Thursday, March 17, 2011

Not So Green!

Today is Saint Patrick's Day, the wearing of the green, for those so inclined. Alberta is not so inclined right now. There was a snowfall last night, heavy enough that the snowplows were out early this morning clearing our road. We live on a school bus route and it's usually cleared before 8 a.m.

When M. and I went walking the weather seemed lovely: mild temperatures (that's relative, of course), big, fat snowflakes falling gently down, and barely any wind. Later this morning the snow intensified, so our landscape is a beautiful, fresh white.

The sun came out in the afternoon, and there is a bit of melting going on. You can hear the roof draining through the downspouts. Our balcony thermometer reads +12º C, but that's on a brown, wooden post that has its back and side in the sun. The weather station at the airport is recording +1º C, so I guess the truth is somewhere inbetween.

I took some video of the snowflakes drifting down, but it seems my laptop doesn't want to recognize my video camera anymore. Thought I'd try posting a little video, but no cooperation there.

March 17 is my birthday, so we're celebrating today. Went out for dinner this afternoon, as we're used to eating our main meal at 1 p.m. When we got to the restaurant there was one other couple eating there, and later we had the place to ourselves.

Because I was born on St. Patrick's day, the doctor called me Patricia for a while. That wasn't my parents' choice. I was named Louise after my mother's favorite cousin who died when she was only 23, just before she was to get married. My Scottish aunt suggested Kathleen for a middle name, so that was chosen as my (Dutch/ American) parents' nod to the holiday.

I fooled around with the camera for a while, trying to get a good birthday photo as the Dear One is not a photographer. So here it is for what it's worth:

I'm grateful for my birthday, for each of the years that have been given to me, especially as my older brother and sister both died when they were only 45. I'm grateful for my good health, and I'm most grateful for the love of my Dear One and family.

This coming Tuesday I will be leaving for over two weeks for that hiking/camping trip with our older son. I won't be able to post during that time, but plan to take oodles of pictures. I'll be writing a log of the trip in a lovely little notebook given me by the women of the country quilting group. So long for now!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A New Habit Saves the Day

My usual procedure when I have trouble falling back to sleep in the middle of the night is to get up and begin my day. But in February there was one week when my day began at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. three times. I was totally useless after the third "early" rising.

So I decided I had to handle this differently. Now, when I know I'll toss and turn for some time, I get up and go downstairs to the spare bedroom. There I can toss and turn without disturbing Jim's sleep, and usually manage to fall back to sleep after an hour or so.

One night this week I went downstairs around 2 a.m. and noticed that the doors to the solar space were still closed. Here's a picture of the solar space with some of the many plants growing there. This space has no heating except what it receives from the sun during the day, and on very cold nights, what comes from having the doors to the inside open. With night-time temperatures dipping to -28ºC this week, it's very important to heat this space overnight, so I was very surprised to find the doors closed.

I went upstairs and asked Jim about it. What a scare that was for him! He came down and opened both doors and turned the furnace up quite high.

The temperature next to the windows was right at 0ºC, and if we hadn't discovered this problem, most of these plants would have frozen by morning.

How thankful he was!!! And I was glad that my new habit of trying to sleep downstairs had let us discover the closed doors before it was too late.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Over the weekend I began machine quilting the Block of the Month quilt, shown in the last post. In only two hours I had outlined each of the 12 stars and put a line of stitching just inside the border. Then I laid it out on the table and had a very upsetting discovery: it was full of wrinkles! Well, too full for me to find it acceptable.

Dear One, for whom it is being made, thought it was still passable. He's very easygoing about many things, wrinkles being one of them. (Thank heaven for that as we grow older!) But it just bothered me. As we were watching the weather forecast, and parts of "Les Miz," I felt more and more upset about this. Up till that point, the BOM had been a really fine project. It felt ruined now.

So I reached the difficult decision that all that work had to come out. I started right in and spent 2 1/2 hours "unsewing." This morning I picked it right up as soon as Jim had his breakfast (I eat an hour later because of my thyroid medication). Another 1 1/2 hours later and 5 of the 12 blocks have been "unsewed." With 12 blocks altogether, the "unsewing" is going to consume several more hours. BUT, it is worth it! In the end, it will be a lovely quilt, and I will be happy with it.

This BOM is the only project I've made in a long time that contains all new material. It's my major project for this winter, and I want to feel good about it when it's finished.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Two Projects on the way

(I have no idea how this first paragraph was underlined! Sometimes mysterious things happen on a computer!)
Yesterday I got down on the living room floor and hand basted this block of the month quilt, in preparation for hand quilting it. It will be for the dear one, seated reading on the love seat. Took me about 3 hours to finish basting the whole thing in approximately 8" squares. I was really looking forward to doing some hand quilting.

This morning I put it on the Q Snap frame and got started. But that's as far as it went. After about 12" of quilting, I gave up on it. I have plenty of experience handquilting, and can usually load 4 or 5 stitches on my little needle before pulling it through. But this was so exceedingly hard to push the needle through, I was averaging just 2 stitches before I had to pull it through. If I loaded on 3 stitches it was too hard to pull through.

The batt is 100% cotton, Quilter's Dream. So that can't be the problem. I think the trouble lies with the backing material. It's a beautiful, silky feeling cotton, which I suspect has too many threads per inch to quilt easily.

So after lunch I packed up my backpack and walked into town for some machine quilting threads to match. Too bad! I was looking forward to doing the handquilting and thought this quilt (and its recipient) deserved that kind of effort.

We've had unseasonably cold weather. So much so that today's walk was the first one this week. When the thermometer sits at -24º and the wind is blowing, the sensible thing to do is stay inside and sew. So that's what I did for the whole week.
First I was machine quilting a panel for a baby blanket. By 4 p.m. on Monday I was getting bored with that, so I started a new project.

This cute wall hanging was a pattern published in the
Quiltmaker magazine (issue #134). I had the pattern up on my design board ever since, and jumped into this week. It was fun! It's a paper pieced pattern, and proved addictive. Each block took about 20 minutes to make, and as soon as one was made, I started another. By Wednesday evening the whole piece except for the outer border was put together.

I didn't have enough of the variegated green to make a border, so went into town on Thursday to buy some more green. Found this and bought two fat quarters to make a 2" border all the way round.

I still need to take all the paper backing off the blocks. It was just the right project for a week inside.

Our string quartet gave its concert this past Sunday afternoon to a cozy audience of about 40 people at the Arts Academy. It went very well!!! We were all happy with our performance, and the audience likewise, indicated by the standing ovation at the end of the concert. We hope to repeat the concert at another location sometime in May, thus making better use of all the effort we put into learning and polishing the music.