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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

May Beauty

The end of May is one of my most favourite times of year, Spring is in full force! Everything is so green... plants are shooting up, some already in bloom. The trees in my backyard are full of chirping birds (much to Ollie's delight) and my beloved apple trees are now in full blossom. Now if we could only have a little sunshine - that would just be the icing on the cake...
It is amazing how quickly the leaves are unfurling...with all the rain we have had, and despite the lack of sunshine, you can almost see them growing each day. Our maple on the front lawn is fully leafed out now and the horse chestnut blooms are forming. The tightly furled hosta leaves are opening a bit more each day... you can easily see the progress. Everything is so very lush and green, it's hard to imagine that in a few months we might be crying for rain (let's hope not, but some hot dry weather right now would not upset me...) Currently our forecast says we are going to see some sunshine for the next two days... I'm not holding my breath as the outlook seems to change every few hours, but it sure would be nice. I'd love at least ONE day of sun to enjoy my apple blossoms before they all start to fall.... There's already a light dusting of "snow" petals on the grass...
Speaking of apple blossoms, in my next post I'll show you my Spring Challenge piece, "The Nest" and tell you a bit about how I went about it... I certainly did not proceed in a normal manner... lol
I'll leave you with a few photos from my backyard... wish I could send you the wonderful scent of the blossoms too... We arrived home from Halifax on Thursday evening to find our apple trees suddenly in full blossom, and the sun was out for a brief period so you know me- I grabbed my camera!

Peace,
Linda







"Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words. They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning." ~Lydia M. Child

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another Milestone...

Another milestone... Mark is now officially a Graduate of Dalhousie University! We left here early in the morning on Wednesday and arrived in Halifax before noon. The ceremony began at 2:30 so we really did not have a lot of time to spare. The Convocation ceremony was very nice- not too long, thank goodness. There was only one speaker and he kept it under 10 minutes, and was most interesting! Right after the Convocation we hurried upstairs for him to get Grad photos done - how convenient! They also had a framing station set up where one could get their degree framed on the spot and another where one could purchase a Grad ring. Talk about your one stop shopping!!
Luckily the weather Gods seemed to be smiling on us as it did not rain.. it wasn't sunny by any means, but at least it was not pouring. It was overcast but we could do photos outside with no problem so I was grateful. Here are a few photos of my handsome son, The Graduate. Above, Mark (on the left) with friends Stephani and roommate Craig. At left, is Mark receiving his Bachelor of Science degree and below, showing off his degree by the Dal "gate".
Congratulations Mark. We are so proud of you!!
Now, does anyone have a job for a Biology major??

Peace
Linda







If people offer their help or wisdom as you go through life, accept it gratefully. You can learn much from those who have gone before you. But never be afraid or hesitant to step off the accepted path and head off in your own direction, if your heart tells you that it's the right way for you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Very Brief Update...

Laura is home, safe and sound. I think she really appreciated her own bed last night.. and half of today....lol She'll spend the next few days finishing up her laundry, organizing her pics and maybe getting some posted to her Blog.
The next thing on our agenda is Mark's Graduation from Dal tomorrow, so I'll report on that on Friday...
Until then....

Peace
Linda

The tassel is worth the hassle....

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rain, Rain,PLEASE Go Away...

I don't know about you, but I am getting mighty tired of this dreary weather. This is our fourth or fifth week straight - I've lost track - of overcast cool wet weather. Enough already!! I have so much to do , and it's hard to get motivated when it's so dreary. I need a good shot of Vitamin D. C'mon Mr. Sunshine!! Yesterday was a beautiful day- with sun!! The first in days. But it wasn't quite enough... I did get out with my camera for a while though - the pics here are the evidence! Can you tell I'm a bit blue from this weather?
I must say, everything is green and lush - the grass is growing like crazy as are my perennials. I have the beds pretty well cleaned up but sure would like to get to the top-dressing before things get much taller. The apple trees are budding, and soon we will be smelling the sweet smell of apple blossoms...
We have been following Laura's progress in Poland with great interest all week; I must say I am amazed that she has managed as many posts as she did. Obviously accessing wireless was not as problematic as we anticipated. Of course she could not add photos as she was working with just her IPod but those will be added once she is home. They are currently in the air, and barring any problems from the volcanic ash over Iceland, she is due home late tonight. It will be good to wrap my arms around her... It has been an amazing experience for her and I know she is coming home a changed young woman. I have continued reading and have finished two survivor's stories this past week- Night by Elie Wiesel and A Girl from Schindler's List by Stella Muller-Madej, both amazing stories of courage and perseverance, survival against all odds. Wiesel, a Nobel Laureate, professor and political activist, now makes his home in NYC and has authored almost 60 books. Muller-Madej who still lives in Poland and runs a small hotel with her husband, is working on her second book. I have several more books on my "Must read" list including German Boy and Unbroken - both come highly recommended...
Edit - Laura is on the ground in Toronto, happy to be back on Canadian soil. She has managed to get on an earlier flight home and is scheduled to get in 4 hours earlier. Oh happy day!! I cannot wait to get my arms around her...

Peace
Linda

"No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old familiar pillow." ~ Lin Yutang

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Three days with Sharon B... woohooo!

Okay, we're heading back to Connecticut. It's time I finished telling you about my trip and class with Sharon Boggon. I cannot even remember when or how I first learned about Sharon - I guess it must have been by blog-surfing. But I have followed her blog Pin Tangle for several years now and have often visited her website and made use of her Stitch Dictionary. If you are into Crazy Quilting, you really must take a peek at these- and you will no doubt be hooked too. Hooked on Sharon. A very good thing to be hooked on... To say I am a fan of her incredible work is certainly an understatement. I have taken two online classes from her and now- a whole three days with Sharon- in person! How lucky am I!! In fact, I had to keep pinching myself during this whole trip- we were all so blessed to have such a wonderful opportunity...
Sharon is such a giving person. Her online Stitch Dictionary is a real gift to the stitching world - it is always there, ready to be accessed when one needs it- what a wonderful resource. On her website In A Minute Ago, one can view much of her wonderful work: her "I Dropped the Button Box Quilt" is my favorite, hard as it is to pick just one favorite. If you follow her Blog she is in the
process of documenting each feature on the 100 individual blocks of this quilt. One can learn so much about color and design just by studying her work, not to mention the stitching and embellishing.
Her three day class was wonderful - she taught us many floral motifs, new stitches, use of new (to me) materials such as sequin waste and gimp cord... but equally as exciting was getting to see her works "in person". Sharon's Band Sampler which measures 6" wide by over 70 feet long (yes you read that correctly- almost 75 feet!!) is an amazing chronicle of her life and "stitching history" not to mention an incredible teaching tool. I could have spent hours just pouring over it... She is documenting it as well, section by section, on her Blog here. In addition to the Band Sampler and the Button Box quilt, she also brought her recent Diamond Block CQ which features paisley fabrics in each block, and several smaller pieces.
We were all very happy when on our final day, Sharon said she would happily "critique" some of our blocks, if we wished. Of course everyone liked that idea and it was very interesting to see how she quickly zeroed in on what each block needed. Her art training was evident as she spoke about balance and design, moving the viewer's eye around the block, etc. and I think everyone in the class learned from looking carefully at each other's work.
I cannot begin to convey to you how much I enjoyed this three day class. We were all in love with Sharon, her Aussie accent and sayings, her story about Bullion races, the impish look she got in her eye as she told us about her friend Margaret and her disapproval of the use of a certain marking pen which Sharon likes to use.... Sharon, you're the best!! Thank you so much for a wonderful three days which I will treasure for a long while.
Thanks are also due to Maureen Greeson and Susan Elliott who organized this entire event. Maureen, who I met only briefly several times during my stay, was so very generous in providing us with wonderful packages of freebies - threads, silks, etc. Who doesn't like treats and hers were the best! Thanks Maureen for the goodies and for all the work you did to set up this grand adventure for us all ! Susan and I have known each other through blogging for a while, but this was our first time meeting face to face.... and what a very special person Susan is. If you are familiar with Susan's blog Plays With Needles, you have likely figured that out already. (You really must read Susan's post about Sharon here. Susan's photos are far superior to mine.) She is one in a million. I felt so privileged to be in her company, for the class and our extra little "excursions". She and her sidekick Helen let me tag along with them and made me feel so welcome. You guys rock!! I do hope we will get together again... soon...
I would have to say that the people I met at this CQ Adventure were one of the very best parts of it all. Like minded women who came together from across North America to share their love of fabrics and threads, stitching and creating works of love. Without a doubt- you girls rock! Sharon B., Susan, Helen, Allie, Maureen F., Bobbie, RuthEllen, Renee, Sherry and Sharon and all the rest - thanks for making it all so much FUN!!

Peace
Linda

Some people make the world more special just by being in it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

From Freddy to Berlin...

Once again it's been a busy few days. Getting Laura off on her big adventure, getting Mark settled back in at home and back to work, teaching a class yesterday (5 down, 1 to go)... Whew! I need a vacation...lol I am hearing from Laura (brief emails) fairly frequently.. that may change now that she is in Poland. Not sure how easily she will be able to access wifi from here on.... She was very impressed with Berlin and the little of Germany that she saw. They had a very busy day and a half in Berlin, visiting sites such as the Brandenburg Gate (photo here courtesy of Internet), Bebelplatz (a large public square surrounded by beautiful buildings such as the State Opera House, the former Royal Library and St. Hedwig's Cathedral, but most well known for the dark day in May 1933 when the Nazis burned 20,000 books there), the very moving Holocaust Memorial (officially known as the Monument to the Murdered Jews in Europe), Grunewald train station and Track 17 where over 50,00 of Berlin's Jews were deported to the camps, Grosse-Hamburger-Strasse which is Berlin's oldest Jewish cemetery and lastly the Wannsee Villa. This beautiful estate in Berlin's suburb of Wannsee (VON-say) was the site of the Wannsee Conference, when 15 top Nazi bureaucrats discussed and co-ordinated the implementation of what they called the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question". The "Final Solution" was the code name for the systematic deliberate annihilation of the European Jews. Laura said it was such a beautiful spot with gorgeous gardens and a beautiful lake out front- hard to comprehend it was the site of such evil...
Today at noon, they boarded their busses for Poland - a 9 hour ride over less than wonderful highways... she described it as much like a rollercoaster - but she thinks Poland is beautiful - picturesque countryside, rich forests, etc. They are in Krakow for the next 2 nights and tomorrow they spend at Auschwitz and Birkenau, a difficult day for sure. She has made a number of wise "observations" already - #1. she doesn't think it's fair to "have to pay to pee". #2. European toiletpaper is less than wonderful (I told her she would appreciate Canada AND Cottonelle SO much more when she returns...) #3. European coffee is very strong- not the best choice before a nine hour busride when you were hoping to catch up on some much needed sleep. It costs in more ways than one... see #1 above. #4. Having a Canadian flag on your backpack is a wonderful thing... Visit her Blog here to follow along on her adventure... I'm sure there'll be more tidbits of wisdom, amusing anecdotes and lots of serious stuff too... This whole adventure is going to be such an amazing experience for Laura, I am so very proud of her...
To end this post on a cheerful note, as it is now 1 a.m. and I really must get to bed, tonight was our final Guild meeting of the season. The Viewers' Choice winners from our recent Quilt Show were announced. You can go here to see the winning quilts and their makers. One of them should look familiar... I won the Miniature category and as well the CQA ribbon for the quilt which received the greatest number of votes!!

Peace
Linda

"There are only two lasting bequests we can leave our children: one is roots; the other, wings."
~ H. Carter

Saturday, May 14, 2011

She's On Her Way...

Laura is on her way to Germany and then Poland. She left under dreary skies this afternoon for Toronto where she will meet up with the other 59 students. They have several Orientation sessions tomorrow before boarding their Lufthansa flight for Berlin tomorrow evening. She was excited and possibly just a little anxious about how the whole thing will play out.... I hope they will have some decent weather with some sunshine to lighten the mood... we're certainly more than tired of all this endless rain...

It's difficult to get out to do photography when it rains EVERY day.... (is anyone listening..?) My daffs are pretty well past their best, but I couldn't resist a few shots in a neighbours' yard... and look at these gorgeous New Brunswick purple violets.. again, bravely holding up their little heads despite the continuing rain...

Peace,
Linda

"If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom."
~Audra Fuveo

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Countdown is On....

Laura's departure for Germany and Poland is only a few days away. She leaves here on Saturday afternoon for Toronto. The group has an Orientation session on Sunday morning and early afternoon, then they head to the airport for their overnight flight to Berlin. So the countdown is on. We are crossing things off "the list". She has been buying things she needs and we've been "gathering"... Canadian pins, a flag for her backpack, luggage tags... My friend Gail M kindly made her a cosmetic bag out of "Canadian themed" fabric - thanks Gail- you are so thoughtful!
Because she is one of only two on this trip from Atlantic Canada, they both decided they should live up to the stereotypical "Maritimer image" and have sou'westers for their rain gear. I made a number of calls last week all over the province, to track down two sou-westers.... finally found some in a gift shop in St. Andrews. Thanks goodness Canada Post didn't let us down and delivered them in just a few short days. So she's all prepared for rainy weather with her sou-wester, her "duckie" boots and her rainjacket. They'll be assured of sunny weather now! (wink)
Yesterday we had a meeting with our City Mayor. He did a very similar trip last fall so we thought he might be able to give her some suggestions, advice, etc. He was very helpful and before we left, he gave Laura a large pack of city pins and two copies of the hardcover book "Fredericton" by photographer Brian Atkinson. It is a beautiful coffeetable type book full of wonderful photographs. She will have to ponder who will be the lucky recipients... she is thinking perhaps the survivor who accompanies her group, for one... Thanks Mayor Woodside, you're the best!!
Laura's Aunt Kelly brought her the perfect leather purse from Mexico - it's small, lightweight and will hold just the bare essentials. It is not large enough for a typical "fat" wallet, so on Monday evening we made up a wallet type pocketbook to hold her Passport, the few cards she will take and some cash. She had fun picking out the funky black and white fabric and the bright pink button - it was quick and easy to make and the button loop is a hair elastic! Click here for the tutorial if you are interested.
We have all been reading and watching more movies... Life is Beautiful, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas were the latest ones. Mayor Woodside loaned Laura a book he purchased at Auschwitz, titled A Girl from Schindler's List. It is the true story of Stella Muller-Madej, a gripping account of the Holocaust through a young girls' eyes, not yet a teenager when she was consigned to the Plaszow labour camp. I have already started reading it,and it looks like another "can't put it down" story...
I can't believe it's thirty-five years ago today I was heading for Toronto to meet up with my travelling buddy and thirty five years ago tomorrow we were heading to Europe for 3 months of backpacking and hostelling... Where does the time go? Oh to be in my twenties again...
Laura is hoping to be able to blog while on her trip. You can follow along here...

Peace,
Linda

"It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must work at it." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, May 9, 2011

New York, New York...

Okay so we're back to my April trip to the USA. I've told you all about my shop-hopping through Maine and my wonderful afternoon at
Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge Mass. Now we'll move on to my first day with Susan Elliott and gang- our adventure into the fashion district of New York City. Five of us got up early in the morning, (yes those of you who know me well know I do not DO early very often- but when it involves travel or an adventure, I'll be ready!!) had a quick breakfast and then hopped into Susan' s SUV for the hour drive to New Haven. It's a two hour train ride to NYC's Grand Central Station. We "hit the ground running" and our first Manhattan stop was M&S Schmalberg's. Allie was so excited to finally meet the owner Warren Brand. (And we were more than a little excited to be accompanying her!!) Allie had "done a little business" with Schmalberg's and had made them a small quilt- she was thrilled to see it hanging prominently in their showroom. (You can read about that on Allie's blog here and here.) Warren was so welcoming to all of us, telling us to make ourselves at home and look at anything we wanted. Here he is (on the right) with his son Adam and Allie. We wandered around while he explained their entire operation and we were welcome to photograph anything we wished. I almost had to keep pinching myself to make sure it was real: here we were, in the heart of the fashion district, seeing the actual production of handmade custom fabric flowers for the fashion, bridal, accessory and millinery industries. They also now deal with home decorators, theatrical set and costume designers, party planners and display artists. Their flowers have been worn by stars at the Academy Awards, appeared on the covers and pages of bridal magazines, and we were having a personal tour with the owner! How good is that?! What a great start to our day!


We were fascinated to see their entire process from start to finish- how the fabric petals are cut by machine, pressed /shaped in molds that have been used for three generations of this business,and then assembled by hand, one by one. Some are custom shaded, hand painted, and/or embellished with beads, etc. Below you see the sheets of "fabric waste" after the cutting process, Warren demonstrating the pressing process which shapes the petals, and the workers assembling.








We chatted with the workers and had such fun looking through the hundreds of "sample" flowers to decide on our purchases. Just look at some of what we had to choose from - no wonder we were there several hours. Every size, shape and color... You can click on these photos for a closer look.









Susan in particular had fun making her choices... Thanks Allie for making that visit possible!! It was an experience of a lifetime.




















After that we proceeded on to Mood Fabrics (of Project Runway fame), and Tinsel Trading. What fun... like candy shops for adults. Of course we had to take a few pics on 7th Avenue ("Fashion Avenue") with the tailor who pays homage to the garment district workers, near the giant needle and button, symbol of the worlds' fashion center. Above are Allie, Helen and Cathy standing near the needle and button, and at left are the tailor and I. (Notice I'm wearing my new posie from Schmalberg's...)


After some yummy lunch at a Deli, it was on to NY Beads, followed by Sposabella Lace and Elegant Fabrics. The imported Italian and French laces at Sposabella's were so beautiful, we just had to have a few little pieces. Many of the choices were vintage, making them all the more special...















Elegant Fabrics made us all drool, just look at their selection of Dupioni silks - every bolt is a different shade - who could not find just the right color there... It was fun seeing the many fashion students buzzing around getting fabric samples. Helen and I split a piece of beautiful burgundy silk velvet - one choice was all we could handle- we were on "overload" by this point...
What a day, what a day... we had such fun, lots of laughs, and tired feet... By late afternoon we were making our way back to Grand Central Station. Let me tell you, being there at 5pm is quite an experience- people hurrying in all directions - reminded me of ants on an anthill. It felt so good to sit on the train for a few hours. Dinner at Miso, a Japanese restaurant in New Haven was the perfect ending to a fabulous day with new friends...
Thanks so much Susan, Helen, Allie and Cathy for a day to remember!
You can click here for Cathy's post about our day - she posted more pics than I did! And here for Allie's post...

Piece
Linda

"A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be." ~Douglas Pagels
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