Saturday, May 30, 2009

June and the" Weaver Fever"

I have not much time this week to think about fabric and quilt patterns. In my spare time, I have been dreaming about report card comments or looking at some fabulous masterpieces in our local art gallery and at the Telus World of Science Center.

Weaver Fever is a pattern by Jackie Robinson. Teresa of Moon Valley Quilting has posted a photo of her grandson's Weaver Fever - it is a real beauty. I made my version of this quilt a few years ago, for my brother Gene and his wife Kris. I loved the color combination- the black highlights the other colors and I was very pleased with how this quilt worked out.
This quilt was made according to my color preferences and pattern choices, but they have enjoyed it and used it as a center piece for their room decor.

I love the rich greens and turquoise - these are two colors that I frequently choose to wear when picking colors for my clothing.

My sister in law Kris, is a very talented lady - she is a beautiful seamstress. Her house is always beautifully decorated. She is a consummate hostess. Kris is having a birthday this week - Happy Birthday dear lady- You are one special person and our lives are richer because of the many things that you bring to our family.

When I reflect back on this week- lots has happened. It has been a bit of a blur. Life at school is hectic- it is the nature of June- there are reports to write, assessments to complete and the general winding down of another busy school year. This is the 31 year that I have been teaching. I have enjoyed being an early childhood educator and think that it is the best job. My young children are so observant and fun to be around. They make us laugh (and cry occasionally). Each year I am grateful to be able to have the opportunity to do important and satisfying work.

This week has some bitter sweet things too. Some long time family friends are trying to deal with the grave prognosis regarding their only child- a daughter- She is in her 30's and has fought a valiant fight to overcome her cancer but it does not look good for this lovely young woman. There are no words to express our sadness and very little one can do to comfort or provide solace for them all.

Bruce and I have had two lovely dates this week- We enjoyed the Van Gogh Imax show. The film brought back memories of visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam many years ago. The museum is such a beautiful facility and provided a wonderful setting to see his work up close. There is nothing like seeing the real thing when it comes to art. Imax films are stunning ways to view both nature and art. Photography is a wonderful medium and the technology is amazing but it still is not the same when it comes to looking at the original works.
Never the less, the Van Gogh film was pretty spectacular. I was reminded of pieces of his work that I had forgotten.

At the Science Center they also opened a visiting show about Da Vinci. Brilliant and genius, do not begin to describe this man's immense talent. One part of the exhibit had a Mona Lisa Gallery. It presented 25 facts they have discovered about the Mona Lisa. A French photographer used a camera that had 240,000,000 pixels to photograph her out of her glass enclosure and frame. The infrared camera was able show the differences between how she must have looked originally and the way that she looks now.
Did you know she was originally more pink skin tone or that the background was a lovely soft blue made from lapis lazuli paint? She also is wearing a fine veil on her hair and that she had some lace on th gusset of her dress. For the show they have made a facsimile of the original and provided exact details. When we saw her in Paris, I remember being disapointed at how small she was. The painting is actually quite a bit bigger than I remember though, she is quite small when she is compared to some of the other large canvases in the Louvre. Da Vinci took her with him to France where I think that he was living at the time of his death- hence why the French lay claim to her. The Mona Lisa has been stolen, had rocks thrown at her and been fought over- quite a history for a woman who is over 500 years old.

Equally as impressive were some other parts of the gallery where they displayed the many many inventions and ideas that Da Vinci recorded in his notes. Some of the things he never tried to build - just imagined. Did you know that he had come up with designs for a scuba diver's suit? a catapult? an emergency bridge? things to do with mirrors? anatomical sketches that are still used in medical textbooks today? musical instruments? a screw that is the basis for the whirly bird on a helicopter? It was an astonishing collection of ideas and objects that all came from one brilliant mind- WOW is all that I can say!!!

On date #2, Bruce and I went to see the opening of a new exhibit at the Art Gallery of Alberta. The show is printmaking of the Impressionists. There were 65 works from our National Gallery in Ottawa. I loved the Mary Cassatt prints - her children are gorgeous - she seems to capture the essence of the light that glows within people. The second gallery has some wonderful Canadian artists including a number of Group of Seven paintings and my favorite Canadian Painter- Emily Carr.

While I was in the Printmaking gallery, an older woman stopped and began to chat with me. She wanted to share her stories. The lady was in a wheelchair and had once led a cosmopolitan life. As she has aged , Her life circumstances had changed and she currently finds herself living with people with whom she does not make connections. As I listened to her tell me her stories, I found myself wondering what I could say to her that would help her feel better about life. Part of her story was about needing to feed one's creative spirit. Her life experiences had taken her to places like Montreal and New York City where the culture is rich with fine art experiences. There are more and more cultural events here in the West but it different.

What is it that gives us that sense of belonging and happy with your lot in life? How do you feed your creative spirit?

I am one lucky girl in so many ways. Some very nice quilters hosted some giveaways recently and I was the lucky winner of two of them - one from Yellowbird art Angela will be sending me two patterns and two fabrics WOW). The other is from
Christine from Once upon a Quilt. She is a lovely lady from Australia who was celebrating her 100th post. I am so excited to win 6 fat quarters of fabric from Australia.
Do go and check out these ladies blogs- you will see some really wonderful things.
Thank you ladies for your generosity.

If I get a chance in the next few weeks, I will continue to work on the Trip around the World quilts. I have the first one put together and the second one ready to sew the strips together. I do have some new works to share when I get the photos scanned into my computer.

Have a great week. I hope you find some time to feed your creative spirit.

Warmest regards,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fabric Choices.... Do you use your scraps to make Quilts?

When I first started quilting I decided that I might like to make a quilt for each one of our siblings. My husband and I each have three siblings with spouses/partners. Since 2001, I have made each pair at least one quilt and in some cases they now have a second quilt. Each quilt is quite different, like each of our siblings. This quilt belongs to my youngest brother Shaun. I made it completely from my stash. The pattern was called "Roman Squares" that is a Rail Tie that is set on point. It was from a little book called "Classic Quilts in a Day" by Fran Roen. I used scraps from my scrap box and when I look at his quilt, I remember many other quilts where I used some of those fabrics. This quilt has a real traditional look and feel to it. My friend Michele has an interesting post about making quilts from "Everything but the kitchen sink". There is much talk about caring for the environment and being aware of our carbon footprint in our society.

I have made a few scrap quilts over the last dozen years of quilting. Some have been made from scraps given to me by other quilters, and others have had strips from yardage in my stash. On the odd occasion, I have taken apart pieces of clothing to use as fabric in my quilts.

My curious mind wonders what others think about making scrap quilts? Do you enjoy making scrap quilts? Where do you get your fabrics? Have you built a stash of fabric? Do you create your own designs using traditional patterns or use someone else's patterns?

If you are looking for a good source of patterns do checkout Bonnie Hunter's blog She has a large number of wonderful patterns for scrap quilters that are free on her website. Bonnie has also written a book called "Scraps and Shirttails" that I just received in the mail this week. It has a number of lovely patterns but the one I like the best is called "Virginia Bound".

I am a huge fan of using lots of color in my quilts, so scrap quilts are very appealing to me. I started collecting fabrics when I began quilting a dozen years ago and I have amassed quite a collection of fabrics. I go to my stash first, when I am making a new quilt and these days I can usually make the quilt from the stash without buying anything for it. I also have been given fabric from friends( both quilters and non quilters)to add to my collection. And of course there are my shopping adventures for fabric(I sometimes call it my retail therapy VBG).. All in all, I have many choices when it comes to creating quilts. I am not living up to the frugality of my forebearers, but I am building my own retirement fabric fund :O)

There are a couple of blogs that are having some giveaways that you may want to check out. Pat is having a very nice giveaway. She is a pattern designer and writes a very fun blog.
The people at yellowbirdart are also hosting a giveaway. These fine ladies have both have just come back from Quilt Market. I appreciated the way these ladies share their zest and passion for quilting.

The last blog I want to recommend is Quilter on a budget I was fascinated by her post about a solar system quilt that was made in 1876. This quilter was a lecturer about astronomy and made the quilt to provide her audience some visuals about the solar system. It was considered an acceptable hobby for a woman in the late 1800's..

I want to thank all of you who commented last week - I really appreciated all your ideas about the things that challenge you in quilting, and ways that you get your Mojo moving. I did get two Trip around the World quilts cut out ( large Twin size) and sewn together in one direction. I am making them with a strip quilting technique so I hope that they will go together fairly quickly.

I really enjoyed our Victoria Day Weekend Holiday last week. I had a surprise visit from my sister,Denise. We went out for a nice dinner with her and her daughter on Monday evening. I also got in some good quilting time too. I hope my American friends have a terrific Memorial Day holiday this weekend.

This upcoming week holds some nice social events with my spouse. We are off to see an Imax show about Vincent van Gogh on Wednesday evening, the opening of local Art Gallery's new exhibit on Friday night and a Volunteer appreciation evening on Saturday. In between times, I will be writing some report cards .. Life is good..

Warmest regards,

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Panel Quilts and the Quilting Mojo....

Have you ever used a printed panel(sometimes referred to as a cheater panel) and quilted it up?
This eagle is one of a few panel quilts that I have made. The two eagle quilts were given as gifts for two of my colleagues when they left our school staff. They quilt up quite nicely and,as you can see Mars the cat approves of them also. These panels are a nice size, and were made big enough that they would be a nice couch quilt. In both cases though, my colleagues chose to use them as wall quilts.
In the past, I have also used panel blocks to make quillow quilts(a quilt that you can fold up and form it into a pillow shape. You make a pocket on the back of it and it pulls out and makes a couch size coverlet.
One can also find some lovely fun panels that can be used for baby quilts. I still have two that I created for my son, when he was a baby. You stitch in the ditch around the characters and voila, you have a lovely crib sized quilt!
I also found panels for pillows and the insets on clothing such as aprons. Panels are useful for vests too and I have used them to create seasonal pieces of clothing. My kindergarten kids love to check out the Easter bunnies, Halloween cats,stars, school symbols and spring flowers on my seasonal vests!!

Today was spent lazing about, as my sciatic nerve was giving me some trouble- Bruce and I managed to go for a short stroll around the block tonite. It was a mild evening with spring beginning to appear in our neighbourhood. We saw some tulips and crocuses in bloom. The grass is starting to green up and the peony and irises are developing their leaves and greenery.

This weekend is Victoria Day weekend here in Canada, so it is the first holiday weekend of the season.
When I was a child, we would go camping in the foot hills of Alberta. One of my first memories(I was about 5 or 6)is of camping beside one of the rivers in a tent. We woke up to snow on the ground that particular trip.
The weather this spring has been cool - perhaps cool enough to snow for those who might be brave enough to be camping this weekend. When your a child camping in a tent seems like a big adventure - in middle age I prefer the creature comforts of home or at least a nice hotel LOL..

This evening, I have brought down some fabrics that I think that I have chosen to make a Trip around the World quilt- I have been ruminating about this quilt for some time, and want to begin making it. One of the most challenging parts of quiltmaking for me, is to actually settle on my project and fabric choices. Once I have made a decision,I get moving pretty quickly.

What about you - Do you get ever get stuck in some part of the quilt process?

Perhaps, you are like me, it is at the beginning when you are choosing your fabrics and patterns? or maybe it is in the middle when the making of blocks begins to feel a bit repetitive? or it is near the end when you are trying to decide how to quilt it and bind it?

What do you do to get your quilt MOJO moving? For me, its usually because I am making a quilt for someone important to me and I have a deadline to get it done.

For this particular quilt, I had pulled some fabrics from my stash, quite awhile ago, that I thought might fit the color palette -that was the easy part. I hope that the simplicity of The Trip around the World pattern will match the decor for the intended room. It feels good to have made a decision - Now the process of creating a quilt begins...

Until next week-

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Snippets and Flowers for Mom

This wallhanging flimsy was my first attempt using a technique named Snippets. I have not experimented much with fused applique, or for that matter, with quilting patterns that are more artsy. This technique was a bit out of my comfort zone, but after playing a bit, I sort of got the hang of it. I have made a couple of others since this one- This one belongs to the mother of a dear friend to celebrate a special birthday. She loves soft colors and I think that this one suited her very well. She has it hanging in her room against a dark maroon wall and it is quite striking against it. The third snippet was one I made in tribute to Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers- I love his bright colors and Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers. My brother- in law and sister in law are fans also, so I sent it to them as a gift for their 25th Wedding Anniversary. Some day I will make another to hang in my sewing room- maybe it will become a series too LOL.
Tomorrow is Mother's Day across North America and in some other areas around the world. It is a special day set aside to honor and celebrate Motherhood. Many moms will receive flowers as a gift or other expressions of love and appreciation.

My school children were busy this week making cards and handprint magnets to say " I love you". We held a Mother's Day Tea at school complete with real tea cups and cookies. My students had practised some of their favorite songs to sing for their Moms. It was capped off by each one of them presenting their mom with a rose. It is one of my favorite celebrations at school because many of my student's Moms, grandma's and aunties come to celebrate Motherhood.

I hope that my own Moms' have a lovely day tomorrow-
In one of my recent posts I have shared some reflections about my mother.
One of my Mom's greatest gifts, is the way she lives her life with a loving thoughtful heart. She celebrates life and embraces life's joys and challenges equally. My mother's lessons are with me on a regular basis and act as a guide when I am struggling to find my way through the joys and pitfalls of daily life.

When I was a young woman I worked with a woman who knew my mom. Like other young people, I was busy being a social butterfly. This woman didn't think very highly of my choices and said to me" How could a nice woman like your mother have a daughter like you? To say that I was horrified by her opinion, would be an understatement. My loving mother poopoohed the woman's pronouncement. She told me to consider the source. I felt horrible that I might have acted in some way to make this woman think I was not worthy of being my mother's daughter. That life lesson has stuck with me!! To this day, I remember how I felt when I thought I had sullied my mother's name.

I know that I have had the good fortune to be blessed with great loving relationships with both my mother and my mother in law.

My mother in law,Betty has been a wonderful friend and mentor during my married life. In the past couple of years, she has lived in a nursing facility that provides her a loving safe environment. You see, Betty has Alzheimers- a disease that steals away a person by inches. She was a lovely artist and quilter. Mum loved art and was a wonderful bread maker. The disease may have stolen her memory but she remains well loved and a popular lady with the staff that provide her with a loving homey environment.

Their is no way to adequately express the gratitude and love that I have for both these special women. I can only say " Thank You" and " I love You". I guess that it doesn't matter what age you get to be -there are few words better to convey appreciation for the loving care one receives from one's Mother's and Grandmothers.

During this week, I received some emails from On Line Quilt Stores that had some special deals for Mother's Day. I did order from Keepsake Quilting and Sew Sister's from Toronto Canada. Sew Sisters had a special on all their fabric - 25 percent off including batting and clearance fabric. It is always a challenge to balance out the shipping costs and the dollar exchange with US online, with the temptation of the great sale prices. Usually I resist but there were some specialty fabrics that I wanted to add to my collection.
The people at Sew Sisters
were wonderful and if you hurry today you might still catch the sale (it ends May 9).

I hope that everyone is enjoying a pleasant weekend,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Celestial Stars and Fabric Collections...

My husband Bruce's passion for Astronomy, has enriched our lives in many ways. It has introduced us to many wonderful people, like Ed, over the last 20 years. We have attended social events and developed lasting friendships with others, who share a love for the night and day sky.

When Bruce's friend, Ed was ill in the hospital, Bruce asked me if I might consider making him a quilt. This is the design that I made for him.
Ed loves music as well as the stars. He would, sometimes, get extra tickets for opera and give them to my husband and I. Though Opera is not my favorite musical form, it was always nice to see some live theatre. I am often surprised how many pieces of music that I am familiar with in spite of my limited exposure to the Opera. It must be all those years of Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes!!!

Ed's Quilt is a pattern from the book "Rotary Magic" by Nancy Sreboro- Johnson. I have made other quilts from this book- the original feathered star pattern and my parent's flower wall hanging (both quilts are shown in earlier posts) are some examples of quilts from this book.

This star quilt covered his single bed nicely and was useful to tuck around him when he was in his wheelchair. I used fleece on the back of this quilt and used a large free form star to make the label. I think he found the quilt homey and comforting. I loved the brightly colored border of planets and other celestial objects. The star blocks are all made from different star fabrics. I made this quilt about 2004 and I still collect star fabrics. I am sure I will want to make more star quilts and star fabrics are not always available in the quilt shops.

It is interesting how fabrics change- I was in a quilt store yesterday. I had gone on a little shopping trip and one of my stops was LQS. It is a lovely shop where I had built up enough points to cash in a 50 dollar coupon(it took me over 2 years to amass the points. I bought a book called "The Art of McTavishing" by Karen McTavish. I bought a few other things too :O)

The McTavishing book was recommended to me by a friend. It provides information about machine quilting techniques. When it comes to the actual machine quilting, I have a limited repertoire. I enjoy meandering, can do stippling and do quilt in the ditch. Anything beyond that, is not within my current level of experience- I have experimented with feathers but not on a large quilt. The book has a DVD so I hope that it will give me some new inspiration and ideas, when it comes to the actual quilting.

While I was in the shop,I noticed that there were lots of large design fabrics reminiscent of the 60's and early 70's. The colors were either soft or vivid with lots of bold patterns. The quilt patterns were simpler in design as if to balance the detailed and bold fabrics. The walls of the store were covered with some beautiful quilts that were samples for courses, that they were offering in the summer. I will have to take a look at their brochure- perhaps I will take a summer course. One of the best parts about visiting the shops, is the inspiration that happens, when you see the beautiful quilts that are being made.

Part of visiting the quilt store included adding fabric to my stash( two small pieces of batiks, and some sunflower fabric). My stash has grown large- I try and make all my new quilt projects from my stash- occasionally I look outside the stash for a particular piece or for the back of my quilts.
I have collected some speciality fabrics like star fabrics, sunflowers(my favorite flowers) batiks, and the occasional novelty fabrics. I also have a tone on tone collection and some 30's fabrics and the rest of the stash is sorted my colors.
I tend not to buy fabric lines - my first choice is to visit the stores clearance sections. It is true that it is not the newest designs, but the fabric is of good quality, and often offered at a much reduced price.

What do you do to keep your quilting costs down?

In reality, I probably would not need to go to a fabric store for a very long time - I bought batting and thread recently, so those are the things that would run out of first. Still, it is always fun to see what is new and to add to the collection when it is financially possible. If I have really limited funds then I go and visit my own stash- it will sometimes fill the need for retail therapy. LOL

Today is a lovely outside and there are some other things beckoning- some school work, a quick trip to the dollar store, and some beading project repairs.. I am still looking for a project for my little ones to make for their moms for Mother's Day. The search is on and time is running out....

Until next week,
Be well