Sunday, 28 February 2016

Rest and Restore Time

I just put down my Acorn canvas and have downloaded the Splendid Sampler designs. I'm really looking forward to that fabulous start. Have you been following the wonderful blocks being made by the very splendid quilters? Of which there are about 20 000!!

Meanwhile, I'm taking a small break. I feel I need some catch-up time so I will meet you back here next week.

Have a great week....spring is near!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Bloomers For When the World is White

Geraniums, shamrocks, African violets, kalanchoe and my little polka dot plant all provide colour indoors throughout the winter months. 


















Such low maintenance plants but so enjoyable to watch grow and bloom.
If I can grow them anyone can.

The view from my living room stitching spot, the sofa.  I can even see the closest bird feeder from there.


Where is your stitching spot?  Do hope you have the time to use it this weekend.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A Little Bit of Housekeeping


This post was published several weeks back but the tablet fairies deleted it for some unknown reason.  I wanted to repost so all could learn about The Needle and Thread Network.  Happy Sunday all.



Before this slips my mind completely, I need to tell you that I wrote a post on The Needle and Thread Network to introduce myself.  This is a network for people working in all areas of fibre arts and creative stitching.  My post was published on Thursday, February 18 and the link to it is Here. They offer a WIP Wednesday feature where you can see what many people around the country are working on and maybe visit their blogs.  Tons of wonderful projects.

To You From Grateful Me

I've done a lot of research on blogs and noticed it seemed hard to find Canadian stitching blogs.  I loved how easily I found so many in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.  I was therefore happy when I found The Needle and Thread Network which links many Canadian stitchers.

I am so grateful to those who take the time to comment and especially to  those who send me an email when they are unable to post a comment.  I'm not sure what Google is thinking with the Google Plus system.  I don't think it is as fair as it should be.

  Anyway, your comments, advice and general sharing of stories is my added bonus to sharing mine.  I love this feeling of community that is achievable online. Just like my Facebook friends that I live far away from now, I get tremendous enjoyment from having a place to keep up.


 I know a lot of people don't find anything funny about our cold, snowy winters. But this was the big dig out after the mid-February storm.








and I just had to show you this...



Isn't it delightful.  National Geographic's Photo of the Year.

Hope there is something delightful in your day.
























Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Page Turners and The Far Less Than Perfect Pile

Page Turners

For my reading readers-

Who doesn't like a good page turner.

Check out this list of guaranteed page turners from the Oprah Website.  I've made note of several to look up later.

And included in the list was this one which a good friend had already recommended to me. Duly noted as well.

   Luckiest Girl Alive

 FWSQ News

Meanwhile back at the dining room/sewing room table...a few more of my Farmer's Wife Sampler blocks.
 Roll Call from the top... Sylvia ( still needing 16 tiny appliqued pieces),  Mrs. Taft, Mrs. Thomas, Tirzah, Bride and Mrs. Brown.



Huffing and puffing along with these.  The original pattern needed reversing on not one but two and  I've forgotten which that was.  But that required a redrawing and pasting and sewing of several pieces in each.

Below,both Mrs. Thomas and Tirzah have been relegated to the far less than perfect pile.  I'm sad they didn't turn out as I liked both the patterns very much and I might try them again from scratch sometime.  I also didn't like the cross hatching that showed up when the blue material was used twice in each quarter.  It wasn't till I saw the photos that that was apparent.
  Funny how the camera shows things to me my eyes don't. Does that just happen to me???



I am starting to forget which blocks I've shown you.
 They are off the design tablecloth and sitting in one of Hubby's old biscuit tins.  I counted them the other day and I had 50 which prompted me to rethink the project.
 Did I love it enough to continue?  There are an awful lot of triangles which can get a little tiresome.  Anyway, I've decided to proceed to try for a mark of 75 completed blocks all correct enough to make them worthy of stitching together.  This is because I am loving the process even if I'm not that fussy about some of the patterns.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Hearts and Christmas Gifts


I don't really care for Valentine's Day but I do love hearts.  Daughter did give us chocolate cupcakes that she made with little grandson and I'm sure they helped Hubby on his road to recovery. LOL 


The internet teamed with heart themed projects and ideas to celebrate the day. And the topic of hearts brings me to this...

I now have made 50 blocks for my Farmer's Wife quilt so feel that is safely on its way to completion. That gave me the confidence to sign up for the Splendid Sampler QAL run by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson.  There will be 100 free block patterns created by over 80 designers from all over the world. The very first block designed by Pat is called Hearts Aflutter and is very cute.  This is the Splendid Sampler link  if you'd like to check this out for yourself.  

1 Splendid Sampler Pat Sloan Block multi

Before it fades completely away, I wanted to show you a few more gifts from Christmas '15.
Hubby calls himself an Old Git so naturally this belonged to him.




Wool Applique Folk Art by the talented Rebeckah L. Smith.  Examples of projects from this book are all over the internet.  People love her work.  It's a gorgeous book and if you have ever thought of working in wool or felt, this would be a wonderful resource.  I think Daughter got this copy from Amazon.


Another crafty item....the Cutting Gizmo for fast cutting of chains.  Daughters' gifts to me and the lovely quilt clips.  Such useful items and already pressed into service.  The Cutting Gizmo is super sharp and is far more convenient than using scissors, I'm finding.  So two thumbs up for that!  



And Hubby was very interested in this gift...a fitbit.  I knew the gadgetry would appeal to him and he has been wearing it ever since taking it out of the packaging.  It checks his heart rate, counts the number of steps walked and also climbed per day.  This model has a feature I knew he would be really interested in...it monitors sleep patterns and can supply information regarding length of time in the various levels of sleep.  Hubby has discovered he is sleeping a lot more than he had thought.  


Finally, in the middle of a snow storm it is especially nice to look at flowers.  I love when you can buy a gift that benefits a charity as well.  We buy these calendars every year and the photos are so beautiful I can't throw the calendars out.  



We are still digging out from a huge snow storm but the very bright sun is almost making up for it.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Oil Lamps and Snow, Lots of Snow

Proof of this saying by Volaire, "Canada, a few acres of snow."

We just endured a winter snowstorm and oddly the city didn't shut down but it did have to slow down.  Hundreds of cars off the roads and people stranded all over the place.  You would think common sense would prevail and more businesses would close up for the day.



Below, this was taken from our front door around 5 pm and it oddly doesn't show the snow falling.  The tracks I made filling the feeders earlier in the day.



The storm dumped  just over 50 cm of snow in our area.  School buses didn't run for two days so Older Grandson got an unexpected school break.  I heard he was ecstatic. LOL


Tuesday evening we also lost the electricity for about 3 hours.  I wound up roasting potatoes in the wood fire and made a salad which we ate by the light of oil lamps.  Then I roasted marshmallows something I do about once a winter.


These lamps get pressed into service at least once a winter as we seem to lose our electricity often in bad weather.  I don't mind using them; brings back memories of being at my grandparent's house when I was a young girl.
 I also had to use them my first year of teaching on the coast of Labrador as the tiny settlement I was living in didn't get electricity till part way through that year.  It was remarkable to share that experience with the people actually.  What an adventure.
Now whenever I write that, I think- just how old am I!

 What's really remarkable though is how your eyes adjust and you can read and write and stitch to the light of these oil lamps and I did lots of all three that winter. Of course, my eyes were much, much younger then.
 But the women did it, think of Little House on the Prairie and Half- Pint's Ma who was often pictured stitching to lamp light.  I loved those stories, by the way.




Tuesday evening, I felt like I could barely stumble around to this light, find plates and cutlery, etc. I had to keep reminding the dogs to stay out of my way.

It reminded me of what I'd read once; a fellow saying for safety measures we should all know how to get about our house in the dark.  He suggested practicing this blindfolded which I thought sounded a little unsafe actually.  Imagine the irony if you wound up hurting yourself practicing a safety measure.

Anyway, we are digging out which at least is exercise.  Smile










Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Something Wooly and Something Addictive

As you know my journey with FWSQ involves English Paper Piecing.  I've been enjoying the sewing and learning to check twice and three times before stitching pieces together. That old carpenter's rule of measuring twice and cutting once is so true especially for quilting.
There are still little mistakes that bothered me in the beginning.  Now that I see the blocks en masse I can tell those errors won't be at all noticeable unless you are some kind of FWQ trained police. lol

I love how frugal EPP is. And the simplicity of it.  You do not need any fancy tools...just a pencil and ruler to trace your templates onto freezer paper.  I glue baste with the regular Elmers glue stick.  Then your needle and thread to stitch the pieces together.  But fussy cutting in certain blocks has been encouraged by the group.  The blocks in the book itself do not.

  I don't know how you feel about fussy cutting.  I've read varying opinions and some, like me, don't like the idea of wasting fabric even though it can give stunning results.  I came across this tutorial that makes just that point (no pun intended).

                                       

This star has been made using EPP and fussy cutting the fabric to great effect.  The tutorial is on the Temecula Quilt Company site and was used to start the first of what they call Fussy Cut Friday where they invite readers to send photos of their fussy cut stars.  Some of these are stunning.  Isn't that pretty fabric?

Have you heard the phrase fabric crumbs?  There are numerous examples of Crumb Quilts around the net.  People save every little piece of leftover fabric and sew them together to form block or circles and eventually a quilt.

I told you about the Quilty 365 project at the Quilty Folk Blogspot.  I have been making some circles and they are rather like Crumb quilts too.   But nobody mentioned how addictive this little process is.  I love it.  I guess it is the frugal me that enjoys the idea of using every bit of fabric.  I put them together on the Design Tablecloth on the weekend to give you a look.  You can see I'm making use of very small pieces, some from my recent projects.  The white background for each circle is a 4 inch square.
It's looking a lot like moons or planets to me.  Never thought I'd ever make a Space Quilt.


Perhaps I'm enjoying it so much because it is so much easier than the Farmer's Wife, thus, a real break.

And a little close up of my Acorn crewel work.  It has been a few years since I last worked in wool for embroidery.  I feel out of practice but I'm doing better, I can see. There are a few spots I know I will redo and the rather heavy canvas material will hold up to that, I can tell.




In this project, the stitched areas are treated similarly to an applique picture with the back portions filled in first.

Winter Storm Warning in effect here today.  Another day with a good excuse to stay inside and stitch and sip hot chocolate.
  Hope you are staying warm or cool where you are just as your weather dictates.

Monday, 15 February 2016

It is February after all!

It is February, after all!


Saturday morning I woke up to frigid temperatures.  -27 C straight temp with a -44C wind chill.  I went to let the dogs out and for the first time ever, Rex refused to go.  I guess at 9 he is starting to feel his age too.  Both dogs returned to their respective beds, Murphy on ours and Rex in the spare bedroom.  What a life they have!

I have a man down; Hubby has been a little under the weather with flu-like symptoms for three days but is feeling better thankfully.  If only I could get him to drink lemon water like I do.

Early morning walk to get the paper revealed a chance for a good photograph just a few metres from our mail box.  I'd noticed this on my morning drives and made a mental note to try to capture it with my camera sometime.


I kept my mitts on so was a bit wobbly pressing the tiny buttons.  Those mitts were not coming off not even for the cause of a perfect picture. And as soon as I moved to position the sun directly between those two trees, the light became blinding.  Not sure what real photographers do in that case but my little SureShot couldn't handle it.  Anyway, I wanted to show you how frozen everything was looking.  The Extreme Cold Wave warning issued by Environment Canada is no joke.

There is something about naturally formed treed arch ways that appeal to me as they always catch my eye.  And I always think of the Tennyson lines, " I am a part of all that I have met.... All experience is an archway where through gleams the untravelled world." Some things just stick even from grade school.  Now ask me what I did last Wednesday and I'd probably draw a blank.


Anyway, I had to wrap a scarf around my face.  I frost bit a section of my cheek when I lived in the far north and it still reacts to extreme cold.  I also have mild rosacea (like Mom) which gives me an unnatural red glow on my cheeks if I get them too cold.  Oddly enough, same thing happens with extreme heat as I found out when I got to visit some tropical islands on a cruise.  Luckily, it does not hurt and is a purely cosmetic issue.  At this point in life, I mostly couldn't care less.


Later in the day, when it had warmed up to -21, I took the dogs for a quick walk around the swamp and barn.  I was rewarded for my efforts with a rare sighting of one of the grouse that live in our woods.  It was sitting very calmly in a tree and did not react to the dogs at all.  These birds are usually on the ground and Rex gets to flush them...no photo then just the sound of heavy wing beats.
 Just love how well camouflaged it is.




Shy creatures, they do not come near the house except that one time when two of them sat in the big tree in the back yard munching on something and I took several photos through the bedroom window.


They had their feathers fluffed to keep warm, I assume.

Speaking of which...kitchen living these days staying close to the heat.



Friday, 12 February 2016

Nothing on Needles-Yet and Let There Be Better Light

I am ready for a wooly project...something on needles or hook.  I was really drawn to Jane Brocket's hexagon blanket I showed you a while back.
  I read she had used Biggan's Studio wool for that particular project.  Of course, I had to check that out.  An Australian company who specialize in pure merino yarns, their product looks so beautiful.  Following the photo Jane had provided I chose a selection of 8 ply wool; not the same as having the chance to stroke it before purchasing, but I trust all the reviews.




Now to learn a basic crocheted hexagon pattern with a flower like center.  It seems I'm always in a learning mode, but that's okay.  As long as the process keeps those brain cells swishy and talking to each other, I'm good with it.

 This is a lovely project Claire at SweetHomeBody made and she generously offers the instructions for completing a hexagon.  This is exactly the hexagon I want to make but with a few more rows added to make it larger. So pretty and I love her choice of colours.

image


News!
 After talking about this to you several times before, I finally purchased a special light for needlework.  I've threatened to do this for many years but truthfully, my little Ikea $15 lamp seemed okay.  I kept hearing about Ott lights on various blogs and did a little research.  Turns out I could buy one right in the Canadian Tire here in Ottawa and that seemed the only place I could find it.  The price for the basic floor model they had was $40 more than the one I found online at Amazon.ca. And this one has several interesting features...a clip stand to hold patterns, a magnifier to enlarge said patterns, but most usefully, the ability to collapse and use as a table model if the floor isn't suitable.  It has only just arrived and I've had one evening  to test out its outstanding feature for stitchers...the light provides the closest thing to natural light and promises easing of eye strain.



Hubby laughed when he saw me sitting there with all the bits stretched around me.  He said I looked like I was trapped.  Between the magnifier and the light,which is quite strong, I think I could ably perform micro-surgery, never mind sewing. lol

With our winters and long hours of dim light, I think this will work out to be a very useful addition to my hobby enjoyment. Also good to help remove splinters which happens several times a winter with handling wood for the stove.

I worked this FWSQ block again. Daffodil #2

 You can read The Post where I told you how Poor Daffodil would not pull together; then I read there were mistakes in the pattern.  I returned to see if I could work it out and I do have some semblance of a daffodil but it isn't quite beautiful like the real thing.  It was nice to take a break from all the half square triangles, though.




Hope there is lots of light in your life this weekend.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

My Most Popular Posts of 2015

This is my second year of blogging and I like to look back and see which posts seemed to be the most popular.  The way this Google Blogger works, I receive an ongoing tally of certain statistics, one of which is the number of pageviews per post and those are further broken down to show the numbers for each country of the world.  Unless you comment or email me I have no idea who you are.    Though I write this particular blog for my own enjoyment and recording, you the reader is always in my mind.  It is a lot of fun to see someone in Malaysia, for example, is checking out my blog.

#1

I reposted this one, The Warmth of Wood , about heating our house with wood.  It holds the record for the most pageviews.





This is what seven cords of wood looks like all stacked in our garage.  This is repeated each fall and is all gone by spring.  For instance, right now heading to the middle of February, we are almost to the end of the second row.


#2

My post about cross stitching a William Morris pattern from a book I own called The Art of William Morris in Cross Stitch by Barbara Hammet did well.
   Strawberry Thief  drew a surprising amount of interest; I had no idea of the popularity of William Morris when I started talking about him.
 It's one of those times when here you are thinking you are unique or alone and then find out that actually many, many feel exactly the same way or as in this case, love the very same thing.





It's fun to revisit the very beginning of a project.  It also gave me an idea of how long this took me from start to finish.



#3


Heaven Spelled Backwards

This post seemed to strike a chord with a lot of people.   I received some very interesting emails about it and I am still receiving the odd note about it.

#4

Thrift Shop Finds

My thrift shop posts always draw a good response.  I guess a lot of people enjoy the hunt.  In fact, the richest person I know (money-wise) once told me that even rich people like a bargain.










#5


Chipmunks, Cheesecake and Crochet

Though I'd like to think it was the cute chipmunks cross stitch photo or this, my crochet that drew the pageviews....




this dessert  from the wonderful Rock Recipes, Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Trifle, was probably the real draw.  Smile

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Trifle




I'm really happy that some of my needlework adventures made it into the top five unlike last year where none of them did.
 I have noticed the dessert posts always fare better than the healthier food chats.  Another smile.

So once again, the top five are widely different topics.
 I guess I'll just keep on with basically writing whatever strikes my fancy!


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Some of the Things I Didn't Know


Thing 1


Just when I think I have heard of everything...living long like I have and all, along comes an idea completely new to me.  Have you heard of  Bottle Cap Pin Cushions?  Perhaps you have and I am the last to know of this tiny but large phenomena.

They are absolutely adorable, require very little in terms of supplies and what a great recycling project.  Each is individual and offers the freedom to get creative with the decorating.



love these tiny pincushions. @Lula Ruiz Fonseca I think I've made these before. They have a bottle cap for a base.:


Jen Segrest offers an excellent tutorial on Flikr  and the link is here.  I love the clever use of rick rack in these from Pine and Wine.  What a cute gift for a sewist.


Thing 2


I saw this on Facebook and realized I never knew how the shuttle part thingie worked even though I've been using a sewing machine since my teenaged years.




Thing 3


Just when I thought I'd sussed out everything sewing on the internet, I discover this.
A site completely new to me that is jam packed with free stuff...

All Free Sewing offers a wide variety of patterns in all the sewing areas. All patterns are reviewed and given a time to make and a difficulty rating. 

  Of course, I went right to quilting and looked through the projects.  This little appliqued hanging caught my eye. The instructions say this can be made in a weekend.  Perhaps the fabric choosing and drawing and cutting the shapes, but I don't think I could get it all sewn in a weekend unless I was machine sewing it.  Love the pattern and fabric choice in this one.

                               Birds and Branches Applique Wall Art


I also looked through the embroidery section and found this little project.


                              Elegantly Embroidered Mug Rug


Of course there are oodles of projects to find on the two really hot topics in the quilting world right now....quilt-as-you-go and stash busting.

Whatever your stitching interests, All Free Sewing is worth checking out.



And in other news....

I came across a knitting pattern called Quest For a Man.  I found that amusing- knitware to bolster the man search, I thought.  It's really quite a cute pattern from Laura Nelkin and you can find it on the awesome  Ravelry site.  Actually,in reading Laura's post about this, I think her original pattern was called Quest and she updated the instructions to make it suitable for a man, not the way I read it.
 Either way you read it, it makes good,warm headgear for the man in your life.

Laura's blog, Nelkin Designs is beautiful, It is very fleshed out with tutorials, videos, projects, kits and even her reading/listening/watching lists.   HERE is the link to check out her lovely offerings.

                                       5358541653_3c4ab5066f_m

You remember my Granny Stripe crocheted blanket with the fiesta bright colours.  How could you not...it was a part of my life and thus this blog, for about 4 months.  Anyway, I saw on Pinterest a version of it done in shades of grays and white, a very cool kind of palette.
  It didn't look at all like my blanket.  It looked like it belonged in a condo or some sparsely scandi-decorated posh house.
  I was floored by how colours completely change the look of a thing. Colour choice is sooo important to the finished product.

Lastly...

February Weather Forecast Via Old Farmer's Almanac


“Groundhog found fog. 
New snows and blue toes.
 Fine and dandy for Valentine candy.
 Snow spittin'; if you're not mitten-smitten,
 you'll be frostbitten!
 By jing-y feels spring-y.” 
― Old Farmer's Almanac

This has all happened here already and it isn't the halfway mark of the month yet!

All good fun.

Monday, 8 February 2016

When You Are Old


W.B. Yeats- I spent a lot of time with this fellow at one point in my reading life, a time when I was not old or gray, as I am now. Many people consider him to be the greatest poet in any language.  I never tire of reading these lines below; the first stanza has an ease and flow that is especially sweet.

 Of course this poem was inspired and written for a woman he wanted but could not have as is often the case for poetry writing.  He is telling her he will always love her even when she is no longer the beauty she is now, in fact he fancies he would be the only one to still love her then.

(Am I the only one who thinks she looks a little like Tina Fey?)




Below that for those who prefer audio when it comes to poetry, Colin Farrell reads this poem with his lovely soft Irish accent.



And just look at the cover of the 2015 edition of Penguin's When You Are Old: Early Poems, Plays and Fairy Tales by William Butler Yeats.  It is William Morris' Tulip and Willow designed in 1873.  Isn't it beautiful?






Hope there is something poetic in your day.