Archive for the ‘apropos of nothing’ Category

Actually, the archives are still right here. There are too many people with links to various posts for me to move them now. I have, however, merged my blogs into one, easier-to-maintain blog called:

Gone to the Dogs at Seastrands Studio

New posts will be at this address. Please update your blog readers!


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A nifty blog

I’ve just been perusing Elfshot: Sticks and Stones, the blog of Tim Rast, flintknapper and stone worker and thought I’d post the link here for all to follow. He’s a very neat fellow and is amazingly good at his work. (My favourite jewelry is of his manufacture and design.)

Equally helpful and perspasive is his writing about the process and business of craft. His work is beautiful, different and intriguing; definitely worth read!

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One of the hard truths about life is that whatever time off you want or need must be paid for somehow. Bills keep rolling in, the mortgage doesn’t stop and food is still a necessity even when the income wanes.

After a show and a massive amount of work in 2006, I was beyond burnt out, creatively, mentally and financially. I decided to take a year off and not sew, not draw, not create. I took a job where someone else signed the pay cheque and rejoiced in stability for a time. It was no small measure of how exhausted I was that this felt right and did me a world of good. The bank account stopped gasping, I stopped worrying, my husband stopped stressing and I stopped trying to squeeze creative juice out of a chunk of granite. There was relief all round.

This past spring, I taught a workshop at Quilt Canada about landscape quilting, creating textile and elements of landscape design and it was fabulous. For the first time in a year, I felt like I was ready to get back at it.

So here I am, back again, armed with a new sense of perspective and some fresh creative ideas. My daughter is in school now, so that pressure is somewhat relieved as well.

It’s good to be back!

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I’m still not sure exactly what happened to me this winter. A part of me would like to slough what I perceive as my lack of professional progress off on some variation on seasonal affective disorder. Another part of  me would be happy to chaulk it up to creative and emotional collapse that follows a year that was hard personally, emotionally, professionally, physically and financially. I’m sure sleep-deprivation was in there somewhere, too. When all is said and done, though, I’m not sure that any of these reasons paints the whole picture, nor does it really matter any more other than as something from which to learn for next time. Suffice it to say that I slacked off more than I intended and let myself wallow in failure for a goodly time, despite having plans and goals set for myself and having determined the means of achieving them.

I have recently been doing a great deal of soul searching and thinking, as well as picking myself up and dusting off my bruised ego and flabby creativity.  For those who find themselves either simply falling out of doing the work they have committed themselves to, I provide the following links from Christine Kane’s wonderful blog (which has helped me no-end):

Sabotage and Persistence

How to Get Anything Done

So I am now working again, this time at reasonable hours. I am renewing my commitment, ignoring self-doubt and following through. I have been going through my studio and sorting out projects, finishing off orders for shops for the summer, finishing off workshop plans, writing up stuff that needs writing and doing inventory. One step at a time and off we go…

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Someone wrote to me some time ago asking if I had any information about Quilt Canada. I spent some time researching the questions asked and writing up the results, only to find that I had, inadvertently, deleted the email sent to me.

If you are still out there, whoever you are, and still need that information, please drop me a line. I’ve been searching through all my messages, junk folders and weird squirrelly places on my hardrives and can’t seem to find your email.


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So is my German, for that matter.

(As an aside, I actually do read and speak some German, the former more than the latter. French, too, quite fluently, when in practice. I’ve studied varying amounts of Latin, Hebrew, Russian as well as a smidgen of Greek, so I can generally pick out most Romance languages reasonably well and can do essential things like buy a loaf of bread, ask your name, tell you I love you and inquire as to the train schedule in a goodly number of European countries. I’ve never visited any of them, but if I were there, I could identify a red car, buy the last piece of cake and a beer, tell the police that I was a Canadian and find the bathroom. I could even admire the view and find out what a hotel room would cost. What more could you want, really?)

I’m digressing again, though.

I was looking at my web stats, as I’m prone to doing overly-regularly, and noticed a few visitors from Germany (hi Ulla! Ich habe seinen blog gelesen! Wie sagt mann “Blog” im Deutsch?), Brazil (Cecilia, I’m not even going to attempt to write in Portuguese) and Egater, from Estonia. As I was perusing Egater’s blog, I came across a picture that interested me of a Craft and Artisan fair in her area (look under “Muud asjad” on the left side of the page). Following the photo link took my to her Picasa album of the St Martin’s Day Fair (St. Martin’s Day is November 11th) and I spent far too much time marvelling at the talents and creations of this amazing group of people. Their use of colours and graduations therein are so very different from ours here in on the east coast of North America, but at the same time there is a huge overlap in materials and certain patterns. Undoubtedly the similarities in climates and transatlantic trade through the ages has affected both what we use and how we use it. Lots of woolen and wooden items abound in the St. Martin’s Fair, the vast majority of which are made with great skill and by hand. I was seriously impressed.

As I said before, my Estonian is pretty much nil, so I was floundering around trying to find out where in Estonia Egater lived when I bumped into a link to her Technorati profile. Turns out she lives in Hiiumaa. Looking up Hiiumaa, I found a bitsy island in the Baltic sea. It’s just under 1000 square kilometers and looks like a very neat place. I followed the link to the official site and poked around there for a bit. In fact, I had a rollicking good time revisiting the concept of things being distorted in translation. In this case, the old phrase “lost in translation” doesn’t apply, as I think the very idiosyncratic writing of the pages tell us more than a proper translation would. Take the following paragraph, for instance, from the “How to Come?” page

Saaremaa Shipping Company takes passengers onto Rohuküla- Heltermaa, Rohuküla- Sviby and Triigi- Sõru by comfortable ferries Scania and Ofelia with shops, bars and restaurants and other places on board that 1,5 hour trip to go smoothly and quickly. You can choose between the shop, bistro and bar. For little passengers we have nice playing- corners and adults may play with fruit machines.

It took me a second to realise that the “fruit machines” were “slot machines” and not some sort of vending machine packed with apples. Are they written literally as “fruit machines” in Estonian? Very cool.

Then there was the culturally enlightening section on “ice roads”. There are ice roads in Canada, up north, so the concept of driving across a lake is not entirely foreign to me (terrifying, but not foreign) and Newfoundlanders have crossed ice for centuries, both on oceans and ponds, but the vivid way in which going across a portion of ocean was described (for tourists, even!) made truly me want to visit Hiiumaa:

During winter time one experience an unforgettable driving by ice road the existence of which depends on how severe the cold is outside and not of the good will.

An ice road is a different one for you can pass the ferries and you have to drive at quite a high speed with your safety belts open. The speed is reduced only while approuching the cracks that one have to cross over the boards fixed on the cracks. It takes approximately 20 minutes to cover the distance in case of favourable conditions.

At least the Hiiumaa inhabitants hope that such kind of traffik will not be remain only in the memories of our fathers-mothers and grandfathers-grandmothers.

When the ice was thin the rope was tide to the tail and running noose around the neck of a horse. The horse that sank through the ice waited patiently to be helped. Usually the running noose was tightened around the neck and while gasping for breath the animal took a deep breath and was said to become lighter in the water. With mutual efforts the horse was often pulled out of water. In case of favourable conditions the trip from Heltermaa to Rohuküla took around two hours.

John and I have always toalked about visiting Scandinavia and were enthusiastic about the possibility of seeing Iceland, but I think Hiiumaa is now near the top of the list. It looks like a very cool place (both climatically and culturally) and I would love to visit that St. Martin’s Day Fair (really, the photos are worth a look. Use the slideshow feature so that they’re big enough to see properly). I think I’ll take the ferry, though. A body can only take so much excitement.

As an aside, the horse incident was incredibly reminiscent of similar Newfoundland stories immortalised in the song Tickle Cove Pond. Funny how cultures in similar latitudes coincide….

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I felt that….

What have I been up to? Well, mostly taking a break. I took a few days off over the holidays to spend with John, Katherine and the dogs and it was wonderful. Now that I’m sick, I figure it must be time to get to work again. Evidently I overdosed on Christmas. Explains my sudden affection for Advil cold medicine.

Anyway, what I have actually been picking at is exploring different ways of felting with a plan (however vague) to incorporate woolen elements into the borders of some of my landscape pieces. I also intend to fiddle with rug hooking. My hope is that I’ll be able to add texture and depth to the borders by physically and visually building them out somewhat from the main image.

The first and most basic felted piece was a simple knitted swatch, washed in the machine. It worked fabulously and would be excellent as the foundation for borders. Stitching (with very short stitches, by machine) the outline of the piece to be cut and then cutting just outside the stitching should prevent fraying. I really like the results.

felting 3

The piece was knitted in Lion Brand Wool (colourway Majestic Mountain) using 5mm needles. 72 stitches across and I simply knit until I had used up two balls of wool. The resulting felted piece is roughly 15″ x 18″. After washing, I blocked it (pinned it to a board) to dry, thereby flattening it and evening out the distortion. It worked great. I’m knitting a second piece now with the same number of stitches cast on and will use up the same two balls of wool. The width of the unfelted second piece is 18″, so it looks like there’s about 17% shrinkage with one washing (hot wash, cold rinse, liquid detergent). You can see the contrast below:

felting 2

I also picked up a set of needle-punch felting stuff (punch, needles, wool) and am hoping to have a go at that in the next week or so. In and around the heapin’ pile ‘o paperwork and proposals and pieces to finish for immanent deadlines. And thank yous to write. And a mailing list to update. Again. It never ends, does it?

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