Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Better Idea

As a U.S. citizen living in Canada, I need to have a Permanent Resident Card. That allows me back into Canada when I travel. So today I left home just before 8 a.m. to go into Calgary to pick up my new card, four months after I sent in my application.

The sky was heavily overcast, and at times snow skiffed across the road. Near Carstairs I ran into fairly heavy fog. But I arrived at the Harry Hays building in Calgary before 9:30, found a good parking place and was well on time.

There were about forty of us waiting there to pick up our cards, and only three or four were as pale skinned as I am. The rest ranged from champagne to ebony. The three clerks who helped us announced right away, "We ask you to forgive us if we mispronounce your name!" They called us up one at a time, or a family all together. When all the cards were distributed, I was still waiting to hear my name called! One of the clerks managed to find my card in a box. Thank Goodness!!! I didn't want to have to come back another day for it.

I was impressed by the variety in this group, and happy to be part of such a colourful mix. Good for you, Canada, that you draw all these attractive people to be part of you!

After stopping for groceries at a SuperStore on the way, I was home on time to fix our "hot meal" by 2 p.m. And what a feast that was: Quick Food ala Grammilou. Put a cup of water on to boil, add 1/2 cup brown rice. Put another pot of water on to boil, add cut green beans. Melt a little butter in a frying pan, add onions and fresh Steelhead Trout filet. Rinse some fresh spinach, add onions, sliced almonds, and dried cranberries. Spritz with Hellman's Raspberry Vinaigrette, and you have a delicious, healthful meal ready in about 20 minutes. Yummy!

So this afternoon I thought I could goof off a little. I experimented again with paper piecing for the wall hanging. But this time, instead of cutting strips and ending up with bias edges, I cut 4" squares and 2 1/2" square. Here's the first one I made. If you're familiar with paper piecing, you know that you lay the material face side up on one side of the paper. Turn the thing over, and stitch on the lines on the reverse side. Flip the stitched piece and press. Well, there was a small problem with this first one: when I trimmed the extra, I also trimmed the front piece off! I had a good laugh over that! I picked out the seam and used another small square to replace the one that got butchered.

This method is going to work much better,
especially because when the square is finished, you can trim it very accurately from the back. Here the paper side is up and you can see the two diagonal lines where the seams go. After trimming to exactly 4" square, pull off the paper, and your square is ready to go. Four squares make a block, and 25 blocks make a wall hanging.

Next week I'm going to visit Dear Daughter #2 for five days, and I plan to take along a sewing project. So this evening I began cutting the squares I need for the second version of the wall hanging. I have over 50 4" squares cut already out of the 100 that I need, and 36 2 1/2" squares out of the 400 needed. When I made the first wall hanging, I had a stash of 4" squares I could dip into, so that went pretty fast, plus I had cut many of the 2 1/2" squares a few years ago. This is showing me how long the wall hanging actually takes, when you start from scratch.

I was asked to donate a quilted item to an auction in support of a mission group. I'm hoping to finish this new project, a wall hanging for that. It's due by the 10th of April.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not a Good Idea after all

When making the wall hanging shown on the last post, I had tons of trouble making the points match. So I thought, next time I use this pattern, I'm going to paper piece it. That will control those pesky corners!

Well, I got a chance to try it this past week. And sure enough, the points are easy to manage. Instead of a 4" square for the background, I needed only a 3" strip, and only a 2 1/4" strip for the corners. BUT what I discovered when the block was complete: ALL THE OUTSIDE EDGES ARE ON THE BIAS!!! Well, it sounded good, but didn't turn out to be such a hot idea after all. Now...maybe if I paper pieced it using a 4" square and 2 1/2" squares for the corners. I'll have to try that tonight.

On my last post I showed you the beautiful
sunrise. Well, here's the sunset from the same day. Just looking west instead of east, of course, but more breath-taking beauty to absorb at the other end of the day. It's so wonderful to have such open views all around us.

I celebrated my birthday last week. We tried to get tickets to Rosebud on Wednesday, but had to settle for Thursday. That worked out well, because Wednesday was a lovely weather and I was able to clean out the garage and go to the recycle centre, a long overdue trip. Then Thursday dawned dark, cold and snowy. So we went off to enjoy a great noon buffet and a very funny comedy at Rosebud (about 45 min drive). There was a nice surprise waiting for me there: Jim had mentioned when he made the reservations that it was my birthday celebration, and they had a small gift for me at the front counter, a lovely little silver necklace with a pendant that said, "Awesome". What a nice little surprise!

Friday we had good weather again, and the sheets were hung out on the line for the first time this year. I love the fresh smell of line-dried sheets.

On Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon we gave the performances of Faure's Requiem. It was a great performance, and much of the music was just transcendent. We had disappointingly small audiences, perhaps because the local people had not heard of Faure or his Requiem. It's a very gentle work, with very melodic passages, and little of the angst that is found in other requiems. He referred to it as a "lullaby of death," strange terms but maybe appropriate for such a gentle work.

On Friday I started cutting squares for a new
project, inspired by another gift of material from my friend Susan. I used the pattern Turning Twenty for the first time and was surprised how fast and easy it is. The materials are all bright children's prints. The top is finished, but is in two pieces yet, until I find out if I can borrow a Grace quilting frame or not. If I can't I'll quilt it in halves, and then sew the left and right sides together and finish quilting the center. I first tried that five years ago, and found it MUCH easier than trying the manage the entire quilt in my DSM. This quilt top measures 70" x 86".

Now I want to cut some more stash for another Turning Twenty, but in a different colour scheme and using one of the variations on this basic pattern. I have a lot of new projects from the batch of material Susan passed on to me. My plan is to make several projects and then ask Susan to pick one as a "Thank you" gift. She's given me material several times now, and I've garnered some lovely quilts (including that 30's Log Cabin), so it's time to return a gift to her.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beauty All Around

One of the things that I love about our place here is that we have an almost 360 degree view of the horizon. The only area we don't have that spacious view is where the greenhouses are, south of the house and driveway. So we have a wonderful view of sunrises and sunsets. I took this photo this morning just before the sun came up. It's looking east and a little north. The level line is the railroad, on a slight embankment at the back of our property. The sky was actually a deeper fuschia than shows on this snap.

We've enjoyed a lot of blooms indoors the last several weeks, amaryllis, tulips, daffodils. But this past week Jim brought in our first bouquet of the season: pussy willows, with a few dried cranberries, from the high bush cranberries out front, spiked up with a few daffodil blooms. A wonderful breath of springindoors.

The outdoor weather hasn't been too bad lately either, but the forecast for the coming weekend is for cold temperatures and some snow. I really hope this doesn't happen, because Saturday and Sunday we will be giving performances of the Faure Requiem. Some of our players will be coming from Calgary, so we hope for good road conditions.

After my last post I got quite carried away
with that scrap bag wall-hanging. After cutting up all the teal, I found I could make 27 1/2 squares. Since that would be difficult to arrange in good balance, I opted to do 25, and then add borders. This makes it approximately 45" x 45". I had hoped to get enough to make a lap quilt. After I had the borders added (with some bought material) I came across another strip of the original teal, and would have been able to make a lap quilt after all. But by that time I was quite enamoured with the idea of it being a wall hanging. It's a bit brighter colours than show in the photo, and I quite love it. Thanks, Linda, for the sweet compliment on it!

Last Thursday a friend gave me two boxes full of material pieces, some as large as a half yard. The fabric on the table in front of the wall hanging is just a bit of what was given. I sorted it all, set aside a whole whack to bring to the quilting group, and saved out lots for myself this time. I washed it all (four loads!) and just finished at least five hours over the last three days, pressing it all. Quite the job, but now it's all ready to go for whatever I can dream up.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I had such a lovely week! Monday I got tons of work done around the house. The rest of the week I chose to do the things I really enjoy. Tuesday I worked on the "Spring" wall hanging, and now need only to sew three more seams and the front of the wall hanging is complete. Then, of course, I have to make the three-layer sandwich (front, batting and back) and do the machine quilting. And after that, the binding. I want to have this wall hanging ready by the 21st of March, i.e., on time for SPRING!!!

Thursday evening we had a rehearsal of the small ensemble that will accompany the Faure Requiem on the 20th and 21st of this month. When I arrived Ben was dragging music stands out of his car to take them into the Maxwell Centre. He also had made all the arrangements for the rehearsal, including finding the venue and reminding all the players. It was such a treat for me to just go there and play, instead of having to make it all happen!

Thursday at our country quilting group I finished this inset hearts table runner that I started last summer when I made a whole series of them to give away as "hostess" gifts to my cousins. This one never made it to the finish line, but now it's completed. The colours are very different from the other runners, and I like them very much. They look good in our home, as we have quite a bit of blue in our living room furniture.

When that was finished I started on a new project: a scrappy top. About a year ago Bonnie Hunter (of had a good article in Quiltmaker on using up your scraps. She follows a system of immediately cutting up leftovers into standard size squares, ones that she uses often. Inspired, I attacked my big bag of scraps, and did oodles of cutting. I cut the largest squares I could (mainly about 4" sq.) and then smaller and smaller, until the scrap was all cut up. I bought seven clear containers and labelled them: 1 1/2", 2", 2 1/2", etc. up to 4", plus one container labelled "triangles" (for any size triangle). I didn't quite clear up all my scraps, but made a pretty big dent in the pile.

For my new scrappy top I took out the 4"
squares, and a pile of 2 1/2" squares that I had cut from some teal fabric leftover from
a string quilt I made for grandson #3 in '03.
The teal was the unifying fabric. The others were leftovers from his baby quilt. Because I made both of those without a pattern, I didn't know how much material to buy, and had a fair bit left over.

I took the bag of 4" squares and the pile of 2 1/2 " squares and applied the 2 1/2" squares
diagonally to the corners of the 4" squares.

You are seeing the wrong side of the 2 1/2" teal squares. Draw a line diagonally across the smaller squares, and sew just to the right of that line (toward the outside of the 4" square). Sewing just beside the line gives the material the needed room to fold over.

Trim away the outside half of the small squares and press from the center toward the corners.
I used up all the 4" and 2 1/2" squares that
I had already cut. So this is how far I got this afternoon: Just sixteen complete blocks. I think I'll cut some more 4" squares and more of the teal squares, hoping to get enough for a lap quilt at least. Yesterday I had only 6 of these blocks made (a block has four of the squares in it), and this afternoon made the other ten. I can see that I'll have to replace the two blue squares in the bottom row. They just don't have enough contrast with the teal, and fade into the background.

As I sewed Glenn Gould played the Bach Two and Three-Part Inventions for my enjoyment, and then Helmut Walcha played Bach's trio sonatas for organ on the great organ in St. Laurenskerk, Alkmaar, recordings, of course, while the sun streamed through the windows. Such a peaceful afternoon!

Monday, March 1, 2010

1930's Log Cabin

In "Patchwork Quilts Made Easy" by Jean Wells, published in 1994, is this very attractive pattern titled "1930's Log Cabin." It was a quilt I wanted to make ever since I bought the book. Last summer a friend gifted me with a lot of "retro" prints, perfect for that pattern. I started on it right away, and by fall the top was complete, except for the borders.

Then the need to do the two new banners for church took precedence, and this project remained on the design board in its almost finished state until recently. I finished the
project during the Thursday quilting group, and this afternoon finished the last of the hand stitching on the binding and the hanging sleeve.

I'm delighted to see it on the wall above our bed, where it nicely complements the Pennsylvania Hex design quilt that we've been using for 13 years. The center red squares are actually left over material from the bed quilt.

I decided to quilt "lozenges" point to point to offset how very rectangular the quilt design is, using white thread on the background, a variegated on the coloured patches, anchoring them to the corners of the red squares. I'm very, very pleased with how this project turned out. I love it on our green wall.

I wanted a "feature" wall for the headboard and did a base coat, then a sponged coat, and then spent 6 hours stamping all the oak leaves, one at a time.

As long as we are in the bedroom, I'll show you what else adorns the walls. I've always been someone who thinks that hand-made is better than store-bought, and our bedroom really reflects that. First up are two crewelwork pictures. The left hand small stitchery was a valentine for Jim in about 1980. The stitchery on the right I did in the 80's to go with the Hex design quilt for the bed (which wasn't finished until 1997).

In the 70's my dear friend Hilda bought a LeClerc 36" floor loom, and we did some weaving together on it. She had a plain white warp on and I made this wall hanging on that plain warp. I call it "Winter Sun" as the background seems like a snowy landscape. The background yarn is all "White Buffalo" unspun yarn. The sun is made of several colours of red yarn done in Rya knots. What doesn't show clearly on the photo are the small coloured beads scattered in the fringe. That was a suggestion of the woman at the weaving shop, and really finished it off nicely. Just seemed to be a needed touch.

On the left is a watercolour that I did in 1991, and gave to Jim as a present. It was only recently matted and framed, thanks to my friend D. and now hangs on the wall by his side of the bed.

And finally we have, opposite the foot of the bed this wall hanging, which was made in 1996 for the church we were serving as a Thanksgiving Day banner. When I finished it, Jim said, "I don't want you to give that away." So I told the banner committee: you may use it whenever you want, but otherwise, it will hang at home.
I hung it in the Garden Centre Sales Building for a few years, but was unhappy with how fly-spotted it became over the summer. So I made another banner to replace it in the Sales Building, and brought it into the house.

We enjoy having it in our room, reminding us every morning how much we have to be thankful for!