Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Maritime Teaching Tour Part II

Thank you for the sweet comments on the first post about my recent Maritime teaching trip. Here goes for part two.

After a delicious cold salmon filet lunch prepared by my sweet billet's partner, I flew from St. Pierre back to Halifax. I retrieved my second 50 lb suitcase from airport storage, loaded my quilts into the back of a sweet Jetta rental car and headed straight to Charlottetown, PEI. I drove over the exciting Confederation Bridge! I was looking forward to spending the week at my sister's place and also see my parents who happened to be visiting at the same time.

The PEI Modern Quilt Guild *asked me to teach my Variegated Threads pattern (a fav of mine!) and Speed Date with Improv. I also gave the group a trunk show a couple of nights before the weekend workshops. The week previous, my upcoming visit got a mention on the local CBC TV news! A guild member picked up a few of the quilts and pillows I'd gifted my sister and her family over the years to use as props (since I wasn't yet on the island). That was pretty cool, and the story encouraged a few traditional quilters from around the island to attend the trunk show and find out more about modern quilting. Yay!

PEI 2017
Some variegated thread spools in the making with lovely tone on tone prints.

PEI 2017
Here I am with students and their lovely work.

PEI 2017
The next day, we had a lot of fun with Speed Date with Improv, learning 7 different improv piecing techniques and building improv collage wallhangings on the design walls around the community room.

PEI 2017
Although this was a new way to work for many guild members, Janice and Jean's smiles say it all: improv is fun!

On my days off in town, I enjoyed walking my sister's dog along the waterfront and the beach, I made it to a great yoga class, got to see my niece perform in her dance school year-end recital, checked out my sister's gorgeous new dance shop location, drank delicious coffee at Receiver and ate scrumptious food at a few local restaurants. It was a fantastic week! Here are a few pics:

PEI 2017
Sadly, I never got to sample the fries or free hugs here, but isn't it the cutest chip shack?

PEI 2017
Many of the red sand beaches on PEI are protected parkland and there is a comprehensive education program in place to save the fragile dune ecosystem and also protect the nesting endangered Plovers. At this time of year, before tourists arrive and the weather is warm enough to swim, the beaches are deserted and pretty wild with wind.

PEI 2017
Charlottetown is a lovely place to explore the backstreets in search of historic buildings and signs.

PEI 2017
How about 100 1/2 for an address?

PEI 2017
A clever quilt block QR code sign program guides visitors around town to points of interest and attractions.

PEI 2017
I'm sure this is one of the most photographed homes in town as it is visible along the length of the boardwalk frequented by cruise-ship visitors and locals alike.

PEI 2017
A transport is loaded with lobster headed for market from the fishing village of Stanley Bridge.

My sister and I married boys from opposite sides of the country and settled in their hometowns to raise our families. We never know when we'll see each other again, so it is always a little bit sad when we say goodbye. I felt very lucky that my work took me to Charlottetown and that I got a great visit in while there. Thanks to the PEIMQG for that wonderful opportunity!  If you are looking for a fun project to tackle next fall/winter, check out the free modern mystery BOM program that the guild is sharing on their blog here.

My final stop was to the Maritime MQG * of Halifax-Dartmouth area, Nova Scotia. I've spent many a summer visiting my grandparent's home in Dartmouth. I love the area and was happy to billet with Jeanette and her kind family while working with the guild on Round Peg, Square Hole and Speed Date with Improv. I held a trunk show here, as well. Happily, I sold the rest of the books I had shipped in advance of my trip, so I didn't have any extra weight to bring home - thanks gals!!

Halifax 2017

Halifax 2017
I'm grateful to Jeanette, who took a day out of her life to drive me around Halifax, shopping and browsing. No modern quilter should leave Halifax without visiting the super cute Patch Halifax shop and sewing studio. Great modern fabric selection for quilting and garment-making located in a historic old house on Robie St.  As you can see, I couldn't resist! I've already made myself an Eva dress with that lovely Anna Maria Horner "Loominous" woven shown here on the bottom of the fabric stack.

Halifax 2017
We enjoyed a coffee on the rooftop cafe of the amazing Halifax public library. The interior has incredible lines, doesn't it?

Halifax 2017
Love this funky block of shops and restaurants across from the library on Queen St.

The guild is very lucky to have weekend access to the big classrooms at the Nova Scotia Community College in Dartmouth. The building is amazing and has lovely views of the harbour....this is where the workshops were held on Saturday and Sunday.

 Halifax 2017
Fabulous Round Peg, Square Hole blocks made in class (after we first confirmed our scant 1/4" seam allowances and accurate cutting and pressing process).  I'm wearing a new Ola Tunic I made with Essex crossweave just before the trip. It's another Tessuti pattern I picked up in Australia and I love it!! I've since made a second one with Nani Iro double gauze that is dreamy to wear. 

Halifax 2017
These quilters are an enthusiastic bunch and made great progress on their Speed Date collages and on Mother's Day no less. That's commitment! I love seeing these come together with different accent colours alongside the black and white. Great work, everyone (must've been the Timbits and trays of delicious cookies and squares)!

I was thrilled to learn that my IG friend Jen (and her daughter) would make the trip from New Brunswick to attend the Speed Date workshop. What a wonderful Mother's Day treat! We had chased each other around Australia just a couple of months before, so it was pretty fun to meet up in person finally in Dartmouth. I also had the pleasure of meeting Gillian, who flew down from Newfoundland for the workshops and a visit with her son.

On my final night, I enjoyed a delicious Maritime staple of seafood chowder prepared for us by Jeanette's kind husband. Maritimers really are the best - if you've never been, I highly recommend a vacation on Canada's east coast!  

Thank you so much to everyone who worked on planning the workshops and making sure everything went so smoothly for all of my tour stops. I loved meeting everyone and I look forward to returning one day soon. 

And thank YOU for following along and putting up with these iphone photos - I was unable to bring my heavy Nikon on this trip. There was simply too much to carry! 

* The links to the guild's blogs  (above) will take you to their posts about my visits, where you can see more pictures of my trunk shows, workshops and guild members' work.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Maritime Teaching Tour 2017 Part 1

This year is flying by due to many wonderful travel and teaching opportunities, high school graduation for my daughter and fun getaways with friends. So many plans!  It has been difficult to find time to properly share what I've been up to here on the blog.

Back at the beginning of May, I flew east....almost as far east as possible in Canada (with the exception of Newfoundland, which is the one Canadian province/territory I have yet to visit). After receiving a wonderful invitation from the Mahone Bay Quilter's Guild to be their guest, other maritime guilds jumped on board and I was able to visit four locations in 3 weeks: Mahone Bay, NS, Charlottetown, PEI,  Halifax, NS and St. Pierre & Miquelon, France.  I bought two fancy new hard-sided suitcases for this trip and packed them to within an ounce of 50 pounds each (75 pounds of quilts and 25 of clothing!).

Every year, Mahone Bay hosts a program they call Extraordinary Quilter. I was a little intimidated by the program title, but this group had me at ease right away with their excitement and friendly welcome. The four day event starts with a giant dessert party with over 130 guests for the visiting quilter's trunk show, followed by three days of workshops.  The guild is composed of very experienced quilters from a fairly far-reaching geographical area of Nova Scotia. It was lovely to meet so many passionate quilters! The dessert party took place in the local legion hall and workshops were held in the hall of one of Mahone's Bay's famous three churches. Here are some photos of the 24 linear feet of dessert and our Cutting Garden and Structural Improv workshops.

Mahone Bay, March 2017

Mahone Bay, March 2017

Mahone Bay, March 2017

Student work from Structural Improv workshop in Mahone Bay, NS. May, 2017.

The guild does fairly traditional work in general, and also has many talented art quilters. I was thrilled that they were willing to give modern a try and to experiment with some improv design. The positive feedback was amazing and I had a wonderful time working with this super friendly guild. 

I have been to Mahone Bay many times on family visits, however I've not stayed overnight there. I loved having several days to enjoy the town and take morning walks. My gracious hosts Barbara and Peter fed me delicious local fare (lobster! scallops! homemade cider!) and toured me around the local haunts, including a working sail loft (4th generation sailmaker Michele Stevens came to my Cutting Garden workshop and is one of the fastest sewists I've ever seen in action!). Here are some of my phone pics from the area.

Mahone Bay, March 2017
The famous three churches of Mahone Bay (there are still two more in town!)

Mahone Bay 2017

Mahone Bay 2017

Mahone Bay 2017
This is a sailmakers sewing 'pit' sunk in the loft floor so that large heavy sails can spread out on the floor and sewn at the same level.

Mahone Bay 2017
Here's a home displaying a classic local architectural feature known as a Lunenburg bump. It's a nice little sitting area at the top of the stairs - perfect for awaiting your sailor's return home.

From the South Shore, I flew out of Halifax to St. Pierre....on Air St. Pierre! The flights go three days/week and take just over an hour, plus an additional hour of time change from Atlantic time.  Once we landed on the small island runway and entered the fancy 'new' airport building, I am pretty sure I was the only passenger that actually had to show my passport. Everyone else was a local returning from a sunny vacation in the south and seemed well-acquainted with the border guards.  Luckily, I arrived on the preferable (at least for tourists) weather day of the two typical options. Option A: sunny with lots of wind. Option B: fog.

My hosts Sylvie and Marie-Claire toured me around the tiny island for an hour or so, checking out the town and surrounding viewpoints. Although the island is just 12 km from Newfoundland, you realize quickly that you are actually, fully, in France. Shops follow the afternoon closing practice, food goods are imported from France (along with the wine!) and the currency is Euros.

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
It was a short walk from the 46-seat twin prop plane into the terminal.

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
It really is an island of rock!

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
Looking over the main town and harbour. There is a passenger ferry service to Newfoundland. A car ferry service is scheduled to start this summer. Although there are three patisseries on the island making delicious French pastry, I did see many people disembark the ferry carrying boxes of Tim Hortons donuts!

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
A photo at the southern-most tip of the island, where the road ends. I can only imagine how bitter the wind is here in winter.

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
The homes and businesses in town are painted bright, cheerful colours in contrast to the grey fog and rock. Small vestibules allow you to remove wet and winter clothing before entering.

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
The oldest shop on the island. You can see the storage room door in the sidewalk.

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017

<St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
Lobster season had just opened when I arrived. Most homes have a boat out front, or in the yard. Fishing, lobster-fishing and hunting for deer, pheasant and rabbit on a nearby uninhabited island supplement imported food. There are also wild berries, but very little food is grown, other than small back yard gardens.

The small, but dedicated group of 20 quilters gather weekly at the "old" airport, where they rent a conference room, kitchen and dining room for 30 Euros/year from the local government. We sewed under the old control tower! Fabric is pretty hard to come by. Many purchase fabric on trips to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia or France, but some people are starting to order online.  Although there was no expectation for me to do so, I tried my best to teach in French. It was pretty exhausting, but so much fun and even just a few days of immersion brings back my accent and vocabulary. They were thrilled that I was willing to try and I got lots of help with technical terms from those that spoke some English.  Eager for new ideas, the gals were keen to purchase my book and patterns, drink wine together and talk quilting as much as possible! I taught both Round Peg, Square Hole and a half day intro to free-motion machine quilting workshops.

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
The quilting room is in the left wing of the old airport!

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
A lovely welcome reception to share quilts and meet each other on my first evening.

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
Gloves on! Ready to FMQ!

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
Definitely in France! Yummmm.

St.Pierre & Miquelon, 2017
Here's the difference a day can make - the same view 24 hours later after "le brumes" had moved in.
The group calls themselves "Les Piqueuses de brumes", Quilters of the Fog.

On my second evening, a group of us went to dine in a local restaurant where we enjoyed fois gras, lobster au gratin and delicious wine. Just before dinner, I had purchased two fairly expensive bottles of my Dad's favourite French wine for his upcoming birthday, which I left in the car. I got a huge laugh, when after dinner I stood in the pouring rain waiting for Sylvie to unlock my car door. Apparently I was the only person who locked a door to protect my wine purchase. No one locks their cars or home; I was told crime isn't an issue because 10 minutes after something happened, the entire island would know exactly who did it!

It really would have been so nice to stay longer with these quilters who were so eager to learn. They have very little opportunity to meet outside quilters, so if you ever find yourself on St. Pierre, do try and stop by the old airport sewing room!

This post is getting so long. I think I'll take a break and write about my visits to the Maritime and PEI Modern Quilt Guilds another day. Until then, my friends.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Notes from the NJS Judges - Part 2

In this post (a continuation from my previous post) I share the comments from three CQA-certified judges on my Improv Untitled quilt. This wallhanging recently hung in the Canadian National Juried Show in Toronto in the Abstract Art category. I could have easily entered it into the Modern category along with Round Peg, Square Hole, but I thought my chances with the jury might improve if I tried two different categories.

Improv Untitled by Poppyprint

I am happy to share these comments/critiques with you as a point of interest. I find them thoughtful, constructive and useful!

Judge 1
The variety and scale of the shapes add visual interest. The shapes shift between being positive shapes to being negative shapes. This is visually unsettling (oh dear). Was this the mood you were intending to portray? Grid quilting pattern is effective.

Judge 2
This well-constructed quilt works with the viewer's mind (thank you, exactly!) as the eye moves around searching for familiar and identifiable images. The bold border plays a secondary role - perhaps it could be slightly integrated into the central area. Take care when piecing dark against light and watch out for shadowing (curses, I tried my best).

Judge 3
Negative space might be emphasized with more or different quilting (hmmm, this is a good suggestion worth considering for the next one). The design draws me in to follow pathways like a game (mission accomplished!). The light-coloured motif floats off the black and is anchored by the black grid quilting lines.

I'd really like to thank the judges (in no particular order, because the comments are not directly attributed to any judge), Margie Davidson, Hilary Rice and Judy Villett. I am actually rather delighted with all of your thoughtful words and will take them into consideration for future work. For the first time (in 6 juried show experiences) I actually feel like I got some great value out of my entry fee with this feedback.  

Would you like to learn 7 improv piecing techniques and make your own quilt similar to this one in a fast-paced, fun and supportive environment? I teach this unique Speed Date with Improv workshop (as a 1- or 2-day class) and would be happy to visit your guild or shop. Email address at the top left sidebar for enquiries. I have some availability in late fall and am now booking into 2018.  Sadly, due to working visa restrictions, I cannot teach in the US, but all other international and Canadian travel is welcome.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Notes From the NJS Judges - Part 1

My two quilts that hung at the Canadian National Juried Show in Toronto last weekend made it home today. For the first time in 3 shows, I found that the judge's critiques are very constructive, thoughtful and well-explained. I'm actually going to keep the pages with their thoughts this time. Usually I read judge's comments and then they head straight into paper recycling either due to a misunderstanding of the intention my quilt, or comments on elements of the work that aren't that relevant to me (but are very important for traditional judges).

Round Peg, Square Hole by Poppyprint, August 2016. 38" square. RJR Supreme Cotton Solids.

I thought I'd share the comments with you here as a point of interest. This is what the three CQA-certified judges wrote about Round Peg, Square Hole, which was juried into the Modern category:

Judge 1
Unique optical illusion created in overall design (mission accomplished, thank you!). Value gradation in every other block is effective. Straight-line quilting is even but stitch length seems long. The white thread colour that contrasts with the solid coloured fabrics and then blends with the background white fabric is effective.

Judge 2
Fascinating visual play is achieved in this compelling design. Excellent understanding of balance using colour is shown (yay me!! Maybe I know more about colour than I give myself credit for). Some well-blended gradation of fabrics is noted. While the quilting stitch throughout is even, it would improve the construction and visual effect if the stitch length was shorter.

Judge 3
Accurate piecing (woohoo!) suports the creative circular design concept. The gradation in colour in some of the pieced units adds design interest. The quilting stitch is even and straight but extremely long - quilt stitch length could be shorter.

There is much for me to celebrate here. This quilt is my very own design and I chose the colours carefully (thanks to RJR Fabrics for supplying all of the fabric for the front of this quilt during their What Shade RU blog hop). The design compliments really make me proud!

I've always liked a long quilting stitch length and typically when walking foot quilting I increase the stitch to 4.0. I'm hearing loud and clear that quilting judges (at least at CQA) prefer a shorter stitch length...even on a wallhanging. I will keep this in mind when making a quilt that I'd consider entering in a show.

Would you like to try creating your own version of this fun log-cabin variation? The .pdf downloadable pattern is available in my Craftsy shop (link up there at the top of my right sidebar).

Tomorrow I'll let you know what they had to say about the last Speed Date with Improv sample I made and entered in the Abstract Design category.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Peekaboo Bears - a Mini-Mini Quilt

I thought you'd like to see the completed mini-mini quilt that I started while on my trip to Australia. I posted some in-progress photos and more info about the pattern here.

It is mostly hand quilted with perle cotton, although I did do one outlining machine stitched line using 30 wt Aurifil in hot pink in that navy border. The binding was sewn on by machine and hand tacked to the back. Sadly, my hand-piecing accuracy is not the best (it's been ages since I did much hand-piecing) so most of those pretty points were lost around the outside, but I think overall it's still adorable. I hope my partner in the Ottawa MQG likes her little bears.  All I know about her is that she shares my aversion to brown and she likes Cotton & Steel fabric...this is 8" x 8" of 100% C&S!

Peekaboo Bears by Poppyprint

I embellished all of the bear eyes with a french knot - so cute!

I really enjoy participating in the swaps we do at VMQG because they tend to be small, manageable projects with a generous time frame to complete them. I'm thankful for the volunteers that take on the organisation and planning; in this case Amy. Our guild ships everything in one go (or sometimes we get lucky with a traveller who can personally deliver the goods). The rules for this one were "make a mini-mini quilt that has an outside perimeter of less than 48 inches". Perfect!!

If you've read Poppyprint for a while, then you know I used to swap like a fiend back in the Flickr days, starting with the famous Doll Quilt Swap.  I think one year I did over 10 swaps and learned many new things every time. Making stuff especially for another person according to their wishlist can be a really fun challenge.  Although I love participating, sharing and receiving beautiful handmade things from around the world, I try to limit myself to one or two a year now and that seems to be the perfect amount. Guild ones are great fun and it's especially fun to connect with other Canadian groups.

How about you...swapping anything these days?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Stepping Stones IV

Although I've made three previous Stepping Stones Table Runners (a pattern by Krista Withers and me) in my book Make It, Take It, they've all been gifted. It is a project that people always respond to very positively at my trunk shows, so I thought it a good idea to make another one for my upcoming teaching trip to the Maritimes.

The other ones were also made with Heather Ross prints; they are so cute, visually interesting and fun to fussy cut!  I've traded the froggies for unicorns on this one, using the Far, Far Away line.  As with the other runners, this one has Essex linen in natural for the background.

Stepping Stones Table Runner by Poppyprint

I've quilted it just like Krista's accompanying instructions in the book for Ghost Shape quilting using a walking foot. I marked the ghost shapes and a few of the long, straight lines with a Clover disappearing pen (that evaporates in about an hour, depending on the level of humidity in the air).




I don't often buy fat quarter sets of fabric lines, so when I do splurge it is usually because I have an idea and want to use the prints together in a project. What I always forget to do is also buy a 1/2 yard of one of the prints to use as a binding for that project. Luckily, I had this two-tone Carolyn Friedlander print that works perfectly with the blues in Far, Far, Away. Hopefully, next time I won't forget the binding!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Avian Entertainment

These Rainbow Lorikeets  were everywhere in Australia, but we had a very special rainy afternoon where about 50 of them visited us for sunflower seed treats, creating a deafening racket with their calls and squawks. I could watch them all day, and even fed them out of my hand (until about 6 were all standing on my forearm and I couldn't handle their sharp claws any longer!).

Their feathers were so intense and beautiful! These two were having quite the grooming session, taking turns nibbling each other.

I just wanted to pop in and wish you all a Happy Easter and couldn't do so without a picture!