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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.

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In case you’re not up to speed on the lingo, WIP stands for work-in-progress. I’ve been having fun creating the elements required for the Dwayne Wanner workshop I’m enrolled in. This coming Saturday, we’ll be bringing these elements along with our sewing machines and putting them together into 10 or 12 blocks that will form the wall hanging (approximately 4 feet square, although Dwayne does not encourage the standard, square product). It’s far more likely to have an irregular shape.

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“very skinny strips” – one of the elements for my abstract expressionist wall hanging

There are six different elements, using a range of techniques, and it will be a lot of fun deciding how to put them all together.

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I’m making progress on my Amish pinwheel blocks, slowly but surely. I’ve got 10 made (or partially made). I didn’t have enough of one fabric, so my sister took a scrap home with her and reported back that she found a match in her stash!). You can see that block on the upper left side of the photo.

This is a large block (18″ square), made from half square triangles, that I found a sketch of in the Mary Ellen Hopkins book It’s OK if you sit on my Quilt. By selecting some rather dainty floral fabrics I am creating a modern vintage look.

Amish Pinwheel blocks on the design wall

Amish Pinwheel blocks on the design wall

I have the fabric selected for block #11, and I only need 12 in total. Once I have them sewn together, I will have to measure to see how much border fabric I need. I’m really hoping to find enough in my stash for the border. We quilters are always trying to use up what we have (so that we can buy more!).

I’m looking forward to the next challenge, as always. On April 20, I’ll be attending the first session of  a three-part workshop with Dwayne Wanner. I have seen his work, and heard him explain his philosophy of abstract expressionist quilt art, and now I will get to work with him.

This is one of those workshops where you actually complete something! However, the last session isn’t until May 25, so I won’t be posting about that for a while yet.

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A week ago, I was in sunny Mexico for a yoga retreat at a remote eco-lodge in the jungle, north of Puerto Vallarta.

sunshine in Mexico

This was my first visit to Mexico, and it did not disappoint. My yoga teacher here in Toronto, Catherine McFadden, organized this retreat as her first foray into “destination” yoga. What a success! Tailwind Jungle Lodge is a 5-acre treasure nestled into the lush countryside overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  A great bunch of 11 yoginis (including me and one of my sisters) stayed in a range of accommodations on the property – ranging from a rather luxurious “casita” with a four-poster bed to a rustic, canvas-sided “bungalow” on a wooden platform. Check out my photo album.

There was lots of creative inspiration to be had on this trip, as well as a healthy dose of introspection and exquisite Mexican food prepared by a local gastronomic genius, the talented Abigail.

mural - San Pancho

mural - San Pancho, Mexico

I loved the “public art” in San Pancho: kaleidoscopic mosaics and celebratory murals. There’s an awesome non-profit organization we were introduced to in San Pancho (aka San Fransisco), called Entre Amigos, focused on creating educational opportunities for families. Check out their website … what they are doing is truly inspiring.

Moasic reptile created by San Pancho kids

Wouldn’t this make a great quilt design?

I had to snap a photo of a dusty old sewing machine, found on the main street. I’m not sure whether it is intended as “street art”

an old workhorse

or whether is was just abandoned (cast iron sewing machines ARE awfully heavy!

broken dishes mosaic

So today, I am dreaming about sunny Mexico … the hikes in the jungle, the swims in the ocean, the naps on the beach, the colourful + noisy birds, the warm spirits of my companions, the enlightening yoga, the stimulating contrast from city life, the gastronomic delights and even the cheery all-night chirp-0rchestra of the tree frogs. There’s way too much to cram into one post, so you can expect more highlights in future posts.  Today, a week after returning from Mexico,

winter in Toronto

I awoke to a winter wonderland. There are just a couple more days left in February, so today I’ll be going for one of the last skates for the season.

Parting advice: celebrate each season, wherever you are!

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My title says it all …

I suppose I spent most of the month doing what needed to be done to secure a new job, and am quite relieved that it paid off! In retrospect, the few months I spent planning and executing my search were well spent. It’s always a positive thing to examine one’s career and, in the process, take stock of all the skills and successes that have accumulated.

I am excited about my new job, which will commence later in August. It calls on both my communications skills and my commitment to exploring sustainable transportation options.

It’s been such a sweltering summer that I haven’t been able to sew as much as I would have liked, since I do not have air conditioning. But I managed to participate in a community-based exhibit, Hillcrest Village Fibreworks 2010, held at Sidespace Gallery in June. I can’t believe I took so long to get around to blogging about it.

Forest Fragments

I had two pieces in the show: Forest Fragments (above) and Shimmer, a paper-pieced wall quilt. We also had a little sale on the last day of the show.

In early July, I spent a few days visiting Nick in Montreal. Since the World Cup soccer finals were on, we watched a few games together. The jazz festival was on too, so that was a lot of fun. Nick took me to see Keith Jarrett’s trio, which was awesome, and we bopped to a great variety of free shows too. I visited the Musee des Maitres et Artisans du Quebec, which is in an old church. The exhibit of 70s glass makers in Canada was pretty funky. The McCord Museum had a really well organized display of Cirque de Soleil costumes. And I rounded out my cultural tour with a visit to old Montreal and the Archaeology Museum, where we had the best tour guide ever (Felix) who conveyed a lot of intriguing info about the inhabitants of Easter Island.

A carved stone pelican outside the Musee des Maitres et Artisans du Quebec

I made a rather contemporary baby quilt (designed by Elizabeth Hartman) for baby Matthew, who came into the world a tad early, but nevertheless is a healthy little guy. His folks are good friends of both my sons.

Matthew's quilt

Who knows whether I will get any quilting done at the cottage? There are so many distractions …

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The wind stirred me up today, but during and after yoga class this evening, I heard and felt the wind in sync with my breathing, and it felt right.

the leaves danced all day today I still feel unsettled, but I think the winds of change are going to push me forward, whether I like it or not.

I’m still processing the events surrounding the G8/G20 summit in Toronto last weekend. I played a small part, by participating in the peaceful protest organized by Greenpeace, Oxfam and others. The sheer numbers of people who turned out, and the diversity of ages, races, causes, genders, etc. were impressive. And the atmosphere, as we marched from Queen’s Park down University Avenue, was festive. We weren’t angry, we just wanted our voices to be heard. From my perspective, the summits were an egregious waste of money – money that could have been directed towards climate change initiatives or concrete actions aimed at addressing the shameful poverty that exists in Canada and throughout the world. The whole lead-up to the event, including the scare tactics used by police to intimidate protesters, and the ridiculous fake lake farce set the stage for what was inevitable – the vandalism. And I am disgusted that the media was, for the most part, typical in its reaction. Over and over, they played the clips of the cruiser on fire, and the black-clad figure smashing the plate-glass window.

Scant seconds of coverage featured the peaceful majority that were there to exercise their democratic rights.

I’ll sign off now and hope that something good comes out of all this, though I don’t have a clue what it will be.

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My son, on a recent visit, remarked at the sudden appearance of Starbucks at the corner of Bathurst St. and St. Clair Ave. W. Yup, the highrise condo building that sprouted up there is not even occupied yet, yet the Starbucks is making its shiny new presence known in typical fashion – all flash and free samples for the people waiting for the Bathurst bus.

However, just south on Bathurst, the spunky Scratch Espresso Bar proclaimed its virtues on a simple chalk board set up on the sidewalk.

Simple marketing ... it works!

I must confess that a) I don’t drink coffee (tea is my thing) and b) I’ve not been into the Scratch premises, in its current incarnation. It used to be “Scratch Gallery” and I bought a couple of arty t-shirts there a while back.

Don’t you love the graphics painted on the outside walls?

A few of the neighbourhood characters - immortalized on the facade.

I hope Scratch’s clientele remains loyal. I am inspired by their “better, cheaper, friendlier” spirit and wish them well. I plan to drop in for a cup of tea sometime soon…

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