Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rocks and Stars = Rock Star

A friend sent me this newsclipping of my husband,Bruce who appeared in a local newspaper with a headline "Rock Star". We have been together for over 30 years and he has had many titles over that time, but Rock Star was a new one :0) He has many passions in his life besides me that include astronomy, hockey, music and math.

Bruce has enjoyed sharing his love of astronomy with people of all ages.
Recently He has been busy speaking to school children and local libraries as part of some programs celebrating " The International Year of Astronomy". His current presentations have included some information about meteorites because of a meteorite fall last November in Saskatchewan (our neighbouring province). If you're interested, Bruce has set up a website with some wonderful photographs of the Buzzard Coulee Meteorites. It is amazing to see the beauty of the meteorites when a slice is taken and shown under a microscope - there are some beautiful colors. It looks like bits in a stain glass window. Isn't it amazing how you can find colors in so many different places!

A few years ago, I entered a small quilt that I made for Bruce in a guild show. Bruce's Churndash is the wall hanging quilt on the bottom left. It is made using a colorwash technique. I love the wash effect where the colors blend together to form an overall design.

Don't you love Bruce's coat- it was bought at a local artisan fair that had clothing from Africa. The jacket's cuffs are pretty worn now but he did love that jacket. It was the perfect coat to wear to a quilt show.

Speaking of quilt shows- My compliments to Amy Ellis for hosting the Virtual Quilt Show. In the end, there was around 575 quilters that shared there talents and beautiful quilts. I loved visiting all the blogs and seeing the wonderful works of talented women and men. The stories behind those quilts were always interesting and often moving. Quilting is a powerful venue to express one's creative energies. As I read the stories, it was evident that the quilts were made with love and caring meant for the recipients to feel wrapped in the warmth of those loving relationships. After many days of interesting reading, I have finally been to everyone's blog on quilt show's list. As a participant, I was visited by many bloggers this week. I have added some new names to my blog list and plan to continue to visit many of my new quilting friends. I will look forward to participating in the next virtual Quilt Show in October.

There was some prizes awarded at the Virtual Quilt Show. I was one of the fortunate ones who won one of the those prizes- I will receive 2 yards of Amy Butler fabric. A big thank you to the sponsor of this lovely prize.

I made this coin quilt for Bruce to celebrate a special birthday. I think of it as all the colors of our love. We often have a conversation about the color of stars, which I manage to only identify correctly occasionally. My color sense escapes me when it comes to the night sky ( though I do see Mars as red)LOL. However the batiks in this quilt are rich and reflect many of the colors seen in the natural environment. I wrote about some coin quilts in one of my earlier posts- they are lots of fun to make - you only need scraps of different fabrics to make a fabulous looking quilt. The bar sashing looks a bit complicated but is really quite simple to make. It is from a book called "Quilt Africa".

Spring continues to elude us in Alberta - the days are cool with the occasional flurries... Meanwhile my hyacinth bulbs have sprouted leaves and the robins and squirrels think Spring has arrived... Hopefully these spring signs mean that the warmth is not far behind.
Until next week, be well..

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Blogger Festival and My favorite Quilt

This Blogger's Festival invites bloggers to share their favorite quilt - Park City Girl what a fun event- I hope others of you will join it too.
Thanks to Amy for hosting the festival.
Here is my current favorite choice of the quilts that I have made. There are others that I might have chosen but I love all the beautiful leaves in this quilt. I made it around 2003 and the pattern is from an older Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine. It has a maple leaf border that was my own addition to it. The leaves are cut from templates and I love the topsy turvey border. I made this quilt in a class with some other wonderful ladies over one winter. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons because of all the vibrant colors.It is one of a small group of quilts that I have kept for our home- most of the others I have made have been given away.
There are many other wonderful quilts and blogs to view in the festival- I hope you will go and see others on the list. please click on the icon
Have a great time,


April Celebrations Continue.....

This photo of my parents was taken last June as we celebrated my niece's wedding.
In my family, April is a month of celebrations with birthdays and Easter. Last weekend we went to visit my folks. We had a lovely time together sharing a beautiful turkey dinner and celebrating my dad's birthday. As well, I enjoyed catching up with my sister and her family.

Today is my beautiful Mama's birthday. My mother is the most generous,caring person I have ever known. I want to celebrate the gifts she has given me.
My mother comes from a long line of strong loving women- women who lived their lives with purpose and caring for others. She taught me to celebrate each person's gifts. Here a few pieces of wisdom that my mother has shared with me.
My mother gave me the gift of life- to remember to rejoice the opportunities that each new day brings.

Some other values she taught me were:
.to see the cup as half full rather than half empty
.to treat others with respect and kindness
.to live from one's heart
.to take care of others less fortunate
.to contribute to the greater good of the world in which we live
.to see the good in others, for there is always something good
.to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us
.to take care of the little things
.to live life with hope and joy
My mom is not a quilter but she has always had a number of wonderful hobbies. She is cardmaker these days and continues to explore her love of family's roots through genealogy. She has crocheted afghans(we have two) and embroidered pillowcases and tablecloths for many years. Mom once collected stamps( her grandmother started that collection) and continues to write thoughtful letters and cards to loved ones. She welcomes all who come to her house with coffee and baked treats. I used to tease her that there was a sign on the highway advertising her cooking prowess. She can be counted on to contribute wonderful dishes to any potluck or family events. The connections she has made through her family tree searches has brought new ties to family roots in the United States(my father's side) and England and Sweden( my mother's side). Mom continues to can and freeze all the bounty from my father's garden and apple trees. Music fills her kitchen and a wonderful sense of fun fills her home. She continues to take care of her home and hearth and is well loved by all of us- my father, my siblings and our children.
Mom you are the best mum a girl could wish for- I hope that you have a marvellous birthday. May the next year bring you all things that are beautiful..

I do have some new quilts to show you soon, but have not yet downloaded the photos on to the computer. Today's quilt was the second queen sized bed quilt that I ever made. It is a sampler quilt- I chose the individual blocks from various pattern books.This quilt has a pieced flying geese border. The colors are soft and done with medium tones. Today I would have chosen bolder colors with more contrast. This quilt lives in my house and was made in 1996- 97.
I quilted this quilt in the traditional way - after the flimsy top was completed. Some of my friends have created sampler quilts and quilted those blocks individually using a quilt as you go method. Isn't it interesting, all the different sequences one can follow to complete quilts.
On the homefront this week, we bought a newer car for me. My old Honda car met with a sad end - our son is a new driver and got into a fender bender with it. Fortunately he was not hurt but my car was too old to be worthy of a costly repair.
After looking for a short time, I have some fairly new wheels- A Ford Focus - it is a lovely moss green color, has a CD player in it and air conditioning... It feels pretty posh to me. Hopefully it will last for many years to come.

I will leave you with some questions to ponder- What kind of patterns do you choose?
Do you like to try new techniques each time you make a quilt?
Do you like hand work or only machine work?
Do you like to do applique or like only piecing? How about working with templates or prefer to strip piece?
Next week I will let you know about my preferences..

I hope that you have a wonderful week...Spring has finally arrived Wah hoooh!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Lessons from my Father and Sewing Machines...

When I began quilting about a dozen years ago,one of the first quilts I ever made was this little wall hanging for my parents. It was an anniversary gift and the four flowers were symbols that represented my 3 siblings and myself. My parent's good friend, B. made the beautiful shelf to hang the quilt.
I made the floral wallhanging before I had ever meandered a quilt. I had an old Kenmore sewing machine that I bought with one of my first pay cheques as a teacher. This is my 31st year of teaching, so that Kenmore was a good investment. It was a good mechanical machine and did most of the things that I needed it to do, for many years. The one thing it couldn't do was meander, because there was no darning foot that would fit the shank for the foot. My friend and teacher L., quilted this wall hanging up for me. Not long after that, for my birthday, my thoughtful husband, Bruce, bought me my Quilter's Dream by Elna. Since that time, I have enjoyed piecing all my quilts on it. I subsequently had the opportunity to quilt on a Juki. Then Bruce later bought me a Baby lock Quilting machine that goes like a hot damn (1100 stitches per minute) that I use only for quilting ( though I could piece with it). It sits on a durable old chrome table that my folks got as a wedding present. The table is a bit high but it is solid so I don't get any shaking when I put my peddle to the metal. The Babylock is good with most kinds of thread and the extended table surface makes it easy to quilt a large quilt without feeling like you are wrestling with a bear.

I love both of my sewing machines and feel fortunate to have them. Still sometimes a girl needs to have dreams....

What kind of machines do you own? What would you own if money was no object? Do you dream of having other kinds of machines and toys to help you quilt?

I think that embroidery is beautiful and often have thought that it might be nice to have an embroidery machine too, but then I think about the cost, versus how much I might use it. Maybe some day if I win the lottery..

Sometimes I think about a long arm machine, but it is not a possibility in our current house; there is just not a space large enough for one. I admire the beautiful designs that one can make with the pantos stencils. However sandwiching the three layers together with fancy quilting is not my passion. I want to quilt my quilts so that they stay together. I enjoy the piecing, creating and playing with the fabrics more than the final quilting part.

What part of the quilting process do you enjoy the most?

Dad's Flower Garden is a vivid floral quilt made from batiks and set with black sashing. The pattern is called "Constant Curves" and is made using a template. I have used other fabrics and used this pattern to create 3 other quilts.

My father celebrated a birthday this week. He and my mother are retired. Dad is a fabulous gardener who loves flowers. These days he has kept busy previewing the seed catalogues and looked for new varieties to add to his Iris collection. He and my sister will enjoy a visit to the local greenhouse in May. They will find some new annuals to plant with the perennials. By summer, his flower beds will be awash with color.
My dad grew up on a farm and is a pretty talented guy. He is very good with his hands and enjoys puttering in his garage. In his later working life, he was a fastidious drywaller. Anyone who had the privilege of having him lay the dry wall was guaranteed to have the walls flush and plumb. He and my son, K. hung the wall board in his garage. K. has learned many wonderful lessons from his beloved Poppa. K.often would be found following my dad around, exploring in his tools and helping him do the jobs that many young boys love.

Lessons from my Father

My dad taught me to have high standards and to always give it my best effort.
A job that was worth doing could only be called finished, if it was the best that one could do.
Buy the best quality that you can afford and take care of your belongings.
Be a good neighbour and help out others when you can.
Think before you speak- ill spoken words can hurt.
Kindness and thoughtfulness can go a long way towards making this world a better place.

A hard days work never hurt anyone.
I am responsible for the choices that I make.
Treat your elders respectfully- both with words and deeds.
If you make a mess clean it up.
Keep the coffee pot on in case some one drops by.

These are just some of the values that I was taught as a child.

My dad is a private kind of guy so this post may make him feel a bit uncomfortable. However I wanted to tell him how much he is loved and appreciated. Happy birthday Dad - may you long continue to enjoy time fishing, gardening, puttering and having coffee with your wide circle of friends.

This weekend we will go visit my folks. They still live in the house in which I grew up. The drive takes about 2 hours. I look forward to the time spent with my husband without other distractions.

It has warmed up here in Alberta and much of the snow is gone. Perhaps we will find some buds popping their heads up in my father's flower beds. It will be awhile before the beds will be rich with color but it will be nice to see some spring greenery. I love spring flowers- tulips, daffodils and such- they remind me that spring brings with it life's renewal.

I hope everyone has a lovely Easter weekend. May you enjoy some good times with your family.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Question of Borders...

What do you do to complete your quilt top? What makes the flimsy finished for you?
Personally, I believe that a quilt is not finished until I have given the quilt a frame, so finding a border is integral to completing the quilt.

This spring break week I got only a little cleaning done( my clothes closet is much improved and we will get some more of it done next weekend too) However, I did get some quilting done. I have two new quilts that need borders.

Here is a couple of a pieced borders I have made. The chain border is an example of seminole type piecing- it is not complicated just a bit finicky. The results are worth it don't you think? .

The second is on the lone star and it is a diamond pattern. I wish that I had used darker colors in the border as the border sometimes gets lost in the flowers. It is challenging to find the balance -having the pieced border add some extra pizazz without taking away from the overall quilt.
Today's quilt is a photo of a quilt that was made with a group of Jewish women for their synagogue. It is a "Chuppah Quilt" that couples stand under during a wedding ceremony. They wanted to replace one that had become old and tired looking. I am not Jewish, but had been asked by one of the women if I would be willing to teach them how to quilt. I had been quilting for nearly 10 years by that time. As I am a teacher by profession, I thought that this would be fun and a good learning experience. I love quilting and enjoy helping others learn. I have to say, I was somewhat naive about the whole process. Boy did I learn lots of lessons about what I know about teaching and about quilting. Those of you who teach quilting to others, my hat is off to you. Like other kinds of teaching, it takes careful planning, knowing your stuff and a willingness to troubleshoot at every turn. While it was similar to teaching my little ones -it was quite different in many ways. After a year of preliminary quilt basics we persevered and created this lovely piece together.
The women came to this group with different sewing experiences and skill sets so finding a pattern was challenging. I needed to find something where all sewers could contribute equally well without the end product being compromised. Some other design problems included figuring out how to have spaces to tie the corners to the poles. We also wanted to be able to see the design above the wedding couple and have the outside border hang so that the congregation could see the stars of David.

The final design was based on a Magic Patchwork magazine wall hanging for the central motif - the rest was my own addition. The pattern is all paper piecing(the best way to end up with same sized blocks) and the design is a diamond log cabin. My quilting teacher friend L. did a wonderful job of quilting the quilt. The women of the synagogue made all of the 308 blocks and I pieced the design together. The first couple who were married under the Chuppah was their rabbi and his wife.

Spring break has indeed been productive on the quilting front. I finished up the bindings of four quilts that I had quilted at Christmas time. I also finished piecing two quilts that I began last September. One is a Winding Ways quilt made from batiks and the other is a green and blue Wonky Tiles pattern( the Wonky Tiles is from Mary Quilts- making scrap quilts from stash- link is on my blog list. I will try and photograph my new work this week and post them soon.

In the mean time, I will be looking for fabric borders for them. I am going to add some fabric frames,as the central parts of the two new quilts are quite busy. I don't want to take away from their central designs.
I have already visited my stash and chosen some possibilities... Now for decisions....

If you are looking for some quilt block patterns or just some good information about quilting you may want to check out

I also have enjoyed exploring the "Quilt with Us" site within
They have a number of discussion groups going and new projects to explore.

Isn't the internet grand?

Have a great week .. Until next time... Happy Quilting...