Wednesday, December 19, 2012

October, November, December

... where did they go?
October was taken up with the first ever Creative Threads Conspiracy, a fiber art retreat and workshops. Knitting, Natural Dyeing, Needle Felting, Quiltmaking Techniques, great food and company.... it all went very well. The weekend was COLD, but we distracted ourselves with fabric and fibre and craftsmanship. And I changed jobs. No longer am I the bottle counter at the recycling center, I now work in a chocolate factory! Its closer to full time, working in a clean well lighted place with wonderful people and still right here in my chosen community.
I kept forgetting to take my camera to the Conspiracy, so here instead is a photo of the distinguished gentlemen of jazz.
November was taken up mostly with making stuff for the Christmas Craft Faire. I made simple shopping bags, some lunch bags and some quilts. I made a small quilt and sold kits to teach beginners how to sew. I made a bunch of owls. The owls all flew off to new homes, the kits all sold and I still have bags!
Ashlea's hats and soap (and Ashlea), Ken's cutting boards and my owls and stuff in our booth at the Craft Faire.

December has been a stormy month with wind and rain and snow. Sometimes the power goes out and sometimes the ferries don't run. I've been finishing up some projects that got put away while I was busy with other stuff, did some work on a quilt for my mom (tried to take it to her last weekend - but by the time we got to Nanaimo to take the ferry across, the runs were cancelled due to stormy seas), been working and sleeping! Once Christmas is over, I look forward to a week or so in my studio to start on a new project, I think I'll work with really bright colours just to get excited again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Ellen's Fab Bee request. So colourful and fun!

My contribution to Ellen's Hundreds and Thousands. Two blocks, no leftovers!

Whew! August rushed by! The photos are of September's Fab Bee blocks. September already!

    July seemed to lope along, but by the time August was here things were moving fast.
Stacey and I, with lots of help, prepped and hung and hosted the Quilt Forest, then the Conspiracy team got up and running again with the Creative Threads Conspiracy,  (we are giving presentations to local quilter's guilds, which seems to be better publicity than the print advertising we have been doing, but both things are getting the word out, and resulting in registrations. Live and learn!), we had some wonderful guests here, and my husband's trio had a gig at the local bistro. Our visitor and friend John sat in with them, so it was a trio of four, and the show went over well!
    We participated in the Croquet, Not Coal tournament and I brought home a trophy, (having never won a thing for an athletic (*ahem*) endeavor, I was pleased!) and funds were raised for the Denman Opposes Coal group to battle against the proposed Raven Coal Mine.
    The tomatoes in the hoop house are actually turning a colour other than green (fantastic!) and I have harvested a couple of cucumbers, plenty of potatoes, a feed or two of green beans, a trombone squash- which I should have photographed and didn't, plenty of peas off the trellis, beets, cilantro, basil, parsley, greens and kale and some carrots. That's better than last year, so we are pleased.

Miss August of the Fraser Valley Modern Quilt Guild (a lovely and talented bunch of sewists) was super complimentary toward me. It makes it all worthwhile, if even one person is changed by what I do.

First, she said "Barb Mortell’s course has made me love sewing", and then... this is how she answered question #12 in an interview...

"12. Who is your favourite quilt designer? And why?
Barb Mortell. Because she doesn’t care if the lines are straight! And she taught me that! I can’t thank her enough. The pressure of perfect lines has disappeared. I can just relax and sew."

And then she said "I loved my Barb Mortell quilt top! Did I mention she’s the best?"
Gosh! I am torn between blushing and swelled head! And Miss August is no slouch in the creative department.... her photographic documentation makes you want to be where she is, and be grateful that she is there with her camera and her unique eye. Thanks Carol Browne!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I've been doing patchwork by mail! (I talked about it a while ago)
Last spring Cynthia Frenette invited me to partake in a quilting bee she started, and it's been really fun! Each month, one member of the Fab Bee sends out a request and some fabric to all the participants, and we all follow the instructions and use up the fabric and send a finished block back to it's rightful owner.
the fabrics and request for hearts

the block I made for Cynthia and Norm

Cynthia started it off with "hearts" in April, and explained that the quilt was for her hubby Norm, who chose the colours and fabrics. Some of the pieces are Cynthia's own designs that she printed at Spoonflower, and since this time, she has had her own line of fabric printed by Robert Kaufman!

In May, we used a spark of colour and neutrals to make improvised blocks for Holly.
the fabrics....

and the block I made

June was my month. I sent out neutrals and asked for stripes. Such a fantastic array of stripes I got back! I decided not to worry too much about putting them together - and I just went ahead and did it. I am still mulling over different ideas for the quilting design. You can see I have a grey thread laid out there - to see if I like vertical lines on it ... hmmm, still thinking.

July was fun too! Darlene, who is a lover of all things vintage, asked us to do a "stack of books" block. I slipped in some vintage fabrics - and I sent along a bundle of coloured plastic knitting needles for her.
What I didn't know about Darlene is that she is generous to a fault! She sent me two lines of bunting that she made as a thank you! I hung them up at our house during our Quilt Forest event. 

Then came August....
and the request from Ellen to make..... an OWL!
Here are things I have rediscovered about myself this month-
I don't do representational art, and I especially don't do animals!
I live in a wonderful natural environment, surrounded by trees which are full of birds, including owls.

barred owl, photo taken from the porch at dusk. "Who Cooks For You?"
I am surrounded by this natural wonder and I really feel like I could not do it justice by trying to make it into art. It already is art. I can't dream of improving on it, it's perfect.
Winging it - free piecing, applique, embroidery and machine couching
So, I let most of the month slip by. I picked up Jan Mullen's book Reverse Applique With No Brakez and read through it. That helped a little. Then I drew an owl. And I waited some more. Then I realized the month was almost gone, so I just went ahead and did my block. Here it is. I'll mail it to Ellen today. Hope she likes it!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

More, more more!

Our collaborative pieces. We have 2 more in the works. 

more stars by Stacey

more views - back down the main walk

Saturday, August 25, 2012

more of Stacey's beauties

my Striped studies

Friday, August 24, 2012

Keep Walkin'

Sunlight through quilts and stars in the distance

Stars and Sticks and Spiderwebs!

More Pix of the Forest Walk

Churn Dash on the woodpile. by Stacey

Enter here.

3 on the line.

Pie Party, Xes and Cotton Reel

2 Indigo beauties

3 more indigo quilts

Back in the box

Whew! The quilts are down and back in the box! Actually not literally in a box, I roll mine, 4 or 5 at a time, on a tube and cover them and store them in the loft of our little house.

view from afar
The Quilt Forest Walk, which we mount for the Denman Island Studio Tour, went really well for us. We had over 150 visitors (wow!) to the forest and we chatted all day - about our favourite subjects (quilts, fabric, sewing), we visited with friends and family, we ate well, and we even sold a few things.

Stacey and I hung 45 quilts in the trees this year, with plenty of help from our spouses, family and lovely farmer-neighbours who came at closing time on Saturday to take down all the quilts in case it rained, and came back again on Sunday morning to hang them all back up again. 

Good friends, John, Oli and Stacey.
Playing nicely together. I made the quilt in the centre, and Stacey made the other two.

I will keep posting a few pictures at a time over the next little while. Then it will be like walking through the forest, coming around the bend to see the next "gallery". Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Annual Quilt Airing

Less than a week away! Stacey and I will hang our quilts in the forest again for the Denman Island Studio Tour. We had a great time last year, it was wonderful to see all the quilts hanging together amongst the trees, and we had a fantastic turn out of people to come see them.
New this year is that I actually have a studio! Last year I was sewing on the porch, and I moved into the house over the winter. This year, I moved into the shipping container that my guy made in to a studio for me. He installed sliding glass doors in one end, insulated it, added electricity and lots of lights and put up my design walls so I could do my thing and be all messy.
I've been busy finishing things (just got 6 quilts ready) and it has made me want to make new things! Its hard to keep focused on cleaning up around here when I have new ideas.... I'm thinking of the general idea of "containers" as a series. I'll do some trials and see if it sticks, once the weekend is over.
Curious? Come to the tour, August 18 and 19, 10 - 4

Monday, July 30, 2012

some girls

Some girls dream of looking (or being) like a beautiful movie star, like Angelica Houston or Kate Winslet, but me? I wanna be these guys... 

Okay - let's talk this through... figure it out.... Jeff Bridges has great hair, that might be it. The wrinkles look really good on him, and he doesn't apologize for any of it, that might be it. He shows an intensity, a focus, that makes me want to be him, plus, he's hot...
The other guy is John Wolseley, a tapestry artist. He looks cool, and intense, because he has that hair (again with the hair!) and the wrinkles and the custom made waistcoat with all the pens he needs and his glasses hanging on his neck if he needs them, and then there is some kind of bag hanging on his body, probably carrying a change of clothes and perhaps a bed roll (if he needs it)  and maybe even more pens, .... I think its the nomadic, yet prepared (and not a little neurotic), intense look about him that makes me want to be him.
It looks like it boils down to intensity, self sufficiency, self assuredness and good hair - that makes me want to be these guys, even though both Angelica and Kate are quirky and beautiful in their own ways. Go figure.

Catching Up

Just so you know - the last post was written on June 10. And then...

We went on our trip, had fun, saw interesting things, 

Owls in an old beehive burner

came home, worked on more quilts, did some work, learned to milk goats, entertained company and were entertained by them, took in the Readers and Writers Festival events, enjoyed live music, walked in the woods, rode bikes, taught a class (more later) to a lovely bunch of fabric artists, processed more registrations for the big event and a bunch of other stuff.

Phew. Caught up.

Road Trip!

Very soon - perhaps Monday afternoon - we'll pack up the truck and head down the road for a holiday. Every year (we missed one due to moving house) for the past 12 years or so, we have made the  trip to Weiser, Idaho for a week of giggles, sun, camping and music. Life on the island is so good, however, its been hard to imagine leaving our baby plants and our old cat to have a vacation from a life which is like a vacation. And then I remembered how seeing new landscapes and changing the daily patterns energizes me, and how this is the best music week of the year for my husband and it always energizes him artistically. And we laugh, a lot!  So, we'll be gone for a week or so, living in the Kencraft, seeing new things, hearing and playing good notes.
On the patchwork front - I must have been inspired by the stripes on the camper - I got right down to work a few days ago and made the top for the Red Challenge. The textile art group I belong to in North Vancouver - Cutting Edge - has presented a challenge to make a quilt that measures 30" x 48" and reads as red (read?). So I have completed top #1, I have more ideas on this...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Bug of the House of Bug

Monday, April 30, 2012

Good Day

Yesterday was a perfect island kind of day.
First I went to a meeting to work on administration stuff for the fabric art event I'm helping to organize. (Hold on to your hats! Information will be available soon!) My meeting was at the home of a local artisan, and I was given an impromptu tour of the grounds. What a privilege it was - standing there in the yard of this potter. It was a testament to a lifetime of hard work and artistic drive, and he's still going strong. (Its all about the work! Do the work! I have to keep telling myself)
Then I came home, was putting on my boots to head up to the Anagama kiln firing that was open for viewing, when our friends from Hornby appeared. We all went up to view the firing, and WoW! Was that ever great. Shirley Phillips gave us an informative tour of the process - the kiln was being fed wood (about 5 cords per firing!) every ten or twenty minutes, the pottery inside, which you could view with the aid of sunglasses, and only when the fire was dying down, was white hot! There was a big chimney up the hill which spewed flames when the fire was fed, but no ash - it all gets burned up inside the kiln. After the firing, which is a days long process, the kiln doors get bricked up and the flue damped down and then its some more days to wait for it to cool down enough to go in and get the pots. WoW! I am definitely going on the Denman Island Pottery Tour this year.
Our friends went on to do what they were doing and K and I stopped in to deliver a catalogue to some friends up on their acreage. They have built the nicest log house, just 16' x 20' and they have a really productive garden. The apple trees are all in bloom and some of the baby plants are going in the ground... we had a great visit, and then we got invited down to our other friends' 10' x 10' handmade log house for wood-stove cooked pizza. Grand, just grand. I can't imagine a better island day. I love this place.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Wise birds that are inventive, intelligent
and like shiny things.
When spotted in a group are sometimes referred to as an "unkindness"
or a "conspiracy", depending
on what they are up to.

We have ravens here on our island. A family of three live in the trees above my house,
and taunt me and tease me
when I'm out in the garden.
I think they are spectacular birds.

I am one of a small group of quilters that has formed a conspiracy - to bring together fellow fiber freaks to learn and show and make stuff. Its called the Creative Threads Conspiracy, and will take place in October this year, in the village on Denman Island. Hopefully it will be so good that it will become an annual event. We have courses in patchwork and quilting planned- ranging from fairly traditional to embellished and improvisational, hand quilting, making paper-cloth, natural dying, needle felting, knitting, using scraps and thrift store finds to make quilts, a bevy of techniques to make the work easier. Good food, good company, lots of creativity all in a relaxed atmosphere away from phones and the daily grind. Stay posted and I'll give you more info when the time comes...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gotta Sew!

Phew! I sewed today for the first time in what seems like weeks.
A lie - I sewed yesterday, for hours, but it was different than today. Yesterday I was working on my industrial machine, sewing large (10' x 30') sail-shaped things that will hang in a gym, lowering the ceiling to make the space more intimate and stylish. They are white, and constructed in an industrial vinyl mesh. Its exciting to be sewing such big things again, but its not the creative sewing that my brain craves.

Today I went into my new studio - its made of a shipping container (photos soon) - and I just stared at my blank design wall for a while. Then I got out some fabric that has been in storage for almost two years, and I cut some pieces and sewed them together. It was a practice piece that I made today, just to keep me in the loop, to keep the creating muscles active, to keep from getting rusty. It felt good, breaking in my new sewing space.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


 Xoxceptional Love

I'm involved in a quilting bee - by mail! The lovely and talented Cynthia Frenette started the Fab Bee and April is her month to 1) send out fabric and inspiration/ideas/instructions to the other participants and to 2) receive blocks made for her from the fabrics she sent out.
I was so inspired by her fabrics (many of which she designed herself, see Spoonflower) and her idea, that I got right to work and made my block. I drew up the pink branch thing and foundation pieced it. Then I pieced the background, cutting in some x's and o's - and I cut out the crazy heart and hand appliqued it to the background. I also made a little improvisational block with the leftovers, but I forgot to take a photo of it (oops), and sent it all back to Cynthia. Now if I could only figure out how to get a button on my sidebar that will connect to the Flickr photo page.....

Friday, March 30, 2012

On Again Off Again

I got back on my island on Tuesday night and will get back off it tomorrow afternoon. Then I'll get back on it again next week. On again, off again.
Fun though, I've been spending time with quilters - loosening up some lines. No rulers, no worries, no perfect star points.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dear old Husqvarna

My first sewing machine - it was my mom's, and she bought the best machine she could find when she got married. It had fancy stitches - you had to change out the cams to produce some of them, and it was green with dark brown knobs and wheels. It would sew through anything! The electric motor finally went on it - my mom sewed a lot , then my sister and me too, and we all used that old Husky. It came in a green tweed hard case with lots of accessories. This is a photo of one just like our old beauty.  I was reminded of this old machine when Lysa posted a picture of a beautiful orange Husqvarna she coveted, and it made me remember all my lovely (and some not so lovely) sewing machines I've had. (I may have a bit of sewing machine acquisition problem- this problem comes and goes).
I think my favourite sewing machine is my current daily driver - a Bernina 1090. I bought it used, purchased a walking foot and a #37 foot (for 1/4 inch seams) and have never looked back.
I had a Bernina 1008 in the late 1990's. It was a basic machine, but a sturdy little work horse. I traded it in years later when I bought a big-dog computerized machine, and the next day regretted my decision to let it go - went back to the store to buy it back and it was already sold!
I enjoyed that big-dog computerized Bernina 200 for it's wide stitch and awesome machine quilting abilities, but was not using it's computer brain to its best advantage so it went on to bigger and better things at Cynthia's house. You should see what she does with it!
I have a semi industrial Bernina (good for curtains and slipcovers) and an industrial Consew with a built in walking foot (good for the really heavy sewing I sometimes do). I bought a Babylock serger a few years ago to finish the seams on some upholstery I was doing, I have mom's old Bernina 830 (she bought it when she passed the old green Husky on to me) and I have an older Bernina 801 that did its time in a school sewing room.

 I have bought and sold many pretty little Singers, old black ones in round wooden boxes or in leather trimmed boxes, I once had a little green one in a cabinet which I gave to a nice young co-worker who had a special talent for sewing. I used to have a Pfaff 130 with the choice of an electric motor or a hand crank. I had that one with me when we sailed down the coast - to repair sails, or just to sew when the urge hit. I sold it to another sailor friend.

I think my next sewing machine will be a treadle, so I can carry on stitching if the power goes out (which it does a few times each winter), otherwise my desire to acquire is dormant.

Do you have a favourite sewing machine?