Friday, December 20, 2013

computer troubles


Did I ever have problems with my li'l ol' MacBook.

It had been slowing down and acting strange for a while and I thought it was just getting old, or full, but who isn't?

Then it wouldn't shut down.

Then it was super slow and the little rainbow spun around if I went anywhere near the internet.

Then it died. Dead.

Or so I thought. My neighbourhood genius diagnosed it with a fried hard drive, so I got impatient and went and bought the new slender sleek lightweight MacBook. Shiney!

But as I was having buyer's remorse, my husband took it in to My Tech Guys and for a fraction of the cost of the new computer, we could have a new faster hard drive and save all my files! Yipee!

So today was a monumental town day - take the laundry in (our washer is not well), pick up the old fixed computer, return the new shiny computer (remove all personal information in the parking lot), take the new/used cat in for a check up, visit the care facility that may house my dear father, grocery shopping, banking, yadda yadda….

When really all I wanted to do was sew oven mitts (ala Maria Shell) and bacon ornaments!

So here we are, back on our island, cat is romping around outside, dinner is heating up, chili for Sunday dominoes night is under way, we are readying ourselves for a trip to Saltspring Island tomorrow to spend time with family and I am posting this on my old (new) laptop!
bacon for the xmas tree

Friday, December 6, 2013

Procrastination Production

I am newly excited that the 32nd annual Denman Island Christmas Craft Faire is starting tomorrow. Excited because I love it, I love chatting to all the people who come, I love seeing the halls all dressed up and excited to hopefully sell some stuff I have made.
I am really happy that it will be over soon so I can stop doing what I call Procrastination Pieces. These have certainly been fun to make, and have done a great job of distracting me from making Big A Art. Big A art is harder than owl pencil cases and handbags. It doesn't pay any better or worse. I use more fabric up when I make art. I use my brain better too, but sometimes it just gets hard.
Next week I'll find out what my art brain has in store for me! I'm excited!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Watch This Space!

I like to go deep.
When I take a workshop, I like it to last. I like to get in to the meat of the thing and study hard, seek out  possibilities, try stuff, go back the next day and try some more stuff. I learn better this way. I have a short attention span, and find that if a workshop lasts a couple of hours, I don't delve deep enough. I enjoy it while I'm there, but there it ends, as I tend to go home and fail to explore further. With a good long workshop, with time, I am in it, it is in me. I dive deep into the subject matter and I uncover many avenues of exploration. I am able to finish a thought, finish a piece, follow through, not putting it on the back burner for later. Working through an idea when its fresh is really important to me, working in the moment, spontaneously and directly is the way I get good work. If I think and plan, my work becomes stifled, lacking passion.
Long workshops, this is what I like.

So here I am, here we are - on the verge of offering high level textile art workshops in the beautiful and peaceful setting of Denman Island.

Our first Tweedle Do Productions project is a week of intensive creativity with two very talented and passionate teachers, each one a specialist in her field. Maria Shell is an artist I met in Ohio while doing a two-week long intensive art retreat at the Crow Barn with Nancy Crow. As well as being an artist, Maria is a great writer and talks about these experiences in her blog. She is coming from her home in Anchorage to teach a course called Pattern And Repetition In Contemporary Quiltmaking. She is very generous with her talents and invites all levels of stitchers to participate. I can hardly wait! A week of patchwork, great food and nature. Leave your phones at home, bring your hiking shoes and your sewing machine and join in.

We are still getting things up and running at Tweedle Do, but this is too exciting to leave under my hat. Mark your calendar for the week of May 25-30, 2014 to be on Denman Island for a creative blast.

Leave a comment if you are too excited to wait!

Next up - Anna Heywood_Jones. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I really need to get more regular with this!

Now I have to catch up again.

Above you will see a photo of my beloved Bernina 1090.
I've had it for about ten years, but its been around for longer than that. These guys were made in the 1990's sometime, and this one was used in a fabric and quilting store to make samples, drapery, pillows and probably just about everything else! There is nothing wrong with this old beauty, but the old style light is dim and there is a bit of a whine in the motor that makes me nervous that I'm going to lose her....
Add that to my yearning for a machine with more throat space and to my having the opportunity to sit down and try a Juki TL98Q straight stitch machine, and whoosh!!! a new machine was on its way to my little shipping container studio!

So I packed my Bernina into its beautiful hard case and put it away in a safe (and easily accessible) place, cuz she'll do things no other machines will do, and I unpacked my new machine...

I cleaned up a little... but not too much, because I had better things to do with my time than cleaning- like SEWING! This machine is fast! its a Juki TL2010Q, which replaced the 98Q, it goes 1500 rpm, (1500 stitches per minute = 25 stitches per second, according to my husband) which I assume means 1500 stitches per minute, but whatever the rpm stands for, its fast! It has a nice bright light, and it has a biiiig space to the right of the needle in which to stuff a quilt.

Let me tell you one thing - on the Bernina, when you press your heel on the foot pedal - the thing that makes your machine go - the machine does a half rotation, meaning if your needle is in the down position and you give the foot pedal a tap with your heel, the needle comes up, and vice versa, if the needle is down, it'll come on up. I loved this feature - I could set the machine to always have the needle in the down position when I stopped sewing (great for machine quilting), and if I gave it a bump with my heel, the needle would come up. Great. Used it for years, it was second nature for me. Okay - now on this new speedy machine, if I bump my heel on the foot pedal, guess what- the thread cutter is activated!!! It will take me a while to get used to this.

But its fast, its really fast. And I love that. I have never really been a lead foot on the sewing machine, I'm a pretty careful stitiche, slowly and majestically as the sign says, but I really am enjoying this speed!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Witches' Brew

Hallowe'en today. No ghosts or goblins at our house, we live at the end of a long dirt road with only a few houses on it. Its just not worth it for trick-or-treaters to take the risk that someone down here might be giving out treats. For us, we will be happy with the ravens, deer and squirrels and all the falling maple leaves.

Speaking of falling things, I went in search of windfall lichen on my walk down the driveway to Stacey's house. I found quite a lot! A very good start for my collection - which will eventually be boiled up in a witch's brew of dyestuff to colour some future fibre or other.

Last weekend at the conspiracy I took Wild Extraction with Anna Heywood-Jones. We had a day and a half to play around with extracting colour from plants and give it to fabric and yarn. Look what I came home with - a pile of notes, some samples and a head full of inspiration...  that brilliant yellow was derived from the root of oregon grape that we dug up, and the lovely red-brown came from the bucket of hemlock shavings you can see in my previous blog post. The murkier yellow at the bottom of the pic came from lichen, dyed on woolen cloth. A lifetime of possibilities, read Anna's blog if you want more.

I taught a very short introduction class called Modern Crossroads. My evil plan when I teach is to get people making their own quilts; to step away from using patterns designed by someone else, and to get to know their very own hand. It was a three hour class, and my lovelies worked hard without rulers or rules!

Given more time, we would have made more units, but getting the thing together usually takes a good day or maybe even two, as there is always lots of fiddling to do, so three hours was a perfect amount of time for an introduction to "free piecing". I had a great time and I loved  what people came up with in such a short time.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Well. Not.


I'm not going to be one of those people who apologizes for not making a blog post in months. I'm not.


The Denman Island Creative Threads Conspiracy is going on this weekend, and its pretty inspiring!

People are knitting and embroidering, they are dyeing, painting cloth and braiding rugs, eating great food and sewing. Someone there was nalebinding in her spare time! Quilts are being made, in improvisational, traditional and representational styles. Wow- it's creative mayhem in the community hall.

I am in the Natural Dyeing class with Anna Heywood-Jones and I'm having a good time and learning a lot. I always choose the classes I take sort of like I used to choose race horses: with the horses, I would peruse the animals and the jockeys pre-race, and then decide on the team by who had the best buttocks combo (let me interject - I do NOT choose classes based on buttocks; keep reading, hopefully it will make sense!). It had to be good jockey-butt and horse-butt in combination, and then I would bet a dollar or so on them. I really can't remember winning much, but I had a good time. When choosing classes to take, I assess whether or not I would like to spend time in a room with the teacher (online research, whether they give good eye-contact and smile in photos, what the work says...) and that the subject they are teaching speaks to me. I am more right with my formula for taking classes than I ever was with the horses. I don't get horse racing or gambling, and I do get fiber art.

A little about Anna's class.... we walked out into the woods and respectfully collected natural dye materials which we then took back into our classroom and made concoctions from these. We sank little samples of fibres into the festering pots of colour and waited. Anna talked the whole time, about dyes, fibers, how these dyes were used in First Nations cultures, exotic natural dyes, mordants, pitching colour, and a lot more. She really knows her stuff and has a real passion for the subject. And she is really nice to be in a room with. Then we hung our samples to dry. Its fun, its sort of scientific and sort of intuitive and a little scary and a lot experimental. I can hardly wait to do more. Anna makes it seem very accessible to me to do on my own, I feel like I can experiment and the results will be perhaps unpredictable but always exciting. Its better than betting a dollar on a horse/jockey butt combo.
Hemlock, the inner bark, shaved from a fallen tree.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


 Here are a few photos of HouseTop quilts that people have made in my classes. Sorry, there are no credits for who made what... think of it as a journal of ideas. I'm excited to be teaching improvisational cutting and piecing to a new group of quilters, and this housetop "template" makes the process easy and fun. At the Creative Threads Conspiracy in October, I will be teaching a new improv class called Modern Crossroads. Another addictive process - there are so many colours and possibilities, making just one is always a challenge!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bring me sunshine!

and bugs?

I googled House Of Bug (I was looking for my blog so I could share the sunshine)... 
And I got sites that help eradicate bed bugs, stink bugs and lady bugs.

The sunshine I want to share is here, in this video... See what happens when you spread the cheer? Shouldn't we all have yellow ukuleles in springtime?

House of Bug is not named after stink bugs or lady bugs.... but Lila the purple bug.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


doesn't it look like a fish skeleton?

What is tweed? I ask myself. First off, the word itself is a joy to utter.
Tweed. Tweed, tweedy tweed.

For me it conjours images of blended coloured wool, woven, knitted, just strands of nubbly yarn, dark brown with whitish flecks, or dark and light grey. I picture herringbone tweed, a twill weave with a diagonal pattern of warp and weft threads that look like the skeleton of a wee fish. I see a green tweed in my head that I have named or misnamed Donegal Tweed. This one is a plain weave, just a nice woven cloth made from green wool with flecks of other colours spun into the yarn. My mom sewed beautiful tailored suits for herself in the seventies and had a great love for tweed. Glen check, Harris tweed, houndstooth and herringbone. These are the fabrics she used to make skirts and trousers and jackets. Woolens with names full of personality.
(Now I've said the word tweed so many times it sounds weird, so I have to look it up).


  1. A rough-surfaced woolen cloth, typically of mixed flecked colors, originally produced in Scotland: "a tweed sports jacket".
  2. Clothes made of this material.
So, my personal image bank was not too far off. I like to think of the beautiful Noro yarns with their everchanging colours as a tweed, because here and there are flecks of other colours spun in. And look at the lovely tweediness of these yarns from Brooklyn Tweed.

If I were a better knitter, I would have a lot of tweedy yarn. As it is, I am a quiltmaker, so I have a lot of fabric. I've been using cotton fabric for my quilts for a loooong time, and I wanted to try the tweed-like natural linen. I understand (and will have to do more research on the subject) that linen (flax) grows with fewer pesticides and uses less water than does cotton. One of the things that bugs me about what I do is that I use conventionally grown cotton, which is pretty harmful to the environment in its consumption of chemicals and water. (I have made a pact with myself to use organic cotton whenever I can, even though it is more expensive. My beautiful world means a lot to me, so I will spend a little more on my art.)
two colours and two weights of linen

Anyhoo... back to linen and it's tweediness ... I had a chunk of linen, and my lovely neighbour and I were discussing its use, so I split it in half and we decided we would each make a tweed log cabin quilt. I have not made a traditionally pieced quilt with repeat blocks in a long time, and making the first couple of log cabin blocks was meditative and fun, then it got to be tedious doing the same block again and again, and then I got into a rhythm of making them and it became sort of meditative again. It was good to practice that repeat thing, one step at a time - moving ever forward.

Working with the linen was good too. Its a little harder to manage than the cotton fabrics made for quilting, as it is not quite as stable. It moves about some, and its a bit stiff. Each little thread of the weave shows up seperately, unlike cotton. With this I was led to thinking about the threads that are woven together to create the fabric, and that led me backwards to the field where the flax plant grew, was harvested, retted, spun into thread to be woven into cloth! We wear clothes made of textiles all day every day. Most of us probably don't have a thought about how the clothes were made and even more rarely think about where the cloth comes from, who grew the fibre, how it got made into fabric to be sewn into clothes. Wow, a lifetime of research has appeared here...


Here is my Big Tweed quilt top, ready to be layered and quilted. Its about 50" x 50" and meant as a quilt for a child.
enlarged herring bones!
I chose prints that I thought would appeal to a literary kid. Some alphabets, a Lonni Rossi text print with punctuation,  some drawings from the Architextures line, a tweed sock monkey or two, garden gnomes, plenty of dots and I included a favourite grey Denyse Schmidt print (from the original Flea Market Fancy line) and a naturally dyed and block printed cloth from Maiwa Handprints.
dots and drawings and sock monkeys
Now I have to think up a tweedy way to quilt it. Maybe I'll use a houndstooth or a glen check for the back!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

paper on the back

 So many ideas on the interwebs! Here are some lovelies, using foundation paper to help with piecing. Have a look.

patchwork in other places   kimono silk beauty   

this beautiful silk improvisational work made me think of the simple and complicated piecework you can do with a paper foundation.........

scissors. not so simple  

flying geese - simple    

and a good technique for making curved things.    

Monday, January 7, 2013

this first patchwork of 2013

I got busy and made something bright and unlike anything else I've made, just to start this year off. Usually I am happy to see the tail end of the old year, but as this new year begins, I'm just riding the wave, enjoying what comes up, not regretting the past.  
Just another day.