Monthly Archives: May 2016

It’s a Dog’s Life

This has nothing to do with quilting or sewing or creating anything, but it kind of called to me today.

We have an eight year old Chocolate Lab, named Tug.  Tug is our second Chocolate Lab and we got him as a pup six months after Chip succumbed to a number of diseases, at just 10 years old.  Chip was of the larger Labrador breed, can’t remember if that’s American or English, but there is a difference.  In our two Labs the difference is about 30 pounds.

We fought hard against having a dog at the same time as having two school-age children and a husband with a very busy work/travel schedule.  But, every night, for what seemed like forever, our daughter, Brooke, would ask for a dog and we were finally worn down.

I haven’t done any research on Chocolate Labs, so my observations are purely anecdotal.  These are lovely, fun, loyal and social dogs and our two have shown human-like tendencies.  Chip learned to move the chair away from the table so that he could climb up and join us at the table.  As a family, we got used to this; any guests were shocked to be sharing the dining table with a 90-pound dog.

While both dogs loved visitors/mailman/canvassers, Chip was more aloof than Tug and he would seek out his crate for quiet.  Tug seems to need to be around people all the time.  He is usually under foot in the kitchen and is always glued to our sides if we start packing to go away.  He has mastered the ’emo’ expression.  We’re sure he’s thinking ‘I’m so sad, are they going to leave me, I don’t see my things packed yet, don’t forget me.’

Tug began this lovely day with a long walk through the forest to a local lake, coming home along the beach.  Then he lay on his puffy bed for several hours while we pulled weeds.  Right now he’s having a little nap and then he and I are meeting a new ‘girl dog’ and her dog Mom for an after-dinner stroll.

Here’s a little gallery of Tug pictures, with one of Chip – face on with yellow bandana.  Click on photo to enlarge.

I’m not sure about reincarnation; if it’s a real thing then I know what I want to be when I come back.





Switching Gears

It’s Sunday on the May long weekend and I hope you’re having a good time, wherever you are. The other day I was trying to explain to an American friend what this weekend is all about and I have to admit it’s a bit confusing.  Here’s what I learned from a quick search.  The holiday is officially called ‘Victoria Day’ and it’s celebrated on the Monday preceding May 24, which is the day that Queen Victoria was born in 1819.  It is a statutory holiday in all provinces except NS, NU and QC, where it’s called ‘National Patriots’ Day’.  In NB it’s listed as a ‘prescribed day of rest’.  Most stores remain open; banks and government offices close.  Mail isn’t delivered.

Fewer and fewer people use the official term Victoria Day, instead calling this  ‘ The Queen’s Birthday’, ‘ The May long weekend’, ‘The May Long’ or my favourite, ‘The Two-Four’.  Whether the latter refers to the date, or to the kick off of summer beer drinking season is a matter of personal choice.  This is typically a  busy gardening weekend, as by late May, the weather should be warm enough to get plants into the ground.  Unfortunately, it’s snowing in Calgary today even though they’ve recently had temperatures in the high 20’s.

Three weeks from today is the Victoria Half Ironman race, something that I’ve been training for since late fall.  Last Sunday I made the tough decision to withdraw from the race.  Dental surgery/infection and a nasty cold sidelined me for over three weeks, at a time when I should have been building big miles.  In a nutshell, I ran out of time.  Once the decision was made and I shared it with my family, friends and training buddies I felt sad, yet relieved.

It took a couple of days to mentally adjust to not having this goal to reach for.  I love the challenge of pushing myself and the feeling of being fit.  I got out for two short runs and a lovely hike to Quarry Rock with my daughter, Brooke, and was reminded that fitness can be found in lots of places.

What to do with all that extra time now?  I made a little jacket for the 10-month old daughter of a couple that I know from triathlon training.  I’ve been easing back into garment sewing and this project reacquainted me with reading patterns and various sewing techniques.   Here’s the jacket, front and back.  Click on the photo to enlarge. Note the little bicycles on the fabric!

When that was done I took on the task of making myself a name tag.  These are handy at quilt meetings, retreats and workshops.  I made this out of bits and pieces from my fabric stash.  I found some fabric that has inspirational quotes like ‘dream big’, ‘make messes’ and ‘bite off more than you can chew’.  Then I made my name out of bits and pieces of alphabet fabric, kind of like an old-time ransom note.  Not wanting to get too far away from my sporty side, I used a piece of coveted swim fabric for the back.  Here’s the name tag.  Again, click on the photo to enlarge.

The completed name tag is a reflection of me this week and most weeks; thinking positive thoughts, using my imagination and keeping active and fit.

Whether you’re in the garden, shovelling snow, drinking beer or just relaxing I hope you have a safe and happy Two-Four.

Thanks for reading.


Restoring Order

I like it when things are in their place.  I’m not obsessive about this, but when things are where they should be there’s a sense of calm in my world.  Recently, in the book shops, I’ve picked up a book called the life-changing magic of tidying up: the japanese art of decluttering and organizing.  It’s a pretty book and a nice size too.  It’s a New York Times #1 best seller, written by Marie Kondo.  So, why don’t I buy the book and find out what the magic is?  Mainly because it seems to me that it would just add One More Thing that I’d need to declutter.

Three weeks ago I had some dental surgery done, and was instructed/ordered not to exercise for a week.  That week ended up being almost two weeks and then, just when I thought it was OK to get out there, I got a nasty cold.  Minor stuff, but I listened to my body and just hung about.  The benefit of this little break was having lots of time to clean up my sewing room and finish some niggly bits and pieces.

I got down to the bottom of my ironing bucket.  I finally sewed a hanging loop on my jean jacket.  Honestly, it took less than five minutes and I’ve put it off for two years!  I sorted fabrics that are leftover from three different quilts.  I put aside fabric and notions that will be donated or swapped.  I put hanging sleeves on my wall quilts so that they can actually hang and not spend their days in a pile on the floor.  Everything is labelled now.

This quilt, which was started over two years ago, was promised to Project Linus.  It will be my second donation to them.  Their donated quilts and blankets go to a transition house in North Vancouver.


It’s free motion quilted with different patterns on each block and then a meander on all the white.  I hope that it brings comfort and joy to someone.

There is one more UFO, (unfinished object), waiting to be quilted and I’ve just ordered some thread for it.  I’m sticking to my goal of not buying any new fabric as my collection is full of wonderful pieces that are calling to be used.  And, this afternoon I began working on a lined linen blazer.  That fabric’s been around for a while, but linen is timeless, right!?

Yesterday marked five weeks until my Half Ironman race.  I’m definitely not where I’d like to be as far as training distances.  Three weeks off, at this point, isn’t recommended, but I had a good solid base and should be able to build up the mileage.

My mind and my sewing room have been decluttered.  Order has been restored and I can get excited again about new projects and spending time in the water, on the bike and on the road.

Thanks for reading.


Start To Finish #6 – Done!

The picture above was taken at sunset, from the roof of Colonel’s Retreat, a wonderful place to stay in New Delhi.

Previously I posted that I’d started quilting on the Indian – inspired quilt.  It took several sessions and sometimes I had to make myself take a break.  It really was fun and seemed to go quickly.  You may wonder how one would quilt something 6′ x 7′ on a domestic sewing machine.  A few months ago I wouldn’t have believed it possible, but it is.

I have a table with an opening that my machine fits into.  The machine is then flush with the surface of the table.  Behind that is another large table that supports the quilt as it moves away from me.  Finally, I move my large ironing board to my left and lower it so it’s level with my table.  It supports the quilt at the side.

The quilt ‘sandwich’ was pinned together with more than 400 pins.  Then I mentally divided the quilt into four quadrants and worked on one quadrant at a time.  Starting at the quilt centre I stitched vertically towards the bottom edge in approximately 8″ sections.  When the quilting was finished, I squared it off and added the binding, which was finished by hand.

I used a size 14 topstitch needle, switching in a new one at the half way point.  The thread, both top and bobbin, is Superior King Tut  ‘Shekels’, not ‘Sunflowers’ as I’d said earlier.  The backing is Moda ‘Grunge’ in colour Mustard.  The binding is also from the Moda ‘Grunge’ collection and is colour Gris Fonce.  The finished size is 74″ x 82″.

My thoughts, now that it’s done?  It looks just liked I’d hoped it would.  The colours are bold and bright, yet I don’t think it’s garish.  I love the backing and how it shows the swirly quilting.  And, in spite of all of the quilting, it’s really soft and cuddly.  I’m pretty sure that this is the quilt that I’ll enter into the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild Showcase in August.

Oh, I’m still trying to come up with a good name for this quilt. But, in the meantime, here are some pix.