Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Reworking Old Faves

I will always credit John Flynn for being the reason I still use Janomes and got a new sewing machine to replace my terrible first one (That first machine and Shemar have been my real Janome lemons, though meticulous cleaning and aurafil thread has helped with Shemar). I decided to make a double wedding ring quilt using his method, which involved strip piecing and resewing of all seams at a prescribed angle, which was marked out on the machine in tape.

The machine was HORRIBLE and since I had a warranty, It spent more time in the Sears Bargain centre getting fixed than it did at home. Every time I took it in, I would tell them "there is a piece of black electrical tape on the machine. DO NOT REMOVE THE BLACK ELECTRICAL TAPE". This happened frequently enough that the lady finally looked at me and said "haven't you been in here A LOT with this machine with the black electrical tape??" Yes, yes I have. "We'll make sure you get it back in working order this time" she said.

Then a few days later they phoned me to tell me it had been "broken in transit" even though it was never shipped anywhere and as it was under warranty I got to pick a new one, which I think probably still has the black electrical tape on it. That machine was great and I learned then that when Janomes are good they're very very good, but when they're lemons they're HORRID. And I like to think the lady at Sears Bargain Centre sent that other machine to some part of Chaplin Sk.

 I'm slowly plugging away at the new york beauty (half plus one of the sashing strips are done! 15 left...and then the rest of the top) but kind of want to do something else. This is all the amazing progress I've made:
Yeah isn't it underwhelming. I'mhalf done half of the top. Sort of. Still no blocks as each one of those sashing strips includes 40 seams. And I'm doing this the EASY way. Holy crap new york beauty. Still not happy with the lighter blue options, I begin to think the actual shade of blue I wanted doesn't exist.

But as the NYB is one of those patterns I have always wanted to make, It reminded me of the double wedding ring. I learned to quilt to make one of them, and it took about 6 or 7 years before I found the afore mentioned Flynn Method and did it. As I had a very small bed I made the quilt equally small.

Somehow it ended up in Regina and hidden under mama's bed in the crapartment, where I found it and then put it in the cedar chest when we moved. Over the summer the oppressive heat of the upper floor of the apartment required a) the home made air conditioner and b) different blankets so I was using the DWR, as it has ultra thin batting. But it's really too small to fit a regular bed:

 This really looks better than most pictures of it. The main background fabric was a leftover fabric I had used on the midsummer night's dream quilt (actually all of the background fabrics were) and I never liked it as much as the off white, which I had less of. But the colours look pretty good here.

So I've been thinking about what to really do with it, because I've rarely ever used it. I considered putting it on the wall, but I think I can actually make it bigger without too much difficulty.

I didn't bind it because it hurt so much to hand quilt it (my joints were flaring at the time), and once I zigzagged the edges I couldn't bind it. It was the only quilt I ever did start to finish on my hoop actually. Man it hurt. I never got back to it because I hate binding and I would have had to sew the back by hand with the curved edges.  But this means it will be relatively easy to rip out the zigzagging and add rows to it.

Painful and agonizing that quilting was. I would work on it for a half an hour max and my joints would stop working. I remember having to pry my left hand open. Yay for getting inflammatory arthritis at 15. I was trying to get the digital camera's f stop to work here.

These are the remaining original fabrics I still have, plus a few I picked out that I think would work as well. I was sure I had some more of them and I probably have to go back through my scraps again. I had to buy solids that matched the peach of the four patch and then other neutrals for the background (that didn't matter as much since there are already several neutrals in it) so I decided to get a 30s print jelly roll as well to make up for the lack of leftovers. 

Jelly Rolls! I love them more than bluesmen do. 

...Okay not those kind. 

There are some good coordinates here so I'm sure it will look fine. It's scrappy anyway and as long as it keeps with the 30s cotton candy kind of colourway I think it's not going to be too bad. 

 If you're wondering, what I will do is make three new rows of seven rings and sew them together as a unit. Then I'll split open the longer side of the quilt and sew the tops together on the curve, but probably add the batting and backing in a straight row to the back and then flip them over so they sandwich. Then I'll quilt them and edge it and probably not bind it. Because I hate binding so much and it will be soo big and I hate doing binding. 

This is what the quilt will look like with three more rows added to the side. I think this will make it a good size.

I still have the original templates but they're not that great so I re-drafted them. I'll still strip piece the majority of them, but I think I'll foundation piece a few arc units just to be able to use the smaller pieces of the original fabrics. Shouldn't take too long to sew a 3x7 set of blocks, and Sam is no longer around to lay on the blocks, as he did when I made the original. After twisting around on them and fluffing them up.

Yeah Sam. Sometimes I miss him then I think about things like that and him biting me.

Thursday, 3 July 2014


The time frame between July 1 and 4 is full of celebrations across the continent, national "birthdays" commemorated with patriotism and happiness. Though there was a time our family also celebrated that is not so much the case anymore. But as others remember formative events of their nations, This time recalls formative events for me too.

I never thought I'd be the kind of person who cared about milestone anniversaries or dates. As most of you know, I'm absent minded enough that I often forget what day it is or how old I really am. I never remember numbers because they are meaningless to me and I find them somewhat arbitrary. People can recognize them or not as they see fit. One man considers some days more sacred and another sees every day alike.

So it turns out I'm normally the latter, but when it comes to specific milestones, I've ended up becoming the former. My birthday never meant anything to me until I reached 30 (and then I hated it--it means only that I'm even older than I thought). I always did like the metric system and multiples of ten because I could understand them, unlike most math. So those milestones seem to make me stop and remember. Whether it's ten, seventy, ninety, or one hundred years, it seems right to remember, especially now. Even in sadness.

All of that said, the assigning of significance to certain dates, though arbitrary, is an (often unacknowledged) way of pointing to the relationship we should have with the giver of all meaning. We look for meaning in even the most mundane things because we know it exists in the deepest part of our beings. We know there is significance to life, even those that are gone. And, as I've mentioned before, the marking of time means we're coming closer every day to the culmination of all things. The point when time and our sojourn end and it turns out the milestones were only monuments to a brief separation after all. They only mark the time it took to get home.

Saturday, 28 June 2014


The modern world, with all its meaninglessness and alienation, was born 100 years ago today. Fitting that death would be the catalyst for the death of an entire generation and with them, western society. 

Etching from Der Krieg series, Otto Dix

Sunday, 11 May 2014

After Four Years of Exile...

We have finally moved to a place that has room for all my fabric and Fergus (plus at least 20 other cats for Fergus to get beat down by, including a random grey kitten that ran into our apartment today). It also doesn't have the stupidest tenancy agreement of all time, so even though I'm paying more, it's probably all worth it. 

Since I can put shelves on anything that doesn't move and we're paying more for rent, we are getting rid of the storage locker. We have enough room that we don't need it, and while I packed it like tetris before the move, we finally got down to the original layer and brought it all home today. This was virtually all my stuff, including my quilt hoop, the parts of the industrial sewing machine (now in the basement), the homemade drumcarder and fibre, the tubs of dyestuff and pots for dyeing, and the two jumbo tubs of FABRIC.

Ooh tub of TREASURE. SO EXCITING. Those are the poly brocades I hoarded on top. I started pulling everything out of them as soon as possible and depositing it into multiple piles around the living/dining area.

Fabric piles everywhere! And patterns. And test designs. And things I sort of made. And interfacings/fusible web/buckram/timtex. And other wonderful things.

It turned out I had lots of white fabric (mostly silk) for dyeing. Some cotton, linen, organza and also some kind of stiff silk I have no idea what I'm going to do with. It's almost like paper. Definitely silk though, which is my favorite fibre ever:

Especially duppioni, apparently. I love the versatility of silk and the way it dyes. It's the perfect fibre and if silk worms weren't so disgusting and nasty, I would totally raise them to reap the benefits of their hard work and sad little lives. Yay! But they ARE nasty so someone else has to do it for me. I also had some silk hankies (these are pulled out cocoons) in there, which I used in felting projects mostly.

 I took most of the quilting cotton in the form of fat quarters with me and they sat on the shelf of my room, but a few of the larger cuts I put into storage. I found some nice plain blacks and whites, both of which I've bought more of since. Plus some cotton, wool and silk/wool batting. Unfortunately I can't decide which is the wool and which is the silk/wool. Love wool batting though.

Various apparel fabrics plus the sari I bought all cheap. I also had a couple of patterns. I keep trying to do clothing sewing, but I'm just not that good at it. Mainly because I want to be able to sew like Alexander McQueen already and am always sadly disappointed that God didn't just make that happen like when the lame walk and the blind see.  IT'S JUST AS VITAL. Like who wants to make t shirts? I want to make COOL STUFF.

I totally did buy that Japanese Vionnet book in anticipation of him changing his mind on that this time though!!

These are muslins, test blocks and half finished projects. Never have known exactly what to do with some of these. I also have the ties and bits for the crazy quilt I have always been planning. One of these days I'll start it!

 I even found actually finished projects as well (yeah I do have a few of those). This was my big bagua batik. The tiger was probably my favorite, and I dyed the colours with procion mx and sodium alginate. I remember the black being really problematic and it ended up fading quite a bit after I put it in a window, though it was meant to fade out on the edges. Mama was like "let's put it on the table for decoration" haha.

  I also found the logwood dyed things had shifted quite a lot into brown from purple. Gotta watch those browns. And logwood of course. The dye woods are in their own tub, though I suspect I'll have to replace all the noxious chemicals I'm still not supposed to have.


I did not find the three missing quilts. I think they are gone. Mama keeps saying "I didn't take them, just the other ones you found under my bed!!" Sigh.  It's possible they got moved, but they are not in any of the places my other things are. RIP quilts, where ever you are:


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Deer's Cry

The Deer's Cry has always been one of my favorite pieces of calligraphy, and over the years I've collected images of maybe 15 or 16 of the most famous pages from it. Archibald Knox started the work in 1914 and continued working on it for the rest of his life. It's an amazing rendition of Patrick's Breastplate, or the Deer's Cry, a midieaval poem often attributed to Patrick.

For Archibald Knox's 150th birthday (and maybe the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the project) The Manx museum actually posted the entire thing online this month--including the unfinished pieces. Unfortunately the pictures are kind of underexposed, so they're pretty dark.

The Christ images are my favorites and three of the completed ones would make a nice set with the unfinished Christ Before me. Cause I'm a nerd and stuff I tried to fix the Christ Before Me image. Because it was a pencil drawing and the fold of the binding made the left side of the image really dark, it didn't work. As the drawing was actually complete, my obsessiveness kicked in and I reworked it.

Here is the redone version. As noted, they'd make a nice set:

 I wonder what colours he would have used. I don't think it would be crazy to think it would probably be similar to the others, but still unique. Too bad he didn't finish it . :(  There are only maybe ten lines uncompleted. I really love that each section has a continuity of design and unfortunately this section is the one where most of the missing lines are. "Christ in me" is wider and looks less like the other four, but is still also beautiful.

Mem was all "you should finish" as if I don't suck compared to Archibald Knox and would ruin it.