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

Monday, March 28, 2011

New York City... done.

Well, it's Monday.. and the sun is shining.. the temps are above the freezing mark (just barely) so I guess I cannot complain. I won't mention that it snowed AGAIN last night. Not much...but still. Enough already!
My NYC piece is done. Quilted. Bound. OKay, the hanging sleeve is still in progress and the label is not yet done. But all the hard part is done. I kept the quilting very simple- just outlined the skyline, the apple, Lady Liberty's base, the stamp denomination, and white border. It took me longer than I had expected - so many ins and outs, stops and starts...I used monofilament so the quilting does not stand out at all, just the way I wanted it. With many areas being "stiff" from the fusible, I'm hoping it will hang flat. It seems to now, just hoping it looks as good when against the wall. I'm quite happy with it - love the bright colors- somehow they seem to suggest the "pulse" of Manhattan. I mentioned already that I bought the pattern (by Debra Gabel of Zebra patterns) and a kit with some fabrics at The City Quilter. I chose not to use the given fabrics for the apple- they were more on the orange/red side, shading to rust - and although I know there are Russet apples, I figured this one HAD to be a Red Delicious! The shading on the apple looks better "in person" - I find the dark area looks a bit like a child's rendition of Africa in the photo... Choosing the fabrics for this project was really the fun part. I DO love New York City.
I wish I was there today. Have a look here to read about a quilt display that's on right now in Manhattan - a 6 day show - for free... What a sight that would be... Ahhh to learn how to be in two places at once...


Once you have travelled, the journey never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers - the mind can never break off from the journey.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How can it be Thursday already?

I think I jinxed things when I mentioned in my last post that we no doubt would see snow flurries again- we got an inch or more on Tuesday, and snow flurries again today... ughhhh. I guess March is the month when you never know what the weather is going to do...
I'm making good progress with my NYC piece. I am 95% finished the stitching on the applique areas - I just have the Guggenheim Museum left to do and that will be completed this evening. I decided to just do simple straight stitch close to the edges. I'm amazed how long it has taken - there are so many pieces and so many stops and starts.... Then it's on to the quilting, which will be minimal. I think I just might reach my goal of finishing it this week. Here is the fabric which will go on the back: NYC taxis- how perfect! I just couldn't resist! I'm trying to come up with a snazzy name for the piece- any suggestions? Ollie is no help at all with names- he just yawns and goes back to sleep...
Here's a little tip you might find helpful if you have done machine applique with SteamaSeam or another fusible web product. You will no doubt find that after stitching through the fused area, your needle will start getting "gummed up" and sticky. Just give it a "wipedown" with a cotton ball or cosmetic pad moistened with alcohol (the rubbing kind, not the drinking kind). Works like a charm. I kept the bottle right by my machine and wiped down the needle every 15 minutes or so. It really helped with the quality of my stitches too...
It's been a busy week; when I'm out several nights in a row, it cuts into my sewing time... Choir on Tues. night, last night I was out canvassing (nearly done....yay!), and tonight a Guild Executive meeting... Guess I'll be spending some weekend time in the studio....
Hoping to see a few more movies this weekend- Sophie's Choice, Life is Beautiful and The Boy in Striped Pajamas are next on my list... I have just finished re-reading Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum - a great read. I meant to give the link to Laura's Poland trip blog on my last post and forgot. Several of you have asked for it, so for those of you who would like to follow along on her "journey" before, during and after her trip, you can click here, or here is the URL : She has done five posts to date, so be sure to click on older posts at the bottom of the screen.
Well I must be off and get ready for tonights meeting. Later, peeps!


"Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen." ~ Peter Marshall

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring is officially here....

Today is the first full day of Spring!!! Yippeeee! Although we may still see the odd snowflake in the air, (no doubt we'll have one more snowfall but let's hope not) the days are slowly warming and I'm loving the longer stretch of daylight in the evening... You really can feel the growing warmth in the sunshine - feels so good. In fact today I just might sit out on the deck for awhile and turn my face up to the sun - feelin' the need for a little Vitamin D (wink**)... Today is my birthday as well, but I don't feel any more than a day older. My dear older brother Leigh, who loves to tease, visited yesterday to remind me that I was enjoying my last day at that age (would you believe 29? haha). So I promptly reminded him that in two weeks he would be hitting a BIG birthday and that he would always be 8 years older than I.... try as I might I will never catch up. Birthdays don't bother me... with all the troubles in the world, I'm just grateful to still be vertical and healthy!
It was quite a weekend - did you see that beautiful perigee moon? Wow! And Saturday was National Quilting Day. I hope all my quilting friends found some time to spend at their machines. I attended our Guild's workday session for the morning, and later on worked on my NYC piece. It's coming along. My goal is to have it finished by weeks' end.

With Laura's upcoming trip to Poland, we have been trying to learn a little more about WWII and the Holocaust. We've been on a bit of a movie-watching jag; this past weeks' lineup was The Pianist, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, and The Reader. Although The Reader is set in post-Nazi Germany, it does have a tie with a war crimes trial. Kate Winslett is excellent as Hanna Schmitz, on trial for murder and her work with the SS. The Pianist is the true story of brilliant Jewish pianist Wladislaw Szpilman, who worked in a Warsaw radio station during the German occupation of Poland. We see his world destroyed- his family are taken to the camps, his existence reduced to bare bones as he struggles to elude capture by the Nazis by hiding out in the ruins of Warsaw. The film won 3 Academy Awards: Best Actor (Adrien Brody as Szpilman) Best Director (Roman Polanski) and Best Writing- Adapted Screenplay. I definitely gave this one a thumbs up.
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler was a 2009 TV Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, now released on DVD. Based on the remarkable true story of WWII heroine Irena Sendler who rescued over 2500 Jewish children during the German occupation of Poland, it stars Canadian actress Anna Paquin, and Goran Visnjic (remember Dr. Luka Kovac of ER?). As a social worker, Irena had access to the Warsaw ghetto, making it possible for her to rescue the daughter of a Jewish friend and safely hide the young girl with a Catholic family. Realizing that thousands of children were still in danger Irena recruited sympathetic friends and co-workers to help her smuggle children out. At great personal risk she devised extraordinary schemes to sneak children by Nazi guards. Not a single child she rescued was ever betrayed or discovered by the Nazis. Often called "the female Schindler" Sendler not only saved thousands of lives, but also countless generations of their descendants. Sendler died in 2008, after a lifetime devoted to service to others. She received a number of humanitarian awards, and was a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize nominee. You can read more about her life here. I would highly recommend this movie.
I leave you today with this photo, taken this morning in one of my garden beds... yes spring is on it's way...


There would be fewer wars if we tried to determine what's right instead of who's right.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thoughts of Japan...

Like many these days, I'm thinking of Japan. As the news images of earthquake and tsunami devastation give way to even scarier worries of nuclear meltdowns, it is heartbreaking to think of what the Japanese people are going through.
I have long had a fascination with Japan. I had a Japanese penpal when I was a child, and we wrote to each other for about 5 years, beginning when I was 10. Shizue was 6 years older than I, and her English was quite good (very good, compared to my Japanese, which was nil). A Japanese child of my age would not have had sufficient English to converse, she told me. Her letters were all written with fountain pen on the finest onion skin paper, in beautiful penmanship; I still have every letter. We both collected stamps at the time and I looked forward to the stamp-covered envelopes as much as I did the contents! I was always very grateful that she tried to find many different commemorative issues to make the envelopes as colorful as possible - they were like a gift in themselves! It was so exciting to arrive home from school and hear Mum say- "You have mail!" Back in the 60's (OK I'm really feeling old here...) getting a letter from the other side of the world was pretty exciting. I dreamed then of visiting Japan some day, and it's still on my wishlist, but in light of the recent events, I suspect it will be quite a while before life there returns to normal. I can't help but wonder where Shizue is today... and if I could ever find her... Shizue Kakinuma - where are you?

It seems the world has had it's fair share of tragedies lately with flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis and tensions in the Middle East - I feel very fortunate to live where I do. If like me, you would like to do something to help the situation in Japan, please consider joining in on this project: Hearts and Hands for Sendai. You can get all the details here or here, but here are the basics: sponsored by Crazy Quilt International and co-ordinated by Leslie Ehrlich of Colorado, this project is open to the quilting community at large. They invite the submission of traditional or crazy quilt blocks, along with a donation of $10.00 USD per block. Blocks will be assembled into quilts which will be exhibited in Japan, with funds being raised by viewers' admission fees. It is thought at this point that the quilts will later be auctioned with proceeds going to charity. Blocks are to be 8" finished size, with a 1/2" seam allowance around the perimeter, in a jewel tone palette. The theme is friendship and the rebuiding of a country. Blocks must be sent to Leslie by end of June. Please check out the links above for all the important details if you would like to participate.
Hideko Isheda, a member of Crazy Quilt International and a fellow blogger, lives in Sendai and is the inspiration for this effort. Hideko has a wonderful blog which I read, called
Wind from the East; click here and here to see her recent posts of the devastation in her area. You'll want to read further and see her beautiful handwork as well. She is thankful that she and her family have survived....
And so, readers, I challenge you to join with me on this special project. A flickr group has already begun with photos of people's blocks in progress.


"Be more prompt to go to a friend in adversity than in prosperity". ~Chilo

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day

It's here again..that day when everyone claims they are Irish, whether 'tis true or not. The day when we celebrate the green... what a wonderful color it is, and oh how I'm longing to see more of it.. we still have snow-covered ground, but the snow IS going down.. (not fast enough). I know some of my bulbs are starting to poke up because I can see small raised areas where they are pushing up under their cover of leaves. It's still too cold at night to uncover them...but maybe in another week or two... It's so nice to see the days getting longer. Spring is not far off now... I know that for sure as hubby has started shoveling snow off the lawn and onto the driveway to melt in the sun. He can't wait to get at that lawn.... raking, trimming, mowing.... he's longing for the green too! Since I don't have forty shades of green to enjoy outside, I'll have to content myself with green threads...sigh....
Wishing you a Happy St. Patrick's Day, and if you are reading this from somewhere where you can see green, enjoy it for me too! :) I'll leave you with this Irish Friendship Wish below...


May there always be work for your hands to do
May your purse always hold a coin or two;
May the sun always shine on your windowpane;
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;
May the hand of a friend always be near you;
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Big Apple... revealed

Here it is - the top is together! Of course, I still have to do some stitching around the machine appliques - and there are many. Still pondering just how I'm going to do that. I do NOT want to satin stitch it all, and I don't think buttonhole (which I love) "suits" this piece. So am leaning towards a zigzag stitch done with monofilament "invisible" thread... something very simple. There is enough color (ya think? *wink wink) - I want the images - buildings, apple, etc. to be the focus, not the stitching. Quilting will be minimal too. I realize this is pretty colorful - not quite how the Manhattan skyline looks when you view it across the Hudson. The bright colors are reflective of the "bright lights of Broadway" or even Times Square. If you are at all familiar with NYC, hopefully you will recognize the Guggenheim Museum, the Citicorp building, the Chrysler building and the Empire State building. Lady Liberty's facial features gave me a bit of trouble with their small size. I won't tell you just how many of those little faces I made before deciding one was acceptable. So be nice - don't be too critical please :) Size of the piece is 24" x 30".
This design is by Zebra patterns, the designer's name is Debra Gabel. It is part of her "City Stamp" collection. I bought this pattern last summer at the City Quilter in Manhattan; actually I bought a kit- but only used a few of the fabrics provided - the sky, water and stripe. I thought it would be a great souvenir and reminder of all the fun I've had in the Big Apple.


I do love New York!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Big Apple.... under construction....

Thanks to all of you who gave me suggestions, in response to my last post. I appreciate your help. I am going to give the heavy duty Heat'n'Bond a try and if that doesn't work, I'm going to try adding a little fine wire in the petals. Hopefully that will do the trick. Because I have a number of small blossoms to make I'm hoping for as "quick and easy" as possible... Can't show you what I'm doing at this point, but all will be revealed in good time... trust me...
In the meantime, I'm working away on building New York City... I'm back at my NYC wallhanging, in hopes of finishing it for our April Show. In the last few days I've "built" the Guggenheim, Lady Liberty and finished off the Chrysler Building! Now I'm working on the borders. I'll give you a tiny peek here today, and hope to show you the whole top within a few more days, if all goes well...


"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or the last time." ~ Betty Smith, from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Need Your Help....

Readers, I need your help/comments/suggestions today... I need to make some flowers to go on a quilt- and I want them to be "3D" - i.e. raised off the surface, not flat and stitched down. Although this flower is not exactly what I need, it has been formed the same way- I need my petals to curl up like you see here. I received this "rose" (I think it's a rose??) at a conference a while back, I believe... two fabrics (tightly woven batik) have been fused together, right sides out, petals cut and then the petals have been shaped - curled - whatever. This is exactly what I want to do. I think there is a product on the market for this, but no one I have asked knows the name of it. I'm going to try Steam a Seam, but I don't think it will give enough "curl", and I need it to stay permanently in that shape.... Anyone got any suggestions - or better still, tried and true results? Anyone know the name of this product that I think exists?? Or is it just in my mind????

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chickadee vs. Robin... it's a toss-up

A week or so ago, my friend Wendy at It Is What It Is wrote of her love for chickadees. I have to agree with her, I love Chickadees too. They are so "cheerful" and just so darn cute! You can't help but smile when you watch them! Wendy gave me permission to use this quote which she had on her blog last week about our favourite bird: "The chickadee was put on earth to demonstrate the power of positive thinking. No day is dark, no night is cold, no hour is evil, no harm is in sight, no news is bad. An acrobat and an optimist, the chickadee is perfectly named (he named himself), perfectly designed. We should all wear a black cap, ignore the weather reports and make friends easily." ~ E.B. White
Although they have been very sporadic at my feeder this winter, (I think my big brother has lured them to his feeder with better treats lol) they do pop by for a visit now and then. But I have to admit, as the sun gets stronger and the days get longer, I'm yearning to see a robin!! That's a sure sign of spring for me- to see and hear the robins in my backyard. And I'm ready! So ready, that I took down my cross-stitched Chickadee bellpull in my foyer this morning and replaced it with this "springy"one (below) made by my dear Mother. It is about 5 feet long so you are only seeing a portion of it here... Perhaps I'll have to be content with these robins of thread for a few more weeks until the real ones made of feathers show up!!
Speaking of threads, I've been saving my threads and narrow snips of fabric and batting for a week or two now, along with dryer lint. I'm following the suggestion of my good friend Jane- I'm going to place them in a mesh bag (like an onion bag) and hang it out in a tree in a few weeks- Jane tells me the birds love helping themselves to these goodies when they are building their nests. Can't you just picture some little baby birdies all snuggled down in that nice soft dryer lint? And with all the colored threads and fabric scraps, my trees just might have the prettiest birds' nests in town!! *wink
Laura has asked me to make my readers aware of a student-run online publication that is the project of her second year Reporting Techniques class at Kings. It is an online publication, updated twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each of the roughly 40 students in the course must participate in this project, to acquire their course credit. Weekly, each student is assigned a different task/responsibility, ranging from doing a reporting beat on sports or community issues, to working on the final publication/ layout, to being an assignment Editor. This publication, called Peninsula News, reports on what's happening on the Halifax Peninsula, and ties together all the multimedia tools they have learned to work with through the year, as well as all learnings from their three Profs Doug Kirkaldy, Fred Vallance-Jones and Sue Newhook. Please go check it out. Better still, save the link to your favourites so you can check in each week. The Profs are monitoring the number of visitors... the more the better...


"When spring arrives, the robin doth rejoice as she feeds her newborn babes. The frosts of winter now quench the thirsty flowers pushing through a drably painted landscape. Soon our Creator will refresh the earth with a magnificent palette of living color. The fragrance of that beauty captures our souls and we delight once again in this awesome cycle of life." ~ Linda LaTourelle

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What a Day!

I have several reasons to celebrate today- first of all the sun is shining! Hurray! It feels so good to have a sunny blue sky day- it certainly lifts one's spirits after the dull rainy weather of the past few days.
Secondly, today is my baby's birthday! Darlin' daughter is 20 today! Now that sure does make a gal feel old, to realize that her baby has moved on from being a teenager and is heading into her 20's. Just sayin'.... Here is one of my most favourite photos of Laura when she was little.... Isn't she cute??
Today is special for more reasons... it's International Women's Day AND Shrove Tuesday! I guess everyone has their own ideas on what International Women' s Day is for or me it's a day to celebrate the strengths of women as well as our accomplishments over the years. I think of my mother and grandmother - they were both strong women who weren't afraid to work hard to accomplish what they wanted in life. They were wonderful role models; I only wish my children could have had the opportunity to know them better.
Shrove Tuesday- Pancake Day!! Yummmm. That's what we're having for supper - pancakes with molasses or maple syrup, and bacon on the side... and a yummy fruit salad for dessert. I remember one year when Shrove Tuesday fell on Mark's birthday. I think he was in Grade 2. Back then mothers always went into the school and made pancakes for all the children at lunchtime on Shrove Tuesday. Mark loved pancakes (still does!) and he thought the whole school was having pancakes just for his birthday!
Well, the sun is shining because it's Laura's birthday, and she was born on March 8th for a reason. I know she has some of her ancestors' good traits and she too will be a strong determined woman who will go far... Love you, Laura!
Now I must go warm up the griddle....


Birthday Rules: Stay cute. Wish big. Never let anyone count your candles.

Monday, March 7, 2011

March, indeed

As you have seen, I've been taking a bit of a blogging break. It wasn't planned; sometimes life just gets in the way. With Laura's upcoming trip I have been spending some time doing things for her - arranging medical appointments, checking into innoculations, looking into flights, etc. Mark is trying to find a course for next fall so I've been doing some phoning and emailing for him too. I was away on a teaching trip on the weekend. (Thanks KV girls, for a fun day!) It all adds up and all of a sudden, I've been "absent" for a week!
It's been raining cats and dogs for 24+ hours... the streets are full of water and flooding of storm sewer drains, underpasses and basements has begun! Joy oh joy! March can be such a yucky month for weather... At least the snow is starting to go down... that's a good thing!
I am hoping to spend some "up close and personal" time with my Bernina this week- to get going on my Spring Challenge for our upcoming Quilt Show, plus finish up at least one new piece. I did manage to do a little tidying in my studio yesterday. So - short post and no exciting pics... that's the best I can do for today!


March is an in-between month,
When wintery winds are high.
But milder days remind us all
Spring's coming, by and by.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thank Goodness it's March...

Today is March 1st. March. Did you catch that? March! Surely that means that spring is not too far off (20 days actually... well, supposedly...) Enough with the snowstorms!! We got another foot of snow on Saturday, and more yesterday - I don't know how much, I didn't even venture out. I'm sick of boots, mitts and cold weather. I want spring! NOW!! If someone out there is still praying for snow -pullleeeeze stop! At the rate we're going it won't all be melted 'til July! I'm afraid there will be serious flooding this year- not for us as we're high and safe on a hill, but the low farmland down river is sure to get a good "watering", methinks...
My friend Gail M emailed me this morning; they are currently on a cruise docking in South and Central America- she was saying how hot it was (in Columbia) at 10a.m. I'm thinkin' "Soak it all up girl ". Sorry- no sympathy at all...
My two kiddos are back at school - Mark's final two months there, as he will graduate in May. Laura is approaching the "halfway mark"... Mark turned 22 yesterday, and Laura has her 20th next week. Where do the years go? I'm feeling old.....
Laura is anxiously awaiting more info this week on her trip to Poland. I am going to try to do as many of the assigned readings she gets, as I can so that I can be better informed and perhaps able to help her in some way. We watched Schindler's List together on the weekend -I had never seen it. A very powerful movie, most of it filmed around Krakow Poland, and not the only one we will watch, I'm sure. I am so sorry now that I did not have more interest in History while in school. "Too soon old and too late smart" as the Pennsylvania Dutch say? This journey will be an interesting one for Laura, and for all of us as we support her through the preparations and the emotional "aftermath"...
Now that the calendar page has been turned to March, I am feeling some pressure, as I have several classes to teach coming up, several pieces to finish for our upcoming Quilt Show in April, not to mention some other major commitments. I keep telling myself I work better under pressure.. (who am I kidding?) I seem to have been in a funk lately as far as quilting and "inspiration" goes... just can't seem to get fired up ... all I want to do on these snowy days is curl up with a good book. (Just finished a great one - Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger, winner of the Governor General's Award, based on a true story, set in Victorian times, and largely in Egypt. Quote from the book jacket: "When Lady Duff Gordon, toast of Victorian London society, departs for the hot dry climate of Egypt to seek relief from the debilitating effects of her tuberculosis, her devoted lady's maid, Sally, doesn't think twice about remaining by her mistress's side. Sally and Lady Duff Gordon throw themselves into their exotic surroundings adopting native dress, learning Arabic, and visiting the tombs of ancient Pharaohs. Along the way, Sally comes to experience freedoms she, as a servant, has never known before as well as her first taste of romance. But freedom is a luxury that a maid can ill afford, and when Sally grasps far more than status entitles her to, she is brutally reminded that she is mistress of nothing. " A great read!
On a lighter note, I finally found some inspiration this morning. Yippeee! In conjunction with our April Quilt Show, we have issued a "Challenge" for our members. The rules are few, the theme is "Spring" and we are encouraging creativity. I have been wracking my brain for an idea and finally today, I know what I will do. So now I'm looking through books and magazines to try and figure out just how I will execute this. There will be a three dimensional aspect to it, and how to attach that is what I'm pondering right now... I'm keeping my entry under wraps 'til it is due at our April Guild meeting when Viewers' Choice voting takes place. After that I'll share some "in progress" photos with you...
Stay warm....


"Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can." ~ Danny Kaye
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