Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Hug Bug

That's my youngest daughter.  When she was about 4, she LOVED to hug people.  Loved it.  Sadly, I had to sit her down and somehow explain to her that she couldn't just hug everybody she met.  Just people she already knew, and to check with me, her Mummy, if it was okay.  I'll never forget running into my hairdresser in the grocery store a short time after this talk, and chatting.  Suddenly I felt a tug at my clothing, "Mummy?  Is it okay if I give her a hug?"  She'd judged that this was a friend, and she wanted to hug her, but knew that she should double-check, as this was someone she didn't know.  Aww.  So I said okay, and she hugged, and there were smiles all around.  Wouldn't it be incredible if the world could be more like that?  She was a cuddler, a snuggler, a round little warm pudgy adorable body of a 4-year-old.  She still melts my heart every day.  (And no, she's no longer pudgy, or round, but beautiful, willowy, and perfectly proportioned.)  Her hugs are not as frequent, partly because we live 30 miles apart, but also because she has changed.  Mostly, it's becoming an adult (she's now 25, egad, my baby is 25) and it's also because of society's norms, but it's also due to some not-so-hug-buggish life experiences.

She connects with me on so many levels.  She loves my quilts.  Always has done.  I'd go away to a quilt retreat, and every single quilt in our house that she could get her hands on (and there were many) would be on her bed.  And she would have slept under them the two nights I'd been gone.  She once came with me to a charity quilt bee and made a quilt top; she made me a cover of fabric for my favourite quilting book to keep it nice.  She'd leave me notes:  I found one just last week, inside a book, telling me she thought the pattern on that page would be good for my 9-patch exchange blocks - it was from 13 years ago!  She always asks if any given quilt I'm working on is for her, (she's always hoping) and when she moved to Windsor in 2010 to go back to school, she had but one request, that I make her a new quilt for her new city.  And I did.  She even helped pick out the colour scheme.  She still commandeers several of my quilts, that 9-patch being just one.  I've sneaked a couple back, because I'd like to use them a little....  But she says, and rightly so, that since I'm in Florida for the winter, SOMEONE should be using them so they will most likely find their way back once again to her house!  She respects and supports my passion for yoga; she has even begun her own practice, following YouTube videos, and sending me the links.  We share a love of Pitbulls, well, all large dogs, as well as cats, a love of music, and of fitness.  She listens to me, offers me sound advice, as I try to for her when she comes to me with problems.

And today, the hugs she does give me still take me back to those days, when she was just 4, and she is back in my mama-bear heart, safe and loved beyond measure.  To the moon.  No, to Pluto and back.  No, to the next universe.
Her Windsor Quilt - Summer 2010.  From the book Stack A New Deck by Karla Alexander

Update on Seaside Rose

So here is the progress!  I'm hoping to have her off the frame by tonight or tomorrow morning.  I have a baby quilt that needs to get on there and off again very fast, as I'm planning on taking it with me on my trip to Alberta next weekend.  No pressure.  No.  Did I mention I work well (and my focus goes waaay up) under pressure?!

Think I mentioned that since there are 8 rows of these on-point 9-patches,  I'm doing 2 different designs per row on 4 rows, and then repeating that sequence for the remaining 4 rows, if that makes sense.  Here are two more designs of Leah's that I used on the 9-patches:

Poseidon's Eye
Beaded Curtain
 This is one of Angela's, from her Free Motion Quilting book:
And this one I developed from an appliqué pattern in the magazine, "American Patchwork and Quilting".  I added the swirlies (adapted from a flower of Leah's) to fill in the open space in each petal.  I like how it turned out; makes me think of a soft ice cream cone!
Add caption
So I"m on the last 2 rows of 9-patches, and I'll post this, so I can get back at it!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Seaside Rose WIP

So here is the progress so far on the quilting of this quilt!
I am loving putting into practice the feathers in Angela Walters' Free Motion Quilting With Feathers Craftsy class.
I can't believe I freehand quilted those babies.  My swirl waves in the blue triangles of the prairie points need to be rounder at times, but the pebbling is looking good, and it IS tricky in those squishy areas.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Technology - ugh! & Menopausal stupidity strikes again!

So I'm about to phone Apple to get them to help me.  Yesterday I got a notification that there was a new iOS for my MacBook Pro.  Okay.  No surprise, as I've already downloaded and installed the new iOS on my iPad and my iPhone, so I figured there would be one coming for the laptop.  I'm learning to be okay with the new iPhone and iPad iOS but there are some things about this new system that annoy me, and the biggest is that I just want to be told when I first start using the system, how to do some simple ordinary things that I do on a daily basis, like close a flippin' app or switch from camera to video when I want to take a video!!  The first of these two major frustrations I figured out thanks to googling it:  a very nice, also frustrated with day-to-day actions such as these, girl had posted how to do the 3 most common actions that had now changed.  All you do instead of hitting the home button and closing the little x when it shows your open apps, is now hit the home button and then swipe up with your finger to close apps.  I'm a freak about closing my apps and saving battery.  Probably too much of a freak, but oh well, this phone is 2 1/2 years old and I've not had a problem with it yet, no dings, no scratches even, and I don't have a screen protector.  And, I use it 24/7, yes, as it's my alarm when needed.  Anyhow.  Oh, to switch to video I figured out by a fluke on my own:  just swipe with your finger rather than tapping.  Speaking of freaks, I probably looked like one if anyone noticed me, getting steadily more annoyed (menopause was kind that time; I didn't just blow and huck the damn iPad across the room, although it crossed my mind), tap-tap-tapping the screen trying to make it switch from camera to video function.  Ugh.

No, NOW I'm more than annoyed because when I downloaded the new iOS, which is called Mavericks, no more cat names apparently; this is from a rogue wave for surfing I believe.  I did find out when searching for issues with the system like I am experiencing, that Mavericks get their name thanks to a German Shepherd who was having so much fun swimming alongside his surfing owners, that he had to be tied to a tree for his own safety.  Guess the dogs now have their time in the Apple naming of systems world.  God, I'm going off on many tangents this morning; welcome to the menopausal world in my melon.  BACK to the topic, Sandra... After downloading the system, I discovered that I now have a whole new desktop on my laptop, without any of my photos, movies, documents, short I thought I'd wiped my laptop by installing this new system.  Heart attack.  Freak-out.  The second for yesterday.  The first? Being a ditz: thinking that the warning to move the see-through vinyl upon which you're  tracing the border to try out potential designs OFF the quilt BEFORE you start using a permanent marker, is for dummies.  I no ME, I won't be THAT dumb to go off the vinyl and make a mark on the quilt with my permanent marker.  Yup.  And, dummy, menopause is to blame here for sure, IDIOT that I am, I did it not once, but twice.  Ya.  I tried hairspray on a test piece and it lifts a lot of it off, but it also tends to make the line fuzzy and fatter.  Haven't tried milk yet.  Yes, google it!  Or rubbing alcohol.  So mad at myself.

And I've digressed again.  This post is now two main subjects: frustrations of technology and frustrations with being an idiot.  And it's way longer than I intended.

So the good news is that I found out, by a fluke again, that I didn't lose all of my life.  I now have two desktops on my laptop.  One completely fresh, and one the old one with everything in it.  However, the old one will not bring in my "" email anymore, no matter what I try.  I am getting email from that address on my iPhone and iPad though.  So I'm thinking I might just use my gmail address and be done with 2 separate emails.  Actually I have 3, as I use a different one for much of my American stuff.  Good grief!  And I need to get Apple to help me combine both desktops into one.

So, all is not all warm fuzzies in my world all the time.  A couple of days ago I was in love with technology, thinking about FaceTime with a good friend, Skype with my grandson, another lesson in my online quilting class with Angela Walters, and today?  I'm just ticked.  However, I did just have a most enjoyable, albeit a tad brisk at the outset, walk with my darling Rocco.  My daughter wants me to muse about him, which I definitely intend to, but the walk reminded me that I have to muse and proclaim my love for more than just him as I was so enamoured all over again with this beautiful area, the southernmost town in Canada, where I am just so very very happy.  There!  Turned an "UGH" (and other bad words that almost rhyme with "ugh" that I will confess I said more than once yesterday, but which I will refrain from typing) into a "MMMMPHH!" of love and utter happiness.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Love Leah Day! :-)

So back in March of this year, I decided to write to Leah Day to tell her how very much I appreciate her website, her generosity, and her passion for sharing Free Motion Quilting, FMQ, as well as to let her know how much of an impact she has made on me.  I had started a blog, but didn't write a thing, or have it public, until just last month, so this email to her was really the beginning.  Now that basically no one except my sister and my daughter are following it, (ha ha), I thought I should really go back and publish those beginnings of quilting on my Avanté Longarm, aka LA.  After I sent her the email with photos, I read NOT to do that (gulp), but to provide a link for her to view photos!  Oops, and a huge sorry.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I've bought one of her books, I'm taking her tote class on Craftsy, and I tell everyone I can about her terrific website.  I want to support her in any way I can!

Here is basically what I sent to her:

I have FMQ-ed since 1996 I think, first on my Elna and then on my Bernina 180. I’ve done everything from tiny wallhangings to bed quilts, including one king-size. I have wanted a longarm for a LONG time, and finally, after years of saving, I got an almost-new one, like 6 weeks old, off eBay! I got some good quality muslin, sliced off two 1-yard pieces and started playing…then I found your website, and OMG, I LOVE it, and so I started practising some of your designs. This led to me setting out 6” squares and then going along in posted order (I love order and organization) and doing a few each day to practise. What a learning curve going from a DSM to a LA.

These 3 quilts are my very first projects on my new-to-me Avanté 18.
So this is the second practice quilt. I thought I’d bind each one and give them to my two dogs…but I really like the way they’ve turned out. so... :-))

I tried Gutermann beige cotton (horrible for lint in the bobbin, so ix-nayed that), then researched threads, and got The Bottom Line both for bobbins (bought several pre-wound ones) as well as the top thread, and love that thread. I have ordered some Isacord through a local dealer here in Sarasota, (Leah recommends it). I also have used a fair bit of Fufus rayon on these two quilts and really like it. I had so much fun, well, a little frustration at times too, but it just takes practice, practice, practice. I keep reminding myself of how my first FMQ was on that first snowman quilt way back in 1996…
So even though I wasn’t very good, especially at feathers, which I love, and can do pretty easily on my DSM, (sidenote: wow, did my feathers improve with just the first few lessons of Angela Walters' class on Craftsy!) I decided I’d just jump in and start quilting on this “Perky Purse” quilt I made last Fall (long story but I hadn’t been in my sewing room since January 2012, and this was the kickstart I needed to dive into my stash and feel the buzz once again). It’s out of a Layer Cakes book by Pam & Nicky Lintott.

Here it is in progress! I decided to stipple the background (I know, yawn, but I needed to really feel confident with stippling) and in each bag part of the purse, do a different one of Leah's designs. There are 25 purses.
This is the only one of the purses where I did my own design…but I can’t claim to be the originator, as SOMEWHERE a LONG time ago, I saw this little loops and 5-pointed stars meander, and I like it a lot. Besides, the star fabric in this purse was just asking for it!
The tree bark design showed up quite nicely on this purse fabric. I used King Tut variegated cotton on the whole quilt. Beautiful thread.
Love this tree bark design
I learned that even with a beautiful variegated thread, detailed filler designs do not usually show off your work if used on a strong print fabric…duh. Here I used Matrix, Tree Bark, Gentle Flames, a leaves and loops one, and a Leaves filler that’s kind of like the feather filler…hmm, it might be out of her Beginner FMQ book. I used a few out of it.
Detail of five blocks.
This is Flame Flower with Pebbles. I like how mixing 2 designs on a skinny purse worked out so well here!
I think I saw this on her Goddess quilt, or perhaps in "Express Your Love".  GREAT idea to mark the horizontal lines for registration marks! I’ve done that with feathers sometimes with chalk to help me get them more uniform.
Flying Geese design

Circuit Board
All quilted!
It’s approximately 42”X 60”. It didn’t have a binding on it yet in that picture.  I put on a solid black.

And here is what I wrote to her, and it came from my heart at that time, as it does this very minute that I'm posting it for all to see:
"Your generosity in sharing all of your creativity is truly amazing to me, and I find it uplifting. The time you spend to develop new ideas, film the How-To videos, take pictures, upload them, write a blog, do your newsletter, etc. etc. is really really appreciated by me, and many others like me, judging by how many are following you on flickr (me now, as of tonight…maybe I will post some pictures eventually!) on FaceBook, on your website….wow. Thank you. Thank you for your generosity, for your candour, for your honesty, enthusiasm, inspiration, and words of wisdom. I feel such a connection to you! I hope to meet you one day. I’d love to attend the Paducah show, not sure if I can this year, but one of these years…

Sorry for going on and on, but I want you to know that you are amazing! I truly mean that, and I have told several of my quilting and non-quilting friends to check out your website. And they have. And they all are amazed and impressed.
Thank you!"

So if you haven't, and even if you aren't a quilter, you should check out Leah's website.  Just gazing at her gallery of quilts is a feast for the eyes.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fuzzy Love Quilt

So the friends post I did yesterday is a good segway into the next quilt post!

This past May we drove the nearly 2000 miles out to Alberta (man, that is one long-ass trip!)  Okay, that is a phrase of my husband's, and they are creeping more and more into my lingo. I should say that is one "sore-ass" trip!!  But I digress.

We were gone for two weeks.  We took our two dogs with us, as they LOVE travelling anywhere with us, but we left my darling cat, Bella, here at home in the excellent care of my aforementioned Moon Buddy (I can't take credit for that name; it's hers) who lives next door.  Well, to say that Bella was pampered is an understatement.  A gross understatement.  That feline got dressed up to go to New Orleans, (see below) tried her hand at cards, modelled a bunny costume, got a little out of hand at a party one night, got brushed and petted, and watched movies, and sunbathed, all within the safety of our home, never fear!  We got regular updates on what she was doing, along with photos.  Not only did she get all this extra-special treatment, but she also was treated to my Moon Buddy bringing her life over to my house, as in doing some food prep, or watching some TV in the evening here, Bella by her side, just to give her some human company.  Wow.

So I had to make this wonderful woman, who, over the past couple of years, has become such a good friend, a small quilt, just a lap quilt, something to throw over her legs maybe in the cooler evenings of Fall when watching TV, as a very small token of thanks for ALL she did (and her husband was a huge help too).

It is the first quilt I designed entirely on my own.  It's SUPER SIMPLE, no big fireworks need to go off in the design world, but it is a first.  I've come up with a unique quilt design a couple of times in the past, but I've started with someone else's and modified it or adapted it to suit my needs.  This one was planned out on a blank piece of graph paper!  I've heard they are making EQ7 for Macs... I am looking forward to that release.  I wanted an overall floral, sort of shabby chic feel to the quilt.  I had some of Nancy Halvorsen's "True Friends Collection" fabric left, so it was perfect for this!

Anyhow, Bella helped with the quilt.

Well, she was a bit more of a hindrance than a help.  She loves bindings!
One of the pawprint blocks.  I quilted it on my Avanté.  Of course, I used several of Leah Day's quilting motifs again.  I'd thought of keeping the quilting simple, so as to finish the quilt sooner, but Leah's designs are so beautiful, and so addictive, and I wanted to take the time to make this little quilt special rather than mundane with simple stippling.  I used one of the Sulky Blendables in 30 wt. and it quilted up beautifully.  I did Wandering Clover, from Leah's book, From Daisy to Paisley in the background.
 This is Star Flower Bands.  I love this one.  I plan to use it again where it will show up better.
 This is one from Angela Walters' book Free Motion Quilting.
My own flower design.  I think I saw this incorporated into stippling years ago in "American Patchwork & Quilting" on a quilt.  I've used it several times.
 Here is Bubblewand.
Flame Flower.  I think.  The petals don't look right, so maybe it is a different design!  Again, doing these designs on printed fabrics does not show them off as well as needed.
And Miss Bella, perched on "our" quilt!  It shows off her gorgeous blue eyes, no?!  For some reason, she really loved this quilt, and would roll on it, curl up on it, sit on was like she knew it was from her as well.  I cannot thank Leah enough for so much inspiration and such generosity in using her designs.   :-)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I Am So Blessed

For multiple reasons.  But a huge reason is for the wonderful friends I have at both ends of this country.  I received another email from a very dear friend in Alberta a couple of days ago, and the warmth of her words to me literally leapt off the screen, giving my heart a metaphorical big hug.  Then when I realized that a couple of days prior to that email, another dear friend in Alberta had sent me a similar email that glowed with excitement about getting to see me next month, I started to feel this incredible swelling of emotion in my chest: I am SO blessed to have several really really good women for close friends.  I am loved.  I am cared about.  Mmmm.

I reflected on this for a couple of days, and more examples of the caring friends I have came my way.

Another dear friend here in Ontario called me last night to let me know our "Full Moon Date" would have to be cancelled, as she'd made a mistake with the moonrise time and could no longer make it.  However, I was to go outside right now, she said, and take a look at that beautiful glowing moon.  And I did.  :-) Today, I got a text from a close friend in Alberta, telling me we hadn't chatted in far too long, and she was sending me happy thoughts, and asking to FaceTime on Monday.  (I love iPhones!)  Yet another really good friend here in Ontario had asked and encouraged me in the summer to do a couple of yoga sessions for Sparks and Brownies this morning at their Fitness Day at camp (SUCH a rewarding and fun time THAT was too!)  Even though I've never done yoga with kids, and I was a little worried about just how to go about it, she believed in me, and figured I'd be fine, and I was.  So much so, that I'd do it again!  And, our doggies are getting looked after (and VERY well-looked after I might add) tomorrow while we are at the Lions football game by super good friends of ours.  They adore our dogs, and our dogs adore them, and they love looking after our dogs, so we won't worry at all about leaving them alone for several hours.  How amazing is that?

It is a heart-warming, soul-hugging feeling to know I have this level, this quality of friendships both here at home, and there, back at my old home, 2000 miles away.  Knowing I have people who genuinely care about and for me does wonders for my self-esteem, my psyche, and my sense of well-being.  It's like I've been given a spirit massage.  I am truly blessed, and I am so thankful for each one of them.  And these aren't all of them either!  I have two other very good friends here; we shared tea/coffee just a couple of weeks ago, and we get together and have much-needed heart-to-hearts on a regular basis. Out in Alberta, I have several other good friends, one of whom has got our group of about 8 together to catch up with me on both of my last two trips out West.  So thoughtful.  And so good for the soul to have those evenings, to live in the moment and visit, and then have that evening to look back upon and get that inner glow again.  The glow of knowing I mean something to others.  That others care about me.  I am loved!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Round Robin

So the guild that I just joined in September has started a "Self Round Robin".  We pick an orphan block (like I have 20 of those--should put 'em all together into A quilt).  Each month the executive gives us a directive for that round.  For the first month, October's meeting, we had to put a stripe on our block.  That was it.  Because we've only been in this house just over a year, I still don't know where all my sewing stuff is organized.  It is all organized, but I just don't always know where I've organized it!  Anyhow, upon opening one of my three Ikea dresser drawers where I thought I might have stashed that pile of various blocks from retreats to guild projects to rejected blocks to blocks I made one of after seeing an episode of "Simply Quilts"... The first place I looked yielded this beautiful appliqué block I made in a hand appliqué class I took...about 14, maybe 15 years ago!!  The stitching is beautiful, so tiny!  I think I'd need a magnifying glass to be able to reproduce that minute of a stitch today.  I decided rather than spend ages sifting through the blocks pile, which I did find, I'd stick with this first one.

I thought about simply sewing a striped fabric around it, and I auditioned a couple and let them stew on the design wall.  In the end, I spent another chunk of time hunting down the original fabrics I'd used in the appliqué (oh yes, I still had them!) as I'd also had another idea pop into my head: to make my own striped border using those fabrics.  I added one other green that I think looks really good, as I couldn't find the leaf fabric in my stash.  Here is the first round:

I was sick with a bad flu bug all Tuesday, so I didn't even make it to my guild meeting to show it off!  And I don't know what the directive is yet for November...  Yes, and I didn't even get to hand in my placemats for Meals On Wheels, although I know there is still time as the final due date is November.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Maybe it's just me, but I am seeing a bit of a dividing line in the quilting world of late.  There is the school of machine quilters who uses a longarm, aka LA, and there is the one who uses a domestic sewing machine, aka DSM.  I get a feeling that there is a thought in some places that one is inferior to the other.  I liken it to the school of thought from years ago where machine quilting was believed to be inferior to hand quilting, kind of a "you cheated" belief.

Well, I have FMQ quilted for 10 years on my Bernina 180. Prior to that, for 7 years I quilted on my beloved Elna, still alive and stitching her heart out today, but kicking up her wheels (ha ha, bad pun) in sunny southern Florida.  About 8 months ago I purchased a used Avanté.  I have taught myself using books and mainly Leah Day.  Leah quilts on a DSM.  Her wonderful, wonderful designs, videos, as well as her first FMQ book and DVD were all my resources. Now I've purchased two Craftsy classes, one of Leah's and one of Angela Walters' (LA quilter) and I have to say I love them both.

I do not see the difference, really, in the finished product between quilting on a DSM or a LA; the key is PRACTICE. Watch a video on YouTube or one that came with a book, read the book carefully, study the design, draw it on paper; the muscle memory is really the same for the shapes. The tool is different whether it is a pencil, a machine or moving the quilt sandwich.  I still feel, probably because I'm still quite a novice on the LA, that I have more control when I'm quilting on my Bernina.  The Avanté skates along at times; at others I think there is a bump in the track (and I've looked and run my fingers along it SO many times, all to no avail...maybe the floor is slightly uneven which makes it jump or grab in usually two spots along its path, ugh.)

So why did I switch from DSM to LA?  My main reason was that I thought it would be easier to maneuver large quilts, as my Bernina doesn't have that large of an area from needle to arm of the machine, aka the throat plate, I believe it's called.  My other reason was speed; I thought I could finish more quilts faster.  So far this has not proven to be the case - I've completed 5 and have #6 on right now.  That is within the past 8 months.  Well, that isn't counting 2 quiltets, 36X42" muslin practice pieces.  And I also thought I could start a quilting business.  This has not come to pass, nor am I actively pursuing it right now, although I haven't totally ruled it out.

I want the freedom to be able to do both, and I was so happy to find I could easily stitch out some of Leah's designs on those placemats using my Bernina.  It's all good.  :-)  Now off to sew for a little bit before bedtime...I visited a terrific quilt shop (with a great online store, very dangerous) in Detroit, well, actually in Berkley, Michigan today,  called Guildcrafters.  Confession: I bought a kit to make an adorable summer quilt.  Ya, I know summer's over, but the colours--!!  And it's a snap to sew together, nothing but squares with they key being fabric placement.  Basically, mindless.  And it's going to Florida with me next month to stitch up there, where it's summer pretty much year round!  They do the neatest kits ideas.  The display quilt is on the wall, and under it, sealed in cellophane usually WITH the pattern enclosed, is the quilt.  Most of the quilts are very simple in construction, with the fabric all or mainly chosen from one line.  Many are their own patterns too.  I could have bought 3 for sure, maybe more!  This is when I am so happy to have my little yoga job as there is absolutely NO GUILT in spending the money to sew up a quilt.  Well, the negative nancy I have hovering over my left shoulder did sneer that I could easily sew something up like this using my PLENTIFUL stash, but I slapped her and stuffed her back down in her jack-in-the-box style box, and picked that puppy right up and did not let go until it was paid for!  Off to sew!

Saturday, October 12, 2013


We have to bring two quilted placemats 12X18" to our next guild meeting in October to donate to Meals On Wheels.  I had leftover fabric from my "Cloud 9" quilt that I thought would make some pretty ones; I could envision the teal quilting showing up on the reverse (I'd already decided on black).  Three things happened: first I saw something on a shop wall in the Quilt Sampler Fall issue, second, making those hotpads gave me an idea as to how to finish the placemats with that self-binding, and third, seeing a quilt on Quilting is More Fun Than Housework just made all those thoughts gel together.  Great news for these menopausal scatterbrained-melon days!!

So they are both finished today and ready to take with me to Tuesday night's meeting.  :-)  Now the only other "to-do" for the meeting is to put a stripe on my orphan block.  Here are the placemats:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Round Robin Quilt

So first off, I have to get this out there: I hate this quilt.  Always have done.  I'm still not sure if I've totally stopped hating it, but I think I have.  In fact, when I pulled it out of the dryer the other day and plopped it on the hardwood floor, my first thought was, 'Oh! I love it!' It had crinkled up so beautifully and the feathers just popped, and some of the fuchsia quilted designs also popped...looked at it a few hours later, and was back to disliking it intensely.

So here's the story of this Round Robin quilt.  I took part in the Round Robin in the guild I belonged to at the time, 1999.  I had been a quilter for 4 years, and of the four women besides me in the RR, 3 were pretty amazing quilters.  One was a founding member of the guild, another was renowned for her beautiful hand quilting and appliqué, and the other was quite the designer.  I was feeling more than just a little trepidation at agreeing to be a part of this.  However, I like a challenge, and I always feel that I learn so much when I push myself.  I had discovered Bethany Reynolds' Stack 'n Whack method on Alex Anderson's "Simply Quilts" HGTV show, (yup, I'm dating myself) had made a sample block, and taken it to the guild where no one had seen the technique yet, and they were AMAZED and excited.  I'd bought her book, and so I decided to make my centre using one of her patterns.  I loved my centre!

Here are my contributions to the others' Round Robin quilts.  On the first round, I did a flying geese and stars border.  This was my first experience with making borders fit, so I was on a fairly steep learning curve.  I had been sewing garments, crafts and so forth for over 20 years, though, so I wasn't a total newbie.  For the second round for the next person, I did some paper piecing and turned the person's quilt on point.  On the third round, I did a very intricate, template-using border from Gail Valentine's Mirror Manipulations book, actually, the one on the cover.  I had to modify the corners to make it work. Then for the last round I did hand appliqué.  I was pretty proud of the level of work I'd put in; one of the "master" quilters of the guild was the moderator of the RR and I felt my work had to pass her inspection, sort of!  Well, when we got our quilts back, 5 months later, I was more than disappointed.  I felt I'd been cheated out of the level of workmanship and creativity I'd put in to each girl's quilt.

So what exactly did I hate (and still do) about my quilt?
1.  The first round has four strips of fabric sewn to the sides of my block with a pair of diamonds in each corner.  Like it took half an hour of work.  She didn't even trim the little dogears off the diamonds and I did not notice that until I was quilting that area; the burgundy shows through the white fabric.
2.  The second round is a fairly intricate seminole-pieced border, but there was no attempt to make it fit properly, so the corners look stupid.  Stupid.  It irritates me to no end.  She also used PINK THREAD to sew on white fabric, and it still shows even after I've quilted the damn thing!  Are you kidding me?
3.  The third round is the mountains, and although they aren't always lined up, it was a lot of work.
4.  The last girl did an amazing amount of work on everyone's quilt except for mine.  When our quilts were unveiled, she even apologized to me in front of everyone, stating that she'd gotten tired of the project, and had lost steam because she put in so much effort on the other three.  I got the border strips and friendship stars in the corners.  Whoop dee doo.  And the points of the stars were even cut off! Here it is at the unveiling in December 1999:

Now I need to let go of that negativity!  I do like this quilt now that it is done! Here it is fresh off the quilting machine, October 5, 2013:
Here you can see the centre block that was my starting point (the centre star and 4 batik "flowers"):
And here it is all bound, October 8.  (I disliked it so much that it is the first quilt I machine-stitched rather than hand-stitched the binding down with a simple straight stitch.  Actually, I did do one once before but I used a fancy machine stitch on the binding because of a time crunch.  It has crinkled up nicely, and looks cuddly!
It was a tad difficult applying that binding with Bella snuggling on it, purring away like a John Deere!

I'm impressed with the improvement in my feathers, thanks to great instruction from Angela Walters' Feathers class on Craftsy.  Here is a shot when it was still on the Avanté:
And after washing, showing the feathers and two of Leah's designs, Heart Paisley and Wheat in the Wind:
Here is a shot showing some more of Leah's designs. From top to bottom, they are Greek Key, Pointy Paisley, Cubing, Television Aerial and Sea Algae:
And here are Spiral Tree, Mussel Shell, Basic Chevron, Pug Eyes, and Cracked Eggs, which to me, because of the red on white, reminds me of baseballs!  Maybe it's also because my husband is glued to the Detroit Tigers games...
This is the fifth quilt I've quilted on my Avanté since I got it in January, and with each one I've incorporated Leah's designs, and a couple of Angela's.  If appropriate, I work through Leah's designs in posted order.  Sometimes I've deviated, as you'll see when I write about the others. It was particularly challenging on this quilt because I had to fit them into a pointy house-shaped area or quilt them sideways depending which side of the quilt they were on.

So today, October 11, I took it off the spare room bed and draped it over the loveseat in the living area.  And I'm posting this lengthy composition about it! No more hiding it away, and letting the cat loll about on it covering it in cat hair!  I am going to take it to my guild meeting on Tuesday night!  It has value!  And honestly, outside of the Frankenstein mouth quilting design (aka "In Stitches", sorry Leah; it's my bad quilting) and the corner motifs I designed myself, I quite like the way the fuchsia thread looks on the white (I wanted to tone down all that white).  Maybe I'll even link up to Leah's FMQ Friday...

Okay, I think I did it right...commented on a few different blogs, added my link to Leah's post, and then added a link back to her FMQ Friday.  I think.  Hope.  Fingers crossed.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hot pads

Finished both of these last weekend, but I just haven't got around to writing about them.  I first saw these at my local quilt guild meeting in September.  This was the first meeting I'd attended.  Although I wasn't grabbed by the look of them at the time, the quilter's words, "I found the pattern on Moda Bakeshop", a site I'd only just recently discovered, sent my quilt pattern antennae to tingling.  Got home, went online and found them!  They are created by Melanie Dramatic, whose blog I follow, and they are called Herringbone Hot Pads.

I had lots of leftover scraps from my Seaside Rose quilt, and as I just love the soft colours of that palette, I thought it would be a great way to use up the scraps.  I even sewed a couple of larger pieces together to make the back of the hot pad.  Melanie's directions are very clear, and the accompanying pictures make it really easy, even figuring out just how to fold what to where to get the self-binding folded over onto the front!  We have been asked to make 2 placemats for Meals On Wheels for the October guild meeting, and I am going to use this method of cutting the backing a little larger than the front, folding it twice, and machine-stitching it down onto the front of the piece to make mine.

Here is the front view of the mats.  The one on the right has been washed (I love the way it crinkled up!) and the one on the left has had nothing done to it yet.
Here is the back view:
I used Sulky Blendables for the quilting, a 12-weight on the pink-backed mat and 30-weight on the seashell-backed one.  I've since washed the second mat and it crinkled up just as nicely.  I've also used them a couple of times, both to grab something out of the oven, as well as to rest a hot dish on.  With the double layer of batting plus the insul-bright batting (I used some shiny silver-backed thermolam I'd bought to cover a small ironing board), they provide plenty of protection.  I think they'd be great Christmas gifts.  Melanie made hers from a charm pack, but they do use up scraps quite nicely!  I am just so excited at the quilt world that I'm discovering online!  I know it's been there for decades, but the online teachers, classrooms, this Moda Bakeshop, the blogs--I find it is rekindling my passion, not that it had flickered out, but rekindling it in new ways and new directions.  And that gives me an idea for another post!


So I'm just back home from teaching my favourite Yin yoga class, Sunday mornings, 90 minutes.  I love all four of the classes I teach throughout the week, but perhaps because this one was the first class I ever taught, the first group, I have a special place in my heart for these wonderful women.  That they accepted me, someone from out of town, out of province even(!), a newbie to teaching yoga, a new style of yoga not offered anywhere else in our town, with such positive energy and open-mindedness is so very humbling and awe-some.  (emphasis on the "awe" I feel).  I often feel this way, but today more so.  Here's what happened:

As I circulated throughout the room on a couple of different poses, helping, advising, I realized that I care about these women, that I want them to get the most out of whatever pose we are in.  I also realized how into it the majority of them are; one sweetheart literally jumped out of her skin when I softly approached to offer some advice that I thought might help her legs to relax more fully.  She was that deeply into it!  Another one, when I suggested she pull in her tummy to protect her low back, said that was very painful, just pulling in her tummy, and I sensed that she felt quite anguished about that.  So I told her, no, don't go into pain at all, and gave her a modification she'd been doing months ago after the initial low-back injury she suffered.  She came to talk to me after the class, asking me for poses that would help strengthen her low back, and telling me she'd had some blood work done indicating there were issues with her digestive system, specifically kidneys.  So interesting!  Chinese medicine says that the energetic health of the kidneys rules the general health of the low back, something the blood work supported!  I felt like, wow.  Epiphany.  I believe these theories, whole-heartedly, but to see it before your eyes...well.  Then she thanked me also for what I'd said today, saying it had really helped her, as she's feeling really frustrated with the lack of continued progress, namely the last 20% or so to full restored health.  I realized that I'd talked about loving-kindness towards ourselves, treating ourselves gently, like we would a child or a very good friend, right in the opening meditation.  This is something I continually, but even more so now that I have less stress since I'm no longer teaching school, have to work on with myself.  I can be SO HARD on myself, downright mean. Lately I've consciously started saying affirmations, trying to arrest the flow of negativity to myself at times when I notice it, turning it around into a positive thought... tough work after 40 years of meanness to my self.  But this is a topic for another post!  Anyhow, I felt humbled when I reflected upon what I'd said that would mean a lot to her, and help her, and also wowed, I guess, that these women, and the occasional man ;-) actually do pay attention to my words.

Lastly, after class, because it's cloudy here today, I said I probably should have kept in my little metaphor I got from one of my previous yoga teachers that I just love, where we raise our arms up to the blue sky and smiling sun that we know is up there, even when it's cloudy or dark, and place some of the sun's light and healing energy at our hearts.  One of the students said, "Yes! I missed that!"  This was the first class since I started teaching, July 1, that I haven't done that.  So yay, and wow, it has resonance with them.

Anyhow, I guess it goes to show that what we say has resonance and meaning with those around us who hear our words.  Yes, I know this, yes, I believe it, but it's worthwhile to be shown once in a while.  I'm new enough to teaching yoga that I hope I never take teaching a class for granted, just going through the motions, that I always give the best of myself to the students and to honouring the practice.  I know I did this over my 30-year teaching career, so I believe I certainly will when teaching yoga.
Have a wonderful Sunday!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oxymoron: Getting a Job in Retirement

I was at our Lane's BBQ Sunday evening.  What a great group of people make up our little street!  Most are retired, but some still work, and a few, like me, are early retired.  As I listened to one of the neighbours recount a couple of hilarious stories about the adorable kids on the school bus he drives, I was struck by a few things. 

Most people look forward to retirement:  a time where they can relax, do the things they never had time to do when working full-time, travel, or just do nothing and not feel guilty about it one little bit.  They've earned the right.  Many people do just that, and more.  However, there are many who, like me, find interesting little jobs that keep us active, mentally and physically, jobs that we give us such fulfillment.  There is the neighbour who has decided to drive a school bus this year, and he just loves it.  Another volunteers in a grade school classroom two days a week during their winter in Florida.  Yet another has found her calling in the ministry after retiring from teaching.  Then there is me, teaching yoga and absolutely loving it.  What really made me think, "Whoa!" was when I realized that all of these jobs are of a service nature, and none of them pay that well, in fact the volunteer one not a cent.  And it just doesn't matter.  Yet the fact that it doesn't matter, means it matters so much!  When you are doing something where the money doesn't matter, but the sense of fulfillment and contentment and "right-ness" does, I believe we have achieved a real "AHHHH" (choir singing) state.  :-)

Wouldn't it be awesome if we could find jobs that give us such joy throughout our entire working years?  I know many are lucky enough to have a job they love; I loved teaching, but not the hours and hours of prep work and marking, meetings, phonecalls, etc.  How many love all aspects of their job?  I certainly do with yoga.  I'd be willing to bet the neighbours I mentioned love every aspect of their post-retirement "fun" jobs.  It's doing something positive, making a difference in people's lives, and feeling happy and fulfilled that you are contributing to a better community.  It's doing benevolent work.   This leads to benevolent thoughts and mindset, and ultimately to a happier planet.  And, to be realistic, I'm not saying everyone should retire, although as each day comes and goes, I feel happier and happier!  But it is so important to try our best to find something in our busy lives (for me it was sewing, and my yoga, and before yoga, aerobics) to help calm and centre us when stress levels are at all-time highs.  Being in a quilt guild helped me contribute to causes we supported, and to me, that is so important in our society, that we find time to give, to help others.  And, on that note, I should go and figure out what pattern I am going to do for the placemats I am making for Meals On Wheels that we have been asked to bring to our guild meeting later this month!