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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Are you ready for another book suggestion? My friend Barb gave me this book for my birthday (there's no better gift than a good book, is there? unless of course it's a book accompanied by chocolate... wink) Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed was an amazing read.... It is the story of the author's actual trek of over a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. What was most incredible was that she made this decision on impulse - with no training or hiking experience at all, following her mother's death, the breakdown of her family and marriage, and some dabbling in serious drugs, she just decided to do the trail. Alone!
This international bestselling book is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, an Oprah's Book Club 2.0 pick, a Heather's Pick at Chapters, and called the "Best Book of the Year" by NPR, The Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly and Vogue. If that's not enough for you, I heartily recommend it too! There is much praise from various publications on the first pages of the book. Here are several quotes:
" 'Brave' seems like the right word to sum up this woman and her book. ...Strayed's journey is exceptional." ~ San Francisco Chronicle
"Vivid, touching and ultimately inspiring account of a life unraveling and of the journey that put it back together." ~ The Wall Street Journal
"Strayed's journey was at least as transcendent as it was turbulent. She faced down hunger, thirst, injury, fatigue, boredom, loss, bad weather and wild animals. Yet she also reached new levels of joy, accomplishment, courage, peace and found extraordinary companionship." ~ The Christian Science Monitor

Strayed's account of her 1100+ mile trek is brutally honest and gritty. In her mid-20's, she is attempting to leave behind a string of personal disasters, tragedies and poor life decisions for a "life adventure" of personal confrontation to "find herself". What she lacks in common sense and preparedness, she makes up for in courage and determination. She makes many mistakes - not to mention NO training, no hiking experience, and no "back country" experience, her two biggest mistakes are wearing hiking boots of the wrong size and carrying a very overweight pack. Her body pays the price. "Blisters" is putting it mildly... From scorching desert  temperatures to the snow of the High Sierra's, from hunger, thirst and exhaustion to bears and rattlesnakes, you will have a hard time tearing yourself away from Cheryl's raw honesty in the telling of her story...  "Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened and ultimately healed her." - from the book jacket.
At times I wished I could grab her and shake her and scream "WHAT were you thinking?"  (No doubt she thought that many times herself...) The day after I graduated from University, I took off for 3 months of backpacking around Europe. I too was inexperienced with backpacking and hiking, but I at least had boots that fit and I had broken them in, somewhat... and the weight of our packs was as low as we could possibly get it. We traveled with absolutely the barest of essentials and very few clothes. I can still remember my older brother teasing me that I'd never survive without my hair dryer and makeup. (I proved him wrong.) So although we were not hiking alone through wilderness, I could identify somewhat with Cheryl's journey. It's a page turner. She "had me" at the first paragraph of the Prologue when a "mishap" on the trail, thirty eight days in, threatens to end her journey and perhaps even her survival...  Read it, you won't be sorry. You don't have to be a hiker or even an outdoor enthusiast to enjoy this book.  5 out of 5 stars from this reader.


"Never, never, never give up." ~ Winston Churchill

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Busy Week and a Finish!

I've been "missing in action" for a week.. where does the time go? It's not that I've been ignoring you.. I've just been very busy. Despite the best intentions, sometimes "life" just gets in the way and it certainly has been keeping me occupied. I have finally finished up the little silk miniature. In hindsight, it was not a great idea, but I guess I just wanted to see if I could do one with silk. Of course, using silk for a miniature with very small seams is NOT smart, I certainly should have known better. When you have a seam that's not more than 1/8", and a few threads ravel off the dupioni silk, well... you can just imagine the "fun" I had.... This project was the epitome of  "careful handling"... But who can resist the luscious shimmer of silk? It did make lovely little Carolina Lilies... I should clarify here - the yellow-green background is cotton, but all the rest is silk. Using it for the border and binding might not have been the best choice. But it's all done now. I won't be taking it apart. The quilt measures 10.75" square, the blocks are 3" finished. The design is by Cindi Edgerton, you can see all of Cindi's "Little Bits" patterns here. This one is called Mini Carolina Lily (#V242). There are enough tissue paper foundations in the pattern to make 24 blocks, so who knows, maybe someday I'll use more and make another Carolina Lily mini. In COTTONS.
My original plan was to do nine blocks. After one trial block and then changing my mind on the background fabric and doing one more, I decided perhaps four blocks would be enough. (There are four sections to each block, and things must be extremely precise for the lilies to line up with the stems.) When I got it all together, I wished I had stuck with the original plan of nine blocks. I wondered, with the four blocks and the one plain block in the centre, would the viewer's eye be drawn more to that centre block? I pondered and pondered over what to use for a quilting design in that one central block? If I had had more time, I might have tried hand quilting a small feathered wreath in that block, but then I again wondered if that would take the eye away from the pieced blocks? So I simply cut the outline of the lily design out of freezer paper, ironed it on and machine quilted the outline with a soft yellow Sulky rayon thread. It is subtle, but I thought that was better than really standing out... What do you think?
I was anxious to finish this piece as I was booked to teach a Miniatures class for a Nova Scotia Guild this weekend, and it's always nice to have a new piece or two for a class. I left here Friday morning, had time to stop and have lunch in Amherst with my blogging friend Karen, visit the local quilt shop, Mrs. Pugsley's Emporium, then continued on to New Glasgow. I was treated royally by the Thistle Guild. I was the "entertainment" for Friday evening... lol  I did a Trunk Show which was followed by a lovely Dessert Party - oh. my. goodness. those Pictou County quilters are SUCH good cooks!!  What a treat it was. (I really had to restrain myself. I'm sure I gained weight just looking at the heavily laden tables....)
Saturday's class was great fun, I enjoyed it as much as they did! I was thrilled to have a group of skilled enthusiastic quilters. They  were keen to delve into the world of sewing small....  And I got to meet another blogging friend, Sheila, of Sheila's Quilt World.  Poor Sheila couldn't actually sew as she broke her wrist last week, but she came for the morning, got the notes, saw some of my demos, and I know her Guild sisters will help her with the info and techniques she missed in the afternoon. Giving you a big wave, Sheila!  A huge Thanks to all the Thistle Guild gals, especially Anne, Carol, Gloria and Janice who did all the organizing for the weekend. I had as much fun as they did, and I hope they'll invite me back again soon! Don't forget to send me photos of your new Miniatures, girls!    :)    


"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Winter Blues... Finished.

Here it is. Finally. Not a great photo but outdoor photo ops are still at a premium around here. Things are wet and there's still snow on the ground. The tree I was planning to use is just too wet and yucky around the base and if the quilt fell it would be a mess so I wasn't willing to take the risk. So a clothesline shot was the best I could do. (Do I get points for using matching blue clothespins? haha)  Hopefully when things dry up a bit I'll have a chance to take some more artistic photos before I give this away in May. I think I'll call it Winter Blues. Yeah, I know, not very imaginative. I'm open to all suggestions if anyone has a better name...

So. It's done. Mistake corrected. Quilted by Gwenda Quilts, the overall quilting design is called Ocean Froth. I think its "curvy" lines soften the straight angular lines of the blocks. A good choice Gwenda!

Life has been busy around here lately. Both my kiddos have moved; Laura is back in New Brunswick, and Mark is home, so hubby and I have both been on the road helping with both moves. Mark has finished his two year course and begins his 6 months of clinical experience next week; he was lucky enough to be placed at our local hospital.

Why is it that things seem to happen in threes... recently my small tv died, and both my laptop and our desktop needed new hard drives. We lost a good friend to cancer this winter, two weeks ago my brother lost his closest friend (sudden massive heart attack) and last weekend my closest friend lost her Mom, also a sudden heart attack. We have a friend and neighbour (who I've known all my life) who has just been told he has a stage four inoperable brain tumor. So sad, he is not even fifty and has a young family.  Cancer and heart attacks. Bad stuff. So I'm off now to continue my annual canvassing for the Canadian Cancer Society. I have two routes this year, so gotta get at it! What was supposed to be a rainy day has turned out not so bad, so I'm off to try and catch a few more people at home! I'll be thinking of my friends with each step... ♥


"Life has many ways of testing a person's will, either by having nothing happen at all, or by having everything happen all at once." ~ Paulo Coelho

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Old Favourite...

Have you ever gone back and read a book that you really enjoyed many years ago? I did that recently with Christy by Catherine Marshall. I can't remember exactly how old I was the first time I read this book, probably in my mid teens. I remember it had a profound effect on me and probably cemented my desire to be a teacher. My copy is the one I had way back when, with worn cover and yellowed pages that are getting dry and almost brittle... 
Christy is the story of young Christy Huddleston who decides in 1912, at age nineteen, to volunteer to teach in a mission school in a very small mountain community in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Christy was written in 1967 and although it's usually classified as fiction, Marshall based the story on her own mother's life. Christy Huddleston is an eager  intelligent young woman who is ready to jump in with both feet, as they say, to her first teaching job. Coming from a "comfortable" city family, she is more than a little surprised at the conditions she finds in Cutter Gap - extreme poverty and very poor living conditions, ignorance of cleanliness and hygiene, superstitions and mistrust of  any "outsider". She finds her faith challenged and often feels overwhelmed by her responsibilities, questioning her decision to come to Cutter Gap, but eventually comes to love the mountain people and win their trust. She faces death, typhoid fever and many other challenges as she lives and learns alongside her students and their families.
Marshall draws you in early in the book, and you find yourself wanting to read "just one more chapter". The characters are unique and well drawn, and her descriptions vivid. If you've never read this book, I highly recommend it.

I have finished the blue quilt and hope to get some decent photos tomorrow. Today was a rather nasty day weather-wise, with rain, freezing rain and then several inches of snow this morning... it did clear off later on, but everything was so wet I knew I wouldn't find a spot outside that would allow me to photograph the quilt. I'll see what I can arrange tomorrow.... So I am back to working on the little silk miniature, all that's left now are two corner units to finish, then I am ready to put it together. So far, so good. We'll see how the assembly goes....


Ever feel like you spend too much time reading?   No, me neither...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April Note Card Party

It's time for Vee's Note Card Party again. This meme asks us to choose four photos from our archives which would make nice note cards.(at least one must have appeared previously on the blog).
I decided to use four photos from my recent visit to Florida this time around. I think they would make a nice set of cards for just dropping a friendly note to a friend to say "hello".. something many of us don't do often enough these days...

And the Note Cards boxtop....

Don't forget to pop over and see what the other participants have done with this month's Notecard Party here. Thanks Vee, for hosting....


"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air..." ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April Photo Challenge - Closeup/Macro

Well it seems once again I am late to the party. I did publish this post (or rather, one just like it ) last night just after midnight. I know it actually published because I got a comment shortly after. When I opened my computer this morning, the post was not there. So I'm not sure what happened... I'll blame it on the fairies.... I've been out of town all day so just getting back to re-post now. My apologies to those who might have tried the link earlier and found no post. Thanks to Donna for removing it quickly this morning.

 It's time again for Donna's Personal Photo Challenge. The theme this month is Closeup and/or Macro. I love doing closeup and macro shots but usually I'm doing them in my garden. Since my garden beds are still under several feet of snow, I turned to my archives for several shots.

I love closing in on any flower but I especially love gerbera daisies, in particular their centres. This photo was taken at a local nursery last May. I love its intense pink color - just the punch of color we need after a long white winter....

1/350sec.  f/6.7   ISO 100

The next choice was this field daisy, because I love daisies, not because I love bugs. But he adds a little interest, don'cha think? He seemed like a friendly little fella...

1/180 sec.  f/5.6  ISO 100
And for something different, and because I'm longing for spring and something green, I headed for the refrigerator (truthfully it was equally because I was hungry!)  I chose this kiwi for some luscious green (and then I ate it!)
1/15sec. f/22  ISO 200

All photos were taken with my Pentax K20D, hand held, with natural light. The only editing was a little sharpening.

I hope you'll visit Donna's Personal Photo Challenge blog here to see what other participants have done this month.


"Photography helps people to see." ~ Berenice Abbott

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Winter That Won't Quit...

I'm longing for spring. Will it ever get here? I have seen only one robin, and there was one redpoll at my feeder yesterday. We are still looking at a lot of snow; it is melting, but not fast enough for me... The drifts in our yard are still well over three feet, the one outside our family room window that was seven feet has now shrunk to about four feet. Ollie is happy about that because he can see out again... that huge drift was blocking his daily entertainment view of the birdfeeder!

Will we ever see our green front lawn again?

 All my winter "decor" is packed away- the snowmen, the snowflakes, my kitchen "Welcome Winter" wreath - because winter is no longer welcome here! I hung my spring forsythia wreath on the front door today, even though from the street you can barely see it above the snowbanks. I know I have to be patient, spring WILL come, but we are well into April, after all. It's time for winter to be gone, gone, gone. I'm tired of white, and dirty white. I'm longing for some green!  I have a few windows open today for a bit, even though the air is not that warm it feels good to get some fresh air in and winter's staleness out! Ollie is "sunbathing" in the open window right now - he's anxious for spring too!

Somewhere under these footprints, there IS a sidewalk...

I know I'm not alone in my feelings- others are fed up too. My blogging friend Pam who lives just 15 minutes away, posted this a few days ago. (At least she has some crocus to enjoy, and is seeing more robins than I...)
So today I'm sharing some snow photos for. the. LAST. TIME. I will not mention that four letter "S" word again- till at least next December. That's a promise! These pics were taken last week after our April Fools Day Storm. Things around here still look pretty much the same, even though the snow level is going down. Very little grass showing yet, just a narrow swath at the end of the driveway that's maybe 18" wide. So those of you who are enjoying spring and its blossoms elsewhere, please keep posting photos- it's giving me hope that it will arrive here too. Eventually. Soon.
My quilt is all quilted and I'll be working on the binding this weekend. Stay tuned for photos early next week.


"The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also."
~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

We All Make Mistakes....

Or at least I do... Thank goodness for good friends. What would we do without them? I am especially grateful for good friends with sharp eyesight!! Did anyone else notice the mistake in my quilt?  Did you not see it, or were you just too kind to mention it to me? Look closely at the upper left corner- see that block right in the corner - it's turned the WRONG way!! I don't know how I missed that- I checked and double checked and triple checked the blocks as I laid out the rows, to be sure they were all oriented the correct way, that the print in each sashing strip wasn't nearby the same print in the neighbouring blocks and so on. (Yes, I'm a little anal. "Random" is not really my thing...) Obviously I just turned a block and sewed the sashing strip to the wrong side of the block as I was doing the last row- and yes it was the very last block. I can't believe I didn't notice it when it was all together... I guess it's true - when you've looked at something for so long, you don't see the details anymore...
So a HUGE Thank You to my friend Sandi Mac whose sharp eyes noticed it - she called me last night, not too long after the post went up and pointed out my boo-boo. She knows me well enough to know I would want to be told!! Aren't I lucky to have such a good friend? So thanks again, "eagle-eyes" Sandi!!
Hubby said to leave it, after all I am giving this away as a "charity" quilt, and would it even be noticed anyway? But I knew it was there and I just couldn't leave it. At least it was on a corner, so it was easy to "get at".. it could have been right smack in the middle, requiring even more ripping out... It took me 45-50 minutes to fix. My stitches were a little shorter than usual- great for security when you know a quilt will be laundered frequently, not so great when you have to pick them out... I turned the block, but also had to turn the sashing strip and the ninepatch because I had added an extra 1/8th of an inch all around the perimeter of the quilt to allow for the binding seam. (On a larger quilt, I like to sew the binding on with a 3/8th inch seam using my walking foot, so to keep the ninepatches on the perimeter looking right, I had added that extra 1/8th of an inch to the ninepatches and the outermost sashing strips.) By this time it was 11:15p.m. and I still had to piece the backing, square it up, give everything a final press and fold it up for delivery this morning to the long-armer. So, sorry, no new photo of the was way too late for photography when I finally headed to bed. You'll just have to trust me, it is correct now...
So, dear readers, what would you have done? Would you have left it as it was, or fixed the mistake? And for the future.. if you are ever looking at a photo of one of my projects and you think something looks wrong.. please let me know. I will appreciate it and I'll offer my heartfelt thanks!!
And speaking of things being wrong, there's much blogger buzz today about a blog that is stealing posts and/or photos from others and posting them as their own.  My friend Karen, for one, has written about it here. If you EVER see any of my photos or writing anywhere else other than on this blog, please let me know. I do have a Copyright Notice at the top of my sidebar, but apparently it means nothing to some folks. I think I just might start putting my watermark across the centre of my photos. Sorry if you find it annoying,  but perhaps it will prevent photo theft.

"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?" ~ L.M. Montgomery

Monday, April 7, 2014

Whew! It's together!

It's done! I've been working diligently each day to get this together, and although it wasn't at all difficult, it DID take some time. There are a LOT of intersections and seams to be matched... I'm glad it's done, my back is a little tired... Tonight I'm piecing the backing ( a dark blue print) and it will be off tomorrow to be quilted. I'll get some better photos once it's quilted and bound. Now I'll get back to finishing the silk Carolina Lily miniature. I have some deadlines this month so they are pushing me to get things done... That's a good thing...


"If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just to finish the race - it's up to you."  ~ Dave

Friday, April 4, 2014

Of Quilts and Books

I've been very busily sewing away the last few days. I've put in alot of hours and it's finally coming together. The 82 sashing units and the 48 nine patches took more time than I expected, but they're all done now and I just have to get it all sewn together. Of course there's lots of intersections to match, but so far, so good - it's going well. Just not a speedy process. Of course, I'm particular too, (okay, I'm somewhat of a perfectionist...) so I'm slower than some would be, but for me it's worth it to do a good job and have a project I'm proud of. Slow and steady wins the race!  Oliver is being such a helper too.. you can just imagine.. I have it laid out on the livingroom floor, and he just loves trying to rearrange my layout. Guess he thinks if it's on the floor, it must be there solely for his entertainment.... not!
I haven't done a book review in a while, and I'm getting a few books behind, so here's a brief  look at a recent "finish" - Little Bee by Chris Cleave. This was loaned to me by a friend. (Thanks JK!!) It's likely one I would not have picked up on my own.
Little Bee is a young Nigerian refugee and her story will leave you thinking for a long while. After only a few pages, you feel drawn in as things slowly unfold. There are twists and turns as you try to discern just what happened on that beach in Nigeria. Her story is not a pleasant nor an easy one, yet you are compelled to keep reading. This is not "light reading", some of the situations described are heart-breaking as Little Bee faces injustice and the struggles of poverty, racism and civil war. This book will take you beyond your comfort zone as you read about events you'd like to think never happen...but they do. It is very well written and the characters are very believable. It is emotional, yes, but it's also a story of courage and strength of character, survival and friendship.


Maybe it's not about the happy ending... maybe it's about the story.
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