review of 2021

Last year started off well (creatively) as I signed up for a drawing class with Susan Shie called Lucky Drawing # 000. At the time, I didn’t appreciate how much of a benefit this class was to me. It really kick-started me into working solidly on something, rather than wandering around my head, ‘should I or should I not do this?” It definitely pushed me into directions I wasn’t used to or tended to fight against. I used the sketchbook one time after that to record my feelings about the big Freeze in Texas last February. It was brutal. I need to get that sketchbook out again!

Quilting was my main focus last year, as it was in 2020. However, I have got to the stage where I know I don’t want to do traditional quilting, but where do I go next? I started off the year by finishing a UFO, which dated back to when I started to quilt in 2018, my Oops quilt. After that, I did a bit of exploring, beginning with a class curated by Lisa Walton called Aurora. I liked it so much, I did another class with her called Fantastic fusion. It was very similar to another course I had taken at the end of 2020 with Susan Carlson. I did a couple of other small quilts after these classes, and then I did a deep dive into Ruler work quilting. I am an OK free motion quilter. I think my ability to draw makes it easier for me than a lot of quilters. I am not a good piecer which is why I have decided I will not be doing traditional quilts, as they cause me too much stress which takes out the enjoyment for me. Given my recent obsession, it is really no surprise that I was drawn to the preciseness and patterns of ruler work. Ruler work, as the name implies, uses a ‘ruler’ or “template’ so you have more control over the shape and size as you sew. With free-motion sewing, it’s harder to keep the stitching regular and the shapes uniform. Well, that is the theory but both methods require a lot of practice. That is what I ended up doing much of the year! By the end of October, after spending too much money on templates after watching videos on YouTube, I came to the realisation that maybe ruler work quilting wasn’t for me unless (pause) I could find a way of using it in my freeform work which is what I did with 2 of the small quilts I made, Solar and Standing stones on a wall. My breaking point came with a set of placemats and a table runner. They are still waiting to be finished and the truth is, it could be done in a day or so; I am that close. But I hate them!
So, where am I going to go with my quilting in 2022? More freeform and mixed media. I have an idea which, given how slow I work, will take me until we move in 2024, at least! It will be a series of smaller wall quilts that could be hung separately or together. I want to explore painting my own fabric and printing on that fabric. I will use all the skills I have gathered over the last decade with beads and embroidery. It will be exciting and nerve-wracking. It will be FUN!

My very 1st project of the year, which I have already started, is a t-shirt quilt. It’s a practice piece before I tackle the main project, making three wall hangings from the t-shirts of my former daughter-in-law. Her mother gave them to me late last year to share among her family in her memory. This is one project I need to get right!

In November, to drive me out of my now familiar funk (I think it must be a seasonal thing), I began trying out my hand with Zentangles and drawing on the digital drawing tablet my son got me last Christmas.
I began my foray into the digital drawing world by downloading Krita, a professional drawing website. The 1st page was daunting enough, without the thought of drawing, although my nine-year-old granddaughter uses a drawing app all the time! Youtube to the rescue again. One particular video channel was very useful. ‘Learn Krita with Bob Ross’ on the Age of Asparagus channel. It was great fun as well as being a good learning experience.

I do a regular countdown to Christmas project on Instagram, and originally I intended to practice my digital drawing by drawing a day up to the 24th of December. I quickly realised that was way beyond my abilities. The tablet has been put away for now but I fully intend to get back to it once I am back into my routine.

At the same time I was delving into the world of digital drawing/painting, I decided to look at Zentangles. I had some experience of them as I was given an instructional book by one of my kids, a few years ago. I tried it out but the book wasn’t overly inspiring. I noticed that one of my long-time Facebook friends was exploring them and posting the results. I knew it had an aspect of mindfulness that I thought might help with my current state of mind (it helped me stop using sleeping tablets after nearly a decade!). I was only going to do it for a week or so. Yet again, Youtube came up trumps! I have found a few very useful channels and have used them with my drawings. However, they take a long time to complete and on some days, I had to stop or end up frustrated. The opposite of the intended effect! I am doing them in a bullet journal which I have never used dued to the pandemic. Not much to plan when there is so little to do!

My Christmas project turned out particularly well, although I never quite completed all 24 days as normal! Next year, I will start a few days ahead of December. Then I might complete all 24 days.

That about sums up my year of work. I did forget one period and that was when I signed up to do a free course by Louise Fletcher called finding your joy. Sometimes I feel guilty about not painting anymore. It was an effort to rediscover the love I have for painting. Maybe I will find it again when, or if we move back to Scotland, I hope so. This course did not help in that regard. You can read my posts about my feelings on this program. In my head, it’s forgotten. It’s the art world’s pryamid scheme basically.
The highlight of this dull year (apart from my art, of course) was receiving the people’s choice award at our local quilt guild’s annual show. I loved making this quilt, and yes, I painted it and quilted it on a domestic machine, but the real credit should go to Helen Godden, who designed it.

Quirky Collections designed by Helen Godden.

That is my round up for 2021. Now onward to 2022 with even more success than last year!

Lot of practice and slow progress

I really haven’t done a lot since I last wrote in September. I had lots of good intentions but life got in the way. I did make 75 koozies for daughter’s wedding using my Brother scan n cut. I also made a centre piece and a cake topper for her bridal shower.

Centre piece for Emily’s Bridal shower

I am now following a course by Shannon Rendon using the Jakarta placemat and table runner design by June Tailor. The instructor, as I indicated in my previous blog, is using 12 different templates, a bit excessive! I will be using about 4 or 5 templates, maybe just 3 as that is all I have of the ones she is using. In a an effort to use the templates I do have that will fit as 2″ wide space, I have been using my Westalee stitching discs to draw out designs. These discs are so useful as they act like the quarter inch ruler foot on my sewing machine. This way the designs will be exactly the same size as you would sew. It’s just a practice piece so I am not overly concerned about how it turns out. If it does work out, I will donate it to my quilt guild for their fundraiser at the local craft fair in November.

Once I have finished the placemats I will make a start on the three t-shirt wall hangings for my late daughter-in-law’s mother. I have never made a t-shirt quilt so I will be even slower than normal as these will be very special.

In between times I will work on my own art work. I feel I am dragging my feet a bit in that area.

Westalee Templates and Find your joy 2021

I haven’t done much in the past month, although I have watched numerous Youtube videos on Westalee template designs and reacquainted myself briefly with painting.


From having no Westalee templates for quilting at the beginning of May, I now have several! I have done several practice swatches with the first set I got on 6th May. The rulers themselves don’t come with many instructions, so Youtube is an excellent resource for teaching you how to use them.

My sewing machine was due for its tune-up and would be missing in action for what I thought it would be a while. It turned out to be just a couple of days. However, I invested in some ‘stitching’ discs made by the same company, Westalee. They enable you to draw out designs on paper with the required quarter-inch taken up by the sewing foot used for ruler work. Working on paper is also less expensive than just randomly quilting on a fabric sandwich. There is quite a learning curve like any form of quilting, but I am enjoying what I am doing so far. I am not gripping the template so much, and I can unclench my teeth occasionally.

Although my primary focus, at the moment, is quilting, I haven’t entirely given up on painting. Apart from watching mainly art history videos, I have also dipped in the videos by Louise Fletcher. As I was getting my sewing machine ready for the shop, I saw that she was doing a brief seven-day free taster course on Facebook. I thought, why not? So I joined up. It seems that was similar thought to a lot of people. There are 12,031 members in the group! It’s actually way too big to be instructive. The group is named ‘Find your joy taster 2021″ and is a very effective advertising plug for the 12-week course that follows, also led by Louise and her assistants.

I have no intentions of doing the following course, but the exercise I have done so far was OK. I didn’t quite get into my inner child. The 1st painting was very random, and I didn’t know what to make of it. You start by sectioning off the paper with tape, in this instance, into six. You begin to paint, using any medium you liked, over the whole sheet of paper (or whatever support you are using) and ignoring the sections. It was a timed piece, and although you could finish after five minutes, you must complete it in thirty minutes. Once you had finished, you removed the tape to reveal the six mini paintings. I didn’t feel any ‘joy’ in these small paintings. I did realise I am not fond of black. It was just too chaotic for my liking. It reminded me of some pictures I had seen in the Blanton museum by Joan Mitchell, which I never understood or liked!

I attempted the exercise again, and although I enjoyed the process more this time, I didn’t exactly keep within the exercise parameters. It was very obviously a flower painting, and on the reveal, it became a window with some flowers. I liked the individual sections more this time, and I enjoyed the marks made by the various tools I used.


I have yet to do the 2nd exercise. I keep putting it off. I have distracted myself by working with some new templates I received on Friday, made up a quilt sandwich to work on, and wrote this. I will admit I am a bit stuck. Fortunately, I didn’t pay for this ‘taster’; otherwise, I might have been a little disappointed, but hopefully, I will get something out of it. The instructor, Louise, is very good with her enthusiasm for playing with paint, which is why it has been so popular. Its a free week of painting exercises and for that I am grateful. I might or might not do the other exercises.

I must stop doing these courses and just trust my own instincts on where I am going.