About Me

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Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada
Jean Cockburn retired from her professional career as an academic librarian in 2008 to become a textile artist living on Denman Island, British Columbia. She draws, quilts, embroiders, knits and crochets, makes wearable art, weaves baskets, dyes fabric, and paints watercolours. Her work has been exhibited locally in juried and group shows on Denman Island, in Courtenay, Comox, and Duncan on Vancouver Island, in West Vancouver, and across Canada with the Surface Design Association.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

U.F.O. quilt project under new construction

I have the usual collection of UnFinished Objects in my quilting stash. Having finished the Purple Playground quilt that I made as part of Barb Mortell's House Tops class, I decided to see what was lurking in the UFO box. I found this sweet and highly detailed flower hexagon that I had begun a couple of years ago when I was piecing entirely by hand. I am not sure that it is still to my taste (one of the main problems with UFO's is that one moves on ...), but too much work went into it to abandon it entirely. And I happen to have a lovely collection of blue traditional flower patterned fat quarters, so I have spent two pleasant afternoons improvising away as I see if I can turn this into a table topper for our circular dining table.
The original hexagon that I rediscovered stopped with the first white bits. I added the white border yesterday - not sure that it is a success as it takes over too much. But we will see how it grows.

Blue fat quarters to maybe use in the Blue Flowers Table Topper.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rushing water

After all the rain we had yesterday, our seasonal creek is rushing with lots of water. When I walk over to the studio I am met with the sound of water flowing down under the bridge. As the sound is such a large part of the experience, I made a video.

Friday, February 24, 2012

February things

After growing up in central Alberta, I still marvel at the West Coast climate. Wednesday was warm and sunny, and I discovered a crocus growing in the lawn as I raked away dead leaves and fallen fir branches to reveal the earliest flowering bulbs, while one of my favourite of the many fungi that grow around here magically appeared on an old log near the bird bath. Then on Thursday we went skiing on a cold and icy day at Mount Washington. Today was lashing rain and a wind warning. Such a contrast of weather.

Crocus tommasinianus

Mount Washington from the restaurant

Witches' Butter
(From Wikipedia) Tremella mesenterica (common names include the yellow brain, the golden jelly fungus, the yellow trembler, and witches' butter[2]) is a common jelly fungus in the Tremellaceae family of theAgaricomycotina. It is most frequently found on dead but attached and on recently fallen branches, especially of angiosperms, as a parasite of wood decay fungi in the genus Peniophora.[3] The gelatinous, orange-yellow fruit body of the fungus, which can grow up to 7.5 cm (3.0 in) diameter, has a convoluted or lobed surface that is greasy or slimy when damp. It grows in crevices in bark, appearing during rainy weather.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Purple Playground Quilt

This is the quilt that I made from the House Tops quilt class taught by Barb Mortell. Although I love the colours, I am not sure that this is my favourite type of quilt. I prefer more symmetry than is achieved through this deconstruction technique.
The completed quilt pinned up on the design wall.

The quilt back.

Quilt detail.

Quilt detail.

Quilt detail.

Tiny Bang Story computer game

Last evening I downloaded the Tiny Bang Story computer game from the apps store on my Mac laptop, cost $10. The game was released in October 2011. Then I spent most of the evening engaged in a delightful puzzle of shapes and numbers and honestly, critical problem analysis. What fun!

I became interested after reading a review of the game in a Jan. 20, 2012 Globe and Mail newspaper article Three of the best from Mac’s App Store: "The Mac App Store has, in its short existence, joined Web-based game distribution platforms such as Steam and Xbox Live in becoming a stage for small studios to show off wares that might otherwise struggle to reach mainstream audiences. Some of these games deliver engaging new ways to play and daring digital artistry......... Hidden-object games – those in which we hunt for random items concealed in complex pictures – have a reputation for being a bit mind-numbing. That’s not the case with Russia-based Colibri Games’s debut offering, The Tiny Bang StoryThe action is set in a whimsical world where everyday objects like boots and kettles have been turned into buildings for wee folk. Sadly, a soccer-ball-shaped meteor shatters this unusual realm at the game’s outset, and we’re the ones who must put it back together. Players search lovely hand-drawn environments for suspicious things, like a broken panel or a locked control box. These discoveries dictate the sorts of objects we seek – like a tool to remove screws from the broken panel – and eventually lead to new areas and fresh puzzles. It requires more thought than you’d expect, and proves a relaxing, habit-forming experience capable of sucking up entire evenings."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Catherine Ordronneau concert

We enjoyed one of the Concerts Denman Series this afternoon at the community hall. It was a superb piano programme by Catherine Ordronneau .

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Deep Dish Apple Pie

I used about eight small, tart green apples, peeled and cored and sliced. I added the juice of one lemon, one cup of sugar, two tablespoons of flour and mixed all of it in a big bowl. Then I generously buttered the pan, put in the apple mixture and dotted on more butter. The pastry I had retrieved from the freezer, and I presume it was made from my standard Tenderleaf Lard recipe from the side of the box. I rolled the pastry out and laid it on the apples, cut many slits in the top and baked it at 450F for 10 minutes, then 350F for 55 minutes. I find that longer baking time is so much better to make pastry really delicious.

Felted crocheted bowls

My latest venture is to explore felted bowls. I used pure wool yarn - some roving, some tightly plied, other woollen. I crocheted, then machine washed in hot water, but as I have a front loading machine, not a top loader with an agitator, the bowls did not get thrashed around very much. However, here they are drying on top of all the various forms I could find in the kitchen, and we will see how they turn out.
Felted bowls drying on the kitchen counter.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blue Snow Shadows

Goodbye to the bright snow and sunshine and back to the rain and overcast skies of the coast.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Okanagan Valley Splendour

Kalamalka Lake north end, looking up the Coldstream Valley with the Monashee Mountain Range in the distance.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Skiing at Silver Star

What a fabulous sunny day of perfect skiing.

February vacation

On Friday the 10th I attended a Tai Chi class at this Vancouver heritage building, a Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Skiing today

J. and G. and I skied the morning at Mount Washington. There was an inversion and it was bright sunshine above the low fog that hugged the coastline, but it was very windy.  So windy that the Eagle chairlift was suspended for awhile, but we were skiing the Hawk chair which is protected in a gully.
My two skiing buddies.

Quilting Class #2: Roof Tops Gees Bend style

Barb took us through class number 2, which meant cutting apart our improvised log cabin blocks and putting them back together.
Barb and Rain hold up Rain's completed quilt top.

Barb's quilt top that she started in last month's class. Her husband says that it reminds him of  the carpet of his childhood piano teacher.

Barb's second quilt top.

My own deconstructed blocks up on the design wall as I begin the process of putting together the quilt top.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The sun shone!

I went out to our apple tree meadow to practice my Tai Chi this morning and what do you know - the mist actually burned off and the sun shone. I was inspired to rake some of the piles of Big Leaf Maple leaves that collected in the fenced in garden area in order to allow the early flowers to be seen.

First snowdrops blooming in the shelter of hellebore leaves.
Helleborus foetidus

Yellow Aconite

Helleborus orientalis


Rhubarb shoots just beginning to show.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


This morning J. and had our usual Saturday morning routine: French Toast for breakfast with black coffee, then off to the recycling centre and to pick up a Globe and Mail at the General Store. Then, as it was a nice day (if only the fog had burned off it would have been glorious sunshine) we decided to go for a bike ride before lunch. Not our "round the island" route of 25 km over 1 1/2 hours that we do in the summer months, but rather a shorter ride up Lake Road, cross over the island on Pickles Road, then down the big hill and back home along Northwest Road. We rode for 10.57 km and it took us 45 minutes. The gravel road surfaces where a tire sucking mix of clay and sand that kept me in low gear much of the first half of the ride, but it was lots of fun and we felt great afterwards. See a map of our trip at http://g.co/maps/rgahq .

Friday, February 3, 2012

Two excellent recipes: Cauliflower Cheese Casserole and Orange Raisin Cake

Cauliflower Cheese Casserole
This cauliflower recipe is easy and delicious. Coarsely chop a head of cauliflower and boil in a small amount of salted water until tender. Drain and leave in the pot. Add a small container of cream cheese, 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, several grinds of fresh pepper, a couple of green onions sliced, some chopped Italian parsley and 1/2 cup of grated hard cheese, like Parmesan or Gruyere or Emmental, or even Cheddar. Mash it all together, and pile into an un-greased dish. Bake at 350 F for 1/2 hour until bubbly. Do not add salt when making this dish as the original cooking water was salted and the cheese is also quite salty.

Orange Raisin Cake
When I made this cake recently, I baked it in a silicone bundt pan, the rubbery wobbly kind. I baked it for 45 minutes as I would if I was using a metal tube pan, but it did not bake all the way through; I am presuming because of less efficient heat conductivity of the silicone. But the gooey pudding cake is delicious, and J. says that he loves it, which just goes to show that there are few true mistakes in cooking.
Put 2 cups of raisins, 1/3 cup unsalted butter, 1 cup dark brown sugar, 1 cup of orange juice and a 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger, mace, nutmeg and cloves into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, which will probably take an hour. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 2 cups of flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon  baking soda. Mix lightly, and put into a greased tube pan or loaf pan. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes for the tube pan (see my note above) or 60 minutes for the loaf pan. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Early signs of spring

Lovely sunny day today. I rode my bike to the village and was amazed at the carpet of yellow aconite underneath the old apple trees behind the Arts Centre. The young deer was happily grazing on the septic field meadow being the building.
Young deer grazing in the sunshine.

Yellow Aconite blooming underneath apple trees.

Perle cotton

I discovered hand quilting with perle cotton at last year's Thetis Island quilting retreat, from a woman originally from Australia. (See wonderful Australian quilting at Material Obsession.)
Here is my collection of perle cotton in jewel colours. I admit that I usually quilt with the off-white perle cotton that I bought in bulk at N. Jefferson notions wholesale in east Vancouver, but these balls of colour are so beguiling to look at that I love having them for that reason. I made the box they are in with my latest modular origami technique. The paper is from an old calendar featuring William Morris prints.
I picked up most of these colours at Lacis in Berkeley California when we were in San Francisco in September visiting J.'s sister.