Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Alex--Sandra and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

That title came to me yesterday, Tuesday, as I stomped up the stairs to get ready to drive into Windsor to my yoga class.  Yoga class ends at 6 pm.  Guild meeting starts at 7 pm, a 50-minute drive back to Kingsville....

1.  First off, I broke my darling "I heart New York" coffee mug, memento of my 2007 trip.  It slipped out of my fingers and hit the granite countertop.  Smash!  No....

2.  Walking Rocco an hour later, I stepped in another dog's poop that was lying on the sidewalk, and slipped, arms flew out, nearly fell...just about stepped in another log two feet after that one.  Okay, that's not quite true of yesterday's walk, but it is of Monday's.  Nasty.  Naaaa-sty.  Ya, you can laugh.  You're not getting a picture though, although I'm sure it looked hi-freaking-larious.

3.  Headed down to the basement to work on Watercolour Steps.  The navy rayon Fufu's thread by Floriani was NOT cooperating.  Fight.  Curse.  Switched to a new one I'd bought with another quilt in mind.  This is YLI Machine Quilting Thread, 40 wt, beautiful thread.  Now, Avril the Avanté has taken anything I've thrown at her over the past year and a half.  Tension issues have been solved by either tightening or loosening the top or the bobbin case, and, if that hasn't worked, I know it's me.  I don't use the stitch regulator.  I know I'm très rusty, but I could not get the YLI to work properly either.  In fact, the tension with Aurifil was off and on, but mostly good.  Avril's sounding a little cranky (noisy) too, much like her operator...wondering if her timing is out after I hit that ruler??  I see a trip to the Handiquilter Hospital...realized I don't even know where or if there is one near me...ugh.

4.  I fought all freaking day with the Avanté, tension and thread breakage.  Not happy.  At.  All.  Very very grumpy, as a matter of fact. Stabbed my belly with one of the pins holding the backing onto the leader.  Sliced my pointer on another pin.

5.  My quilting was interrupted around 1 pm by Naala barking her head off and growling at the front door.  I went up to see one of the neighbours at the garage of the empty unit beside us.  He was running his garden tractor that he uses to plough his and some of the neighbours' driveways, checking that it was in good working order!!  This is the third week of October people!!  We haven't even had a frost yet!  Unbelievable. Grr.

6.  By 2:30 pm, I knew Watercolour Steps was not going to be done for the guild meeting.  Any other time, I could easily have finished a lap quilt.  Decided she was going, crappy tension on the back, sans binding, bottom border quilting unfinished and all.  I won't be there for the November meeting and I wanted to show them Joanne's pretty pattern!  Squared her up, folded her, and put her at the front door.

7.  Had to do dog pee patrol before I left (on the last minute, see #6) grrr.  Normally one or the other of us does this, and it's no big deal, but yesterday it pissed me off (had to use that, get it?!) because of all the other annoying things that had happened, and I was rushed.  Why can't husbands read their wives' minds?  Especially menopausal wives...  AND to make matters worse, the north wind had started to BLOW, and it was FREEZING standing outside for them to do their business! More muttered curses.

8.  Walking into the guild meeting, I realized I'd lost a contact.  Are you kidding me.  Thank god I actually had brought my glasses.

9.  Someone forgot to tell the operators at Kingsville arena that our guild meeting room is NOT the ice rink.  Froze our butts off, and the overhead fans were all on to boot!  Several of us kept our jackets on the entire meeting.

10.  Because the guild meeting was right on the heels of yoga, I had no supper, and no glass of wine.  This was fine, not unusual on Tuesdays, especially on the guild meeting.  I had decided I could do with a fast anyhow that evening.  However, at break, I headed straight to the leftover-from-the-quilt-show goodies and placed a lovely slice of lemon loaf onto my plate, breaking off a piece and popping into my ready mouth, when, no!!  I remembered I was supposed to be fasting...ah well, another time.  Ate the entire slice and half of a butter tart. Fasting, schmasting...

All in all, if this is what constitutes a terrible, horrible day, my life is pretty darn good.  I own a longarm, I have two good legs and arms, with which I operate it, with which I walk my dog, with which I do yoga...good eyes (even without one contact, I'd have been okay...driving...well..), I can drive!  I have a very good vehicle TO drive, I live in a beautiful small town with so many routes to walk, with gorgeous scenery, I have fabric galore to last me the rest of my life (well, maybe not quite that much), I have a creative brain, I have a wonderful husband who adores me, and I him, I got home in time to have a wonderful chat with Brady, and.... I still have my sense of humour.

And today is a brand new day! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Shades of Frostiness!

I'm actually caught up with Snowalong!

Here are my two (yep, TWO!) versions of Snowflake #3:

That is version 3 of snowflake #3.  So far I've always just done version 1, but I see a common thread between these first 3 snowflakes I've made.  Do you?

Give up?  The centres are all dark.  So these three will most likely stay in my home, either growing up to be throw pillows or a runner.  They are sooo pretty!

I then had a thought:  to try a non-conventionally-coloured snowflake.  So, I did another snowflake #3, this time version 1.

Ooh!  I'm liking it.  This is such a gorgeous, rich purple batik I used for the background.  I could just about fall into it, it's so deep, no?  I was thinking of maybe doing a pale mauve flake, but then saw the mauve and steel blue (probably there's an actual name for that colour) on white batik with the snowflake-style bursts, and thought it might just work.

So I now have four snowflakes in my collection...

and can't wait to see what Joanne has dreamed up for Snowflake #4.  Head over to Canuck Quilter's Snowalong post for today to jump in the snowbank with the rest of us!  It's more fun than the real snowbank, I promise!  No snow down the sides of your boots, or melting on your wrists under the cuffs of your mittens, or down your low back...yep, been there, done that.  Not going back.

Watercolour Steps is on the frame and should be off tonight.

Lots of ruler work on this one

I really need to quilt on my Avanté every day.  I am beyond rusty.  However, I plan to take it for Show 'n Tell tomorrow night at our guild meeting.  I am excited for the meeting as it is about the Barn Quilts Trail of Essex County here in Southern Ontario! Here is a link to the website.  And here is a link to the trail right by my house!  I've seen several of them on this trail before I had any idea that there was an actual trail!  Many are along the wineries route.  We have 18 wineries within Essex county.  What's that?  Have I visited them all?  Well, not quite all.  Think I've missed one, but it just opened this past summer, or maybe I've missed two...  What was I writing about??!  Oh, ya. Wineries.  I mean, quilt blocks.  Barns.  Wait a minute!  Wine and barn quilts...mmm, great combo I'd say for a tour!  I'm not going to be the designated driver, just sayin'...

I am linking this post up with Joanne's Snowalong and Marelize's Anything Goes Mondays as well as Lee's WIP Wednesdays (She is grumpy too, must be something in the air;  see my Oct. 22 post for more about the Watercolour Steps WIP and general crabbiness.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Watercolour Steps

Here's the flimsy finish!

This is Baby Steps, a pattern designed by Joanne, of Canuck Quilter.  It will soon be available in her Craftsy shop, and it is one sweet pattern.  A few months ago, I told her I'd be willing to test one of her patterns, if she ever needed someone.  Well, my turn came about a month ago.  She was really generous with her deadline, which was good for me, seeing as I had such a crazy-busy September!

I don't know how many of you read American Patchwork & Quilting, but I have been a subscriber for about 16-17 years.  Laura Boehnke has the job of sewing up alternate colourways for pretty much each pattern.  I have always thought this would be a dream job.  Well, I channelled my Laura, and decided to do an adult rendition of Joanne's baby quilt.  Joanne's instructions and diagrams are clear, and the quilt goes together in a snap.  I love the surprise star that kind of floats on the quilt top!
Pre-final borders (yep, those are my two Snowalong snowflakes!)

It's another quilt that is all (yep, it's quite the stash I have) from my stash.  Two of the fabrics are no more (yippee, love that gone, gone, gone feeling), and those two just happen to both be Watercolour Inspirations, by Pat Magaret and Donna Slusser, colourwash queens.  Who knew they'd be in this quilt?  I sure didn't when I decided to do a softer palette.

I sure seem to be on a floral quilts kick this year.  That, as well as a scrap quilts kick!

One week ago today, we went over to Detroit for a Haunted History Walk around downtown.  Although we each had dousing rods (which did do some bizarre things for me at one location in particular), it was more of a history walk.  That did not disappoint me, nor my husband, as we both love history, especially local.

His favourite building is the Penobscot Building.  Mine is the Guardian Building.  I could wax poetic about the history of Detroit.  Like my beloved Pibble (Pitbull) Rocco, it is mistakenly maligned, often by ignorant (I mean that in the lacking in knowledge sense) people who believe it is only the ghetto, the crime, the racism, as the pitbull hatred wrongly focuses on the fighting rings, the crime, their power used for bad, human purposes.  But before this goes totally off the rails (ha, get the connection??!! Love it when I do that without intent until the words come out of my brain and off my fingertips) here is my all-time favourite building (trumping the Tour Eiffel, oui oui, mon dieu):

The main area, closed to the public at night
See the one above, and these next three, through quilting eyes.  I was almost audibly singing, "AHHWWWWW!!!" à la choir sound.  Also note that these were taken with my little iPhone 4 camera, and it was just about 11 pm.  Ghost walk, remember?

Those are, indeed, 3-D steps high up above the leaded glass windows!

Inlaid marble; the red was imported from a closed for 30 years, and specially reopened mine in Africa specifically for its colour

The design carved into some of the walls makes me think of angels.  I could (and did) stick my fingers through the carvings.  The stone panels here are about 1" thick.  I loved the graphics.  There is that red marble again.  I wanted to lick it, LOL.  Gorgeous doesn't begin to describe it.

I am amazed at the beauty and vision and care (I could go on and on and on) in this building.  It is stunning.  And oh yes, a tribute quilt is stirring in my mind.  As are quilting motifs based on some of the graphics.

Be sure to check out Canuck Quilter for news on the Baby Steps pattern, as well as to jump into the snowbank with her Snowalong!

I am linking up (it's been some time!) with Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

No Room For Error.

So I mentioned I was pattern-testing.  I'm also walking a knife edge, quite literally.  Rather, a rolling razorblade edge...

I need a light.  It should blend, with the effect I'm trying to create, but still stand out amongst the florals.  I went to my stack of neutrals on the shelves of my stash.  Found a few, this one amongst them.  Thought it might do.  Not sure.  Went back today after all the floral pairs have been sewn, to lay a few choices amongst the pairs.  Eliminated all but two.  Decided to go with my gut and use the Pat Magaret and Donna Slusser Watercolor Inspirations.

The pattern calls for a yard.  I had 26.5".  Are you kidding me!  Sigh.  Do the math as to how many patches I require (104), how many I can get from one strip (8), and how many strips I will need (13).  13X2" strips = 26".  Yes!!  My husband says I always try to pack 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound pail...oops.

So, with no little amount of stress, I started cutting.  The piece was incredibly square.  That's thanks to sitting nicely folded in the stack of neutrals for 10 years, I'm sure.  Now I love my 8 1/2 X 24" ruler, but sometimes it messes me up.  You need to be really really careful when reading the numbers (there are two rows across the top) and that you don't let the extra 1/2" screw you up.  It nearly did.  Don't you love it when you think you were wrong but you find out you were right?!  ;-)

Here is what is left of that piece of fabric:

Yep.  One 1/2" strip, plus thirteen roughly 2.5" rectangles after I cut 8 rectangles from each of my 13 strips.  Oh, and some selvedges.  That stack of 104 rectangles is 1.5" high!  Now to sew one to each of my pairs, and get this baby (ha ha, Joanne will get the pun on that) done!

Think I made the right choice

Love that bad boy in the picture above: my large rotary cutter with a fresh blade, so I could slice through 8 layers of fabric at a time.

And come out perfect.  Don't you love it?  Doesn't always happen in my world.  Especially with my oft-vacationing melon.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Lots going on in my sewing corner.  Some I can talk about; some I can't.  There, how's that for an attention-grabber?

A few more exciting events have occurred in my life.
First off, I sold my first quilt!  If you've checked out my Quilts for Sale page, you will see it's Floral Dreams, the June pattern of Cynthia's Scrap-a-Palooza series.  It, and a makeup pouch I made, both sold at the boutique at our guild show.  Woot! Woot!

Gone to good homes I hope!

Second, I have been asked (well, I told her, if she ever needed anyone...) to pattern test another blogger's new pattern which will soon be available in her Craftsy shop.  This is another first for me, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.  I spent all day Sunday and a little of Saturday cutting scraps to test the pattern.

Too much fun...also too much fabric I have; OMG I'm sooo bad, make that good...wink.  Good for this type of work!  Good for Cynthia's Scrap-a-Palooza, which I have not been doing (round robin was occupying front and centre for quite some time....and still should be, cough.  Where is she, you ask?)  Ahem, here:

At the trellis stage still... 24 of 100+ blocks done... what have I done??!!

While I worked yesterday, I finally watched "Frozen".  Yeah, I know, slightly behind the times here.  I really enjoyed the movie!  I didn't get much sewing done during the film though; I can't just listen to a movie; I end up stopping and watching, and thus not a lot of sewing gets done.  In keeping with the movie's theme, I started another snowflake!  I had a few hiccups and interruptions along the way, so I'm late to the linky parties, story of my life.  Mostly good interruptions on this Thanksgiving Day: phonecalls to and from family, FaceTime with my grandson, dinner at some friends'...all of whom I am so grateful for.

Here is another picture of the set-up for my oh-so-fancy business card and Add-a-quarter ruler.  I remembered how invaluable it really is!  My mind works well, albeit a tad slowly these days!  You can eliminate the pre-folding along all the sewing lines this way. 

1.  Place the paper side up, with the just-sewn and pressed new patch underneath on your cutting mat.
2.  Place the business card with one edge along the next-to-be-sewn line.  Fold back the paper, butting up the fold against the business card.
3.  Leaving the business card in place, place the ruler over all 4 layers (fabric, paper--shiny side down, business card, paper---folded so shiny side is up) until the lip catches against the layers.
4.  Trim!  Now your 1/4" is added perfectly in line with the sewing line so you can easily line up your next fabric patch.

I got so excited to finish this snowflake before we went over to our friends' house, and had hopes of finishing this post (I'd started it last night) also before we left, that I sewed my two halves together and got this:

Nooo!!!  As soon as I opened it up for the ooh and ahh surprise, I saw I'd forgotten to piece in the white strip between the two halves!!  Are you kidding me?  Reverse sew.  Cut the strip.  Finish up the block:

Snowflake #2 Version 1
At least I got it done so I could take an outside shot!  I really like these.  I think this particular version is easier than #1, so if you are a little intimidated, try this one before Snowflake #1.  Joanne's instructions and organization make it really straightforward.  I wish you could see the silver sparkles in the white fabric.  It looks so pretty.

I'm not sure where these blocks will end up.  I've had a few ideas, mostly in the throw pillow category (check out Joanne's tutorial here) but I can so see a pretty quilt, or maybe placemats, or a runner!

Here's Snowflake #1 from last week once again:

Linking up with Canuck Quilter's Snowalong, and with Stitch by Stitch's Anything Goes Mondays.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Snowflake #1

Many trees turn colour from the outside in here, almost as if Mother Nature dips her trees in orange and red frosting.  This is just my little iPhone; imagine this in person!
I'm NOT in the mood for real snow, been there, done that, too many long cold dark winters in Alberta.  However, I have always loved making snowflakes out of paper, such a surprise to open up the folded paper after I've cut various designs into it.  Combine paper and fabric, and you get Canuck Quilter Joanne's Snowalong.

I didn't get my snowflake #1 done in time for the linky party (it was a week from hell; tacked on to a month of craziness) but here she is today:

I decided to use some silver-sparkled white I've had for centuries for another Christmas quilt idea.  I wanted to put it on a batik background, and this one, another relic, was in my stash.  I don't think you can see how sparkly it is, but I'm really happy with the result!

This block is paper-pieced, something I've done many times in the past.  However, Joanne's method is new to me, and I was really intrigued with the idea, because it omitted the very annoying step of removing the paper after you've sewed through it.  You don't sew through it!  I also liked the idea of printing the pattern onto freezer paper, so that the pieces will adhere to the waxy side of the paper, helping to avoid any distortion.  And, you can re-use the patter 3-4 times!  I have to say I loved this method for all of those reasons.

Here is a little gadget from years past of paper-piecing.  It is well worth the money (a few dollars).  It has a lip at the 1/4" mark.  You simply place the ruler over the folded back paper of the line you are about to sew, letting the lip catch on the paper. This measures the 1/4" exactly, so you simply trim.  No slippage possible, thanks to that lip!

Love my tiny 6.5 X 8" cutting mat for this!

Sewing the first sections left me with 6 intriguing triangles.  I could not, for the life of me, see a snowflake at that point.

Another gadget, whose price is free, and every household already has several, is a business card, (or a recipe card for longer lines).
Update: (duh, it would help if I explained wth I do with the business card...)  Place it on the solid (aka sewing line) and then, as you fold back the freezer paper, it acts as a brace so you get a nice sharp fold!  Kind of like using the edge of a table to tear a paper straight?

This block seems daunting, but Joanne has a super-organized system, which I followed to the T.  It simplified things very much.  I did variation 1 of Snowflake #1.  Just a note that you should use background fabric for patches BDE 6, not white as is in the table.  If you are making it, you will know what that means!  I've let Joanne know.

I am going to make version 2 as well.  However, I am also going to make Snowflake #2 next so that I can join in the linky party on Monday!  I might just turn these into pillows, so festive.

I am in love all over again this year with the vibrant colours of Fall.  I continually suck in my breath at the sheer jaw-dropping, eye-popping display that surrounds me wherever I go.  I've been known to stop the car on the side of the road on more than one occasion to snap a pic with my phone. Example from yesterday:
Note how it's still green in the centre

It is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  It is such a joy, despite the cold wind, to walk Rocco in this gently changing but oh-so-glorious season of Autumn. 

One more shot of my route this morning

Monday, September 29, 2014

Another Quilt Sampler Shop!

I have patronized this shop, Cotton Patch Quilt Shop, since our first visit to Sarasota/Bradenton in 2004.  The shop opened in 2003.  It is one of the Fall 2014 Top Ten shops in Quilt Sampler magazine.  Woot! Woot!  I wasn't as excited as the gal from Virgina who I met in here last week.  Her words to me were, as she gazed around in obvious delight, "I think I'm having an orgasm, I'm so excited to be here!"  LOL  I felt just like it at the Sisters, Oregon outdoor quilt show I got to attend several years ago.

I had hopes of a picture of me sitting on the quilt you see under my arm, Freddie in my lap.  Freddie WHO in your lap??!!  Relax.  Laura and Tim, the owners, have 3 Basset Hounds, all rescues.  Freddie, their newest, is a DARLING.  Last week, I got to meet him.  He is very thin, a result of his having been a stray, and a stray puppy, not long enough with his mama, awww.  He won't be thin for too long, under the loving attention of both Laura and Tim.  Sadly, the hounds weren't working yesterday.  They had the day off.   The quilt is the second one for which I bought all the fabric at Cotton Patch.  Laura helped me choose both the pattern and the fabric.  It is called "Sunny Days" and is perfect to have in our Florida home.

So this day I was back for the second time in a couple of days to pick up the kit for the quilt they have in the magazine.  I love the pattern Storm at Sea, (think that is the name for this setting), love how straight lines and angles can create the illusion of curves.  I love the colourway.  They were busy cutting kits for their quilt, "Sea Swept", when I went in the first time, so I explained that I was only down until mid-week, and hoped to get a kit before I left...ta-da!

Here it is, undone, so you can drool over those gorgeous batiks in blues and greens with a little purple mixed in. 

The only issue is that it is f-f-f-foundation-pieced.  God, these f-words lately in my quilting world, lol!  I do think, however, that I can use the new ruler I bought last winter to make "Peaky and Spike" triangle units...will keep you posted.

This guy was waiting by our SUV.

He posed beautifully between chowing down on the acorns(?) under the live oak.  He is a sandhill crane, gorgeous, no?  Do they ever make bizarre calls!  A few years ago I was woken early one morning by this bizarre honking/grating/cackling sounds outside of our it wasn't my husband grinding his teeth:
They are sooo cool.  His mate was nesting in the grass on the other side of the 6-place parking spot we were in.  Saw her as we drove off.  I was able to get fairly close to this one.

I snapped a couple of shots of the interior of Cotton Patch.
It's so bright and cheery.  I love the "Fabric Hounds" banner!  The classroom is open to the rest of the shop, and is to the left of the pink wall.

This display is in the window.  There's the quilt on the poster-sized sign of the magazine.  They have lots of beach-themed fabric and patterns.  Yeah, I bought some.  Okay!  Several.  Over a couple of visits.

Back to f-f-foundation-piecing, I am jumping a snow drift....well, not literally, although with some of the hot flashes I've had lately, I've been tempted.  Joanne is having a quilt snow-along over at Canuck Quilter.  It starts tomorrow with the most sparkling, crisp snowflake patterns that are, yes, paper-pieced, aka foundation-pieced.  So that explains the new button on the sidebar.

And ya ya ya, I know.  I have NO projects on the go, so I NEED something else to occupy my sewing time, right?!

Off to quilt, er, pack...well packing is pretty much done, so I can quilt for a bit! Movers are coming tomorrow.  In other news, we might have found a house...

Linking up with Marelize at Stitch by Stitch for Anything Goes Mondays.