Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cutting, stitching birch branches

Cutting little bits of fabric backed with fusible into tiny branches is absorbing, a little like cutting up colored paper in childhood. It doesn't look much different, but I added several branches, painted on the shadows and free motion stitched them down.

I still have a fair bit of stitching to do on the background trees, all the while keeping in mind that it is background. I don't want to over do it. Right now, I have white thread on the machine. I'm almost ready for some grey and then some black.

Only then can I start laying down the foreground rose hips. I must be patient. Each little step is exciting though as I watch it come alive.
I stopped at that point as the yard was calling to me. The wind had dried most of the wet and it was quite mild out. Since getting the cortisone shot in my hip, I can manage about an hour of garden work if I'm careful to vary the tasks. I raked a bit, tied up a couple of trees, and clipped some dead hostas.
It feels good to have done a bit of outdoor work.
Most of the brighter orange and red leaves have fallen; the landscape has turned to greys except for a few later turning golden hued trees. The tamaracks are brilliant gold right now. The apple leaves are still quite green. They're always the last to go.
I picked up these two from the trail the other day. They were flat and dry but it was the pattern and color that caught my eye.

There's always something beautiful to see when you're paying attention!

Monday, October 27, 2014


I love it when I'm in the midst of an intriguing piece. My mind travels there in quiet times and puzzles out how I might do the the next steps. I stray into the studio from time to time, consulting my reference photos, pulling out pieces of fabric. When I'm satisfied I'm on track, I can leave and perhaps settle in to bed and sleep.

And so, I approached the studio today already knowing what I would do next. I had rearranged the birch trees last night. Today, I ironed them in place (fusible on back) and added shadows and markings with paint.

After laying out the foreground foliage, I decided that I needed two more trees.

The plain white makes them jump forward but that will change with the application of paint for the shading.

In the meantime while the paint dried, I cut a few more leaves and hooped them for stitching. Eventually I decided not to use the orange ones, choosing a different red.

 I free motion stitched, ironed away the Saran and laid out all the pieces that I'd assembled just to see how it's going.

The rose hips are not at all in their final place. I will remove them to do all the background stitching first. Birch trees and branches. White, black and grey threads.

Enough for today. Now for some tea and a bit of knitting.

Tuesday is usually a studio day but I may do some quilt shop visits with friends. One can always use a bit of fabric. Also, I'm thinking of making new curtains for the spare bedroom which hubby and I were cleaning out yesterday.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Confetti leaves and birch trees

Yesterday, was a misty, damp, sometimes rainy day, a good day to make seafood chowder and visit an annual craft show.  I made a few small purchases. I've been looking for a rug to fit the small square space at my back door and I found one from a weaver.

I picked up a few special cards from a scrapbooking friend.

There was one other small purchase which must remain secret! Christmas is coming.

Today, my husband and I tackled a small furniture move and some cleaning downstairs. He also managed to part with some things that went out to the recycling. He joked that one of the papers had 1975 on it! I replied that maybe next time we'd make it to the 90's! I have no problem getting rid of my papers and books.

After lunch, I spent some time in my studio playing with my confetti leaves and trying out different arrangements of birch trees.

These are the leaves sandwiched and stitched between the pieces of Saran Wrap.

The next step was to sandwich it between pieces of newspaper and iron it, thus melting the plastic away.

I tried several versions and this is where it's at for now.


Nothing is ironed or stitched down yet, so it's likely I'll move something again. To come are larger leaves in the forefront and red rose hips. Once the birches are stitched in place, I will add the black marks and shading on the trees.

I enjoy working through a piece a little at a time. If I hit a snag, I leave and come back to it. Sometimes just viewing it anew on the computer screen helps to solve a problem.

I hope you're having a relaxing, creative Sunday!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Another fern mug rug

I've felt the urge to be working a bit cleaning up my gardens the last few days. I clipped all my hostas and other perennials that were laying soggy on the ground in the backyard on Tuesday and the side of the house this morning. I put out a bird feeder in the apple tree which I will move to the deck  when the snow falls.

This afternoon, I didn't quite feel like getting into a big project. Inspired by the fern mug rug that I made on the weekend at retreat, I pulled out the remnant of sun printed fabric and cut out another one. It's almost instant gratification as they sow up rather quickly. Just enough free motion quilting to relax a bit.

It needs only the straight lines quilted on the right hand strips and the binding which I've already cut and sewn.

I'll finish it off another day.

This is a pottery tea pot that I just purchased for myself after thinking about it for a year or so. The one at the shop sold and when I told the potter how much I liked it, he made another. I drink a cup or two a day and it will definitely add to the enjoyment.


It's time to sit with a cup now before I get started on dinner.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A day in the woods

As a birthday present, my friend Anne promised me a day at the camp. Today was the day. The air was perfectly clear and crispy in the morning, warming up after lunch.

She was anxious to try out the new side by side buggy which we did on the trails bfore lunch.

After all the wind yesterday, many of the leaves have fallen; the colors are softening.It is beautiful in a gentler way than the bright leaves were.

Apparently, this used to be a pond before the beavers built their dam and blocked it. You can see the remnants of the dam on the left.

Ever the comic, Anne couldn't resist dressing up this fungus a bit with a roll of birch bark. It's indentations were placed to resemble eyes. It almost seems to be smirking.

After lunch while she had a little cat nap, I did a small sketch of the tree tops. The camp is situated on the top of a ravine and as I sketched I noticed that the tree tops were swaying gently. 

It almost felt like I was sitting in a tree house.

While taking some pictures from a neighbours camp, I spied this interesting pattern on the porch.

I think it's one of the nicest gifts I've received. I did get another beautiful gift, two matching zippered pouches which I never showed, so I must next time.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cleaning, organizing, baking and thinking about a new work

When I got home from retreat yesterday, I unpacked almost everything and threw all my wash into the laundry basket so that I'd be ready to do the things I wanted to do today. I woke up to a beautiful, although windy and cool day just perfect for doing laundry to hang out. It is a little blustery but it's holding.
I also made made a 2 loaf batch of multi-grain bread that I just took out of the oven. I wish I could say how lovely the smell is, but I don't have any smell. I'll sample a piece in a bit.
Then, I finished ironing my winter curtains and swapped them for the summer shears. No more gentle breezes wafting through the lacy shears; it's time for window coverings, sweaters, and warm drinks.

 After lunch, I headed to my sewing studio where I put away my projects and set my sewing machine back into the cabinet. Finally, I was free to play a bit with an idea that has been floating around in my head --trees and rosehips that I mentioned and sketched a couple of posts ago. Here are a couple of my inspiration photos.

Using the pinking rotary cutter, I've cut some leaves which I will attach using a thread lace technique that I demonstrated in a post listed under the tutorials tab at the top of my blog.

The birches are done by painting on a mottled batik that is wrapped around a tin can. This is the shibori tree painting method I wrote about in my first article in Quilting Arts magazine. i have used it often.
I think I like where this is going so now I must add a few appliqued trees and get the confetti leaves stitched together.
It's a good place to stop for today. I'm going to have a cup of tea and sample a slice of the bread.
Tomorrow, I've been invited to a friends camp for the day. I'll be bringing my camera, my walking poles, some warm clothes and my sketchbook. I'm looking forward to it!
Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Home from retreat

I've unpacked all my retreat clothes, food, and most of my sewing. Gord and I had an easy supper of eggs and Swiss chard and then did our Bowflex workout. I  had a soak and then did some yoga. What a lovely ending to a beautiful retreat weekend.

Quilters are such a warm, friendly, giving group! We range in age from 40 something to 80 something and we all get along on the same level. Isn't that great?

I can't keep up with some of them!

One of my favourite quilts was this one by Yvonne for her granddaughter. All from scraps.

The Dalhousie girls, Laurie and Kristine were creating twister quilts with an appliqués monkey. Boy and girl version.

I also really like this black, grey and white quilt.

I believe she'd added another row by the time we left.

I'm still working on this quilt. I have two blocks left and then wil start adding all the white sashing strips that go between the blocks.

The I Pad color is not the best on this one. I finished a baby x's and O's quilt top too.

The pinks are coming through a bit more red than they actually are. It's softer and pinker in real life.

For a little break, I cut up a piece of sun printed fabric and put together a quick mug rug. Some of the women commented that they wouldn't want to use it as a mug rug. One particular lady said that she would hang it on her wall and drink her coffee while looking at it. I finished it up and gave it to her. It touched me that she got tears eyed.

I used a variagated silk thread to free motion around the fern.

One of the quilters, Kristine , who is very creative, was  showing this quilt that she devised by expanding a runner pattern and joining them together. She has another strip to add.

Pretty interesting quilt.

Well, I'm getting sleepy. I'm going to knit a bit before 'm off to bed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thanksgiving weekend on PEI

Here I am back home again after a lovely weekend visiting with family on Prince Edward Island. I stayed with my daughter who is doing her B Ed at UPEI, but most of my family live there too, so I was able to spend time with them.

My sister has opened a cafe in a sweet little picturesque village called Mount Stewart and this is where we held our Thanksgiving dinner.

It used to be an old service station but is now quite cozy inside.

Just down the road is the Hillsborough River which the Trans Canada Trail crosses.

On my way out to the cafe I passed a couple of pumpkin farms and couldn't resist stopping for some photos. I've never actually seen so many pumpkins growing in the fields.

All over the front yard of the farm were these lovely little vignettes where people would go and have their pictures taken.

By the time I drove home mid afternoon, there were swarms of people. Also, something that we take for granted here is the method of payment.  I bought some decorative gourds, a pale green pumpkin and 2 squash, leaving the appropriate amount of cash in a locked box. I'm told that is quite unique to the Maritimes but I'm sure there are other rural placesthatcwould do it.

Today, I'm recovering from my trip. I've gotten myself unpacked and started washing clothes and organizing for my quilting retreat which starts on Friday morning for the weekend.

Ever since getting out onto  the trails last week, I've been thinking about a piece of fall fiber art featuring the rosehips. My head is always filled with ideas, some never making it to paper or fiber. At the end of my afternoon, I just had to pick up my pencils, paint and oil pastels to do a very sloppy sketch of what I have in mind.

I won't be working on this at retreat. It's too complicated to pack all the little bits I might need for a fiber art piece, but I'll be musing about it while I sew my quilts.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A little autumn walk and a colored pencil/watercolor

I was able to take a short amble with my poles today along a short section of the trail. It was a lovely day and I wanted to get out before my trip in the morning. I'm optimistic that  the cortisone shot that I gto into the hip joint under xray at the hospital yesterday is going to help.
I found this little maple tree near the end of the trail. It was so beautiful that I went back with the car (I couldn't walk any further) and the camera.
The leaves were glowing in the dappled sunlight.
Then I came home and made myself a chai tea, laced with honey and cinnamon accompanied by my favorite rice crackers with cheese spread and tomato. These are the last form my garden and oh so tasty.

As usual, I didn't come home with empty pockets.

Just enough time to sketch before supper.
To my Canadian, readers, Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Watercolour, coloured pencil, gestural sketch

I won't be doing any sewing here at home for the next couple of weeks. I'm leaving Friday, back next Tuesday, and then I must pack for retreat.
Tonight, I'm going to our guild pizza night where we have supper and then have a sewing night making quilts for charity.
I've been sorting and getting ready for packing, but took some time to do a sketch loosely based on my little hike yesterday. At first glance the colors In the photo seemed quite grey/brown/green. On closer observation one can find some really pretty soft mauves, pinks, and oranges.

When I see the sketch up on the screen, I always see some things I would change. This would be fun done in fiber.
I've got to get to work now cutting a bit of fabric for tonight. I'm connecting to The Needle and Thread Network.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Enjoying my birthday my way

Today is my birthday and aside from a doctors appointment this morning, I've tried to slow down and enjoy the day my way. Upon awakening, I thought I might sew, but it turned into such a sunny warm day that I took my walking poles and camera and headed out for a walk. I went to the trail in east Bathurst where I haven't been in a while.
When you have to slow down, walking becomes more about each step you take. I stop to breathe deeply and feel the warmth of the sun on my face. I notice  the little details in front of me instead of letting them  flow by unnoticed in a blur when I walked for speed.
The bright pinks of the fireweed  have faded but are still pretty in their way.
The summer brights on the rolling hills have softened. It makes me want to return to see if there will be more golds or if the leaves will simply fade and fall.
I came upon these berries, thinking at first that they were small rosehips, but realizing as noticed my boggy surroundings that they must be cranberries. Too bad I didn't have a container. There were lots.
Along my drive back home, I stopped and took more pictures of Indian Island in our downtown.
I'm wondering if the colors will get any brighter on the island, and if so, I hope that I don't miss it. I'm going to be away this weekend for 5 days visiting family on PEI. When I come back I'll be packing for our guild retreat the following weekend.
I planned to sew together the 9 patches of this disappearing pinwheel that is our guild block of the month, but the sunshine was beckoning. You might notice that the fabrics are different than I showed in the last post. This is my 3rd try! And likely why I'm better at art quilting. I cut the block wrong twice before I figured it out, lol!
I just have to put the 9 pieces together now, so I should get it done for tomorrow night. No wonder I don't usually do the block of the month.
Happy Monday everyone! I hope you're enjoying your day in your way.