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

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Another Small Finish

Using up yet more leftovers/scraps! My fabric stash is in serious need of taming, so when I can I'm trying to use up small bits to pare things down somewhat. With an upcoming class on Machine Quilting with the Walking Foot, I'm trying to get a few new pieces done to show. I know students like to see finished projects as well as small teaching samples. So with that in mind, I've just finished a small baby quilt, made totally from scraps and leftovers. Ya gotta love a project that you don't have to purchase anything for... I even had enough pink thread on hand...   :)

The blocks on the front are all from leftover small pieces, the backing is a piece remaining from the quilts made for the twins last summer. It was just a few inches short, so I used up another leftover strip from the twins' quilts. The binding used up another small piece from the "pinks" basket, and the batting was on hand as well. It almost feels like a "free quilt!"
The quilting was simply and easily done, in what is referred to as "organic lines," i.e. not perfectly straight, not marked or done with a ruler, just "freeform" lines. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but I'm okay with it. After all, it's just a "utility" baby quilt, it's not going into any competitions! So it will serve double duty - after being used as a sample for a class, I will give it to a friend who is expecting her first grandchild, a girl, this summer.
Happy Easter, everybunny!


Quilters cut with hope, stitch with grace, quilt with dreams, bind with laughter, share with love.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

On My Bookshelf

Crow Lake, Canadian writer Mary Lawson's debut novel, is set in a small rural farming community in northern Ontario. The four Morrison children have been suddenly orphaned when a car accident claimed their parents. Narrated by Kate Morrison, seven at the time of the tragedy, the story shifts between present and past. Kate is now in her twenties and a professor of Zoology at a university in Toronto. As a child she idolized her elder brother Matt; he taught her to love nature, and likely planted the seed for her career choice, but now she feels estranged from all three siblings, and going back to Crow Lake will not be easy. She is haunted by memories of  her childhood and feelings of guilt over the sacrifices made by her two older brothers to keep the four children together.
A story written with depth and honesty, it's a study of family relationships, love and loss, regrets and resentment, hidden secrets and dreams sacrificed. Lawson, a distant relative of L.M. Montgomery, was born and raised in southwestern Ontario. She has written a beautiful story about family and about life, rich with description and characterization. I was drawn into the story quickly, and just had to keep reading. This is a story/family that will remain with you long after you've finished the last page. A #1 National Bestseller, Heather's Pick, a Globe and Mail Best Book, winner of the Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award and the First Novel Award. Definitely worth the read, and a great choice for bookclubs.
What are you reading this week?
Spring has arrived (supposedly) and my birthday has come and gone. For us spring brought snow, after several weeks of warmer temps, bare ground and dreams of an earlier spring... Easter is almost here, seems way too early... I'll be back soon with another small finish, just some quilting to complete, and the binding.


"I love books. I love that moment when you open one and sink into it, you can escape from the world into a story that's way more interesting than yours will ever be." ~ Elizabeth Scott

Friday, March 18, 2016

Using Up Leftovers, Part 2

I love squash, but only in the fall when it is fresh, tasty and dry. I have tried storing it through the winter, but with less than satisfactory results. I've also tried freezing it, following my sister-in-law's instructions to the letter. She freezes squash each year and says it comes out tasting just like it is fresh in the fall. I figure she must have a secret she's not sharing with me... So I tried again last fall, but it is pretty much tasteless. I have several packages left and can't bear to throw it out so yesterday I decided a soup might be a good way to use it up.
I didn't follow a recipe, just my "instincts" haha. I had some chicken broth that needed to be used up and several apples that were getting past their best. While the squash thawed, I chopped a medium onion, peeled and chopped two apples, and sautéd them in butter until tender. In the last minute I added some fresh minced garlic and freshly grated ginger. Next I added about 2 tsp. curry paste and then stirred in about 2 cups of chicken broth. This all went into the blender along with the thawed squash (about 2 cups (?) cooked and mashed). Once it was puréed until smooth, it went into a saucepan with a good dash of salt and pepper and some coffee cream, and heated to serving temperature. It was quite yummy if I do say so myself! Even hubby gave it the thumbs up. The only thing that would have improved it is a good splash of maple syrup. I love maple syrup as a flavouring for squash, but our year's supply of syrup is gone. (I'll fix that on Saturday morning at the farmer's market!) I garnished the soup with a few crispy croutons, but a swirl of sour cream, or maple syrup, would be good options as well. I do love a big bowl of homemade soup!! What about you? Is homemade soup on your list of favourite things?


"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."  ~Julia Child

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Using Up Leftovers...

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Some of you, wherever you may be, might be "seein' the green" today...not here.... we're seein' the white! Yep, the usual St. Paddy's Day storm, it's been snowing all day! Our world is white once again, but it won't last long, I don't think. Hope not anyway...

An Irish prayer for you today:

May God give you, For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends, A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

I have a small "finish" to share. I had quite a number of small pieces of light neutrals left over from the quilt I am piecing, so I put them together in very simple blocks and assembled them into an 18" square for a table centre. It really doesn't show up well here but there were 17 different fabrics used. I machine quilted it with a serpentine stitch, and it will be another class sample for an upcoming class. Nothing fancy, but it will serve its intended purpose.
What do you do with small leftover pieces? Fold them up with the remaining fabric, put them in a scrap basket, or turn them into something?
Tomorrow I'll tell you about another leftovers creation... in the kitchen. Curried Squash Soup


May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go. ~ Irish Blessing

Saturday, March 12, 2016

On My Bookshelf

Sweetland by Michael Crummey is set on a small remote island off the coast of Newfoundland. Moses Sweetland has lived there all of his life, as have many generations of his family before him, in fact the island is named after the family. When the government decides to "re-settle" the community, he's having none of it. Moses is stubborn, set in his ways... you might even say "crusty." The offer is generous, but it must be unanimous, everyone must agree and sign before the offer will go through and Moses is the hold-out. Sweetland has been home for him for sixty-nine years, and despite its rugged lifestyle, he's not interested in leaving. With mounting pressure from family and friends, he does eventually sign the papers, but he won't leave. He manages to stay behind on the island he loves, alone, battling the elements, memories of the past and the desolation of a solitary life.
Crummey, also born and raised in Newfoundland, has written this story beautifully, perfectly capturing the island and its people. He has developed the character of Moses so thoroughly, I feel as if I have known him a long while. Newfoundlanders have their own way of speaking, and although some might find the expressions hard to understand, Crummey has "nailed" the vernacular. This is part of the charm of the story for me. His descriptions of the island make it easy to visualize, and the rugged land, the ocean and the weather become characters in the story as much as the people. A heartbreaking story of sadness, it is a realistic depiction of the decline of outport communities in Newfoundland, following the collapse of the commercial fishery. Time marches on and takes its toll. Sweetland is a story of past and present, of strength and determination, and of love for the land one calls "home."
Five stars from this reader.


"We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel.... is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become." ~ Ursula K. LeGuin

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

This and That...

I don't know where the time can it be a whole week since I last posted? I guess being busy is a good thing! I have been spending a lot of time in the studio. I now have the 20 blocks done for the quilt I'm working on. Whew! Next I'll get busy on the pieced sashing and pieced sashing squares... I'm certainly going through a lot of thread...   :)
Our weather is slowly warming up, all fingers are crossed for an early spring. We have very little snow, most of the ground is bare... still frozen and brown but at least it doesn't have six or more feet of snow on it like it did at this time last year. The birds, mostly woodpeckers and chickadees, are enjoying my homemade suet cakes, and the squirrels are still trying to maneuver a heist.
I appreciate the comments made on my last post. All were in agreement that it's a shame we often don't appreciate our grandparents enough when we are young and they are alive, then when they're gone we wish we had known them better, and learned more about their lives. I have since done a little more research, and there is some discrepancy about my grandfather's work; I found something written by my mother that he was licensed as a first class mechanic, so mechanic or machinist? Not sure. Their wedding was during WWI when single men were being conscripted. My great grandfather suggested to my grandfather that "if he was thinking of marriage" he had better "get on with it" before he was conscripted as two of his brothers had been. And so they quickly were married. The photo was taken shortly thereafter. My grandfather was anxious to take his new bride to the Miramichi to meet all of his family and this was the "outfit" she wore- a teal satin  blouse, a long navy skirt and high buttoned boots, which were nearly
ruined as he trotted her all over the community meeting all the relatives, in the plentiful spring mud!!! I have thought of them often in the last few weeks, wondering what their early years of married life were like, one hundred years ago. I know times were hard and work was scarce. He spent a lot of time working away from home in Halifax/Dartmouth. He was working there during the famous Halifax Explosion on Dec. 6, 1917.

I watched a good movie on Netflix on the weekend, Testament of Youth, also set during WWI. (Thanks for the recommendation, Carole!) I thought of my grandparents a lot while watching the young couple in the movie. (This film stars Alicia Vikander, recent Oscar winner; I can hardly wait for her next movie- The Light Between Oceans, due out in 2017.)

I'm already dreaming of my summer garden, during these late winter days... I bought my first packs of seeds last week.   :)

Up next, another book review...


"Over the years, I've learned that for the gardener, in addition to rest, winter is a time for wide-awake visions about things to come." ~ Judith Couchman

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

100 Years Ago Today...

One hundred years ago today, my maternal grandparents, Myrtle and Edison, were married. This is their wedding photo, although it was not taken on that day, but several weeks later as far as I can tell. She was the youngest of five girls, and only seventeen when she married, he was twenty-two. Wasn't he handsome - look at that wavy hair. (I only remember him as a bald man.) He was the second youngest of seven. How times and families have changed!
As I've said before, I guess one has to reach a certain maturity before you appreciate and take an interest in family history, sadly often too late to get answers to your questions. I know very little of their early years. I think my grandfather was trained as a machinist. As far as I can find out, in 1916 he was working at a factory in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Robb Engineering Co., which manufactured woodworking machinery and steam and gas engines. My grandmother was born and raised in Amherst so I am assuming that is where they met. (I know nothing of her family other than names... her four sisters were Alice, Sadie, Minah and Grace - don't you love those "old" names... they're becoming popular once again... Her parents were Mary and Joseph! Seriously! Her father was a Smith, and her mother was a Pugsley, a common name in Amherst. I only ever knew one of my grandmother's sisters, Aunt Grace. The other three sisters moved west when they were young, and never came back.) Shortly after they were married, they moved to the Miramichi (my grandfather's home) and then in later years to Moncton. After retirement, they moved here to Fredericton.
I was only fourteen when my grandfather died but I still remember him well. He loved music and doing puzzles and crosswords, he was good with his hands and loved building and fixing things. He loved telling stories and a good joke, and he loved nature... my mother would tell me how she loved as a child to go for walks with her Dad in the woods- "He always knew where to find the Lady's Slippers." Perhaps that's where my love of nature and wildflowers comes from....
I was 31 when my grandmother died, so I had many more years to get to know her. She was a fine lady, a hard worker, dedicated to her family. She raised six children in the 20's and 30's when times were hard and money was scarce. I am told she was a beautiful seamstress, and made all her children's clothes, not to mention quilts to keep them warm... Perhaps that's where my love of sewing comes from...?
It seems my grandmother "got in a family way" very shortly after they were married because my mother came along just slightly over 9 months later... I cannot believe both my parents would be turning 100 this year..... How I miss them both. I'd give anything to have them back, even just for a day or two...


Family... where life begins and love never ends...
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