Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Dog Days of January....

Shown here in the photo is the Kaleidscope flimsy that is made from Ricky Tims technique - I love Kaleidscope quilts. I had the pleasure of seeing Paula Nadelstern speak about her gorgeous Kaleidscope quilts at a guild meeting a few years ago. Her book "Kaleidoscope Quilts" is a wonderful description of her process and the photographs are just sumptious. Go here to check out her beautiful quilts and see her current book :

I am very pleased with my kaleidoscope quilt- it is not as complicated in construction as Paula's technique but is still very pretty. I make very few wall hangings - I prefer to make utilitarian quilts. Every now and then I break with my usual quilt choices to make a piece just because I love the design. I guess I could have turned it into a medallion quilt but I decided to leave it this size.

I have since trimmed this quilt so there is no longer any white batting on the outside. (Isn't amazing how much difference trimming off the batting and such can make -even before you bind it?)

I really had planned to finish it but I have misplaced the binding so now I have to decide whether I am going to make more binding or wait until I locate it? Here I thought, I was being so organized and pre made the bindings of most of these newest quilts-- They will turn up one day - just like the lost bracelet of last week but I expect I can't wait for a year or so before I get them bound so it may not be along time before I make more binding..

Today was a pretty low key day- I went and got my haircut this morning-Nothing like a new hairdo to brighten the day.
It was a beautiful day outside - the sun was shining and the temperature mild which is always a bonus in January. Unfortunately, the sidewalks are slippery as we had rain earlier in the week so it makes for treacherous walking. It is great to see the sanding trucks out on the side streets - it will make them more passable for driving.

I got out my Winding Ways quilt out to check out the instructions. There is some piecing of the blocks to do before I can put this beautiful pattern together. The blocks are made of some lovely batiks so I am looking forward to getting back to it. This past week I finished quilting my Disappearing Nine patch quilts. It is nice to have got 5 different pieces quilted since December.

I have put up a new Header with some of the pieces that I have been working on so consequently Mars the cat has to check them out. Bruce found Mars lying on all 4 pieces at once - so while you can't see the finished designs of the four you will be able to see the riot of color that I have used for these quilts. Mars was not very happy with Bruce as he dared to disturb her beauty sleep by using the flash to light her up. She looks somewhat surly in these pictures but, in general, she is a friendly cat - especially late at night when Bruce feeds her treats and early in the morning when she thinks its time to wake up.

This week will be busier at work as I am starting to do some work towards the second reporting period. I hope to get a little more quilting done and bead a bracelet or two. Such is the life in the middle of winter - time to hang around home and keep warm quilting or blogging..

Have a great week- Happy quilting to one and all- Keep warm or cool depending on your current weather conditions...


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Celebrating Grace

I made this floral iris for my Gran to celebrate her 85th birthday. The center medallion of the quilt is a colorwash Iris that is 30 by 40 -2 inch squares. I used a fusible backing as a design wall to arrange the iris on it. It was from a McCalls quilt magazine in the 90's. The border was taken from an Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine. The quilts name was "Gran's garden" to celebrate her love of flowers and especially Irises. My husband sees a teddybear playing the guitar in the colorwash so maybe it is a trick design :0.
My gran always wanted me to enter my quilts into local shows and such. The first quilt I ever entered into a show (for showing, not judging) was her quilt. My mother returned it to me after she passed away and I chose to show it to honor her memory. I still have not entered a quilt challenge or contest - I am not sure that I ever will..
Today I am remembering and celebrating the life of a woman who had a profound influence on my life. Her name was Grace and it was a most perfect name for her as she was a woman of Grace- both in personality and the way she carried herself. She was born in 1917 on the 22 of January. She was a hardworking farm woman who led a rich full life- not rich in the material sense but rich because she was well loved by all who knew her. When she left this world five and a half years ago, her funeral was attended by over 400 people. My gran,Grace would have been astonished by it- she was a very humble person. Grandma was a woman of faith and raised me with good old fashioned values- work hard, be kind, be respectful, thoughtful and loving. In some ways, my gran led the life of a traditional woman. In other ways,though she was a woman of independence. My grandfather would often go away to work off the farm in the winters so that they would have enough money- farming is not an easy way to make a living. Grace would stay on the farm with their four children and continue to milk cows, take care of the pigs, chickens and sheep and of course look after my mother and her siblings. In later years when my grandfather, Henry became ill, Gran became the primary driver at age 70(She had driven the tractor and truck around the fields and such but left the driving to grandpa. Grace continued to live on the same farm that she came to, when she married Henry in 1935. She loved my grandfather totally- he was her sun, moon and stars. They were married 52 years when he passed away. She would live independently on that farm for another 15 years, driving her car right until the end. The farm she lived on was adjacent to the original homestead and it was just a few years short of 100 years that my mother's family had owned property in that area when the farm was sold in 2004.
I spent many summers with my grandparents while I was growing up. When I look back at them, I realize how carefree that we really were: we played outdoors, picked berries, harvested vegetables, made meals to take out to my grandfather(he would be haying in the fields). We also invented our own gamesand made our own fun- my grandfather would take the Avon bottles and cans to the farm dump and we would go and hall it back to play store or house in the playhouse that my aunt and her cousins had build in the trees behind the house. I cut up the Sears and Eaton's catalogues to make doll houses and cut outs. We made up plays and sang to all the old musicals and country songs while we played and we worked.

Grace was a fabulous cook- she could make something out of the most basic of ingredients. Her fried chicken was the most flavorful I have ever had(nothing tastes quite the same as her chicken). She always had baking for anyone who came to the house and mid afternoon lunch was a full course meal. There are recipes that I attribute to only her- white cake with pink frosting and coconut, O' Henry square(another square that was a shortbread base with nuts and raisins and then iced) and a gelatinous pink square whose name I have forgotten- My mother has tried to make that pink square a number of times without success. Gran pickled and canned everything- she made use of what she had. We had berries and cream with most lunches and dinners as dessert. Have you ever had wild strawberries and cream ?- it makes my mouth water just thinking about them. Wild strawberries are hard to find now - trampled down by cattle and big machinery... On the prairies,we have a berry called Saskatoons - they are sort of like blueberries but bigger and have a slightly different flavor. I went picking berries with my gran a few times as an adult- she would still hold the barb wire fence up for me to climb through, as I have short legs, and then climb over them herself, as she was tall and long legged. As a child, sometimes the bakery truck would come to visit when I was there and my gran would buy fresh donuts or fig newton cookies for me. I still love Fig newton cookies and they always make me think of her.
What more can a child and later a woman wish for than to be loved unconditionally- When I think of my gran,that is what I miss the most- her quiet loving giving heart. I miss you, gran, and you are forever in my heart ..

The two quilts on the back of the loveseat are two other examples of early colorwash quilts- the heart was given to a friend as a wedding present and the other, a colorwash churndash that I gave to my husband. The churndash I did not make from a pattern - I just transferred the idea from a block pattern.
Colorwash is an interesting technique because you get to develop your understanding of value. When I made the first heart, I really struggled because I didn't get the importance of value versus color. Finally,the penny dropped but it took quite awhile. Like many other techniques, I came to enjoy playing with the little squares of fabric to make an overall picture.

Thank you for your recent comments and questions on my blog. Wanda asked me how many quilts I have made- I don't actually have a count though there are many quilts that I have not written about-(Are you thinking OMG is she going to write forever about old quilts :O)
I think there is over 50 bed sized quilts in total and many many baby wraps. I also have made panel vests and panel baby quilts when I was a beginning quilter. Almost all of my quilts have been bed sized quilts- I am a utilitarian quilter and hope the quilts will be used and enjoyed. Maybe some day I will explore the making of art quilts ...

I found it interesting to hear about the decisions one makes as a quilter- I wondered how others have developed their sense of color combinations? Have your color choices changed since you were a beginning quilter? I know mine have changed a lot- I am less afraid of using color and my newer pieces are much more colorful. It takes time and confidence to develop your comfort level to choose the fabrics for a new quilt. For me,gathering the fabrics and choosing the colors are one of the best parts- I go and play in my stash -its hard for me to find just one combination- That is why there is often more than one version of a pattern.

This week I was tagged for an award on Micki's blog. She is a lovely woman who lives in Ireland with Joe and enjoys creating interesting designs with her machines - both sewing and embroidery. You can check out her blog here: Thank you Micki, for the honor of your friendship- I, too, feel fortunate to have met so many other lovely quilters through the quilt blogs. There are so many quilters whose blogs I enjoy reading. I am awarding it to all of you who make this quilt world a little closer. I celebrate all your friendships. Micki also has a link to One heart, one world that you may find interesting..
Another blog you may want to check out is Jo Jo at She is having her 100 post giveaway. JoJo wants to know the three things that you couldn't live without in your sewing room. She is a lovely lady and I know you will enjoy visiting her blog. The three things I need in my sewing room are my machine, good mats, rulers and cutting tools and of course my stash of fabric.
The last blog I want to suggest you to is Mrs.Goodneedle has a lovely blog and has started to post a question on Tuesdays. Her question last Tuesday was " What made you start quilting and what things keeps you quilting". It is a great question to ponder..

My friend V. and I did some beading last night and today I hope that I might get another of the my quilts quilted..the pile is beginning to get smaller...January is a month of finishes so that February can be a month of new beginnings. I did get all of the pieces that I have been working on, trimmed so now I need to find the binding that I cut awhile ago so I can actually finish those pieces. That is my next adventure..

Happy quilting, or beading, or writing,or doing something that gives you pleasure and balance to your life. Remember to tell the people you care about most how much they are valued and loved- they are this life's gifts most treasured...



Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mystery Quilts and A Weekend Well Spent !

Here is another older quilt that was a mystery quilt called "Bears in Cabin" that I began piecing in 1999. I finished it a couple of years later. If you look closely on the right side you will see another little blue and pink wall hanging that was a mystery quilt too.

The large Bears in a Cabin quilt is part of my header. The tiny toenails of the bearspaw part of the pink and turquoise quilt, are indeed quite small- the half square triangles measure 3/4 of an inch finished. The other little pink one I chose the colors for it( I am sorry that I don't know the name of it.) The Bearspaw Cabin colour combination was chosen by the store. I gave the quilt store some idea of the colors that I liked, and they came up with the combination. The one thing that I added was the outside borders after the central top was made. Now, I prefer picking my own color combinations but it is much harder when it is a mystery quilt. I have thought of making some of Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilts but have only ever managed to cut strips in the time others have completed the quilt.
I have decided that I have just too many quilts and techniques that I want to do- perhaps I should make a list of upcoming quilts to make. :D)

Do you like to pick your own colors or make quilts from kits? Do you change/adapt the pattern to make it your own? I like to add borders to my quilts when I have the time too. It has been awhile since I have done a pieced border on a quilt - maybe it is time to do a quilt with a pieced border too.

For the first time in a while, I haven't had to complete a quilt for a specific person. I have made quilts as wedding gifts for nieces, and family quilts for quite an extended time period. The more recent quilts were created for the person based on designs and colors that I thought the person for whom I was making the quilt, would like. When I began quilting, I would finish a quilt and then give it to someone who I thought would like that quilt. The process is quite different, and it is nice to make a quilt, just because I like the pattern and fabrics. I am sure that one day I will again make a quilt for a special someone, with their preferences in mind but right now, it is fun to be experimenting with my own choices of the colors and fabrics.

This weekend has been quite pleasant with some time with my family and some quilting time too. Today ,I finished quilting a Disappearing 9 patch quilt that I started last spring, but I haven't trimmed it yet. I will post it with a couple of other quilts that I have finished up recently. I am very happy to have another quilt quilted up- I was having some trouble with the thread breaking, but I persisted and the quilt looks quilt lovely. The fabrics are sunflowers so it is this sea of sunflowers. Sunflowers are my favorite flowers - they always make me smile. I have made a snippets Sunflower wallhanging that hangs in Bruce's brother's house. It was made from a Cindy Walter's Snippets book- it is a fun technique to experiment with, that uses fused fabric to create a picture collage.

Yesterday I went with my husband, Bruce to our local library where he gave a talk to a group of people about the History of the Telescope. People loved all the wonderful photos from the Hubble Telescope. Bruce brought a small piece of the Buzzard Coulee meteorite that he and a friend found in Saskatchewan recently. It is always a joy to see him share his knowledge and passion about Astronomy with others. This year is the International year of Astronomy so there are lots of special events happening in our community to celebrate Astronomy.

We then went and did some grocery shopping so the fridge has some fresh produce in it. I made a nice green salad and he made Beef Stroganoff so we had a delicious dinner. My friend Lou had lent me the movie Mamma Mia so we watched it.
ABBA music is always fun and it was a nice movie to end off a full Saturday.

This week I received a lovely giveaway prize from Deb in Alaska . It was a beautiful vellum square book with an art collage picture in the front that Deb created. She does beautiful purses and art quilts- do check out her blog and be inspired by her lovely work. Thank you, Deb, for the lovely book and planner- It will be treasured and enjoyed.

Tonight I am watching the Edmonton Oiler's Hockey game. My spouse and I are hockey fans , and in earlier years we spent many hours in the hockey arena watching our son play minor hockey. Bruce also had NHL Oiler hockey season tickets for a number of years, when we were first together. Tonight's game was a trip down memory lane, as they retired one of my favorite player's, Glenn Anderson's sweater. Glenn came to visit my school when I was a much younger teacher. He gave back much to the community, while he played hockey here. I am glad they finally were able to retire his sweater.

I found one of my favorite pink bracelets that I thought was lost forever so all in all - it has been a productive enjoyable weekend. I hope that your weekend was too.
Happy Quilting to one and all,


Sunday, January 11, 2009

How do I say Thank You !!!

I found the photo of the second bargello- It is owned by my sister in law, J. and looks like a completely different pattern because of the colors.It has an old fashioned feel, I think - I do so love this pattern and am considering making another one. I have made another bargello pattern called Melinda's Heart. It is a beauty too. Bargello patterns are some of my favorite designs. It is always the challenge of time - which pattern do you make first?

This week was the end of holidays and the return to my kindergarten children. It seems like they grow so much when we are not together- or maybe you just notice things with fresh eyes - I am not sure which... The weather was not overly cooperative, so my students and I had a week with very little outside time-it was just too cold...The crazy carpets( a plastic carpet used to go sliding in the snow) remained rolled up in the box until Friday afternoon when there was a break in the weather. The weekend has been warmer and we hope that it will hold for a few days so we can be outside this week. Cross your fingers for us won't you?

My friend Pam asked me what kind of sewing machine I use to quilt my quilts. I have a babylock quilting machine- It is like the Juki Kim has which is bigger than a regular domestic machine-It has more space and an extended table than your standard machine so that it makes it easier to spread the quilt over the tabletop. The aperture is higher so you have more space under the arm of the sewing machine.

The first full sized bed quilt that I ever made, was a queen sized log cabin that I used double polyester batting inside( I wanted it to be a puffy quilt you know). In 1987,it felt I was trying to wrestle with a bear getting it to go under my first sewing machine(a Kenmore that I bought in 1978).

Another thing that I like about the Babylock, is that it goes like a Hot Damn - 1100 stitches a minute so it makes meandering quite fast. Bruce has bought both my newer machines as gifts:I piece with an Elna Quilter's Dream that he bought around 2000, and quilt on the Babylock that I received as a Christmas present in 2002 or 2003. They are both lovely machines, and I have used them alot in the time that I have owned them. I sew in a small room so it is not practical to consider owning a long arm machine and my machines more than adequately meet my quilting needs. If I were dreaming about more machines, some day I might like to try an embroider machine as there are some gorgeous patterns with embroidery- then I wonder if I would use it enough to warrant the cost- or perhaps a featherweight machine to take to quilt class- A girl has to have dreams though...

Last Sunday my goal was to get some quilting and beading done before I went back to class. While I didn't get quite as much done as I had planned that day, I did get the textured quilt quilted and two other smaller wall hangings quilted. As well, I got three bracelets made so, all in all, it was a productive Sunday. I still have to trim and bind all three quilts but I was quite pleased to have completed as much as I did.I haven't quite decided whether to just use cotton binding or whether I should use something different on the edge of the textured quilt(shown in the above picture). I was quite pleased how well it quilted with the walking foot. I did not put any batting in the texture quilt- it is plenty thick without batting. Last Sunday, I started quilting one of the three larger quilts left up there to quilt but I kept breaking my needle and the thread kept breaking too so I decided it was my cue to stop. I had hoped to get back at it today but somehow it took longer to get the living room tidied up.

My husband returned from his trip to Yellowknife on Tuesday. He brought me a lovely Inukshuk pin and a little bear pin too. I love brooches and have quite a collection. Bruce survived the cold (Yellowknife was -42C when he arrived on Friday night) and enjoyed watching the meteor shower in the warm of the car through the moon roof.

A most special Christmas present was given to me on Tuesday from my dear friend Lou. She made me a quilt - a lovely quilt with some autumn colors in it. To say that I was gobsmacked, would be an understatement. It is a very special thing to be given a quilt- as a quilter I know how much time it takes to create one. Lou and I have a great deal of fun having lunch and collecting fabrics for our stashes from our local quilt stores. We share patterns, books and magazines and have a wonderful time talking about quilting with one another. One of the things that she did in my quilt, was try her hand at some intricate quilting in the the quilt. I am honored that she would take the time to make a quilt and give it to me. It is a most treasured gift and "Thank you" does not seem adequate express my gratitude for her generosity or thoughtfulness.

The coloring in the close up is more accurate than the full view - We really tried to photograph it during the day light but it took awhile to remove the vestiges of Christmas from our living room.

On Friday evening, we spent a lovely time with our friends,V and A. who are like family. We had our Christmas exchange and there were more wonderful things that were given with much thought and care. And, so we come to the end of our Christmas season. I took down my Santa display yesterday and we removed the tree do today, so the Christmas seasonal decorations have disappeared from our home for another year. What remains is the generosity of others - I am truly fortunate. To my dear friends and family - you make my life rich with your caring and kindness- I am indeed a wealthy woman.
Right now, the snow is blowing around outside but it is warm in my home and in my heart.

Have a great week - Happy Quilting,


Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year Starts and Finishes

In an early post, I referred to this bargello quilt. The pattern was called "The Long and Winding Road" and some of my quilting friends have also made it. It is so interesting to see what a difference the color combinations can make. This was a raffle quilt that I made for son's Scout troop. They went to a European Jamboree in 2005 and this quilt helped us raise some money towards that cause. This quilt, like many of my other quilts, has a mate. I am having some computer problems this morning, so I promise to post it next time, along with some things that I have worked on this week while I have been home on winter break.

The weather has been cold, so it has been perfect for hanging about around home and getting caught up on some reading and quilting. I have made the texture quilt to for my mother in law, and will go and quilt it after I finish this post. I have not put batting in it as it heavy enough already, but I have put a fleece back on it. I fused all the different texture blocks to a foundation to stabilize the different fabrics. I am still trying to figure out what to use for binding. I guess I could have made it envelope style, but it is pretty bulky, so we will see if this way works. This project was a little more complicated to do than I thought it would be, even though the sewing was simple squares. I plan to quilt it in the ditch so that it stays together better than it would if you just tied it. I am hopeing that a heavy machine needle will get through all the fibers.

This weekend I have been on my own, as my husband had gone to Yellowknife to visit a friend and to share some of his experiences about looking for meteorites. My son had been off with some different friends, as well, so I have been home alone for the whole weekend - well, except for the cat and the dog. It is strange experience when you are used to living in a house with others, to have the house to yourself for that length of time.

My friend L. and I braved the cold to check out one of the local quilt shops sales and have lunch yesterday. I did get some school work done so that I am mostly ready for my students this coming week.

I also got some of my fabrics organized, so that I can find them!! It is always a challenge to figure out how one should group the fabric. Do you group it by color or by theme ( stars, florals, sunflowers, funky speciality fabrics) or by type (florals, batiks, plaids, shirtings, tone on tone) or by project???
Everyone has their own sorting rules. In general, I sort by color, except for batiks and florals but I also have a stack of funky fabrics, children's fabrics and even a few projects that are separated out. Someone else might really wonder about my sorting rules, but these ones work for me.
However,I still need to get some more storage boxes because there is more fabric than there is storage space. There are lots of beautiful fabrics up there waiting to be used- I really need to make a plan and get more quilting done.

Some people I know are planning to complete a quilt a month or finish up so many UFO's each month . In general, I don't have many UFO projects. I have some quilts that are left over from my summer projects that are waitng to be quilted and that is in my plans for today. I don't do fancy quilting- just quilting in the ditch or meandering so I hope to get some projects that have been hanging around since the summer. Its a new year and time to get rid of some of these old projects do that they are useable.
I seem to have lots of plans for today- I better get a move on, so that I will have some new projects to show you.
I hope that your New Year is off to a good start and that you are keeping warm if you live in the North and cool if you live in the south.

Happy Quilting,