Sunday, August 30, 2009

Building Castles in the Air and Piglets in a Square

This is my block for this week's Friday Block Party. We're at week 35 already. Can you believe that? The year is going by quickly! This is a 12in. block. I used some batiks and I think it looks okay. I followed the instructions on the quilter's cache site. When I saw this same block made by one of the other Party members, Rosa, I realized that by placing the centre outside units all in the same direction, I could make a sort of friendship star block.

I decided to make this one in a 9 inch size. I wanted to fussy cut a centre square for the middle of the block. Most of my other 9in. blocks have a fussy cut children's fabric in the centre. I turned the corner units because I thought they detracted from the friendship star look. I like this block, but now I think I have made up a whole new block. And look what happened to my little piggy in the centre! When I sewed the corner triangles on, I cut off one of his ears!

Can't have that! I quickly needle turned another tiny ear onto the block. Now he looks better! I think my piglet is happy in the centre of his new block!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I love labels. I spend more time reading labels than actually shopping when I go to the store. If I forget my glasses, I have to go home and get them. I just must read labels!

Many years ago I figured out that those little 'Chiquita" labels that were on bananas had some interesting info on them. They had the country in which they were grown. I loved seeing where my banana came from each week. Wonderful, hot, tropical places where bananas could be grown! They fascinated me! This week's bananas are from Ecuador. Neat,eh? And my nectarines are from New Jersey. See? I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't read the labels on them.

I am even label bilingual! Because French is our country's official second language, everything must be in English and French. I have become quite good at reading labels in French. But don't ask me to speak it. That's just not going to happen. I can read "papier photo glace", "confiture de fraises", "jus de pamplemousse", "sans gras", "mode de preparation", "creme glacee" and "moka et amandes au fudge". (sorry, I can't figure out how to get the accent marks in there) Okay, I have to stop. This is making me hungry.

When it comes to fabric, I also love to read the labels. The salvages are a wonderful source of information. They have the name of the company, the colours used in painting the fabric, often the name of the designer and maybe even the country where the fabric was produced. In the past I always cut a small piece of salvage and kept it somewhere just in case I needed more of that fabric. Of course, I could never find it when I needed it.

Today, after seeing so many wonderful things made with selvages, I cut them off and save them. I even look for fat quarters with selvages on them. I have a huge bin full of selvages! But until now I have not made much with them. Then I saw Exuberant Color's blog yesterday and I got inspired to make a journal cover using some selvage scraps I had sewn together a few weeks ago. Here it is. It doesn't fit quite right, but I learned a lot in the process and I think I see a few more of these in my future. Maybe something along the line of Em's Scrapbag's journal cover, which she also made yesterday. Isn't hers great?

I also spent a few hours trying to decide what to do about the picnic quilt. I really like the watermelon top and I don't think I will make a picnic quilt out of it. My DD understands. So I will go back to the blocks I started at the beginning of the summer. I plan to finish these - most are already started and almost done - and sandwich them and quilt them before I put them together in a quilt-as-you-go technique. I had to figure out the size of the strips for the sashing that holds them together. I have used this technique several times before, but I have to figure out the size of the sashing strips each time. You'd think I could remember that, but........ Here are two blocks put together. I am using a red fabric for the front sashing.

And on the back I plan to use a gold colour. I think it will look okay. And maybe I will have it ready by next summer's picnic season!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How Cool is This?

I always thought that all my quilting buddies lived in my computer. But yesterday afternoon I had a real, live blogging friend come over! How cool is that? It was Vicki of Felines and Fibre Arts. She had a give-away last week and I won one of the prizes. Again - how cool is that? Since Vicki lives in Toronto, she brought my winnings over in person! Now I ask you, how cool is that? Tres, cool = no?

Look at what I won! Eight fat quarters of black and white fabrics! Cool - right? And two meters of Amy Butler fabrics in pink and turquoise. More cool, - yeah! And also a box of Nestle's dark chocolate delicacies! It just doesn't get any cooler than that folks!

Vicki also showed me the quilt she has been working on over the past few weeks. It is all quilted and she is giving it to her friend today. I was so happy that I was able to see it before she gave it away. I have been following her progress with this quilt on her blog for weeks. It looks good in her photos, but I have to tell you..... it looks absolutely amazing in real life! The colours are fantastic! The fabrics are beautiful and the quilting is totally unique and awesome! She used a friend's embroidery machine to download outlines of dinosaurs and then quilted those shapes with the embroidery machine! I didn't know this was possible. The outcome was stunning! Go check it out! Now how cool is that?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Couple of Flimsies

I know I haven't posted much lately. I've been busy, but have had nothing to show for it. Now I have finished a couple of flimsies. The first one is the watermelon 'picnic' quilt I was making for my DD. Still not completely sure if I like the idea of putting it on the ground and spilling food on it. I like how it turned out and I think I might just quilt it and use it as a fun summer quilt. But quilting it is the opportune word here. I still have to sandwich it first and that is the hard part for me. Hopefully DD will help me.

Then there is the red and white quilt I have been working on the past few weeks. It is based on the blue and white lap quilt I made for my mother. You can see it here. I also have a tutorial for it on my other blog. This top measures 36in. X 48in. I think I might make it a bit bigger. Sort of like a sofa quilt to cuddle under while watching television - in the winter when the weather is raging outside. I think the red and white would make a nice Christmas quilt. Maybe I'll just do a few more blocks or maybe I'll put a border around it. I haven't decided yet. And then, of course, there is the sandwiching and quilting. Hope DD helps me with this one also!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Star is Born

This block is called Northumberland Star. It is this week's block on the Friday Block Party. I love star blocks and this one turned out really nice! But gosh was it ever difficult. I tried to follow the instructions on quilterscache, but finally gave up and just did my own thing. It is a 12-inch block, but it took me hours to complete. By 3:00am I only had half of it done. Would I have the patience to do this one again? I doubt it.

I also want to let you know about a give-away that Vicki at Felines and Fibre Arts is hosting. Go check it out. She has lots of great things to give away!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Variations on Mosaic 3

I discovered a great new way of making a flying geese block! The instructions are on the Friday Block Party on my sidebar but you can find it here. I posted the original block (Mosaic 3)yesterday. Afterwards, I started thinking about other blocks I could make using this method. I wanted to do a Dutchman's Puzzle, but this is how it turned out. But I was really tired yesterday!

Then while lying in bed this morning, I began thinking about the block and remembered that the'geese' parts all have to be a colour and the rest of the pieces are background. So I went to my sewing machine and made this one. This is Dutchman's Puzzle!

I learned to do this block in my first quilt course, but I hated it. The points would not line up in the centre and my block was really wonky. I made that first quilt without this block. Now that I have found this new method , I think I could actually see myself making a whole quilt using this pattern. Now I just have to find the time.........

Friday, August 07, 2009

A Big Thank You and a Couple of Blocks

Before I do anything else, I want to thank everyone who left me such wonderful, encouraging and understanding comments on my last two posts! It felt so good to know that others have gone through similar things. Having studied psychology and social work, I know the importance of peer groups. It is always good to hear what others, in a similar situation, would have done or would advise.
My sister and I went to Haliburton yesterday. We had beautiful weather, cool and sunny! The drive up was nice as we chatted about everything and nothing. We had lunch in a small town restaurant and we stopped to buy local blueberries to bring to our Mother.

Mom looked a lot better than when we saw her last weekend. Both my sister and I were grateful for that! We talked, fed her blueberries, sat outside in the sunshine, helped her with her dinner, and made her coffee in the ward's kitchen. She was lucid and able to talk to us most of the time, which was nice. She had just been complaining to the nurses that she was cold when we got there. I gave her the quilt and she was very happy - warm and happy. She loved it. She is now on a waiting list for a nursing home. She has resigned herself to staying in a hospital and being looked after. I guess we have all resigned ourselves to that fact too. The only thing we can do now is wait until a space becomes available.

I was tired today. Didn't do a lot in my sewing room, except tidy up a bit. This week's Friday Block Party block looked interesting, so I made it. It is called Mosaic 3. The instructions for this block were interesting. I had never done the flying geese pattern the way it was explained. It is good to sometimes do things a little differently. I tried the new instructions and liked the way the block turned out. It is an 8inch block.

I also realized that I didn't post my block from last Friday. It was called Queen Charlotte's Crown. It is a 12inch block and I really like it. I looked up 'Queen Charlotte' and found lots of information about her. She was the wife of King George III. If you are interested in reading about her go to the Block Party on my sidebar and look for my post.

Happy Weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

de Blaauw - A Blue and White Quilt

I am planning another trip up to Haliburton to visit my Mom today. My sister is doing the driving. There is a lot of paper work to do right now. I also want to bring her this quilt. I made this a few years ago at a Bee Night that our Guild held. It is a very simple 6in. block repeat. The star-like pattern is a secondary pattern that just happens when the blocks are put together. I love patterns like that! It is machine pieced and quilted and measures about 40in. by 60in.
Although not too big, I think it will make a nice lap quilt to replace the tattered hospital blanket to keep her warm while she sits in her chair all day. I call this quilt "de Blaauw", which means "blue" in Dutch. That was my mother's maiden name.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Paintings to Remember

We drove up to Haliburton, in central Ontario, on Sunday to visit my mother who is in the hospital there at the moment.

She is doing as well as can be expected, I guess. She is suffering from dementia as well as a series of small strokes. These have left her left side weak. She cannot walk anymore. She slipped in and out of reality while we were there. In her lucid moments she was funny and bright, her old self, but in her cloudy moments she could not follow a conversation and kept asking unrelated questions. Her hand are gnarled by arthritis. Her fingers weak and twisted. She kept reaching up and holding her head, as if she could push her brain into submission and send signals to the rest of her body. It was useless. She even had trouble holding a spoon and feeding herself.

But those arthritic hands had once held a paint brush. Canvas and oils were her medium. In her spare moments she had created some beautiful paintings. I am lucky to possess a few of her works. My sisters and brother have many more. She lived in 'cottage country' and painted the world around her. The old homes and barns.

The trees and rocks of the Haliburton Highlands. The flora and fauna in her world.

I have no words to describe how I feel today. The long drive up and back took a toll on me. Physically I am exhausted. The sights and smells of a hospital are not what I associate with the gorgeous countryside of Haliburton. It was a very stressful visit for all of us, but especially for my kids. They had not expected to see their grandmother in the state she was in. I know it was a shock for them. Nothing could have prepared them for the sight of their Oma, slumped over in a reclining chair, covered in a tattered flannel sheet, sitting in the hall outside the nursing station. It was a shock for me too. That's why I have taken photos of the paintings that hang in our home.

I know that aging is a natural part of life, but right now it seems unfair. Her paintings are a better way to remember the contribution she made to our lives.