Monday, July 24, 2017

A Quilting Motif and A Longarm Technique

As you know, I'm working on quilting the Cows quilt. I have four heifers left, a few churn dashes and the barn. Well, I also have to finish the other half, or two-thirds more like it, of the border.  As is usually the case when I quilt a quilt, I have a very, I mean very, vague quilting plan in my head.  Once the quilt is loaded, it starts to talk to, sometimes whisper to, sometimes cajole, me.  Such was the case with this one.  I had no idea how I was going to quilt the churn dash blocks, also known by several other names, including Hole in the Barn Door. Most à propos for this bovine bedcover. Once loaded on the frame, I had an idea...
"What the heck?"  you're probably thinking, or maybe, "Ooh, love that fabric," or even, as Tish said when I sent her the yellow cow all quilted, "Those swirls are awesome!"

Here is how you quilt this block in one pass, ditch stitching and all! AND this can be done on either a longarm or a domestic machine! Use a ruler or your walking foot.

1. Start here. ('well duh')
2. Stitch to point 2 (probably still, 'well, duh,' but just in case...) the centre of the inner 'box'
3. Stitch a square in the centre of the purple rectangles, which in my case, for this 12" block, is 1" in from the seam line. Go all the way around until you wind up back at point 2.
4.  Stitch out to point 4.
5. From point 4 stitch another elongated 'v' shape (we're doing dot to dot à la Angela Walters in case you haven't noticed) ending at point 5.  Which is really point 1. 😉
6. Stitch in the ditch (aka SID) over to point 6. Note my attempt at dotted lines to indicate SID!
7. Stitch in to point 7, which is the top right corner of the box you stitched in step 3.  Repeat from step 4 for all four corners of the block, ending back at point 1!

Then I SID along a floral seam line to an inside corner, stitched in the ditch all the way around the inner square, and did the swirl filler in there, then went back out again and continued the swirl filler for the background around the outside. I'm using Superior Threads So Fine colour 403 which blends nicely with both background and all the churn dash blocks.

A LongarmTechnique for Continuous Quilting

About a year, maybe more, ago, a reader asked if I could explain how I advance, then back up, then advance a quilt on the longarm. This was when I was doing Dayna's quilt, Shoot for the Moon, and trying to get as long a pass as I could at some of the intricate designs on her quilt.  I found myself doing this for the outer border design for this quilt.  I am self-taught, other than watching online videos and Craftsy classes by Leah Day, Angela Walters, and Natalia Bonner, oh and Jamie Wallen Youtube too, and none of them talk about this, so it's just me. If you think that "GASP! This is just not done!" well, I do it, and it works fine. 😁

For the top section of border, it was easy to start on the left side of the quilt, about 15" down from the top left corner, quilt up to the corner, across the top border, and down to the same starting point on the right side of the quilt. I did the border after I'd quilted the first row of cows and churn dash blocks, so I advanced the quilt and continued down the border for another 15" or so (I have an 18" Avanté). This meant I could quilt longer without breaking thread.

1. So now I am at the point where I have quilted two more rows of cows and churn dashes and I want to do more of the border. First stitch in the ditch between the border and the background of the quilt. Also stitch 1/4" in from the outside.

2. Next, advance the quilt, and SID as you just did. You can see I was able to stitch all along the red churn dash and about half way into the barn block. Do this SID on the border on the opposite side of the quilt as well.

3.  Then, back up to where you started the ditch stitching (first pic).  At first when I wound the quilt backwards, I freaked because the quilt sandwich, in its entirety: top, batting and now backing, got wound up on the belly bar!
Yikes! I thought something bad would happen...but it didn't!  So starting at the point where I was in photo 1, I switch now to my mauve thread, and continue the border motif over the course of that length of the border, advance the quilt to photo 2 spot, and continue doing the border up to being level with the barn.  I'll stop there.

4. Then I go over to the opposite side, in this case the left, back up the quilt again to the photo 1 spot, but on the left side of the quilt, and pick up where I'd left off on that border, quilting down until I'm level with the barn block.

The barn block is in the bottom right corner, so once I've finished quilting the last two rows of the quilt, I'll be able to pick up the border motif about the level of the bottom of the barn roof, quilt down to the bottom right corner and across the bottom, and back up to meet where I left off on the left side of the quilt!

It's not as wonderful as doing the border in one continuous pass like you can with a DSM or sit-down quilt machine, but you can get fairly lengthy passes.  And it is wonderful not to have the weight of the quilt to manipulate through the machine.

Having a dedicated quilting machine means I can still piece if I feel the urge...
Blocks 103-105. Clockwise from top left: 103: Helen Smith Grant - Captain of her husband's ship when he took ill, she navigated rom China to Montreal in the mid-1880s, as well as taking care of her children. The family settled in Victoria, BC, where, in 1895, Helen became the first and only school board trustee in Canada. 104 - Lois Irene Smith - Canada's first and foremost ballerina, idolized by Karen Kain, she established the Lois Smith Dance School in Toronto. 105: Helen Irene Battle - first woman in Canada to earn a PhD in marine biology. I used a fish print for one of the centre background triangles and a shell motif embossed on an ivory fabric for another.
I made block 106 this morning, so as of writing this post, I am only two blocks behind in the 150 Canadian Women QAL!  I aimed for one block a day this past week, and I've done it, so if I can keep that up this coming week, I should be all caught up by next weekend. Yay! I also worked on a couple of my RSC 2017 projects, which I'll show you in another post.

Linking Up
Cooking Up Quilts
Free Motion by the River

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I Like/Love #6

I checked back to see what number this I Like/Love post should be and I realized I missed #3, and that it is mostly written...ha. I wrote it when I was in Florida, but with the move I guess I did not publish it! Will do that.  Next time. Here are some positive thoughts of mine:


It started with this beefsteak tomato I spied this morning.  I did not intend to write a post today, but when I saw this bright red jewel, well, maybe not quite red yet, right by my side door entrance, plucked it carefully (should've staked this poor plant, had no clue it would get this big and heavy with fruit), and marvelled at it, a rush of gratitude came over me, and I thought, 'I need to write this.'  So I love tomatoes.  Love.  In all varieties, colours, forms and dishes. Growing my very own takes this to a very personal level of love and appreciation.  I didn't eat it for lunch, because I want it to ripen a little more, but I sure will, one slice covering a slice of bread for a most-anticipated toasted tomato sandwich.  I get gorgeous delicious homegrown tomatoes of all varieties at the little stand down the road, within walking distance, so that is why I just planted one plant.  I am pretty tickled at my first fruit.

I like writing.  Well, duh.  I always have.  I also like designing (sneak peek at an upcoming pattern to be tested yet and written and released), and I like pretty and interesting notepaper. I'm writing to Brady on a regular basis, and also sending him little packages from time to time. He LOVES walking around the corner to get their mail, but he expressed with a sigh and roll of the eyes, that he rarely gets mail; it's usually his mum.  I've decided to change that. And I'm enjoying writing to him, by hand.  The first letter went on those dinosaur notelets.  He was pretty pumped, "Nana, we can be penpals!" Those words warmed my heart.  I sent him another yesterday on the teddy bear notepaper.

I love reading.  Always have.  I come from a long line of bookworms, both daughters are readers, and so is Brady. Whenever we are together, we read a book before bedtime. Last September we read Little House in the Big Woods. In November it was Owls in the Family, which we finished last month (he didn't want me to finish it on FaceTime).  Then we read The Mouse and the Motorcycle.  He loves the Wimpy Kid books and has zipped through the first eight.  Now he is reading Matilda ("it's taking longer to read, Nana; the pages have more words on") and I couldn't remember it, so I got it out of the library to re-read and then we can discuss it. Which I did, first couple of chapters, in yesterday's letter! And wouldn't you know it: Matilda loves to read!

4.  I love libraries.  When I went in to pick up Matilda, put on hold, I wandered over to the quilt section, and snagged those five books.  I'll let you know my thoughts on them.  All recent.  Fresh colours!


Speaking of fresh...I am loving our evolving new kitchen! How blessed am I to have such a talented husband who can not only design, (with my approval and wee tweaks), assemble, and install the IKEA cabinets, drywall, run waterlines, but also can even MacGyver one cabinet a little to make things all fit!  See the handle-less one on the left side of the dishwasher, which is not installed yet; needs to run plumbing yet methinks. Soon! Well, that end cabinet was 3/16" too wide to fit, so he had to 'rip' that amount off one of the side panels. How he did it and still has the beautiful melamine finish on both outside and inside of both sides, I have no idea.  Magic.  We moved the sink to where you see it now, although that is the old sink; the new one goes in when the granite, which you see on the left of the photo, gets week! I wasn't sure about not having the sink under the window, but I had an idea, which is doable: a stained glass window over the sink, letting in light from the porch on the other side of that wall!

6. I am loving the sultry humid and hot days of July and August, and on into September, apparent in the above photo by the moisture you see on that window, and the visible greenery beyond.  I am not loving the fact that our AC has quit.  At least we are able to sleep because we have a little window unit, so I like window AC units!

7.  I really like Seth Godin's blog. Julie of Pink Doxies put me onto him. I get his posts by email so I never miss one. Some I skim, some I read more than once, and some I read aloud to MacGyver, like today's post about 'dumbing it down'. His last few sentences resonate so deeply:
"Everyone owns a media company now. Even media companies. And with that ownership comes a choice, a choice about the people we serve, the words we use and the change we seek to make.
It's only a race to the bottom if we let it be one."

My blog is my media company. I choose to be positive, helpful and hopefully inspirational. 😊

 I'm off to the hot upstairs loft now to work on the Cows quilt.  Yay for fans!

Linking up with LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Colour

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Tragedy...with a Silver Lining

Little did I know that when I finally sat down, a year after the fact, to write about this tragic event, the Fort McMurray forest fire of 2016, nicknamed "The Beast", inside of which is a feel-good quilt story, that I'd have experienced a tragic loss in my own life.  My dear friend, Linda, who faithfully reads my blog even though she does not sew a stitch, sent me this story several months ago.  She read it in a publication she gets called "Our Canada".  I kept meaning to write about it, but never did.  Now it's time. Interspersed with the words are the few blocks I've picked away at, more inspiration and awe from strong Canadian women, and Cows.

As I write this, forest fires are again raging, 155 right now in British Columbia, Canada's westernmost province.  It shares a border with the state of Washington, in the USA.  Fires are also now crossing into Alberta, province of my birth, where the bulk of our family lives.  This year the fires are mid-province, right now in Kootenay National Park, west of Calgary.  Last year they were in northern Alberta, forcing one of the largest evacuations in Canadian history, the entire city of Fort McMurray, approximately 88 000 people.  Many people returned to find nothing left; many people have not returned and do not plan to.  This link takes you to a timeline of the events.

Another way to heal: enjoying the peace, serenity and greenery of our very private back yard. Thank you to so many for your kind and caring words on my previous post; if I haven't responded it's because you are a no-reply blogger, and I have no email address for you; please know I thank you from my heart.

My husband and I spent many years camping throughout Alberta, and also a little bit in BC. Before we were married, after we got married, and after we had our girls, we camped.  We have many wonderful memories of those days.  I remember driving on highways to get to a lake through blackened landscapes after a fire had been through. It was pretty sobering. Charred trees, perhaps some green fronds of fireweed bravely poking their spikes through the ash and blackened earth are imprinted on my mind.  The smell.  Seeing the sun through a shimmer, not of heat haze, but of high smoke and ash, also comes to mind.  Touching tiny white powdery ash on our patio table in our back yard, cinders from fires hundreds of miles away.

I remember seeing on TV the images from people's cell phones of driving on the highway out of Fort McMurray, last May, the massive wall of flames right there, like right along the roads, scenes from a movie one would think.  But they weren't.  Our daughter, Brianne, wanting to help, like so many many Albertans, bought a bunch of necessities to take to one of the centres.  The manager of the drugstore, seeing what she was doing, added a whole bunch of stuff, filling Brianne's trunk.  She made the two-hour drive up to the centre, where she unloaded, seeing firsthand many families who had fled from their homes, some staying in campgrounds, others in people's yards in their campers, still others in residents' homes. The outpouring of support and help made such an impression on us, and we were hearing it secondhand; I can't imagine the depth of that feeling seeing it in person.  She went back to help a second time too.

Blocks 97-99. 97: Allie Vibert Douglas - first Canadian woman astrophysicist; I used the stars as her background; 98: Marguerite Vincent Lawinonkié - renowned Mohawk artisan and entrepreneur who taught the Huron women to make handcrafts to sell; I was so pleased to be able to use the burgundy scissors motif fabric for her; 99: Marion Orr - first woman to operate a flying club, and Canada's first woman airfield boss.

Goodness and kindness come to the fore when there are tragedies, and people feel so helpless.  People want to help in any way they can.  Sometimes they ask, "What can I do?" Sometimes they want hurting people to tell them what they need.  But sometimes the hurting people don't know...yet the knowledge that another human, maybe another loved one, maybe a stranger, wants to reach out and try to lessen your pain and grief, means so so much. Michele reached out, unaware of my recent sorrow...
Remember her quilt from my last post? It is done! Don't you love the border she added? This small act of reaching out has lifted my spirits so much this past week.

Sometimes you don't know what you need until later.  This is the case with the quilt story that follows.  It made me cry.  Tears of empathy and sadness, but tears of profound 'wow' joy.

Who came rushing to help this particular Fort Mac quilter?  None other than Craftsy.  Yeah.  So finding this out has reaffirmed my approval for this company for whom I am an affiliate.  That is an affiliate link.  However, I'm not here to tell you about sales, or class deals this time; I'm here to tell you of the truly wonderful act this company did for a young Fort McMurray, Alberta quilter named Eldora.
Blocks 100-102.  100:Ellen Looks Fairclough - chartered accountant, introduced a bill requiring equal pay for equal work, first Canadian woman federal cabinet minister, first woman given the duty of Acting Prime Minister; 101: Rita Margaret Johnston - Canada's first female premier, of British Columbia; 102: Mary Two Axe Early - From 1969-1994 (winning another victory at age 83) Mary fought against both white and First Nations men who denied women their status and no longer considered persons if they married a non-First Nations man; in 1985 she was the first woman to regain her Aboriginal status.

Eldora's home was one of approximately 2400 homes and buildings destroyed.  She writes of rushing home from work, having minutes to grab personal possessions before being evacuated from her home, of being one of the lucky ones with family in southern Alberta where her family could stay. So many stayed in shelters, or camped, or stayed with strangers.  When she found out the terrible news that her home had burned and they'd lost everything, she knew in her heart that material possessions could be replaced.  Yet she'd lost her sewing machine, all her sewing supplies, her quilts... my quilts are like little parts of me; I can't imagine losing them.  She eventually realized that she needed, no she yearned for her quilting to help her heal and get through this terrible time.  She had recently bought a bunch of fabric and supplies from Craftsy, and so she talked to them, specifically an employee named Lizzy, using the online chat, explaining her predicament and asking if they would consider selling her the items she'd previously purchased, at cost, so she could start sewing again.  Well.  Grab some Kleenex.

Eldora and her family returned to Fort McMurray sometime in June.  Shortly thereafter, she received a few care packages from Craftsy.  And...from Janome.  Yep.  Craftsy did a truly amazing thing: they sent her a ton of quilting supplies, from rotary cutter to thread to a couple of quilt kits!  AND they talked to Janome, who sent her a top of the line MC 8200 sewing machine so she could start doing the thing that we all know heals ourselves and heals those we care about: quilting.  Just typing this up brings tears to my eyes all over again.  Such thoughtfulness on the part of Craftsy worker Lizzy.  Such support from the company, and taking it further by talking to Janome, who also came through in spades. A Denver, Colorado company reaching out, across an international border,  to help a little old Canuck.  Eldora says, as she is sewing up one of the kits on her new machine, "The Beast" tried to take everything from her, but it couldn't take away her love of quilting.

Cows quilt, first row. Cows aren't talking much... yet... I've decided I'm not going to echo the Churn Dash, aka Hole in the Barn Door blocks, just SID (stitch in the ditch).

Doing what one loves to do, however hard and forced and fake it feels in the beginning, can be a healing force in one's life.  One day, although you are changed, altered forever, you realize that these intangible loves/passions, along with the love and compassion of those close to us, both family and friends, is what truly matters, what conquers all.

Update: A kind person emailed me wanting to know if I had any ideas as to how she could get her 'ton' of stuff, and how her guild, the Cochrane Quilt Guild, could help for Fort McMurray. I thought that there might still be a need, a year later, and did some research. For Fort McMurray, I found this article on Global News' website.  I found it comforting to know that a separate Fort McMurray fund within the Canadian Red Cross is in place and that so far they have used 75% of the funds.

I also found this website: Alberta Wildfire Donation Centre that explains that donations are no longer being accepted for Fort McMurray.

 If anyone else wants to help with the current fires, the best bet is The Canadian Red Cross. That link will take you directly to a site to donate.  Here is a current article from Global News on how you can help. I am so pleased to see the Salvation Army, an organization I highly recommended to the person who emailed me, as one of the leading charitable organizations.

Linking up
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Friday, July 14, 2017


This is the hardest post I've had to write. I've put it off all week.  Thought of a few sentences. Had a few random thoughts. Did the photos. Left it.  Unsure what to say.  For the first time in, oh, forever, I think, I don't feel much like writing.  Both my daughters have commented about missing reading my posts. A very close blogger friend had good advice: don't wait too long or you may never go back. So here we go.

Some things are constant in life:
'my' lake this week
Some things are not.

Brady, my beloved grandson, no longer has a dad. He died very suddenly and tragically on Father's Day.  We spent the past several weeks out in Alberta. How does a child recover from the loss of a parent, especially when both are so young?  How can grandparents help?  How do parents help their daughter heal?

I don't know.

Be there.  Enjoy/treasure ordinary moments.
Nana was a bit of a MacGyver herself, rigging up a sprinkler of sorts on a hot day; like his Nana, Brady loves to read

Listen.  Do what you can.

How do I get 'back' into my life?  Well, I made some more Canadian Women blocks.  I was sewing this set the day the phone call came.
88 - Viola Rita Huggard MacMillan: woman miner, first to be inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame; 89 - Helen Creighton: folklorist of Nova Scotia; 90 - Ann Hulan: successful Newfoundland farmer, after her husband died, she sailed her goods to St. John's on her own schooner (note the ship in the centre 2.5" square)
When I got back home, part of me knew I needed to keep plodding along, trying to catch up, even though I'd missed three more sets of blocks.  Another part of me knew that choosing the colours, ploughing through the scraps, and doing the ensuing piecing was healing.  And part of me recognized that reading about these women's hardships and perseverance would, in turn, help me in dealing with our loss.

Slowly I've sewn six more the past few days.  Each one takes me at least an hour, usually more.  My impatiens below, once again, do not disappoint, despite being left to their own devices for three weeks. Who knew they'd be such a perfect backdrop to these blocks?
91 - Maud Watt: first female game warden in Quebec; 92 - Sophie Morigeau: successful trader, one of the first BC women to claim her own land, 320 acres; 93 - Kirkina Mucko: at age 2, she had her legs amputated below the knee because they got frozen and gangrenous, yet she hobbled around, sometimes on her knees, sometimes on artificial limbs, for the rest of her life. After losing 6 of her 7 children as well as her husband to the Spanish Flu, this amazing woman became a midwife, working in Labrador for 30 years.
I set these next three beneath a stunning flower arrangement that the Movati Club where I teach yoga, sent me:
94 - Irma LeVasseur: first registered francophone woman doctor in Quebec; 95 - Clara Brett Martin: first woman in the British Empire (yes! and she was Canadian!) to become a fully-fledged lawyer, earning her LLB in 1899; 96 - Caroline Louise Josephine Wells: first female dental surgeon in 1893.
Being alone this week has been mostly good as I start to regroup and recharge.  So much kindness from so many people have come my family's way. This meal (well enough for 3 meals!) was thoughtfully made for me by my sweet friend Liz.

I added the (score!) dry rosé from the Provence region I found at Trader Joe's. Thanks, Dayna, for a much-needed fun morning there, and at the Farmers' Market, and then at a wonderful local place for lunch, Crispelli's, which we picked up, and ate in her serene back yard.

Life does go on, as they say. We will be okay.  I know sewing and quilting and yoga will help me.  I have the Cows quilt on the frame from before, and I have a new pattern I'm working on for an upcoming issue of Benartex's Modern By the Yard. That link will take you to their blog, with a link on the sidebar to the summer issue, full of free wonderful patterns.

I heard just last week from a reader, Michele, asking about the directions for the Freefall QAL which she had just come across. That warmed my heart, but even more so, because she sent a photo of her first blocks as she works through it on her own! She gave me her permission to use this photo:

Aren't these truly luscious fabrics?! Cannot wait to see more.

Just a reminder that Connecting Threads (affiliate link there and below) is having quite the 10th anniversary sale:

  • up to 40% off kits and samplers (here's one I really like:

Move Over quilt kit

  • up to 30% off batting (something I've taken advantage of several times. They carry Hobbs.  (I need to do a post on my experience with their battings, all good so far.)
  • 25% off thread
Craftsy is also having a summer sale on kits and supplies, up to 50% off. Here is just one I really like:
Cornerstone Dreamfield quilt kit
Thank you so much for the support of this blog.  I should be back on Instagram later today as well. I have an aunt and her three daughters hip-hopping around the south of England, (and over to Paris--ahh!) and I need to visit their feeds! My aunt sent me some gorgeous shots of hydrangeas...

Linking up