Tuesday, June 25, 2019

That Was Fun!

AND relatively painless! I switched things over for free-motion quilting yesterday and was surprised at how well it went. And yes, how much fun it was. Fun has never been a word I've associated with my free-motion quilting, but maybe the time off has actually been good for me in that respect. (However, as I turned off the machine, I realized I had not changed settings to "spring foot", yet it worked just fine on the general setting.) Plus, this is a quilt for a child so there was a great deal of freedom in just "winging it" and seeing where the stitches took me. I did another couple of hours today (with breaks), and while I wasn't feeling quite the same exuberance, the quilting proceeded pretty well.

Click on photo for a larger view to see the quilting in the quilt on the left

Here is where I'm getting my ideas for quilting this - the quilting on a fish quilt from a magazine, an article from a different magazine showing variations on a fish motif, and a photo showing a motif I used on a fishy quilt I made quite awhile ago. The bubbles and the child's name quilted in are ideas I used on this child's older sister's quilt. The ribbon waves (don't really know the name for it) are taken from that quilt in the magazine. Really, too much fun!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Normal Service Resumed?

I've been doing so well with my shoulder/nerve issue that I decided to take a chance and see if sitting at the machine to do some easy sewing without causing things to flare up was a possibility. Just like friend Sherrie had unwittingly guilted me into a hike, friend Mary unwittingly was guilting me into getting back to my sewing with the project I watched unfold on her blog. And with the baby for whom this quilt is being made due to show up on my doorstep in less than 2 weeks, I have even more incentive to see if machine quilting is something I can get back to.

The last time you saw this quilt was over a year ago. In this mid-February 2018 post, I was layering things up and pin basting it in preparation for machine quilting. But I also had my usual exhibit deadlines and tax preparation deadlines looming, so folded it up and put it aside. Just as I was ready to dive in to the quilting at the end of July, the nerve issue sidelined me for longer than I ever believed possible. As I sat at the machine now, I felt I needed to reintroduce myself it had been so long and crossed my fingers that when I turned it on, it would be so happy to be in use again that it would not act up as machines sometimes can from disuse. I admit, there was fumbling around as I changed settings and attached the walking foot, but soon I was off and running. My first positioning of my arms did tweak the spot by my shoulder blade that has been stubborn about totally going away but I figured out how to change that so the next session was trouble free. All the stitch in the ditch (plus a few curved lines running top to bottom) is done and next I will see how free motion quilting feels. I want to add some bubbles and fish and the baby's name in some areas - how much I add depends on that shoulder. But this is pretty good news!

In the meantime, more interesting clouds have been in our skies. I walked out of a store to see three nearly identical large "s" shaped clouds side by side looking all in the world to me as if they were dancing. I didn't have my camera with me so rushed home and hoped they hadn't moved too far by the time I could get a shot. Well, they had moved but still maintained some of the curvy shape that I'm not sure I've seen before. I laugh at myself because I often see tree shapes that I interpret as dancing, and now clouds have joined them in my vivid imagination.

Speaking of imagination, do you remember the sidewalk cracks exercise from the Sketchbook Revival class I took last month? None of the sidewalks I walk on have the same interesting multitude of cracks as the teacher's example, but I'd recently noticed that the driveway across from mine was really in bad shape, just full of cracks. So as long as I had camera in hand and no one was home (or at least, parked in the driveway), I took several shots at different angles so I would have something new to work with. I did find it a fun exercise that played into the way I often look at the world around me, seeing things that are the product of long stares and a willingness to get a little silly. I suppose not unlike lying on your back on a summer's day, watching clouds drift by and seeing horses and dragons in their shapes. It's summer (officially starting tomorrow) so go exercise your imagination!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Looking for Wildflowers . . .

. . . finding clouds.

Friend Sherrie recently asked me if I'd gotten in any hikes yet, and until today, the answer was no. Some excuses more lame than others but I tend to be a Goldilocks about many things, conditions needing to be just right. However, I knew I'd have to get moving if I were to catch the wildflowers blooming along the Pend d'Oreille Bay Trail. I knew they were out there because people have been posting photos on the trail's Facebook page. And with a heat wave expected in a day or two, Goldilocks had to get moving before things got too hot.

But as I drove to the trail head, I spotted some unusual clouds (top photo). I know these have a name but I don't know what it is. As I headed down the trail in the opposite direction, more cloud formations filled the sky.

It was a beautiful time to be along the lake, gazing out across it and up into the sky.

I spotted wildflowers too, although my photos of them are not very good. For a beautiful closeup of this tiger lily, see this post on Vancouver Hiking Trails at the All About Moose Blog.

I'd seen this flower on the Facebook page and thought it looked so odd (hopefully you can see it in all its glory here). It was identified as a Lady Slipper, although it didn't look the way I remembered ones that my mother pointed out on our forest walks. A quick google showed that there are many variations and this is one of them. I think it is starting to fade and I caught it just in time.

Then there were patches of wild clover and daisies, so familiar from my childhood.

I'm pretty sure these are wild strawberries - sorry that the photo isn't sharper. As for the ones below, don't know their names but they are small and delicate and colorful. When walking along the lake, it's always a good idea to look on all sides of the path . . . and up at the sky as well!


Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Gardening and Sketching

Things rarely go to plan around here.

When last I wrote, I had plans to get all the plants I'd bought into pots on my deck over the long holiday weekend. It didn't take long for me to realize I'd succumbed to something similar to "eyes bigger than my stomach". That dahlia and some salvia needed bigger pots than I had on hand. So I scouted out the two charity shops near me, sure there'd be some cheap pots to be had. There were . . . and a lovely hand-thrown pot from a Seattle pottery (could hold a houseplant?), a couple more silk ties, and the ugliest dress I've seen in a long time made from the most beautiful blue Shantung or Dupioni silk (can you say lakes and other water features?). Not shown is the glassware I also scored on - just everyday pieces but I am getting down to just a few of several sizes and have company coming in July. This is why it is not safe for me to pass through these stores!

View from my couch
I picked all this up on Saturday, couldn't make up my mind where I wanted some of the plants to go, then didn't feel good on Monday and ended up sleeping away the afternoon. I found some time during the week with cooperating weather and enough breeze to fend off the mosquitoes (they have been many and aggressive this spring) to nearly finish up. Nearly. As I neared the finish line, I was running out of potting soil. And wishing I'd picked up a second salvia I'd considered because I had a place for it out by my front steps. Friday found me at another garden center to remedy this. Monday turned out to be a good day to put that salvia and some extra small plants in that planter out front and the dahlia in its big pot. Today I tossed some seeds in a long planter I inherited from the next door neighbor and filled the second one with the remainder of the small plants. There! I think I am finally done! Not only do I get to enjoy this garden when I sit out on the deck, but I also see it from my couch when I'm watching tv and as I pass from livingroom into kitchen.

I almost always put geraniums in my big copper tub but choose different colors each year. This year, this particular pink really appealed to me.

I've had good luck with dianthus, having some even winter over in their pots that get left outside. These burgundy ones seemed a good contrast to the pink of the geraniums.

These are actually more blue than purple

The salvia is new for me. I was looking for some blue to add to the yellows, oranges, and reds, and unless you like petunias (and I do not), one is pretty limited in what's available in blue. Didn't hurt that there were bees buzzing around it when I was shopping. I'm very pleased with how they look back by the geraniums.

Buying more silk garments to deconstruct is as close as I've gotten to getting back to my textile work. Instead, I've been finding great relaxation and even peace in working on some of my sketching. Hard to see because at this point it is fairly faint, but I've finally completed the pencil undersketch of my "sit and rotate" assignment from long ago Sketchbook Skool class. I'm ready to start adding ink and color of this record of my office/guest room, half on one side, half on the other. Still dithering a bit on what to use for the color. I don't think this paper will take wet media but I have brush pens, markers and colored pencils that should do the trick.

With the warmer weather, urban sketching starts tugging at me and I spent time on two different days working on this house that has been on my list for a long time. So intrigued by those multiple roof lines, but had entirely forgotten about the stones partway up the walls and around the doorway which caused a moment of panic until I remembered the same feature on the Veterinary building I sketched last year, and how I discovered it wasn't all that hard to master. More work to do on this one, but the basics are sketched in.

I'm back to taking a turn through the small park along my walking route and was surprised that I hadn't noticed a couple of trees doing interesting (to my eye) things. They warranted a return trip with sketchbook in hand. These are very sketchy, need a little cleaning up and lots of leaves added, maybe even some color. But the point is that in one tree coupling my avid imagination thought "one tree is caressing the other."

The other pair on the opposite side of the trail told a different story. I got the impression that one was trying to hide behind the other, maybe because it was injured and needed protection (it had sap running down it from a scar). Yeah, overactive imagination, but this isn't the first time I've seen trees suggesting a story to me. I have other such sketches and more than a few photos, and the thought did occur to me that I have enough ideas for a small grouping/series. We shall see.

And this is one of the reasons so many in the know stress how important it is for an artist to work in a sketchbook. It can unleash your imagination as you really look at the world around you.