Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Machine Quilting

In pursuit of my goal to finish 2 quilts this week (so that I can join in on the mystery weekend at Quiltaholics) I have been working on the Kwik Scrappy Star quilt. I have had the borders sewn on since July, so now I just needed to get to the quilting. Here are the threads I am using... gold Aurofil for the bobbin and a varigated King Tut for the top. I have used this thread combination before with great results, so I'm trying it again.
Here is the quilt all pin basted on my tables, and ready to be quilted. I have had the quilt top hanging up and have been thinking about how to quilt it for a couple of months, and have decided that I'm going with one of my favorite quilting designs...swirls. I decided to not do any stitch in the ditch on this quilt, except around the gold border to stabilize the edges. Here is the start of my quilting...so far, so good!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Relaxing with paper piecing

Okay, I think I was a little hasty yesterday in saying crazy things about not starting new projects! Today I took a few deep breaths, had a little chocolate, and started working on a new paper pieced block by Carol Doak. I belong to Carol's Yahoo group and she designs new patterns at every big milestone as the group grows. This block pattern was to celebrate 4,000 members in the group! I just had to make one in my fall batiks. I like how Carol gives the measurements to cut out all the pieces before you start sewing and here is a photo of all my pieces all ready to sew...pure delight!
Now mind you, this sewing was not just to start a new project. No, it was purely for meditative purposes only...to give me some time to think about what to do about the mystery next weekend.
Here is the finished block. It was supposed to be 6 1/2" unfinished and but mine is 1/4" short of that. The block has 56 pieces of fabric in it. I think my version is a little too orangey, but I'd like to give it another shot and bring in some other colours.
I have come to the decision that I will probably/should do next weekend's mystery because the pattern designer (Deb) said that the small version only took her 3 1/2 hours to sew. Now how can a person pass up that tiny, little bit of fun and the opportunity to use up more stash!?!?
But I also promised myself that I must finish 2 projects between now and then before I can start this new mystery. Now that sounds somewhat reasonable, don't you think?!?!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Facing the Truth

I have finally finished stitching Block #5 of my Journey of a Quilter project. I checked back in my blog and discovered that I traced this block in October 2007...
that's right...it took me almost a year to finish this block!! And it was easy stitching too! (To read this humiliating evidence click here. ) The good thing about having a blog is documenting your progress on some quilting projects, and the bad thing about having a blog is the documentation of the lack of progress on others! Oh my...I just can't believe it has been a whole year! But in the meantime I have enjoyed all the experiences listed on this block...stitched, formed friendships, laughed, shared secrets, eased burdens, and learned lessons...and created many more UFO's!
I really am trying to be more disciplined about starting new projects, and forcing myself to work on my UFO's first.
Case in point...I did not start Bonnie's latest mystery quilt Old Tobacco Road because I haven't finished her first two mysteries yet (see mystery 1 here and mystery 2 here). I have the tops pieced and the backings and battings purchased, but they are not quilted, bound, or labelled, so that doesn't "count" as being finished. It's very difficult for this quilting addict to resist this enticement, and even though I would be using up stash (a very good thing), I would be making another UFO (not a good thing).
So I just had to say 'no'!
And now another temptation is coming along...a new mystery by Deb over at Quiltaholics - click here. The fabric requirements are posted and the larger size would be just perfect for the comfort quilts project at my guild. It is running next weekend Oct. 4 and 5th and now I have to figure out... do I have it in me to turn down 2 mystery quilts in a row?!?!
Maybe I will sew up a quick little paper piecing block just for fun while I decide what to do about this mystery quilt?!?!
Or maybe I should just finish the quilting on the many other mystery quilts I have started this year and written about in my blog, like the Quiltaholics spring mystery, or last fall's mystery, or the spring mystery before that !?!
This is like a quilting intervention on myself....I think I just made my decision!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Criss Cross Finished!

I am so happy to announce that I have finished my Criss Cross quilt - including the binding and label! That must be a record for me - to make a quilt (not a mini!) from start to finish within 5 months! I easily finished quilting the border feathers, but when I was working on the binding, I just wasn't happy with how the quilt was laying. Some of the blocks were really lumpy and I just kept looking at the puffy finished quilt and not liking it.
I kept asking myself "what would make me like this quilt more"? And unfortunately my answer was always "more quilting". But I didn't want to do more quilting because:
a) I have a thousand other projects waiting for attention,
b) I had already put the binding on, and taking it off was not negotiable and
c) I wasn't sure if I had enough thread left! Eventually I just decided that I would keep on quilting until I liked it!
I don't think I have ever done additional quilting after I have finished a binding, but I did with this quilt! I just did more feathery looking loops inside the blocks, adding additional loops if it was still puffy, like this block on the left. I was threatening the blocks to lay flat or be quilted into submission!
And here is the finished quilt, which is laying marvelously flat!
And here is the leftover thread - hardly enough to quilt another puffy block! What great luck!
And my other great luck story is that I met one of my favorite theatre actors on the weekend. And even better than that, is in real life he is warm, friendly and generous with his fans. And EVEN better than that, I got my picture taken with him. Here I am - a very excited fan (don't mind my glow sticks - you need these fashion accessories to see the show!) with Sterling Jarvis, who was previously in the "Lion King", and is now playing Hilary Duff (don't ask!) in "We Will Rock You" at the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto.
If my life gets any better, I won't be able to stand it!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Capricorn Block #8

I spent a lovely afternoon at Triangle Sewing today and enjoyed visiting with the quilters who dropped in. I also used the time to do some stitching (what else is there?!?!) and finished block #8 of the Capricorn Quilts BOM. I have put a photo of each block on the right hand side of my blog if you want to take a peek at all of them so far. Or you can check out Bea's blog and see many other photos of the same design. And drop in on this blog to see a really creative variation from a stitcher who doesn't drink tea!
I think I missed out on a "bonus" block during the summer, but don't have enough of the white background fabric to do more than 12 blocks, so I am deciding if I will mix in a second white/background fabric. Oh these crazy things we quilters do to ourselves!!!
And here is a photo of my very fancy "light box" where I trace all my hand embroidery patterns onto fabric...the back door of my studio! Works for me!

Friday, September 19, 2008

More Machine Quilting

I finished the SITD (stitch in the ditch) quilting and thought that would be enough for the inside quilting.
Then I started feather quilting the borders. I LOVE this kind of free motion quilting and decided to teach a class on it this fall (at Reichard's). I can't get enough of it and seem to be feather quilting every border I've worked on in the last 6 months! I mark the centre of the border with straight pins for the spine and then make the feathers to the left and right of the spine. It goes so quickly and it is FUN!
I am starting to get excited about having another UFO finished!
I will be doing some hand stitching at Triangle's open house tomorrow...come on over and visit...they have great snacks!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tons of Tomatoes

I was so excited when my tomato plants started to do well this summer, especially since the rest of my garden was really struggling/dying. The tomatoes ended up taking over most of the garden and are now totally out of control! We have bowls of tomatoes to content with and I have tried many different recipes to use them up.
I tried making Salsa, which my family decided contained too many other vegetables - I was trying to sneak that past them! And they decided that it wasn't spicey enough to suit them. Hmmm...I might give it another shot this weekend. I made my favorite bean dip recipe with lots of tomatoes and that went over really well.
And I have made tomato quiche, which the kids flat out hated.
Okay, okay...here's the problem. I keep adding ingredients that the recipe doesn't call for. In quilting, I call that "making it your own" and "being creative". In cooking, my family begs me just to follow the recipe!!
Here's a photo of the tomato quiche...but I added spinach, feta cheese, peppers and a little leftover ham. I think that sounds delicious, but sadly, most of it is still sitting in the fridge!!
I hope to try Libby's Tomato Basil Pie - the recipe is on her blog (on September 15th) "A Simple Girl". Anybody have any good tomato recipes I could try??? I promise to follow the directions as written!!!
*Latest News*
Guess what happened last night when I went out to the garden to collect more tomatoes?!? This guy was guarding my plants!
Yep...it's a skunk! So I called the Mr. Animal Control guy and thankfully he came out "after hours" to help us with this problem. Mr. Skunk wasn't moving around, just laying there, but did not appear to be injured. We wondered about the possibility of the skunk having rabies. When Mr. Animal Control guy approached, Mr. Skunk 'sprayed' towards him, but not in the direction of my tomato plants! Eventually the skunk was chloroformed and wrestled into a bag...I didn't ask what would happen to Mr. Skunk since I didn't really want to know. The tomato patch is still smelling pretty 'ripe' today!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More Fun Than I Can Stand!

I have done two guild lectures within a week...that must be a record for me! I talked at my own guild's meeting about Quilt Canada 2008. I showed a power point presentation of the photos I took - of my classes, showed some quilts, but mostly because of the (very disappointing) ban on quilt photos in many large quilt shows these days, I didn't have any of the award winning CQA quilts, so I also showed a few photos of my travels in Newfoundland.
Today I talked about my Quilting Addiction and did a trunk show at the Trent Valley Quilters' Guild in Trenton, Ontario. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, and have no photos of that to show either! One of the guild visitors was from Ireland and I was so excited to think she had come all that way to hear me speak (and also to visit her sister)!!! I had a fantastic time there, met lots of interesting women and heard a few stories of quilting addicts who do even stranger things than I do! What fun!!!
And I finally had time to do some machine quilting this week. I finished pin basting the Criss Cross quilt and started the 'Stitch in the Ditch' quilting with my walking foot to stablilize the whole thing. I quilted the vertical and horizontal seams and then both sides of the green strips. It went very well, with only a few lumps and bumps, and very little tugging and stretching! Perhaps that means I am getting better at the basting?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back to quilting

This is the fabric that I sent to the winners of my little contest from this post. My thanks to the winners - Mary Jo in Iowa, Sharon in Pennsylvania, and Deanna in Trout Creek, Ontario. All the squishies have already arrived safe and sound...I hope you can find a use for these fabrics. The top fabric is one of my favorite Kaffe Fassette fabrics in the Paperweight line, and the bottom fabric is just a happy colour to go with it.
Yesterday I had more company come to visit and spent the whole day...yes, the entire day shopping (to the market and then the grocery store), and cooking/baking. I finished the last salad just as the company arrived. I told my very appreciative family that doing all that work reminded me of why I love quilting so much. If I would have spent the whole day quilting, I would have accomplished something that would still be here 50 years in the future. However, what I accomplished yesterday in 8 hours of work was almost completely gone in 30 minutes!! Oh well, as much as I love quilting, I must not starve my family!!!!
I have made some progress with my Criss Cross quilt. I put the dark sashing fabric all around the outside and then added a green border. I just love this green fabric from Nancy Halvorsen's William's Inn line.
Now I am pin basting the quilt. I
have picked out a thread for the machine quilting...a King Tut varigated thread, which goes through my machine without ever breaking, no matter how fast I quilt! I am looking forward to some relaxing machine quilting...which will be much more fun than working in the kitchen all day!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Grandma's quilt & my latest quilt

This was a week that was, as my son calls it, "happy sad". I will miss my Grandma and am feeling the finality of death, but am so relieved to not watch her suffer anymore. I was thinking today that we would not allow an animal to suffer like that, but trying to get the appropriate medication for her was a nightmare. Her order of pain medicines was finally approved and passed through all the paperwork and "red tape" 4 hours after her death! Anyway, the funeral was a loving tribute to her life and a celebration of her spirit. I played her favorite hymn on the piano as my contribution and as a remembrance of the love of music that we both shared.
I had a big decision to make regarding the rail fence quilt I had made for Grandma. Here is a photo taken on the day I gave her the quilt, 13 years ago. She used it as a lap quilt on her sofa, but when she went to the nursing home, she had it on her bed. At some point the pillow that matched the quilt had disappeared, but in the 2 years that Grandma lived there, the quilt never went missing! It was quite worn out though after all that use, and I decided that her quilt should stay with her. So she was wrapped in her quilt in the coffin and her hands folded over the edge. I felt comfort in the fact that she will be wrapped in my gift of love for all time.
I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who sent me such warm messages of condolence and support. I appreciate very much each and every one.
So now the funeral is over, and the company has gone home.
I finally had a bit of time to myself today and in between loads of laundry was able to do some quilting. I decided to work on something that required no brain power and work on finishing my Criss Cross quilt. You can read about the beginning of it here. The first thing I did was take out this solid light blue fabric which I really didn't like with the rest of the fabrics. I added in another pink fabric in it's place and was happier. Here is the finished quilt top. I have the borders ready to sew on and will be thinking as I fall asleep tonight about how I will do the quilting.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A time for everything...

It has been a very stressful week. The kids started back to school, so all our family routines are different, and lots of decisions must be made about sports team tryouts, music lessons, and other extracurricular activities, ....plus how to get them back and forth to those activities. And of course, dealing with the dreaded issue of homework completion rears it's ugly head again!
And in addition to all of that stress, my almost 94 year old grandmother's health deteriorated drastically this past week and she passed away yesterday. I had been taking my parents frequently to visit, and then going back again in the evenings when I knew she would be alone. I just didn't want her to die alone, and I was relieved that she died when my Dad and his youngest sister from Newfoundland were both with her. Truthfully her passing is a welcomed relief after so many years of suffering with Alzheimers disease. This is a photo of Grandma in January on her 93rd birthday. She didn't know who anybody was, but could still communicate somewhat and right until the end of her life she enjoyed holding hands and just being together.
I am really craving some time alone and some quilting time, but the relatives are all arriving tomorrow, so I'll have to delay that a few more days. Now is time for cleaning, cooking, and visiting with relatives.