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!!

Friday, July 31, 2015

I do love a byline!

I was fortunate to be asked by the lovely editor, Heather at Quilter's Connection Magazine to write an article about the recent GMQG Retreat held in February 2015. Our retreat theme was based on the Japanese Festival of Broken Needles and this article gives you a inside and personal view of how and what our committee did with this theme. My article is in the Summer 2105 issue #24 and can be purchased directly from the website or found locally on the shelves of your local bookstore.
Quilter's Connection is a quilting magazine for the Canadian Quilter. Besides being able to subscribe to the magazine and receive 4 quarterly issues either digitally or in print, you can also sign up for a monthly e-newsletter, read the tip of the day, help yourself to free patterns and keep up with shows and exhibitions all across Canada! And there is a blog! 

Do yourself a favour and review this quality Canadian publication!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Beautiful Scrap Quilt

A scrap quilt truly shows how well fabrics "play" together and shows us that there are endless combinations that work, and that work well. I enjoy seeing the various colours and fabrics in a scrap quilt and as I progress with my stitching across the top, I study the fabrics and visualize future possible colour combinations.

I especially enjoyed seeing the variety of fabrics Nancy used in this wonderful quilt - she has placed Christmas prints near kiddie prints, stripes next to florals, novelty prints close to Christmas prints...a huge selection of fabric themes with simply festive results. Her solid red border pulls it all together and a thick poly batt helps create a soft, cuddly quilt ready to brighten up any room. 

I used a simple stitch pattern to create a secondary design within the main body of the quilt. I quilted the outer borders with what I call my "fake" feathers, a quick feathery stitch that carries your eye around the quilt.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


I spent a portion of my day unfolding each and every quilt top and backing I have to quilt and matching them to the thread I have, or to the thread I needed to order. I need full morning sun to be comfortable in my thread choices and today was one of those wonderful sunny days that filled that need. Eventually I finally pared the number of spools I was ordering down to an monetary amount I could cope with and sent the order. I can't be the only one who gets discouraged with the US exchange these days. 

After all that decision making, I went for a run and I haven't decided if that was more discouraging than the price I had to pay for the thread..I started out thinking I would run 5 km and feeling good at the 2 mark decided I would go 10, then at 3 decided maybe 8 and then at 5.5 realized I was finished. Hah. Anyway. 

There have been a flow of quilts coming and going and I haven't been keeping up with posting photos here. Eventually I will share some of them, but right now I have to keep working at finishing up pieces needed for upcoming shows and presentations.

I did want to share a photo of the thank you card that I designed for our guild to send out to the sponsors of our recent retreat. 

And if you were interested in seeing more photos from the retreat, like the card says, check Greater Moncton Quilt Guild Retreat 2015 Photo Gallery and look under Retreat 2015.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Marie's Christmas Quilt

My friend, Marie asked me to quilt this lovely Christmas themed quilt for her as she works on completing a number of her unfinished projects.

Like many quilters, Marie is involved in so many different projects that I sometimes wonder how she gets done what she does and although retired now, she still remains active in many charitable groups. While working as a nurse, she led a campaign to have quilts on every bed in the oncology unit at the George Dumont Hospital here in Moncton. She orchestrated all stages of completion of these quilts and she even looked after the necessary washing and mending that came with strenuous use. The small part I played in this project was to create hand lettered labels for each of the quilts.

So, now in her happy retirement, Marie is actually getting to a few of her own quilting projects, although still in between a lot of her other community based activities. This cheerful quilt was recently on my long arm and Marie has added the binding using the same blue snowflake fabric, making that one Christmas quilt ready for next year. Fortunately I was inspired by the wintery view outside my window as I quilted it.

Tomorrow we are expecting even more snow.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Editing Photos

I dedicated today to editing photos. What a job. It's actually something I generally enjoy, but I found this to be a mind bending experience. As I sorted and edited, I was adding and subtracting from three "albums" as I chose which photos would be used for what purpose. It was a long, eye twitching process but fortunately I was fuelled by a lovely tropical flavoured smoothie and medjool dates. Oh, and an egg. There is an egg in almost every one of my days. 

I tried to remind myself to get up and move at intervals, but wasn't terribly successful until some hours into my task. Actually it was my daughter's text during her lunch break at work that embarrassed me sufficiently to make that first move and to go change out of my pj's. And rebel that I am, I simply moved up the wardrobe chain to yoga pants and a hoodie, all somehow more presentable than fleece jammies. Well, sort of. And no, I don't "do" yoga, but yes, like everyone else, I wear the pants. And at this time of year, in layers.

It's still stinking cold here in New Brunswick. The snow is not disappearing and the small amount that has melted is forming a layer of ice anywhere the snow isn't. Our walkway is a skating rink. I still recall with great clarity the winter I slipped on our cement steps and landed on an already damaged tailbone. I was much younger and put on a brave face for my kids, but it sure hurt for a very long time. I am not looking to repeat that performance so I take great pains to walk around the ice. That takes me into the 6 foot cliffs of snow lining the walk. It is simpler to just not go out.

It is not an easy task being a Maritimer in March.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Festival of Broken Needles, GMQG Retreat 2015

Whew..Well, it's over..There is still a mountain of paperwork, finances, thank you's, photo editing, a post-mortem meeting to be completed, but the actual physical retreat is over and done with. 
A puzzle table in the sun

I belong to the Greater Moncton Quilt Guild, a guild currently in its' 29th year. Each year a retreat is held and this year we were able to accommodate 40 participants. Last year I was one of two "assistant planners" and this year I was Co-Chair and next year I go back to being a registered participant.
Our block challenge was a spool block and the lucky winner went home with enough blocks for a very large quilt top!

We open the doors to our weekend retreat on Friday at noon and close up shop at noon on Sunday. What happens between these hours is pretty amazing whether you are considering what the collective group manages to produce, or whether you are considering the sheer dynamics of 40 women talking, laughing, joking, eating, and drinking, with a few tears mixed in, some from joy and a few less joyful, but all therapeutic none the less. 

I love to plan and execute events. And I feel establishing a theme helps create a cohesive event and makes it easier for the organizing committee. Last year our theme was "Quilters Love to Strip" and all the projects, games, prizes, decorations focused around strips. This year we based our retreat on the Japanese Festival of Broken Needles, an annual ceremony where Japanese seamstresses honour their broken tools by laying them to rest and giving thanks for their service. With this focus on gratitude, we also wanted to educate and were able to include valuable information on needles, pins and thread as part of the handouts. 
Juanita made herself and Shirley oriental mug rugs for the occasion!
We contacted sponsors, both local and online and were absolutely astounded by the support we received. In addition to the small budget we had from our retreat fees, we raised funds by selling tickets on a basket of quilting goodies. Combining what we raised and what was donated, we were able to provide each of our participants with a wonderful goody bag and a door prize! 

The last two years we have included a banquet on Saturday evening as part of the price of admission. This year after the meal, we also held a small ceremony conducted by our own Geisha who gave us much food for thought with her reading of Emily Dickinson's poem, "Don't Put Up My Needle and Thread". She invited each of us to consider the importance of these simple tools as we placed our broken needles and pins in a bed of tofu, just as they do in Japan. 
Our altar

Our broken needled and pins were laid to rest in a bed of tofu

Afterwards we invited everyone to come and have their photos taken in the photo booth we had set up, complete with costumes and props. To say we laughed is an understatement! What a wonderful group of women! Everyone participated and we have some gems of photos as they shared this fun activity with their quilting friends. 
The planning committee 

Co-Chair Nancy and I hammed it up

You might guess I am weary now. I had a full three weeks with a week long trip to Toronto, a three day seminar here, and then this retreat. Today I stayed in bed a bit longer, wore my fleece pyjamas longer than I stayed in bed and I enjoyed endless cups of coffee while I readjusted to the inside of my house. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chocolate River Comfort Quilt

I belong to two traditional guilds. One of these quilts meets every second week during the day and the meetings are working based. Most members bring their sewing machines while others focus on cutting fabrics, or on hand work. Everyone brings their lunch and there is a short business meeting while we eat. I am discovering I like this format and although I am not keen to drag my machine most days, or perhaps just while it is winter, I organize something simple to work on beforehand and enjoy spending some time catching up with my quilting friends. 

This group has decided to create one quilt each year for charity and this year the finished quilt is to be donated to the local women's shelter in memory of Ree Defina who should have been joining the group this year, but who passed last August.

Two members, both close friends of Ree, organized the making of the top and members pieced the blocks at one of our meetings. The top was sewn together and I volunteered to quilt it. I kept the quilting simple because we all know that many hands make light work and I have learned the best way to enhance multiple sewers is to use a simple quilting design. I used my favourite Glide thread with a 20/80 batt. The colours chosen for the quilt were Ree's favourites and the finished quilt has been donated and is hopefully bringing comfort where needed.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Simple Knitting

I am not in the upper echelons of knitters when it comes to executing patterns and textures. However, I find the act of knitting a relatively relaxing pastime and I enjoy making what I consider utilitarian items for my family. I knit socks and have a rotation as to who receives the next pair. They all seem to like wearing what I produce, so I keep at it. Besides, I have a hard time sitting still for long and knitting the same pattern repeatedly keeps me from fidgeting. A recent trip resulted in 1.5 socks..a few hours here and there will finish those up. Then I will cast on the next pair for when I need to keep my hands busy.

This Christmas I wanted to knit a little joke for my daughter. She is a curler and is always telling me how cold she is in the rink. Since I do not have it in me to knit a lovely Mary Maxim seater (remember those? a bulky cardigan with curling motifs?), I knit her a wool hat. And I added some buttons for curling stones...just to be cute. She has my permission to remove the buttons..

She posed for me, we both ended up crying from laughing so hard, and we took a great series of photos of her wearing her hat. This however, if what you get to see...the top of the silly hat. She did wear it once and her curling mates laughed and suggested it could have been worse. There is a pattern circulating that looks just like a curling stone, handle and all. I am sure Simone is grateful that I don't do patterns well!

Since I had lots of wool, I also knit hats for my son and my Dad. I kept them simple and basic, like all my knitting is.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Calm Before the Storm - Shediac, New Brunswick

Whenever snow, storms, blizzards are coming our way, the media is all over it. Conversations are dominated by the topic of what is expected. Comparisons are made to storms of the past and predictions are made for the one coming.

Right now the first blizzard of 2015 is brewing outside my windows. At 8 am, the air was still, no snow fell. Within a half hour the view out my living room window had changed considerably. The snow had begun and the wind had picked up. 

We have electric heat, so the most that can be done to prepare is to run off some extra water and bring in the camp stove. I don't react well to a loss of power, but a cup of hot tea or coffee can go along way to a better attitude. After all these years together, my husband knows this well. 

Our antidote to an impending storm is to head to the beach. Saturday was spent exploring the sands and wharf of the Shediac - Pointe du Chene area. As always, I took my camera and my husband exhibited extreme patience as I stopped and clicked and oohed and oohed more. He carried driftwood and feathers after my pockets were full and helped me push huge chucks of ice into the current and we watched as they floated and crashed and broke up into smaller pieces.
Shediac Beach

Looking toward Pointe du Chene

We met some other like minded folk walking and biking and even had a gentleman in an ultra lite fly just over our heads and wave! My photos don’t convey it well, so you will have to believe me that by times the sun was glorious. 

It was an incredibly restful and fun day.

off the Pointe du Chene wharf

Pointe du Chene Wharf

Shediac Beach

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tyvek Experiments

I received some lovely gifts at Christmas and some came in tyvek envelopes!! Sometimes you just can’t think about something too much - you just need to gather up the materials and give it a try. That is how it came about that I spent a lovely hour or so playing with tyvek, some fabric paint, a teflon sheet, an iron and a heat gun.

Trying this out wasn’t my intention; I seem to recall that I was looking for something totally unrelated when I saw the envelopes and something in my head clicked. Whatever it was, I gathered everything up, laid it out on top of the other bits and pieces I was working on and I found myself painting and heating tyvek. 

Everything I have read or seen about this process tells you to work in a well ventilated area. Disclosure - I didn’t and I didn’t use a mask. Bad of me, I know. I tend to be slack about this type of thing, but I do encourage everyone else to take the necessary precautions. I figure after lettering signs with lead based paints and silk screening for years with little or no ventilation...and besides, it was just two envelopes and I didn’t breath deeply.

Lots of fun to be had playing with this technique! And you don’t need to use fabric paints - any old acrylic paint will do apparently. I can see beads and such intertwined with the pieces I have created. There will probably be some bits of over painting, too, and maybe some fibre bits added. Right now I have some of these laid out with a couple of the pieces I sun printed this summer and I am thinking there are possibilities..

Friday, January 16, 2015

Full Disclosure

These are two views of my dining room. Kind of a before and after..haha I was hosting a planning meeting so had to tidy up this first shot so we could sit at the table. Not even a half hour after everyone had left, the room looked like the second photo. And it isn’t the only room I work in..My excuse? I am working on some techniques and surface treatments as I create fabric for some designs I have going on. 

I am part of the organizing committee for one of my guild’s annual retreats, so there is a pile of materials and props and goodies accumulating in another room upstairs. It is sharing space with the Christmas things I still haven’t sorted and stored again for this year. Maybe I should get to that..

My long arm takes up the back half of our living room, cuddled in next to our treadmill and my beloved spin bike.

I have a room full of fabric, materials and tools downstairs..

I try to contain everything, but I tend to spill over and over into the other spaces in the house. I prefer to work in natural light and when I can’t work on either of my decks (boo! winter), the dining room is perfect for sewing and painting, catching sun from the east, south and west. 

How lucky am I that I am married to a very understanding man. He is used to dirty paint pots and brushes lying by the kitchen sick, dye tubs and rags sitting on the washer, bundles of knitting projects scattered here and there, rug hooking that sits in the living room, plus all that other clutter that comes with me. And he cooks..

Monday, January 12, 2015

Cabin Life and Pickle Quilts

I have to be honest, sometimes by the time I complete posts for the SAQA Atlantic blog where I share moderating duties, I am blogged out. I am transitioning to a new computer as well and the aging MacBook I use for all my photo work takes soooooo long some days when I am trying to edit, watermark and post photos, that I feel like a 4 year old about to throw a tantrum. I usually end of sliding down in my rolly chair (highly technical term for an office chair, but around here, we know of what I speak), throwing back my head and doing a grotesque version of jazz hands...It isn't pretty.

I believe I have written at least a dozen posts for my own blog over the last 3 weeks...apparently all in my head and never committed to the blog. I realized that now as I completed a post for SAQA Atlantic. Wow. Reality check here. 

I could say I have been busy. Which I have been. But after an interesting conversation with my son over Christmas where he detailed his reaction to people who tell him they are busy, well, I hesitate to say that. He pointed out that as an opener, saying you are busy is the best way to stop interaction. If you are that busy, well you had best get back to what is keeping you that way. I am still pondering if that is a "big city" way of thinking as opposed to the more relaxed east coast mentality. But, best to not take chances..

So, I will just show you a couple of lovely quilts by my friend, Giselle, who made these for her very talented daughters as Christmas gifts. She requested straight lines and simple quilting, so I did my best to oblige. 

This one her daughter, a photographer, dubbed her "Pickle" quilt. It is pieced with Kona Cottons.

Giselle used a fabric she ordered from an upholstery shop for the backing. It is relatively soft with a looser weave and matches the colors of the top perfectly.
The second for her daughter, a chef, and is called Cabin Life. This is a free download from Connecting Threads and Giselle pieced hers from their beautiful flannels. Giselle provided 80/20 cotton batting and as always, I used my favorite Glide threads top and bobbin.