Frogs on the Blog

frogI recently took a break from stitching and beading (and feeding children and doing laundry) to spend an afternoon at the Gaetz Lake Sanctuary in Red Deer, Alberta (Canada). Walking down to the bird blind we were serenaded by the songs of frogs.


We stopped at one area that was particularly loud, looked down into the water, and saw frogs everywhere.


Getting close for photos wasn’t an option as these images were taken through the slats on the bridge leading to the blind. Still, the frogs look pretty interesting by cropping in.

frogsI think frogs are pretty interesting to watch. They will move quickly, then stop and stay perfectly still for ages. The way they swim is great to watch.

froIn all the times I have been down to Gaetz Lake this is the first time I have ever seen frogs. On this visit  I must have just been at the right place at the right time.







Cleaning Up The Park – A “Green Deer” Event

park clean up

Saturday was a dull and windy day, but even the weather didn’t deter a group of our neighbours from taking part in an organized clean up of the Woodlea Park. Thanks to Peter McGee who organized the event, 20-30 people showed up to pick up trash and make the park once again clean.

park clean up The whole park was cleaned up from end to end, into the woods and up the toboggan hill.

The woods were particularly disgusting. It appears the high school students from the school across the street feel it is perfectly acceptable to throw all their lunch garbage into the woods by our homes. We collected garbage bag full after garbage bag full of food wrappers and fast food containers. This was really unimpressive.

park clean up The parking lot was also tackled as there was a ton of garbage lying around in this area.

park clean up We found a ton of garbage under this tree, literally a pile. Under the pile of garbage we found a mangled fence. My husband noticed the tag on it and said “Let’s lift it up and maybe it says who it belongs to….”

park clean up Ironic, huh?

park clean up We finished leaving behind a better and cleaner park.

park clean up We filled up bags and bags with garbage. There was a huge amount of trash. It is pretty unacceptable that people still think that in this era of environmental awareness that it is okay to litter.

blog clean up 4Here is the great group of people who took time out of their busy lives to make our neighbourhood a better place. Well done everyone! The park looks great.


If you are interested in participating in “Green Deer” and leaving Red Deer better than you found it the link to the City of Red Deer’s information can be found HERE.


How long is a piece of string? – Fun With Math

blog yarnThis post is just a little bit of math fun as a break from working on the “river” piece.

The other night I was prepping some yarn to mordant and dye for an infinity scarf. As the plan is to dye different sections of the yarn different colors I had set up two chairs to wind a very large loop. As I walked around and around for quite a long time my husband commented “I wonder how long that is?”.

The comment was all it took for me to decide to work it out.

Luckily I had everything at hand to work it out. I had an infinity scarf sitting completed so I was able to weigh it. I still had the label for the yarn which indicated how many meters were on the ball and how much it weighed. A quick bit of figuring and I came up with 210 meters of yarn.

Then to put the meters in context I compared it to where we live;  the yarn for an infinity scarf would go just slightly further than half way around our city block.

Just so you know, I’m not completely insane, I didn’t walk the yarn around the block…….I run with a GPS and our block is bang on 400 meters to walk around.

……….and now back to working on “river”.……..I don’t even want to think about how many meters of thread in this piece!


Never Underestimate the Importance of White

I will be the first to admit this blog has been a little slow at the moment. The truth is I am putting in at least 6 hours of stitching in each day on this piece. Up until this evening I had spent every day stitching only in white. Sounds pretty boring I know, but in fact white was the solution to the piece.

"River" - WIP - May 4, 2014It’s funny, you never really think of white as a color to use creatively. In most cases you start with a white piece of paper or a white canvas and the main goal is to add color.

With this piece I started with un-dyed cottons, wools and silks with the main focus on adding color to the materials through natural dyeing before creating the piece. Hours are spent over the dye pot working to add color that is both light-fast and wash-fast. The whole thought process focuses around adding color. This is fine until the piece starts to be assembled and you realize there is one key component that was forgotten over the marathon dye sessions, and that was contrast. Now if I had paid more attention in the design class I took during first semester of art school years ago I probably wouldn’t have put the concept of contrast on the back-burner, but to be honest slinging paint on a canvas or being up to your elbows in clay was just a lot more fun than studying notes on “Design Principles”.

I needed to somehow add contrast to this piece. The base is cotton and I find it is pretty tricky to get real darks on cotton with natural dyes, especially in this case where the dark tones can’t bleed into the lighter tones as the background fabric is one large continuous piece of fabric with the main areas masked and dyed. The colored threads for stitching mostly fall into the mid-tone range. The answer to the issue of contrast was to start adding white, and a lot of it.

"river" detail

I started with the white tree trunks on the right, plus added in some white bushes in the foreground. Some colored leaf detail still needs to be worked into this area.

"river" detail

The next step was the island. It still needs to be filled out with more stitching, but it is now starting to look like something.

"river" detail

The trees stitched on the river bank not add some perspective. I have also added a double white line to create a better visual “current” in the river.

So “what next?” is probably the question to ask. I need to add some “scrub” along the river bank, and add some colored foliage to the island and the trees on the right hand side. I “think” the sky is done. I still need to decide what to do, if anything, to the top of the hills. Once the stitching is done I then plan to add beads to the river’s current, the vertical areas on the bank, and possibly among the trees and foliage. I also need to decide if I need any rocks along the bank and how to hang the finished piece.

Lots to do, that’s for sure.


If you are completely bored of looking at this project, I also have two other blogs.  My blog is about our home and experiences in the Gulf Islands, a great blog to look at if you enjoy ocean scenics. I also have the blog that features mostly finished works and projects with a little Alberta shooting thrown in on occasion.