Saturday, July 30, 2011

A stitch in time

11July29lexi This month’s New Moon is already here. Leos are not known for being sneaky, so we can’t accuse it of sneaking up on us. We’ve just been too busy “vacationing” to spend time at the computer – that, and having unexpected family visits occurring in the middle of typing a blog post. This is future quilter, granddaughter Lexi who’s nearly 6. First we toured all of my fabric drawers and petted the favourites, and then she wanted to make something (with the fabric I’d cut for my Mexican Stars!). So, here she is with the “bird” that we sewed together. (I put the machine on automatic at slow speed and let her hit the on/off button.) If they give us more than 20 minutes notice next time they visit, I’ll be able to prepare something for her to make.

11July29creek Vacation this year hasn’t included much travelling. Somehow, we keep running out of time. But we managed a quick trip to the beautiful Chase Creek which runs and falls over the rocks and under a canopy of green. It’s a very peaceful place, and I could stay there forever, but sadly I always seem to be in a rush whenever I’m there. A few pictures is all I get before I have to leave again.

So, the New Moon occurs at 7 Leo today, 11:40 am my time (Pacific Daylight Time). It’s no coincidence that Lexi is also a Leo. Firey Leo’s positive traits include childlike wonder, natural leadership, generosity, creativity and lots of energy. This new moon gets a boost from Venus which is at 2 Leo today, adding more artistic creativity, but it’s also square to Jupiter which often makes us bite off more than we can chew - as in, starting too many projects or just one project that we underestimated in some way. And Leo colours are gold, orange, but also anything rich and stimulating as befits a fire sign, especially one that is ruled by the Sun itself.

11July29horizon I’ve had my Janome Horizon for just over a month now, and the differences between it and my last sewing machine make me appreciate the Horizon so much more.

What I like about my Horizon:
- After a couple of days of acquainting myself with a computerized sewing machine, it’s really quite easy to figure out now
- I thought my last machine stitched nice straight lines, but it’s nothing compared to this one
- I love the needle up/down and the thread cutter
- I love the transparent plate over the bobbin
- I LOVE the 11 inch throat - so much of a difference after sewing on a machine with only 5.5 inches
- I love having the thread enclosed so the cats can’t interfere with it
- The Accufeed is wonderful
- I love the automatic speed – it’s like the cruise control in a car and saves me from my lead foot on the foot pedal

What I don’t like:
- I don't hate it, but all those extra LED lights still aren’t enough – I still use my desk lamp when I’m sewing
- I have to remove the storage compartments that come as part of the sewing machine in order to attach the extension table or place it inside the sewing table
- I can't use the machine cover with the sewing table

11July30Lucy I still think it’s a great machine. I haven’t tried other brands, but this one does what I want it to do and it suits me just fine. And Ginger can tap dance on it all she likes (but I think I’d better be taking it apart and cleaning it frequently).

Until next time,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

She liked it!

11July27quilt It’s done, gone and arrived. I began this quilt almost two years ago for my Aunt Leslie Nadon. She is my father’s youngest sister – the baby of nine children and about 15 years older than I am. Yet we’ve been friends for decades and I spent much time with her family when I was a teenager. Her children – my cousins – were all born with Cystic Fibrosis, and although Denise, Dale and Michael lived good, full lives, those lives weren’t long enough and they have all passed on. My aunt taught herself astrology many, many moons ago and then taught me (actually, the word would be “practiced” in order to tweak the classes she taught to others) when I was 18. And that was also a very, very long time ago. When I saw these fabrics, I knew that I was making something for her. I think the design was old when I bought it, and I don’t see an11July27stippley of it around anymore, but the lovely 3.5 x 3.5 panels depict each of the Zodiac signs, and there is also an overall print that goes with it which I used for the borders. Each panel is surrounded by a friendship star in glittery fairy frost and the background is mottled dark blue/black with white dots to make it look like a starry sky. It turned out well from my perspective – my best piece yet. I had a few things to fix and did a lot of frogging, but when I finally threw it into the washing machine… it stayed together! I did most of it on my old sewing machine – the border was quilted on my new machine.

11July27stars Aunt Leslie’s 67th birthday just came and went and I managed to finish it on her birthday, even if she didn’t get it until a few days later. Southern Ontario, where she lives, was in the middle of an intense heat wave when it arrives, so it’s not like it’s going to see any snuggling use in the near future, but she says she loves it! And I’m happy just to have made her happy. (Of course, I’m also happy to have finished it.) I also made the little mug rugs to go with it.

11July27mugrugs Actually, these little things gave me more trouble than the quilt did. I unstitched them so many times that I thought there’d be nothing left of the background fabric but Swiss cheese. I appliqued the houses, moons, etc. very badly – I did it by machine and the options for applique stitch on my old sewing machine were not very good. It all ended up fraying. I reinforced some of the blanket stitching by hand, and took out the tree applique. I replaced the trees with stitching instead, which gave it a nice ghostly appearance, but it also made the fabric pull and pucker, so I had to repair that as well by careful re-stitching by machine and hand. I told her that she couldn’t machine wash them because parts of them would fall apart, but they’ll make nice decorations on the coffee table.

11July27cats Rusty and Ginger miss it, but they’ll get over it and move on to the next quilt – they always do. This is the same quilt that Rusty is lying on in the picture at the top of my blog. I spent hours trying to clean all of their fur off the quilt before I sent it, but I couldn’t get it all. They’ll be a part of that quilt for as long as it exists!

Until next time,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Peel me a grape

11July24cats I'm on holidays for the next two weeks – and not a moment too soon! I plan to do a lot of sleeping and hopefully a lot of quilting in between sitting on the deck and doing a bit of travelling. We were planning to head north to Fort St. John where we have family and friends, but that’s not happening now. Two and a half months of rain has created several washouts along the highway through the Pine Pass. And last night mudslides closed the highway between BC and Alberta, so we’re not going that way, either. We lived for many years in the Peace River country and always look forward to going back, but it’s just not going to happen this year.

That also means that I’m not going to be able to visit Piece by Peace Quilts again. I had a great time shopping there last year. I walked in on an awesome month-end sale and ended up with a pile of beautiful fabric. She thanked me for helping her reduce her inventory and I thanked her for the sale!

Last week I finished the lap quilt I’ve been working on for at least the past two years. I’ll post a picture of it later in the week. I went to print off a label for it on Friday before tossing it into the mail and my printer wasn't working (out of ink) – so I used a fabric marker instead – Fashion Fabric Marker by Marvy. Got it at Michaels and this was the first time I used it. It blurred all of my writing. Not to the point where you couldn’t read it, but it didn’t look very good. I wasn’t impressed.

I’m making progress on the Mexican stars (thanks to the vacation). I was also playing with the finished quarters and thinking of some of the possible variations on this block:

11July24aa Just a star without the cross.


Or a diamond…


But this is what it looks like so far. I’m hoping that the purple cross (it looks blue here) won’t be too overpowering, but them’s the chances you take. I’ll know in a few days whether I made the right choice.

Until next time,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I finished the lap quilt that I was binding over the weekend – yay! – and now I’m working on this:
It’s a Mexican Star, a 12-inch foundation-pieced (free) block that I found here at DreamCastle Quilts. Scroll down the web page, it’s #18. The first block went together fast enough, but you can see the centre looks off because I had to take it apart and put it back together a few times. I could have read the instructions first, but where’s the fun in that?
I like the foundation piecing because it allows the centre stripe to be all one piece of fabric.
11July19diamond I’m thinking that I don’t have enough of this green, and I bought it some time ago so I doubt I’ll be able to find more of it. I should probably toss this in with all of my other practice squares and dig out a new green fabric (I may have a few just lying around…) to use.
What do you think? Should I place it square or on point? Right now I’m leaning towards on point. (Like my Design Wall? It’s also known as the bedroom curtains.)
11July19me Geeks are us! My partner bought this “Head magnifier with LED” for me last week since I’m getting to be as blind as a bat. It looks stupid and it’s not the most comfortable thing to wear, but it works great! As long as no one else sees me wearing it, who cares?

Now, forget that you ever saw this picture! Here’s Ginger on the comfy perch placed there exclusively for her enjoyment.

Until next time,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pretty shiny things

11July13bw Like new fabric! It arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon from Along Came Quilting in Calgary – and I really do have projects in mind for most of it. I ordered some more black and white prints for a Yin/Yang quilt. I have seven sets of opposite prints now, for 21 Yin/Yang blocks. I’m not too sure about the “Fan” prints (at the top of the stack). They look more gray than black and white and I may look for something else, but for now they stay.

I also bought these beauties. I never realized that I had a thing for dragonflies. I used to hate them when I was a kid. We called they “sewing beetles” because they’d land on you and sew up your mouth (sounds like some mother came up with that one). I guess we had the “sewing” part right since I’m getting quite the collection of dragonfly fabric without even trying.

11July13flutterbys The “curly” dragonflies are from Blank Quilting, and the other pattern is from Timeless Treasures. In the middle is a luscious yellow/orange that I bought to make my next quilt. It’s from Northcott’s Rain Forest collection, and it will be combined with this gorgeous purple Laurel Burch print, and this green print. You’ll hear more about that later.

11July13mexicanstarStill binding, but almost finished. The question is, will I be finished before my eyes cross? The good news is that I have three-quarters of one side left to do.

Coming up tomorrow is a Full Moon at 22 Capricorn, occurring at 11:40 pm in my time zone, Pacific Daylight Time, on Thurs., July 14. Capricorn is an Earth sign and rules the 10th House of work and reputation. And since Full Moons can be a bit disruptive, be on alert for problems at work or with authority figures.

Until next time,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer is in full swing

11July1thistle I’m back. Not that I went anywhere, but I guess I should at least acknowledge that it’s July now. And Summer temperatures have finally arrived – along with the mosquitoes! I haven’t seen a mosquito here in years, but with months of unseasonal rain and flooding, they’re having a field day! Over the weekend I collected about a dozen bites that I’m still scratching, including bites on my neck and face. (But the ones on my arms are the itchiest!) The flower is Cirsium arvense – also known as Canada thistle, an obnoxious weed that I found growing along the highway, not in my yard.

This is my busy time of year at work, and I write for a living - even when I have nothing to say. So doing it at home with my blog is just too much like work sometimes.

11July1 I am in desperate need of vacation. Over the years our company has reduced the size of our office. When I started there nine years ago, we had three full time and three part time employees - now there's one full time (me) and two part time. I can’t say we're short staffed because that would indicate that some day we'll have those old staff positions filled again. Guess that makes us understaffed.

But, how can I complain about when everyone I know is working with the same conditions in their workplace?

11July1cats Luckily I have my sewing to escape to - and I escape to it every day whether you see it here or not. I’m just not as prolific as many other quilters and bloggers. I like to work on one project until it's finished and, really, do you want to hear about the inch by inch progress I'm making on the binding? or the clumps of cat hair that I have to clean off the binding before I can sew it? (Above, Rusty tries to snatch the catnip away from Ginger after finishing off his own branch, fresh out of the ground.)

But, I have been rearranging my sewing space for the new sewing machine and table. That table and having a flat surface to sew on really make a huge difference - no more pulling and fighting with a quilt as it gets hooked on a corner and creates yet another nasty little wibble in the FMQing. But, my “stuff” was taking over the dining room, and the new sewing machine addition was just too much. So I downsized my work table and got some plastic stackable shelves to hold the growing pile of scraps (I think I may have to buy more), and I've almost got the dining room table cleared off again.

11July1wall Now that the decent weather is here, the front yard is calling to me. Forget about tending to beautiful flowers and vegetables - three years ago I tore up the front yard and got rid of all the crabgrass and weeds (and the wonky sidewalk and the broken retaining walls), and I've been reconstructing it ever since (and you thought my quilting was slow!). With the help of my neighbours last week, I finally got all the caps cut and placed on the retaining wall I built. After this picture was taken, I cleaned out the weeks and raked it all level. I just have to install some irrigation lines and than I can put the ground cover on. Oh right, and the brick pathway that replaces the old wonky sidewalk.

Anyway, I hear a quilt binding calling my name. Until next time,