I come from a long line of sign writers and am happiest with a brush and some paint! Add
paint to fabric and I get really excited!!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Baby, it’s cold outside.....

Winter has arrived and has come with more weather patterns than we have experienced for many years previous to this one. Along with the snow, rain, freezing rain, sleet and bitter temperatures, we sometimes get sunshine that warms the soul. So many of our trees are covered in ice and laden down with snow; we have lost several already and I am sure more with break under the weight as the days pass. This week we have intermittent sun with very cold temperatures leading into the weekend. Not a time to forget your hat and mitts.....

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

1 and 1/2 inch strips of goodness!

Any time I have to be creative these days seems to spent either in front of my longarm, or, with a pair of knitting needles in my hands. I am merely a competent knitter, leaving the really creative knitting to my sister, Joanne. I have a couple of standard sock and mitt patterns that I use repeatedly (my sock pattern is so worn, I have packing tape on one side to hold it all together and no, I can’t knit from memory..). 

I have completed quilting another quilt before my kids get home for a Christmas break. This top was made by another local quilting friend and she is actually the woman who gave me my first quilting classes. When we first moved to NB, I left behind a solid group of friends in our little community in Goose Bay, Labrador and I was anxious about keeping busy and making some new connections. My husband’s job took him away long hours (which was slightly ironic because we had moved here so we would have more time to spend together as a family..) and I was kind of house bound with two little ones only 17 months apart. So, I signed up for a quilting class through the local community college and a swimming class at the Y. The swimming was all I needed it to be, but the quilting class didn’t get enough participants for it to be a go. When I asked, the college wouldn’t give out the instructors contact info but they would have her call me (a strange privacy issue in a city of 130,000 where her name is synonymous with quilting).

Well, she did call me and for three glorious hours we chatted and made connections and I found a new friend. While we chatted, my two darling toddlers mopped the kitchen and hallway floors and helped themselves to a cheerio snack! Remember, twenty years ago phones were on cords and my range of motion was about 10 feet in any direction..I could see the chaos occurring but knew the mess would be worth the time it took to tidy up. As a result of that call, she decided to give a class at home and so began my foray into the world of quilting.

Her lovely top is the result of a challenge to use up an extensive collection of 1.5 inch strips given to her.
I used Lava, a variegated thread on the top, a navy thread on the back and stitched some evolving clamshells over the entire surface.

I really enjoy being on that side of my machine and watching the design as it grows.
I am not sure who will be receiving this lovely quilt, but I know they will enjoy the calm, yet scrappy feel this quilt has.

The Needle and Thread Network will be taking a short holiday break, so I am joining them today..

Ah, I just got word she loves it so much, she is keeping it!! Great news!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Scrap Quilt for Christmas

This lovely scrap quilt is one I recently finished stitching for two of my quilting friends. The friends, sisters, recently moved their mom from her country home to a new-to-her apartment located nearer to them. After all the cleaning and purging of a lifetime spent raising a large family on the homestead, they realized their mom, also a quilter, hadn’t kept a quilt for her own bed! Some fast action ensued and they asked me to quilt this top in time for their Mom for Christmas.

They used a gentle tone on tone white for the backing, a soft cotton batting and I used an white Omni thread and some free wheeling stitching. I think it a fresh, feminine quilt that will certainly brighten up their Mom’s new digs.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A quilt from start to finish

I really enjoy quilting other people’s projects. I also love dyeing fabric, screen printing, carving stamps, painting fabric, designing. I even enjoy hand sewing bindings. But, there really is a certain satisfaction in completing a quilt from start to finish.
This quilt is for a friend of my daughter. The girls have spent the last two years, well, 26 months to be exact, studying at Dal University in their quest to become physiotherapists. They graduated with their MA’s this October and along with the rest of their class, have now joined the working world. My daughter asked me if I would consider making quilts for two of her best buddies from this class and this is the first quilt completed. The girls have offered to pay for the materials and I am offering my sewing and quilting skills as a thank you for all the times they have provided my daughter with a place to stay, the times they have given her drives, the times their parents have entertained, fed, helped my girl make connections.
This was not a difficult quilt to piece. I used fat quarters, cut 4.5 inch strips, sewed them together randomly, cut these new strips into 8.5 inch blocks and then sewed them together randomly.
The request was for a purple quilt and I think I have accomplished that. Simone helped me choose the fabrics - many which had to be purchased because I soon realized I didn’t actually own that many purples - and the new owner gave me an idea of the simplicity she wanted in her design. 
Once I finished piecing and quilting (I used a panto pattern for this), I used the left over bits from the fat quarters to piece together the binding, achieving a nice scrappy look.
Because it is Friday and because I actually finished a project of my own, I am joining M-R and all the others in at Quilt Matters for TGIFF.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Freehand quilting

This lovely little lap quilt (57 x 69) will keep some lucky person nice and toasty.
I can personally attest to its power to heat because I also sewed the binding on and while I hand sewed, the quilt lay across my lap and kept me plenty warm.
The backing is Fireside and is a breeze to quilt and allows for a lovely stitching pattern on the reverse.
I used thread colors to match the top and back and had fun with freehand quilting.

Tomorrow it will be delivered back to its talented piecer. 

This week I am linking up with The Needle and Thread Network.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jelly roll blue wrapped in ribbons

This is a quilt I recently finished quilting for a fellow member of our local quilt guild. The top was made as a jelly roll project with extra borders added to make it larger. She asked for meandering, which I did, but I stitched a second row of meandering to echo the first and create a ribbon effect. I think that second row of stitching adds just a bit more oomph and gives her lovely quilt a more complete look.

Blues are always a favorite color choice and I feel a blue quilt has such a comforting, calming effect. It is interesting to note that in New Brunswick, more blue paint is sold than over any other color. A bit of influence from our expansive oceans and wide, open skies? I think so..

Friday, December 6, 2013


I know Christmas is coming. I know people might assume someone like myself would be spending time creating gifts for my loved ones. Perhaps sewing up bits and pieces, knitting things, wrapping my hand crafted items. Maybe baking Christmas treats. Well, no.  

Right now I am kind of focused on..

I took these photos lying on a rug on my front lawn around the last of October. I am fixated with these mushrooms, toadstools, whatever they are. Actually, at the SAQA Atlantic retreat, Anne Morrell told me what they were called and in my usual way, I have completely forgotten already. They have a funny name, and they certainly are a weird fungus. Their life span is short; within days they had “melted” and the smell emanating from them grew stronger and definitely less pleasant.

I love how the blades of grass grew right through the lips and how their sweat forms in that beautiful fall shade of orangey gold.

I love how they showed up around Halloween, my most favorite, fun celebration.

I understand how having these randomly popping up could be construed as a sign of witches and goblins and such things misunderstood in the days when it was easy to do just that.

It was sort of creepy how we could see the bright outline of them at night when we looked out our hall window. They grew in a small patch by our front door where they had never grown before and I will be curious to see if they grow there again.

I have printed some of the photos on fabric and matched them up with some hand dyed..I have no idea where I am going with this, but I know I will eventually develop something..no rush.

As for Christmas gifts? I handle Christmas with lists. Tell me what you want, I order it, it shows up at my door, I wrap it, you open it and are happy because it is exactly what you needed, wanted, asked for. I like it because I have given you something useful and because that leaves me time to ponder my mushrooms and tomatoes and beaches and flowers when I have some spare minutes..

Monday, December 2, 2013

SAQA Atlantic - Weekend Retreat

This summer I found myself making a very quick decision (especially fast for me - those who know me know I can agonize over decisions..you should see me when I eat in a restaurant!). I decided - and stuck with that choice - to join SAQA one night and then head to Truro the next day to meet the new-to-me members of SAQA Atlantic. That great day eventually led to an entire weekend of even more wonderful moments and new friendships. And all around the love of fibre.

Under the incredible leadership and keen organizational skills of our Regional Rep, Chris, and the amazingly upbeat and talented, Susan, we spent from Friday to Sunday getting to know each other and SAQA Atlantic, and especially, getting to know ourselves. The goal of this retreat was to introduce ourselves and our work to each other, create personal connections and strengthen the group as a whole. Under this guise, we participated in an ice-breaker, small discussion groups, bigger discussion groups, a studio tour, a presentation. We held a business meeting, a visioning session, had wine and cheese, early morning yoga-ish exercises and an awe inspiring Show and Tell! Even with all these wonderful activities, as with many of these events, probably the best moments arose in the evenings at the Lodge once we had all settled down, kicked back, put our feet up, and started talking. Support was lent where needed, ideas were fostered, techniques were applauded! All while wine was drunk, socks were knit, stitches were taken, sketches were drawn, and friendships were fostered.

I like to get involved when I become a member of a group because I feel the more hands and heads helping out, the better the outcome for everyone, and especially for me. In this group I am one of two moderators of the SAQA Atlantic blog. Our goal for the blog is to keep everyone updated with SAQA Atlantic activities, but as well to showcase the amazing talent of our members. 

If you are interested in seeing what is going on with this amazing group of talented Atlantic Fibre Folk, please drop over and have a look. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sunday in November along PEI’s South Shore

This past weekend, we made a little trip to visit my Dad and family on Prince Edward Island. It was windy and cold and I am so glad I wasn’t driving when we crossed the Confederation Bridge. I am not fond of bridges and when the wind is strong, I like them even less. I counted my knitting stitches very loudly, outloud all the way across. 

We took Dad’s dog, Jake for a walk and raced at high speed in an effort to keep from freezing completely. It was so chilly, my husband wasn’t interested in jumping on the frozen furrows with me although I did convince him to stomp on some ice covered puddles along the road! So much fun!

Here are some glimpses of my island, the south shore of beautiful PEI on a crisp, sunny Sunday in November.....

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Longarm Design

I have learned that the most comfortable way for me to quilt on my longarm is best represented in the photo below. I have my design nearby where I can refer to it as needed and I use one of a selection of chalk pencils to mark my design onto the top. I find chalk wipes away fairly easily with a cloth (or the corner of your sweater..) and I am still not completely won over by the idea of using a marker on my quilts, even if they do disappear with water or heat, depending on the brand and style of marker. 
Generally if I am stitching the same design repeatedly across the surface of the quilt, I might sketch in the first few and after that, I eyeball the balance. This gives me control of the surface design, yet freedom to use the space as I quilt. I can alter the size, the direction and extend my design to fill in the odd spaces that might occur and be awkward if I left them unstitched. And I have to admit, I love using what I call my “cabbage rose" design. I have quilted several quilts using variations of my pattern and all have been well received. 
I also keep a whiteboard near by so I can play with directions and thread paths.  If I happen to create a design I think I would use again, or that I might want to develop further, I take a photo or two of it for future reference. No wonder I have almost 20,000 photos on my hard drive. I take soooo many photos..

I do enjoy the ease and speed of using pantographs, and I also enjoy ruler work. Feathers are the bane of my existence right now, but some upcoming amazing classes with some incredible teachers will hopefully cure me of my hesitation. I quilt feathers. I just don’t love my feathers. I plan to fix that for good!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lament for Summer

It’s getting cold here in the Atlantic. Yesterday there were clumps of white flakes scattered around the ground cover of dry, wilted leaves. This can be a bitterly cold time on the east coast and these temperatures will flit in and out until the snow starts to fall steadily and accumulate. Once that happens, the temperature evens out and it becomes more comfortable. For now, winds off the water eat away at your resolve to embrace the outdoors. When you come inside again, your cheeks are red, your limbs are cold, and your body has to work hard to compensate and warm up again. If the sun is shining, it is all so much easier because a beautiful blue sky can make everything better! But, it is still cold and I for one miss beach weather.

So this is the time of year when I start cruisin’ through my collection of summer photos..and sighing wistfully...I wonder where the summer has gone..again...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sew Sisters Blogathon Canada

Welcome to all everyone visiting via the Sew Sisters Blogathon Canada! This is a great opportunity to find new-to-you Canadian bloggers and re-visit old blogging friends.

Sew Sisters Quilt Shop is a great quilt shop based out of Toronto, Ontario. Living in the Atlantic region means searching for those special fabric needs online as well as on foot and I have found Sew Sisters has a great selection, great sales, their shipping prices are reasonable, and their service is speedy! I have just finished piecing and quilting a quilt for a friend of my daughter’s and a selection of fat quarters from Sew Sisters rounded out my very small collection of purples quite nicely!

My daughter and I had a lot of fun choosing fabrics and her friend gave us an idea of the sort of pattern she wanted. I cut 4.5 inch strips, sewed them in pairs, and then cut lengths 8.5 inches long making finished blocks of 8 inches. I used a solid purple backing, with purple Bottom Line thread on the back and black Omni thread on the top. This pantograph pattern quilted up very quickly and the quilt is surprisingly cheerful and yummy! The binding will be made of leftover scraps of prints.

Log Cabin

This lovely log cabin measures 110 x 110 and took up pretty much the entire bed of my 12 foot machine table. I tried to take a photo of it on a bed, but the combination of gray skies today and poor lighting made it pretty difficult. So, I resorted to one taken of it draped over my machine with every light on in the living room..

I believe it is heading to one of the Prairie provinces once it is bound and packed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

House of Yards

Talk about irons in the fire. I have a quilt on my longarm. I have a top waiting for the borders to be added. And this is a simple quilt so the borders will be simple, yet I still haven’t managed to get them sewn on. Then I have to quilt it. And bind it. And I have a bunch of other projects that I want to do/need to do/ would rather be working on that will just have to wait until I find more time.

I know I will get everything done. I work best when I have a lot on my plate. But, I also realize that I am taking over the house once again. 

My longarm takes up part of the back end of our living room, sitting nestled close to my spin bike and our treadmill. Somewhere in my craziness, I brought up my ironing board and iron and they are still next to my machine. This weekend I didn’t want to hide away from my husband so I moved one of my domestics upstairs to the dining room (yes, our house layout is unusual - our kitchen and dining room are on the second floor). The machine is there still and  is kept company by a growing pile of fabric and tools. I have batts lying on the stairs heading to the third floor. I have a pile of Kroy yarn I just ordered also in the dining room. I have a wicker purse of my Mom’s filled with socks needing mates knit and half socks I need to finish that I carry from room to room. I have stacks of quilting books in our bedroom. I have taken over a closet upstairs for batts (I know my hubby reads my blog occasionally so now he knows where I have tucked them!). And of course, I have an entire room downstairs devoted to fabric, machines, materials and tools..

I don’t think there is anything quilt or fabric related in either bathroom. Or in the garage.

Sometimes I feel kind of bad about claiming so much space for my passions. I try not to do this because sometimes it overwhelms me, too. But, when who you are is so intertwined with creating, this happens. I am fortunate that I share my living space with a man who appreciates what I do and can be counted on for subjective advice just when I need it. Of course, he has no idea that “must be creative” was part of my criteria for finding my soul mate!

All this fibre action means I should connect to The Needle and Thread Network this week.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mug rugs

Everyone attending the SAQA Atlantic retreat brought gifts and goodies to give as a thank you gift to our two retreat organizers. There were lots of yummy threads, ice dyed fabrics, hand dyed fabrics, bits and pieces of personalities tied up in luscious yarns and ribbons. 

I couldn’t get the image of a magic carpet out of my head. And a mug of something hot (warm..) is always beside me, so I opted to make each a mug rug in what I perceived to be a flying carpet shape using some of my hand dyed fabrics. I added a mug that could hold a reasonable portion of a soothing beverage and my favorite, a piece of maple cream from our local Farmer’s Market.

I have to be honest so full disclosure here - I didn’t even know what a mug rug was until a few months ago. But, now the idea of a perky little pad to protect my surface from spills and drops and one that is big enough to hold a mug and a snack makes a lot of sense to me. 

Today I am connecting to The Needle and Thread Network.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Covering journals

I like my journals covered, and it turns out there was a simple way to achieve that without taking a huge chunk of time. These days it takes a while for the lightbulb to pop on inside my head and I would like to think it is simply because I am so busy that the obvious just isn’t obvious. But, really I believe that little voice of reason and sensible solutions has been silenced and left me to figure this stuff out on my own.

While working on something else and pondering how I could make some covers, I glanced at a stack of discharged and batiked fabric on my shelf and suddenly was struck by the idea that perhaps the fabric in itself was enough.

Turns out I was right.

The small journal is covered in a piece of black cotton discharged with bleach which I squirted out of a repurposed mustard bottle. The other was covered with fabric made with a black cotton base on which I freehanded leaves with soy wax and then painted with multiple colors of opaque fabric paint. Once dried I removed the wax to reveal the black outline. This requires a fair amount of elbow grease as the wax is well covered in paint. This results in a fabric with a fair amount of weight which is exactly what I wanted - a fabric with the substance of a suede or leather. I also used some red had dyed fabric for the inner pockets.

Done and done!