Saturday, February 28, 2009

Stars of Blue ...

The Feathered Star pattern has lots of half square triangles- I am not a fan of making half square triangles (I know that there are some good tools out there that make it easier to be precise but somehow the triangles always seemed so fiddley to me.)Still why would I choose to make this challenging quilt when there were so many titchy half triangles? At one point in 2000 I almost decided that I must have been crazy but my problem was that I love feathered star quilts- so I stubbornly persisted.
I believe that the original feathered quilt pattern was taken from a book by Nancy Szeboro-Johnson called Rotary Magic, The pattern had 12 large blocks that were 20 inches square. Each block had 150 pieces in it. When I started to build the blocks I wasn't sure whether they had enough contrast in them- I am not that confident now when I working with a limited palette. Six months later, I had 5 blocks finished and I was frustrated with my limited progress(I thought it was taking me forever LOL) We then devised an alternative- the alternative was different not faster, I can tell you!
My quilt sure does not look like the original quilt pattern. My friend,L. knew that I loved medallion style quilts so she suggested that I create one using Courthouse Steps. Courthouse steps is a log cabin variation and it forms a large star around the feathered stars. The quilt needed to be bigger if it was going to fit our queen sized bed so I needed to find additional borders.
After looking for some time, I found the chain linked border in a magazine called Quilter's Today. I am pleased with the result and it has been on our bed for many years- It is almost time for a new quilt- perhaps The Winding Ways Quilt, should I ever get it finished.. It is taking me awhile too...
I don't have very many UFO quilts - I find it difficult to have lots of quilts on the go at the same time. Having said that, I do have a tumbling block quilt that resembles flags rather than blocks that I haven't quite figured out and so it sits... Perhaps one day - the tumbling block fabrics are lovely batiks it seems such a waste to me that I haven't figured out how it goes together...

And now some things that I have been pondering in my spare moments ..

When you are making a quilt does your plan ever take a left turn and do you end up with a totally different quilt than you envisioned?
Do you plan out every part ahead of time and have the borders all chosen too or do you find the borders after you have created the central body of the quilt?
Do you ever start a quilt and put some it together and find you hate it and nothing will likely solve it?
Do you like block quilts or quilts that have an overall design?
Personally I prefer patterns that create an overall design rather that a block by block look. I have made a sampler but it was not my favorite quilt- It was a great learning tool where I got to try out a number of techniques but it does not have an overall flow to it like medallion or quilts that have patterns within a pattern.

And so the choices continue on my quilting journey I am sure it is the same for you..

Hope all is well with you in your part of the world -

Life's struggles sometimes seem heavy these days with the economic down turn -
As I visit other blogs, I read of the many challenges, troubles and concerns people are facing on a daily basis.
May you all find ways to sustain a hopeful way of being during the dark moments...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Log Cabin Quilts and their variations

Do you love traditional patterns or do you like more avant garde patterns? Do you make small quilts or big quilts? Do you use bright colors or more pastel hues? What do you do to make your quilts be a signature that reflects your personal style? Do you alter the pattern or do you make it the way the quilt designer has made it?
I have been thinking about how my quilting has evolved over the ten plus years that I have been a " serious quilter". My colors have got brighter and bolder over time. This quilt is a quilt pattern called Chimney and Corner Stones. I made it one summer about 1999(perhaps slightly earlier) I love the rich colors in this quilt - the burgundy stones and the rich deep green fabrics work together so beautifully. The floral border is just yummy and I still love it all these years later. The quilt belongs to a dear friend of my parents named Sherry. Sherry is as beautiful as the colors in this quilt. She is a gorgeous painter and paints flowers, birds and most other things found in nature. She paints on most every surface imaginable- canvas, skates, boxes, candles - you name it and she has probably painted her creations on that surface. When she was ill a few years ago, I gave her this quilt to wrap a garden around her - she lost her vision for a period of time. As someone who enjoys color and creating things, I could only imagine how frightening it must be not to be able to see and to paint the luscious colors that are part of our world. Today her vision has improved and she is back painting her beautiful pieces of art (I feel very fortunate to be the recipient of some her lovely work. Sherry knows that I love sunflowers so she has made me some beautiful sunflower pieces that adorn our home.
She and her husband Brian,are celebrating their wedding anniversary today(I believe that it is their 42) so I want to send them my best wishes for a wonderful day and dinner.
I do like log cabin patterns and there are so many variations. I have made diamond log cabins and set the log cabin pattern to form spinning pinwheels. There are so many different variations of this traditional pattern. Do you have a favorite pattern?

Log cabin was my first quilt. In 1986, I made a quilt in a day log cabin using Eleanor Burns "Quilt in a Day". I didn't have a rotary cutter at that time nor did I make the quilt in a day - more like a year. I used a double polyester batt because I wanted it to be puffy. :O) I wrestled that quilt through the arm bed of my old Kenmore machine without a walking foot. I have so many more tools now and have learned much on my quilting journey. I still have my first bed quilt - it is in sad shape - the victim of our pets and a child. That log cabin quilt taught me many valuable lessons - perhaps that was your experience too. Do you still have your first quilt?

The handsome dude on the quilt is my son,Kevin at age two months.He is still just as handsome but somewhat larger at age 21). I loved his knitted booties!! The furry critter beside him was our beloved dog Tigger. The log cabin was set as Sunshine and Shadows design. It was a well loved quilt and was on our bed for many years before I made a new one to replace it.

This week I was a winner of a quilt giveaway pattern from Kim I have been enjoying Kim's blog for a long time. She is a marvellous quilter with a generous heart and I thank her for the lovely pattern. Do check out her blog - she is currently making a very cool little shamrock topper and providing a tutorial for it.

If you are looking for heart patterns for quilts do check out Michele's blog She has a wonderful list of free heart patterns as well as a new list in today's blog for baby quilts. Michele also has a wonderful blog that shares her life's experiences and her love of quilting.
There are so many wonderful quilters who are sharing their ideas and knowledge. The internet has provided a great way to connect quilters around this globe. If you have time, do explore the blog list on the side. There are many wonderful writers sharing their ideas and experiences - I visit these blogs regularly to be inspired and to light my creative fires.

School is a little busy right now and I am looking forward to attending our annual teacher's convention. There will be some good speakers and the opportunity to reconnect with some teaching colleagues.

Be well and have a great week.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hearts, Valentine's and Birthdays..

I love Heart quilts and, when my friend A. was getting married, I thought that this would be a lovely design for her and her husband. It is a pattern called Melinda's Heart by Heidi K. Farmer. The original colors of the quilt were pink and green, but I knew that A. loved primary colors so I changed the color combination and made my own color palette. A number of my quilting friends also liked the pattern and created it with their own combinations.They all were beautiful quilts.
Bargello is such a fun technique because it looks complicated and can create some really interesting patterns. It is a bit like colorwash in that you need to get that graduated look in order to make the pattern flow through out the quilt. Heidi has created other patterns too- One is a ribbon quilt that was created to be used as a symbol for breast or ovarian cancer. Some day I plan to make this heart quilt again- perhaps I will do it in pink and green or maybe purple and gold or maybe some variations of fall colors--- the choices are endless...
Today is my friend's birthday... Have a Happy Birthday, Anne!

Our lovely niece Beth celebrated her birthday yesterday on Valentine's Day. Beth was born the year that my husband and I began to date seriously. It is hard to believe that so much time has passed- In the ensuing years, we have added 2 more nieces and 4 more nephews on one side and 3 nieces and one nephew on the other side. They are all young adults now - the youngest one is 17 years old. They are all fine young people who are finding their way in this world. Beth is the oldest of all our nieces and nephews. She is a terrific young woman who got married this past summer.

She is pictured here with her husband Dave with the paperweight quilt that I made for them as a wedding gift (I wrote about this quilt in my second post). Happy Birthday Bethie- may the next year bring you all the best things in life.

This weekend has given me some lovely opportunities to spend with good friends. Yesterday L. and I visited our favorite quilt shops- I was very happy to find some lovely backing for a wonky tiles quilt that I started last September. They had some pretty fabrics in their specials section so I brought home some additions to my stash.:O)
Today I had breakfast with good friend V. We stopped to pick up some beads in Michaels, as I wanted to get some silver ones for a bracelet that I am making for my mother's friend. I have lots of beads(its sort of like my fabric collection - it just doesn't take up near as much space) but somehow, I am always missing that one piece of fabric or beads that I am needing to complete a project. Sometimes, I just change my plans for that project and work from the stash, and other times, it is just not possible to without a shopping expedition.

I have been watching the news this week- to my Australian friends - I hope you are keeping safe. It is hard to see so much devastation and loss. My heart goes out to you all..

Have a good week - I plan to enjoy some family time as well as get some school work caught up. Maybe some beading,or quilting too...
Happy Quilting,

Honoring the People We Love....

Valentine's week at school is always a celebration of friendship and love. Young children love to make hearts and flowers and enjoy giving little cards to one another. At our school this week we made different kinds of cards - cards borne from loss - loss of one the members of our school community. A lovely young woman named BJ, who had just been married 10 days earlier, suddenly became ill and lost her life. With this tragedy, our school community went to a different place.
BJ was part of a team of six bus drivers who are responsible for bringing our students to school each morning and returning them safely home each night. Her parents, M and T, also drive our students back and forth to school and, the three of them have done so for a number of years.
Together we have learned about the inexplicable things that can happen in life - how unfair life can be to snatch a beautiful young woman from us all. How is it that we find her suddenly gone from our daily lives? We have learned that there are no words to explain or describe the sadness we feel for our school family. We wished for ways to bring solace and comfort to BJ's immediate family and friends. Many of our children made cards,letters, and pictures that have been shared with her parents and husband. Our families and staff took time to comfort one another with words and hugs. We have tried to provide comfort and explanations to the questions that our children asked for they too, sought to understand this terrible loss.
BJ loved life and had a generous spirit- Her joie de vivre was shared with all who knew her - She loved the children who she brought to school each day and they, in return ,loved her back.
On Valentine's morning, people came together to honor and celebrate her life. The chapel was filled to capacity and people came to provide solace and comfort to her loved ones. One of the things that stuck with me was the pastor's poignant reminder that each one of us is unique and special. As individuals one may have touched another's life without knowing it.
Throughout this week, I was reminded of the importance of expressing to my loved ones how much that I love and value them. It is the way we celebrate our relationships and honor the people we love...
So to the two special men in my life - my husband Bruce and my son Kevin _ I say I love you ... today, tomorrow and always...


Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Sister and her Quilts

I have been thinking about today's post all week because February 7 is my younger sister,Denise's birthday- I am the eldest child she has always been my little sister.

Denise is a wonderful floral and horticultural designer - she has a great knack with plants. Denise shares her love of gardening with my father. She is also a terrific grandmother to her daughter's two little girls. There are lots of special things I could say about her, but first I want to thank her for her many kindnesses.

I thank for her loving thoughtful ways with others, especially our parents. I don't live in the same city as the rest of my family (I live about 2 hours north).I appreciate all the little extras she does to make life easier for our parents. For example,she and my sister in law share the hosting of family events like Christmas dinner. This makes it so much easier for my mother and father. She will come and take my parent's dog for a walk with hers. I know she is also wonderful to her partner's mother, who is elderly.

Denise is a lovely photographer- she often will take their dog Buddha( a very cute pug) for a walk and bring along her camera. Lately she has been exploring with nature shots and has taken some real beauties.

Have you ever made a quilt that you tried various things but no matter what you did , the quilt didn't work for you? Well I have, and, unfortunately, my sister was nearly the recipient of both of them.

Let me back up- a few years ago I set out to make quilts for each of my siblings ( I have 3 -2 brothers and 1 sister)as well as my husband's siblings( he has two sisters and had two brothers- but lost one of his brothers in car accident many years ago). As an aside, yes,I have given them all queen sized bed quilts. When I first quilted, I made quilts and then gave them to someone I cared about that I thought would enjoy that particular quilt. For the last couple of years, I have created the quilt based on what I know about the other person's color preferences as well as design. Recently I have reverted to my original way of quilting- I am exploring the techniques that I enjoy and putting together the colors that I want to put together without having a specific purpose for the quilt. I will still create a quilt for someone to mark a special occasion that is based on their preferences. It is kind of fun to just make quilts because the design and the fabrics appeal to me.

I think that I told you before, that I love Kaleidoscope quilts. When I saw the Stack and Whack book by Bethany Reynolds, I thought what a cool technique!!! What pretty quilts I will be able to make using her patterns.
Well, here on the left, you can see my sister's Green and Pink kaleidoscope stack and whack quilt. It is probably one of the most frustrating quilts that I ever made. I chose the colors carefully( people have actually told me that I am good at finding the right colors) Something was wrong with my color sense when I was making this stack and whack quilt. I ripped this quilt apart more than once- I removed the whole border after getting it put together and made a new one- It still didn't work for me!!! No matter what I did, I could not get this quilt to sing to me-
The colors were colors that my sister, Denise enjoys so that is how she was the poor unfortunate that ended up with it - I still do not care for her quilt - And She says that she likes it....
I learned some valuable lessons- one, your family will lovingly accept your gifts no matter whether you find them beautiful or not, and two, sometimes, no matter what you do, some quilts are not going to work in your eyes whatever changes you make to them. Unfortunately, this quilt has put me off using other stack and whack patterns (which is too bad) because I have loved some of my friend's quilts using this technique. They are fabulous and work out wonderfully... I am not sure what is wrong with me, but I have not figured out how to make a stack and whack quilt. Recently, I was looking at Bethany Reynolds new book called Stack-Whack-iopedia and considered buying it and then I thought about Denise's quilt... I am still thinking....

The other photo is another variation of Ricky Timms Harmonic Convergence pattern. Denise is shown here with the second attempt that I made for her. Originally, I had put a top together of fabrics that I thought would work well together. It just ended up with mush. I quickly decided to put the first version in a box of orphans and orphan blocks and started all over again. My lovely sister deserved more than to get a second quilt that was not up to my standards. I do love this convergence quilt- the colors are soft and looked liked Asian fabrics (they were an older line of Fantastia that Fabricland had).

So the question remains- what do you do when you make something that you think is pretty ugly and you don't have a generous loving sister like mine to take it off your hands???? :D
I have been known to take the whole thing apart, and start all over with only the pieces I like.. It is a hard thing, when you have an idea in your mind's eye and the quilt doesn't work for you- Start all over - change parts - it is a dilemma..????

In the meantime, I want to wish my dear sister, Denise a very Happy Birthday - you are the best and I love you very much. I hope you are having a great birthday- May your year be rich with wonderful things that you so deserve - and perhaps one day I will give you another quilt that is nothing less than stunning - I am thinking about next year's birthday already...
I have appreciated your comments on the posts and I do try to send you a comment back.
This past week Nancy commented about the fact that orange cats are usually male. We thought so too - that is why her name is Mars- the god of war. Then we discovered that he was really a she. For a long time she was a very small kitty too!! We have decided she has enough attitude to be the Goddess of War!!! My mum in law used to say that the males were orange and the females were usually tortoise shell rather than orange. I don't know if its true or not but maybe somebody out there does. It is really interesting to me how many quilters do have cats and how many of them are orange marmalades!
I was visiting Bonnie Hunter's wonderful website ( or use the link on my bloglist quiltville quips and snips). Bonnie has posted some very funny cat videos of Nora the piano playing cat from You tube. That is one talented cat- Mars has some interesting habits like being able to flush the toilet but Nora the piano playing cat is on a whole different plane. Nora has her own website and her own blog... If you love cats, do google it or go to the link on Bonnie's blog.
I know that you will also be inspired by Bonnie's wonderful designs and quilts. I visit her blog regularly: Bonnie often has a new pattern that she is sharing or an interesting story about the places and people she meets while she is teaching her wonderful scrap quilting techniques. Thanks Bonnie, for sharing you knowledge and love of quilting.. not to mention the funny cat videos..
This weekend I finished the binding and label on the texture quilt and a good friend, V. is taking it with her to the West Coast where her mother in law will pass it on to my mother in law. I never did find my original bindings so I have made a whole set of new ones. Perhaps I will get the quilts bound now, that they are all trimmed. One of them I had to get trimmed before Mars decided to be a shredder extrordinaire with the batting. Man, does she love to sharp her claws if she finds loose binding.
Time to get some school work done..
Have a great week...
Until next time,
Happy quilting,

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Celebrating Grace-( Continued...)

I am so excited - I was able to finally get all my film photos put onto my computer- It makes me so happy to have access to some of the older quilts and to be able to show you some of my quilts in a more organized way. My son was able to get the scanner working so I have spent the day transferring and rotating photos.
The pictures vary in quality but I have lots of material yet to share before I run out of things to blog about .... are you groaning yet? :D)

(I hope that you won't get too bored with my old quilts in the process-... it conjures up the imagine of the endless photos of someone's travel log where they may had had a wonderful time but they are putting the audience to sleep by sharing every possible place they saw during their journey).. I will try not to be like that!!

Today's pictures are of my beloved gran on the day she received the Gran's garden quilt. Isn't she beautiful? She was gorgeous as a young woman and remained that way her whole life- her inner as well as her outer beauty radiated from her. She was always tidy and neat in her dress: even when she had curlers in her hair and was dressed for farm work. There are so many things I thought of last week after I had posted the piece about her- of things we shared and did together.When I look at the pictures of her with her quilt they give me comfort and pride. I remember the joy and love that she brought me with our times together.

One of the things I remember the most is the love that she enjoyed with my grandfather. One day when I was a teenager, I happened to run into my grandparents when they had come to town and I happened to be out shopping. They were walking down the street holding hand like my teenage friends. I was struck by how much they were still in love with one another and showed that to the world around them. It was a wonderful role model to have in life - They celebrated and expressed their love for one another in both big and small ways(a kind word,a loving touch, a beautiful meal). She believed that the road to a happy marriage and a happy life was to put the needs of others first and to tell them that they are loved on a daily basis.
My grandfather passed away on February 2, 1988, six weeks after our son was born. My gran was never quite the same person that she was before his death. She did eventually adapt to have a different kind of fulfilling life but I know that Gran missed my grandfather all the rest of her life.

On some of the blogs I have been reading - the writer has posed the question: "What keeps you quilting?"
My answer to the question is that it gives me pleasure to give quilts to others - I like to celebrate our relationship and to give them something to wrap themselves in - its like sharing a permanent Hug..

I love fabric and creating new things with fabric and buying fabric but its more about the opportunity to create something that leaves a lasting legacy and giving that permanent HUG to the people who are important to me.
One can never have too many Hugs...or too many quilts...

Now I am off to work on my winding ways quilt... One needs to keep making new quilts too...