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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

How does your garden grow.. Part 2...

As promised yesterday, here are a few more garden pics.. my hostas are coming along quite nicely.. this bed looks beautiful in mid-summer when it has a little more color. I put clumps of impatiens in between the hostas to brighten it up and add a little punch! I usually go with all shades of pinks, burgundies and violets (I'm a pink gal as opposed to red..). I'd love to eventually remove a few of the hostas that are the same and replace them with other varieties so every one is different. Not this year... I have a pretty good variety now, with everything from a miniature to several with huge leaves- probably 15" across. Three years ago I bought one called T-Rex; it comes with the promise of gigantic leaves. It was a young plant so has taken a while to "grow into it's name". I'm hopeful that this year it will start to live up to it's reputation... My bleeding heart seems to be dying out. The last few years it has been absolutley huge, this year it is less than a quarter of it's usual size. Maybe our long winter "did it in"... a number of gardening friends have lost bushes, shrubs, etc...

One last tulip photo to share with you. These are in a small bed on the side of our property- formerly my Mother's tulip bed.. she planted these years ago and they bloom well every year. Many tulips seem to lose strength and do not bloom as well after the first few years, but not these beauties. I think they were called Rembrandt tulips?
The Flowering Crab is one of my favourite flowering trees - I love May/June with the forsythia, apple and crab blossoms, and now the lilacs and rhododendrons will be next. Our rhodo is not going to be spectacular this year: there aren't many buds....the crows have once again cleaned off most of the flower buds. A rhododendron sets next spring's flower buds in late summer/fall. We discovered a few years ago, when we had a particularly long cold winter and late spring, that the crows had eaten off most of the buds. So now we cover it with netting every year to deter them, when we wrap it with burlap for the winter for protection from the winter winds, but I guess they have that figured out too, as they seem to have cleaned it once again.. darn crows - they are SO smart. I wish they would find something else to feast on....
Here's another plant I have in bloom right now - Solomon's Seal. It's graceful stems arch with these little creamy-white "bellflowers" edged in green. Later on it will have blue-black berries. Normally considered a shade plant, mine gets a lot of sun and is thriving! I think I'll cut a piece off later on this summer and plant it in one corner of my hosta bed..
In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful. ~Abram L. Urban

Saturday, May 30, 2009

How does your garden grow?

The month of May always amazes me. Things grow so quickly, you can literally see changes from one day to the next... It seems like it was just yesterday that my hostas all looked like this - just little shoots starting to grow. Now their huge leaves are unfurling and I'm falling in love with them all over again. I have a good sized bed of hostas which stretches across the front of my house and part-way around my studio. I love hostas; they don't require a lot of effort, other than keeping the slugs at bay, which is challenging at times - I'll share some more hosta photos tomorrow...

Each year I tell myself I'm going to get "jobs" done earlier.. like putting plant support rings on.... and every year I'm struggling with them a week or two later than I should be.... the plants just seem to shoot up overnight and all of a sudden, they are taller than I would like... Anyway, got that job done tonight, except for the few that I need more than two hands for...
So, what's blooming this week? I love these little purple-blue Muscari (or grape hyacinth)... those of you who know me know I'm a big lover of blue..... The purple violets are finishing off - I guess after Brian mows them off a few times, they give up till next year! My tulips are nearing their end as well. Below is a new variety I planted last fall- I love the color combination of soft pink and yellow - they have lasted exceptionally well, but are starting to drop their petals today. I took these shots last week after a big rain. This last one is the "mutant" I guess - the only one that had a little streak of red. Dare to be different!!!
Check back tomorrow for some more garden photos.. I have taken a number with darling daughter's digital camera but she didn't have time to download them for me tonight, so it'll be done in the morning and I'll post later in the day..
I'm so looking forward to a sunny day tomorrow - I'm hoping to get all my pots planted. It's been pretty cool this week... I'm ready for a warm day!!
Thanks to those of you who have enquired about Mark; he is home from the hospital (yesterday) and is slowing improving. He sleeps a lot of the day - just really worn out I guess. It will take him some time to recover... at this point the Doctor says he will be off work for 4 weeks... he's none too happy about that!! When you're a University student, and you only have the summer to make your year's income.. a month really cuts out quite a chunk! Maybe he'll be lucky and make a quick recovery. We can only hope...
"May and June. Soft syllables, gentle names for the two best months in the garden year: cool, misty mornings gently burned away with a warming spring sun, followed by breezy afternoons and chilly nights. The discussion of philosophy is over; it's time for work to begin." - Peter Loewer

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's snowing!!

Every time I look out my kitchen window, I'm seeing what looks like snow flurries, but it's really apple blossom petals falling... the blossoms are short-lived and I'm alway sad to see them start falling...
My posts may be short and sparse for the next little while. My son Mark is in hospital.... he was admitted yesterday and is pretty uncomfortable. He not only has a very bad Strep throat but also Tonsilitis and Mono. SO he's not a happy camper. His neck is still quite swollen- his glands are huge and very infected. So he's on IV to rehydrate him and to give him a very strong penicillin. I know when he gets home, I'll be playing nurse for a while, so if there are no new posts, you'll know what I'm doing...
Hope to be back soon...
Being sick is no fun....

Monday, May 25, 2009

It's nice to know a Big Winner!

Do you ever wonder who wins all the contests you enter? You never seem to hear. You fill out ballots, you wait for the phone to ring..but it never does...Publishers Clearing House never rings your doorbell... you never win that gorgeous Raffle Quilt... Well, today I have a happy story to tell you...
Did you hear of the "TrendTex Shop Hop" this past fall? Well...we have a WINNER in our area... Patti Durand of Saint John won the Atlantic Region prize- 240 Fat Quarters plus pattern books, and other goodies!! If you've ever wondered what 240 Fat Quarters would look like - here they are....
Here is Patti's story, in her own words. "I started collecting at the Kennebecasis Valley Quilt Show in Sept '08 with 3 of the vendors. Then took a shopping trip to Fredericton for another. Next I flew out to Alberta for my daughter's birthday and more Quilt Store shopping. My sister (who does not like shopping) kindly drove me to more quilt shops around Calgary. As I started buying the fabric, it seemed like a good idea to have a purpose, so I got the pattern Maple Leaves and Flying Geese. Of course I did not stop at the fabric, the Bags were too beautiful to leave in the stores and besides they were extra points. They became hostess gifts and Christmas presents. In March I was at a Quilt Retreat sewing the flying geese and showing off the lovely line of fabric. When I got home I had a message to call Trend-Tex - Yes I had won the Atlantic Regional Prize - 240 Fat Quarters, pattern books, and handcream, linen spray,and soap. Yippee !!"
So there you go..real people DO win .... and it's nice to know that occasionally it's a Maritimer! Congrats Patti - now we'll all be waiting to see what you make with all those lovely TrendTex Fabrics....
"We must sail, sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Marley and Me...

I've kept pretty close to the house this weekend, as Mark has been sick. Poor boy.. if he's not feeling considerbly better in the morning, he'll be making a return visit to the Doctor. He was "diagnosed" with Strept throat on Friday night, but the penicillin doesn't seem to have made much of a difference yet.... the glands in his neck are still very swollen and sore... he's been surviving on not much more than popsicles... poor kid. When he's lying on the couch all day, and doesn't even have the Sports channel on, I KNOW he's not feeling well!
I did read a book in between my "nursing duties".. it's a good quick easy read- what I refer to as "summer reading".... "Marley and Me" by John Grogan. Anyone who is a dog lover, or simply an animal lover would enjoy this story- a true story of a young family and their lively Labrador Retriever. It was made into a movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson - I know if I see the movie I'll have to have a few Kleenex nearby as I shed a few tears over the book so for sure the movie will make me cry.... Along with lots of laughs over this crazy dog's antics, it is also a love story of sorts - the love between dog and master... and anyone who loves their pet can appreciate what this family goes through. It's amazing how attached one can get to a dog or cat - they truly do become part of the family and your lives are enriched by their presence.
Our family has certainly been changed by our beautiful Maine Coon cat, Oliver, aka Ollie. He keeps us laughing with his antics and hijinks, and is very loving. He demands attention and love on a daily basis, but returns it ten-fold. Here he is in his favourite spot for the summer months- lying in the family room window. He longs to be outside, but this is the next best thing - he is "entertained" by the birds, squirrels, butterflies, etc. in the back yard. I just keep praying that he doesn't push out the screen someday and "escape"...
Pets truly do leave pawprints on your heart....

"If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much." ~ Mark Twain

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Off to a Quilt Show...

Yesterday several of us ventured upriver to Woodstock to attend the Woodstock Quilters' Guild's first Quilt Show, in celebration of their 10th year. The Show was held in historic Connell House, a lovely setting which featured some interesting displays of antique clothing and hats - these really added a nice flavour to the show. There was a very nice mix of antique quilts and contemporary, hand quilting and machine quilting, baby quilts, wall hangings and several Guild Challenges. There were beautiful Asian fabrics, Batiks and flannels.... There were door prizes and draws, cookies and tea- we had a lovely time!!! For their first show, the Woodstock girls did an awesome job! It was difficult to get good photos as the quilt racks were very close together and you often could not get back far enough for a straight-on view.... these photos are the best I could do...

One of the things I most enjoyed was seeing the different Challenges the Guild members had worked on. One was a Doll Challenge- each participant made their own doll body, and did the face and hair. Then they were exchanged and others added dresses, shawls, jewellry and other "embellishments" and lastly a small quilt. They were really cute and very well done. Each doll certainly had it's own personality. Another interesting Challenge was called Katmandu- they had each taken a square of Mark Lipinski's Katmandu fabric and embellished them with embroidery, beads, etc. Each one was different- several were made into pillows with beautiful beaded fringe.

One of the pieces which really caught my eye was a gorgeous Crazy Quilt, done by Guild President Sandra Culberson. She had worked on it for a year and a half, and is giving it to a niece as a wedding gift. ( I told her I hoped the niece realized and appreciated what she was gettting!) She used it as a teaching tool , during it's progress, to teach some Guild members about Crazy Quilting and hand embroidery. Beautiful work, Sandra!
Al in all, it was a great day.... but then again, isn't any day spent with quilts, a great day?


"Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty, never grows old".
~ Franaz

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Apple Blossom Time


Blossom of the apple trees
Mossy trunks all gnarled and hoary,
Grey boughs tipped with rose-veined glory,
Clustered petals soft as fleece
Garlanding old apple trees!
How you gleam at break of day!
When the coy sun, glancing rarely,
Pouts and sparkles in the pearly
Pendulous dewdrops, twinkling gay
On each dancing leaf and spray.
Through your latticed boughs on high,
Framed in rosy wreaths, one catches
Brief kaleidoscopic snatches
Of deep lapis-lazuli
In the April-coloured sky.
When the sundown's dying brand
Leaves your beauty to the tender
Magic spells of moonlight splendour,
Glimmering clouds of bloom you stand,
Turning earth to fairyland
Cease, wild winds, O, cease to blow!
Apple-blossom, fluttering, flying,
Palely on the green turf lying,
Vanishing like winter snow;
Swift as joy to come and go.

~ Mathilde Blind


Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see it...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Busy days in the Garden...

Spring is such a busy time. There is so much to be done outdoors and plants are growing so quickly- I can see differences daily! It's hard to keep up. I've been working away at some large clumps of deep purple Japanese Iris. I haven't had many blooms the last few years so I've been trying to clear away the old dead leaf stalks at the base of the clumps. They sure look much better and I'm hoping that helps to produce more blooms. I also gave them a healthy shot of high phosphate fertilizer today. I usually use the regular Miracle Grow, but also bought a box of the "Ultra Bloom" type so we'll see if that makes a significant difference. I have one last perennial bed to finish tidying, and perhaps a few plants to move. Also some seeds to plant, but will wait another week or so for that job. Tomorrow is supposed to be 32 C!! I'll believe it when I see it, but it sure would be nice. I plan to work outside most of the day, finishing up that last bed and getting my top-dressing done, emptying out my compost bin... My apple trees are coming into bloom, so it will be very pleasant working in my backyard, smelling those apple blossoms!
Last night was the Spring Concert for the choir I sing in - a newly formed Ladies Choir. It is such a thrill and truly a privilege to sing with such a group. We are about 90 voices strong- so we can make quite a sound!! Our Director, Dianne Wilkins, is well known and widely respected in music circles so our new Choir has gotten a good bit of interest. We got a very good crowd last night, the chuch was nearly full. We had quite a diverse program, singing in English, French, Latin, Spanish and Hebrew. Our group ranges from 18 year olds who previously sang in Dianne's Schoolgirl Choir, to some ladies who are definitely well into their senior years. We are all linked by our love of music and singing. I can't wait to start our second year in September!
Tomorrow night is our final Guild get-together - our last Executive meeting and Dessert Potluck. Not sure what yummy dessert I will make yet - no doubt something quick and easy so I can spend most of my day gardening...
Sorry no photos today. Tomorrow I'll take some apple blossom photos - too bad I cannot give you the sweet scent as well!! The smell of the blossoms always reminds me of my Dad. He loved these old trees. He helped HIS father plant the dozen apple trees that are now in my back yard, when he was only five years old. Not sure how much "work" he did at that age... Guess that makes my trees eighty-eight years old!!

Does anyone remember memorizing this poem in grade school...?
"I meant to do my work today...
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree
And a butterfly flitted across the field
And all the leaves were calling me..."


Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The First Tastes of Spring...

Aaahhhhhh, the first tastes of spring...maple syrup, fiddleheads and could one ever pick a favourite? I love them all. I buy my maple syrup by the liter from friends who have been operating a Sugar Bush near Elgin NB for some time now. The last few years have not been kind to the maple producers and the yield has been small. I was lucky to get one bottle from them this spring; lucky for me I still had one in the freezer from last year. I will have to dole it out sparingly....
Fiddleheads I have not had yet this year. I'm hoping for some this week. Mmmmm I can taste them now - with butter, pepper and salt and a dash of vinegar. Yummmmmy....
But rhubarb... oh sweet rhubarb.... we had our first Rhubarb Crisp tonight. It was SO good. There's just something about that first bowl of rhubarb in the spring.... Tonight I just made the "regular version" - chopped rhubarb topped with the "crisp" - oatmeal, brown sugar, a bit of flour, cinnamon and butter, mixed together to make the crumbly topping- and served with vanilla icecream. But my favourite topping is Raspberry Sherbet- now that's yummy! Sometimes, for a change I throw in some raspberries from the freezer with the rhubarb - that's good too...
Another favorite recipe is Rhubarb Upside Down Cake, using maple syrup to sweeten the rhubarb. Now that's a treat! The recipe follows- it is a combination of Donna Young's recipe from Maritimes Seasonal Cooking and my own recipe.... Look at this gorgeous rhubarb- the colors of spring! That glorious spring-y yellow green and the pinky red of the stalks...who said red and green were only for Christmas?

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

1/2 cup maple syrup
4 cups chopped rhubarb
Batter: 1/4 cup shortning
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F. Pour maple syrup into 8x8 pyrex cake pan, spread chopped rhubarb over. Once oven is up to temperature, place cake pan in oven to warm the rhubarb while you prepare batter (this helps your batter to bake more evenly and not have a spot in center that isn't quite "done"). Cream shortning and sugar, add vanilla and egg and beat well. Sift dry ingds. together and add alternately with milk. Spread over warmed rhubarb, bake till top is golden brown and center springs back when touched - about 45-50 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla icecream (and a drizzle of maple syrup if you really want to go all out!!)


"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides." ~ W.E. Johns

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gardening and Reading- two of my favorite things......

I spent a fair bit of time outside today, working in my perennial beds. Unfortunately I did find more lily beetles. Please keep a sharp eye out for these little pests - (see my post on Sunday May 10 titled "Catch of the Day") - and if you find any, destroy them asap before they have the chance to lay eggs... Spread the word to any neighbours who garden as well as they can sure cause a good bit of damage very quickly...

I love this plant and it's spotted leaves - Pulmonaria.... the common name is not so pretty - Lungwort. I love the fact that it has both pink and blue flowers at the same time. I think it is also known by the name "William and Mary"...

I got some Hostas split, one dug out entirely, and made room for a new one or two... felt good! My back lawn has several lovely drifts of New Brunswick purple violets - they are beautiful ... I love them. I hate it when Brian mows them off....

Tulips are still blooming, I have several nice clumps right now... Things are growing so quickly - it's hard to keep ahead of things at this time of year. I still haven't done my top-dressing yet. Hope to get to that this coming week, emptying out my Compost bin...
Thought I would share this little poem with you- it's one of my favourites about gardens...

"The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
than anywhere else on earth."
~Dorothy Frances Gurney, "Garden Thoughts"

Finished two good books this week, the first being "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks. (It is the second book of hers I have read, the first was "Year of Wonders".) This is the story of "the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war. In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding -an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair - she begins to unlock the book's mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book's journey from its salvation back to its creation." This was a wonderful read.. I highly recommend this book.
The other was totally different- "No Time for Goodbye" by Linwood Barclay. Fourteen year old Cynthia Bigge awoke one morning to find that her whole family, father, mother and brother had vanished. No note, no warning, no trace. Vanished. No return. Now, twenty-five years later, strange things are happening, and she learns the devastating truth about what happened to her family. If you like a "page-turner"... this is it!! Don't start it until you have a good block of time, because you won't be able to put it down...
"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Proud parents....

I am one proud Mama! Last night daughter Laura received one of the FHS Black Kat Scholar Awards, given to a small group of Honours graduates. There were 33 recipients, out of a Grad class of 448 students. This award is given to students who have maintained an Honours average in each of their 4 high school years, and as well have been involved in a number of intra and extra-curricular activities; in essence it recognizes the "all-round student". To quote the ceremony program "This recognition in unique in that it is an acknowledgement of the pursuit of academic excellence by students concurrent with involvement in extracurricular activities". Besides being Large Black F recipients (Honours), students must qualify in three or more of seven categories: Community Volunteer Service (minimum 100 hours), Yellow F (Varsity Sports), Small Black F (at least 6 extracurricular activities), Duke of Edinburgh Award, Music Proficiency (minimum Grade 8 Conservatory), etc. etc. The list of achievements by these young men and women was astonishing. Many had been or currently are on provincial and national teams, some are representing our province in the Canada Summer Games, a number play with the NB Youth Orchestra and have travelled to Beijing China to perform, one young man already has his Private Pilot's license...the list went on and on. Music was a common thread- we are so fortunate to have many wonderful music opportunities for youth in our city- many are very accomplished musicians, and we enjoyed a performance by a talented string quartet. Speed skating, swimming, skiing, curling and soccer were sports where these youth have excelled; three are already running small photography businesses; many are displaying leadership skills through Cadets, coaching, lifeguarding, and private tutoring and teaching. Many community organizations and institutions have benefitted from their volunteer time (Cdn. Cancer Society, Hospital, Nursing Homes, Soup kitchen, Food bank, etc.)
Every parent and teacher/administrator there was beaming... it is so nice to see hard-working students be recognized; too often our youth get a "bad rap" because of the actions of a few.... those in trouble with the law, those involved with drugs, etc.

One of the things that made me especially proud was that of the 33, 10 of them began their education at our local elementary, Garden Creek School. My children attended GCS, as did my brothers and I and our father. You can believe I will be sending this photo and a huge Thank You to the GCS staff for the excellent start they have given our children.
"There are only two lasting bequests we can leave our children: one is roots, the other, wings". ~ H. Carter

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bento Box Lap Quilt

I think it's time I showed you one of my quilts, lest you think I don't make any! It's been too long since I've shown you any of my work, so here is the Bento Box quilt I made for my friend Sandy. This photo was taken last week in her parents' backyard, while I was in Ontario. After hearing her cancer diagnosis last October, I made this very quickly, and I was so anxious to get it to her to keep her warm and comfy during her Chemo treatments, that I never did get a photo of it. I closely followed the guidelines of "Victoria's Quilts", using a flannel backing and cotton batting for ease of care and washability. I used my favorite batik fabrics in colors I thought she would find restful and relaxing. I chose the colors of water and sky - to remind her of her beloved cottage on Johnson Point Road near Murray Corner. She loved it. The pattern is by Tracey Brookshier and is called Bento Box. I did "my own version", turning a few blocks to break the repitition. I was pleased with it, and will do this design again some day for myself.
"Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway." ~Emory Austin

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

"My Mother kept a garden,
A garden of the heart.
She planned all the good things
that gave my life its' start.
She turned me to the sunshine
and encouraged me to dream,
fostering and nurturing
the seeds of self-esteem.
And when the winds and rains came
she protected me enough,
but not too much because she knew
I'd need to grow strong and tough.
Her constant good example
always taught me right from wrong;
markers for my pathway
that will last a lifetime long.
I am my Mother's garden,
I am her legacy,
and I hope today she feels the love
reflected back from me."

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers. I wish I could send you all a beautiful fresh bouquet, but they don't last long, so I'm sending you a few of this kind instead, and you can come back and enjoy them anytime! These beautiful blooms were all found in New Hamburg Ontario. I love flowers, I just can't understand why everyone is not a gardener! My flowerbeds give me such pleasure; every day there is something to look forward to as a new plant shares it's secrets, or new buds unfurl....
Of course there are always "challenges" as well, like earwigs and lily beetles.... yes I know they are God's creatures too... I just wish they'd go live somewhere else! Please read my previous post, written late last night re. Lily Beetles...
Back to Mother's Day.... as we grow older we begin to realize the value of a mother's love and the enormous depth of her committment to us. No other relationship we form can ever be as close or profound as that with our mothers. I was so fortunate to have an exceptional mother; much of what I am today is because of her. I love you and miss you Mum....
Peace and Love
Flowers have the sun, children have their mothers.

Catch of the Day...

It felt so good today to spend some time working in the garden. It was long overdue, and there's still much to be done, but at least I got a good start...

Unfortunately I made a little discovery that I wish I hadn't. Yes, those blasted little Lily Beetles are back. Here is what they look like "au naturel" - yup- he stood right there and posed for me- no doubt he was smiling at the camera too! I guess he's slightly out of focus, but you get the idea of what he looks like- see my "days' catch" below... These little critters are bad news for your garden. Left unchecked they will eventually decimate your lilies and then move on to munch on other flowers as well. So please, if you are a gardener, start keeping a close eye out for these critters, even if you have no lilies... and if you find them, have no mercy! I simply plop them into a dish of water with a few drops of dishsoap - I use Palmolive, but I don't think it matters. Each time I go out to the garden, I take a sour cream or yoghurt tub with soapy water along with me (works for slugs too). I check for them several times a day. They can burrow in the soil and also fly, so they seem to magically appear when they weren't there just a minute ago...
These litle guys are just slightly larger than a ladybug, longer where as a ladybug is rounder, and have bright orangey-red wing covers, with black head, antennae and undersides.
You can read more about them here. If all gardeners were diligent about controlling this pest, we would all benefit... Please do your bit!
Garden: a thing of beauty and a job forever....

Friday, May 8, 2009

Another new love - Koigu!

Today, as promised, I will share with you the beautiful hand-dyed yarns I found in the yarn shop "Shall We Knit?" in New Hamburg. These are 100% Merino wool, hand-painted in Chatsworth Ontario - near Durham Ont. The company name is Koigu and you can check out their website here. These yarns are known as KPPPM - that's Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino and are described as "handpainted watercolours". Each
1 kg. dyelot is painted individually, then heat is applied to fix the dyes. They are rinsed and hung to dry, then reeled into 50 gm. skeins, a three day process. Artist Maie Landra has mixed the colours for Koigo and the colour combinations are her creation. Aren't they beautiful? I just fell in love with them. If there is leftover wool (not enough for a 50gm. skein) they do up smaller skeins, which is what these are. They are priced by the gram. I can't wait to try them for Crazy Quilting. The distance between colour changes is quite short and thats what I like... You can bet I'm going to be checking out yarn shops in the Maritimes to see if anyone here carries these yummy yarns... If not, I just might have to make a return trip to New Hamburg and "Shall We Knit?"


"We are all artists gently guided by our Master's hand, painting a vision called life. The blending of colours like joy, sorrow, wisdom and love inspire us to create a magnificent masterpiece of self." ~ Linda LaTourelle

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quilt Shop Hopping...

So yesterday I promised to tell you a little more about my trip... The photos you will see throughout this post are of quilts that have been made and donated to THE QUILT Auction. These quilts are made and donated by quilters across Canada, and the funds raised from their sale by auction goes to the Canadian Cancer Society office nearest the donor of each quilt, and is designated for Society funded support programs. These programs help women achieve a better quality of life while travelling the long journey of healing, after hearing the words "You have breast cancer". THE QUILT was begun by Carol Miller after her breast cancer diagnosis. Carol had run a wonderful quilt shop (Millers Country Store) for 20 years in St. Agatha, just a few miles east of New Hamburg; she knew the companionship of the quilting bee, the laughter, sharing and support that women gave each other as they pieced together beautiful quilts from treasured scraps. She knew this was exactly the sort of thing that women with breast cancer needed to survive. And so the idea was born, during her recovery, for an exhibit and auction to support survivors and to support the research that helps them survive. Carol and her friends created the first quilt for this project and solicited donations from across the country, hoping for at least one quilt from each province. 134 were received that first year, and it has grown steadily each year since. From one auction held in Stratford, it has grown to a number of auctions held across Canada - Stratford, Toronto (at Casa Loma), Calgary, Kamloops and possibly several other locations this year. You can get further info here - the 2009 Galleries of quilts should be available for viewing by mid-May. The quilts tour across Canada for several months before the auctions are held, often displayed at La-Z-Boy Galleries. So these photos are of one of the travelling exhibits of this years' quilts, and were hung in a mall in Stratford. More were to be hung the next day. Because they were so high overhead, it was impossible to get a good "straight on" photo, so they look a little wonky here, but believe me, they were beautiful and very straight and square. I urge you to check out the website and try to see one of the travelling exhibits if there is one near you this summer...

There are a number of lovely quilt shops within a 30 mile radius of New Hamburg. I managed to get to four of them, so did well for the short time I had. Heart 'N' Home Creations is right on the main street of New Hamburg at 115 Peel Street. Esther, the owner, runs a lovely little shop and is going to expand soon. She combines decorator and giftware items with a complete quilt shop in a small space. Everything you could want is here- fabric, thread, notions, patterns and books. Well worth a visit, I can't wait to go back and see her expanded space.

My next stop was at The Quilt Place in Shakespeare, between New Hamburg and Stratford. This little shop really packs alot into a small space, and the "plum" was a display of Henny Bremer's Miniatures. My Guild here in Fredericton had an exhibit of Henny's Mini's a year ago and they are something to see!! Her work is exceptional and exquisite - what a treat!
A visit to Stratford must include seeing the Stratford Festival Theatre and a walk along the river to enjoy the beautiful swans. Unfortunately it was half raining when I was there, so my walk was very short, but the swans were as beautiful as ever... The quilt shop in Stratford is sort of tucked away on a side street but my "shop radar" was working well and I managed to locate it easily... Ye Olde Fabric Shoppe is on the corner of Erie St. and West Gore St. A bright and roomy shop with lovely displays....

Reichards, a well established and widely known shop has moved from Elmira to a new location in popular St. Jacobs. I bought all the fabric for my very first quilt at Reichards in 1985 - a blue Log Cabin.... back in the days of cutting each individual piece with shears.... (God bless the person who invented the rotary cutter!) Their new location is beautiful - large, well laid out, and they have everything you could ever want!! Lots of tempatations there..... a lovely bright classroom as well.... There is another quilt shop in St. Jacobs and a third one opening soon..yes, this truly is Quilt Country... I can't wait to go back again.....
Tomorrow I'll show you the beautiful hand-dyed Merino wool yarns I found at a great little yarn shop in New Hamburg...
Some people make the world more special just by being in it...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggety jig!

It's good to be home again. I love travelling but it always feels good to get back home and into your own bed... Yesterday was a long day; finding my own way back to the Hamilton airport (always a challenge to drive unfamiliar roads/highways and be the navigator as well), the flight (I LOVE Westjet!!), then driving back to Fredericton and immediately going to a 2 hour choir practice... yep, it felt good to crawl into bed last night!

All in all it was a good trip, despite the sad circumstances... It was wonderful to see all of Sandy's family again, in particular it was great to get to know her two sister-in-laws, Vicki and Christine - two very special ladies. There were 17 of us who journeyed from N.B. to be there to support the family at the Memorial Service and burial. We all felt that we were warmly included as part of the family; we shared many hugs and tears, as well as stories and laughter. I think we were "good for each other"... We were all warmly hosted by family and friends/neighbours.

I so enjoyed having some extra time to explore the area, in particular the area north and west of Kitchener-Waterloo - what most know as "Mennonite country". I travelled west to Shakespeare and Stratford as well as north to Wellesley, Millbank, Hesson, Newton and St. Clements, Heidleberg, Elmira and St. Jacobs. Most of the farms in this area belong to Mennonites, many of them the Old Order. So that means black buggies on the roads, signs at the ends of driveways for maple syrup, fresh eggs, and quilts, and interesting names on mailboxes such as Schantz, Roth, Wagler, Klassen, Ropp, Yantzi, Bender, Kuepfer, Zehr, and Weber. I love driving through farm country anywhere, but this area of southwestern Ontario is special and dear to my heart. Seeing horse-drawn plows, Mennonite ladies in long dresses, aprons and bonnets out with shovels and hoes beginning to work the soil for their vegetable gardens, or hanging out their wash on very long clotheslines... I saw so many photos I would love to have taken, but the Mennonites don't like to have their photos taken and I respected that, difficult as it was. One image I will always remember was when I passed the school in Millbank - the children , all old order Mennonites, were out in the schooolyard; many were raking the grounds, some were picking up branches, several older boys were giving small boys wheelbarrow rides... it was just sooo charming. I drove by several times and it was all I could do to NOT pick up my camera.

Another very special memory for me is the time I got to spend with Sandy's two brothers, Max and Mark, and their families on their farms at Punkeydoodles Corner. Mark raises grass-fed beef cattle, which he sells to high end Toronto restaurants. His wife Christine is a potter who has a huge outdoor kiln - the only one of it's kind in Ontario; they have just finished the first firing - quite a process, and very exciting. A recent tornado ripped part of the roof off one of their barns, which has put them a bit behind on the building of a new studio for Christine....

Max has horses, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys and a very handsome rooster named Charlie ! (He was very co-operative in posing for me.) Max is an excellent cook, or rather Chef, and has a kitchen to die for, with his own smoke oven - he did a wonderful meal for all of us on Friday night - featuring herbed chicken and smoked chicken - both just melted in your mouth.... His wife Vicki works outside the home, so Max is sort of a "Mr. Mom" Dad. I felt privileged to have the chance to get to know these brothers and their wives a bit better, and I cannot forget their wonderful children Maddy, Joe, Owen and Ava. Ava, the youngest had a small part in a movie being filmed locally on Sunday. She is an avid horse-lover and got to take part with other young riders from the area, so that was pretty exciting for her... Joe, Owen and Ava all have their birthdays this week- Happy Birthday, kids!
Sandy's family will always have a very special place in my heart, and I feel at peace knowing that Sandy now is resting in the place she loved, beautiful Punkeydoodles Corner.
In my next post I will tell you about my visits to the Quilt Shops, and some of the quilts I saw... Until then...
Peace and Love,
"Cherish your family for they are your treasure; a storehouse of riches....wealth beyond measure."
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