Friday, February 29, 2008

Retreat Report #2

The first project I planned to work on at retreat was my mystery quilt from Quiltville. When I arrived at the retreat I discovered that 3 other quilters were sewing the same mystery...small world! One quilter was assembling her blocks, and the other 2 were working on their piles of 9 patch blocks. It was fun to see their quilts developing and I hope it was encouraging for them to see my finished top.
I had already finished piecing the quilt top before the retreat and my goal was to cut and sew on the borders. I had a black and white fabric from my stash that I thought would make a fun inner border and I cut and pieced it so the sayings would be complete around the quilt...that took some figuring.
Then I cut the fabric for my outside border, which was my only stash fabric that was suitable colours and a large enough piece. But I came up a little short, so had to add in corner stones. Here is a close up of the corner borders. I might take those blue corners out and make them green if I can find enough pieces leftover. I really cleared out my greens and the black and whites from this mystery quilt! What do you think...should the blue corners stay or go?!?!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Retreat Report #1

I am back from this year's quilting retreat and am catching up with all the household activities today. Seems the family managed quite fine without me this year! It gets easier each year to be away as the children get older.
I have lots to tell about my retreat projects so decided I will write a blog report every day until I am done, so you will have to check back to see what I accomplished!
First of all, I will tell you about the retreat book I made. The inspiration came from Annie over at "Annie's Quilting Adventures" blog and you can read about it here. She inspired me to create a book using the Blurb software, based on the blog I wrote about last year's quilt retreat.It was labour intensive and a real learning curve with the software program, but I was happy with the outcome. It's a small, soft cover book (only 20+ pages) and I ordered 2 copies which cost me about $27 each with shipping and handling charges. Kind of expensive, but I like the paper it is printed on, and the quality of the photos is much better than I had thought it would be. I was very happy with how it turned out. It's a great idea if you are interested in producing a hard copy of your blog.
So what did I do with the 2 copies? Well, one is for me and one I gave away at the retreat by drawing a name from all the quilters that attended last year and this year. And the winner was Susan! Here she is looking at the book with Jackie and Barb. Everyone took turns reading about last year's retreat and remembering some of the adventures that I had written about and captured on film.
So now I have to get busy and write a new blog for this year's retreat. I will soon as I catch up on some much needed sleep!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Connected Hearts

I am starting to feel better every day...finally! It was a good week to miss since my children only had a 3 day school week (Monday was Family Day and Friday was a P.D. day) which meant they were around to help out more, and there was less running around for me to do. It also meant I was home when the hot water heater sprung a leak, and had to be quickly replaced.
But I missed teaching a quilt class that I was looking forward to. The project was this 8" square Valentine's mini quilt that I am calling "Connected Hearts".I got the idea from the "Connecting Stars" minis I was making (click here to see some), and thought that by changing the direction of the connecting corners, you could make hearts instead of stars. It was really fun to sew, and is made from 5" charm squares, including the backing and binding.
I am so glad to be feeling better because this week is quilt retreat! One of the things I did to pass the time while laying in bed this week was to think about what projects I would take to work on, convincing myself that I would only work on UFO's. I would not have time and energy to go shopping so I wouldn't start anything new. It sounded like a good idea when I was sick, and now it doesn't sound very exciting! What was I thinking?!?! I was clearly delirious!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Under the weather

Just before Valentine's day I started suffering with a cold, which has continued to get worse every day. Maybe it's just that I am "under the weather". Here is a photo from this week of my Molly dog beside the snowbank at the end of the driveway, so you can see how much snow we have. It was getting harder to find places to put the snow. Now today it is pouring rain, which will change to freezing rain. No wonder I am sick!!!
But a wonderful highlight has been receiving a package from Meredith at Quilt Threads. I was the lucky winner of the draw for the first anniversary of her blog. You can see all the wonderful treats she sent by clicking here. Thank you so much Meredith...what a wonderful and generous package you sent! All of the things in the package were quilting supplies that I had never seen before, except the rotary blades, which I desperately needed and I will put in a new one as soon as I feel up to quilting again. While resting and staying warm, I have enjoyed pouring over all the new patterns and deciding what new project I would like to start!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today is the day for the winners to be drawn for the One World - One Heart Event. I have picked the prize winners using the random number generator. Check this posting to see who my winners are. It was a lot of fun to participate in this event and although I didn't get around to see all 426 listed blogs, I did visit many of them and found lots of inspiration and "artist eye candy"!
On this Valentine's Day I hope to have some time to continue quilting the border of the comfort quilt. I decided to try what is called a "feather design" in the border, but when I am quilting it, I think of it as a "continuous hearts" design. It takes a lot of practise to get the loops the correct size to fill up the border space, and to have the heart edges look smooth and rounded. I didn't use a pattern to trace or sew on, just free motion quilting.
As I was quilting away, I was thinking about how this quilt really is a community gift of love. The fabric for the quilt was either donated to the guild and/or purchased with money that was raised by guild members for the purpose of making comfort quilts. You can read more about this guild project by clicking here. There were 8 women that worked on the planning, fabric cutting, and sewing together of this quilt top. The women were Joan, Marion, Judy, Mary, Lana, Marg, Anne and Bev. Then the top, batting and backing came to me and I will baste, quilt, and put the binding on. Then it will go to our local hospital where it will be given to a child who has been hospitalized on the Pediatric Sexual Assault Treatment Unit. I hope the child believes that there are wonderful, loving people in the world who made this quilt just for her and that we are sending her lots of loving, healing thoughts and wishes for a happy life.
And that's what Valentine's Day is about...celebrating love and spreading it around in our families and communities!
Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Quilting Grades

Snow. Snow. And more snow! This is our third snowstorm in a week. But tonight the snow caused my quilt guild meeting to be cancelled, so that means there were a lot of unhappy quilters sitting at home watching American Idol instead of visiting their quilting friends and seeing beautiful quilts! Oh well...better to be safely snuggled under a warm quilt, than to be driving on the highways in a snowstorm. This is a photo of my hedge after our second snowstorm...the little branches were so weighed down by all the snow. I hope it survives this brutal winter weather.
In all my spare moments I have been working on the comfort quilt. I finished stitching in the ditch in all directions and gave myself a "B" for not riding up out of the ditch too often. But I gave myself a "C" for my basting job because look what happened at the ends of some of the seams! I got some big nasty bulges ahead of the walking foot. That means I didn't pull the quilt top taut enough when basting, and the walking foot pushed the excess fabric along as I quilted.
I then gave myself a "D" for attitude...and not being kind, gentle and patient with myself, since I had tried my best!! Once I calmed down and re-pinned all the borders, I moved on to my favorite part... the free motion quilting. I used a varigated Sulky blendable thread to quilt a flower in the centre of each of the 48 blocks. And finally I earned an "A" and started having fun!
While working on the flowers, the quilt was whispering something about ideas for quilting the border and I'm eager to get to that part and see how it works out. I wonder if this quilt will be quiet when it is finished??!!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Quilt Whisperer

I went to my UFO meeting, which is now called the Friendship Group, since many of us don't actually finish very many UFO's! Our intentions are pure, but we also love to start new projects!! Anyway, I took a couple of things to show but ended up leaving the meeting with more bags than I had taken!
How does this always happen to me?? I'll tell you how.
Joan showed a pretty quilt top made for our guild's charity and she explained that no one had offered to quilt it. She even had the batting cut and the backing pieced. And that's when the trouble started...that quilt started whispering to me and giving me ideas of how to quilt it.
No one else seemed bothered by the whispers, so I started talking out loud about what the quilt was saying. Then I couldn't concentrate on the conversation in the room because that quilt kept whispering to me new ideas. I tried to shush the quilt, but to no avail. And before I knew it, I was taking that quilt home!
Oh brother...I have so many projects on the go and don't have time for this one! But it keeps on whispering and bugging me, so okay...I gave up and started to pin baste it. And all the while, this thing was telling me which pretty threads it would like (by the way, it prefers the varigated Sulky threads, which is a good thing because I love them too and have lots of selection!).
So, lest you think I have lost my mind, rent the movie "HorseWhisperer" and watch how Robert Redford communicates with the horses, and then you'll understand the problem/talent (?) that I seem to have with quilts!!
Better get going...I hear that quilt calling me!!!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Connecting Stars

Around Christmas time there were a lot of bloggers making a starry table runner. Click here to see a few finished runners on Monica Solorio-Snow's blog. Click here to download the free pattern if you are interested in making one. It finishes 16" x 40".
If you have read my blog before, you might know how much I love to sew anything with connecting corners. Why, you might ask?? I have no idea! I just find it fun to sew.
I have made a similar version of this star design with connecting corners many times for gifts.
This is my latest version and it is 8" x 10". I made it for my niece's birthday gift. It will match her sofa colours perfectly. Better pop it in the mail since her birthday was groundhog day!
Here are a couple of my older minis. On the left is a mini from about 2004 that has 9 stars instead of 12. And on the right is a Christmasy version that was hanging in a sunny window. I have always liked the striped fabric binding on that one! And below is a larger version at 18.5" square made from batik fabrics.
I have been having some fun with a variation of this design for Valentine's day so check back later to see that version.
Also, if you haven't entered my draw to win one of my mini quilts, click here and join in the fun!
There are 70 people signed up so far and if I reach 100 I'll add a third gift to giveaway!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

One World - One Heart Event

Lisa has created a wonderful blog event called One World - One Heart and I have signed up for it. What is it? It is a way to connect with other creative bloggers around the world. Each participating blogger is offering a gift to one of their blog visitors. You can click on the One World - One Heart blog and see the growing list of over 400 wonderful blogs to visit and add your name to the amazing draws. It is incredible the gifts that are being offered...get a cup of tea and enjoy blog surfing!
I am giving away two of my mini quilts and all you have to do to have a chance to win one is to leave a comment on my blog. Late on February 13th, I will draw the lucky winners. You must either have your own blog, or leave me an email address where I can contact you if you win. And...since this is a world wide blogger event, if you tell me the area of the world where you are from, I will also send a gift to the blogger who is farthest away from me.

****New prize added****

Wow! I now have well over 100 comments registered, so I am adding another special gift for one lucky winner. My friend Judy makes these beautiful quilted fiber art pins and she has generously offered to give one away for this special One World - One Heart Event. Here is a photo of Judy's Valentine pin.

And the winners are:
* Hugs and Kisses Mini Quilt goes to Toni at 3 AM Designs
* Hearts Mini Quilt goes to Michele at Calico Daisy
* Heart Pin goes to Pat at Mille Fiori Favoriti
I have one other name to pick...that of the person who lives farthest away from us, and I am getting my son to figure that out for me using the globe when he gets home from school. You know Moms...always looking for teachable moments!
Update: my son has decided that the winner of this prize is Michelle who lives in the Bay of Plenty, in New Zealand. I'm not sure if this is geographically accurate, but the point was for him to do a little geography research and let him pick the congratulations Michelle!