Forest of Tiny Christmas Trees

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On Nov 27,28, and 29, a forest of tiny hand decorated Christmas tree will be on display at the Old Strathcona Antique Mall. Thse trees will be silent auctioned.
The two foot tree auction is sponsored b the G.A.N.G,  and Old Strathcona Antique Mall. All profits from the tiny trees will be donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation’ Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign that assists African grandmothers raising children orphaned by AIDS.

My tree is called Winter Garden. I had a great time using some dried materials from my garden, poppy heads, the heads from Siberian iris. Now I know what I had been saving them for. Not from my garden were some glittery apples and soe little acorns they too were glittery and I painted them over to tone them down. Especially I had five dried pomegranates that I had been saving for years for a special occasion and this is certainly it.

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Modern Quilts

IMG_7066When I was in Saskatoon a couple of weeks ago I picked up a book that drew me in as the title said Modern Quilts. I am scouting out quilts labelled as “modern” I have read an article by Kathy Bissett and Anna Hergert. This article is entitled “CQA/ACC Quilt Judge Certification Programme Meets Modern Quilting. It appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Quilters Connection Magazine. They say that there are differing viewpoints and then go on to list some characteristics that seem to help define this category.
So When the title jumped out at me I picked it up and started to look. I soon found that I had missed two words in the title – Nature inspired. They fit the some of the items on the .list prepared by Kathy and Anna Rhw quilts are colourful, employ design principles and elements and they don’t require templates or rulers. The directions are very good and clearly the author – Bernadette Mayr from Germany is a very skilled quiltmaker. She provides details that a beginning quiter can follow and use. If the beginning quilter looked at the pictures and used the colourways as a guideline they would come out with an excellent quilt. I was taken by a number of the quilts shown and could see myself improvising using the ideas as a place to begin. If you like to start with a bit of guidance and come out with a show stopper you will enjoy this book.
Of course I found some fabulous fabric in Periwinkle Quilt Shop and have a beginning on an idea.

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Today my world is still, grey and waiting. It feels like snow and that is something I never wish for but none the less it will come. Yesterday,Oct 31, the last bags of leaves from the apple and lilac trees were gathered up. Now they too wait.
Last night was a celebration – many creative creatures came to the door for their traditional loot. It was a relatively warm night and the rain didn’t start until after 7 PM so they came in waves literally. I had a very small fairy princess to start who wasn’t a bit scared of the scary white wolf ghost who peeked out from the big tree in front of my home. Only one Harry Potter this year but accompanied by Moaning Myrtle. Everyone was in costume, a cat in the hat, a Pooh who just who felt it was “time for a little something”. Best of all however was the paper bag princess. I told her that the “Paper Bag Princess” was the only piece of feminist literature any woman needs. If you don’t know about this book check out the wonderful Canadian writer – Robert Munch. (I’ve always had a dream to illustrate one of his books with fibre art.)
Today I change the screen in my storm door for the winter glass one. I think back on what I have done this past while and start making plans for what is next on my list. I have been away from my sewing machine and my needles for a very long time and the machine is calling me.
I was privileged to be an active part of my MP’s reelection campaign this summer and fall. Many people contributed to Linda Duncan’s team and Linda was tireless herself during this very long campaign. We were delighted to see her reelected to the House of Commons where she serves Edmonton Strathcona very well.
A couple of weeks ago I was also privileged to be a judge at the Saskatoon Quilt Show. The show was fabulous with over 400 quilts. There were many large bed quilts, traditional quilts and a good showing of contemporary art quilts. A real treat was to see Quilter of the Year – Gillian McDougald be honoured and then to view her wonderful display of work, I was awe struck by both the variety, the quality and the number of pieces.
If you notice the quilts behind the photo of Gillian at the podium you will see some bright stars.  They caught my attention because of the brightness but also because several had wonderfully complex Kaffe Fassett borders.  I am taken by the thought that it would be a wonderful challenge to select a great piece of Kaffe Fassett fabric for a border and then use it as inspiration for the blocks in a star quilt.  These quilts were part of a challenge however not all of them used a Kaffe Fassett fabric.  I am not sure what the challenge was but the idea sticks in my mind.  Something fun to file for later.

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Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

These birds are well travelled.  They have just arrived home and will be placed in their permanent homes soon.
The “birds” began their life in the imaginations of a group of four friends who are known as the “Frayed Edges”.  We wanted to enter as a group into the 2013 Edmonton and District Guild’s biannual show in 2013.  We are Wanda Cracknell, Penny Odegard, Karen Osatchuk and me.  A set of preprinted blocks was brought to the dining room table and we decided to each pick one we liked.  Our interpretation was to be in wool and what ever else we thought would make it ours and would display materials we liked to work with.  We worked independently and on a given date the 15″ pieces were revealed to each other.  Next we had to decide upon a way to join the pieces together.  Since the pieces were fun folk art interpretations we decided upon felt balls.
Then our piece was named and entered into the EDQG 2013 show in June.  It was accorded the honour of winning the group quilt class and received a beautiful ribbon. We took the pieces apart and they went to the individual makers.  Then Penny gave me her piece as a birthday gift.  It was decided that we would enter them in Quilt Canada for 2014.  So they were reassembled.  Quilt Canada thought that our photography was not quite good enough so the “birds” didn’t travel there.  HOwever since we had them assembled we sent an entry off to Grand National’s upcoming 2015 show “Connections”.  The were successful in being juried in and off they went for their journey to Ontario.
Here is our artist’s statement.
Birds of a Feather
Four friends with common interests including quilting, gardening, and surprise – birds embarked upon a piece inspired by a Sandy Gervais print for Moda fabrics. We each chose a bird that spoke to us, writ it larger and interpreted the chosen bird using wool, a material we all enjoy working in, as the base along with our imaginations and skills. At an appointed time the blocks were revealed with each one clearly reflecting the background talents of the creator. Hand appliqué, trapunto, needle felted wool, rug hooking, beading, embroidery and couching using a variety of materials and embellishments were employed.

The “birds” have now arrived home and have been taken apart for return to their owners.  While the piece was awaiting transit it hung in my living room and was so much admired by both me and my guests that I am going to make two different birds to replace the two that need to go home.

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Wooly Bees

Wooly Bees is a group of members of the Edmonton and District Quilters Guild that have a special interest in working with wool.  We have created a couple of group quilts for our local show and enjoyed that very much.  We have also hand dyed wool.  Sometimes we find new wool but mostly we work with recycled wool.  This comes from donations of yardage, used mens suits and samples from suiting manufacturers.  We manage to use everything we can lay our hands on.
A couple of years ago we each made a block for another member so that they could make a quilt.  Most popular were wonky houses.  Birds were the choice of one member and I chose a vintage sunshine block that I found in an old quilt.
For several years the hostess for the monthly meeting has prepared a project that we can do sitting around a dining room table or in a living room.  This month we had a guest instructor, one of our member’s mothers showed us how to use mens suiting samples to create hexagons.


Yes it looks like black and white photography.  In reality it is grey wool samples.  It was really simple to do once the basic principle was mastered.  I spent time for a couple of evenings as I watched “The National” doing the hand sewing.
What really excited me about this little project was the texture and pattern created on the reverse side.

With the folding of the circular piece it  creates between two and three layers of wool.  It could be used as a coaster or hot mat or perhaps part of a wall hanging.  I just know that I am really enjoying it.  It has been filed in my brain for further consideration.  I am sure that one day an idea will pop out.
Many thanks to our hostess Suzanne and her Mom Barb for a great evening and a fun project.


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2015 Art Quilt Campus

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Well dear reader, after an absence of several weeks I am back again.  The past week has been a week to focus on what I love doing best – working with fabric.  In this case creating colour  and texture through dyeing.
I travelled to Muenster Saskatchewan, St. Peter’s Abbey for a five day stay at “Art Quit Campus”, facilitated by Anna Hergert, friend, colleague, mentor and talented fibre artist, to  immerse myself in just working with fibre.  No meals to make, no home to clean, just time to create both fabric, quilts and community with other quilters in a no pressure non competitive environment.  Time to conceptualize, design, execute, be inspired by others in the peaceful environment of the Abbey and surrounding grounds.
I have many things to share but mostly today I want to share my joy of dyeing cotton fabric.  After I left University I swore I would never dye again as it was too messy.  However I love the Procion fibre reactive dyes and what can be achieved with them. They are easy to work with.  The colours are clear and combinations limitless and you can choose predictability or surprise.
This is only the second year I have worked with these dyes.  Last year’s results of a series of orange to red poppy colours inspired me to take more chances this year.  I used a technique called “parfait dyeing”  In this process you layer fabric and dye colours to create one of a kind pieces of fabric with each piece containing a variety of colours and effects.  My goal was to create some greens for foliage and  some yellows.  From there   I experimented with colours combinations  to see what  could be achieved.
In addition to using white PFD cotton I used two packages of cheesecloth and got such great results that they will become filmy scarves.  I also took a run at layering in some skeins of white cotton so now I have some threads to match some of the hand dyed fabric.
My hand dyed orange-reds, the greens and some of the yellow are now being used in a poppy piece that will be called Alison’s Flower.

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Morning Glory

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Literally!  I looked out my kitchen window yesterday morning and saw blue where there had never been blue before.  Grabbed my camera and rushed out to find my first ever morning glory.  I have faithfully bought seeds each year for many years and never got them planted.  This year I found a plant at a nursery, brought it home, planted it and promptly forgot.  There were a number of times when I just about tore it down as it looked like a weed that commonly twines its way up the same piece of fence.  Then my neighbour weed whacked along his side of the fence and part of the plant died.  I gave up watching so it was with great surprise and joy that I saw the blue flower yesterday.  Only one and no signs of more to come.  I took pictures, although not good as the sun was behind the bloom.
I thought that I could get better ones later.  So why are they called Morning Glories? When I returned later the bloom was wilting and folding up.  I looked carefully again this morning but indeed nothing even close to a bloom opening was evident.  There are several more buds and they look like they are a long way from opening.  So I share the photos I have because I was so delighted with the new addition to my garden.

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Fleeting Moments

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Looking out my kitchen window this morning I was presented with the sight of a beautiful fragile pink Explorer rose with softest yellow centre.  The ruffled edges quivered in the breeze and the the beauty of it took my breath away with. The rose is fragile, delicate and to be enjoyed as the moment will be gone never to be recaptured in just the same way.  Life I have discovered is also like this.

I rushed out with my camera and was beckoned on to other mid summer wonders in my garden. As I drank them in I also took pictures. They inspire me to dye colours to capture their essence in fabric. Replicas of the real thing to be sure but reminders of summer and memories to savour.
When I returned to the house I found an exquisite card in the mailbox. The card depicts a floral composition from a painting called “Pink Shoe”  by a UK painter called Billy Showell. The inscription on the card says “My inspiration comes from the natural world and objects of desire. The beautiful curve of a stem or the twist of fabric in movement can set me thinking of new compositions:  nature and design unite to inspire.”
I can’t think of a better way to say how I feel about probably my most favourite inspiration – flowers and plants.

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Prairie Rose Challenge


Every year the Edmonton and District Quilter’s Guild has a Prairie Rose Challenge.  These pieces are judged, comments are received and beautiful rosettes are made by one of our members Karen.
When we began any quilt of any size was how the challenge went.  Trying to hang these quilts at our banquet was a real problem some years due to space and hanging size limitations.  Over time the challenge has evolved to where we have a theme and now a size.
Some years we choose a fabric.  This year a fabric was chosen from a line of fabric designed by Elaine Quehl for Northcott Fabrics.  The fabric chosen was “Spring Rain” from her 2014 line entitled “Falling Leaves”.  The theme of the piece was “Home” and the size was 12″ X 12″  Each participant purchased a fat quarter and set off into the world of creativity.
For me this was a case of the fabric providing the design inspiration.  I am from Saskatchewan and I could see fields in my piece.  I have always wanted to try an embroidered inset and so this was the opportunity.
Elane’s original piece was pieced to give the effect of the spring colours.  Northcott took the original and turned it into a print.  I took the print and deconstructed it into little squares  and reassembled  it to get the flow of a field and colour sense of a mid spring field. Then I added the embroidery using probably my favourite chain stitch.  I found the repetitive chain stitch picking up the colours in the square I had chosen to be peaceful to do.  Creating this piece provided both challenge and fun and I would like to try the concept again as I now feel that I can take it another step.

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Day Lilies

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Big showy brief blooms – day lilies. These are a weakness of mine and for many years I have been going to nurseries and invariably get stopped by these beauties. Two years ago I put a moratorium on the purchase of them. There is just no more room in the garden for them. For the last couple of weeks they have been their spectacular best, although not all at one time. When one comes out I run out early evening to get the best picture I can.
For many years I taught a Ruth McDowell piecing technique, with her permission, from a publication of hers entitled “Pieced Flowers”.  The piece I chose to teach was the Day Lilies  straight seam quilt with inset corner seams. The neighbours I am sure wondered about the somewhat crazy person going out into the garden again and again, clutching pieces of fabric in her hand and holding them up to whatever day lily was blooming that particular day. While I now have many more cultivars the deep burgundy one with the chartreuse centre called Burgundy Shadow is still my favourite.
This year I have taken some photos out of focus and I see an abstract day lily coming on.

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