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

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sometimes We Learn the Hard Way...

Sometimes we have to learn a lesson the hard way... Several days ago as I was packing the car to head out to teach a class, I pulled my sewing machine wheeled carrier-tote to the car and "swung" it around to lift it into the backseat. I guess I must have twisted the handle slightly as I did this, and the plastic handle snapped. I immediately regretted my haste and carelessness, and yes I might have even thought a bad word (or two.) Several small pieces of plastic flew off. (Hubby later said "Well you did a good job of it, broke it on both sides..."  I've always thought you should "go big or stay home"...haha) I knew right away that the handle would likely no longer collapse down. Needless to say it was awkward get it into the backseat; it's heavy anyway, and now I also had a fully extended handle to deal with.... All the way to my class I was sputtering to myself.. how stooopid I was... would it be worth even using the tote without the ability to pull it... how much might it cost to replace... grrrrr....
I love this tote, and use it a LOT. I always have a lot of stuff to "lug" when I teach, and being able to wheel instead of carry a heavy machine sure makes things easier. I stopped on the way home to price a new carrier at Fabricville.. $199.00!! UGH. Much more than I had expected. Insert sad face here...
So when I got home I challenged my handyman hubby (in my sweetest voice, of course) "Do you think you might be able to somehow fix this, deeeeear?" I was hoping that between my hubby and our friend/neighbour who is also very handy and makes beautiful things with wood, they could come up with a plan.... 
Annnndddd here it is...  all done and ready to roll! I'm back in business! Bill fashioned a lovely handle and between them they have it rigged so that the handle will telescope all the way up/out for ease of use, and will collapse part way down for storage and in and out of  the vehicle. It won't collapse ALL the way down, but I'm okay with that. I am just SO grateful to have it this way and not have to totally replace it. Thanks guys! You made my day!!
So, those of you who have these wonderful carrier totes on wheels - take a lesson ! Treat them gently and with respect!! The plastic handle is just that - plastic.... and it can break!!


"There is great satisfaction in seeing a thing take shape and form under one's hands, especially if they are made from oddments into something worthwhile." ~ Nella Last

On My Bookshelf

My Secret Sister by Helen Edwards and Jenny Lee Smith is the true story of twins separated very shortly after birth. Helen suffered years of abuse with her neglectful mother and a violent abusive father, while Jenny was a well loved adopted child in a supportive home who went on to become a champion golfer. Neither knew they had a twin sister.
I don't want to give away too much of the story, but suffice it to say it is a heart-warming tale of two women who were not afraid to search for the truth about their origins. Helen's story is tragic: Chapter 1 begins "Fear is my earliest memory. Fear of being out there, alone. It was one of those dark winter evenings; the sleet slanted at me with a wind cold enough to sting my skin. I was sitting in my hand-me-down pram, strapped in with no blankets - just a loose waterproof cover on which a puddle had formed and was frosting over. I tried to lean forward and look out. The cover slipped and the icy water trickled down onto my bare legs. My damp clothes hung heavy around me and my bonnet's fur trim, bedraggled in the sleet, clung to my cheeks like icy fingers. I felt numb, abandoned. I yearned for her to come. I whimpered and cried as loud as I could, my frozen cheeks smarting from the warmth of my tears." I was hooked by the end of that first page... As a mother with children I love with all my heart, I just couldn't help thinking how could any mother be so cruel and heartless to her own child?
Jenny's upbringing was happier, but she always felt something was missing. When in her fifties, she decides to search for her birth family and finds her sister Helen. Together, they continue to unravel the mystery and uncover family secrets that shatter what Helen thought she knew about her family...
A moving tale of two strong women, unafraid of confronting their past, despite many disappointments along the way. Four stars from this reader.


"Stories never really end... even if the books like to pretend they do. Stories always go on. They don't end on the last page, any more than they begin on the first page." ~ Unknown

Monday, February 15, 2016

Belated Valentines Love....

This is a day late but I just could not resist sharing this sweet photo with you. Belated Valentines love to you from these two little sweeties! These are my two great nieces, twins born last August.. Josephine on the left and Ada on the right. It's not hard to see why their Mommy wants to cover them in kisses.... I MUST get up for another visit SOON....

Peace and Love,

Two cute little faces with matching grins,
What could be any sweeter than twins?!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Pressing Matter

Happy Valentines Day! I hope you are enjoying a day full of love and sweet moments! Being the chocolate lovers we are in this house, we'll be treating our sweet tooth (teeth?) with a chocolate dessert tonight, of course! It's all ready and chilling.. and supper is bubbling away on the stove (homemade turkey soup) so it's time to sit down and write a blog post.
I've been consumed by a new project the last few weeks. It involves a huge amount of cutting so it is not progressing as quickly as I'd like. I started cutting for it back in the summer here, then put it aside for a while. Each block has 96 pieces... and I have 20 blocks to make. Then the sashings, and sashing squares are pieced too, as is the inner border. Needless to say you won't be seeing it finished in  the next week or two, but I am slogging away, determined it will be finished this spring sometime...
It is not a difficult block at all, it is made from a very simple unit (a half square triangle sewn to a square); it just requires lots of seams. And this brings me to my point today - the importance of pressing. Pressing is a necessary skill for a quilter. I love teaching, and enjoy helping my students improve their skills. When I watch some students put together an entire block with never once touching an iron to it, until it is all together.. well, it's kinda like listening to fingernails scratching down a chalk board.. or rubbing the cat's fur the wrong way... it drives me crazy! I guess it was drilled into me by my Tailoring Prof..pressing is very important during construction if you expect a quality product in the end. Pressing each step as you go will just give you a better result, simple as that. Some don't know the difference between ironing and pressing - they are two different things! You might iron your fabrics if they are wrinkly, but when putting  block units together, you should be pressing, simply placing the iron on the seams and using the heat, steam and pressure to set the seam and press it to one side or the other. I always tell my students it's worth taking a minute or two to figure out the pressing direction for the seams in their block so that seams will butt or nest together and lie flat.
The blocks for this project I have underway are made solely of "broken dishes" units (2 HST's and 2 squares). My directions (from the wonderful Bonnie Hunter) tell me which way to press the seams and if each and every unit is pressed in this way, every seam in the block meets perfectly and nests together allowing for ease of assembly. If you pick out several stitches in the seam allowance right in the centre of the block, that allows you to "spin" the seams, reducing bulk at the centre point. So simple, and it makes such a  difference!! There. That's my rant for today. I feel better now!    :)


The best way to get things done is to simply begin!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

It's My Blogiversary!

Tomorrow is Valentines Day, and I just realized today is my seventh Blogiversary! I can hardly believe I've been at this for seven full years!! I never dreamed back in 2009 I would "last" this long!!  So to celebrate feel free to send flowers, dark chocolate, cash... just kidding! But you could leave me a comment to say Hello and tell me where you're visiting from! That would make me happy! (You could also tell me what your weather's like. It's mighty cold here tonight... -24C, and -34C with the wind chill! We have an "Extreme Cold Weather Warning" in effect!)
Blogging has added a whole new dimension to my life. I have made so many wonderful new friends because of Stitch Lines. I want to say a huge thanks to those who helped me get started - Gail M. has been my loyal "tech support" and continues to be my "go-to" gal! Thanks Gail, I couldn't do it without your help. Karen N. and Marie A. were also very helpful when I started, helping me sort out issues and again answering many questions, a big thanks to them too! Of course the biggest thanks goes to YOU my readers, for what would Stitch Lines be without you? I appreciate your support, your friendship, and your encouragement. And I LOVE it when you leave me a comment!! hint hint   I hope you'll come back tomorrow for the beginning of Year Eight!!


May today be filled with happy memories of the past and bright hopes for the future.

Monday, February 8, 2016

More Students' Miniatures

The only thing I love more than teaching my Miniatures class, is getting photos from students of what they have done as a result of the class. It's been a long while since I have shown any student's work, so I think it's time... I have one, possibly two, Miniatures workshops coming up this spring so I always get bitten by the bug once again when there's a class upcoming. I like to have a few new ones to show if possible... I have several underway, but nothing far enough along to share with you yet. But back to some completed by students...

 I just received these two photos last night from Theresa O. of  PSLCQG who won a first place ribbon last weekend in the Small Pieced category at her guild show for Little Red Bear Paws. Finished size is 17.5" square. Congrats Theresa! It is fabulous. Look at her quilting! Wow! What a super job she has done!

Next up, from a class last July, is Martha E. from TTQG with Primary School, 13.5" square and hung on point. I love it!! Isn't it sweet?  Perfect points on perfect little fishies...

I think Jeanne W. of MCQG is hooked on minis. She has done a few and although I haven't heard from her recently, I bet she's still at it...  Here are two photos she has sent me since I taught the class she attended last winter. I just love this little ninepatch combined with Sunbonnet Sue. It is 11" square, the nine patches measure 1.5."  It includes hand appliqué, prarie points and the tatted flowers were Jeanne's 14 year old granddaughter Grace's first attempt at tatting! Wow! Creative talent runs in the family, I'd say. 

Another by Jeanne, a 13" square Pineapple.
Log Cabin and Pineapple blocks have long been favourites of mine, I haven't seen one yet that I didn't love!!

EDIT Feb.9: I just received an email from Jeanne telling me she won a first place ribbon this past weekend in the PSLCQG show for Oh, My Stars!

....and Jane T. won a ribbon also, for her Tiny Logs. Although I have shown these two miniatures before here, I think they're worthy of another look, especially with ribbons attached, don't you think?!

Last but certainly not least is Gloria T. of TQG. Gloria is prolific, and tends to finish each project. I hear she never has UFO's. (I can't imagine...) I think Gloria really was bitten by the deadly miniature bug when I had her in class.. She has sent me at least half a dozen photos of completed minis... so here are two more. First a 6" square Log Cabin. Lots of little logs!  Sweet!!

And lastly a Grandmother's Fan done in Oriental fabrics. This one looks like it might be hand quilted...

Awesome job, everyone! I'm so proud of you all! Keep sending me those pics!!


"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

More Yumminess!

Another recipe for you tonight. And I promise the next few posts will be about quilting. I've been almost living in my studio these last few days, another new project underway. I have other things I should be doing/finishing, so I've decided to use this new project as my "carrot." I'm going to alternate working on it for a week, then the next week I must work on some finishes.. and alternate back and forth. That works for me... Am I the only one who does this? (Please tell me I'm not...)

Anyway, I tried this new recipe last week and it is soooo good. I wrote it down in the fall, and I cannot remember where I found it... whether it was on someone's blog, or where. So if this looks familiar and you can tell me the source, please do so I can give credit (and Thanks!!) These are spicy good, very moist and the candied ginger just puts them over the top for me! It makes 2 dozen, and I think they would freeze well. If you don't care for candied ginger, you could omit it and add nuts, raisins, currants, dried cranberries or other dried fruit.

Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

2 cups flour
1 (3.4 oz.) pkg. instant butterscotch pudding mix
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. each ginger and allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 cup chopped candied ginger
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup  white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree  (NOT pie filling)

Chop candied ginger. Mix together all dry ingds.- flour, pudding  mix, salt, soda and spices. Add chopped ginger, toss to coat. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugars well, add eggs one at a time, adding pumpkin and vanilla with last egg. Add flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Place in muffin cups, bake at 350°F for about 20 min. Cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out. Makes 2 dozen. Optional- dust with icing sugar.


 "I'm just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression."
~ Maya Angelou
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