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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

These are a few of my favourite things.. I mean threads

The more you stitch, the more you find that you like some threads more than others. I have definitely developed a few favorites, the Stef Francis cotton threads I last posted about, being one. I love the rich colors, and the ease with which you can stitch with this thread. Another of my favorite cotton threads is Perle Cotton. This is usually easy to find if you have any sort of needlework shop or craft shop near you. DMC produces a wide range of thread colors in embroidery floss and if a shop carries the floss, they often carry the Perle Cotton as well. Size 5 is the most common, with a decent selection of colors in skeins. Sizes 8 and 12 (thinner threads) are usually available in a much more limited color selection, in balls.
An alternative to the DMC is Presencia Finca Perle, available in solids and variegateds, carried "locally" by River Gallery in Glenwood. We are so fortunate to have Sande nearby giving us this wonderful alternative. She stocks the size 5, but can order any of the colors in sizes 8 or 12. Although it is slightly more expensive than a ball of DMC Perle Cotton, there is more yardage in the ball, so it works out, on a "cost per unit" basis to be cheaper. The Finca is also a tighter twist, and I like it better; I find the color range is wider as well. Look at these beautiful blues, purples and greens - who could resist these? Speaking of "favorite things", this bowl is by my favorite N.B. potter, Rachel Morouney of Hidden House Pottery in Otter Creek, near Elgin N.B.

My other favorite cotton thread is Wildflowers by Caron. These are variegated threads, with a very good variety of color choices, from pastels to brights. This thread, weight-wise, is between an 8 and a 12 perle, and is a little fuzzier than a perle. The closest source for those of us here in "Freddy Beach", is Because You Count, a needlework shop in Moncton, located at 164 Collishaw St. As always, you can click on each photo for a closer look...

When doing Crazy Quilting, you should always be striving for variety - not just in your thread colors, textures and solids/variegateds, but also variety in thread weights- your stitching will be more interesting if you have thick threads and thinner threads to contrast.
This third photo shows a combination of Finca and DMC Perles, also variegated Valdani cottons (these are made in Romania), Stef Francis and Sassa Lynne cottons. Because I will have to make up kits for my classes at Quilt Canada 2010, I am already working at building up a varied "Stock".....what a great "excuse"... haha! I think I have enough blues! But... can you EVER have enough of your favorite color?

To finish on a "spring-y" note.... thought I would share these lovely daffodils with you. Laura and I spent several hours last night helping count, bunch and wrap daffodils for the upcoming daffodil campaign of the Canadian Cancer Society. You will be seeing them for sale at local malls and places of business later this week - please treat yourself to a springy bouquet and support this worthwhile cause!
"No matter how long, how cold, how bitter the winter, the daffodils always come up in the spring". - Connie Kern

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It's a Good Day!

The sun shone for part of the day and the temp was around 10C...warm enough to sit out on the deck for a while with my face turned up to that glorious sunshine. It felt sooo good! Most of the week is supposed to be rainy, but at least that will help get rid of the snow...
I have two pieces of good news to share..First, darling daughter Laura has been accepted to the course of her choice- Journalism at the University of her choice- U. of Kings College in Halifax. So she is a very happy girl.... and we are very pleased for her too...
The other bit of good news is for you Crazy Quilters who live in my area- you can now find Stef Francis threads at the River Gallery in Glenwood NB. Yippeeee! This is the shop owned and run by Sande Gunning, located downriver toward Saint John, on Route 102. Glenwood is just a mile or two this side of Brown's Flat. You can go down the old "River Road" (rte. 102), through Gagetown and keep on going, past Oak Point. She is at 7310 Rte. 102. Or you can travel the main highway(#7) to Saint John and take the second exit(#80) for Grand Bay -Westfield. At the flashing red light, proceed straight through, towards Gagetown. River Gallery is roughly 17 km. ahead. Of course Sande carries lots of other goodies too- she has the best stock of Batiks you will find anywhere in the province, also lots of supplies for Sashiko and Rug-Hooking. I am so pleased she is carrying the full line of these threads- they are such wonderful colors. She carries all three weights- the heaviest is similar to a Perle 5, the other two are finer. I LOVE these threads for CQing....
I had a great time in Saint John, teaching a two day CQ class for the Marco Polo Guild. Thanks gals!! Hope you had as much fun as I did!


"April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain." T.S. Eliot (The Waste Land)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where is Spring?

Okay, I've promised myself I am NOT going to mention the "W" word anymore (that's Winter). I am ignoring the fact that we had snow flurries off and on all weekend... and that we still have 3 or 4 feet of snow on the ground. I'm ignoring the calls from friends out west who tell me their crocuses are done and daffodils are blooming. I'm putting away my Jim Shore Snowmen and taking down my beautiful crocheted and tatted snowflakes from my window. I WANT Spring...NOW!!! I'm off tomorrow to Saint John, to teach for 2 days. When I come back, it better be feeling more like Spring!!

Look at these gorgeous tulips- I can't believe how they have lasted - this bunch is one week old today- and they are still beautiful! This is the second bunch I have had (thanks to my good friend Sue) of these yellow tulips that have lasted more than a week, before they start to fade... Usually tulips don't make a great cut flower as they open quickly and then "flop"...
Anyway, just letting you know, in case anyone has any "drag" with Mother Nature, I'm more than ready for Spring....bring it on!!! I won't be blogging again until probably Sunday... Until then...Piece!
"Spring comes: the flowers learn their colored shapes" -Maria Konopnicka

Monday, March 23, 2009

CQ stocking..slow progress

Here finally are a few pics of the stocking I'm working on. Now please remember, this is a work in progress... I am only at the embroidery stage, although I have added beads to one row.... just couldn't wait.... I tend to sometimes add and change things as I go along.. so what you see now, might look a little different in the end. In fact I have been known to totally remove something and replace it with a different seam treatment if I'm not happy with it after I "live with it" for a while....
This first photo shows a small piece of tatting that I have cut from a doily my Mother made years ago.. I have "anchored" it in place with some featherstitch (my favorite stitch) done in a variegated thread- Wildflowers by Caron. I decided this white patch was just a little too white, so this tones it down a bit... I'll decide later whether to add some beading.

I am pleased with this row- I couldn't wait to use these sweet little flower beads. The variegated greens are a Sassa Lynn Perle 5 and a Silk Buttonhole Twist by Judith Baker Montano, dyed by Treenway Silks. I love stitching with silk buttonhole twist - it is my favorite thread, for sure. There will be a narow green trim along the base of this row, just haven't got it on there yet.... Below this row, you can see a layered row of cretan stitch, the "bottom" row done in a pale peach Perle Cotton 5, and on top a fuschia silk buttonhole twist. I'm not sure if the French knots will stay or be replaced by beads or small pearls.
This photo shows a length of tatting, again done by my mother, years ago. I think I will end up lacing some silk ribbon through those "circles" on the right, or perhaps adding beads somehow, or maybe both!. To the left is a row of "Up and Down Buttonhole", done in a variegated Stef Francis heavier cotton thread. In each stitch I have added a detached chain stitch, in a rose silk buttonhole twist. Further to the left, a layered row of Herringbone, the "bottom" row in pink Perle Cotton 5, tied with Silk buttonhole twist, the "top" row in a tan Pearl Crown Rayon thread. I will definitely be adding beads to this row later, probably either bugles or daggers...

Here's a seam that will hopefully look very different the next time you see it.. it's far from finished. I'm not too happy with it right now, but I'm hoping I can improve it considerably. I wanted some curved lines on this seam, and instead of sketching it out, I just jumped in and started... NOT a good idea. The "flowers" are ruched silk ribbon - color is "Faded Rose" by Judith B Montano. The flowers look darker here than they really are. Not sure where I'm going with this - it's not finished as you can see at the top - I'll add more green leaves and see how it looks then... or who knows, it may all come out... Suggestions?
"Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life" - Berthold Auerbach

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A year older....

Another birthday has come and gone... and I'm a year older. The big 55 - halfway between 50 and 60...ugh- that sounds OLD. I'm trying to look on the positive side, telling myself I can now get Senior Discounts at some stores!! Whooppeeeeee.....
Yesterday was a good day - I went to an Embroiderer's Guild Show, treated myself to a few new threads, went out to supper at our favorite Greek restaurant..yep, a good day!! I even received flowers and chocolate - now what more could a girl ask for?? (Well.... fabric maybe...)
Tonight I cooked one of my favorite meals - Maple Curried Chicken, with rice and fresh asparagus, and a decadent Chocolate Cheesecake for dessert. Yummmmm.. Because it's going to be tomorrow before I share photos of my progress on the CQ stocking, I'm going to give you my recipe for the chicken dish. Hope you like it.

Maple Curried Chicken
2 Tblsp. olive oil
2 Tblsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 each red and green peppers, choppped
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup cream
1-2 Tblsp. medium curry paste
Heat oil and butter, soften onion and peppers. Add chicken and garlic, sprinkle sugar over and cook for 3 minutes. Add maple syrup, cook 5 minutes. Add curry paste and cream, reduce heat to low. Simmer 15 minutes. Serve over noodles or rice.
Note- I often add mushrooms as well, and sometimes just make the sauce and serve over cooked chicken breasts

I promise I'll post a few photos of my CQ stocking later tomorrow. Meeting with my Fusion group in the morning , we're going to try out some heat set ink-dyes...


Birthdays are good for you- the more you have, the longer you live!

Friday, March 20, 2009

I think Spring might be just around the corner...

Well, somehow we've managed to escape this year, without our usual St. Patrick's Day storm. It seems we almost always get one last storm, around the 17th, but not so this year! Hurrah! Today was above zero, sunny and you can smell spring in the air. After all, it is "officially spring" now, so I guess it's time. The snow is slowly going down, water is a-trickling down the sides of the streets...
Imagine my surprise this morning, when I received this lovely dish garden from my brother and sister-in-law who are currently vacationing in Florida. Tomorrow is my birthday, so this was an early gift! It is lovely and now sits on the kitchen table - I pitched out the scraggly poinsettia- it was time for it to go!
I should be showing you pics of my stocking in progress but you're going to have to wait another day or two. I have accomplished very little this week- it seems sometimes life just gets in the way! This has been a very busy and stressful week for Laura and of course, that always seems to involve me, somehow. She had 100 things to do for the first Grad event this week- Casino Night, so we've both been all over town, picking up prizes, etc. Yesterday I counted and rolled probably $500,000.00 - in Monopoly money, that is! Each Grad was given a roll of $5,000.00 when they arrived, and could purchase more if they wished. They played Casino games for 2 hours, then took their winnings to the Auction to bid on all the prizes - and there were some fine prizes too! The big one was the Prom package- including a free Tux rental, Spa and tanning services, corsage and bouttoniere, restaurant gift certificate, etc. etc. It was great fun, but we're both glad it's over. She had projects due this week, a costume fitting at 8a.m. today at Kings Landing, not to mention MAJOR deadlines looming for Yearbook. On top of all this, she found out on Wednesday that she was chosen to be the one applicant for her High School, for a major scholarship...which was wonderful but meant she had an essay to write on Wednesday night... so it's been quite a week. She works all day tomorrow and Sunday at Kings Landing at their annual "Sugarbush Weekend". She loves it, but I think she's ready to collapse into bed exhausted. I think it will be early to bed tonight. Why do things seem to all pile up at once???
Anywhoooo...I haven't gotten much stitching done. Because I work all over the stocking, not just in one area, I don't have much for pics yet. So thought I would share several of my stitch "samplers"' with you. I take one stitch and experiment with it - what happens if you stretch it out? stack it? layer it? reverse it ? etc. I'll share more of these with you, as I go on. Here today are the Buttonhole and the Chain stitches - these are mainly just the basic stitch and then variations of the stitch. It's a good exercise, and then when I'm working on a CQ piece, I can refer to them for ideas... I WILL be showing you my progress on the stocking SOON. I'm teaching a 2 day CQ class next weekend, so am determined to make swift progress in the next few days...
"You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you." — Maya Angelou

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Green. What a beautiful color! What comes to mind when you think of green? Life? Rebirth? Nature? Many would say growth, strength, fertility, rain,vegetation.... my husband would say grass..he loves to mow! I must admit, I'd love to smell fresh-mown grass right now.... I'd much rather look at green, than white. Yes, I'm longing for green these days - guess it's time for a visit to the local Garden Center and Nursery for a little dose of spring green....
We know that "green" is caused by chlorophyll and photosynthesis and all that scientific quilters we think of green as a secondary color on the color wheel, the "child" of Blue and Yellow. There are so many greens: emerald green, forest green, Kelly green, lime green, sage green, moss green, teal green, grey green, silver green, khaki green, olive green, apple green, sea green, seafoam green, pea green, grass green, mint green, jade green, spring green, chartreuse green, pine green... have I forgotten any? Are you familair with the Irish song "Forty Shades of Green"? (lyrics written by Johnny Cash, by the way!!) I'm sure there must be more than forty! If you've ever been to Ireland, you know of what I speak...
The abundance of green in the natural world around us leads us to associate green with feelings of calm and peace - it's a restful color. Green is not always an easy color to work with in a quilt, because it is easily influenced and changed by the colors around it. But if you take a close look at Mother Nature, you will see that she combines and incorporates all greens - yellow greens, greens and blue-greens, successfully and sensitively. I see that in gardening- and I'm learning to pay attention to the greens of the foliage as much as the flower colors. I can't wait to watch my Hostas unfurl their leaves in June, to see all those glorious greens - all cohabiting happily side by side!
Today "Green" is taking on a whole new meaning - besides being the color of life, rebirth and growth, with both Christian and Muslim significance as the color of immortality and the everlasting, negative connotations of jealousy, envy and inexperience, green is now the color of the environment. We are (finally!) becoming more aware of our carbon footprint, and the importance of the use of environmentally friendly products. It's about time! Go green!
Have you ever been to Ireland? I've been lucky enough to go twice. I have to say it is very high on my list of places I want to return to. It's definitely in the Top 3- in a tie with Switzerland and Greece. One cannot describe adequately with words, what Ireland is all about. It definitely is a magical place- one you have to experience for yourself. Sort of like the Grand Canyon- you just have to see it to believe it. The scenery, the people, the language, the music, the lushness of the southwest where you will see palm trees, the desolation of Connemara, Galway Bay at sunset, the Cliffs of Moher.... I love it all! And certainly when you are there, you are surrounded by GREEN...
I'm thinking about another Miniature, this one all in greens, with black as the background color. I'm waiting for inspiration, perhaps it will come today... here are some greens I've gathered, with the wonderful stripe(on the right) that I'd like to use in the border. Suggestions anyone?
So how are you spending this St. Patrick's Day? Are you making Irish Soda Bread, or cooking Corned Beef and Cabbage for supper? Why not relax tonight with a good Irish movie? Here are a few suggestions- My Left Foot, Ryan's Daughter, The Secret Life of Roan Inish (great kids' movie), In the Name of the Father, and Waking Ned Devine (good comedy).
I've rambled on long enough... I'd like to leave you with an Irish Curse in case you have the need to use it, and an Irish Drinking Toast just in case you lift a pint of Guinness today...
Irish Curse: May those who love us, love us. And those that don't love us, may God turn their hearts. And if He doesn't turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles so we'll know them by their limping.
Irish Drinking Toast: May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.
Linda Kelly O'Hubbard
"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes". - Oscar Wilde

Friday, March 13, 2009

The leprechauns are busy....

I think the leprechauns and fairies are busy playing tricks already.. I have been having some troubles with my Blog; nothing major, just little things. Like the post I did last night, Sunday March 15, is posted under Friday the 13th...and so is this one. I can't see some of the comments that it tells me are there.... stuff like that. Maybe some of you more experienced Bloggers can tell me what's going on... I think it's fairies....maybe it's my punishment for publicly stating I really don't believe in Friday the 13th being a Bad Luck day...
Anyway, here's my "Spool and Bobbin" miniature quilt. It's 11 1/2" square. The inner pieced area is 8" square, with individual blocks being 2" sq. The narrow (1/8") border is a bright coral pink - it may look more orange on your screen, but those who know me know I rarely use orange! The coral pink just seemed the perfect color to set off those rich purpley blues and teals.
Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day - time for some GREEN!!!
May you always have work for your hands to do. May your pockets hold always a coin or two. May the sun shine bright on your windowpane. May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.

Another Miniature almost complete...

Well, it's done, almost. It's all pieced and borders are on. Tonight I'm going to layer and quilt it, and hopefully get the binding done. Tomorrow you'll see a pic of the finished quilt. Until then, here is a small "preview". The pattern is called "Spool and Bobbin". I've done it in my favourite blues....
Watched the final game in the National University Basketball Championships tonight, played at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. What a thrill to watch a hometown boy, neighbour and former teammate of Marks' play on the winning team - the Carleton Ravens. Carleton won against UBC, 87-77. Elliot saw a fair bit of floor time. Way to go El!! We're proud of you!
Check back tomorrow to see the finished Spool and Bobbin Mini....
"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right." -Henry Ford

Are you triskaidekaphobic?

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. If you are triskaidekaphobic, then you may also be paraskavedekatriaphobic, which means you fear Friday the 13th. Yep - it's that day again - the second one this year, and we have one more to come in November! I'm not superstitious, so the day didn't bother me at all. Just another Friday as far as I'm concerned. It was cold and windy, felt like January, but at least the sun shone and there was no white stuff falling from the sky.

Have you noticed how many triskaidekaphobics there must be in the world, though? Think about it.. you rarley see a 13th floor in a tall building, or Gate 13 at an airport. Many hospitals and hotels have no rooms numbered 13, and many airplanes have no 13th row.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of the month , and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Mark Twain was once the 13th guest at a dinner party, although friends advised him not to go. Twain later told the friend "You were right. It was bad luck. They only had food enough for 12."

I am working on another Miniature, the photo here is a clue. I'll reveal the mini quilt once it's done, hopefully in a few days. My Guild meeting is the 17th so I plan to have it ready for Show and Tell... Any ideas on the design?

In another few days, once I've made a little more progress, I'll show some photos of my CQ stocking, as well. Stay tuned....


"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." - Mark Twain

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I love getting mail!

Don't you just love to get a package in the mail? When I opened the mailbox this afternoon, there was a package from Vickie Adams Brown of Ribbonsmyth. Yeah!! I had ordered a book and some ribbons. The book is another in the A-Z series - The A-Z of Bead Embroidery. I love this series - it is so well done. I love the way they photograph every single step - be it an embroidery stitch, beading or whatever. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the publisher is Country Bumpkin Publishing of South Australia. Vickie's hand-dyed silk ribbon is lovely, and I also got two colors of her Rococo ribbon which is truly beautiful!! Can't wait to find a special project to use it on...

Yesterday I promised to tell you a bit about laces today. To be quite honest, I'm not a lacey kind of gal, but I do like a little lace on a CQ project. I try to support local businesses whenever possible. It's amazing what you will find if you look hard enough. Even WalMart sometimes will have some pretty decent laces, braids and trims if you keep an eye out. However, sometimes the gorgeous lace you will find online is just too tempting to pass up, and thats the case today- above are some of the laces I have ordered from Evening Star Designs (See my sidebar). Some of these are a little wider than I would normally be drawn to, but they are just so lovely- I'm sure I'll find a use for them. No doubt some will get a dunking in some tea to soften that bright white. I have even been known to use coffee or a mix of tea and coffee - it's always interesting to see what color you will get. Herbal teas give some interesting tints too... In the second photo to the right, you will see some laces that I have given a "bath" in some tea. I much prefer the softer look of these.... at the bottom of this second photo, you can see a collar that I cut off an old blouse. It had such a lovely beaded design, done in small pearls - I just could not bear to throw it out. So the point of that collar will find it's way into a seam on a CQ project at some point; I have already used the other half of the collar...

Another option is to dye the lace - if you follow Sharon Boggon's blog, you will see that she dyes a lot of her lace with Procion dyes - I think I'm going to have to investigate that ... Sounds like fun and I love the rich colors she gets. At the bottom of this photo, you will see two short pieces that I have"hand-painted" with Rainbow Dyes from Ribbonsmyth. When you dampen the lace first, the dye colors will "bleed" slightly into each other , which gives a nice soft effect.... At the top of this photo, you can see a lovely piece of tatting, done by my Mother. Keep your eye out for tatting and fine crochet at antique shops, yard sales and the like. Below is an old hankie with a lovely fine crocheted edging, done in a variegated crochet thread. I'm not sure if my Mom did this one, but the hankie was in her collection, so that makes it special enough for me! Using tatting and fine edgings such as this make a CQ piece that much more interesting, in my mind. When you look at the fineness of the thread and think about the hours someone spent doing this work...well, it's just very special..... You'll have to watch and see which of these laces I add to my CQ stocking...Piece,
May your troubles be less, your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Crazy Quilt Stocking

I'm late getting to this post - it was such a gorgeous day - a few degrees above zero with lots of sunshine- you can really feel the sun strengthening - it feels soooo good!! Anyway, I just had to spend some time outside, taking it all in. The snow is slowly melting- sounds so great to hear that water running down the side of the street!! Tonight I had Choir practice, so just now getting to the computer....

So- I promised to show you my next Crazy Quilting project. I have another stocking pieced - well actually it's been done for quite some time, but I'm just getting back to it now. Since my other stocking is done in darker colors, I thought I should do a light one, so chose creams, ivories, pinks, roses and a bit of plummy mauve.... the colors were "inspired" by the length of ribbon you see on the lower right side, plus a print that is used in the stocking. I find that works very well- to choose a print you like, then draw your colors from that print. So that's what I've done. You'll notice that I have used very few prints. I find some poeple use too many prints when CQ'ing. The fabric base is really just that- a base, on which you will add a lot of embellishments. Why spend a lot of time doing embroidery, if it will not show up - and that is what happens with too many prints - all the handwork you do does not show to advantage. So I use mainly solids and textures, and only a few prints.

I try to stick with lightweight fabrics as well. Using thicker fabrics like drapery weights, heavy velvets, etc. just is not worth the trouble you will have when you try to do handwork through it. It can become very difficult to push a needle through, and some of your threads and ribbons, especially silks, will wear quickly, with all the pulling through heavy fabrics. Remember you are going through your muslin base, your fabric, and in many cases several layers of your fabric because of seam allowances.
I leave several inches of muslin around the edge of my CQ piece, so I can hoop it if I choose.

Tomorrow I will talk a bit about laces and trims which is what I add first. You can see I have already added a piece of tatting near the toe, one piece of lace near top and one piece of ribbon on the lower right.

I think my favourite part of working on a CQ piece is the embroidery. I just love threads - here are some of the threads I will probably use on this stocking. This is by no means all, nor will I necessarily use every one of these. But I always start out by gathering "all the possibilities". Then they're all together for me to pick from. As you can see, my favourites are cottons and silks. I'll talk about these a bit more in a few days...... stay tuned....


Itchin ' to be stitchin'....

Monday, March 9, 2009

Back to Crazy Quilting...

No more pics of my darlin' daughter today. No access to the scanner... perhaps I'm going to have to think about getting my own scanner. So, it's on to some Crazy Quilting.... I finished up another little card; going to send this one off to a dear friend who is fighting a real battle with cancer. I find these cards are an easy pleasant evening stitching project. They don't take too long, and you have something finished. I didn't put much beading on this one, as it will be going through the mail. I'm always leery of how the beads will stand up to the machines the mail goes through. Working on this has got me interested in getting back to a larger CQ project. I have another stocking pieced and ready for some serious stitching. Since I have another CQ class coming up at the end of March, I really should get going on this. Tomorrow I'll show you the stocking base, and some of the embellishments I plan to use.
"You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." Gibran

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Laura...

I can hardly believe that my baby girl is 18 today! The years have flown by waaay too quickly. Not that I would choose to go back to diapers and all that.. but .. how can my children be young adults already? Its true what they say - the time seems to go faster as you get older. Being an only daughter, with older brothers, I always wanted a sister..never got one. And as long as I can remember, I've wanted a daughter. I had her name picked out years before she appeared on the scene...

At right is one of my favourite pics of her as a little girl. This was taken in our backyard, wearing her favourite hat at the time.. and the next shot was taken when she was.... about 5, I'm thinking. This was just before we cut her long hair- she tells her friends that she had no arms when she was little - haha.

And - here she is today, all grown up. This is one of her Grad pics, taken by MaryEllen Nealis. She's into photography, so here she is with her beloved camera. Because she's so busy with school and summer work, she really hasn't had much opportunity to take courses yet, and is pretty much self taught. I think she has a really "good eye" and I'm sure that when she gets around to some serious study of photography she will do some incredible work. You can check out her current work at
All the dreams I prayed you'd be,
are all the things you are.
You were once my litle girl
And now my shining star!
Happy Birthday Laura! I love you....

Being a family of chocolate lovers, the birthday cake is usually chocolate with thick fudgey chocolate frosting. But Laura chose another family favourite for her cake this year- Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake. It really is yummy and it never lasts long. Here is the recipe:

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1 tsp. each baking powder and baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Topping: 1/4 cup white sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Mix as usual, alternating dry ingds. with sour cream. Spray tube pan with Pam, and spread half of batter in pan. Sprinkle half of cinnamon sugar over , and spread with half of nuts and chips. Top with remaining batter, then rest of cinnamon sugar, chips and nuts. Do not stir. (I'll be honest, I'm more generous with the nuts and chips - I use probably a cup of each). Bake at 350F, for 40-45 minutes.
What I like about this cake, as well as it's yumminess - is that it's so easy - no frosting required!

I'll post a few more pictures tomorrow of my little darlin' Laura. Then it's on to some crazy quilting! I did a little stitching last night- it felt good!! I've started another miniature quilt too, but it will be a few days before it's anywhere near ready for pics! Stay tuned!
A daughter may outgrow your lap...but she will never outgrow your heart.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I Love Jim Shore!

I love Jim Shore! Well, actually I've never met the man... and I'm quite happy with the man I've got! Maybe what I should say is I love Jim Shore's work. Jim is an artist who grew up in South Carolina. Born to artistic parents who instilled a love of folk art, Jim's grandmother was a master quilter who taught him to appreciate the patience and skill necessary to bring intricate designs to life. Jim has drawn inspiration from these family roots. Although he holds degrees in Engineering and Business, art has always been his first love, and now it is his fulltime work. He produces seasonal and home accessories which are marketed worldwide. He takes designs from quilting, rosemalling and applique and combines them with elements of folk art and a vibrant color palette. I love his figurines. I have a good number of his Santas, and when November rolls around, they are the very first Christmas boxes that I open!! You'll have to wait till next November to see my other Santas, but here is my very favorite- since he is blue and white, I don't think of him as a Santa, but rather, I call him Father Winter. Officially he's known as "Blue Quilt Santa" but to me, he's not Christmas-y, so he stays out all winter.
I collect Angels so naturaly I added a few Jim Shore Angels to my collection. This one is called "Landscape Sleeps". I found her in a gift shop in Whycocamagh NS. Part of the fun when you collect something, for me, is "the hunt". You just never know where you'll find that special item....
I have found several of my Santa's in the oddest places, but that makes them "special"....
I have a few Jim Shore snowmen as well; I will share them with you another day.
We are getting yet more snow today.. snow and rain actually... neither of which we need... I wonder if I put "Father Winter" away, if the snow would stop?

"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?" - John Steinbeck

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sashiko mat

Here is the completed Sashiko mat I have been working on, the last day or two. Finally finished. This is from a kit given to me probably at least 10 years ago. (It came from Maple Tree Quilts - a wonderful quilt shop that was on Bank St. in the Glebe in Ottawa. Sadly, the shop is no more.... What a shame...) I guess it's about time I dug this out and put it together......
The mat is 19" square, the sashiko center is 12" square. I stitched it in a variegated Finca perle cotton, purchased from Sande Gunning at River Gallery. It was a lovely thread to work with.The borders are quilted with a 2.5 twin needle with Sulky thread in two shades of pale gold.As usual, if you click on the image, you will get a closeup view.
Here is Ollie "helping" me with this project. How is he helping, you ask? Well, if you look closely, you will see that he is lying on my ironing board, on some folded fabric - what I had selected for the binding. Ollie took it upon himself to "hold it down", in case it tried to get away... He's so useful!!
He loves to lie on the ironing board and watch me sew. Do you think perhaps he was a Quilter in his former life?
Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Needlefelting on Silk

I belong to a small group called "Fusion". We have a lot of fun trying out new "Art quilt" techniques and products, such as Shiva Paintstiks, Heat set inks, Silk cocoons and rods, Angelina fiber and the like. Recently we experimented with Needlefelting. Here is my small piece- I felted hand-dyed pure silk fiber onto a piece of blue Dupioni silk, and worked in some other threads and fibers, and Angelina. I have added a bit of embroidery (featherstitch) done with variegated silk buttonhole twist thread, and a bit of beading. Not a piece worth big bucks, but it was fun! And that's the name of the game....
"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see". - Edgar Degas

Monday, March 2, 2009

March Break Projects....

March Break has begun.... the first day has been one of snow, ice pellets and currrently freezing rain. I'm glad I no longer have young children - at least I'm not listening to "Mummy, I'm bored...what can I do now?" Laura has an essay to write this week, and lots of work to get done on Yearbook and Grad Class Executive stuff- securing prizes for the Grad's Casino Night is the most pressing job... so she has LOTS to keep her busy this week....
I have many friends who have gone south for the week, or longer. Of course I am envious, but am trying to keep busy to make the days pass quickly. I decided I would make a good long list of things to accomplish, so I would feel I've really made good use of time.. not like my friends who are lazing on a beach somewhere with a Pina Colada in hand- the lazy sloths!! Just kidding girls!!
So- what have I done so far? Well, I've finished another great book- "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. What a great read! I highly recommend it! Today I finished up my quarterly N.B. Regional Report for CQA/ACC and got it sent off for the next issue of The Canadian Quilter. Tonight I will finish a bit of beading on a silk needlefelting piece - you'll see it tomorrow. I've decided on the next two Miniature quilts I'm going to do, hopefully will get at least one started this week. Spent some time drawing up 2" blocks on graph paper, so that's ready to roll... One will be done in greens, the other I'm still pondering. But before I start that, I'll finish the Sashiko mat- yes the photo yesterday was a piece of Sashiko I have stitched. It's waiting for borders and machine's next on my To Do List...



The greatest accomplishment is to make work seem simply like play....

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March 1... In like a Lion...

March 1st... the winter is almost gone.. I hope!!! It's gone on far too long, we have SO much snow piled up everywhere. Its only 3 more weeks till spring "officially" is here- lets hope she arrives on time!! We are in line for yet another storm, the snow has just started in the last half hour. Yep - more snow, followed by ice pellets, freezing rain and more snow. Tomorrow is going to be a good day to stay home and sew!! And that's my plan...

I am working on finishing up two small projects that have been waiting patiently. This photo is a clue- can you guess what it is? Stay tuned for pics in the next day or two....

Oh yes, for those of you who know Laura- she got her acceptance to Kings! She is thrilled! She has declined Carleton U. and is looking forward to life in Halifax for the next 4 years. Now how lucky could parents be.... to have their 3 children all in the same city! Wow!
"Oh, the weather outside is frightful..."
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