Thursday, December 10, 2015

Time for Creativity

Inuvik is a community full of artists and creativity. It is one of many reasons I have to remind myself why I love Inuvik (and why I don’t move somewhere else!). I still always dream that Inuvik could have an artist’s co-operative and I always say if people want to try to form/build a co-op that I would volunteer to Chair this initiative in a heartbeat. I think a co-op would do some much to support Inuvik’s artisan community and especially all the sew-ists, beaders, textile arts, knitters and quilters. I can image it now; a space where we could all work together and support each other, a gallery space to display rotating shows of people’s work, regular workshops and lectures, a store to bring in revenues and so much more. Please can I win the lottery!?!?!?!

The Great Northern Arts festival ( organized the Great Northern Art Exchange this fall and it was the first time I have the time to participate. Each participant started a canvas and each week the canvas rotated through a five person team. Yes, this meant that my yoga lotus flower and 7 chakras turned into a lion with a star fish on its head! All the canvases were amazing and again, the talent our community has is huge!

The GNAF also hosted the Annual Christmas Craft Fair in November. Not only is it a great way to make some money, it is the best time of year for visiting and being inspired by other’s works. We had a whole group of textile artists that had tables and the Inuvik Quilting Guild membership was well represented. My mom has been staying Inuvik this fall and her ceramic tiling mosaic work and rug hooking sold out on Friday night. A newer quilter had an amazing table display (including the LOVE quilt) which I walked by frequently in awe of! Not only do we have great artists but we have a great community who supports these works and activities!

I did it... a Tula Pink bag!

Events in life always seem to be connected. Hazel Wainwright from Yellowknife was once my Brownie leader (Brown Owl) and now she comes to Inuvik to teach annual quilting classes with the Inuvik Quilting Guild and so 25 years later she is my quilting instructor! I believe this is the 7th year that Hazel has come to Inuvik to teach classes and is usually supported by funds from the NWT Arts Council. The Guild a large cohort of beginner quilters this year which made Hazel’s November classes the largest the Guild has seen to date (10-12 participants).
I wasn’t sold of the idea of a quilted bag class but I reluctantly signed up and I am so happy I did. In my addiction to Twitter (@arcticyogi), I am forever seeing posts of Tula Pink (@TulaPink) fabric being turned into amazing bags by her followers. Now I can claim to have made and use my own Tula Pink bag. Yes, I am a Tula Pink-oholic which means I collect the books, the fabric, the patterns, the articles, etc. but until now I haven’t cut much into my Tula Pink fabric staff. I love that there is now a part of quilting where you can follow along with fabric designs and be inspired from this process to. It is so much more than just walking into a quilt shop and not knowing the stories behind the fabric collections and designers. Love this!

Leanne Chahley workshop in Inuvik!

Over the years the Inuvik Quilting Guild has always accessed NWT Arts Council funding to support the workshops and intermediate classes that we host each season. In summer 2015, the Guild decided to use our own fundraising dollars and host a summer workshop that was new to the annual calendar. We invited Leanne Chahley to Inuvik ( for a weekend of classes, lectures, sharing and a bit of a trunk show.  I continue to be inspired by the tips and techniques of quilting artists but more importantly I am inspired by their stories and their approaches to their quilting. Leanne is so laid back and believes so much is the entire process of quilting and more importantly enjoying the process of creating a quilted piece. She is gentle in her linear quilting designs and has a softness to the finished look of her quilts. I was in awe the entire time. And she is also funny and sarcastic which I also love! We live in a somewhat weird or unknown part of the country it is an honour that quilt artists and sew-ists come to Inuvik and embrace all the uniqueness of our community!
Of course, I used my 2.5 days with Leanne to the full extent and got a ton of sewing done! You can definitely see her weekend’s influence in my projects!

Catching Up... Again!

As usual my blog posts are few and far between but the Inuvik Quilting Guild is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016 and I feel like I need to make more of an effort to keep up with information, photos and updates of quilting (and curling) in Inuvik. This Guild was first started in 2006 with myself, Carolyn Hunter and Beth Pechter (who now resides in BC). The support and members the Guild has had in 10 years continues to amaze and inspire me and the amount of activities we have taken on is huge, especially considering we are a community of only 3,800 people in total.

Catching up on projects and activities! The Guild hosted its 9th Annual Summer quilt show in Inuvik in summer 2015. We did a Twelve By Twelve challenge and display inspired of course by the original projects/initiative ( . This show was hung at the Inuvik Community Greenhouse ( and at the Great Northern Arts Festival (

I LOVE these projects that we do each year! My project this year was Tinny Loves Picking Cranberries and was a pattern that I created in a workshop a few years ago with Yellowknife artist Janet Pacey (@signedYk). I have wanted to do this pattern for long and finally got a chance!

Happy Sewing Everyone!


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Workshop Time at the Inuvik Quilting Guild

I was reminded this weekend of how amazing the Inuvik Quilting Guild is, and by Guild I mean where we live, the membership and just the all-round atmosphere and attitude of this group. I am so proud to be a member of the Guild and being Chair of this group is the cherry on top of an already great dessert!

Each year the Inuvik Quilting receives funding from the NWT Arts Council and we use this funding to bring up an out of town instructor for a weekend of quilting. Now with the combination of participant fees and guild fundraising we stretch this funding into 2 weekend workshops.
If people can believe this a return plane ticket Yellowknife to Inuvik is $1750.00 (Canadian North airlines) and Vancouver to Inuvik is $1150.00 (Air North) so even more great reason to get some extra financial support.  
In January we welcomed Donna MacDonald and Hazel Wainwright as teachers. These two ladies have become great friends of the Guild, although Hazel and I have known each other since she was my Brownie leader in the late 1980s! Donna and Hazel have come to Inuvik about 7 or 8 times to teach classes but this time we focused on the Buggy Barn ‘stack and whack’ techniques. We were skeptical at first that they would be too ‘country or folky’ but it turned out all of us loved the quilts we produced!

Then this past weekend we welcomed Krista Hennebury to Inuvik and she loved our community (and maybe us too!). Check her out at: She also has a brand new book out; MAKE IT, TAKE IT by Martingale

We did Krista’s Improv Quilting class which uses the Chess on the Steps layout. Lots of discussions about colour (warm vs cool), about design and of course chatter and instruction about machine quilting. These workshops are such good opportunities for quilters to learn new techniques but also to validate that we are a skilled group also! A bit of a confidence boost to our Guild and members.

I highly recommend the classes with Krista as she is easy going, friendly and laid back in her teaching and approach to workshops. Plus, in a workshop with 8 participants we all got a lot of teaching time with her. And… Krista seemed to love our little community. She came the same weekend as our annual Muskrat Jamboree and she approached everything with an open mind and curiosity. She is welcome back any time!

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Look Back on the 2014 Yukon River Quest

A bit of reminiscing with my paddling partner this morning has made me sentimental once again about the 2014 Yukon River Quest. I think for a long, long time this will be one of the toughest and challenging adventures of my life. Although my friends would call me regimented, focused, competitive and determined I think I still entered into the race a bit na├»ve. But if you had told me ahead of time that I would not only complete the race but would finish it in 52:16:37 hours I don’t think I ever would have believed it. The race was more than I could have ever imagined and it was my partner and I and a whole crew of supporters that made it a success. I don’t want to claim this as a race of a lifetime as I definitely want to race the Yukon River Quest again!
I remember at one point in the race (early one morning) Brandon and I tried to remember and chat about each part of the race, section by section, it is funny what you remember and don’t remember and I am forever grateful that we took the time to soak in those moments. These are things I never want to forget;
I remember trying so hard to be calm and not get too flustered in front of Brandon. He had put up with a lot of my OCD and over-planning as we worked up to the race and I didn’t think he needed another dose of this on race day. My mom said it best when I noted that I just wanted to get into the boat and get going and she reminded me that the support team just wanted to get things underway too. This had taken months of planning and we just need to get moving! Brandon and I had talked about a goal of 55 hours or faster but the only other person I had mentioned this to was my mom. I secretly had a list of checkpoint times in my life jacket, the same way I used to carry a list of curling times in jacket but of course during canoe racing there is no time to actually look at things.
And We Are Off…
We had a great start and this is my only regret of the race; I wish we had gone faster to get onto Lake Labarge. I heard people say that the standing don’t change much after that first big push and I believe that now. We did pretty good and passed a lot of boats on that early stage but we could have pushed a bit harder. We were both a bit concerned about how many boats we were passing out of the gate but looking back we were one of the faster boats. A kayaker was following behind us at one point and noted that we must have paddled together a long, long as we looked strong together! We took the compliment with a bit of a giggle!
Whitecaps on Lake Labarge
The weather conditions on Lake Labarge sure tested my nerves. All I could think about was the fact that Brandon is from Cape Breton and I decided he was used to being on windy waters! We got soaked a couple times from the waves but 10 boats capsized and I consider us fortunate on this part of the race. We pushed hard and didn’t let up, with my convincing we got out at the checkpoint at the end of the lake. Took our time changing into dry gear, drinking a Coke and eating some food, then asked a volunteer what place we were in. He told us 13th place and we looked at each other with bugged out eyes… we were back into the canoe in a split second, shocked that we were in the lead pack and determined to keep up the pace. Getting onto the river after the lake makes you feels like you are moving at 100 mile per hour and gave new life to us.
Long, Slow Grind to Carmacks (25 hours to rest stop)
There were a few funny moments after we got onto the Yukon River. I saw my first bare bum of the trip when another race scooched up to go to the bathroom, I knew right then that I was racing with the boys and there wasn’t going to be time for being emotional or sucky. I wanted to race like a girl and be proud and strong about this! Brandon commented too about being proud to be on a mixed team as we passed men’s teams in much worse shape than us!
To my surprise I had moments of hallucinations. I thought this was legends of the race and never did believe it until it actually happened. We had a good laugh when I thought there was a railroad on the side of the river and I learned to keep my visions to myself! Man oh man, they can drive you crazy. Some were filled with weirdness (the Walmart happy face) but others visions such as seeing Ganesha the elephant over and over again will always remain in my mind.
Brandon and I never did fight, argue, disagree or hit each other with a paddle during this long stretch and I am forever grateful for this. We were strong teammates, especially in this toughest stretch.
What a relief to get to Carmacks in 25 hours and just as planned; exhausted but not horribly so. Our support crew was elated to see us and I still wonder what it is like to just have to watch your loved ones via GPS, not knowing the physical or emotional state we were in. They fed us pizza, got us into the showers and into bed. After Brandon nearly freaked out at another racer/support crew, I think he was forced to get to bed ASAP! When I woke up in Carmacks, my first thought was how I was even going to get out of bed, let alone finish the rest of the race. Your muscles just seize up into one big tight ball. My mom woke me up and I will never forget that, I am sure she didn’t know what she was going to open the tent up too. But they packed us back into the boat; my brother on the dock with us and we somehow (with the will of many) got ourselves back into the swing of things.
Into Kirkman Creek
Heading into Kirkman Creek rest point was one of downer moments for me. There are many signs for this check point but it seemed like it just never came to us. Around every bend you thought Kirkman Creek would appear and bend after bend it never did. It also seemed like no matter which way we turned we were always heading into a head wind. This tested my patients for sure. This was a checkpoint with no support crew and Brandon and I sure leaned on each other as we were both pretty spent. One of my clearest memories of Kirkman Creek was the disgusting cake and seeing Brandon inhaling the cake piece after piece! I think Brandon’s memory would be waking me up and me asking who he was and not having a clue where I was! Scary moments. But out of Kirkman Creek we went with more energy than we had all race. I knew we had two choices, to take our time to the finish line or to motor our way through. The faster we went the less time we would be stuck in the boat and boy did we ever sprint!
Lowest Point of the Race
They talk about this in the pre-race meeting; you will see the Moosehide Landslide of Dawson WAAAAAAY before you get to Dawson. Brandon and I had pushed ourselves hard out of Kirkman Creek and when I thought we had a couple hours to go Brandon informed me that it was 5 or 6 hours to go. Knowing that we had little left in the tank, plus the mental strain of thinking you are close to finishing and then realizing we weren’t was the worst feeling ever. There was even a point where I couldnt switch my paddle over to the right side anymore. I remember Brandon telling me to just take a couple extra seconds with my switch as my old body was not cooperating! But somehow your body and mind start firing together again, the paddling continues and we eventually turned the last/final bend into the finish line. I heard Fred Koe right away and then saw Kendall McDonald and his long legs sprinting along the river bank. I knew we were finally there.
Finish Line
The steamship horn goes off as you cross the finish line but there is still a ways to go before you get to the landing point. Everyone was cheering and yelling at us and I remember just bending over and starting to cry. Brandon said this is where he thought he lost me to emotion. Getting to the shore was a daze as you can’t get yourself out of the canoe on your own and I knew both Brandon and I were in bad shape. His goal was to have nothing left at the finish line and we didn’t have an ounce of energy left in us. Our support crew was there and everyone was over joyed. I remember asking about placing and time as we were signing the paper work. 52:16:37 hours and good enough for 1st place mixed tandem, 3rd place tandem and 10th place overall. This was more than I could have ever dreamed.
The Hotel
I wish we had celebrated more at the finish line but on the other hand I had nothing left in me. Our support crew got us back to the hotel; Kendall and Brandon cracked a beer to celebrate and Marci and Tim helped me change and shower. I remember getting into the bathroom and then not even being able to turn the taps on. Once showered and laying down in bed was an amazing feeling and think I was sawing logs before I knew it. I remember the first time turning on my phone and social media. The messages were amazing and it was crazy to see the support we had along the way. It was great to get message from Evan (Brandon’s friend and 2013 partner), getting a call from the whole Koe clan in Yellowknife and then seeing everyone in Inuvik so happy for us.
After Effects
The race took everything out of me and it took a long time to recuperate. I won’t go into the details but one of the weirdest things was when other racers kept telling me to just keep working out after the race. This is when I didn’t even want to walk down the street! Finally, one day I decided to go for a run, well 5K later I forced myself to stop as it felt so easy to run, then checked my watch and it is the fastest 5K I have ever ran. To this day, time means nothing to me; I can ski for hours, waits for planes for hours and it feels like you can just shut off your mind and go somewhere else, probably the same place my mind went for 52 hours during the 2014 Yukon River Quest.  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Another Set of Unfinished Projects But Finished!

I have not done a Blog post for a while but thought I better keep up with things. Looking at the old posts it has been almost one full year since my last post. Within the past year I have spent a month in Bali, completed the Yukon River Quest marathon canoe race and undertaken another curling season including the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Plus the tons of quilting projects I seem to be constantly addicted to!
Recently, someone gave me a card with the saying Don't Quit Your Day Dream. I think this is a good mantra for this time of my life!
In September 2014 I made a listing of 31 Unfinished Objects in my sewing room (UFOs), although I know some people are now calling these Work Under Construction. By the end of February 2015, I had completed 15 of these original projects, although some have been sent out to the long arm quilter!

My most favourite quilt pattern, Yellow Brick Road. I use it constantly when working with beginners but it means I have done about 20 of these quilts. 

A quilt for my friend AW, the biggest quilt I have ever made at 100" x100". It is off to the long arm quilter.

Quilt 1 of 2 for my twin nieces as I wanted them to have double bed sized quilts from me rather than baby/crib quilts. The twins are now 4 years old!

This was a retro print panel and then all scraps from the Inuvik Quilting Guild!

Drunkard's Path ( backwards) made in an Inuvik Quilting Guild class with many pieces from a past class I took with Pippa Moore from Vancouver Island.

My 2015 Trend Tex Challenge quilt that will be mailed out this weekend! All for the 2015 Quilt Canada show in Lethbridge in June.

Wallhanging finally done from a class I took with Elaine Quehl when she was in Yellowknife a few years ago.

Start of a cool fat quarter quilt with igloo and tipi fabric!

My first attempt at low volume quilting, a project started with Cheryl Arikson from Calgary when she visited in Inuvik for Sunday Morning Quilts.

This is an OLD baby quilt that was from scraps and started about 8 years ago. It will be a community donation with other small baby quilts.
Happy sewing everyone and Happy National Quilting Day for March 21!