Wednesday, 31 October 2007

quilting is giving

October has been a pretty quilty month. I have not spent many hours sewing but the time spent has resulted in satisfying (although humbly meager) results. I managed to make 8 Fabric postcards, a few fabric coasters and start the machine quilting of the Mazey Daze quilt that I really like a lot.

This quilting year has netted greater results though with the quilts that I have given away to people I do not know.

The queen sized "Vintage Garden" (which won a second place ribbon at the local fair-2007) raised about $900 towards the "Faith Tilk Foundation", a new charity in memory of a sweet young girl whose life very sadly ended too soon.

That would be the third quilt donated to charitable fundraising this year.
The first , "Oriental Medley" benefitted"My Sister's Place" and the second (which also -won a second place ribbon at the local fair-2006) was in aid of the "Woodstock General Hospital Building Fund".

I very gladly made these donations but I think I gained the greatest from this. These were projects that I was able to enjoy working on, used up fabric from the very special but ever growing stash, ended up belonging to people who were thrilled to win them, and raised much needed funds for well-worth-while causes.

When I look at the photos of the projects I really smile and am grateful that I have a passion which can give so much, beyond the process, the art and the practical.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Russian Quilters visit small town Ontario

It is really true! A LQS has worked very diligently to arrange a Russian Quilt Exhibit near my home town. The Russian quilts have amazing colour and fluidity, you can look through this website (sorry the text is all in Russian however). An astounding detail about this exhibition is that it has toured major cities in Europe, such as Paris, London (as in Jolly Old) and the ONLY North American stop is in Ailsa Craig Ontario, population 1,000 on a good day.

There were many workshops offered but I was only able to attend 2 of them: Negative, Positive and the traditional Russian dolls. While you read the rest of this you must keep in mind that our teachers spoke no English! The classes were taught in Russian with an interpreter following along to explain the steps, ask the questions and share the love.

The Negative, Positive was an exercise in freedom. We used 2 high contrast colours, many variations to form random sized squares surrounding a plain center. After spending time to figure out the mysterious workings of a sewing machine that I have never used
previously, I was quite excited to be set free to build my wall hanging; you then repeat the process using the contrast colour as the feature. "Olga is from the city of Archangel. She is a member of the Russian Painters Union and a winner of many quilting awards."(from Cotton-by-Post website link above).

Lunchtime between the 2 workshops allowed Penny and myself to visit the Quilt Show itself. It was so difficult and after much deliberation I still could not decide between 4 quilts for my vote. Apparently each and every quilt that was featured earned a Viewer's Choice vote. It was that amazing!! Photography of the exhibit was prohibited but during the later evening Gala we were allowed to take photos of people with some of the quilts as background.

Olga and her prize winning negative, positive wall hangings.

Our afternoon workshop was devoted to traditional Russian Doll making. This was one of the most satisfying and creative workshops that I have ever taken. Elena is very passionate about reviving lost folk art traditions. She is not only a master doll maker but a master storyteller as well. Every aspect of these dolls, from the winding of the head stuffing to the tying of the threads is steeped in tradition, culture and history.

She taught us how to make a family of dolls, Mama, Baby and father, an angel and a little bunny.

These represent the 3 main reasons dolls were traditionally made -- good fortune, religion and child's toys. We were nice and neatly wound the stuffing for the heads so that Mama would be a clear thinker and we did not fill the father's head with wood or stone. Some of the symbolism is for telling your future or wishing for good things to happen.

A popular doll to choose would be the one with the biggest breasts which is to foretell riches and good luck. On the other hand lop-sidedness meant you would spend your life having one baby after another.
When Elena asked about local traditional dolls I promised to bring samples to the evening Gala. I chose an old traditional Mennonite doll, a traditional Peruvian doll (a gift from DD#1 recent trek) and a cloth doll from a pattern that I have made for 25 years. I managed to show the dolls and Elena understood that I was giving her one as a gift.

She was as excited as a little girl on Christmas morning...and immediately gave me a necklace of mini-dolls that she was wearing around her neck. Elena and her new doll were inseparable for the rest of the night!

The Gala was a sold out event featuring Russian food (the visiting Russians cooked food for 200 of us), music, stories and a fashion show.

DH & I in front of his favourite quilt (so much like the style of the "Group of Seven")

...and me wearing my new Russian Doll necklace

More photos of the Russians and their work

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Friends and shopping - makings of a pretty great day

A couple of weeks may have passed but the day I spent with some special on-line friends is no less special for me.

I am lucky to have quilter friends everywhere, and friends so wonderful that they will drive to meet me and take me fabric shopping.

First shop stop was Monica's in Palm Dessert:

And these were all in the half price bin, enough to make a full size quilt and this lot was less than $20.

Then Fabric Fools in Desert Hot Springs:

Of course some of this fabric is headed for "aging"; that means it is bought to add to my special collections, and I will find it very hard to cut into. I found some great purple and reds for Melissa's quilt, lot's of brights, some chili peppers, coffee beans,

We did stop in Santa Fe long enough for me to manage to find one quilt shop on my own. Santa Fe Quilting was really just across the street and around the corner from our hotel. Peter gave me 10 minutes but I probably was closer to 20. I told the man there that I had a time limit and a husband waiting outside so I needed him to show me to some patterns and fabrics that represented the area. They had enough for me to do some "ch-ching" damage. I am quite please at the selection I brought home.

(and yes I did have to buy another suitcase to get home with).

I certainly do not have buyer's remorse over these fabrics. I would not trade them back and will quite happily fondle them until they meet their fate one day under my rotary cutter - the opportunity to become even greater in unity with other fabrics than they are now as single pieces of printed textiles....
What I have is financial remorse....

P.S. I was on a hunt for "Day of the Dead" banners and streamers and was unsuccessful and finding any of that in CA, AZ and NM. That is why I chose those DoD skeleton couples dancing above. If anyone can suggest where I can find Day of the Dead decor, please let me know.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Environtmental Action - BAGS

Today, October 15 has been dedicated (in Blogland) to discuss the environment. I want to consider bags and the evolution of their use in my short but everchanging life.

When I was a kid we shopped frequently and brought everything home in brown paper bags. When we had trash we put it in these brown paper bags. We put the accumulated filled brown paper bags in trash cans and the trucks would come by and dump these trash bins into the compactor. There were no plastic bags commonly used. I recall being quite surprised in 1972 when I visited Europe and saw that there were plastic shopping bags. WOW, how handy, I thought at the time. They looked cool - great colours, pretty printed logos and I was impressed that they could be reused for so many things. The paper bags were good for book covers, drawing, garbage and lining the bird cage floor but they were pretty much one hit wonders. The Europeans were trés chic.

I was surprised when I started seeing people placing large plastic bags in their garbage cans.. I thought it was redundant. Why put garbage inside something that was so sturdy and reusable for so many purposes? I suppose my 13 year old brain understood that if the plastic bags were sturdy enough to be used over and over they would be too sturdy to dissolve away into the dumps. When the stores still offered a choice, I chose paper. It seemed far more practical all around.

I wondered why people did not keep reusing those plastic bags. Should I be embarrassed or glad to admit that somehow I managed to save one of those very first plastic shopping bags that I ever received. Well, I did not really save it expressly but my Grammy did and when we cleaned out her belongings I saw it folded neatly away. She never wasted anything, she went through "the GREAT Depression".

In any case, I love bags. I have countless bags and I save them all to use them as much as possible. I have been using cloth bags for grocery shopping since the mid to late 80's (Thank you Shaklee). I have been using cloth bags for gift wrapping since the early 90's (except when the kids whined it was not as much fun at Christmas to open bags instead of wrapped parcels) and I have been sewing bags for every purpose as long as I can remember.

My greatest disappointment is the absolute waste that crappy plastic bags are - they tear open before you even get the groceries home so I avoid taking them from the store, they are useless waste of resources and do not even earn their place in the landfill by having been useful. I still however would choose paper bags were I ever to be given a choice.

And now reusable shopping bags have gone GLAM, who'da thunk it?

shhh....the packaging I love best next to bags is boxes; so multi purposeful!!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Road tripping through CA AZ and NM - photos

Whether it was Vista or Blogger's issues I am not quite sure but I was unable to add these images to the previous post, so here they are:

Palm Desert Resort

A quick boat ride to dinner around the lagoon

Looking back from the car window...leaving So Cal

Tucson is beautiful

Okay, Arizona is beautiful (I took this photo with the digital camera while I was BB'ing my blog post as we drove along I-10, then uploaded it from my lap top Wi -Fi connection...what a sad techno-geek I am becoming)

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Road Tripping

We are passing through Tucson Arizona and are enjoying how pretty it is. Low arid mountains but a fair amount of green down low where the city is nestled.

We left from Palm Springs this morning - that was so beautiful. The Date Palms are absolutely majestic, no wonder why they are so often evoked in images.

It is amazing to cross from sandy scrub to luscious green where the desert springs flowed. No wonder there are endless golf courses and spas.

I will post photos if we find internet at whichever low cost motel we end up at tonight.

There were some surprises for me: cotton fields- I had no idea that there were so many cotton fields between Phoenix and Tucson.

Pomegranates - I did not know they grew so freely in the Southern California area

The wind farm - a long ridge of wind turbines, stretching as far as the eye could see along the Santa Ana Valley near Palm Dessert and Indian Wells

And more details that I will note later