncan, Oprah Winfrey, Rachel Notley, Marie Henein, Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Anita Sarkeesian.
The border of the quilt is hand drawn and hand painted flowers. These are the flowers of my spring garden. The tulip especially speaks of hope. The flowers contain the statements made by these women about harassment in the workplace, how the workplace can be changed , what they have done to support women and my perceptions about these woman as strong feminists. These women have/are making a difference in this regard, the writing shows how.
Finally the writing contains my hope that the #MeToo movement will become a force to change how women are treated with the workplace.

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Mid Winter Musings


Happy Valentine’s Day to all.
(No piece too small)

February 14, 2018 sees watery sun just breaking through the snow clouds. Snow coming down more lazily now and wind has let up. A good opportunity to bundle up and get out and remove it and the layer of ice under it.
This winter has alternated between being bitterly cold and windy to rain that turns promptly to ice. Thus I seem to have spent more days inside than usual.

Winter days inside are a great reason to quilt. A bit of progress has been made in that direction although not on experimenting as I had planned.
The charity for the Edmonton and District Quilters Guild this year is the Good Samaritan Society and we are making lap quilts for elders. The quilts are about 55″ x 75′ . Our Second VP in charge of Charity quilts is Erica. Along with others who have donated fabric Erica has given generously from her considerable stash. One long time friend Dawn has donated some of her UFO’s and those will form the medallion or centre of a quilt. All of this is created by woman power. Erica has sought out simple patterns and she and volunteers have cut kits so that each quilt will be a work of art. That makes it fun for each of us who participate to choose a kit of colours of fabric that we can love to work with.

My quilt started with a centre motif from a piece of drapery fabric and I was lucky enough to choose a kit of other drapery pieces. My built is a riff on a Kaffe Fassett design “Ice Cream Quilt” from his Romance book. We separated the fabrics into light and dark. The pieces weren’t long enough but I joined each colour on the bias to get long strips .  Once I had reached the right width strips were added top and bottom to get the length needed. I, loving blue had saved a wonderful piece of blue to use a a border.  This was a good example of making what you have work and I did. Cheryl is going to long arm it for me and I will help her by binding one of her quilts.
We had a sewing day at the end of January and it was great fun to visit with friends and see each quilt emerging. This has been a big undertaking on behalf of the Guild. So far I think we have donated about 50 quilts and there are many more to come.

I have had opportunity to be in more “homes” for elders than I ever want to be .The  bright and cheery quilts are appreciated. These quilts are evidence that someone cares about the individual and honours them and the contributions that they have made to our country.
So Happy Valentines Day. I hope that this blog made you smile. Please do something that will create a smile for someone else today that will bring them a warm glow to their heart.





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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

Scan 5.jpgScan 4

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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