Thursday, August 30, 2012

Useful things

12Aug28cat1 I picked this up a few weeks ago from one of the local thrift stores. It looked like a napkin holder and though we already have a napkin holder, we don’t have a genuine custom made wire napkin holder in the shape of a kitty. Have you figured out yet that I’m a sucker for anything with a cat on it? Besides, it was only a buck. It’s been sitting on what used to be the dining room table (until piles of scraps and other sewing paraphernalia made eating there impossible) since I brought it home. I’ve had to endure at least two “Why do we need another napkin holder?” from my partner, and although the 12Aug28cat2 space to store the napkins in is rather small, I really like it.

I was cutting some fabric the other day and wondering where to put my ruler so that it wouldn’t get coverer by the encroaching piles of scraps when I spotted the kitty. Purrfect! It works beautifully, like it was made just for my ruler. Everything has its purpose.

I’ve been working on a few projects these past few weeks, and neither seems to be getting closer to completion. Tonight I reached the point where I need to do 12Aug30fmq some quilting on one of the projects, so I get a chance to practice my FMQ some more. It’s not looking very good at this stage, but this is a part of the bag that won’t really be seen. Hopefully it’ll be looking better by the time I get to the front panel!

Full Moon tomorrow morning – exact around 7 am Pacific Daylight Time at 8 Pisces (and the Sun in Virgo) – water and earth signs. At the same time when the Full Moon is exact, the Moon and Sun will be in good aspect to Mars (5 Scorpio) and Pluto (7 Capricorn), giving sustained momentum to the Full Moon. Qualities which would include harvesting that which duty and devotion carefully sowed.

Until next time,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


12Aug28quilt  Quality testing the flimsy.

12Aug28backing Auditioning the backing.

If it survives, I’ll have a finished quilt to show in a couple of weeks.

Until next time,

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Friday Furball – FMQing

12Aug24Rusty Or, how to de-learn a motif in three easy lessons! This month’s Freemotion Quilting Challenge over at SewCalGal's was given by Wendy Sheppard, who’s work is simply beautiful. Hats off to Darlene over at SewCalGal for bringing us such a fantastic bunch of teachers for this challenge!

Wendy Sheppard is very generous with her designs, and I’ve tried to “master” (ha!) some of them in the past. Still working on that. The brain says that her “jesters hat” motif for the August challenge looks simple enough, but the 12Aug24sampleA hands say otherwise. I started off on paper and did a whole page of doodles. They looked good. “I’m ready,” I thought. But I had something else to finish on my sewing machine first, so I doodled some more. Yup, looks good. Don’t know what all the fuss is about. Tried some of her Swirly Tails motif that was published in the Dec11/Jan12 issue of The Quilter and, hey, looked not bad. Then I went back to the jesters hat and “what the heck?” Did several more pages of “what the heck” and used up a couple of practice sandwiches before I was finally able to say “I can live with that”.

I blame Ginger that my samples were less than perfect. Better than blaming myself, right? Twice last night I was just getting into the groove when Queen Ginger, who was overseeing my work, reached out and snagged my sandwich. Her paw was nowhere near the needle, 12Aug24sampleB but it was enough to make me stop both times and start over again. I think she was going for the loose threads on the cloth that were tempting her beyond sanity. (My sewing machine is set up in the dining room and there’s no way to keep my curious little felines out of the way.)

It’s an interesting motif, and I can see myself using it in the future. And so can Rusty, as he models it for me this morning while I’m trying to take a picture of it. It’s a well-known fact that adding a cat model to anything makes a picture far more beautiful!

Go here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see everyone’s great samples for August’s challenge.

Until next time,

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fabric shops on the Island

12Aug14nanaimo On my recent holidays, first we drove north to Fort St. John, then west to Terrace and Prince Rupert where we took a 15-hour ferry to Vancouver Island through the Inside Passage to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Nanaimo. We overnighted in Rupert because we had to be at the ferry terminal the next morning at 5 am. I didn’t see any quilt shops, but we had a fantastic supper of fish and chips at Breakers Pub.

It was a beautiful ferry ride, but we didn’t stop for quilt shops.

12Aug14muse I told my brother and his wife that I had to visit one of Nanaimo’s quilt shops so they got out the phone book and found three. I wasn’t really interested in the first one, but they insisted (while they went and had coffee around the corner). I’m glad they did. The Stitcher's Muse is located downtown. It’s a small shop, dedicated mostly to needlepoint and embroidery, but they had some quilting supplies and some very unique notions and embellishments. I bought some of this yummy batik with a mariner’s patterns (have you noticed the saltwater theme we have going here?) and these buttons in antler, mother of pearl and ceramic.

12Aug14snip Next they dropped me at Snip and Stitch and went next door to have a beer. :-) I’d been to this shop before. They have machines for sale, lots of books and patterns, threads and notions, Janome attachments and cute little paper piecing kits. I bought a ladybug kit and an Accufeed quarter-inch foot to thank my friend Judy for taking care of Rusty and Ginger while we were away. As well, I bought The Everything Goes Bag pattern from Among Brenda’s Quilts and a fat quarter. With the bag patterns I’ve been buying, I look for different features that I want to practice. This one had zippers, tabs and a curved pocket. (And a cute picture of a kitty in her logo!) The store also had a sale tent out front and a very nice man at a barbecue who gave us free veggie dogs.

12Aug14Poultry Serge and Sew was next. It’s in a shopping mall, so everyone took off to shop elsewhere while I went into the store. It was probably the best quilt shop of them all – fantastic selection of fabric, patterns and kits, sale fabric, bag and quilt samples, and a really, really nice staff. I looked at everything, but I was so shopped out by then (believe it or not) that I didn’t buy a thing. I thought of going back the following day, but it was Sunday and they weren’t open.

12Aug14Teacups So we drove to Parksville to see the Canadian Open Sand Sculpting competition. On the way there I spotted Sweet Pea Quilting from the highway and felt my shopping urge revive. We enjoyed the sand sculpting and relaxed on the beach for a short spell. What a gorgeous day it was. Then we drove to the quilt shop and they all waited in the car for me. They had a nice selection of fabrics, lots of fat quarters, patterns and kits. I couldn’t resist this paper piece pattern called Cups, Cups, Cups by Karla Alexander – subliminal effect of the sand sculpture, I’m sure. And another bag pattern – Raspberry Ripple by Melly and Me. I love the way those pleats look! This time I bought a kit, thinking it might make my work easier. But when I got home and 12Aug14parksville unpacked, I found it only contained the fabric – no hardware and no interfacing. I already have lots of fabric at home, so I didn’t really need to spend an extra $30 for more. Oh well.

So now I have several more projects on my list of things to do this year and my holiday is over. I’m back at work. As we’re almost into September, I need to decide quickly what I’m going to do for Christmas presents and start working on them right away. The pressure is on!

Until next time,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Way up north

12Aug19pinepass Way up north – for some people. There is always somebody else living further north. But Fort St. John, BC was home for many years and so we have many friends and family living there, and it’s always good to go back.

Let me rephrase that – it’s good to go back and visit, and avoid those long winters. We have a saying up there: There’s eight months of winter and four months of tough sledding.

As soon as we hit the Pine Pass, the air starts to smell like pine and poplar. Closer to Dawson Creek and Fort St. John where there’s more farming, it smells like clover. Fort St. John is the heart of the oilpatch in British Columbia, so there are pumpjacks dotting most of the farms, put there by the oil and gas companies. When we lived in Taylor, we could often smell byproducts of the natural gas being refined there. We called it “that million dollar smell” because the taxes from those companies keep that town going. They also fill up the provincial coffers.

12Aug7quiltshop Unfortunately, I wasn’t a quilter when I lived there. My partner bought me a Janome L-344 as a Christmas present in 1993 and I thought he was insane. We’d been together about six years by then and I’m sure he’d never seen me in the same room with a sewing machine. It wasn’t until 2009 when I started learning how to quilt that it actually came out of its box. That store is no longer around, but there is a cute little quilt store downtown near my in-laws that I visit now whenever I’m in town.

12Aug14fsj Piece by Peace Quilts has a Facebook page, but no website that I can find. I took one of their business cards while I was there two weeks ago, but can’t find it now. They have a very friendly staff, a great selection of fabrics, lots and lots of books for sale, patterns, and so much more. I love that little shop, I think, more than any other quilt shop I’ve been in.

I found some Catkin and Oceanica prints from In The Beginning fabrics that are a couple of years old, but no less beautiful. One of the prints was half price, so I had to buy the others to complement it in whatever I decide to make out of it! I used to stick to very small prints for quilt blocks, but I’m finding that as I become interested in bags and other things, I’m expanding my interest into larger prints. Interesting, eh? I also bought Easy Japanese Quilt Style 12Aug12TerQS by Julia Davis and Anne Muxworthy with some intriguing looking bag patterns in it. And a pattern for Whistlepig Creek's Little Sister bag that I’ve been admiring for a while now. Lastly, I picked up a spool of linen thread. It just looked so beautiful that I know I’ll find a use for it.

We left Fort St. John and headed out to Terrace on Hwy 16. I’ve also been to the Cotton Pickin' Quilt Patch before. It’s easily located downtown. They have machines, long arm quilting, lots of quality fabric, patterns and kits. Unfortunately, it’s so crammed into such a small space, with lots of other things in the way. You have to move aside boxes of doodads and other things to 12Aug14terrace see what’s behind them, including the fabric. It was more spread out the first time I was there, but the other half of the shop has a big table in it and looks like it’s used for classes.. However, still worth stopping in.

I picked up another bag pattern (sigh), Twin Pocket Tango by Tiger Lily Press, some Byzantium fabric line from Makower, two meters of beautiful batik green, blue and yellow!!! and a package of clam shell forms for bags from Clover. I like to support our local quilt shops – wherever they are.

Unfortunately, I missed the Quilters Nook in Vanderhoof and Beerda’s Drygoods in Smithers as it was a statuatory holiday when we drove past and neither were open.

In my next blog, I’ll write about what I found on Vancouver Island!

Until next time,

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sand, sea and time

12Aug7train Why do we say things like “Back from vacation” or “Back to work” as if it’s already happened? Shouldn’t it be “Onward to work” or “Onward from vacation”? I dunno.Just a thought.

We haven’t had an actual vacation – one where we did something other than just travel to visit with family – in over two decades. We weren’t really planning to take a vacation this year, but it just morphed into one when I managed to get four consecutive weeks off this year for holidays. We try to drive up to Fort St. John (British Columbia) every year to visit my partner’s dear parents. We lived there and in surrounding communities for many years, so we still have many friends there as well as family. The smell of pine, poplar and clover always makes me feel like I’ve come home. So, we made arrangements for the trip north. Then my partner asked what I thought about another trip to see his sister and brother-in-law in Terrace. The drive from here to FSJ is about 10 hours. It’s 16 hours fromvac2012nanaimo here to Terrace: As you drive north on Hwy 97, you can either continue north at Prince George and you’ll come to FSJ in about four hours, or you can turn west on Hwy 16 and you’ll reach Terrace in about six hours. So I suggested that we hang a right on our way back from FSJ and go out to Terrace before coming home.

Then one of us suggested continuing out to the awesome city of Prince Rupert to catch the BC Ferry that sails through the Inside Passage to Vancouver Island. The 15-hour ferry ride goes through a cluster of islands off the coast of BC and ends up in Port Hardy. My oldest brother and his wife just moved to Nanaimo on the Island last year, so it was a half day car ride from Pt. Hardy to Nanaimo. A visit with them, and we’d catch the ferry to the mainland and drive back home.

vac2012humpy A week and a half of sunshine, ocean and beautiful British Columbia. And not much in the way of internet connection. I took my laptop along to blog, but I couldn’t access a connection after the first couple of days. I made up for it by visiting almost every quilt and fabric shop that I saw.

vac2012falls Once we got home, Rusty and Ginger wouldn’t leave me alone. We’ve never left them for that long before, and they’ve been cemented to my lap since Monday when we got back. Makes it hard to type at the computer and sew at the sewing machine. But I did manage to get a lot of weeding done outside in the garden. I’d like to know who planted all that purslane in the vegetable garden while I was away!

Began working on a new sewing project this morning – without their help. I’ll post pictures once it starts to resemble something. In the meantime, there be vacation and quilt shop pictures.

And, because the planets and stars don’t stop for vacations, we had a New Moon yesterday at 25 Leo. Leo approaches new projects with a child’s happiness and wonder. Bright and sunny colours are a favourite of this sign. The New Moon pleasantly connects with Saturn and Mars which are travelling together for a few days at 25/26 Libra and while Saturn has a habit of putting the brakes on energetic Mars, it can help us stop and work out a plan before proceeding with those impulsive ideas.

More about the quilt shops tomorrow.

Until next time,

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Friday Furball–Pets on Quilts

DSC_1297On the road, I couldn’t miss posting my entry to this year’s Pets On Quilts contest, Here’s Ginger, with her best condescending “You probably don’t realize this, but you’re late again with our supper.” look. Go and have a look at all of the great pictures over at Lilypad’s blog and vote for your favourite!

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

This quilt has legs

12Aug1mexicanstarquilt Or feet. Which are attached to legs. See those cute toes at the bottom of the picture? My partner was holding up the quilt so I could take it. It just doesn’t look as good when you have to lay it on the floor.

So, at what point does a quilt become a UFO (UnFinished Object)? I hear many quilters refer to their UFOs – usually while they are finishing them – and I wondered if any of my “work in progress” flimsies qualified. Guess we all have our favourite euphemisms.

I started this one over a year ago as a housewarming gift.Yep, still working on it. Was hoping to get it done this week, but that’s not gonna happen. I still have borders to attach, quilting and binding. The borders and binding I could get done, but the quilting will take a bit more time. And now I want to add a couple of co-12Aug1quiltbooboo ordinated lap quilts.

I suppose one of the reasons it took me so long to get back to working on this quilt is because I knew those inner borders were going to be finicky. I unpicked and restitched the second one I put on. The third went on surprisingly well. The last one…I took it off and sewed it back on three and a half times, trying to get it to line up. It’s still not perfect, but it’s not near as bad as this picture. I’m pretty sure I can “fix” it (another euphemism).

But now it’s going to have to wait until I get back from travelling. I’ll be back in two weeks (with thousands of pictures!). I’m hoping that I can use my laptop to keep blogging, but we’ll see how free time and free wifi match up.

Until next time,