Thursday, 28 December 2006


2007 is just aboout 80 hours away and like many people I make resolutions for the New Year. My success rate in the past has been fairly satisfactory to me except for the years I tried to do it differently. One year I resolved to break it down into new month resolutions and look at it every month with a fresh resolution. I lost the plot before June.

And so for the year ahead my resolutions will include quilting for more personal fun. Using more of the fabrics that make me smile to inspire my work rather than not using them because they are special. Now is the time.

Finishing, of course, some UFO's to be completed. They will be. In between the fun stuff.

Personal motto for the new year.... Well in 2006 it was to "maximize the benefits and pleasures in all I do" and yes, I maximized; so for 2007 it will be...'what can I do, best, with what I have?'.

So the first project to find its way to my sewing table will be a mystery project that I am designing as a stash reducer. Choose a single theme or focus fabric for the main attraction and use up some of the lots we have stashed in bags, boxes or bins. This is one where the finished project will look very different from person to person since the blocks can be assembled in multiple options of layouts. The other project will be that fun looking Amy Butler kit I recently purchased and to round out the starting line up for the New Year will be some UFO's (finsh quilting the Vintage Garden that has been on a lay away, assembling/quilting the Bag Ladies Sampler and quilting the special Mazey Daze quilt designed by Dorothy Young.)

I will be sure to throw in lots of smaller projects just for the fun of it.

Friday, 22 December 2006

Sharing the fun

I see that it has been a couple weeks since I posted last -life and December has been crazy at my house just like yours.
I did pause occasionally to read blogs and one of my stops was at "Red Shoe Ramblings" where she posted a bit of fun.
Essentially, the fist 5 comments that ask for a piece of "art" and are reachable can have free and fun pieces of Linda Art - Fabric Postcards.

Happy Holidays

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Fresh and free

I have to share the most wonderful new kit. Except for BOM I have never purchased a whole kit for a quilt but this Amy Butler pattern ("Amy Butler's Belle Quilt") and selection of fabric was just jumping up and down "pick me, pick me". SO I emailed my favourite quilt shop and she hooked me up with this: These fabrics are super delicious, with names like coriander-sea green, chrysanthemum - blue, French wallpaper - duck egg, eyelashes - lime, acanthus - olive and Kashmir - olive; they are irresistibly gorgeous.

So after Christmas I will slide this project into my list (oh, that list is getting longer by the day)

And my DD (a super textile princess -my apologies to Mel) made this wonderful wreath from a felted sweater (was off white aran knit, hot washed with a purple angora turtle neck)and a decoration from her DMIL.

Not to be outdone in holiday crafting, the Bag Ladies sugar coated their way into town at our annual Ginger Bread Party. I bake the houses, they bring the candies and we all have a great time watching our roofs slide off and the walls cave in. In the end, it still manages to look beautiful.

So we have been busy, happy and somehow trying to deny the fact that Christmas will be here in 19 days and there is so much to do.

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Wild Women's Weekend

It must be somewhere around 20 years or more that we have been able to manage a weekend or two a year away from our wordly lives and enjoy a spiritual revitalization.

There have been 4 of us, there have been 12. It could be winter, summer, spring or fall. We might have bagged out on the floor at a friend's apartment or in the many beds at Jean's Cottage. No matter where or when we have renewed ourselves with the friendship and caring that is brought by us all.

It is not even amazing that the weekends flow so easily, there is endless food, endless beverage, the work part is always done, the fire is stoked and hearts are open, emptied and refilled. It is easy to sit silent and still, easy to open your soul, to laugh so hard you nearly pee your pants, to cry or to just get up and dance.

The music is wonderful. It could be old time Rock n Roll, it could be folky, or maybe some haunting celtic melody.

We treasure hunt through the local thrift shops, yard sales, and visit the touristy-gifty places: the antique and the avant garde.

We have worn orange straw hats, gloves, pearls, aprons, jeans and warm flannel nighties.

Our lives have been everywhere and yet each time we meet it has surely only been just a few weeks passing. There is magic and craziness, always. THANK YOU DEAR COOKIE SISTERS.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

It's not easy being green - a story of a RR

Firstly I must say that I really enjoy the variety of challenges that I come across in Round Robin (RR) groups. They are often ways to explore new techniques and colour schemes. When this one arrived the colours were right up my alley! One of my two favourite colours - green. All green, many shades of green.

I decided that it needed a bit of a plainer border as well as something decorative, so methinks....why not some Celtic Knots? They would look beautiful weaving in and around themselves as they are laced around the border. Endless, Magical.

This is June. I have about 2 months to send this on. The quest for the right green begins, and goes on, and goes on. So many greens, never the right one. It is now September.
My friend Maria offered to bring me some greens that she had purchased a couple of years ago in a print that I really like (Northcott Aqua textures). I have happily used many of the colour variations in previous quilts. It was a perfect match - multiple shades of greens in the right tones for this RR project.

Now for the Celtic Knots. Have I ever done Celtic Knots? No but this minor detail has not slowed me down in the past. I have done stained glass using bias, I have done vines and I have made bias. Do I need to know more?? [yes]

So I look on-line for tips to applique Celtic Knots. Only books for sale. I look through my books. Only designs to follow.

I may as well try to figure it out myself. Okay, clue # 1 is that gentle curves are not happening in my 6-inch wide border so we are going with the geometric grid. The curves look a lot more smooth and simple when they are laced in and under themselves in a 15" block.

It is late October. I decide to skip the full border applique and work out some corner pieces.
So I mark out a grid and lay the bias out. Hmmm. Okay , I learn that I need to switch-up my technique for sewing the bias on. I intended to sew the bias with a small seam allowance, then fold over that stitching line and blind stitch the second side so that no stitching will show. Sounded like a good plan at the time. It worked great for the Stained Glass Quilted Wall Hangings I have made. Not so great for all these right angle turns. Not enough bias tape to do 2 turns around the quilt and some focal-point knots.

So, now to dig out the set of pressing bars I know I have picked up along the way sometime in the far distant past but have not used for-oh-so-long. I press all 7 1/2 yards of bias flat with the seam opened on the underside. I will re-lay the knot and sew along both sides....machine applique now.

Okay, draw grid lines and soon the first corner is done, undone, and done again. Now to attempt a mirror image.

I see how much bias is leftover and cut it in half. My designs are now limited to the length of bias in my hands.

Aaah, I remember that I have a "cut and press" with grid lines marked on the pressing pad. (I am getting smarter finally)

Soon they too are carefully placed and stitched. Done. Done is perfect right?
Please forgive me my little imperfections Sandy. This really was a stretch farther out than I thought when I started it. All I could see though for this piece was this border so I hope it is good enough. And mostly I am really, really sorry that this is November.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Paula's Cool Tool Challenge

Paula had a great " challenge for all of you. What is your coolest and cheapest quilting tool? A tool that makes some part of quilting easier to do without costing a lot of money. "
I had to respond with this:
My current favourite coolest and cheapest tool is the round spindle base from a stack of CD-R'S that I am using as a template for a quilting pattern in a border. It was free as packaging. Since however I have set that project aside for a while I will also boast about my very "pointy- bent-nose-tweezers".

They are really from a surplus store that featured dental equipment. These are as sharp as a darning needle at the end, have ridges to grip firmly, have a post to keep them from slipping apart when they are being used [major panic moment - I cannot find them right now] and they cost $1.80. I actually went back and bought half a dozen as gifts (all gone now). relax... I looked everwhere and found them safely asleep in the tool box of my serger. They definately are useful for threading. I also use them as an awl, to poke around, to control unruly trims that I want to send under the sewing machine's presser foot, for retrieving lost bits as well as a holder for any piece of fabric that I use to swab around my sewing machine's unreachable areas to catch threads and lint clumps. Can you tell that I really love it?

Please share your treasure:

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Ruthless decison making

I sound so tough. Actually since there is not a close deadline for the Vintage Garden quilt any longer (it did not get finished in time for the guild's quilt show) I am setting it aside for a while.

I do have plans for it - it will be donated for raffle as a fundraiser next October. Rather than dawdle and waste my good creative time (= frustration and boredom) I have given myself permission to make this choice. I feel so much better.

And next, I have small piece to finish up on a commitment that is making me feel bad SO I will get at that and send it off.

I also know that there are some big projects ahead but hey...girls just wanna have fun! I think I am going to take this time (until mid December) and just do small projects. ANYTHING I want to, when I want to, just for fun.

Maybe I'll make gifts, maybe not. Maybe I will make some more Fabric Postcards, maybe not.

I am only commiting to using supplies/patterns I have on hand and to finishing whatever I start....Of course if I need supplies to complete a project I would have to shop for that!!

How the Harmony Swap worked....

I have seen this swap set up on many groups but basically each person chooses a focus fabric and everyone else adds fabric to harmonize with the original focus piece. The group can be for FQ's, strips or charms.

Groups are set up, not too big, of perhaps 6 or 8 players. A mailing list is created and each person sends their fabric sample ( a swatch is all that is needed) to the next name in the list. Each person adds a fabric to "harmonize" with the range and sends it on, in rotation. Everyone will receive their original piece in turn along with the added fabrics as chosen by their friends.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

Great Quilty Day!

Today was filled with lots of quilty bonuses. Firstly I received a fabric Post Card from a wonderful Quilter friend, Mattie. I love that it is so cheery.

Then I opened a nice package that was filled with FQ's from a "Harmony Swap". The Harmony Swap is done by grouping some swappers, each sends a sample piece of a fabric to the next name on the list and in turn everyone adds a FQ.

Wait, there were more quilt bonuses in store. It is Guild night and so off I went. We were very lucky to have Cynthia Tomaszowski be our guest speaker. She has a wonderfully cheery repertoire of flowers appliqued and embellishments almost everywhere. Lest you think it is all cutesy, or too folksy, or too old-fashioned I can assure you that there is something in her work for everyone as it is all that and more. She has work using soft florals, 1930's repro's, batiks,very brights, primary colours, contemporary Funky stuff to very pretty sweet gardens.

Her website is Simple Pleasures:

Cynthia shared her quilting journey as she moved through exotic locales and sought out quilters as she went. Where there were none, she taught them how!

Monday, 6 November 2006

Getting the sewing MOJO back

It has been a few weeks since I have actually sat down at my sewing machine to sew anything. I have been hand quilting, knitting, but no new production.
Sometimes we all just hit the wall. No reason or hundreds of reasons, the wall is there.

For me the first best cure is reorganize. Clean up, re-sort, rearrange my space. I moved the tables and the machines around and then I found the urge to turn on the machine. It is like having a new notebook.

FYI sewing tidbit: 1 FQ cut into 1 1/2" strips on the bias will yield over 7 1/2 yards of bias when sewn end to end.

So yes, I am working on the Celtic knotwork type finish to an overdue (my sincere apologies S.R.) RR. First, it was the right shade of green to go with a monochrome quilt; I learned that even if I believe that all colours look beautiful together, in a monochrome quilt not all shades of a single colour will complement one another. It is much trickier to achieve an aesthetic visual balance in a monochrome project.

Other things that revive the flagging sewing spirit:
-Fresh stock at the LQS
-Finding a new magazine or book (not a new issue but a whole new theme)
-Changing of the season (new colours, new schedule)
-quilt show or challenge deadline looming close
-A friend in need of a special gift
-A weekend free of time commitments

Friday, 27 October 2006

Quilting for art or comfort

I was listening to a podcast of "Driven to Quilt" today and I became very much caught up in a self-discussion of one of the topics as it is one that I consider often - how much quilting is the right amount of quilting for a project and how does my personal opinion fit in to what is currently quilting PC?

"Nadine Ruggles from DreamWeaver's Quilts is your hostess for the fun and informative Driven to Quilt Podcast every other week. "
Driven to Quilt Podcast:

Anyway, I think that the great proliferation of LA quilters, at home quilting systems and the pressure to have your quilts machine quilted to within a half inch of their life has resulted in beautiful stitch work but very un-cozy quilts.

I really do admire how very prettily the quilting dances across a quilt, very perfectly swirling and careening across the patchwork (oh is there patchwork there?). It is amazingly intricate and often beautiful but for my personal satisfaction there is a disconnect between the quilt and the finished quilted item. (I know I addressed this in a previous blog but it still is on my mind).

I understand the zealous toppers and piecers wanting to have finished goods to show for their creative passionate efforts, and I understand that there is a whole industry that can be dedicated to anti-procrastination tied in with this creative passion, and that people rightfully express their artistic talents as well as earn a living to eat or buy fabric from using these wonderful quilting systems.

What makes me feel a little saddened is seeing beautiful quilts that are not cuddly-cozy (yes Nadine!) when I want my quilts to give a cuddly-cozy well-loved feeling to those who find themselves tucked in or under them. I want to wrap people not walls.

So, is there some degree of difference between art and functionality? Should there be such classifying or generalization about the finished pieces? Why do we choose to heavily quilt or lightly quilt - or did we make a choice?

I do not know that there are real answers but certainly the points are good fodder for discussion with, not only other quilters but also with our friends, family and art aficionados.

For me, it may take me a while to get them done, and there may be a fistful of unquilted space occasionally, but I really feel complete when I own the whole process. I machine quilt and I hand quilt. I have done art pieces with extremely tight stippling, and other quilts with hand quilting outlining the piecing of my blocks. Would they benefit from more quilting, maybe, maybe not; but these are my quilts.

Monday, 23 October 2006

living by the lists

This is "Toony" the sock monkey. He was pretty near the top of my list of stuff to make for special people. My nephew Tyler is such a sweetheart - he has sock monkey pajamas and did not have a sock monkey! Can you imagine....? Anyway, in my quest to right as many wrongs one can while wielding needle and thread, I decided this summer that Tyler was going to get a sock monkey this fall, no matter how busy I was, he was moving to the top of the list.

And the lists of which I speak, are the lists that kept me sane all my life, keep me insane in my life, count my blessings and carry me through the day, week, month and year.

A list of some my current lists (definately not in any order of priority):

-What I need to accomplish at work today, expanded version includes what I need to accomplish at work within the next 3 days, and slightly related is the list of what I want to accomplish at work within the next 6 months

-My list of what I need to do when I get up in the morning that is not on my "A M Autopilot flight plan"

-my list of wines to try

-books to read

-messages on my answering machine

-resolutions for the New Year (which I reread many times over the new year to increase the possibilities of success, overall I am pretty good about being reasonable and facing challenges)

-priorities to attend to in my life for the next few weeks


-projects I want to start

-things that are going to cost me more money than what is in my change purse

-groceries to buy

-commitments I have made to friends

-jobs around the house

-plants I have growing in my garden and plants I wish were growing in my garden

-things I want to make for the special people in my life (friends and family)

-people I want to send Christmas cards to, and people who send me Christmas cards

-birthdays and anniversaries which are upcoming and past

-people I need to call or write (just to tell them I miss them)

-items I would like to purchase as gifts for my friends and family, related to the list of items I have purchased for them

-bills to pay

-sayings I have heard and want to remember

-websites to check


One very important past list was "THE LIST" my husband asked me to make very early in our married life, this was to be a list of anything I would ever want to have. He set himself to getting me everything on that list (That man makes me feel more loved than I can imagine any woman could ever feel). Somewhere about 1987 I wanted a microwave oven. This was a real topic of debate because it was not on "THE LIST". He actually saved the piece of paper that "THE LIST" was written on so he could keep track. I pointed out that microwave ovens had not even been heard of when I made that list so it should be considered a fair addendum. So we got the microwave. He lets me add stuff all the time now.

And the little lists..., all those little lists of sanity. When I was at home with little kids, lots of housework, broke, and perhaps a bit overwhelmed by the vastness of responsibilities that I had in my life - I needed to count every action as a "win", every little success had to help me keep my head above water. I made lots of little lists about the tiny things I needed to do, the laundry, wash the dishes, sort the socks, dust, sweep the floor - I needed to validate that those endless, mindless, thankless household tasks were part of a path to success. The success of making it through a day, putting a meal on the table, navigating through the minutiae of life as a SAHM. It feels so good to cross things of the list and with great inner satisfaction I stroked a line through all the little tasks of life - DONE (and done is pretty close to perfect for me).

Friday, 13 October 2006

More Colour

This is my favourite storage piece. I love to see all the colours. I keep all fabric pieces that are smaller than a metre but larger than the scrap boxes in the separate sections. All, except my special collections (Orientals, Africans, novelties, 30's, landscapes, luminosity, paisleys)...

Oh look, 2 sections of green and the blue is filled tight. Purples.. I keep using them up so I never seem to have very much on hand!

(Historical note: This was rescued from DFIL's garage where he had stored nuts and bolts for 20+ years, previous to that it was a display unit at a hardware store. I always coveted it for this very purpose. When it became available DH helped me by scraping 40 years of crud off so I could paint it white and store all my bits and pieces. I coveted this before I even had a stash to put in it. I have a few more display units, in my studio, being used for storage and workspace with similarly interesting histories.)

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Snow and colours

It makes me smile so much. S N O W. I love the flakes, the frost, the shades of white, the endless ways to warm up.. wine, sweaters, quilts, cuddles, fireplace, tea, hot chocolate, kisses from my honey. I love the quiet, the veil. I love to see the way its whiteness silhouettes my environment, I can really see what frameworks surround me.

okay. it may have been just a few flakes, a quick white-out and a mere frosting on the lawn but there is the promise of more ahead.....

I might have to add white to my list of favourite colours.

I love green, anything is wonderful when it is green - there are innumerable shades of green everywhere. I love blue, the sky can exhilerate me for hours. Purple - no rational reason but I have always loved purple, from way back in 197? and right on through till forever.

What makes all this colour so alive? Looking at them with the contrast of white or black.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

How does my time go?

Ok another night and no further along on the 2 priority sewing projects. I need to finish up the RR, the perfect border fabric is great (thanks Maria). I wanted to add some celtic knots or vines so I am back to the original problem of the right green. It is monochrome. It looks great. I don't want to throw it off.
I feel sad but I may negotiate its completion by appliquing more of the shamrocks in the centre. That is my compromise to tardiness.
So many nights I have sat down commited to finishing that piece and moving it on - then the green debate starts and I cannot answer truly if I win or lose that one.
And so... Better touch base with the family email address (not too much personal there), then that whole yahoo address I use in public (filled with 800 spam), then check the groups photos - love to linger there.
Oh yes - now that I am blogging occasionally I have to stop in on some of my fave blogspots - - - where did this last 30 minutes go, I still mean to check the updates for Corrie, and while enroute, must stop and look at news items. Yes - now the new items sources...
What was I planning to do tonight - quilt??
What about H? Got to get a fix of H (Horatio) and Peter. I also need my news fix with Peter.
So- there I am 9 PM to 2 AM.
I did really also have the Tuesday night Bag Ladies over and we basted a quilt, I rolled the skein of beautiful hand-dyed wool into 2 balls, visited for over an hour with my honey, baked Pumpkin squares for the Bake Sale tomorrow and put on a load of laundry --- and now-- still not in bed but letting this string unroll through my keyboard....
Why do I feel I did not get the best out of this time???

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

heavenly visits

-the beautiful kid and silk hand-dyed yarn

- the silks for a future wall hanging

What a wonderful, although fast paced weekend. My daughter did a quick fly-in from across country for her good friends' wedding, My honey and I met up with her and the whole visit felt just as good as a caramel pecan and chocolate ice cream sundae! luscious, fun and worth every calorie.

To make this sewing related though... I was very happy to be able to revisit some of the great shops other daughter and I went to pre-wedding.

The Queens West area of Toronto - the wonderful ribbon store where some of the embroidered ribbons sell for $67+ a metre but it is all so beautiful and inspiring; then we visited a great wool store and I found the most fantastic hand-dyed yarn from Nova Scotia to make a knit shawl - it is fine, with some occasional loopy textures and amazing indigo-purple-gold-green colour (56% kid, 24% silk and 20% nylon) mmmm delicious.

Lots of chocolate to be had and great fun overall with the girl and my sweetie.

Friday, 22 September 2006

Black Holes

There must be one in the studio. Some days things are just not there- they were there, in their spot but now they are not.
Or, supplies I have purchased, spent good plastic cha-ching on and have never used.
For example- the little stick on thimble disc thingies to use instead of a thimble. I know that I bought one with a back up package of adhesives from a great little quilt shop in Surrey along with some beautiful Japanese blue and white prints. I have the fabric but absolutely no clue where the flat thimble disc is.
Or Solvy, I have, securely wrapped in double plastic, a couple of metres of Solvy, I know when and where I bought it but where is it now???
It is not that I have a messy sewing studio. It is actually fairly well organized, labeled boxes on shelves, drawers, drawers and more drawers, cupboards- all well marked and tidy.
I regularly work at keeping it organized, after every major project is done I do a complete clean and often also rearrange the space if I have a new idea for my work flow.
So- why is it that I am totally stumped by where some things are.
I have 1 pile for "in process" - not there either.
If you stopped by and asked me for a particular book or magazine I will look through shelves worth of books, or the appropriate binder for the magazine, or folder for the pattern but -- no. I won't see it. No matter how sure I am that it was there last week or yesterday, it is hidden from my searching eyes, at least while you are waiting to see it. It ends up being there in that same spot next week anyway.
I cannot figure it out. Perhaps the parallel odd sock world has other occupants.
At least the books and magazines will be there smiling right at me the next time I am not looking for them, perhaps I am hosting a phantom library?
But where is that thimble disc???

Thursday, 21 September 2006

silly test

You Are 50% Left Brained, 50% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Aisle C at my quilt show

- a gift for a special couple (2005)

- a friend's house (1997)

- A Stay at Home Round Robin for my Mom (2003)

- a mini quilt 8" square (2004)

- for my honey (2003)

"Vintage Garden" Sampler Quilt

This is a photo of the BOM Sampler quilt that I am handquilting, "Vintage Garden", from one of my favourite quilt shops : Quilter's Line

I have shopped online there since 2000, have subscribed to a few BOM's such as: "A Millenium Quilt of Canada" - which became a memorial quilt to Pierre Trudeau, a "Peace and Plenty" Sampler quilt, a "1930's" reproduction sampler quilt, An "Underground Railroad" Sampler Quilt and this one. DH finally took me there on a day trip and it was fantastic, a small shop packed with beautiful prints. DH commented that "She has a good eye" as he thought that there were no ugly fabrics anywhere in the shop. Anyway, I think Chrissie is great, always helpful and she does have a good eye!! (there are more quilts for another aisle at my quilt show)

The theme of this is a "vintage garden tour" using vintage block patterns with a garden theme and late 1800"s reproduction prints.

My secret quilter's joke for this project is that I am using a CD spindle (from purchasing a stack of blank cd's) as the template for my circles across the inner border set. It worked so well, perfect proportion, easy to hold and there are markings built in that help me align it to my 1" strip border.

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

The Hand Quilting - why to keep it simple...

It is coming along, a bit of the right side borders to do then I can roll up to the next row of blocks. I really enjoy hand quilting and am happiest when the quilting enhances the piecing.

Most of the work on the quilt I am currently doing is complementary. There are 4 borders. The inner 3 borders I am treating as 1 border for quilting pattern purposes. The widths are: 3" of a tiny print which "reads" as a solid grey tone, 1" red print, 3" blue small but busy print. I am quilting overlapping circles (scallop effect) on both 3" borders, omitting any quilting in the center 1" strip so the effect is of half circles scalloped along both borders. The quilting is the same but what is noticeable is certainly different. The semi-circles on the TOT border are very effective, pretty, while the opposite hemispheres are barely noticeable in the busier print. The quilting just disappears.

My 8 " outer border, a busy larger scale print of leaves and birds (these are reproduction prints of the late 1800's) completely hides the careful work I am doing on the feather quilting design. I was past the halfway point of completion when I fully realized this. On such a busy print a simple grid, rows or diagonal would have served very well and I could have had this quilt completed by now.

So now I know, busier prints or multi coloured borders should have very simple quilting designs and save the complex quilting for plain areas.

In any case, One last row of blocks, then the upper border and 4 small cornerstone squares until the quilting is completed. I really want to finish this one up for our guild Quilt show next month.

... and I have high hopes of completing another quilt with machine quilting if I can squeeze it in.

Monday, 11 September 2006

Winning a ribbon!

I am excited to share some fun news. A ROUND ROBIN quilt that I entered in our local fair's Home Arts won a second place ribbon in the "quilt made by a group" category. I also entered a quilted purse which won a first place ribbon (but no photo right now). My friend Elaine also won a 2nd place ribbon for a machine quilted Christmas quilt. It does feel good!!!

Sunday, 10 September 2006

Holding tight to a piece of quilting history

I quilt both by hand and with my sewing machine. I feel far more connected to the finished quilt when I have done all of it. I have had 2 quilts sent out to long arm quilters, although quick, well quilted and now finished I sense a bit of a disconnect.

For me, quilting is about the threads that connect everything. There are threads attached to most parts of my life..from the ones clinging to my shirt as I leave the sewing studio and head out for shopping or to go to work, to the threads that bind me with my friends - the ones who come over to have tea, chat and quilt with me in the same room and even the threads through cyber space that connect me to all my friends "out there somewhere". There are threads that hold my quilts together and threads that show how barely together some things are.

One of my very precious threads is the history of generations of women who quilt. They stop their lives for a few minutes or a day and laugh, sew and stitch together pieces of fabric (that they most likely have just cut apart into little pieces) into beautiful blankets, that warm whoever may lay beneath them.

And we have done this for generations past and will for generations to come.

I can reach back and touch a piece of the past history... I am so blessed (appreciative and awed) to be the current keeper of an old quilting frame. How it came to me was sheer luck, and I am pretty sure that any quilter who would have it will feel just as connected to the past as I do.

One night, browsing emails - FREECYCLE - - I saw a post for a quilt frame to give away, someone with a truck needed. Our little sewing group was ripe and ready for a group quilting bee so I replied, not really expecting very much to come from it; I was offered the frame, told only that the poles were 8 feet long. I rounded up a friend who had a larger vehicle than mine and we headed out to the country for a drive and the quilt frame. What a treasure we found! The sweetest older couple that I have met in such a long time. Just cleaning out to downsize and she is a quilter---We oohed and aahed some of her work, looked through her books (and bonus, she let each of us choose 1). And the quilt frame... It is a floor frame, designed to make a large quilt (although a large quilt back then is barely a double bed size now).

The legs are 8 sided ELM posts, with hand forged iron hoops, in the top to hold the cedar rails. He warned me not to lose the nuts as the threads were hand cut and it would be difficult to replace them. The rails are long Cedar posts with notches and a wire for sewing on the leader fabric, the cross rails are elm also. long notches cut out so that the quilted piece can be rolled up and the quilter could work on a new area.

The quilt rolls in towards the center so that quilters on opposite sides could meet in the middle as they finished their areas. I think 6 or 8 quilters could work at the same time, just touching elbows slightly. I guess the right-handed and left handed quilters had to be careful with their needles if they sat together!

The provenance of this frame is that previous to our sweet lady friend, it was used by 3 generations of quilters in Caradoc Township, Ontario- so now she being the fourth, must make this frame nearly 100 years old. Wow, how many women have quilted at this frame. I feel the vibrations left by their voices, sharing laughs, sorrows hopes with their needles flying thorugh the layers of cotton and batting.

I would be happy to share the use of this with groups in my area who may want to set up an "old fashioned quilting bee"

P.S. Just to note that my quilting friends prefered to work using smaller hoops on their laps or no hoops at all. They found the frame to be to tall and not comfortable to work on. It is up high, I figure it needed to be close to the quilters eyes so that they could see their stitching. I had worked with a variety of quilt frames before and found this one to be okay once you got into the groove and found your own comfortable position.

Saturday, 9 September 2006

It is so wonderful to have a great cup of coffee. The fullness of the flavour, just the hint of bitter dark oil.
It is funny how we can get so used to our coffee that we can't really taste it.
30 years ago, my mother-in-law drank instant coffee, Maxwell House. There was always a welcome to her table, the kettle put on to boil and the offer of tea or coffee. I chose tea. Can't even take a sip of instant coffee. I do however really enjoy tea, but I digress, the topic here is coffee, or perhaps it is about just rewards.
Growing up with Oma, Kaffe und Kuchen were served at 3 o'clock. The coffee was made by pouring hot water into a pink ceramic Melitta Cone, lined with paper and filled with ground coffee that sat atop a coffee pot. Slowly the water that Tante poured in dripped through these grounds. The aroma was so rich, the coffee deep and dark. Served with milk and just a touch of sugar.
These were the days of percolator pots on the stove. My mom used a percolator, a metal basket, a stem. As the water heated towards boiling it would rise up the stem, bubble aginst the little glass knob in the centre of the lid and then drip down over the grounds that had been scooped into the metal filter basket. No paper. When the grounds were cooled you tapped them out into the waste bag.
So anyway, instant coffee just did not seem like it could really be coffee. Coffee involves care, brewing and grounds.
So, the Mr Coffee revolution took hold.
Throughout the 70's it was the new kitchen appliance to have. Paper filters to toss the grounds easily away, automatic timers so you could fill the coffeemaker with water and coffee, then wake to the aroma of freshly made coffee wafting from the kitchen- all ready for you to simply pour and enjoy.
This coffee maker tasted so much like the coffee that you had when you were out at a restaurant or donut shop.
So, we convinced Mum (dear Mother in law) that was what she should have. Instead of the brown water she called coffee. I promised that if she brewed real coffee I would drink with her, and so I did.

Mum loved her coffee now. She teased me that I ruined her. She used to be happy with the instant coffee till I made her drink this stuff. She would tell me that it was all my fault...
I still missed that slow pour and rich aroma of the Melitta. That was my first choice, and what I would make for myself at home.
.... Fast forward through the years. Coffee shops proliferate. StarBucks, roasting cafe's, bistros... The after dinner espresso has become more a day to day treat, Latte, Cappucinno, mmmmm
A fine frothy sprinkled with cinnamon...the coffee so aromatic, dark and rich.
Every cup is a spa break for me.
Mum is gone now, so many fewer coffee breaks, no more of our long talks over a freshly brewed pot of coffee.
As my honey wrapped up Mum's estate stuff he chose to gift me with a sum of $ in Mum's name, in memory of what a wonderful friendship we had together over those 30 years.
I knew that would be the best opportunity to indulge my coffee loving little heart. After months of inquiries and surveys of friends I decided to buy myself an Espresso Machine. If I was going to want a coffee worth enjoying I was going to have to go big. So , Miss Silvia entered my life.
She has ruined me for Timmies, for anyone else's coffee. I think about having a nice cup of coffee and I can only think of her.
The process, grinding my beans freshly, the measuring, the tamp. That ever hopeful tamp, enough so the water will slowly permeate the fine gounds, not so light that it flows like a sieve.
The wait as the boiler light goes off, the water is pushed through my handle, watching the slow stream fill my little cup, dark, thick, and then it changes colour--- now lighter and lighter to leave a burnished foam atop my brew.
Another few seconds.....turn on the steamer, open the frother. Set it into the milk pitcher--watching, waiting for the velvety froth to be spooned atop my little cup... There, now a sprinkle of cinnamon for a hint of sweet heat and ahhhh. So now Mum has ruined me. It is all her fault. I used to be happy with the dripped coffee.
And I smile every time....
My soul is fed with needle and thread, my body with chocolate

Friday, 8 September 2006

Sunny days and lunchtime walks

On a walk earlier this week I was sure there was something different, not quite right about my route. I had walked that way many times over the last few months.
I went out again later in the week, to pick up some soup for lunch and when I was nearly back at work I figured it out. Crunch. Crunch. I was stepping over fallen brown leaves. Crossing the parking lot it became obvious to me, the asphalt was strewn with the first bits of FALL. When did this happen? I am not ready.

Sunday, 3 September 2006

Quilts as gifts Aisle B

These are smaller quilts, either wall hangings or baby quilts, but still sewn with love for other special people in my life:

There are many more, most have been given before I started taking photos of my work, and others...well I just can't find the photos right now.

I promise to upload more quilt photos though, a few more aisles anyway!

How about a quilt show? Aisle A

I think I should share some of my finished quilts with you. These have all been given away to some of the special people in my life.

My brother (he loves the NY Yankees and Coca Cola).

My sister - a happy cheery sort of a quilt for her

My other sister - my first (and only so far) whole cloth quilt, made as a wedding gift.

And closer to home, For my daughter:

My son has this purple one:

... and on our bed we have this one, given to my husband on our 25th wedding anniversary. It is extra special as our family names, dates of birth and our wedding vows are all quilted into the outermost border.

I still have 1 daughter waiting for a new quilt, she has used the last one for 25 years and really has worn it out.