Sunday, January 22, 2012

Special days and colorwash....

Do you like colorwash designs? It is not as popular a techique these days, as it was a few years ago. Recently, I had a friend say that she didn't enjoy creating colorwash and was not going to make anything ever again that required using two inch squares. I quite enjoyed this technique once I got the hang of it. At first, I had lots of trouble sorting values of fabric, which is the real trick to making a great colorwash. This particular pattern was also made easier, by using a fusible grid to lay out the squares, prior to sewing. The pieces stuck on the grid but were moveable prior to heat pressing them in place. This Colorwash quilt was made for my grandmother to celebrate her 85th birthday. The central medallion block has 30 X40 2 inch squares. The quilt resides in my home these days, as my grandmother passed away in the fall of 2003. Sometimes I wrap myself in it, when I want to feel close to her again. She loved the quilt just like she loved us all- all encompassing and unconditionally.

You may have noticed that Mars the cat likes to test out my quilts- She was not at all interested in the cat mats, that I posted about last post. We were quite surprised by that, as she is often the tester of all my quilts. Here she is on Elizabeth's quilt, before I finished binding it. Notice the perfect donut shape Mars made and how neatly she fits in the circle areas! This quilt for Elizabeth is now complete- including the label which I put on this afternoon.

Winter has arrived here in Alberta- Last week was very cold and we had indoor recesses for the whole week. The temperatures dropped and the wind came up - when those two combine, it means long days for everyone at school. We play lots of movement games, dance and use the smartboard to keep us busy during our break times. I was glad to see the mercury rise today and am hopeful that my kids can get outside to play.
This morning, Bruce saw this hare hopping about in our backyard. He is a big fellow and often likes to reside under our deck in the backyard. He is pretty hard to see but you can find him right under the post that is close to the bottom of the antennae. We live fairly close to a ravine and the river valley and often see hares hopping about the neighbourhood. There coats change with the season- white in winter and brown in summer. Mother Nature has some amazing tricks for helping keep animals safe from their predators.

When I was digging around in the scraps upstairs, I found these little treasures. Here is the first thing that I ever remember sewing, besides a half apron which I also still own. I made the kangaroo stuffed toy in Grade 7. One day when I was looking in some old patterns in a second hand place,I found this pattern and had to buy it. I doubt I will ever make the toy again but it was nice to have the pattern as a keepsake. I have no idea where the toy is - long gone for sure. The other patterns are some embroidery patterns that my mother liked to make, when I was a kid. She did beautiful hand embroidery and taught me a number of stitches like French knots and lazy daisy, as well as the necessary running stitch. I haven't embroidered for a long time but you do see lots of beautiful stitcheries in quilts these days. Perhaps I will do some embroidery yet. Hmmmm... The last pattern is my tree pattern that I started before Christmas, which I had misplaced. It is now with the rest of the quilt bits so I can continue when I get a chance.
When I was at my parents, I turned these two beads into pendants that now can be worn. I love the colors that the artist used to make them. I have left my camera at school, so I can't show you the finished project- Sometime soon, I will try and take a photograph of them. Beads are such a fun distraction when I don't have a lot of time to play. Quilting takes a block of dedicated time before you have finished product. Beading is a great alternative to feed my creative juices when I have less time and feel the need to make something.

Here is a link to an earlier post that I wrote about my beloved Gran I think of her often and miss her presence in my life. Just recently, one of the other bloggers posted about pink cake- I stayed with my grandparents many summers on their farm. While I was there, we regularly took food to my grandfather, who was working in the fields. My Gran was a fabulous cook who could make something delicious out of a few basic ingredients. One thing she often made was white cake with pink icing decorated with coconut. It looked so pretty and tasted pretty good too. Whenever I see pink cake I automatically think of Gran and her cake. Today would have been her 95th birthday...

Last evening,I was out to a Lunar New Year dinner. It was a fun evening that was a fundraiser for a local service group, the Rotarians. The money raised, was going to help women who were in need of a safe living place. For dinner there were 10 dishes. All were delicious with some interesting ones like shrimp with peaches, and a three seafood dish. They also had ginger beef and singapore noodles. Part of the event was a silent auction as well as a live auction. I did bid on a few items but was not the winning bid for any of the items this time. I went with some ladies from my school staff, great fun was had by all. Some of our students created some dragon pieces to be auctioned at this event. This lunar New Year is the Year of the Dragon. The Rotarians awarded some individual prizes to the various school students, as well as a donation to the participating schools. Their generosity is much appreciated.

Tomorrow we have a niece( she turns 30) and a nephew(turns 20) celebrate birthdays. Happy Birthday to both of them. How is it that I am old enough to have nieces and nephews that are in their early thirties... Yikes time does indeed fly by.. Next weekend we will go to our great niece's baptism.. January is full of special days it seems...

I have been having some trouble commenting on some blogs and finding that somewhat frustrating- not quite sure what blogger is doing or how to solve it. Does anyone have any idea what to do? In most cases I can get to the blog and read the post- I just can't leave a comment on their post... the screen is just white All suggestions gratefully appreciated..

Time for me to go and get finished some cutting for my new quilt project. I have had most of the quilt cut for a couple of months now and this project has risen to the top of my pile..Perhaps next time I will have begun to sew some of the pieces together...
Wishing you joy,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A New Year - Wishing you Joy......

I have been meaning to write a new post all during the Christmas vacation. I can hardly believe that I have been back to work for almost a full week without a post written. The Christmas break was quiet but full. One of the surprises of this winter is that our winter, so far, has been mild(warm temperatures have set new records on a couple of occasions) and we have very little snow especially for January. We recently returned from a trip to my parents who live in Red Deer(100 miles south). This is a photo of the local community gold course. As you can see there really isn't much snow! The golf course is down in the river valley and the skyline is some highrise apartments that over look the river valley.
One of my favorite quilters is Ruth McDowell who I had the privilege of seeing a number of years ago in Calgary. She recently offered this book " Art and Inspirations" on her website for a very reasonable price, so I put it on my Christmas list of books. I was very happy when it showed up in yesterday's mail. I believe that it is out of print except from Ruth, and I am thrilled to own my own copy. Do you have quilter's that make you want to explore new techniques? get quilting? start a new project? What are your favorite quilt books? There are so many wonderful quilters that are inspiring. My favorites include Jinny Beyer,Paula Nadelstern, Carrie Nelson of Schnibbles patterns, Kaffe Fassett and Ricky Tims. There are many other talented quilters out there. Who inspires you?

You may recall that our son Kevin, and his girl, Roseanne moved to Charlottetown,PEI over the summer. As travelling across Canada is quite expensive (especially during the Christmas holidays) they were not able to be with us during the holiday season. On Christmas Day,we enjoyed some face time with Kevin on my husband's I phone, which was a particular hit with my parents. It can be quite mind boggling to see the technology at work. Kevin was able to assist my mother with a computer problem from 4000 miles away in the blink of an eye- but I digress.. During the holidays, Kevin built a cat tree for their cats, Freddy, Lucy and Lily. They sent me some fleece, batting and measurements and asked me to make some cat mats for the cat tree. You can see that Dusty approved of them. She reminded me of the Princess of Princess and the pea fame laying on top of the five mats. I wonder if his cats will be as fond of them?
You can see that Dusty leads a hard dog's life in our house! My dear friend, Lou made me some beautiful quilted things for Christmas. She gave us this pair of navy batik pillowcases that are perfect for our bed. Don't they match our quilt perfectly? The quilt pattern is a feathered star that I made many years ago now- Each block had 150 pieces in it. I altered the design so that it became a medallion quilt with a chain border. It seemed easier at the time LOL...

Lou also made me this fabulous thread catcher with a sunflower pincushion. She has been exploring free motion quilting and did a wonderful design on the bag in variegated thread.

Right before the break, I took this quilt for Elizabeth to school to spray baste. Once the holiday festivities were over, I had a number of days to play and visit with friends. During the vacation, I was a home body most of the time, and had some dedicated quilting time. In the close up, you can see that I made some spiral flowers in her quilt blocks.
I still need to bind the quilt but I am pleased with the way that it quilted up. I took it to my folks to show them my latest quilting project. Hopefully, it will get finished this weekend so that E can enjoy snuggling with it. It is a good double sized quilt in size.
A while back a local quilter was looking to trade some fabric so I ventured up into my scrap bin to find some things for Michelle. I have been quilting for quite awhile now( fairly steadily since 1996) and the scrap bin often gets over run with bits from various projects. I periodically play in those bags, and cut up strips for scrap quilt projects. but somehow the bags take on a life of their own... They remind of Strega Nona's pasta bowl that continues making more and more pasta until there is pasta everywhere
Michelle and I spent a lovely afternoon with her two little girls at Tim Hortons. Nothing more Canadian than going to Tims for coffee or tea and donuts.. The little girls were wonderful and it is always great to get together with another quilter. I hope that Michelle and I will get a chance to meet again. Do check out her blog and see some of the things that she is busy creating... You can find Michelle'sblog here.

While I have not been commenting on many blogs lately, as the New Year arrived I was reading posts about words that would describe your hopes for this New year. I found this little quilt like Christmas card and loved it. The word Joy is a word that resonated with me. Living life with Joy, and finding joy in daily life, seems to me a great way to live.

Life can sometimes be very challenging. Recently, some dear friends both near and far, have been struggling to cope with the loss of loved ones. It is hard to find ways to live with joy during those difficult days. While there is no way to take away the pain of the loss of a loved one, my wish is that there will be things in one's daily life that can be a day brightener. To me, that is what living life with joy is about- finding the little things that helps to lift one's spirit even if only for a brief time. As we begin this New Year, may you find things that help celebrate the day.
Warmest regards,