Thursday 30 April 2015

In the Yard: Autumn Colours Revealed

I'd been feeling badly wishing I  had prettier things to show you and then I spied this.  The little band of birds under the feeder this morning and they were actually prettier than this photo shows.  It is my usual mix of visitors.
Murphy is groaning at my feet, a protestation.  She wants my toes to stay still while she rests her head across them.  Hubby says she is the most vocal dog he has owned; her groans, moans and harrumphs can be heard each time she moves night and day.  I say she is our diva because she makes herself conspicuous where ever she is in the house.  Rex, on the other hand, is the quiet, silent type (unless he spots a squirrel) and we usually have to call his name to know where he is.  He loves to lie in front of the front door.  The full length clear glass gives him a view of the entire front lawn, even lying down.  There he keeps a close eye on things.

Lots of grapevines trailing along the top of the fencing on the back yard dog enclosure.  I liked how it naturally formed this

an almost perfect circle.  I usually gather enough to make a few wreaths each year.  They keep really well in the greenhouse.  How dull and drab the colours of nature are this time of year.  Make no wonder my eye got drawn to this on the ground.

What stunning colours of lichen on these rocks!
 They tell a tale about autumn and the beautiful shades the first freeze up and snow caught them in.  

Wednesday 29 April 2015

A Day in The Greenhouse

A day in the greenhouse
First a little tidying....

I always grow my annual flowers from seeds and sometimes have a little luck with a few new perennials.  This year I have set cosmos, sunflowers, marigolds, morning glories, coneflowers and pinks.  I haven't had a chance to look for anything more exotic.  The perennials that are plentiful around the property are poppies, English daisies, lavender, tulips, daffodils, peonies, sweet william,  day lilies, Chinese lanterns, sedum, forget me nots, clematis and a number of ornamental grasses.  There is usually no problem to have a bouquet for the house as soon as the blooming begins and I love it.  I have struggled to grow lupins which abound at home and last year I finally had three plants survive and grow well.  I'm anxious to see if they made it through the winter.

Here is this year's crop-to-be lined off by the big greenhouse window.  This is the second year in a row that winter has lingered and the growing is off to a late start. It can get quite hot in the greenhouse now there are double digits temperatures most days. I had to open the window and use the screen to get a breeze through so I could work without melting. I had the radio with me and listened to Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe as I worked.

It took about two hours to get this lot all planted.  Just hate the seeds that come in an extra small inside packet; they are usually minute and hard to see and handle. A good watering for it all and I was done for the day.
I will have to water every day because of how warm and dry it is. But I love to see the plants start to sprout; that's when the fun begins.  

Can you remember when this craft was as popular as scrapbooking is today.  Dating yourself to acknowledge how many of your friends were into macrame, but I know many of mine were.

I have found three lilac trees on the property- white, mauve and violet flowers.  These trees are many decades old and still bloom each spring.  What a hardy and wonderful perennial the lilac tree is.  Make no wonder just about every farm house around here has a lilac tree beside it.
 Here is a bouquet from last year's bloom on the violet and mauve trees.  Smells so nice and a shame they don't last long at all. It will be the first to flower though and I'm so looking forward to that.

Last Year's Lilac Bouquet

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Recycled Treasures and the American Quilt Block

I ducked into the local thrift shop with the idea in my head, what little treasure will I find today?  I always start with the books and I could hardly believe what was right there on the shelf facing me.

I had recently written a post about this most beautiful and meaningful quilt  FOUND  Here and mentioned there is a book available and here was that book!  Rather serendipitous don't you think?  I had owned this book a few years back but had lost it.

It was priced at $3.99 and the deal there is if you buy four books, the fifth is free.  I don't collect books anymore but I did find a few more needlework books that I knew I could use so indulged myself.  When I got home I opened to the flyleaf and discovered it had been signed by Esther Bryan herself, the artist who began the whole journey of creating this quilt.

That was fun to find.

I can now show you the block for the United States of America.

The design chosen carefully by Hope Brans and Carol Campbell combines two traditional forms of hand work, the patchwork quilt and embroidered sampler.  Prominent is the phrase E pluribus unum  meaning "From many, one"  a reference to the many immigrants who through the decades have flocked to the U.S. and have made it their home. There is a lot of symbolism in this particular block; it makes for very interesting reading.
The layers of symbolism and meaning in all these blocks made me think.  I'm intrigued by just how meaningful our needleworked efforts can be.  I picture us the stitchers being a part of a long line of needleworkers down through the centuries using the materials at hand and taking inspiration from our surroundings to create with needle and thread.
 What a wonderful connection!

Monday 27 April 2015

Around Our House

Not a window has been cracked in the house since last October.  It doesn't smell that bad to me which proves, like the commercial, I am now nose-blind.  With two old people, two big dogs, Mitzy in the basement, and signs of mice everywhere, and oh yes, me cooking fish about once a week...yes the place has just got to smell.  The screens go up soon as this week of rain and wind gets done with and I can't wait to let the fresh air in, need it or not.

Meanwhile, Hubby has declared the house a dessert-free zone which he does periodically. Unlike the bears, he feels he is emerging from the winter with extra poundage.  But I noticed he checked his freezer supply of homemade goodies for his tea times before officially making the declaration.
Last night I was tempted to serve him the 'meal' I saw in a magazine.  It was three or four spears of asparagus and one sliced beet sitting on a few spinach leaves.  Oh yes, there was a scone with it - one of those two-bite things the size of a toonie. " Wouldn't fill your tooth " as the old people would say about a scanty meal.

As it was this is what he got instead...

Something new we thought we would try, a smoked meat pizza.  They were offering samples at Costco and we both tried it and liked it. It is thin crust and tasty. A perfect Friday night meal.  We are finally into Season 5 of Breaking Bad and have added Top of the Lake, a New Zealand based drama to our viewing list.  Really good.

Oh and I had mail on Friday; a package from Keepsake Needlearts. just love that company and their sister Keepsake Quilting.  I'll let you know soon what is in it.

Friday 24 April 2015

Knitting Memories and Lambs are Here

I keep wishing now I had paid more attention.  I think I've told you one of my grandmothers spun her own wool on a spinning wheel my grandfather had built (made) for her.  I remember trying to help her with this by holding up my arms for her to wind the wool into balls.  But as for the actual process of spinning, I have no recollection.  She knit all the sweaters, socks, hats, mitts and gloves for the family.  My grandfather wore the heaviest of the sweaters under his oil skins out fishing.  When my father began his teaching career, he sported a vest and sweater of every suitable colour all knit by his mother.  The vests were probably knit from finer wool that she would have had to order from the mail-order catalogues  back in those days. 
I've read a few books where knitting is happening.  And one such book stands out.  I remember reading one many years ago that had a lot of knitting in it. It is called Lambs of God by Marele Day and is about three nuns who live on an island dotted with sheep.

 They represent the end of their order and I never forgot how endearing their characters were.  I also remember how they performed the usual daily rituals but ended each day sitting with cups of tea and knitting the wool from those sheep.  As they knit they would dream up schemes that would enable them to keep living their lives in their rundown monastery. I loved the book but as I've mentioned, I didn't seem to be so critical of books in those days.
Speaking of lambs, Hubby and I spied these at a neighbouring farm and were surprised how big the lambs are already.  I guess they must have been born back in January or February. These little guys were not quite the fluffy, white, adorable looking lambs depicted in pictures.  They had mud to their knees(?) and were generally grayish.

They were sharing their field with an unlikely fellow pictured below; I think it is an emu and it was happily foraging unconcerned by the cold wind.  Curious too as it came right over to the fence to see us.  I got a close up look at its feathers; they were amazingly thick.  Sorry these photos are so washed out; the weather was gloomy with the odd snowflake bouncing in the wind and the grass far from green.

One of my distant relatives tragically died when I was a young teenager.  She had a mysterious illness that gradually sapped all her energy.  She spent her last months busily knitting for her family and the winter after she died, her children all wore the mitts and hats their mother had knit for them.  I always tear up when I think of the poignancy of that...her last useful act as a mother for her children.  She did what she could, all she knew how to do.   

Thursday 23 April 2015

Housework Can't Kill

"Housework can't kill you but why take the chance."

                                                                                       Phyllis Diller

"Men Abhor a Vacuum, Dishwasher......"

                                                            Anna Quindlen

Have household chores beckoning this morning.  You know, the usual...fridge crispers need a cleaning, utensil drawer full of crumbs, under the sink cupboard getting scummy. And I've so bravely photographed my dirty oven for you all to see.  And I really should unzip the dog bed covers and give them a wash. YES!
  My excuse for letting the kitchen go is I am waiting for the wood fires to stop and then I will give everything a good wipe down. Even though it is beginning to warm up nicely during the day, it is still freezing overnight and Hubby likes to have the kitchen nice and toasty for his breakfast and morning read, so the wood fires continue.
 But the simple chores of housework can't kill me I'm pretty sure and may even be theraputic and at the least,  keep me and this body I house moving.
Still spending time with my sewing machine each day.  My plan is to do this right and make sure I know all the bits before jumping in and sewing on a new project (though I am very tempted) and my blue birds are perfect for practice.  It seems it will be awhile before I get to the embroidery fonts.

                                              Lots and lots of parts to read about and sort out. Felt frustrated the last session because, wouldn't you know, the very question I have is not answered anywhere in the manual or the on line videos.  Has this happened to you?

I've been labeling and putting each of the different pressure feet into a baggie as I figure out their different uses.  I'm a bit hampered by the electronic part of this machine; so much of the running of it I can't 'get at' to undo or fix anything.   I was able to take apart my tiny Brother machine and fix anything with it myself which gave me a lot of confidence when using it.  However, I am already feeling a little more 'in charge' in that at least now I can pinpoint what exactly I don't know.  This is learning too!
This is making me wonder though about that old can't teach an old dog new tricks.  This old dog can learn but slowly...

Image result for learning quotes

Learning all the time, that's me and poor Eartha, who I admired for the honesty that so famously made Mrs. Lyndon Johnson cry that time, as well as her rendition of "Santa Baby".

Back to housework talk...I've read Agatha Christie worked out her murder plots in her head while she did the dishes.  Rosamund Pilcher tells the story of how she practiced aloud her novel dialogues while hanging out her clothes. But these are women authors.  Funny I don't think of  male authors doing housework.  If the stories about Hemmingway are believed he probably lived on pub food; nary a plate in sight to wash and dry.  Like most men, he probably puttered around the house and fixed anything faulty which is exactly what men are contributing still today to the household, this many decades later.
Clever Anna Quindlen wrote a wonderful article for The Dispatch titled "Men Abhor A Vacuum, Dishwasher..."
It is amusing to read and the link is HERE
  With jobs or not, like it or not, women are the queens of the housework.
 Lucky for us it isn't killing...

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Anna Quindlen's Still Life With Bread Crumbs

I must say that I am a huge Anna Quindlen fan going back many decades.  I never knew her as a columnist and a Pullitzer Prize winning one at that. No I discovered her through her book Thinking Out Loud and loved the way she wrote...couching heavy topics in an easy reading manner is a true talent.

When Anna turned her hand to novel writing I was pleased and also curious to see how her talent for journalism would translate.  Of course, she handled fiction with the same seeming ease as her column pieces.
To date she has written five best selling novels and I've enjoyed all of them.
Her One True Thing was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep, Renee Zellweger and William Hurt. While I enjoyed the movie very much and Meryl garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role, I liked the book better.
 This latest book of Anna's, Still Life With Bread Crumbs also did not disappoint.
I do not like books that are love stories so it is a little surprising I enjoyed this one so much.  Perhaps it is because Rebecca the protagonist is about my age, sandwiched between generations, is experiencing a 'reversal of fortune', has had to downsize, is still creatively motivated, that I identified and got drawn in.
 But also and just as importantly,  this book reminded me of how much I enjoy Anna Quindlen's writing.  I love the way she writes about tiny (yes, domestic) happenings and can have them somehow add up to greater meaning and even the true substance of life; yes imagine that!
Along the way, I empathized with not just Rebecca, but all the characters and the little humorous bits were an added bonus.
By the way, Rebecca's art  is as a photographer (hence, the title) and I was interested in how her work was portrayed.  The whole idea of the camera, the subject, interpretation, seeing not just the surface of things provided interesting layers of meaning to Rebecca's life journey itself, I thought.
Gentle, true and interesting are three words I would use to describe this book. I am so happy I came across it in the library and did not dismiss it because it's top billing is as a love story.  And yes, there is love.

Meanwhile, you can read Anna Quindlen's bi-weekly column in Newsweek magazine.


Tuesday 21 April 2015

My Doodle Wallhanging

A great idea from the wonderful Mary Corbet...a doodle cloth.
 Mary wrote a post called "5 Reasons to Keep a Doodle Cloth" on her site Needle 'N Thread.The link to that post is HERE and of course, this makes such good sense.  Most of us want and need to practice the embroidery stitches we are not that familiar with so having a dedicated piece of cloth just for that purpose is a good idea.  I remember the practicing I had to do to get bullion stitches to lie flat for me.
This particular doodle cloth takes the idea a step further.  Mary proposes that if you use a little planning, choose interesting colours and cloth, then your doodle cloth can become a project in itself.  Anyway, she explains the idea far better than I can so check it out.  While there, have a good look around; Mary generously offers many free patterns and tutorials on embroidery with an abundance of useful tips.

I broke down and brought my sewing machine back upstairs and have given it a home in the dining room for now.  Warmer temperatures and better light make it more conducive to me spending the time I need with it.
 I'm not sure if I told you but this machine has a few sweet features...automatic threader and automatic thread cutter being just two of them.
 I'm one of those people where it is a good thing to be able to preset my sewing speed as in keep it consistently slower which I also can do with this machine.  I already notice I am getting better results with this feature adjusted.  I have a tendency to have a heavy foot at times and that's when things can get out of control.
I began practice sewing on a piece of cloth and I have some of the basics accomplished.  Then I read Mary's post; I realized what I was doing could be done on my Bluebirds wall hanging.  It is not perfect to begin with and what needs doing on it could take me through more practice with several of the pressure feet. My project could become a Doodle Hanging.  At this point I have finished most of the 'stitch in a ditch' sewing.

Though imperfect, my blue birds are bright and cheerful.  And I am getting more of a handle on my Singer along the way.

Monday 20 April 2015

Roasted Vegetable Crostata

Sometimes recipes circle around from Pinterest to Facebook and then you open a magazine and there it is there too.  Every time I saw this one, I would think to myself I must try it.  Recently I did.
It is a bit fiddly to roast the vegetables before plopping them into the crust, but it does enhance the flavours.
Some recipes would have you using different roasting times for all the veggies, but I just put them all in the oven at once and it seemed to be okay.

I used bacon this time; some recipes omit meat and then this becomes a strictly vegetarian meal.
 In a skillet, fry out the bacon till crisp.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Use whatever vegetables you have on hand.  I used carrot, zucchini, broccoli, onion, yellow pepper and tomatoes.
Toss them in a bowl with a little balsamic vinegar and enough olive oil to cover.  Spread foil wrap on your baking sheet (for easy clean up) sprinkle more oil over it and then spread out the vegetables.  Place in the oven to roast for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile I made the pastry...yes, the same one I always make.  I divided the dough into two rounds so I could make two crostatas.

I let the vegetables cool and added the bacon.  I rolled the two rounds of dough each on a piece of parchment paper and divided my vegetables between the two.  For cheese, I had a triangle of Brie that needed using up so I poked bits of it around the vegetables.  I've seen just about every cheese used, mozzarella, goat cheese, gruyere, ricotta, parmasan.   I also tried to arrange a few cherry tomatoes on top because I thought they would look pretty. I used one beaten egg to brush over the pastry.

Because this is considered a country recipe, rustic is the word often used, you don't have to be careful with a fussy edge on the pastry; I just tried to overlap the edges enough to hold the vegetables.

Top oven to 400 degrees and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes till golden brown.

This actually tasted better than I expected and was surprisingly filling.

Friday 17 April 2015

Keeping up appearances and Zombie News

"Keeping up the appearance of having all your marbles is hard work, but 

important."            Sara Gruen

She came towards me in the frozen food aisle at Walmart.  She, a lovely looking woman perhaps Jamaican, was pointing at my coat and smiling.  I, thinking she was complimenting my forest green plaid wool jacket, smiled back and said thank you.  She continued to point and seemed to be making a gesture with one outstretched finger.  I, thinking she was admiring the large tortoiseshell buttons on this coat, said thank you again.  Then her look changed to a more confused one and I finally looked down at my coat.
That's when I saw the dreaded misbuttoning; my large lovely buttons completely out of line, causing one side of my coat to hang about six inches below the other side.  How in the world had I not noticed!  When I looked back up as I was unbuttoning to rebutton properly, the lady had moved off.
 I mentally calculated where I had been that morning with my coat askew as it were...the school and group of parents seeing off their kids, but that's just a small group, the post office, then into Walmart where there, dozens of people would have seen the crazy old lady who doesn't know how to button her coat anymore.  Oh dear.  My only consolation...I didn't know a soul there and for sure no one knew me.
Of course if the saying 'women over 44 are invisible' is true then I'm okay; I'll be left to wander around on my own some more.

That reminds me of the British t.v. show that Hubby and I have watched through several times..Keeping Up Appearances, how we love Hyacinth and laughed at her pretensions. We also loved Dawn French as the Vicar of Dibley and watched that through a couple of times.  At that time we also tuned into  As Time Goes By with Judy Dench and Geoffrey Palmer and enjoyed it so much.  Those shows were/are real gems.  No doubt at some point in our future, they will bear repeating.
I know that sounds like I'm showing my age but to confound you completely I also love The Walking Dead. Which leads me to
                                 Zombie News
Recently scientists studied what would happen if there really was a zombie apocalypse.  They have determined that the further north you live, the greater your chances of survival.  We'd be somewhat protected by a day or two here but the million or so people in Ottawa itself would soon overrun us so you'd have to be much further north than even here. Not as bad off though as the poor people in New York City who would be done for in a matter of hours.
 Just for fun, a link to the Cornell University study is HERE
What next?!

Meanhile hope you are continuing the important work of hanging onto your marbles!

Thursday 16 April 2015

Lights on Rubber Boots: Imagine That

Grandson's new rubber boots...

It took him all of five seconds to realize if he stamped his feet, coloured lights flashed around the soles.  Imagine, lights on rubber boots.  What would my grandparents have to say about that I wonder.
 Anyway, he loves them but I think because he can run easier in them than the heavier winter boots.  For him it's all about function, not fashion.

My pink geranium getting a little sun in the dining room window.  They really do produce a pretty bloom.  

I spent a good amount of time outside today and raked the flower beds. Above is a before picture; below is the after.  All of a sudden a few sprouts were poking through the snow, one day not the next day there, amazing.
 The snow has receded and now just the valleys and ditches are full of ice. 

 As my Australian and New Zealand friends prepare for autumn, I'm happy to say we are moving into spring. Don't know if I could have hung on a minute longer.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Chintz Leads Me To Crewel

Crewel - a worsted yarn of two threads used primarily for tapestry and embroidery.
                                                                           Sixteenth century definition

My attempt at crewel work below, a simplistic Jacobean version of flowers and leaves. It was a kit from Elsa Williams called The Lowell Sampler.  I learned to enjoy working in wool though it does take getting used to if you've been working only in floss.  Wool does not behave itself like embroidery floss does!  I also worked the piece above I've put behind my blog title; it was another kit worked with crewel wool and I loved the colours.

I have always loved the look of chintz and it was only natural that I would want to try my hand at Jacobean crewel work.   Just love the shades of brick red and blue grays in this piece of chintz fabric below.  Besides the lovely colour combinations used in chintz, there is something about the curls, whorls, and curves that appeals to me.  I think it reminds me of nature and how in nature there are so many curves, not usually straight lines.  And of course, the patterns are almost always of bits of, leaves, birds and such.

Pip Hoy - Chintz

I have been lucky to find a couple of books on crewel embroidery at the second hand stores.

With a complete stitch dictionary and twenty full size patterns to copy, this book, The Margaret Boyles Book of Crewel Embroidery, is a very versatile, useful one to have on hand.  I love in particular the section on Jacobean Crewel flowers and there are lots included with instructions to follow to stitch your own.

How's this for just a little crewel!  Crewel-embroidered curtains and bed hangings were very popular in England but this is actually a bedroom in the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, Va.  Imagine all the hours of stitching represented in this photo, is what I'm thinking.

Another great book to have on hand.  The Art of Crewel Embroidery by Mildred J. Davis is a wonderful, comprehensive guide.  Again all the stitches are illustrated and instruction included on how to apply them to create flowers, leaves, insects, birds and animals.  Especially, I liked a section of the book Mildred called " Divers Flora, Fauna and Fancies: a compendium of devices associated with crewel embroidery motifs". Here she explains all the historical meaning and symbolism of familiar items most often seen in crewel embroidery.  They are listed alphabetically from acorns to wrens and make very interesting reading (for nerds like me!).

I know I'm droning on long about the beauty of crewel work but I had to show you one more book.  This is Woolly Embroidery from Chronicle Books and the designs look modern, interesting and versatile.  The book gets good reviews and at less than $10 for an 80 page book (from Amazon), it is a bit of a bargain.
Okay I'm done now.

Monday 13 April 2015

Tea Time Is Any Time (In This House)

I'm parched, says hubby.  I know that means put the kettle on and make a pot of tea.  Sometimes I think I have turned back time to my grandparent's day and house where there seemed to be a perpetual pot of tea warming on the back of the stove. And just like them, hubby doesn't seem to mind how old or strong the tea is.  I guess George got that right.

"All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each passing year."
                                                                                           George Orwell

  Yes, tea time is celebrated here in this house many times a day.  Since hubby believes in a pre-heated pot and the five minute rule for steeping his tea, cosies play an important part in this ritual.

This tea cosy is special to me.  I've managed to hang on to it for a few decades and I just love the little embroidered boy with his dog team.  This design is worked in split stitch and though simple, is very effective.

 Below is a new one daughter gave me for Christmas.  She didn't need to think hard if I would like chickadees on fabric.

And here is one bought at a craft fair many years ago.. still pressed into service.

And I bet you would never guess what this little guy is used for....

Another of Daughter's sweet gifts...a tea strainer in the form of a bobbing duck in your tea pot.  How cute is  this!
Tea cosies are a popular item to knit, crochet and sew.  I couldn't resist showing you this tea cosy...creatively crocheted to resemble a coral reef.  I think it is rather amazing.  Unfortunately, I could not find out the artist's name who created this to give them credit

Last but not least........

Let's make a tea cosy!

I also wanted to show you something Jenny of Elefantz offered in a blog post last month.  It is just about the cutest tea cosy you could find and she includes a tutorial on how to make it. A link to that post is 
HERE  and while you are at it I encourage you to look through her blog.  What wonderful photos and projects!  Jenny very generously shares many free patterns of her own designs and is always producing new patterns to embroider and sew.  I signed up for her Friday newsletter and I keep thinking I should be  participating in her Vintage Kitchen BOM; the little drawings are adorable.

Happy cuppa to all.

Friday 10 April 2015

Would I Be Brave

Going into the library today I held the door for a woman with three children, two little ones walking and one in a stroller.  She was clothed in the traditional wear of a woman who was Arab and she was carrying a large cloth bag full of books.  They were happily chattering away and I got big smiles from all of them.  I thought what a great outing for the children.
  Inside there was a man on a computer trying to get online.  He was talking on his phone to someone in a language I did not recognize and though this person was trying to tell him what to do, it wasn't working.  An edge of desperation was creeping into the man's voice and at one point, I thought he was going to cry.  Just as I was mustering the nerve to ask the gentleman if I could be of any help, the librarian came along and sat down beside him.  Her kind and soothing manner soon had the man calmed down as she attempted to figure out what it was he was trying to do. They were still working on it when I left.
 It made me think of how hard it must be to come to a new country, one with a different language, culture,  climate.  I wonder how I would fare with all the stress if I had to do that.  Would I be giving out big smiles?  Or would I be weeping in frustration.  How lucky I am to live in the country I was born in, somewhere I have not been forced to leave...a fact never ever thought of and just taken for granted. In this world today and with the way things are going, just that fact alone is something of a blessing.

Still feeling lucky, back home relaxing with my tray

and my needle and thread, and so thankful for these quiet hours to do what I please.

My magnolia flowers are starting to blossom but poor birdie still doesn't have a beak.  I'll have to rectify that soon.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Want to Hear About a Breathtaking Quilt?

There is someone from every country of the world living in Canada.

To celebrate that fact, Canada's largest textile project was undertaken.
The result is a very special quilt called The Quilt of Belonging.  The idea of visual artist, Esther Bryan, to celebrate the Millennium in 2000, the quilt took 6 years to complete.  It includes 263 blocks each hand worked and each representing every nation of the world and the First Peoples of Canada. Hundreds of volunteers worked many hours piecing the blocks together and fashioning them inside the maple leaf motif that frames the whole quilt.

I, like over a million others, have had the special pleasure of viewing this quilt as it tours North America. At 120 feet long, it is too much to take in all at once; you need multiple visits.  It is roped off so there is no touching and many quilters bring their binoculars so they can view each block close up. The workmanship and variety of materials used to fashion each block is fascinating.
This quilt is of special interest to all needle artists.  Beading, applique, patchwork, and all forms of embroidery are represented in the various blocks.  In particular  I was surprised and pleased  by how many stitchers had used cross stitching to represent the emblems of their country.  Whatever method was used, they each looked like tiny masterpieces to me.

Here is a brief sampling of the quilt blocks.

This is the block representing England and it is a beautifully embroidered flower arrangement typical of an English country garden.

A pretty block incorporating items symbolic of the Metis

The beautifully embroidered block above for Australia incorporates some of the flora and fauna of that continent.

You can tell this colourful embroidery above is typical of Poland and neighbouring countries.

The Danish block incorporating cross stitch and pulled thread embroidery...

The block for Scotland...the tartans, thistle and heather

internal art

I tried to grab a photo of the block for the United States but could only get a too fuzzy image.  It is a patchwork log cabin design with cross stitch lettering surrounding it and is worked in red, white and blue.

There is a beautiful book available with each block highlighted, the embroiderer, and methods used.  It is very interesting and inspirational especially for those making their own designs.  You can buy a used copy from Amazon for as little as $10.00.

A wonderful Youtube video is available where Esther talks about the project and she explains her choices for backgrounds, shapes and colours as well as what  the contribution she hopes the quilt tours are making.  A link is HERE

There is a web site for this quilt and the schedule for tour dates is listed.  You can get a close-up look at each of the blocks on that site as well.

 If you have the opportunity, don't miss out on seeing this spectacular quilt.
The link to the website is HERE