Monday, 31 December 2007

and so goes 2007, the list

It has been a pretty good year I think. Production-wise I hoped to have more accomplished but I am realizing that, just as with desserts, my eyes are bigger than my stomach. Over this past year I have finished up quite a few items and many projects were complete start and finishes (not previous UFO's).

Let me see what I can put on a list since I do keep a journal of all my sewing and studio time. This time does include other hours spent than just my own personal sewing (basting, preparing quilt kits for our community outreach projects, regular organizational time in my studio, workshop preparations).

January = 45 hours
February = 3 hours
March = 65.5 hours
April = 32.5 hours
May = 25.5 hours
June = 33 hours
July = 53.5 hours
August = 40.5 hours
September = 46.5 hours
October = 24 hours
November = 39 hours
December = 47.5 hours
2007 = 455.5 hours total

In this time I started and fully completed, including doing the quilting myself:
1 "Fun with Bricks" scrappy double bed sized quilt
33 Fabric Postcards
5 Quilted Wall Hangings
2 baby quilts
15 pillow cases
12 Hum Bug Bags
12 Aprons
24 Thimble holders
13 Place mats
1 Table Topper
2 Hand bags
1 summer dress for me
1 "just like me" doll
Many miscellaneous gifts and blocks for exchanges

For UFO's I also:
finished hand quilting a QS quilt
98% finished machine quilting a double bed quilt (will be complete in a few days)

Out of this work I was able to help charities through donating quilts for raffle:
Oriental Wall Hanging $130 (or $140?)
Planet Beauty $350
Vintage Garden $900

I managed to take 4 workshops, give 3 quilting demo's, and attend a 4 Day Jamboree with some dear on-line quilty friends (OK, I did not count any hours of those 4 days in this quilt journal summary).

What do I expect of myself, hmm. I work FT, have multiple dogs, I like spending time with my DH and the kids whenever they are home, I like to read, browse the internet, knit, cook, and I do have a home to maintain. I guess I have managed to be fairly productive over the last year. One lesson to myself is that I should not compare my list to others accomplishments. They may not have a FT job, they may send out work to be quilted by someone else, they may not be lucky enough to have family close at hand, etc...)

And for 2008....
I know already that I have 1 night class to attend for 13 weeks (homework & studying), I am joining in some large projects at work (a weekly personal time commitment), we will be building a new home and moving and I have 2 wedding dresses, a wedding veil and some other projects already on the list.

...stay tuned!

Friday, 14 December 2007

Christmas Memories, as promised (with photo update)

Every ornament on the tree has a story. If you are here while I decorate the tree you will hear me tell it. Most years I decorate the tree by myself and talk to the walls. The kids already know the stories. This is why it takes 5 hours to decorate our tree.

There is a silver plastic lantern and a green plastic bell. They are Betty's ornaments. Betty was a neighbour and friend to us when we were very young, newly wed and living east of Main St, South of Broadway in Vancouver.

Betty was a bit older, already lived a rough life and had a sweet daughter. They lived in a car before they moved into the apartment building on East 11th. Betty worked on East Hastings at a charity shop that provided help to street people. All that Betty had came from there.

Betty liked us and we liked Betty, we owned very little - just starting out with a suitcase and love; Betty and her daughter had much less. Then it was Christmas, our 2nd year being married. Our tree was a potted live tree and we covered it in the same red, gold and green satin bows that we used Year 1 (still no ornaments).

She could not stand the idea of a tree without ornaments so Betty gave us 2 of hers.

We decided to have a gift exchange between us. I suspect that there was no one else in Betty and her daughter's life to give or receive from. For weeks Betty excitedly questioned me as to what Peter would like and I suggested Hoyle's Book of Rules (card games). I figured that this would settle many future [and past] arguments.

Christmas morning arrived and after our cozy little holiday celebration we heard a bit of scuffle in the hallway. Looking out the peephole I saw a few guys getting into the elevator and a couple very close to our door. We paid no mind.

Later that day Betty called on the intercom, questions hanging in mid air.... We had a gift for her and her daughter and so we asked her to come up. She wondered how we liked our gifts, how Peter liked the Hoyle's. the words sort of stumbled around but no, we had not found her gift. It had been left in a bag a while ago, on our door knob. The stumble bums likely had taken it. Betty would not accept our gifts, not until she could provide a gift for us to receive in return.

Betty may never know, her humble plastic silver lantern and green bell still are hung proudly on our tree many Christmases and much success later. Betty's generosity and pride are honoured.

Even my DD, when newly married, said that she would need a silver plastic lantern and green bell for her tree, Betty's ornaments. I guess the story was heard, learned and appreciated. Betty, thank you again, for another Christmas filled with appreciation for the love and gifts that we already have,

Christmas is a time to recall cherished memories

Lisa Littlechap
Penny Bright


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My mind's filing drawers are bursting with holiday memories, Christmas being the primary theme.

I want to write as many out as possible so that one day I will still be able to hold them close even if they are slightly blurred. Much like pulling a string of Christmas lights from a storage bag, they are safe but much tangled. Images from the eyes of a 2 year old, a 22 year old , 49 and many, many holidays along the way.

To categorize and list them would distract from the pleasure of replaying the vignettes, so write now and sort the mess later. I will try to post a few each day for a while, add photos where possible and please feel free to share your own.

I would say that my earliest Christmas memory would have been just before I turned 2 (January 1960), some time shortly after Christmas I am assuming.

I can see myself looking over at my Opa and perhaps my dad, and there is a radio. I recall discussion of the radio not working and that really, I was too young for it, it was not really the right thing to give to a little girl. Perhaps. Perhaps that is why I am so addicted to radio now [if i could run with a 24 hour life soundtrack it would be CBC radio one]. Opa just laughed a bit, no one was mad. It had to be about then since I was old enough to run around and we still lived in the Brownstone in Manhattan.

Another Kodak moment [Coney Island this time, perhaps age 5], near the tree is this wonderful pink and blue (wooden back then) baby doll play pen. I scarcely recall playing with it so I have no idea how long I may have had it but I know it amazed me on Christmas morning.

Dolls and Christmas always belong hand-in-hand. I love (loved then and very much still do now) dolls; all kinds, baby dolls, Toddler Dolls, Walking Dolls, Barbie and her ilk, cloth dolls, mini dolls, paper dolls, any doll.

I recall (many times over a few years) losing my favourite doll shortly before Christmas. She would have been a toddler style doll, plastic, blond hair. And I would be so very happy on Christmas morning to see her under Oma + Opa's tree, all dressed in a new outfit. I am not sure whether I was happier that she was wearing a lovely new dress or just that I had her back. This doll would be the same doll to play in the lovely wooden pink and blue play pen. We were friends for quite some years but I really do not know how or when she was no longer there. I only know that she was eclipsed by my first Barbie doll, a la Jacklyn Kennedy, bouffant bubble blonde hair, jacket, heels and a purse. It was glorious to dress her and that is how I learned the feeling of envy and covet. There were so many beautiful outfits to be had, and they belonged to other girl's Barbie dolls. Oh yes, this began a time of lust and trading and fighting and hiding and absolutely unlimited imagination.

My Barbie had friends, Penny Bright with her red dress, happy eyes and a Beauty Parlour, Tressy whose hair grew and grew when you pushed the button on her belly, Francie (Barbie's flatter chested cousin), Lisa Littlechap - the so-serious-business-suited MOM, Crissy and a few more. My passion for dolls was only matched by my obsession with reading and making things. Barbie however has her own (very short) story to be saved for another post.
And there is the seed for all my sewing. I could not get all the clothes that my dolls wanted so I had to make some. Coopy's (the corner candy & toy store) sold doll clothes kits that went together with special glue dots so you did not need to sew them. you simply cut the fabric into the pattern pieces and pressed them together for your barbie doll to wear. I had a full heavy suitcase of dolls, their clothing and accessories - unfortunately (and I am still not over it) the whole suitcase disappeared.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Aprons by the dozen

I have been busy with the Christmas gift sewing.
This is the sum of the past week's efforts:



I used the wonderful Four Corners Apron Pattern, any calico pieces from my stash that were larger than a meter long and mixed them together to make these fun aprons for my "Bag Ladies*" friends for Christmas. This was also an excellent opportunity to use up many left over spools of thread.

The Bag Ladies have been meeting to sew, craft, drink tea and generally share their lives since 1992. When I went "back to work" full time we could no longer meet at the community center or for coffee during the day. We really missed the crafting that we had been doing. Our kids were about the same ages and we all worked hard to make the best of what we had. We appreciated being able to make many of our family and friends gifts. Sometimes we were only 4 or 5 and other times we were 12 women all meeting together.

We started meeting during weekday evenings in each other's kitchens. I guess the gifts we made for those near and dear were as important to our budgets as to our psyches. We have created everything from twisted paper for bows, flowers and dolls, wreathes, "podgy" under glass plates, little stuffed animals, porcelain dolls, Sock Monkeys, Christmas Crackers, crochet, decorated tee shirts, knitting, painted wood, tole painting, fabric covered boxes, photo albums, countless holiday favours and decorations, soap, microwavable comfort bags, kitchen coordinates, homemade paper (that nearly set a kitchen on fire), food gifts in jars, anything that could be glued or stitched together and then we started quilting......


There was the spring of the near mutiny. The ladies did not want to do so many sewing projects. They really did not enjoy sewing [May]. One of the ladies shop-hopped with me to a quilt shop and found a paper piecing pattern of a tent, a campfire and a canoe in a wall hanging [June]. A couple of others wanted to try also so I spent the summer showing them how to paper piece a quilt. Then they wanted to make a real quilt, full sized [September]. So by that Christmas 6 husbands were buying their non-sewing wives sewing machines. Now, 5 years later we keep making quilts and mostly quilts.

We do a few outside projects for the good of our community such as making up gift or food baskets for someone who is going through a rough patch, we make HumBug bags and fill them with a selection of toiletries for donation to a local women's shelter and more. These are wonderful women full of heart.

I try to make their gifts each year. From what I recall over the last few Christmases, I have so far made: Tote Bags with a custom embroidery panel front, Wonder Wallets, Thimble Keepers, and I can't think any farther back....

There is so much more sewing, quilting, shopping, wrapping and gifting to be done. That list however must remain private.

* We call ourselves the "Bag Ladies" because we were always dragging bags of supplies around from kitchen to kitchen so that we could craft and sew together.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Mazey Daze and I guess this is post # 100

This is a close-up (sort of) of the prints I used in this project. I loved the pink toile like print on its own. I also loved the green "cabbage roses". When I saw the blue floral print (in the sale bin) with its tiny pink flowers and green leaves it seemed to yell at me "I can bring those other 2 prints together, really I can, just give me a chance." I had not worked with florals in a few years and so I used them in a 3-colour mystery pattern "Mazey Daze" designed by Dorothy Young. This is more of an overview showing the lattice type pattern created with the 3 prints. If you look at past posts showing the baby quilts we made for Jack and Grace, you will see the same pattern but in a smaller version.

When I complete the quilting I will post a better photo of the project. So far I have only echo-quilted the lattice and now I am quilting squares in the snowball blocks. I am not sure how I will fill the triangular areas. I will be echo-quilting approximately 1/3" from the seams on all the blocks and strips.

This is a slightly blurry shot of Van Halen from my BBerry. It was a super concert. Thanks RIM.

Looking at the calendar, giving Thanks

What happened to November? the last thing that I really noticed was Halloween and time ahead of me to work through my holiday planning list. Where did these last 3 weeks go, likely off to the same unknown vacation land for Tupperware lids, bra wires and socks. All of which I have lost as well lately.

I have put the Mazey Daze back on the machine so that it should be done soon. I have to finish my special set of gifties for my dear Bag Ladies (no hints just in case one of you is reading this before our dinner), looked at my list to remind myself that I have a few things to wrap for the Post Office and I tried to rationalize just what I can really get done for the holidays given that November flew away. I have some online purchases planned to save shipping time but I still have to spend the time browsing to shop!!

This is the week preceeding the big Wild Women's Weekend and I am so ready. Is there anyway to bubble up my time. I would love to have a weekend magically still left besides the weekend away.

Tomorrow (today really) is Thanksgiving Day and although I am not with my family and that Thanksgiving is celebrated in October in Canada, my heart is filled with gratefulness for the bounty in my own life.

I must say that # 1 is my DH, no man could ever make a woman feel more loved.
A very close #2,3,4 are our Super Grovers, 3 amazingly caring, responsible and loving grown up children who have special people in their lives.

I am absolutely appreciative of the lovely home DH built, the city, country that I live in, the great job that I have, my extended family (sisters and their special partners, nieces and nephews) my lovely 4-legged friends,my very dear women-friends, my quilting and even all the gadgety, techno, fun toys that I am lucky enough to make use of.

So, without the extra time off to prepare a Thanksgiving feast, and without Mum to accompany me to the Del-Mar for a hot turkey dinner special, DH and I will celebrate with Swiss Chalet Festive meal and a glass or 2 of wine.

All the very best of things good to you....

Saturday, 17 November 2007

new silly quiz: My inner color is "blue"

Your Inner Color is Blue

Your Personality: Your natural warmth and intuition nurtures those around you. You are accepting and always follow your heart.

You in Love: Relationships are your top priority, and this includes love. You are most happy when you are serious with someone.

Your Career: You need to help others in your job to feel satistifed. You would be a great nurse, psychologist, or counselor.

I certainly feel that way inside and I hope that those near and dear to me feel that from me. I guess my friends would be best at agreeing on the personality point but I certainly feel that my relationships are my top life priority.

Career: I am not a nurse or counselor but I do feel most satisfied when I am helping others.

If you feel like playing just click on the link.

Hey... let me know what your results are!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

completing a project for myself

Tuesday night is Bag Ladies night and this week we had "casserole carriers" scheduled. We meet weekly to sew, drink tea and sometimes just vent. Besides quilting and snacks we try to make gifts for our nearest and dearest. The Casserole carrier was originally to become a Christmas present but I decided that I needed one for my smaller oven dishes, There were a few pattern options and I chose the Wrap'n Go Casserole carrier (a free pattern) from Nancy's Notions. Of course I needed to rework the pattern as it calls for prequilted proprietary Iron Quick and I planned to use simple fabric and the special reflective batting.

After a few mis-stitched seams and Rippits I worked out the process and used some of my recently purchased chili peppers fabric to make myself this handy, fold flat insulated carrier. Now I will be able to bring a smaller size dish to our girly pot lucks .

Gratuitous photo of cute dog in a "don't touch those stitches" collar

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

quilting is giving

October has been a pretty quilty month. I have not spent many hours sewing but the time spent has resulted in satisfying (although humbly meager) results. I managed to make 8 Fabric postcards, a few fabric coasters and start the machine quilting of the Mazey Daze quilt that I really like a lot.

This quilting year has netted greater results though with the quilts that I have given away to people I do not know.

The queen sized "Vintage Garden" (which won a second place ribbon at the local fair-2007) raised about $900 towards the "Faith Tilk Foundation", a new charity in memory of a sweet young girl whose life very sadly ended too soon.

That would be the third quilt donated to charitable fundraising this year.
The first , "Oriental Medley" benefitted"My Sister's Place" and the second (which also -won a second place ribbon at the local fair-2006) was in aid of the "Woodstock General Hospital Building Fund".

I very gladly made these donations but I think I gained the greatest from this. These were projects that I was able to enjoy working on, used up fabric from the very special but ever growing stash, ended up belonging to people who were thrilled to win them, and raised much needed funds for well-worth-while causes.

When I look at the photos of the projects I really smile and am grateful that I have a passion which can give so much, beyond the process, the art and the practical.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Russian Quilters visit small town Ontario

It is really true! A LQS has worked very diligently to arrange a Russian Quilt Exhibit near my home town. The Russian quilts have amazing colour and fluidity, you can look through this website (sorry the text is all in Russian however). An astounding detail about this exhibition is that it has toured major cities in Europe, such as Paris, London (as in Jolly Old) and the ONLY North American stop is in Ailsa Craig Ontario, population 1,000 on a good day.

There were many workshops offered but I was only able to attend 2 of them: Negative, Positive and the traditional Russian dolls. While you read the rest of this you must keep in mind that our teachers spoke no English! The classes were taught in Russian with an interpreter following along to explain the steps, ask the questions and share the love.

The Negative, Positive was an exercise in freedom. We used 2 high contrast colours, many variations to form random sized squares surrounding a plain center. After spending time to figure out the mysterious workings of a sewing machine that I have never used
previously, I was quite excited to be set free to build my wall hanging; you then repeat the process using the contrast colour as the feature. "Olga is from the city of Archangel. She is a member of the Russian Painters Union and a winner of many quilting awards."(from Cotton-by-Post website link above).

Lunchtime between the 2 workshops allowed Penny and myself to visit the Quilt Show itself. It was so difficult and after much deliberation I still could not decide between 4 quilts for my vote. Apparently each and every quilt that was featured earned a Viewer's Choice vote. It was that amazing!! Photography of the exhibit was prohibited but during the later evening Gala we were allowed to take photos of people with some of the quilts as background.

Olga and her prize winning negative, positive wall hangings.

Our afternoon workshop was devoted to traditional Russian Doll making. This was one of the most satisfying and creative workshops that I have ever taken. Elena is very passionate about reviving lost folk art traditions. She is not only a master doll maker but a master storyteller as well. Every aspect of these dolls, from the winding of the head stuffing to the tying of the threads is steeped in tradition, culture and history.

She taught us how to make a family of dolls, Mama, Baby and father, an angel and a little bunny.

These represent the 3 main reasons dolls were traditionally made -- good fortune, religion and child's toys. We were nice and neatly wound the stuffing for the heads so that Mama would be a clear thinker and we did not fill the father's head with wood or stone. Some of the symbolism is for telling your future or wishing for good things to happen.

A popular doll to choose would be the one with the biggest breasts which is to foretell riches and good luck. On the other hand lop-sidedness meant you would spend your life having one baby after another.
When Elena asked about local traditional dolls I promised to bring samples to the evening Gala. I chose an old traditional Mennonite doll, a traditional Peruvian doll (a gift from DD#1 recent trek) and a cloth doll from a pattern that I have made for 25 years. I managed to show the dolls and Elena understood that I was giving her one as a gift.

She was as excited as a little girl on Christmas morning...and immediately gave me a necklace of mini-dolls that she was wearing around her neck. Elena and her new doll were inseparable for the rest of the night!

The Gala was a sold out event featuring Russian food (the visiting Russians cooked food for 200 of us), music, stories and a fashion show.

DH & I in front of his favourite quilt (so much like the style of the "Group of Seven")

...and me wearing my new Russian Doll necklace

More photos of the Russians and their work

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Friends and shopping - makings of a pretty great day

A couple of weeks may have passed but the day I spent with some special on-line friends is no less special for me.

I am lucky to have quilter friends everywhere, and friends so wonderful that they will drive to meet me and take me fabric shopping.

First shop stop was Monica's in Palm Dessert:

And these were all in the half price bin, enough to make a full size quilt and this lot was less than $20.

Then Fabric Fools in Desert Hot Springs:

Of course some of this fabric is headed for "aging"; that means it is bought to add to my special collections, and I will find it very hard to cut into. I found some great purple and reds for Melissa's quilt, lot's of brights, some chili peppers, coffee beans,

We did stop in Santa Fe long enough for me to manage to find one quilt shop on my own. Santa Fe Quilting was really just across the street and around the corner from our hotel. Peter gave me 10 minutes but I probably was closer to 20. I told the man there that I had a time limit and a husband waiting outside so I needed him to show me to some patterns and fabrics that represented the area. They had enough for me to do some "ch-ching" damage. I am quite please at the selection I brought home.

(and yes I did have to buy another suitcase to get home with).

I certainly do not have buyer's remorse over these fabrics. I would not trade them back and will quite happily fondle them until they meet their fate one day under my rotary cutter - the opportunity to become even greater in unity with other fabrics than they are now as single pieces of printed textiles....
What I have is financial remorse....

P.S. I was on a hunt for "Day of the Dead" banners and streamers and was unsuccessful and finding any of that in CA, AZ and NM. That is why I chose those DoD skeleton couples dancing above. If anyone can suggest where I can find Day of the Dead decor, please let me know.