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