Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Apples, Ducks, and Odd Conversations.

Thanks, everyone, for the much needed dose of perspective the other day - you're right and I've decided to listen to you. :-)

And speaking of thanks, I owe huge thanks to Kristel at Work-in-Progess Girl. One of the great things about joining a bee this year has been getting to know a new bunch of quilters and bloggers. And in leaving comments on some of these fabulous new blogs sometimes leads to secret giveaways.  THIS is what was waiting for me in the mail today.

Love the card!  It had a spoiler warning on it.  All kinds of awesome right there.  The fabric is gorgeous. But then I opened this lovely parcel and here is what was inside:

How cute are these??? Apple potholder hot pads! The details of the leaves and the tiny apple seeds - and all that bias binding perfectly sewn around the edges.  Jaw dropped. Squeals of glee.  Snoopy dance.

They're beautiful - I love them.  I can't thank you enough. :-)


We also have a new neighbour. I noticed her last week when she flew out of the flower beds. I didn't get a good look, just thought "wow, that's a rather large bird, looks like a duck, which is ridiculous, we don't have ducks in our neighbourhood, where's the bird book - what was that?" 

It was followed up by some conversation that included, "It can't have been a foot long, Carly!, it was the size of a duck, what were the tail feathers like, very short tail feathers, Well, I *know* what a magpie looks like, it must have been a grackle, it wasn't a grackle, greyish brown and it had a long beak, it couldn't have been a duck. Right?"

On Sunday, there was Most. Definitely. A duck sitting on the front lawn.  ("Hunh, that's a duck, I told you I thought it was a duck!!, what the heck is a duck doing here?")

She flew away but my father moved a flower pot and discovered a nest up against the house.  She returned a little while later and has been nesting in the flower bed.  I've named her Daphne.  Welcome to the 'hood, hon!

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Sometimes, things go swimmingly.  Your points all match, your sewing machine makes you feel like a rock star, all your tools are enhancements to your work, and your skills grow by leaps and bounds.

Other times, not so much.

In the interest of always keeping things real, I'm sharing some of my recent Not-So-Great Moments in Quilting.

These blocks, for instance.

I signed up for the Lucky Stars BOM at Don't Call Me Betsy and had not yet sewn a stitch. I love the precision and results of foundation paper-piecing. I've done a lot of it and usually get pretty good outcomes... I finally cut out all my fabrics, making sure I had a good mix (it's mostly hoarded Lizzie House, some Rounnieres, and a little bit of Architextures) of values and colour.  I wanted to do the smaller size of blocks because I didn't have a specific project for them and therefore, didn't want to commit scads of fabric to it.  I trim religiously and didn't rush the piecing but seam bulk affected my results.  After a couple of goes with the seam ripper (and its paper-tearing consequences), I called them "close enough" and washed my hands.  These are not perfect but Seester is always telling me to quit picking on my own stuff.  I'm letting these ones go.  I'll try harder with the rest. (It's not the patterns - they're great - this is totally a problem existing between sewing machine and chair...)

Then I was prepping some quilt-as-you-go stuff for  a guild meeting at the end of June.  It was going well, I thought, until I went to put my free-motion/darning foot on the machine.  And that little pin that keeps the foot steady, makes it go up/down, and rests on the needle?  Gone.  Nowhere to be found. And of course, I lent out my spare foot to a guild-mate who'd never tried free-motion. Blast.

I went rummaging.  Paper-clip?  Nope.  Too bendy.

I found a picture-hanging nail!  Much sturdier, with a little stopper, too.  Nope.  Too short to reach the needle bar.

Longer finishing nail.  Perfect length - reaches the needle bar. Sturdy.  Sew, sew, sew, happy as a clam, Ka-chunk.  Why? The nail keeps sliding back through the hole and off the needle bar.

Final solution?

I found a refill eraser for a mechanical pencil. Nail through eraser, through hole, through picture hanger. Worked like a hot damn.  So there's your emergency darning foot fix.  Does in a pinch.

I've since picked up a new spare.  I don't trust that eraser.  Something about its very nature tells me it'll try to undo what I've done... ;-)

Ciao for now!

PS:  I am having a really difficult time with getting my photos to look right ever since Flickr did their update...  Anyone else get it figured out yet?  They just don't seem to show up the right way on the blog, as if the resolution is off.  I tried it using bigger pics, too, but I'm stymied!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Simply Solids Bee - June Blocks

June is my month in the Simply Solids Bee.  I'm fairly excited and hope that my bee mates are game for a challenge and a little creative sewing!

My inspiration for this project is the idea of flowers (and a few stems) going over a waterfall.  That should explain my colour choices!

Bee Mates - here's what I'm asking of you (please don't panic - this is supposed to be fun and different!):

Using the fabrics I'm sending you, please make an improvised abstract block that measures 12.5" x 16.5".  Cut and sew - go crazy! Enjoy the process!

I've sent each of you a fat quarter of a lighter blue, an eighth of a darker blue, a strip of stone, and a square each of flame and mango.  Please leave the squares intact.  The strip you can make whatever length you wish and treat the ends however.  If you find you're running short of the blues, just give me a shout and I'll send you some more. Please return the scraps to me - I'll be needing them to finish the quilt top!

Some of the blues are very close in colour - that's intentional.  I hope it doesn't pigeon-hole your creative juices! Be free with it!
Simpler on the left - fussier on the right.  Whatever you feel like!

Just to give you an idea of how I see this coming together, I pieced a couple of sample blocks and stacked them...
There are four rows and the colours'll bleed from row to row.  I'm excited to see what you all come up with!  Thanks so much. :-)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival Spring 2013: Random Containment

Hello! I'm thrilled to be participating once again in the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side. It's always a good time - plenty of inspiration and meeting new blog friends.  I even found some local quilters through the festival that I hadn't known before so it's definitely a positive event! I expect I'll be tough to drag from the computer as I check out all the fabulous entries...

My entry for Spring 2013:

Name: Random Containment
Finished : ~68"square
Category: Throw quilt

I had done a tutorial on random piecing for the Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild and then wondered what to do with the product.  I ordered up some Kona Ash and decided to let my random pieces all where they may, so to speak.  To give the centre a little something, I improv pieced all the scraps.  The result is that this quilt ended up with less than a full handful of trimmings and scraps leftover! Yay!
(Please forgive the folds - it was a few days before I had photo-worthy light and helpers at the same time!)

I wanted this piece to embrace "modern"as much as possible so I went with very dense quilting using 40w orange thread and  mostly organic straight lines. I figured that the irregularity of the straight-ish lines would add more texture than pin-straight. And I'd be less likely to tear my hair out trying to achieve pin-straight.

The back is pieced entirely with scraps and stash.
Oops!  This was before the label went on...
This quilt was a challenge for me in that I'd never used a contrasting thread colour, done such dense quilting on something so large, or gotten terribly comfortable with purple before it.  I'm quite happy with how it turned out - the texture of the lines, the improv nature of it, and its modern aesthetic.
The early stages...

It's also a challenge to get things done on a deadline when the sun is finally shining and your sewing space is wee.

And just a reminder.... Check the back of your work frequently.  Trust me. Ripping ten 68" lines.... not terribly fun.  Picking up tiny threads from ripping ten 68" lines - even less fun. Thank heavens for lint brushes!

Thanks for stopping by! Thank you, too, to Amy and the wonderful sponsors of this festival.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. :-)

Previous Entries by me:

PS. This is how I baste during playoffs.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Round One: Done.

Oops!  Been awhile, eh?  Well, I doubt you're surprised. After all, I did warn you that playoffs were starting...  (I even skipped a guild meeting to watch the Leafs-Bruins Game 7, which no one saw coming!  No, it didn't go my way but I'm really proud of how they played so I'm looking on the bright side. After all, they got two more games in the win column than the Habs and three more than the Nucks so that's bragging rights. It just hurt that it was the two teams I love most at each others throats. Oh, the agony!)

Anyway, sewing!  There have been a few days where the sewing machine has seen intense use....

I finished our last challenge for the Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild.  We had to draw two crayons sight-unseen from a toque and use only those colours (plus neutrals if we felt like it).  I had yellow and white.  Seester has a yellow living room and a new pillow.
Things learned: 1) Sew and quilt the top BEFORE smocking.  I had wanted to be sure that the smocking would work first but then I had to deal with puckers from hell. 2) Sometimes, that 2" less than the size of your pillow form rule doesn't apply.  Super puffy forms mean that it would have been just fine with an same-sized cover.

I also managed to finish the challenge at the end of the month.  Patti @ retiredtoquilt generously donated a FQ bundle for our members to use making 2 - 12.5" blocks to go into quilts for local babes and kids who need a little extra cheer. Rules:  One block has to use a technique we've discussed at guild, the other is quilter's choice. We can only add coordinating solids or more of the same line.

I chose stacked improv curves in a rail fence-ish setting and surprised myself.  They went together really easily. And curves terrify me.  Hunh.  I also threw together an improv wonky log cabin.  I'm getting very comfortable with improv as I go on.  I think sewing with a toddler on your lap helps you to not overthink things. We had fun with the scraps from this challenge!

For the Simply Solids Bee, Principiessa sent us triangles to randomly create a larger triangle - so fun! - and challenging.  Points, points, points, points....

And the socks I wasn't going to finish during playoffs because they were too complicated? Perfect for clearing things off the PVR. :-)  Misty Alpaca.  Super comfy, but not in dress shoes.
Medallion Lace Socks - pattern found here

I've been working away at other things, too, but my schedule has been crazy so it's spend an hour sewing OR spend an hour reading/blogging. Yeah. When you're battling brain fatigue, sewing it is.

Well, I've got some things to get done and a over-stuffed RSS reader to deal with so I'll talk to you soon!