Friday, September 30, 2011

Get out the woolies

11Sept29ginger I declare Summer to be officially over – our furnace came on earlier this week, although this morning was nice and warm once more. And just as I was writing this, I saw two Great Blue herons flying south. Actually, they do a lot of travelling during the course of the seasons just to check out the best fishing holes, so their southward flight doesn’t really meaning anything. They are beautiful birds to watch.

Anyway, I put my woolie socks on, but Rusty instantly threw himself onto the closest heat register as soon as the furnace came on. It used to be that both Rusty and Ginger could fit on that heat register. Now, the boy completely covers it with parts to spare, and there is much paw waving and vocal exchanges occur if Ginger comes near it. But she has a favourite spot next to another register, which is next to my sewing machine - and she has a box she can sit on, covered with a quilted (in name only) "cat blanket", in the sunshine with usually a nice view of the deck.

11Sept29rusty We haven’t had a frost yet. The basil is still growing, the fruit from the apple and pear trees are piling up on the ground where it fell, waiting for me to pick it up. The end of the season yard work is waiting for me. Luckily I have another two weeks of holiday starting on Monday, so unless the temperatures turn nasty, I’ll be dividing my time for the next two weeks between yard work and sewing.

The top picture is Ginger sitting on my wonky house block. I think she’s after the flying geese! Over 12,000 square feet of floor space, and she sits right on top of this little block. Above, Rusty is cat-proofing a large piece of flannelette backing. I’m sure the quilt recipient’s cats will be very impressed when they receive it. He and Ginger pulled it off the chair where it was sitting and both had great fun burrowing into it and making themselves nests.

I believe I’ve finally decided how to finish my Mexican Star quilt, so I'm back on track again. (Whoops, I skipped my second attempt at the zippered bag… Next week.) I just hate cutting my fabric because I’m always afraid I'm going to make a mistake and waste it all. And sometimes I do – cut it wrong. I remember just after I'd begun quilting I took a pile of thrift store fabric to a guild meeting and proceeded to cut it all into strips that I was going to use. I sat down to sew the next day and realized that I'd cut it all just a fraction too small. But I'd cut it all, every last bit of it. Now I cut a little, sew it together, adjust size, cut some more, sew it together. And just as well, too, because my latest size estimates on the Mexican Star first were too big, and then were just a fraction too small. Now they’re just right. Call me Goldilocks!

Until next time,

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Moon, new beginnings

11Sept26sun This month’s New Moon comes to rest at 4 Libra around 4 am tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, Pacific Daylight Time.The New Moon has a subtle influence over the types of activities that are predominant for the following 28 days and, of all the moon phases, is the best time to start afresh, whether it’s a new project or a new resolution.

11Sept26morning Libra is one of two signs ruled by Venus, the other sign being Taurus. The two signs have different personalities, but the both appreciate beauty and generally have a pretty good eye when it comes to art, architecture and decorating. Libra, in turn, rules the Seventh House of the Zodiac and this House is in charge of partnerships, relationships between people, law, justice and politics. Librans love to debate every possible side of an issue, and can dispassionately examine every aspect of a topic before they make a decision. Once made, it takes an exceptional argument to make them change their minds.

This month’s New Moon comes with a bit of baggage – the Sun/Moon conjunction is opposite to Uranus at 2 Aries, and all are square Pluto at 5 Capricorn. Uranus, ruler of Aquarius, governs sudden change, genius (also “mad genius”) and electricity. So, take relationships and put them at odds with sudden change and then pull in Pluto which puts everything on a world-scale (even universal) level and you have a day that just may be better off spent in front of the sewing machine. Fortunately, Libra and Aries deal with personal relationships and are both cardinal signs along with Capricorn, meaning they can debate an issue and come to a reasonable compromise. They may end up talking until June 24 next year when Pluto and Uranus form an exact square.

Anyway, forget all that. This month we do “pretty” with our LIbra Moon. Pinks, blues and greens in pretty pastel shades will attract our Libran side as we strive for balance in colour and design. Libra is very social, so try not to quilt alone. And if you’re going to a meeting of quilters, don’t forget to bring some sweets.

Work to improve the important relationships in your life.

Until next time,

Friday, September 23, 2011

Scrap projects

11Sept23cats My bad, it’s been almost a month without a picture of Rusty and Ginger! They’re fine and getting into as much mischief as usual. I just haven't been inflicting my camera on them as much lately. I’ll do better.

I’ve been sewing and working on a few different projects – which is sort of a bad idea in my case. As I get bored with one project, I look for something else quick and easy to do, leaving lots of unfinished projects behind. I’m getting into a habit of starting things, but not finishing them which I'm already prone to doing.

I was working on some Hallowe’en placemats about a month ago, but got antsy with all of the fussy little pieces, so I switched to some more paper piecing work - with more fussy little pieces. But at least they get sewn down right away and don't go missing like the tiny Jack O'lantern teeth, noses and eyes.

11Sept23moon1 11Sept23moon2 My paper piecing projects are getting a little more intricate and/but I’m happily using up much of my scrap collection. I’m feeling vindicated for having saved them all, but holy crumbcake, are they ever fiddly to work with. Especially when you don’t pay attention to the instructions and put them together all wrong. I found this neat little free pattern at Regina Grewe’s site. The colours I’ve used were an experiment – like everything I do right now - and look strange (and not really in a good way), but I might do another one later on paying more attention to how I place the colours.

11Sept23house The only thing i don't like about paper piecing is the MESS - all of those scraps lying around. Add a couple of rambunctious kitties, and it looks like someone dropped an A-bomb into the middle of my work table.

This weekend I'll try making another zippered bag, the plan being to keep doing it until I get it right (because Christmas is coming). Then I’ll get back to my Mexican Star quilt. I think I know how I'm going to complete it, and may even get it done in time for winter - if this nice weather keeps holding on. Then it’s back to my Christmas Tree skirt. Something tells me that planning three projects ahead is stretching it, since life has a way of tossing the occasional greased pig into that balancing act we call daily routine, and priorities are in a constant flux.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It’s a colourful world

So much for my plan to post more often. I guess it happens when it happens! Same with my sewing. I’d planned to spend Sunday night and Tuesday morning sewing, sewing, sewing! but instead I spent it fixing my sewing machine. I still don’t know what was wrong with it, but I spent about four hours trying to fix it. I thought I was going to have to take it in for repairs because the bobbin would either seize up or just refuse to engage with the needle. And I was so pleased with myself because just last week I’d taken the hook race out and cleaned it all. So I took the hook race out again, cleaned and put it back in. No deal. Changed the needle. Changed the bobbin. Rethreaded the needle – several times. Read the manual again. Rethreaded the bobbin – several times. Changed the needle plate. Changed the tension.

I don’t know if it was the source of the problem or just a coincidence, but as I was running the machine without the needle plate cover or bobbin, I noticed a bit of thread next to the hook race. I pulled out a lengthy piece, then noticed some more little bits and pieces. None of them really jammed it there, but I cleaned them out and started the machine again and it worked like its old beautiful self again. I can’t say for sure what the problem was, but we’re both happy again.

11Sept18lytton I was at another Pow Wow at the beginning of the month. It was smaller than the one at Hat Creek Ranch that I posted, but the costumes were just as fabulous. And Lytton is such a pretty little place, snuggled between the Coast mountain range at the confluence of the Thompson and Fraser rivers. Every labour day they have a wonderful three-day festival they call River Fest and the Pow Wow is the highlight of the last day.

The costumes are very colourful, but there is an overall theme that follows the teachings of the Medicine Wheel. The Wheel has some variations among the different nations, but generally the colours are Yellow (Spring, East, Air, children, physical); Red (Summer, South, Earth, youth, mental), Black or Blue (Fall, West, Water, adult, emotion), and White (Winter, North, Fire, elders, spirit).

11Sept18a 11Sept18b 11Sept18c 11Sept18d 11Sept18e

The shapes they use, for the most part, resemble natural elements - circles like rocks, sun, moon, animals, birds and flowers, and geometric designs used in weaving. Very similar to those fundamental designs used in all cultures, and I love seeing recognizable quilt motifs like stars and flying geese.

11Sept18bflya 11Sept18bflyb 11Sept18bflyc  And these gorgeous butterflies! I’ve never seen regalia adorned with butterflies before, but I saw at least two ladies wearing butterflies at this Pow Wow. And in such bright colours. I just love her shawl!

I didn’t have a garden this year. Actually, I haven’t had one in many years, but every year I hope that I’ll have time to put one in. Hasn’t happened yet. Maybe next year. I do manage to keep a weed patch that once upon a time was an herb garden. It’s been overgrown for several years. I’ve been working on the front yard for the past three years. It’s slow going, but I’m almost done, I think. The brick retaining wall is done and the upper section is levelled off and waiting for some ground cover. On one half I’ve planted a couple of small mugo pines and hope to put a little water fountain between them one of these days (years?) I planted a tray full of vegetable seedlings and another of herbs this Spring, expecting to have a place to plant them all. I finally let the vegetables all die. I managed to plant some of the basil and thyme seedlings before they all succumbed to neglect as well, and the only place I had to plant them was in the front yard, along with a pair of lavender bushes that I rescued from the backyard where they had escaped my garden and reseeded themselves in the grass. They’re all growing quite well, but as the nights get cooler I’m looking at them and thinking that I’d better harvest the basil before the first frost takes them out. 

A greenhouse would be really great, and a couple of cold frames as well. Next year.

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

At the Fair

Remember the cartoons where the Roadrunner or Yogi Bear or Snagglepuss, Elmer Fudd or whoever would run on the spot and kick up a cloud of dust before disappearing? Well, that's me, except I haven't been getting anywhere.

There has been so much going on here that I've barely been near my computer in the past two weeks. Friends and family think I've gone to live on another planet. And they might be right.

Things around the house are finally getting settled as my partner and I get back into a routine. He's been living and working in another town 90 minutes away for the past three years, and the cats and I developed our own daily routines. Now we have to regroup. We've lived further apart over the years as we try to keep both our careers afloat, and this one was actually a pretty good arrangement, as our nearest “big city” was right between where he and I were living. So, whenever he came home on the weekends, he could stop in Kamloops and pick up whatever we needed in the city.

Now that he's retired there won't be too many more of those trips, with the price of gas being what it is. We'll be celebrating our 25th anniversary in February!

It's not that there hasn't been anything to write about - there's been a pile of stuff happening, and several projects that I've been working on. Most of it will have to wait for another day. Plus, my right shoulder quit working on Saturday and made life and work a bit sluggish for a few days. A few twinges here and there, but it’s mostly functioning back to normal now. For whatever reason.

However, our annual Fall Fair was held on Sunday and I managed to get pictures of the quilt exhibits.


This is a beautiful little quilt created by Alice Durksen. She was convening the quilt section, so this wasn’t entered for judging. She was in Japan last Fall and she bought a little cotton hankie showing Kanagawa oki nami ura – The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai. I’ve always loved that picture. Anyway, she used her fabric and built around it until she had a gorgeous little wall hanging.


Deb Tuohey entered this little quilt she made of her late mother-in-law’s silk scarves. Beautiful. Deb is very creative and lots of fun to be around. And she’s a great baker, too – she owns and runs the local bakery.






11Sept14gerryGerry Anderson did this Lone Star. I didn’t even know she quilted! She’s another business woman in town and runs the local work clothes store.



11Sept14jim Jim Duncan made and entered this little baby quilt. He and his late wife, Gloria, used to be my next door neighbours until they moved down the road to another little town close by where they bought a Bed and Breakfast. Gloria was a fantastic quilter. She passed away just over a year ago and Jim wanted to use up some of the fabric she’d left behind. Very nice. I’m wondering what he’ll come up with next.

11Sept14michelle Michelle Allen has been quilting for some time, but I think she prefers the machine embroidery aspect most of all, from what she’s told me. She’s also one of the local village administrators, so she doesn’t have a lot of time to quilt. But when she has spare time, that’s what she loves doing. And apparently she has a “thing” for Winnie the Pooh!


11Sept14farm I’m afraid this quilt will remain ownerless. The name tag is on the other side, but the Tai Chi group were doing a demonstration over there while I was taking the photographs. I nearly got trampled a couple of times by getting too close to them, so I didn’t get to see whose quilt this was. It looks like a special entry for this year’s farm theme.

11Sept14alice2 And this one didn’t have any identifying tag on it, so it may have been just there for display – which means that I can guess who entered it, but I wouldn’t want to say and be wrong. I like the colours. And everything is so straight!

So, that’s what I did on Sunday. Hopefully, I’ll find some time in the next few days to show you what else I’ve been doing!

Until next time,