Monday, 28 November 2016

I Do Love a Good Binding

A lot of my fibre arts friends have switched over to a faced edge on most of their work--no more bound edges--too quilty for them. They want their work to look like art--not quilt-not craft.

I do use a faced edge once in a while but I usually choose to do a bound edge. I choose a bold, colourful binding. 

When I first started quilting, I sometimes had trouble binding the quilts I made. Some of them languished for year--yes years --before the finality of binding. I realize now that was a bit of a perfectionist tendency. If it wasn't finished-ie bound --there was still room for improvement and therefore not my best work. And then when it came time for me to give it up and bind the thing, a fabric that was either in the quilt or one that matched it , was no longer in the stash.

Fabrics change over the years. Colours come and go. If you don't save enough of the chosen fabric for the binding and wait too long, you might not be able to match up something for the binding.
That's where I started to get creative with my binding choices. I deliberately choose a very high contrast fabric for the binding.

Although it is very difficult to see this in the photo, the binding on this Pears Helene quilt is a bright vivid green. The quilt itself is black on white --very plain. The print frames the quilt, adds a huge pop of colour and is a surprise. I love surprises in my work--not so much in my life-but that's another blog post.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Coffee Table

The Map as Art by Katharine Harmon with essay by Gayle Clemans
Princeton Architectural Press New York 2009 ISBN978-1-56898-972-3

Spirit Maps by Joanna Arettam
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC York Beach, ME2001 ISBN 11-59003-001-X

Map Art Lab by Jill K. Berry & Linden McNeilly
Quarry Books Beverly, MA 2014 ISBN 978-1-59253-905-5

art quilt maps by Valerie S. Goodwin
C&T Publishing   2003 Lafayette, CA ISBN 978-1-60705-682-9

In and Out of the Garden by Sara Midda
Workman Publishing NY1981ISBN 13; 978-0-89480-193-8

Sara Midda's South of France by Sara Midda
Workman Publishing NY 1990 ISBN 13; 978-0-89480-763-3

The Trickster's Hat by Nick Bantock
Penguin Group NY 2014 ISBN 978-0-399-16502-3

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Birds in Flight

I just found this picture--forgot I had made this quilt.
It was one of those things that just took on a life of its own.  It is made of window screen rectangles  with small pieces of fabric stitched on and then the bird pieces appliqued. The squares are attached to each other just by threads.

I hung it outside on the patio for two years and the sun pretty much destroyed it.

It's gone but I miss it a lot--I think it's time to revisit the technique .

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Calendar Quilts Series

On January 1, 2014 I began a block a day project. I challenged myself to make one reverse applique block every day for a year. One of the general rules was that I would use fabric from my stash--not new purchases.
I did one block every day--no going ahead and no catching up!! just one block every day.

I stitched the blocks together as I went. I knew that I would have trouble finishing it if I just had a little box full of blocks at the end of the year.  Each block was added to the previous days block when it was finished and they were stitched together monthly .

I am not an organised person. The challenge of doing one thing every day was daunting.  I am a great starter but a little bit lax on the finish it up.  In fact I keep January as my finish it up month. I make myself finish up some projects from the previous year before I start something new.

And I did it--I finished my calendar quilt.  And guess what, when 2015 started I challenged myself to do it again.

And I did that, too.

 Same general rules--use what you have, do one block every day. This time I used black fabric and appliqued two triangles on opposite corners. I call it Stars.  Something happened in September and continued into October. I oriented the blocks a different way--and I didn't catch it until I was quilting it. November went back to the original orientation.

When 2016 started I decided not to continue with my daily block. I was tired of it. Always thinking about it--I decided to take a break. And guess what--I missed it so much that I decided to start another one in July. I am working on a daily block every day --this time from July to either July next year --or I might go until December next year and start again in the new year.
I changed the rules a little bit this time. I am still doing the daily block, but I am going to change the shape of the finished quilt so that I can use it as a bed quilt.  The two previous quilts measure 36 by 90--not exactly useful for beds or walls. I am making a group of thirty blocks at a time, then taking the thirty first day to join the blocks together by the month. When February comes I will have to double up a little bit but I think I can handle that.

This project is a cathedral windows adaptation. I chose this type because the quilt will be totally done at the end of the challenge--no quilting required.  It will be completely finished when the year is done.

Once again I am using only fabrics in my stash. When I run out of one I will use another--same as before. I want this one to be very colourful so I have been searching through my stash for prints with a lot of colour through them and also pieces that have gold or silver applied. I want it to look like a gypsy or morrocan kind of flavour. This block is a little more time heavy than the last two. It takes me twenty minutes to make one block and join it up. I think I can find twenty minutes every day.. maybe lose a few solitaire games.

I like to think that I will have a whole finished quilt by this time next year!!

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Les mazots

A friend told me about a custom in France where a tiny house would be built on your property to house your treasures. The house would safeguard your irreplaceable family mementos. It would be protected from fire or flood in the big house. It could serve as  the family meeting place in the event of a disaster.

If I had a mazot on my property, this little dress would be hanging on the door.

maybe I would put some shelves inside to house my fabric collection.
and maybe this dress in the window.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Anonymous Quilter

I am an anonymous quilter. I don't often show my work to anyone--especially anyone outside of my small circle of friends who like the stuff I make. When my husband asks what I am working on, my usual reply is " Oh just fooling around with an idea--hope it works!" I have a few quilts that I have never shown my daughters--the one I made to conjure a little girl from China--I have never shown them.
More precious than gold, worth more than all the tea in China

I like it that way. It's too personal to show to just anyone.
I also don't tell anyone that I write a blog. It's for me--if you happen to stumble upon it--that's good but otherwise it's just for me. If you enjoy it when you read it, that's good, but not really necessary to me.

The other night, I was watching Madam Secretary. She is the Secretary of Something Big in the US government. Her life is full with trying to raise a family and fight fires for the President. She was invited to make a graduation speech for a big university, but sent her speech writer in her place. She was too busy. Her speech writer, I can't remember his name, apologized for being her substitute but then went on to tell the graduates that there are a lot of very important jobs that go virtually unknown and that maybe that's where many of them should focus their attention. For every Big Wheel there are a lot of little wheels that keep things moving along.

Maybe that speech was for me. Maybe I will never be Nancy Crow or Elizabeth Barton or Lisa Call or any of the other world famous quilters who get invited to put on show, who are paid thousands of dollars to give a trunk show and whose work sells in the thousands of dollars range. That's really OK with me. I don't want to be them. I just want to look at their work, and admire it and them go home and make more quilts.

I think that I am happy just with what I have. I am still going to make quilts--and I am still going to apply to be included in shows--and I am still going to get the rejection letters. My quilts might not be included in a lot of shows but they are still good. They tell stories about me and mine, they cheer people up, they brighten my life. My friends often look at someone's work or a piece of fabric and say "Oh that's one for Karen. She'd like this" That means that they recognize my style. Sometimes, I wonder why they pick a certain thing that they think I would like but that's OK , too.
Bloom where you are planted@2009

I think I have reached an age when I know that a lot of things that I maybe wanted to do at some time are just not going to happen. I am never going to live in a little cabin in the woods.(but I might soon have a little trailer on my daughters property--even better)my house is not going to be in House Beautiful, I am never going to learn how to fly an airplane. I am not going to get a PHD in anything. But I can still make a lot of quilts. I know that I won't need to buy any fabric!!
So, if you stumbled into my little corner, thanks for stopping by. I hope you liked it.


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

hmmm !!!maybe i'll alter it

I made this quilt a year or two ago. I used the narrow strip piecing method that Kathleen Loomis has used for many years. I love her work and have seen one piece in person at the Susquehanna museum in Harrisburg Pennsylvania.
I made it to honour my mother. It's the slow descent into Alzheimer's disease that my mother took.

I have been looking at it for a while, contemplating doing something drastic to it. It might involve acrylic paints,  threads, scraps of fabric,,hmmm

I don't know if I have the nerve. I don't know what I have to lose.

thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A Revelation

Do you remember the guy who invented the nasal strips who said that he woke up one morning and realized "outside the nose!!" was the way to go. And then there was the man who designed the needle for the sewing machine. He too dreamed about putting the eye of the needle at the other end.
Well I woke up this morning with a solution to something that I have been pondering for a long time--and it was so simple that I am mad at myself for trying to make it so difficult.

I was trying to figure out a way to incorporate some printed paper into my work. I want to add newspaper to small areas of my quilts. I want to stitch them on with black thread and lots of circles. I want a reverse applique look but I really wasn't eager to cutting small bits of fabric away. too tedious even for me.

So the solution I woke up with--not reverse applique-just plain applique!!!! DUH!!
Really, I didn't think of it until now.  I don't know what  I was thinking.

I tried it out on a little postcard this morning.  Really, I was contemplating doing reverse applique and cutting out those little circle.
I am so glad I didn't do it that way.

I can see so many possibilities with this idea. I can just do this, or I can paint a little bit on the surface of the paper before I stitch it on, or I can paint over the paper after it is stitched, and I can tear a few circles out of the paper so that the background show through more.

I am going to use this lots. Look for it in some of my next projects.

Just for the record, I am not afraid of doing a lot of stitching. Right now I am working on a log cabin series. I have made two tops and am working on the quilting. The blocks are  4 inches with lots of logs in each one. I am now quilting in the ditch around each log. Lots of stitching going on!!

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

One Thing Always Leads to Another

I am having my fibre art friends over on Thursday so I decided that we would try a little texture printing on fabric.
I made a few designs on paper and cardboard using a glue gun.
Then I wanted to seal them so that we could use them as texturizer sheets and put them through my pasta machine with paint on them to transfer paint to my fabric. I didn't have any gesso but I did have a can of house paint.
Now I am waiting for the paint to dry. I am not sure if it worked or not. The paper is sticking to the plastic work sheet. Maybe needed to use heavier cardboard or stock. I will wait until it dries a bit and check.

But in the meantime I remembered that I needed to paint this papier mache bowl that I made a long time ago and has been sitting and waiting the next step since Hallowe'en.

Well it's got at least one step further in the process. When my little friend Arianna comes next time, she will note the progress.

So when I was looking for something to set the bowl on to dry, I found the candlesticks that I had painted (badly I might add). I could set the bowl on top of the candlestick to dry.
But then, I might as well give the candlesticks another coat of white.
I think I'll stop now. It's just about time for lunch. I am putting the paint away.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

More Precious Than Gold, Worth More Than All the Tea in China

After the birth of my third grandson, I started campaigning--hard--for a girl baby. We were so lucky to have the babes we had but there were not going to be any more. So why not go to China and get one of those girl babies, they were giving them away!!
I found a little silk outfit and bought it and kept it in the closet-until we needed it.
When our quilting group celebrated our twentieth anniversary, the year of china, we offered a challenge to make a quilt with China as the theme. This quilt was just waiting to be made.

The jacket, vest and hat were appliqued onto a piece of ikea fabric that I quilted in a grid fashion.

Then I made the Chinese coins segment. Its a traditional quilt block. I uses fabrics that had a bit of gold printing.
Then I made several blocks from Kaffe Fassetts book. They are rice cups to Kaffe, but I wanted tea cups.
And that is how the quilt got its name.
More Precious than Gold, Worth More than All the Tea in China.
As I was making the quilt, I thought a lot about the whole idea of giving all of these little girls away. Just because they were girls. I am the mother of two girls. How do you just give her away. How does a country sanction, even force this to happen. Do they long for their long lost daughters?
I have no idea how many daughters were removed from the country, but I am sure that it changed the face of the country.
There are just so many issues on the whole adoption theme. The giving and the getting changes lives forever.
I know that the life of the girls was changed-and I am sure that it was for the better. A life in a new family, who cherished them, with all of the opportunities in North America is surely better than where they would have been if they had remained in China.

I didn't get the girl baby. But I did get three beautiful grandboys. I am over it.
How lucky can one woman be!!

Monday, 14 March 2016


My little sewing group had a challenge to make a traditional quilt from a book that we have in our library. I have forgotten the nameright now.  I  will find it and name it. Although I am not very fond of doing traditional quilts, I am very fond of challenges. I decided that I could make a traditional quilt-but make the quilt my own.
I have a fondness for black and white fabrics and had a lot of them in my stash. I decided that I would use them and some red that I had, too.
I seem to have a lot of trouble following directions. It was not easy to assemble the blocks in the manner of the pattern, but I did it and was one of the first ones finished!!  I like to put a surprise colour on the binding. In this case I used a little bit of flame pattern for a small border, then a black and white border and a binding of turquoise blue!! Just my style.
Not in any kind of a hurry to do another one.
Thanks for stopping by.

Still not that fond of tradition.

Monday, 7 March 2016


I went to Spain last night.  No not really-I went to the cinema for a documentary about Goya.

Michelle Karch Ackerman Installation in Grimsby

I went to the Grimsby Ontario Art Gallery today to see the installation retrospective by Michelle Karch Ackerman. I have been a fan for several years and had seen two previous shows. I was especially interested in seeing the Lost Margaret pieces. I was not disappointed.
These are christening gowns that were made for babies who died before they were christened.
There are three very long gowns, soiled by the earth and floating above many small babies.

In the center of the room, curtains made of hankies, doilies, dresser scarves enclose a small dresser  filled with clothing from the past.
This was work from an artist residency in a hospital and speaks to the confinement of people afflicted with tuberculosis.

On another wall are many tiny knitted sweaters, aged by time (and tea) hung on sticks.

They are commemorating the lost boys from the Battle of Beaumont Hamel during the First World War.

The First Newfoundland Regiment suffered overwhelming losses in this battle. Seven hundred men were wounded or killed from the regiment of 801 men.

 The artist invites knitters to contribute to the wall of sweaters by knitting a sweater for the collection. Read about it here.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Day the Deer came to Visit

We often sit in the living room of my daughter's home and watch the deer eating apples from the old apple tree on the hill.
One autumn afternoon we were in the living room and we heard a loud crash in the kitchen. We all ran to the kitchen and were surprised to see a big buck had pushed in the screen and was helping himself to an apple out of the bowl on the counter.
He lifted his head when he saw us, and reached down into the bowl to get another apple.
With a twist of his head, his antlers were free of the window frame. He sauntered away into the woods without looking back.
I knew that was a quilt in the making!!

I have had the black and white prints in my stash for a long time. I used them to make the walls of her house.
The deer pattern is from Luke Haines-a freebie on the internet. The landscape pic is one that I took in the neighbourhood.

The apples came from a Jane Sasaman print that I had recently purchased. The bowl is a Japanese print. The ribbon came from,

Thanks for stopping by!!


Pages from my Book

Just a few pages from my book about the Regional Art Project

If you would like to see the Regional Art Project, go to the Niagara Region offices on Schmon Parkway in Thorold, Ontario.
The project was undertaken in 2014 when the Niagara Region was celebrated as the cultural capital of Canada for its role in the War of 1812.
A series of photographs from the area were selected and interpreted by various artists.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Are You Lucky?

I had an interesting conversation with a peer recently. She told me that she did not think that she and her spouse were lucky. I was surprised that she said that. They have been married for over forty years, raised two children and have a slew of grandchildren. They travel a great deal, mostly in their huge motor home. looks pretty lucky to me.
She went on to say that everything that they have has been gained through hard work-not luck.

I wonder. Would holding the same job and being progressively promoted be hard work. Yes, I think so but there must be a bit of luck there also. Lucky that one of the many new conglomerates that have purchased the company that he works at have not decided to close down that particular operation. Plants are closed often when sales are made and new companies take over-not because of lack of productivity but just not the new owners particular favourite. A local plant received highest honors in the company for productivity one year and was closed the next. Just didn't fit in the companies plans.

You, dear reader might wonder where this rant is leading. I started this blog to record my fiber art-not to talk about local politics or even opinion but I have been really concerned lately with a lot of comments by women in my peer group--lets call them the senior citizens -but don't tell them I called them that. Sometimes they are just so darned  privileged that they don't even know it. Vacations and pensions and right of way have become expected and not appreciated.

The recent influx of refugees from Syria has been the topic of conversation. Some of my peers are so steadfastly against welcoming these people. Where will they find jobs in our poor economy? How much is it going to cost us? Is it just that they haven't worked hard enough to keep their family safe or is it just that they have not been lucky.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Off with Her Head!!l

I  am having a tea party to celebrate the birthday of  the late Lewis Carroll, of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass fame.
Charles L. Dodson was his real name. All stories about him tell of a very shy, mild mannered man who stuttered when he spoke, but obviously had a vivid imagination which enabled him to write these astonishing stories. I never really thought that the Alice in Wonderland books were children's books. They seem to have so many layers that can be fully appreciated by adults.  Alice Liddell, was the daughter of a family friend and she and her sisters were entertained by Mr. Dodson's exciting and inventive stories.
Do we still use our imagination or have we become so inundated with facts and information that we don't even know how to wonder? Are we encouraged to dream? Do we ever just fall down the rabbit hole? on purpose, without a safety net? 
We probably could just send a scope down the rabbit hole and have a clear vision of everything there.
I made this quilt several years ago in answer to a challenge in our quilting group. The challenge was _______time. So the quilt is called coffee time-I don't drink tea.

I used hand dyed fabrics and commercial fabrics. I like to add black and white to most of my work. It gives the eye a spot to rest.
Thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, 25 January 2016


Every year at the beginning of December, I hang these clothes outside to air on the line. They stay there until Christmas Eve.

I found the red long johns this year and added them to the line.

After Christmas they came into the house, were washed and have become my favourite pyjamas.
I can't wait to put them on after supper and sometimes wear them longer into the day than really necessary.

This morning, I found two little holes in the legs of my long johns. I think they have been there since they were outside hanging on the line. Testament to the power of a December wind.
At first I was dismayed about the holes and then I realized that its just another opportunity for a bit of creative visible mending. So I will sit in front of the fireplace--its really just a channel on TV--and embroider a little bit.
Visit  website for some very inspirational visible mending.

thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Deer Crossings

Deer Crossings 2015
Deer Crossings detail 2015

Deer Crossings is a piece I made in 2014. My daughter frequently has deer visitors in the yard. They are so accustomed to people coming and going that they often hardly look up from their feeding when we pull in the driveway.

I embroidered the face and ears and appliqued scraps of fabric on the neck and face area.

The border is made of blocks that have been randomly slashed and inserted a thin strip of striped fabric.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Picasso's Swimming Pool

I went to the Museum of Modern art in NY in the spring. One of my favourite spots at the museum is the swimming pool installation by Picasso. It's a little alcove in the gallery and all of the walls are lined with paper cutouts-blue on white that suggest swimmers in a pool. You can stand in the middle of the room and just rotate around. the shapes just change and evolve and suggest water, waves swimmers--whatever you can imagine.
in the pool


a detail of Splash.
I made this quilt long before I saw Picasso's swimming pool and I have shown it here before but I think I will post it again today. Maybe I need to do another one or two. Most of my work has been more colourful and brighter but sometimes the simplicity of two colours and simple shapes says more!

This quilt celebrated the birth of my third grandson. It's a group of little boys surrounding a pool and sending up a big splash. The apple represents the apple of my eye. The heart shows my love for all the little boys.
Next blue and white quilt will be a little more suggestive and a little more shape on shape.
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, 15 January 2016

At the Park

in an attempt to simplify my work, I have decided to try some very abstract work. I used Kathleen Loomis's fine line piecing technique and made it my own.
at the park 2015

at the park detail 2015

I used three different fabrics plus a bright orange for the binding. Lots of machine quilting. It's an attempt at abstract. It really can mean anything that you want it to mean. A trip to the park, a day at the beach, sitting in a big chair??
You decide.

Self Portraits

When I was at a friend's cottage this past summer, we tried a little experiment with software on our computer. We took a recent picture of my face and applied a few different filters to my pic.

Here I am!!
and here I am again, in black and white with heavy shadows.  Do you see a quilt here?

Yes I do, too. But as of right now, it's just in my head. it is on the list. But the list is a loooong one!!

Thanks for visiting. Karen