VMQG Quilt Showcase 2016

I was shocked to see that the last post was written 19 days ago.  Company visiting, end of season activities, finishing projects and packing up summer toys; time got away from me.  Also, there hasn’t been much blog-worthy news to report until this past weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday I participated in the first ever Showcase of Modern Quilts, put on by the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild – VMQG.  The showcase took place in The Pipe Shop at the Shipyards in North Vancouver and it was a huge success. There were 146 quilts on display, including the wall of mini quilts shown in the picture above.  The venue was perfect as it had high ceilings, lots of natural light and old posts and beams – a great backdrop for the modern style of the quilts.

Over 750 people came through the show and they were blown away by the overall beauty of the room and the quality and diversity of the quilts.  What a pleasure it was to be volunteering while listening to comments and answering questions.  There were so many interesting observations by quilters and non-quilters.

I can’t say enough about the show’s organizing committee.  As participants we were kept informed about what we needed to do and when we needed to do it.  Clear, concise directions made it easy.  As volunteers we had our schedules well in advance, we knew what our jobs would be and we were well taken care of while working.

As a new member of the VMQG I was hesitant about entering the showcase.  But this is such a welcoming and talented group I decided to take the plunge, and I’m so glad that I did.  It was an honour to be a part of this show and to be made to feel that my work was worthy of hanging alongside these amazing quilts.

Thanks and kudos to the amazing organizing committee and everyone else who had a role in putting on this show.  You’ve set a very high bar!

Here are a few photos from the show.  Click on any to enlarge and scroll through.

Thanks for reading and I’ll look forward to seeing you at the next showcase; rumours say 2018.


Successful Weekend

In the previous post I talked about getting ready for the Denman Island Artists’ Studio Tour.  Now, four days later I’ve unpacked my bags and put away all my display things and can reflect on the weekend.

The weather cooperated – sort of.  Compared to last year’s torrential rain and cold temperatures this was lovely.  Compared to how a summer weekend should be, it wasn’t great.  There were showers, winds, sun and clouds.  Mostly it was grey and iffy.  We had arranged several quilts on fences and in the trees, where they really look awesome.  But then they had to be brought under cover, where they don’t show well.

I sold several pieces on Saturday and nothing on Sunday.  In fact, by Saturday lunch, I had made almost all of my sales.  The comments and feedback all weekend were really positive.  I handed out many business cards and, who knows, perhaps one of those people will be looking for something one day.

Overall, I’m satisfied with how the weekend went.  I cleared out some older pieces and brought in some cash, which I’ll probably use for more fabric!  Will I do it again next year?  That’s a tough question and it’s way too early to know the answer.  For now I’m happy to enjoy the remainder of the summer and think about new projects.

Here are some pictures from the weekend.  Click on a photo to enlarge it.

Studio Tour 2016

The Denman Island Artist Studio Tour is coming up on Saturday and Sunday and I’ll be participating with a few of the other local quilters.  This will be my second year and I’m way more relaxed this time around.

Why is that?  Well, a couple of things come to mind.  Last year I knocked myself out getting new pieces made.  It was kind of frantic.  In the end, sales were slow and most of the things came home with me.  This year I’ve got a couple of new things, but I’m also going to try to sell some quilts that I made a while back and am now ready to part with.

It’s really hard, maybe impossible, to know what’s going to sell, and that can be frustrating.  There are always lots of kind comments, ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and people saying that they’ll stop in at the end of the tour – they never do because they’re heading to catch a ferry.  The trick is to hook them early, and we’re in a good place for that.  We will set up in Downtown Denman, between the Art Centre and the General Store.  This is where people will pick up their tour maps and plan their route; pretty much the start line.

I’m more comfortable accepting that not everything will sell.  Maybe nothing will sell.  My style and colour/size choices won’t appeal to everybody. Some may not like my prices.  That’s all OK, as I’m still enjoying the process of imagining and creating.

As a group, we’re more organized this year.  We’ve talked about how to display our quilts, how the traffic should flow and how to engage the ‘tourists’.  We’ll have a small demo table, where we’ll show the different steps involved in making a quilt.  In addition to cash and cheque, we’re going to accept VISA.

This is all great and I feel confident that we’ve taken steps to make a better experience for those who take the time to stop by.  The one thing that has me concerned is something that I have no control over – the weather.  Last year was awful.  The rain was torrential and the temperature was cold.   We had to cram our quilts under tents and then take many home to dry after the first day.  To top it off, on the Sunday there was a propane leak at the General Store and traffic was shut down for over an hour, keeping everyone away.

I put this post away for two days, while we had company.  Now it’s the day before The Big Tour and it’s pouring rain.  Thunder and lightning are overhead.  I’ve checked the weekend forecast and it looks promising.  Something like the photo below, from a couple of years ago, would be a good start.  Right now I’m going outside to do a sun dance.  If you read this post in the next 18 hours, perhaps you could do the same.  Thanks in advance!



Christmas in July

It’s not really Christmas, although the summer weather has been a bit chilly this month.  We’ve seen single digits, lots of rain and some high winds.  Today is a perfect day for the 5th annual ‘Ewe da Best’ golf tournament, which is held on a local sheep pasture.

Last summer I participated in my first webinar, called ‘Wedge Quilts Go Modern’.  It was put on by the Modern Quilt Guild and the instructor was Christina Cameli.  Christina showed us how to use a wedge-shaped ruler to cut strips of fabric.  Yes, it could be done without this tool, but it would be more difficult and I don’t think the results would be as accurate.  We learned how to join the strips and ways to work with the hole created in the centre of the strips.  (In my quilt the white circles fill in that hole.)The webinar also covered making pieced strips, fractured strips and negative space strips.  Webinars are a terrific way to learn a new skill, without having to leave home.  You could even be in pj’s having a glass of wine!  Here are some wedge rulers.

Without an end in mind, I made the three circles last fall.  Then they sat.  After a couple of months I added them to a white background.  They are appliquéd on using the blanket stitch on my machine.  At the same time, I made the backing, using bits and pieces of reds, greens and whites.  I squared up the top and the backing and then put them away until May.  This is the second quilt that I’ve done this way and it seems that taking a break from them makes them exciting again.

I made a quilt sandwich with the top, the backing and bamboo for the batting, but wasn’t sure how to quilt it.  In the end, I started with the three circles and did a pebble pattern in each of the coloured spokes using Superior King Tut thread in White Linen.  The white spokes are not quilted so they puff out a bit.  The grid pattern is random and I used the same thread in Limestone, White Linen, Cheery Red and Holly and Ivy.  The binding is a great fabric that I stumbled on in Fabricland.  It doesn’t show well in the photos, but it’s Christmas candies in all of the colours that are in the quilt.  The finished quilt is approximately 60″ x 60″, perfect to curl up with on Christmas morning.  While I love it, I am going to put it up for sale in the Denman Island Studio Tour August 6 and 7.  Here are some photos; you can click on them to enlarge and see captions.

HO! HO! HO! and thanks for reading.

July Bits and Pieces

Hello!  I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend and had a chance to celebrate our amazing country.  We took in some local events; including a dinner at the pub, an awesome Saturday market and a pancake breakfast at the fire hall.

The weather that we’re having is great for sewing.  It’s grey, cool, sometimes drizzly and generally not what we’re used to for July.  My typical plan is to do chores/workout in the morning and then hit the sewing machine in the afternoon.  Having this kind of schedule helps me to see progress. I love having that ‘carrot on the stick’; it makes getting the chores done so much easier.

I’ve got a few things on the go right now.  The big push is on to get my Postage Stamp quilt finished this summer.  It’s been a fun project to pick up and work on in bits.  Now it’s at the stage where I can visualize the end and I’m keen to get it done.  In this post – A Grand Day, – I have a picture of one block from this quilt.  Each block has 256 pieces and there are  16 blocks, so the  completed quilt will have 4,700+ pieces.

Usually, one makes all of the blocks of a quilt before starting to put them together.  I’ve gotten a bit impatient with this one and jumped the gun.  Sashing is the fabric that separates the blocks.  My choice for sashing is more 1″ square pieces, but all using different text fabrics.  Here’s a picture of four blocks with their sashing.


(We’re replacing a window and I love the scaffolding for hanging quilts!)  I’ve sashed 12 blocks and have four more blocks to make/sash vertically.  Then the same sashing, horizontal, will go on and I’ll be ready to get it all assembled.  Moving ahead like this has revived my interest in the Postage Stamp quilt.

I’m also getting things ready for the Denman Island Studio Tour, which will be on August 6 and 7.  This year the Denman Quilters will have a demo area and I volunteered to take that on.  I’ve chosen a small trivet in a Log Cabin with Labyrinth pattern that I saw on She Can Quilt.  I’ll have a completed trivet as well as the trivet in various stages of construction so that people will be able to see the various steps involved.

And, nearly finished, is a quilt that I started nearly a year ago, after listening to a Webinar on using a  wedge-shaped ruler.  I’m just hand stitching the binding on, then it’s into the washer and dryer to be cleaned up and made to look ‘quilty’. This one has me quite excited and I’ll show you a picture next time.  Until then, think Christmas candy!

All for now, time to go after that carrot on a stick.

Thanks for reading.

In The Garden

When I started this blog I promised myself that I wouldn’t feel guilty if I didn’t post regularly.  I’m not a fan of writing just for the sake of writing, and I’ve followed a few blogs where this has been the case.  Needless to say, I don’t follow them anymore!

Lately my sewing and quilting have taken a back seat to yard and garden work.  As described in the previous post,  A Lull, Hopefully Short-lived, we have been working to create a new garden and to restore one that was neglected for several years.   It’s hard work, but so satisfying.

You may have gathered that I try to look on the bright side of life.  Sure, there are times when it’s necessary to be serious, but why waste that energy if you don’t need to.  Last week my Mother in Law was checking out the garden and she said that it was whimsical – music to my ears.  We’re trying interesting plants and using lots of bright colours.  Believe me, this past week the colours have cheered up the cold, wet and grey days.  We’ve been collecting odd bits and pieces of stuff from the beach – rusted chains, huge spikes and old chunks of ferry dock pilings.  Hurray!  We replaced the two old lawn chairs, which Blake found on the side of the road, with four aqua Adirondack chairs.  And this week we crossed a major ‘to do’ off the list.  We installed a flag pole and raised The Maple Leaf for the first time.  It’s beautiful and we’re going to have a christening celebration on July 1.

Here are a few photos of things in the yard.  You can click on them to enlarge and to bring up a description.

Now, as Sunday is a day of rest, I am going downstairs to work on a quilt that’s in its final stages.  I hope you’re enjoying a restful, final day of spring.  Thanks for reading.

A Lull, Hopefully Short-lived

The photo above was taken on the deck of our Denman Island home.  We’ve worked hard this past week, getting the garden and yard into shape, and getting these pots done was one of the final chores.  From now on it’s a matter of keeping on top of the weeds, deadheading, watering and enjoying. And, hopefully back to the sewing machine!

Our garden and yard must meet three criteria.  Plants need to be drought tolerant, deer resistant and low maintenance.  Our household water comes from a local lake and we’re mindful of how much we use, especially when the summer is hot and dry, like 2015.  We have several different grasses and herbs.  They do well with little to no water.  I’ve been ‘collecting’ lavenders, which pass our tests while providing beautiful colour and scent.

Deer resistance is more difficult and seems to change with each year.  Our yard is fenced on three sides.  The deer have figured out that the fourth side is open. Typically any plant that has a strong scent and fuzzy foliage is safe.   It’s frustrating to learn the hard way that chives are left alone, unless they’re garlic chives.  The latter were munched to the ground. I planted some bright yellow yarrow – Achillea millifolium –  two years ago and it thrived.  So I planted a couple of different red yarrows, only to find that, overnight, they were destroyed.  It seems like the best way to deal with this is with a sense of humour.

As for sewing, well, I’m kind of stuck.  I finished the big, bright Indian quilt and a couple of smaller projects.  I’ve got something half quilted but I’m having trouble coming up with  ideas for new projects.  The Denman Island Studio Tour is coming up in August and I’d like to get a few things ready for that.  Big, small, table, wall, bed-sized?  Can’t decide.  There are so many different things to do in the summer;  I think the change from being indoors quilting and sewing to being outdoors playing will be good for inspiration and ideas.

While I’ve been mulling this over I’ve read two books by an author/artist named Austin Kleon.  Steal Like an Artist  and Show Your Work.  Terrific books for anyone who is or inspires to be creative.  Check out Austin Kleon’s work here: Austin Kleon

I’m also enjoying the series of four books, known as the Neapolitan Novels, written by Elena Ferrante.  They take place in Naples and follow the lives of two girls, beginning in the 1960’s.  Lots of twists and turns, interesting characters and a great look into the gritty life of working class Neapolitans.

I hope you get a chance to change pace, do some fun things and pick up a good book over the summer.  Let us know if you discover a ‘must read’.

Thanks for reading.




Something Fishy

Simplicity can be effective.  A couple of years ago I purchased a book by a gal named Casey York. The book is titled Modern Appliqué Illusions 12 Quilts Create Perspective and Depth.  The designs are quite simple, yet the finished quilts are eye-catching as they have a 3-D quality to them.

One in particular drew me in; it was called Ripples.  I loved it because it reminded me of the goldfish in our pond on Denman Island.  I’ve made this quilt twice in the past year – once as a wall quilt and once as a lap quilt.

The wall quilt went together nicely.  It had three koi, made from different orange fabrics.  I used a light grey cotton for the shadows and the same grey for the binding.  The backing was a bold orange and gold print.  I’d never done circular quilting and found it a challenge to start.  However, as the circles got larger, it was much easier.  I entered this quilt in the Denman Island Studio Tour last August and it sold quickly to a lovely girl who was working on Denman for the summer.

The lap quilt has five koi on it.  The backing is pieced and includes two blocks of Japanese koi fabric.  The binding is dark charcoal with white bubbles.  You would think that the lap quilt would also go together nicely.  After all, I’d ‘mastered’ the technique on the smaller one.  Well, that wasn’t the case.  I ran into a few problems and feel that it was because I was being so casual and not really paying attention.  I used the wrong product to adhere the appliqués to the quilt top.  This product is not meant for sewing as it gums up the needle and causes missed stitches and broken thread.  The circular quilting was more challenging because the quilt was larger.  There was another issue but I’ve managed to erase it from my memory!

This quilt was a gift for dear friends of ours who have a lovely home on the island of Hawaii.  And here’s something that really surprised me.  I wanted to send the quilt to Hawaii and had a three-week window to get it there.  I tried both FedEx and UPS and got quotes of approximately $130.  The FedEx clerk asked if I wanted it to go air or ground and, if I’d known there was a road to Hawaii, believe me, I’d have driven it myself!  Thinking those prices were just a tad steep, I stopped in to Canada Post.  Their quote, including the envelope, was $30.  BINGO!  Delivery was six days later.

I enjoyed making these two quilts and look forward to trying other patterns from Casey York’s book.  In the meantime, here are some photos of the finished projects.

Thanks for reading.

It’s a Dog’s Life

This has nothing to do with quilting or sewing or creating anything, but it kind of called to me today.

We have an eight year old Chocolate Lab, named Tug.  Tug is our second Chocolate Lab and we got him as a pup six months after Chip succumbed to a number of diseases, at just 10 years old.  Chip was of the larger Labrador breed, can’t remember if that’s American or English, but there is a difference.  In our two Labs the difference is about 30 pounds.

We fought hard against having a dog at the same time as having two school-age children and a husband with a very busy work/travel schedule.  But, every night, for what seemed like forever, our daughter, Brooke, would ask for a dog and we were finally worn down.

I haven’t done any research on Chocolate Labs, so my observations are purely anecdotal.  These are lovely, fun, loyal and social dogs and our two have shown human-like tendencies.  Chip learned to move the chair away from the table so that he could climb up and join us at the table.  As a family, we got used to this; any guests were shocked to be sharing the dining table with a 90-pound dog.

While both dogs loved visitors/mailman/canvassers, Chip was more aloof than Tug and he would seek out his crate for quiet.  Tug seems to need to be around people all the time.  He is usually under foot in the kitchen and is always glued to our sides if we start packing to go away.  He has mastered the ’emo’ expression.  We’re sure he’s thinking ‘I’m so sad, are they going to leave me, I don’t see my things packed yet, don’t forget me.’

Tug began this lovely day with a long walk through the forest to a local lake, coming home along the beach.  Then he lay on his puffy bed for several hours while we pulled weeds.  Right now he’s having a little nap and then he and I are meeting a new ‘girl dog’ and her dog Mom for an after-dinner stroll.

Here’s a little gallery of Tug pictures, with one of Chip – face on with yellow bandana.  Click on photo to enlarge.

I’m not sure about reincarnation; if it’s a real thing then I know what I want to be when I come back.




Switching Gears

It’s Sunday on the May long weekend and I hope you’re having a good time, wherever you are. The other day I was trying to explain to an American friend what this weekend is all about and I have to admit it’s a bit confusing.  Here’s what I learned from a quick search.  The holiday is officially called ‘Victoria Day’ and it’s celebrated on the Monday preceding May 24, which is the day that Queen Victoria was born in 1819.  It is a statutory holiday in all provinces except NS, NU and QC, where it’s called ‘National Patriots’ Day’.  In NB it’s listed as a ‘prescribed day of rest’.  Most stores remain open; banks and government offices close.  Mail isn’t delivered.

Fewer and fewer people use the official term Victoria Day, instead calling this  ‘ The Queen’s Birthday’, ‘ The May long weekend’, ‘The May Long’ or my favourite, ‘The Two-Four’.  Whether the latter refers to the date, or to the kick off of summer beer drinking season is a matter of personal choice.  This is typically a  busy gardening weekend, as by late May, the weather should be warm enough to get plants into the ground.  Unfortunately, it’s snowing in Calgary today even though they’ve recently had temperatures in the high 20’s.

Three weeks from today is the Victoria Half Ironman race, something that I’ve been training for since late fall.  Last Sunday I made the tough decision to withdraw from the race.  Dental surgery/infection and a nasty cold sidelined me for over three weeks, at a time when I should have been building big miles.  In a nutshell, I ran out of time.  Once the decision was made and I shared it with my family, friends and training buddies I felt sad, yet relieved.

It took a couple of days to mentally adjust to not having this goal to reach for.  I love the challenge of pushing myself and the feeling of being fit.  I got out for two short runs and a lovely hike to Quarry Rock with my daughter, Brooke, and was reminded that fitness can be found in lots of places.

What to do with all that extra time now?  I made a little jacket for the 10-month old daughter of a couple that I know from triathlon training.  I’ve been easing back into garment sewing and this project reacquainted me with reading patterns and various sewing techniques.   Here’s the jacket, front and back.  Click on the photo to enlarge. Note the little bicycles on the fabric!

When that was done I took on the task of making myself a name tag.  These are handy at quilt meetings, retreats and workshops.  I made this out of bits and pieces from my fabric stash.  I found some fabric that has inspirational quotes like ‘dream big’, ‘make messes’ and ‘bite off more than you can chew’.  Then I made my name out of bits and pieces of alphabet fabric, kind of like an old-time ransom note.  Not wanting to get too far away from my sporty side, I used a piece of coveted swim fabric for the back.  Here’s the name tag.  Again, click on the photo to enlarge.

The completed name tag is a reflection of me this week and most weeks; thinking positive thoughts, using my imagination and keeping active and fit.

Whether you’re in the garden, shovelling snow, drinking beer or just relaxing I hope you have a safe and happy Two-Four.

Thanks for reading.