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

Monday, April 30, 2012

April Blues

Not much to say tonight, my brain is tired... mushy...blah... but I thought you might like to see and enjoy some of what's blooming in my garden right now. Not that there's a lot... and there seems to be a lot of blue.... of course that has nothing to do with the fact that I love blue... (wink) After enjoying some really nice weather (seems like so long ago now) we seem to be back to more typical temps. In fact it's been downright chilly. Tonight again it's dropping below zero overnight... yuch.. All my poor little blossoms will be shivering...  So at right we have Chionodoxa (common name "Glory of the Snow"), and below top to bottom, Pulmonaria (common name "Lungwort" and also called "William and Mary", I believe), Scilla Siberica (common name "Squill") and lastly, one lonely tulip in a Squill sea, compliments of the neighborhood squirrel population - they love playing tricks on me, rearranging my bulbs...




"Beauty is the gift of God." ~ Aristotle

Sunday, April 29, 2012

TAST Week 17 - Wheatear stitch

Here I am again with another
Take A Stitch Tuesday sampler. This week's "assignment" was Wheatear stitch, which is new to me. Not difficult at all, but I have to admit I was not terribly inspired or creative. Just too much else going on in my life this week I guess.
 Because the stitch can look very much like shafts of wheat, and because my daughter is off to Alberta today, I chose "wheat-y" colors to work with. My stitching is fairly simplistic, I just did the basic stitch, then stacked, wove and did a sort of mirror image of the stitch. I think my last row is my favourite- the palest peach color- simple wheatear with an extra straight stitch added on each side, and then beaded. I think this has great potential for use along a CQ seam. Done in the right colors with perhaps a few more straight stitches added, it could almost look like Cleome - an annual I plant each year to fill in spots in my perennial beds...


"Act the way you'd like to be, and soon you'll be the way you act." ~ Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

TAST Week 16 - French Knots

It's time to share some stitching with you again - this past week's assigned stitch was French Knots. I have done many French Knots over the years and there really is not much you can do to vary the stitch other than to use a different number of wraps, and try different weights of threads... So I have
experimented a bit with various threads- from perle cottons to silk buttonhole twist: I have used Finca and Valdani Perles, SassaLynn perles, Caron Wildflowers and Japanese Silk Buttonhole Twist by YLI. So here is my sampler, nothing fancy, just an exploration of French Knots in some seam treatments and a few "snowflakes" and flowers.... The smaller knots are one wrap, the larger two wraps... I'm not overly thrilled with this sampler, but it will do, "done is good", time to move on to this week's challenge...
I've also included a few photos of French Knots on past projects. Some in silk ribbon, some in thread... Click here to see others' work for last week - click on the comment links, and here for the highlights of the week.


"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April Showers bring spring flowers....

I can't believe it's a whole week since I last posted. The days fly by... I've been busy but just nothing much to tell you about. I am now done teaching for this term.. Woohoo! Did my last out of town class on Saturday up in Grand Falls for the Gorge Quilters' Guild. Thanks gals, for a great day!
After several days of much needed rain, things are greening up and spring flowers are appearing. My crocuses are nearly done, and the daffodils, chionodoxa and scilla are now in full bloom. They've taken a beating with the heavy rains but I hope to get more photos tomorrow....  
  I guess there is a little exciting news. Dear daughter has won a Canadian Military Journalism Scholarship - she is one of twelve Journalism students from across Canada chosen to attend a course in Alberta this spring. The course is designed to introduce prospective journalists to the Canadian Forces and issues involved in covering the Canadian military in the new millennium, and takes place in a mixture of classroom and field settings. It will certainly be excellent training, exposing her to a wide variety of situations and experiences similar to what a foreign  correspondent would find in Afghanistan or other areas of deployment. Who knows where the future will take her...  (hopefully NOT to work as a Foreign Correspondent!) She's happy to be finished her exams, and has four of her six marks back already (all excellent - smile...). Today she was pretty pleased to see one of her stories published in our local newspaper, with cut line and all... Yup, I'm one proud Mama bear...
Next up.. my TAST for this past week...


Children are the flowers in the garden of life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spicy Spiral Finish

  I have finally finished up my Spicy Spiral table runner. I am happy with it, even though it isn't really "my colors". I may give it away to a good friend who has built a new home- it matches her home much better than it does mine... we'll see. I used a fusible batting and I found the perfect green batik with a bit of brown in it for the backing.
 How do you finish off something that will not be bound? Do you dislike the "stitch all around but leave an opening to turn it through" method- then you have to try and get a smooth edge where you must handstitch the gap? If so, you might want to try my method.. (Sorry - never thought to take pics, but I'm sure you can do it just from my written description.)

 Cut your backing a few inches longer than your "top" and cut it in half widthwise , then join your two halves with  a 1/2" seam. I use a fairly short stitch length at each end of the seam, but in the middle section of the seam I switch to a machine basting stitch. (This basted section will become your opening to turn it through.) Press seam open. Now you are ready to layer your project. It must be layered in this order- batting, your finished piece- runner, placemat or whatever on top of the batting with wrong side down against batting, and right side "up", then your seamed backing ON TOP, right side down against runner. So what you have is your two fabric pieces - runner and seamed backing - right sides together on top of the batting. Your seamed backing MUST be on the top or you will not be able to turn it right side out. (I trim the batting to the size and shape of my runner or placemat before placing the backing on top.) Once layered in this order and pinned all around the edge, you carefully open the basted section of the seam with your seam ripper. This is the opening which you will now turn the whole thing through. Stitch entirely around the edge. Trim seam if necessary. On this runner, I trimmed the two pointed ends and notched the curves. Turn right side out and press edges well so that backing does not show on the front. Now all that's left is to close up the opening in your backing with a small neat hand stitch. Because you pressed the seam open, you have two good creased edges to stitch together. (I used my new Clover Black Gold needles for this handsewing- wow- they are just like a hot knife through buttah! Thanks again Jan!!) I really like this method as it ensures a good smooth edge all around your piece, and I don't mind having  a seam across the back - who ever looks at the back anyway? I use this all the time for runners and placemats or anything I don't want to do a binding on. Easy Peasy!


"Success in any endeavour depends on the degree to which it is an expression of your true self."
~ Ralph Marston

Sunday, April 15, 2012

TAST Week 15 - Stem Stitch

This week's stitch for the Take A Stitch Tuesday Challenge was stem stitch. It is a stitch usually used for outlining. I spent most of the week trying to decide what I would do, looking for designs, etc. (Am I the only one who does this? Please tell me No...) As the hours remaining were getting short, I ended up doing this tree. It was not my Plan A, but here it is. (One of my mottos is Done is Good!) I think I might like it better if it was filled in, but since the assignment was Stem stitch, I have left it simply outlined with the assigned  stitch. I have used a variegated brown Valdani thread, and the two variegated greens are Perle 8's. I have not done a great deal of Stem stitch before, but did enjoy working it on this fall quilt below. The stem stitch is used for the pumpkin vines, the sunflower stem and the crow's legs.
We're having some warm temps here today - yay!! Hope you are enjoying a beautiful Sunday wherever you are. Come back tomorrow to see my finished Spicy Spiral table runner.


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

Friday, April 13, 2012

With a Little Help from my Friends...

Image from Quilters Cache site
Remember the line of that song "I get by with a little help from my friends"? That's certainly my song for today...
Yesterday I sent out an email to 47 quilting friends - many of them here in the Maritimes, but others were from across Canada and the US. I attached a copy of the photo of the Old Maid's Eyebrows block and asked if anyone recognized it or knew it by another name. And ...Bingo! I hit the jackpot! My first reply was from Sally Schneider in Albuquerque who said it was very similar to Hickory Leaf and Rose Petal blocks, both found in Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Appliqué. Gail Fearon emailed that she had found it in a book and it was a variation of  Diamond Five. (Not sure where that fifth diamond is...?) Then a call from local Guild member Marg Wood who said she found the exact same block in a New Brunswick Women's Institute publication (1977) and it was called Star and Crescent. After that Judy Morningstar of Manitoba answered with a whole list of names for the block, including Star and Crescent and Star Crescent. Other names for the block were Star of the West, King's Crown, Compass, The Four Winds, and Star of the Four Winds. These names all came from Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Quilt Block Patterns (1993). At the same time, an email from another member of my Guild, Trudy Corey, who had looked in her copy of The Collector's Dictionary of Quilt Names and Patterns (with 2400 patterns!). She found identical names - Star and Crescent and Star Crescent, as well as The Four Winds, Star of the Four Winds and Star of the West.
I was amazed, not to mention impressed, that so many people replied so quickly and had taken the time to look through their quilting libraries to help me out!! THANK YOU ALL, dear quilting friends! This little "project" has been great fun - if you haven't already read the background story, click here to read my previous post.
Now I will tell you the rest of the story.... when songwriter Donna Rhodenizer first replied to my email asking her about the block name "Old Maid's Eyebrows", this is part of what she wrote:
"A bit of background info for you: I chose Old Maid's Eyebrows for the song because the name intrigued me. All of the quilt names in the song were gleaned from a box of quilt patterns collected by my great-grandmother who cut them out of the newspaper. If you have heard of the high-end clothing retailer, Suttles and Seawinds, there is also a connection there. Vicki Lynn Bardon who founded the store, is the daughter of my family's doctor when I was a child. Vicki went away to design school in New York (I think) and wanted to come home to work. She decided to begin a cottage industry with local sewers making quilts and clothes that she designed. She came to visit my mother for quilt pattern ideas and my mother let her peruse the box of quilt patterns her grandmother had collected. Many years later, I sorted through that same box of quilt patterns to choose the quilt names to include in a new song I was working on. After I wrote "The Quilt" we went to visit Vicki and sang her the song. She agreed to create a quilt using all the patterns in the song. From the same box of quilt patterns came a world-renowned business, a song and a quilt!  Vicki Lynn Bardon's quilt became the cover of our CD "Ship of Dreams".
SO- now I will write to Donna again, and ask her if the pattern from the newspaper clipping was actually labelled "Old Maid's Eyebrows"..  I suspect it was. Interesting huh? How one design can be known by so many names... I was thinking that perhaps her great grandmother had just come up with that name herself, just as any of us today might give a quilt a name of our own. So, there you have it. Mystery solved.. with a little help (okay a LOT of help) from my friends!! Call it whatever name you prefer- Old Maid's Eyebrows, or Star and Crescent or one of the others.... As for me, I have to say, the name Old Maid's Eyebrows still intrigues me.. I'm trying to picture said old maid... were her brows bushy? sparse? nicely arched? oddly shaped? drawn on poorly with a brow pencil?
What's the oddest quilt block name you have heard?

Piece! (or Appliqué! lol)

Right next door or miles apart, friends are always close at heart.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Old Maid's Eyebrows...Revealed!

I know you have been waiting with baited breath, since you read this post two weeks ago. I have received a photo of the Old Maid's Eyebrows block from the Songwriter - it's one I don't remember ever seeing before. I will be curious to see if anyone out there in Blogland recognizes it or knows it by another name? If so, please leave me a comment and tell me what you know about this block. Thanks so much!


"It is the dim haze of mystery that adds enchantment to pursuit." ~ Antoine Rivarol

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sometimes Life Just Doesn't Seem Fair...

I haven't felt much like blogging the last few days. I lost a friend on Sunday afternoon.. I've only known her for a few years, and not real well either. But I have known of her for years, and have known her sister Heather for almost 40 years. I met Bonnie three years ago when she joined our Ladies Choir and sang alto with Heather and I. Bonnie was one of those people that you just couldn't help but love right off the bat. She was always smiling, always positive - just one of those people who had a real passion for life. A retired educator who taught many children in the city before becoming a Vice Principal and then a Principal, she has positively  impacted countless people in this city, including myself. Whether it was on the golf course, in sorority, choir or in one of the countless other activities she loved, she had a tremendous impact on so many lives. She recently became a neighbour and occasionally would give me a drive home from Choir. Choir practice last night was difficult as we sang Danny Boy, one of her favourites. Rest in Peace, sweet Bonnie. You will be sorely missed....
Heaven has gained a beautiful angel, and she's singing in God's choir now...


To live in the hearts of those you leave behind is never to die...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

TAST Week 14 - Satin Stitch

Happy Easter from snowy New Brunswick! Yep, we got about 5" of white fluffy snow overnight and it's still coming down!!! Looks more like Christmas than Easter! I guess this year's Easter Bunny must have been a snowshoe hare! I have all kinds of plants up - daffodils, poppies, alliums, etc.- I'm sure they're about as impressed as I am with this snow....
Back to TAST. Last week Sharon gave us a "catch up" week, so there was no stitch assigned. Since I was caught up on the stitches, I got caught up on my binder- getting pages in place, getting the journalling of stitch descriptions done, etc. For those who thought they might experience serious "stitching withdrawal", Sharon did challenge us to either blog about how we make time for stitching, or do a piece combining 3 or 4 previous stitches. Since I had lots to do last week, I chose to do neither. I really don't have much to say about how I make time for stitching - I just do. Usually I stitch in the evenings when watching listening to TV. I am a night hawk so it's nothing for me to stay up till 1a.m. or later working on finishing a stitching piece. I enjoy those late night hours when the house is quiet, hubby is already snoring in bed and I can choose the channel...  :)
So- on to this week. Sharon counted last week's mini challenge, so she calls this Week 14. I am numbering my stitched pieces so for me this week's stitch - Satin stitch - is number 13. Although satin stitch is certainly not difficult, it does take a little practice to master. Choice of thread is one factor- you want your threads to lie flat and close to each other so no fabric shows between them- ie. you want good "coverage". I had a few "issues" with fabric and thread, so it took me a few tries before I
found the "right" fabric for my Perle 5 thread. I ended up using a soft green 25 count Lugana with Finca Perle 5 threads in rather "neutral" colors. I chose to do two simple star designs, and for the first time used a magnifying light that was my Mum's. It sure made stitching on the fine count Lugana much easier!
The other photo is from a piece done two years ago- stitched on silk fabric with 1 strand of cotton floss - tiny padded satin stitched "berries". Each berry is roughly 1/8".
Once again there are lots of interesting pieces being done this week by TAST participants. Click here to see Sharon's picks of the week. Happy Easter everyone- hope you find make some time for stitching, or whatever makes you happy!


"Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." ~Joseph Addison

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It's the Little Things...

 Do little things make you smile? You know- something like waking to a beautiful birdsong, or finding  a quarter when you lift the cushions on the couch? Or a call from a friend asking you to go on a F.A.R.T.? (uhhmmm  that's a Fabric Acquisition Road Trip for those of you who didn't know...) How about a surprise package in the mail from a blogging friend? Finding a long lost favourite earring?  All these things have made me smile today... Thanks to Misses Stitches for sending me a package of wonderful Clover "Black Gold" sharps! I can't wait to try them. I commented on her post here and bless her heart- she sent me a package! There is nothing like a good fine needle.... (Almost as good as chocolate!!)
 The last thing that made me smile today? A big fat Mama Robin perched on our barbeque on the deck and looked in the window at me...  What's that you say, Mama Robin?  Oh, you don't like being called fat?  Sorry!  Okay, let's say you're big boned , large framed, fluffily feathered!?
 I hope lots of little things made you smile today!  Wishing you a Blessed Easter.

Peace and Love,

"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.' ~ Phyllis Diller

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nothing like a good book!

I've finished several good books in the last week or so. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J.Watson was a most interesting read.... I kept thinking how awful this "condition" would be to have. I don't know if it is totally fictional or if this does happen - each night when Christine goes to sleep, her brain "erases": i.e. when she wakes up the next morning, she has no memory and must start again to try to remember her past.
 "Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar middle-aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.  .... Every day Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more unbelievable it seems." - book jacket     If you like a "page turner" this is the book for you. Definitely hard to put down!
 Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly was another great read. Although considered a Young Adult novel, I became totally engrossed with Andi, a teen "on the edge". Andi is angry with the world- her father has left, her mother is not able to cope and Andi feels responsible for her younger brother's accidental death. An unexpected trip to Paris with her father and the discovery of a centuries-old diary changes her life and her outlook. Andi becomes engrossed in history and the French Revolution.  A midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris brings the past alive. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and learned a good deal about the French Revolution, of which I knew very little. Thanks to my friend Barb F. for the loan of these two books.
 What am I reading now, you ask? The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje. What are you currently reading? 


"The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it."  ~ James Bryce

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Beauty and a Star!

It's been another busy weekend. Laura was home (again!) because we had a very special event to attend. My nephew's daughter, my beautiful great-niece Mallory, was starring in her middle school Musical Production of Beauty and the Beast. And as you can see - she IS a Beauty! Laura and I were both SO very proud of her - she played Belle with such confidence and poise. She had great stage presence and truly did shine! The voice lessons she has been taking this year have certainly given her greater voice control, strength and projection. She never missed a line and played her character with great emotion. The entire cast did a wonderful job. There was a good deal of talent onstage, for sure. It was not hard to tell they were all having such fun. I know Laura and I were both re-living our onstage experiences in musical productions as we watched. This is such a character-building experience for young people as they must be very committed to it for a good deal of time throughout the school year. Well done Mallory, and Congrats to all the cast for a terrific job. Our thanks and appreciation also go to all the staff and other adults who as well put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to such a huge project. Kudos to all!


"..Tale as old as time
Tune as old as song
Bittersweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong
Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the Beast.."

~Lyrics from "Beauty and the Beast".
Songwriters Howard Ashman & Alan Menken
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