Saturday, 15 April 2017

Getting ready for Spring

Finally, I have been slowing down with trunk shows and workshops (I do love them though) enough to catch up on customers quilts and creating some new pieces for a new and revised trunk show!
Spring makes me just crazy about working!  New ideas and some new "old ideas", plus I have been prolific with dyeing my own fabrics lately.  It is as addicting as sewing!

The afabrigos have challenged each other with another project.  This time we are interpreting Earth, Wind, Fire and Water!

Good challenge (thanks Robynne)

I have also been struggling with ways of depicting movement.  This comes from the challenge of Wind!
There are so many kinds of movement. .........mechanical movement like machinery....bodily movement like running, swimming, or spinning!  Also movement I call anger, heartbreak or elation!
Symbolism helps with some of these concepts, but still, quite a challenge with fabric!

My goal this spring is to use a wide variety of fabrics other than just cotton.  Mixing my dyed cottons with velvets, burlap, silks, grasses and upholstery fabrics and anything I can pass off as fabric like paper towelling, moss, or construction materials like roofing tiles or plastic fibres.....what fun!

Food for thought...........

 I was in the company of many people this last week. People who are retired (my age or a bit older).
I was amazed at how many of them do NOTHING as far as hobbies or reading or even going for a walk.  They conveyed to me how bored they were and that they were too kid to think of starting now!
WOW!  Did they not know that 80 is the new 60!  And 60 is the new 40!
I have to live to 105 just to finish the things I have in the go now!
So happy I hang with the "young" Fabrigos!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Librarians

I guess I have the library on my mind this month.
another grandson in his favourite place--not sure I always like his choice of reading material--he has such a dark soul

All of the Fabrigos are book lovers. Two of the Fabrigos have volunteered on their local library boards. Two that I know of have relatives who are librarians. All of us own a lot of books. Book discussion is usually a major portion of the conversations we have when we get together.

Last weekend my cousin, the librarian, and I had a discussion about library fines. She works at three very small branches of their local library. She told me that its basically at the discretion of the head librarian how dedicated the branch is to collecting fines. Some of them are very adamant about collections--others are a little more lenient.

Remember the line in It's a Wonderful Life, when George asks what happened to Mary and the reply is that she's a librarian. I love that line. So much said about how our image of the old maid librarian has changed in a few short years. The librarian in our family is not like Spinster Mary the librarian at all!

My youngest grandson has been going to the library with me for a while. He usually takes out a movie. This week when we were driving there I asked him if he was taking out a book this time. His reply was that he doesn't like to RENT books--he likes to buy them. Wow what privilege!! He is privileged. He can and does buy books.

When we went to check out, Michael found a wallet on the floor in front of the desk. I could tell it was a child's wallet. There was a library card and a paper "visa" card inside.
He handed it to our librarian, and she took one  look at it and started to laugh. Seems the young owner of the wallet had tried to pay his library fine with the Visa card. She said he was about Michael's age. We had a little giggle about it, checked out my books and came home.

And I have been thinking about the young man ever since. I wonder how important the library is for him. Does he love the library?  Is that his only access to books --and now has he racked up so much in fines that this privilege has been denied?  And now will that make him stop reading?

Perhaps he was careless with the books. My grandsons have mothers who keep them on track. It's the mothers and the grandmothers who make sure that the books and movies are not late--and its the mothers and the grandmothers who make sure that they get returned--or pay the fines if need be.

Perhaps this young man has a mother who is not as capable of keeping his books in good order as she should be. Maybe grandma can't help either. Next week I think I will try to find out if I can pay his fine.

thanks for stopping by


Thursday, 2 February 2017

On my Bookshelves

These are the books I have on my coffee table this month.

I change them out on the first day of the month. I do love books --and I do have lots of them.
So every month I make new selections and put them at my fingertips.

I like to look at gardening books in the deep freeze months.

I have been keeping track of how many fictions I have read this year. I am at 8 already for January. I guess its been a long cold winter--and trips to the library have been frequent. I have been using my online accessibility to reserve books at my library and them I go to pick them up.  It kind of keeps me a little bit more on track--rather than being enticed by a good cover when I see it. I get to read what its about before I choose.

My favourite book for this month's fiction list was Celeste Ng's What I Didn't tell You. It's about a family coming to terms with the death of the favoured teenaged daughter.
I also read three books by Ann Tyler last month. The Good House, Out-takes from a Marriage and The Children.  And I liked them all.

I am planning to re-read Burial Rites by Hannah Kent this month. It's been flitting through my thoughts for a while and I think I want to read it again.

Thanks for stopping by

Wednesday, 1 February 2017


It's another end to another year. Time moves on.

I always like to end the year with a little inventory of things that got done--or things that didn't get done.

I did enter several shows this year--and I got accepted into one!!
My Calendar quilt for 2014 was accepted into the Fibrations Show in Burlington, Ontario.


I did another Calendar Quilt in 2015. I wish that I had finished it before the show--I think both of them hanging side by each would have been lovely.

I didn't do one in 2016--
But I am doing a 2017 daily project.

I have just submitted a few more pieces to other shows and will be waiting for news soon. In or not--I did try.

And I finished up a quilt that had been sitting in my to do pile for a very long time--at least 10 year. The top was done a long time ago and I just finally quilted it.
 It's Denise McKenna's Mariner's compass paper pieced pattern.
I don't know what took me so long. It's a lovely quilt. and it's finished.  I think I started having Vertigo after I finished this one.

I do have two more tops that have been basted and are ready to be quilted. 

Thanks for stopping by!!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Some of my best quilts came from a group challenge.
This one is called coffee time. The challenge was -------time. I had made the log cabin blocks previously and didn't know what to do with them. I didn't have enough to make a whole quilt--and didn't want to either--so I used them as a border.

This is a family portrait that I did in response to a challenge in ClothPaperScissors magazine. It's a picture of me and my two daughters. Notice how we all a very tall and slim.

Recently the Fabrigos have been talking about challenging each other to do some work on a theme. We haven't really decided on the theme yet---that's the real challenge. But it would be very interesting to see what we could all come up with within parameters. Our styles are very different. Each of us trodding off into a theme could be a lot of fun.

What do you think?

Saturday, 12 November 2016

How to be an Artist When You Can't Draw a Straight Line

                                                                   USE A RULER!!!

Many times, I  have heard the line--"oh I am not an artist! " and I want to reply--why not, why can't you call yourself an artist? What is about calling oneself an artist that is so hard. Do we think that artists are just born that way and if you hadn't picked up the brush and begun making gallery worth work by the time you were four years old that you could never be amongst the great artists?

So here are a few little things that I have learned along the way.

I have been practicing my little mantra "I am an artist" for a while now. I am ready when someone asks   "  and  what do you do, Karen?"
My answer is this. I am an artist. I work in fibre and make colourful, wall hangings. I sell my work in galleries and I lecture and teach."  WOW!!!

So how do you become an artist??
practice, practice practice!

Yes, some people are born with great artistic skills but most artists will tell you that becoming a good artist takes a lot of work. Skills have to be developed, the work has to be done. Mistakes have to be made and solutions have to be created when mistakes happen. Robynne calls mistakes "Happy accidents"
see other peoples work,

You have to do the work.

Learn from other artists. We have not been born in a vacuum. Study how other people make art, then try to incorporate some of it into your own work. It doesn't hurt to copy famous artists work as a beginning of understanding how they did it. Then go on to make your own work. You don't need to reinvent the wheel.

Take lots of workshops with people you admire. Search out work that you like and find workshops that you can take. We are in a wonderful age where we can really find anything we want electronically. How lucky for us that there is such a wealth of information so easily available. Search out other mediums also. I have always been a sewer and a quilter but it wasn't until I took some painting classes that I was able to add an artistic  look to my work. I also have taken weaving and pottery and even sculpture classes. They have all been absorbed and sometimes I see little things that I have learned in these classes emerge in my work.
At Jo's cottage--just having fun

Search out friends. One of the very best things that has happened to me is joining this little fibre arts group--the Fabrigos. We all have different styles, we all work in different ways but we have developed a tight, close knit friendship that I love.

When people say to me that they would like to join our group, we all reply "This is a closed group. You have to wait for one of us to die before there is an opening. But you can start your own group," We all highly recommend that. It was just a case of all of us joining the local SAQA group and meeting up. Jo stood up at the meeting and said--I want to start a little group--and it went from there.

I hope that a couple of my Fabrigos friends will add to this post. We all have a lot to say about being artists.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Everthing in its Own Time

Hi all, Karen here--even though my post says Michael--don't know how to fix it!!! but Mike approves all of these messages!!!

I have read Al's recent post about making some larger pieces--and I love it--I have seen some very interesting things in his recent work--very innovative and beautifully done. Now I would like to see him use all that practice and turn it into a huge epic work.

Recently, I used the word epic in a little email to Jo. She was just feeling a little overwhelmed with lots of family responsibilities and I told her that a project we were working on didn't have to be epic. It's not the right time for Jo's epic work but it is for Al. He's ready for EPIC.

Al has a wonderful energetic approach to colour--imagine that on a huge scale.!!! wonderful!!! I can't wait to see it.

I have recently been pondering the size of my work, too. I have almost decided that I need to go smaller.

When my children were in their teens, and I had a full time job and a husband who could be a full time job just following him around, I remember having a big meltdown about never having time to devote myself to making quilts. At that time I had visions of a beautiful blue and yellow log cabin quilt--completely finished and on my bed--and I knew that it would never happen.

And that's when my love affair with miniature quilts began.

I have made many mini quilt and many small quilts. And I am feeling the pull of making more quilts in this size. The intricate quilts are not necessarily easier to make--in fact some of them are probably more difficult to put together but they are a lot easier to quilt. Most of the quilting can be done in an evening or two of television watching.
this one was quite a challenge

Short of having a longarm machine, I have been struggling with finishing the quilting on my large pieces. I do all of my quilting on my domestic machine and most of the time I am happy with the result. But it isn't easy. It's heavy work and not easy on my shoulders. I am working on a piece now that I have decided to quilt in segments and  then put the sections together. It worked for me on a couple of other works so I think I will do that again.

We have a road trip planned for the Fabrigos next week. I am so looking forward to it. There will be lots of epic --for sure.