Sunday, 15 April 2018

Fish Out of Water

Finishing up Klenk Junk was really the first big project I worked on in my new, too-small sewing space. I hadn't gotten many scrap-happy hours under my belt when it became very clear that the setup wasn't gonna work... I really missed having a cutting table in the room. Sure, putting up a temporary folding table out in the hallway worked, but only in a pain-in-the-ass sort of way...it wasn't a great solution at all. Problem is that the giant vintage butcher block that I absolutely adored simply does not fit in this wee house and sadly it has been relegated to work bench duty in the garage. What. A. Waste.  But in the spirit on moving onward and upward we won't dwell on that part... the Fatboy doesn't mind sharing his space with the beautiful hunk of furniture!


Anyway, a trip to Ikea and a mitt full of gifted Christmas cash solved my problems. Turns out their counter height desk not only fits the big cutting mat but is also high enough and wide enough to provide a hidey-hole hole for two rolling carts. Holy scrap taming possibilities, Batman! This setup rocks! The wheeled carts provide a bit more horizontal work space when and where you need them! My wee cutting mat sits atop one of them and often ends up beside me at the machine and allows my improv slicing & dicing to happen in a stationary spot; cutting to the left of me and pressing to the right.


Sorting the big piles of scrap proved to be an intriguing exercise for Mr. Recipes and he dove right in to help me sift the bits into the respective low volume, Kona and print drawers. It was while he was sorting that he found random bits that pleased his colour loving spirit and he went ahead and made himself a little pile of favourite scraps.  Once all the scraps were stuffed into their new quarters he presented me with his pile of scraps and said, "Make me something with these!" Of course I smiled and said, "Those? All of them? They don't really match...can I add anything to it?". His answer was simply, "I just like these. I'd rather you didn't. " I'm sure the look on my face was priceless and I know my brain kinda went, "hubba-wah?" but I just took the mish mash from him and put it in a bag, tucked it under The Robot and left it for another day. I was gonna have to chew on that for a bit. It wasn't long when a fire began to smoulder in my brain... that old familiar feeling of must-get-idea-out-now was burning in my brain and I set to work.




First a background. Then some stuff to make it a scene. A tree. Some landscaping. A fish.  Wait... a fish? Under the tree? Ok. Why not? Wait... maybe two fish.


And then the border.  The center scene was so busy. It needed something to frame it, to ground it; a spot for the eye to feel a bit of relief. In the pile there was a selvedge string of Essex linen and the frayed, soft edge really drew me in. So I rooted in the scrap drawer for more. There was just enough....like JUST enough. I even had to piece it to get enough length to allow me to mitre the corners. The fringed bit really worked for me... it lended a soft edge to the madness within.




And then I decided to make a scrappy checkerboard border to round out the piece and get in some more of the itty bitty, colourful pieces that Mr. Recipes picked out. So I cut and sewed. And then I cut and sewed some more. And then...you guessed it... I got bored. I hate repetitive sewing. That's when I started putting in some longer bits within the checkerboard. My 1" finished checkerboard border was thwarted by laziness... but, I liked it.




And then it was done. Well, almost.
I trimmed out a lot of the bulk from the back, all those layers of fabric under the appliques creates a lot of unnecessary thickness that sometimes makes quilting a bit tricky. It was after that task was done I decided it needed one more fish.


Some wild, super colourful backing fabric chosen by Mr. Recipes on a trip to Avonport Discount Fabrics, some quilting done at a MMQG sew-in and a black binding finished it up and framed it rather nicely. I got to hang Fish Out of Water in my hair shoppe and enjoy it for a few days before it went off to Fredericton to hang in Mr. Recipes office at Veterans Affairs. He gets lots of fun and interesting comments about the piece... folks seem to enjoy it a lot! Certainly while I had it in the shoppe with me it was QUITE a conversation piece...and really complemented my commissioned mermaid painting, by my very talented friend and local artist Sarah Irwin.



There is something about creating with wild abandon that moves me.
Tossing aside all the rules, forgetting all about the "should" and the "shouldn't", putting the "why not? " ahead of the "why?", and just going for it really, really makes my heart sing! Projects like this feed me...they remind me to push the boundaries, to step out, to keep dreaming, building and exploring.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

About That Junk...

Remember back a long, long time ago I started playing around with a pile of  destashed "junk" that I picked up from Adrienne over at Seam Work? (**She moved her old blog, Chezzetcook Modern Quilts, to the new site which reflects her new biz!) I free pieced a center panel and then sent it along with the bag of junk out into the big, wide world for additions by Anja and Adrienne herself. You can read all about the beginnings of the project here in this old post. Eventually, in the latter part of 2017, it came home to roost and one day, out of the blue, I decided to haul it out and finish it. I set the end of 2017 as my personal deadline for its completion, because sometimes you just have to draw a line in the sand, right?


I sewed up slabs using all the bits and pieces in the bag...everything that was there went into the flimsy. I held nothing back. I gave no regard to print or pattern, did not discriminate between the shapes or sizes... I simply sewed. Blissful, mindless sewing.




All. The. Junk.
All. The. Colours.

There were JUST enough larger pieces to build a back... and a scrappy binding. Remember I mentioned my new sewing space is once again on the small side? Well, it's a good thing there's a bit of room on the landing because occasionally things sorta sprawl out there when more space is necessary... it's not an ideal setup but it works in a pinch!





I really love this quilt: it was a super-fun challenge, it's full of scrappy, wonky goodness, it cost next to nothing to build, it fits perfectly on my couch but mostly, it reminds me of my pal! :)


Sunday, 25 March 2018

March Madness

March really needs to simmer down! We've had more wintery weather this month than we've really had all winter and at this point in the year we are so looking forward to spring in Nova Scotia! But a good snow day makes for a good sew day regardless of what season the calendar proclaims we are in! So... while the weather outside was indeed frightful this week, inside the sewing room things were rather blissful!


The Robot was laying down some thread wizardry on a customers Labyrinth Quilt. I used a pantograph called Chinese Crescents by Keryn Emmerson for the first time on this one. It was elegant but not fussy, and it seemed to compliment the patchwork without overpowering the mazes. 




Keeping The Robot moving along requires me to be nearby to advance the quilt and since I had to hang out I figured I might as well get going on a quilt for a new kid on the block. My cousin and his girlfriend are expecting a baby girl this spring. They are going to name her Evangeline, and intend to call her Eva for short. I decided to make that sweet little Star Bright quilt from Swim Bike Quilt. I have made it several times and love it! It sews up so nicely and since I don't have a very big stack of pinks to pull from it would work well within the limits of my stash.

Eva! My grandmothers name. Evangeline will be a namesake of sorts for her great, great grandma so I felt compelled to put her name on the quilt! Not all 10 letters though, just 3 little free pieced letters showcased in the white space within the star.



Typically the star center is made up of four 6 inch squares. But in this case I made the letters, then put them together surrounded with plenty of the background fabric and then just cut the 11.5" square for the center square. The rest of the pattern was made as the directions suggest, though I did switch out some of the low volume prints in the background for pinks. Remember those groovy pigs? And those elephants from a long ago love affair I'd been having with the trunked beauties? 




Nan was a very talented seamstress. She was a wizard herself and I always figured she could have put a tail on a cat. She would have loved all the goings-on in my sewing room. Can you imagine her seeing The Robot work its magic? She did all her stitching on an old Jones treadle that she had converted to electric, it was a true work horse. Being lucky enough to grow up across the street from her meant that aside from learning to appreciate lilacs, molasses cookies and rocking chairs, I learned to sew on that machine with her hovering behind me.


I've got another customer quilt to complete this week before I get this one quilted up, but with a Baby Shower looming on the 8th of April, I had better get cracking! 


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Well...Hello Again!

Betcha thought I forgot all about you guys?!
Truth is, I haven't forgotten at all...I've just been a neglectful blogger, and a busy one too.

So much has taken place over the last year! There's a new house, a new hair shoppe to work in, a new quilting room, a different head space...you get it, right? 
So. Much. Change.

The last time I chatted with you I talked about being "in the middle". I guess you could say I am approaching the other end of the spectrum now. Life has settled down somewhat and I am finding a new rhythm. It's not always easy to learn to dance to a new rhythm but it is definitely essential to try to master the steps and keep the beat no matter how overwhelming the drums sound at times. 

Here at the new house the renovations have finally ended (for now at least) and we can sit back and enjoy the space. If ever you wonder how solid your relationship might be with your significant other I suggest you purchase an old house and renovate it...together. If at the end of things you can still find love in your heart and patience in your soul for your partner, chances are you'll survive almost any holy hell that life can throw your way. 


We left the little safe haven we'd been renting and moved in here before things were even close to finished in July. With renos in full swing I had some surgery (ouch!) early in September and then moved the hair shoppe into the new studio I had built in the garage by the end of the same month. The move up the road toward the community center has proven to be a positive step and the business has grown steadily...location, location! Closer to the city and to all the amenities here in what I call "The High Tant" means life requires less time in the Jeep and provides more time to "just be". That's not to say that I don't miss seeing that ocean everyday...and I sure do miss the sunsets down the road...but holy cow, when things are right at your fingertips life gets simplified pretty damn quick.

On the quilty front, moving my hoard to yet another too small sewing space sure does challenge ones creative genius in the set-up department and it goes without saying that moving The Robot was a task all in itself. With all that dust settled and all the fabric & related bits squared away in their new hidey-holes I vowed that I'd get back on track in 2018 and get some fun stuff done!

Yes, Klenck Junk is FINALLY finished! More on that later...



Stay tuned for the details on this fresh madness... Fish Out Of Water

And while there may have been little on the blogging front,
rest assured that on the aquisition front things were always in full swing!


Getting back to my guild was first on the list...I really missed my quilty peeps! I've been doing some quilting with The Robot, building a bit of patchwork here & there and working a tonne of hours at the real job to fund all the things. Mr. Recipes (that's my love) has been muttering about my bloggy silence and encouraging me to get active in this space again. So here I am...getting back on track, finding that new rhythm.

Let the drums play on.
I've got some dancing to do.



Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A Hug To Wrap Up In

In terms of cozy comfort there are few things in life that can offer the same sense of warmth and love as curling up with a handmade quilt...well, perhaps snuggling a wee puppy would come close, but we just can't go around passing out puppies when the going gets tough.

Months ago one of my Secret Society of Barn Builders friends, Glen who blogs over at Quilts and Dogs, found herself victim to Louisiana flooding and lost practically everything she owned. My heart was broken for her. I couldn't imagine watching dirty floodwaters destroy my home, but she did. She watched it, she lived it, mourned it. And then she triumphed over it; brave, strong and determined. 

Being so far away meant there was little I could offer in terms of help or support so I rallied our SSOBB friends and together we set out to send her our love. Quilters don't necessarily need more quilts but this one definitely needed a hug. Blocks came from far and wide to make the quilt that would wrap her in our support. I stitched them together in the middle of a power outage with a little lamp and my old Kenmore plugged into a tiny generator...it gave me pause to think of my small inconvenience compared to the problems our friend was facing...you know, count your blessings, right?  The Robot made short work of the quilting and soon it was ready to go.





Glen had plans made to visit Nova Scotia in September but the flood ruined that too. On learning that she had canceled her East Coast excursion it seemed to me that a piece of Nova Scotia tartan needed to be included in the binding, and i just happened to have a piece if it in my stash. When I set out to take pictures of her quilt to share with the SSOBB gang I thought that they should showcase a bit of Nova Scotia's oceanside charm as well...and Sister PurpleBoots has just the spot for such a photo shoot!




During the time I was trying to get the SSOBB's hug finished and sent out to Glen my own world had turned upside down. I ended the 27 year relationship with Mr. PurpleBoots at about the same time and had difficulty focusing on quilty things and The Robot offered little in terms of therapy. Jack helped some, but some things just have to be processed at face value...raw, real and messy. 

It was during this time that I received a box in the mail from New Hampshire. My friend and quilty mentor, Lynne from The Patchery Menagerie, had lovingly sent me my very own hug. It came at just the right time...warm, cozy and colourful. Her quilt brought tears of joy and has since absorbed the weight of many more tears, some not quite so joyful, because she made me promise to use it...thick or thin. And I have!


As quilters we know some people refuse to use the quilts we share because they think they are "too nice" and "don't want to mess them up". While this may well be a thoughtful mindset and it certainly shows the recipients care I think quilts are best used, abused and lived with. Quilts should accompany you on your journey at arms length, always at the ready when you need them. A quilt in the closet can offer little comfort on a day when you need a hug.