Saturday, August 19, 2017

Rainbows Abound

I haven't linked up or showed much progress on two of my three (3!! -- how did that happen? Well, it did...) RSC2017 projects with Angela at so scrappy.  I think it's time.

Project 1
My original project.  My house quilt! I drafted a basic schoolhouse block combining several ideas: the one on the cover of my first quilt book I ever bought, The Quilter's Companion from That Patchwork Place, a paper-piecing pattern I have by Denise McKenna from many years ago (15?) that has a quilt block on the side of each house, and Lori Holt's barn blocks on Pinterest. I made the first block in January's colour, purple, made the second one in turquoise leftovers, and felt compelled to turn it into a cushion cover for my new sewing loft space. I had had no idea aqua would be the February colour! So I thought I'd make another in aqua for the quilt, but that hasn't happened.  Nor had any other colours, much to my embarrassment.  Until this week.
March - red. See the candle in the 'window'?! When the owl flew into my purple house little block, I knew I'd be doing something in every house block. A really good quilter would have aligned the stripes in the roof...I'm pleased I got the stripes in the HSTs running in the right direction!
Have I mentioned how much I adore scrap quilts? Here the yard is a red flower-filled cotton print from Cranston Printworks bought 29 years ago when I learned to smock, and made my girls matching smocked dresses. (need to dig up a photo of them wearing them) The roof stripe is a scrap from my first published pattern on Moda Bakeshop, and the windows are scraps of Paintbrush Studio's Windfall, which I used for the quilt that inspired the first QAL I ran here on the blog.

April was multi-coloured fabric, and I haven't decided whether I will make a multi-coloured house yet. Will wait until the end and see how many blocks I have, and how they play together.

May - green. The yard is fabric from my mum's favourite bag I made her that literally fell apart after so much use--love that! The roof scraps from my dear friend John's quilt, Shamrock, the house front leftover backing from Callum's quilt, Shift.
I played around again with a slightly different look to the house front. I'm sure you spotted the cat in the 'window'. I am tickled that I found the green, kind of cloud-like fabric, used in Cheryl's Meadow Mystery for the sky. Love the letters fabric for the front door!
June- yellow. Didn't put anything special in this block, so I'll have to quilt in something. I like the fact that on the little star block a scrap of new fabric, Masterpiece Mixers by Kanvas Studio from my Coins of the Atocha quilt, is used to frame an older batik, bought in NYC, I believe, and scraps of Moda fabric for lining for an Amy Butler bag, bought in Eugene, Oregon!
July - blue. The blue is scraps of Nancy Halvorsen's 'Bree' fabric that I used for my latest, not-yet-released pattern in Benartex's next edition of their e-zine, more Bree scraps are in one of the little over-lapping stars, which has old, but terrific fabrics on the other three sides of it. Cats in the one window, Laurel Burch fabric so generously given to me by my dear friend Jake, and Kaffe scraps in the other from Harbinger of Spring.
August is neutral colours, and I have a block started. If you're curious about the little star blocks (6") on the house side, the red, blue and yellow ones are from the 150 Canadian Women QAL, and the others I've drafted from traditional blocks. A different star is in each house side.

Project 2
Migrating Geese
I haven't done the multi-colour, nor will I do the neutral. I want this in ROYGBIV order. I battled the almost ever-present wind that day:
Gives a new meaning to flying geese, right?!

Project 3
My strings quilt, the project that just kind of happened. It's a leader/ender project using strings, which now also appear to be having babies and multiplying out the yin/yang. In case you don't recall, or didn't bookmark the link the previous times I have shown it, the tutorial is here. She did hers all multi-colour, whereas I had the idea to do opposing corners in scraps of the same colour. I had no plan other than that, just to see what would happen. It's taken a few months to realize I need a little bit of a plan, well a strategy anyhow. So I now don't do both opposing corners in a colour unless I know where the block is destined to fit.

It's starting to take shape! I did add neutral to this project: I had the idea to do the four corners in neutrals, so I have one done here, the top left. I envision this quilt to be 6X8 blocks, so it will finish around 48X64 since these are 8" finished blocks.

By the way, that is half of my eventual full design wall. This is a gridded flannel I bought over 10 years ago from Hancock's of Paducah (paid a shocking amount of duty to get it). I cut it into two lengths so I get an 8 feet square design wall. I use straight pins to pin it into the 1" thick foam board I bought at Home Depot which I found in Windsor in 2 feet wide lengths, yay! Much easier to transport. It is set up in the guest room and will stay there as the loft doesn't have the required height. I'm fine with running up and down stairs when needed. It's good for me.😉

Linking up with soscrappy where there is a ton of inspiration for rainbow scrap projects!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Amazing Canadian Women Update

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that last week I finally caught up with the 150 Canadian Women QAL with Next Step Quilt Designs. I'm still on track, having made this week's blocks two days after they were released. We only have 30 left! Which means...I can't believe I'm letting myself think this, let alone write it: there are 10 weeks until the final week of October. Perish that thought! Let's take a look:

Eeep! Just seeing them all together like this makes me just get a big ol' grin on my face!  Okay, explanation required. There are 150 blocks total. I have the first 75 in a ziploc bag. Those you see in this photo are from 76 to 117 inclusive. I did this a couple of times during the first half of the QAL just to see the effect of them all side by side. I love that I used several values of the neutral background, not just white, but off-white, ivory, cream, light tan, light beige, and even a bit of light grey. I also love the effect of the various shades and values of red, and don't forget the tints of red: pink! Too much fun.

I have decided (well 90% sure) I am going to make two quilts, and I'm leaning heavily to the sashing and cornerstones layout. Much as I love the crazy of the above layout, I would like a bit of separation and the 1" finished sashing/cornerstones plan of Kat's is a good one. Also, I specifically bought a fair amount of 150 Canada fabric from Sew Sisters Quilt Shop. I see aqua sashing and black cornerstones for one perhaps, and grey sashing and black cornerstones for the other. Thoughts?

I haven't shown any blocks for some time, from my 150 CA Women photo file, it looks like the last you saw was the whirling tulips block, second row from the bottom, second column. To expedite things (my writing and your reading) here are closeups of just the last nine with a note about each woman they represent.
112 - Kim Campbell: I knew she was Canada's first female Prime Minister, but wow, she has so many other firsts! Just one that should make your eyes open wider is first woman Minister of National Defence of Canada and of any NATO country (YEAH!!!); 113 - Grace Annie Lockhart: first woman in the British Empire to receive a Bachelor's Degree; 114 - Elizabeth Catherine Bagshaw: from 1932-66 she served as the unpaid director of Canada's first planned birth control clinic (did you know birth control was illegal here until 1969??!). In 1954 she retired at 95 (not a typo!) as Canada's oldest practising physician.
115 - Audrey McLaughlin: another name I knew, she was the first woman to lead a political party; 116 - Jenny Dill: She was the first woman to walk across Canada in 1921; 117 - Emily Howard Jennings Stowe: first woman to apply at and be denied entrance to Toronto's School of Medicine in 1865; finally in 1880 after practising without a license (she went to New York Medical College for Women to obtain her degree) she was admitted entry.  (15 years later!! - her perseverance awes me.)
118 - Kaila Mussell: bronc riding woman who competes against men, I gave her the red and black gingham for a cowboy shirt look; 119 - Shaa Tláa, aka Kate (Klondyke Kate) first woman to be part of the Gold Rush and likely the one who discovered gold but has been largely erased from history and that accolade given to the men she was with; 120 - Taqulittuq: she and her Inuit husband spent nearly 2 years in England learning English and then became well-respected guides in the Arctic, helping Europeans reach the highest latitude ever reached in 1871; the group later shipwrecked  but thanks to her and her husband's skill and knowledge, they survived for 6 months on an ice floe and pack! 
Well after re-reading her story and paraphrasing it here, I certainly don't feel the need for AC! Thank goodness for a hot August day.😎 Rather hilarious that last group that I posed on the hood of the car, isn't it? But look in the top left corner and see the tree shadow and a bit of a super-cool ring of clouds formation.

I have enjoyed this QAL on so many levels.  So many of these blocks are challenging to make, or totally new to me (that last one, 120, isn't it the coolest star? And what about the intertwined ribbon effect of 119? That flying geese block? That very first star of these last 9? Love. I love using up fabric that has such a variety of meanings for me, love mixing the old fabrics with the new ones, love using fabrics that have a meaning for the woman the block represents...and so on.

The following two paragraphs contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog (wow! two readers have already made a purchase today from Craftsy through moi - thank you!🙏😃) and for allowing me to use the money to try different fabrics/patterns/products so I can tell you about them!

I'm sure you've had the email, but there is quite the sale going on over at Craftsy, "Makers' Black Friday." I've found many quilt kits for small lap (48X60") quilts for less than $30CA, just sayin' so that's probably under $25US. Rather than show you a bunch, all you need to do is go to this Quilt Project Kits page, and on the "Sort by" drop-down menu, click 'price low to high' and you can see for yourself! Even a Kaffe Fassett one! I've told you that Craftsy's Boundless fabrics are superb, and I should have a quilt that uses the Botanicals to show you shortly, Suburbia, that I bought at a previous sale. The hand and richness of the colours of the botanical blenders for that quilt are divine. That little Steamfast iron I continue to sing the praises of? Cheapest yet.

If that isn't enough temptation for a Friday, remember Connecting Threads still has their tools up to 50% off sale going on as well as their wide backing on sale for 25% off. And Amanda Jean's newest fabric line for $6.96/yd. You can click that link or the link in my sidebar, which I still haven't figured out how to make it more prominent, sorry, but I have tried. Need to talk to my good friend Tish...

Happy Shopping!
I'm off to teach my yoga class, but I'll be perusing the wares afterwards. Caution: don't wait too long or you might have an item removed from your cart if it gets sold out...ask me how I know, waaah. I'll be back tomorrow to show you my progress on my three (yes! three!) RSC2017 projects.

Linking up
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Busy Hands Quilts

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I Like/Love #7

This has been a summer of many tears. I could fill more than one post with all my sadness and deep grief. Two unbidden and unconscious things keep happening during these periods though. First, my higher self keeps reminding me that my woes, though they seem insurmountable to me now, pale in comparison to the woes of so many just within this past week: people in Burkina Faso, where there was a mass shooting, people in Sierra Leone where there was that horrific mudslide, the many teen refugees drowned in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Yemen when the smugglers pushed them overboard too far from shore, more of those same teens from that boat who survived and witnessed and now must live with such inhumane horror, and then there is the ongoing tragedy of refugees who have no homes, or whose homes consist of a tiny shack one can't even stand up in, or a single bed in a sports stadium... Second, a part of me keeps being quietly grateful for small things, on a daily basis. Here are a half dozen or so for this month. I am blessed.  In many ways.

1. I thoroughly am enjoying writing to Brady, pen and paper in hand, thinking of how happy he will be when he finds another letter for him in his mailbox, imagining him reading it. The last letter took a couple of days to write, and when I picked it up to continue, I re-read it, and I'd told him of something (see #3) that I'd been doing, and how I needed to add that to my list for this post. He's written to me once, and drew me a very good picture of the Wimpy Kid, which I walk past many times a day as it is on my fridge.

2. I love the sound of cicadas here in southern Ontario. We don't have them in Alberta, and before I knew what they were, I just called them heat bugs, because I seemed to hear their extraordinarily loud buzzing on hot days and nights. We all know I like hot days and, well, okay, maybe not hot nights unless I have AC, but warm ones, no prob.

3. I love the smell of fresh sheets that have been dried outside in the sun and breeze. Getting into bed at night, the cotton feels extra-crisp as opposed to coming out of a dryer, and when I lay my head on my pillow, that scent that no detergent can capture wafts up my nostrils, and ahh! I smile.

4. I like a good night's sleep in said sheets. I haven't had one for the past several nights; in fact, a couple out of these several were, I'll kind of sheepishly admit, terror-filled. Yet I kept thinking, as I sobbed and cowered and trembled and jumped at every noise or movement in the guest room in which I'd barricaded myself and the dogs, how much worse it is for kids, for adults, who deal with gunfire and bombs and intruders each and every night in places where there is war.

5. I like bats. I love that one bat can eat about 3000 insects in one night, I love seeing them fly (so FAST!!) over my head in the darkening sky when I'm out walking, I find them fascinating creatures, this one a Little Brown Bat, furry brown with a rather cute black face and amazing very thin almost opaque black leather wings.

I do not like intruder bats in my house, however.
5:40 am earlier this week - note her little feet hooked onto the top of the crown molding; note Bella in the window.
Yeah. I'm pretty sure more than one were flying around in my house around that good ol' witching hour...midnight...1 do not need to ask how I know. Pretty sure more than one because I high-tailed it out of my room, Sunday night when it first appeared, then took half an hour where I made several forays back in to a) get dogs out, then b) get each dog bed, one at a time, then c) get my pillow, d) get my book I'd been pleasantly reading when it had made its presence known, e) get my phone f) grab my favourite quilt off the bed so no poop would get on it g) gaze at it in fascinated horror when it had landed on one wall near the ceiling h) get Bella out (yay that she comes running to treat bags being shaken) and finally i) slide a lamp in the room, suggestion of husband MacGyver to hopefully keep it out of our room and up the stairs in my (waaahh) sewing loft from whence it came.

Of course this happens when my MacGyver is not home.  Of course.

So back to that Tuesday morning of the photo. Could I go to yoga, come home and not see that bat, and know I'd have to live with it again for another day and night? No. I knew of several ways I could catch it because by now I'd done a fair bit of research and learned a fair bit about bats, a ton of stuff that I did not know or had incorrectly assumed: for one, they certainly CAN see, very well. So I grabbed the dust mop, then got my phone and took a couple of photos, so I could show MacGyver I was not batty, pun intended, imagining this, and then gently nudged it, trying to get it to fly out of the door, which I'd opened, bugs coming in be damned. It hung onto the molding a lot harder than I'd figured it would! Finally, Bella not moving, bless her feline heart, because she could have run out the door or grabbed the bat, it fell to the floor and lay fairly still. I figured it was exhausted from flying around trying to find a way out and/or keeping away from Bella all night, or fingers crossed it was not, hurt by Bella. It didn't appear hurt, but I wasn't getting too close! I finally managed to nudge it out of the door and onto the deck and PHEW!!! Heaved a massive sigh of relief and wished it a safe journey to hang out (pun intended) for the day and rejoin its baby and sisters that night. Females roost in colonies so that while they hunt at night, the babies keep each other warm. Females only have one baby a season, and I figured maybe the baby was the first bat I saw in our bedroom because it didn't seem very big, and this second one was the mama, because it was a good 5" in length, come to rescue her baby. But I'm not sure, because this one could have crawled under the doorjamb of our bedroom where I thought I'd trapped it, and been what I thought was the second one flying around over the course of the couple of nights. How do I know this is a female? Males roost in trees, not in buildings. I named her (didn't plan to) Hermina. Hilarious sidetone: my phone autocorrected that to Bernina when I was texting Tish about all this drama!

Once I got home from teaching yoga, about 7:10 am, I went around to the deck to see if the bat had moved, hoping she hadn't been caught by a predator. She had moved!! The first shot is of her, yes I got up close and personal and she just moved one wing a little when I took the picture. I kept a close check on her all that day (ya, protecting her after she'd terrorized me over the course of two nights and days) and when the bat people came to do the legal and safe and harmless eviction of them out of our chimney, one of the guys moved her to a tree, where she flew up into it to hang out until dusk.

6. I really am enjoying the deck on this new old house. One day last week I decided to take advantage of one of my Featherweight's portability and brought her out here (where I'm writing this post btw) to sew, in the sunshine. I set up a pressing station on the kitchen table a few steps away through the deck door, thanks to a small homemade pressing and cutting 'book' and my favourite little Steamfast iron, worth every cent. (affiliate link) Hmm, that pressing/cutting 'book' might be worth a future tutorial; I use it a ton.
That is the door out of which I shooed Hermina; she crawled to the right and hung out where you saw her, just under the siding and on the cement blocks of the basement. That little couple leaning together is a bubbling fountain that was a gift from my mum for our 30th anniversary; last week we celebrated out 37th! (I was married at 5 years old right, ha.)

7. I do love my Featherweights. This is the 1947 gal, who I have yet to write about, and tell you her story. She is a dream to sew on. I'm thinking to buy the quarter-inch foot from Nova Montgomery (no affiliation, but a great resource) because her throat plate has no markings, and the one that is on my 1951 girl, and which I switch out on the '47, the seller had etched with the seam guide, but it is not a true quarter-inch; it's too wide. Any thoughts on that, please let me know in the comments or email me by clicking on About Me.

I feel bad about making the bats refugees but I definitely do not want to share my house with them, sorry. I have another project for MacGyver now, to make a bat house, and hopefully one day some offspring from that colony will inhabit it.  There are a great many bats around here, and that may be a big part of why there aren't as many bugs bothering us as there were at our previous house just on the other side of town. 🦇

Linking up with LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Designed by Brady

Oh, to tap the uninhibited creativity of a child! Earlier this summer I was privileged to witness this marvel. Oh to have an ample stash in which to shop! I do, and I was happily able to turn that creative design into a useable item. The designer was no less a marvel than my own sweet grandson, Brady. This was definitely a DrEAMi! Drop Everything (including an e-zine project, yikes) And Make It!

When I was staying with Brianne and Brady for a few weeks back in June/July, Brady was looking through my Photos app on my MacBook. He came across the house block I'd designed for project #1 for the RSC2017.  I showed him my drawing in my graph book. He was absolutely fascinated that something I drew in the graph book, I then made in fabric, into a useable item.

So another day, when I was sketching/doodling, he wanted to as well. He wanted to put a border around one of my 'fooling around' sketches, so I said sure.  I'd been playing again with HRTs. I started another design on the bottom half of the page while he worked on the top half.  This is what he designed:
All the purple numbers and letters and figurings are mine, as well as the 'star' at the bottom; the three odd random black lines are shadows of blades of grass!
For his birthday, I had the idea to turn his design into an actual little quilt. He often munches his breakfast or lunch on the weekend, or his snack, sitting on the couch, watching TV. Crumbs find their way everywhere...think almost 9-year-old boy at the time when I witnessed this, and Grandpa MacGyver and I helped clean up... Enter lap placemat idea using his drawing.

He obviously liked my HRTs (half-rectangle triangles) because he drew several more at random. However, he covered up most of the sort of star I'd been playing with.

Me:  So why did you do a big scribble in that spot?
Brady: Scribble? That's not a scribble, Nana, that's a big diamond!
Me: Oh.  Of course.

His current favourite colour is blue. Up until recently it was always red. For a little while it was purple.  But now it is blue.  Interesting (red+blue=purple😉)
Flimsy is done

Even though I was twitching tempted to change a couple of the HRTs (the ones under the diamond), I followed his sketch exactly. And I'm so glad I did; it makes me SMILE to realize my eye roves continually all over the quilt. I decided on 2" squares as the grid. I used a navy blue Moda to make the triangles he'd shaded with pencil, and then a piece of shimmery white for the background to tie in with his shimmery gel pens.   He used his those gel pens to colour that checkerboard border, with no advice from Nana; totally his own colour choices too!

I wanted some stellar quilting in that big diamond. Feathers were a little too girlie, and didn't go with the masculine angles.  Angles! Spirograph design! Yesss!
Angela Walters says, and I loosely am paraphrasing her, "It depends how much you love the person as to how much quilting you put on the quilt..."(wink wink), and because I love Brady so VERY MUCH, I took the time to put this easy-but-time-consuming design in his big diamond.

Here is a shot of his sketch beside the finished quilt. The sun showed off the quilting and the YLI  purple and navy variegated thread I used.

I kept the quilting in the background to a minimum, just some echoes around the diamond with Sulky metallic, and stitch in the ditch for the HRTs. I did two straight lines through the checkerboard frame.

and the label:

I used a flannel from my stash for the backing, nice and cosy on a little lap, and a scrap of Warm 'n Natural for the batting. The binding is more of the purple batik. It's now been taken by Grandpa MacGyver to the designer himself, who was pretty tickled to open it.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern:  designed by Brady
Size:  22.5 X 18.5"
Fabric:  scraps and stash
Batting: Warm n Natural
Quilted: on my Bernina
Threads:  pieced with Gütermann cotton; quilted with YLI 40 wt variegated in plum, Aurifil white 50 wt, and Sulky metallic

Linking up
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Busy Hands Quilts

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Two Books Up For Review

This is not an affiliate post, nor was I asked to give these two reviews. You may recall from this post that one of my loves is libraries, another books, and that I snagged no less than five recent interesting-looking quilt books.

The first I perused is The Simple Simon Guide to Patchwork Quilting (not an affiliate link) by Liz Evan and Elizabeth Evans.  I like...

  • that they are sisters-in-law and that both their names are Elizabeth! 
  • their fresh bright quilt designs. 
  • that this is a terrific book for beginners, yet within are more than a couple projects that pushed my 'wanna-make' buttons.

The book starts with quilt basics.  Then it's divided into themed chapters organized by basic blocks, like Churn Dash, or basic units, like the HST.  Within each chapter are a few projects that use that block or unit. For example, the Rail Fence block has a cushion, a skirt and a quilt pattern that each feature the Rail Fence block.  The chapter starts out with how to make the Rail Fence block, using very detailed instructions and clear diagrams.

My favourite project out of the book other than the quilt on the cover would be a pretty sweet flying geese quilt, similar to a hexagon quilt I've seen on Pinterest, and this one:
Ahhh! The riot of colour!  Since when did I like red?  Not that I dislike it, but it's definitely not up there in my colour popularity contest. But THIS--!! Love.  Need to make it. Those reds outshine the lime, the chartreuse, and the navy do they not? It's like I had to look at it for about the third or fourth time before I even realized they were there.

The second book is Cabin Fever: 20 Modern Log Cabin Quilts by Natalia Bonner and Kathleen Whiting.  Natalia has long been a favourite machine quilter of mine. I own her Craftsy class (that IS an affiliate link) and yes, red face of supreme shame, I still have yet to write the review for it. But it's a good'un, s'truth (who says that? It's in a book I read eons ago... I think...)

Deeper red face of shame, but it wasn't until I finished this book and read the author bios that the penny dropped, and I realized that Kathleen Whiting is Natalia's mum! She's a prolific designer. And this is not their first book they co-authored! I will have to get the other one out of the library, Modern One-Block Quilts.

So this book?  It is just so cool. I allowed myself 5 quilts or so at a time to soak up. Then I'd set the book aside and go work on a quilt, either the Cows quilt or the one for Modern By The Yard e-zine. Yeah that didn't last long; the last ten quilts I just devoured.  You can really do some cool sh*t, er I mean create some cool patterns with a quarter log cabin!

Like the first book, this one starts off with quilt basics.  The log cabin designs are arranged alphabetically. Clear instructions and diagrams, with a closeup of each quilt are provided. No quilting suggestions are given, other than a suggestion to purchase one of Natalia's machine quilting books. However, you do get a closeup of what she did to quilt each quilt.
Believe it, (or not) but this is "a loose play on the traditional Log Cabin-style quilt block." p. 17

What I really like in this book is that there are sizes, with accompanying breakdown diagrams of the quilt, into that size for Baby, Throw and Coverlet sizes, 36", 60 X 72", and 96" respectively.

As for picking a favourite? No can do.  But I made myself choose just three, and the previous two and the one below would be them.  I find it fascinating (as I always do) how just one simple change in the same block creates an entirely new look.

The same block is used in both these quilts, with a slight change in the final round which, when one lays them out in this particular setting, creates the stars between blocks! Genius.

There are at least two more I'd love to show you, but you need to either get this out of your library or off Amazon, and look on pages 29 and 31 for two other fabulous ones.  Oh but there are several I could have a DrEAMi! over. 87, 93, 45, 39--!!  Might have to purchase this book.

Do you do that? Get a book or five, out of the library, find yourself renewing it (more than once), and then deciding to buy it?  I know I've done that with several books.

I checked Connecting Threads, because I got an email that they are having all their seasonal books on sale for 40% off, and I see that all books are on sale 20-40% off, but sadly neither of these two are in their stock. However, both of Natalia's machine quilting books are, and wow, each one is 32% off.  Just putting it out there. That is an affiliate link, just so you know, and it will take you to one of them.  Everything I learned, I learned from books, online blogs or YouTube, and Craftsy classes. Here's a sneak peek at the most recent one just off the frame, shhh:

Linking up
Free Motion by the River

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday Stretch for Sewists #21 - Melting Heart

This pose is known in Sanskrit by Anahatasana.  Say it slowly, emphasis on ahh (what you feel after doing it😉: Ana--hah--tah--son--ahh....  Asana, the last part of most yoga pose names, simply means pose.  This is also known as puppy pose; see Yoga Journal.

Bernie Clark states in his book, p. 246 "The Indian yogis noticed a correlation between our bodies and our heart. Don't be surprised if, during a deep yoga practice, emotions start to surface."  I often say in my classes that we have issues in our tissues; therefore, applying tension to deeper areas of our bodies such as within our hip joints, or in this pose, within our chest, spine, shoulders, arms, can stir up emotions, past memories, and thoughts. I love what Sarah Powers says, and I'm paraphrasing her, that the beauty of Yin is that we can allow these emotions to surface, we can experience them fully, without feeling the need to act out because of them.  And then.... (my own words), the magic happens: this deep-seated emotional baggage can leave the body, over time, probably not in one 3-5 minute hold however(!) and, you are then lighter, happier, more at peace.
Lake Erie, from my new vantage point, a few days ago
This pose inverts and 'melts' your heart, which, in the Daoist beliefs, is considered the supreme manager, overseeing all the workings of the body-mind. Sarah Powers writes, "Its radiance spreads out to every cell and expresses itself in our creativity, interactions and capacity for communication." Here's to a healthy heart and healthy heart chi (energy).

After hours of sewing, you may feel tight in the shoulders, along the arms, perhaps a stiffness in the wrists and definitely in the hips and knees, usually a tightness or stiffness across the pecs and collarbones... Sound familiar? Anahatasana can help with all of this.  Yup.  So get out of your chair, fold a quilt for under your knees and come down onto all fours. If you have trouble getting back up, do this by your sewing chair so you can use it to lean on to help you get back up.

Stage 1 Once you are on all fours, walk your hands forward, keeping them shoulder-width apart if possible, coming to rest on your forearms at first, keeping your bum high in the air and over your knees. Think of a right angle formed at the back of your knees by the backs of your thighs and your calves.  Maybe this is where you stay, letting your belly relax and hang, feeling an arch in your lower back. Toes can be tucked under or you can rest on the tops of your feet. Head can be in line with your spine, or perhaps you can rest it on one forearm. Breathe slowly, counting to 3 or 4 on the inhale and the same slow steady count on the exhale. Always come out of this pose on an inhale.
Do you see our new granite countertops?! ADORE!! Toe-kick under the cabinets still needs to be installed (and ordered from IKEA) as do the side panels to finish off the ends of the cabinets. Oh, and the backsplash tile too...  Oh, and install the dishwasher now... Just a few 😉 more items for MacGyver!

Variation: You may like to rest your upper body on another rolled up quilt or two, and this modification may allow you to extend your arms. You may either rest on your forehead (Take your glasses off! Ask me how I know...) or on your chin, but that is fairly hard on the neck.
Send your butt backwards; here mine could go back a little more.

This pose works into the upper back, the shoulder blades and across the front of the chest. So, see if you can stretch both of your arms right out, palms flat, fingers spread for good energy flow. However, as I mentioned, you may find you need to rest your forehead on one forearm, leaving the other outstretched; just remember to switch arms at the halfway point. Relax your spine, your belly, and you will feel how this starts to tug on the tissues across the front of the chest, along the upper arms, mainly in the triceps, (back of the upper arms), the shoulder heads, and between the shoulder blades.

Hold for 2-5 minutes. Careful. Maybe at first just 1 minute per outstretched arm is enough. This pose could put strain on your neck, so be mindful; any pain or too intense sensations, back off, or try resting your forehead on a block, cushion, or an extra rolled up quilt. Same with tingling in the fingers or hands: this could indicate a nerve being compressed, so lower the arms to the goalpost position, or perhaps skip this and try Fish pose, which is similar for opening the chest. Any pinching in the back of the shoulders, adjust your arm position as noted.

If getting down onto and back up off of the floor is an issue for you, don't give up!  Don't give up on keeping trying to get down and back up, because it is so good for your body, and don't give up on doing a variation of this pose. Try this in a doorway:

I learned this from a massage therapist. Here, you put your arms on either side of the door, goalpost position, and slowly lean forward into the doorway without moving your arms. You won't quite get the backbend you get by doing Anahatasana, but you certainly do get a lovely pull across the front of your chest and a bit of a bend in the upper spine as your shoulder blades come towards each other. It doesn't look like I'm leaning much, and it certainly didn't feel like it, but holy Hannah, it sure felt strong in the arms and shoulders! Watch the head position; I am, ahem, leaning a little too much with my head here! It's not about your head going forward! Sorry about that, but there, you see I'm in need of tweaking all the time too.

Remember that Yin yoga works with the meridians, the energy highways in the body, those same meridians and trigger points used in acupuncture and acupressure. Therefore, a little pressure into your pointers will hit a trigger point on the Large Intestine meridian, into the thumbs, the Lung meridian, the pinkies, the Heart and Small Intestine meridians.
After you've held the pose for 2 to 3 minutes (work up to 5 over time), then either rest back in child's pose or lie down on your belly. If you've done it standing, maybe sit down and be still for a minute or so, noting sensations, breathing.

Ahh! That's better!  Have a good drink of water, and you're good to go for some more sewing!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

"C' Boss!" Cows Quilt

I can't type that phrase, "C' Boss!" without hearing my Auntie Irene hollering, early in the morning, and around suppertime, the lilt in her voice, going up on the 'CUH?' sound, and and emphatic on the 'Boss!' (a perfect fourth, if my musical background serves me still) Seeing, in my mind's eye, the cows come up from the pasture to the barnyard for milking, round ribs bulging side to side out over their dainty hooves as they plod along, udders swaying. My aunt turned 75 in December 2015. This quilt is for her. This might be the longest post I've written, fair warning.

It started in March 2015 when I saw LeeAnna's cow block that she'd made for Angela's Rainbow Scrap Challenge at soscrappy for that year.  Ding! Ding! I knew I had to make a cow quilt for my aunt.  I am so happy and proud to have another Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt done!

The first two blocks, the blue and the pink, were made in record time. Then the cows sat for awhile as I concentrated on other things.  I finished the flimsy in January this year. I knew it wouldn't get quilted until we were back home, and my longarm, Avril, was set up in my sewing loft.
Anti-clockwise from the blue (January) girl: pink (February), Citron (March-yellow), purple (April), Ethel -(May-green) and Carib (June-aqua)
This is not a block (paper-pieced) for the faint of heart.  The red heifer was a heifer to piece, LOL, and so she got named Mary, as in Bloody for the drink, and because I might've muttered a few 'bloodies' and worse while I constructed her. Some of the cows named themselves; some have no names as of yet...but they might soon be getting one, thanks to my friend Helen of Word Weaver Art. That might be a subject for another post...or three, ha.
Anti-clockwise from the bull, a tad out of calendar order, the bull is Jethro Tull, black (August), Bloody Mary, (August-red), orange (September), Kahlua, (October-brown), lime (November) and Myrrh Tull, main wife of Jethro (December).
I quilted various motifs in their ears: feathers, pebbles, paisleys, figure eights, swirls and flowers.  The background got a super-fun swirl filler, which is based on the motif in the fabric.😉 It was an overcast and windy day today (Friday) so the photos aren't the greatest. I spied this London plane tree just outside the yoga studio in Windsor where I go to practice Ashtanga in the early morning. Threw the SUV in park and like a crazy person ripped open the passenger door, snagged the quilt, dashed to the sidewalk (of course I checked for both traffic and No Parking signs, but hey it was like 8 am) and set up the shoot:

Holy Cow! Holstein cow bark much?! How I love the bark of these trees I first spied in Nice, France! Little did I know I would live amongst them one day.

After I taught yoga in the late afternoon, I drove to my beloved, much-missed Lakeside Park and did the main photo shoot. A glint of sun, glowering clouds over Lake Erie to the south, but I and the quilt persevered.

The cows went to the beach:
They hung out in a tree, but some were too shy to show their faces:

They perched on a bench with a little encouragement:

They frolicked in the hydrangeas:

Man the gardens here are stunning this year. Our horticultural club has done amazing work, just ahh-mazing. Here's just one shot that doesn't do the riot of colour justice:
Can you spy the lake through the distant trees?
I always peruse sale sections of quilt shops IRL and online, for good backs.  I found this perfect one for the main backing at Sew Sisters Quilt Shop.  The farm animals doing yoga I found at eQuilter.

The quilt label is fashioned from some Laurel Burch purple paws fabric I got from Jake, a sweet reader who has become a dear friend, and also from border scraps. The label itself was given to me by another aunt, cousin to Auntie Irene. All in the family, eh?

I quilted a few surprises in the quilt.  Here is one:

The barn block got some special treatment too:
I followed the hay strands, did a woodgrain design on the door, vertical lines on the barn front, horizontal ones on the side to emulate the wood, and on the roof I did a slightly curving line to give the roof some dimension, and along the lower edge I quilted my aunt's last name.  On the purple mini-churn dash (finishing at 6"; the others are all 12") I did the same dot to dot design as I did in the large ones, such as the red one pictured here. I outlined the flowers and the cat in the centre of the purple churn dash, more symbols of what my aunt loves. If you look closely you'll see '75' in the lower right corner of that centre.

Well, since I didn't finish this post yesterday as planned (but our granite countertops got installed!!), and it is now a most glorious morning, I took a few post-wash shots. Here is the barn block:
Still very windy today

Avril just hummed a merry tune as we quilted together. I changed threads a lot, perhaps the most of any quilt I've quilted so far.
The majority of threads are Essential from Connecting Threads cottons, one Sulky rayon, one Aurifil cotton, two Exquisite polyester, and all the swirly background and churn dash blocks were quilted with So Fine.
That photo was taken after I'd washed and dried the quilt for 10-15 minutes in the dryer and then laid it flat to finish drying overnight. I absolutely love how the threads all sunk in so deliciously. There are a few several more photos of the crinkly texture, don't worry!

Here's another I always like, the rolled or folded up shot:

I know I need to do a comparison post of the various battings I've used. For this quilt I used Warm n Natural and I am in love with it all over again. Light, but warm, lovely to quilt through and lovely texture after washing. Speaking of texture, don't you love the design etched into the stone bench?

This quilt will be leaving me shortly, sniff. I know it's going to a good home, where it will be much-loved and, much-used (I will make sure to tell my aunt that!) This might be a big part of why there are many photos in this post, that and the fact that I've fallen horns over hooves in love with it and want to record every bit of it...

I free-motion quilted a simple flowing lazy daisy and leaves motif in the border. I showed you how I do the rolling forward, rolling backward on a longarm in this post.  There you'll get the tutorial for how to stitch the churn dash blocks in one pass, no breaks, either on a domestic machine or a longarm.

I machine-stitched the binding to the front and then machine-stitched it to the back from the front, by stitching in that ditch. This is my preferred method of binding a quilt, as it most resembles the hand-stitched to the back method. Gluing it down to the back side is key to catch that edge with my stitching! The little bit of stitching you see on the right is the stay-stitching done on the longarm, which I need to sit and pick out; I always match the thread used to stitch the backing down with both the border and the binding fabrics so it's next to invisible.

Was I happy and vindicated, as I said on Instagram earlier this week, that I hang onto fabrics that are several years old! This binding fabric I picked up in a sale section of a quilt shop in Fort Myers, FL maybe 7-8 years ago! I knew it would work some day as a great binding or a backing. I already used it for that very thing in Uncle Frank's con fuoco quilt!


Not only does this quilt have a lot of meaning and symbolism for the recipient, is also has a bit of a story all of its own.  This quilt has brought into my life a most cherished person, someone I would not have met had I not started this blog, and written of things dear to my heart, shared personal stories, thoughts and beliefs, not just of my soul, but of my quilts. Helen of Word Weaver Art found my blog when she saw a photo of a one of my cow blocks pinned on Pinterest.

You need to go check out painter extraordinaire Helen's blog,  especially her cow paintings (that takes you to a recent one of Cookie Dough). Helen started commenting on a few of my posts, and we started to really connect, I mean really. What at first appeared to be two women with little in common (she tells the story so well in this post) soon proved to be a deep connection on multiple levels.  We talked about process, colour, teaching, reading, writing(!), life after 50 and after retirement, and more.  She has watched and loved my herd of cows slowly grow over 2+ years, and now be finished.

I mentioned that not all the cows have names.  She thought I should name each one of them, and I heartily agree. On the Jethro Tull the Bull post, she actually wrote a limerick for his favourite wife, sexy Myrrh Tull, pictured below, bottom right...

The Christmas cow known as Myrrh Tull
Could never be thought of as dull,
She was brazen and bold
With her eyes of gold
Mooing "Come hither" to Jethro the bull.

Not to take away from Myrrh's glory or her shining eyes (lamé fabric) but here you can really see the daisies in Citron's ear (remember she prefers la prononciation française, 'see-trohn') and the dot-to-dot in the churn dash blocks, thanks to the sun and the laundering.
Helen started something; well the cows did too, because as I made each one, they started to take on a type of personality. However, Helen recognized it, and ran with it. Two other bloggers wrote poetry for Jethro...
Nita of Nita Dances wrote, (I've added a word here and there so the rhythm is correct for limericks--didn't teach 'em to my grade 7's for well over a decade without having the form cemented in my brain, ha):

Old Jethro the bull
Massive head hanging low
Shuffled over to Myrrh Lynn Tull:
"I do say my dear,
I don't mean to leer,
But your udder is stunningly low."

Lara of Buzzin' Bumble chimed in with a little naughty poetry after that:
Jethro may be small, but he can handle his harem;
It's a good thing you only sewed his head--
Because his dangly bits could scare 'em!
Speaking of massive...and dangling 😳😜I fought the wind again at the park trying to stuff the quilt between the massive trunks of this favourite cottonwood of mine. Think old Jethro is either busy with one of his herd or he's has indeed scared a few off with said dangly bits and they've hidden!

Helen wrote another limerick, this one for Bloody Mary, top left in the photo above:
The red cow is named Bloody Mary
She is difficult and quite contrary.
Her nostrils may flare
And cause Sandra to swear
Which is totally unnecessary!

Helen it was who said each cow needs a name, and in looking back I see that the turquoise one named herself, a bit of a pun too, Carib. Short for Caribbean and for carob that comes from there. Of course you know the yellow one named herself Citron. Each one needs a story of sorts, and wouldn't it be something to see a children's book with each cow featured in her own story, the quilt of them all at the end, with instructions for a doting nana to make one?! Helen's idea again, my additions to it...oh the possibilities when great minds, and creative spirits collide! I've witnessed and been a part of this time and again, mainly through my teaching career, but also outside of it.
Cows hanging out on the bridge

Power of a great mind, creative spirit and serendipitous 'mistake' is another sidenote to this quilt. In rereading the Jethro post, I saw the note where I'd inadvertently reversed the rail fence sections of the churn dash block and got an entirely different-looking block.

Well, that block led to this:
Which led to being published in Benartex's Modern By the Yard e-zine!

Quite the story this quilt has! The cows have travelled back and forth to Florida, some of them twice, and soon will hop onto a plane with my husband to be delivered (finally!) to the birthday girl.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern:  cows are by Piecemeal Quilts; bull is from Quilting in Amsterdam; barn is basically my own, explanation is here; layout is my own design.
Size:  68.5 X 71.75" after laundering: 65.5 X 68.5 (wow! 3" shrinkage!)
Fabric:  scraps from my stash; background and border are purchased, Moda 'Swirls' and Red Rooster 'Mementos' by Gudrun Erla respectively. Backing is Windham Fabrics 'Farm Chic' by Kate McRostie and elizabeth's studio by Willow Creek
Batting: Warm n Natural
Quilted: on Avril my Avanté
Threads:  pieced with Gütermann cotton; quilted with Superior Threads So Fine 50 wt #403, Essential 50 wt cotton by Connecting Threads, Sulky Rayon, Aurifil 50 wt cotton, and Exquisite polyester.

Linking up
Crazy Mom Quilts
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Busy Hands Quilts
Cooking Up Quilts