Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pennant Exchange

The online group I belong to, Stargaze Tomers, with Yahoo, occasionally does an exchange.  Last spring Patti Culea, leader of the group organized an exchange of pennants.  I volunteered to take part.  This was just before the insanity of construction started and I had fantasies of being able to sew while the crew worked.  Needless to say it didn't work out that way.  The deadline was August and I missed it by a mile, but I did finish.  The picture above is the five that I made. 
The photos below are the ones I made paired with the one I received from the person I exchanged with.  Some beautiful work by some very talented people.  My chosen theme was "trees" and you can see that reflected in each pennant I received. 
This is the set exchanged between Patti Culea and myself.  Patti's theme was Steampunk/Fantasy and I had a lot of fun looking for charms and decorations to do that theme.  It has a real watch face, new charms, a piece from a broken digital camera, and rusty lock washers for goggles. 

 This is the set exchanged between Kari Curley and myself.  Kari's theme was "pink" and this one is done on tissue paper fabric (tutorial at with a stamped and stitched face.  There is tattered lace covered with puff paint, a technique taught by Eileen Neill of Qualicum Beach.  It is quite heavily beaded but unfortunately does not show in the photo!
This set was exchanged between myself and Rayna Shone.  I did not get hers before I made the one I was doing for her, but was pleased to see that she does "crazy quilting" because mine turned out looking that way too!  It is a transfer image at the center with some of my own tatting for trim and hand painted fabric. 

And this set was exchanged between myself and Sue Crook.  Her theme was the most challenging for me and was "bright colors".  The one she made for me is wool felt with some pretty incredible quilting on it, and mine is applique, stamping, hand painted fabric, beading and some paper beads from Africa. 

The fifth one I did and mailed was a "cat" theme and is paper pieced in the tail, has google eyes and a mouse charm hanging off the background.  I haven't received a pennant from this participant yet, which makes me feel not so bad for being as late as I was! 

Monday, November 21, 2011


An idea was formed when my friend Angela and I went to a rock show last March.  I love rocks, and always find it intriquing to see what people can do with them.  But I keep telling myself I have enough interests, and I don't have room, time or finances for more.....but these are rocks and I love them.  So I bought some pieces, with a new idea forming in my mind. 

This particular rock show had a lot of slices available for sale.  I couldn't help but see pictures in them and thought it would be fun to find a way to incorporate the slices into a quilt.  I purchased four, thinking that I would experiment with them.  The idea percolating was to extend the design in the rock out into a surrounding quilt. 

It is always exhilarating when the idea in your head comes out of your hands.  This slice of stone is actually called "Ocean Picture Stone".  (I had to take it to The Rock Shop in Courtenay, BC to have it drilled because I don't have the correct tools....I'll be getting them because this was FUN!  The owner told me the name and that it's from mainland BC and is getting hard to find.)

 I spread out the fabrics I thought would go with the stone and blend the colors and this is what came of it.  I've used a mixture of commercial solid colors, hand dyed fabrics by Ionne McCauley, and some of my own hand painted fabric.  The funny part is that the quilting design in the "sky and water" area came from the pocket of my jeans!  Inspiration can be found anywhere!   

I have spoken often of the group in which I am privileged to be a member.  We had another "retreat" this past week and it was again, wonderful to be with friends for three days and catch up with what is going on in their lives, as well as share what is happening in mine.  We met at a new location this time, Honeymoon Bay Lodge Lodge in Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island.  It was sooooo comfortable, luxurious and absolutely perfect for our group.  I would recommend it to anyone who wants to have a gathering of this sort. 

We stitch and quilt and inspire each other, share finished projects at our "show and tell" evening and in the last two gatherings have instigated a 12" x 12" challenge.  Last time the theme was trees and the work submitted was so varied and many different ways to interpret trees. 

The winner of the "Tree" challenge set the theme for the next one.  This time we were to produce a 12" x 12" piece with the theme "Ocean".

Lo and behold.....I won first prize for the 12" x 12" (and it WAS a challenge  for me to make it the right size!)  I will be doing more of these with the other slices I bought, and I'll be looking for the next rock show I can go to! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Next Chapter......

Well, It's done.  Mum and Dad are officially living in the addition we spent all summer building and life is wrapping around that change.  There is a song called "Rescue Me" that I recall from my teen years......what does that say? 
Actually, it's going reasonably well.  I am adapting to conversations that repeat themselves and repeatedly loop.  I am understanding that conversations like "I don't believe I remember where I put my teeth" and "where did I put ****?"  are going to be commonplace now.   My sweetheart has been home this week and he's been a boost to my daily routine as well as my spirits. 

Life changes when you live with your parents.  It's difficult to see them have problems with things that seem simple to me, but are a hurdle to get over for them.  Dad has been enjoying raking leaves every day to help me out and says he loves it here because he feels useful and is enjoying having a yard he can putter in but is not totally responsible for.  After 7 years in a condominium environment, he's enjoying feeding the birds and having a back yard fire with nobody to say he can't! 

Mum's attitude is yet to be determined.  She hasn't committed herself to whether it 's good or bad yet.  Here's hoping she decides good!  We've done a lot of running to town to get things they need to get settled....part of that is Mum's gradual withdrawal from the privilege of getting on a bus and going to West Edmonton Mall.  But as long as I'm willing to drive her to town, there should be no problem.  For me, the hardest thing is the "pace".  I have to be careful not to appear to be rushing people that just don't move at the same speed as I do anymore.  But.....someone may do this for me someday and fully believing you get what you give out, I'm being the most patient person I can possibly be......Wine helps!

But there's one personality in our home who is adapting well.  Our cat!  Another lap is always welcome! 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The "Up Side" of a West Coast Storm

We've officially reached autumn, my favorite season.  But it has come in like spring.....srain, rain and more rain!  Strangely warm temperatures, but strong winds and the sound of the rain on the skylight is constant patter, with the odd interruption when someone up there dumps a whole bucket right over the house!  Or at least that's what it seems like! 

However, remember the back yard that was all dirt in my last post?  It's since been hydro-seeded.  We watered for three days and the rains came.  We haven't had to water since and the yard is such a lush brilliant green everywhere!  How lucky is that!!  Here is a photo where you can see the green if you look past the carpenter's saw on the deck!  He was busy putting trim in the addition as I was going around catching up on my "progress" pictures. 

But we had a break in the rain and our dog needed a long walk.  Without his exercise, he turns into a bad dog.....or should I say a worse dog!  He makes the cat's life hell wanting to play with her and she's a cranky old lady so it's all bad.  Off we go to the beach.  What a delight it was to be there on this post-storm afternoon with the sun shining! 

First of all, I really do prefer the beach during or just after a storm.  It is so much more interesting and beautiful.  This walk was no exception.  As we walked down the path, there in the field were a group of Canada Geese.  They were just standing there and I stood there and watched them.  I wished I had a better camera for this picture, but I took this one with my phone, and then just stood and admired them.  Even the dog snuffling around didn't bother them.  And my error, I was so entranced just watching the geese that my picture completely cut off the mountain range in the background!

When Tuffy and I emerged from the park trails and came out onto the beach it was absolutely breathtaking.  The sky was whipped clouds with feathers on them, the water had all kinds of whitecaps, the sound was delightful......water lapping on sand, mixed bird calls, wind in the trees.....just generally a stunning day at the beach.  My favorite birds are the sandpipers.  They dart about so quickly and usually if you move they pick up and fly off in a cloud of feathers all together, travel 5 feet and settle on a new piece of sand until they feel the need to flit away again.  But this day was not calm enough for them to be darting around on sand and they were playing in the updrafts at the edge of the water.  My walking there and them squeaking and enjoying their play allowed me to be closer to them than I've ever managed, but of course no picture as they are just too fast for me to capture.  The sandbar a few feet out from the beach, actually at the mouth of the river, was literally white with seagulls just sitting on it!  Usually they are up and floating and diving in the wind too.  Here is the view from where I was walking along the trail at one point. 

Even tho I haven't had a chance to be creative in my sewing room for quite a while, I'm still able to appreciate the beauty in our corner of the world.  But I have to admit to looking forward to getting back behind my sewing machine!  

Thursday, September 08, 2011

An Indoor Avalanche

We've had an incident!  I may not have mentioned this before, but perhaps I have....I admit to a pretty overwhelming book fetish.  I LOVE books.  I have a great collection of books on all the things I'm interested and they need a place to live. 

EXPEDIT Bookcase, white Width: 72 7/8 " Depth: 15 3/8 " Height: 72 7/8 " Max load/shelf: 29 lb  Width: 185 cm Depth: 39 cm Height: 185 cm Max load/shelf: 13 kg  When we lived in the biggest house we've ever lived in, I purchased an IKEA unit to store them in because they had outgrown the other bookshelves I had. This is a photo and link to it as it's the best storage system for books I've found to date!  
Now, we've moved again, to a smaller house, and that storage unit was relegated to holding fabric in what would, for other people, be the master bedroom!  this left my collection of books with no place to live. 

There  WERE plans.  My dear husband was going to build bookshelves in the extra wide hallway, or on the biggest wall of the living room.  The problem was that I couldn't decide where I would like to have them!  So the plans waited till I made up my mind.  The books remained in boxes. 

But then when we got settled in just a bit, I wanted to refer to one of them and I couldn't find them.  By then Bob was away and I dare not try building so I solved the problem by buying three plastic storage units from Wal-Mart.  I brought them home, assembled them and proceeded to place my books on them.  It was a delightful evening sorting, finding and fondling some of my favorites all over again.  This solution worked well and I still haven't decided where I would really like to have them permanently.....well I have, but I'm not allowed to take over that room too!  So it's now a waiting game! Bob has some idea he should have one room in the house that isn't consumed with my sewing possessions! 

But who would have guessed that these units wouldn't hold books for more than 9 months?  Two days ago I went down the hall into my sewing room and I noticed that the one shelf was leaning out from the wall.  I pushed on it and it swayed dangerously.  I thought I should find something to wedge between it and the wall to hold it in place.  There was nothing around and it was dark out, so I decided that in the morning I would go out and find a piece of 2 x 4 and wedge it into place. 

It wasn't to be.  I was in bed reading a couple of house later and heard a strange sound.  It got louder and more staccatto-like and ended with a clatter.  I got up, looked out my bedroom door into the hall and this is what I found!  It seems the plastic corners that the posts are inserted in separated and split and the books very gradually and gently slumped onto the floor and the broken unit fell on top of them!  No books were damaged at all.   Needless to say I now have the two remaining units braced against the opposite wall in hopes of stalling their demise!
The next morning I restacked the books on the floor, removed the broken plastic, and went straight to my computer and ordered another IKEA unit!  I guess I'll be sorting and purging books some time this fall, an activity I actually look forward to! 

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Appreciating Retirement!

I'm smirking today.  It is my first day of retirement that I am actually appreciating being retired!  It's the first day of school, and I'm NOT THERE!  How wonderful that feels, even though, instead, I'm raking rocks!  Amazing the things that can make you happy. 

Our addition is going well, in fact drawing to a close.  I never thought I'd see the day and there were some days I never thought I'd survive!  Needless to say, any kind of textile creativity has lain by the wayside over the past six months.  Altho there's been a bit of other decisions, paint colors, and deck designs! 

My retirement started out with three weeks in my chair with my foot broken.  Then I flew to Edmonton because my Dad broke his hip.  I was there six weeks.  Then my Mum had a heart attack.  I was there another two weeks.  These incidents resulted in them asking to move to my house so I've been working on making my house bigger since about March.  The paperwork is overwhelming, the permits and inspections seem a bit like make-work projects, but the contractor has been fabulous and my experience with construction has been a great one.  I'd recommend Denise Mitchell Interiors in Campbell River, BC to anyone, and 2 Hills Renovations as a contractor extraordinaire! 

It was a sad day when they took their tools and
left, with the only things left to complete being done by other trades.  The foreman, Dave, was here a lot and we got to know him really well.  A wonderful thoughtful and talented man.  Very attune to the people who will be living in the addition and made several improvements for their benefit.  He will be coming back for one more day, finishing up the front door and handrails on the deck.  As he was packing his tools I said "This feels something like ending an affair!"  He grinned and said "True, but I'll be back for a quickie!"  Needless to say he's just as fast with the sarcasm as I!! 

Above is a picture of he and Bob preparing to install a new picture window in our very dark living room.  A project I came up with in the midst of everything else!  A woman's prerogative right? 

Now, on to more appreciating retirement....and raking rocks!  I'm preparing the area where a new septic field was installed to be hydro-seeded at the end of this week.  I'm hoping it's grass before the winter rains hit so that we don't have two little dogs in the mud all the time!  Here's what I'm fixing up.  It's all covered in and back-bladed, but I'm raking it to level it as much as possible and get rid of the surface rock.  The idea is that if we can turn it into grass quickly, we can fill potholes and patch next spring when it's all settled a bit.  Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Twisted Sort of Good Day

I got up this morning with a plan.  It’s my constant error to think things will work out the way I planned!  My plan was that I would:

1.     Take the dog for a walk   

2.    Go to a Dr. appointment

3.    Buy some paint

4.    Go to the farm market

5.    Go see my friend Joan

6.    Go to Costco and get that laundry sink that looks perfect! 

Not such a ridiculous idea right?  Except that when I got up, there were already 4 people working in my yard.  Two carpenters....pardon me....5 people....and three furnace people in the crawl space.  By the time I’d had my shower (always a little unnerving to shower with three men yelling at each other over their stereo right underneath you when you’re naked in the shower) and got ready to go, there were two more people in the running a backhoe. 

“So” thinks I....with all the gates open, trucks and backhoes all over the place, “the safest place for my dog is not to be left at home running unsupervised.”  So I took him with me.  We drove up towards Campbell River and the Dr. Appointment and the paint store, and I stopped on the side of the parkway at a pullout that has a delightful gravel path through the forest, with a bridge over a stream, where I can let him run loose.  We walk for about half an hour, turn around and walk back to the van. 

But, when we got close to the van, he decided he didn’t want his walk to be over so he ran past the van, right across the highway, and onto a path on the other side.  I called him and he sprinted a little further.  I yelled at him.  He went even faster.  I ran across the highway.  He spun around and wiggled his tail and acted like “Isn’t this fun Mum?”  Now I’m mad and I want to go back to the van, get in and drive away as if I’ve never met this little monster. 

Right about then a big delivery truck comes along the two lane section of the divided highway.....stops in the middle of his lane, and out gets a very tall, very BIG man with a shaved head, ZZ Top style beard, and a sleeveless undershirt with cut offs and work boots.  He squats down in the middle of the other lane like a gentle giant and coaxes my rotten dog over to him, scratches him and grabs his collar.  I’m thrilled, but embarrassed and feeling angry at my poorly behaved dog.  I get up to this man who I would guess is about his mid-30’s, and tell him how much I appreciate him catching Tuffy for me. 

But he is not to be deterred in his mission.  Right there in the middle of a two lane highway, with traffic passing us and staring (I’m now ready to crawl under the truck and hide)....he proceeds to give me a lesson in training my dog.  He says....and I quote.....”You need to pinch his ear like this, and then mount him.  You know .... in a sexual way (my comfort level is plummeting about now).....twist the ear and mount him so he knows who’s boss.”  I figure I’m not going to escape without doing what I’m told, and he is BIG, so I twisted Tuffy’s ear and squatted on him.  By now I’m wishing I had a bag over my head.  Tuffy yelps.  The big guy says “Good.  That yelp is what you want to hear.  Now put his leash on him.”  I replied that I didn’t have his leash....that was the problem!  And I picked Tuffy up under my arm rather like a sack of potatoes and thanked the guy again.  He said “Good luck with that.”,  got in his truck and drove away.  I’m left hiking along the side of the road back to my van which is sitting there with the door and the hatch open and there’s no denying I’m with this stupid dog!  I stuffed him in his dog crate, got in the van, started the engine and did a U turn onto the road to get to the Dr.’s appointment.  (and not an appointment serious enough to warrant all this embarrassment either!). 

I am now driving down the four lane highway that passes through to the center of Campbell River.  I’m angry, embarrassed and frustrated.  I’m drawn out of my reverie by flashing blue and red lights.  Yes.....he does the dreaded U turn and is after ME!  I put my signal on and pull over, wondering if I can pay my fine by giving him my purebred registered monster. 

He pulls up behind me and I wait and wait and wait.  Finally he gets out of his car, walks up behind the van staying behind my tail light (if I HAD a gun I’d have used it by now....on the dog).  The officer approaches my window and tells me that he clocked me at 95 kmh.  I tried not to be the stereotype that says “Really?  I find that hard to believe.”, and just tried to look ashamed....which I was!  He asked if I was in a hurry to get somewhere.  I replied that no, I actually was just shaken up because I’d just had to chase my dog down the highway and a delivery truck stopped and helped me catch him.  I was just distracted because I’m mad at my dog.  He very professionally points out that this is not a reason to be doing 95 in a 60 zone and looks into the van to see the dog.  I said “He’s in the crate at the back now.”  He takes my license and insurance and goes back to his car. 

I wait and wait yet again.  My cell phone rings.  I don’t know if I should answer it right now and think probably NOT is a good idea so I let it keep ringing in my purse.  My anxiety is mounting while I wait.  Now I’m mad at the dog AND worried about what this is going to cost. 

The officer comes back to the window with papers in hand and says “MRS. LOVE.....”  I did my best imitation of a contrite driver and he proceeds to tell me again how fast I was driving.  He explains that this offense is punishable by having my vehicle impounded for up to 30 days (I couldn’t help thinking that Tuffy would have starved to death in the compound by then so..... TAKE IT ! ).  Then he adds that I can also go to jail for up to 8 days and the fine is minimum $300.00.  I’m sure I went white right there in front of him.  Who am I going to call to come spring me from jail?  Certainly not my kids, who would never let me hear the end of it.  Not my husband who is in his own little world on his island. 
And then he adds.....and this is when I know I am blessed....”I’m going to give you a verbal warning today, but I note that you have lived in the area for long enough to know that this is not a place to be driving at 95 so you need to keep that in mind.”  I almost fainted!  He said goodbye and drive safely and I thanked him very much and took off. 

And then I realized I was speeding again!!!!  I couldn’t believe I was so silly!  I was over 60 before I got to 5th gear!  So the rest of my day I drove with cruise control on.....which took more concentration than was safe, but at least I wasn’t speeding!   So silly me and my stupid dog got home without further incident, and I feel like I should just stay right here and not go anywhere for a while. 

When I got back the electrician was here putting plugs and switches in the walls that are painted, and when I told him my excitement of the day he said I should go buy a lottery ticket!  The guy on the backhoe said I must have really dazzled (I loved that word) the policeman because the guy he knows that got pulled over for that got 8 days in jail, his car impounded and the fine was going to be “discussed”.  And then when Kurtis, the 23 year old kid that is the hardest worker around heard about it, he looked me right in the eye and squinted and said “It’s because you’re a girl!”  I laughed and said “No Kurtis.....I think it’s because I’m 63 and have gray hair instead of 23 with blonde hair!”  He laughed and said “You might be right.” 

Right or not, I’m just glad that I’m not in jail, don’t have a huge fine to pay, and that I must still have what it takes!  What a day! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What kind of Quilter am I?

The following contains excerpts of an excellent newsletter from Quilt University.    A great place for on-line classes if you haven't discovered them already.  I have put the parts from their newsletter in italics, and I do have their permission to repeat their thoughts here.  I thought it was a great thought-provoking and introspective article. 
If I asked what kind of quilter you are, how would you answer?  A dear friend of mine told me I couldn’t call myself a quilter until I had at least five unfinished projects under the cutting table.  If that is true, I think I qualify to be three quilters by now!   

Can you remember when you actually finished one project before starting another?  I don’t honestly think I ever did!  The fabrics and patterns became very insistent, shoving each other and jostling to the front of the line, screaming "me next!!"  That was pretty hard to resist.  Soon my sewing room had UFO’s everywhere.

At the same time, there were new books, each one showcasing beautiful projects and new techniques.  How could I keep quilting if I didn't learn it all?  I became a technique junkie, afraid I might miss the one magic trick that would change my quilting life forever. 

Pretty soon, I began designing my own quilt patterns.  This came as much from a personality flaw as from any great urge to be a designer.  It seems I am constitutionally incapable of following directions for any length of time. 

Have you recognized yourself yet?  Let's look at some other kinds of quilters.  First, there are those who are just stopping by, trying this as they have tried decoupage or knitting.  They usually move on after a quilt or two. This was not me.....I got into quilting because four friends that I made lace with challenged me to take it up.  I said I was not good with math, not good with color, and I couldn’t afford it......I was right on the I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) afford it!

Then there are those who see themselves as part of a great tradition.  They are interested in making a quilt for each member of their family because that's what grandma did.  They often stick with traditional patterns and methods.  A subset of these quilters are the ones who are driven to recreate quilts from the past.  They often search out vintage fabrics to work with.  If old fabrics are not available, they buy reproductions.  They want their quilts to look old.  They value the historical aspect of quilting above any new explorations.
This is most definitely NOT me! 

Some quilters just like to sew.  They enjoy handling the fabric and seeing the patterns.  Their real love is the process.  They like to keep their hands busy and making a quilt gives them an outlet and produces a useful product. This description is definitely a part of me!

For some, their favorite part is the quilting.  They lavish endless hours on marking and quilting, taking up to a year creating tiny little stitches.  They are creating heirlooms to be kept and treasured.

Then there are the explorers.  They want to learn it all, do it all and then change it all.  They use a bit of this and a dab of that, mix it with their own ideas of what a quilt should be and add new depth and richness to an old tradition.  They often become teachers because quilting has taken over their lives.  They need to support their habit, but they also feel driven to bring others into the fold.  I'm not sure if this is an urge to share or a variation on misery loves company, but nothing makes a teacher happier than watching a new student share her addiction.
Now we’re beginning to describe my quilting life! 

Finally, there are those who make art quilts.  Sometimes they are explorers who have moved in this direction.  For others, they were artists in another medium and have moved to fabric from painting or drawing.  Some even come from dimensional art like sculpture and they experiment with ways to make fabric dimensional.

So, who am I?  Like many, a combination of most of the above!  This summer we’ve been working on an addition to our house which is for my parents to live in, which you’ll know if you’ve read my earlier posts.  This week the electrician found a wire that was live in the crawl space, but not connected to anything.  In order to fix that, he needed to get at a plug in the back wall of my sewing room, behind my fabric storage unit.  He asked if I could move all that out of there while they had lunch so that he could access it!  I said a bad word!  But I did it!  And in these photos you can see the results of my takes great organizational skills to keep all this stuff where you can find it when you need it......and I don’t have them!  Here's a little video to show you just how it looked!

However, the happy outcome of this rather frustrating day was that everything got tidied up and reorganized and I actually got some sewing done this week, as opposed to painting, staining, digging, sweeping and all the other construction related interruptions! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Following my Dreams......

I've been absent from my blog.  I apologize to anyone who is following it.  Retirement is so busy!  I don't know when I found time to work!  But, I'm not really retired.....I've just changed how I'll be spending my days! 

I found a quote taped to the counter in the used book store I frequent and I loved it for it totally describes my life since retirement.....and as I think back, perhaps my life in general: 
I'm sick of following my dreams.  I'm just going to ask them where they are going and hook up with them later.  (Mitch Hedberg)   This quote sums up my life so perfectly I think it should be my mantra! 

My Mum and Dad had a terrible winter....Dad broke his hip and Mum had a heart attack.  I stayed with them for quite a while in February and March, as I explained in previous posts.  However, Dad has asked if they can come and live with us as they are finding the winters where they are to be more and more difficult.  He phrased it like this:  "You are going to build a studio at your new place aren't you?"  He was teetering on the edge of his hospital bed at the time.  I replied "Yes, but not for a couple of years because we have to save."  He then said "If we help you out with that, could we live in it until we kick off?"  I said yes, my husband said yes, and that's why I've been absent!  Needless to say, it has somewhat changed my retirement plans!

DESTRUCTION FIRST!  Removing this part of the deck gave me a one inch hole in my shin from a rusty nail..... Luckily, my granddaughter is more coordinated!

We've been building an addition on the house which will be home to Mum and Dad as long as they live and then my studio when they "kick off" as Dad so eloquently put it.  I've been busy shopping for finishes, cleaning up the construction site, painting tar on the foundation......just generally helping out in any way I can.  Phew!  These people start so early in the morning! 
However, I've been blessed in the designer and contractor that I found.  Denise Mitchell Interiors came up when I 'googled' "renovating a Pan Abode".  Here is what I saw:  I could not believe my luck when I read about that project and then saw that she is located in Campbell River, about half an hour from my home!  I called her and the rest is history.  Denise and her team got us through the process of designing the addition, getting the permits and all the stuff that would have had me screaming in frustration before anything got started.  I'd have offended the inspector badly enough to not pass any future inspections before we got to the starting point!  I can't say enough enthusiastically good things about my dealings with them. 
And then when it came time to build, she put me in touch with a contractor:  2 Hills Renovations  Highly recommended for anyone looking to do any construction or renovations!  This is the view from the front driveway.  I LOVE that piece of driftwood leaning against the house!

Now a combination of teams like this is when you realize that God is looking after you.....they are so good at what they do, so caring about what they are doing, and so thoughtful about who they are building this for that I am amazed each day.  While I expected and had heard that building and renovating can be an experience that invokes stress and arguments..... to date I must say that I look forward to each new step in the process.  Dave Hunt is so incredibly thoughtful about us as the customer and my parents as the incoming residents that I am amazed each day at his knowledge.  Heis such a patient foreman and explains whatever I ask about, Steve  Hills is the contractor.  The two of them have worked together so often that they tease and hassle each other and make each day fun, whether it's hot and sunny or pouring rain!  They often make me laugh at their antics, but they make the entire project a pleasure.

Here is where we are today....a view from the back yard.  I think this week brings roofing.....altho I'm not sure.  I'm just glad that today blessed us with some sunshine after three days of torrential least I think that's what it was...... yellow, warm, water falling from the sky...that's sunshine right?
And with that little bit of sunshine creative muse is back....look for great things happening!   Hopefully some finished projects! 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Liquitex Playtime on a Rainy Day

Rain.  More Rain.  We've had enough Rain!  But there's a pleasant side effect.  Even here on the coast where we are supposed to be used to rain, we get tired of it....and then we stay inside and do something else that pleases us.  My house is clean, the floors are washed, I baked, and then decided I'd do something in my studio. 

I perused the situation in there.....had a look at a number of different projects on the go.  Several quilts ready to be quilted, but I didn't feel like getting the table cleared and set up for quilting.  One project on the design wall, which is arguing with me so I didn't want to tackle that one.  Some dolls I could finish.  Some mending to do.  Some hand stitching to do.  And amongst all these started projects I couldn't find anything I wanted to do so I started something new!'s better than retail therapy isn't it? 

So I decided on a journal page.  8 1/2 x 11 for size.  I've had an idea percolating at the back of my mind after seeing all the eclectic funky houses in my Mum & Dad's neighborhood (see my post of March 2, 2011).  I thought why not do a small version of it and see how it works. wasn't long before I was buried in scraps and having scads of fun with my machine. 

I had a piece of fabric that I scrunched up, dampened and painted with Liquitex Inks.  The experiment was to see how much differently/the same it worked like fabric paint.  Here are some photos of the results.  It seems it worked very much like fabric paint in this method. 

This piece seemed like a good choice for the background as I wanted to portray bright sunny skies but with lots of snow and ice on the ground.  I used it so that the darker green areas got covered and the white/pink/light blue areas showed.  It has a little bit of Liquitex pearlescent medium in parts, and I hoped that would be the sparkle off the snow. 

Next to the houses.  I used only scraps and most of them in the shape they were already, just trimming here and there.  These were glued down on the background with a bit of UHU glue stick (I'm not a fan of fusing).  From there I proceeded to stitch the pieces down with satin stitch.  It wasn't long before I was trying out the variety of stitches my little machine offers as embellishment.  Here are the results so far.  I should iron things before I photograph them!

I have another piece of fabric done while I was playing around with the Liquitex Inks.  This one was a "mono print".  The inks, thickened a bit with the opalescent medium, were painted onto a big ceramic tile.  When I was pleased with the arrangement of the colors, I put a dry piece of pfd cotton on it and rolled it with a little brayer.  It was left sitting there for about 5 minutes and then lifted.  Here is what came of that experiment: 

I plan to cut this piece and use the brownish red piece on the bottom to add a "sidewalk" to the bottom of my little "cityscape", and then will quilt the little journal page.  When that's done,  I will do a bit of hand embellishing with beads and buttons and whatever else I can find.    All in all, great fun on a rainy day! 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mother's Day at the Beach

I heard from all my children, still children in my mind despite their mature ages, early in the day.  I called my own mother, age 82, and she was already out with my cousin but I had a delightful conversation with my Dad!  He was home fielding all the "mother's day" calls.  I puttered around in the house and noticed the floral delivery van going up and down our road 8 times before I set out to walk the dog.

So, all that being done, and being on my own for the day, I decided to take the dog for a walk on the beach.  Such a privilege to have the beach accessible on a daily basis.  I packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a thermos of tea, my sketching kit, and off I went with the dog.  We walked a good long way until I decided on the picnic table I would rest at with my sandwich and tea. 

It was a beautiful sunny day.   I passed evidence of other peoples' exuberance, in the photograph above, and was such a delight to be able to spend my time in this way.  Tuffy and I sat at a table, munched on our snacks, sipped on our tea, and sketched in my journal.  I'm not a dedicated journal keeper, but this particular day it was a pleasure.  Here's a photo of my inspiration.... not anything at the beach, but something that has struck my heart with it's simple beauty.  They are "Pink Fawn Lilies"
and there's a huge patch of them behind our fence, growing wild, as well as a bunch of them scattered along the trail I walk with the dog in the morning.  Here's more information on them:

When I got home I sent an email to my three sons telling them how lucky they were.  I had seen the floral delivery van going up and down our road about 8 times before I went out with the dog.  My youngest son replied that he couldn't afford it this year, but that he would like to take me on a vacation for Mother's Day some time soon.  Nice.....let's make it tropical with a swim-up bar!  Number Two son said he had weeded the flower bed in his front yard and thanked me for the incentive to get that done!  Number One son cracked me up.  His response was "Are you guys under surveillance?  If I saw a floral delivery van going up and down my road 8 times, the last thing I would be thinking of would be mothers!"  Now that made me laugh!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Art of a Different Sort....with Rocks!

We have finally been blessed with some decent weather, which instantly takes me outside into the yard.  Being a yard we've only lived in for one year, there is lots to do!  The house was neglected and deserted for about five years before we bought it at a bargain price.  The yard was a disaster.  It is a conglomeration of buttercups, dandelions, moss, fuzzy fernlike ground cover and one really obnoxious weed I can't identify but let me tell you it STINKS when I pull it out!  But this is a picture of our "Pink Champagne" clematis in bloom already!

I've been mowing, weeding, shaping beds, planting, moving dirt to fill low spots and pruning.  But there came a point where one bed is almost complete, which brings me to the point where I absolutely HAVE to embellish it with some of my rock and pebble collection.  So.....having reached this point, I had to get the buckets and bags of rocks that I moved with us (yes, I move my favorite rocks from house to house, and I know where I got them all! it an obsession!).  I think it interesting that this one looks like a paw print, but I didn't realize it until I photographed it!  Remembering my special dog, Buddy, subconsciounsly. 

But my collection was in a state of disarray having been left in storage over the winter in their various containers.  There was nothing to do but pour a glass of wine, sit down in the sun, and sort my collection.  My husband thought I was nuts.  Of course I had to have some water to wash them off and new containers to sort them according to my plan....the really black ones will go in the bird bath, the olive green ones (quite rare) will be in a bowl that is featured in the garden, the red ones we got in Montana , on a very special vacation, will be kept separate, the weird shaped ones will be used as features, also in the garden, and the flat ones I can't resist picking up will be little "cairns" dotting the landscaping!  I've sprinkled this post with photos of my afternoon of sorting and organizing.....if there's a rock lover out there that sees this post, I know they'll understand!  And here's a photo of my collection of heart shaped rocks, begun when I lost my dear friend "Buddy".  A Rottweiller who wanted to be a lap dog! 

Friday, May 06, 2011

A lesson in contrast well learned! Liquitex Inks!

I was working on a project using Liquitex Inks.  I've had it in previous posts.  I finished it!!!  Did you read that correctly????  I FINISHED IT!!!  Here's a close up photo: 

And then there's "Show & Tell" at our groups recent retreat.  It was set out on display with several other 12 x 12 "tree challenges".  I was HORRIFIED !!!!  There is my beautiful and well loved project looking bland with no focus.  The color of the tree I chose to put on the inked silk background doesn't show from 10 feet away.  Talk about a lesson in looking at things from a distance as well as right at arms length.  The little tree I chose to put in there fades into the background and is lost! Here's a picture from a distance.  See how the tree is lost on the horizon? 

So my only recourse is to replace the tree with something that offers more contrast.  Oddly enough, when I was working on it I made two little thread trees.  The one in these photos, and a blue one.  As soon as I saw the tree was not enough contrast I decided I needed to replace it with the darker one I stitched at the same sitting.  But.......I can't find it!!!  I've cleaned my entire studio and organized all my supplies, UFO's and threads.  That darker trees is not to be found.  So, now that I've wasted more time than it would take to stitch a new one looking for the one I have already done but can't find.....I'm stitching away making new one with more contrast.  And here I thought I'd tidied my studio rather well!

A good lesson learned about stepping back and looking at your work from a distance.  Or perhaps it's a lesson in needing a bigger studio so that I CAN step back to look at it.....either way, next post should be the finished project with a tree that shows from any viewpoint! *sigh* :(

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Liquitex Silkscreen Medium, Results & Game On Diet!

I'm back at it!  Feels good.  All the travelling/nursing/babysitting grandkids has passed for a while and I've managed to get moving again. 

Part of this happy development is that my niece talked me into joining a group called the "Game On Diet".  Go here to check it out.  In short, it's a healthy living plan that not only helps you lose weight, but also encourages exercise, sleeping the correct amount of hours, drinking water, and best of all, changing bad habits and trying new good habits.  And that part has resulted in this FINISHED project!

This is the result of using Liquitex Inks, provided to me by C&T Publishing as one of their author ambassadors (means I get to play with new products!)  I'm loving it. 

These inks are wonderful.  Lots of pigment and easy easy easy to use.  I've tried stamping with them, painting fabric with them, monoprinting, and silk screening on both paper and fabric.

One comment on an earlier post of mine regarding silkscreening asked what I was using for medium to allow use of the inks on a silk screen, and to answer that.....

I laid out as much Liquitex Iridescent Fluid Medium as I thought it would take to scrape across the silk screen itself.  To that I stirred in drops of the Liquitex Inks until the color was intense enough for my liking.  I stirred it really well so that it was completely mixed.  And that's it!  The only thing of note here is that the iridescent medium takes more attention to wash out of the silkscreen than regular medium.  If not cleaned well, your silkscreen would not last the predicted 100+ prints! So as always, the price to pay amidst all this exciting play is careful clean up!

With a spoon I laid out the inked medium at the top of the silkscreen and pulled it with the soft edged scraper to the bottom.  This was the result.

This is a piece of commercial fabric, with the silk screen placed on the print where I thought it would work well.

I pressed it when it was dry, to set the colors altho the inks supposedly don't need that, but having added the medium I thought I'd ensure permanence. 

Then I decided to cut the tree up and displace it in a wall hanging in the required 12 x 12 size.  The results above are what happened.  The blue fabrics are the ones used in an indigo dye workshop I took with my girlfriend (where I managed to stab her in the elbow with my scissors but that's another story)!  The reason you see my last name on one strip is that I couldn't use it if I cut off the name.  I love how some of the shading in the dye process fell into the design. 

The orange piece on the right side is a piece of hand painted and sponged fabric that I did when playing around, and the border is a piece of hand painted fabric that was cotton, but had a textured weave and I've used the bumpy strips in it, which collected the paint in a different way, to represent bark around the hanging. 

The quilting of the Garry Oak leaves is done with King Tut Thread from Superior Threads  The quilting of the tree is done with blue Sulky Sliver metallic. 

Here are some close ups: 

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

A New Chapter in my Life!

It's not a book yet, but it could be!  I'm setting out on a new chapter in my life.....the one that begins when you retire from your full time office job and start another life style.  I've looked forward to this for some time now, as do many of us.  But it was expedited by the twists and turns that life throws at us. 

First of all, my retirement date was planned for the end of March.....making April 1st or April Fools Day the first day of my retired life.  An auspicious date for such a monumental change don't you think?  So, as always, with "the best laid plans of mice and men" .....things didn't work out that way.  During my Christmas vacation, I fell and broke my foot.  That put me in an air cast, with instructions to keep my foot elevated for a period of time.  But, beyond that, I was unable to drive our standard vehicle, so had to take extra time off work.  Rather than have the office go through training someone for my absence with the broken foot, and then again six weeks later for my permanent replacement, I decided to expedite my retirement date. 

So, I guess if you want to get technical, I retired at Christmas break because I've been away from work since that time!  My last official day on payroll was January 28th, and my first official day of retirement turned out to be February 1st. 

But nothing is ever that clear and concise.  I was sitting here in my chair on the morning of January 30th when the phone rang.  It was my Mum, and she was upset.  My Dad had fallen, broken his hip and was in the hospital.  She asked "Can you come?  I can't handle this alone."  I said I would be there as soon as I could.  I was on a plane within two and a half hours, with the help of my friend who drove me there.  She was great as we put things into her vehicle.  She asked "Do you have your other shoe?  If you're there long you may want it."  So I dashed back inside to get the other shoe that matched the one I had on my "good foot".  Turned out to be a good thing because not only did my stay stretch to three weeks, but the ice and snow was treacherous with an air cast, so as soon as I thought it feasible, I took the boot off and wore my runners, with my Mum's "cleats" attached.  Great invention that one! 

So, my Dad waited 2 1/2 days for surgery, but has pulled through miraculously considering he is 96.  There were some long worrisome days, but Mum and Dad have yet again surmounted the obstacles thrown in their path and Dad is gaining strength and Mum is able to help him. there was a week in the hospital, a week in the rehabilitation center, and then a week at home.  I stayed until I was sure they could handle the shower, cooking, the trips to the lab for blood tests etc.  I didn't really want to leave when I did, but I had things at home that needed to be attended to as well!  One being the pets I had deserted in my rush to get there.  People were looking after them and I totally appreciated that, but you can only let people help you for so long! 

One of the things I did to help out was to walk their adorable and extremely well trained little dog three times a day.  I couldn't help but notice the houses in the neighborhood.  I like unusual buildings and this district was amazing....everything from the heritage home to the ultra-modern....side-by-side making a very eclectic neighborhood.  It was a pleasure to walk around and see these places. 

So now I'm home, adjusting to retired life, checking on my parents every second day by telephone, and planning to go back for a short check-in on spring break.  I'll be taking two granddaughters to see their Dad at that time and will tie in a visit with Mum and Dad.  In walking around in my back yard yesterday, I discovered a surprise....crocuses blooming all over the lawn in our back yard.  A harbinger of spring that was very welcome after walking a little dog dressed in boots and sweater in -37 degree windchills! 

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Liquitex Inks, Silk Rods, Tutorial continued.....

This is a photo of my silk rod project. I posted the first steps earlier on this blog.   Today I worked on the little project created by the silk rods colored with Liquitex Inks.  Those inks were provided to me as an Author Ambassador for C & T Publishing.  As shown in my previous post, they were soaked and laid out to re-glue themselves to each other as they dried.  It worked but only partially.  There were some gaps that separated. 

Now I've taken embroidery floss and done some big hand stitches on the seams and above the seams, to create some texture, some embellishment, and the hidden bonus was sticking the bits together.  Can you guess what's next?  I'll make one of the thread trees featured on the cover of my book to add to it.  I never know when it's enough.....could keep going and going.  I feel I need to add some beads as well!  I like to embellish....what can I say? 

I especially like the shape this project has taken on.  I plan to mount it inside an artists canvas, with the backing wrapped around the frame.  That way the "bubble" developed in the silk rods would be protected from being crushed.  We'll see.  For now, the tree and some beads. 

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Teaching Trees at the Schoolhouse Guild

On Saturday I had the privilege of teaching the tree technique (used in the project on the cover of my book) to the Schoolhouse Quilter's Guild of the Comox Valley.  What a delightful group of students I had.  Humour reigned supreme in this class, as did self confidence and creativity.  These ladies were enthusiastic, dedicated and outstanding students. 

I only have some quick pictures of their work, they've promised to send me individual photos as they finish them up.  It's such fun to teach that class because people are always amazed at how it works and that they can do it. 

And in the midst of the class, one of the students looked out the window and noticed this tree.  We all found it fascinating how it had hung onto it's seed pods all through the winter winds, rains and snow!  It's a Chestnut tree, but also inspiration for another project!  Zoom in on this one if you can to see nature's decorations hanging in the branches (I couldn't leave the classroom to go out and get a better picture!)

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Rainbow is .... Finishing!!!

While on the island for holidays I fell.  I'd love to say I was rock climbing or beachcombing, but it was actually a slip in the bathroom.  How "old lady" is that!!  I've discovered that gum boots and heavy socks are very forgiving footwear......that and a holiday season where a lot of visiting is done and not a lot of activity.  But I did trek around the island, wander on the beaches and get in and out of boats!  Albeit tenderly. 

I came home three days before I had to go back to work and took it fairly easy, other than a walk to the beach and back with the dog.  But it was when I went back to work, sat at my desk all day and was wearing a work shoe that it became apparent something was really wrong.  My foot swelled quite badly and was burning inside.  I decided I should go to a walk-in clinic and have it checked.  Long story short.....I ended up with my foot in an air cast with three broken metatarsals to nurse back to health!  I was quite honestly surprised as I thought it was just sprained!  I told my husband that I'd felt like a very old woman getting in and out of the boats....bad enough they rock and slide away from you when you get in them, but I was nursing a tender foot.  His reply?  You looked like one too! 

However, the rainbow in this story is that I've been instructed to keep the foot elevated as much as possible, and haven't been able to drive.  Doesn't seem like a silver lining does it?  But it's led me to FINISHING things!  Anything I can do sitting with my foot up.  I've done hand quilting, stitched on binding, and even did some hand mending!  I used to say "Finishing is an "F" word", but now I'm thinking it's a pretty good feeling. 
Here are some pictures of the things I've completed.  The top one is a quilt for a friend's baby, two are samles of classes I'll be teaching this spring.....and I won't bore you with the mending! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011


One day while spending Christmas vacation on the island with my husband, he was out splitting kindling and I was inside cleaning the cabin L  He called me to come out and bring the binoculars.   Across the channel there were a pod of Bottlenose Dolphin swimming along in front of the most beautiful rock wall.  I watched their every move until they were out of sight.  Then Bob said “There’s an Eagle....look at him through the binoculars”.  WOW.  A Bald Eagle through binoculars looks vicious and scary!  I actually took a step backwards from the effect of the close up view.   This photo is the rock wall....picture it with a school of dolphin swimming in front of it!
All this told me I need a new camera, with a telephoto lens and a tripod.   My current one is geared towards close-ups for stitching!   The dolphins and the eagle were completely out of reach of my camera, as was the kingfisher that landed in the tree in front of us.  He was so striking with his color amongst all the blue/gray/black. 
After viewing the dolphin through the binoculars I asked Bob to take me over to the other side of the channel so that I could get a picture of the rocks they had been swimming past as a backdrop.....yes, a quilt is percolating.  He was happy enough to do that.  I got close up photos of the rock wall, the beach, a waterfall, the kingfisher, and best of all, when we turned around to come home, a log in the middle of nowhere, with two seagulls on it.  Here's the picture I can see why I say I need another camera, with interchangeable lenses so that I can try telephoto! 
Bob slowly brought the boat up on that log and I was thrilled at his sensitivity towards my artistic endeavours.  I got a couple of pictures of the seagulls on the log, missed them when they flew away, and turned to thank Bob for giving me that photo opportunity. 

But he just kept creeping up on that log.  Next thing I know he is hammering in a metal loop, tying a rope to it, and we towed it home.  It was a cedar log and HE was pleased to find so much shake (roofing) material and kindling.  I groaned at having been sucked in yet again.  A new-age-sensitive-man he is NOT!  Here he is towing the seagull's roost home!  You can see the log behind his left arm following us home.