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


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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.