Monday, December 31, 2007

Good Riddance to 2007

My affinity for the number 7 ended this year. While some good things happened, it was not the best of years (I suppose... she said grudgingly... it could have been worse). I have spent the day updating my RSS feeds; adding a whole new crop of blogs to read and culling a whole bunch of ones that don't interest me anymore (I know, I'm a fickle gal). From down the well was way more productive than I was - and I'm jealous of her accomplishments. I also found this neat little instructional video on YouTube. Must see if I can get a bunch of people together to do a dyeing weekend - both cloth and thread!

Happy New Year To All!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Works in Progress and Other Stuff

Our internet died on Saturday - I always assume that the town is down, but this time, it was us. When I put in the service call they said the tech would call us between 7 (AM) and 9 and make an appointment to drop by. Okay, no worries, that would give me enough time to make the house presentable. Well the tech guy called at 9 am (waking me up because I've been bad and stayed up late this holiday). He was parked outside the house. After 5 minutes of madly tossing things into dark corners - a babyfaced lad of about 12 arrived. He was very good and determined that our modem had died (or was about to die). While he worked, we chatted about lack of internet survival techniques (apparently he cleans his apartment..... I wonder if that was a dig?... probably not, but mortification thrived anyhow). Our problem is not cleaning, it is keeping clean. My fault as thread and fabric bits follow me from one end of the house to the other. I digress... what I did while I was netless yesterday is muck about with Shiva Paintstiks (I went nuts on Dick Blick when our dollar was beating the crap out of the US dollar).

This is the one that might actually turn out okay. I'm going to thread paint around the while flowers and then might bead and handembroider as well. You have to let the paintstiks dry for days, so we'll wait and see if this actually gets finished or not. I love this fabric! A tip: Most places in Canada are selling a set of 12 sticks for around $79. Dick Blick sells them for about $1.64 Each. You can also get student grade if you just want to muck about. I bought the professional grade ($1.64!).

Miscellaneous Shiva (aka Markal) Paintstiks Links (useful for gleaning tips and instructions)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Using the power of the internet to vent!!!!

Gather round for a sewing related tale of frustration and woe... I'm going to relay a little saga I've been involved in. As you know, I purchased my Embellisher in November after ordering it over the telephone from Central Sewing in Edmonton. The place had been recommended by a friend in my Quilting Guild. With shipping, it came to just under $500. The salesperson was very pleasant. I hung up the phone quite excited and 3 weeks later, the Embellisher arrived. Alas, the Embellisher arrived in a less than brand new condition. It had clearly been used as a demo machine before it was sold to me. There was lint in the trap, two needles were missing from the felting assembly and an additional needle was bent beyond use. Since they had just had a workshop at Central Sewing by fibre artist Ms. Ema I figure there had been a boo boo. In addition, the screw that holds the finger guard assembly in place was mildly stripped, making it challenging to move it. I had also purchased extra needles at the same time - and none were included in the boxes. The only needles I had were the standard 10 that come with the machine, except there were only 6 and I had to use those 3 to replace the ones broken and bent in the machine. Also, a minor annoyance is that the cover for the light doesn't want to stay closed and there was no 'free project book' included like Babylock says there was. Minor annoyances. I'm passive. I'll live with it all. The machine is usable, it works and I've been enjoying it. But, I typically quietly stew about these things. I'm not the type of person to call back, rant and rave except....the friend who recommended the purchase to me kept browbeating me a bit to complain. She did it with the best intentions. She felt sorry because she had recommended them so highly. So I bowed to peer pressure. I sent an email to the owner and explained what happened, explained that I was giving him feedback and that I didn't expect anything because returning the machine is difficult given that I'm 3000 km away and that I was using it. I said that I would appreciate them looking into the missing needles ($40 worth) though.

The owner (I think) Randy called me to apologize on Christmas Eve. He was very pleasant and said that they would be looking into it after the holidays. He asked me to look on the box for a handwritten number, which I did and provided to him. I told him that the box had been open; those large staples keeping it closed pulled out and then covered with tape. Christmas came and went.

Yesterday, I received an email from the original Salesperson that included a copy of an email from Randy (the owner) asking her to deal with the matter. We have now reached the point in our story where I keep getting seriously pissed off.... be back in a second, I need to go and have a smoke and calm myself down.... again..... Okay, this is part of the email I received from the salesperson:

"Randy e-mailed me about the EMB7 that you had received. To my knowledge that was a new embellisher. I do not ship floor models out to customers unless they have been informed before hand that it is a floor model. I would not do anything underhanded. My customers mean too much to me."

The customers who don't complain anyways. She is refuting my complaint. Anyone get that she is tad defensive? This is my translation and interpretation of the email:

My boss sent me your complaint. How dare you complain. I don't really care about the state of the embellisher you received - I'm doing my job. I mailed you a closed box, what more do you expect? If a floor model got mixed up with a demo model - well that's not my problem. It was probably a mistake - you're just one customer, no one else complained.

It gets better (or worse).... she continues in the email "We would like to compensate you for your trouble and grief by shipping you a pkg. of needles...". and then the email ends with a nicety. Okay, it is at this point that I now switch from 'oh, how lovely, they are dealing with

Anyone else struck by their overwhelming generosity? Are you in awe by those crackerjack customer service skills? Excuse me while I pause again..... I'm starting to well up from the humanity of it!!!!!! As an afterthought in the next email that says the needles are sent - she says that the extra needles I purchased were very small and perhaps I should look through the packaging material again (I did that by the way - every piece of newsprint and shredded paper - a number of times since!).

No, oops, the needles were small so we taped them to the box so you could find them easily in the first place; or to the invoice, or to the packing slip. No, we're sending these separately or we put them in a large envelope so they wouldn't get lost; or even we taped them to the Embellisher itself.... just... your fault, go through the packing paper, you must have overlooked them... you idiot!! Okay, they didn't say 'you idiot' but it was implied! Remember, dear readers this is a fair sized box containing another fair sized box with the Embellisher in it and lots and lots of packing material. I am at the point in this whole schmoggle, where I want to send an email back saying "Stuff the needles up your nose, I'm happier being out the $40 bucks as payment for my indignation". I won't, but I want to. Then I could righteously fume for the next century or so. Oh, what the heck, I think I still will.

The moral of this story. A little letter from Randy apologizing would have worked so much better. A small "oops we're so sorry for the trouble, we won't let it happen again. We don't know what happened. Do please forgive us". You know what, I would have let it go. I may even have been inclined to continue shopping at Central Sewing in Edmonton. Unfortunately, Central Sewing took a minuscule step in fixing this problem, instead of taking one normal step to put things completely right. A normal step might have been a coupon (and the missing needles); or the needles and and additional package of needles; or $50 off the price of the Embellisher because it had been demo'd.

But they didn't do that and I'm mad and they'll have to live with that ire's consequences. I had plans you see to buy a bigger better sewing machine with one of those fancy dancy stitch regulators sometime later this year. It's a major investment. I have no intention of aiming that investment their direction. Will I tell the next quilter in my guild warm and fuzzy stories about Central Sewing - No! Will I recommend them? Nope. Will I link every keyword in this blog so that search engines pick this post up and the next time someone is looking for a sewing machine retailer in Edmonton, Canada, they'll find this rant - Yep! It's the only power I have, so I'll use it. They have tarnished the reputation of themselves and of Babylock Canada (who is no longer on my list to purchase from too...just because I'm spiteful... njah njah). Will it make any difference? Sadly, No! But do I feel better? Okay, a little. I still want to shove the felting needles up their noses though. I have violent tendancies! Therapy might help?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Days 4, 5, 6, 7 and WOW, where did the week go?

I am making a mess! We put fruit out for Christmas, and some of it died (this happens alot where we live); so while I was cleaning up I decided not to waste the $11.95 for a teeny tiny bag of small cherries and threw them into a pot, tossed in some grapes and then simmered them up and dumped in some fabric. As an afterthought, I dumped in some thread too. I'm pretty confident this won't work - but what the heck. I suppose I should have taken the fruit out before I put the fabric and thread in? Some of the thread was bright crochet cotton pink (a really truly horrible candy floss pink) and it has now turned a fairly pleasing shade of bluey pink. We'll have to see what the natural thread looks like. When I was in Birmingham last summer I bought a starter kit of Procion Dyes - but if I was to play with them, I'd have to go get the old pots and that means shovelling out the path from the house to the shed; I doubt it would be a smart idea to use our cooking pots.

The embellisher and I have reached an impass of sorts; keep breaking needles (it or I is yet to be determined, but I suspect it might be me). It's not like I'm wedging 2 feet of felt under the needles. I've done some small stuff that I need to turn into something more substantive - which means pulling out fabric, irons, cutting mats, etc.. and the house is so clean at the moment, I'm loathe to do it. Still, I've been enjoying the process and am catching up on my audible downloads at the same time.

I have also been mucking about with denim strips and enjoying the results. When I slipped and fell last spring and the Ambulance folks had to cut off my jeans (sniff, they were a good pair tooo) I kept them - and am slowly turning them into an exploration of blues. I'll post photos later (gosh I promise that often don't I?).

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Day 3 - Slugs R Us!

Apart from the mucking around with the look of the blog and some massive food prep - I did nothing! Not one thing! for most of the day. And my promise to not get out of pajamas until sometime after 10 am - a new record ... 4 pm! (I'm so proud!) Tonight I am sewing... some - and we are still on the massive clean up and clean out before Christmas - so am not entirely the unproductive slug I make myself out to be. Enjoy this ... while I ooze over to the sofa. Really - a cookie cutter! Brilliant in its simplicity.

Day 2 - Fa la la la la

I'm not sure whether rearranging the livingroom really counts as a creative exercise or not? Hmmm? Well I did muck about with the embellisher a bit more and did a bit of thread running on my .... old woman series (really, I need to come up with a title). I've worked the fur - although it needs to be filled in a bit more. Also did some thread work on a landscape - which needs to be complicated up a bit (way too boring at the moment... as in dull to look at). The fruits of that 15 minutes or so are below:

Kunin on kunin with some roving and free motion thread work.

It's a wee bit distorted - camera or photograph (go with the latter).

May hand embroidery foilage in this one. Turn it into a 'slow cloth' perhaps?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Day 1 of My 12 Days of Creative Christmas

I will admit - I kept to my promise of not getting out of my pajamas until after 11 (that's am thank you very much). After some obligatory Christmas cleaning and a bit of last minute Christmas shopping (how can a town of 3000 be this busy???), I got down to some serious play time. I bought a Babylock Embellisher at the beginning of the month and haven't had much of a chance to play with it (other then break a few needles). Today I started really seeing what this little sucker could do... I love it! Emmy's blog Cramzy shows way more sophisticated stuff then I'm attempting at the moment. As well, some wonderful stuff can be found in the Flickr Embellisher Group and Cramzy's Flickr Group. I will post some photos of what I'm working on soon. I must now go off and repeat 10 times - "I must not buy more wool roving" - "I must not buy more wool roving" - "I must not ... ooooh, pretty colours!"

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday Planning

In exactly 3 days - I will have 15 lovely uninterruptible free and clear days to.... sleep! Well no, just kidding, to sew (I hope). The past month has been a little nuts with life stress, work stress and a bunch of other stresses thrown into the bag - so I apologize for not posting. My New Year's resolution is to try and be a little bit more consistent. To that end, I've got a number of challenges that I'll have to meet over the next year.

This first challenge is the Take it Further Challenge being organized by Sharon B of InAMinuteAgo. This is an offshoot of the Take a Stitch Challenge that Sharon ran this year - of which I quietly participated. It was a great way to add some stitches to the repetoire. I'm also debating taking one of Sharon's classes at Joggles. I think she is offering sumptuous surfaces this time around. I also want to take one of Barbara Schoenoff's classes. I've been kicking myself for months that I missed the Temple Dancer class, and haven't seen it on offer in the near future, but her new one will be my methodone alternative.

The second challenge is our quilting guild challenge. I love the fabric we received (above); so I need to incorporate that into something (I love orange!). Speaking of loving fabric - this summer, I had bought a metre of cheap bali at Wallmart - that my sister decided she liked so much that she couldn't trust me not to ruin it (just kidding, she's usually very supportive). Since we have a lovely blank wall in our kitchen which I've been threatening to paint orange - we compromised and I attached it to a set of stretcher bars - for instant - voila, art (at least until I need the stretcher bars).

I have a digital photography class weekly assignments to work through (to justify the camera purchase), and I'm finally ready to commit to my 50 classics (or near classics) of literature. There are a few other creative challenges in the works as well, but the details of my commitments still need to be worked out. I want to try some from the Fibre and Stitch group as well as a few from the other Yahoo groups I belong to. On top of that are the various personal challenges I've set for myself and my festival commitments. So 2008 is looking to be a busy, if not creative year. I'm looking forward to it (especially in light of the last half of 2007 sucking big time!). I did manage to clean out the closet (studio) this weekend (always do stuff like that anytime before I have to either travel or participate in something that has odds that I might not be coming back (even if the odds are teeny)); so atleast it is ready and waiting for my glorious 15 days (the best ever Christmas gift to myself I'll receive this year).

I leave you with this - because in a grumpy cranky sort of way - it lifts my spirits every time I watch it! I also recommend watching a few of the others that'll come up afterwards - my second favourite is the As It Happens Choir ... for a canadian perspective.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The kindness of ..... patrons?

So! A couple who bought one of my 'quilts' at last summer's festival recently sent me a photo of it all framed up nicely. I included it in an earlier post below. Normally (and I have a reputation) once I sell a piece (or have it wrenched unwillingly crying and kicking from my grasp!!) they disappear from my concious. I've been known, in fact, to wander by a piece of framed art and mutter "that's sorta okay?" only to have the owner roll their eyes skywards and mutter in exasperation "Well, duh, it's yours!". Kinda explains why I don't sell much doesn't it. Anyways, my only critique of the piece is my own fault - I wish my edges had been straighter and then that little crack of white cotton wouldn't be showing so much (my finishing leaves a lot to be desired - but I'll leave that self-lashing for another day). So, somewhere, someplace, a wee bit of my DNA (needle pricks) is hanging on someone's wall!!!!! Still freaks me out a bit. Anyways, I bring it up only because they sent me another email asking for something else. Here is the thing though. I HATE commissions. DREAD them. Can't stand them - and I have 7 at the moment - let me repeat for those in the back of the room - SEVEN! That quiet sobbing you hear in the background... my sewing machine! I leave you with....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

An absence of art

I am caught in one of those time warps of creativity - where I want to be doing stuff - but the day to day details of existing on this planet are preventing me from doing anything! Seriously! Frustrating! Truly!

In the past, when I get this way, I start purging (with a vengeance). Old supplies, scraps, WIPs - all get tossed. I'm trying to avoid that this time, because there is always a sense of regret about it - especially the WIPs! I'm also so behind on my course. 'Stress stress stress stresssssss'! The big mental thing I'm trying to work on right now - is to switch my thinking about my art from "indulgent" to "daily practice". It is easier said than done. I'm going to try and set aside an hour every day where all I do is something creative - instead of just 2 hours on a Monday at guild or a couple of hours on the weekend (haven't even managed that!).

Alright, enough griping, back to the arty stuff! Since I don't have anything to post - I'm posting links! Since some people gripe "Where the heck to you find all this stuff" at me - I'm posting some of my regular visits. But first - go to the following website:

Miscellaneous Inspirational
It has remained at the top of my favourites! Oh, and turn your sound on!

Other links (I'll update over the course of the next few weeks).

Podcasts and Blogrolls
Faery Di's Fibre Feats
Studio Threads
Layers of Meaning
The Art Biz Blog (includes Podcasts) can be found at
Outside the Artist Studio Blog and Podcast can be found at

Websites - Inspirational and Educational
Home Sewing Association - lots of free educational materials and projects (not that I do any of them) can be found at
The Costume Manifesto at

Shameless Promotion of Projects I'm associated with:
Here is a video uploaded to YouTube by John Sabourin. He's an NWT artist whose work has cost me a few paycheques so far! The video is from the Great Northern Arts Festival 2005. I'm hiding in there someplace.

Great Northern Arts Festival -
Travel Blog for GNAF - with a link to a video of a man whose singing makes me cry! He's also a great artist.

Northern Art and Artists (including some reference sites)

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Someone asked me what Stroud was. It is a really really dense wool broadcloth. It is not thick like duffle; it is about the same as melton - but the fibres are much more densely intertwined. It is warmer than both melton and duffle. Usually comes in a cream off white - although some native groups in the US dyed it red or blue. It is used for parka linings (if you can get it and can afford it); mukluks, mittens, etc. Not that you will be able to distinguish it very well in my photos - but the cream/white fabric is Stroud. The black fabric in the mukluk is melton.

Hope that helps? I won't be posting for a few weeks as I have to go out of town rather unexpectedly. Later.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mukluks and Baby Belts

I thought I'd post some of my non-traditional traditional work. First there are the Mukluks - which still need the moosehide soles and beaver around the cuffs. Then there is the baby belt (messy studio shot behind). The baby belt is a little big (width and length) - so I'm not sure if it will actually become that. You'll have to bend your head sideways to get an idea of how it would look. It would make a neat wallhanging - except that I designed horizontally rather then vertically and hanging it would present some huge challenges. Both are done with applique and embroidery on stroud (the real stuff - I love this stuff - needles go through it like butter!). I was crushed when the only shop to sell it in Canada (ironically in Yellowknife) closed and am now hoarding what little of it I have left. It's about $70 a metre - and worth every penny! I have been working on another encrusted piece this evening - still in the formative stages and my hands are starting to cramp from the french knots!

It snowed last night! Only 9.5 more months till it melts - Whoopee!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Quick Update

Found the camera! Here is where we are at the present. Full view of the landscape on the above left - detail on the above right. Full view of my old woman on the below left, detail below right.

Click an image to see the photos LARGE!

A weekend worth of stitches!

For the past week I've been coming home from work and putting the Kenmore through its paces (and its a little cranky about it, but that's another rant). I haven't ventured very far away from what has been working for me this summer. Mostly fabric painting on cotton and then embellishing the heck out of them with threads. I still feel that I am refining my technique (another grandiose word for "learning how to control the fabric under the needle"). Here are a few shots.

The photo on the above left is a landscape (or the rough colour block of one). It's very similar to the one I sketched out for the festival - basically because I thought that one was a fluke and am trying to see if I can keep playing with the effects. The one for the festival - was done using watercolour crayons - I've actually used acrylic paint and textile medium for this one. The photo right is drawn from a photograph (I have the photographer's permission). You'll see it again below - but in this one I added the grandchild of a friend between the hands of the old woman. I haven't started this (except for the painting) and I wanted to test it out - which leads me to the final photo. This is working out rather well. I've been using some of the threads that I bought in Birmingham - which are driving me nuts (or it could be the Kenmore). So I've had to scale back and literally recheck everything: am I using the right needle, what are my settings, etc... All of this is frustrating, but probably teaching me patience.

Oh.. and sorry the photo is so dark. Anyways - I took all these photos last week and I've spend most of the weekend working on them - so I'll update a wee bit later (once I find my camera).

Friday, September 21, 2007


I have every intention to spend some time updating the blog this weekend. I've been sketching like mad from a batch of photos taken at the festival - now I just need to work them into something. Keeping with the creative themes I'm forcing my life into, I've been voluntolded into helping out at the craft table at a fall festival. I may live to regret this! We will have to see if a) I enjoy it thoroughly or b) By the end of the day I'll be ready to reach down my throat and rip out my ovaries!

I was talking to a friend (KR) last night - as we will be participating in another swap (well 2 of them). She was bemoaning the fact that her last two swaps have yielded only 'junk'. It was obvious by the quality of the work that the participants hadn't put in any real effort and seemed only in the swap for what they could get out of it. It's one of the downsides to the overall upswing in fibre arts and the current popularity of 'swaps'. There will always be people trying to get something for nothing - but it does make me feel a little sad. That being said, I've turned a few of the guild members onto swaps - and we are even doing some challenges at work. Oh, and finally, the photo on the left was from the Festival - you can see little red dots on all but one of them (visitors to the north don't buy flowers!).

Friday, September 14, 2007

After a month of so of roaming!

I'm back! What? No clue I was gone eh? Oh well. The Birmingham Festival of Quilts was inspiring and overwhelming! and just a great time. Several hundred quilts of inspiration and sadly I was 7000 km away from my sewing machine... so what's a girl to do? overcompensate by purchasing several hundred pounds of .... "stuff" (pounds as in the British equivalent to $). I am swimming in threads, cottons, dyes, fat quarters, needles... and basically anything else that caught my fancy and I was sure you couldn't get at the Northern Store. The photo on the left show just a small sampling...(btw I'm rather proud they actually made it into a drawer and are not littered about on the floor). Unfortunately I'd left my 'studio' (my grandiose word for closet) in such a mess at the end of July, that I couldn't do anything once I got home anyways, and what with start of term stuff, it wasn't until last weekend that I actually got to get at it again.

I do mean to update on the festival. Sales opened at 10:00 am on Saturday and at 11:15, someone came up to me and told me I'd sold out! My response to that? I cried.. and then promptly had to go and throw up. I only had 12 pieces and some were small - but I honestly never suspected that everything would go. I do mean to try and post some photographs of the finished work - since all I've posted so far were photos of the WIPs. The photo on the right was made during the festival and sold about 30 seconds after being priced. They graciously sent me a photo of it framed.

Now, I've turned my attention to continuing exploring "thread painting". I've worked up some sketches of some more drum dancers and have some painted. Also did another of the landscape that was so popular. Not sure if I'll put any in the craft sale or not, but I've had some requests for commissions. I hate commissions! I don't think I live up to the pressure and expectations at all well.

Enough rambling for now - threads are calling....

Friday, July 6, 2007

Felting it Up

I have been doing a fair amount of felting lately. These are sort of landscape ariel inspired - but they are thick so I'm not sure I can sew through them?

The one on the right has a lot of depth. I think they are way too busy - but I've been enjoying the process. Now if only I had an Embellisher!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


So I'm updating less than 30 minutes later. But really, it's just to give Mom something to look at.

First piece - a sketch I originally did in which I liked the movement and energy of.

Decided to keep working with it. Using paint with a textile medium I put it onto cotton. Then I used a fusible fleece to back it with to give it stability and started to thread paint over it. I've put a canvas back on it and quilted it lightly. The last thing I need to do is figure out how to attach a binding around the edges and a rod for hanging. It was my first official effort and I think I'll put it into the festival. Part of a postcard challenge I participated in on Art2Mail. More playing around with felt and duffle and embroidery threads as well as thread painting with the sewing machine.

More ventures into art quilting. I've painted some of the flowers (well painted with the sewing machine) and blocked out the leaves. I have to decide what to do with the background.

And another... This one is giving me challenge. I like the design - but I used watersoluable crayon heat set to cotton and the thread hates being painted over it. You'll notice the bottom right hand corner is where I've started.

Explorations of late

Tea cozies for the festival. I've been humming..."a little crooked door, on a crooked church, in a crooked town' for the past 18 months as I make these!

(Note: Crooked is no reflection on the church!)

Using some tail ends of wool rovings which I felted (I have a bad habit of cutting all my felt sheets square) - I dry felted them together and then went nuts with embroidery and beading. It's an underwater, seascape inspired thingee. The photo above was taken a few weeks ago. The one below, this morning. I think it's done - now I just have to figure out how to display it. I think framed?

Also, some other fibre art postcards for the challenge.


I am going to give this a try! For the past few months I've been enjoying exploring the wealth of textile and fibre art blogs that have occurred over the internet; drawing both inspiration and enjoyment. This will be my experiment at sharing what I've been doing with the internet; although I don't promise to publish with any consistent frequency. Lets just stamp the word 'experimental' all over it shall we?