Sew Karen-ly Created...

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Wednesday 29 February 2012

Snow Bunny Polly

Yesterday we had another storm, and schools and businesses were closed. We went out to shovel, and Polly began with the back steps. She's got the hang of this now, and digs and scoots the snow off in a path wide enough for her feet.
Once the steps are done and that scoop comes out, that's the fun part for her. She rode around the yard in my scoop several times.

Then she realized "big brother" was out with a second scoop - double the fun! She ran to work her charm on him.

Let me in - please, please!

This is the life. Now, let's head over that way - there's more snow to capture.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Checking On The Bees

Hubby and I made a trek to the beeyard to see how things are looking. There is lots of snow in the field and even though we did bring the snowshoes, decided to leave them in the car. I expect part of the reason for this is we had to climb over an electrified fence and hubby knew this was already a feat for me in boots. It would be a disaster in snowshoes. On the way, we spotted several bees struggling in the snow; they had been out for a cleansing flight and didn't seem to have the strength to return to the hive.

Hubby, aka The Bee Whisperer, gently picked up each straggler by a wing and put her on his mitten to carry back to the hive.

By the time we reached the hives, he had four bees. It was like carrying sleepy kids home from a day at the park.

The hives looked good and secure, and there were many out enjoying the sunshine.

(Which is more than I can say about me and that electric fence...)

Monday 20 February 2012

All Tied Up!

This has got to be one of the most creative uses for old neckties that I've ever seen. These pictures came from Tina Crowell, one of the quilters from Shelburne who travels up for Fibre Arts Festival each October. Last year Tina made it to the front page of our Amherst Daily News while she was here, interviewed about her participation in our festival. Tina writes this about her necktie quilt:
John ( the person I am making these for) sent me 230 ties and asked if I could make 3 wall hanging from those many many coloured neckties. The 1st one, he had asked for many different colours and in some kind of a circle. I made 2 circles of ties with light coloured ties on the outside of those 2 circles. It kinda looked like a big flower. The 2nd one is the lighthouse one.
It has 2 inch strips going across, with the boat, lighthouse, trees, path and island with small lighthouse all made from ties. The seagulls and rope from the boat to the "playbuoy" are made from thread.
"Playbuoy" - did you catch that? So clever! The quilt is totally amazing, especially when you consider that neckties are made from slippery material cut on the bias, yielding fabric with a mind of its own. John has seen bits and pieces during the construction but has yet to see the finished piece. He will be floored! Here is Tina holding up her creative masterpiece.
Please click the word "comment" below to leave your kind words for Tina and her quilt, or feel free to email me privately and I will make sure Tina gets your notes. Way to go, Tina!

Sunday 19 February 2012

Antependium Continuum

Slowly the pieces are fitting into place for the Easter antependium. I thought first that having the full-sized coloured sketch in front of me as I worked would be enough of a guide, but I soon found differently.
Some sections are being foundation pieced which means they are mirror image as to how they will appear in the quilt. My brain is not nearly as agile as it once was, and I found this mental flipping slow and confusing to choose which colour to put in each spot, even having it noted on the foundation. I am aiming for a gradation in colour from light to dark and back again and how many times can one write "light blue...lighter blue...even lighter blue" and still have some sense of where you are in the colour equation? Using names for the shades like Cambridge, Carolina, Celeste, Cerulean, and Cobalt might work for the blue family (Wikipedia says there are 58 named shades of blue) but it gets tricky once you move on to orange. While I could probably manage to visualize Tomato or Tangerine, I have no mental file association for shades such as Bittersweet Shimmer or Papaya Whip...and I couldn't easily access my control panel to create one :). My solution was to number the sketch for colouring and then number my foundations in the opposite direction (even though they were already numbered for the piecing sequence....). Awkward, but effective.After chucking sections which had the wrong progression of blues in the sky, I am left with these, and a much clearer path to follow in my head.

I am happy that this is a one-off piece and not something I will be patterning afterwards...which would be a bit of a nightmare.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Trials and Tribulations

Today has had a few trials... I've spent the past week working out in my head the design for the Easter liturgical banner. My directives were to make something, "bright, colourful and happy." Sounds like my style. After many days in thought, I drew out a design on the computer. Once I was happy with what I had done (like 12 hours of tweaking and rearranging later...) I printed the sketch full sized. This isn't something I normally do, but when there are lots of little pieces and colours being used, it helps to have at least a rough guide in front of the machine. So far so good. Then I decided to print a section which can be foundation pieced and stacked a pile of 13" x 18" newsprint sheets into my wide format printer. Unfortunately, the very first one was crooked and the printer jammed. This happened around 6 am and I spent until after 11:30 tearing the printer apart to take out bits of paper with tweezers. I didn't think I'd ever get it cleared and in the process of all the teeth gnashing, actually managed to break a filling. Sigh... Barring further frustration, the sewing is about to begin. I've been sorting through fabrics in my orange and purple scrap box.Who has an orange and purple scrap box?! Someone who has made The Pugsley Petronus ! It was a great boost to have so many collected. It's the first thing that's gone right all day.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Next Up

With workshop projects now ready for testing, next up for me is a series of liturgical antependiums. (This is a fancy name for the banner that hangs on the front of a church lectern. It's a seldom used word, and one not familiar to the spellchecker on this program; it changed the word twice to "independence"!) I've been commissioned by this church to do the entire liturgical year, which is as challenging as it is exciting. At present I am sorting through past projects for inspiration.
For such an undertaking, more time will be spent on the thinking rather than the actual sewing. I've dragged my feet too long to stitch Lent as we're almost there, but with any luck Easter will be ready in time.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Monday 13 February 2012

Bee My Honey

Today's Amherst Daily News ran a short survey on the most popular Valentine's Day gifts, which of course included flowers and chocolate. They neglected to mention honey! If you are looking for a unique sweet for your sweetheart, Pugsley's Pharmacy on Victoria Street has a new stock of Neary Apiary honey.

While we were delivering honey, we picked up a copy of "Bordertown Blues", a new CD by local musicians Drew Moore and Rocky Ripley which is also available at Pugsley's Pharmacy. As I type, I am listening to Drew sing his original composition, "Word Called Goodbye." It's awesome!

Honey and music - creative and sweet Valentine's treats!

Sunday 12 February 2012

Nothing Beats A Snow Day

You have to love when real life gets much is accomplished. I cannot believe I am almost finished. We need more snow!!

The Perfect Storm

Yesterday was one of those perfect, relaxing, everything-comes-together days. The weatherman warned us that 40 cm of snow was about to fall, so I put supper in the slow cooker and a quilt on the machine.
Polly was happy with the progress we made and she loves the quilt, which uses a double layer of her favourite wool batting.

In the end, we got probably 30 cm of beautiful white snow. The storm was bad enough to close highways on either side of Amherst - both the Cobequid Pass into Nova Scotia, as well as the highway across the Tantramar Marsh into New Brunswick. Polly was out in the snow bright and early this morning. She likes to dig holes; perhaps she thinks she is helping shovel?
There was lots of shovelling to do; the snow was up past my knees.

There was time for play as well and Polly was keen for rides in the scoop.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Farrago A Go

It was with great delight that I received the news earlier today from IQF (International Quilt Festival): Farrago has been juried into the 2012 O Canada traveling exhibit! It is one of 26 quilts selected from across Canada to be shown in Cincinnati, Long Beach and Houston before returning home in November.
This is the same quilt which made it to the semi-finals last year at the AQS show in Paducah, KY and to the finals at the New York State of Mind exhibit at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York. (Always a bridesmaid :) This makes three times that one of my quilts has been selected to be part of this O Canada special exhibit, now in its 4th year. It's an incredible honour to have your quilts shown so far from home, with a little tag attached proudly reading "Amherst, Nova Scotia".

Saturday 4 February 2012

Elaine's Been Busy!

Elaine Maillet from Clare, Nova Scotia has now officially made my Around The Table set more times than I have!  Her first version was shown in this post.  Since then she has made it twice more, for gifts to her son and his wife, and a set for her daughter.
She also did this pretty blue version as a "Secret Santa" gift for one of her friends.

I had the pleasure of meeting Elaine during last year's Fibre Arts Festival, when she attended my workshop.  Elaine was the winner of the Sew Slip II from this blog and she has certainly put it to good use!  This is a class sample she used to teach a workshop for La Guilde Acadienne de Clare.
Finally, a table topper.  You can see from the back Elaine has mastered stippling for sure!
Thank you, Elaine, for sharing all of this beautiful work. We feel inspired!

Friday 3 February 2012

Save The Date!

The 5th Annual Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival will be held October 9th to 13th, 2012 right here in Amherst. Planning is underway to make this a very special week, and you will love some of the new things lined up. These are still being worked out of course, but this week Amherst announced that the downtown is going wireless and will be offering free internet service (wi fi) all along Victoria Street. How amazing is that! Last year one of the visitors to our Festival commented, "Amherst is awesome!" Wait until she sees us this year :)

Thursday 2 February 2012

Are You A Picky Piecer?

Are you the persnickety personality whose points project perfectly, and seams snuggle succinctly?
Me the best of my piecing ability. I also insist on changing my thread when seaming high contrast areas. There's really nothing worse than seeing dark thread shadow through a seam on light fabrics...or vice versa. In this picture (trimmed to an odd shape so you can focus on the seam), I started with a golden thread on the yellow fabric. I stitched to the seam, dropped my feed dogs and took 3 stitches to lock the threads. Then I changed to black thread, took 3 stitches with the feed dogs down then popped them up to continue sewing the seam.

I am using black as even though there is a small area of red to cross, it quickly changes back to black. It would be nuts to change to red to sew only a dozen or or so stitches, but if that red section had been white, I would have done so. Small things like this contribute greatly to the overall look of the quilt and yet only add a few more minutes to the construction. When I joined the yellow centre to the red/black section below, I had golden thread in my bobbin and black in the top. The red thread you see along that seam line is my stay-stitching. Every time I have a curved seam, I do a row of stay-stitching about 1/8" from the edge on each layer of fabric. You cannot see it on the yellow below as the seam is pressed over but trust me, it's there. Our Home Economics teachers were right when they recommended stay-stitching for curves - it makes the edge of the fabric more stable and less likely to stretch into a wonky shape as you stitch. These blocks come out square and true, not needing trimming.
How picky are you with your patchwork?

Wednesday 1 February 2012

S'now Fun

Polly has decided going for a ride in the big snow scoop is the best fun. We went all over the yard at high speed, and each time I dumped her out, she came running back to jump in again.
Hard to get the shovelling done with a scoop full of cat...and there was lots to shovel!