A place to share my art, my quilting and my experiences creating with my favorite furry friends at my feet.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Life Continues with More Change

This week I have been writing a lot about the changes that have happened to me over the past few months. I am finding this very beneficial to me. This writing has been very self-serving. If you are tired of reading about my dog story too bad, there is yet another chapter and this one includes sewing.
About a week after bringing Clover home, we were given the opportunity to dog sit for Henriette. Merit, a 5 year-old male, needed a place to stay for a long weekend. Merit is a beautiful dog. He has had health issues in the past, but is very healthy now. Merit is also a very loving dog that likes to snuggle, play, and go for long walks. Merit came for a visit and decided to stay. Merit has been with us for 10 weeks now and has no intention of going home. Merit is a champion and I am currently working with him and he is teaching me a lot about dog life and competition. 10 weeks ago I knew very little about confirmation, agility or obedience. Merit is helping me learn. We have started tracking classes together and I am learning how to properly handle a dog (and not let them handle me). Merit is helping me regain my confidence.
Merit enjoying a carrot in the garden
Merit is also helping me to get involved in new activities, something I need to do right now. Quilting has been my passion. I especially love to spend time sewing over the summer when I am out of school. This summer is very different. I had cataract surgery this spring and my eyes are healing. The surgery has been a mixed blessing. I can see again, a huge plus. My night vision has returned, no more solid black at night. I can also see color correctly again. Colors are once again vibrant, something I did not realize I was missing. I am thankful for my surgeon. He has restored my sight and for the first time in 40 years I do not need to wear glasses. I am very thankful. The disappointing thing is that I can't thread my sewing machine needle, I can't see anything close-up and reading glasses don't provide enough correction right now.
Not being able to switch out the utility grey piecing thread currently in my machine and create is frustrating me to no end. I have 4 projects I am wanting to start and I can't. Somedays I begin to worry I will never sew again, but I know that is a path I cannot take. I am working at learning to adapt right now. Somedays are better than others, but I am having a very difficult time most days. I trust that it will all work out eventually, but for now my sewing has been put on hold.
Merit and Clover are my two blessings that are leading me down a new path. I have met new people who also enjoy springers and they have led me to a variety of new activities that I can participate in with my dogs that don't require me to see things close-up. Change keeps happening. Change will always happen. So much has changed over the past three months and I am in a place I never expected to be. I am learning to accept change even if I don't want to.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Change Continues

Change continues to happen. Sometimes change can happen very fast and sometimes it takes a very long time. My husband and I got our puppy fix. We laughed and loved the three little girls that day. We also got a little teary. It felt very strange to be in such conflict. I enjoyed the puppies, young life with so much unconditional love to share, yet I still longed for my Clancy. He knew me. He understood my moods and when I needed his silent support. He was my family that was gone. We went home, the puppies were all spoken for and there would not be another litter for a few more weeks which would move any chance of receiving a puppy to mid-summer.
The house remained clean and the dog food was donated to the humane society. The dog beds were packed away and the emptiness I felt grew. I stayed in touch with Henriette, and we talked about what kind of dog would fit into our life. I wanted a family member who could also possibly work as a therapy dog. A few weeks later we visited the puppies again. This time there were only two. One of the remaining girls was going to go to Montana soon and the other to Arkansas. We wanted to play and get our final puppy fix before they left for their forever homes.
That afternoon something happened that I still don't understand, we brought a puppy home. We never expected this blessing, I am truly grateful to Henriette for entrusting us with this precious gift. Little Miss Clover has begun to help me move past my loss and open an entire new world to me. I still miss our boy, but the firsts I am experiencing with our puppy is making all of it much easier.
Little Miss Clover

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Change happens whether you want it to or not. Little changes in our life we accept easily. Yesterday I purchased some picture frames which will change the look of my home, a small change that will make my living space a little bit nicer. I changed the route that I used to walk daily and discovered some great scenery along the way, a little change that makes the walk more enjoyable. Daily we go through small encounters that change our life in small ways.
The big changes are what affect us the most.
In March my husband and I lost his incredible dog Clancy. Clancy lived a good long life, 16 joy-filled years. We would have preferred him to live a little longer, we never have enough time with our beloved pets. The sadness I have experienced I am unable to fully express. This loss was very different from when I lost my Bailey. Bailey was the dog of my heart, he was my boy for 18 years. The difference is that I had Clancy to help me cope. Clancy was there for me and helped me adjust. This time there was no soft nose to nuzzle. I felt very alone and very lost.
The house was empty and way too clean. The dog food containers sat on the counter untouched and the water in his dish evaporated. His toys sat in the wicker basket in the corner waiting to be played with. I found myself going into a very dark and lonely place that I could not share with anyone, not even my husband. I needed to stay positive for him, he was going through his own grieving process. Having Clancy in my life changed my life by adding so much happiness, loosing him, the happiness drained away.
In April I had had enough. I took a bold step and went and knocked on the door of my 5th grade teacher, Henriette Schmidt. She was a great teacher and has an outstanding reputation as a breeder of English Springer Spaniels. She did not remember me 35 years later, not a surprise, I know I can't remember my own students from only 10 years ago. She was kind and invited the 2 grieving strangers into her home and get a "puppy fix".  This one action has created major changes in my life that will be shared later. What I have learned so far is that it is ok to be sad and to grieve, I just can't let it become all consuming. Change happens even when you don't want it to.

Clancy helping sun-print fabric

Clancy in the garden
Clancy, I miss you and you are forever in my heart, you are always my Dancer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Three Little Birds

"Three Little Birds" 18X24 copyright Karen Mason 2011
This quilt was created in 2011 for the MArQ challenge "Name That Tune II". The quilt needed to be inspired by a song and have music somewhere in the quilt. The song I choose was "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley. The kindergarten students at my school sang the song at a program and were too cute wearing their tie-dyed t-shirts.  The quilt evolved from there. The musical notes are in the quilting next to the little bluebird.
This was my first attempt at whimsy and I liked it.  There are a few technical problems in my opinion with the pieced background showing through the birds, but I think I have corrected it in my last bird "Happy", that I shared in my previous post.
I see a series forming. "Bluebirds of Happiness" will continue to evolve. I have big plans for these crazy little birds.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Meet Happy

"Happy" 8X8 Copyright Karen Mason 2012
"Happy" is a small quilt that I created for the Quilting Arts Magazine challenge "What's Your Signature Color?"
My color is blue. The entire quilt is made from various colors of blue with the exception of the orange beak. Orange is the compliment of blue, so I am ok with that.
When I look at my shelf of hand-dyes I see lots of blue. Sky blue, turquoise, blue-greens, navy, and blues that are so subtle they look like white.  Even my bead collection is filled with different shades of blue. I love blues.
This quilt gave me the opportunity to try a new technique. I like to piece my backgrounds, and in my opinion fusing onto a pieced background creates a huge problem, the texture of the piecing shows through the fused piece. I am very picky and don't like the way it looks. In this piece I used fusible interfacing on the back of the applique piece bird, sewed it down and then trimmed away the background from behind.
The photo is not that great, I realized it after I completed the quilt, I will take better photos next time I use this method. The interfacing is on both the bird applique and the background. The other thing I like about this method is that the quilt is not as stiff as a typical fused quilt. I still like to fuse, I am just going to use it for the smaller elements in my quilts. In this quilt the eye, beak, legs and grass are still fused. If I were to do it again I would use the interfacing on the grass too. I am starting to look to whimsy in creating my designs. I am having fun with this series and will share the first "Bluebird of Happiness" quilt in my next post.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bloom Where You Are Planted

This quilt I originally created as an experiment in technique. I began by dying a piece of fabric. I then stenciled with glue gel and over-dyed.
I liked the result. I then added some more stenciling and stamping using leaves from my garden.
The stitching was also an experiment. I used Ricky Tims' Razzle Dazzle thread and outlined the words using bobbin work. I then began filling with tiny stippling. I continued working by drawing the flowers with thread and then adding trapunto to the flowers. The background was then densely stitched using a variety of textures. I really like how it turned out and all the techniques that I practiced and will use in future pieces.
The theme "Bloom Where You Are Planted", developed as I was searching for a job. I was facing the possibility of moving cross country away from my family and friends to a place I had never even visited. I did a lot of contemplating about “success”. I concluded that I, like a plant, could grow and be successful anywhere but it would take compassion, understanding and love from those around me to truly flourish. These words are the base of this quilt, reminding us to support those around us so that they too may grow, bloom and flourish into strong individuals.
"Bloom Where You Are Planted"
copyright Karen Mason 2010

The Blues Challenge 2011

Last year Milwaukee Art Quilters challenged its members to create a quilt using the color blue. This was my result. "Blue Bubbles". I pieced this quilt using my freeform piecing technique using hand dyed fabrics.
This quilt was chosen as 1 of 8 to represent the group at the "Ultimate Guild Challenge". Unfortunately our group entry did not win any ribbons, but it was an honor for my quilt to be selected and travel to a national quilt show.

"Blue Bubbles"
copyright Karen Mason 2011