Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Strange" Friends

 I have a great friend who walks with me on a regular basis....well as regularly as I can make it happen with all the demands of caring for my parents!  This friend is also one whom I travel with to quilt seminars.  First time was last year and we discovered that we make great room mates, like to walk in the morning, like to keep working on our projects after class, and just generally, enjoyed the same things outside of the classroom.  We walked miles along the California beaches at Monterey and loved every minute of it.  (Except that her camera took better pictures than mine!)

Since getting home we've carried on walking in our local area.  We both have dogs so we walk for probably a couple of hours, rain or shine.  Her background is military and she is a lot of years younger than me, so sometimes it's a bit like going to boot camp when I walk with her!  Last summer we walked when it was really too warm to be exerting ourselves like that, and when we got back to her house, we sat on the back deck, drinking water and just visiting.

Something she said about one of her other friends struck me as odd and I looked at her and said "You have some really strange friends."  She looked at me and answered "Yes.  Yes I do Gladys!"  I laughed at that as I had asked for and deserved her quick retort!

But it didn't end there.  About two weeks later, she came to my house and we were about to go for a long walk on the beach with the dogs.  But before we left she presented me with a gift.  A small art quilt made in honour of that conversation.  It was so wonderful I had to go get Mum and Dad to see it as well. I was complimented by the fact that she used the technique in my book, Embellishing with Anything, C&T Publishing, to represent my hair.  She was pleased with herself for accurately depicting my unusual earring! And the best part.....the pattern she used to quilt it is called "Bananas."  

I was pleased quite touched that she thought to do that for me and it now hangs in a place of honour in my studio.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Mini Doll Exchange

These are the two I sent to the USA and the UK beside the two I received.
The theme I requested was "wild and crazy" woman!  

The group "Stargaze Tomers" on Yahoo is comprised of members all over the world.  I am lucky to be one. The leader of the group is Patti Culea.  I was lucky enough to take a class from her years ago and would do it again in a minute if given the chance.

The on-line group is a very creative bunch and every once in a while, a challenge or exchange is organized to get us active again.  This time it was a tiny doll to be included in one of the "tome pages" which are the patterns we all have and got us united to begin with.  The people who chose to take place were divided into groups of three.  I was lucky enough to be assigned to an exchange with Patti herself and with Sue Crook, whom I have done exchanges with in previous themes.

I received a beautiful doll with hand dyed silk from Sue Crook with wildly colored hair.  And her clothes are separate, not a part of the doll.  A work of tiny and very specific art.  The doll I received from Patti is made of painted silk and her clothes and hair are beaded.  They are both shown in the picture above.

Patti wanted hers to be a garden fairy.  Here is a picture of the back and front of the mini doll I sent to her.

She is about 5" tall, has jointed arms and legs is dressed in ribbons and lace and hand beaded. Her hair is mohair that has been dyed.  Some of the lace she is wearing is hand painted (not by me!).

Sue wanted one that reflected the area I lived in.  Here are photos of what I received and what I sent away to her.  The area I live in has so many things to choose from to represent it.....skiing, fishing, boating, hiking, camping, cities, country.....snow, soil and surf all within minutes of each other.  So I decided to go back to the beginning and chose to do a doll that represented the Haida who were First Peoples on the west Coast.

She is wearing a traditional button blanket cape, a cedar (silk strips) woven hat, and carrying a basket of shells (teeny tiny ones I found on the beach where I walk my dog.) Oops....I see she doesn't have the basket in hand in this photo, but Sue tells me she arrived intact.  I spoke to a friend about the political correctness of making a Haida doll when I am not of that descent and was told that it was ok as long as it was done with respect.  It was and here she is.  

Monday, October 08, 2012

My 12 x 12 Challenge Group

This post is a copy of my post to another blog which I take part in with a number of other art quilters.  It is a challenge group where one person decides on a theme, and the rest of us design and create a 12" x 12" piece that is our interpretation of that theme.  Go to www.upforachallengeartquilts.com to see everyone's creations.  Here is mine:  

When this theme was announced, I had to go to the dictionary to look for meanings and interpretations.  What I found was:
Incandescence is the emission of light (visible electromagnetic radiation) from a hot body as a result of its temperature.[1] The term derives from the Latin verb incandescere, to glow white.[2] Incandescence is a special case of thermal radiation. Incandescence usually refers specifically to visible light, while thermal radiation refers also to infrared or any other electromagnetic radiation.

Having read this there were multiple ideas swirling in my head.  But that's normal.  I'm an idea person, and seldom a completion person!  How's that for True Confessions?  However, back to the theme.....almost immediately I came up with this idea and tried to think of reasons not to do it, but nothing else came out of my hands so here we are.  I started late in my attempts to do something to do with fire, which didn't work, and then finally got down to what I wanted to do in the first place.  They say listen to your heart and I should have because I'm happy with and had fun making this piece.   

I thought instead of light or the normal sources of heat, I thought of sex appeal, which is another elusive kind of heat.  There has been of late, a lot of resurgence of interest in Marilyn Monroe, the all time sex symbol for my generation.  Here is the picture I chose to use for a reference, found on Pinterest.  

Looking at this photo made me wonder what it was that radiated the sex appeal she was famous for.  Was it the looks?  There have been lots of women just as, or even more beautiful.  Was it the body language?  Or was it the diamonds?  I don't know and probably never will, but I truly enjoyed interpreting this photo to my 12" x 12" interpretation of Incandescence.

The project is worked on a black background which has a few sparkles on it.  The face and hair are layer upon layer of chiffons, both polyester and silk.  The face and shoulder are obviously carefully cut to indicate the appropriate shadows and shapes.  But the hair I truly enjoyed doing.  I just free hand cut teardrop shapes of all the colors of chiffon I had in yellow, pale yellow, glittery yellow and white and stitched down each piece as I went along, building up the shades and shapes and covering what didn't fit with a couple more layers.  A really free way to work and I enjoyed every minute of it and am happy with how it turned out.  The embellishments (did you know I love to embellish!!) are bits of treasures from my collection, a single earring, a strip off a dress from the thrift shop that I tore the diamonds off and kept, and a set of plastic eyelashes designed for Halloween but perfect for enhancing her sultry look.  The binding is metallic fabric and that was a trick!   


The other night I was laying in bed reading.  A good book with a glass of water beside me.  My dear husband was in the living room watching TV.

Suddenly, with a thump that was perceptible in the quiet of the bedroom, there was what I now know to be a wolf spider on the bedspread, just about right on my right breast.  I remained calm.....to a point......at least calm enough to think that I didn't want a splattered stain on the lovely pale turquoise matte lasse bedspread.  I slowly reached with my free hand and folded the edge of the spread up over "him" and held my hand over that like a cage.

And then I yelled.  I yelled BOB!!!  I yelled again.  I yelled "BOB, please come help me." I yelled again.  I yelled "HELP".  Finally my pleas for assistance got through the sounds of the television and dearest Bob leapt to his feet and came running in the bedroom looking panicked and scared and no knowing what to do.  I asked him to get a Kleenex off the night table, and when I lifted my hand, catch the spider under there quickly and squash it.....without leaving a stain on the bedspread.

He looked at me with an exasperated look and said "I thought you were having a heart attack or something!"  I said I should hope not .... it took him long enough to get there!  But he got the required Kleenex, poised in readiness, and waited for me to lift my hand.  I did so very slowly and Bob was ready to pounce.

When the cover came up.....no spider...  OK, so NOW I'm not calm anymore.  In fact I'm so creeped out that I want to cry.  I leaped out of bed, looked all over the floor, checked the curtain, looked on the window frame, shone a flashlight under the bed.....nothing....anywhere!  And to make matters worse, Bob is laughing!

I continued to check around the room but to no avail.  There was no spider to be seen.  I climbed back into bed, Bob having long gone back to the TV show, and tried to continue reading.  I never saw the spider but I couldn't read OR sleep either.  Every hair that tickled my cheek or movement of the covers or slight sound and I was on high alert expecting that spider to be back.  What a bad night.

The next day I tore that room apart.  I vacuumed all the walls, behind all the pictures, under the bed, in the closet, moved all the curtains, clothes, under the dresser, everywhere a spider could possibly be and found nothing.  Dust yes, dog hair yes, popcorn bits yes....but no spider.  Bob had by now named him Felix and was enjoying watching all the cleaning activity in the bedroom.  Felix was never seen again.  All I can hope is that I sucked him up the vacuum hose unknowingly.

When I told my girlfriend about it, she suggested that Bob had Felix hidden in a jar somewhere for the next time he wants a room cleaned!  Now I ask you, what kind of friend would say that???  One of my strange ones I can assure you!

But when I was cruising through Pinterest the other day, I found this and I can assure you, it is TOO TRUE!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's all about the Chicks!

Setting the stage: We have friends living on an island that we visit occasionally. This week Linda had ordered chicks and my husband was supposed to take them out to her. But he hurt his back and is laid up on some pretty severe medications. Being the helpful sort, I volunteered to deliver all the goods that had been ordered. When someone is coming in from town, everyone calls to ask to have various things brought out to them....cigarettes, beer, wine, groceries, baby chicks, chairs, all sorts of variety.

Now for the adventure: This past weekend, Linda had arranged with Bob to bring in her baby chicks. But the chicks were not ready when he was supposed to go in. he stayed home an extra day and that's when he hurt his back. So, because the chicks were ready to go to their new home, and they are fairly fragile at this stage....and Bob was not ready to go anywhere, I said I would run that errand and go out to the island, stay overnight at Linda's and then come home again. She was pleased to be having company and I was pleased with a little mini-escape. We planned to do some kayaking. On the Friday, Mum and I ran around doing the errands and picking up the various supplies always requested when someone is coming from town......lettuce, fresh milk, plumbing supplies, oil, cookie dough, beer, wine, cigarettes....always an interesting list, but most importantly, the chicks!

When Mum and I got home, I got the chicks settled in the dog crate with water and food. I must say that both Mum and Dad enjoyed seeing the young life and hearing the peeping. Dad was smiling and bent over watching them. Having memory flashbacks to his time on the farm I'd bet, but he sure looked amused. Mum was amazed that there was one voice in the 30 birds that was continually louder and more aggressive than the others. The chicks settled well for the night.

At 7:30 a.m. Bob had me up and rushed out the door. I wondered what the heck I was going to do with the extra time as it doesn't take me that long to drive there for a 10:00 a.m. pickup. (It does for him, but he has been teased about his green truck being a turtle shell!) The last phone call I had with Linda the evening before was that the pickup time would be 10 if I didn't hear from her again. So....since I had been kicked out of the house with all the supplies loaded in the car, I drove north, stopped at Sayward Junction for a leisurely tea, and carried on. The logging road is nicely graded and not too many potholes, so even tho I take it pretty carefully on that part of the road, I made good time. I arrived at the wharf, pulled up close so as to unload before parking the van....and the fun began.

I got out, walked around to the other side and opened the door to check the chicks, except that the other side was locked. I walked back around the vehicle, opened the door, pushed the unlock/lock button and walked back around to the other side. Still locked. It wasn’t till the second time I returned to the driver’s door that I realized what I’d done….left the keys on the seat and locked myself out of my van. Arrrgh! I stood there wondering what to do. It was very sunny and I was worried about the chicks locked in the closed car in the sun. Not to mention four cases of frozen meat! My phone doesn’t work out there so I had no way to call anyone. I waited till 10 hoping Linda had a phone and was mortified that I would keep everyone waiting. But 10:00 o’clock came and went, as did 10:15, 10:30 and 10:45. By now I’m really worried about the chicks. So I decided I had to break a window.

I found a rock that was ragged and started trying to break the little window by the rear view mirror, thinking it would be the cheapest to replace and the easiest to drive home with it missing. I beat on that window with everything I had for about 20 minutes. All I accomplished is severely scratching the window. Not even a crack or chip! I stood there puffing and wondered what to do next. I wandered around the parking lot looking for a piece of steel rod or something. I couldn’t find anything even remotely useful. It was so silent. The water was like glass, not a sound anywhere…..but suddenly a big machine in the dryland sort started up! AHA!!! A person who might have a phone….I can call a towing service and get this opened perhaps.

Still no Linda so I walked over to the big yard where they were piling up logs and stood in the middle, trying to make myself obvious so I don’t get run over. The man continued to pile logs for about 5 minutes and then I guess he figured I wasn’t going to go away so he drove over close to me and slowed down his machine, looked down at me and said “Do you need help?” (Duh!) I said:

“I was wondering if you would have a crowbar or something that I could break into my car with….I’ve locked myself out.” His lips were twitching and his eyes sparkling and he shut the machine off and got out and stood on the deck. I said “It’s ok if you laugh! I feel pretty stupid!” He laughed then, jumped down from his machine and asked what kind of vehicle I was driving. I said and explained about the chicks inside, and that I had tried to break the window but wasn’t strong enough with just a rock. He smirked again. It’s ok. Smirk all he wants…I needed his help.

Now this is when you believe in angels unawares and all that stuff. Not only is he the only person within miles on Saturday morning, but he says “Let’s try another approach. I used to run a towing company in McNeill so let’s see if we can get the car open" OK. I’m very hopeful as I walk back to the car. He arrives shortly in a little “golf cart” and he has a big screwdriver and a selection of wires with him. After looking inside to see the setup of the vehicle, he put the screwdriver in the top corner of the driver’s door, with a sock between it and the pressure point, and asked me to hold it forward at an angle “like this”. I did that. He then bent the end of one of the wires, poked it in the gap formed by the screwdriver, pushed it forward inside the car and then maneuvered it around until he got the button and managed to click it, successfully unlocking the car! I was so excited I turned around and hugged him, completely throwing him off guard, and said thank you thank you thank you! He was grinning and laughing at my excitement. But the alarm was blaring loudly so I opened the car, grabbed the keys, pressed the button and shut off the noise. Phew. Silence again.

I had picked up two 8 packs of beer for Sheila, who is helping Linda cook for a logging crew right now, and I opened the back and said “Do you drink Beer? I’d like to give you some I’m so grateful. It’s warm but I’m just so happy that you got that open.” He took the beer with a big smile on his face, set it on the seat in his little cart and took off back to work. I couldn’t believe my good luck in having someone with those skills right there when I was desperate. I also wondered why ever lock the vehicle. Except for the alarm, there’s not much to it!

Now, back to business. Linda is still not there. And I am grateful because now I can put everything down on the wharf and be ready. I did that. I left the frozen meat and the chicks in the car which I’ve now parked in the shade, and I took the chairs, the pipes and nails and plumbing supplies groceries and my suitcase down to the wharf. But while I was doing that I dropped the other 8 pack of beer for Sheila. They rolled all over the place and were dented and scratched. One can was leaking so I put it in my tea mug to contain it, thinking Sheila will be laughing when I give her a cup with a leaking can in it.

I went back up to the van, opened the box of chicks, put the top off my thermos in their box with water in it and made sure they were all ok. I enjoyed watching them peep and drink and jump in and out of that little bit of water. I had the windows open and it was pleasant, but still no Linda. I began to think something was wrong so decided that I would wait till 2 p.m. and then go home and see what I could do to set the chicks up for another delivery time. After watching them settle down again I decided to go down to the wharf and get my book out of my suitcase and sit there and read. I left the van open for air, with the chicks in it and headed for the wharf.

I’m five steps down the ramp and a giant Raven flies away with a chicken filet out of Len’s groceries! I got down there and looked and the bird had pecked through my cloth grocery bag, through the plastic shopping bag, and through the plastic wrapper of the meat and had shredded one chicken breast all over the wharf and was happily eating it! I was horrified as now they are short one chicken breast! I was so annoyed and then realized that the chicks are peeping in the van with the window open and I wouldn’t put it past the two ravens swooping overhead to go for them too. So I covered the groceries with my suitcase and a chair, sprinted up the wharf to get the chicks, and sprinted back down again with the box of chicks in hand.

Darned if the Ravens aren’t in the groceries again from another angle and this time they have a big peck hole in his steak! But now I’m there to guard the stuff and I sat on a chair, with the chicks on another chair, the groceries all covered up and read my book in the sunshine while I waited for Linda. The raven swooped overhead for quite a while knowing there were snacks there, but I didn’t move. They sat in the tops of the trees and squawked at me, but they weren’t getting any more out of my stuff! I soon got warm enough that I decided I would just drink the beer that was in the leaky can! So now Sheila has 7 beer where she is expecting 16!

Linda showed up at 12:00. (She got confused because she said 10 the evening before, but in the morning she read my email which was sent much earlier in the day, suggesting 12:00 noon so she came for noon). She was pleased to see me and had Len with her to help load things in the boat. I went and got the frozen meat out of the van and we took off. We chatted happily, and took a little cruise past the log sort on the other side of the hill they are logging. The dozer boat was fascinating to watch, but I think I would probably be squealing and crying if I was in it! Linda headed back around the point and we got about half way up the channel and suddenly both engines stopped. Linda looked at the fuel gauge and sure enough …. Both tanks are empty. Linda was furious that someone would dock the boat with no fuel in it, and furious with herself for not checking before she set out. She phoned Sheila in the kitchen to tell her to send someone out with fuel, and Sheila just started laughing! So we all laughed. What can you do! We drifted a bit and each drank one of Sheila’s beer. We drifted towards a semi-abandoned float house and Len calmly tied us up and we waited there, enjoying the sun and the calm water. I’d have been terrified if it had been rough! Pretty soon one of the men came around the corner and poured 5 gallons into one tank and we limped to her place on one engine.

We unloaded the groceries and Len and I took them up the ramp while Linda went right over to their fuel dock to fill the boat. Sheila, who turns out to be someone I knew years ago is laughing so hard by the time I explained all the things that happened to her beer and why she got one scratched and dented can that she can hardly stand up! That’s one that I’m never going to live down. During the 24 hours I was there she got a lot of pokes in about her missing beer.

But that’s not the end of the adventure. Linda came back from the fuel dock, and we were outside by their fire pit. She was carrying the box of chicks and said she was going to go right up and put them in their house. She almost got past us and I noticed her hair was all wet and asked her if she had gone swimming or something. She started laughing and said “I was hoping nobody would notice. I did the pike pole landing as the boat drifted away from the dock and I didn’t stretch far enough and fell in! Just like you see on TV! Luckily it's a nice day!”

She soon came back down, we finished preparations for dinner for all the loggers, and then she and I and her grandchildren went up the hill to look at the chicks…….most of whom had found a way out of the house so we had to find the hole, plug that and put them all back. Great fun for the kids catching little chicks!

By the time dinner was done and all the loggers left for their cabins and the chicks were finally safely in their new home I was exhausted from all the excitement and I went to the little room that Linda had prepared for me and I read for a while but soon fell asleep. We planned to do some kayaking the next day, but when we got up it was raining so we just visited. After so many calamities in one day, I am wondering if I'll ever be trusted to make the run for the team again!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Toopy - A One-of-a-Kind Toy!

Life has been hectic lately, and the needs of two elderly parents have largely taken over.  Actually, we are getting settled in.  We have doctors, dentists, eye specialists, other specialists, new wills for British Columbia and all those "moving" things just about completed.  It's only taken six months!

Through all of this my creative muse has been on hiatus.  I've struggled with wanting to do some artwork, but most times end up just getting through the necessary and not getting to the art! 

However, as they say, I digress.  I have been busy with something creative.  My youngest grandchild is a boy, age 3.  His dad, my son, called and asked me if I would make him a stuffed toy of his favorite TV character because they couldn't find one anywhere and they had been looking everywhere!  He got me with the plaintive words....."you know Mum, like you made me a big stuffed Gumby when I was little?"  Oh all right, I'll try.  Who is this favorite character?  A distorted looking mouse whom I've never seen either!  So I had to google for an image. 

I got several and set out from this picture to create the toy.  I made a prototype body and didn't like the shape of it so re-designed that part.  The legs, arms and feet came out perfect first try.  This picture includes the rejected body shape, and the stitched feet, ears and hands.

This photo is of the finished pieces. I sent it via phone to my son for approval and he loved it....but his suggestion was to send it to them just like that to see what his son said when he opened the parcel. Needless to say I  desire to freak the kid out with a decapitated Toopy!

Then there was the head connection. The skinny neck caused considerable deliberation on construction techniques.  It went together the first time with a piece of flexible PVC pipe inside, but I felt it wasn't cuddly enough and didn't like it.  So I took it apart and tried a different approach.  At this stage a friend of mine came to visit and she told me "Put it together and call it done!  It's for a 3 year old and it will soon be covered with bodily fluids and bits of food!"  Good point!! 

But I got this far, Mum knitted his little sweater and then the head got attached.  But there was one more detail.  See that little tail in the photo above?  I couldn't figure out if it was a twirled tail or a "stack of donuts" or what!  I decided the best way to solve that problem was to try to find the show on TV and actually watch this guy.  I didn't know what channel it was on or what time. 

And at this point I had to go to Victoria with my Mum for several specialist appointments which we grouped into one week.  Victoria is a lovely city and the weather was spectacular.  We went to each appointment, shopped and wandered around a little, and in the afternoon came back to the hotel room for Mum to have a little rest.  Some days I walked to the used book store, others I was reading.  Mum likes to rest with the TV on.  She was surfing through the channels looking for one of her favorite shows and what pops up?  Of course...."Toopy & Binoo".  So we watched it.  We watched TWO episodes!

 I had the most spectacular view of his tail when he turned around and wiggled it beautifully so I now knew what I had to do!  But....I must admit to wondering what my life had become when I am in a hotel room in Victoria, watching "Toopy & Binoo" AND being excited about it! 

Here's the finished product.....going to the post office today.

And there's a label where his heart would be that says "Made with Love by Grandma".  The sweater also has a label inside it that says "Made with love by Great Grandma".  I am hoping that my daughter-in-law takes a video when my grandson opens his parcel!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day Two at Asilomar - Empty Spools Conference

Day Two and I can tell you that "This is a fabulous experience"!  This morning we thought we had our alarm set for 6 a.m. to get up and go for a walk on the beach before breakfast.  It went off at 5 a.m.!  YIKES!  My room mate got up and did her morning preparations....when she came out of the washroom she said "Aren't you getting up to go for a walk?"  I said "it's only 5:00...it's still dark out" and buried myself in my bed covers again!  She looked out the window and promptly got back into bed as well.  The clock alarm went off again in 15 minutes....Don't you just hate "snooze" when you don't expect it?!  The alarm on my phone, which is the one we had set, finally went off at the prescribed 6 a.m. and we got up and headed out to the beach. It was wonderful to watch the sunrise, the birds, the waves.....and then we got to quilt all day!!!

 There are so many great teachers here and so many friendly people.  I'm not surprised actually, every quilting conference I've ever gone to is like that.  Everyone is welcoming, lots of teasing about being from Canada, and the teachers mingle with the students at meals and spare time.  The program is incredibly well organized, keeping us busy and entertained every minute of the day!  Check this out:  Empty Spools, Asilomar, California.

The first class you see listed is the one I'm taking.  Portraits with Esterita Austin.  She is a delightful teacher, great sense of humour, really knows her stuff, and is very enouraging.  Today we sketched our photographs into patterns, had them enlarged and got started cutting fabric.  I have a feeling I may be re-cutting tomorrow, but here's a look at what I've started. 

The photos I brought were not considered acceptable as they didn't have the right amount of light/dark exposure or shadows so Esterita took my photo herself, ran it through photoshop last night, and this morning we all got started working up our designs.  Great things are expected for tomorrow....like sleeping IN!

Empty Spools Conference

I've died and gone to heaven! Yesterday I got a ride with my friend Karrie and her husband to Nanaimo, where we caught a plane to Vancouver, then from Vancouver to San Francisco where we stayed for the night in the San Francisco Westin Airport Hotel. It was a fabulous place to stay, seconds from the airport and had a pretty fountain with PALM TREES that were healthy and tall and beautiful! My camera didn't capture their beauty in the dark. Karrie and I had arranged to meet at the place where the shuttles for the hotel take off......unfortunately we didn't know there was four of them. Of course I did not end up at the one Karrie did, but she found me....Good idea to travel with someone younger than me....!

This morning we got up at some ungodly hour in order to catch the last flight of our journey. A 20 minute flight from San Francisco to Monterey, California. But it was worth it. Upon arriving here.....here being the Asilomar Conference Center.
The Asilomar Conference Center where the "Empty Spools Quilting Seminar" is being held. I'm taking a week long class here! What a wonderful and unexpected break from my daily routine!
Once settled in our room we went for a tea and then a walk on the beach. It is so fabulous I want to live here! We walked for almost two hours and I didn't want to go back!

Now, later in the day, all the other participants in the Quilt Conference are arriving and the "Meet and Greet" is happening in a few minutes. Off I go!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Finding Time for Art

My newly discovered Driftwood Shelter!
I've been a little overwhelmed lately by my mother's multiple medical appointments and haven't been doing anything in my sewing room.  I've taken my knitting to waiting rooms, my beading to a friend's house for a day together, and have worked on a little 12 x 12 challenge. Not really finishing anything as successfully as I did in January, but the days are full and busy. 

Two socks on Two circular needles.....the plan to
have them match exactly isn't working!

My caregiving shift seems to be from 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. with little breaks here and there throughout the day.  By the time I sit down in the evening, I am tired and not feeling enough creative energy to work in my sewing room.  But still feeling that I want to do something that is a bit creative.  Often my mind is caught up in the day's conversations and frustrations....the most difficult part of this new "career".   Sometimes I knit and watch TV like the little old lady I can be at times, and sometimes I doodle.

BUT, I am lucky enough to know Donna, who has letters after her name.  She is a CZT or Certified Zentangle Teacher.  Try googling "zentangles" and you'll be amazed at this art form that doodling has become. Here's a link to the main site of the people who started this craze.  http://tanglepatterns.com/

When I feel the way I've described above, I sit in the evening and try a zentangle.  In no time at all I am totally focused on the drawing and have forgotten anything else.  I go to bed satisfied that I did a little something artistic and much more relaxed than I was when I sat down. 

Another friend, Joan, travelled with me to Victoria to attend the doll club meeting.  Just to stay in touch with everyone we do this three or four times a year.  While in Victoria we did a bit of shopping and I have to thank Joan because she came up with the greatest idea.  I had told her how I've been doing a bit of zentangling in the evenings.  She also knows I take my dog for two hour walks to the beach a couple of times a week.  She suggested we go to the art supply store, Opus, http://opusartsupplies.com/locations/victoria and get an Art Bin, a small journal and a couple of pens to keep as a kit in my backpack, which I always take with me in case I find a good heart-shaped rock to bring home (I collect them). 
We did purchase that little kit and today for the first time I went to the beach with it, and a little thermos of tea and a protein bar.  Tuffy and I walked fast and furious to the end of the beach, collecting little items for inspiration, when lo and behold, there is a little shelter built of driftwood!  I hunkered down in there, (it was drizzling rain) got out my kit and my tea, and while listening to the music of the waves crashing on the beach, I did a zentangle, sipped my tea, and just generally totally relaxed with my dog sleeping beside me.  It was wonderful and I'll be doing that again. 

Beach Tidbits used as Inspiration

And here's the results.  Can you recognize the shape of the rock used as a template, the driftwood, feather shells and waves?  This was a delightful exercise and such a peaceful way to spend some time on the beach.  It took about 1/2 hour to draw, and then we walked back home to prepare dinner.....refreshed and smiling, and with a tired out dog!  All in all a great day! 

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Finishing things!

Early in January I got together with my friend Joan and we decided this would be the year for finishing things.  Joan loves to journal and does a spectacular job of it.  I haven't done any of that yet, other than this blog!  She gave me a beautiful small notebook which is divided into sections with lined paper, graph paper, plastic sleeves for photos or samples and some dividers in random places.  I decided it would be my journal of my "Finishing Adventures of 2012". 

We sat down on our regular Friday stitching day and began our lists.  She had gone through all her unfinished objects (heretofor referred to as UFO's) and listed them.  So while at my house we went through my cupboard of UFO's and listed them in my journal.  Even I was horrified at what I had in there.  If I finished all the things in there I would have an entire closet to put to better use.  I think there's a fine line between storing and hoarding and I may be on the verge of crossing it! 

My book is now divided into types of UFO's.  Unfinished quilts, unfinished dolls, unfinished paper projects (handmade books), unfinished knitting projects and unfinished art trading cards! 

Throughout January I have been applying myself to finishing things.  I have finished a felted purse....it had been in my closet for at least 3 years and it needed a button sewn on it!!!!  WHY do I stop when I'm so close?  But it's done now.

I then got out a doll that I think I started at least 15 years ago.  She's lovely and just needs her clothing completed.  I had started to make a skirt of leaves with decorative machine stitching on them.  The silk I was working on had bunched up and I didn't know how to fix that so into a box she went with all her parts and pieces to await ...... well, to await more knowledge I suppose.  This month she emerged and I was amazed at how much I've learned in the past years and how easily I could do that stitching now that I know what supplies to use and how to use them!  I've got the stitching done now and am adding beads to the skirt petals....beading is another skill I've learned since starting that doll.  I'll be going to the doll club meeting in Victoria next week and I intend to take her with me.  Some of the members were in that class when I took it with Patti Culea, and I'd like to ask if anyone can remember how many years ago it was! 

 Another thing finished in January is a knitted collar which I'm very pleased with.  It was started in a class at Needle & Arts in Campbell River http://www.needlenart.com/ with Miriam Leth-Espensen from Santa Fe, New Mexico.  I love the way it fits and believe I will do another.  It would make a lovely gift for someone who doesn't knit and it's so simple! 

This is a pot holder that has been on the shelf for a number of years.....I don't dare guess how many.  I don't even think I made it....it's folded squares and all it needed was a binding!  It's done now and crossed off the list! 

And last but not least, while at a retreat with my quilting group in April of 2011 I put together a kit quilt that my mother gave me and asked me to make for my sister to hang in her office.  I'm not a Halloween officianado, but I was willing to sew it together and finish it.  Mum had used the center panel to translate into graph work and knitted a sweater for my sister in the intarsia method, which incorporated these designs. (My sister works is a pediatric heart specialist) Mum does this in her head, without even drafting it out on graph paper! 

So this January I got out that quilt top, basted it and proceeded to quilt and bind it.  Yahoo....another finished project!  And the last step for January is to enter in my little journal of UFO's, what I finished, when I finished it, and any notes I think appropriate.  The only appropriate note I can think of is "Why the heck didn't you go all the way to the end before you started the next thing!!!"  See that big word at the bottom of the page????

I can hardly wait to see what February brings!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

A Tea Flower Ceremony

My mother, father and I were having dinner  together the other evening, as we do every evening now that they live with us.  it was a quiet meal with not a lot of conversation.  I cleared the table of the main meal and brought out dessert and as always, a pot of herbal tea.  Only this day the tea was different.  We had a coffeemaker that stopped working and I had thrown out the body of it and put the pot in a box for the local thrift shop.  Mum saw it there and brought it back into the kitchen.  She told me she had a tea flower that her granddaughter gave her and she needed a clear pot to put it in and wanted to use the nearly discarded clear glass coffee pot for that. 

Now you should know that Mum has downsized considerably in this move, and can't let go of a lot of things she has.  So when she can't find a place for them she brings them into my part of the house and places them somewhere.  I find little surprises in the oddest places.  Some I leave there and some I put in the box for the thrift store.  I've found that once Mum has actually gone through the motions of moving something out of her space, she will often forget about it.  (Altho I have gotten into trouble the odd time because we "can't find" something she knows she brought over to my house!)  But this time it was worth it......

But back to the tea.  Mum brought her little tea flower over.  It's a tight little ball of tea leaves.  This one was called Sunset Oolong...."Wild oolong leaves and orange lily offer a golden full-bodied flavor with hints of peach, some caffeine.  Brew time 3 minutes."  It was from Spice Merchants . 

We put the little ball into the pot and topped it up with just-boiled water.  And then the three of us sat and watched the little thing unfurl.  I must admit to having had thoughts along the line of "what has my life become?"  But little by little the leaves rehydrated and spread out and lo and behold, we had a lovely flower floating in a pot of tea!  We poured three cups and it was surprisingly tasty.  I had seen these little balls in the tea shops in our area, but never before appreciated the zen quality of the tea ceremony using one of these. 

My natural (or destructive?) curiosity overcame me when we were done tho.  I got out kitchen scissors and dismantled the leaves.  It was interesting to see that it was constructed like a bouquet.....many long tea leaves, a lily flower which still had it's stamens, and what I think was a strawflower in the middle.  I can't imagine making these and wondered how it gets dried into the ball shape! 

But what started out to be something I thought laughable was actually pretty interesting and educational as well as tasty! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Zen Doodling

"Zentangling" has become a very popular form of doodling.  Check out the "home site" for this new art craze at http://tanglepatterns.com  There are many blogs on-line also that have photos and descriptions of other "tangler's" pieces, as this one is going to do.  My friend Donna Pepper is a Certified Zentangle Teacher and treated a group of us to a class.  It was amazing in that it made a group of very close friends go from chattering and laughing to total silence the moment we started to concentrate.  I can understand why it's called "ZENtangling" by that experience. 

Zentangles can be done in a book or journal (one of the participants has a fabulous collection in a little book and they are incredible)  and can be any size you like, but the typical is a 3" card referred to as a "tile".  Donna gave us each a few tiles and a pen (pencils and erasers not allowed), and started us out on the essentials to begin our very own tile.  It was great fun and I loved it.

So I decided to try it at home.....in fact....finish the piece I started in that mini-class.  Now I'm wondering if I missed the "zen" aspect altogether because the piece I did is so uptight and strangled that it doesn't look like I relaxed or got into the zone at all! Too many tiny little squiggles, too much black.....I think a psychiatrist might have fun analysing this one!  I don't remember what mood I was in when I tackled this one, but I do believe I'll have to try again....or then again, perhaps I should just stick to stitching! Here's my first tile (she says unhappily)....and I know the photo isn't in proper focus, but figured it shows well enough how badly I did~!