Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Some quilting reflections and updates- wishes for 2015

I love flowers and my spouse knows that I love flowers - so does he, if the truth be told. When we were at my parents during the Christmas break, my mom had some lovely alstroemeria on her table that my father had brought home. This bouquet was inspired by that pretty bundle of colour. We still had some sprigs of lavender from an earlier bouquet, so I added their purple beauty to this grouping.
A friend of my husband's named Mike loves astronomy and taking photographs of the stars. I thought he might enjoy a star quilt of his own so I created this quilt using up a number of 2 inch star fabrics (there were a large number of them LOL). It is my variation of a jelly roll quilt but is somewhat larger than a typical jelly roll quilt that uses 2.5 inch strips. Sometimes, I am not very good with dimensions so this one turned out slightly larger and runs lengthwise rather than crosswise . My friend Linda had sent me a calculator for the correct number of strips ( I tried to follow the recommended number they suggested)  but I had some partial strips so it became more challenging to figure out. ( that's my story and I am sticking to it LOL) 
The other challenge was that I had strips with almost every color of the rainbow so I spent quite a while searching for a stop border for the quilt. I am very pleased with the red border.
Below is a view of the quilt without the border. Athena the cat,  loves to check out all my quilts. She is a long haired cat so I often have to use a sticky roller to get rid of all her fur deposits. She certainly is a nice decoration on all my quilts and  enjoys laying on all of them. I am convinced it is a cat thing as Mars cat  also loved to curl up on the quilts and fabric too.
One of my other little projects this fall was to get some baby wraps made again, as I was completely out of them. I made 6 of them and they are all ready and waiting for the next new babies to arrive. I have made this pattern since 1984 so there is easily over 100 babies that have used one of these creations. They do work so nicely in a car seat I am told, and wrap a baby up like a little burrito. I used to tie them with yarn, but now, I quilt them by machine,and use minkee on the inside of them.  The original pattern came from an old book by McCalls - I am not even sure of the title anymore but it was all handmade things for babies. It had patterns for hand knit clothing as well as baby toys.
Every Christmas I put up the village- it has a number of houses that get lit up each night over the holiday. It is the first ornamentation that I add to our home ,and the last thing I will remove to close off the Christmas season. Putting up the decorations help to make our home more festive.
 Some years it can be a bit of a struggle to find that Christmas feeling.
 I also took out some of the Christmas quilts. I am particularly fond of this paper pieced poinsettia quilt that I made close to 15 years ago. One day I will do another paper pieced project- the pattern maker has some lovely designs that are a variety of flowers - cactus flowers among them.  So many techniques to explore and so little time...

  One of the other things I did since I last posted,  was play with the beads. I repaired a couple of my favorite pieces as well as made a few new pieces. I thought I might like to give away some as gifts for friends. It is fun to play with different materials and making beaded things is indeed faster than making quilty things. I like the change of pace, and creating adornments that can be worn by others.  I do like working with stones and most of the bracelets used stones like labradorite, agate, and other such rocks. I especially like the ones that are shaped like donuts. It can be a challenge to find a bead to fit inside the spaces.

 I took out my little featherweight machine today to make this jelly roll quilt. I have a friend who is retiring at the end of January, so I wanted to make a little quilt to keep her warm when she goes back up north to live. You can see the pile of strips from the jelly roll on the feather weight. If you have not made one and you have a jelly roll floating around - it really is a fast way to create a lovely quilt. You can find tutorials to make them on the net- I like the Missouri Star Quilt Co ones - they have a couple of variations that you can do too.
 I bought my jelly rolls from Craftsy- they are really reasonably priced there when they have a sale ( around 20 dollars ) which is way cheaper than what I can find them here in Canada. I love Robert Kaufman fabrics and this one was a line by Robert Kaufman. You can see below, that it really does work up quickly - and so pretty. Usually, I don't move any of the strips around, but I didn't like the way some of the strips were together ( too many chunks of the same color or same fabric together) so I shifted a couple of them once I had the body of the quilt together. I need to find a stop border and an outside border for it. I am sure that I will find that in the fabric stash. I think it probably will be a blue fabric but perhaps a deep golden yellow or a russet brown. You never know until you try different fabrics - sometimes the color that you think it will be just doesn't work out.
 I will have to audition a few choices like all of my quilts.
I didn't make any quilts for Christmas presents this year- but I did make some pillow cases ( 22 of them - 11 pairs) The biggest challenge was to find fabrics that complemented quilts that I had given to my siblings in years past. Sometimes I got lucky and found bits of the original fabrics in the scrap box.  I also made some friends some pillow cases and a couple of sets for my spouse. Once I found the fabrics the rest of it is a fun project that goes pretty quickly.  We don't generally exchange presents with my siblings anymore but this was a little something that I wanted to do for each of them.

 This year has been reasonably productive quilt wise- I finished off some quilts that were carry overs from the previous year, as well as, making a retirement quilt in May and a queen sized BQ quilt in July. I also finished the signature quilt in the summer and completed 4 jelly roll quilts that were all large couch sized quilts.

 From a quilting perspective, I am making progress on my list. The remaining big quilt project is our son and his bride's wedding quilt as well as a signature wall hanging.  I have completed 80+ blocks for their king sized quilt which is about 1/2 the number of blocks I need to complete it. I have all the cutting done for the second set of blocks - Hopefully, I can finally put my head down and get on with the making of their quilt. It will begin it tomorrow on New Year's Day.
 It is coming, my children, it is coming :O)
This Christmas break has been very low key. We went to visit my parents and siblings at Christmas time. For the first time in a couple of years, I saw all of our nieces and nephews, as well as their little ones. I have had time to read and work on some quilting projects. We went to see the movie " The Imitation Game" which I highly recommend. I have done some school work as well.

 We are spending a quiet New Year's Eve - Bruce is working and recording data for his hockey blog- unfortunately, another overtime loss for the Oilers. We will drink a toast at Midnight and ring in the New Year with Auld Lang Syne on the tube and a toast.
My wish for one and all is that 2015 is a year that is filled with good things- good health, prosperity and the love and laughter of the ones that you hold most dear.
 I will return again, by the by, for another post- In the meantime, I will be creating and learning with my littles in the classroom. Most importantly, I am striving for balance - balance between work and play- One needs both to be healthy.
 May you enjoy a wonderful 2015,
Warmest regards,

Monday, October 13, 2014

The season of Thanksgiving and quilt finishes...

Life is full of big rocks- rocks that provide stability and sometimes create challenges. I love rocks and stones and this one has a pretty cool story. My dad used to hunt and fish when I was growing up- well for a long time after that too. One time he and a friend found this beautiful chunk of petrified rock and hauled it home. This was no mean feat, as I can barely move it across the living room floor! My dad would have packed it a couple of miles back to his vehicle. It still sits in their home. I wonder what stories the rings of the rock could tell???

I know it has been awhile since I have posted - I have lost the rhythm of writing and got out of the habit of sharing here. Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. On a day where one is Thankful for all the things that one has in their life, I thought it was fitting that I took some time to write.  Its not that I have not been busy- quite the contrary. Summer and fall have been busy productive times. I completed 5 quilts this summer. All of these quilts came from my stash- I didn't go out and buy anything new to make these quilts. I did buy some batting and invisible thread from Connecting Threads to augment the stash. I did have a couple of fabric adventures over the summer, with my friend Lou, but I mostly added some neutral fabrics to add to the stash.  I don't often buy neutrals so that was my summer challenge to myself.
The BQ 3 quilt below went home with my brother in law, Earle,  when he visited here in September. It was a relatively fast quilt to make- I love the greenery in the central blocks. There is more than one way to layout this quilt, but I preferred this one (the other layout was to form large pinwheels but the block looked too clunky to me). I hope he and his wife,Tracy get many years of enjoyment using this quilt. I do like the BQ patterns- by Maple Island Quilts. They are fun designs and make lovely quilts. I did a series of the Sidelines patterns by the same company. This was a belated wedding gift, in time for their first wedding anniversary. - I am getting close to completing my wedding projects( my son and his wife's quilt has risen to the near top of the pile LOL)

Speaking of wedding quilts, here is my friend, K. with her signature quilt. She was pleased with the results of  all the signed wedding blocks. I am the short one at the back( I am not that short but both of the other ladies are tall women.LOL)
Above is the third wedding quilt- I did enjoy making these jelly roll quilts and this wedding quilt is made from a jellyroll created by the Laundry Baskets designer, Edyta Sitar.I love the vibrancy of the colours in this quilt. I hope that Fred and Mirta find it a cheery and comforting quilt.

This second jelly roll quilt I call Sea and Sky. It had such vibrant blues and I found a wonderful batik border in my stash. Here is Athena the cat making herself at home on the quilt. She does love to check out my quilts.

This was the last of the three jelly roll quilts that I completed. You can see how I spray basted it so that it was easy to quilt. It is quite a fast process to tape it/ clamp it to the tables and then use a fabric spray to glue it together temporarily. Our dear son did not have any of my quilts in his home so this quilt went home with him when he came to visit in September. Hopefully it won't be too long before I get their wedding quilt completed. I spray basted these quilts in the same church building where  I go to quilting  workshops.
At the end of that afternoon I spray basted the four quilts The top one is the back of the brown and blue quilt. The black diamond like shapes is the back of the Edyta Sitar quilt. The bright blue is the back of Sea and Sky and the other blue is the back of the BQ quilt. I had already completed the signature quilt.

 While Kevin was here visiting we took the opportunity to take a few photos including this one. Dusty the dog figured she needed to be in the photograph too.  
Last week we had a reading event at school. My husband, Bruce came out and read to my students. It is always is fun to listen to him read to the little ones in my class. He is sharing one of our favorite books, that he read to our son when he was little" The Elephant and the Bad Baby."by E. Vipont.
Fall has truly arrived in Alberta- I love the contrast of the blue sky and yellow leaves. We don't get as much color out here in the west - our leaves are definitely, orange, yellow and brown with a little red. It was a marvelous Canadian Thanksgiving weekend here in Alberta- Nice weather and beautiful blue skies. This is our apple tree in our front yard.
It would not be a post without a photo of flowers on our table. I love the contrast of the stargazer lilies and the hydrangeas. There is a massive leaf on the left side of the bouquet. Mother Nature does create some amazing colours and designs of her own.

I had hoped to make some more baby wraps this weekend as I know some friends and loved ones who are soon going to have a new member in their family.. Somehow the time got away from me.
The weekend time was well spent in other ways-  I did get out to have lunch with a friend and got a bit of school work done. I also started another jelly roll quilt( well it was my own jelly roll collection of star fabrics).  I think that the wide blue will be the border on the jelly roll innards. I am still searching for the stop border for this one.
Happy Fall dear friends.  I hope you had a lovely weekend and shared  a great meal with family and friends if you celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving.  We made a very nice dinner of turkey, brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, dressing , and turnip. It was indeed yummy...
Warmest regards,

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Joy of Summer

Summer has come to the Alberta prairies and I am on a hiatus from school. Somehow I thought I would get back to blogging sooner but I have been doing other things- some quilty and some not. One of the first things I did was get some plants for our front deck to add some color out there. Isn't this purple container a beauty of color? I did put some flowers together in the barrels at the bottom of the front steps, but this one I bought, just because I loved the rich colors. Purple and Pink are my favorite colors so this one just spoke to me.
In the spring time Craftsy offered this box of fat quarters at a great price so I decided to buy them. They are all Free Spirit fabrics- designers like Riley Blake and Amy Butler are in the box. It is such a pretty rainbow of fabrics and more modern than I would normally choose. Sometimes a girl has to check out some other lines, and these fat quarters will make a fun wedding quilt for someone. I have some great fat quarter patterns to try out someday. The list of someday quilts continues to grow.
A friend of ours had made this lovely traditional Dresden Plate quilt. She had wanted to finish it and needed a bit of help with the binding so I gave her a hand with it. Binding is one of those jobs that is so much easier with the proper tools. Our friend had it quilted by a local long arm studio and was really happy with the completed project. I believe that the quilt was started by her mother.

In my previous post I shared this four square batik quilt with you. Here is the completed quilt being given to its new owner. My friend, Ms. G, was quite surprised with it. I am very happy with the quilt pattern and would make it again. It was a tutorial from the Missouri Star Quilt Company and is called The Half Square triangle quilt using the four Seasons block. I had not used their technique of making half square triangles and it was an easy technique to use.  A friend showed me another technique using a tube and and a strip ruler that is another way to make half square triangles.
A while back I participated in a giveaway contest hosted by The Fat Quarter Shop in Texas, when they were at Quilt market. I was very excited when my phrase was chosen and this beautiful package of Kate Spain fat quarters arrived in the mail. The Fat Quarter Shop does have a lovely on line shop and are very generous to quilters. If you are looking for an on line shop to try, they certainly are a shop to consider. They have lovely fabrics and fair prices. Their products always come beautifully wrapped and you get excellent service from them. Postage costs to Canada are getting more pricey, so I have not bought from them as often, but I do love their shop. They have an excellent blog called the Jolly Jabber.
Athena -also known as Atari or Kitten, the Tonkinese cat ( she is a cross of a Burmese and Siamese cat) has taken over in the roll of quilt kitty at our house. She has quite a different disposition than Mars cat, but loves to leave her mark( lots of white fur) on my current quilt projects. She is quite partial to this wedding signature quilt that is now together as a flimsy. I will spray baste it later this week and will get it quilted before too long. I have added borders to it since this photo was taken.
Our good friends V. and A celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this past week and I decided to make them some pillow cases to match their quilt. I dug around in my stash looking for fabrics that had come from their quilt but, unfortunately, I did not have any larger pieces to use, even for the two inch piping. I was surprised how quickly that the pillow cases went together. I used another tutorial from the Missouri Star quilt Co. - Jenny Doan gives good instructions . I have since made more pillowcases for my parents ,who celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary today. There is a  Dusty dog under this pile of pillow cases- if you look closely you can see her head and red collar on the left side.

My second major summer project is to get Kevin and Roseanne's wedding quilt put together. These fossil ferns are some of the fabrics that I am using in their quilt. This is a collection of the whole line of fossil fern fabrics. I got a kit from Craftsy called Under the Stars Quilt Kit by Nancy Smith. I have over 80 blocks made, but the quilt is a king sized quilt so I need almost that many again _ I think... I have loved this fabric line forever and it is really a lovely line to use. It handles beautifully.
In the image below you can see how the block is going to go together- I think it will be a pretty quilt when I get finished.
 The summer is flying by- I have been reading some great books - "I am Malala" and"The Pearl who broke its shell" are among my favorites. I have been out with friends for lunch and taken care of some general health/ dental things. I still want to clear out some things in the house. It won't be too long before the summer is gone.
I did get a chance to visit my folks early in the summer, as a beloved cousin passed away. While the reason I went to visit was a sad occasion, I did get the opportunity to see extended family. Part of that trip included some time spent traveling with my mother's brother and sister. It was nice to have that time to reconnect with my uncles and aunts.
 I recognize since I have gone to google +,that is difficult to leave a response or comment on the blog. I find that frustrating because one of the things that I loved about blogging was making connections with other bloggers. I don't know if anyone has any suggestions about this, but I would love to hear them. I do miss hearing from my other quilting friends on the blog. A few blogging friends have emailed me comments and I appreciate them taking that extra effort to leave comments.
 I hope you all are enjoying your summertime and get some time to spend doing the things that you love to do. Until next time,
 Be well,
Warmest regards, Anna

Friday, May 23, 2014

Half square triangles can create a beautiful quilt design

Mother's Day came a couple of weekends ago - I was lucky enough to enjoy  these stunning pink sweetheart roses and some lovely cards from our son and my beloved. I had quite a lovely day exploring a local rock and gem show on Mother's Day. There were lots of pretties and bling to tempt this bling girl. One of the things that I brought home was a lovely soft blue celestial geode.
 Currently  I have postponed working on our son's wedding quilt, as I had a quilt project that I wanted to complete for someone special. I plan to go back to working on the wedding quilts over the summer. After checking out a few patterns and talking with some quilting friends, I chose this pattern that is a tutorial from the Missouri Star Quilt Co. of the Half SquareTriangle Quilt using the Four Season Block
  The project is a quilt pattern from the Missouri Star Quilt Company pattern called Half Square Triangle quilt using the Four Season Block.  Unfortunately I do not have a design wall at home so I took the blocks to school and laid them out on the tables so that I could see how to  better arrange them.
I then brought the quilt blocks back and got it all sewn together in a top.Last weekend (which was our Victoria May long weekend) I went back to school and  and spray basted it all together. 
 I knew I had limited quilting time just now so I was very happy to have some time over our long weekend in May.  This photograph below was taken of  the quilt now that it is quilted. I took my time choosing the outside border and I am pleased with the results. I still have to bind it but I am well on my way to finishing it.
Jenny Doan from the Missouri Star Quilt Co, does a great job of explaining how to put the quilts together step by step. I had not tried the technique that she used to make the half square triangles but I liked the technique very much. I found that the triangles less daunting than usual and would use this technique again.  I would have liked to have a written version of the quilt so that I can check it out what I am doing but the tutorial was pretty clear. I understand that the Missouri Star quilt Co, has begun to write a magazine called Block. I believe that they have two issues of the magazine- one that has come out recently. I don't know if they have written out the instructions for this particular  quilt.
 This quilt used 6 charm packs- three dark collections  and three packages of little fabrics that were combined with a little bit of yardage for the wide borders. The back of the quilt is Stonehenge fabric by Northcott - it quilted up beautifully.  The quilt is a large twin sized quilt. I hope the intended recipient will really enjoy having an afternoon nap under the quilt.

On another front entirely, we have a new cat named Atari. She is a senior cat who needed a new residence as  her owner was moving to New Zealand.  We are beginning to adjust to  each other though she still is a bit shy. We wonder if she will be quilt kitty like Mars was?
 Or perhaps we will have a dog quilt helper- - you can see that Dusty the dog thinks that she could help too..  The jury is out whether the two of them will be compatible or whether they will just put up with one another.. Stay tuned for news about the pet front..

The next few weeks will be filled with school projects that need to be finished at year's end. Then I can look forward to summer which will be busy with some old and new quilt projects. More  next time..
Warmest regards,

Monday, April 7, 2014

Finally a new post- a wedding and the current quilt project.....

When I look back at this winter, I can't believe that it has been 3 months since I posted on my blog. Yikes- maybe the title should be " Dear Abandoned Blog... During this time I have had a number of different flowers that have graced our table including tulips, poinsettias,
lovely orchids and more tulips that opened out spectacularly beautifully
and the gorgeous remains of wedding flowers -

Did I say wedding flowers - Yep- these gorgeous hydrangeas were combined with greenery and plum carnations and roses. They looked stunning as our son Kevin and his lady Rose (now wife) said their vows in February.
A photo of the loving couple looking gorgeous. Her beautiful bouquet was silks with rhinestones and pearls and had deep plum flowers in it.
They were married in Banff on a cold day in early February. The majestic mountains were a stunning backdrop for this auspicious occasion. It was a very small intimate affair and was enjoyed by all.

Below is a photo of  my beloved and  me, decked out in our wedding finery. My jewelery included pieces that belonged to my grandmother, Grace. She would have loved being there on the kids special day and I felt like she was with me celebrating the momentous occasion.
We were so happy that my parents were able to join us in Banff. It was so nice to spend time together enjoying the mountains and wonderful views.
My mother took this photograph of the view from their hotel room.Isn't it an amazing view? In the summer, the valley has a golf course with the river coursing through it.
And here are Rose's parents all decked out to celebrate the nuptials. We were happy to meet them and look forward to other times when we might cross paths.
In the meantime, life has gone on with other things- I have been working on Kevin and Rose's wedding quilt but, it will be a while, before the king sized quilt will be completed. So far I have cut and completed 83 blocks - I am not sure exactly how many blocks it will be but at least twice that many. This is what a few of the blocks look like when they are placed together to form bigger blocks. The pattern is called Under the Stars and is a Craftsy kit of Fossil Fern fabrics by Benatrex. It is interesting to see the secondary patterns forming when you place the blocks together.

I went to a quilt workshop with some quilting friends in March, and have been the usual busy with my kindergarten students. Our kinders went to see some little chicks and rabbits on a field trip just before spring break, which was last week.
 During spring break- I got in some good quilting time , where I got some work done on another quilt project. More about that as that quilt comes together - right now its a secret project for a friend. The pattern is a one of the Missouri Star Co. tutorial patterns and I am pleased to see it starting to take shape.

 We went to visit my family for a couple of days to celebrate my parents birthdays ( Happy Birthday Dad and Mom). I also got some time with my favorite girls and their parents. My dear friend, V and I had an afternoon of visiting and beading which is always fun.

 Since Kevin and Roseanne's wedding, Bruce and I have taken in a few concerts including one to see the band" Yes". Our first date 35 years ago, was to a Yes concert, so it was fun to see the band still playing all these years later. We enjoyed seeing the band and hearing the music. It took us back to a different time and place. This photo is a little selfie taken on the cell phone at the concert.
Yesterday we went off to the Art Gallery to see the newest exhibits.The main exhibit is called High Adventure on the Columbia Ice Fields- 1924.  It is a lovely showing of photographs taken by Byron Harmon and Lewis Freeman. The pictures, done in 1924, showed the Columbia Ice fields,which feeds 6 different glaciers and rivers to three different oceans. The exhibit had some very cool archival footage that included a dog named Buster riding on horseback across the cold lake water. There are also some paintings done by Lawren Harris and A. Y. Jackson (two painters from the Group of Seven) done in 1924 in Jasper. Lots of Mountain connections in this post, it seems.
 Today I returned to the classroom and the third term begins- my this school year is flying by. Life seems to have been particularly full the first three months of 2014, with lots of special celebrations happening.
 I haven't forgotten you my dear blog friends - just got a little busy on the home front. I will try to be a less of a stranger to blog land in the coming months. Keep watching for quilty updates.

 In the meantime, I hope this finds you all well. Happy Quilting,
Warmest regards, Anna