Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Shoe Box Quilting, Strings, and Finishes

Whenever one of us laments the doing of nothing and the passing of a morning with not an iota of work to show for it, the other will remind him/her this is what retirement is about. I didn't know Hubby in his work life, but I can tell he was focused and hard working. He has earned the right to sit back and let time run away some mornings. And he is less than half a year away from 80 which probably earns him extra resting rights. ☺

No Guilt-Just Quilt

Snow and more snow. I'm reading blogs where many of you are talking about snow, namely how much we seem to be getting this year.  Stitchers and snow days seem to go together.  Working on a project is the perfect way to pass a bad weather day.
 I have a mental picture of you swaddled in comfy clothes, in pet chairs, a cup of some hot beverage at hand's reach, stitching away all the while snow flakes are flying past the window.
 Likewise, I imagine my friends in the Southern Hemisphere in light summer clothes, fanning yourself on a veranda, sipping something with ice floating in it. Lucky dogs either way!

A little good news relating to us sewists.
 After much research, the folks at Aurifil have chosen to link with The Plastic Bank, a social action group headquartered in Canada that works at cleaning up the oceans, specifically the removal of plastic.  As a result of their contribution, Aurifil is now a plastic neutral company.  You can read about it here...Aurifil Auribuzz ..  Meanwhile I didn't know Aurifil was producing 6 strand embroidery floss available in all 270 of their colours.
Image result for aurifil 6 strand thread

When I looked through my totes last week, I have strings it seems. I guess you needn't be quilting long to build up a pile.  I've filled a number of shoe boxes with various sized remnants. Sorting required!


After sizing them up, I seemed to have a lot in blues, probably thanks to a couple of Hubby's old shirts. I remember sewing a few of these wonky log cabin type blocks back years ago and tucking them away.  A bit of digging unearthed that small pile and also one lap sized quilt already sewn together. Forgotten.

I was giving my small sewing machine a little tuneup and wanted to try it out so I stitched this many blocks in the style of the former blocks on impulse. It's really fun to sew like that...the result is abstract and interesting though out of my comfort zone.  I wonder will I bring this to some kind of finished state this winter.


So Next Christmas It Is Then
I am so glad to have been able to meet my Elm Street Quilts OMG for January. Both of my stated goals are completed.  The OMG deadline got me through this Scandinavian Christmas piece.  After getting sidelined with the blocks above, I made myself switch to stitching the binding on this piece right at the last minute almost. Of course, now I'm jubilant this is finished.  And happy my hand stitching and quilting held up throughout all the mauling.

I am liking a new to me author recommended by a friend.  Rachel Cusk  I'm intrigued by her style of writing and am halfway through reading Outline as an ebook from the library.  It's the most interesting writing I've read in a while.

                                               Image result for rachel cusk outline

I've been shovelling every day keeping pace with the snowfall.  All good; I'm being real careful with how I'm handling it.
Hope you are staying warm and safe or cool and safe where ever you are!
As always linking up with Not Afraid of Color and other folks finding lots of things to like on a Thursday. Joining the linky parties at My Quilt InfatuationFree Motion By the River, Em's ScrapbagQuilt Fabrication, and Esther's Quilt Blog.


Sunday, 27 January 2019

Konmari Method, Bow Ties, Glorious Applique

I shared a little about Marie Kondo, the decluttering expert, a while back... I was rather taken with her question does an object give you joy implying that objects can, in fact, spark joy in us.  As someone who lost all her objects and was told at the time by many, they're only things, this whole notion is interesting and actually has me rethinking just why I was so sad and still am about losing mere "things".
I own very few objects these days; my stitching stuff constitutes the most of my belongings. My closet almost doesn't count...it is such a hodge podge of good items mixed with thrift store finds and is also pared down. (One woman wrote if she applied Marie's joyful query to decluttering her closet, all she'd have left are pyjama bottoms. )
 And as I write this clad in head to toe fleece (secondhand I might add), while maybe not joyful, it is definitely pleasurable to feel so cosy and warm. And as Marie encourages, feeling immense gratitude for what I've come to these days as well as for those objects around me I can still put my hand on.

Take a look out my window. This is a corner of the dog's fenced 3 acres. Snow squall warning today and the flakes are flying. It seems hard to photograph falling snow let alone flying snow though I think you get the picture. :)

But getting back to pursuing joy.  I  do get tremendous pleasure in sewing. Sometimes for these bigger projects, which I like more than little ones, my interest sags and I have to take myself in hand to get through. I never really give up on a project; they haunt me like little ghosts...so at some point I have to bring them to a sort of conclusion.   It  is difficult to admit anything I had the excitement to start is no longer worth my creative time and energy.
 However, sometimes I wish I could do just that. I think there are things that are truly past their time of being worthy of our efforts. What do you think?

Rex shows very little playfulness but one thing he seems to enjoy is getting towelled off after being out in rain or snow. He'll keep coming back for more rubbing and even runs about a little showing very rare friskiness.


One of my intentions was to work with wool again these winter months. To that end, I've decided to join the Attic 24 Sweet Pea CAL and ordered my wool pack from the Wool Warehouse who always offer wonderful service to Canada. This will be my third Attic 24 afghan. Aren't those colours sweet. These colours in this winter should defintely bring me joy. I've grown green peas, but never sweet peas.

DSC06331

Angie at Quilting on the Crescent has written a wonderful and very clear tutorial for a cute 3D bow tie block. This was one of my mother's favourite blocks many decades ago.
Claudia Vess's Halloween Bowtie block below can be found Here at Fave Quilts.  Love those fabrics.

                                          Image result for bow tie block

Quadruple bow ties I tracked down at the Sew Kind of Wonderful blog while looking for valentine blocks... sewn by Jodi and quilted by Jenny. I think the pattern is called Uncle Sam's Bowties.  Amazing how changing up or joining up blocks give a pattern a whole new look.


I've finished my Glorious Applique block with all the hand stitching I am going to do with it. I've set up the next block below to do the same.  This one a little more cumbersome to work with but hope to get a start this evening.  These are the designs of Kim McLean and I'd forgotten how bright and whimsical they are.
 Note to self: Remove all the freezer paper templates before beginning to stitch!


Hubby is out on the ski do going over our trails for walking.  I shovelled the front steps as soon as I saw the snow was slowing.
Our January is moving right along as we mark this last Sunday in 2019.
A joy always to link up with Kathy's QuiltsWhat a Hoot QuiltsSmall Quilts and Doll QuiltsSew Can She, Alycia Quilts and Bambi's Show and Tell.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Stitching The Winter Away

Only a small wind but a biting one is coniving to keep us indoors these days. It is dropping the temperature to extreme below zero numbers.  I shovelled the front steps with my face covering balaclava on and doubled my mittens but my fingers still burned with the cold by the time I was done.  Fortunately, the forecast is for a break soon, one that will involve freezing rain.
 It is not only above the fiftieth parallel that life requires fortitude to live. LOL

 As long as I don't have to drive in it, I say.
That sums up how I basically feel about bad weather. All this snow and ice is a good excuse to stay inside and putter and catch up on reading, Pinterest and stitching, is the way my brain computes it.  Hubby too, has been spending time in his work area of the basement, getting some small jobs cleared off his work bench.  The real weather discontents in our family are the dogs. Walks have been shortened as Murphy, especially, gets cold feet and bitterly protests wearing shoes, silly girl.

Here she is hogging the heat at the farm back in 2014.


Part of our preparedness is having our Aladdin Lamps ready in case we lose the power. So far, there's not been a flicker.

I do this now.
Chop all the things to make a large salad, cover with saran wrap and use over a couple of days.  It all keeps well and a salad is ready to go.


Karen at Quilts....Etc. shared her Instant Pot Cheesecake which looked delicious and got me thinking.  Can my slow cooker make cheesecake? I looked it up and why yes, it can! Duly noted! I love my food treats and am thankful to still have a good appetite.
Karen also, besides her beautiful quilting, has been sharing her organization of scraps, strings, etc. So neat and tidy. Check it out. Mine are a jumbled mess.

Meanwhile I made another large batch of these Robin Hood Flour Bran Muffins; I added dates, almonds and craisins to mine. Maybe that's why they didn't rise like they should have, but boy, they are really moist and tasty. And go well with cheese.


 I loved watching this little video below.
The very artsy/elegant and expensive Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada uses all locally crafted items including quilts sewn by local women on the beds.  I was delighted to see the quilts were not like the highfaluting ones being made nowadays, but instead mostly simpler versions like what our grandmothers made.

So would you rather sew than eat?
They embroider their names on the quilt labels and I can imagine what fun it must be to think that Oprah or Gwenyth Paltrow or the prime minister slept under your quilt!

Thanks to all the indoor time, I'm making headway on the center basket of my Cornwall Cottage Sampler.  Did I realize how big this was when I started, I wonder. It is taking me well into my retirement. :)



But then it's hard to finish what you're not working on, as the saying goes.
Because I continue to juggle a number of WIPs.  I've been laying some hand quilting stitches on one of my Kim McLean Glorious Applique blocks.  I'm using the hera marker for this and it's working well on this particular white fabric.


Glorious colours too- to work with on dull winter days.
Happily linking with Not Afraid of Color for lots of Thursday Likes.
Also linking this post with Super Mom No CapeBrian's Home BlogThe Needle and Thread NetworkSew Fresh QuiltsWendy's Quilts and More,  The Inquiring Quilter and My Quilt Infatuation.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Two Trends I've Noticed

A Sunday snowy world outside my bedroom this morning.
 We are experiencing a double whammy weather event.  A snowstorm from the south, the U.S., and a frigid air mass from the north meeting right here so we have two warnings...extreme cold coupled with snowfall.
  It meant on our walk today we were bundled up like Arctic explorers and the snow was up to Murphy's belly.  It was more of a slog than a walk and we had to cut it short actually for her and Hubby.  Lots of snow clearing to come.
Inside, after our walk in a snowstorm, we warmed up with hot chocolate- and a chance to use my heavy Snowman mug. Yes, it's Canada in January!


Two trends I've noticed around the quilt blogging world.

 One is the finish up crowd.  A number of my blogging friends are determined to get their WIP's finished up in 2019. A few have already shared some wonderful finishes.

And two, along with this is the stash/scrap busting crowd. There seems to be a lot of folks trying to get their on hand fabric used and to make a dent in the scrap bin as well.  To that end string quilting, a wonderful way to use up scraps, seems to be enjoying a bit of a comeback.

At the Moda fabric blog, for instance, they are running a Moda String-Along inviting people to make and share string blocks. At that link, you will find a nice overview of different ways to make string blocks and ideas for creative ones as well.
String blocks have deep historical roots. This is a vintage string quilt Moda featured.  It works well to anchor the stringed blocks with a solid coloured block, it seems.
                             
The wonderful Lori at Humble Quilts is also running a string block quilt along. She is offering lots of information and is planning a basketweave quilt, I believe.

From vintage to contemporary...Quiltmania's Stringed Beads quilt.  Would this be too unstructured for you?
                                                 Image result for simply modern string beads quilt
Paulette at The Way I Sew It has created a Pinterest page of over 600 string quilts. You can check it out at her Silly For String Quilts board.  Loads of inspiration!
Stars are always so popular.

                                              Image result for string quilts

I've looked at some of the blocks folks are sharing...some are so coordinated they must not be all scraps.  But I can see raiding your stash to complement certain colours or patterns.  And using up fabric either way.

  I am definitely in the Finish Things Up bunch and happily moving a number of projects along.  But I have felt inspired to also get out all my scrap boxes to have a look.  With the 2018 projects, I've added some pretty materials to the scraps.  I've also been saving my selvages so they have mounted.

The appliqued snowmen are coming along.  I'm anchoring them with neutral greys and I've chosen the border. It will be a scalloped red against grey. To that end I spent sewing room time yesterday sorting out how to make the scallops without a special scallop ruler.  I experimented with different curved edges to choose the size I will need. A saucer is too big in this case.
Toting them about in a cardboard tray. 
I've not made fabric scallops before.  This method seemed interesting and I'm giving it consideration.

Here is a photo of the Keto Pizza Casserole prior to baking.

Hubby, who is a pizza fan, loved it. He said he would be happy if it made regular occurrences on our menu.  High praise indeed.
I followed the recipe found here...Kasey Trenum and added mushrooms, peppers, and cauliflower.  It's one of those things where you can use up what's on hand and is quick to put together. It would go great with tortilla chips.

I wish you all a wonderful Sunday!
Linking this post with the other hand quilters at Kathy's Quilts. Also linking with Small Quilts and Doll Quilts, What a Hoot Quilts, Quilting is More Fun Than Housework, Cooking Up Quilts, and
Love Laugh Quilt.





Thursday, 17 January 2019

Grandparents, Birds, Dogs, Stitching

My elderly grandparents liked to sit in a darkening kitchen and listen to the clock tick.
 I was always too shy to ask that a light be turned on so sat with my book in my lap and pretended it wasn't there for I didn't want them to feel badly they had neglected to turn on a light for me. It would seem to be a surprise to them that suddenly it was dark and we needed a light. I would have to say they had a high level of contentment just sitting like that with each other...no words, and the only other sound in the room, the ocean, a roar heard, not heard, then heard again.  Perhaps I was chasing boredom to be so mindful of the ocean sound like that but it is true that with any wind at all, the sound of the Atlantic Ocean could be heard inside that house in Maberly, Bonavista Bay.

Sometimes our memories take on a significance with time and I'm happy to be able to share that little but significant one of mine with you.  Grandparents are meant to be significant people in our lives, I believe. Besides being part of our personal history, they provide an added cushion of security and support...more important now than ever before, I think.
 And it is a troubling loss when that is not possible.

Present day and we are having a strange winter.  Foggy at times, rainy at times, blasts of extreme cold, snowfall...a little of all the winter gods have to offer it seems.
Hubby is using his special therapy light to ward off depression but thankfully, weather as such never gets me down and so far, so good for him too. And inside our wooden house, the four of us are snug as bugs.

I've been stalking the pileated woodpecker who's been making this mess of an old tree. We've caught him at it a couple of times...much squawking ensues.


Warning: Bad Bird Photo
This is the best I've managed to date...yes that red bit there in the middle is his head. He's quite the size.

At one of the birding sites (I wish I took note of the one), someone posted a bad photo and there was an unkind comment made about it. (I have to ask, why do people take the time to do that!)
 The manager asked that people share their bad bird photos because, of course, everyone has them.  So it was nice to see these wonderful photographers sharing their misses.

I purchased a beauty product back in the fall that I'd been reading about for a couple of years. A dermaroller...this is entry level with the shortest of the needles.

 I've been using this on my face once or twice a week and also on my receding hairline. I started out being very gentle with my face.  Now I press hard enough to make it feel a bit red and tingly sort of like a good cleanser feeling. While I don't put a lot of stock in these things, I do believe my scalp is getting a little bit of regrowth but perhaps that's just my wishful thinking. Sigh
  Differning Opinions abound of course!
Here is one article definitely saying nay to DIY microrolling.
And here is one that is positive about it.

Sometimes it comes as a surprise to me to know people are really reading what I write here on the blog. Thank you, Jessie, who noted that with my love of redwork and bunnies, this project would be up my alley. I've duly added it to my list.  It's from Bunny Hill Designs and called Rabbits Prefer Embroidery.

Rabbits Prefer Embroidery
And on that note, thank you to all who take the time to comment and/or email me. I love it and appreciate it so much.  I just wish Google did a better job of translations.

Last little bits being sewn on this...corners, etc., my Garden of Contentment. I'm doing lots and lots of hand quilting making sure all the pieces are well anchored.  Easy, stress free stitching and really, it is finished. But I don't want to let it go; it feels so nice in my lap.




True to their characters here when off leash, Rex watchful and Murphy running with typical Labrador abandon.
It's a frosty -30 C with the wind chill this morning, so bundling up will be the main fashion concern today.

Yesterday I made something called Keto Pizza Casserole. A photo and review next time.
Happily linking up with lots to like at Not Afraid of ColorBrian's Home Blog, and It's a Small Town Life.  Also linking with Em's ScrapbagKathy's Kwilts And MoreConfessions of a Fabric AddictMy Quilt InfatuationViewing Nature With EileenFrom Bolt to Beauty and Sew Fresh Quilts.









Sunday, 13 January 2019

Rabbits, Mystery Patterns, Walksies

The rabbits are running these cold winter nights.
 Loads of tracks crisscrossing our trails and I have to stop the dogs from munching on the buttons.  We saw two places with little bits of fur where something successfully preyed on them too.  Sad to see but it is the cycle of wild life.
As mentioned, I am continuing year 2 of my plan to try to spend an hour a day outside in the fresh air no matter the weather. With our back acres bordering other people's back acres, we have a sense of  a small wilderness back there. We have permission to walk their trails too.  With the tiny plots of wetlands frozen over and the many trails, we can easily get a good walk in and fulfill 30 minutes of two old folks trotting about twice a day.

When I lived in the Arctic, the far north on Baffin Island, the local nurses encouraged the school to continue the twice daily 20 minute recess breaks to be outside no matter the weather. There being a strong belief that the fresh air was good for the children and for us too.

I do find the winter air bracing we will say and it feels like everything in my head gets cleared. Invigorating, hubby says and nothing makes a hot cup of tea taste better once our outer layers have been shed.

  How do you like my moose nightlight?  Or my Kensington Stafford's Teapot I found at a thrift store?  Pours beautifully which I appreciate.

But speaking of rabbits, I love the image of hares and they abound in so many patterns and designs.
Here is Hare in Snow on a greeting card from Cotswold Trading.  This could easily translate into an applique design.
                          Image result for the Christmas hare

There is a bit of a mystery about this bunny below.  He was worked by Kristen at Knitionary from an old pattern she had from Associated Talents. He was so popular at one time a facebook page for him was formed and he became known as "Facebook Bunny"; however the pattern seems to have been discontinued and no one can find one.

                                         Image result for mr. bunny needlepoint
This quilt is called In My Garden, a design by the very talented Dawn Heese from Linen Closet Quilts.  I can't find this pattern either. If you know of it, please let me know.

                                   

Meanwhile, I've been so good to not sign up for any BOM's (so far) and to continue the new year finishing up my on the go projects.
In accordance with that, I've put myself on a diet...a fabric diet. No new purchases til some headway is made with that closet of lovely choices I already have.

No rabbits but out came my Cornwall Cottage Sampler which I love and am determined its time has come.  Do you have those feelings too about a project just out of the blue?
I realized though that I could not work this on the 32 count without my Ott Lite. The light means so much with these old eyes.


This has been a busy Sunday with lunch out but now I'm home and settled in my pet chair ready to pick up my needle and thread.  Just a little each day to keep moving it forward is my plan.

Pleased to be linking this post with Kathy's Quilts.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Spinner Rings, Finishes, Domestic Minutiae

Why must you always be doing something?  Hubby asks me.
 He's referring to my way of getting things done.  I can't just sit and read, or watch t.v. or take a nap.  I have to have a couple of things on the go at once.  My stitching in my hands, audio book or music playing, the washing machine running, etc. But I'm not frenetic about it...it is all done in my own, "mind my own business" quiet way.  For a guy who is generally focused on one job at a time, it doesn't seem beneficial to multitask... something loses out.

Is this familiar?
I think of how we end the night.  Downstairs, finished watching t.v., I turn off the lamps, pick up our food tray and head upstairs. I divert to the storage room to pick out a frozen chicken to thaw for tomorrow. Upstairs now, I put the dogs out, rinse the tea things, fill the coffee pot for the morning, fill the kettle, put things in the dish washer, check that the dog's water dish is full, turn on the night light in that room for them, go to our bedroom, turn on his lamp, lower the three window blinds, go back out to get the dogs in, give them the last treat of the day, make sure doors are locked, turn off the floor lamp, and for a while there- unplug the Christmas tree.
Dealing with this kind of minutiae seems to be my forte these days. Now that makes it sound negative or I'm complaining. I don't mean it that way at all.  It's just life, right.

 I am on the look-out for this book, Educated by Tara Westover. Earning a hearty 4.3 rating on Goodreads, it sounds like a very interesting memoir. Tara's first day of university was her first day of school.  Her childhood was spent in a family preparing for the apocalypse, scavenging for survival and isolated.  Yet she went on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

                                               Cover art

I do love it when I have a ham bone to make pea soup. Also happy to have a husband who loves pea soup as much as I do.  And the dumplings or dough boys as we called them in Newfoundland, make for hearty winter fare.  This photo is the first time I made pea soup and dough boys for Hubby back in 2011.

I got a new lamp over the holidays. We've been stumbling around in the the semi dark in the living area...part of the reason we loved having the Christmas tree lights, I think.  We have lamps, antique ones that are difficult to fit bulbs to and glow with only enough illumination to show just how dark it is!  We were in Home Depot and I spotted this one. You don't have to wonder why it belongs in Jocelyn's house.
     

My new ring from younger daughter...something called a Spinner Ring. I love it. And here is a link to the over 10000 spinner rings on Etsy!


So glad this is on the wall. And out of my lap!  It seems to suit a wooden house.


Replaced by my Garden of Contentment getting bound this week.  Also sides straightened up with the help of Hubby's straight stick.


It's kind of nice to revisit old work up close like this...and be happy with it.

Hope your weekend will be a good one!

Happy to link with Not Afraid of Color  as always. Also glad to join the linky parties at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Sew Fresh Quilts, My Quilt InfatuationWendy's Quilts and More, Anja QuiltsSo Scrappy and Quilt Fabrication.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

The Reds, Tidying and Stitching Snowmen

Come quick, Hubby called from the kitchen. Looking out the window, I could see a fox checking out the bird feeders. I  didn't bother running for my camera as I know these little fellows don't stick around. Instead I watched and admired how beautiful his red/orange coat looked against the fresh white snow. He soon trotted off and I reached a side window in time to watch that red disappear through the trees. I tried not to lament not getting a photo and instead think of what a wonder it is to have seen him like that sniffing his way along in front of our  house.  How great it is to live on this plot of land.  Every day, there are fresh marvels to enjoy.

Speaking of flashes of red, I did capture this shot through that kitchen window and enlarged it on the computer. I love spying their brilliant flashes but they have been scarce this winter.

And this is interesting too.  Why Cardinals are really redder in winter!

New Year/New Broom
There is a lot of organizing going on around the internet.
I watched the first episode of Tidying Up on Netflix featuring Marie Kondo and realized that while I've been folding our tee shirts correctly (whew), I've been folding my pants wrong all these years.  I immediately went and did it her way and I must admit it looks much neater.  Taking the time for the folding will be the challenge.   You can visit her site here and here is a brief video of Marie explaining how to fold your pants.


I've been thinking again this new year about keeping an actual organizer.  Perhaps time would not vanish on me if I had such a thing.  I did a bit of research and it seems the Plum Paper one is best but I don't think I can order it in Canada.
These organizers can range widely in price depending on how many bells and whistles you want.  However, the very highly recommended Erin Condren Life Planner seems to make most of the lists. Here is the Erin site where you can check out all the features.  They are so pretty with their customisable covers.



This is a bit of hoot that I would pay such money for sort of note taking.  Considering Hubby is still recycling his papers from the nineties-using the backs for taking notes at the computer. Also cutting it into squares and using a staple through a bunch for a handy notebook.  I do it too sometimes if I come across paper I like such as vellums or pinks.  Penny wise and dollar foolish.

Christmas is tucked away now but snowmen abound here at the wooden house.  Funny how each of these seem to have a bit of a personality. I'm trying to figure out how to anchor them.  Like Nancy at Joy For Grace who spoke of wanting to anchor her appliqued pots, I'm having the same issue. I feel like they should be grounded some way.
Still trying out bits and pieces before stitching it all down.

So that's my fun stitching while finishing up my panel which is almost done.
Hope you are all tidy and organized and stitching something fun too!
So happy to be joining the following linky parties- Kathy's QuiltsViewing Nature With EileenSmall Quilts and Doll QuiltsSew Can She,  Quilting is More Fun Than Housework, Em's Scrapbag and Busy Hands Quilts.