Monday, December 24, 2012

Early gift

Yep.  I went AWOL again. It happens.  I get busy, life happens, you've been there.  Plus, most of what I was busy with is not interesting or a Christmas secret, and then there were real world incidents that break my heart so much that I can't bear to write about them.  I've had to filter a great deal of what I've been watching and reading because as a teacher and someone with a precious tiny person in her life, my grief is too much.  For everyone who has been affected by the horror of it, my prayers are with you...

It was overwhelming but now, I am choosing to concentrate on all the incredible blessings in my life and remember why I love this season so very much.  Peace, hope and love.  I am extremely grateful, extremely hopeful, wishful for positive change, and finally, finally, able and inspired to blog.  Sigh.  And here we go...


If you haven't come across Cindy's blog, Live a Colorful Life, you're missing out.  Not only is she talented, and marvellous, wonderfully funny, she's about the nicest person I've never met in real life.  :-)  When she asked me if I wanted to do a private swap, I instantly and nervously said yes!  We decided on pouches, though we were both a little skittish on zippers.

I knew the one I made would have to be full of colour so I went to the rainbow side of things.

Plus, I got to play with teeny tininess which always makes me happy. Then I added a little Saskatchewan and sent it off.  Cindy blogged about it here.

A week ago, this marvellous package arrived.

It's beautiful!! And huge!  It's now my new knitting project bag (and the zipper is perfect.  Yes, perfect. The one I did?  Well, Cindy was nice enough not to mention the amateurish installation...)  Cindy does these amazing things with selvedges.  And this hexy flower is no execption! Somehow, I've missed taking a decent photo of the inside (so hard to get good light these days!), but the fabric is perfect and there's two big pockets.  And then there were the goodies she threw in!

California honey, chocolate covered jumbo raisins and almonds (completely gone, by the way - so good!), a wonderful bag of pretty buttons (I have a weakness for buttons) and a box stuffed full of 1 1/2" squares. Joy!

Plus, something I've longed for since she opened her etsy shop, a custom pin cushion, all of selvedges and so completely perfect.

I won't lie and say that I didn't get a little misty-eyed, because I did.  I was terribly sick and had a bad migraine to boot so it's timing was amazing.  My thank you email feels inadequate.  I am so lucky to have such fantastic people like Cindy in my life...

And now, I have a month's worth of blog-reading to catch up on but as I am officially on holidays, officially done shopping, making and wrapping, and officially into the buttertarts, I will be able to do so before 2013.

Regardless of your faith, background, geography or politics, I am wishing you peace, love, and hope today and every day of the year.

Much love,

Monday, November 26, 2012

Flying Geese Scrap Tip

Wow - hello, two weeks later!  I have been offline this week (and  owe a few back emails....)so that post I intended to do last Monday kinda went the wayside. I won't bore you with too many of the details but I'll tell you that it involved a ton of subbing, getting panicky over the arrival dates of ordered sewing supplies (which led to frantic sewing on all things I have right here so that when said arrivals actually happen I can hit the ground with the sewing machine running), an improv evening masquerading as a Bond girl/spy, and a day of guest directing for the upcoming Christmas dinner theatre of "Sorry! Wrong Chimney!" in Eston, SK, which was soooo much fun.  (PS - if you're looking for a pleasant drive, and a fun farce by really lovely and talented folks, you should totally go.  They've put together a heck of a show! Dec 6, 7, and 8) Phew! If you're exhausted just reading that, I don't blame you.  You can understand why I've been falling asleep a little before I go to bed lately.  :-)
Decent wig, eh?  (Save the ragged bangs.) Add in a very thick Russian accent, red lipstick and gold lame and you get the picture...  "Ah, pleh-zure to meet you, Meester Bond."
Anyhoo!  In my frantic sewing of things I can't share for another month, I did have the wherewithal to snap a few photos of a trick I came up with while working on my Swoon, since the project I'm working on has similar building blocks.

If you've spent any time reading this blog, then you know I love scraps and hate wasting even the tiniest of pieces when they can become something else.  Flying geese blocks have potential for a lot of waste. However, if you take a little bit of time (which is negligible if you're already marking lines), you can actually have the scraps sewn together before you even trim your geese.

This method only works if you're using squares and rectangles to build your geese. If you're using triangles, you've got different scraps entirely and will have to find other scrap-saving tips. :-)

Flying Geese Scrap Saver Tip:
Step 1) When marking your diagonal sewing line on your square, draw a second line 1/2" away from the first.

Step 2) When positioning the square on the rectangle, face the second line towards the corner of the rectangle as opposed to the centre side. If you've sewn flying geese before, you're familiar with which side is the scrap side.  You want the second line on the scrap side of things.

Step 3)  Chain piece:  Sew along the first line to make your flying geese block.  Turn your chain of geese around.

Step 4) Chain piece: Sew along second pencil line.

Step 5) Trim/cut your flying geese blocks between the pencil lines - 1/4" from each - to separate the block from the scrap.
It's tidier if you use a rotary cutter but scissors work, too.

Step 6) Viola!  You have both a flying geese block and a bonus half-square triangle ready to square up for use in another project.
For the record, on HSTs I recommend pressing seams open but as this was the ONLY one I pressed that day, I went with the quick press-to-the-side.  Geese I always press towards the outside.

The size of the half-square block will truly depend on the size of your flying geese but a reliable estimate is subtract 1" from the short side measurement of the geese block for your HST.  For example:  my geese block unfinished is 2.5" and the HST trims to 1.5".  Obviously it's small but if you're geese are larger, so are your HSTs.  The Swoon has 3.5" flying geese and my HSTs trimmed to 2.5"...  Regardless, they are already sewn and you don't have to mess with bias-cut tiny scraps.  Yay!!

Okay, off to return back emails and race out for batting.  I foresee many sore safety pin-poked fingers in my near future....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gratitude and Re-do'ed

Boy, a week goes by quickly when you're sick/busy/add any descriptor here....!

I have a schwhack of thanks to hand out.  (Yep, it's a word.  Okay, it's a collection of sounds...)

1) A HUGE thank you to everyone who nominated/voted for my quilt, Homespun, in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival!! I'm flattered and humbled to have won Favourite Scrap Quilt.  And totally floored!  Thanks so much!

Thanks to Sew Fresh Fabrics for sponsoring the category. And everyone who commented or even looked at my entry, too.  And to Amy, as always, for hosting. And the Academy... (Okay, going too far...)

2) Thanks to Rita at Red Pepper Quilts who had a giveaway and FabricSpot for the fat quarter bundle, which arrived already!  Karen at FabricSpot is lovely, they're set up in Ontario, the selection is great and her shipping rates are awesome.  Go check it out! I'll wait.

Pretty pretty!

3) Thanks for all the well-wishes over my cold - I'm feeling much better now. :-)


I did manage to get some sewing done this week, most of which I can't show.  Then there's the sewing tool case which I made from some of the leftovers.  Or rather, two sewing tool cases.  The first did not turn out well, not because the pattern wasn't good (it's a great pattern), but because of decisions I made during the process.  I share it now in the interests of transparency and to stop anyone from getting the impression that I know what I'm doing all the time.  Ha!
I'm embarrassed by how badly this turned out... The case and the photo. 

It was lumpy, and in failing to take some measures to ensure proper seams, I missed the top pocket fabric in the seam and had a sloppy fix.  Also, since I was using patchwork, the seams pulled when I turned the case right side out and looked awful.

Now, if you've been by here at all before, you've probably figured out that I'm a very stubborn little thing and despite being beaten by a pattern, a recipe, or series of mistakes.  So naturally, I tried again, with some changes.
1) I used patchwork leftovers for only the front pocket and back fabric.  The rest I used scraps of solids.

2) I trimmed and made sure all my fabric layers were matched up after every step.
3) I layered the batting on top instead of the bottom so that all my patchwork seams were thoroughly sandwiched.  Also, I strategically placed my turning hole on a spot where there would be no intersecting seams.

Much happier with my mulligan.  I used this pattern which I found via The Sometimes Crafter.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nominated and other news

I have been very busy the last little while and most of my internet time has gone towards checking in with folks who were close to Hurricane Sandy on the east coast or near earthquakes on the west coast, OR soaking up the fabric beauty of the quilt festival! Speaking of the fest...

My quilt, Homespun, has been nominated in the Favourite Scrap Quilt category in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side.  Thank you so much to those people who did the nominating.  There were 621 quilts entered this time and there wasn't a dud in the bunch so I'm very flattered!
It's blushing!
Voting for favourites goes on for another three days - and you don't have to have entered to participate! Vote here.  And I won't take it personally if I'm not your favourite - there are some amazing quilts.... :-)

Other than that, I've had my hands full over here - mostly with stuff I can't show up until January - but there is the odd thing I've managed to complete/start/ponder.

I finished up my name tag for the local quilt guild and am very happy with it.  Except for the back. Because I'm just that neurotic.  The Newcomer Tea is this evening before the meeting.
Bad tension....
And it looks like the Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild is a GO! If you're local and interested, get in touch.    It was great to meet some people in person that I'd only known through the internet before (Hi, Patti!) At our meeting, we also pestered the proprietor of our LQS for details about the fun in Houston last week.

Tiny piecing looks almost as pretty on the back...

I'm working on a randomly pieced background tutorial.
I'm battling a cold.  Again.  I tell you - I had an iron constitution and aggressive immune system.  Then I had a nephew.  Tiny people come with exposure to germs heretofore unknown amongst your regular circles. Viruses fierce and treacherous!

There was some luck related news this weekend, too, but that will have to wait until later this week.

So, yes, this post wasn't much more than a pop-in but I felt like posting a little and wanted to keep myself from a tangent.  I hope everyone affected by the hurricane and earthquakes are doing okay and life is quickly getting back to normal for them - you're in my prayers!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bloggers' Quilt Festival: Homespun

Hi!  This is my entry into the BQF for this fall.  If you're a regular reader, you'll have seen it before and therefore know how much I'm in love with it, so you'll forgive me for showing it again - I love you!  If you're new, welcome!

Title: Homespun - #132
Finished: May 2012
Category: Scrap Quilts
Size: 76" square
Composition: mostly scraps, an old pair of dress pants, a little yardage, and backed and bound with an old sheet.

I started this quilt about three years ago and it took almost that long to get it made.  When I started blogging, I was quickly overwhelmed with wonderful ideas and beautiful quilts made by others.  This quilt and this quilt in particular really inspired me.  So I set out to make a spiderweb quilt!

It took a lot of pencil and paper playing to figure out how I wanted my blocks to look. I cut my own cardstock templates, traced and cut fabric, added them to foundation paper, and then I had to wait until I had enough scraps to start it.  Since I had only made a handful of quilts, and wasn't as insane about keeping scraps as I am now, it took awhile to build up the stash.  Now I have tons. :-)

It's quilted using pebbles (a first for me at the time), some organic spirals in the webs, and straight line echoes around the edges.  I also quilted the name into one of the webs.

I had the horrific discovery of a hole in the top while quilting it.  It looked like a snag or like it may have been there, microscopic, until I had really started manipulating the quilt through my machine.  And I almost cried.  But then, I figured it's a spiderweb, and freehanded a little spider to cover it up.  His name is Troy.

Of all the quilts I have made, this one is definitely my favourite. My original post on this quilt is here.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks to Amy for hosting! I'm hoping to get around to see everyone's quilt by the time the festival is finished.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Playing with Fabric

This post is a few days behind schedule. Good intentions, blah, blah, shift in weather, blah, blah...
Firstly, this is what happens when you get fabric by mail and your nephew is handy.  He tears into the packages, is fascinated by a charm pack and the two of you make it rain patchwork for twenty minutes of pure fun. Regardless of whether the fabric ends up in anything, I've got my money's worth.  But now, all of Seester's quilt fabric has arrived.

I've got it separated in to darkish-lightish.

Secondly, I went to my first guild meeting on Monday and was pleased to finally meet a blog friend of mine - Flo, of Butterfly Quilting! Very exciting and fun! (Ps - she's a good hugger. :-)

The guild gave me homework.  I have to make a name tag/signature block to wear at meetings. We're allowed to use the block provided or to use our own fabric, as long as we stick to the format.  So, as I have been delighting a tiny piecing lately, I grabbed my crumb bag and my rotary cutter and went to town.  I haven't been able to sew them together yet but here's the preview of the top pieces and the back.

The squares are 1" so they will shrink up by half once the seams are sewn.  I know it seems like a lot of work, and it kinda is, but it mostly isn't. It's also gosh-darn fun and oddly satisfying. Order from chaos!  I whittled an entire  XL ziplock of scraps down to a series of 1", 1 1/2", 2" and 2 1/2" squares was pretty satisfying, too.  I have a really great stash of little squares coming along. Potential is brewing!  My scrap pile is getting smaller, too.

Speaking of guilds, people are talking of starting up a modern quilt guild in town here and I'm so excited I could squeal a little bit.  In fact, I did.  A little bit.  So, yeah, I'm all over that!  You can read more about it here.  PS - Periwinkle Quilting is my local and I love it there.

Okay, I've got get another Diet Coke.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Really Random Thursday

I'm going with a meme today.  Mostly because I'm feeling a little random.  And a bit like I need cheesecake....

This currently driving me crazy.
I know there's a software update but since I use the maps pretty intensely, I've refrained but that little red 1 in the corner is taunting me.  TAUNTING me!!
I had to bite the Reeder bullet. I'm almost caught up on the blog reading I've missed. I upgraded to Lion this summer not realizing that Mail - aka my RSS reader - dropped support for RSS reading.  I lost all my carefully preserved articles, posts, etc, and a list of certain feeds that I can't remember the addresses for. It's one of the reasons it took me so long to get back on the reading wagon.  It just seemed like too much to track down. Admittedly, I used my blogroll (and other people's blogrolls) as a 'reader' for most of them but there were others that I kept in the RSS reader that didn't fit with my theming.  It's taken me months to adjust to Reeder, which is the one I finally went with.  I don't hate it but I don't love it either. As I've been catching up, I've been adding every blog I pop-in on to it and turns out, there's a lot.  However, having them all in one place is making it far easier to keep up on reading. :-)
This is molasses.  The texture was completely amazing and I had to take a picture of it. However, I could not get around the enhanced reflective properties of molasses when viewed through a camera...

Fabric for Seester's quilt has begun arriving. Still waiting on one more envelope...

Fabric for a project I can't tell you much about other than there is a whole lotta strips going on...

A nearby store closing yielded 95% off Christmas ornaments, which worked out to $0.19/half dozen.  Score!  So I bought 3 dozen coppery glass balls for less than a twoonie.  In case you think I'm a crazy person and matched the ornaments to the cat, let me assure you that I'm actually crazier and choose the cat 14 years ago because he was orange.  True story.
Speaking of Christmas, Nephew MAY be getting Play-doh.  We MAY have tested it out first.  For safety reasons. Or something.  Remember when you were a kid and never wanted to go to sleep because you thought the adults would have fun without you and you'd miss it?  Turns out, they did.
This is me racing a giant turtle.  Got the opportunity to do a workshop with a friend on improv for a summer drama camp in Turtleford so we had to take pics with the turtle...

A pile of cut-up socks waiting to be interfaced.  I'm saving them up for a picnic blanket quilt.  I plan on calling it the Dirty Socks Picnic Blanket.  I need about thirty more pairs of socks to blow a hole in the toe or heel... :-)

And plain greek yogurt mixed with brown sugar for dipping fruit like nectarines is my current favourite snack.

That's my disjoined story for today!  I'll be linking up to Really Random at Live a Colorful Life, where Cindy started this whole Random movement. More power to ya, sister!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Knit Wits.

Okay.  Taking a break from catching up on two months (!) of blog reading.  I've missed you, people!  And I'm only just getting started on all the fabulous thoughts you've had, projects you've started, photos you've taken, and trials you've endured.  It doesn't help that as I get older, I find it increasingly harder to sit still for long periods of time so it's taking a while. Lol. I'm finding myself becoming more and more like that dog in Up;  I start out focused and th..."Squirrel!"

Turns out, I am becoming more dependent on keeping my hands busy just to keep my wits.  I was without anything on the needles since my last knitting projects with the big floor pillow and works-in-progress list I finished conquered months ago and  and I needed something else quick.  I ransacked my stash and came up with a chunky skien of wool that I picked up at a farmer's market in Edmonton about three years ago. It hadn't been dyed or processed and the woman who sold it to me raised the sheep and spun the yarn herself.  Definitely time to do something with it.  I'd always wanted to experiment with mixing feltables and non-feltables so I grabbed some neutral-coloured natural fibres like silk, soy (felts like crazy), bamboo (shrinks a little), cotton and linen from the leftover pile.
I randomly worked in little blocks of these throughout the wool background.  I had an idea that it might be a clutch with little bubbles of clear stitches popping out from the felt.  After several washings in hot, soapy water, it looks like this.
I'm sticking to clutch as its final identity and I'll let you know how it turns out after I've lined and finished it.
Then I knit the ugliest mittens this side of Thanksgiving.  I'm calling them Turkey Mittens.  Orange, brown, greeny-purple, and yellow.
Yep.  Uh-glee.  I think I'm going to flip them inside out and use them to line a larger pair of grey mittens so that I can bask and delight in their ugliness while keeping them from triggering sense memories of stuffing and gravy amongst the masses. :-)

But since my hands were free again, I cast on a scarf, again using stash. (I've done pretty good at using my on-hand supplies and not spending on new lately... yay!)  This pattern was written as one colour but I decided that was boring (read:  I had two colours in my stash and not enough of either to go with just one).  The good news is that the two-tone seems to be working really well so I'm happy.
Because I'm back to keeping the hands occupied, I have managed to clear some things off the PVR, which admittedly was getting kinda stuffed with shows and old movies that I always intended to watch and then never found the right time or mood for...  However, like my "one new recipe a week" rule, I've tried to make a habit out of actually watching the things I tape.  And boy! I've seen some gems but begun to lament the general lack of Cary Grant-ness in everyday life...  Such are the consequences of knitting.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Brown Sugar Swoon

Well, I've been busy, among other things.... but to write it all down would probably bore the lot of you half to internet death so I'll give you the Coles Notes (American version: Cliff Notes).

A) Olympics.  Great fun, glued to the set and thankful that the coverage was so good I didn't have to watch a single event on NBC... Marvelled at the irony of watching such elite athleticism while wearing an increasingly deeper butt groove in the sofa and scarfing nachos.
B) Attended a wedding. Had a birthday.
C) Got a job I don't really care for. Not field related. Kinda menial.
D) Kept up my "try new recipes" resolution.
E) Got the flu.
F) Suffering the heartache of a 3rd NHL lockout.  It's very depressing. Not surprisingly, I side with the players.  I'm starting to develop a facial tick from the withdrawal. My regular ranting and raving is spilling out into all sorts of strange subjects.
G) Joined the local quilting guild and have yet to make it to a meeting.  I had it on my calendar for last night but got a call yesterday for an interview today so I sacrificed the meeting in favour of prepping my portfolio, etc.
H) Got a new job. :-)  A real one. In my field and everything. Happy girl.

Phew! Anyhoo, I'll have more time this week to catch up on two months worth of blog reading.  I've missed ya, folks...

* * * 
I did find time in there to finish up the Swoon quilt I was working on. Of course, by the time I realized it was taking me forever to do the pebble quilting, I was already in too far to back out.  Four solid evenings but I'm really happy with how it turned out. I did a diagonal grid over the centre block to really emphasize the square idea.
The background looks a little grey but it's Kona Stone, so it's much warmer and brown than the photo shows. A stick-tap to Seester and Dad for quilt-holding.

It should be pointed out that I wasn't paying them to quilt-hold and it was very close to supper time...

I really took my time with this quilt and as such, my points were the most accurate they have ever been which thrills me to no end....!

I had gotten into the habit of sewing an extra seam on the flying geese blocks so that after I trimmed them, I already had the trimmings made into HSTs. 

 I knew I wanted to use them in the back and with the two leftover blocks but I had no idea how.  So I started playing around with the graph paper.
I ended up with interlocking pinwheels.  The chart became a little map for me and helped me figure out how many plain squares and rectangles I had to cut for the background.
It's all ready to go for the silent auction at the Advent dinner in a couple of months.  I've been asked to provide a minimum bid value for the quilt, though, and I'm stuck.  I don't want to underprice it but I also don't want it to go without bids either.  I was thinking $250 since that's the approximate value of materials, etc., including the 3km of thread. Lol.  What do you folks think?  I'm a little lost...

Regardless, I'm proud of it.
On to Seester's quilt!