Monday 31 December 2018

Enrolled in Finishing school

"Wisdom comes with winters," said Oscar Wilde.

Here I am another winter on my hands and hopeful the wisdom continues to mount, LOL.
Frozen over now, we walk across the wet land area and I think of the frogs that caused such a racket there all spring and summer. How deep in the mud have they had to sink to survive this, I wonder.

Taken at our pond at the height of last summer before Miss Heron sauntered through!
There is a lot of sharpness in the woods...all the trees deleafed and all their bits sticking out. Hubby leading our little family on our walk took a full body fall recently. Without a chance to put out his hands, his chest took his weight. He was creeping around painful when he had to turn or twist but we are both counting our lucky stars he didn't break anything and is all better now.
It will happen- the falling down, the getting up.  Which is really like a metaphor for life isn't it. We fall down, we get up. We have to do this. Just like in the coming new year, we know for sure there will be the good days interspersed with bad days and even on those bad days we put one foot in front of the other.
  Hopefully a lot more of the good ahead for us and the people we know and love.
 My wish for all you reading this will be that then... a 2019 overflowing with goodness.

Here is something that always makes me smile, such a happy Jack Frost, designed by Kathy Schmitz.  This is the January block from my A Patchwork Year.

Meanwhile, I am serious about starting Finishing School.  First up is finishing the Hand Quilting on this piece, the Kathleen Tracey Mystery Friendship quilt. Fingers a bit sore but managing.  I've been using painters tape to help with straight lines.
Need work still on the eveness of the stitches showing on the back.  Part of me says not to fret while another part wants those to be as even as the front. Then to the binding. Part 1 of my OMG for January as declared at Elm Street Quilts.

And Part 2 of my OMG....Just have the binding to sew on this one. YES to finally getting Lynette Anderson's Scandinavian Christmas finished. Then I just might hang it up even though Christms is over. In fairness to me, I could not find a fabric for the binding and was late last year when I did. But really, many months have elapsed since so there is no logical explanation why this piece that I love and put so much work into was allowed to languish unfinished.

So I have my work cut out for me which is good...goals are good.
  The sun may be low but I fancy it is strengthening and the days are longer by just a bit. Here is that low winter sun setting on Friday just behind the house. (BTW, did anyone else watch that series Low Winter Sun...we enjoyed it.)

The happiest of New Years to you all!
Linking this post with  Kathy's Quilts,  The Quilting JetgirlSmall Quilts and Doll QuiltsEsther's Quilt BlogFree Motion By the River and Sew Can She.

Thursday 27 December 2018

Celebrating My Year in Stitches

At Walmart, no one in Christmas finery except the greeter who is wearing a Santa hat and calling out Merry Christmas to everyone coming through the door; there I am too.  Actually I'm wearing my red sweater but it doesn't show bundled as I am in my down winter coat.
 Last minute shopping...some chocolate treats specifically ( I like the Russell Stover Whitman's Sampler for little gifts) and I don't mind at all being there.  There's a real hustle and bustle to the place on the eve of Christmas Eve, a certain excitement that I don't want to miss.  After all, excitement as such is kind of sparse in my retired adult life, so I will enjoy it where I find it even if it is the local Walmart. LOL

I hope your Eves went well as we close the days to the special one on the horizon . To think a new year is this close to rising boggles my little mind.

But before the new, a quick glance back at the old.

An invitation went out from Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs to write a new post highlighting any number of things that were great about 2018, including the suggestion to write about stitching finishes.

Since my blog is part journal,what a good idea for me to take stock of the stitching side of things and write about what was finished, halfway quilted and still a sad flimsy on a shelf.  But no, I shouldn't say sad as I'm not a bit discouraged to see what needs to be finished, I know I will get to it.

This one below was just finished in the nick of time.  I called it Scandinavian Redwork with no pattern for the quilting finish when it was begun.  I traced some of Zeena Shah's drawings from her Scandinavian Coloring Book and embroidered them with DMC floss.  Her book is available  here at the Book Outlet and at the end, I thought hearts made a suitable border.

This is my version of Edyta Sitar's Pumpkins pattern found at the marvelous Laundry Basket Quilts.
A great applique project and it did get bound and hung on the wall as glimpsed in the photo above.  I want to get her umbrella pattern to make a similar kind of quilt.

I loved embroidering this Leane Beasley pattern, Sew Laugh Love  from Leanne's House.  It hangs in my sewing room and while I'm not laughing all the time, I'm definitely loving (almost) all the sewing taking place there.

I wanted to work on something fun and brightly coloured and found lots of basket inspiration around the net.   I enjoyed displaying this one for the summer months.

I found this pattern in my files, a page torn from an old magazine so I can't credit the designer.  I use this as a little mat on a table in the entry.  I experimented with the hand

These next projects are in the queue acquiring some quilting lines...

This is In the Garden of Contentment from the talented Allie at Allie Oops Design. It was a free Stitch Along and I loved making six of these pretty blocks.

This panel features Bob Fair's painting called After the Snow, a nostalgic looking piece.  I am trying to quilt by hand and machine.  I enjoyed the process of choosing a block for the border and liked the way the small diamond shaped blocks worked out.

Needing quilting
 The Indigo Snowballs- sigh, love this but it is so big!

Painted Lady by Laura Heine- so colourful to work with and stitching wool was surpisingly easy; the pattern is now on a little discount at Mad About Patchwork. Laura's site is Fibre Works and I visit it regularly to find inspiration.

This large block below was the free mystery project this year offered as a Stitch Along by Kathleen Tracey at CountryLane Quilts. Kathleen designs beautiful small quilts.  I struggled with getting the piecing straight and had to unsew a lot but learned as I went.  

Featuring my bank of projects like this has shown me one thing... as much as I love cloth, the way I like best to put it together is in combinations involving applique and embroidery.  

I know my projects are nothing like the gorgeous quilting I love to see over and over at your blogs.  I dream of a Brinton Hall or a Dear Jane quilt, for instance. Who knows, maybe someday!

Meanwhile, I am thankful for three fingers that still can stitch, my continued pleasure in this great pastime of ours, and all of you in the blogging world sharing your work and inspiring me!
Happily linking with Not Afraid of ColorSew Fresh QuiltsQuilt Fabrication, and The Inquiring Quilter.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Scandinavian Christmas Finish and Me

There is an apex of housework that involves having everything in the house clean at the same time, where it just doesn't get any better than that.  The clothes laundered, the dishwasher cleared, the floors mopped, dusting done, the bed changed, etc. ...dare I admit this only happens a few times a year for me these days.  Christmas time is one of them.
So I sit here in my as clean as it can be with two big dogs living area and slow cooker chicken and chick pea dinner starting to smell up the place in a good way, and write to you.
We've had a spate of Crazy weather with rainfall warnings that materialized in huge downpours, freezing rain warnings and then all quiet with a fresh blanket of snow covering everything. All confounding but certainly make for interesting walks.  Cleats on our boots these days because we never know what we will find underfoot.

But looking up so happy to see this fellow, a Barred Owl, not once but twice lately.  Always in the same area of the woods where the very tall deciduous trees are now bare and yet he blends in still surprisingly well.  This was just prior to dusk and the photo shows like a black and white because of it.  I wonder is there any way to identify this owl as the same one we have been glimpsing since we came here two years ago.

I got Hubby to take this photo of me yesterday.

Pleased with this little hanging and especially happy to have it all done. I could say the hearts are appropriate because there is so much in this hanging that I love- embroidery, redwork, Scandinavian themes, and hand quilting.  Finally, I actually finish an Elm Street Quilts OMG as stated!
 Have a couple of other things to show you later on, because of course, being me, the fingers have been busy.  But that can wait.

Now it is time to visit your blogs and say some personal Christmas hellos.
I sincerely hope this Christmas is glorious for you in all manner of ways.

Wonderful to link with Kathy's QuiltsSo ScrappyViewing Nature With EileenSmall Quilts and Doll Quilts,  Alycia QuiltsSilly Mama Quilts, Free Motion By the River and Quilting is More Fun Than Housework.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Mitten Colour Wheel, OMG Stitching, Wrapping To Do

It's not all cakes and bikkies here. :)
I  made a 2 lb loaf of whole wheat bread last weekend. I got out my electric bread maker and you all know how much pleasure these small appliances give me.  It tickles me to think that food can be cooking away without my attention, I guess.  It did a great job and I made tuna sandwiches for a late lunch one day that were so filling we weren't that hungry for supper.  These are big slices!  The Spruce Eats has 19 of the best bread maker recipes and I've made two of them, the rolls and the cinnamon rolls.

We too enjoyed The Kominsky Method - interesting to view people grappling with the same senior issues and how important, if you can, to keep your sense of humour. We were in awe of Alan Arkin at 84 still ably strutting his stuff .

                                           Image result for kominsky method
Do you know what trigger mitts are?
Like so many of you I grew up with hand knitted mittens and Mom had the ability to look at a design and work out how to knit it. For me I am bound by following a pattern.  I always had mitts with fancy patterns just like these below and took them completely for granted.  Isn't it wonderful to see the old time patterns recreated and preserved in such a pretty book.
Here is the Indigo link if you'd like to take a peek.

                           Saltwater Mittens from the Island of Newfoundland: More than 20 heritage designs to knit by Christine Legrow

I love colour wheels.
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Here are Christine and Shirley showing trigger mitts...mitts with the pointer finger knit into them. Perhaps they have another name where you are from.
I've been busy hand quilting my redwork piece using two strands of a red variegated floss.  I've made real progress, down to the last two rows, top and bottom to finish.  But I am finding this kind of stitching hard on my fingers.  It's a diamond pattern drawn on with a thermo sensitive frixxion pen and getting the needle down and then back up evenly is not easy. I understand why there is so much discussion about the method of achieving this. Last night I had to stop to rest my hands.

Looks like I have a bit of wrapping to do! Perhaps you prefer to wrap as you go. 
  Do you have a spot to keep the Christmas shopping?  I've been corraling mine to a spare room with the hope I can keep track of it.  Bought some interesting things that I will show you later.

Look who was under the tree back in 2012 at the old farm.  We think he is happy with us and considering he started life as a crated guard dog, I should hope so.

Busy times and lots on my list to do.  I am hoping to have my Elm Street Quilts OMG done by the weekend so wish me luck.
Hope it's starting to come together for you too!
Joining LeeAnna and the folks listed at Not Afraid of Color for all the things to like on a Thursday.
Also joining Free Motion By the RiverSew Fresh QuiltsBrian's Home BlogIt's a Small Town LifeMy Quilt Infatuation,  and The Needle and Thread Network.

Sunday 16 December 2018

Walking Foot Quilting, Sunday Sampler

Come get your tea I say to hubby several times a day.
 As the chief cook and bottle washer here, I try my best to serve him not only tasty meals, but nutritious ones. Sometimes though I think he would be just as happy with only bread, biscuits and bacon, his favourite B word foods washed down with lots of steeped for five minutes black tea.

So for the most part, he has been remarkably easy to feed.  If  the rare time I'm stuck for something for supper, he'll say in that English way that makes it sound much better than it is, how about beans on toast. But we must be doing something right in the diet department as the doctor has dropped his metformin after a decade of monitoring his blood sugars and finding them stable.  So yay to that.  I think the two daily walks also help that status greatly.

While in the sewing room, I could hear something knocking on the side of the house. It was constant enough that I put on my coat and went out to investigate.  This fellow, a male Hairy Woodpecker, was having a great time breaking through the motar it looks like with an actual hole made in the house!  I could also see many other places where he'd been pecking.
With a wooden house I'm a little surprised this is not more of a problem.  After taking his picture, I shooed him away and haven't heard him since.
I was pleased my close up showed how he is using his stiff tail feathers for support.

Meanwhile our daily walks show us many messages in the snow, something different each time we go out.  Like the amazing fingerprint of feathers surrounding this tiny hole.  What lives(lived!) there I wonder. With rabbit tracks as well.

Or the fact that little birds possibly juncos and chickadees, and red squirrels marched around here. Looks like they were having a dance.

I've finished appliquing snowmen bodies and now working on the little embellishments for each one. These are small blocks about 6 inches and there isn't a lot of room for much around them, but I'd like something extra of interest in each block...besides the hats.
This is a great little project and I'm determined to use my scrap bin fabrics for it so it's fun to see bits from former projects making an appearance.
  This is my daily hand stitching fix and in front of the t.v. sewing, -very enjoyable to me.

My hours in the sewing room this week were at the machine.  I can't use the word enjoying to describe my walking foot quilting efforts, but I am pleased with the results I'm getting. I'm using #71on my Singer Quantum Stylist machine embroidery options; that is an undulating line and very useful.
Subsequent to this is my renewed determination to learn more about what this machine offers. I'm currently using about 10% of its capacity, not unlike my brain. :)

This is my Garden of Contentment under the needle, presently my ginuea pig for this week.

Why not the Redwork piece?  No red thread! I couldn't believe it when I scoured my spools box. I have to get to the fabric store soon! :)

Today finds us having a mild spell with the snow melting. Very tolerable. Hope it is the same where ever you are. And to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy those warm breezes.
Happily linking with Kathy's Quilts and Viewing Nature with Eileen. Also linking with Quilting is More Fun Than HouseworkLove Laugh QuiltEm's Scrapbag, Our World Tuesday and What a Hoot Quilts.

Thursday 13 December 2018

Tree Buntings, Dacquoise Cake, December Walks

I'm starting to dawdle more in the mornings.
 Last September marked the first day of my life that I did not have to set an alarm for either morning of the week.  No babysitting in the mornings any more. So gradually I've embraced this and turned it into an excuse to have a second cup of coffee and keep reading, googling, etc. A case where I look up and it's already after ten and I get a little start like I'm supposed to be somewhere and have forgotten about it.  I've already talked about being pathologically punctual so being late for anything is a fear of mine.
Another phase of life for me. Something that mattered so much doesn't matter any more.  Where ever I'm going these days, the timing of it is more or less fluid.  So relax, Jocelyn, relax.

I joined Daughter and younger grandson on a nature walk in a nearby park area last Sunday...the only sunny day in a long while.  Glorious!  Abby, their Black Lab, joined us and had a ball retreiving sticks. She was relentless; I don't think she would give up till she physically dropped.  We noted one very tiny nest and one large one that Robbie said must be a raven's. I think that was a good guess.

Rosy cheeks and snow angels- very Canadian!
Little boy in a tall wood

I just love trees and they are everywhere you look with the Christmas season in full swing.  This is too cute...a wonderful tutorial on tiny trees for decoration or a bunting from Svetlana at s.o.t.a.k. handmade. Another great stash project too.
Did you see this tree pattern at Amanda Jean's Craftsy Shop? I was sorry to read that Amanda is ending blogging at Crazy Mama Quilts but is off to explore new adventures, I'm sure.  I liked how, though it was her business, Amanda's posts were not inundated with sponsors' ads popping up.

And a photo of our tree.  I'd been making do with old lights and decided on new ones for this year and multicoloured too.  There are 200 on this 6 foot tree.  On the mantle are the Ikea squirrel lights and the santas are in full view on the sofa table this year..

And I made the Dacquoise cake.
At the last minute, I had a hankering for an old fashioned sponge cake for the layers instead of chocolate.  I baked three of them to use and they were good enough to eat without the meringue layers.  However, the three meringue layers do add a slightly crunchy texture and more flavouring.
But next time I'm cake making, it will just be the sponge with some fruit and cream which suits me fine.  Anyway, here is my very tall December version of a Dacquoise cake.  Leaning ever so slightly and not exact sizes of layers which would cost me presentation points on one of those baking shows.

The recipe for theVictoria Sandwich sponge cake is Mary Berry's  so you know it is good.  Very difficult to cut small pieces of this, I tell you.
 A last alterations have been made...cornerstones added, red blocks switched out and an extra star embroidered for the hare.  Going to be smoothed out and made into a quilt sandwich today.

The count down is on in earnest!
Lots of Thursday Thankful things to see and read at Not Afraid of Color.
Also linking this post with Sew Fresh QuiltsMy Quilt InfatuationIt's a Small Town LIfeBrian's Home BlogOur World Tuesday and Quilt Fabrication.

Sunday 9 December 2018

Unsewing, Cake Making, QAL's

On the phone, my mother, who is days away from 85, asked me if I had my Christmas baking done. She loves to talk cooking and baking with me and laments how her kitchen days are behind her. She still speaks with surprise of how I don't bottle things because we are so alike and that was something she did often with food.  Her reasoning being, if company dropped in, you always had something you could make a meal out of for them, the real Newfoundland way.
 Bottling food was something I never really had an interest in, perhaps because it sounds like botulism(LOL), and I know I would be terrified of getting the whole tight seal thing right.  But she bottled jam, meat, vegetables, etc., fed it all to many and never harmed a soul.

Speaking of baking, I made Christmas scones on Friday.  Several facebook friends have links to King Arthur's Flour and I saw this recipe for Ginger scones scroll by. I love anything with crystallized ginger in it.
 It was chilly yesterday with -20C windchill so it was nice to come in from the morning dog walking to this.  Hot tea and a scone with extra old cheese and pear for lunch, a combination Hubby loves.  There he is lurking with his newspaper at ready waiting  for the photo shoot to end so he could chow down.

This is finally a flimsy and on the wall.  I freaked a little when I saw it together for the first time...thought it just too much red.  But having it hanging around has enabled me to get used to it and now I'm okay with it.  It is a Christmas project, so is what it is.  Some of the hearts need their papers removed still and here is what I'm pondering :- adding more hearts to the plain blocks, more cornerstones, substituting those two red blocks for the gray starred ones.  I am definitely going to stitch another star in the hare block.   The more I look at it, the more those two red blocks have to go. My stash pile is a whole lot prettier from this project!

While I had the little Brother machine out stitching these blocks I sewed together more of the scrappy Lily blocks, a super stash busting project.  Cutting the pieces for this in front of the t.v. is a great activity for me...suits my multi tasking personality.

I love the idea of QAL or SAL's.  2019 promises to be a great year for these events. For me, I have to proceed with caution as I have finishing requirements on a number of projects.  I can't believe I've fallen into this as I used to be a strict "one project at a time" stitcher.

Kristin at Simple. Handmade.Everyday is joining with Patty at Elm Street Quilts to conduct a sewn by hand quilt along. This promises to be interesting with two such experienced quilters providing tutorials, etc. along the way.

Another lovely Quilt Along is happening at  Patchwork Posse.  And there are baskets...which I love.


The wonderful Myra at this post of Busy Hands Quilts is again collating links to many of the 2019 QAL's.  Nice to find them all in one place if you want to have a look. Also great to see what is still available from her 2018 list.  Please let me know of any you are finding interesting...

Besides the unsewing in my day today, there will be cake making...have the eggs out of the fridge to get room temperature whites for my meringue...wish me luck.  So all good here at the wooden house.  Hope it is likewise for you in your corner of this world.

Lots of lovely hand sewing happening at Kathy's Quilts as always. Also happy to link with
Free Motion by the River, What a Hoot QuiltsSmall Quilts and Doll QuiltsEm's Scrapbag, and
Love Laugh Quilt.

Thursday 6 December 2018

What Turned My Head, Three Christmas Projects, Multiple Layered Cakes

Do you try to fit other things into your little container of yogurt?  I do mainly because I don't want to dirty up a bowl which is ridiculous when you think about it especially with a dishwasher under the very counter I'm leaning on poking around in the yogurt. I try to put in bran buds, or dried cherries, or flax seeds depending on the day and mood.
  New to me is Icelandic Skyr yogurt available here as a Liberte product and I like it.  So many new products all the time!

Why do we love all things Nordic I wonder.  Maybe because they are at the top or nearly there when the countries get ranked for the good things we all want in our lives.  #1 in government transparency for example and very high for eating well.
And leaning on that same counter I spied this little guy...saw the tree wiggling and up he popped. Can you see him?

Inside, my Crabapple Hill Shiny and Brite is hanging in the foyer again, with the choir of angels poised permanently in song beside it. Here is a link to the Crabapple Hill Design Studio free downloadables page if you have a minute to take a peek.

A close up of the crayon tinting, stitching and hand quilting I did on this piece. All aspects of this project were so enjoyable.  Do you look at certain projects and remember the pleasure of making them?

But about my Present day projects
I mentioned I've resorted to the walking foot to quilt around the building and roof tops of  the After the Snow panel. Gosh, I hope this works far seems to be okay.
But I had to give up on getting a photo showing the actual stitching...after about 10 tries and none of them really capturing any mounds or valleys.  Grrr...
And my true Christmas piece for this year, the Scandinavian Redwork.  I wasn't totally happy with the fabric I showed you before so went back to the cupboard and pulled a few more.  Since I have sewn on all the borders, this is it!  The red is a very good match to the DMC 321 I used in the embroidery.  Hopefully I'll get the outer border of appliqued hearts sewn on today.

And proving orts get everywhere even on my constant (underfoot) companion! Remember when Hubby found one floating in the acquarium!

What's turned my head this week
I used to make a torte back in the day that had a layer of meringue, something I really like. I saw the most wonderful looking cake in this post at William Morris In Quilting with Michele which made me think of making one again.  A little search and I found this one from  the Sugar Coated Cottage called Butterscotch Pecan Dacquoise Cake.  Looks heavenly! (My little torte looked nothing like this mind you.)
  We just had our anniversay and I think I'll make this one this weekend as a special treat.   Love triple /mulitple layer cakes!


Dacquoise is basically a meringue and here is a link to Craftsy explaining all about it.

So visions of cake and meringue are floating in my head...yum!  Also 2019 BOM's which are starting to be talked up around the net.  Next time I'll give some links to a couple I'm eyeing.

Thursday's linking with Not Afraid of Color as always. And these as well: The Needle and Thread NetworkBrian's Home BlogThe Inquiring QuilterQuilt FabricationSilly Mama Quilts, and  
It's a Small Town Life,  Viewing Nature with EileenCrazy Mom Quilts and the Quilting Room with Mel.