Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday Stretch For Sewists #14 Dragon

When you think of dragons, do you think of the fantasy dragons à la Tolkien with their ancient knowledge and love of treasure, or do you think of Chinese dragons and their cavorting in New Year parades, bedecked in radiant colours?
Today's post is another type of dragon, Yin yoga style.  It might make you feel and see colours in your hip joints, ha, it will definitely heat you up (think dragons' fiery breath), oh yes, and it might even bring up some strong emotions much like both fantasy and Chinese dragons can do.

The above barn quilt is a new one to me. Spotted it along Heritage Road in Essex County where there are several.  Doesn't it look beautiful against the red of the barn and framed by the maple (I think) trees in all their glory?
I zoomed in to see the pattern and beautiful colours of both the block and the trees!  It is a huge block; that's a full-size door beside it!
Now that I've planted a pleasant image or two in your mind, let's take a look at this month's Yin pose.

Dragon Pose

This particular pose can help to relieve sciatica.  It also will help you tremendously in your backbends, as it tugs on the front of the hip joints.  When you think about what a backbend looks like, bring your mind to the hip joints and you will immediately realize the importance of lengthening the ligaments in the front of those joints!  This also is a lovely stretch for the quadriceps, actually for the fascial bag that encases the quadriceps. There are many variations of the dragon pose; I will take you through three.  Hold each one for one minute.

To get into the pose the easiest way is to come to all fours on your mat.  Alternatively, you can step into it from Down Dog.

Step your right foot forward, placing it where you right hand is.  Help it ahead if need be, stacking your joints so that your ankle is under your knee.  Place one hand on either side of that leg, resting on your fingertips.  Slide your left leg back, back, coming to rest on the top of the foot, until you feel a very strong tug through the groins and the front of the left hip.  You might also feel a pretty strong compression in the front of the right hip. 
In the beginning, your left leg might be at more of a right angle than shown here; that's okay! When was the last time you attempted doing a kind of partial splits shape like this?!  So go easy.  "You want sensation, but don't make it sensational!" to quote Bernie Clark.  Relax your legs.  Close your eyes.  Breathe slowly and steadily in and out through the nose.

If it is too much to rest on your fingertips for the entire minute, go to fists, or flat hands.  Use blocks under your hands, or books if you struggle to reach the floor.  If you change hand position, note that the quads will kick in to help support you; consciously relax them, so you get deep into the hip joint, into the connective tissue, the ligaments, tendons, not the muscles.

After one minute, come upright with your torso, resting both hands just above your knee.  This is why you want to have a quilt doubled up under your knees as I have, since there is a fair amount of pressure on the left knee here.

Try to sink down into the groins; this is pretty intense as the weight of the torso puts a lot of pressure here.  If you have too much pressure on your left knee even with a quilt there, put a cushion under it.  Gaze at the ground in front of you.  Hold for one minute.

Inhale, and on your exhale bring both hands to your mat inside your right leg.  Lower down onto your forearms, resting on your mat or if that is too low, then on a block or a book

If this is too much in the beginning, then keep both hands inside that right leg, simply bending your arms slightly as you lower your torso a little.  Hold for one minute.  I set my phone timer for 3 minutes and place it where I can easily see it, so I can change every minute through the three variations.

For a wonderful but more advanced variation, twist your torso towards the right leg, looking to the sky.  Place your right hand against the inside of the knee and gently push it away from you, letting your foot come to rest on the side edge.  You can stay here one minute, breathing slowly and steadily in and out through your nose.
When you are done 2 or 3 or all 4 variations, tuck your back toes under, push into your right foot, lifting your hips up and back, straightening the right leg, leaning over it.  This is called half splits.  Take several breaths here, enjoying the warmth/coolness/tingling sensations as the blood rushes back into the compressed areas, removing toxins in much the same way a deep tissue massage does.  Alternatively, push up and back, but step back to a most delicious downward facing dog again.  After several breaths in down dog or half splits, rest back in child's pose before doing the other side.

One last quilt photo for you! Sunday Stash is today, and I finally finally redeemed my winnings from Fluffy Sheep Quilting for Scraptastic Tuesday from several months back.  Cindy was unbelievably kind to let me redeem my certificate after forgetting/remembering/forgetting for such a while.  Helen of Midget Gem Quilts put me on to her Skinny as Helen would say, it would be rude to just buy one, right?  These two pretty lengths arrived this past week:
Woo hoo!

Remember to read my previous post for the Autumn Abundance Blog Hop (that link will take you to Bernie's site where you can get the links to all the posts, giveeways at each one) as I have two giveaway prizes up for grabs.  The draw ends tonight and I will announce the winners tomorrow below this paragraph. Speaking of grabbing, you may want to grab yourself a Craftsy class or two; they are all on for less than $20 this weekend.  Click the button on the sidebar to have a look. :-)

Update Monday morning.  From 160 comments (wow!) Mr. Random Generator picked...

1.  The little button basket:

Kelli at Seriously I Think It Needs Stitches  Isn't that a great blog name? And yep she's a RN.

2. The fabric charms, label and selvages:
Both winners have been contacted.  Sadly, for each draw I had to draw twice because of no-reply bloggers.  However, yay, in that there were loads of no-reply bloggers and the majority wrote their email address within their comment. :-)

Thank you again for all the comment love and looks like we may have a QAL in 2017. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Autumn Abundance Blog Hop - Windfall

It's Day 5 and it's my turn to show you my project that I have been super-excited about since its inception for this Autumn Abundance Blog Hop.

First of all a tremendous thank you to Bernie of Needle and Foot for birthing this idea of a Fall inspiration blog hop this summer.  When she asked me if I'd like to be a part, I was like hell ya!  I mean, ahem, I was like, oh for sure! And then kicked up my heels at the thought of getting some free fabric and license to play and create...  Second, a massive thank you and wow-wee from my heart goes to Paintbrush Studio who so generously agreed to sponsor this hop.  Be sure to check out their blog, which I follow by bloglovin' and by email so I never miss a post, Inspired By Fabric.  I also follow on Instagram.

I was blown away by a few things: first of all, we got to choose which Fall collection we wanted to work with, and second at the generosity of Paintbrush Studio, which is a division of Fabri-Quilt.  Blown.  Away.  A fat quarter pack would be sent to us, and a little yardage if needed.  With next to no hesitation, I chose Windfall.  That is the third thing that blew me away, the richness, depth, and gorgeous hand of this line. Windfall.  With a name like that, evoking the vibrant windblown leaves of Fall, and the windfall of landing free fabric, the quilt had the perfect name from the get-go.

Right from the start, I knew I wanted to create a shadow quilt.  I've had Shadow Quilts by Slusser and Magaret since shortly after its release in 2000.  I made a quilt for my then guild's challenge.  It didn't win, but the idea of superimposing one image upon another image has stayed with me every since.  I knew I wanted the massive leaf to be red upon the cream background, and a leaf of all 18 other colours would float on top of that massive leaf.  There is a leaf quilt in the book, but I didn't like the shape of their leaf, nor the fact that the quilt had borders, nor the fact that every single block in the quilt was a leaf.  I wanted some resting places for the eye.  Tucked in the book was a templates pattern I'd saved from who knows where for the maple leaf block I love.  I graphed it out, so I could rotary cut and simplify the block, and then drew out my design.  I also graphed out the paper-pieced point section.
Early stages of design

I decided to make 10" finished blocks so my quilt would finish at 50.5" square.  Cutting and piecing went together very quickly, and in no time I had a flimsy.  Well, some of the blocks required a little more thought and a little more math but still, this appeared on the design wall a little while ago.
Apologies for the Bella butt in the corner
When something one has visualized in one's head, and sketched out on graph paper (a method I call SW7, still saving for EQ7 lol) comes to BE on one's design wall, it is quite the feeling.

I was pressed for time, having had oh, just a few other life-type events requiring my attention of late, so I thought I would do an all-over quilt design and let the fabric shine.


Quilts talk to me.  Most often when they are loaded on the frame.  This one was okay with my swirling wind currents idea, but it told me I needed a contrasting design for the background.  Enter ruler work.
And a lot of it!  Yet I wanted to do a little something other than line upon line upon line, and so a 'ghost' border idea was born, similar to that on Gillian's quilt.
I used Aurifil thread for the ruler work, and it stitched up wonderfully.  I loved the way the chocolate brown leaf is not readily apparent on the rich red fabric, but is a kind of surprise in that huge 20" point area.  I was pleased with the contrast of quilting motifs and of the two threads.  I used Essential variegated thread, a spool that Preeti gave me a while back.  This is fabulous thread as well, from Connecting Threads, and Avril loves it, as do I. (no affiliation, just an excellent thread with an excellent price)  I thought a wind currents map idea along with big swirls would be effective as a quilting motif, and it was.

The leaves that float on the cream background got special treatment.  Yes, I originally had thought to do swirls similar to those on the huge leaf, but well, I just couldn't.  I wanted them to be individual and add some interest.  If you've followed me for any amount of time, you know I love love feathers.
Same variegated Essential thread
Hmm, fabulous, but less can be more too, right?

So the idea was born to quilt two of three different designs in each of the six free-floating leaves.  I was mesmerized by the depth and definition I got from the wool batting I used, yardage I picked up last winter at Hancock's Fabrics.

I am so pleased that I did the hours and hours of ruler work.  I still have plenty of room for improvement, areas of bobbles, and places where the lines are not evenly spaced, but the overall effect is wonderful if I may say so.  And I did it, a human, not a computerized quilting machine, right?

My husband, who is known here on the blog only by the nickname, MacGyver, because he values his privacy and does not want to be visible online, very kindly accompanied me on the photo shoot.  I had so hoped for it to be a sunny day yesterday when the photos were taken but sadly, that was not to be the case.  However, at least the rain and crazy wind of Wednesday had gone.
We went to an area within 6 minutes' walk from our house, an arboretum along the Chrysler Canada Greenway, which is a path that is part of the Trans-Canada Trail, one of the world's longest walking trails.  I knew there would be quite the glorious display of colour in various stages because of the wide variety of trees native to this area.  We were not disappointed!
This one has not even begun to change!  You get the idea of the size of the tree, an oak, I believe, when you think that the quilt is 50.5" square...
My only complaint about this wonderful, cathedral-like area is that there are no labels under each tree.  I want to, need to know the name of each one!

So MacGyver propped my quilt under a tree!

I seem to be getting known as the blogger who likes to photograph her quilts in trees.  Others have been doing so, with a nod to me. Aww!  Of course this quilt was destined to perch in a tree...
If my friend Doug has taught me right, this is a red oak.  Pointy leaf ends.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  Look at MacGyver's favourite tree in the background, a Weeping Willow.  These don't go greenish-gold until November.
The Chrysler-Canada Greenway is a reclaimed railroad track.  In the late 1800s, Hiram Walker built his own railway line that would run rich Detroiters out to Kingsville to bask along the shores of sparkling Lake Erie.  My lovely little town has preserved the Kingsville Train Station, which is at the west edge of the aboretum.  Today, it serves as the Mettawas Station restaurant where you can dine on the most excellent food.  My favourite is their wood-fired pizza.  I had to take a few photos here.

Here is the back of my quilt, at the back door of the station!
I picked up this lovely fabric ages ago, destined for a lining for a quilted flannel jacket.  Said jacket did not materialize, but I do love the new life the lining has been given!

You know I am a label nut.  I was happy to use the first of a labels panel I picked up very reasonably from Missouri Star Quilt Company.
Right at the moment of inserting this photo, I realize I forgot to insert one of my Ikat mmm! quilts labels in the binding...drat!  Ah well, rip out a few stitches, insert label. No prob.
I bound it with a black and grey print that was (lol talk about synchronicity) leftover from the lining for a quilted jacket I did make in the early 2000s and still wear to this day.

Back to the train station.  Front entrance to be exact.

And back to the quilting:
For the two leaves who lay along the 'stem' of the massive leaf, I did some dot to dot work and then used my BF curved ruler from the Quilted Pineapple to do the swoops on the HST leaf points.  Here I used an Isacord thread for the red leaf and a YLI variegated for the purple. Avril slid them through her lovely metalwork like sap through a tree.  ;-)

It was while quilting this large cream background area that the idea of ghost leaves was born.  I could trace those in the fabric, and I did for three random ones, but what if I did ghost smaller maple leaf shapes to mimic the blocks?!  Yes!!  Added an echo around each one of the five, and then filled in around them with ruler work.  All lines are 1/4" apart.
Despite the lack of sun, that shot does give you a good idea of the texture created.  I did take one inside by the patio doors for an all-over quilting effect.

Of course I just had to throw it on the grass and toss some random real leaves on it!  Can you find the real ones?!

If you are still with me with through all the photos, all the facts and figurings and fine educating, it's almost time for some freebies.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern:  Original Design based on the technique in Shadow Quilts
Size: 49.5" square (50.5" before quilting)
Fabric:  Windfall by Paintbrush Studio
Batting: 100% Wool purchased at Hancock's Fabrics last winter
Quilted: on my Avanté 165 836 stitches
Threads:  background: Aurifil 2315 50 wt; huge leaf: Essential 21224; individual leaves on cream background: Essential 20875, 21144, Isacord 1704,YLI 244-30-20V (All threads are 40 wt)

Note, this is one of my goals for the Q4FAL.  My list is here. Feels great to have one done and another off that list on the frame as I type! 

I have two items free to a good home.  All you need to do is tell me what your favourite tree for Fall colours is for one entry.  For a second entry, tell me how you follow me, new followers welcome.  Please be sure to leave me your email address in your comment if you are a no-reply blogger.

During the first week of September I made a few button baskets to give to friends.  The first giveaway is one of the baskets. I used the gorgeous red from the line, and lined it with the same black with which I bound the quilt.  The tutorial for the basket can be found here at Seaside Stitches.
For a second giveaway, I've cut a 5" charm square of each of the 20 fabrics I received plus the lining and binding fabrics for a total of 24 charms.  You may get a little something else thrown in too.  I will double-check the cost, but I'm pretty sure I will be able to ship these anywhere on this beautiful blue and green planet.

I will draw two names on Sunday night, October 30, and winners will be emailed and announced on Monday, October 31.  So sorry, but with giveaways I won't be responding to comments. Remember to answer the question too or I will draw another name!

Two last items, make that three, phew!
First, if you would like more seasonal inspiration for this time of year, check out one of my QBFFs, Julie at Pink Doxies, post today too!

Second, you may want to check out the classes sale on a Craftsy this weekend, all classes under $20.  That's a pretty sweet treat with no calories.  And yes, that is an affiliate link.  I think.  If it works, new website and new affiliate structure and all.  The sidebar link works for sure!

Third, ........ umm, I forgot.   Ah the lovely lack of brain cells that menopause inflicts upon me.  I'll proofread this and it will come to me.....  Got it.  Only took about 15 minutes of doing various activities, not all of which had to do with this post, lol!  Would anyone be interested were I to do a quilt-along doing this pattern?  We'd make it in a smaller size, say 7.5" blocks so it would end up 38.5".  Let me know in your favourite tree comment please.  It would start in the new year.  Think there's enough going on for the rest of this last quarter of 2016.

If you missed any of the previous posts in the Autumn Abundance Blog Hop, here they are, with giveaways at each stop:
Bernie at Needle and Foot
Janine at Quilts From the Little House
Mari at The Academic Quilter
Tish at Tish's Adventures in Wonderland

Once again, thank you to Paintbrush Studio for supplying the fabrics and to Bernie for all her hard work pulling this together.
Linking up with
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Crazy Mom Quilts
TGIFF at Busy Hands Quilts 
She Can Quilt

Monday, October 24, 2016

Strong and Free

That's my country.  A line from our national anthem.  We Canadians are a rather laid back breed for the most part.  Quiet.  Polite. Peacemakers.  I am very proud of that description of us.  I'm also very proud of my country and I love it.  This post has a few Canadian images and thoughts for you.
Sunset on Lake Erie October 15 at the home of friends of ours
Maple Leaf Forever
Not sure of the variety, or wait, I think this may be an oak?!! My friend Doug taught me that red oaks have pointed leaves...please do let me know.
Okay this next definitely is a maple, known as Autumn Blaze.  I got that name from the guy who owns these spectacular beauties, trees I have photographed every year for the past five Falls that I have walked past them.
I think the big one right in front of me and on my right is a silver maple. Maybe a red maple!  Autumn Blaze is a hybrid of those two I learned.

A little maple of my own has been a-happenin' in my sewing corner...
Love it when seams line up purr-fectly!
Speaking of purring, Bella has been right beside me every step of the way on this secret project which will be revealed this coming Friday!
From cutting, to discovering my desk lamp throws some lovely warm heat (don't worry; the iron wasn't on), to settling down all nice and cosy, ensuring both sides of her head got toasty, to oops!  Guess she sat too near the pile of HST trimmings...
Back in the summer Bernie of Needle and Foot asked me if I'd like to be a part of a hop she was planning for the Fall, to showcase a fabric company's Fall line of fabrics.  For sure!  Paintbrush Studio is our sponsor and I picked Windfall for my project.
Some of the incredibly rich hues in this gorgeous line.
Here is a teaser photo during construction:

And during quilting:

The Autumn Abundance blog hop runs all this week.  Be sure to check back as I will update the links below as each post goes live.  You should get some great Fall inspiration!

Monday - Bernie at Needle and Foot
Tuesday - Janine at Quilts From the Little House
Wednesday - Mari at The Academic Quilter
Thursday - Tish at Tish's Adventures in Wonderland
Friday - moi!

Back to Canada.  I've been thoroughly engrossed in another fantasy by Ottawa, Ontario resident Charles de Lint, Trader.  I am nearly finished; if you like a good fantasy, especially one that paints the veil between Faerie/Spiritworld and ours as being very thin, and blends Celtic lore with Native American, then you will love his work.  The Little Country is the first of his that I read, with Moonheart and its sequel, Spiritwalk, in a three-way tie for favourites.

While working on my quilt, I decided to go through some CDs that I was organizing, ensuring they are loaded into the laptop (and therefore my devices) for easy transport.  This was the point at which I realized how I'd unknowingly been surrounding myself with Canadian art while I worked on my Autumn Abundance quilt.  I'd completely forgotten about this gift from my mum from several years ago, a Canadian Brass CD, love!  Bach's fugues have mesmerized me since I first was learning them (and they are hard!); the intricacy and interweaving of themes in each 'voice' quite a work of art and organization, not to mention genius.  In keeping with the fantasy atmosphere, Canadian Loreena McKennit's haunting melodies are just the ticket.  They've been getting a fair bit of play recently.  I do believe I own every one of her CDs, and, imported into the laptop though they all may be, I will still keep the hard copies!

Canada is such a rich country in many ways from resources, to a variety of peoples, cultures (we are multicultural and proud of it), vistas, and interesting weather to be sure!  Out west in Alberta, they had an unwelcome blast from Old Man Winter a couple of weeks ago, and he is hanging on yet with his icy fingers...
Still, there is incredible beauty and magic to be found:
Photo courtesy of my sister Linda, taken by her son
I think she should enter that photo in a contest.  I just love it!  The snow is pretty much gone now.

2000 miles to the east and 700 miles south of Edmonton, I sat and enjoyed the sun and water on my walk yesterday.  Canada is indeed diverse.
Can you spot the black Lab swimming? Ah, would Rocco have loved to be with him...
A little later on that same walk, I had to stop and take a photo of this fabulously decorated house.  People really go all out in my little town, but this circle of dancing ghosts was just so creative! I immediately heard the music of "Outlander" in my head, thoughts of the dancing white witches in the standing stones overlaying the ghosts in front of me.

Ahh, day I hope to go there...  Finally, a nod to Canada's 'mother' country, from none other than my own proud to be English, mum.  She sent me this photo the other day, her lunch of homemade broccoli soup (she makes the best) on her Union Jack placemat I made her last year, and in the background a tablerunner from probably about 15 years ago that I also made her. How I love seeing my quilts being used and loved.  

Photo courtesy of my mum. Thanks Mum!
Be sure to check out the Autumn Abundance Day 1 post right here!

Linking up with
Cooking Up Quilts
Sew Fresh Quilts

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Blue and White Antique Quilt

I showed you a photo of the antique quilt I picked up at Fence Row Antiques in New Bedford, Ohio a week ago (was it already a week ago? Seems like just yesterday in some ways, and seems like last month in others, sniff...).

At first I thought those were faded areas, but upon closer inspection, I'm not so sure.  The blue fabrics look like shirting, and the paler blues are not the same pattern as the darker ones.

Maybe this quilt was made from old shirts or dresses? Maybe the quiltmaker bought or was given some fabric but there wasn't enough to make her queen sized quilt?  It is big, measuring 75X90"!

The block is new to me; I've never seen this.
It isn't square, as I'd first thought; it's a hexagon with triangles and diamonds pieced in along the sides, and lots of Y-seams.
Look what appears when they are placed together!
MacGyver saw it with the blue ones; said it reminds him of a Maltese cross.  I saw a white 'star' where the blocks come together.  It has a 3D effect to me here!

I just love the scalloped edge.

Yep, you see that some edges are fraying.  I'm okay with a well-used quilt!  The texture is just incredible:

It is hand-quilted, 10 stitches to the inch.  Do you count the top and bottom stitches?  I presume you do not; I counted 10 stitches on the top per inch, 19-20 if you count the gaps where those on the bottom layer show.  Way better than this girl's handquilting! 

There are wreaths in the large white areas...

...and straight lines of echo-quilting in the other parts of the blocks.

Here is a better photo showing the overlapping wavy lines quilted in the borders.  I think this is called a cable design.  It's one of my favourite quilting motifs.  In fact, on my Stars Christmas runner, I did this very one along the edges. :-)  Well, not as many lines; there are 8 altogether here!

I am so pleased that with all this white there is barely a mark on it.  I did wash it after talking to Julie of Pink Doxies, on the delicate cycle in my tumbling washing machine.   I laid it flat to dry, easing the scallops into place.  It didn't come out as soft because of air-drying, so right near the end when it was barely damp, I put it in the dryer for 10 minutes.  It softened up a bit, but not like it was originally.  So I'm a bit sad I did wash it after all.

A cotton batting was used, but it has let go in most places except around the quilting lines.  I'm guessing it to be from the 1930s/1940s.  Any thoughts on that?  It came from New York State.

This brings my antique quilt collection to a total of three!
No sombrero needed on MacGyver's head this time; he used his head and both arms spread wide but still couldn't hold out straight the entire quilt!
I plan to recreate this in smaller form; I'm curious to figure out the block construction.  I will keep you posted on that development.  Always more projects right?!  Quick note: if you would like to create your own version of an antique quilt, I got an email this morning showing a new Craftsy fabric collection just out, a Civil War reproduction line by Boundless Fabrics, that happens to be on sale this weekend.  It's not just on kits (but all kits are on sale, even the newest as this antique-inspired one), but all supplies, and fabrics.  Debbie Caffrey, a well-known designer, has created an Ocean Waves quilt measuring 69X89", that is gorgeous, and mimics the original Civil War quilt that inspired the collection.  That kit is also on sale, for a great price, $99!  (Note: these are affiliate links, that I think/hope will work with the new website, which I really like btw!)

Linking up with some favourite parties on my sidebar and in the Linky Parties tab up top.