Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Love the Rock: Newfoundland

On top of Signal Hill where Marconi
received the first Trans-Atlantic
wireless signal. Yes that's fog
behind me!
I'm baaack. Sadly vacation is over and I have returned home. We spent a week in Newfoundland. It was incredible. I've never seen anyplace like it. I can see why they call it The Rock. There's nothing there but rocks and stumpy little trees. It is kind of like BC but with midget trees. NFLD has a harsh beauty that is breathtaking. When the fog rolls in, look out. It can go from sunny and hot to foggy and muggy in minutes. We watched a fog bank roll in and it literally took only fifteen minutes before you couldn't see more than twenty feet away.

I love the place names too. They are all creative and cute. Gander, Come by Chance, Conception Bay, Dildo. Let's not forget Top Sail, Birchy Nap and Bacon Cove. Lakes are called ponds, it doesn't seem to matter what size it is, if I would consider it a lake its still called a pond. Paddy's Pond, Lost Pond, Gushue Pond, Kenny's Pond, I think the names make them seem like inviting places to visit. Even the street names are inviting, Freshwater Road, Cook Street, New Cove Road, and Marigold Place.

A typical Newfoundland beach.
We toured around quite a bit, driving the highways and tramping around St. John's. We took a tour up to Trinity and drove the southern coastline. I was surprised to find that there really aren't any beaches to speak of. If you can get close to the water, its on top of a rocky cliff. The few beaches we found were made up of rocks.

I even brought home a few rocks to throw through the old rock tumbler. (Those of you who know me well are aware that I cannot go for a walk without picking up a rock.) We purchased two big chunks of Labradorite to cut up for making jewellery and I bought myself a lovely pair of Labrodorite earrings. (Labradorite is the official stone of NFLD.) Its tone varies, but when you hold it just right it is kind or iridescent. It shines blue, green and sometimes even gold.

My new Labradorite earrings.
Raw Labradorite Stone

We took an ocean cruise on this boat. Saw some whales
and the eastern-most land point in North America.
Coming back to St John's after our cruise.
We spent some time at the rink with they boys playing lacrosse. Yup, Mater's Lacrosse again and no its not any faster than it was before. However, it was a lot of fun. One NFLD player posted the quote of the weekend on Face Book. "Only in Newfoundland does it take two kegs of beer to play three games of lacrosse." Too true. Yes indeed, there was a bit of beer consumed, a lot of fish eaten but most importantly many new friends were met. Those Newfies sure know how to throw a party!
The people in Newfoundland were friendly and entertaining and I cannot wait to go back next year!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday Thanks

Kim's "Applique" birthday cake.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking lately. A dangerous occupation at best, I know, but driving the longarm gives a person a lot of time to muse things over. My machine is an APQS Liberty and is not computerised. I have to follow the patterns myself. While one part of my mind is busy concentrating on that, the rest of it runs wild.
As I ease into a rhythm of quilting and my brain takes off. Yesterday, my brain seemed stuck on all the good things I have. Not the possessions, but rather the intangible things. Things like luck, family and friends.

Let’s start with luck. I’ve decided that I don’t really have bad luck, but I don’t really have good luck either. Life flows on with its highs and lows. Nothing really bad has ever happened to my husband and I. But we haven’t won the lottery yet either. Things just seem … well neutral. I guess that means that my Cosmic Karma must be fairly well balanced. (Yeah, I know … there are days when I’ve done or said things that should have me run over by a Karmic Retribution Bus, but we’re not going there.)
I have a fabulous family.

My husband is supportive, career-wise and financially. (Grin.) My kids are happy and healthy (and moved out. Happy dance!) I’m close to my parents and siblings and we have good relationships, although I don’t see them as often as I would like. I know that later I will regret not making a bigger effort to see my family, and I hope that they understand how much I wish I was with them. I wish to publicly thank them all, here and now, for being part of my life and for kicking me in the backside when I need a reality check.

Happy Birthday Old Friend!
And friends. I have a lot of friends, and no I’m not bragging. I’ve got a handful of really close friends and a basket full of good friends. I’ve also got a lot of people in my life who are more than acquaintances, but not quite friends, if that makes any sense.  I spent some time this week with my friend and quilting buddy Kim.(Chatterbox Quilts) I talked about her obsession with applique in my last post. I had her over for birthday tea. Last Friday was coffee with Linda day! Yeah. Linda is my vent. I can tell her anything and spend two hours being angry and snotty about something and she just sucks it all up until I feel better. Deb is my day out friend. We talk almost every day and love to take day trips together shopping and eating and thinking alike. We laugh a lot, and we like to think that the local quilt shops are amused by us, but I expect that we leave as much relief as laughter in our wakes.

But let us not forget Betty Bubbles, and Colleen my Regina friends. Oh, and Little Calgary Betty, Jane, Phaedra, Rita, Sam …. Okay, I’ll stop there. See, there’s no denying it. I’m blessed. My life is good and I am happy. Oh, oh, and my pattern testers. Ann Marie (Muddy Feet 16: Check out her blog!), Tammy, Beth and Alice.

Okay enough drivel for one day. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who makes my life so good.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What are your blessings?

More cake! Mmmmm, it was soooooo good!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Insanity Is Not Hereditary, You Get It From Your Friends!

Yup, its true. I've said what we all know. Insanity is NOT hereditary, we get it from our friends. Our quilting friends. They give us ideas and inspire our creativity. Sometimes to the point where we later say "What was I thinking?"

I'm there now. Yup totally-absolutely-certifiably insane. And what I want to know is, WHAT WAS I THINKING? Can somebody please, please tell me .....

Today's insanity comes from a number of sources.  There's a lot a blame to go around here, so line up friends and take your share. My first torpedo of blame goes to the girls at guild. Friendship blocks. What a lovely idea. Everyone makes a block or two for this month's recipient. And quick as a blink she has a new quilt. Ha. Friendship blocks? Evil blocks! Evil, evil I say.

My turn came up and I had this brilliant idea for making a quilt entirely of half square triangles. So for my friendship blocks I requested one side light/one side dark half square triangles. I had a plan. It was a cunning plan. There was this vision, it was going to be perfect. All those triangles plus a few more in different sizes was going to create this fabulous disappearing-diminishing-distance look. Just let me say now, FAT CHANCE! That idea failed. So I settled on a much simpler plan and put the blocks together in a simple pattern for a wall hanging.

The whole quilt.
Flowers will be in each spot where
there is a petal pinned.
Hmm. It didn't turn out quite big enough so I added a pieced light/light half square triangle border. Ouch! Waaaay to bright. It needed toned down at bit, or maybe jazzed up. S0, I thought of Linda W. I took a three dimensional quilting class from Linda several years ago. I learned how to made 3D leaves, flowers and embellishments. So I decided to add an applique vine and some 3D flowers and leaves to my wall hanging to make it pretty and to make the borders a little softer. Nothing fancy just a couple of dimensional flowers to spruce it up. Great idea. I started planning. First we add the vine stem, quilt the top, then we bind it. Then we decide what to do for the 3D bits. Okay, I admit, it wasn't my smartest idea.

But wait, it gets worse, the next torpedo of blame goes to Kim Jamieson-Hirst ( ). Kim is crazy about applique. She'll applique anything. I suspect that she would put applique food on the table at supper if she thought she would get away with it. One day I'm puttering away in my studio thinking about my wall hanging and I start thinking about Kim which gets me thinking about raw edge applique. So, I cut out some flowers and leaves. Test place them on the quilt. They look perfect. They are exactly what the quilt needs. Except, I've already finished stitching the layers together and sewing on appliques would spoil the back.

Don't say it, I know what you're thinking. "But you could HAND applique them on."

I told you not to say it. I wanted this quilt finished and off my UFO list. So hand applique was out. To heck with Kim and her crazy obsession with applique.

Just when I've started thinking about banging my head into the desk to try to jar out a solution to those punchy borders, I think of THEM. Those dreaded art quilters. You know who you are, stop sitting there looking innocent. Those woman are crazy. Nuts. They are always jazzing up their quilts with little bit and bobs. How about a button, maybe some beads? You know who they are, trying to turn quilting into an entirely different art form. How I hate them! Okay, I'm just jealous that they can work outside of their box and I can't. But now they have me thinking flowers. Bella Nonna Petals! Perfect. A few quick stitches and VoilĂ  the quilt will be finished and ready for hanging. A little out of my comfort zone, but still do-able.

Ha ha ha ha ha ..... this is where the maniacal laughter starts. I try bunching those petals. I mean really, how hard can it be to add a few flowers? Hmm, bunching the petals together doesn't work. That little cluster of leaves looks good. Maybe I'll add a tiny white center to my cluster of leaves. Nice, but not enough. Ooooo, a beaded center would punch that wee flower right up! Success! Now that looks nice. Just a few more and the quilt will be finished.

So I start planning again .......  I'll need a couple flowers to go with those corner leaf clusters.

So I design and build my first flower. It lovely. Its perfect. Its exactly what I had envisioned. It took a while though. "Yeah", I told myself, "its exactly what you want. Make some more. After all 20 minutes a flower isn't that bad."

Lets stop here and take a count. Leaf clusters for the corners. That's four. Maybe a bigger flower for each corner. That makes eight. Hmm, now something for the sides. That makes 24 in all. Not too bad. Okay, I can do this. Its going to take a while to make two dozen flowers. Lets put a couple of them in place and see how it looks. Nice.

Ooooh, but it is sooo much nicer when you cluster a few together like that..... Okay so now I'm thinking I need about eighty. Yes I said EIGHTY flowers to complete this border.

More maniacal laughter here.  Much more!

So now somebody tell me, WHAT WAS I THINKING? (And yes I am blaming everyone else for this. How could I possibly be at fault?) Maybe I should have gone with the hand applique!

Friday, August 5, 2011


Yeah, I know. TGIF. Everyone uses it all the time. But seriously. I'm glad it is Friday. I'm going to spend the weekend working on my own projects. I think I'm nearly caught up with longarming for clients. I'm going to spend the day sewing with the Spawn. Wee daughter Wendy is coming over to work on a baby quilt for her friend. I'll run the longarm and help when needed. Tomorrow the other Spawn, Tina, is coming over to play. Does life get any better than this?

Now for an update: So far I have finished three UFOs. Marnie, Not Your Grandmother's Log Cabin and now ..... a baby quilt. So far, I am leading the race. (I'm not even taking credit for the quilt for Cousin Kathy because it wasn't started when I opened this competition.) I've finished three projects and my contestants have not yet reported any finishing. Tsk tsk tsk. Come on ladies. This is supposed to inspire you ... get sewing.

This is the quilt I finished last night. Decided to
make it from two fabrics just to see how
it turned out. Its kind of cute.
This is Charmed to Bits. The original version of the
same quilt made from charm squares.
The second version has no name, but it is the alternate cover picture for my Charmed to Bits pattern. I decided to make it on a whim and was surprised how different it looked in two colors rather than with Charm Squares. Both are the same basic rail fence. But WOW what a difference color selection makes.

I also managed to bind a second quilt last night. (Hubby is out of town and I'm watching Star Trek the Next Generation and hand sewing. It is great!) I finished binding my first friendship quilt from Piecemaker's Quilt Guild. It has been quilted for eons, but I never got around to binding it. Well, it is bound and I am working on the embellishments. I'm not sure where they are going, but I am using Bella Nonna flower petals and beads to jazz it up. I'm kind of excited about it.

Generally, I'm not much of an embellisher. I'm more traditional than that. I'm trying to break out of my comfort zone and do new things. This is the first step. Not very adventurous I know, but I am trying. (And I don't mean trying people's patience either.)

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Are you an embellisher or art quilter? What inspires you to work in those mixed medias?

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Secret Shame

Today's post is kind of a mixed bag, so don't expect any organisation or coherence. I've finally finished a couple of new projects. Two of them come off my UFO list. The third is a bonus project (and test drive of a new pattern). And, I finished piecing the quilt for my parents. I even made their new bedroom curtains to match! Plus, I am almost finished the pillow shams.

A completed UFO: This is for my husband's cousin
who has a birthday this month. And who gave
me some beautiful paintings.
Another UFO and birthday gift for another of his cousins
having her birthday in August. This is from the book
"Not Your Grandmother's Log Cabin."
It is a variation. (Read that as my magpie syndrome
got the better of me and I skipped the complex borders.)
Detail view of  "Not Your Grandmother's Log Cabin."
The completed top of the quilt for my folks.  I had to lay it out on my
friends floor, mine isn't big enough. Dang king sized beds.
I even mitered the printed borders. I am wondering if
I need to add some applique to fill in the large
cream colored areas.
What do you think?
Test run for a new pattern and a birthday gift.
It is for, you guessed it: another cousin of my husband.
She turned fifty this year. Happy Birthday!
The forth female cousin (all from the same family) got her quilt for Christmas. The picture of that is in my December 22, 2010 post. Hers was a wall hanging while the other ladies are getting at least lap sized.

Okay, anyone who knows me realizes that housework is absolutely the last thing on my to-do list. The VERY last thing. I know things are getting out of hand when my husband (who asks only that the dishes be done and he empties the dishwasher) tells me its time to sweep my studio. Today he DEMANDED that I sweep. Yikes! So, I did. I got 5 of these, yes you read correctly FIVE of these dust laden things from one sweeping. I vow here and now to sweep once a week. (Okay, I'll try.) But to be honest, longarm quilting does generate a lot of dust. So does all that cutting and sewing. Yeah I know I am making excuses...
My Secret Shame.
I never sweep, and only  occasionally dust.
I use batting scraps on my Swiffer head to clean up with.
As you can see, when you use the danged thing
it works pretty well. The bonus is that batting scraps are
Question Of The Day: Are you getting any work done this summer? Do you live in the garden in the summer? I would love to see some pictures of your projects, both completed and in progress.