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.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Hi, I am Jean Cockburn and I blog here at http://whenyouloveblue.blogspot.ca/

I have been tagged to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop by a fellow textile artist from Denman Island, British Columbia, Barb Mortell who blogs at http://houseofbug.blogspot.ca/ . Barb is a wonderfully creative person, and I have been privileged to take several quilting classes from her. Each class has brought my practice to a higher level.

Forthwith are my responses to the blog hop questions.

1. What am I working on?
I have just finished taking a 6 week course in Sketching and Watercolor Journal Style from Jane LaFazio. It was wonderful and my watercolour painting skills really improved over the 6 weeks. Below is the very first fruit painting that I did for the class in week 1, then my hiking boot painting from week 5. Can you see the same improvement that I can see?
Fruit sketch and painting from Week #1 of Jane LaFazio's course.
Shoe sketch and painting from week #5 of Jane LaFazio's course.

My quilting continues to be very satisfying. I have a modern improvised quilt, Syncopation, juried into the QuiltCon exhibit in Austin Texas in February, 2015. I will be at QuiltCon for the first time - wow.
Syncopation quilt that is going to QuiltCon.
My abstract quilted wall piece, Cedar Forest, has been accepted into the Surface Design Associations's travelling exhibit Edge of the Forest, which will begin in March 2015.
Cedar Forest, abstract wall hanging for Edge of the Forest exhibit.
I have a representative quilted wall hanging, Sailboat at Anchor in Baynes Sound, on display at the Comox Valley Airport from December 2014 until May 2015 - that is also a juried show.
Sailboat at Anchor in Baynes Sound, currently on display at the Comox Valley Airport.
My abstract quilted wall piece, Salmon River Run, was very well received and sold quickly at a local charity auction. I began working on this piece at one of Barb Mortell's workshops where she really helped me to understand the possibilities of inserted curved piecing.
Detail of Salmon River Run. The entire piece is over 6 feet long, and the new owner has it hung horizontally so it truly looks like a river.

I have original knitting patterns available on Ravelry, under designer name Arbutus Books.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?  
I try to take a fresh approach to all that I do, to follow some rules but not others. I am very interested in technique, so that I can make a perfect bound edge, but I am also relaxed about imperfect points in patchwork, because it is the overall effect that is important to me. I try not to take myself or my work too seriously.
3. Why do I create what I do?  I just love making things and always have done so. I knit, crochet, tat, embroider, do beading, make baskets, make dolls and toys, sew clothes, quilt, do needlepoint, sketch and paint, dye and stamp fabrics, collage and make cards. It is just so incredibly satisfying!

4. How does my creative process work?  I am not one who plans ahead. I almost never make notes or a sketch ahead of time when I design a quilt, create a doll, or cover a rock with crochet. I just seem to get an idea in my head, and then I work it through in the actual doing. I always have lots of projects going on at one time, but they all get done in a timely manner. I am a very neat and organized person which is oddly not a conflict with continually starting new projects before others are finished.

I would like to tag the following artists to also participate in the Around the World Blog Hop:

Jane LaFazio's at http://janeville.blogspot.ca/  and Catherine Nicholls at  http://ravensthread.com/ 

Free motion quilting on placemats

I began free motion quilting the placemats on Tuesday. I am using natural linen for the backing fabric, and 80/20 batting.

The thread is 50/3 Essential Cotton Thread from Connecting Threads . I am careful to use the same thread in the bobbin as in the top needle. Occasionally I will use one shade darker in the bobbin as it gives more stitch definition. This thread is a dream to machine quilt with, and does not stretch the way polyester thread does, so gives a lovely quilted texture.

I have been using polyester thread in the past, because of online recommendations and less lint, but after quilting my Frost Flowers quilt with 40/3 Mettler quilting cotton thread, and these placemats with the Essential Cotton thread, I am definitely preferring the cotton.

The placemat tops pieced and pressed, before sandwiching with Hobbs fusible batting and linen backings.

A quilted top. I am doing a flower motif in each nine patch square.

The back of the placemats. I like the way the soft green colour of the thread works with the linen.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sweater for Pam

After I saw Pam in November, during our Palm Springs reunion, I decided to knit her a sweater. Pam has Lyme disease and is so cheerful although I know that she suffers a lot. And she lives in Edmonton, so, hello, she needs a sweater!
I have been knitting on it for a few weeks, and just have the sleeves to complete. Pam is going to Hawaii on January 1, so I hope to have it done to mail to her when she gets back.

The sleeves are raglan, knitted form the shoulder down. In fact, the whole sweater is a top-down seamless construction - love it!

The pattern is Bloomsbury, by Svetlana Volkova, available here on Ravelry.

The yarn is Malabrigo Merino Worsted, in colour Hollyhock. It is kettle dyed, so the there are lots of variations in the yarn, it is almost striated in appearance. Lovely soft and silky (I hope it does not pill).

Monday, December 22, 2014

Last week of LaFazio art class

This is week #6, the last week of Jane LaFazio's online art class for beginners, 

Sketching and Watercolor: Journal Style.

This last week we sketched and painted man-made objects, and learned to use an outstretched pencil as a measuring device for creating an accurate drawing.  My first drawing was very challenging, as I chose 3 objects not in a line, so I had to calculate their relative positions and sizes. 

The whole drawing and painting took me about 4 hours, as it was a first time effort doing this sort of thing. In retrospect, I should have started more simply, but I like to jump in with both feet and try hard, as that is how you learn anything. If it is easy, you are not learning.

My second drawing, following on the alcohol themed drawings of the rest of the class, was of a brandy bottle. Much easier as it is a single object.

(See my Daily Drawings page for all my paintings.)

This course has been an excellent experience, and I have already signed up for her next class, beginning February 1, 2015 - 

Sketching and Watercolor in a Mixed Media Journal .

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Creative meanderings

I have all my Christmas preparations done, so I can relax and do some creative projects that catch my fancy.

First up is using the nifty technique for making 9-patch squares that Barb Mortell told me about. You cut two 41/2 squares of light and dark fabric, put them right sides together and sew a 1/4" seam on each side. Then cut 11/2" from each side (not the seam, the side) and sew the centre loose strips to each piece to make two alternating squares. Then cross these together, repeat the process, and voila - two nine-patch squares!

I made some 1/4 triangle squares using the same fabrics, and have been putting them together into placemat sized pieces that I will back with natural linen.

Thirty squares (5 squares by 6 squares, each 3" or slightly less) sewn together to placemat size.

A pile of strips, each 5 squares long, waiting to be combined into placemats sized pieces.
Another project is painting card stock with acrylic paints to create storage boxes for my watercolour paintings. So far I have gessoed on both sides, four pieces of card stock, each 81/2 by 11". Then I painted one side. I need to paint the other side of each piece, and coat each piece with gel medium. then I can make the boxes and lids.

The card stock painted on one side.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Knitted slippers in natural wool

I have knit a pair of slippers for my Christmas guest. I used lovely natural Denman Island yarn from Sandstone Farms. I used a free pattern from Ravelry DROPS Design 131-43.

Winding balls from the skeins using a swift and ball winder.

The almost completed slippers.

I have a quilt juried into QuiltCon!

Lovely message from Heather Grant, the Director of Marketing and Programming for the Modern Quilt Guild, "Congratulations! Your entry, Syncopation Quilt, has been selected by our panel of jurors to be displayed at QuiltCon!".

I made the quilt according to a words only, no picture "score" from Sherri Lynn Wood of http://daintytime.net/ . I made Improv Handbook Score ~ 05 Rhythmic Grid.

Ten of us each made ten different quilts from ten scores. We were asked to not blog about it, or publish pictures, as the process was in support of a book by Sherri Lynn Wood. Some volunteer quilts will be illustrated in the book, not mine though.
I had a recent email from Sherri, "Please feel free to enter your test quilts into exhibitions including QuiltCon. It would be appropriate to note that your quilt was inspired or prompted by your participation as a test quilter for the Improv Handbook. "

The book has been published, and is available on Amazon:
I am thrilled that I will be able to present this quilt at the conference. I had submitted two other quilts of my own design to QuiltCon, that were not accepted, but no problem - I would have had to take another suitcase to pack all the quilts. This lovely soft quilt will fit nicely squished into my regular packing.

Here are some pics of the quilt.

Syncopation quilt hanging on the back clothes line. The natural light gives an excellent photo and the colours glow.
Detail of hand quilting with #8 perle cotton in various colours of blue and orange. The hand quilting is in rows of 5 as in musical notation.

Back of the quilt.

Detail of back of the quilt.

Quilt label.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Denman Island Quilters Community Quilt for Mike Lindsay

Mike does so much for everyone in the local community. The Denman Island Quilters made him a quilt in appreciation. He opened the quilt at the quilters' display at the Christmas Craft Faire on December 6, 2014.

This is a good shot of the quilt, but not so good of Mike.

This is a great shot of Mike.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Frost Flowers quilt

I finished a new quilt today, in Christmas colours. I used the free motion quilting motif from Leah Day called Frost Flowers. It is so pretty that I am going to call the quilt by the same name.

The back of the quilt.

Detail of the back of the quilt shows the quilting motif very well.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Original knitting patterns on Ravelry

Back when I was knitting more often (pre left shoulder pain) I would post my original designs to Ravelry. I still like to check now and then and see what the activity is on my patterns which are listed under Arbutus Books Designs.
Most often someone "favourites" a pattern but like the rest of us, rarely gets around to actually knitting all those favourites.
But here is a wonderful endorsement on Ravelry of my Toddler's Aran Vest pattern that I designed and knit for my grandson a few years ago:

Why haven’t more people made this?!! Well written, straight-forward, fast and satisfying. I used much finer yarn (DK instead of Aran) to decrease the size, and referenced other vest patterns to get a rough idea of my target finished measurements. 

The pattern is available for free and is indeed an easy knit, done in the round, which makes the aran cabling simpler and avoids seaming.