Friday, December 27, 2013

A lovely visit- babies and some new quilts...

Poinsettias were my wedding flowers and yesterday, my husband, Bruce and I quietly celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. It does not seem possible that we have been married quite that long- through good times and bad we have always had each other's back. Our journey together has had our fair share of twists and turns, but I feel very fortunate to count my partner in life as my dearest friend. This beautiful pot of poinsettias is a large one- we considered briefly putting on lights and decorating it as our Christmas tree. The poinsettias were a Thank you gift from a friend and we are enjoying their luscious rich colored petals. ( In the end , we did put up a small artificial tree and the poinsettia adorns our table)
 Time has flown by quickly and this fall has been particularly hectic. I seem to have disappeared from my blog page this year- especially this fall. When I sat down to write I suddenly realized why it had been so long. Here are a few highlights...

In Mid November our son and his fiancee arrived home for a couple of weeks to finalize the plans for their wedding in early February. It was so lovely to have them here for parts of two weeks. Here are the four of us gathered in my parent's kitchen. I am sure that the wedding is going to be lovely. The wedding will take place in Banff- a beautiful spot in the Canadian Rockies. It will be a small intimate celebration but I know that it is going to be a special time for us all, but most especially, for Kevin and Roseanne. I have chosen a quilt pattern and have the fabric for their wedding quilt. One of my goals over this Christmas vacation is to get a good start on the blocks for the quilt. I hope to have the top put together by their wedding.( it is always good to have a goal LOL) We shall see....
  While the kids were here visiting we celebrated my November birthday. They brought me this cute little sewing machine to decorate my sewing room. It reminds me of my featherweight that I will be using to piece the 200 or so blocks in their king size quilt. The wedding quilt fabrics that I have chosen are a kaleidoscope of color from the Fossil Fern line by Benatrex. I have always wanted to use this fabric line as it has so much movement and texture in the fabrics. I am sure there will some photos in upcoming posts of the wedding quilt blocks.
 Late November is always an exciting time in kindergarten. We wrote letters to Santa and made some drawings. I thought you might enjoy seeing my student's drawings of Santa along with their reindeer.
Santa Claus came to visit our kindergarten students. It is such an exciting season and the children are always awestruck when Santa comes in, bringing parcels and goodies with their names on it. I love watching the magic of Santa - It is always a special day when he comes to school.

Quite  awhile back a dear friend gave me this quilt top to finish. With our combined efforts, it is now a  completed quilt. I knew that my younger brother's quilt had seen better days, so when I was home for Christmas, I brought this quilt to him. I called it The Twist and Turns of life and I know that he was thrilled with it. I hope that he gets many years of enjoyment out of it .

Last summer I was busy making wedding quilts for two of our sibling's children: one for  a niece and  the other for a nephew and their new spouses. One of the quilts was delivered to our nephew and his bride in October. Now the mate to that quilt has now been delivered to my niece and her husband. The pattern is a disappearing 9 patch and the fabrics were all batiks. I had both of the quilts all pieced in the summer, but I had not finished quilting this one in time for their August wedding. I am pleased to finally get them both finished.May each couple enjoy many happy years together and may they know how much they are loved by their family and friends. 

2013 has brought three new babies to our extended family. Two of our nieces on my husband's side of the family had babies. We had a new nephew arrive in August and a new niece in September. Here I am with my arms full of two beautiful babies wrapped in their baby wraps. They are both sweet and will enjoy lots of good times  together as they are first cousins. They sat so nicely with their grand auntie - There is nothing like holding small babies - and this pair were as good as gold.
This handsome little boy with all the hair belongs to another nephew of ours. He was born in late November. What joy these new family additions are bringing to all of our lives.

The festive season has been a busy one- lots of preparations - cooking, decorating, shopping and wrapping for the big day. Now is the down time of the Christmas vacation: a little  rest and relaxation along with some fun times spent with family and friends. I know that January will be a busy month and our son's wedding is the first part of February so the new year will be exciting.

Hopefully when I post next I will have the beginnings of the wedding quilt. The New Year will certainly start off with a bang.
 I want to wish you all a wonderful 2014. May it be rich with good times spent with loved ones. May you enjoy good health and prosperity in the year ahead.
 Warmest regards, Anna

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A quilt finish, One hundred widows and other November news..

This pretty bouquet of flowers  given to me to remember Mars, was left on my desk at school by a lovely school friend- The blossoms were the colors of Mars cat- rich oranges, carmel and white. It was  such a touching gesture of kindness. My colleague is also a pet lover and knew how sad our house was with the passing of Mars Cat. We still have bits of the bouquet brightening our dining room table.
Winter has arrived here in Alberta- the trees were laden with snow and look so pretty after the first snow fall last weekend. I was grateful that I had a day to get used to the snow before I had to venture out in it with my car. ( I managed to get my hair cut across town before the snow started- wahoo) It snowed all day today so the roads will not be too wonderful for the next day or two but I don't have to go too far and Monday is a holiday as it is Remembrance Day on November 11. We made poppies at school and talked about Peace- and living Peacefully. There is something quite peaceful about trees covered in snow..
I started this Twister Jack pattern just before we lost Mars. I have yet to do the second cut of this quilt- not sure when I will tackle it. It is made using a fun little tool called a twister ruler- Don't you wonder how people come up with these cool ideas? I have seen a heart done this way too. You can get varying sized rulers to make different sized pattern blocks with it. Have you tried a twister pattern?

This is as far as I have got but I have lost my motivation to finish it just now- perhaps by next summer I will get back to it again.
In the meantime, I have returned to finishing the second wedding quilt from the summer- This first view shows it just before I decided on the outside border. Like many quilts I auditioned various borders before choosing this one. The pattern is the disappearing 9 patch and is a  companion mate to the one that I made for our nephew and his bride that live in New York.
While it snowed last weekend, I ventured upstairs to my sewing room and got the quilt quilted. It is almost a queen sized quilt so it took a little while to free motion quilt it but it is now quilted. I am pleased how nice and flat it quilted up. I trimmed the quilt today and will try and get the binding on it before this weekend is over. It is sometimes difficult to get things finished during the school year but I want to get this to our niece and her husband soon. While the two quilts had some similar fabrics- the different borders do change the look of each of them. The camera really doesn't capture the rich batik  colors. I got a new camera awhile back because my I had problems with my other one- however I really don't like the picture quality of this one- sometimes too cheap is just too cheap to produce a good photograph. I guess I will put it on my wish list for my upcoming birthday or Christmas. Our son and his fiancée arrive next Friday. We are  so excited to see them both- I know we will talk about what their wedding quilt is going to look like as I need to get started on it.( Their wedding will be in February 2014) Christmas will have come early in our house with their two week visit.
  Recently, Bruce and I went to see a very fun earring exhibit done on some netting called 100 widows. The earrings were all singletons- ones who had somehow lost their mates. The day that Bruce was reading in the newspaper about the exhibit ( it was created by Elizabeth Withey)- I lost one of my favorite earrings ( or it appeared to be gone) I searched high and low for it- by some miracle it had got caught in my sweater and it fell out at my feet, a couple weeks later when I took the sweater off. I was thrilled to find it. The exhibit had some really interesting stories that went with the lost earrings. It is always fun to check out what is happening at some local art galleries.
One Hundred Widows Exhibit - Latitude 53
Check out the link if you are interested in reading more of the one hundred widow stories

We are off to a concert with Three Folk artists on Monday evening- Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris and Richard Thompson. It will be a terrific evening of music...The venue has wonderful acoustics and live music is always a great way to spend time together..
One of my blogging friends Victoria from Bumblebee quilts is having a giveaway of her terrific book time to Play. Victoria Finlay Wolfe of Bumblebee quilts ( click on the link and it will take you to her very fun blog). We all need to take time to play with  whatever fills ones creative soul...
 In the meantime, I have some cleaning, as well as school work to do and some reports to finish so the weekend will fly by.. It is the season of craft sales and Christmas planning.. I expect I should do a bit of shopping soon so that I don't have to mail presents after the kids return to the east coast. LOL
 Have you done some Christmas shopping? baking? decorating? Perhaps we will put up the Christmas village while our boy is here...
'Til next time, have fun creating and planning for the upcoming festive season...
Warmest regards,

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mars the cat and some of her quilts...

Our beautiful quilt cat Mars has passed on. She leaves behind a bundle of quilts for others to cherish. Each and every one of Anna's  many creations, were cat tested by Mars. She always seemed to be around to help test the fabrics and check on the finished ones for comfort. Sometimes she would come and help sew ( a few times I thought she might catch her paw in the sewing machine needle) when she was younger, she liked to come and supervise the stitching of the quilts. She is mourned by her human parents, Bruce and Anna and their son Kevin and his fiancée Roseanne. She will also be missed by her dog sibling Dusty. Mars had just turned 15 at the time of her passing.

Mars had a number of interesting past times that included sleeping in a variety of baskets, checking out the birds and squirrels outside the window and chasing Dusty when she got sufficiently annoyed. She had some favorite foods- soft vanilla ice cream, milk from a tall cup and roast chicken. The only cat  food she would eat was Whiskas.

This quilt pattern is called a Disappearing nine patch and is made of a wide range of batik fabrics. I love the texture and colors that can be found in batiks.

Here the quilt is laid out on my tables at school to be spray basted together.

This quilt has been safely delivered to this lovely couple- our nephew and his bride. I know that this quilt will be well loved by them both.
I recognize that I have been away from my blog for awhile- Life this fall has been very busy with school work and tending to our sick pet. It is hard to believe that it will soon be November. We are looking forward to our son and his girl visiting from PEI in mid November. I will leave you with a few more photos of Mars and my quilts...Perhaps one day I will have another quilt helper- It is hard to imagine that there could another cat who would look so pretty on my quilts.. The leaf quilt on the left was often Mars favorite quilt- We wondered whether she recognized that she was similar in coloring to some of the leaves. This is just a few of the 100 quilts that I have created since 1996.
Mars came quilting with me during most of my journey... It feels just a little odd to think about quilting without her being their to check out my work.
This is my current project - a twister jack- o- lantern that is partially done.
It has lots of oranges and red-
I know Mars would have liked it too.
Happy quilting,
Warmest regards, Anna

Saturday, August 31, 2013

August has come and gone....Life is indeed full of circles...

August has flown by with a number of things that have included all the mainstay life events ( one birth- one more to come, two weddings , two funerals) - they all are part of the circles in life. It has been full of a myriad of colors that as always include flowers in and out of our home. At one point these lovely sunflowers adorned our table.
With the help of some wonderful long arm quilters from Sparrow Studioz, this red and white quilt is now finished, and has made its way to Quilts for Calgary ,where it joined over a 1000 other ones, that will be given to families who lost everything in the Calgary area floods in June. I was very happy that the red fabrics maintained their color after being washed in Retayne. At one point it looked like some of the red fabric dye might try and migrate. I washed it with some trepidation, I have to say, but it truly did work out in the wash. This quilt was indeed a collaborative project- Diane, a friend from Red Deer made most of the blocks- I sashed them and bound it after it was quilted.
At one point this summer, we had some lovely pots of stargazer lilies and sunflowers but unfortunately, the Alberta weather has been fraught with storms, that brought hail and severe rain to our communities. These flowerpots are now looking quite beaten down by the storms but they were pretty for awhile.
Speaking of pretty, our pretty cat, Mars, has developed some significant health issues in her senior years. We now have to give her some insulin daily... She is soon to be 15 and is otherwise a healthy girl. Here she is helping me quilt- she does love to sit on my fabrics and quilts...The fabrics she is sitting on were for a wedding quilt that I am still finishing for my niece and her husband.
 Here is my niece Ms. A- Wasn't she a gorgeous bride- here is the handsome couple  on their wedding day. I am making progress on their wedding quilt and hope to have it finished before too long.
We had a lovely time at their wedding and took a few moments to take a photo of my siblings and our spouses. It has been a few years since we took a photograph of us all, so it was nice to have one and this one turned out pretty well.
After the wedding, I spent a few days with my folks followed by a short trip to the mountains. On our way to the mountains, my spouse and I visited a few quilt stores to indulge my quilting habit. In one, I saw this fabulous wall hanging - I loved the sentiment- quilting friends are indeed the flowers of life...
If you ever are in Canmore( a small town just outside Banff (a beautiful mountain resort town in the Canadian Rockies)- you must go to see the Sugar Pine quilt store. It is full to the brim, of quilting and beading things, as well as many other treasures such as art cards and Laurel Burch items... I added some lovely batiks to my ever expanding batik collection from the Sugar Pine clearance section..
Bruce and I drove up to Lake Minnewanka which is up in the mountains above the Banff townsite. It is a gorgeous spot and we were lucky to get some breaks in the weather that day. Earlier that morning, it had been raining and the weather did not look too promising - we were happy that the weather cooperated as we only had a short time to spend in the mountains. The  foothills area had suffered quite a lot of damage during the June floods ( particularly Canmore ) and the water was still quite high. Lots of the walking paths had postings of warnings to stay off certain sections of the trails.
The scenery is always spectacular in the mountains- the vistas are gorgeous and the colors breathtaking. This is one of the glacier lakes- I believe it is Bow Lake along  the Banff - Jasper Parkway.
This is some of my booty from my visits to the quilt stores. We made stops in 6 shops ( I had my own little shop hop ... LOL.  The top ones were from a shop in Rocky Mountain House which I only had  about 10 minutes before the lady was closing for the day. We had stopped there last year and I found some other treasures. The bottom ones are from a shop in Olds called The Quilting Bee. My dad grew up in the Olds Area and their is an agricultural college there. My sister has a Horticultural Design Diploma from the College. It has two quilt stores and a terrific general store called Craig's that has some fabrics as well.  These little towns are all relatively small - between 2 and 10 thousand people - it is interesting to see that quilting is flourishing in these smaller areas.
Bruce really is a good sport about my love of quilting. Recently Patti Carey from Northcott / Monarch fabrics came to give a trunk show at one of the local shops ( Lori's Country Cottage in Sherwood Park) Patti spoke about using fabrics and panels to create quilts. Bruce came along with me- it was 120 ladies and him. Patti Carey had some beautiful quilts in her trunk, and some fabulous ideas to make new quilts. This is a photo of Patti and the room filled with quilters.
She designed a quilt called the Long and Winding Road  for the magazine The Quilter in January 2001. It is a pattern that I made around 2002.
I really enjoyed making this bargello design and made  the blue version of this quilt for a raffle. I love this pattern and would make it again. The pink and brown version was a gift for my SIL. I think both of the color combinations worked very well. It makes a big queen-sized quilt and goes together quickly. I have seen it made in other color combinations and all of them were equally stunning.

 It is funny how the different angles change the way this quilt looks. Do you have a favorite technique/ design that you would make again and again? Do you ever buy large amounts of a certain fabric because you love it so much. There is a brown print in the pink and brown one that I used as a backing and and in the border. If I saw it again, I would buy a big chunk of it because it was just such a rich fabric. 
I have returned to the classroom so my daily life speed changes to a more hectic pace. I have been busy quilting most of the summer when we were not attending some special family functions, visiting friends and family, or in the mountains. One thing I love about summer is the opportunity to reconnect with friends and loved ones.
Now it is back to the busyness and business of school. It will be fun to see all my new little ones and try out some new tasks. I may be getting older, but teaching never does. I have a new Ipad to learn about, and more things to try on the smart board.  In my school classroom, we try to play everyday because that is our work in kindergarten.  We all need to have time to play and work - Hopefully I will find some time to play in the fabric. There are wedding quilts to finish and more wedding quilts to create for family members. It is a celebrating time of life.
We are looking forward to the arrival of a new grand niece or nephew soon.  And our son and his girl will get married in February. The next few months will be hectic indeed. I will drop by when I can..
Thanks for stopping by to check out my quilting journey.
Warmest regards,

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Quilting for love- summer 2013

This summer I decided it was important for me  to make some dedicated time for quilting. I wanted to know what I love about quilting . I got to thinking about why I quilt, when I was reading on a quilt forum that I read regularly, someone posted the question:" Why do you quilt"? What keeps you quilting? How did you become a quilter? What inspires you to keep you quilting?

In some ways they are very separate questions and in other ways they are very much related. I have always loved quilts but did not have any relatives who were quilters. I am told that my father's mother made quilts but unfortunately none of her work remains. As an aside, I made a Double Wedding Ring quilt a number of years ago in tribute to my grandmother.( By the way, there is a Double Wedding Ring challenge going on right now. If you check Bumblebeans blog on my sidebar - Victoria  Finlay Wolfe's blog, you will find some information about it) but I digress..

My answer to the quilting question is reflected in the following photos.
Quilts provide ways to support causes that need support.
 Recently, I bought this lovely little quilt from the Alzheimer Art Quilt Initiative project that was created by Amie Simms in 2006. This piece was made by a lovely lady by the name of Michele Bilyeu who has contributed 75 quilts (9X 12 in) to aid and support the fund for Alzheimer's research. Do check out this post Alzheimer 15,000 quiltfor more information about this important research.

Another reason that I enjoy quilting, is that I love fabric. I have been collecting fabric for the better part of 20 years and have some gorgeous pieces just waiting to be used in the many in my head quilts that are waiting to be made. These fabrics are ones that I pulled from the stash(mostly)for a recent project- a wedding signature quilt. Since this photograph I have completed the signature blocks for the wedding and am waiting for some of the blocks to be returned to me so that I can put them together in a top. The layout is a free pattern called the Fourth of July and can be found on Bonnie Hunter's quiltville website. If you are not familiar with her website, you may want to check it out. Bonnie is a prolific teacher, designer and quilter,  who does amazing things with scraps. She has a number of books out and is generous with her ideas. Her blog is one of the first blogs that I ever followed.

In June,2013 there was some horrific storms in a city named Calgary that lays 200 miles to the south of the place where I call home. In the surrounding areas of High River, Canmore, Bragg Creek, Kananaskis and Siksika Indian Nation areas, the heavy rains created significant heavy flooding. Some areas like the downtown area of Calgary had flooding that filled their hockey/ entertainment arena well up into the seating areas.
 One sometimes wonders what can a person do, besides donate money to help support others in their time of need. For some of us, it means that we can create quilts to wrap around and provide comfort and warmth, to those who may have lost much. That is one of the reasons why a group called Quilts for Calgary was born.

 Here in Edmonton , a long arm quilting studio called Sparrow Studioz, provided a place for some Edmonton quilters for 5 Sundays in July, to donate their time, talents and materials to create quilts for Calgary.
A big thank you go out to Matt ( manquilter) and Bradie Sparrow for their generosity. This quilt top was made
  by my mentor teacher and friend, Linda and quilted by Bradie on the long arm.
 It is a one of the many beautiful quilts that are on  their way to Calgary.
 I loved this purple and black one that has a medallion design.

Here Ms. D., is putting together some beautiful batiks that were donated from a local quilter's stash, to create a disappearing 9 patch. It is going to be a stunning quilt.
This one is a top that I have recently finished up- the blocks came from a quilting friend who lives in the area around my hometown of  Red Deer. I will take it tomorrow to the ladies who use the long arm quilting machines and then I will bind it and add it to the ever growing pile of quilts
 Below are two more of the quilts that will head to the Calgary area.
I have to say it has been a wonderful opportunity to contribute to my community in whatever small way I could. Quilters made bindings, pieced batting  and backing together, or, sent in fabrics for backing and blocks, and even whole tops to be quilted and shared. There were companies that donated batting, fabric while other places helped to defray the costs of shipping and getting them to Calgary area. We were only one of many individual/ groups of quilters across the province who were busy making quilts for down south.
Back to the original question of why I quilt- In some ways its simple- 
Quilting feeds my creative spirit and allows me to play. Being a kindergarten teacher, I know about the importance of play in life. We all need to play whether we are 2 or 92. Play helps us to have balance, solve problems or provide us with opportunities to socialize with others. Quilting has introduced me to some wonderful friends that I would never known without the sharing of our passion for quilting.
Quilts give me a way to express my love to friends and family- Like most other quilters I know, my quilts are gifts from my heart, whether they are for a loved one or a stranger. The quilts form a big hug around its owner , when they wrap the quilt around themselves. 
This little poster hangs in the washroom of the Sparrow's studio. The mat says" Keep off the grass and buy a standard sewing machine." I like the playfulness of  this poster. That playfulness is joyful- something that I feel when I am quilting. 
So why do you quilt? 
Wishing you time to play and create with whatever brings you joy..

Warmest regards,