Sunday, January 27, 2013

Quilted Symphony started, ice in Gulf of St. Lawrence

Hello again! 
I am so excited!   I finally started the "Quilted Symphony" project I mentioned in my post of January 9th.  

This is the book I am working from.

I am not a big fan of buying metres (yards) of quilting fabric if I don't have a particular project in mind.  But, I do love fat quarters!  And I have a large cupboard full of fat quarters to prove it!  When I decided to make the first exercise in the book above, I did not want to go out and buy more fabrics.  I had a pretty good stash of batiks and hoped I could get enough for the project.   I wasn't sure where to go with the colours with the fabrics I had though.  I had a very limited selection of colours and variations of those colours so did I have enough to do the exercise?

Well, unfortunately, or fortunately, when stumped, the best thing for me to do is take a break rather than make a quick decision I will later regret. Today, I looked at what fabric I had and did alot of sorting and it came down to two choices:     this one:

or this one:

I looked at them, and moved the fabric around and looked at them and moved fabric around and finally took photographs.  It was no contest...  I chose the set with the blues.  

Well, I started the first piece to the exercise and just LOVE how it is turning out!

You can see that this forms one of the main pieces if you scroll up to look at the book cover above.  

I have alot to do tomorrow so not sure when I can get back at this but I sure am excited to continue!

Our stitch guild has asked me to do a bit of a workshop on the "Pebble".  I took Sharon Boggons "Sumptuous Surface Embroidery" class and after completing the class project, felt comfortable to do the "Pebble" on my own after admiring it for quite a few months.  This is my completed project from Sharon's class.


So, I have been working on gathering the materials needed for the Pebble workshop and still have alot to do.  Our guild has a meeting the first monday of the month and I will present a bit of a lesson on making the Pebble at each meeting.  Most of the work will be in showing the various stitches that can be used in making the Pebble. 

Tuesday morning I go for my second set of cortisone injections in both knees. I have arthritis in both knees and got the first set of injections almost exactly 4 months ago, in September.  I went from pretty much almost needing a cane before the injections, to climbing Wentworth Mountain in Nova Scotia in a 5 mile hike one way, a week after the injections.  WOW!  I have been quite sore the last couple of weeks when the temperatures were in the -30C range or colder so am looking forward to Tuesday and hope I get the same relief. 

If you've been contemplating it, talk to your orthopedic surgeon.  Mine is great!  My right knee is 90% gone and the left if about 65% gone so I will continue with the cortisone treatments until they just aren't working anymore and then it will be time for knee replacements.  One thing the ortho surgeon said to me was that no matter how bad my knees were, to get out and walk.  He said the benefits of walking far out weigh the cons.  And of course, everyone's situation is different, but this is what applies to me.  So, even though I walk with great difficulty right now, I try to get in 1 to 2 km every two days.  Everyones situation is different and everyone reacts differently to the injections.  I am told they also don't work for everyone.  In my case, immediately after the injections, there is a bit of swelling and pain and a fair amount of stiffness in the knees for a day, maybe two, but two bags of frozen peas will help with that!  Anyways, I am super excited for tuesday. 

Well, as you can see below, there is a fair amount of ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence but it isn't very thick.  I don't think the ice extends all the way to Quebec though.  I think when the wind blows from the north, the ice lands on our shores and when it is from the south, the ice is pushed towards Quebec.

We were out for a walk in the Cavendish Park Campground the other day and I noticed a real change in the beach there.  This is what it normally looks like.

And this is what it looks like with all the ice pushed ashore.  No beach at all.

May you find joy in all that you do.....

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Learning Free Motion Machine Quilting, Hedgerow Sampler, Setting Goals

Love that glorious sun!   

When looking at other blogs, I admit I do enjoy the briefer blogs, unless of course there is lots of instruction on how to do something.  I have come here many times with the intentions of being brief but I have come to learn it is a physical impossibility for me to be brief.  So, for the over 7,200 of you who have stopped by my blog, or the 12 of you who have stopped by 500 times each, my apologies!  

On to free motion quilting.  In my last post, hmmm  two posts ago?   I said I would go from trying free motion "Shadow Waves" to "Etch n'Sketch" from Leah Days wonderful site: Day Style Designs.  

When I saw the video for Etch n'Sketch, I thought to myself, "I am so nuts for thinking I can do this!!"  I can barely free motion quilt slight curves, how can I do the Etch n'Sketch design?   I went back to square one.  I thought, why am I trying to make wavy and designer lines when I don't even know if I can do a straight line!   So, out came my 8 1/2 X 11 inch piece of broadcloth with stabilizer backing, with 4 squares.  I think I even stitched the 4 squares with a free motion stitch a I didn't want to take the time to change feet on my machine and lose the urge to stitch.  So, here is my straight line, effort #1.

You can clearly see I started at the top and worked my way down and improved a bit.  Biggest lesson learned, and if you watch Leah in her video doing the "Etch n'Sketch" quilting, you will notice her doing it too.  Biggest lesson?  When you need to move your hands on the fabric, STOP STITCHING!  Every time you see a big zigzag in the stitches above, I trying moving one of my hands on the fabric as the other hand continued to feed the fabric under the needle.  I did not stop my machine.  Result, lots of zigzags.

The other thing I found was, my fabric kept catching on the feed dog plate and the little attachment drawer of my sewing machine.  So, I need to invest in one of those sliders for my sewing machine.  

When I completed this first block on my sheet, I have to be honest.  I really hated free motion quilting and was wondering if it was going to be "my thing" or if I should just forget it.

I decided at the very least, I would finish off the 4 blocks I prepared on my sheet.   This is my second attempt, block 2.

 This was a bit challenging because I had to stitch the length of the block instead of the width, so again, hand movement became an issue, and I really hated to stop stitching, just to move my hands on the fabric.  But, when I didn't stop, its clear to see the zigzag in the lines.  Another thing I was trying to do in this block, was sew a little it faster.   I was stitching very slowly and feeding the fabric through the machine slowly and the stitches were very small and close together. Not sure if the photo below is clear enough.

Since my machine does not have a stitch regulator, my stitches were very very irregular in length.  Some stitches were very small and some stitches were very long.  So I tried to move my 3rd and 4th squares through the machine at a slow steady pace to get strait lines with fairly even stitch length. 

To get a more even stitch length, I had to move the fabric steadily under the needle.   And as you can see, I am not used to needing to stop the machine to move my hands, and so really wavy stitches!!   But I have to admit, by this time, I was actually enjoying the machine quilting.  I decided I wanted to have some fun and so made another fabric square and tried some half weird stippling which morfed into just stitching for the fun of it!  (I know, you are looking at the photo below and asking which is which?!)

Well, after all this, I decided to go back to "Shadow Waves", the stitch design I was trying to learn two posts ago and see what I could do with it.   Result?

Not great but much, much better.   Which goes to show you, if you want to learn something, all you have to do is practice, practice, practice!

I am trying to finish up some old WIP's, of which I have many.  One of them is Jane Greenoff's Hedgerow Sampler.  

I have the fabric attached to my stitching frame with two sided tape so did not want to remove the sampler from the frame as the tape would need to be replaced and I don't have any!  I am about 2/3's of the way through the sampler.  I found the sampler in Jane's book "Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers".   The book is really excellent and there are a few samplers at the back of the book I want to try as well.  

I was trying to find Jane's book in my "stash" and well, you will understand why I can't find it from these.   I am a book and magazine addict!

And this does not include the pile of books and magazines that are beside my chair in the living room or near my husbands chair!

And this leads me to Sharon Baggon's blog and her comments about setting goals and then reaching them.   I agree with her totally.  In one sense, I am feeling a bit lost or overwhelmed.  I want to try EVERYTHING!   But I am increasingly aware that it might just not be possible to try EVERYTHING.  For whatever reason, I am a little bit of a late bloomer when it comes to pursuing my interest in all things stitching, sewing, quilting, art.  One thing I am finding for sure is, it can cost a small fortune to want to "try" everything.  It is difficult to try crazy quilting with magical stitching if you don't have a good supply of fabrics and threads, needles and embellishments.  It is difficult to try art quilting without a good supply of "hand dyed" appropriate-for-art-quilting fabrics.  And I really really want to try what Monika at "My Sweet Prairie" is doing with sewing machine thread and hand stitching.  But it takes alot of sewing machine thread to do what she does. 

If you have the money to buy it all, to try it all, great!   But I don't.  I do know though that I want to try as much as I can, and I will use what I have right now.
I worked for almost 40 years, and between a regimented work and home life, for many years, I am not prepared to become too regimented right now in attaining goals.  But, if goals aren't set, then I think I might find myself, at the ripe age of 92, still "trying new things" and doing no one thing well.

All that to say I am glad that Sharon wrote her little note.  I really needed it.  I do need to spend some time making a list of things I want to try, and devoting a certain amount of time to learning to what I want to learn. 

So, perhaps I am not the only one that needs to take stock and do some goal setting.

I have always had a very strong desire to do "something" but was just not sure what that "something" was.  I admit I always wondered if because I was never able to "produce a child", if you know what I mean, I then developed a need to "produce" something else, but I don't have the time or interest in seeing a Psychologist over that one! I stitched because I LOVED stitching but always felt there should be more.  When I saw my first issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, with the most exciting stitching and quilting I have ever seen, I was never so awe struck in my whole life.  I knew that somewhere in the folds of that magazine, was what I was MEANT to do.  

When I saw Sharon Boggon's Pintangle site for the first time, I got the same heart pounding  excitement.  Somewhere between Quilting Arts and Sharon Boggon, and now My Sweet Prairie, I am finding my place. So, set goals, I need a list of what I want to learn, and I need to do it, and I need to continue to enjoy myself!

I will leave you with the most amazing photograph.   My husband and I went for a drive to Cavendish National Park.  And yes, we love this park and visit it often.  This is what flew by, right in front of our car.
I had a mere half a second to get my camera up to photograph it, so unfortunately, it isn't the best focused shot.  And yes, it is a bald eagle.


There is a voice in the Universe urging us to remember our purpose for being on this great Earth. This is the voice of inspiration, which is within each and every one of us.

Wishing you much inspiration....   

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Biscornu, Weather

Life doesn't always go along like you plan it to.  

I had lots of plans for quilting and stitching these past couple of weeks but our weather has been horrible.  One day it could be as low as almost -30 C with the wind chill and then the next day +5 C and then the day after that, - 25C!  With weather like that, one is always left feeling like you're fighting the "flu of doom"!

So there is no quilting in this blog (refer to my last posts enticement! lol), but I did manage to finish my biscornu fairly quickly and really like it alot!

 I usually stuff my biscornu's quite full so they are almost hard.  It usually makes for a nicer looking biscornu.  In this instance, even though I stuffed this biscornu much lighter, or less full, it still looks a bit too full for me.  What I found was, that the more you stuffed it, the less the lacy edge stuck out and as you can see in the photo above, the edge sort of tends to hang down almost.  If you look at the biscornu in the magazine photo from my last post, the edge lays flatter and nicer.

 Okay, now that I look at the magazine article, maybe mine is better! 

It was a very easy biscornu to do, but I do admit there was ALOT of counting to do in it.  There were never any really easy places to start counting from so you pretty much had to start counting from somewhere quite far away which meant you had to do alot of two and three recounts to make sure you are in the right spot.  In any case, the biscornu is beautiful and I thank "Stitch" magazine for the wonderful pattern!

I might not have been in the mood for anything but stitching the biscornu and laying in my recliner napping, but to keep the flu at bay, which most people seem to be fighting, I did force myself to get out for fresh air no matter what the weather conditions.  

Salt marsh off Malpeque Bay Jan 9, 2013.

St. Mary's Church  same day.

Lobster traps waiting in the snow for lobster season!

Reflections in the water.

 Foggy fields Jan. 13, 2013.

 And fields in sun and shadow, same day, Jan. 13, 2013.

As a final note, Sharon Boggon of Pin Tangle, had a wonderful commentary in December about setting and meeting goals.  It's really had me thinking and I might have some musings on my own goals in my next post.

If you have time, don't forget to visit Judy Cooper's site.  She has so much interesting information to pass along!

One site that I have not been able to keep away from, is "My Sweet Prairie".  Monika's work is thrilling to see and absolutely stunning beyond belief.  I think machine "painting" is going to be put on the top of my list of things to try.

And the girls at The Sunshine Deli are always fun and colourful!

May you find passion in all that you do.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Free Motion Quilting

Good morning!

This past year has really been a learning year for me.  I've taken all of Sharon's courses, though I haven't completed the GIMP course as I had computer problems.  I've also been trying to figure out if I just want to do one specific thing, or if I am just meant to forge along doing anything that strikes my fancy.
In the meantime, while I am deciding what it is I want to do, I will just keep learning and the next item on my list of things to learn, is free motion quilting, which is now my monday project.  

When I decided that I was going to practice free motion quilting, I thought I would just do a very simple stipple.  Well, guess what?  It isn't so simple!!
What a mess!
I started with an 8 1/2 X 11 inch piece of fabric and the same size of fabric stabilizer.  I sewed them together all around the outside using a straight stitch on the sewing machine.  I then sewed down the centre from top to bottom and across the centre from side to side. This gave me 4 sections.

I wanted regular paper size, 8 1/2 by 11 inches sample sheets because I want to keep the stitches in a binder for future reference. 

The stippling in the photo above is in one of the 4 sections of my fabric piece.  I was trying to go for nice rounded curves.  And I failed.  So I went to one of the best sites on the net for free motion quilting. "The Free Motion Quilting Project" or "Day Style Designs".    Both sites are from the same person.  After looking at the web site above, I found a list where the stitches are ranked from easiest or beginner to the more experienced stitcher.  This is the one I am using, for beginnersMy first stitch was "Shadow Waves".  I did the remaining 3 squares on my fabric practicing this design.  I had trouble keeping the wave design up.  You can see I got slightly better by the time I got to square #3 but I kept having to stop and reform my wave.
My first attempt at Shadow Waves is the top left square, then the bottom right was second and then the bottom left.  Like anything, all you need to do is practice, practice, and practice.  There is slight improvement with each one I did.  I will keep practicing this design and then go on to "Cursive F's".

I tried doing the machine quilting with just office "rubber thumbs" on my finger tips to move the fabric along, but the things kept falling off, so I bought these gloves and they worked like a charm!
 They really worked well at holding my fabric down so I could slide the fabric along with just a gentle touch.

In the meantime, I got some new books.  As far as I'm concerned, you can never have enough books!   I really like this one.  The book is "quilted symphony" by Gloria Loughman.

Its well written, very well diagrammed and the best part, there are 4 exercises or workshops in the book to practice what is being taught.  What I loved the most about the book, is that Gloria is trying to show you that if you enjoy making abstract art wall quilts, you don't need to buy patterns to make them.  You can easily make your own pattern and though I was intimidated at first, I really do honestly believe you can come up with your own pattern ideas.

I am doing exercise #1 in the book and have my fabric all picked out.  And before you have heart failure thinking you need this many fabrics, I just can't decide exactly which ones I want to use yet! 

We don't have any real stitch store on the island other than what is available at Michael's, almost 100 km away, but we do have a fabric/quilt shop nearby. I am totally addicted to fat quarters and have a cupboard full of them so it made chosing a few for the project that much harder!

I also got my Dec 12/Jan 13 subscription issue of "Stitch" magazine.   
In it was the cutest biscornu. 

It had the lacy hardanger edge that was too nice to resist.  So, it is started and on my stitching table!
I am not too fussy on doing all those Algerian eyes along the outside border!

 Well, that's all for me!   We went for a walk this morning after breakfast and it is still bitterly cold out.  I got a bit of a chill and need to bundle up and warm up.  Think a bit of cherry brandy might be in order!

Have a super day!