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.

Saturday, 2 September 2006

September comes every year, but always a surprise

The warm sunshiny days are eclipsing into that busy time of lunch boxes, notebooks and new teachers. Summer really will be around for a few weeks yet but most of us think of the Labour Day long weekend as the last weekend of summer. True, more alarm clocks will be set to ring and the roads will be filled with those big yellow school busses, but it still is summer.

Summer, by its very nature is an example of long slow days, these days will slowly grow shorter and slowly feel cooler.

This summer has been pretty much average - not too many hot days, not too many cool nights, not too much rain but not dry either. So all in all fairly non-descript. And I have just written a bit over 120 words to say nothing very interesting at all about it.