Saturday, October 26, 2013

2013 Christmas Cards

Usually, I make my Christmas cards in the summer - kind of like Christmas in July!  There is no pressure then.  The chaos that is the holiday season has not started and I can just enjoy the crafting of the cards. 

This year, I'm not sure what happened.  Maybe it was the beach, or cycling, or gardening, or just hanging out on my swing under the trees in the back yard reading a bookWhatever it was, the cards didn't happen. 

I'm sure I did other crafty things (really, I craft for several hours each day, unless I'm so sick I can't get out of bed, and that doesn't happen very often).  I'm sure I crocheted and cross-stitched.  Heck, I'm sure I even made other non-holiday-themed cards - yes, I am very sure of this.  What happened to the Christmas-card-making?

So, now, in October, 5 days away from Halloween (we haven't carved the pumpkin, my son doesn't really care what he is for Halloween so has yet to choose a costume), I have finally finished the drawing that will become our family's Christmas card this year.  

In an effort at full disclosure, this was not supposed to be our Christmas card.  Last week sometime, I had an idea for a drawing - lots of limb-like things coming out from a pebbled centre, surrounded by nature-type things.  I know, very specific.  I started drawing and I partway finished when I realized that I had no plan whatsoever for the cards.  The cards I should have already made, back in July.

At that point in my drawing, I knew I had to inject some "Christmas" into this drawing, or I might have to buy some cards at WalMart this year (not that I haven't done that before).  Up until this point, I had been drawing inspiration from a wonderful science textbook I have, that depicts patterns in nature.  I love that book - I almost never read the text but the pictures make me want to draw.

I decided that snowflakes and holly would do the trick.  Luckily, I had already been working in a green/red colour scheme (luck, or the universe trying to remind me I needed cards?  Who knows.).  It was quite simple to add a little snowflake who looks like he's caught in a snowdrift and a string of holly.

I guess I won't have to buy my cards this year (sorry, WalMart) as I've ordered several dozen photo prints of this drawing from Snapfish ( - sign up for their newsletter and you will never pay full price for anything there) to mount onto cardstock and send out to our loved ones.  Phew!  Crisis averted for one more year.

Happy holiday crafting, everyone! 

Current giveaway:  like Monsoon Calamity on facebook to be entered into a draw for one of my encaustic paintings (your choice from my Etsy store!).

Monday, November 12, 2012

One more Christmas gift finished!

I can't tell you how much fun I am having rediscovering collage!  I mean, I know we did it in elementary school (it's just cut and paste, after all), and one of my favourite gifts to my Dad on Father's Day involves a piece of wood and some collaged wallpaper frogs (is anyone surprised I used frogs? And that I still own said piece of wood?), but I had no idea how beautiful grown-up collage could be!

Lately, I've been spending time on Pinterest, pinning collages and art journal pages.  Such gorgeous creations by such talented people.  I can only hope, one day, to make the kind of interesting and amazing collages I find there.

Here are a few of my favourite collage artists (found on Pinterest, of course!):

Brenda Figueroa
Virginia Tillery
The Kathryn Wheel

So, I have an ever-growing list of people I would like to make collages for.  I'm doubtful that they will all be done in the next 6 weeks, in time for Christmas gift-giving, but I'm excited by the thought of spending lots of time trying to get them all done!  I don't want it to turn into a job, however, so I'm just going to have fun and see how far I get. 

The one pictured above is finished, I think.  When I compare it to other collages, it seems too simple.  I know, I shouldn't compare myself to other people.  I should do what my heart wants to do and be happy with it.  But this is something I struggle with - am I good enough?  is my art good enough?  is it good enough to give as gifts to other people or will they make fun of it after I have left? 

Sigh.  I guess I should read the verse on this collage again:

The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The meaning of life is to give it away.

And, I'm off to start a new collage........

Friday, November 2, 2012

30% off your entire pattern purchase on Etsy or Ravelry!

With the holidays approaching, it's time to think about holiday gift making! 

To introduce my new monthly newsletter for Monsoon Calamity Patterns, I am offering a coupon code for 30% off your entire purchase in my Etsy store to anyone who signs up for the newsletter!  The coupon code can also be used on my patterns (Monsoon Calamity) on Ravelry!

How do you sign up?  Just send an email to, let me know, and I'll send out your coupon code; if you don't respond, I'll take you off my list - it's that easy!

There's no need to worry that I will send too many emails - I promise that I'm too busy to send out more than one a month (I homeschool my son who has Asperger's and whom I adore beyond words, and that takes up most of my time).  I was just looking for a way to say thanks to everyone who has supported my little shop and also to let you know about upcoming pattern releases and sales - I have a few baby blanket patterns, including my first knit pattern, that are almost ready to be released!.  I promise I will never give your information to anyone else.

This offer is available to anyone - please pass this information on to anyone you know who might be interested!

I look forward to hearing from you  :)  Happy Stitching!


Note:  The monthly newsletter will be released from this email address: - please add this email address to your contacts to make sure you don't miss the newsletter!  Thanks!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kite Flying

This post will be a little out of the ordinary for me. It's about kite flying.  

While crafting is my passion in life, kite flying is my son's.  When we mention flying kites to people for the first time, I'm sure they have visions in their minds of small, diamond-shaped kites that you have to run with in order for them to fly.  Not so for us.  We learned to fly from a wonderful man named Blaize, otherwise known locally as The Kite Man. He takes kite flying seriously, but in a fun way  :)

Between Blaize and my son, Cade, they likely own about 400 kites, and yes, half of those are at our house  :)  We have bins of kites, piles of kites, and 3-D kites hanging from the basement ceiling.  We fly using kite crankers, hoop winders, and fishing rods.  And we fly them high.  My personal line goes 1000', and so does Cade's.  But Blaize has a line that is 4000' - it's too heavy for me to even use!  We often also fly more than one kite on a single line - a little risky, but so much fun.

This fall, we'd like to invite our fellow local homeschoolers out to fly kites with us.  It's really fun, and you'll learn so much - you'll learn about wind speed and direction, wind layers, wind shadows, distances, knot tying, and we are even starting to make our own kites, which involves measuring, shapes, and angles.  But first, you can just have fun flying, the learning will happen all by itself  :)

We like to "dress up" a kite using ribbon streamers on the sides.  The type and length of tail you use depends on many factors including wind speed and type of kite.  This kite is almost a stunt kite and so needs lots of tail to keep it steady in the sky.

Have you ever seen a boat fly?  This Go Fly a Kite pirate ship looks a little unreal up amongst the clouds.

 Cade, with his largest box kite - it doesn't seem that long ago that he could stand inside it!
 The rainbow duster bi-plane, with moving propeller.
 The Solaris kite is one of my favourites, even though we almost always need to pull it up using a steady delta kite - unless we fly in the steadier winter winds but that gets a little cold for me :)
 The Sunset Diamond is absolutely beautiful when the sun hits it from behind, causing it to glow.

And finally, our fabulous 9' Delta kite.  If the wind was too strong, this kite would lift you off the ground!  We only fly it in lighter winds, when other kites, with less wingspan, won't fly.  It's wonderful to watch it climb high in the sky, and once, it even flew in the clouds  :)

That terrible yellow quilt.

Okay, so I decided to make a modern-looking quilt.  You know, the kind with white in it.  I don't normally use white.  But this time, I thought I would make something that actually photographed well.  You see, I like to make quilts with little contrast, scrappy style.  This type of quilt, while looking gorgeous in real life, and being absolutely snuggly to live with, often doesn't photograph well.  Okay, so it might photograph well if I would work on my photography skills, or get some better equipment, or take a photo when the moon and sun are out at the same time while squirrels dance around (or some other thing that needs to happen in order to get the perfect shot), but I have trouble getting a good picture sometimes.

I decide to make a yellow a white quilt.  I love yellow and it's my son's favourite colour, always has been.  When he was 2 he was angry because he wished the whole world were yellow!  Moreover, yellow and white would make a beautiful, fresh-looking quilt that would photograph well.

Now, when you look at the photos, you will see that, indeed, it did photograph pretty well.  Again, if I would take more time to set up the shot and stage it better, it would be better.  But, hey, I'm pretty happy I actually got the quilt and the camera in the same spot to even take the pictures, so I'm happy enough.

But getting to these good photos was a long road.  Suffice it to say that I made every mistake possible while making this quilt:  I didn't measure the white strips so it turned out wonky and I didn't press the yellow strips inward (because that was more difficult and I got lazy) so the seams show a bit through the white (remember, I don't usually use white and so, I don't usually have this problem).  

This quilt was hanging on my banister rail for months, quietly telling me that even though it wasn't perfect, it deserved to be quilted.  I kept answering that I wasn't so sure.  Maybe I shouldn't bother throwing good fabric after bad by adding batting and backing and all that time and effort to quilt it if it wasn't going to be presentable anyway.

But this past Thursday, my husband and son went to the movies and left me alone for the afternoon.  (What?  Alone time?  What do I do with that?  We homeschool and my husband works from home 2 days a week so I'm never alone.)  My husband says, "You should do something fun with that time."  Yes, he is good to me.  I decided to quilt the terrible yellow quilt, as I had come to call it.

How could I have known it would turn out so well?  I guess I have to chalk it up to using white.

Oh, and if you ever need an all-over free motion quilting pattern, this one is super easy, super fast, and super pretty!  Just do a teardrop, echo it a few times, then do a wavy line around it, echo that a few times, and move on.  If you ever quilt yourself in a corner (no, I *never* do that), put another teardrop there, echo it, and make your way out around the waves to a clear spot.  Easy peasy  :)

Piles and Piles of Magazines

Those who know me well know that I have been decluttering my house for over ten years now.  When my son (now 11) was a baby, I joined Flylady ( - I can honestly say that Flylady changed my life!  All those things that naturally organized people know about how to keep a house clear of stuff, I don't.  I am naturally a bit messy and I love collecting things that I know I can make into something else someday - I know I'm not alone  ;)

So, as I was cleaning a bit in my sewing room, I glanced over at my bookshelf and saw stacks of magazines - magazines that I bought and looked at and then promptly put in with the others in the stacks.  Granted, I occasionally take a few out, re-read a few articles, and I might even bookmark a quilt or two that I would like to make someday (again with that word!), but for the most part, they just sit on the shelves looking pretty (and they do look pretty!).

But, let's face it, I have been quilting for 22 years now (33 if you count the little doll quilt I made with my grandmother when I was 8), and I really don't need basic quilt-making directions anymore, and I can usually figure out the math on basic, geometric quilt patterns (I love making quilts with squares and rectangles mostly anyway).  So, I don't need piles and piles of magazines laying around.  Add Pinterst to the mix, and I don't often even look at magazines for inspiration anymore.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I will still buy magazines when they catch my eye.  And a friend recently gave me the premiere issue of Quilty and I quite like it - and it's going in the keep pile  :)  I am actually keeping many of the more recent magazines.  But that still left a pile of older magazines that I didn't want anymore.  I really didn't want to recycle them - heck, they cost close to $10 each (and no, I refuse to do the math that would tell me exactly how much I have spent on magazines in the past 20 years!).  I could freecycle them or donate them to the local seniors' centre and I know they would be enjoyed by others.

But they are my magazines and what I really felt like doing with them was crafting!  Free craft supplies are always a good thing.  So, off to YouTube to find what I could make with magazines.

I discovered magazine reeds!  And I'm completely, totally addicted.  You see craft magazines (there were also some scrapbooking magazines in there) have wonderful colours in them that make great reeds.  After having our flooring in the first floor done this spring, I was loathe to put back up the boring art I had on the walls before.  I needed something new.  I though, why couldn't I make something, for free, and hang it up?

  So, I started rolling the pages.  It actually took a long time.  But, oh, how fun!  My son started making some, too, and we spent a rainy Friday afternoon quite nicely in the sewing room, rolling paper.

Arrange them in a pleasing order, add some ribbon, and, voila!, free wall art!

Of course, some of the pages aren't very exciting at all, with all that print - so I collaged.  The background on this one is just columns of print from the magazines, and then I cut circles from some scrapbooking paper (yet another craft supply I have far too much of!) and collaged them on, too.  Then I took a black permanent fine-liner and doodled a bit - super fun!

Really, what more can I ask of my magazines?  I enjoyed them for what they were, then I enjoyed them again for what I could make with them, and now I can enjoy them on the wall.  Life really doesn't get much better than cut and paste, does it?   ;)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Scrappy Baby Quilt

I made these blocks awhile ago, using squares from my scrap bins. I really had intended to make many more of them and then sew them all together without sashing. I don't usually sash or border my quilts but this time I decided that I just wanted to get the top done so I could move on to the quilting part!

I am still trying to fix my longarm, sigh. It's been a lemon from the start but last year I had two machinists that I know (two different people) take a look at my machine and they both said the same thing. They said my machine was a bad design and it was inevitable that it would become damaged in the way that it has. But, one of them managed to fix the primary problem so I could at least quilt a few things. yay!

I was, however, still getting alot of thread breakage. So, I went through all the thread guides to check for burrs, and sure enough, there was a burr on one of the final thread guides. So, I tried skipping this particular guide, and voila! I was able to quilt the rest of this quilt without any breakage! I am so happy I could throw a party!

So, this is the final quilt. It still feels like cheating when I take a few blocks and sash and border them into a larger quilt - it feels like I was lazy and just didn't feel like making more blocks (and this is true, in this case :) ). But the result is good and it will make a sweet little gift for a baby who is on her way!

And now that my longarm seems to be working for the moment, I can't wait to finish up another top and quilt it up! I think I see more sashing and borders in my future ;)