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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Red

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My efforts at creating an annotated bibliography from my library of textile books has stampeded along to the second book I think.
Red by Jan  Beaney and Jean Littlejohn is the book I have been reading most recently.  It is Book 19 by these two British Textile Artists. These women have created a series of thin books on a variety of topics.  I have enjoyed everyone I have read to date.
Many books in my collection are chosen for the colour and apparent texture and “Red” is certainly one of these.  The authors  begin with the symbolism of the colour red. Text talks about various red items and how they  might be viewed and the text is supported by wonderful illustrations of pieces and ideas that can be used to stimulate creativity.
“Red” includes exercises in still life and continuous line drawing along with thoughts to help an artist focus on bringing the colour red into their field of perception.  The book also includes a bibliography of other resources.
I often think of red both in the morning and the evening with the sunrise and the sunset.  When I was a child I learned “Red sky at night sailors delight, Red sky at morning sailors take warning”.  That thought reoccurs as I see the sunrise and the sunset each day.
Research into cognition indicates that rereading something between 5 and 8 times allows our mind to take it into long term memory.  I think that also works for photographs.  So I have viewed the illustrations in this book at least that many times over the past several weeks.  I don’t know how that will influence my work in the future but I feel confident that at some time something idea will come from this book into my work.

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Art Quilt Campus 2016

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My summer vacation was spending the last week at St. Peter’s Abbey in Munster Saskatchewan.  It is my third year at Art Quilt Campus.  It is a week that I enjoy thoroughly.  It is spending time with other women who are interested in stretching their textile art muscles, increasing their knowledge and sharing their expertise.  The week is organized, led and facilitated by Anna Hergert.  Anna is generous is sharing her knowledge  and helps creative problem solving with each person individually.  We explore questions of interest to each of.  Interesting discussions are held in the evening.  We share our play results from the past year with each other and join in constructive critiques. This year people expressed the interest in doing some handwork and Anna provided lots of inspiring examples.
I’m hoping I can persuade Anna to come to Edmonton next Spring to share how to make her unique fabric boxes and her new Kantha designs.  She has created some wonderful innovative pieces for her book on Kantha which is now with her editors.
So what did I do this week?  Well I produced 4 colour runs of 9 graduations: cerulean blue, raspberry, violet and golden yellow.  These will be used to create four flower drawings I created for my new one day course on colour.
One morning I sat on the steps above the fountain in the Abbey to listen to Vespers and drew inspiration from the stained glass window.  Now I have a small improvisationally pieced top based on the colours in the stained glass window.
On the way home I stopped in Saskatoon at Periwinkle Quilting and acquired some white wool and some cream linen and a new book.  I return home with lots of ideas to explore.

 

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A Day’s Work

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…but worth it.  I spent an enjoyable making a birthday cake today.  It was “The Duke” from the Duchess Cookbook.  The Duchess is a bakery/restaurant in Edmonton.  Since the day it opened there are line-ups at the door.  The restaurant part was small, has expanded and still the demand is huge.  Everything is delicious.  I only ate one thing there for years, the Rhubarb Galette as I was trying to figure out how to recreate it, especially the topping.  I would buy them for dessert when I had guests and ask them what they thought the topping was.  We never figured it out.  Then the cookbook came out and my daughter gave me one for Christmas.  Now I could make the Galette’s and try something else when I went to the bakery.
I had not had the “Duke” cake and I am a chocoaholic.  However any dessert has to be delicious in order to meet the expenditure of calories I believe. So  the recipe looked like it met my requirements as carmel and chocolate are really my favourite combination.  So I began.  First the cake.  Great ingredients, with a moist rich tasteful crumb.
Then the salted carmel.  The cookbook directions were and my carmel with the ground almonds was so tempting it almost didn’t make it to the cake.
The ganache that became the basis of the icing imparted a carmel taste to the chocolate icing.  When assembled the cake looked great and when eaten the combination of flavours were great.  It was definitely a “morish cake.  Definitely worth the calories.

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Colour Confidence

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For many years I taught beginning and advanced piecing. One of the questions I encountered most was about choosing fabric.   When cutting off selvedges on some fabric today I noticed the colour circles and thought about the answer I gave most often.
I suggest to students that they start by choosing a  piece of complex print that they really like.  A complex print provides many options for choosing a group of other coloured fabrics that work well together.  Since the quilts were often bed quilts I also suggest  choosing a print that they would like to use for the specific bedroom they have in mind.  I am also aware that often a quilt is being made for a gift and that someone has indicated their colour preferences.  That ups the stakes however the process suggested below still works.
The next step is to look at the selvedge of the fabric you have chosen and start pulling fabrics in colours that you find in the colour circles. A variety of sizes of print, some solids, a background that goes with all the colours.

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If you have the option always choose to go to a local store where the experienced staff will know their stock and be able to help you pull a selection that will work together.  I can not emphasize the last statement enough.  Remember time is the most precious resource that you will spend.  It is a waste of your precious time to work with fabric that you do not love.  Also choose the best quality you can as a quilt is a labour of love and it will last for a very long time.
Do not choose all the fabrics from one line.  The result will be too homogenous, may not have scale variation or enough value variation.  If it is a bed quilt think about someone lying underneath it and what they will see on both sides.  Calm, peaceful are words that come to mind.  That doesn’t mean that a bright print can’t be used, it may just be an accent colour.
A word on backgrounds if applicable.  Almost never choose white is one of my basic rules.  White is often to stark, it can deaden the overall effect of the fabrics chosen. f necessary perhaps choose a white on white print.  I usually try and find a very soft pastel, in a tint on tint or tone on tone.  My experience is that I end up with a more pleasing composition.
Let’s dissect the quilt in the photograph using the thoughts above.  First I chose the Kaffe Fassett Lotus fabric.  It forms the border, the backing and the pillowcases.  It was rolled out on the cutting table and using the colour dots other bolts were chosen and placed on top. Scale and value were part of the consideration.  It took a while and in the end I believe that there were 30 colours chosen.  I am very happy with the result  and enjoy it as a summer quilt.
Clearly I don’t rush into things but I am pleased to cross the pillowcases off my list.
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Rain, Hail, Mosquitos

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Today it rained, followed by hail with me looking out the window and praying.  Fortunately the hail was not too damaging.  As soon as it was over I went out to plant some hostas that were rescued from a home in the neighbourhood about to be torn down.  So yes if you look carefully in a couple of the photos you will see some large hosta leaves looking rather scraggly.  My gloves were discarded, the mosquitos simply ignored the natural bug repellent. The fresh soil, wet hosta roots and compost all combined to create one of the grandest messes I have created in some time.  This post follows my second shower of the day and I am covered in bumps which will no doubt come itchy in good time.

It is good to go away and good to come home.  My time at Quilt Canada was a learning experience.  I chose well in selecting the classes to take.  They stretched me well out of my comfort zone.  In each class I hit the wall of discouragement and felt that perhaps I had bitten off more than I could chew.  However I stuck with it and have had some time to digest the learnings and will soon put scissors to fabric and fabric to needle. I will never be close to anything that Jane Sasseman could produce but I will take the process and work with it.  I certainly learned a new way of analayzing some of my favourite Arts & Crafts designers and a new way of looking at individual flowers in my garden.
I had an opportunity to visit a wonderful garden in Toronto and spend a day at Casa Loma.  These were great experiences and beautifully designed gardens with interesting plants presented a theme of flowers and plants.
What is a garden but a collection of earthly delights.  Working in my garden supports both my love of colour and texture. It brings me time to process my learnings and to let ideas come and be evaluated.  So my summer begins in earnest.  Working in the garden and working in my studio.

 

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Inside the NJS – Juror & Scribe

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There are many steps to the process before a Canadian Quilters Association National Juried Show actually gets to the walls of the exhibition hall. The work of mounting a show from first deciding on the classes, to developing the entry form, receiving the entries, jurying, receiving the quilts, moving them to the judging floor, unpacking, organizing for judging, judging, sorting the quilts, hanging and finally the show opening and presentation of awards is a complex process. It demands abilities to organize, plan and execute, anticipate, implement and trouble shoot. It involves many people over many months using uncountable numbers of volunteer hours.
My story begins when CQA put out a call for judges and jurors a year ago for this 2016 show. As an apprentice judge I wanted as much experience as possible and so applied. In due time I was invited to be a Juror. Information began to be received about the on-line process. Familiarity with CQA standards is needed as well as all the same knowledge about colour and design that a judge would bring. The jury coordinator provided insight into the process; the jurors met via Skype and discussed the process and expectations. At last the day arrived. Photographs of the quilts had arrived with the entry forms. They were organized into the categories, the coordinator worked with entrants to ensure that submissions were in the correct category and the jurors were given passwords.
The first quilt appeared on the screen. I will never forget it. It is etched on my brain. Each of the three jurors worked independently viewing each quilt, applying the elements and principles of design to each quilt, making a brief comment and rating the individual submission.
Why do this? NJS has a reputation of presenting the best of the best that are being created across Canada. This represents a range of quilters, some quite experienced and some quite new although the jurors do not know this.
Once each individual juror has reviewed each quilt the second step begins. Where there is unanimous agreement about some quilts meeting or not meeting the design standards they are removed from the screen. Then the collaborative phase begins. The jurors can now see each other’s scores and comments. Still working on line the jurors reconsider their rating of a particular piece based on the comments of the other jurors. Consensus is arrived at for more quilts.
Finally we are down to the quilts where there is not complete agreement. The jurors confer to come to consensus on a particular piece. (This process is the same as the judges). All through out the process the objective criteria are applied.
The jury arrived at approximately 130 quilts to be included in the show. The individual jurors job is not complete, there is another step. Three constructive critiques are written for each of the quilts not accepted. These comments go back to each unsuccessful candidate so that they can have the same learning experience as those entrants who are successful.

As I wanted to learn as much as I could about the process I volunteered to come to Mississauga to be a part of the judging process. I thought that being a scribe would help to make me more familiar with the process and learn from more experienced judges. I carefully read the scribe job description and volunteered. My offer was accepted and I presented myself to the judging floor with computer in hand on the appointed day. I was given a stick with the spreadsheet identifying each category and each quilt by name and number. Now for the excitement! I would get to see in real life the quilts that I was very familiar by seeing them on my computer screen months ago. While I couldn’t see them as well as the judges I was able to get a sense of them when they were held up facing my station. I could see detail of construction and three- dimensionality that a computer screen doesn’t convey. The judges conferred. When an individual quilt had been considered the judge I was assigned would come to my station and dictate the constructive comments that she wanted recorded. I would enter the information, check for accuracy and get ready for the next comment.

As a scribe I had some opportunity to partially hear the judges discussion of an individual piece and get a sense of their assessment of a particular quilt. At the end of the process when all the comments had been entered and later reviewed by the individual judges the USB stick was returned to the Show Coordinator and my job was done.

This was a very enjoyable process for me to be part of the next step in moving the quilts to the show floor. I found that that this experience has deepened and broadened my understanding of the process and given me a chance to observe experiences certified judges in their process. While I am not yet sure how this will affect my own judging I firmly believe that more information and experience are enriching and that this experience will enrich and inform my own mental judging process.

Now for the most exciting step, to attend the opening of the NJS show tonight, see all the quilts at the final stage of their journey and learn which quilts receive ribbons and awards.

PS  The photo is of poppies in my garden taken earlier today by my sister to show what is happening at home while I am at Quilt Canada.

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We’ve only just begun – 1

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I set goals and often I achieve them in the time set and sometimes I don’t.  One major goal I have lapsed repeatedly for many years is getting my basement studio operational again. Well yesterday saw me make a significant step forward.
Some 16 years ago I packed up all my glass, china, and pottery treasures accumulated over a life time.  This was done thinking that my basement would have to be replaced.  The boxes were stored in the basement and when the  basement didn’t need to be replaced they remained.  Life sped on, other interesting projects intervened.  Built-in were created in my dining room to accommodate these treasures but by then there were other treasures to fill them.  The kitchen was renovated and those cupboards got filled up with other possessions.
There were quilting projects to be done, new things to be learned, politics to get involved in, a granddaughter to spend time with, in short a full life.  All of this has been accompanied by repeated resolve and increasing guilt with each failure to get going. Perhaps there is a book on procrastination in this somewhere or would that be another excuse?
Well my neighbours planned a yard sale for our street.  It was finally time to get started. Yesterday was our sale and the 17 boxes stored in the basement are no longer there.  The yard sale was a major success in getting a start on removing treasures from the basement.   My sister helped me and said that unpacking all the boxes was just like Christmas without adding to her accumulation of possessions.  Possessions were  only returned my home is there was a place for them. Charity shops will benefit, friends will benefit, guilt is down and a sense of accomplishment up along with motivation to keep going.
The spin off of this start is that I have also reduced my e-mail in-basket this week by  2,500.  Starts have been made on 3 yard projects.  A trunk and two chests of clothing  have been sorted and downsized.  I am  excited about getting my house in order. I will check in on this again with progress and projects completed.

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Happiness is a Garden

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Stepping outdoors this morning quickly brought me back in for my camera.  My discovery of the first explorer rose needed to be shared.  So the photos are of blooms in my garden this morning.  The sun is out and it is morning so not optimum time for photos but I hope that these snapshots will share the wonderful colour in the garden.
It has been exactly a month since my last post.  A busy early Spring would characterize my time and I have been travelling.  First I was in Winnipeg to be a judge at the Manitoba Prairie Quilters 2016 show.  The quality and variety of quilts were excellent.   The support team was right on their game and the judging went smoothly.
Their challenge pieces were very creative.  I bid on some but wasn’t lucky enough to submit a winning bid.  However their charity will certainly benefit.  I met new people from Manitoba and a fellow judge from New Brunswick.  Now I feel that I have new friends.  Just remembering their faces and voices;  how well I was treated and what a good time I had brings a smile to my face.
Plane schedules allowed me to arrive early enough to be able to spend the day at the Museum of Human Rights.  That experience merits a blog on its own one day.
Next I travelled to Vermilion to teach a couple of new courses on Colour and Design.  My last blog post details that experience.  Again I was treated very well, stayed in a beautful home in a great rural location, made new friends and had a stellar experience.
The Vermilion Quilt Guild 19th Annual Quilt Show was a couple of weeks later and some friends travelled down with me to see it.  It was a large show.  We came back with a couple of ideas for our local challenge and lots of inspiration.  The guild has about 40 members and there were 43 quilts in their charity quilt section for donation to a cancer charity.  I was impressed by the output of this guild and the energy and enthusiasm of the members.
The following week saw me off to Regina for the Prairie Piecemakers Quilt Guild Show.  I was one of the judges and had the experience of judging some great quilts.  The hardest part of judging as usual was  deciding on the winners as  there were many that deserved to be recognized. The chair of the show had everything well organized for the judges and I was blessed with a super scribe so again the process went smoothly and I had a very enjoyable time.
The weekend after the show was spent with friends at Buffalo Pound Lake. It is likely to be the last time I enjoy their hospitality at that location as Anna’s home with wonderful studio is up for sale.  We had a great time exploring the tunnels of Moose Jaw and a delightful day touring around Lake Diefenbaker.  Some wonderful photos of an old elevator, one of my favourite subjects are now in my photo cache and an idea for a new piece has been sketched.  We searched for meadowlarks.  I had not seen one since I was a child living in Saskatchewan and it was on my bucket list to see one again.  Colin spotted one, Anna got some wonderful pictures.
Now I am home again, doing catch-up on some quilt projects overdue, getting ready for the EDQG “A Night Out” challenge pieces to be judged. (I am the coordinator of the Prairie Rose Challenge this year.)  Gathering supplies for the classes at Quilt Canada and shopping for and planting annuals is the plan for the weekend.
I hope to see many of you at Quilt Canada.

 

 

 

 

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