Saturday, May 31, 2014

You win some; you lose some

Last night I checked the Bloggers' Quilt Festival, and was both sad as well as happy.  Sad, because I did not win, but happy because Seaside Rose came in 19th out of 107 quilts in that category(!!), and Hidden in Plaid Sight came in tied for 24/25th place out of 95!  Thank you to all my friends and family who took the time to read the posts about my two quilts, as well as to go on the site and vote.  I got many wonderful emails of kind words that, as I said to my brother, mean as much, if not more than your votes did. 

Yesterday I plugged away on the handquilting of my runner that I have until oh, sometime this evening to link up for Melissa's Lovely Year of Finishes.  Somehow think that's going to be another "lose some" as I highly doubt I can finish it, but I will try.

Last night I opted for a beach evening instead of handquilting.  "There is nothing so wrong with the world that gazing at water won't fix." Think I need to work that into a quilt.  My own saying, just came out of my mouth in a conversation.

Looking south towards Pelee Island, 17 miles away on the horizon

We are doing this every Friday evening again this summer, the neighbours who live on our lane, that is: head down to our beach, which is at the end of the "keyhole" lane, lawn chairs and beverage in hand, to visit and to enjoy the sun setting, the birds, and the sound of the waves.  The waves were so gentle last night, just an occasional lapping sound. 

View towards the west
Unlike earlier this week, when the waves were quite strong from the east, stirring up a lot of sand.  Rocco had to be hosed down pretty thoroughly after his swim!

Is that a cigar in his mouth?!
Nope, it's a stick; we lost his brand new toy when it sunk after I threw it when he wasn't watching where. . . but I got it back last night, six days later, washed up on the beach!

On Thursday, we heard, before we saw, the carp swimming out of the lake up into Mill Creek to spawn.  Rocco was pretty intrigued, as was I.

Mill Creek where it empties into Lake Erie - lots of carp visible
This goes on over several days; they were there again this morning, along with what looked like several Koi and some Bass.  They appear to try to jump onto the banks, splashing, swimming over each other, milling and swarming around in masses.  Carp are BIG fish too!

Well, better get at that runner. . . and the Christmas scrap quilt, which is 1/4 quilted. . . and the charity bags (I'm making two) which I got cut out. . .

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thankful Thursday #4

Jude said I should write about being thankful for my father's and my mother's genes, my long dogwalks, good eating, and yoga that all contribute to my tiny waist, but I thought, no, I can't write about that...  but it was a good thought, and as The Bard himself said, "Self-love is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting."  Moreover, this is the year where one of my goals was to accept myself, and love myself as I am.  :-)

What I am more than I can express thankful for today, however, begins with a Canadian Senator who I have admired and heard speak, both in person, and in a documentary, Roméo Dallaire.  He announced his resignation yesterday.  He is, without a doubt, the most inspiring and also the most humble of people in the Senate.  He is leaving to better the world, in short.  When I heard him speak at our Teachers' Convention several years ago, he was passionate about the importance of citizens being involved with NGOs, Non-governmental organizations such as Animal Alliance of Canada and Doctors Without Borders and Free the Children to name only three, but three that are near and dear to my heart.  If you ever have a chance, go and listen to founder of Free the Children, Craig Kielburger, speak, or YouTube him; he is an AMAZING speaker.  As is Monsieur Dallaire.

He wants to do more work with child soldiers, as in putting a stop to this horror, with educating people about and working with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, something he himself has suffered with for the past 20 years, since he was in charge of Canada's Peace-Keeping mission (with too few men) in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.

Where am I going?  I am thankful for people like him, who serve, and who aren't afraid to speak up for the less fortunate, for the innocent, for the victimized, and continue to do so, even when it falls on deaf ears.  People who advocate for the wrongly maligned and incredibly mistreated Pitbulls, "pibbles" like Rocco, who gets regularly bossed around by Bella, a 6.5 pound cat.

Sandra is leaving....Rocco is in his happy place.....but will Bella share??
I just finished Room, by Emma Donoghue, a book I first heard Laurie Greenwood, Edmonton aficionado of all things books, speak about, several years ago at Teachers' Convention. . . Wow, I was privy to many terrific talks and presentations!  That is where I heard Craig speak as well!  I got the book, started it, but left it because the subject matter bothered me too much:  a sick man has kidnapped a girl, at age 19, and kept her in an 11X11' shed/dungeon for 7 years.  Her son, Jack, just turned 5 at the start of the book has no clue about Outside.  Well, Jude had started it a few days ago, and so I thought I'd read it now too.  This way I would have someone to discuss it with, as we both have grandchildren about that age.  It was a hard, but gripping and mesmerizing read.  It consumed me over the past few days, in more ways than one.  Jack is incredibly real, so convincingly and so heartbreakingly portrayed.  He consumed my thoughts; he lived in my head; I watched him, loved him, even when I wasn't reading the book.  What does this have to do with being thankful?  I am thankful that there are people who want to help, and train to be able to give that help, to victims of trauma.  I, myself, could not.

I am so saddened by the human race in general, but so uplifted by seemingly small acts of kindness, by people who give, be it their time, their love, their expertise, their passion, their dollars, their patience. . . would that no child, no woman, no man, no animal, ever be violated.

Think I'm going to head down to the basement and make something for a child right now.  Check out Sarah's blog at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for ideas for patterns as well as places who could use these items.  Our Kingsville Guild makes bags and stuffs them with important items for newborns taken by Children's Aid.

Last of all, I am also thankful today for the fresh asparagus Jude just brought over for us, as I finished typing this post!  How wonderful to eat fresh produce, grown by a farmer just down the road!  And to have such wonderful neighbours, who share so much more than food with us.

More wonderful bounty of the Sun Parlour, Essex County

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

One for the Guild Boutique!

Got 'er done not too long ago!  Sorry the pics are taken inside.

Here are the three different threads I used, grey Isacord, a yellow Sulky rayon, and Heirloom fine cotton.  All went through the Avanté like a dream with no tension adjustments!!  How I love this machine.

For the dot-to-dot diamonds in the four yellow corner squares, I used the blue ruler that Angela Walters uses with a little more success than the last time, so that makes me happy.  I guess it will take a lot of practice, as most skills do, right?!  I was happy to use one of the designs we learned in her Dot to Dot Quilting class on Craftsy.  I stitched in the ditch for the yellow triangle sections and then echoed that with a wavy line.

Here is it on the Avanté:
Love that corner design, one I learned in Dot To Dot Quilting
I knew right away that I wanted to fill the star with a swirl design, as the quilt is all sharp angles.  It was fun and I love how it turned out, even though my swirls have room for improvement!  When I'm quilting it, I'm thinking, "Oh no....oops...eeek...where to next....relax your shoulders..." but overall impression is pretty decent, so it is a forgiving filler!

In the grey area, I did a loopy meander with a five-pointed crazy star.

The back with the label as a part of the backing.  Nothing fancy, just a rail fence block.  I called the quilt "Offset Star."  I used up all of that pale yellow for the backing and cut up the marginal remainder into six 2 1/2" squares.  One more piece off the fabric shelves!

Full back view.  I machine-stitched the binding down for this one.  I rarely do that as I'm not too good at it (but on this one I only had to go back into one spot that I missed catching it, so I'm improving), but I prefer the look of the hand-stitched binding, and I do enjoy that part of the process too!
Love all that texture

And the race to get the runner handquilted?  Slo-o-o-w process.  I'm doing a "simple" (cough) cable in the border.  I'm probably doing the marking and the quilting process all wrong, but too bad, as it's not going in any show or contest!!  Here's what I did this morning:
Bottom edge is quilted using a different process than the side edge...but they are both going to turn out the same...I hope!
Hard to see I know.  I made a plastic template for the "snake" section with registration marks.  Used the Clover pink chalk pencil as I could not see the Bohin one well enough.  (The cable design is between the two marking pencils in the photo below.)  Then I got all confused as to which line I was quilting, as the outside top line of one oval becomes the inside bottom line of the next.  And then I realized that the ovals in the design are not identical!  Are you kidding me?  So I made an "eye" template for the inside oval.  Cut it out of a little paper (hi-tech stuff here I tell you) and made a registration mark for the next "eye" so I can space them apart properly.  This design is out of a book I got from Joe for Christmas in 2000: Quilting Patterns by Linda Macho.

I love that thimble!

I drew them on the opposite border edge and quilted those.  Yep.  I'm going to continue with this "eye" method.  But I'll make a template out of the template plastic now that I know it works.  Then I can mark the "snake" lines after and all the eyes will be the same size and shape (with any luck)!!

Speaking of luck, I'll need a ton of it to get this done in time for that draw!

Nearly forgot:  the dogs have joined me for the past two days downstairs (they prefer being upstairs, to keep tabs on the pesky squirrels).  Naala was in a goofy mood today:

She lay like that for several minutes!!  Silly girl.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Grey, yellow and white star quilt

I got the top sewed this afternoon for the quilt for our guild's Boutique fundraiser this Fall at our quilt show:
I'm really happy with it.  It won't take long to quilt; just have to find an appropriate backing in my stash.  It's from Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  She had posted a few days ago some inspiration for charity quilts.  I can see myself making another of these....or two!  I already drew out another one with a different shape in it other than the star.

I cut the squares 4 1/2", so to make the half-square triangles for the star block I cut a 4 7/8" square, drew a line down the diagonal, sewed 1/4" on either side of the drawn line and then cut on the drawn line to yield two half-square triangle squares.

I used my Book It! method.  You can find it under the Tutorials tab up top.  Here is how it looked for a part of this quilt's assembly:
It's such a cool method, and all the seams butt up so nicely.

On another note, I'm munching as I type on SUCH a terrific salad!!  Soooo healthy, too.

Green Goddess Detox Salad
I saw a picture of this on Pinterest, and pinned it here.  I bought all the ingredients this weekend and made it tonight.  Well I didn't get all the ingredients. . . I didn't read the ingredients properly from Pinterest; hence pea sprouts became sugar peas, and scallions became green onions, and I'd never heard of agave nectar, so I substituted a tsp of honey!!  However, it turned out FANTASTIC!  It is from Lindsay of Pinch of Yum.  Think I'll be visiting her more often, as there is a plethora of great recipes!

Off to finish the salad and then go teach yoga!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

And another one down...

in the hand-quilted tablerunner I'm trying to get finished for Melissa's A Lovely Year of Finishes.  I took this picture outside yesterday afternoon so it is in much better lighting than last night's.  I have 3 star blocks in this runner, and I've finished quilting two.

This is the centre star block, a star in a star--is it called Rising Star?

So this afternoon, another absolutely picture-perfect day of clear blue skies and warm smiling sun, I sat outside and quilted this last block so I could get another daytime picture.

I'm pretty sure this is called Evening Star
The "rays" that I quilted in the ivory triangles just happened.  I'd thought about maybe doing a small triangle inside that triangle, but worried I wouldn't get them all the same size, or perfectly centred.  So I thought, why not just split the triangle in 3, doing 3 lines of quilting, and after I'd got the first 2 done in the centre block, I saw that it looked like rays!  Love it.

So, just the outside border to do now, and I think I'm going to do a simple cable there as the fabric is just so wonderful that I don't want to detract from it.  I actually cannot believe I can see the light at the end of the tunnel to finishing this runner after leaving it sit for so many, many years.  And, it comes as a bit of a shock, but I really love hand-quilting, outside of my very sore left hand pointer and third finger...  However, diaper rash cream to the rescue!
Yep, it's been 25+ years since I've needed it for my babies, but I still buy my fave brand, Penaten, for burns, blisters, splits in fingers or toes, rough calluses, and now, for my two fingers, and it's eased the "ouch" remarkably well already.

What else was I doing this weekend?

I've had this quilt from Sarah's post of Confessions of A Fabric Addict, one of the first quilt blogs I followed with Bloglovin' about Hands2Help on my brain all weekend, so last night, I dug through my almost non-existent greys, and started cutting 4 1/2" squares.  I plan to do another using 6 1/2" squares for a baby quilt.  This first one could be a small baby quilt or a wallhanging.  I plan to give it to our Guild's Boutique for the fundraiser at our quilt show this September.  The best part?  It's all from my scraps and stash!  Love that.

Here it is on the design wall tonight:

I'd hoped to get it pieced before I posted this, but life has happened since supper. . .   I've got the first two columns pieced à la my "Book It!" method.  I'm hoping to link up with Sarah if I'm not too late, for my first linky to her "Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?"

Remember to visit The Bloggers' Quilt Festival!  I have two quilts entered there for the first time.  I'm really starting to have my eyes opened by this huge world of Quilting Blogland, and I'm just loving it!!  So much to do, so many like-minded supportive people, and SO MANY ideas!!!  My two quilts are Seaside Rose, entered into the Large Quilts Category....

Seaside Rose was posted about here and here and here and here, good grief, and here!  She was a lengthy, but oh-so-worth-it creation.

and Hidden in Plaid Sight, entered into the Original Design Category.  There are 650 quilts in all of the categories, and there are some absolutely stunning beauties.
Hidden in Plaid Sight was posted about here and here!

Click the "here" links to read about the two quilts.  The first "here" is the contest entry post that summarizes the quilt.  Click the hot-linked categories in the paragraph above to go directly to the voting page.  You might have to scroll through the many(and get side-tracked!!)  beautiful quilts entered.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Progress, Albeit Slow

I did some more hand-quilting today on my UFO.  Here is one of the three blocks DONE!!  I have to stop waiting so long between hand-quilting marathons.  I build up a callous on my underneath third finger that catches the point of the needle and sends it back up, and then I don't quilt for a few weeks.  Back to square one.  Ouch.

Don't look too closely, as there is a lot of variance in stitch size, sigh.  The four corners were going to just have a square in a square but the middle still poofed up too much, so I quilted the straight lines through each inner square.

Notice anything??

My menopausal LACK of functioning brain cells strikes yet again, ugh.  I had just finished the third of the four corner squares when I realized that on two of the square-in-a-squares, I'd rotated the straight lines running through the inner square.  Are you kidding me?  Rather than rip it out, I repeated the odd one so that I have two of each.

This is my project for Melissa's A Lovely Year of Finishes so I only have a week to get 'er done!  Two more blocks to fill in details like this, and then the border.

Remember to check out the Bloggers' Quilt Festival.  Voting begins tomorrow!  Apparently there are about 650 quilt all told in the festival, so a TON of eye candy and ogling to be had. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thankful Thursday #3

As always, I have a ton of things to be thankful for today.  Here are a few:

The sun is shining and the sky is mostly blue with a few fluffy white clouds floating on by.

Very good friends, our next-door neighbours, are coming over for supper tonight.  We are having one of my favourite salads: Romaine, spinach, with fruit (today it's raspberries, blueberries and mango), sliced almonds, Vidalia onion, grated sharp cheddar, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, topped with Mango Chipotle dressing. . .
Before dressing

and spaghetti (long-time favourite dish of mine).  Two sauces, both of which have been slow-cooking all day:  meat, made by husband. . .

and marinara (or marijuana sauce, as Dayna used to call it when she was about 6!)made by moi. . .

Of course there will be a choice of fresh grated Asiago, or grated Parmesan and Romano to sprinkle on the spaghetti, and a baguette.  Dessert is apple pie (not homemade) and butter pecan ice cream!  Yum.

I am also thankful for my yoga teacher from Rosemary Court Yoga in Sarasota, Florida, with whom I keep in weekly contact every Thursday.  I do the Ashtanga Primary Series on my own here, sometimes the Full practice, sometimes Half Primary, and I check in with her to let her know I did it and how it went.  She is a wonderful teacher, good friend, and now my email "practice-buddy".

Most of all today, I am so thankful and ecstatic, to be honest, that my caption was one of two chosen in Fat Quarter Shop's first Caption This! Contest at Quilt Market this year!  I WON!!!!  I WON!!!!  Each day they posted an interesting photo, and asked blog followers to send in a caption.  I missed one of the days, but sent comments on the others.  You can see them all here.  This is the picture with my caption that won:

My husband used to say this to our girls, minus the "for potential quilt patterns" phrase if they caught him nodding off!  Since I've been meditating on a daily basis, one of the things I notice, is that sometimes I do see flowing colours on the insides of MY eyelids, so this just seemed a perfect pic to combine his saying with my experience.  Oh I'm sure I've left myself wide open for a sarcastic comment from my loving sister, Linda....

What do I win?  A Moda fabrics bundle of Miss Kate Flannels by Bonnie and Camille!  EEEEK!!  I am just a tad excited about this!  Cannot wait until it arrives!  I adore Moda fabrics, always have, so this means a lot to me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Summer Days (Daze) A Finish!

And. . . the name of this quilt got hit by??  my menopausal melon. . . sigh.

The pattern is called "Summer Daze" and I blogged about it already here.  I loved the name; I adored the display quilt in Guildcrafters Quilt Shop.  Well, as I was writing on my label, getting it ready to sew into the backing (those of you who have read my blog know that's what I pretty much always do), this is what I wrote:

Nooooo!!!  Yep, the melon was meandering somewhere out in the back 40, and as soon as I finished the 's' of "Days" I said a bad word that starts with that letter. . . I'm not The Bitchy Stitcher, otherwise I'd write the word 'shit!' right now. . . oops, guess I just did.  How could I have DONE that?   So, "Summer Days" it is because clearly (ha ha, that's a loose term these days for me) I am living in a daze.

On the Avanté a couple of weeks ago (it sat longer than it took to quilt!):

Quilted label area of the back.  By making the label an integral part of the backing, AND quilting through it, it makes it doubly difficult to remove with any success.
I hand-stitched this binding down, as I usually do; I prefer the finished look.

I took a few pictures this am bright and early, well not bright, as it was pouring, thundering and lightning!  I had hoped to post the pics and a short post before we left for Detroit (massage appointment, ahhhh, and errands run, not so much ahhh) but it didn't happen, as we left early to have breakfast at Avalon Bakery again, yum.  Here are a few from our front step this morning:

The back:

Rolled up:

We got home this afternoon and all the thunderstorms had gone; actually they only hung around until about 10 am and then it turned absolutely gorgeous.

So I hauled it down to the corner as I had the perfect spot for these next ones, as well as the very first one in this post:

One of the residents of the seniors' home walked by and when I asked, "Are you wondering what the heck I'm doing?" she responded, "Well, I thought you were going to lie down in the sun on it!"

I sure could have on this glorious afternoon!
 I did a very open jigsaw puzzle style meander over the entire top.  I am loving being back on my Avanté!  I did go back and "ribbon" in in the middle section of the quilt, going over the meander to create a ribbon effect, as per Cynthia's suggestion on this Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework post.  It looked cool, but as I ribboned, I found I would lose the path of the original white thread on the white fabrics!  I think I meandered too big of an area at a time, so next time I try it, and I will, as I've used it on vine motifs before, I will meander a small area first!

So pretty!
I used King Tut #40 colour 972, (great thread, both the Avanté and I love it) in the top and The Bottom Line in my bobbin.  There was a little build-up underneath of fuzz from the King Tut, but nothing too annoying:
After 1/3 of the quilt was quilted

Another sunny pic of the back:

For the back, I used up some pieces from my stash that have kicked around for - ahem - a little while!  It feels good to make room on MY shelves instead of a quilt shop's shelves. . . although THAT also feels pretty good, LOL!

I do still have more of the lovely pink batik, however.  Instead of a half yard for binding, I bought, from Fat Quarter Shop, love them, a yard of the Garden Party Pink Zig Zag by Dear Stella fabrics, giving me extra to use on the back.
I love interesting backs!
One more rolled up:

And two of this most glorious tree!  I should have asked the senior lady if she knew what it is.  It looks and smells heavenly.
Looking skyward from underneath
Can't you see a quilt with these spectacular colours?
Wait, I think I did my second dogwood quilt in these colours!

Quilt details:
Size:  56 X 70"
100% cotton fabric
Pattern:  Summer Daze kit and pattern by Guildcrafters Quilt Shop

Thank you for visiting!  Check back tomorrow as I will reveal a super-exciting surprise I got last night!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bloggers' Quilt Festival Entry #2

Yesterday I posted about the first of my entries, Seaside Rose.  Today I'm showing you my second entry, Hidden In Plaid Sight.  I'm entering this quilt into the Original Design Quilts category.

My original post about this quilt is here.  This was a Moda charm pack of "Follow Your Heart" by Kathy Schmitz I'd bought in 2007.  I petted it, riffled through it several times over the years, and this winter I decided to let it grow up!  I wanted to maximize the 5" squares, so started playing with them on my design wall.  I realized I had four colourways, black, green, red and taupe, so thought perhaps I could shade from dark to light...

It wasn't as big as I'd wanted, so I thought I'd put in pillars using leftover fabric from another charm square quilt I'd just made...and then sashing...

I bordered it in black too.  When I saw the thumbnail of the picture below, the quilt got its name.
It made me think of plaid.

I had just signed up for Angela Walters' Dot to Dot Quilting on Craftsy, so I thought this quilt, with its many squares, would be perfect to practise her designs.  And it was!
Love that texture; makes you want to run your fingers over the quilt

I love love love Craftsy!!  If you haven't taken any classes, just do it!  Watch for their sales, especially if you are on a fixed income like moi, and try one.  You can watch and rewatch the class, ask the instructor questions, talk to other students in the class, admire others' class projects, upload your own, make notes at whatever points in the video you like.... need I go on??!!  There are many many free classes too.  And they aren't just limited to quilting.  There's knitting and cooking to name just two other subject areas.

Back to my quilt.... I digressed, which, if you've read my posts, you will know I often do.

Fun designs!

I quilted this on my Bernina in March when we were in Florida.  Each row has 7 squares and each square has a different quilting motif in it.  I moved each motif over one square as I quilted each row, so the motifs "stair step" down the diagonal of the quilt to mimic the shading from dark to light.

All of these were done by marking a dot to aim at, or simply eyeballing where you want to go.

It's a perfect cuddle size.

Love the roll-up, or in this case, folded look!

I made my own label, and as I usually do, incorporated it as an integral part of the backing.  This makes it super-difficult to remove if ever the quilt is stolen.

One final shot; gotta love these coordinating colours of our front yard!
Quilt details:
Name:  Hidden in Plaid Sight
Size:  46 X 51.25"
Pattern:  Original by moi, Sandra Walker
Fabric:  Moda and Kona 100% cotton
Backing: Moda "Renewal" by Brannock & Patek
Machine-pieced and machine-quilted on my Bernina Artista 180 using Sulky rayons with The Bottom Line and Gutermann cotton in the bobbin

This quilt is being entered into the Bloggers' Quilt Festival at Amy's Creative Side, hosted by Amy Ellis.  It's going into the Original Design Category.  Voting begins May 24!  Thanks for reading about my quilts!

I am also linking up with Marelize of stitch by stitch for Anything Goes Mondays.