Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Trees on the Table

Last Christmas there were many quilt bloggers making Marcie's 24" Trees on the Table quilt (click here to go to her website and then click on "free patterns" to go to the pattern). Marcie posted lots of beautiful examples of the quilts made - click here to see them. I didn't have the time last year, but this year wanted to try it out. I contacted Marcie about making her design in a miniature size, and she wrote right back to me with the instructions altered to make a 12" square version of her pattern. This was such a fun little quilt to sew up that I asked Marcie if I could share it with my mini quilt class and she very generously gave me look for the results from that class which I will post on my blog later in January.
On the right is the plaid version I made to give to my adult nieces for Christmas. I used up some leftover HST's from my Dad's plaid quilt for the pinwheels. Inaccurate cutting of the plaids makes the borders look a little wonky so let's just say I did that on purpose!!
And about the mistake...well, let's just say that I also did that on purpose! The first person to leave me a comment telling me what the mistake is, will get a quilty New Year's gift from me!
On the left is the mini quilt I made from my Christmas fabrics, using just one border fabric and I put a little folded (red) piping between the trees and
the border. Doesn't it look great on my dining room table with a candle holder made by my FIL?
Thanks again for your generosity Marcie!

Besides having quilted "trees on my table" I also have had shortbread trees on my table this week. My shortbread cookies are somewhat famous in our family and they are the only cookies I make faithfully every year. I use an old recipe from my Mom and I make it the same way she always hand.
It takes a long time (and a lot of luck, I mean skill) to get the dough just the right consistency and temperature to roll out. Then I have to watch the cookies bake because they go from "done" to "burnt" in a few seconds! The trees are my favorite cookie shape and some years I decorate elaborately and some years this year...quick and easy. Now the baked trees are long gone, but the quilted trees will be around for years to come!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quilty gifts

One of my blog readers emailed me to ask if I received any quilty gifts for Christmas???
I guess in all my excitement to tell about the quilts I gave, I forgot to tell you what I received!
From Santa I got the board game of Stitchopoly (read about it here). It looks like lots of fun, but unfortunately I can't convince anyone at my house to play with me - picture the rolling of the eyes and hear the grunting of my teenagers! Look at the little game pieces...aren't they cute?!? So I came up with a great idea to host a Stitchopoly game night at my quilt studio...surely there is someone out there who will come and play my new game with me!?! Stay tuned to my blog for the date announcement!
I also received a new wooden ruler rack to keep my rulers organized and easy to find.
And in my stocking was The Quilter magazine, but I was really disappointed with it...there wasn't one single project that tempted me enough to consider sewing it. If you are interested in having this magazine, just leave a comment saying so, and I'll send it to you.
But my biggest quilty gift from DH, I mean Santa, was written inside a beautiful card and is the gift of a trip with some guild friends to the 25th annual quilt show in Paducah, Kentucky in April! (Click here for the link to the very boring webpage for the quilt show) I still can't believe it, but some quilting friends were talking about going and I mentioned that I'd sure love to go and how lucky they were, and they invited me to come along. Thinking that they were just being kind, I gave them some time to reconsider the spontaneous invite, but they are still willing to let me tag along! Can you believe it?!? So I convinced DH to make that my Christmas present, and since it meant that he didn't have to do any shopping, he agreed! He did however also end up doing some shopping and I am one lucky quilter!! I registered right away as soon as he agreed so he couldn't change his mind!
And as if that wasn't enough excitement, Bonnie at Quiltville is offering the gift of a new mystery quilt starting on New Years Eve - called Double Delight. This past year I sewed 2 of the 3 mystery quilts Bonnie hosted and I had a great time! I kind of said (quietly to myself) that I wouldn't start another mystery until I quilted those tops. So this week I am going to at least start on that commitment and I'll baste one of them and see how far I get with the quilting. How many more days until New Year's Eve?!?!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dad's Plaid Quilt

My big quilting accomplishment this year was a quilt for my Dad. He is the only one in my family that didn't have something I quilted especially for him and so it was his turn this Christmas. I had to make the entire quilt including the backing out of plaid fabrics because I have never seen my Dad in a shirt that was not made of plaid, except for church and funerals! (You can see the fabric purchase here and the mistake blocks here.) This is a photo of the correct way to sew a block! Each block is 12" so the quilt was 60" x 72" before the borders.
The pattern is from a class I took many years ago at Quilt University with Cindy Thury Smith. It is called "Tesselating Stars" and is one of my all time favorite quilts to make. I have made it several times in mini 3" block size, and have made a lap size for my nephew Alden (see other tesselating star quilts here).
I had to be careful about what I wrote on my blog about sewing this quilt because Dad told me in early December that he was reading my blog! I think he was very surprised with his quilt and I love surprising people on Christmas! On the right is a photo I took before the border decisions. Because I had lots of leftover 4.5" and 6.5" pieces from the block construction I decided to make a piano key border, which you can see a little of here. I put the 4.5" pieces on the sides and the 6.5" pieces on the top and bottom to make it a little longer.
I made a flannel backing so it would be cosy and warm to snuggle under and I quilted it very simply (in the ditch) on all vertical and horizontal seam allowances with my walking foot. Don't you love it when you are making such a large quilt and it finishes square on the corners and lays flat!?!
And here is my Dad with his new quilt (see that he is wearing a plaid shirt?!) Dad I hope you have many refreshing hours of sleeping under your quilt, with lots of happy dreams of how much you are loved by all your family!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

There is a brief lull in the festivities in our household and I need to sit down and rest a minute! So what better thing to do than log onto blogger and wish my quilting friends a very Merry Christmas!?! The kids are all in electronic heaven (playing Rockband and PSP 3000) and DH is having a wee nap (one would think he stayed up until 1:30 wrapping gifts and loading stockings!!?!) Here is my lovable Molly Santa dog wishing you a Merry Christmas! She hates the Santa hat but she looks so adorable that we just have to put it on her!
All my gifts are finished and wrapped. I am quite happy with how the gifts for my nieces and nephews turned out. If you have read my blog for a while, you will know that I insist on making something for them every year. In 2006 I made each of them a photo calendar. In 2007 I made them each a flannel pillow (click here to see them). This year I made these fabric bags. Here they are hanging from left to right for the youngest to the oldest. I was inspired by this pattern by Jennifer Casa. I made mine 9" across and used batting instead of interfacing. I ditched the pocket after sewing the first one on the back by mistake and decided that the pockets were not worth the hassle.
And what is going in the bag? These treats which I first found on Peggy's blog here. I made them with kisses and hugs, but the hugs were really melty and don't look as pretty as these.
Well, I guess I better get back to the kitchen and start working on supper preparation.

I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa is working overtime on Christmas Eve!

All of my shopping has been finished...yippee! That's the part I hate the most, so now I can just relax and enjoy the rest of the preparations. I went to the grocery store in a snow storm at 10:00 last night so it wouldn't be crowded, and I leisurely purchased all my groceries for the rest of the year. The problem was pushing the grocery cart to the car through all the snow...wish I had a photo of that to show you!
Santa has been busy quilting some Christmas gifts and I am so happy to say that I think they might actually all be finished in time! Here is my basting pin tin that I received as a gift a few years ago. I have been machine quilting my fingers to the bone and loving every minute of it!
As you can see by the photo on the right, the end is in sight...I am sewing the binding today. I will show you a photo of the whole quilt after the gift is opened tomorrow.
Today I am listening to Christmas music, wrapping presents, baking, and finishing some Christmas gifts. As I tell my children, anticipation is at least 50% of the fun in life.... so I plan to enjoy every moment of my 2008 Christmas Eve day!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Westfield Heritage Village Volunteer Job

Passing thoughts can be dangerous! Last year I thought that Westfield Heritage Village needed some help in the quilting department (see my post here) and the idea just wouldn't go away. So I signed up to volunteer. It has been a delightful experience to help with the "Christmas in the Country" program, even though is has been very cold (today with the wind chill it is minus 18 degrees Celsius!) This is the front gate of the village as it looked on Saturday night. We have had record snowfalls in December this year and the whole village was bright and sparkly with snow falling gently. After these lights here at the front gate, the entire village is lit only by candles and lanterns.
Almost all of these pioneer buildings are heated by wood stoves. On the left here is a volunteer (also named Cathy) who plays the blacksmith's wife and she is baking gingerbread cookies in that stove! Each building represents a different time period and has a different focus/activities.
I was placed in the Marr building, which is the spinning and weaving shop. Here is Bob working on the original 1860 weaving loom. He is a very knowledgeable weaver, and here is his wife Ellen, who is an amazing spinner.
The Marr building was a busy and popular building
and with all the visitors coming in and out, and the door being open so often, we were very cold! It took me a couple of hours when I got home to unthaw!
So here I am in my little corner where I was demonstrating a mini weaving loom (replica) and knitting some of the wool that Ellen had spun and dyed. Being around all this weaving has lead me to thinking about the possibilities of bead weaving which I have always wanted to try, but I am trying to ignore these thoughts because there are still only 24 hours in the day!
There were other activities going on in this building too, including wool carding, tatting, and rug making. In the summer they will be dyeing wool outside. Here is Laura Lee crocheting a rag rug by the front window. The garland hanging above the window was crocheted with red wooden beads strung on the line...isn't it pretty??!?
Anyway, last year this is the building where the quilters were, so I was excited to be placed there. However in the last year, the quilters have apparently moved to a different building and even with all my detective work, I have been unable to find out which building they are in...but I will track them down! This was lots of fun and if I loved any of these activities it would be a perfect volunteer job for me. But I am a quiltaholic, so I'll keep looking for a quilting job.
So that's what I have been doing in my free time. Now back to my Christmas activities - shopping, baking, gift wrapping, and of course quilting some last minute gifts. I'll post about those tomorrow.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More Connected Mini Leaves

One of the greatest joys in my life is making and teaching mini quilts. Minis are so much fun to sew because you can play with design and colour, try new techniques, and get the satisfaction of finishing a project in a reasonable amount of time. They also make great gifts!
Usually I make a mini quilt after being inspired by the colours or block patterns that I see in a full size quilt. These days I am often inspired by quilts that I see on my favorite quilt blogs.
Such was the case with my mini leaf quilt that you can see here. It was so much fun to sew that I taught it to my mini quilt class in November. It was amazing to me how different each quilt is because they all started with the same instructions, to bring 2.5" x 3.5" scraps of fall fabrics.
We met again this week to sew up a Christmas mini (which I will show in January) and here are some of their finished leaf quilts. I am posting each one separately so you can click on them and see the colours, fabrics, and quilting up close. (Sorry about the spacing problems...blogger won't play nice with me today!)

Donna's leaves

Lana's leaves

Susan's leaves

Barb's leaves (Barb quilt comes with a song track...softly hum to yourse
lf "All the leaves are brown...and the sky is grey")

Susan' leaves (another Susan - yes, 2 Susan's in the same class!)

Nancy's leaves (she gave herself a stitching challenge - can you see the triangle quilting and
border stitching?)

P.S. Advance notice to blog stalkers...I am going to surprise you by posting more frequently this week!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Block of the Month stress

I am about 90 % back to my "normal" self this week. Here is a photo I took of our Christmas tree...I love it because it represents how I have been feeling! Just like me, the settings were too slow!
I am still dragging myself through the evenings and going to bed early instead of quilting at night. I just think I need the extra rest, but I sure do miss the quilting. I am trying not to get uptight about the decrease in productivity, especially at this time of year when Mrs. Clause should be in overdrive!
Two of my quilting projects that bug me the most are my Block of the Month (BOM) projects. I like to be caught up and feel stressed about unstarted blocks. The first one is my "Be Attitudes" quilt. I have only fully completed the first 2 blocks, and have the 3rd one appliqued and am ready to sew in the thread ends. And here is the pile of unopened block packages...ugh! Okay take a deep breath and repeat after me...don't worry, there is no deadline, except in your own mind, so just change your expectations! I am a hard taskmaster!

And the 2nd project is the Capricorn BOM. I just finished this block, which is block #9 for me. That's pretty good, eh?!? I don't even know how many more blocks I have to stitch...I think there are 14 blocks altogether because some months had a bonus block.
The photo is a little bit yellow, and my little sheep are somewhat defective, but hey, I'm only working at 90% capacity here!!!
What about you quilters out there in blogland...have you finished your BOM's from 2008???
Are you signing up for any new BOM's next year?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On the mend...

Slowly, but surely, I am on the mend. Thank you for sending your encouraging thoughts and well wishes my way. It has taken me quite a while to get my energy back after this virus and every extra moment that in the past I would have spent sewing, I have been forced to spend resting. How boring!!! I even missed my guild meeting this week because I just did not have the extra energy to go out. Unfortunately this health issue has required me to take stock of how much time I have left and forced me to readjust my goals of what is possible to finish in time for Christmas.
But the good news is that I am feeling better in time to at least get some shopping, baking and quilting done in time for Christmas and I am very happy about that.
I have been putting some little pieces through my machine, just so I don't forget how! I am working like a turtle on these quilt blocks. Here are some examples of the wrong way to sew a block and I sew at least one or two of these every time I sit at the machine! Here are the 2 that I will be unsewing tonight! I need to smarten up and sew 30 of the 12" blocks....the right way of course!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sick of being sick

I have been as "sick as a dog" this week.
That's a weird saying, eh...just how sick is a dog?!?
Three days flat on the bed and counting. Guess I should have seen this coming since DH started with it last weekend.
I am not a good patient...I get impatient with all the quilting time wasted!! Can't wait to rejoin the land of the living! I guess it is a good sign that I am upright, sitting at the computer and blogging!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Girls Weekend Away

Not a lot of quilting getting done here! I have been working on some little gifts, but my big Christmas projects are starting to worry me a little! But I just couldn't think about it this weekend. It was our annual "girls weekend", when my sisters, my Mom and I get together for family bonding and adventure. Last year we went to St. Jacobs (click here) and in 2006 we went to Frankenmuth (click here).
This year we went nowhere! We decided to hang out at Mom and Dad's and go to see "Mamma Mia". The show was lots of fun but expensive! I thought the movie was just as much fun for much less money, and we got popcorn!!
Also, for this year's get together we decided to emphasize the Christmas Card tradition. We all love to get cards in the mail and each of us had complained about rushing before Christmas to get our cards finished, or were thinking of giving up this wonderful tradition due to time pressures. So this year Mom had the great idea to write our cards during our girls weekend.
We set up our card writing station at the dining room table. We drank Chai Tea Latte, listened to Christmas music, ate cookies, and wrote our cards. I just have to finish the overseas cards and the cards to my old Aunties, who expect and look forward to an informative, hand written letter from me. It was so lovely and relaxing! And best of all, we all have our Christmas cards ready to put in the post on December first time ever!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tesselated (Connected) Leaves

I had such a fun time making this little quilt! You can read about the inspiration for this project here. I surely wasn't looking for a new project, having hundreds, maybe thousands of projects in various stages of unfinishedness! However, sometimes an idea just won't leave me alone, so I whipped up this little fall quilt using the Connecting Corners technique. (You can see some of my other Connected quilts here.) I just love using this technique and if I see a quilt pattern where it could be used, I will try it out! I fiddled around with block sizes, making the first few out of proportion, until I figured out the correct measurements for constructing a 1 1/2" block.
I pieced the top and added a border of fall fabric that my husband brought back from Vermont when he briefly visited this year. I wanted him to know how much I love it when he brings me fabric and so I used it in the first quilt I could!
Then I started the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting and had about 1/4 of the quilting finished when I noticed a mistake! See how the piece that the seam ripper is pointing to is the wrong should be green!
What's a quilter to do? Would you leave it there? Would you hope that no one noticed? I berated myself for a bit, wondering how on earth I didn't see that before I started the quilting!!! But I just knew that would always bug me, and I would see it every time I looked at the quilt, so I had to fix it.
I picked out part of the quilting, folded the quilt top back, and frog stitched that offending piece. On the right is the quilt top with the new hole applied! Then I sewed on a green corner, resewed the seams, and continued on with the quilting!
And then I decided that there wasn't enough definition between the leaves section and the border, so I stitched on some bias seam binding strips I found in my cupboard and liked it much better.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American blog readers! One of my dearest friends is a transplanted American and she is inviting a bunch of her friends over to celebrate her holiday traditions tomorrow. We had our turkey day in October, so I am looking forward another one with her! I found this interesting recipe (from reading Judy's blog) and I'm going to make some to take tomorrow...nothing like trying a new recipe out on your friends!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wacky Pac Wannabee

Woohoo! I did it! I'm an official "Wacky Pac Wannabee"!! Thanks to Rhonda and Molly for your help on getting the button posted...see, I knew I could figure it out! And if you click on it, it even links to the blog site...woohoo! This is a technological triumph for me with this old computer equipment and this old brain. I have admired these Texas gals for a long time, reading all their blogs and seeing what they are up to. I must admit to being jealous of their wonderful retreats and how much fun they have together. Wacky quilter Kathy gave me an award on her blog this week....the butterfly award for having a cool blog. Click here to read about it and see the other blogs she has listed!
Hey, look at that, I got the butterfly photo to pop onto my blog too...I am amazing myself today!
Anyway, I am now an honourary Wacky in the virtual world and I really shouldn't be jealous of all their fun, when I have so much fun with my own guild here, right?!?! Here is a group photo from Sylvia's class yesterday. We did have a
great day together and we are all going to bring our finished houses to the next guild meeting...right gals?!?!?!
And I am going on retreat with some of my guild peeps in February, so that's not long to wait. I promise not to take too many unflattering photos this year!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Picture a House" class

Since I was able to reorganized my schedule for this week (thanks to all the mini quilters for changing their class time), I could attend a class with Sylvia Naylor today. It's hard when there are so many fun things to do and such few hours in a day! You can see some of Sylvia's nature pieces here and one of her quilts has the February page of the 2009 Quilting Arts calendar. Here she is holding my calendar (which she signed for me) and you can also see two of her other house quilts.
Today's class was called "Picture a House". In the morning we made a paper collage, tearing random pages from magazines and creating a house structure from the paper bits.
In the afternoon we made a quilted collage by following the same process using fabric. We cut out bits of fabric, and using our paper collage as our inspiration, we built a house. It was quite intuitive, with very little time to think or be critical...just play, have fun and put something together.
Since the fabrics I am sewing at the moment are plaids, I just brought that fabric pile to the workshop and hence...the plaid house. It's kind of a cute little tartan palace! We were to fasten all the pieces down with a bit of fusible and quilting, and then quilt vertical lines to give the background some texture. Now I plan to do some hand stitching and probably more quilting. Maybe add some embellishments...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Quilt Bee Day

Last Saturday I snuck away from my domestic drudgery to spend a few hours at guild "Quilt Bee Day". What a fun time we had sewing blocks for comfort quilts to be donated to the hospital. The Bee was wonderfully organized by Donna (shown here on the right working on a quilt layout). Donna had precut all the fabric for the blocks and put the pieces for each row into a baggie.
Here is Judy on the left working on another quilt layout.
The fabrics were happy, and brightly coloured, and are perfect for kids quilts. Here is Donna showing the guild members 2 of the tops made at Quilt Bee Day. Now for the quilting part...I hope one of them does not start whispering to me (read this post to see why!).