Sunday, December 21, 2014


My busyness last week came back to bite me this week, as Wednesday in the wee hours I was stricken with a cold -- the coughing, sneezing, barking kind.  I rested much of Wednesday in bed, but had enough presence of mind to knit in between naps, and thus got a good handle on the last of the Christmas knitting.

Thursday I managed to work in The Shop...and finish a Christmas Cowl.

Friday...trying to conserve energy, I nonetheless managed lunch (soup) with a friend (her treat; we even drove to the Whistle Stop, which is usually an easy walk)...and following  lunch my afternoon nap, I got some sewing done.

One project finished:

The Annual Christmas Boxer Shorts

Another underway

Yesterday...another friend, another soup lunch...and back for more napping and knitting.  The first sock of the Second Wild Pair is now finished, and the second is cast on...

Yarn: ONline Supersock 4-fache Neon-Color
Colour #01717

The "other sewing project" was completed...

And last night I even had enough energy to print off Clue 4 of the Grand Illusion Mystery, and to make a start at the units for Clue 3:

Stack of 10 units, and more strips ready to go

More knitting.

More napping.

And a bit of a tour around Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday to see what others are up to while I count down to Christmas...

While over all, Miss Pookie supervises...

What?  You mean you're gonna use this fabric?

Monday, December 15, 2014

And Sew It Goes

It's a challenge to post even weekly these days, as I am in the thick of Christmas prep.  I have lots to share.

First up, speaking of sharing... My husband's cousin Larry and his family own a wholesale drapery and upholstery business, supplying fabrics for interior design.  When I was in Vancouver in October for the needle-felting workshop, I stayed with Larry and his wife, Miri, at their lovely home, and we got to talking about my work.  Larry offered to send me a box of remnants from their Vancouver warehouse.  Last week they arrived.  What treasures!  I've only had a quick look through them, but they are mainly drapery materials in a variety of prints and patterns.  I'm thinking of passing along Larry's generosity when I have my Blog Anniversary in stay tuned!

The box, just opened.  Wow!

Look at that great reversible pattern!
Chanelling Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Luscious for landscapes!
I'm not too sure about these...

I didn't have time to dwell on the fabric treats, though; I had to get back to the sewdio!

I'm making headway on Bonnie Hunter's current mystery, Grand Illusion, and will finish the last stack of Clue #2 units today.   
THESE (below)

have become these...

That tub (above photo) is now almost full, with the goal being five stacks of ten pair of rectangles, each pair making a 4 1/2"-square unit.  Only 5 units left to piece and I can move on to Clue #3.

In other quilting...some years ago I made a top from a Thimbleberries block of the month project designed to create two throw quilts -- "Sunrise" (6 months of blocks) and "Sunset" (another 6 months of blocks).  "Some" years ago?  I just checked the pattern and the set was published in 2005!  

Anyway, I put the "Sunrise" top together at a quilt retreat in December 2008...and did nothing with it.  A few years later I sandwiched it, the idea being I would try to quilt it by hand.  I tried doing so in a small frame I had at the time -- didn't like it.  Sold the frame.  Tried a hoop.  Didn't like it.  

You see, I'm a long-time embroiderer, and find the rocking motion of hand quilting very difficult.  I also don't like to wear thimbles.  I put up with gloves when I am free-motion quilting but get them off as quickly as I can.  I seem to need to feel the fabric, and to control the piece on which I'm working by having it close to me.

This year, because my neighbours J & E are so kind to me, I dug out the top and decided to machine quilt it for them for Christmas (it was already heavily pin-basted from my earlier attempts).  I procrastinated, finding even it's relatively small size hard to manipulate (62" x 76" is BIG for me!)  

Trying my hand...
This past week, inspired once again by the hand-quilting practice of Joe Cunningham, I decided to try again to hand quilt it.  I am doing it in my lap, no hoop, no frame.  I've managed to develop a quasi-rocking movement and can put up to 5 small (but not infinitesimally tiny) stitches on the needle at a time.  I have either Craft in America or my Craftsy class with Joe or classical music on in the background, and away I go.  I likely won't be finished it for Christmas but there will be enough of it done to show them, and as E doesn't do this sort of handwork (I don't think she does any handwork to speak of), I'm not worried about criticism!  ;-)

The Annual Christmas Boxer Shorts are almost finished...

And the knitting, too...the latest being a slouchy hat and button-up "scarflet" for my sister, in the mail today:

Yarn: Diamond Luxury Gemstone in 'Onyx'
Pattern: "Veronica Slouch" by Brenda K.B. Anderson
Buttons: a thrift store find!

Still a pair of socks on the needles, and a cowl...and another scarf to sew up ends what am I doing still sitting at the computer?

Time to link up to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday (okay; so I'm a bit late!) and the Monday Linky Party for Part 3 of the Grand Illusion Mystery...and get back into that sewdio!

Have a great week, everyone -- and a special Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish readers...their Festival of Lights begins tomorrow evening.  Blessings, all!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Off My Wall...and a Bit Outside My Box

I've been lovin' my sewdio these days.  Sometimes I even knit in there!  My laptop has practically taken up permanent residence on the end of my sewing table, as I've been watching online programs as I stitch.

While working on Grand Illusion, I've caught up with several missed Quilt Cam episodes (I subscribe on You Tube)...and I cut out the latest pieces for Clue #2 while I watched my newest Craftsy class ("Pattern-free Quilt-making" with Joe Cunningham, aka, Joe the Quilter.)

Yep; I succumbed to "Cyber-Monday Madness".  This one has been on my wish list since I saw the teacher on The Quilt Show (Episode #1)...watched over and over, and on an installment of Craft in America (Episode 12: "Industry").

This weekend I got all the pieces cut out for Clue #2.  I'm making this quilt 1/2-size, so I need to make 100 units.  I don't own the special ruler (yet) and don't like working with templates, so I am using Bonnie's suggested method #3 -- using rectangles and squares.  I know there will be lots of miscellaneous triangle bits left over from trimming up the units but I have a sack for those and someday they will have their own time in the quilting spotlight.  :-)

Ten sets of ten pieces of three fabrics :-)

Once that cutting was done, I got going on a Christmas stocking.  I've only ever made two quilted stockings in my life -- the one I just finished, and one made a few years ago.  The latest one is for a newborn, the second son of friends of my daughter.  The first one was for his big brother!

I took the ideas for the stocking from these sources:

  • Pattern: traced from my son's commercially made stocking;
  • Fabric: inspired by Bonnie and by Joe Cunningham, I worked with what I had.
    • In this case, it was a batch of orphan blocks already made in to "3 Sisters" or "Rail Fence" units, and abandoned a good 20 years ago.
    • Inspired by Joe, I put them together "in a way that pleased me" rather than worrying about whether or not they were in the classic rail fence setting.
    • Then I quilted it, once again, "in a way that pleased me".  :-)
    • The backing and batting were left over from the Magic Tiles quilt I made this fall for another new baby.
    • I didn't have enough blocks to make the back of the stocking, so I dug out some red fabric that would work, added a strip of green to make sure it was long enough, and quilted it up:

Quilting Detail 1
At first I tried stitching parallel lines, different widths apart.  I hadn't marked the fabric or anything.  But this was still a bit boring, so I played with the quilting (photo below):

Quilting Detail 2

Then I added a cuff.  I am most grateful to both the book, Scrap Quilts: The Art of Making Do by Roberta Horton (C&T Publishing, 1998) for the lettering, and the You Tube video from Missouri Star Quilt Company for the instructions on the cuff.  Otherwise I'd have gotten it upside-down and backwards, to be sure! 
First I drew out the letters per Roberta's suggestion, and cut them out to make templates:

 Then I traced them -- reversed, of course -- onto fusible web (Wonder Under in this case):

Once I'd cut them out and fused them to some red cotton fabric, I auditioned their placement on the stocking cuff.  This wee boy has a long name -- it had to go right around the cuff!

Et Voila!

Sometimes I have to leap outside the box and off the design wall altogether...but they say a change is as good as a rest, eh?!

Linking this to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday...Have a great week!

P.S. On the knitting front, the Wild Socks are finished, washed and ready to wrap.  A slouchy hat is finished except for the decorative buttons, and a "scarflet" is under construction.  Wild Socks #2 will be cast on before the day is out!

Pattern: "Veronica Slouch" by Brenda K.B. Anderson
from "Make It! Knits" 2014
Yarn: Diamond Luxury Gemstones in "Onyx"

Monday, December 01, 2014

December Already? How'd That Happen?!

I seem to have asked that question twelve times this year, as one month slid into another.  How'd that happen?!  My mother told me almost 50 years ago that once I turned 21, time would speed up and the years would fly by.  She was right!

I do know how I've filled some of my time -- at least, since Friday...

Yes, the colours are more muted than many of my previous efforts, and the dye is more evenly distributed.  First, I attribute this to my layering these small bits and bobs of fabric rather than scrunching them up under the snow.  Second, I may have let the process go on a bit too long -- there was a lot of melted snow when I finally got to rinsing it.  Note the two really pale pieces; those are a remnants from a white sheet that was a poly-cotton blend.  The 'poly' part just doesn't absorb MX dye the way the 'cotton' does.  

Am I disappointed with these results?  Not a whit!  Remember, my 'go to' pieces are miniature rural landscapes, and these will make wonderful fields and skies.

  • Knitting on the Wild Socks.  The heel on Sock #2 is turned and I'm moving down the foot;
  • Serving tea. coffee and goodies at the second annual Mirror & District Museum Open House.

Above is a portion of the main room of the Museum, taken just before the doors opened for yesterday's event.  The quilt in the centre cabinet was done in honour of the hamlet's centennial in 2012 and donated to the museum by yours truly (blush).  

Aren't they pretty?  I stumbled on a 2 1/2" strip of yellow in my stash, and it's taking me through most of the blocks.  Twenty-five is 1/4 the required number; I'm debating assembling 25 more (to bring it to half)...concerned about the amount of yellow I have left.  (Remember: I'm determined not to buy fabric for this one!).  You can see too (just barely) that I have a mix of pinks and "turquoises" (and blacks, though you can't tell that in the photo).  Going for as-close-as-I-can-with-my-scraps! And...
  • Piecing the final block of the second Block-of-the-Month I have from old, stashed kits. (The blocks from the third, "Zen", will be made in 2015).  Dating from 2003, "Four by Four" consists of eleven 12 1/2" blocks -- and one 'stray from who-knows-where, that came in at 10 1/2") assembled with Christmas-themed fabric.  
"Army Star"
This is not my usual cup of tea but the fabric was so pretty I had to collect it.  Here's Block #12 - "Army Star" (I didn't make up that name and don't know it's origin.  If one of you can enlighten, Gentle Readers, I'd appreciate it!)  All I know is, this one is my favourite of the bunch because it's so festive!

While all this piecing's been going on, I've rested my brain from the last 15 x 15 Group Challenge.   It wasn't long till I was pondering a couple of new art pieces...

I'm linking this up with BKH's Mystery Monday Link Up Part 1...and settling in for an evening of reading and embroidery...just for a change.

Have a good one!  :-)

15 x 15 -- The "Reveal" is Posted!

The latest challenge in our Fifteen Quilts Group -- and the last of 2014 -- is entitled "Roads", and it's now posted.  Click HERE to see the fill reveal.

Uphill to Mirror (c) 2014

Uphill - Detail 1

Uphill - Detail 2

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Post from a Post from a Post

In my 'to read' blog list this morning was this post from my daughter.  I find it thoughtful and well-written, and I'm not saying that just because I'm her mom!

I too read about the "Like/No Like" experiment on Facebook some time ago and tried it -- for a week.  Even that brief effort was enough to make me wonder...especially about my need for approval, which seems to have ramped up in recent years. (One of the blessings of a loving spouse is fairly frequent exchanges of expressions of approval.  With DH gone, and the kids on their own, those are pretty sparse around here.  Pookie-cat just isn't of a mind to fill in the gap!)

My daughter writes -- and I quote:
I was intrigued.

I decided to take the same challenge.

Four months later, I have still not 'liked' a single post....
And she leaves us with this:
Is my need to know and be known just the tension that comes from living on one side of the screen?

Or is it more than that?

Since my own brief experiment with "no like", I've found I've made small changes in the way I respond to the comments of my FB friends and acquaintances.  First, I find myself pausing more often before I click "Like" -- or not.  Often, I choose not to click -- not because I don't like what's been shared, but because I sense that my response is inconsequential or not required, rather like the response to a rhetorical remark or question.

When I do choose to click "Like", I often comment as well -- responding with more than a nod and a smile, as it were.

And sometimes I find myself starting a comment...and then erasing it because I can't put into words on a screen/page what I'd say in person.  Sometimes what I'd say would come off as insensitive, sarcastic or down-right offensive without the body language that accompanies a face-to-face encounter.  Emoticons help, but they can't replace full bodily expression.

What about you?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Snow Days

Yesterday was my usual day to work at The Shop.  Today I was supposed to fill in there for the other part-time gal.

Both days, I stayed home instead...because of the snow, blowing snow, drifting snow...and today the temps dropped into the mid-minus thirties Celsius.  Brrrrr!

With an hour "off" here and there to shovel the walks and driveway, I spent the past couple of days on these projects:

Baking for the Second Annual Open House & Tea
at the Mirror & District Museum, Sunday, Novembeer 30

Turning 'strings' into blocks for a quilt top

Prepping more strips and strings for quilt tops
Left & centre: for a string quilt; right: for the Postage Stamp Quilt

Working on Wild Sock #2 -- I'm on the heel flap now -- and adding inches to the "Martyn" infinity scarf.

And what's several feet of fresh powder snow without a bit of snow dyeing?

I quickly soaked a batch of miscellaneous pieces -- one large piece of silk and several bits and bobs of cotton muslin -- in soda ash.  Then I laid the pieces out in a criss-cross fashion on a rack in the bottom of a plastic tub:

I covered the lot to the brim with fresh snow, and sprinkled it with MX dye powder:

Half covered with turquoise; half, with Sky Blue;
then centre third sprinkled with Golden Yellow.
All dyes from Dharma.

The resulting pieces have been washed and are drying.  Photos to follow in another post...

The highlight of today, though, was the release of Clue #1 in Bonnie K. Hunter's 2014 Mystery Quilt, "Grand Illusion".  I'm aiming for half the size (so...44" square vs. 88" square) and am starting cautiously.

For example, the first clue calls for 280 half-square triangles (HSTs); I'm planning on 140 and have, to date, assembled 60. Of the 280, 200 are to be used to make 100 small blocks along with squares in two other colours.  I'm planning on 50 small blocks, which will take 100 HSTs...but will begin with 25 small blocks and 50 HSTs to see how far my fabric will take me.  Capisce?  ;-)

Here's the start of my HST construction.  I'm using fairly deep colour values for the 'geranium' and 'turquoise' -- all from stash.  I'm determined not to buy any fabric for this project!

And here's the first 60 of my HSTs in stacks of 20.  Don't they look pretty?  Order out of chaos!

At 2 1/2" square, they'll finish at 2" in the quilt

I found a stash of "Thangles" triangle paper that is speeding up the construction process; here's my bag of discarded foundation paper from the "Thangles" and from the string blocks, waiting to be recycled:

Don't you recycle your foundation paper?  ;-)

All in all it's been a rewarding couple of days.  On tap for this weekend: start on Christmas cards, sing at church, "pour out" at the Museum's Open House & Tea...

And MOB's First Anniversary is tomorrow.  There will be a special post on the MOB blog for the occasion.  Stay tuned!

Linking this up now with Nina Marie's Off-the-Wall Friday...and will follow that with a cuppa and a good book.  G'night all!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Shedding a Wee Tear...

Peter Robinson, Louise Penny and Deborah Crombie have big shoes to fill.

P.D. James, the marvellous author of so many mysteries, creator of Detective Inspector (later Superintendent) and poet, Adam Dalgliesh, died quietly this morning at her home in Oxford, England.  Though she was 94 -- a venerable age! -- she was one of those people one thinks will go on forever, purely because she was so beloved of cozy mystery readers. I've read all of them featuring Dalgliesh...and have her biography on my bookshelf in the 'to read' section...must now begin.

Read more in this article from The Guardian HERE.