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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pedal to the Metal...

I almost forgot that I promised you a sneak peek at my progress. I should have taken a  photo earlier in the afternoon so the color would have been better. But, after all, it IS just a "sneak" peek, so here you go. It's not a great photo- just snapped quickly after I stuck a few blocks up on the design wall, but it gives you an idea what I'm doing. It's been another good day for sewing - that can also translate to  It's been another terrible weather day... ice pellets most of the day, a little freezing rain and now it's snowing like crazy. Looks like another blizzard out there.... Tomorrow is April 1st. April Fool's Day... I guess the joke is on us. Our front lawn has at least four feet of snow, other areas where it has drifted are five to six feet tall - a drift right outside our family room window is over six feet, for sure. It's beginning to block Ollie's view...he's not impressed (just like the rest of us...)


"A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water." ~ Carl Reiner

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Of weather bombs and sewing progress...

Yes, I'm still here. We're not buried under a snow drift, although we're not too far from it. We survived Wednesday's "weather bomb/blizzicane" - the term given to the nasty blizzard with lots of precipitation and the high winds of a hurricane. It was downright nasty, no other words to describe it. Then it snowed all day Friday.. and now we're having yet another crappy day - you name it - snow, ice pellets, freezing rain.. all of the above. Snow all morning, ice pellets most of the afternoon with a little freezing rain thrown in there in between just for fun... Yuch. The driving conditions are very poor, so we have not ventured out today at all... I'm hibernating once again in my studio trying my best to ignore the weather although it's difficult when the ice pellets are pelting
the windows...
And the forecast says more of the same for tomorrow - freezing rain changing to ice pellets in the afternoon and then to snow in the evening. Everyone is sick and tired of this winter weather, after all it's supposed to be spring now, no? Guess Mother Nature hasn't received the memo... ahem.... Let's hope that this IS the last storm- March going out like a lion and all that... .Well, the lion is roaring, for sure. I do hope someone silences him SOON.
I'm working away at nine patches and sashing strips for this current blue quilt. The 35 blocks are all done and trimmed to size. I have a good
start on the sashing and nine patches but will soon have to  do a lot more cutting of strips. I'm loving the look of it, it's going to be tough to give it away...  I'm such a soft touch for anything done in blues.... I promise you a sneak peek tomorrow...
My cutting table is a mess of trimmed bits - it looks like we had an indoor weather bomb hit!!
Remember the mystery of the missing pots and pans a few weeks ago? I forgot to tell you we "solved the mystery".. . On further investigation, we discovered a few more things missing too - all had been in the same cupboard in Laura's Halifax apartment, so we've decided that when Dad made the final trip and did the last "sweep through", he missed that cupboard.... (At least we know it wasn't the leprechauns.)
Okay, back to the cutting table. I hope the weather is better where you are...


"If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm." ~ Frank Lane

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Singin' the Winter Blues...

We are battening down the hatches as we head into yet another nasty winter storm. Apparently Mother Nature never received the "It's Spring" memo... Our forecast has actually been downgraded slightly from the 50 cm. they were predicting a few days ago, but we're still going to get a wallop! Nova Scotia is feeling the brunt of it, Laura told me this morning they are to get 60 cm. - that's two feet for those of you not on the metric system! A blizzard with the strength of a  category 3 hurricane. Lovely. It has just begun here.. it's gone from nothing happening to nasty in about half an hour. The winds have picked up and the fine snow that's coming down right now is blowing about.... I'm sure the snowfall will get heavier before long. Soooo... I'm retiring to my studio to sew the day away. Or maybe I should say Sew the Snow away. If only I could. This storm brings a whole new meaning to "March Madness"....
I am making good progress on my bed quilt which will be given to our Guild's Community Projects team for a bed at the Veteran's Unit. I need 35 blocks and have 29 done. Only 6 more to go, they'll be done today for sure (unless we lose power.) I got my sashing fabric yesterday so will get that washed and cut today too, hopefully.
The blocks are string-pieced, a la Bonnie Hunter, using old phone book pages as the foundation, as Bonnie suggests. So quick and easy. And it's great for "using up leftovers"- scraps and bits. Mind you, my studio looks like a bomb went off as I've emptied some containers of scrap bits.... Oh well... I guess you could say I'm "sewing up a storm".. haha
I'm using all blues- true blues, purple-y blues, teal blues, turquoises, greyed blues, they all work together. For those of you who don't know what string piecing is, it's just using strips of all widths - "strings" - and sewing them randomly to a foundation. (The blocks still need their final trimming to size.) I'm not really planning each block, other than making sure I have a good variety of prints and lights/darks. My only other rule is not to put two that are very alike side by side. Pretty simple. Mindless almost. (Some would say I am mindless.. haha)  Anyway, I'm havin' fun. What else can a gal do on a stormy day? I'm singin' the Winter Blues....


"What a severe yet master artist old Winter is... No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel." ~ John Burroughs, The Snow Walkers, 1866

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thank you Everyone!

Just a quick post to thank everyone for the birthday greetings! I have "survived the big birthday"... I've decided to follow everyone's advice - age is just a number, you're not getting older, you're getting better, etc. etc. etc. Actually the number doesn't bother me. Although I don't really relish the thought of getting older, I am celebrating my birthday and the fact that I am still here, and in good health.  Too many are denied that opportunity....  I am blessed with a pretty good life, for sure, and I have no major complaints. (Well, maybe the weather, but let's not talk about that right now...)
It's been a good weekend - lots of cards, emails and phone calls from friends, many of whom are away (most in warmer climes, the lucky things!) and gifts included chocolate and a new book which I can't wait to start. I spent yesterday at a  Guild workday, and have continued sewing a good part of today. I have half of my blocks done!! Yea! No photos tonight, but I promise some in a few days. The blocks will be put together with a pieced sashing, and I still have to choose and purchase sashing fabric. Actually I'm still deliberating on the color... white versus pale blue.
I just can't bear to do a post with no photos at all, so I'm choosing to snub my nose at Mother Nature who obviously must be sleeping hibernating and hasn't looked at her calendar to see that it's time for some warm spring weather. We won't talk about the fact that we have another major snowstorm on the way- a real nor'easter they are saying. High winds and lots of snow. Lovely. Just lovely. So I'm choosing to ignore that fact right now and think of tulips. Sweet blossoms of spring. It's going to be "a while" before we see the bare ground let alone tulips sprouting up so let's enjoy a few tulips here and we can dream of warmer days and blossoms to come... These photos were taken near Chilliwack B.C. a few years ago...


Birthdays give us the opportunity to stop and appreciate all the beautiful things we have been blessed with.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Of Birthdays and Blues...

Spring has officially arrived. Apparently. Minutes ago. You'd never know it when you look out the window... Yes, we have had MORE snow- a fresh 3 or 4 inches this morning, which I suppose we should be grateful about as the forecast was 6 to 8inches. Of course the day is not over yet so anything is possible. Now we're getting rain, changing to freezing rain which will make a lovely mess. Yuchhh.
Tomorrow is my birthday. A big one. You know, one of those "round number" ones that end in zero. One that starts a new decade. All I want for my birthday is for spring to come. And I want it to come NOW. I'm quite sure I'm not going to get my wish anytime soon....
So - you have to make the birthday girl happy. Leave me a comment and tell me a funny birthday story, or tell me about the best birthday gift you ever got, or what your favourite birthday was and why. Come on, indulge an old girl!!  Make me smile!

I'm doing my best to ignore the weather today by spending time in my studio. Now that the rain has started I think I might even close the blinds so I can't see out. lol  I'm cutting a huge pile of blue scraps into strips to do some string-pieced blocks for a charity quilt. Our Guild is having a workday on Saturday to work on Community Projects. One of our goals this year is to provide bed quilts for all the beds at our Veterans Unit. So I'm doing blue string-pieced blocks which I'll put together with pieced sashing and ninepatch setting squares in blues and white. I'll show you progress photos in a few days. I'll be alternating back and forth between it and the Carolina Lily Miniature until both are done.
Okay, I'm waiting for your birthday stories...


"The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age." ~ Johnny Carson

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March Notecard Party

It's Notecard Party time again. Vee graciously hosts this meme each month and it's such fun to see what everyone has chosen for their card collection.
I often need a card to send to a quilter friend, whether for a Thank you, a birthday card or whatever, so this month I have chosen some of my quilts as my subject.


And the boxtop....

Be sure to drop by Vee's Notecard Party here to see what the other participants have done this month. Why not join in the fun?


"Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls; for, thus friends absent speak." ~ John Donne

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Can you believe I still have my boarding pass? I found it tucked into my trip diary.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!! I'm lucky to have been to Ireland twice and have such great memories of time spent on that fair isle. The first visit was short, just a stopover on the way home from Italy and Greece; the other was a glorious three weeks of travel all around the country (literally). We picked up our little car right at the airport. Two young single enthusiastic Canadian gals, ready for adventure. Leo, the handsome young lad behind the desk asked where we were going and we described to him our plan to circle the country clockwise, missing only Northern Ireland (as it was not terribly safe in those days) ending back in Dublin. He was amazed at our plan, to travel that far and see that much. He pretty much told us we would never do it; to him that was an incredibly ambitious itinerary. I don't think he doubted our driving abilities, although perhaps he should have as I had just learned to drive a standard a few days before the trip and now was faced with driving on the opposite side of the road, and shifting with my left hand. In those days many Irish citizens had not travelled much further than their own villages or towns. Ireland is not that big- it's roughly the size of New Brunswick, and even though their highway system was not as advanced as North America's, we were pretty sure we would accomplish our travel plan with no problem. So we made him a bet which we were confident we would win (heck, we knew we had it in the bag!)  We told him we would faithfully trace our route each day on our map and when we got back, if we had accomplished what we set out to do, he and a buddy would take us out to dinner; if we failed, we would pay for the dinner. Of course, we had to get his phone number...
A favourite souvenir- my two Irish sheep, Padraig and Seamus
We had no trouble carrying out our plan, and what a time we had. We covered a lot of miles and saw so many beautiful sites- of course all my photos then were slides. (I really must figure out how to get them turned into digital images so I could share some with you.) There wasn't much that we missed. Highlights included the monastic ruins of Glendalough, a visit to a bird sanctuary on the Saltee Islands, a tour of Waterford Crystal (one of the best tours I've ever taken), castle tours in Cahir, Kilkenny, Blarney and Bunratty, driving the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula, seeing the Rock of Cashel (ancient seat of the Kings of Munster), standing on the Cliffs of Moher and at Galway Bay at sunset, viewing the Book of Kells, buying Donegal tweed in Donegal, oh I could go on and on... I LOVE Ireland and I WILL get back there some day... We had fabulous weather, rarely encountering any rain, which was unusual. Two of the things we enjoyed the most (other than the fabulous scenery) were the music (of course!) and the place names. How could you not be amused with names like Sneen, Ballylicky, Gougan Barra, Ballynaboola, Killybegs, and the Knockmealdown Mountains? One name we kept hearing was Lisdoonvarna. Everyone kept telling us we HAD to go to Lisdoonvarna. We did eventually find it, a small village which we discovered is the location of the annual Matchmaking Festival! Seriously. Each year singles flocked there to be matched up with mates. Too bad we missed the festival by one week. We wanted to take home lots of wonderful souvenirs, but not husbands! (Oh- and yes we did get our dinner on our last night in Dublin, courtesy of Leo and his buddy Seamus. They were great guys- we wished we had had more time with them, they could have shown us more of Dublin.)
That three weeks was one of my best trips ever.  My dear friend Sandy, who we lost 5 years ago to cancer, was a wonderful friend and travelling partner, we had so many common interests. She is always on my mind each St. Patty's Day as I recall our shenanigans in Ireland. I'm listening to The Chieftains today, along with The Irish Descendants, Celtic Woman, and Celtic Thunder. I hope you are celebrating St. Patrick's Day in fine style with some good Irish music and maybe a pint or two. Sláinte!  Erin Go Bragh!


"May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door." - Irish Blessing

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A New Miniature Underway...

I started a new miniature quilt a few days ago. (I'm trying to ignore this never-ending winter weather by distracting myself  at the sewing machine.) I purchased the pattern and fabric while in Florida. It's a small Carolina Lily design by Cindi Edgerton. If you are familiar with her patterns for Minis, you know they are printed on tissue paper, which is your "foundation", so there's not much room for error. I guess I really like to challenge myself as I decided to try using Dupioni silks for this project. (Who can resist their luscious colors and luxurious shimmer?) I am using a cotton solid for the background, but all the other fabrics are silks. Don't ask me why I'm doing this... I guess I'm a little crazy. Certifiable, even.... or I might be by the time it's done...
The silks are a bit bulkier at seams than a cotton would be. Also of course the silk frays terribly so it can't take too much "handling". Because the pieces are so small. seams have to be trimmed down, and mine are about 1/8th inch or sometimes less. Yup, I'm crazy. The block is 3" finished and has 4 sections which go together, with a total of 37 pieces per block. Because there are stems and flowers, everything has to line up perfectly. This is definitely an exercise in patience and great care in handling and precision stitching.
I made a test block (always a good idea) using a hand-dyed pale green cotton as the background. Once I got that first block together, I could see that the color just wasn't just quite right for the project. Also, being a hand-dyed, there was variation in the color, more than I expected when I opened it up fully, so I set it aside and went looking through my stash for something more suitable. I finally found a pale yellow-green solid - perfect, except it is only a fat eighth, so the quilt will have to be smaller than the nine blocks I had originally planned. Right now I'm thinking four blocks might just do it! I have three done and have pieced half the border blocks and corner blocks so I'm well underway. The test block also showed me that I had to move a few seam lines just slightly to have everything line up perfectly (stems and blossoms). Being off 1/16th of an inch doesn't sound like much, but on this little block it was major.
I'll work away at it over the next few days and then I'll have to switch gears to get a start on a project for our Guild Community Projects workday this coming Saturday. Stay tuned....


"Be precise. A lack of precision is dangerous when the margin of error is small." ~ Donald Rumsfeld

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Beach Day

I just can't "acknowledge" winter any longer. I'm turning my thoughts to spring and warmer temps. I bet if you live in the northern hemisphere, you're fed up too. So I thought you might like to see some more of my pics from Florida and a day at the beach. We can look at these "warm images" and think positive thoughts. Maybe it will work? I think Mother Nature needs a little encouragement to bring spring our way, what do you think? (Warning: this post is photo heavy.)

My January trip seems so long ago now... but I think of it often. After our very busy three days indoors at the World Quilt Show, we spent some time outside enjoying the lovely weather, including a wonderful afternoon at "Bathtub Beach" in Bathtub Reef Park. This beach is at the southern end of Hutchinson Island, which is a barrier  island just off of Stuart and Sewalls Point, FL. Bathtub Reef Park gets its name from the living reef which is found just offshore. Protecting the beach from waves and strong currents, the reef parallels the shore, creating a calm area of shallow water - like a bathtub!

Can't you just feel the wind in your hair?

Okay, are you ready to feel the warm waters on your toes?

Here we go....
 I'll stop talking so you can just enjoy the beach walk in peace and quiet...

Oops, forgot to tell you- roll up your pant legs...

We enjoyed watching this young guy practicing on his boogie board......

How about a look at the local real estate....

This looks like a nice little spot.... but how about these below....

Wow - beautiful "summer homes".... All three were having extensive work done at the front to help curb erosion of their properties. Imagine what that bill would be...  Whew!


 Thank you Mr. Gull, for sharing your wonderful beach with us.... Does everyone feel warmer now?

Another awesome afternoon was spent with a new blogging friend, Jeanna, who blogs at
Slammin' the Screen Door. Jeanna and I "met" online via our blogs, a few months before my trip. One day I just happened to comment to her that I was heading to Florida for a week and where did she live? I could hardly believe it when she replied that she lived very close to my friend Sandi. So we arranged to meet up on the Sunday for brunch and a browse around an outdoor craft market. When we met, she recognized Sandi right away, from a quilt class they both had taken several years previous! Small world! Here we are, after finishing our yummy brunch. It was great to meet you, Jeanna! I hope we will cross paths again!

And I must end by saying Thanks again to Sandi for putting up with me for a week! It was such a fun time. Is it too early to make my reservation for next year?


Nothing soothes the soul like a walk on the beach.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Dear Winter, GO AWAY!

Dear Winter,

GO. AWAY.   Please, just Go Away.

No longer your fan,

Well, that probably won't help but it makes me feel slightly better. (Only slightly)  As my blogging friend Pam said on her "disgusted with winter" post today, "Winter, We are SO done with you."
We weathered yesterday's storm, and now have yet another foot or so of fresh snow on top of the winter's accumulation. The snowbanks are so high, you can't see some buildings or houses from the street. It's ridiculous. The sun is shining today, but tomorrow, we're to get a little more snow then rain. And there's rumor of yet another possible storm on Monday/Tuesday. I don't even want to talk about this anymore. But for the sake of some of my regular followers in the warmer climes of Florida (Hi Sandi, Mary, Diane, Jeanna and Lucy), California (Hi Jan), Australia and New Zealand, I thought they might like to see some photos. Hope these cool you down!!  haha

Here's what things looked like yesterday afternoon in the midst of the storm (nonstop snow for almost 24 hours)

The view from the front of our house is straight down #3 fairway of the golf course. Hmm... I don't think there'll be any golfers there for a few days yet, what do you think?

The little house across the street. They have a hot tub on their deck.. don't think they'll be in it for a while yet either...

My poor Rhododendron is tired of winter too. We stake and wrap it for the winter for a little protection and windbreak, but there is so much snow burying the lower branches now, I'm afraid it's not going to be in very good shape when we unwrap it. 

At least today, we are plowed out and the sky is blue rather than grey- you can see how high the snow is piled.

You can see my studio on the right end of the house. That's where I'm spending some time as much time as possible these days. I'll soon be showing you what I'm working on currently...

 Ollie is keeping me company- he likes to snooze on the ironing board while I'm sewing. He's up high enough to see what I'm doing (he thinks he's supervising...) and he loves the warmth after I've used the iron. Sometimes Often I have to push him aside to get a little pressing space. Sheesh!

Since Spring is only one week away now, I'm celebrating tomorrow by heading to the beach. Wanna come along?


My favourite thing about winter?  When it's over.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

More Mystery...

There certainly are some mysteries going on around here. (I'm wondering if we have leprechauns sneaking around a little early for St. Patty's Day...?) Last week, the little TV in my studio lost it's sound. Just out of the blue. One day it worked fine. The next day there was no sound. Just like that, for no apparent reason. Dead. Hubby and son both tinkered and tried everything they could think of, to no avail. Then the very next day, my laptop crashed. It worked fine one day, the next day when I turned it on, this terrible grinding sound... and.. nothing. Seems the hard drive died a swift and painful death. Just like that. Gone.
Laura was home on the weekend, and went through all her kitchen stuff from her Halifax apartment, to organize and pack some things up. Yup, you guessed it - the leprechauns got to her stuff too- all her pots and pans are missing. Now I ask you, where do pots and pans trot off to???  Do they melt? Vaporize? Evaporate into thin air? How can they just disappear when everything else is there, in one spot? I don't get it...
Ollie isn't telling anything, if he knows. He's good at keeping secrets. He's lounging on the back of the couch, keeping a close watch on the weather... (or maybe he's on leprechaun watch?) We have a nasty storm moving in; just what we need - more snow. We're to get about a foot apparently, mixed with ice pellets at times, and high winds overnight. It started a short while ago with fine snow but it's starting to snow a little harder now. I'm going to hunker down in my studio and do some sewing, and ponder the biggest mystery of all- why won't winter just GO AWAY?!!


"Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen." ~Willa Sibert Cather

Sunday, March 9, 2014

You've got mail...

Do you enjoy getting mail? I don't mean email, I mean real mail- letters, cards, etc. in your mailbox. Personal mail puts a smile on my face, but sadly it seems to be a rare thing these days. Mail seems to be decreasing exponentially each year, with little more than flyers, junk mail and the occasional bill found in the mailbox these days. Our postal rates go up considerably at the end of this month and I suspect that will make most people really stop and think about sending a card or note. I'm wondering how many people will continue to send Christmas cards? Sadly I don't think the increase in rates will improve our postal service either....
Before long we will lose our door to door service and will have to go to a community box to retrieve what mail there is. I'd rather see them cut our door to door delivery from 5 to 3 days a week or something like that. Don't get me wrong, it won't kill me to have to go to a central box site, but I'm thinking of the many seniors who will find this a real challenge...
When I travel I try to look for "interesting photos" - things I won't "see at home". One of the things I found to photograph while in Florida were the mailboxes in Sandi's neighbourhood. We went for several good walks around her area and I thought you might like to see some of the unique mailboxes we found. I'd be hard pressed to choose a favourite!

Some were very simple....

 Some had great paint jobs...

This one had a fierce looking guard kitty...

 Not quite sure what to say about this one.. a holstein pig????

How about a manatee serving up your mail?  Notice the
tropical fish swimming around the base...

 I think this last one would have to be a favourite.. a young boy reading a book, accompanied by his faithful pup.

I guess these folks must get classy mail....


"And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?"
~ W. H. Auden
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