About Me

My photo
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.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hexagons and linen

My fascination with hexagons continues. I purchased some wonderful linen fabric from my friend Barb. She showed me a square that had been washed compared to one that was off the bolt, and the amount of shrinkage convinced me to wash, dry and iron my 5 yards before embarking on any projects.

I made some classic English paper pieced hexagons, and the shifting/wobbly nature of the washed fabric was okay given the control that is ensured with that method. I will incorporate those into another project, and probably make more as they are a nice neutral background.

When I tried the project pictured below - a variation of Japanese reversible/kaleidoscope patchwork where the backing fabric is wrapped to the front around a layer of batting and face fabric - the wobbliness of the linen at first dismayed me. But, I think that I like the final result, with its slight variations in size that meant the pieces had to be eased together in some places.

I want to try it again with my special Liberty cotton prints that I have been saving for the perfect project. Maybe squares, like the ones that I made before, from the book that I bought in San Francisco two years ago.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memory quilt

Our local quilt group is making a memory quilt for a senior lady on our island, the mother of one of our group. Others made the blocks and sandwiched, and I offered to quilt it. I had a *lot* of tension issues. I tried to use pale pink serger thread, and at first it worked, and then it did not. I did way too much unpicking. The same serger thread in an ivory colour works just fine on my own quilts-as-you-go project, so I never did figure it out. I finally switched to a grey cotton thread, tweaked the bottom bobbin tension, and then it was fun and efficient. Tomorrow I deliver it to Ann to do the binding.
Quilting all finished.

Block and border detail.

The back of the quilt. The backing is a polished cotton, and I suspect that may have led to some of the tension issues.

Thread things, free motion quilting on my grand old Singer

Here is my Rube Goldberg contraption consisting of a knitting needle to hold my cone of ivory coloured thread in a horizontal position, and another spool of black thread as a counter weight. It actually worked just fine, wonder of wonders! But then I figured out it was over kill, and all I actually needed to do was tweak my bobbin tension a bit, and the thread problem was solved.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Falling down the rabbit hole of english paper piecing

Wow! Once I started english paper piecing I cannot stop. I have found this website for Geta's Quilting Studio as my inspiration and source of hexagon pdf's to print out.

Here I have many abstract flowers up on my design board. I am hand piecing from the design board, as I find that is the only way to keep things in order.

Piecing the lower left corner.

The entire design, lower few rows already attached.

Piecing the lower right corner.

Free Motions Quilting, and Quilt As You Go

I am making a full size quilt for my summer art exhibit, and for the first time I am using the "quilt as you go" technique. I am doing very dense and detailed free motion quilting, and I knew that trying to manipulate a whole quilt through my machine would be no fun.

My reference book for this project.

My instructions when the time comes to put the blocks together.

My paper cartoon sketch for my planned free motion quilting.
The backing fabric is Osnaburg, a loose weave utility cotton fabric. It is natural coloured, that is unbleached. I washed and ironed it before use as it shrinks quite a bit. But wow, is it ever great for a backing fabric in this instance, as it really shows the texture of the machine quilting. I like the back as much as the front - see below.

A block with the free motion quilting completed. The block is 18 inches square, and 16 blocks will make up the quilt.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What I Did on My Spring Vacation

My Spring 2013 vacation to Alberta

We drove to Vancouver and spent the evening with friends, then drove the next day to Vernon in the Okanagan Valley and visited with family. In the car I read To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.

My interest had been piqued by reading Are you My Mother? by Alison Bechdel. There are many references to Woolf's book as Bechdel analyses her own family dynamics.

As I reread To the Lighthouse, I found a bookmark that indicated that I never finished it the first time, many years ago - this time I really loved it and found the writing to be exquisitely luminous. Inside the front cover were pencilled notes in my mother's handwriting which I found quite poignant.

In Vancouver and in Vernon I worked on English paper pieced flowers for a future art piece.

We drove through the Roger's and Kicking Horse passes to Calgary where we visited with grandchildren and walked in Fish Creek.

During our down time at the hotel I knit socks and read quilting and sewing magazines.

I knit most of a pair of socks.

After several days in Calgary, we drove north in an April snowstorm to Fort Saskatchewan.

Then we drove home to Kamloops and finally Denman Island, and celebrated JM's birthday with a pie made from rhubarb from the front garden.

We love our family and friends, but also love being home!