STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a mother, quilter, stitcher, gardener and lover of cats and fine chocolate....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Winter Blues... Finished.

Here it is. Finally. Not a great photo but outdoor photo ops are still at a premium around here. Things are wet and there's still snow on the ground. The tree I was planning to use is just too wet and yucky around the base and if the quilt fell it would be a mess so I wasn't willing to take the risk. So a clothesline shot was the best I could do. (Do I get points for using matching blue clothespins? haha)  Hopefully when things dry up a bit I'll have a chance to take some more artistic photos before I give this away in May. I think I'll call it Winter Blues. Yeah, I know, not very imaginative. I'm open to all suggestions if anyone has a better name...

So. It's done. Mistake corrected. Quilted by Gwenda Quilts, the overall quilting design is called Ocean Froth. I think its "curvy" lines soften the straight angular lines of the blocks. A good choice Gwenda!

Life has been busy around here lately. Both my kiddos have moved; Laura is back in New Brunswick, and Mark is home, so hubby and I have both been on the road helping with both moves. Mark has finished his two year course and begins his 6 months of clinical experience next week; he was lucky enough to be placed at our local hospital.

Why is it that things seem to happen in threes... recently my small tv died, and both my laptop and our desktop needed new hard drives. We lost a good friend to cancer this winter, two weeks ago my brother lost his closest friend (sudden massive heart attack) and last weekend my closest friend lost her Mom, also a sudden heart attack. We have a friend and neighbour (who I've known all my life) who has just been told he has a stage four inoperable brain tumor. So sad, he is not even fifty and has a young family.  Cancer and heart attacks. Bad stuff. So I'm off now to continue my annual canvassing for the Canadian Cancer Society. I have two routes this year, so gotta get at it! What was supposed to be a rainy day has turned out not so bad, so I'm off to try and catch a few more people at home! I'll be thinking of my friends with each step... ♥


"Life has many ways of testing a person's will, either by having nothing happen at all, or by having everything happen all at once." ~ Paulo Coelho

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Old Favourite...

Have you ever gone back and read a book that you really enjoyed many years ago? I did that recently with Christy by Catherine Marshall. I can't remember exactly how old I was the first time I read this book, probably in my mid teens. I remember it had a profound effect on me and probably cemented my desire to be a teacher. My copy is the one I had way back when, with worn cover and yellowed pages that are getting dry and almost brittle... 
Christy is the story of young Christy Huddleston who decides in 1912, at age nineteen, to volunteer to teach in a mission school in a very small mountain community in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Christy was written in 1967 and although it's usually classified as fiction, Marshall based the story on her own mother's life. Christy Huddleston is an eager  intelligent young woman who is ready to jump in with both feet, as they say, to her first teaching job. Coming from a "comfortable" city family, she is more than a little surprised at the conditions she finds in Cutter Gap - extreme poverty and very poor living conditions, ignorance of cleanliness and hygiene, superstitions and mistrust of  any "outsider". She finds her faith challenged and often feels overwhelmed by her responsibilities, questioning her decision to come to Cutter Gap, but eventually comes to love the mountain people and win their trust. She faces death, typhoid fever and many other challenges as she lives and learns alongside her students and their families.
Marshall draws you in early in the book, and you find yourself wanting to read "just one more chapter". The characters are unique and well drawn, and her descriptions vivid. If you've never read this book, I highly recommend it.

I have finished the blue quilt and hope to get some decent photos tomorrow. Today was a rather nasty day weather-wise, with rain, freezing rain and then several inches of snow this morning... it did clear off later on, but everything was so wet I knew I wouldn't find a spot outside that would allow me to photograph the quilt. I'll see what I can arrange tomorrow.... So I am back to working on the little silk miniature, all that's left now are two corner units to finish, then I am ready to put it together. So far, so good. We'll see how the assembly goes....


Ever feel like you spend too much time reading?   No, me neither...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April Note Card Party

It's time for Vee's Note Card Party again. This meme asks us to choose four photos from our archives which would make nice note cards.(at least one must have appeared previously on the blog).
I decided to use four photos from my recent visit to Florida this time around. I think they would make a nice set of cards for just dropping a friendly note to a friend to say "hello".. something many of us don't do often enough these days...

And the Note Cards boxtop....

Don't forget to pop over and see what the other participants have done with this month's Notecard Party here. Thanks Vee, for hosting....


"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air..." ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April Photo Challenge - Closeup/Macro

Well it seems once again I am late to the party. I did publish this post (or rather, one just like it ) last night just after midnight. I know it actually published because I got a comment shortly after. When I opened my computer this morning, the post was not there. So I'm not sure what happened... I'll blame it on the fairies.... I've been out of town all day so just getting back to re-post now. My apologies to those who might have tried the link earlier and found no post. Thanks to Donna for removing it quickly this morning.

 It's time again for Donna's Personal Photo Challenge. The theme this month is Closeup and/or Macro. I love doing closeup and macro shots but usually I'm doing them in my garden. Since my garden beds are still under several feet of snow, I turned to my archives for several shots.

I love closing in on any flower but I especially love gerbera daisies, in particular their centres. This photo was taken at a local nursery last May. I love its intense pink color - just the punch of color we need after a long white winter....

1/350sec.  f/6.7   ISO 100

The next choice was this field daisy, because I love daisies, not because I love bugs. But he adds a little interest, don'cha think? He seemed like a friendly little fella...

1/180 sec.  f/5.6  ISO 100
And for something different, and because I'm longing for spring and something green, I headed for the refrigerator (truthfully it was equally because I was hungry!)  I chose this kiwi for some luscious green (and then I ate it!)
1/15sec. f/22  ISO 200

All photos were taken with my Pentax K20D, hand held, with natural light. The only editing was a little sharpening.

I hope you'll visit Donna's Personal Photo Challenge blog here to see what other participants have done this month.


"Photography helps people to see." ~ Berenice Abbott

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Winter That Won't Quit...

I'm longing for spring. Will it ever get here? I have seen only one robin, and there was one redpoll at my feeder yesterday. We are still looking at a lot of snow; it is melting, but not fast enough for me... The drifts in our yard are still well over three feet, the one outside our family room window that was seven feet has now shrunk to about four feet. Ollie is happy about that because he can see out again... that huge drift was blocking his daily entertainment view of the birdfeeder!

Will we ever see our green front lawn again?

 All my winter "decor" is packed away- the snowmen, the snowflakes, my kitchen "Welcome Winter" wreath - because winter is no longer welcome here! I hung my spring forsythia wreath on the front door today, even though from the street you can barely see it above the snowbanks. I know I have to be patient, spring WILL come, but we are well into April, after all. It's time for winter to be gone, gone, gone. I'm tired of white, and dirty white. I'm longing for some green!  I have a few windows open today for a bit, even though the air is not that warm it feels good to get some fresh air in and winter's staleness out! Ollie is "sunbathing" in the open window right now - he's anxious for spring too!

Somewhere under these footprints, there IS a sidewalk...

I know I'm not alone in my feelings- others are fed up too. My blogging friend Pam who lives just 15 minutes away, posted this a few days ago. (At least she has some crocus to enjoy, and is seeing more robins than I...)
So today I'm sharing some snow photos for. the. LAST. TIME. I will not mention that four letter "S" word again- till at least next December. That's a promise! These pics were taken last week after our April Fools Day Storm. Things around here still look pretty much the same, even though the snow level is going down. Very little grass showing yet, just a narrow swath at the end of the driveway that's maybe 18" wide. So those of you who are enjoying spring and its blossoms elsewhere, please keep posting photos- it's giving me hope that it will arrive here too. Eventually. Soon.
My quilt is all quilted and I'll be working on the binding this weekend. Stay tuned for photos early next week.


"The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also."
~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

We All Make Mistakes....

Or at least I do... Thank goodness for good friends. What would we do without them? I am especially grateful for good friends with sharp eyesight!! Did anyone else notice the mistake in my quilt?  Did you not see it, or were you just too kind to mention it to me? Look closely at the upper left corner- see that block right in the corner - it's turned the WRONG way!! I don't know how I missed that- I checked and double checked and triple checked the blocks as I laid out the rows, to be sure they were all oriented the correct way, that the print in each sashing strip wasn't nearby the same print in the neighbouring blocks and so on. (Yes, I'm a little anal. "Random" is not really my thing...) Obviously I just turned a block and sewed the sashing strip to the wrong side of the block as I was doing the last row- and yes it was the very last block. I can't believe I didn't notice it when it was all together... I guess it's true - when you've looked at something for so long, you don't see the details anymore...
So a HUGE Thank You to my friend Sandi Mac whose sharp eyes noticed it - she called me last night, not too long after the post went up and pointed out my boo-boo. She knows me well enough to know I would want to be told!! Aren't I lucky to have such a good friend? So thanks again, "eagle-eyes" Sandi!!
Hubby said to leave it, after all I am giving this away as a "charity" quilt, and would it even be noticed anyway? But I knew it was there and I just couldn't leave it. At least it was on a corner, so it was easy to "get at".. it could have been right smack in the middle, requiring even more ripping out... It took me 45-50 minutes to fix. My stitches were a little shorter than usual- great for security when you know a quilt will be laundered frequently, not so great when you have to pick them out... I turned the block, but also had to turn the sashing strip and the ninepatch because I had added an extra 1/8th of an inch all around the perimeter of the quilt to allow for the binding seam. (On a larger quilt, I like to sew the binding on with a 3/8th inch seam using my walking foot, so to keep the ninepatches on the perimeter looking right, I had added that extra 1/8th of an inch to the ninepatches and the outermost sashing strips.) By this time it was 11:15p.m. and I still had to piece the backing, square it up, give everything a final press and fold it up for delivery this morning to the long-armer. So, sorry, no new photo of the was way too late for photography when I finally headed to bed. You'll just have to trust me, it is correct now...
So, dear readers, what would you have done? Would you have left it as it was, or fixed the mistake? And for the future.. if you are ever looking at a photo of one of my projects and you think something looks wrong.. please let me know. I will appreciate it and I'll offer my heartfelt thanks!!
And speaking of things being wrong, there's much blogger buzz today about a blog that is stealing posts and/or photos from others and posting them as their own.  My friend Karen, for one, has written about it here. If you EVER see any of my photos or writing anywhere else other than on this blog, please let me know. I do have a Copyright Notice at the top of my sidebar, but apparently it means nothing to some folks. I think I just might start putting my watermark across the centre of my photos. Sorry if you find it annoying,  but perhaps it will prevent photo theft.

"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?" ~ L.M. Montgomery

Monday, April 7, 2014

Whew! It's together!

It's done! I've been working diligently each day to get this together, and although it wasn't at all difficult, it DID take some time. There are a LOT of intersections and seams to be matched... I'm glad it's done, my back is a little tired... Tonight I'm piecing the backing ( a dark blue print) and it will be off tomorrow to be quilted. I'll get some better photos once it's quilted and bound. Now I'll get back to finishing the silk Carolina Lily miniature. I have some deadlines this month so they are pushing me to get things done... That's a good thing...


"If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just to finish the race - it's up to you."  ~ Dave

Friday, April 4, 2014

Of Quilts and Books

I've been very busily sewing away the last few days. I've put in alot of hours and it's finally coming together. The 82 sashing units and the 48 nine patches took more time than I expected, but they're all done now and I just have to get it all sewn together. Of course there's lots of intersections to match, but so far, so good - it's going well. Just not a speedy process. Of course, I'm particular too, (okay, I'm somewhat of a perfectionist...) so I'm slower than some would be, but for me it's worth it to do a good job and have a project I'm proud of. Slow and steady wins the race!  Oliver is being such a helper too.. you can just imagine.. I have it laid out on the livingroom floor, and he just loves trying to rearrange my layout. Guess he thinks if it's on the floor, it must be there solely for his entertainment.... not!
I haven't done a book review in a while, and I'm getting a few books behind, so here's a brief  look at a recent "finish" - Little Bee by Chris Cleave. This was loaned to me by a friend. (Thanks JK!!) It's likely one I would not have picked up on my own.
Little Bee is a young Nigerian refugee and her story will leave you thinking for a long while. After only a few pages, you feel drawn in as things slowly unfold. There are twists and turns as you try to discern just what happened on that beach in Nigeria. Her story is not a pleasant nor an easy one, yet you are compelled to keep reading. This is not "light reading", some of the situations described are heart-breaking as Little Bee faces injustice and the struggles of poverty, racism and civil war. This book will take you beyond your comfort zone as you read about events you'd like to think never happen...but they do. It is very well written and the characters are very believable. It is emotional, yes, but it's also a story of courage and strength of character, survival and friendship.


Maybe it's not about the happy ending... maybe it's about the story.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pedal to the Metal...

I almost forgot that I promised you a sneak peek at my progress. I should have taken a  photo earlier in the afternoon so the color would have been better. But, after all, it IS just a "sneak" peek, so here you go. It's not a great photo- just snapped quickly after I stuck a few blocks up on the design wall, but it gives you an idea what I'm doing. It's been another good day for sewing - that can also translate to  It's been another terrible weather day... ice pellets most of the day, a little freezing rain and now it's snowing like crazy. Looks like another blizzard out there.... Tomorrow is April 1st. April Fool's Day... I guess the joke is on us. Our front lawn has at least four feet of snow, other areas where it has drifted are five to six feet tall - a drift right outside our family room window is over six feet, for sure. It's beginning to block Ollie's view...he's not impressed (just like the rest of us...)


"A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water." ~ Carl Reiner

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Of weather bombs and sewing progress...

Yes, I'm still here. We're not buried under a snow drift, although we're not too far from it. We survived Wednesday's "weather bomb/blizzicane" - the term given to the nasty blizzard with lots of precipitation and the high winds of a hurricane. It was downright nasty, no other words to describe it. Then it snowed all day Friday.. and now we're having yet another crappy day - you name it - snow, ice pellets, freezing rain.. all of the above. Snow all morning, ice pellets most of the afternoon with a little freezing rain thrown in there in between just for fun... Yuch. The driving conditions are very poor, so we have not ventured out today at all... I'm hibernating once again in my studio trying my best to ignore the weather although it's difficult when the ice pellets are pelting
the windows...
And the forecast says more of the same for tomorrow - freezing rain changing to ice pellets in the afternoon and then to snow in the evening. Everyone is sick and tired of this winter weather, after all it's supposed to be spring now, no? Guess Mother Nature hasn't received the memo... ahem.... Let's hope that this IS the last storm- March going out like a lion and all that... .Well, the lion is roaring, for sure. I do hope someone silences him SOON.
I'm working away at nine patches and sashing strips for this current blue quilt. The 35 blocks are all done and trimmed to size. I have a good
start on the sashing and nine patches but will soon have to  do a lot more cutting of strips. I'm loving the look of it, it's going to be tough to give it away...  I'm such a soft touch for anything done in blues.... I promise you a sneak peek tomorrow...
My cutting table is a mess of trimmed bits - it looks like we had an indoor weather bomb hit!!
Remember the mystery of the missing pots and pans a few weeks ago? I forgot to tell you we "solved the mystery".. . On further investigation, we discovered a few more things missing too - all had been in the same cupboard in Laura's Halifax apartment, so we've decided that when Dad made the final trip and did the last "sweep through", he missed that cupboard.... (At least we know it wasn't the leprechauns.)
Okay, back to the cutting table. I hope the weather is better where you are...


"If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm." ~ Frank Lane

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Singin' the Winter Blues...

We are battening down the hatches as we head into yet another nasty winter storm. Apparently Mother Nature never received the "It's Spring" memo... Our forecast has actually been downgraded slightly from the 50 cm. they were predicting a few days ago, but we're still going to get a wallop! Nova Scotia is feeling the brunt of it, Laura told me this morning they are to get 60 cm. - that's two feet for those of you not on the metric system! A blizzard with the strength of a  category 3 hurricane. Lovely. It has just begun here.. it's gone from nothing happening to nasty in about half an hour. The winds have picked up and the fine snow that's coming down right now is blowing about.... I'm sure the snowfall will get heavier before long. Soooo... I'm retiring to my studio to sew the day away. Or maybe I should say Sew the Snow away. If only I could. This storm brings a whole new meaning to "March Madness"....
I am making good progress on my bed quilt which will be given to our Guild's Community Projects team for a bed at the Veteran's Unit. I need 35 blocks and have 29 done. Only 6 more to go, they'll be done today for sure (unless we lose power.) I got my sashing fabric yesterday so will get that washed and cut today too, hopefully.
The blocks are string-pieced, a la Bonnie Hunter, using old phone book pages as the foundation, as Bonnie suggests. So quick and easy. And it's great for "using up leftovers"- scraps and bits. Mind you, my studio looks like a bomb went off as I've emptied some containers of scrap bits.... Oh well... I guess you could say I'm "sewing up a storm".. haha
I'm using all blues- true blues, purple-y blues, teal blues, turquoises, greyed blues, they all work together. For those of you who don't know what string piecing is, it's just using strips of all widths - "strings" - and sewing them randomly to a foundation. (The blocks still need their final trimming to size.) I'm not really planning each block, other than making sure I have a good variety of prints and lights/darks. My only other rule is not to put two that are very alike side by side. Pretty simple. Mindless almost. (Some would say I am mindless.. haha)  Anyway, I'm havin' fun. What else can a gal do on a stormy day? I'm singin' the Winter Blues....


"What a severe yet master artist old Winter is... No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel." ~ John Burroughs, The Snow Walkers, 1866

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thank you Everyone!

Just a quick post to thank everyone for the birthday greetings! I have "survived the big birthday"... I've decided to follow everyone's advice - age is just a number, you're not getting older, you're getting better, etc. etc. etc. Actually the number doesn't bother me. Although I don't really relish the thought of getting older, I am celebrating my birthday and the fact that I am still here, and in good health.  Too many are denied that opportunity....  I am blessed with a pretty good life, for sure, and I have no major complaints. (Well, maybe the weather, but let's not talk about that right now...)
It's been a good weekend - lots of cards, emails and phone calls from friends, many of whom are away (most in warmer climes, the lucky things!) and gifts included chocolate and a new book which I can't wait to start. I spent yesterday at a  Guild workday, and have continued sewing a good part of today. I have half of my blocks done!! Yea! No photos tonight, but I promise some in a few days. The blocks will be put together with a pieced sashing, and I still have to choose and purchase sashing fabric. Actually I'm still deliberating on the color... white versus pale blue.
I just can't bear to do a post with no photos at all, so I'm choosing to snub my nose at Mother Nature who obviously must be sleeping hibernating and hasn't looked at her calendar to see that it's time for some warm spring weather. We won't talk about the fact that we have another major snowstorm on the way- a real nor'easter they are saying. High winds and lots of snow. Lovely. Just lovely. So I'm choosing to ignore that fact right now and think of tulips. Sweet blossoms of spring. It's going to be "a while" before we see the bare ground let alone tulips sprouting up so let's enjoy a few tulips here and we can dream of warmer days and blossoms to come... These photos were taken near Chilliwack B.C. a few years ago...


Birthdays give us the opportunity to stop and appreciate all the beautiful things we have been blessed with.
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