Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer time and the lost blogger returns???

It is a beautiful July day and I finally am making some time to write about the past few months. It has been a long time since I visited my blog- Life sometimes does that or maybe I needed a hiatus from writing here.. As always I love to start with flowers - Right now our table flowers are looking a bit droopy as we are having a heat wave.. Summer time often has some hot days but we have had a very warm/ hot June and beginning of July. I still have not bought any flowers for the front deck- perhaps that will be today's activity or very soon. 
Summer vacation has officially started- June 29 was my last day of work until late August. We are going to do some de-cluttering of the classroom, so I will head back earlier than some years. For now though, I have closed the classroom doors and moved the things that needed to be removed so that they could clean the classroom.. Some years, I am more tired than others, and this is one of those years.. I am looking forward to some rest and relaxation.- reading, relaxing and spending sometime with friends! Of course I will also get quilting. My summer project is to finish some quilts that I have been waiting in the wings. For sure I plan to complete our son's long delayed wedding quilt. It is presently laying on a batt on a king sized bed in our basement- I am still trying to organize the blocks in some sort of orderly arrangement but hope to soon have it back on my sewing machine..

In the meantime, I thought I would share with you some photos that tell some of my creative experiences in the last few months.. At the end of January I gave away the quilt that I shared in the previous post. The dear lady to my right, Lena retired and returned home to Northern Canada. I know that she will use it when she is going to a sun dance or during the cold winter months in our north country.
One of the people that I had always wanted to meet as a quilter was Ricky Tims. In April I got to cross that wish off my bucket list. I loved hearing his stories, listening to his music and be inspired by his quilts. One of the other participants kindly took these photos of me with him. This was my version of his kaleidoscope pattern. It was a wonderful day and I was so happy that I was able to go and enjoy his workshop. He had come to Calgary a few years ago and I figured I missed my chance but life sometimes gives one second chances and this time I made sure that I was there to see him and his beautiful quilts.
In the spring time, my husband brought tulips and a dear friend gave me a calla lily. What magnificent flowers it had for most of the spring time. The lady on the right is name Cec and is an award winning rug hooker. A quilty friend invited me to come and try out this different kind of hand work - rug hooking. It was an interesting afternoon and I loved spending time with some lovely ladies trying out this medium. I discovered I am not a very good rug hooker and have lots to learn if I ever manage to complete a piece of work.  The afternoon workshop was held at a local museum. The technique is done with wool strips cut on an amazing machine. The rug hooking tool looks like a crochet hook with a bulb handle. I will need to practice lots if I ever expect to get the hang of it.  One needs to have new challenges too .. LOL..

Some babies were born this spring and what is a new baby without a baby burrito wrap. The two little boys were born in April and I know that they will be well loved. I love celebrating the birth of new life and I hope that both of these spring arrivals live long, healthy, happy and prosperous lives. The wraps have minkee fabric inside and cotton on the outside. They look like a big 4 leaf clover when they are open flat. I have been on a journey making them - the first one was made in 1984 and I know I have easily made over 100 of them in the years since. I used to tie them with yarn and they had eyelet, piping or lace on the outside. The overhauled design has made them more washable, durable and easier to make with a bias bound edge..

I have the privilege of working in a fabulous school with an administration who finds ways to bring in some terrific programs for our students to experience. Our kids got to see an Olympic skipper and participated in a program called Rocks and Rings ( curling). They also had a pair of sports guys who came monthly and introduced the children to a great variety of games including mini golf, badminton, baseball, floor hockey and basketball.  This is a photo of some masks that my students got to make with a team of artists in residence who came and spent two weeks with our children. The children got to choose their animals and then they embellished them with different recycled materials. The children really enjoyed the process. We also did some great movement activities that incorporated yoga, dance and brain gym.

Recently I completed another jelly roll quilt - it was made from a collection by Robert Kaufman that had some gorgeous rich fabrics. I love Kaufman fabrics and have bought a few jelly rolls from Craftsy, especially for quilt patterns just like this one. This particular quilt is a wedding gift for a friend's son and daughter in law to be. It is a twin sized couch quilt and meant for using across a sofa on a cool evening or to cuddle for an afternoon nap.. I am hoping that the couple will share many happy years together..
It is quilt show season here and our local Edmonton guild had a show in mid June. The guest speaker for the Saturday morning breakfast was Elaine Quehl. She is from Ottawa and recently was awarded the Canadian Quilt Teacher of the Year. She gave an inspiring talk about her quilt journey. She recently completed a fabric line for Northcott fabrics of poppies. She brought with her many beautiful quilts. The two below are just two of her many wonderful pieces of art. She has a fantastic eye for color and uses photographs as one of her jumping off points for creating her stunning designs. Elaine also creates stunning hand dyed fabrics.

  These were two pieces that Elaine shared- Hosta and  Tree (I have forgotten the official name of the tree )that Elaine Quehl has created. Unfortunately my cell phone camera does not pick up the gorgeous detailed quilting on these beautiful pieces. Do go check out her work at elaine's website or at her blog 

I really enjoyed seeing the work and wished I would have had time to take in her course too.

 Time to do a bit of work - things like getting more of the fridge cleaned out and the stove too.  Not all of that today but soon.. LOL  after all this is summer vacation. This evening I am off to catch up to some quilting friends over dinner...
I know that Google makes it difficult to leave a comment but I hope you will let me know that you have stopped by to visit.  I will try to write sooner- so do come and check out and see what is happening here on my blog.. You can always find me on my facebook page too..

Wishing everyone a happy healthy fun filled summer doing the things that you enjoy the most.

Warmest regards,

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January jelly roll and Convergence quilts.

It is a nice January day outside but I am enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon with my favorite Chai tea from Second Cup in my favorite snowman mug. The sun was shining earlier and there were people out walking their dogs. We watched some Sunday sports (curling, hockey and NFL football) and I finished up some school work.
Yesterday I cleaned out most of the vestiges of Christmas- there are a few things left - The Winter village and this lovely poinsettia plant will be around for awhile yet. I dusted shelves off, vacuumed the floor and generally got rid of the debris that had been collecting in our living space. It looks a lot nicer and now I can concentrate on the things that I need to for this week.
Bruce brought home some fresh flowers to decorate our table.I especially like fresh flowers on the table in the winter. It just brightens up the living space.We have been enjoying the music of Frazey Ford, who is the lead singer of a band called The Be Good Tanyas. I just got a collection of their music from 2000 - 2012.  Frazey Ford has a new album called Indian Ocean that has some terrific pieces on it.
I have been getting some quilty things accomplished. Last Sunday I quilted, squared and bound this jelly roll quilt. It has turned out quite lovely. Today's goal is to add the label so that I can give it to a friend who is soon leaving our school staff. I hope that she will enjoy cuddling under it on a winter's night. I really have enjoyed making the jelly roll quilts. They are faster than most quilts and this one is about the size of a small twin bed sized quilt.

Athena the cat definitely has given the cat seal of  approval.   She looks lovely on this particular color combo. Athena is becoming a much more sociable cat with us- Her latest friendly ??? move is to come at night, and sleep behind my husband's head. She is quite taken with his head and will lick his hair- Pets really do such funny things to express their feelings and friendship.
This lovely piece of art was a gift from dear friends for our 34th wedding anniversary which we celebrated on Boxing Day. It is the work of a Newfoundland artist named Cara from the Grumpy Goat Gallery. I love the bright colors and the funky way she creates movement in her designs.
I want to find a frame for this card that came with the canvas picture- Don't you love the quilt and the tops turvy  curves . I especially like the clothes on the clotheslines. They both make me smile when I look at them. You can find the Grumpy Goat Gallery  blog on my blog list and if you are on Facebook,  she also has a facebook page.
I am making progress on the wedding quilt. It is not speedy but here is a box full of over 300 half square triangles made, for the next 80 quilt blocks. These ones are all pressed and now I am trimming so that they are all 2 and 1/2 inch square so that they will fit together more accurately. I don't have a firm date of completion, but I am making progress, and the quilt has risen to the top of the pile.
I am really excited about an upcoming event that is happening here in Edmonton. Ricky Tims is coming to Edmonton and I am going to get the opportunity to see him in person. These are some of the quilts that I have made using his techniques and designs. I know I am going to be inspired and enjoy listening to him talk about his process. He came to Calgary a couple of years ago but we were away on holiday so I was not able to take in his session. The photo above is my version of his kaleidoscope pattern.
One of my favorite techniques is his Harmonic Convergence quilts. This one I called Black, white and red all over. I gave it to a friend who was celebrating her 50th birthday.
This flower is called Chantelle Chanson- It was my first sort of improvisational quilting- we use it for a table top cover in our living room. It intentionally has wobbly curvy borders and the points cut off.
And here is another variation of the Convergence quilts... I did a series of them. The original pattern was a wall hanging size but all of mine ended up bed sized quilts.  I have done 7 other posts about the convergence quilts but am not sure how to link it here. I know that they are labelled as such, so perhaps if you are interested check the labels for convergence quilts.

My friend Michele recently posted this piece on her blog about the Harmonic convergence quilts. Michele is an amazing lady who creates really beautiful pieces for others.(if you click on the highlighted words above it will take you to her post). She was very involved in the Alzheimers Art Quilt Initiative that raised money for Alzheimers. Amie Simms spearheaded this project which has now reached its completion. Do go and check out Michele's blog - you will find lots of patterns and links on it .

Bruce and I are going to a concert with Basia Bulat and Harry Manx later this month.  We may go out and see some winter fireworks at the University that is part of Winter festival.  As always there is lots going on at work to keep me busy.  We have been lucky so far here in Alberta - the weather has been relatively mild for January with only a few indoor recess days. The days are getting lighter which always lifts my spirits.
I hope this post finds you all well and that you are  having some time to create beautiful quilts.
Perhaps in the next post I will have some more wedding blocks put together..
Stay warm if you are in the Northern Hemisphere and cool if you live down South.
Warmest regards,

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,