Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dyeing Before Christmas

Hello Quilters!
I had a spare day before Christmas so I whipped up a couple of batches of dye in the backyard and started some long overdue dyeing.  Luckily, the weather has been so mild that mixing batches of dye in the backyard wasn't a problem.  For those of you unfamiliar with dyeing with Procion MX Dyes, it is best to mix your dyes out of doors so the escaping dye powder doesn't attach itself to anything your couch!  Since my dyeing station is in the basement, mixing that powder outside is doubly important as the particles could escape and go through the furnace system.  Could you just imagine what the house with look like with specks of Marine Blue all over anything made of fibre????  OUTSIDE IT IS!!!
Dyeing Station in the basement furnace room.

Dyed cheese cloth drying on the rack.

My friend, Shirley had given me a white damask tablecloth with a nasty red wine stain to play with.  That stain wasn't going anywhere despite her best efforts so I thought I'd try over dyeing it.  The tablecloth is not 100% cotton though so the dye didn't take as well as it would normally.  I told Shirley that she is welcome to throw it in the garbage but I have to say, it's growing on me....
Shirley's dyed table cloth.
About a year ago I noticed an article in Martha Stewart Living magazine about dyeing tea towels that you buy very cheaply at IKEA.  Sounded good to me!  Luckily, my wonderful sister-in-law lives in Ottawa and was willing to ship me some. They cost 69 cents each and are white with a red stripe up each side.  (Yes, I just checked and they are called "TELKA" and are 69 cents each. )  Here is the result of dyeing the tea towels.
Dyed Tea Towels
Dyeing the tea towels was great fun.  I have enough to last me a couple of years.  At first, I thought I might be able to use them for hostess gifts but I think they are a little strange for most people.  Quilters might really like them but would probably never use them.......fondle yes, dry dishes.....not so much!

Another first this Christmas!!  I made Biscotti for our daughter's boyfriend.   I can't eat sugar so I couldn't try them myself but since the boyfriend took the remaining ones home, they must have been good enough.  Everyone gets a tin of their favourite cookies to eat at Christmas and these were his choice.  Others included Butterscotch Oatmeal cookies, Toffee Shortbread and Cheesy Bites.

I hope you all had some memorable times over Christmas.  There were a few gifts under the tree with fabric in them for me this year.  I'm looking forward to putting them to use! We had one of our best Christmases ever.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!

Hello Quilters!
First of all........I want to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year!
It seems my blog is getting more and more neglected these days so I appreciate those of you that have stuck with me anyway.  I'll try and do better in 2015.
2014 was a challenging year with the tornado hitting our house in July and a medical diagnosis that shook me up as well as the death of my Mom in September.  Looks like 2015 has nowhere to go but up!
2014 was a year of travel too.  All good things there as Hubby and I love nothing more than to explore the world!  PARIS was definitely a highlight!
I was able to accompany Hubby on a photo tour of Death Valley in December.  What a surprise that the desert has so much colour inspiration!  The photo below was taken while riding horseback through the valley.  Luckily, I was the only one to sign up for the two hour ride so it was just the guide and myself.  Once he realized I was very comfortable riding horses, we really enjoyed ourselves.

We had one warm day so I took advantage of the thermal spring -fed pool!

My teaching schedule is quite light for the next couple of months so I'm hoping to get some quality studio time and accomplish great things...............AND reduce the stash! 
 Below is my version of the Metro Rings Quilt using the Quick Curve Ruler.  The pattern is very well written and the ruler works like a charm.  This will be a workshop in the Spring.  Unfortunately, I was working on this while away on a quilt retreat and there was some red wine accidentally spilled on the blocks as I had them laying out on the floor.  So.....the quilt should have one more row on the bottom.  The dangers of quilt retreats!  Oh well, accidents happen!

I'm playing with a paper pattern that was in the December issue of Quiltermaker Magazine designed by Anita Grossman Solomon.  We saw her demonstrate this method while in Houston so I thought I'd play with some solid scraps and see what I can make of them.  Anita's methods are so clever and accurate.  You might enjoy her workshop on Craftsy.

I'm starting another photo-realistic quilt that should take me a few months to complete.  Here's the beginning and I'll keep you posted with my progress.  Three wolves in the snow is what I will be trying to depict.  Wish me luck!
Pattern drawn and labelled for value.

Fabric selections.

Our son is home and our daughter and her boyfriend will be arriving tomorrow afternoon.  The gifts are wrapped and under the tree.  I've been cooking and baking for days so I think we are ready for the next couple of days of enjoying each other's company and eating lots of goodies!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Houston Quilt Festival

Hello Quilters!
The International Quilt Festival was so energizing and mind-blowing, I can hardly wait to go back.
The quilt displays were the best I have ever seen both in terms of technical and artistic skills but also in the way the shows were hung and arranged.  It took us two days to see all of the quilts and another two days to see all of the merchants........all under one roof.
Going to the Festival has been on my bucket list since it's inception.  Funny thing about this bucket list of mine, instead of checking it off completely......I just want to go back again!  Paris was the same thing.  Maybe I'll be luck enough to do both.
I'm already planning to return to Houston in 2016.
Red and White quilt display in Houston.
The display of the red and white quilts was just breathtaking.  The addition of the red carpeting underneath the display was perfect for photography and the lighting perfect.  Well done!
I can hardly wait to make a red and white quilt for myself now.  For years I've promised to make a Christmas quilt for our bed but never seem to get to it.  This might just be the catalyst I needed.  Want to join me in making a red and white pineapple quilt????

Here are a few more of the many, many quilts on display that I loved.  The photos were taken with my iPhone so they aren't the best quality.  The phone takes great pictures but I have trouble holding it steady when I pouch the button.

SAQA had the most amazing display of quilts with the theme of "Silver".  It was just so inspiring that I actually finally took out a membership.  Maybe the membership will help me to keep focusing on my art quilts.  To watch a slideshow of the Silver exhibition click here slideshow.

My friend, Shirley and I really enjoyed everything that Houston and the Festival had to offer.  Since Shirley is a long-arm quilter, she was focusing in on the quilting on the exhibition quilts.  Look what followed her home!!!  I talked her into the red thread so she can quilt my red and white quilt whenever I get that done...

Tomorrow I will be teaching Colour Studies to the lovely ladies of the London Embroiderer's Guild.  I look forward to spending another day with them.  If you are interested in this workshop I think there is still room in the workshop at Joyce's Sewing Shop in London on November 29th.

Colour for Quilters is being offered at Cherished Pieces in Tillsonburg on November 22nd.

Stay warm!

Monday, October 20, 2014

River Cruise and Quilts

Hello Quilters!
Hubby and I have returned from an amazing river boat cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam.
The scenery is truly breathtaking.  Castles, trees, wineries and beautiful towns and cities.
With health issues, the tornado and Mom's death, we were ready for a vacation and Viking Cruises certainly knows how to put on an amazing cruise.  The food was very good and the accommodations were tight but very well designed.  We really liked the informality of the river cruises as opposed to the ocean cruises.  We will certainly do another river cruise.
Here are some photos of our trip.  Since Hubby is an amazing photographer, I didn't take too many photos.  I really should be showing you some of his instead..... but here they are nevertheless.
Castle and steam train on the Rhine.
Spectacular mosaic floor in the Cologne Cathedral.
I have actually managed to finish two lap quilts.  We'll......except for the bindings.

The quilt above is a kit that I purchased from the AQS Show in Grand Rapids.  The pattern is from Modern Quilt Studio called Party of Four.  It was very fast and simple to make but I loved the fabric choices.  This is a Christmas gift for my daughter's boyfriend.  Hope he likes it!

This quilt is from American Patchwork and Quilting October 2013.  The pattern is called Light the Way designed by Jinny Beyer.  I think I would do the construction a little differently if I were to make another one but I love the finished quilt.  Shirley did a wonderful job of quilting it for me.  This quilt still needs a home so I'll put it in the pile until I find it one.  The fabrics for this quilt were purchased at Cherished Pieces in Tillsonburg.

I will be presenting my "Tips and Tricks for Quilters" lecture at the North Lambton Quilters Guild in Port Franks on Wednesday night.  Guests are always welcome.

Kalidoscope of Quilts is having me come on Saturday, October 25th to teach my Colour Studies workshop.  There are a couple of spots left if you are interested in coming.  It wouldn't take long to get the supplies together and it's a great workshop to learn how to put fabric palettes together.  This is the method that I use for most of my quilts these days.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

How to Host a Speaker in your Guild.

I wrote this awhile ago but thought it might be worth repeating since most of the guilds start up this month.

Rules for having a teacher/guest speaker to your guild.
1.  Have a parking space reserved close to the door for the speaker so unloading won't be so difficult.
2.  If the teacher has to drive for more than 2 hours to get to your venue, you might consider asking her to come an hour early and have dinner with you.
3.  Have someone to assist the teacher with set up and take down.
4.  Have a glass of water available to the speaker.  You get a little dry talking for an hour.
5.  Pay the teacher immediately after her lecture.  With a long drive back home late at night she shouldn't have to sit through your business meeting.  Request an invoice when she arrives or have it emailed before the date of the meeting.
6. If the teacher is being billeted by your guild, make sure that the billet is close to the teaching venue.  Driving for 30 minutes to get from the billet to the teaching venue makes for a long day.

Any professional teachers out there who would like to add to my list?
Charity Quilt using up kid's print leftovers.

I haven't had a lot of time in the studio lately so I thought I'd show some of the things I'm working on.

Test Block - really fussy cutting required - this may not go further than one block!

Chipping away at this lap quilt.  Love the fabrics!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Goodbye Mom

I am sad to say that my Mom, Joy Wickenden passed away on September 2nd.  She was 87 and had been suffering from Alzheimer's for many years.  We looked after her at home until 4 years ago when she required 24 hour care.  In July, Mom was diagnosed with cancer.  In the end, she went peacefully one hour after my hubby and I had visited.  My cousin was visiting when she passed away.  I'm grateful she didn't die alone.  So on Monday, September 8th we will have the funeral and interment in Toronto.  We are keeping the service deliberately small with mostly family in attendance.
Donations to the Humane Society or SPCA in lieu of flowers has been requested.  There is an obituary on the Westview Funeral Chapel (London) website.
Thank you to those of you that have called or emailed condolences.  We appreciate the concern and care extended to us.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Tornado Update

Hello Quilters!

Thank you all for your kind offers of help and concern.
Hubby and I are doing just fine, if still a little dazed.
The structural engineer has been in and has determined that the main girder is not damaged so we will be able to stay in the house while the reconstruction is done on the south side of the house.  I'm not sure if we'll be able to stand the mess and the noise but at least the house won't fall on our heads.  We won't know the timeline for a couple of weeks for construction.

The entire neighbourhood is in a terrible state.  Our house was minor compared to some here while other properties weren't even touched.

Here are some outside photos.
Cranes lifting fallen trees off of houses block the road.

Our backyard. 100+ year old oaks fallen.  Roots torn out of the ground.
What's left of the trees in our front yard.
We lost 13 mature trees and many smaller ones.  We will know more about the backyard once the crane has been in to remove the dangerous trees.  The neighbourhood is so noisy with chainsaws, chippers, trucks and workers.  Usually it's very, very quiet.
The workers must be exhausted.  There are tree companies from all over Southwestern Ontario here.

The most surprising thing for me has been the lack of assistance/response from the outside world.  I had always thought that if you had a natural disaster strike that there would be all kinds of agencies and organizations turning up to help.  Since all of the damage was to private property, we have been abandoned and left to our own devices.  The municipality even had to be strong-armed into agreeing to pick up branches from the roadsides.

The emergency services were very quick to respond on Sunday night when the tornado hit.  The volunteer firemen and women were going door to door to check on people.  Union Gas responded to the gas leaks and the roads were cleared as quickly as possible from fallen trees so that emergency vehicles could come through.

Monday was the worst day.  There were so many people driving through to take a look at the damage and take pictures that they clogged the roads and prevented service vehicles and tree cutters from working effectively.  Those people never offered to help anyone but just be entertained by others' misfortune.......shame on them!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Grand Bend Tornado

Hello Quilters!

A big thank you to all of you that have sent emails and made phone calls to see if Hubby and I are okay.  We are not hurt........just in a state of shock, I think.  Who ever thinks that they will be in a tornado?????

We had three trees come through the roof over our master bedroom.  Here's what that looks like.

The walls are cracked and the main roof trusses are broken.  Our builder came out and thinks that they will need to replace the entire south wall of the house plus some of the eastern side and we will need a new roof and trusses.  That means we will need to move out for a bit.  We won't know the complete details of the reconstruction for a couple of week.  In the meantime, we are living in the basement in one of the guest rooms so we are fine.

The tree guys have been here for 2 days trying to get the trees out of the roof.  Today they brought in a crane.  There are some very nasty noises coming from the bedroom!!!!  As long as there isn't a big crash I guess we are okay.....

We have lost close 15-20 mature trees mostly oaks and pines.  Anyone need some free firewood???

The good news studio is fine.  

Again, thanks for all your calls and emails.  It's nice to know we have such caring friends.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Very Bad Blogger

Hello Quilters!

Yes, I have been very neglectful of my blog lately.  Sorry about that!

Hubby and I had a wonderful trip to France and England in June.  We went to northern France to visit the gravesites of my husband's Grandfather and Great Uncles who died in World War I.  It was very touching to see how beautifully maintained the military cemeteries were.  The respect for the Canadian soldiers who fought and died for France is still very much present there.

We were able to visit the Vimy Memorial.  The memorial itself is breathtaking.  The grounds had the remains of the tunnels and trenches embedded in the landscape and a few restored ones for visitors to walk in.

From there we travelled by train to Paris.  We had rented an apartment rather than staying in a tiny hotel room for the same price.  It was so much fun to have a taste of Parisian life!  The apartment was rented through Perfectly Paris in the Montmartre area of Paris.  Having experienced this sort of accommodation, I wouldn't hesitate to do this again.
Notre Dame Cathedral

The Louvre
We spent 5 glorious days exploring Paris and can't wait to go back again.

From there we travelled by the Euro Star Train through the Chunnel from Paris to London, England.
Going through the Chunnel had been on my life list.......check!! It was a bit anti-climatic as there is no real fanfare just 20 minutes of darkness and your in England.

We were in England staying in East Grinstead to do some family tree investigation for my Father's family who lived in East Grinstead for 3 generations.
East Grinstead, UK

Churchyard of St. Swithuns Church in East Grinstead

Altar of St. Peter and St. Paul's Church in Edenbridge, UK where my many times great-grandparents were married in 1705.
As you can see, we had a very memorable trip and hope to return once again some day.
Unfortunately, I've hit a bit of a bump in the road health wise so I haven't been very productive in the studio.  This is my only completed project this month.
Voyager Bag

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Whirlwind of Teaching

Hello Quilters!
What a busy Spring I've had with teaching.  A big thank you to all of the guilds that invited me to share my lectures and workshops with them over the past few months.
Last week found me in Calgary with the Piecemakers of Calgary Quilt Guild for their 25th anniversary.  A special thanks to Sonja who not only worked on the organization for my teaching visit but also had me stay with her.
Calgary Peacemakers working on their quilts.
Here are a few of the projects I've been working on....
Clearing out an old bin of kid's fabrics!  The result was 14 pillowcases for the Childrens' Hospital.  

This table topper was done at Kalioscope of Quilts Potluck Sewing night.  The pattern is Rock Candy by Jaybird Quilts.  Other than the fact that my Cauliflower Mac and Cheese didn't survive the crockpot trip, it was a great evening!

This is the log cabin quilt that I'm working on in the studio.  I'm using lots of taupes, greys and blacks with a fleck of green or rust here and there.  The strips finish at 3/4"so there are plenty of seam allowances and thread used.

I can't remember if I have shown this before.  This is the Voyager Bag from Brenda Miller.  The pattern is very well written.  Shirley at The Marsh Store had a workshop for this bag.  As I'm not too confident with zippers, I was happy to have Shirley lead me through the process.  It was easier than I thought it would be!  Three more of these bags are cut out and ready for me to sew into Christmas presents.  These bags are made with the  foam batting so they are very sturdy.

A Mothers' Day gift certificate from The Marsh Store promoted the palette below.  At the moment, I'm designing a quilt to go with the fabrics.  Sort of backwards, but it works for me!

Yesterday was a spectacular day here on the shores of Lake Huron.  I took a walk along the beach enjoying watching the boaters on the lake and watching the families enjoying their beach time.  There were so many people on the beach that it looked like a long weekend in summer!  That long, cold winter will make us all sun worshippers this summer.  Enjoy!