Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

It is a frosty, beautiful day here...as soon as I get dressed, I'll go outside and take some photos. I am enjoying a quiet morning, drinking my Vanilla Chai tea, listening to my new Josh Groban Christmas CD, and surfing through the Stashbusters webring sites, wishing my quilt blogger friends a Merry Christmas.
We had a wonderful, but exhausting Christmas day yesterday. Everything that needed to be done, was done in time. Including our gingerbread house...which was still full of candies on Christmas Day (see last year's blog entry to see why I am happy about that!). To see some amazing gingerbread houses, go to Mare's blog...she is obsessed with them :)
I have cooked 3 huge meals in 3 days...turkey with fixings on Sunday, Roast Beef on Monday, and Ham yesterday. Today I plan to not do any cooking...to relax and rest.
Here are the pillows that I gave to the first batch of nieces and nephews yesterday...I was happy with how they turned out.The pink and red pillows match fabrics in quilts I have given previously, but the rest of the pillows were made from a soft, wintery flannel fabric.
This afternoon I hope to open up my new sewing machine...yes, Santa brought me a little Janome Jem Platinum!! I must have been a good girl this year because I sure was spoiled yesterday! I have wanted a light weight machine to take to classes for a while...my Brother was getting too heavy for me to lug around. I hope to test run this machine by starting Bonnie's mystery quilt. I haven't had time to think about it until now, and have decided that I will only make this quilt if I can use up stash fabric...no fabric purchases. So I'll have to sort through the stash and see if it can be done in a way that would result in a pleasing quilt. Sounds like a fun day to me!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Almost Ready for Christmas

I have been so busy with shopping and wrapping, cooking and going to parties...and loving every moment! I used to feel very stressed out at this time of year, but now I try to remember that everything that needs to be done, will somehow get done...it always does.
I have been sewing some Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews. There are 14 grandchildren altogether in our families, and I have always made something for each of them at Christmas. This year I am making them 14" flannel pillows with their names hand embroidered on a little pocket, which will have treats and candies tucked inside. Here are some of the pockets embroidered and waiting to be sewn together.
And in my spare time, I have continued to be obsessed with beading these little stars. The top two were my first stars made at guild meeting when I learned how to make them....thanks to teacher Kristy Finnigan. Then, of course, I thought that I would like to try to make them smaller and in different colour combinations. Then I added a little beaded loop so they could be tree ornaments. The bottom five were made with size 10 beads and ended up being almost 2". Each star uses 318 beads!
Okay...must get back to wrapping presents now...only 24 hours left before Christmas Day!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dreaming of a White Christmas

We had a beautiful snowy weekend here in Southern Ontario, Canada. And we have spent a lot of time shoveling that snow! But the weather forecast is calling for rain with a high of 7 degrees on the weekend, and the snow might all melt! So I thought I should run outside tonight and take a photo of our house. You can tell by the clear sidewalks that some of the snow has already melted but you can also see that the snow had almost hidden my little Peace Angel. I noticed that my husband had dug a path around her so she could still be seen from the street! She is still holding up quite well after all these years...I think she is at least 15 years old!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Slowly but surely I am getting things done for Christmas. One of my goals this year is to get my Christmas Cards actually mailed so that they arrive before Christmas!! I've already missed the deadline on that for the overseas and US cards, but I haven't given up yet on the Canadian ones arriving on time.
I taught two mini quilt classes on the weekend. Many quilters seem to be tired and as overwhelmed as I am...many are "burning the midnight oil" getting quilted gifts finished in time for gift giving. Here are some of the projects they brought back from previous classes.
I finally got all my Christmas quilts hung up and thought I should show you one of my favorites...a table topper on my dining room table, an older design by Deb Kaffunger of Quiltaholics.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Sewing

I enjoyed a wonderful day of "working" and laughing with the "Sew 'n Sews". We "worked" on designing our group quilt (click here to read more about it) with the butterfly blocks we have been sewing forever. The deadline is approaching for submission of the quilt top for hand quilting, so we have to make some decisions. Making decisions is not one of our group strengths! However, after auditioning about 100 sashing fabrics, we have narrowed it down to "we need to go shopping for more fabric"!!!
Here we are at our sewing day. Mostly the group was working on their Christmas gifts - sewing boxer shorts, tea cozies, and placemats, etc. I was madly trying to finish the binding on my Christmas quilt...and I finally finished it. I used a really pretty striped fabric and was happy with how it turned out. Here is the finished quilt shown at guild meeting this week.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Beading and Beaded Gifts

I think I am getting the message to get back to more beading! This week I received a gift in the mail all the way from Grace in Indiana...check out her blog here to see her beautiful bead work. I was one of the lucky winners of her brooch giveaway! My photo is not great, so you should hop over to Grace's blog to see how it really looks...her photography skills are way better than mine. And her fine bead work is even more amazing up close!
Then at guild meeting tonight, the project was a beaded snowflake, which I loved making. I have not done this type of beading before and was fascinated. Again, you need to check out Grace's December BJP project where she made some similar snowflakes that I was admiring. And what are the chances that I show up to guild meeting and find that I get to learn how to make one!?! Here is a photo of the first snowflake I made. ..and a photo of me working with my beads, and not able to see past the end of my nose without my glasses on!I really enjoyed making this project and I'm thinking of making more for my December BJP. I had to force myself to remember my social skills, because it was, after all, the last guild meeting of the year, and I really should visit with other guild members! Sometimes I get into the "beading zone" and can't think of anything else. And here is the last photo of the night...9:15 pm and everyone else has gone home...something about bad weather? I couldn't get the second snowflake to work...must have made a mistake and I'll have to try again tomorrow morning when the eyesight is better.
Now all I want to do is beading...and I have so much stuff to do for Christmas. Hey...maybe I'll make beaded snowflakes for everyone!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Paper Piecing Class

On Saturday I treated myself to a fun day of paper piecing with Denise McKenna from Meadow Lily Bridge. The quilt guild had sponsored this class and I had been so busy with my MIL in November that I thought I wouldn't possibly be able to go. But since I am having a wonderful break for a couple of weeks, while my MIL is finally getting some excellent medical care in a senior's facility, my schedule is not as crazy as it had been. My husband encouraged me to get away for the day and spend time sewing with my guild friends, so I did!

In the morning, Denise taught basic paper piecing skills and since I didn't want to do the beginner block (I've made many many heart blocks over the years!) I started working on my advent calendar blocks. I have wanted to make Denise's advent calendar for a while, since 2 of the quilters in my UFO group have finished their advent calendars. I had "quilt envy" and wanted one too! I picked out fabric to make my first blocks and in the morning I was able to finish a tree and a candy cane...2 down and 23 more blocks to go. Obviously this won't be finished in time to use this year, but it will be fun to have a Christmasy project to work on over the holidays when I have a few moments (I can dream, can't I?!?!).

Here is a photo of Denise holding one of her Advent Calendars. (You can click here to order the pattern if you have "quilt envy" too!). One of the interesting things about how Denise paper pieces is that she uses Chiropractor Headrest paper that you buy at medical supply stores for her foundation. It is stronger than tissue paper, but you can see through it easily so you don't have to hold your project up to the light to see where the fabric is. I enjoyed trying that and found it easy to work with. The draw back is that you can't run it through the printer and have to trace your block before you sew.
In the afternoon we worked on a more challenging 7" star block, and believe me, it was challenging! You sew the inside star block separately and then glue it to the overall pattern. Then Denise taught us how to make a flat piping border on a paper pieced block. I just love to learn new things and was happy with how it turned out. I think I might use a heat resistant batting and turn it into a potholder (not one to use of course, just to look at!).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas Preparations

I am quilting away on my Christmas mystery quilt. First I stabilized all the vertical and horizontal seams by "stitching in the ditch" with my walking foot. Then I outlined stitched 1/4" away from the seams in the centre star blocks to emphasize it a bit more. This was easy quilting but rather boring. Then I decided to do something more fun and started free-motion quilting hearts in all the triangle blocks. I am about half way done the heart quilting and am eager to finish up and get the binding on. This is one quilt that isn't going to the UFO pile...it's going to be used to cuddle up in while we watch Christmas movies.
On Sunday we picked out and chopped down our Christmas tree. It had snowed all Saturday night, so it was a very pretty day to look for our tree. But then it started to drizzle and we were soaking wet and freezing cold by the time we found the perfect tree. Here's my hubby and kids...I look at the photo on the computer screen and ask myself where has the time gone?!?! Are my children really that old???