Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday Stretch For Sewists #14 Dragon

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

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

Dragon Pose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.  The little button basket:

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

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

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

Autumn Abundance Blog Hop - Windfall

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

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

Strong and Free

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

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

And during quilting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linking up with
Cooking Up Quilts
Sew Fresh Quilts

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Blue and White Antique Quilt

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

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

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

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

I just love the scalloped edge.

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

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

There are wreaths in the large white areas...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Q4 FAL List

First of all, how did I do from Q3?
The first goal was finishing Dayna's grad quilt.  Done!

The second was finishing the Rainbow Rose QAL which I named Rainbow Kitty Rows.  Done!

Third was a half hexagon quilt which I called Fall Resplendence.  Done!
Fourth was making a walleye potholder/hot mat/mini quilt for MacGyver.  Done!

The next five did not happen.
4/9 is not so good.  However I am still very very pleased with these four.  Let's not forget I finished my mini round robin which wasn't on the list, although it was on OMG for September.  I finished it Oct 1 LOL.  I also made a few little fabric baskets, another rounded edge bag, a mini, and two pairs of pj bottoms.


Here is what I hope to accomplish by the end of 2016!
1.  A secret project for a blog hop sponsored by Paintbrush Studio.
2.  A second small giveaway project with the above fabric leftovers.

3.  Radiance

4. Midnight Mystery - the top is done and I have the backing; just need to throw it on Avril and quilt it up fast.

5.  This other secret project

And I will stop there.  I know!  I always have 8-10 items (in reality there's about 20 probably; who am I kidding).  This next one is not going to count, as in order to qualify for the prizes, the item has to be a finished, usable project.

Finish the flimsy by the end of 2016 for the Cows quilt, but this one won't count for the Q4 FAL.
Ten done! An eleventh is 3/4 done! Getting close...
Linking up with
She Can Quilt for the Q4 FAL

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Quilt Bloggers' International Retreat

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen photos of the glorious fun-, friends- and fabrication-filled three days I had recently.  You've probably read posts from some of the other bloggers who gathered at Julie's.  I haven't read any of their posts yet; I wanted my take on the retreat to be authentic and mine, you know?  So if I'm repeating stuff you've already seen and read about, this would be why.  Notice I make no apologies!  Nor do I for the many photos. I'm still soaking it all in.

You may recall from this post, this post, and this post, that I'd been down to visit Julie last summer. I was so excited to be going back!
So you see where I live in relation to Julie, about 300 km (185 miles) south of me as the crow flies.  We didn't take the ferry across Lake Erie, but drove around the west end of the lake and on down, about 4.5-5 hours.

After a frenzy of hugging on Thursday, (Tish and I were finally together in person! Not on a stick! Not on FaceTime! And I'm taller than her!!! That happens but rarely, as I'm vertically challenged at just 5'2") we visited, set up, sewed for a while...

and then headed out to share a meal together at a local Mexican restaurant:
Everyone agreed it was the best Mexican food they'd ever tasted.

The next day we hit the road bright and early, heading into Amish Country.  Julie lives just a short distance away.  It's like stepping back into the 1940s or 50s.  It was a glorious morning, temps headed once again to 80!
Clockwise from top left: selfie :-); Quilt shop #1 Somewhere Sewing; Inside view of oh, maybe one quarter of the shop (and they're expanding); the group, and our purchases
Somewhere Sewing is located in Millersburg.  Their prices are excellent (especially by Canuck standards) and they have a very good sales section ($6/yard).  We helped make room on the shelves for more bolts of new fabric.  My MacGyver had come along and spent an interesting many minutes chatting with one of the owners about all things from the Amish to the quilt shop business.  They are expanding in two directions for classroom area and for sewing machines.  They do 50% of their business online.

From there we drove to Berlin (say that BER-len, not the German way, Ber-LIN) to hit Zinck's Fabric Outlet before lunch (and we went back after lunch, just so you know, because it is that big and that good).  This was almost tied in my "I cannot WAIT" anticipatory feelings with Millers and Zinck's:  Boyd and Wurthmann for lunch!!  You need to be there early, like 11:30, or you will be standing in a long line waiting to get in.  If you go, and you do see a long line, do not walk away; it is 'Wurth' (ha, that just came to me) every minute waiting.  I had what I had last time, grilled Swiss cheese with fries.  I chose not to have pie this time (but why didn't I buy a couple of pieces to bring home??) but shared a piece of Turtle Cheesecake with MacGyver (all food is homemade from scratch, and from local ingredients).  'Wurth' every calorie, yes indeed.
Inside Zinck's, that is just part of one wall of the quilting section; the regular pies you can get at B&W, and yep there are daily specials too besides all those; a shot of my cheesecake, shoot, after I'd scraped off the whipped cream for MacGyver. Don't spoil a good cheesecake with whipped cream, never liked it never will.  The cheesecake?  A slice of heaven.
After we rolled (literally) out of the restaurant, with our bellies a little heavier in an oh-so-good way, and our wallets not a lot lighter in an also oh-so-good-take-me-back-there-anytime way, we went back to Zinck's.  I took a browse through some other areas of the store, specifically the flannels, and found a beautiful bolt of baby blue flannel which I will put on the back of my Meadow Mystery quilt!  Four yards and $20 later (I know!!) I was a happy camper.  I may have found a few more quilting fabrics to go with the flannel; as Tish says, didn't want it to be lonely.  Several of us picked up a 10-yard roll of polyester batting.  Guess how much....
Yup.  For the entire roll!  It will be great in charity quilts and I might be using it when I quilt up last year's Midnight Mystery as I already used it in another quilt, and am very impressed with how it quilted up.

Julie is an amazing enabler.  I did not mind letting my wallet get lighter; she can point a person in the right directions to savings upon savings.  And we're talking quality name brands and great designers.

Next stop was Charm.  And charming town it is, with my favourite quilt store in the world, Millers' Dry Goods.  You may recall the story I told last year of telling Julie how I see so many Amish people in a certain area of Sarasota, and many of them handquilting in a favourite shop down there, Alma Sue's Quilts, and how one lady who works there cutting fabric, Mary, is just the sweetest and is from somewhere in Ohio...and my utter SHOCK when I walked into Millers' and who is standing there, but Mary!  Totally unfazed by the coincidence, she said, "Oh yes, we get a lot of Canadians here in Charm and also down in Sarasota."  Well I got to hug her with my eyes and chat for a while with her on this trip too.  It was Charm Days so the entire store, ENTIRE STORE was 20% off.  Including the sale section.  Be still my pounding heart.  It's a good thing I did not know that until I was at the checkout, or I'd be there still.  And I'd have had a prolonged hotflash contemplating all the fabric that could be mine for oh, the likes of $4.80 and $4/yard after the 20% discount...No lie!!! I'm getting another hotflash just thinking of all the fibres I left behind to languish in that basement, LOL.

From Charm we headed to Fence Row Antiques in New Bedford, across country, along winding and hilly roads, with just incredible scenery.  Our brains were already full to the brim, and I know Tish and I were like, man I am toast! Let's go back and pet fabric and just sew...but wait, I am SO GLAD we had Julie as our intrepid and capable host...

Here we pulled into a farm.  Several outbuildings greeted us as we drove up and down the meandering lane to the former garage that is home now to a treasure trove of antiques.  Theresa, the owner, served us home-pressed apple cider from homegrown apples, the likes of which I have never tasted before, nor probably ever will, like a bite of crisp, warm from the sunshine apple.  She also served us homemade melt in your mouth, no lie, peanut butter cookies (to die for) and brownies (I could not even take one bite of one I was that full).  MacGyver and I at first got our dog fix before all that with her two sweet girls, Norwegian Elkhounds.  We have had two in our dog history, both German Shepherd/Norwegian Elkhound crosses, Duke and Sasha.  Sasha was our dog before Naala and Rocco.  We lost her in 2007 at the ripe old age of 13.  Guess what these two darlings' names are?  Sophie and.... Sasha!

I found not one but two antique quilts that came home with me.
Isn't that a great seasonal display Julie made just outside the building where we sewed?
This baby quilt, hand-embroidered and handquilted with exquisitely tiny stitches was one.  A queen size one was the other:
fittingly photographed by Julie's antique gas pump
How about a closer look at the quilt?  Though not as tiny stitches as in the baby quilt, it is nonetheless beautifully handquilted too.
This is a block I have never seen before; I will be posting more about this quilt in the near future.

Theresa's prices are extremely reasonable.  She sells antique fabrics by the package as well for anywhere from 50c to maximum $3.  She also has antique quilt blocks and many, many, many more items as you can see in the one photo.  MacGyver wanted to buy the garage that all the stuff was in! He was in love with the old building.  I was in love with her counter where you paid, made from an old door and fireplace mantle posts from a house (in her husband's family I believe, maybe his grandmother's?) that was built in 1840-something.  It's the first photo in the collage above.

From there we headed cross-country (two bridges are under repair in the area which is why) to Raven's Glenn Winery for dinner.  MacGyver and I, and I think I can speak for Tish and Dave who carpooled with us, are so very glad those bridges are out, as we just loved going the back way and seeing so much of the land that is off the beaten path of major highways.
The setting sun made for a spectacular view as we dined.  We had wonderful food, and a wonderful waitress, who bestowed upon each of us a free wine glass, thanks to Dave asking to buy just one.  Not do a tasting, nope, he'd enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon (and I concur; it was fabulous) and just wanted to buy one glass as a souvenir.  Didn't she come back after saying, "I'll see what I can do," with one for each of us!!

The third and final day was spent sewing, visiting, sharing ideas and tips and tricks, and discussing our blogs over a potluck lunch:  to die for chili made by Julie, homemade bread and fudge to die for made by one of her daughters, and various other shared items to sample.
We made a group quilt, something I hope we do each year from now on (yes! I want this to be the first annual event).
And took a final group photo or two:

Dave, Terry, Jennifer, Tish, Julie, me and Beth

More hugs.  It's hard to be really quite close, yet too far to just pop in.  Each of us drove from 2 to 5 hours to get there, so not bad at all, really.  So many messages have flown back and forth across the pixel-airwaves, saying, "I miss you"...  Julie was an incredible host: able, cheery and peppy, and so much fun, (Energizer Bunny extraordinaire!), organized, had thought of simply everything, kept us happily occupied with not a moment of 'now what' time, promoted her area so well and so obviously from the heart that we all were, ha, pun intended, charmed by the entire three days.  Thank you, Julie, from the bottom of my heart.

She and Beth had the idea to have a goody bag for each of us.  We each brought a little something to put in the bags.  Beth made them and oh! it was hard to choose, as all were so pretty.  Here's what was inside:

So what bloggers went?
In alphabetical order:
Terry of Terry Ann Hartzell - Insights
Jennifer of The Inquiring Quilter
Beth of Cooking Up Quilts
David of Dave the Quilt Engineer
Tish of Tish's Adventures in Wonderland
Julie of Pink Doxies
and me
Each of the links will take you directly to the post on the retreat that blogger wrote, if it has been published.

Driving home...until next year...  There will be another!  Stay tuned.
A typical road scene
Linking up with
Cooking Up Quilts (hey!! my mini round robin got featured!  Pshaw!)
Free Motion by the River (Well, another hey!!!  I got featured!  Well Walter 2 did!  Cool!)
Sew Fresh Quilts