Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Giving and receiving...

In approaching New Year's Eve, I am counting my blessings as I do every year at this time, and today I am so thankful for my quilting friends, both near and far.
I am thankful for my quilt guild and for all the lessons that I have learned from them - about quilting and about life in general, the opportunities I have had because of my association with them, and the great memories I have experienced over the last 15 years.
This is a needlecase that Jackie (one of our past presidents) made for me as a 'thank you' gift for helping to demo projects at the December guild meeting. Isn't it fabulous?!? I love the stitchery on the front, and on the inside it has tiny pockets and a piece of batting to hold my needles. I love it and plan to use it frequently in 2010 as I hope to finish my "Journey of a Quilter" project, which I have been working on for 2 years already! Thanks again Jackie! That was a fun quilty surprise!
I am also thankful for all the quilting friends I have met through blogging. It's a big quilting world out there, full of inspiring people, who are making the world more beautiful through their creativity!
And being inspired by Julie's blog giveaway, I am going to have a draw to give away a package of  75  "Prints Charming" squares -  5" charm squares which I bought at Calico Gals this week...yes I went to New York! (I'll blog about it in my next post and tell you about my purchases). I bought 3 charm packages - 1 to give away to a blog reader, 1 to give away to a guild member at the January meeting and 1 to keep.
If you would be willing to sew these squares together (in any pattern) and then donate the resulting top (or finished quilt!) to your favorite charity, please leave me a comment. On January 1, 2010  I will draw the name and announce the winner of the charms.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Design Wall Monday?'s design wall Monday again!

Truthfully, nothing is on my design wall today.

I have been consumed with Christmas activities and travels, which I will tell more about later this week. But last week there were lots of gingerbread people on my design wall.

I first saw the gingerbread block on Jeanne's blog Luv 2 Stitch  when she made a pile of potholders while at a quilting retreat. They were so cute, I just had to try making them.  I made a 6 1/2" potholder size and then made some smaller 2 3/4" blocks, put them on point, and made a little mini quilt.

These blocks were so much fun to sew, I decided that December's theme of my monthly mini club would be gingerbread.

When the quilters came over, there was lots of gingerbread fun to be had! Susan brought some candy wrapped in gingerbread cellophane and a gingerbread towel. Bernie brought adorable gingerbread cookies for us to snack on while we sewed.
And here is the design wall...the larger blocks at the top,  some mini blocks in the middle, and on the bottom left of the design board you can see one gingerbread mascot sent to the class by Barb's nephew! I hope some of these gingerbread blocks were finished in time to be under some Christmas trees.

You can check out some other design walls at Judy's blog - click here.
If I get any sewing time this week, I be sewing step #5 of Bonnie's mystery and I will get to see how the blocks will look...can't wait! Come by later this week to see what new quilting store I visited over the holidays!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It has been a whirlwind of activity this past week preparing for Christmas and working long hours at work.  I also visited the Dufferin Piecemakers quilt guild on Monday night to do a trunk show.  It was a fun evening, with a pot luck supper, a lovely visit with my chauffeur Mary Lynne, and lots of beautiful quilts to see at Show and Tell. There was such so much generosity evident at this meeting with pillowcases and quilts being given to a local shelter, placemats made for Meals on Wheels, and donations collected for the Food Bank.
I haven't had any time for quilting which usually results in me feeling crabby and unsettled, but I have tried to enjoy every quilt-less day leading up to Christmas, and trust that everything that needs to get done, will get done, and reminding myself that there will be lots of time to sew after Christmas!
Last night we enjoyed a lovely Christmas Eve with a walk in the park to see the light displays. It was so cold that even the hot chocolate didn't warm us up!
For the first time in 18 years, I was organized enough that I didn't have to spend most of Christmas Eve wrapping presents, nor did I stay up late helping Santa stuff stockings! I enjoyed a lovely evening with my family, walking at the park and then watching "It's a Wonderful Life".
This year my homemade gift to my nieces and nephews (and children, parents, and mother-in-law) was a photo calendar. I buy the spiral bound photo calendars from Michael's and for each month I tape on a different photo of the person the gift is for. I think that is quite an amazing accomplishment for me as a photographer... that I have taken at least 12 shots of each of my nieces and nephews in this past year! Some are group shots of course and the best shots show up in every family members' calendar, but most are unique photographs of each child. I made 19 calendars and with 12 photos per calendar, that was about 230 photographs I located on discs and printed out. The calendar for my Dad is made of old family photos from our growing up years (shown in the photo). The one for my Mom is all grandchildren shots from this year. It was a wonderful way for me to prepare for Christmas by reviewing all the fun things we have done together as an extended family this year.
And now, the presents are already unwrapped, the cinnamon buns I made for breakfast are gone, the turkey is cooking in the oven, and the kids are playing Rock Band. As soon as I am finished on the computer I will set the table for 11 guests, and start peeling potatoes and preparing vegetables.
I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Design Wall Monday

It's Monday again and time to show you what's on my design wall. To see the design walls of other quilters, click here to Judy's blog.
I spent a lot of hours cutting, sewing HST's, squaring them up and getting ready to sew Step #4 of Bonnie's mystery.  These are the pieces prepared for sewing the blocks.
Quite a bit of time was spent trying to decide if I wanted to include this fabric...or not. You can see my original fabrics laid out here and I really liked this fabric, which in the photo was confidently placed the pink pile but when it came time to cutting it, I couldn't decide if it was mostly pink or mostly green. My sister was convinced it shouldn't even be in the quilt at all LOL! But I went ahead and put it in some of the blocks and time will tell if that was a good decision or not!
Here is Step #4 completed...104 broken dishes blocks.  It has been very relaxing to have this project to work on as time permits...easy, mindless piecing while listening to Christmas Carols on the radio. I doubt that I'll have much time this week to work on any quilting. I am doing a trunk show and lecture at the quilt guild in Orangeville tonight and then between working, and preparing for Christmas, it'll be a whirlwind of activity!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Quilt Delivered!

On top of all the regular Christmas activities on my "to-do" list, I promised to finish a quilt that I hadn't figured on working on this month. You can read about it here.

I finished it by the deadline and delivered it to my office yesterday. I had to do the binding by machine, which I don't like to do because I really enjoy the hand stitching process and prefer the look of a hand stitched binding. However, I was under a time constraint, so had to finish it up quickly.

I did very simple quilting, with wavy vertical lines using gold thread in the blocks, black in the black sashing strips, white in the white sashing, and red hearts in the outer border. I had to substitute another black and white fabric in the last white border,  but overall I was amazed that I was able to stretch the original fabric as far as I did...even had enough to do the binding!
And here is the finished quilt! As I handed over the quilt, I told my colleague that I stitched lots of happy thoughts and healing prayers for our client into this quilt as I worked on it and I hope it helps to lift her spirits.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Design Wall Monday

Just look at what's on my design wall today?!?

3 finished Christmas gifts!!
I have 3 siblings and this is of the gifts that will be in their Christmas package this year. These candlemats are 12" scaled down versions of Marcie's 2007 free pattern. The original size tabletopper pattern  (which is 24")  is still available on her site - click here. Marcie has a lot of beautiful patterns available to purchase - click here, PLUS a new Christmas quilt freebie called Christmas Punch - click here. I won't have time to make the new design this year, but hey, I'm only 2 years behind in finishing my candlemats...eventually I catch up!!

I think they look great with these tealights, but these were a gift to me last Christmas and I love them so I'm not giving them away! I'll give them another candle to go with their mat.
Tonight I hope to be finishing this quilt which has to be delivered to my office by Wednesday.
Tomorrow I'm making gingerbread!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Step #3 finished

A long journey starts with taking lots of small steps. Isn't that how the famous saying goes?!?

I have completed the long journey of Step #3 of Bonnie's Christmas mystery quilt. Here are my 192 blocks piled up and I'm ready for the next step, which I see doesn't use these blocks yet.
Next I'll be making thousands  lots of HST's. I'm using this mystery quilt sewing as a de-stresser and enjoying the relaxation of repetitive sewing while listening to Christmas music, and thinking of all the shopping, cooking, wrapping, cleaning and baking I still have to tackle.  
Never mind...just keep sewing, just keep sewing!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Step #3 started

Don't you just love it when you have all the pieces cut out and ready to sew?
That's my favorite quilting moment and here it is captured for Step #3 of Bonnie's mystery. I have sewn a group of 4 pieces to see if they are going to work and I'm happy with it so far.
Now, if only I had lots of time to sew the other 188 units.
But Christmas Eve is two weeks away and I haven't bought a single gift...not one! Yikes! Better step away from the sewing machine and get shopping. Okay...I'll just sew up a couple more blocks first!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Machine Quilting

On Saturday I taught a machine quilting class and here are the brave souls practising their skills. There is so much to learn about threads, needles, battings, basting, tension, and quilting designs.
I used one of the comfort quilt tops (made by guild members at Quilt Bee Day) to demo how I pin baste a quilt and I know the students will be checking my blog to see how it turned out. We brainstormed lots of great ideas for quilt designs and in the end, because I have so many things to do before Christmas and needed a design that was quick and easy to finish, the quilting design became boring squares.

The method I used for the pattern was to cut a paper square the size that I wanted, pin it to the quilt and free motion quilt around the paper square. Unfortunately I learned that I didn't like this's much harder than it looks to quilt a straight line with a free motion foot on. It did finish up quickly, but I must admit that I frequently found myself thinking "Why didn't I go with the leaf would have been more fun"?!?!
I like this photo of the threads that I used on this quilt. It really shows you that I use all different kinds of threads to get the job done...Aurifil, King Tut, Sulky, and Mettler are the 4 threads that are in this quilt. And even though I was really quilting at top speed, I didn't have one thread break...yippee!!

I was happy to deliver the quilt to the comfort quilt co-ordinator Donna at the guild meeting tonight and have one less project kicking around the quilt studio. Here is the quilt with the quilting finished and ready to be passed onto the volunteer binder. This quilt top was made with fabrics from the stash of our guild founder, who passed away earlier this year.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Design Wall Monday

This is what is on my design wall today.

Where did this come from you ask?!? I can hear you thinking...I didn't see her working on those blocks!
It was unearthed from my extensive UFO pile! I needed a quick gift for a client of the treatment centre where I work. She is in dire need of help and support in a crisis and our team decided to put together a gift basket for her. Of course I thought "I could finish up a quilt for her"...but then I think I said it out loud! SO now I have to do it!
This was a mystery quilt from Quiltaholics website from 2005! Yes...almost 5 years ago! I looked back to the Yahoo group site to see how the quilt is supposed to be finished since I have long since lost the directions. Of course there are several more borders to add. I won't be doing that. I'll maybe add the black/white/black border which is the same as the sashing and see what fabric I have for binding etc.
BTW...Deb at Quiltaholics has not been doing mystery projects for a while but her last one from 2008, which was an elephant (click here to see mine) is still posted under "projects" if you are interested in a fun design for a kids quilt.
And another BTW...did you happen to notice that some of the Black and White fabrics in this old quilt are STILL being used up in the Carolina Christmas mystery that I am trying to keep up with!?!? How bizarre is that?!?!
What's on your design wall today? Hop over to Judy's blog, grab a cup of tea and see what other quilters are making today.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Lucky streak?

I have some great news to announce. Well, if you read Andrea's blog, you already know this news....I won the raffle quilt! I am so excited and can't wait to see it in real life! Since I am on a lucky streak, maybe I should run out and buy a lottery ticket?!?
I am working away sewing each evening on the mystery quilt. What is it about a mystery that turns me into a total quiltaholic (more than usual)?!?  This step was a lot of HST's!

Please ignore my stained ironing board in the photo...I am asking Santa for a new cover and was hoping for this one! However they seem to be out of stock, so unless Santa is magic and my lucky streak continues....
Did you see my first 2 blocks that I posted on Monday? (Click here if not)
1 of my 2 blocks was a mistake! I put a dark corner on the top block, and it needed a green corner.
So I fixed that mistake and went on the finish the other 102 blocks and here they are...

Of course I carefully trimmed all the dog ears from each block and put them in my jam jar. Oh yes I did! I keep my dog ears you know, and even if I never make anything from them, they make me very happy lined up on the shelf. See all the jars lined up on the bottom shelf...happy happy happy!
I'm off to work on Step #3. No wait...I have to sleep at night. Oh yah, I forgot!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

FInished Step #1

Step #1 of Bonnie's mystery is finished.  It was very mindless and relaxing cutting and sewing...perfect for this time of year to calm down at the end of a long day, while you try not to think of all the things you have to do in the next 3 weeks. (Maybe I should be doing some of those things instead of sewing, eh?!?!)
Here is my pile of 192 "Twosies" blocks. It almost looks like a fabric Christmas tree!
And here are some of the twosies and 4 of the 104 HST's which went together quickly and accurately using the Easy Angle ruler...loved it!
As I was sewing these blocks I felt a little bit concerned about my combination of greens. Some of them are blueish greens and some are so yellowy. Usually I wouldn't put these greens together in a quilt, but they looked so nice and friendly laid out at the beginning. Time will tell I guess! I used to get my knickers in quite a knot over the fabric selections, but since doing mysteries with Bonnie I am more comfortable making strange/unique choices and believing that somehow it will all work out in the end! Hmmm...perhaps a life lesson there?!?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Design Wall Monday

Happy Monday! I enjoyed a fun-filled visit from my sister and her family from Michigan this weekend, so didn't have a lot of time for sewing. At some points there were 10 children in the house...lots of noise and activity!
I insisted on doing some sewing on Sunday afternoon, and I wish I would have taken a photo, because I had my 11 year old niece and 8 year old nephew handing me strips to sew the blocks in the photo on the right. They did a great job of matching a light and a dark and seemed to enjoy the task.   I also had my sister and her bestfriend drinking tea and visiting with me, so there were 5 of us in the sewing room!

I was hoping to be able to keep up with Bonnie's mystery from Quiltville, but didn't meet that goal. At this point, part one is almost completed and I have made 2 blocks for part 2. And that is all that is on my design wall today...I had hoped to have 104 of them, but 2 is a good start!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Start your engines!

Today is Friday and it's the beginning of a new scrappy mystery from Bonnie at Quiltville. Part 1 is already posted here.
I pulled these out of my stash this week and am combining fabrics I bought in Paducah (a green and pink batik bundle), with fabrics I bought a couple of weeks ago at the Shop Hop (greens, blacks, and whites with the green) plus some odds and ends of pieces I found when stash diving.
You need 3 colours plus a background, so I can't decide if my background should be the black or the white. I can go ahead and start part 1 because I don't have to make that decision to do the first step. Are you playing along?!? Come on...put aside your UFO's and start something new!! (Clearly I am a bad influence!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Red & Aqua blocks

The weather here is dull and dreary...more rain in the forecast for today. Where is our snow?!?!  I sometimes start to feel a little desperate to see the sun in November, and if it starts to peak out, I hurry outside to go for a walk. This morning I hung my "Soak up the Sun" mini quilt in the hall in lieu of the real sun!  It's foundation pieced on muslin and it is a mini quilt...about 7" square, and has a few buttons and beads for embellishment. But this little quilt sure makes me feel happier when I walk past.

I have been playing with my red and aqua blocks and I have decided on this block layout. I just started but it has been a bit of a challenge piecing the blocks together since everyone's quarter inch seam is different. If a block is too short, I have to either rebuild it with a smaller seam allowance or try to stretch it out.  I have also divided the blocks into 2 groups, and this quilt will have only the red and aqua blocks. The second quilt will have the blocks that include other colours. Off to sew...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Red & Aqua blocks on the design wall

I am having fun playing with my blocks from Jane's red and aqua disappearing 9 patch block swap. Here are some layout possibilities. This is one of my favorite parts of quilting and I prolong the "playing with the blocks" stage until I am convinced that the layout I have is my favorite, or until I get tired of it!
Any suggestions?!?
Brighten up your Monday morning in November with some quilting inspiration... visit Judy's blog to see the design walls of other quilters.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Block fun

Remember those churn dash blocks I made in September? (You can check them out on this post.)
They were sewn together with blocks from other bloggers and made into a lovely quilt. You can read about it on Carol's blog here, or read about Darlene receiving her quilt on Darlene's blog entry from November 15th. Hope you enjoy your quilted hug Darlene!

I haven't done a lot of quilting this week. But I did go to Toronto with some friends to see the Radio City Rockettes Christmas show.
It was a fantastic show with amazing special effects, great choreography, and music. Two things that were delightful and rare these was all "family friendly" entertainment, and it included a Nativity Scene. This is a very bad photo of the wise men following the star, but the costumes were spectacular in this scene. You can see some video clips of the show here.  In my favorite dance number the Rockettes were dressed as Santas.

In sewing adventures this week... I will be playing with my red and aqua blocks from Jane's disappearing 9 patch block swap. I got into the swap just under the wire and made my blocks up so fast that I didn't even take a picture of them before I sent them away. But here is the pile of blocks I received. I think there might be enough for 2 quilts, so I'll be sorting and sewing them this week.
And guess what else is happening this week?!?!
Bonnie at Quiltville is starting another mystery quilt on Friday. I have played along with 3 of her mysteries so far (Carolina Crossroads, Orange Crush, and Double Delight) so I know they are always lots of fun.
I will definately be sewing this one, but am still undecided as to which fabrics I will use...decisions, decisions!  No pressure...I have until Friday to decide!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quilting feathers and flowers

This week I have been doing some machine quilting on a quilt made by a friend. It's a great exercise to practise on a quilt you don't really love. It can be quite relaxing because there is nothing you can do that will "ruin" it.
I've been focusing on different kinds of feathers, but every once and a while some flowers are creeping in.
I don't know why that happens!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday again?!?!

The weeks seem to be flying by and I can't believe it is design wall Monday again!

On my wall this morning are 2 projects...the comfort quilt BOMs for my guild on the left. I think the block is called "hens and chicks" and you can see a pattern here. One of the block kits was missing 2 yellow triangles, so I just picked a fabric from my stash to mix in.
On the right is a half finished tablerunner made with the Jingle Jolly Runner pattern and using up my scraps of Sheri Berry Christmas fabric.

I taught a class of 20 quilters from the Waterloo Quilters Guild on Saturday and a couple of them said they read my blog, so I'll post a photo from the class. They have such a large and sunny classroom at a community centre, which is perfect for quilting classes. It was lots of fun, but I was sure tired on Sunday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Treats...and it isn't even Halloween!

Treats for others:
Fellow quilt blogger Andrea (Welsh Quilter) is helping her daughter raise money to do some community work in Africa by raffling this lovely quilt.  (My niece used her summer vacation to teach at an African orphanage this year and the pictures she brought back were very moving.) If you can help out Andrea's daughter by buying a ticket or two for this quilt raffle, another young person can pursue her dream of helping others and learn more about being a global citizen. You can pay by "Paypal", which I haven't used yet, but I will try it out for this cause!
Treats for ourselves:
There are 2 blog hops going on right now with Christmas giveaways. One is called "Cross Country Christmas Quilt Designer Blog Hop".  You can win prizes, learn about new pattern designers and companies, and get free projects/patterns daily from Nov. 9th to Nov. 30th....check it out at Gudrun's World.
Also, the "Gum Tree Designers" are offering free Christmas projects featuring hand stitching. The first 6 of the 9 projects are already here to see them.
Better get yourself a cup of tea first....this blog surfing should keep you busy for a while!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Risk taking sometimes pays off

Taking risks is always scary and sometimes rewarding. I have had a rewarding experience that I wanted to post on my blog. I have often visited my local art centre and appreciated the annual juried art shows in the gallery. I always have wondered aloud why there are no fiber arts to be seen in these shows.
Why is that?
So this year when the call for entry was announced for the Juried Art Show, I submitted my quilt called "The Internal Sun".  I'll tell you, it sure was scary walking in the registration room full of sketches, paintings, portraits, landscapes and sculptures!  But I did it anyway and was delighted when they called 3 days later to say that my piece was accepted into the show! I couldn't attend the show opening because it was my daughter's graduation the same night and after all, one can't do too many scary things all at once without getting too many silver hairs! But I have since gone to visit my quilt hanging in the show and was also happy to see that there was one other brave fiber artist who has a piece hanging in the show!

Can you see my little quilt hanging on the post? I think it feels scared too!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Design Wall Monday

My life has been so frenetic lately that I haven't had much time to sew. These are the pieces sitting beside my sewing machine waiting to be sewn together. It will be another tablerunner like the one on this post made from the leftover scraps to make another Christmas gift. It feels good to be thinking ahead and not leaving all my Christmas sewing until the last minute.
Last week was Shop Hop but I was so busy at work, I had to spread it out over 2 days, which is not as much fun. But I did manage to get to all the stores and collect the fabrics for the Shop Hop tablerunner before I left the country to visit my little sister for the weekend.
My other sister, my Mom and I spent the weekend at her home in Michigan and we had a great time together. Lots of visiting, laughing, shopping, and playing games, but not much sleeping. Here we are at the "Always Christmas" store in Canterbury, and we also visited the the Village Quilt Shoppe. The weekend was great but it took us 7 hours to get home due to the over 2 hour wait at the Bluewater Bridge border crossing in Sarnia. That sure discourages cross border visits! I was always thinking about the volume of air pollution of thousands of vehicles inching forward, idling on the bridge, and running their vehicles for hours waiting to cross the border. 
Anyway, from the shop hop and Michigan shopping, I managed to do a little damage to the credit card and buy some fabrics for future projects. Bonnie at Quiltville has announced that she is hosting a new mystery soon so I had to get a few new Fat Quarters. I am not going to use the  Christmas colours she suggested since I already have a couple of Christmas quilts. I bought these yummy fabrics but I don't know if they will be for the mystery or not.
Hop on over to Judy's blog to check out the design walls of other quilters around the world.