Dundarave Beach

Coastal Winter

Well, it’s been an interesting couple of months on the west coast.  We had some big snowfalls in early December.  Thankfully it didn’t really affect us as it was during the time that Blake and I escaped to London.  It made for great skiing on the local mountains over the Christmas break and into January.

January was cold, but mostly sunny and bright.  You must understand that cold in Vancouver is relative.  Having lived on the prairies and in Ontario for 20 years I’ve experienced frigid temperatures.  How about minus 45C with blowing snow?  Brrr…  Still, when it drops to zero on the coast, it somehow feels bitter.  Ah yes, it’s a ‘damp cold’!  Have a look at these two photos.  They were taken at the same time of day, just two days apart.

For almost a week, over late January and early February, there was so much snow in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island.  Schools were cancelled, buses got stuck, garbage didn’t get collected.  We had planned to spend Family Day weekend at our friends’ cottage on Shawnigan Lake, but had to cancel as it was impossible to get in to the cottage.

Thankfully, my plans were flexible and I wasn’t bothered about spending time at home.  The chore list came out and a few things got done.   I brought out my old sewing machine,  (newer one was in for service), and made a second  Sew Together Bag.  These little bags are such fun to make and they hold a ton of supplies.

I kept the black/green one for myself and did a random gifting of the blue one.  It went to my friend Jean, who has filled it with knitting notions.

In advance of my trip to QuiltCon next week, I finished a mini quilt.  This is for a mystery swap.  Everyone who registers for the swap completes a questionnaire that asks about most/least favourite colours, hobbies and skills etc.  Every registrant is matched with a partner and the idea is to make something that you think your partner will like.  It’s all top-secret until we meet on February 25 and exchange our mini-quilts.  Here’s the mini quilt that I made for  ??????? who lives in ?????.

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The black is not part of the quilt.  The blocks are from Patchwork City by Elizabeth Hartman.    The grey is Essex Blend by Robert Kaufman.  It’s a blend of 55% linen and 45% cotton.  I quilted it with Superior King Tut thread.  Overall I’m happy with how this turned out and I hope that ????? from ????? likes it too.

Finally, I’ve been continuing my five online games of Scrabble and am either having really bad luck, or my brain needs more exercise.  Who knew that there were so many single-point letters available?  They all find their way into my rack.  Several times I’ve felt like Old MacDonald because I can play “E I E I O”!

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Today it’s pouring rain and very windy.  It’s almost impossible to think that we were in the midst of a blizzard less than a week ago.  And, a week from now, I’ll be in Savannah, Georgia.  The forecast is for sun and 25C!

Wherever you are, I hope you’re warm and cozy and I thank you for reading.

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Seeing Spots!

Laura’s name has come up in a previous post –  The Girlfriend Quilt .  You’ll also find her, and her husband Greg, in the blog that I kept while we travelled through India in 2013 –https://samosasojourn.wordpress.com  We met at Willows Elementary School in Victoria in September, 1969, and have been great friends since then.

Last year I offered to make a quilt as a housewarming gift for Greg and Laura’s new home on Shawnigan Lake.  We looked at many different quilts on Pinterest, in books and in magazines.  Finally, we found a photo of a quilt, by Zen Chic, on Pinterest – lots of bright coloured dots on a white background.

The background is a solid white cotton that I purchased at Fabricana.  I pieced it to make it queen-sized.  The dots were a multi-step process.  First, we chose fabric in colours that reminded us of our trip to India.  Many of these fabrics were remnants from “Delhi Dreams” Start To Finish #6 – Done!  Then, I cut the dots in three different sizes, using plates and bowls as my templates!  The dots were sewn, right sides together, to fusible interfacing.  I cut a small slit in the interfacing and turned the dots so that they were right sides out and fused them to the white background.  Each dot was then edge stitched to ensure that they would stay attached.  Then, to cut down on bulk, I cut away any excess fabric from behind each dot.

The back of the quilt is the same white fabric as the front, with just a few dots.  The batting is bamboo.  I quilted this on my Husqvarna domestic machine using Superior King Tut thread in ‘Temple’.  It’s a meandering pattern that was fun to do and looks great with the dots.

We originally wanted to use white for the binding, but decided that it needed some contrast, so I chose an orange/yellow/gold fabric that sets the quilt off well.  The binding is attached by machine to the quilt front then pressed and folded over towards the back.  Normally, I would hand stitch the binding, but the 400″ perimeter seemed daunting, so I finished it by machine.

The final step was to choose a name and make/attach a label.  I enlisted Laura’s help and we came up with all kinds of silly possibilities.  In the end, and as a joke, Laura suggested “Laura’s Quilt”.   Seemed perfect to me!

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“Laura’s Quilt” was made with love and with countless memories of 46+ years of friendship.  Curl up, snuggle and enjoy!

Thanks for reading.  Happy Saturday!

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Here I Am!

Somewhere there’s a balance between writing too often and not writing often enough.  Have I really had nothing to say since November?  Actually, lots has gone on since then and I’ve finished a few projects, which I’ll get to shortly.

The fall was busy with mini trips and workshops.  Then, on a wild impulse Blake and I decided to take a week in December and go to London to see the Christmas lights.  We lived in London for a year when we were first married and it holds a special place in our hearts.  And, they really know how to decorate for Christmas.  Here are a few of my favourite dressed up places.

We went to see the musical Kinky Boots, which was great fun.  I think it’s coming to Vancouver this winter.  We also located several filming locations from the movies Love Actually, Notting Hill and the series Luther.  We lucked into a cancellation spot and were able to go to the top of the building on the right, in the photo at the top of this post. This building is referred to as the “Walkie Talkie”.  The shorter one in the middle is “The Gherkin” and the black, slanted one is “The Cheese Grater”.  How fun!

As for sewing and quilting, it’s a been a productive and educational few months.  In October I took a two-day workshop, taught by Krista Hennebury, called Structural Improv.(You can access Krista’s blog if you click on ‘Poppyprint’ over on the right side of my blog.) This piece, called Fire and Ice, is the result.img_3578

Two weeks later saw me at another of Krista’s workshops.  This one was Speed Date with Improv.  We learned seven different techniques in the one-day workshop.  It took a while for me to get back to it, but here it is, finished.

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Right now I’m just about to pin together a queen-sized quilt that I’ve been working on for my good friend, Laura.  I haven’t quilted anything this large before and I’m quite excited about it.  Pictures will follow once I’m done.

Now it’s time to make a cup of tea and enlist Blake’s help to get this quilt sandwiched and pinned.

Thanks for reading and I wish you all a happy and healthy 2017.

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Thank You, Leonard

I was shocked on Thursday when I heard that Leonard Cohen had died, at 82.  Sure, I had read a recent interview where he said “I am ready to die.  I hope it’s not too uncomfortable.  That’s about it for me.” I knew that he suffered severe back pain and was unable to get around much anymore. However, he just released his newest album, You Want It Darker.  So it was hard to believe that this wonderfully talented man was gone.

Wind the clock back to the 70’s.  My good friends and I are in high school and then university/college/working.  You could have found us babysitting at least one night of the weekend, at one particular home.  The parents who employed us were young and cool; they were fine with us having friends visit while we babysat.  They had Songs of Leonard Cohen and we played it over and over again.  In fact, that’s the only album I remember us playing.

Leonard Cohen’s music has been a constant companion since that introduction, more than 40 years ago.  I have other favourite artists – Elton John, Stones, Michael Jackson, Dixie Chicks and Elvis, to mention a few.  The difference for me is that I need to be in a certain mood to play their music.  I don’t always want rock or twang or oldies.  But, I can always listen to Leonard Cohen.  Sometimes I focus on the lyrics; other times the music’s just there, in the background.  Constant and reliable, soothing.

In concert, Leonard Cohen was funny, humble and tireless.  I’ve seen him twice recently and he and his intimate band played over three hours.  No flash, no fireworks or fancy clothes, just stories and wonderful music.

It’s sad to think that this era has ended.  Thank you Leonard, for the gift of your music.  You will be missed.

 

 

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Front Page

In previous posts I’ve mentioned that I love words and language.  For a long time I had an idea of making a quilt that had the look and feel of a newspaper page.  For several months I collected fabric with text and interesting images and then began drawing up a pattern on large sheets of 1″ graph paper.

Once the pattern was done I began the fun work of cutting out the pieces.  I paid attention to colour balance and made sure that repeat pieces weren’t too close together.   Each piece was labelled with a number that corresponded with the graph paper pattern, then trimmed with a narrow cream border.

Assembly took place at the Denman Quilters’ Retreat on Thetis Island, in 2014.  Most of the blocks went together easily and in a logical sequence.  With some I had to sit back and think ‘what goes where, and when?’  Gradually it came together, but it felt to me that something was missing.  Fortunately there was enough leftover red text fabric to add a border.

The backing fabric was narrow and required a seam.  To disguise the seam I used leftover strips from the front of the quilt.    If you enlarge the photo of the backing you’ll see that the left side black/cream is all one piece but the right side black/cream is made of many horizontal strips sewn together.  Because the print is so small those seams appear less obvious.

The quilting is a series of fractured, random straight lines.  I thought this would be quick and easy, but soon found that that was not the case and I had to keep adding lines to make sure that the unquilted spaces weren’t too large.  The border is plain black, attached by machine and finished by hand.  The finished size is 62″ x 72″.

While there are things that I would do differently, I was really pleased with how this quilt turned out.  There’s a large stack of text fabric in my stash and a companion quilt is not out of the question.  Here are photos of the front and back of Front Page.

Thanks for reading.

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Correction from a previous post in which I said that the finished postage stamp quilt would have 4,791 pieces.  In fact, it’s ‘only’ 4,761!  And, it’s all done!  This quilt has been in the works since last Christmas and has been a fun thing to pick up and work at in between other projects.

There are 16 blocks of 16 x 16, or 256 1″ squares.  The pieces were drawn randomly from a large bin.  If I grabbed two that were the same I swapped one out, but otherwise there is no pattern.  I joined the pieces in twos, then made those twos into fours.  Next, I took four of the fours and made them into a block.  These blocks were trimmed to 4 1/2″ square.  Usually I set out to make eight of these squares in one setting.  When I had 16 of them I made them into the 16 x 16 block.

The iron was busy throughout; there are so many seams!  It took some experimenting to find the best pressing pattern.  For instance, all of the four piece strips are pressed to one side and then they nest well when joined.  In places where there is a lot of bulk the seams are pressed open.  Here’s a photo of a section of the back of the quilt.  It looks crazy, but there was a method!img_2894

The sashing is more of the 1″ pieces, all cream with text.  Once the sashing was on I felt that it needed a border so added a narrow strip of Moda Grunge in grey.  This quilt has enough going on, on the feature side, that I felt the back should be pretty calm.  At The Red Barn in Courtenay I found an extra-wide black fabric that has the names of colours written in white.  As it was extra-wide I didn’t need to piece it and I thought the colour names fit perfectly.

I used Superior King Tut thread, in gold, red, orange and grey for the quilting and did a series of wavy lines that run from side to side over the small pieces.  The border is quilted separately with five narrow lines, using the same thread colours.  The binding is a black cotton with white dots of various sizes.  It was attached by machine and finished by hand.  The label went on and then the quilt went through the washer and dryer.  I’ve been using Forever New detergent for my quilts and love the way it makes them feel and smell.

This was a very fun project and I’m thrilled with the end result.  It’s just a riot of colour!  Here are front and back pictures of 4761.  Click on the picture to enlarge.

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Thanks, as always, for reading!

Tech Nerd – Not

Or maybe…  While waiting to be inspired about my next quilting project I decided to spend some time tidying up and organizing my various devices.  I became a huge fan of all things Apple, after inheriting a used MacBook in 2008. I upgraded that laptop a couple of years ago to a MacBook Air and I love it.  My other toys are Apple and I’ve been ok with them, but frustrated that I’d not taken the time to learn about all of their capabilities.

I use the Photos app all the time and I still get excited when I take a picture with my phone and then find that, through iCloud, that photo ends up on my iPad and my laptop!  Simple pleasures, right?  This week I’ve also synced the iCalendar app and am considering doing away with a hard copy DayTimer for 2017. On a roll, I tackled the Mail app and can now send and receive email on all my devices.  I know, it really wasn’t hard, I just hadn’t taken the time to figure it out.

Photo below is of a painting that my Mom did recently.  Mom, 90 years young, has just purchased an iPhone and is having fun (???) figuring it out.  She loves the camera and the dictionary app.  However, I don’t think that Mom will ever abandon the old school reference materials.  Mom’s motto might be similar to that of The North Face outfitters – “Never Stop Exploring”.

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Finally, I’ve been wanting to make some minor changes to the blog. WordPress is great, but sometimes the seemingly limitless options scare me and I choose to leave well enough alone; not this time!  From the Home page, open “What’s the Buzz…” Some of the text has been changed.  Also,  towards  the end of that page I’ve added some navigation tips and descriptions of everything you’ll find on the Home page.  Please take a look around, I hope you like the changes.

Thanks for reading.