Friday 25 February 2022

Most Popular Post By Far, A Dutch Gnome Painter, Flowers in February

I normally don't pay any attention to the statistics of this blog but I recently became aware of how much attention one long ago post has received. I had yet another email about it which piqued my interest so I did some digging. The Canadian Needle Nana post that has garnered the most page views by far, over 15,000, wasn't because of the stitching life I share. It is this one published May 23, 2019-

Links, Woolworth's Famous Cheesecake, Flowers At Last (Update, thank you for letting me know there might be an issue with this link. I've therefore added it to the featured post spot on the right there.) 

In that post I talked about how Mom was a Woolworth's shop girl for 25 years. I  made the Woolworth's icebox cheesecake and shared the recipe. I did share what I was stitching but that was an aside to what captured attention.

  I've also gotten the most emails by far about that post. Yes it was definitely the Woolworth's connection that drew all the attention. I didn't know that Woolworth's was all over the world. I heard from lots who had worked at Woolworth's- first job for many and as teenagers often. I heard about mothers, grandmothers and favourite aunties who worked there. And what people ordered at the famous lunch counter. The Woolworth's Cheesecake recipe also garnered a lot of comments and questions. So many said it was a happy walk down memory lane for them.  What a treat that all has been for me and nothing I've written about since has struck such a chord. So thank you!

Now on to other happy things... 

I just love when I find a new (to me) artist and a very special one. Rien Poortvliet is a Dutch artist and considered one of the greatest nature/wildlife painters- a fellow who never had a drawing lesson in his life. Can he ever paint fur! But it was his paintings/drawings of the fanciful creatures, Gnomes, that brought him international fame.  

Here is a poster of one of his paintings. It can be purchased at Fine Art America and if you google his name, you will find YouTube videos of him, a most modest fellow.   Rien believes every painting should tell a story. I just love this deer!

My cross stitched Floral Motif Sampler garden is growing. Flowers in February...
I am so happy to have finished that little needle book to corral my needles safely.
 I scrounged the tiniest bits of fabric to make the petals on the cover. 
It's proving to be very useful and just big enough so it isn't getting lost in the bag. I'll be sharing my efforts with Joy at The Joyful Quilter who hosts a Last Friday of the Month Table Scrap Challenge to use up the tiniest bits of fabric in a little project.
We walk every single day no matter the weather and there has been a lot of wild winter weather lately. We have all the gear and are careful to use our cleats for when it is icy like it has been recently.
 Below is Hubby in matching gnome colours. He is bearded like them and an engineer like some gnomes but sadly knows nothing of illusion or magic and at 6'2 or more inches (depending on the day...he used to be 6'4") is definitely not gnome sized. 😄
Happy Thursday from the snowy, blowy, freezing Canadian Ottawa Valley. 
As always joining other thankful stitchers at Not Afraid of Color. Sharing with My Quilt InfatuationIt's A Small Town LifeAlycia QuiltsKathy's QuiltsQuilting is More Fun Than Housework and Life in the Scrapatch. Thank you all for hosting!

Saturday 19 February 2022

Loves, 7 or 8 of Them Today

"Love each other or perish."

                           W. H.  Auden

Monday is a public holiday here and in many of the Canadian provinces, Family Day. It's a day for families to take a midwinter rest or get outside and enjoy winter fun together. This year there are lots of planned activities. We will be dog sitting as daughter and family take a little overnight trip. 

 Love these faces...mother Abbey with her offspring, Petey and Ned. These Labradors love the snow.

The family was here last Sunday for snowmobiling. They all had a great time.  Both the grandsons were here.

I love to see them having a good time in the fresh air and the snowmobiles beat down our walking trails which makes them easier to tramp. 
 Truthfully, I'm not getting in the sewing room much lately because it is cold back there. Even with a little heater, it stays cool especially as my sewing machine is by the big window. But one of the milder days, I sewed a few more of the foundation pieced trees which made me feel better. This time in some greens. 
Love this free pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop.  Scrappy Brick House is a quilt I'd like to make someday.  Always fun to dream.

However, I'd made these four houses below for the Sarah Fielke BOM, Grasshopper project back in 2018. Sarah's pattern was easy to follow and I remember enjoying stitching these very much. I was a little new to EPP back then.  That project is resting in its' own big tote. The houses aren't placed together like this in the overall design.
 The fabric line I used is Bloomsbury by Frannie and Jane. It came with this saying by Virginia Woolf...
"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well". I could not agree more!
I have all the blocks stitched, just need to finish the central appliqued panel.  At least it is back on my radar!
But up next right now TO DO this week and in line with my plan is to get a few more of the smaller projects completely finished. More hand stitching thoughts as I figure out how to quilt this one below, my Fans piece. I have it prepped and ready to start. I've done some research and will be trying out an idea today. Wish me luck!
We've been enjoying this series, Inventing Anna, on Netflix.  To think it is based on a true story. The audacity of this girl is mind blowing. 
A wonderful performance by Julia Garner of Ozark fame.
Love the internet...I feel lucky to live in a time when I get to experience all that it has to offer which is endless it seems.  And the pleasure of meeting up online with so many of you all over the world. That makes me very happy too.

Tuesday 15 February 2022

Valentine's Day, Free Radiance Bloom Pattern, Tumbling Blocks EPP, Yuletide Border, And Me

Thank you all for the ideas on how to prevent Miss White Polka Dot Plant from becoming leggy. Top idea was to pinch her back. Which I now have done. 

We enjoyed a takeout dinner and a little treat from daughter for Valentine's Day.

And we joked that this was what I got for Valentine's...I've been wanting one of these for years after seeing it at Daughter's house. I used it right away and loved it. No, it wasn't for Valentine's.  Amazon just happened to deliver it on the day.😊
 I enjoyed Ellie's Quilt Place piece called "15 Minute Quilts".  The idea Ellie puts forward is that one of our projects could be a quilt that doesn't require a lot of thinking. That it's a good idea to have a quilt in progress that can be picked up and worked on even if you only have 15 minutes.  One or two block wonders come to mind. I had to smile at myself because while searching a cache of two blocks wonders to share with you, I got completely sidetracked by this, the PDF for a free download of this quilt EQP calls Switch! There are lots of free patterns to ogle there.

And look at this one.

 This is a free block pattern from Robin Pickens. I spent so much time visiting Robin's site I never did get to the 2 block wonders. Next post!
That reminded me of the Sunday linky party, 15 Minutes to Stitch,  Kate runs on her blog, Life in Pieces. Thank you Kate for that.
And that reminded me of what I keep on hand for my 15 minutes to stitch.  
Also as always part of my TO DO list this week. And thank you Linda for running this linky party, To Do Tuesday, each week at her blog, Texas Quilt Gal, that helps us keep on track. 
I have to make more triangles and blocks for my Tumbling Blocks quilt.
 I'm still working on widening those three large pieces.  I think I may be addicted to EPP. I'm not kidding.
And I'm almost finished the border on Yuletide. Wow, it is now taking me two nights of tv viewing to get one round crocheted. It is far bigger than I had anticipated but that is a good thing. Hopefully this will get all done and dusted this week. And I'm running out of yarn so it must be nearing the end. 
This is me January last year in my happy chair, cross stitching. I'd just cut my hair (too short) but in isolation so who cares. I'm wearing my fair isle fleece tunic from Lands End. Murphy at my feet. Still can't say her name out loud here as someone gets upset.
And on a completely different topic, I am over the moon that things are gradually opening up completely here! We have a date- March 1.  I need more outings. 

Friday 11 February 2022

Free Patterns, Scrappy Appliqued Hearts, Book and Show and Art Too

I transplanted the White Polka Dot plant into my old teapot which is now a planter. It is doing well in it so far but I need to read up on how to prevent it from becoming "leggy". And I got out my finally completely finished appliqued Scrappy Hearts runner for this week. Pattern of my own multi-year making; I didn't mean it to be that way.  I just kept second guessing all my choices which is what I do when I'm not following along with an expert who knows what they're doing. 

In spite of the decision making, this was such a fun project to sew one mid winter. And I enjoyed adding a few lines of hand quilting around each heart. I seem to have a lot of red scraps- always.
 Below is a painting, Blankets, by Canadian artist, Holly Farrell. I saw this recently on Brenda's site, It's Still a Beautiful Life. I love the simplicity and the use of something so domestic in art. Of course, it is familiar too as we all have a similar stack of well used blankets in our homes. 

You can see more of Holly's work HERE.

I was asked about magnifiers for cross stitching.
 Those threads are tiny to count and my eyes need all the help they can get with that kind of  stitching. I use two different kinds of glasses.  I have the maximum magnification 4.0 readers that I bought at Eyekeeper online; good quality especially considering the price which I find cheap.  I can get 5 pairs for the cost of one pair of Foster Grants locally. I also have special magnifying glasses that I bought on Amazon. Hands free and  it comes with changeable different magnification lenses. 
Free patterns,... At Sugar Sand Quilts (which is rebranding from Pretty Piney Quilts), this month's theme is Wedding and the blocks from various designers are free for one month. You'll find a nice cache of free quilt patterns there monthly.
Like this one which is called Loopy Hearts from generous designer Becca Fenstermaker. Very cute!
Anybody else enjoying this series? I always like Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon too who is playing her sister in this. We found it on Crave.
My ebook recently was Pulitzer Prize winning Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. I remembered loving it when I read it years ago. I was surprised by how much I'd forgotten about this piece of great American literature. Quote from it I liked-
  "that old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air..."
Neddy joyfully running through our very own Winter Wonderland...
Hope your week has been a good one and your weekend is even better.

Tuesday 8 February 2022

Scrappy Hand Stitched Needle Book

Thank you all for the interest in items from the last post. Answers to the questions I received...

January's cake: Daughter Beth made Rock Recipe's Orange Velvet Cake With Buttercream Frosting and the recipe is at that link. She says she has made almost all of Barry's Velvet cakes and they all turned out well...we've eaten quite a few of them and can certainly agree!

Her colourful wall is made of water coloured with food colouring and frozen. She used this sort of brick sized plastic container to freeze the water.

And here is the CBC video of the|Saskatoon woman, Laura, making her wall that inspired Beth to make one.

Squirrel Alert!

I got a little sidetracked this weekend with stitching a little needlebook for my Floral Motif Sampler project.
 I don't have a needleminder( Stitched Modern has this little article on how to use these newfangled things) and decided I needed to get a consistent way to deal with needles- instead of stabbing them through the corner of my fabric!.
 I looked at loads of needlebooks and settled on Susie's here as my main inspiration.  Of course, mine would be very scrappy which is definitely the way I roll. 
 I gathered as many little neutral bits that I could sew onto an old piece of fabric approximately 5 x 6.
I used just enough glue to hold them in place while I ran running stitches, Kantha style, through them to hold in place.  
Deciding on a little motif for the cover was really fun. Because this one will house the needles for a flower project, I figured something flowery would be appropriate.
 I dug to the bottom of my scrap bags to pull out the tiniest bits to put to use for the petals. Hmmm, I think I like the larger number of petals arranged randomly like above better than the way they are below. 
Still TO DO... add a few more stitches to pin down those petals and also add the flannel pages; then it will be finished and put to use. It was so pleasurable to sew something that didn't involve following closely a pattern for a change. 

I enjoyed this video about which Ikea items would work well in a sewing room. As you can guess, there are quite a lot as Ikea is known for its emphasis on organization for the home.

I'm interested in this because, as much as I work at organizing my sewing space, it never quite suits me. That is definitely an ongoing issue for me.
 Hope your week is off to a great start! 

Friday 4 February 2022

Calming Winter Walks, Colourful Icy Walls, DMC #3801 in Herringbone Stitch, Pretty Flowers

 The word for the start of February is SNOW and lots of it. I've been shovelling and shuffling about the trails. So pretty. Thursday's walk was through a winter wonderland. I kept stopping to look up,  gaze around at how beautiful the forest looked. Despite it is a bold look, and stark too with the brilliant white against all the black looking branches, I felt it was very calming.  

And the view through the window on the back stairwell always makes me stop and all the four seasons.

We enjoyed another delicious cake from Daughter. This one was orange flavoured and I really liked it. I thought the orange went well with the chocolate icing.

That same daughter built this wall for Robbie's snow fort. That's Abbey's and Petey's tails there, LOL.

It took her quite a while to get it so big. Gorgeous at night.

I got this tower of Happy Elephant gourmet teas and special drink cup for Christmas from older daughter. I love the designs on both. Remind me of Liberty prints or maybe Tilda's. 
I finished the scrappy Lily Challenge hanging. I picked a red tiny polka dotted fabric for the backing and used DMC #3801 which is cheery looking to stitch a herringbone stitch to hold down the edging. It took longer than running it through the machine obviously but I thought the lilies turned out pretty and deserved the extra hand stitched touch. 
Thanks so much to the folks who gave this project a feature on their link party!
I've added several more flowers to my The Scarlet House Floral Motif Sampler. Slow stitching which is a part of almost every day here at the wooden house...
The two of them have a hard life...
With Neddy nodding off dreaming about sticks to chew and squirrels to chase (which I am too!), I'll leave you. Hope you are dreaming of wonderful things too!

Check out more happy thankful things at Not Afraid of ColorBrian's Home Blog and It's a Small Town Life. Also linking with these wonderful parties... Kathy's QuiltsCreations Quilts ArtSmall Quilts and Doll Quilts,  Quilting Patchwork Applique and Alycia Quilts

Tuesday 1 February 2022

Shopping A Bargain, Project Roundup, OMG, New Scrappy Patterns

I must mention how much I appreciated your marvelous comments and emails on the the Sliding Post. I heard from so many folks all over the world who shared their sledding memories, some so special with tales of brothers or sisters or the whole family hitting a town's local sliding hill.  It made me so happy (and sometimes gave me a tear) to read these wonderful little vignettes of childhood times well spent in fresh air and safe fun. Thank you all!

I know where the hills are definitely covered in snow and that is the whole Eastern Seabord.  A huge Nor'easter blew all the way up the east coast and even reached into the Maritime provinces in Canada. Our little deep freeze has lessened and we too have a forecast of snow for midweek which is what happens here when it "warms" up. 

I cannot say how badly I want to start a new scrappy project!  Halo is on my mind probably because I bought the templates for it. I'm also thinking of  Glitter, which I have the book it is in.  Both are Jen Kingwell patterns and beckoning to me with not just a finger but the whole arm!
 I've been gathering a few modern fabrics for these as I would like to be somewhat current and in line with how Jen uses colours and prints in her work. 

I love Sentimental Stitches. I've purchased a 2022 program from Gay called Little Blocks 4.5; they are foundation paper pieced blocks. So far I'm downloading the patterns.  Gay also has a cache of free patterns and BOM's well worth checking out, btw.

But all that lovely stuff aside, I'm holding fast and finishing two current projects. My OMG for January was to finish the QAYG Courthouse Steps which I very nearly did. I am binding it now and that is surprising me with how large it is. Taking absolute ages to finish a side! 

I settled on this for the binding, a tiny print black on white. Sort of neutral and goes well with the red.  The grey is my soiled ironing board cover.

 I'll have to carry on with this and make it my OMG for February at Elm Street Quilts too. I have one side left to finish. Handling it on the machine felt like I was mauling it to death but other than loosening the odd pucker and it taking so long, it is all going well. Now not show worthy or anything like that, but passable. LOL

A little shopping...

Before I forget and while this is on an excellent sale.,,  I'd ordered one for myself when it was almost half price and I liked it so much I ordered two for the daughters.  Very light and also very warm. The Eddie Bauer Fireside Plush Pullover. Mine is in teal. (Not affiliated just sharing something I love).

I know Nanette at A Passionate Quilter From Texas mentioned this recently  but I've had a lot of questions about cross stitching so thought I'd share it as well. The fabulous Fat Quarter Shop is offering cross stitching lessons from Kimberly on their Floss Tube channel. 
And this wonderful free PDF design below. They call their program Cross Stitch University and you can even buy a t-shirt.
TO DO this week besides the above quilting project, is finish crocheting the border on Yuletide Blanket
 and finish the border on the Lilies hanging. I'm using a herringbone stitch which I'm loving the look of. More about that next time.

I have Robbie here for the day as his school has a PA Day so we will be outdoors roaming about very soon. 

Hope your Tuesday is going great!

Sharing this post with Texas Quilt GalLife in the ScrapatchWendy's Quilts and MoreThe Inquiring QuilterQuilting is More Fun Than Housework and Quilt Fabrication.