Friday, February 27, 2015

Pocketful of Sunshine

Great song by Natasha Bedingfield.  Great quilt by moi, if I do say so myself!  Fabulous new-to-us breakfast this morning! 

Allow me to sidetrack you for a moment away from Pocketful of Sunshine with this Bowlful of Goodness.

Bowl on the right: ingredients layered.  Bowl on the left: mixed up and ready to dive into! Yum!

This is my take on "Nutty Oatmeal Bowl", one of several breakfast recipes my husband sent to me last week.  He found it on a cycling site somewhere, he says.  It was fast and easy to put together and so yummy and nutritious!

For each bowl:
1 cup cooked oatmeal
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
about 1 cup fresh (or frozen) berries and/or fruit (I used blueberries and strawberries, but the original recipe said bananas and berries)
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Mix together and eat.  The oatmeal was hot when I mixed it up, and tasted fabulous, but it is still delicious cooled right off (that's, um, what happens when you take foodie-type pics of your breakfast, and then another shot or two of your new quilt).  It's all good though.

So apparently our fence is angled. Who knew.  Makes sense, though, as the land is graded to fall away from the house... This is why the quilt is folded at the left side.

Charm squares.  I love 'em/hate 'em.  Well, hate is too strong, but they frustrate me because I want to use all 5 square inches.  I do not like cutting them down with a 1/2" of waste fabric, or losing lots of yardage in seams. However, having said that, Carrie Nelson does amazing things, albeit 32" square sized quilts on the average, in her Schnibbles quilts.

So last year, after making one of her Schnibbles quilts, Winter Night, I decided to make better use, as in get a larger end result, of my other charm squares pack.  Enter Hidden in Plaid Sight.  This was an original design, simplistic as it may be, but effective, a great quilt on which to practise Angela Walters' Dot to Dot Craftsy class I took right around that time.  I had a few people ask me for the pattern!  So I decided to buy another charm squares pack with some coordinating yardage (cue Fat Quarter Shop) to recreate Hidden in a different colourway and feel.  And write instructions as I went.  And yes, big breath, I should have the pattern ready for sale in my soon-to-be Craftsy shop, and perhaps on payhip too, for all the quilters overseas clamouring (lol) to get their hands on the pattern.

Update: the pattern is now available for just $6CA in my Etsy shop.

So a few details.  This rendition I called Pocketful of Sunshine. The quilt just named itself when I started layering it to begin quilting it.  That yellow ray shining diagonally across the the quilt is what did it.  And here is where serendipity kicked in.  On my original quilting ideas sketch, I had the "rays" of one of Angela's dot to dot designs going in an upwards direction from the bottom right to the top left.

Started quilting, and after the second or third, took the quilt out from the machine, laid it on the floor and GASP!  They were going in the wrong direction.  Check the quilt-on-a-fence photo and the one below.

After talking myself out of the idea of flinging myself or the quilt under a bus (none of them go down our street anyhow) I took stock and thought, you know...the rays of the sun shine down... and voilà, I like it just fine "upside down".

Isn't that sort of flower, sort of pebbles-pow cluster-thingie the coolest?
Here is one on grey, with the threads I used, all of which worked wonderfully.  Then again, that's a Bernina for ya!
And here is the back view of another:

Sadly, I only did the two, because they just don't show up very well on patterned fabric.  I will file that design away for another quilt!  It's in Leah Day's From Feathers to Flames book.

Speaking of the back, here it is.  I was pretty ecstatic when it came; one never can be 100% sure when ordering online.  It is an absolutely perfect fit - I even used two squares of it on the front- with Sphere, and it is not even a Moda fabric!  I like how the different-coloured bobbin threads pop here and there on the back. I match the bobbin to the top for the most part when I FMQ.

Made my own label again, from leftovers.  This is about as improv as I've gotten in over a decade.  It was kinda fun!

Those of you who have followed me for a while will know this is my preferred method of applying a label, to actually piece it into the backing, making the label an integral part of the quilt backing, and quilting over it.  Makes it pretty much impossible to remove as not only would all the quilting stitches have to be ripped out; there would also be a "hole" when the fabric is removed, and you would expose the batting.  Yep, that's about it for scraps left over from this quilt, except for a small strip of the border fabric.  This pattern makes very good use of your fabric!

This pattern is just great for quilting on a domestic, as well as for trying out all kinds of motifs, be they Angela's, Leah's, or your own!  I mainly used Leah's designs here: swirls with pebbles, pea gravel, angles and circles, the pebble-centred star-bursty flower, and her bubble wand in the outer border.

Love, love how that design turned out!  THEN, in Angela's Free Motion Quilting book, I read where she advises to look at the motifs in the fabric and quilt them.  Epiphany.  This "Sphere" fabric has a plethora of shapes for doing just that! Look at the top grey square in the photo above!  The wavy lines in the grey square in the second row!  Coolio!  I ended up using several of the patterns in the fabric to quilt.  I did figure eights on the white sashing bars,and two long straight lines (enter walking foot) with circles in between (reenter FMQ foot) in the teal horizontal sashing.

Awesome texture.
Happy quilt
I would never have chosen such a bright yellow, but this is where charm square packs can push you a little outside of your comfort zone.  I just love everything about this quilt, and I'm okay with saying that, from the fabric, to the colours, to the layout to the batting.  I'm a Warm 'n Natural lover, but this one is a very very close second.  Even with heavy quilting, I think it stays softer than the Warm.

I can see why Bella wants to snuggle in it!
Quilt Stats
Name: Pocketful of Sunshine
Size: 48" square (she shrunk 1.5" through quilting and then washing!)
Pattern: original design by moi
Fabric: Sphere by Zen Chic for Moda; backing is Pimatex Basics by Robert Kaufman
Batting: Pellon Nature's Touch 100% cotton (really like the drape and the softness even after all the quilting I did)
Threads: ditch-stitched mainly with Aurifil 2625 and also with Mettler white; quilted with Sulky rayon in off-white and Isacord in 4230 and 4421.

Update:  (I made a note to include this in the post, and well, shocker, I forgot until just now when straightening up my sewing area, I found my little book.)
For those of you who like this quilty kind of stuff (I know I sure do) I also noted that I used 6 bobbins of thread to quilt this baby, and that one row of circles inside the lines on the tea sashing took me on average 10 minutes to do.  Also, this was the first quilt where I buried my threads for most of the white bars sashing quilting.  And I survived.  I thought it would be a huge PITA but it wasn't. At all.  I need to find better self-threading needles though, as these did not impress me.  At all.  Anyone have a fave to recommend?

Linking up with TGIFF over at Persimon Dreams today, and Confessions of A Fabric Addict. This is also another one of the projects on my list for the 2015 Finish Along First Quarter, as well as a personal goal.....Next!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WIP Wednesday Spiraling Along

Still working on the current WIP, but I'm at the final borders stage.  Circles are hard to quilt, unless they are inside lines!  Mine come out often looking squashed, square-ish, egg-shaped, and sometimes round.  Sigh.  Of course it's a tad more difficult when you are fighting off a "OMG I'm in LOVE with this new quilt, Sandra" cat named Bella:

Altogether I removed her no less than four, or was it five freaking times from this most favoured spot of hers!  She loved that I'd left the removable "free arm" part of my machine right there for her leaning pleasure.  She loves to have one arm and shoulder leaning on something.  I even moved her faux sheepskin pouffé (cushion) she loves, from the floor to the right of the sewing machine with new-to-us fabric under and beside.  She, like me, has a thing, a very sensual thing, for new fabric.  She wasn't having it.

I wish I could add sound here, she was purring like a Mack truck, kneading the fold under her 3, yes 3, there's a back one in on the action, on top of the front two, paws!
After I took this pic, I scooped her again, and got bitten!  Yes! And mrreee-OWED at.  She stomped, as only a cat can do, bottle-brush tail spiked out in indignation, out of the sewing room and didn't come back.

So here is where I'm at! Having so much fun with FMQ.
Angela Walters' dot to dot design in the yellow (without a ruler, not bad!), spirals and pebbles in the aqua, and Leah Day's Angles and Circles design in the squares.  All free-motion quilted on my Bernina.

A peek at the back.  In the top right you will see Leah's Pea Gravel Path design.  It shows up much better on the back, so I only did the one. Most of these here are simply quilting around the designs in the fabric.  Fun!
This is another of Leah's, from her From Feather to Flames book, a cluster of pebbles "flower".

I've used more than 5 bobbins of thread so far, with the final border in progress now. The quilt is only about 49" square.

In other news...

The pattern said you might have to rip back the first glove a few rows, omit a couple in the hand section to have enough to complete the second glove...sigh.  At this rate the winter will be over by the time they are sent!

Linking up with Freshly Pieced and Let's Bee Social.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Stash Share

Another first for me.  I see bloggers doing this, but I never seem to have my stash additions timed quite right.  In the absence of any quilty pics (but some stuff has been going on this past week), I can actually participate in this activity today!  Glad I can do it on the right day; we have been without Internet for nearly 3 days.  The tech said it might have been a power surge that affected the outside box, but he also replaced our router with the new and improved (faster, and better range, and best of all, no charge) version.  I need a whoop, whoop! there for sure.  May I just say it was revealing (not that I ever doubted it) how much time the cyber-vortex sucks from my day.  Yet so much good does come of this fabulous Internet, as we all do know.  Okay, onto some good right here, right now.

John loved his quilt
We had a great day on Tuesday, humans and doggies.

My shirt is not straight, my shirt is not straight; ya I'm obsessing
 I said Brandy is allowed on his quilt; he said only on the houndstooth (back) side!

Yesterday we went to Panera (as if we needed an excuse) to get some java/tea/scones (orange-to die for)/wifi yesterday afternoon, and also to get some thread at Expert Sewing Center (online store is Sewing Supply Warehouse, great selection of and pricing on threads, not affiliated, but love them) for the current quilt.  At the register, with a mere 10 minutes left before they closed, I found out that she was giving me their special: 30% off my entire purchase from the Punta Gorda show this past weekend (that I FORGOT about, I cannot believe this still).  Instant hotflash of oh-no-I-want-to-take-advantage-of-this-what-do-I-BUY-but-husband-is-in-the-car-outside-waiting("I'm just getting thread" famous last words)-and-it's-hot-outside-aaaaah feeling.  Sigh.  Big one.  Especially when the clerk said, "Do you want to go and shop some more?" (clearly making up for her dismissive tone with me earlier when I said I wanted Isacord thread and she'd said, "But that's for machine embroidery").  However, with an oh my god I don't believe I'm doing this shaking voice, I asked if they were doing the same thing for the Sarasota show in two weeks.  She imagines so.  Phew!  Time to scheme plan an intelligent (okay who am I kidding, burst of what-the-hell) use of my funds for then! So I kept exactly what I was buying on the counter, paid, and with a "Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $50" march in my step, left the store.  Still having withdrawal from that missed opportunity.

Hmm, 3 or maybe 4 different projects in mind for these, but I'm liking the way they all play together right here! Who knew.
1/3 (why? I do not know!) yard of an ivory batik for a design that is still residing in my head, but wants desperately to come to fruition; 1/4 yard black (isn't this fabulous?) Michele D'Amore Designs (hey! same designer as my new bag fabric) Benartex for um, the Bento Box quilt (I probably have enough blacks and whites for 2 now, lol); 1/2 yard of the Diane Phalen P&B Textiles green just because I loved it, and it was on their $5.99 rack, bought not yesterday but when I got the dark green for the border of John's quilt. The pink is Dottie by Moda, 1/4 yard.  I have long admired Rita of Red Pepper Quilt's quilts of many many squares, and when I saw Lorna's rendition this past week, well, 'nuff said.

Bought at Alma Sue's Quilts about a month ago.  Bento Box, right?!  Besides, it's French!
Those of you who entered my giveaway a week or so ago know that these 5 pieces were the first prize, 5 fat quarters.  I actually bought 5 1/2 yard pieces and cut them in half...give something you yourself would love, right?!
These are from Jennifer Sampou's Black & White collection.  Not sure if a Bento Box quilt is where they will end up, but I had to have some.

So there you have it.  This Bento Box quilt is long overdue, I'm thinking.  Might have to make it a March goal...I'm doing pretty good on the finish goals so far this year!

Sneak peek of what's going to be revealed on the blog this week: (eek!)
Ya, that's Rocco, his version of pattern-testing for me.

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Molli Sparkles, (it's my first time; be gentle) for his Sunday Stash Share.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Welcome to my 200th post!  Cue choir singing, and trumpets ... well, trumpeting.  Two hundred mini-essays, complete with photos, since September 2013.  Who'd have thunk it? Although I don't have that many followers, really, it's a WHOLE lot more than for the first 6 months when I had hmm, 3? My daughter, my sister and my mum...oh wait and one of my aunts.  I think so many of us start off blogging for two main reasons:  first, to share what we are up to with our loved ones, especially if they live far away, and second, to keep track of what we accomplish.  I know this is true for me.  However, it has become so much more to me.  I have made some very good friends, kindred spirits really, learned way more than I EVER expected to learn (and me a longtime quilter, but then I consider myself a lifelong learner.  Period.)  Quilting blogland has become everything that the guild to which I used to belong when we lived in Alberta was.  Thank you to all those who have read my little (and not so little, ha) posts, given me so much positive feedback, and shared, connected with me on so many levels and topics.  And thank you to my sister, Linda, and my daughter, Dayna, for so much support on this venture.  All right.  On with the show.

I am starting off with a dish!  I made this for the first time last winter when we were in Florida, and I made it a couple of nights ago.  Why am I not making this more often?? Like once a month!

This is Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry with Spinach.  Yup it's a mouthful.  In more ways than one. Ha!  You will find the recipe if you click the Food! Glorious Food! tab up top.  I've been remiss of late in sharing some of the dishes we eat...maybe because we haven't been eating anything spectacular?  Hmm, should work on that.  Let me just say that the curry was divine.

The second topic for this post is my finish, another on my list for the 2015 Finish Along.  This is Shamrock.  I'm mixing metaphors, make that occasions, with this giveaway so close to Valentine's Day, during February, which is Random Acts of Kindness month, and adding a pinch of the luck of the Irish for the draw.

This quilt is going to our dear friend John, Brandy's human.  John is a bit of a dog whisperer himself.  He, along with his beautiful lion-eyed girl, Brandy, are a huge part of our lives here in Florida.

Yes, Rocco is wearing Brandy's Christmas collar! We forgot his at home that day.
Both he and Brandy helped our Rottweiler, Naala, come out of her shell and trust people and other dogs.  Our fault, all of it, for not socializing her enough during her crucial first few years.  We lived in the boonies then.  Still.  John is the youngest 75-year-young man we know.  My husband always says, it's not how old you are, but how you are old.  We both agree we want to grow up to be like John. (wry grin - where's emoji when you need it?)

We met John and Brandy two years ago.  They, like us, winter at the condos where we used to live.  Even though we are now 45 minutes apart, we still get together twice a week to walk the dogs together, and to visit.  It's as good for the dogs as it is for the humans.

At The Celery Fields Park, last week
John is Irish, and proud of his roots.  I am proud of this quilt, which is my own design, and another scrap quilt.  I love scrap quilts.  I included a few nods to the Irish:   I used a lot of green, also his favourite colour; the pattern itself is Irish chain; I quilted a Celtic style chain in the outer border; and I quilted a shamrock in the lower right 9-patch.

I wanted a masculine feel to the quilt, and I think I've succeeded.  John appreciates colour combinations; he commented on how vibrant the colours were in my Over and Under quilt last year.  Many of the fabrics are symbolic.  The green forest you see in the above picture is a nod to the Catskills, where John lives the other half of the year.  There is a rusty red-brown within the red 9-patch blocks, a symbol of his beloved Brandy.  The backing is houndstooth print, (get it?) in green. There is a blue with apples on it, for me, a teacher, and a few of the blues and one of the reds have snowflakes on them, for us northerners.  The ivory sashing fabric is a sand and sea themed fabric, symbolic of our meeting in Florida, and his love of this state.

Most of this quilt was done with a walking foot, rather unusual for me, but it just evolved this way.  I did three different designs in the sashings, a leaf FMQ design in the green 9-patches that form the Irish-chain, and a "groovy look" design of Angela Walters, her words, from her book, Shape by Shape in the coloured 9-patch squares.

I will update this post with more pics once the quilt is washed and blocked.  I inadvertently scheduled this post and giveaway for a crazy couple of days, the Friday of which we are away for 12 hours!  Doh!  I am anxious to see what it looks like after washing, as this is the first time I've used Quilter's Dream Wool.

And so now we come to the giveaway!  Fat Quarter Shop came through with the parcel arriving Thursday, perfect timing for some pics.  I have two items to give away in celebration of this milestone, and appreciation for all my followers.

First is this set of 5 fat quarters of Jennifer Sampou's latest line, Black & White.  I entered her giveaway and admired the creations of the designers in her blog hop, and so hoped I'd win, as it is just gorgeous fabric.  Sadly, I didn't.  But that is when I thought, THAT is what I will give away!

Second is a charm square pack of this pretty fabric, Castlewood, by Jan Patek, for Moda.  I just love Moda fabrics, so I had to give something of theirs.

How do you enter?  It's easy peasy.  All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me how you follow me, if you do(!), and tell me your favourite sweet treat on Valentine's Day!  I will draw two random numbers from the comments, (numbering them in order), on Monday and post the winners on this post, as well as notify them by email.  You don't have to be a blogger to enter, but be sure to leave me your email.  Be sure you are not a no-reply blogger!

Linking up with TGIFF at Quilt Matters as well as with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Oh Scrap! and WIPs Be Gone (see buttons on side bar).

And the winners are:

Nancy from Pug Mom Quilts! Congrats.  Nancy and I "met" over zippers and makeup/etc. pouches.  She has a great tutorial that shows how to shorten a zipper by adding great zipper tabs here.  Hope this will help chase the mountains of snow blues away.


Cheryl was #20.  I had an entrant by email, whose comment kept disappearing into cyberspace...she was #13, so everyone after the 12th comment you see on the post is bumped ahead one number.
Cheryl's blog is Meadow Mist Designs.

Thanks everyone for entering my first giveaway; maybe I'll have a few more entrants for the next milestone!
Washed, blocked and ready to rock to its new home.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I've been steadily stitching in my corner of this beautiful planet...a planet that we are destroying.  Destroying with our greed, our disregard for Nature, our thirst for power, our desire that ALL MUST BE THE SAME.  As quilters, we celebrate creativity. Yes, we like to copy; who amongst us has not seen a quilt and bought the fabric to make one just like it?

I am feeling so sad this week, a week where countries are increasing their involvement in wars, plural, a week where a young aid worker was killed, and a week that today has seen three young people, kids, really, all members of one family, gunned down for, as yet, no reason, other than the obvious.  My uncle has a blog where he shares his poetry.  He is a very talented writer and musician; for those of you Coronation Street fans, he has written the script for a couple of episodes.  Here is a link to his latest poem, a very powerful one, à propos for events of late.

But off my soapbox, and on to the topic of this post.  I've got three things on the go at the moment.  First is the quilt that needs to be done by early next week!  Quilting is progressing albeit slowly, with a couple of ripping out incidents.  Let's just say my serpentine flow, à la Angela Walters' Shape By Shape book looked more like drunken worms, and the first ribbon candy attempt was much too big of a space.  Here it is from yesterday:

Mostly straight line quilting, so I'm using my walking foot a lot.  With all the cornerstones, it's a bit of a pain as I'm having to do a lot of travel stitching as I go from one sashing to the next. I like the ribbon candy scaled down and framed.

I did another motif from Shape By Shape in the coloured 9-patch squares
There are 60 ivory sashing pieces, 20 of which I treated like an inner frame.  These have the 4 lines of quilting that you see in the above picture.  The horizontal 20 now have the framed ribbon candy, and so I just have the 20 vertical pieces which I'm working on, and then the final dark green border where I plan to do a Celtic design.  Aiming to have a finish for Friday!

I ordered some yarn, Karabella Aurora Merino, from Got Yarn! in late December to make fingerless gloves for my daughters.  Although I have knit on 4 needles before, I have never made gloves.  I haven't done cable stitch, nor have I done a picot cast off.  So two new techniques for me.  Here is one done.

There's been some ripping in getting to this point and there very might well be some more, which is why I'm not doing the thumb gusset yet.  See the black yarn holding those stitches together?  This will be yet another new technique for me, making a thumb hole.  I'm starting the second glove from the other end of the ball and will rip back the first glove a couple of rows if need be.  The pattern says you will use every bit of the one ball.

The third WIP is one of my projects from my first quarter list for the 2015 Finish Along.  So far I have just played with layout on the design wall, settling on this one:

And then started to "blow it apart", a highly technical quilt term, to get to my final design.

And just to end on a happy note, since I do have a pretty good sense of humour, aided, as usual, by my fur kids.  This is partly why the quilt is taking a bit longer, (well, that's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it):
Funny, the only evidence that this is MY sewing room is the ironing board!
Took a break to do some much-needed yoga, spread out my mat, turned back to my desk to get the iPad set up for music, turned back to see this! btw, great quilting filler design on that mat! Did not buy it for that reason, as the purchase was pre-Leah Day and pre-Angela Walters!

As those of you who have been reading this blog for a bit know, Bella HAS to get some fur on every new quilt, every new piece of fabric that comes into my/her (our?) sewing room.  She's been quite insistent with her involvement with this latest quilt, to the point where even when I'm trying to quilt it, she badly wants to be ON it.  Maybe she loves the wool batting? I photographed the stages she went through to find the perfect spot the other night: 
Hmm, not quite comfy...
Ah yes, under is better...

How about a bit of under and a bit of on?
I did not touch her or the quilt once during this process.  Much to her chagrin, her success was short-lived; I moved her right after I took this!

And then how can I not take a break and have a love-sesh with him when I look over and this is what I see?!!
Like come on!  What 5 1/2 year old dog lies like this?!  Cuteness personified.
And if you've stayed with me thus far, I have a little announcement.  Thanks to Lara at Buzzin' Bumble, (you need to check out her elephant parade flimsy here) who noted the auspicious number of posts I am approaching, I realized I am headed for a "milestone" of sorts.  This is post #199.  Do the math on the sidebar if you want to know how I figured that out!  My planned finish on Friday post will be my 200th, egad, that's in not quite 1 1/2 years of this blog's existence.  Therefore, I will be doing a giveaway.  Or maybe two.  Hope the Fat Quarter Shop delivers in time.  From my previous experience that will not be a problem.  So remember to come back!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.