Sew Karen-ly Created...

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Saturday, 6 August 2022


 For the final day of this year's Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival I've filled the line with socks!

There is nothing that feels better on your feet than a pair of homemade wool socks! Here are some beauties made mostly by others, but some by me (I've given away most of the ones I've made!). On the left, these fancy colourful socks were knitted by Beth Munroe of Mrs Pugsley's Emporium Inc, a woman of many talents! The next two pairs were made by Lou Harrington, who is seldom without a pair of needles in her hands. The red ones with the tulip embroidered on the heels are the best socks I've ever worn, and sadly they are showing how much I've enjoyed them. Next to Lou's teal pair are a trio made for hubby by family members. His sister Fay did the variegated spiral socks, and his Mom made him (and everyone!) a pair of fine wool cable socks every Christmas. If you zoom in you can see where he has darned the heels and toes on one pair. (Imagine: a man who darns his own socks!!) The next 4 pairs were knitted by my Mom, the smaller ones for the boys and the red toed ones for me. When she finally had to hang up her needles, I knit her the natural coloured ones to wear in bed to keep her feet warm. The final 3 pairs on the right are also made by me, the heavy wool socks for hubby's curling shoes. And yes...there are needles sticking out of the pair on the right as they are NOT QUITE finished yet! (Second sock syndrome is real.)
I hope you have enjoyed the clothesline fibre art show this week, and have been posting your own projects!

Friday, 5 August 2022

Miniature Quilts

 It was fun to hang out these miniature quilts as part of the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival "Hang Out" days.

L-R, a mini heart log cabin, and a daffodil stitched as a test block for a larger quilt. Third from the left is a miniature version of Maritime Beauty, the class I am teaching today. I think the blocks are 2". The colourful one is made from silk shirts purchased at Frenchy's, and the red and white is a mini version of X and O. The Amish nine-patch is from my early days, as it's hand quilted. The beauty on the right is an exquisite piece made by my exchange partner Terry McCloskey in 2018. We took part in an International Miniature Quilt Exchange organized by The Quilt Show. Terry's quilt is all hand-pieced and quilted with tiny stitches, and features the most perfect mitred corners I've seen. I admire Terry's workmanship a great deal.

Thursday, 4 August 2022


Today the clothesline is filled with hand made mittens. Frankly, I've never quite gotten the hang of gloves, so we have lots of mittens in the bin to choose from on cold winter mornings. These are from an assortment of makers. On the far left are a pair of stranded Lopi mittens I knitted for my now-hubby when we were courting. (He says that's why he married me.) The white ones next to those are also made from Lopi yarn, but I made those for myself so there is no fancy pattern to them! The three pairs of honeycomb mittens were made by my Mom, as were the plain green and beige pair. The green trigger mitts were knit by my mother-in-law Myrna for my hubby. The trigger he used was the shutter on his camera. The bright red mittens are felted wool, made by my SIL Fay, and the pale blue are "tube mittens" by my friend Jill in Fredericton Junction. The yellow and gold thrum mittens were made by our Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival coordinator Lynn Bourgeois many winters ago. Lynn, you can see how much I have worn those mittens - they are my first choice on the coldest mornings. I believe these mittens were the result of a course taught by Sally Austin that Lynn took at a Fibre Arts Festival several years back. And the mitts on the right...well, good golly Miss Polly, those are an original by Cheryl of Grandma Coco Designs. I confess I saved them for "good" the first couple of winters I had them, but I soon discovered how comfy they are , and how well they wash.

I love how makers share their special talents and there's always a story connected to each piece.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

I Hung Out My Aprons For The Festival!

 My clothesline today features hand made aprons...which you can see are all well loved and well used!

From left to right in the top picture is one given to me by Diane Shink .It was made in Ghana, and is lined with a flour sack.

The blue and pink aprons were both gifted to me on my first Christmas as a married woman (the blue one was made by Mom, who preferred a half-apron, and the pink over-the-head one by my mother-in-law Myrna. I guess both of them figured (correctly, as it turns out) that I would be a messy cook.) The next two were made by my sons in their Grade 7 Home Economics classes. Peter's features a Sponge Bob Square Pants print, and Patrick's plain green one has his name written boldly with marker across the pocket. I don't know how either of them passed this class!

The white apron on the far right is a real treasure which my Mom entrusted to me. It was made by my great-grandmother (Mrs Davie (Christina) Patterson) in her church sewing circle and the fine threads and fabric mean it was her "dress" apron.

The apron was passed to my Gram, and I remember Gram showing it to me when I was little, along with the picture of the Ladies Aid. She said that her mother was wearing the apron at the time of the picture, but the photographer made the women in the front row remove their aprons. You can see some in the back row still wearing theirs.

As much as I would have loved her to be wearing the apron in this photo, at least it gives the date of 1912 so I know it's at least that old.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

The First Day of the Festival!

It's the first day of the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival and we are "hanging out" with the rest of the town to show off our fibre arts. This Global Warming quilt is so big it had a bit of a conflict clearing hubby's tomatoes (!). You can see my helper Polly supervising from the deck.

My clothesline isn't really visible from the street, so I decided to add a few quilts out front as well.

Because there is rain expected, I've hung a few small ones in the front windows.

There's even a miniature on the mailbox!

The Festival is encouraging everyone in Amherst to get involved and show off their fibre art - mittens, socks, tea towels - anything hand made.


Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Soley Cove Flowerpot

This "flowerpot" is located at Soley Town, a beautiful spot just at the base of Economy Mountain, N.S.  I took this picture a year or so ago and decided it would make a good project to stitch.  

Using the photograph as a guide, I traced around the main pieces in the photo and cut those from fabric.  The rest of the details (like the trees) were added using different weights of Aurifil thread. 
Mostly I stitched with 50 weight thread, but some 40 and 28 weight found their way in there as well.

It honestly hasn't turned out too far off, and I am pleased with the results.
Hubby and I went back to re-photograph the flower pot this spring, visiting again at low tide, and witnessed the might of the powerful Bay of Fundy tides.  Sadly, that lone tree extending at such a jaunty angle, has washed away over the winter.

We will get this one framed up and hang it in Five Islands. I think next on the list will be to try stitching the islands. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Free Motion Machine Embroidery Workshop

There are a couple of spots open in my "Back To Spool" workshop on August 4 here in Amherst, N.S., as part of the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival.

It will be a day of free motion stitching to create free-hand machine embroidered appliquƩs which can be used in your projects. (All you need is a regular sewing machine, NOT an embroidery machine.)

More information available here:  To register, please email.

Monday, 20 June 2022

Sunset Parament

Yesterday, the latest commissioned church parament was dedicated at First Baptist Church in Amherst, N.S.  This piece was finished several months ago, and I have shown snippets here and there during construction; now I can share the entire piece.

Commissioned by the Lusby family in memory of their parents, this piece is for display during funeral services.  From discussions with both church and family, it was decided that a sunset would be an appropriate background.  My feeling was that the piece needed to be very, very simple, and calming, so I was conscious not to busy-it-up.  To this end, a lone tree silhouette seemed appropriate, and I knew just the tree. This one, on West Victoria Street, has always caught my eye, with its spreading, gnarled, branches. It is doubly appropriate as it overlooks land formerly owned by the Lusbys, and grows very near the family home. You can see the snow on the ground when I took this picture, perhaps around February.
After removing the background in the photo, I was left with quite a simple outline to stitch.  I decided to create an appliquĆ© in free motion embroidery, that I could then easily add to a pieced background.
I used a variety of weights and colours of Aurifil thread, laying down the base in 28 weight and adding layers on top of 40 and 50 weight for finer details.
It turned out looking very like the original tree.
Previously, I had done a bare bones mock-up of the tree trunk to audition on different backgrounds, and sent it to the church and family to approve.  This is a digitally printed Hoffman fabric...
...and this is a background I made with vibrant Island Batik fabrics, sewn using a curved patchwork technique.

All parties agreed on the batik, so I proceeded to fill in the tree branches.
The parament measures 20-1/4" w  24" long, and is backed in a rich red satin.  The label reads as follows:
"The simplicity of the design invokes a feeling of serenity and peace, and features a lone, thread-painted tree silhouetted against a vibrant marsh sunset. The tree is inspired by an actual tree located on W.Victoria Street, Amherst, overlooking property donated by the Lusby family as the future site of the Cumberland County Hospice. Above the tree, two small birds are seen heading heavenward."

The project was finished and photographed in can see we still had snow.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Crown Jewels

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of HM Queen Elizabeth II, so I was thrilled when Aurifil announced they were releasing a thread collection in honour of the Platinum Jubilee.  The box reads: "The Platinum Jubilee Collection is Aurifil's humble tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.  This year, we celebrate her success and achievements throughout her 70 years of service.  Her fierce nature, resilience, and compassion have set a strong example, inspiring a new generation of leaders."

Inside the commemorative box is an array of  colours fit for a queen: neutrals, plus gold, silver, platinum and of course, a very regal purple. The response to the collection has been very enthusiastic.  Clearly I am not the only admirer.

I decided to use the colours in my thread box to make a small hanging in honour of HM.  I had hoped to have this ready to release on Victoria Day (yesterday) which we celebrate as the Queen's birthday, but one day off is pretty close. Starting with a New York Beauty block, I drew a crown and fitted it with sparkling jewels.  In the centre is a circle of deep, rich purple which I trapuntoed with 2 layers of Hobbs wool batting to try and emulate the puffy middle bit you see in pictures. (I don't have much in-person crown experience.)  My intention is to use it to decorate a door, but if you left out the extra batting, it would be lovely on a table. For high tea, maybe!  The thread collections are selling very quickly, but there are a few left on my website. 

Naturally, I chose rich Island Batik scraps for my project, matching the shades of thread to the fabric. It didn't take long to make, as the jewels are foundation pieced.  The quilting was kept quite simple.

The pattern is free to download, (click the link); I hope you will have fun with this.  Canada Post has issued some lovely stamps, and I also found a lapel pin.  There may be some commemorative china in my future as well if I can find something suitable.


"Long live our noble Queen"

Friday, 20 May 2022

Maritime Beauty Workshop


Maritime Beauty Table Topper Workshop

What:  Friday August 5, 2022 as part of the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival

Where:  Amherst, Nova Scotia

Who: Taught by Karen Neary

When: 9:30-3:30

Cost: $85.

In this workshop, students will make a table topper with New York Beauty blocks.  The Maritime Beauty pattern is a great learning piece, as it encompasses so many techniques in a do-able sized project: sewing curves, piecing sharp spikes, and making and applying bias binding to a curved edge. There are also 4 inside corners to turn when binding. Instead of regular foundation piecing, we will do paperless paper-piecing (also known as freezer paper piecing) which results in perfect points with no messy paper to remove afterwards. Students will be shown a quick and easy way to make multiple copies of the foundation for future projects without tracing or photocopying.  This will be a full day class; the bias binding application will be a demonstration only, providing students with instruction on how to proceed once the project is quilted at home. This is not a difficult piece, but best suited to those with some quilting experience (i.e., mastery of the 1/4” seam allowance.)

This table topper is my original design, and the class fee includes the pattern and enough foundations to make the Maritime Beauty. (There will also be a special surprise from our sponsor, Aurifil!) Students will supply their own fabrics. Prior to the class, templates will be sent to each participant so that the centre blocks may be cut out ahead of time.  Doing this means some will finish the piecing of the Maritime Beauty in class. 

Registration is via email to  Your spot is confirmed once payment is received (etransfer is preferred, but other arrangements can be made. There are a limited number of seats available, so please do not send money until your spot is confirmed via email.) There are no refunds, however I will work with you to find a replacement if unable to attend. 

Thank you!

Back to Spool Workshop


Back To Spool Workshop

What:  Thursday August 4, 2022 as part of the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival

Where:  Amherst, Nova Scotia

Who: Taught by Karen Neary

When: 9:30-3:30

Cost: $85.

Join me for a relaxed day of free-motion stitching, with a little abracadabra and trompe l'oeil thrown in to help release the power contained within a spool of thread.  This class is not for beginners, but for those comfortable with free-motion stitching. We will go back-to-spool to play with various weights of threads, stitching on wash-away stabilizer to create appliquĆ©s which may be added to any project.   Project for the day will be a flowering crab apple tree. A selection of beautiful Aurifil threads will be included in the class fee (including a special surprise from our awesome sponsor, Aurifil!), along with stabilizers needed to complete the project. You will supply your own background fabric on which to place your tree...or you simply want to frame it with your hoop for a sweet little hanging.

Students will need to bring confidence in free motion stitching, as well as an embroidery hoop that fits on the bed of your machines (i.e. make sure it fits under your needle and within your throat space. The one I use is 7-1/2” across and 3/8” high).

Registration is via email to  Your spot is confirmed once payment is received (etransfer is preferred, but other arrangements can be made. There are a limited number of seats available, so please do not send money until your spot is confirmed via email.) There are no refunds, however I will work with you to find a replacement if unable to attend.