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Do you find it difficult to settle down to just one project? Even when I have launched myself into a project, I sometimes find it hard to make decisions. If you’ve ever delved into the world of half-square triangles, you might have an inkling of what I mean.

There are countless ways of arranging them! Check out this flickr group .

I rarely buy charm packs, but fell in love with the Simple Marks line by Malka Dubrowsky (for Moda) when I discovered it. Half-square triangles seemed to be the perfect way to use the 42 five-inch squares in the pack. In my stash, I found that I had a sizable piece of a neutral fabric (Countertop Texture –  Michael Miller Fabrics) that coordinated perfectly as the light half of the triangles.IMG_5083

Making the HSTs was easy, and playing with the infinite possibilities of the arrangements on my design wall was so much fun!

Instead of trying to decide which pattern was “the best” I finally ended up, after a few weeks of play, just deciding which appealed to my sense of having a little extra “oomph”. Then I settled down to sewing them together.IMG_8456

Here’s the WIP (work in progress). I am still contemplating whether to add a border (comments welcome!)

Over the same few months, I have also been distracted by this year’s guild challenge “Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. The entries aren’t due until May, but I would rather avoid entering “panic mode” so I spent some time figuring out a way of using all six of the required ugly fabrics in an original design, and it’s partially done.

Next I was lead astray by a casual conversation with a bunch of quilting friends, reminiscing about corking when we were kids. Corking, you say? It’s also known as spool knitting or French knitting. I had purchased a wooden corking “device” a while back at a craft fair, so I hauled it out and, after a brief consultation on the Internet on how to get started, I was off and running! It’s quite addictive.

Other distractions have included jaunts in local ravines and fields hunting for snowy owls (they’ve been sighted quite often this winter), a lengthy search for a new yoga studio (which was finally successful) and the black hole that is Pinterest. It sucks you in and the next thing you know, several hours have passed!

My conclusion is: distractions can be fun AND frustrating. They’re part of being human.

Christmas Eve

As Toronto bravely makes its way through a terrible ice storm, and I prepare to step gingerly across the icy sidewalks to get to the subway to get to work for the last time this year, I am thinking about the frailty of life. All the connections in this great big city – seen and unseen – some working and some faltering – affected by a confluence of weather conditions that we can’t control.

Peace to all on this Christmas Eve.

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Community Catalyst

About six years ago, I was fortunate to discover a small group of women in my community whose interest and obsession with making textile art equals my own. Each year since then we’ve managed to find a place in the neighbourhood to mount a display of our creations.

A few times it was a room in a church, several times a funny little vacant space on the side of a building (called “Side Space Gallery”), once in a café, and this year, in a yoga studio. The expansive white wall that spans the length of the studio was just begging to be lit up with our colourful creations.

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Grounded

We negotiated with the studio owner to have specific hours (around her classes) where people could come and see the exhibit, each weekend throughout the month of November.

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A Patch of Stillness

This Saturday, we’ll be holding the opening reception for our show at the Studio for Movement.

A week ago, we met to “hang” the show. None of us knew what each other had created, so it was a bit like Christmas morning when we spread everything out on the floor to get an idea of what the collection looked like. Amazingly, it all came together beautifully. It’s astonishing how some of us, working independently, used similar colour palettes and themes in our work. This made it fairly easy to create groupings that complemented each other.

I worked pretty hard to get two new pieces finished (each participating artist is invited to submit two pieces) and was still stitching on the labels the day we hung the show!

A third piece I had brought along (Open Arms, aka Driven to Abstraction) turned out to be just the right size for one of the walls, so that means I have three pieces in the show!

Getting together with my artist friends to plan and execute these exhibits, on a shoestring, has proven to be a great catalyst for all of us to learn, laugh, experiment and share our art with the community.E_invite_2013

If you’re in the Toronto area, I invite you to come by and be inspired!

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

A bowl of binding

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Here’s the binding I prepared for “Summer Breeze” from 2″ strips cut from an assortment of the left over fabrics.

The impetus for this project was a small photo of a quilt on a bed that caught my eye in something I was reading (a newspaper, perhaps?). I cut it out and ruminated for sometime on the concept of a quilt make from large blocks. The quilt in the photo comprised a random arrangement of squares and rectangles that appeared to be about 20” across.

I started pulling out small-print florals from my stash and putting them aside for this quilt. The more I thought about it, it occurred to me that I could do something more interesting than simple squares and rectangles.

While leafing through Mary Ellen Hopkins’ The It’s Okay if You Sit on My Quilt Book (1989), which is brimming with block ideas made from different arrangements of strips, squares and triangles, I zeroed in on a block she calls “Amish Pinwheel”.

There are so many things you can do with half-square triangles, and this block is just one example. It’s made from 8 half-square triangle blocks, with a rectangle of the background colour added to each corner. Each finished block is 18” square. Image

The traditional Amish quilt always features solid fabrics, not florals. So I am hesitant to call these blocks Amish pinwheels. Yet it is not your typical pinwheel block.

I checked on Flickr and only found one example similar to this block, and the maker called it “Dancing Pinwheel”.

Because it is intended as a summer quilt, I opted to use flannelette for the batting to keep it light.

The quilt measures 67” x 90” and I did simple machine quilting in neutral colours. My intention was to have the quilting disappear, and just do its job (holding the layers together). The binding is made from an assortment of leftover fabric.

The result is a “vintage” look quilt. That sounds so much more sophisticated than “old-fashioned”, don’t you think?

Numerous people have asked me “Who it is for?”  It’s for me!

With all the recent weather-related and other catastrophic events happening in Canada and around the world,  we are sometimes uncertain as to how we can help our neighbours.

Luckily, I came across the Just One Slab Quilts Recover Southern Alberta project – the brainchild of Cheryl Arkison. It was an easy way for me to contribute my skills to a worthwhile endeavour aimed at providing some comfort to the many people affected by the damaging floods.

The distance between us is more than 3,000 kilometres, but I felt I was part of one big community of quilters putting our hands, hearts and needles together in an effort to let others know that we care.

All Cheryl asked was for people to make a slab 15.5” square. “You can insert the white bit or not, that’s your choice. Just aim to make your block in a single colour. Make as many as you like,” she stated on her blog. The blocks were inspired by Cheryl’s “The Missing U” quilt from her book, Sunday Morning Quilts.

Cheryl has local volunteers all lined up to put the blocks together and produce the quilts. As of the middle of July, she already had 276 blocks. I contributed two blocks, and because I packed them in an unusual way (rolling them around a foam cylinder and then wrapping brown paper around it) I could easily  pick out my package out in the photo showing a pile of the latest arrivals in her blog post of July 29!

Quilters are Warm People

I am really looking forward to seeing the colourful results of this comfort project. A big thank-you goes out to Cheryl for her leadership. Quilters certainly are warm people!

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