Sunday, November 22, 2015

Another Sunday....slow stitching

Still stitching away on the applique borders of Sprigs & Twigs.

Old age is making all this handwork extra challenging.  The best thing ever is the Clover needle threader that Hubby brought me from Florida a few years back.  If you see one, get it!  It's not just another gadget -- it's a life saver!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching

Last load of laundry is in the washing machine, menu for the week planned, and groceries shopped....heck, I even went out and purchased a new filter for the furnace.  Nothing much else to do this afternoon, other than put my feet up and binge watch some TV shows while I stitch bindings on these two quilts, and the applique on Sprigs & Twigs.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Solo Shop Hopping

A cool and unsettled autumn day - after a week of record setting warm temperatures - and nothing to do.  Oh, that essay that I haven't started?  Ah well, it's not even due until the 20th!  Why not spend the morning driving out in the country in my new car, visiting quilt shops?

Yes, I bought a new car last week.  Itty Bitty signed the contract on his first REAL job since completing his undergrad degree, and needs a car for work, so I gave him my old Caliber ('09) and got a new Chevy Cruze.  I'm still trying to figure out how everything works in it, but it's a nice drive.

There are four shops on the tour, and my first stop was Creative Sisters in Kitchener.  At each stop, I had my passport stamped, and was given a piece of fabric to be used to finish the mystery project.  Since Creative Sisters is pretty close to my office, I visit there regularly, and didn't really see anything new that was particularly interesting until I spotted a new display of "Apliquick" products.

The tools were pretty pricey  -  but I thought I would give the product a try.  I generally use freezer paper for applique, but that means an extra step of cutting into the backing to remove the paper.  This product can be left in.

Next stop was Heart 'n Home in New Hamburg.  Again, it's not too far from where we live, so I have been there twice in the last few months.  I like New Hamburg a lot - - and I thought today, if I was to settle somewhere again, that I might like to live there.  It's close to 7/8 Highway, so it would be a quick scoot into Kitchener or Stratford.

Third stop on the Shop Hop is The Quilt Place in Shakespeare. It was very crowded today, with even a few MEN Shop Hoppers among us. I found a quieter place in front of the large selection of books, and chose a new title to add to my library: Stash Lab by Tonya Alexander.  Maybe you know her blog, Eye Candy Quilts? I don't know which project to start first!

And the final stop on the tour was Ye Olde Fabric Shoppe in Stratford.  Okay...I hadn't visited here since Sailor Boy first went away to Halifax, and I needed a fabric fix to cheer myself up.  Was that 2010?

Near the front of the store was a large collection of Kim Diehl fabrics in Christmas reds and greens, and the suggestion of this project which you can dowload from the Henry Glass website.:

I am absolutely crazy for Kim Diehl fabrics and designs right now.  I'm working on the appliqued borders on Sprigs & Twigs currently.  I'm not a Christmassy person, but maybe I could add one or two reds or greens to my growing collection?  But not so fast!  I turned a corner and found a whole wall of Kim Diehl.  I panicked!  I wanted them all!  But in the end, I only chose a handful, knowing that Stratford is only 40 or so kilometers away, and I can come back another day.

As it was the last stop on the Shop Hop, I collected the final fabric piece as well as the finishing piece and the pattern for the mystery project, a beverage tote:

On the way back home, I passed this sign, and stopped to read more about the Mennonite community here in the Waterloo Region.

I picked up a couple of more quilts from the long-armer this week, so I must get to putting the binding on them in time for the next guild meeting.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Wild Goose Chase

I'm still working away on Sprigs & Twigs, and have the centre squares all pieced together, and it's time to start on the appliqued borders.  ummmm....not something I have a ton of experience doing, and there was one instruction that was a little mysterious.

The instructions in the book that calls for the use of "bias bars" to make the stems.  I can't find what these things are, there doesn't seem to be a list of required materials that would suggest to me what bias bars are.....this calls for an adventure!

So, we headed out bright and early Saturday morning, and drove the hour and a quarter to visit Creekbank Sewing Machine Shop (cuz you know I need more Kim Diehl fabrics, right?).  I showed them the photo of the mystery tool, and they were stumped.  

Next stop was the Quilter's Nine Patch.  They did know what bias bars, but didn't have any in stock, but offered to order them for me.  I thanked them very much, but I would check another place--I didn't want to wait--but I would call if I didn't have any luck.

Next stop was K-W Sewing Machines, which happens to be kitty-corner from my office.  Success!  The clerk there REALLY REALLY wanted me to purchase bias tape makers, although I assured her that wasn't what I needed.  

So .... are you scratching your head, wondering what bias bars are?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Quilt Show

This past Saturday I attended Waterloo County Quilters' Guild's Quilt Show.  If you go to the Guild's Facebook page, you can see photos of a few selections.  I have to say that I was dazzled and inspired by the show.

As expected, Day 2 of the show, well... the vendors's selections were getting a little picked over, so there wasn't a lot that I was compelled to bring home - with the exception of a small selection of some Kim Diehl FQs, but I did discover a couple of new shops that I hadn't visited before.  The FQs came from Creekbank Sewing Machine Shop in Mount Forest.  Well...I used to be in Mount Forest once a week and never heard of this shop before!  They will be my go-to resource for Kim Diehl fabrics - - which I will need to finish "Sprigs & Twigs" - - but more on that in a minute.  

The second "new-to-me" LQS is Kalidoscope of Quilts from Exeter.  This is a new store, and I understand, not at all related to another Exeter quilt shop (which I also really liked, but is now closed).  Okay - - I have to get past the fact that someone intentionally spelled "kaleidoscope" wrong in the name of their shop - - but I can get beyond that quirk.  I haven't been to Exeter in yeeeeears - but if I am in the neighbourhood, I will check it out.  

Okay....speaking of "Sprigs & Twigs" - I finished the squares of the centre of this quilt.  The original design calls for 16, but in order to get a larger finished size, I increased the number to twenty-five.

Tomorrow is the October meeting of the Waterloo County Quilters' Guild.  Time is going to be tight - I have a meeting that is work-related after office hours - but I'm packing up tonight  so I'm ready to participate in Show & Tell.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

a little retreatin'

I went away for four days this week with no real expectations of getting anything accomplished.  But I did finish two quilt tops.  The one above is a Bonnie Hunter mystery called "Christmas Lights" that was published in Quiltmaker magazine a number of years ago.  I had the blocks done, but needed to assemble the blocks and add the borders.  Can you see where I made the mistake?  Yes - I did get out my stitch ripper the next morning and turned the block.  I couldn't live with THAT!

Next, I added a row of four patches to finish off this top that I created from split nine-patches.  I really like it.

The retreat was at a cottage on the St. Clair River, with a number of "quaint" details - including this rotary phone.  I forgot what it felt like to answer one of these puppies - - just about knocked myself out cold!  It must weigh a ton!

One more day off, and then it's back to the grindstone. I plan to spend tomorrow working on homework - - I have SEVERAL projects coming due for both of the courses I'm enrolled in.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Quilts: fueled by Swiss Chocolate

I know - - I'm an idiot.  Like I need more fabric.  But I saw a photo on Quiltville Open Studio facebook page yesterday of a finished Kim Diehl design called "Sprigs & Twigs" and I just knew I had to make one.  I looked all over online for a quilt kit, because I'm really bad at choosing fabric "on purpose" - I'm more of a fabric "finder" than a "shopper".  But first...I had to find the pattern.  (Hey - there are some free Kim Diehl pattens on the Henry Glass website!)

I thought I would spend tomorrow running around SW Ontario looking for "Simple Appeal", but started today with a trip to Elmira's "Quilter's Nine Patch" (it's open Sundays, but closed on Mondays).  WHOOP! WHOOP!  They had the book in stock!

On the way home, Hubby and I stopped in St. Jacob's at Picard's Peanuts briefly, and laid in a small supply of quilting fuel.  mmmmmmmm....chocolate!

I've put together my Leader & Ender project: Split Nine Patch.  I'm piecing together dark four-patches for borders.  I imagine I should have them done by the end of this week.  I still haven't decided what I'm going to do with this - - I love it a whole lot!

Flimsy Finish: Pinwheels Forever

This design by Shelby Morris appeared in the September 2002 McCall's Quilting Quick Quilts, includes forty 8"x8" pinwheel blocks.  I started piecing it last Sunday, and finished putting the borders on this morning.

It's 51.5" x 75.5", and I think I am going to donate this quilt top to the local guild for one of their community outreach projects.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pinwheels Forever

I took five quilt tops to the long-armer on Monday, including the two most recent flimsy finishes.  One of them is probably 10 years old!  Not sure why I never finished it...

Speaking of ten years old: I pulled out a big ziplock bag of a pre-cut quilt top the other night.  I've moved this bag around for yeeeears.  The pattern that I had tucked in with the pieces is from the September 2002 issue of McCall's Quilting Quick Quilts. I've got about half of the blocks nearly done.  The photo above shows 16 of the required 40.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Another Flimsy Finished

Another flimsy finished, and all ready to go to the Long-Arm Quilter in the morning.

Which of course led me to thinking: "Well? What next?"  I'm horrified to admit it, but I have numerous quilt tops almost nearly completed: it's just a matter of putting the blocks in rows and columns.  One drawer was full of these 6" Split Nine Patches.  Hubby and I got them out last night and arranged them in a number of different ways, but this setting is the one I preferred.  I sewed the nine-patches into blocks of four, and now I'm wondering....should I just do six rows of four squares, or continue making blocks and do a bigger size.  I've decided that the borders with be two rows of dark 2.5" squares, so that the light diamonds (crosses?) will float.  I'm torn.

The nine-patches are a "leader & ender" project that I've had going for a couple of years now.  The four by six configuration will probably be a very nice twin sized bed quilt that I can donate to a hospice or something.  But it's so interesting, that I wouldn't mind having it for my own bed!  No one but another quilter will ever appreciate the amount of work that went into the 44 pieces of fabric that went into each 12" block!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

You know what's better than that feeling of a new rotary blade???

Answer?  The feeling of a new rotary mat.  Oh. My.

I know there is a method for keeping your mat moisturized, but I think mine is beyond help. It was getting so unpleasant to cut fabric.  My cuts were not as accurate as I hoped because the fabric would be distorted by the extraordinary pressure of my cutter.  I was going through blades like crazy. So I caved in and bought a new one. It's incredible.  But here's a link to the moisturizing tips if you want to give it a try:

This week in quilting, I attended a meeting of the Waterloo County Quilters. The program was interesting. Patti Carey the Marketing Coordinator for Northcott, where she has headed up the sample department since 1986.  Patti endeavors, with the help of her piecer, to make a quilt from most collections that Northcott designs – approximately 50 per year.  These quilts are used as marketing tools by the sales reps, and as features in various quilting magazines.  

This quilt top is coming together - just one more block to go, and then I can start stitching the big blocks together. I hope to have it ready to go to the long-armer on Monday.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Some Sunday Sewing

The weather has turned decidedly autumnal!  It's the right time to make a hot and filling batch of stew to simmer in the oven all afternoon while I spend some time in the basement sewing together 2 1/2" strips from my stash.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Adventures 3

About two weeks ago, Hubby and I stayed a little closer to home for our weekend adventure.  We had initially thought about doing an overnight shopping trip to Niagara, but once I paid the balance of my fall tuition...well, let's just say I didn't feel as excited about a shopping trip!

We've only lived in the Waterloo Region for a little more than a year, and continue to learn more about our new hometown.

A few weeks ago, I read a charming article in the newspaper about a restaurant in Waterloo called "The Harmony Lunch".  I added a visit there to my mental to-do list, and this was our first stop:
Have you ever had a hamburger that is pork instead of beef? It was delicious, and the restaurant was charming.  I would have liked to have taken some photos - the scarred wooden floor, the hat rack, the telephone booth, the old soda fountain.  I don't think a thing has changed in here since The Depression.  

I had read in yesterday's newspaper about a log cabin in a park in Waterloo. I'd never visited this park before, so we enjoyed a little walk through it.

The autumn leaves are already falling, and it's only August.

And here is the log school house!  There was a wedding party doing a photo shoot next to the building.  I imagine there is a real feeling of nostalgic connection to this house built by the original Mennonite settlers in Waterloo.  The wedding party may have even been descendants!

And the last stop in the afternoon was to the recently opened Apollo Cinema.  We were able to snag a Groupon deal that included tickets for 2 plus popcorn and drinks for $15.  We saw "Mr. Holmes".  Neat theatre!  Even regular admission is cheaper than the big cinemas, and it's licensed, so you can order a craft beer or a cider or a glass of wine at the concession stand.  There's even tables in front of the lounge-y seats!

Monday, September 7, 2015

$#!T just got real....

I know it's Labour Day and all....but I actually had a class tonight: first class for "Practice Skills for Leading and Supervising in Human Services" - I feel completely overwhelmed.  Seems like a TON of work is expected over the next three months.  

Oh well, I will worry about THAT tomorrow.

I've been sewing this week.  I even tidied up my sewing room a bit.

And I finished a few things:

The top for Jamestown Landing:

A mug mat and matching basket that I had started over a year ago, and "re"found it while I was tidying my sewing room:

Two guitar pick shaped mug rugs:

These called for binding cut on the bias - I almost have never used bias cut binding - but at 2", it went on pretty slick!  For the pattern, I traced a souvenir giant guitar pick that Hubby brought home from the Martin Guitar factory in Nazareth PA a few years ago. It measures about 7" long, and 6" at the wide end.

And I started a new project.  Tonight I pieced four of the thirty-six blocks, and cut all of the neutral pieces out.  You've probably seen this quilt all over the internet.  It's called Soul Searching, from Kathy Doughty's (of Material Obsession) book "Making Quilts".  

This is going to be a long term project out of necessity. I simply don't have enough variety of some of the colours.  While I have tons of blue, green, and red - I'm shy yellow, orange, purple and turquoise.  The strips are 2.5" wide - so I'm happy to take any spare strips in those colours off your hands!

Adventures 2

We had such an enjoyable time a few weeks ago on our adventures to Calendon and the cidery, that another adventure was called for the next Saturday.  This time we headed north towards Owen Sound.

The aim of our day trip was to combine a couple of tours: The Grey County Waterfall Tour and The Saints & Sinners Bootlegger Run.  It was a lovely combination of stunning natural beauty, and tasty visits to craft brewers and cideries.  We by no means were able to hit more than a handful of the stops, but that only means that we will just have to go back!  There's another tour I'm interested in taking in that same area, perhaps later this fall: The Apple Pie Trail.

First stop - breakfast in Durham

Inglis Falls near Owen Sound

Whenever possible - we must check out every music store or pawn shop to check out the guitars.  I guess this makes up for the forced stops at every fabric store.

Neustadt Springs Brewery - the oldest operating brewery in Canada.

Hoity Toity Cellars near Mildmay, where we sampled a number of ciders, and brought home a couple of bottles to enjoy.

After a full day of driving, we met my sister and her husband in Elmira for dinner at The Crossroads.  They had been on their own day long adventure, near our neck of the woods.  I was sure to hand over any literature about our trip, so they could enjoy the sites we visited.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Took me a minute....but I remembered how to use my sewing machine...

I have bit on a rather extended break from sewing and quilting, but recently my imagination has been sparked again by images on Pinterest and Facebook, so I believe I can confirm I've been reinfected with a thread bug.  I don't know how long I've been working on Jamestown Landing - it's been on my design wall for at least 10 months I reckon.  Time to get this thing done!  Monday I spent making too many blocks.  By last night I just needed to sew three long seams.  

In between, I've added to my 3" (finished) nine patches.  I think there's about 180 in my jar now.

This morning I was awake at 5:30 - - a perfect time to listen to CBC radio, and stitch those last seams.  Next up is string piecing piano key borders.  

Not much excitement planned for the long weekend.  Hubby is working all three days.  I have an online class on Monday evening (class on LABOUR DAY????).

This is what I've been reading:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Hubby and I have been spending Saturdays just having adventures.  Here's a few photos from our trip a couple of weeks ago.

Being morning people, we were out the door bright and early, and headed to Orangeville, where we selected some fresh produce at the farmer's market and did a little window shopping.  After that, we did some driving through the country roads around Hockley Valley, and the Forks of the Credit.  

Next stop was for lunch at Spirit Tree Cidery in Caledon.  On Saturdays they offer pizza with gourmet toppings baked in their wood fired oven.

And of course....any trip to a cidery warrants the testing a few of their brews.  We each sampled a "short flight" of pear cider, applelager, and draught cider (and brought home a few bottles for enjoying later) on their deck.

Due to some road construction, we had to do a little variance to our route, and passed by the Cheltenham Badlands.  I've never seen anything quite like it!

I'll post photos from our next Saturday adventures soon!