Monday, November 30, 2015

Stitch at Sea 2.0

Exciting announcement! I'm heading back to Alaska aboard the Celebrity Infinity next summer and I'd LOVE for you to join me.   If you want to see what we got up to last time, check this post or have a look at my flickr photo album here

Hubbard Glacier, AK

On August 28, 2016 we'll once again depart from beautiful Vancouver and head north up the Inside Passage for ports of call in Icy Straight Point, Juneau and Ketchikan, plus spend a morning floating in front of the massive Hubbard glacier (above) that is a sight to behold.  In the down time while the ship is sailing and after our shore excursions, we'll sew to our little heart's content in our dedicated conference room.  There will be specific teaching times and also free-sewing time; participants can sew as much or as little as they desire. This time we'll spend the week working on one bigger project, my delightful Cutting Garden Quilt pattern!

Cutting Garden by Poppyprint

 We had such a fun week last June and I am so looking forward to doing it all again; the fabulous door prizes, goody bags, shore excursions, quilt shop welcomes at every port, amazing food, drink, dancing and soaking in the therapy pool. I think almost every member of our group saw whales. I even caught a glimpse of a grey whale and an Orca mama and baby.  You could follow my, Katie and Joan's lead and go ziplining, or head out on a whale-watching boat, go for a hike or choose a kayak tour. Perhaps you'd like to dine out at an authentic salmon fry?  There are a ton of fun things to do in the ports!

Mendenhall Glacier & Nugget Falls
Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau

This cruise is surprisingly affordable for an all-inclusive 7 nights. If you'd like to know more about the amazing Canadian Resident deals on offer from Celebrity right now (free beverage package and gratuities!!), or to add your name to the list for updates, please leave your email address in the comments and I'll put you in touch with our agent, Lynn.

Southeast Exposure ziptrek, Ketchikan, AK
ziplining off a 30' tower in the ocean, back to terra firma near Ketchikan.

Port of Vancouver, home again
The beautiful Port of Vancouver, the beginning and ending of your Alaskan quilting adventure!

I hope you'll join me on Stitch at Sea II!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Pouch Production and Sewing Beyond Cotton

While at our annual Loon Lake retreat in mid-November, several of us got busy trying out some of the awesome projects in Krista Fleckenstein's new book Beyond Cotton. Krista is super clever and an amazing artist to boot, so she's got some incredible ideas on how to expand our work beyond cotton just like the title says.

Beyond Cotton

I started out making pouches using Krista's easy pattern. I didn't have leather on hand with me at retreat, so I substituted Craft-Tex (a C&T paper product that is totally washable and strong like leather!). I'd pre-washed and crinkled my Craft-Tex before retreat, hoping that I'd be able to use it for some project or other.  These pouches will be gifted at Christmastime. I was nervous using chunky metal zips, but I didn't break a single needle and I'm so pleased with how nicely the zipper ends appear once the pouch is turned right-side out. Plus, I got to use some of my treasured Japanese linen collection!

Sewing from Krista Fleckenstein's new book Beyond Cotton.

Zip pouches by Poppyprint
I made these smaller versions after returning home and getting my hands on some lovely upholstery-grade vegan leather (otherwise known as vinyl).

I also followed Krista's pattern to make leather boxes (again using Craft-Tex) and got to try riveting thanks to friends that had brought along the hardware and tools. There was a lot of banging on this retreat as we were riveting all the things with hammers!  This is a very tiny box, so to avoid confusion I stamped exactly what might fit in it onto the bottom of the box *wink*.

Sewing from Krista Fleckenstein's new book Beyond Cotton.

Finally, Krista had sent along a few leather cuff kits for us to try our hand at punching a pattern of holes and then using them to embroider a design with floss. I was feeling a bit lazy, so I stole Katie's carefully prepared design template and copied her bracelet completely.  Here's a photo with all of our lovely leather cuffs!


I've since visited a leather supply store here in Vancouver. I must say, it is not a cheap endeavour. Keep an eye out for free leather couches on Craigslist!! There may also be some industrial felt winging it's way to me right now for some more fun projects out of the book. Next, I want to try some stamping on canvas. Check out Krista's sweet tutorial and make your own wrapping paper this year.

Thank you for so much fun, Krista!! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Black Friday North of the Border

Shop Canadian this weekend and save exchange rates and huge shipping fees! Here are the specials currently running at my partner shops.

Thank You Thursday ONLY 26/11/15
Instead of the usual 20%, 30% and 40% savings,
today, you'll save 25%, 35% and 45% off these items...
coupon code: SAVE25

coupon code: SAVE35

coupon code: SAVE45

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale!
Fabric Please! is having a huge sale
Friday, November 27th
through to
Monday, November 30th

35% off 


in the store!
Use coupon code: BLACK15 at the checkout.


Fabric Spark
Daryl would like to spark your imagination with 20% off everything, including new collections, sale fabrics, patterns, kits and bundles, until Midnight November 30 (Cyber Monday) with promo code: woohoo

Check out Daryl's musings on NAVY (from L to R: Jennifer Sampou, Cotton & Steel, Alison Glass)


At Sew Sisters, their basics promotion is still in full swing


Mad About Patchwork would like to tempt you with a whopping 40% off selected items that you can find here.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends (and enjoy an additional 25% off any purchases you make in Canada thanks to the exchange rate with our weakling dollar)!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Nut House

Another first from my visit to Sweden: a quilt exhibit in a greenhouse!  As a special side-trip the day before the Rikstäcket annual meeting began, one of the guild members exhibited some of her work at a greenhouse/tea room called The Nut House close to Upplands Vasby (the town where we stayed for the meeting).


It was a lovely sunny afternoon and a few of the Board members took me to see the exhibit before the large bus tour of guild members descended on the place. Anna-Greta Lindstrom displayed several of her art quilt wall hangings and had this gorgeous watercolour quilt hung at the end of the greenhouse. This quilt was on display at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham (perhaps last year?) and with the sun shining behind it, the quilt took on the appearance of a stained glass window.


To celebrate a milestone birthday, Anna-Greta was selling lottery tickets for a chance to win one of 5 wallhangings she's made over the years. All of the money raised would go to Medicines Sans Frontiers - I thought this was a brilliant idea, so I bought a ticket. She promised to post a quilt to Canada if I won. Well, guess what?! I won! I don't have a photo of the quilt yet, but I'll share it when we get some light here and I can take a decent photograph. Here are two of her other creations that were on display:

Anna-Greta Lindstrom Quilts
"Energin Kommer Inifrån" I love the fun Kaffe Fassett swirls overlaid on the solid grid background 

Anna-Greta Lindstrom Quilts
Here is a great example of batik playing nicely with printed cottons in a beautiful forest abstraction.

Anna-Greta Lindstrom Quilts
Sweet stitched details and applique from the quilt above.

I took an opportunity to walk the property, look in the garden shop and take some photos from the working greenhouse, which was by now winding down for autumn.










This country estate was next door to the Nut House, but I couldn't find out any information - I was curious how old the home was, but the two properties are not linked according to the woman working in the greenhouse that day.

I've almost caught up and completed my Sweden posts, but the stories of my trip to the north, as well as photos from my workshops, are still to come. Plus, you still have to see the beautiful quilt my new friends gifted me!!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Woolfelt: Utility to Art

While in Sweden last month, Jo and I had a free morning to visit an incredible exhibit of work by Norwegian artist Inger Johanne Rasmussen at the Sven-Harrys konstmuseum (located in the Vasastan district of Stockholm).  The museum itself is a wonderful modern steel and glass structure build around the historic home of Sven-Harrys. We knew the address and rough location, but Jo and I couldn't find a local person on the Saturday morning sidewalk to point us in the right direction - we'd arrived on the opposite side of a large city park from the museum.  Finally, a handsome young Viking looked at my tiny iphone google map and pointed us across the park in the right direction!

En route, I was amazed to see this uber-civilized stroller parking at the playground. Every stall has a number!


Finally we came to this gorgeous building entrance, after having enjoyed a delicious sidewalk cafe fika!

A few members of the Rikstacket Board (the national quilt guild that had brought Jo and I to Sweden to teach) recommended that we check out this exhibit on Saturday morning while guild members attended their Annual General Meeting. They told us it was a fibre art exhibit of hand dyed and painted, recycled wool. I had no idea what to expect, certainly not the scale and intense colour that immediately captivated us when we entered the gallery.  

All of the work shown here was created by Inger Johanne Rasmussen and photographed by me with gallery permission. Please click on her linked name, then on the WORK tab of her website to see more photographs from this exhibit and other gallery shows of her incredible work!

Visit to Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm

Visit to Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm
detail from larger piece, shown above

Visit to Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm

Jo takes a closer look at "The Home I could Not Find" 2014

Visit to Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm
detail from larger piece, shown above

Visit to Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm
"The Land Between Dream and Reality " 2010. 
 To give you an idea of scale, this piece is 208 cm x 303 cm

Visit to Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm

"Magic Carpet" 2011
This piece lies completely flat, the curled corner and overlapping bottom edges are illusions created by the artist.

Visit to Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm
"Misplaced Heritage" 2007.
This was my favourite piece in the show. The colours appear so subtle in this short exposure, however when I opened my shutter for a longer, over-exposed shot below, you can see much more variation in the dyes. The workmanship in this construction is phenomenal - keep in mind that every piece is inlaid and butts edge to edge with neighbouring pieces.

Visit to Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm
An over-exposed photo of the piece shown above.

Visit to Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm

"Passed Down" 2005
Such clever use of perspective in this Trip Around the World variation. Can you spot the chairs?

Visit to Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm
"Attempt to Construct a Flower" 2013

Visit to Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Stockholm
detail from larger piece, shown above.

The only English material available for the show was a one-page handout of the artist's credentials and list of sponsors. The only reference to this specific work was to describe the material as "army footwraps". It appeared to me to be natural-coloured melton wool (that had been dyed), about 1/16" thick.  There were no English translations of artist statements for the individual pieces that I can share with you, but I was able to find some of the titles on the artist's website. 

This was certainly a most inspiring morning spent in Stockholm with a lovely friend!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Textillia - a Hang Out for Sewists!

Have you sewists always wondered what the knitting site Ravelry is all about and why knitters congregate there? It is a community - a place to share, catalogue and keep track of your work, see what other makers are making, where people are buying their patterns, reviews and hacks to patterns, what's happening on the design scene, ask questions and get advice/feedback, post photos and links....etc, etc.

Now there's a new hang-out with a similar feel, designed specifically for sewists. Textillia launched in the beta phase last week and the Vancouver-based developers invite YOU to login, sign up, create profiles and populate the site in order to fine-tune the specific needs of the sewing community.  They've created a comprehensive site, but are seeking quilters specifically because they want feedback, suggestions and bug-alerts so that they can perfect the site to best suit the users needs.

Participation is free during the beta phase, and the first month will always be free for new members. After that, a small monthly fee will apply.  Read this post for new member info and follow along on Instagram (Textillia) for updates and announcements.

I've got a designer page up now and I plan to build on it as an online catalogue of my work and patterns.  I found the site very easy to navigate, plus it was very easy to upload photos and information.

I think as the community grows, this could be a really powerful online resource for garment sewists, quilters and crafters, plus shops, designers and fabric companies. I can't help but feel like much of the work I put into this blog is going unnoticed and unread these days. Perhaps we'll move to a central location like Textillia for sharing our projects and conversation, instead of a multitude of individual blogs?  I know I'm hardly reading blogs anymore and readership here has fallen way off, not to mention comments which are few and far between unless there's a chance to win something.  I miss the conversation & interaction that I used to have with blog readers.  All of that action seems to be on IG these days. 

Have a look around Textillia and let me know what you think. Get started here!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Stockholm...the Really Old Part

In my last photo essay, I shared pictures from Gamla Stan, the oldest part of Stockholm city. I have a few more to include here from my walk around this little city island. I think what struck me most were the colours.  I'm not really sure what I expected, but it wasn't ochre. I knew there would be a lot of red in the north, but for some reason the city colours were a surprise for me.

Gamla Stan, Stockholm

GamlaStan, Stockholm

Gamla Stan
I've got a little collection of photos featuring address numbers of my birthdate

Without groaning kids in tow, I enjoyed my leisurely stroll through the 13th century Gothic brick Storkyrkan (Great Church), the oldest church in Gamla Stan.  Royal weddings and coronations take place in this church, which is adjacent to the Royal Palace.  I always enjoy the formality of historic churches; the soaring ceilings, worn stone grave markers on the floors, ornate carvings, draperies, gigantic pipe organs. There is so much to look at. Here, I was amazed by the wood, antler and metal statue of Saint George slaying the dragon, made in 1489.  For a Canadian who's country is only 150 years old, this type of relic is a wonder, indeed.

GamlaStan, Stockholm

GamlaStan, Stockholm

Gamla Stan, Stockholm

Gamla Stan, Stockholm
One of the most beautiful candelabras for votive candles that I've ever seen - I love the simplicity of forged iron amid all of the ornate gold leaf sculpture found elsewhere in the curch.

GamlaStan, Stockholm
The pulpit was constructed around 1700

Gamla Stan, Stockholm
The massive organ at the back of the sanctuary

I never took a great interest in history at school, nor am I a religious person, but I appreciate and am fascinated by historical artifacts and architecture. Plus, it's really fun to photograph!

GamlaStan, Stockholm
Saint George

GamlaStan, Stockholm
Saint George, detail. This wooden statue has so many elements including antlers and metal. It's a fascinating work of art and really a miracle that is has survived.

GamlaStan, Stockholm
This is a bronze reproduction of the statue, also found in Gamla Stan.

Gamla Stan, Stockholm
My Supertote photobombed my fika!

Later in the afternoon, I enjoyed my first official "fika" (fee-kah), Swedish for coffee/tea/cake time. I had a delicious cafe mocha and cinnamon bun sitting on the square outside the Nobel Museum, after which I took my transit pass card and headed to one of the many ferry docks to cross the harbour over to Djurgarden and the Vasa Museum.  Here are some views from the ferry ride:

Gamla Stan to Djurgarden via ferry

Gamla Stan to Djurgarden via ferry

Gamla Stan to Djurgarden via ferry

Gamla Stan to Djurgarden via ferry

Gamla Stan to Djurgarden via ferry
This is looking towards the main road of the harbourfront, where fancy hotels, the Opera House, offices and perhaps even luxury private residences are located in those beautiful buildings lining the waterfront.

Everyone I know that has been to Stockholm told me that I absolutely HAD to visit the Vasa Museum. I checked it out online before leaving and I have to say, the thought of a smelly old warship from the 16th century really didn't seem like a riveting afternoon.  Wow, was I wrong; I am so glad that I took the advice! This ship and her tragic story are fascinating.  By now it was close to 4:15 p.m. Luckily, I arrived just in time for the final guided tour in English for the day.  The young man leading the tour was so passionate about sharing the history - I felt like we were really getting the inside scoop (isn't it amazing when people truly LOVE their jobs?). If you ever visit, be sure to wait for the tour!

Vasa Museum

I was equally fascinated with the building itself and it's high-tech environmental controls. Apparently it has the largest, most sophisticated environmental control system of any building in Scandinavia. Constant temperature and humidity and very little natural light. All of these photos were very long exposures, with my camera steadied on railings or against pillars (that's why the are not super sharp).

Vasa Museum

This vessel has an incredible long story, and an equally incredible short story. Here's the short version: built over two years from 300 oak trees imported from Poland, completed 1628. Commissioned by King Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden to battle the Poles (irony). First warship designed with double cannon decks (64 guns). Sank on maiden voyage when she keeled over in a small gust of wind and took on water through the canon portholes, shortly after sailing from the Royal Palace.  It is thought 50 men lost their lives, trapped in lower decks. Many survived, due to proximity to shore. The Vasa lay on the Baltic sea floor for 333 years until discovered by Anders Franzen and raised in an intricate operation in 1961. She's been in a constant state of preservation since then.

Vasa Museum
I watched these technicians working to replace all of the iron bolts in the ship with stainless steel ones using laser-guided tools.

Vasa Museum
Here at the stern, you can see the tiny windows from which gunners could shoot. The intricate carvings would have been ornately painted in gaudy colours. The king was known as the "Lion" so there are menacing lion carvings all over the ship (below, holding the coat of arms).

Vasa Museum

Vasa Museum

If ever you have one day of tourist-time in Stockholm, take my advice. Visit the Vasa!