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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Blue Monday

Here it is Blue Monday again. It's a sunny crisp blue sky January day here with lots of snow on the ground. Typical winter day... when I love to dream of spring, summer and my garden. So today I'm going to share with you some of the blues from the garden... Not much to say - just hope you enjoy my photos, and may they be a reminder that warmer days are coming.. albeit slowly...
I'm spending some studio time this afternoon putting together the lap quilt I mentioned a week ago. Just three more rows to sew together and the top will be done. Hopefully I'll have a photo for you in the next day or two. It's very contemporary and different for me.. and it's NOT blue.... of course purple is a close relative...
Actually some of these blooms are a purpley-blue.. my favourite shade... Enjoy!


"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Not Another Addiction!

I'm really enjoying hand quilting. I'm beginning to understand the whole "I find it relaxing.. therapeutic.. calming" thing. Oh no... don't tell me I have another addiction....
The quilt is coming right along. We are making swift progress. The design on the "inside" area is very quick and easy to stitch- no seam intersections that are difficult to get through. Perfect for beginners like me!! What an ingenious idea these circles were. Hurray for Rose who came up with that idea!


"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." ~ Gandhi

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More Awesome Needlework

Yesterday I promised to share some more photos of the Fredericton Fibre Artists' current exhibit with you - sorry you've had to wait all day..... It's been a busy one, with one thing and another. I had a small group of ladies here quilting on "the quilt" this afternoon. We have rolled in the borders on both sides and are now into the nine patch "center" of the quilt - woohoo. This area will be much faster to quilt, so things are moving right along! I'm enjoying the hand quilting; still persevering sans thimble...
So here are a few more of my favourite pieces from the Fiber Artists' Show. The first, above, is a lovely piece of counted thread work by Josee Dube. Josee is a former member of our Quilters' Guild - we would love to have her back but I think she has been seriously bitten by the "Stitching Bug". She does exceptional work and has a wonderful color sense. I loved this piece- it was so feminine and delicate. You can appreciate the stitching in it in this close view.

There were several Samplers in the Show but this one, Rose Sampler, by Gayle MacKay was my favourite. I was so happy to see it hanging high in a place of prominence, over the fireplace. This photo really does not do it justice. The stitching was pure perfection, the colors were lovely and the framing was perfectly suited. Beautiful Gayle!

This small piece, titled 7th Year, is canvaswork by Rita Cyr-Bonga. I loved the colors and the interesting combination of stitches.

I have always loved Jacobean designs, probably because my Mother did several of these in crewel and there is just something about them that appeals to me... These last two photos, below, are two different crewel pieces, both Jacobean designs. The first one is a framed piece, by Leta Clayden. The second photo is a section of a cushion by Lorraine Evans.


My soul is fed by needle and thread.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Awesome Needlework....

Today is a beautiful winters' day- yes it's cold, but the sun is shining and the sky is blue. The snow is sparkling like a diamond studded carpet... a perfect day for getting out to see the Fredericton Fiber Artists' exhibit at Government House. As always it is an amazing collection of work by a very talented group of ladies. It is beautifully hung, with enough space so that each piece can be individually enjoyed and appreciated. There is a wide range of work, from crewel and hardanger, crazy quilting and counted thread work to hooking, thread painting, goldwork and quilting. Most pieces are framed but there are also cushions, biscornu and even some exquisite fairy slippers! If you are a local reader and you haven't visited this display, you must get there this week as Friday is the final day. Gallery hours are 10-4. It is well worth an hour or two of your time! I took a number of photos and lighting is always a challenge in this gallery. I'll share some of the photos with you today and a few more tomorrow.

The delicate little Calla Lily above was done by Elaine Gunter; it was one of my favourite pieces in the entire show. It was impeccably stitched, with single strands of DMC floss, and the framing suited it so well. It was only about 5"x7" but it sure caught my eye.

Several other favourites were stitched by Gayle MacKay. Gayle is another exceptional needlewoman and her pieces are, in my opinion, just exquisite! I loved this Christmas Hardanger/counted thread piece. The photo really does not do it justice at all. This Victorian Sampler at left is also done by Gayle, again it is far more beautiful than a photo can ever show. (You can click on these for a closer view.) Oh, visiting this exhibit has just got me itchin' to be stitchin'.... How oh how can I find more hours in the day...there MUST be a way....

Barbara Carroll is another fine needlewoman - everything I have ever seen by Barb is exceptional. This crazy quilted pillow below offers many treats for the eye, and the longer you view it the more detail you see. Come back tomorrow for a few more photos from this beautiful Show...


"Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern - it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like stitch at a time, taken patiently." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blue Monday

I LOVE BLUE! This is not news to those of you who know me well. You know I often wear blue, I live in a grey-blue house, my kitchen and bedroom are both blue, and, lucky me- I have a blue-eyed hubby. Blue has been my favorite color for as long as I can remember. And no big surprise, it's my first choice to use in a quilt. So today I'm sharing a few of my blue quilts with you.

At left is the very first quilt I made after joining the Guild. I had made one bed quilt previous to that, a Log Cabin cut with templates and shears. (God Bless whoever invented the rotary cutter!) This blue Trip Around the World resulted from my very first workshop. Isn't it fun to look back at early projects and see how far we've come? I can remember what a difficult time I had choosing 7 fabrics ranging from light to dark. I was so grateful to that sweet little gal at Delong's who helped me out. Lesson learned on this one- not to use poly-cottons (the borders rippled). Although this is 20 years old now, I still like it and it hangs over the railing at the top of my stairway. It is 40" square. We sure have "come a long way" with fabrics - look at all those little calico prints...

After my very first quilt (the blue Log Cabin) faded terribly, I decided to make a smaller "keepsake" version of it from the leftovers. This is an exact replica (same fabrics in same positions), except this is square and my double bed quilt was of course rectangular with one more row of blocks. This is 27" square and I have been careful to keep it out of the light so there has been no fading. Lesson learned- keep your quilts out of direct light!

This lap quilt, called Friendship Star is another Guild workshop product. It was quick and easy and a great way to use up a lot of scraps. I can remember doing this workshop, sitting beside my friend Barb F. who was a new member. It was her birthday that day, and we shared fabrics - what a great way to spend one's birthday- sewing with friends... Lesson: quilting is more fun with friends! Even better? Friends with fabric!!

I call this single bed quilt Blue North Wind. I love the rich blues especially  those with purple overtones. The orange-y yellows seemed to be the perfect "zinger" to add a bit of punch. This quilt was the result of a Birthday Block exchange in 2006. A small group of friends committed to this "challenge" for one calendar year. In the month preceding your birthday you would give the group your instructions and color suggestions for the block of your choice. Then the next month for your birthday you would receive the blocks - can there be any better birthday gift than blocks already made for you?? One in the group whose name is Susan, has a definite dislike for Sunbonnet Sue so she had us each do a "Bad Sue" block, where sweet little Sunbonnet Sue had to be doing something naughty. I think that one was the most fun of all...
This last one is a Miniature- it measures 11.5" square. The design is called Spool and Bobbin and I'd love to do it again some day. It is foundation pieced and machine quilted. I love doing miniatures; I have sixteen 1.25" blocks all done for another which I will call Blueberries and Cream; I just can't decide how to put it together. It's on my "Must Get Back To.." list for this winter... stay tuned for that one....

So there you have it for another Blue Monday..


"Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same." ~ Francesca Reigler

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Baby, it's COLD outside

What are you doing these cold winter days to stay warm and keep busy? I am trying to spend as much time as I can in my studio. But it's a cool room compared to the rest of the house, as it "sticks out" on the north end of our home. So I don my warm Norwegian woolen sweater and turn on all the track lights - they eventually warm up the room. Ollie is keeping me company - or is it just that he likes to sprawl on the ironing board, especially after I've ironed something - he loves the warmth. Here he is after I've finished ironing some fabric.... what a life he leads!
I'm working on a quick lap quilt. The block is very simple and goes together easily so it should be a quick finish. I have had a Bali Pop for a while now and was wondering what to do with it. When my buddy Sue did this quilt with leftover Balis from another project, I decided it would be perfect for my jelly roll. It's called Mulberry and is mostly purples, greens and golds; I had to cut a few more strips from my stash so I've added a bit of shrimpy pink as well...
Oh, sorry Ollie- is the light in your eyes?


When it snows you have two choices - shovel, or make snow angels.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hand Quilting. Lesson 1.

I'm learning to hand quilt. And I have the sore thumb to prove it! I have to say I am enjoying it, although I have a looong way to go... I have never gotten used to using a thimble. My mother tried to get me to use one when I was learning to sew many years ago, but I just never liked the feel of the thimble on my finger. (Probably there was never one that fit me properly as I have very small fingers). I have always gotten along just fine without. Until now. Now I'm regretting it as I still cannot stand a thimble on any finger and my poor little thumb is getting mighty sore. I am persevering though, and comparing my stitching to that of the others who came today, I'm doing okay for a beginner. I have no trouble making small stitches on the top- it's that darn space between the stitches that I have trouble keeping small. I'm concentrating on making sure every stitch goes through to the back and picks up the backing.

Our Guild is hand quilting this queen sized quilt for the Stan Cassidy Rehab Foundation to raffle for funds. My friend Gail M pieced the top- you can see it here. We now have it in the frame in my livingroom and FQG members are welcome to come and quilt on it. You can read more about that here. The stitches you see above in the border along the bottom of photo are mine, all mine. Every little one. Notice I haven't given you too close a view... But they look good from a distance don'cha think? As I get better, perhaps I'll get out the macro lens... Perhaps. No promises...


Never be afraid to try something new. Remember amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Blue Monday" on Tuesday?

Edit: This post was ready for yesterday but once again I was having trouble with my server, and photos would not load; by end of day I could not even sign onto my blog... so hence Blue Monday "on Tuesday"....

Apparently yesterday, January 17, was "Blue Monday". According to media reports, Blue Monday is the most depressing day of the year. (I wonder if it's because most people have just received their Visa bills for December? lol ) Studies show that many people seem to be at a "particularly low ebb" right now..."feeling blue"...
Well, I'm not! Yes it's cold (-19 last night - brrrr) and I don't particularly like winter. But I have a good store of chocolate on hand from Christmas, I have several projects underway (both quilting and stitching), I'm learning to hand quilt (more about that later), my stack of books to be read is growing... what more could a gal want in the depths of winter?
And I LOVE blue!! Anyone who knows me well knows that... So I've decided for the next few Mondays, I'm going to do a post called Blue Monday, to share some of my favourite blue things with you... Today, to get started, several shots of my collection of cobalt blue glass in my studio window, both shots taken by daughter Laura. Thanks hon! Next Monday- blue quilts...


Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. ~ William Jones

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter's Beauty

Although this amaryllis has a very spring-y name (Apple Blossom) I can't help but call it Winter's Beauty as I am getting so much enjoyment from its gorgeous big blooms. All four are open now and I thought you might like to enjoy it too. Somehow, having fresh flowers just seems to make the winter a little less harsh... Perhaps it's the memories and thought of flowers reminding us that spring is not that far away...?


"Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart." ~ Victor Hugo

Friday, January 14, 2011

Framed Indeed!

Along with all the other things going on this week, I've had two medical appointments, one being an eye exam, the first in 8 years. Imagine my pleasure when the Optometrist told me I had the healthiest eyeballs he'd seen in a while. Quote: "no problems - very very healthy, and very little change in your eyesight since I saw you in 2003". Well THAT made me feel good. Now if I could just get the rest of my body to stop changing/aging... haha
We did however, come to the decision that it is time for a pair of prescription reading glasses. I've been using the "drugstore variety magnifiers" for awhile now for reading, sewing and stitching. So I'm okay with getting a proper pair of readers. Since that appointment I have been to four different Optical businesses to look at frames, and I have to say - who's being framed here? Aren't the prices for frames absolutely ridiculous??? I couldn't believe it- anywhere from $79.00 to $149.00 to $179.00... I quit there... wasn't going any higher. Now maybe I am totally out of touch with reality today, but I think that is just totally crazy - for all they are- several little and I mean little pieces of metal and a bit of plastic!!! I know, I know, you're paying for the design... and the name.. but really, how crazy is that? The last pair of magnifiers/readers I bought at the drugstore were $25.00 and they have perfectly good decent frames..... and that price included the lenses too... I think we're being gouged here folks. Is it because they know most people have insurance that will cover the glasses, so they take advantage and charge a ridiculous price?
Sorry.. I just had to vent a little... "Framed" indeed....


Sign in an optometrist's office - "If you don't see what you're looking for you've come to the right place".

Thursday, January 13, 2011


There's lots going on here these days. Snowstorms, stitching, birthdays (hubby's yesterday - he's now just days away from retirement...) and framing... No I haven't taken up picture framing... I'm talking about getting a bed quilt into the frame for hand-quilting. I am not a hand quilter. Yet. But I think I'm about to learn - whether I want to or not. haha
My good friend Gail M. has pieced a queen-sized top for our Guild to donate to the Stan Cassidy Foundation (for a fund-raiser) and members of our Guild will come to hand quilt it. (You can see the full top here). Since I have a good sized livingroom which doesn't get a lot of use, I volunteered the space for the "quilting bee". Y'all come! lol
Despite the overnight storm and less than perfect driving conditions this morning, two friends came over and we did our best to get it into the frame. We did have a few "challenges" - the main one being that our end rails were barely long enough for the width so we had to roll one side after securing the top. We'll have to quilt from one side and then roll it in, to unroll and do the other side. We also could have used a few more pairs of hands, but the storm prevented our other helpers from attending so we "made do". It was a bit of a challenge but it's nearly ready. We will finish what needs to be done the first day the quilters come (more hands- wink wink!!)
Here's a little peek. I'll keep you updated as the quilting progresses.... We're quilting circles around all those little nine patches - thereby fewer seams to needle through. Thanks Gail- it's beautiful! Get those needles threaded ladies...


Is a 9 patch part of a 12 step program?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Window on my World

No one will ever know how much I enjoy the view from my kitchen windows. The back yard is peaceful in the winter, as the snow carpets the grass and gardens, and leaves interesting formations on the fence and tree branches. The only activity is the visiting birds at the feeder and the ever present squirrels. Their telltale tracks in the snow show their "routes" from apple tree to apple tree and their travels and antics provide endless entertainment for Ollie who lies on the back of our familyroom couch, watching with great interest. He lets me know when he wants the curtains opened... I love how the afternoon sun streaks the snow with blue shadows. The crisscrossing squirrel tracks combine with the shadows to look like a roadmap. I take great pleasure in simple things, I guess, but I have learned to appreciate the simple beauty of nature and this season of rest. It feeds my soul...
The view at the same window is pretty nice on the inside today too. My other amaryllis is in bloom now - the blossoms are wider than my handspan. There are two blooms today, by tomorrow all four will be open. Joining in to brighten my windowsill are two small pink cyclamen. Just thought you might like to enjoy this "dose of pink" with me...


"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." ~ John Muir

Friday, January 7, 2011

Basketball Dreamin'....

Before Christmas I told you about making a hockey pillowcase for my great nephew Nathan - you can see it here. Who would ever think that my 21, almost 22 year old son would want one as well? I really thought he would think he was too old for a "special" pillowcase... not so. Of course he informed me he would have to have TWO since he does have two pillows. Luckily I had two pieces of basketball fabric on hand in my stash; bought with him in mind, for sure, a number of years ago, probably when he was an FHS Black Kat. They don't match but he didn't care. I liked one better than the other, but again, he didn't care. There was enough length for the body of the pillowcase and I had the cuff and trim fabric so it was a quick and easy job. Here they are - perhaps they will help him dream of game-winning shots with his Intramurals team. Go Boys Go!
These pillowcases are so much fun to do with funky or bright colorful fabrics and I love the fact that all seams are enclosed (I do French seams along side and bottom). I can see more of these in my "sewing future". And what a great idea if doing a quilt for a child, to do a matching or co-ordinating pillowcase- what a special gift for a special child!


Life lessons you can learn from a child: Play more. Be curious. Get all wrapped up in what you're doing. Even the littlest things can bring you pleasure.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Winter Sunshine

Yesterday you got a little peek at my backyard. Here's what the view looks like from the inside, at my kitchen window. I get such pleasure from watching these bulbs grow... I showed you the first bloom on my double Amaryllis a few days ago- you can see now I have several more blossoms to enjoy. However this one did not grow the usual tall stalk - not sure what happened - maybe it had progressed too far "in the box" before I planted it in the pot? or extreme lack of sunshine? Not sure, but regardless, I sure have enjoyed the blooms despite it's "stunted" height. (Should I refer to it as "vertically challenged" ? ) It does have a second stalk bud...we'll see if it grows taller... As you can see, the other one has grown very tall and today (2 days since these photos were taken) it is 24.5" from bulb to tip of bud. It looks like there will be 4 flowers. It is just beginning to open so I should have blooms in a few more days. There's nothing like fresh flowers in January and February to help one "get through" the winter - they are definitely "Winter Sunshine"....And have you noticed - the days are lengthening... it's not dark at 5pm anymore...woohoooo
Come back tomorrow to see my other two sausage pillowcases - the basketball ones I made for Mark. They are SUCH fun to do...
I'm busy cleaning, tidying and "putting away" Christmas... hope to get back to my beloved Bernina soon...


"What fire could ever equal the sunshine of a winter's day?" ~Thoreau

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Magic of a New Year

Well it's Jan. 5th so it seems I'm a bit late to say Happy New Year! Another blank calendar lies before us - just waiting to be filled up with all sorts of exciting projects and happenings. I don't "do" resolutions anymore.. I just try each year to be a better person, more organized so that I can accomplish more. Yes I'd like to take off 10-15 pounds, yes I need to get more exercise and drink more water. I'll do my best... but no resolutions/promises.
The new year is a time for new beginnings. New opportunities. New routines and experiences. New journeys. These journeys lie before us like an undisturbed new snowfall. Let our footsteps on our journeys be magical, like the magic of a fresh new snow.Monday morning was magical as we looked out to see a fresh new snow enveloping our world. I almost want to hold my breath when I see the snow so gently coating everything lest a single movement should destroy it all. Here are some photos taken in my backyard Monday morning... come on a magical little walk with me...

I hope your 2011 is magical - full of wondrous discoveries, rewarding lessons and exciting new experiences. Hold on - here we go - another trip around the sun!! Yippeee!


A new year,
Like a new snow,
Seems to hold its breath...
Waiting for footprints.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Is anyone else having trouble with Blogger?

I have been trying for several days and cannot get photos to load.. is anyone else experiencing this? I'll try again in the morning, but not very impressed right now... grrrr
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