Colour Confidence


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.

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


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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Colour & Design – Vermilion

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A couple of weekends ago I was in Vermilion AB to teach two one day classes.  Colour was the topic for Saturday: Colour – Give the Wheel a Spin. Sunday’s topic was the Elements and Principles of Design – A Recipe for Design.
Last August I was contacted by the Program Co-Chairs of the Vermilion Guild to ask if I would consider working with them to find out what their Guild members might be looking for in terms of new learning in the areas of colour and design.  Together we designed a questionnaire that was circulated to guild members.  The results of the survey indicated that yes there was interest in this area of inquiry.  So then Barb and Caroline asked if I would develop two one day courses that would address the interest of their members.
So much of my winter was spent researching colour and design.  A search on line and in my (I discovered) considerable library of relevant books led me to believe that an important aspect of any course would be to use a common language.  Those of you who know me from my full-time career will remember that I was responsible for a document that brought a common language to working, learning and living skills.
In the end I felt that for quilters the best place was to start with and maintain the order of elements and principles that Anna Hergert described in her document on Elements and Principles of Design for the Canadian Quilters Guild.  The document is thorough and provides examples that apply directly to quilting.
You might ask – why a need for common language?  Elements and principles are common across the spectrum of human creativity. NOT.  Various disciplines use a different combination of elements and principles and call them different names, even quilt books are not on the same page. My research led me to create lists and then cross reference words and definitions until I was satisfied that I had a degree of consistency in organization and terms. So enough of scholarly research and onto class design, curriculum, and hands-on exercises.
The classes consisted of hand-outs and hands-on exercises to illustrate the elements and principles.  Each participant was encouraged to add their exercises to a coil bound sketch book so that they could refer back to them and use them as inspiration for upcoming quilts.
Colour was chosen for a day on its own as it is considered the most important element of design.  We began with the gray scale as value is the most important aspect of colour.  How it is used is what makes a quilt interesting and vibrant and something that the eye returns to again and again in a composition.
The remainder of the elements (individual components of a quilt design) and principles (how a quilt comes together to create a cohesive whole) were dealt with on the second day. Either of these classes could be taken on their own.  Together they give one an overview of the subject matter.
There are instructors who teach design classes that are  more in-depth and usually lead to a larger finished quilt.  These two classes were intended to be a survey, an introduction or a reminder.
A lot of fun was had by all who participated in the classes, including me, the teacher. I so much enjoyed the experience of meeting these women and working with them and seeing what they created.  Some of the work is showcased in the slide show.

This coming weekend is the Vermilion Quilters Guild 19th Annual Quilt Show.  I understand that they will have over 200 quilts.  This is an event worth seeing.   They are  talented quilters.  The show is at the Vermilion Regional Centre.  Come into town off the Yellowhead, Hwy 16  and when you see Boston Pizza on your west side turn left at the lights.  A little further on Lakeland College is on the left and the Vermilion Regional Centre on the right, 5902 – 47 Ave..  There is lots of free parking and the show is all on one level.  Hours  are Sat. Apr 30 ,10 – 5 and Sunday May 1, 10 – 4.  Lunches will be available.  There is a park nearby and a great Quilt store in Lakeland Mall.

I’m going with some friends so perhaps I will see some of you there.

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Zoe’s Windy Day

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A milestone day.  I have finished my Trend-Tex challenge for this year.
When I do a challenge that comes with the fabric predetermined I open the package up and fan the fabric out and wait for it to speak to me.  This year was no exception and the topic “Living a Life in Green”was sparked by looking out my living room window as I was mulling things over and a tree that I see from the window was sketched.  Then several mornings I heard a pileated woodpecker and the two came together.  The orange gold fabric felt like a windy fall day and since my granddaughter had a book when she was small called Zoe’s windy day the challenge came together.  My experience with drawing human figures is less than minimal but it came to me that I could draw a stick figure and put clothes on it.  That seemed to work.  You decide.

I hope that many of you will get to Mississauga for Quilt Canada 2016 and that we will see a good display of Challenge Quilts – “Living Life in Green”.

I know that the National Juried Show will be great.  I was fortunate enough to be one of the juror’s and can hardly wait to see the quits hanging in the fabric so to speak.  The jurying was done on line which is quite a different experience than seeing them in person.  I am looking forward to being a scribe for the judges and so will move my learning as an apprentice judge along.

There will be some great teachers.  One of my favourites – Anna Hergert  will be there with some sought after classes.  Don’t miss this chance as a little bird told me she isn’t applying for next year.  Jane Sassaman will be there facilitating some workshops and giving a lecture.  There will be a session with the International Gathering folk that my friends Kathy Strawson and Kim Caskey are organizing for Friday evening.  It sounds like a great evening with a chance to meet people and hear about some happenings from across the pond.

I hope to see many of you there.






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Zen? Tangle – Yes

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I have had learning to Zen Tangle on my list for a couple of years now.  The Paint Spot  a local art shop in my neighbourhood offered a version this winter.  Shelly Banks a talented local artist who works in pen and ink and does coptic bookbinding and mosaics was our teacher.

So I learned how to do some lovely pen and ink detailed drawings.  I was delighted to find that it was fun and I could do it, at least under Shelly’s tutelage. I also learned that it is very time consuming and that if I was going to put that kind of time into something it would be appliqué or knitting.

My reason for learning it was so that I could apply it to quilting, either in appliqué or machine quilting designs.  So I now have a new technique to work with and of course am beginning a collection of books to support that new technique. I look forward to seeing how this new technique influences my work.


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analogous poppy

My last few days have been focused on using my creativity to design a couple of new workshops for an Alberta Quilt Guild.  This is a delightful activity in many ways because I read books, get inspirations, read more books, increase the number of ideas, want to try  many myself and then start writing and organizing.  It is all theoretical at this stage in terms of what might be able to be accomplished in an actual class.  To be considered – how knowledgable is everyone?  How to you get everyone to the the same level without overwhelming those who less experience and not bore those who have more.  What exercises will most engage the learners?   How much information should be provided to stimulate creativity and at the same time to help the concept be retained in long term memory.?
Once you have the initial design then a class description needs to be written.  Ideally then the instructor tries a variety of exercises, times them and gets the workshop design and lesson plan in a more structured form.  Supply lists and instructor requirement lists are then prepared and sent off.  Notice I said ideally.
These particular classes are being custom developed based on a survey the guild did of their members so that the members will get a workshop that will meet their needs and expand their knowledge.  The time frame is tighter than usual, however I seem to work quite productively under pressure because I am must totally focus.
Working intensively usually gets me off to a good start.  So the dishes sit, the bell rings on the washing machine and phone calls go to message.  Once in a while there is a break for a cup of tea and for the mind to take a breath so the information can sort and organize itself within the mind’s creative problem solving process.  One  such break caused me to respond to the ping of a new e-mail coming in and another to take the time to “pen” this blog.  I want to share an excerpt from Anna Hergert’s blog of Jan 28 “Up for a Challenge”

“Are you up to a free challenge? I subscribe to CreativeLive, a fabulous site with a wide variety of instruction via video feed. Many of these lessons are offered for free and one can then opt to buy the lesson for life-long access. Quite often the administrators offer bonuses for anyone interested. Yesterday I discovered an invitation to join the 28 Day Challenge in my inbox. Here is the link if you are interested in checking it out. I believe it will provide a little boost to anyone’s resolution about living life more creatively in 2016. Check it out and see if this free offer is something you might be interested in.”

I’m in and hope that this might interest some other readers  The key for me is that they can be short as there are too many quilt ideas and too little time.




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Quilt Canada 2016

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Winter Wool

I am at last coming near to the end of my January blah’s and getting excited about planning more interesting winter quilting activities and yes making some of my favourite things – plane reservations for the Spring, learning to use Skype and working on my Trend Tex challenge piece.
So first I want to say that part of my excitement is that I am fortunate enough to be one of the jurors for the Canadian Quilters Association National Juried Show to be held as part of Quilt Canada 2016, June 15 – 18 at the International Centre in Mississauga ON. This is a task that will I am sure spark my interest in working on my own pieces.
There are many interesting workshops to choose from this year and the new costing system in a definite plus.  I want to highlight one artist of particular interest.  Our Teacher of the Year for 2014 – Anna Hergert will be offering three exciting workshops.  It is a perk of being chosen Teacher of the Year that at the next major conference, two years down the road you are invited to teach.  I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity.
Anyone who has been luck enough to take a course with Anna will tell you that you not only get excellent value at the time of the workshop but that her enthusiasm and support of her students along with those excellent teaching skills will continue to enrich your quilting for a long time to come.
Anna is teaching three workshops.  The first is “Unlock the Vault”.  This two day course (at the end you will wish it was longer) has participants exploring the endless possibilities of the supplies in your studio and in your kitchen and in your tool box and likely other places as well.  I have been able to benefit from Anna’s creativity in using a large variety of materials and she pushes the envelope and you will certainly be surprised and delighted.
Anna’s second workshop is on hand work – Mola’s.  This form of reverse hand appliqué is practiced by the Cuna Indians of the San Blas Islands of Panama.  Their Mola’s tell stories of their lives and display hot colours.  This is how I first met Anna, taking this fun and relaxing class.  Be sure and take paper and pencil to record the inspirations that come to you during this class.
The last class is all about embellishments.  I call it bling in context.  When embellishments are added to quilts using elements and principles of design they really to add to the work and often a good piece becomes spectacular.
So prepare to be delighted. Check out Quilt Canada, the workshops and then Anna’s blog. Just the thing for a grey winter day to get the dreaming started.





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