Sunday, May 31, 2015


Two years ago I invited a friend to our quilting club's final "Show and Tell" party at which our members display the quilts they've made that year.  I posted earlier about the one we had this year.

S. was not a quilter at all.  She had other hobbies and interests.  But she won a door prize that night, a few fat quarters of nice fabric.  "Well," she thought, "I guess I'd better do something with these."  She started making quilts.  Her first one was a lovely raggy quilt.  It turned out very well.  Since then she's made many, many quilts and given most of them away.

Her chief delight is appliqué, and she's become very good at it!  She does very careful work and her quilts turn out extremely well.  Here's a picture of her latest, a baby quilt along with a doll quilt made to match.

I was delighted that she took the time today to bring it here to show me, and happy that she gave permission for me to share it with you.

Friday, May 29, 2015


When you run a business open to the public you come into contact with all sorts of people.

There is one little old lady in town (for all I know she's just same age as I am) who comes every year toward the end of our selling season and spends at least an hour scrutinizing plants, asking prices, poking around looking for something she might consider buying.  The season is not complete until she has made her visit.  Today was her day.

She showed up with two other ladies just like her!  Jim approached one in the greenhouse (our helper S. was busy in the sales building) and asked if he could help her.  With her nose in the air and her mouth pursed she said, "No, I want to have the owner."  Jim went and called S. out to help.

Pretty soon it was time for S.'s lunch hour and she left.  The trio spent about 45 minutes examining plants, poking at pots and asking prices.  Jim answered.  "Our" little old lady said, "That's really expensive!!!"  "Oh yes," said Jim, "VERY expensive."  (He didn't tell me what it was.)  I wonder if she heard the sarcasm in his voice.

Jim came into the house to attend to a few matters and left the ladies to continue looking.  After some time they were finished.  They had two tomato plants and were digging into their change purses to see if they could come up with the right amount, arguing in the meantime about how much the GST would come to.  He rang up the sale: two tomato plants at $4.50 each: $9.00 plus $.45 tax.  To his surprise, "our" old lady took out a twenty dollar bill to pay.

When he told me this tale I commented, "You have to feel a little sorry for old ladies like that."  He said, "If you live to be 120 you could never be like that!"

Actually Alberta, Canada is a pretty good place to be a little old lady, even a little old lady who really does need to pinch pennies.  Everyone in Canada is covered by the universal health care.  When we see a doctor or go to the hospital, we don't get a bill.  The government pays.  How is it funded?  Everyone pays a fee according to their taxable income.  An extremely fair system!

Plus the Canadian government sends seniors a monthly check, again, adjusted according to their taxable income.  The amount I receive each month would be enough for me to buy my groceries (if I were single) and even go out for a meal a few times in the month.

Alberta also helps us by co-paying our prescriptions--for seniors I mean.  For a needful drug, such as my thyroid medication, the most you pay for having a prescription filled is $25.  There is a limit to how much medication you can get at once: a three month supply.  Unless that is, you are a "snowbird"--one of those fortunate people who get to go south to escape some of the Canadian winter.  In that case, the pharmacist may give you enough pills to last until you come back.

There is a limit to how long we can be gone out of country without losing our benefits: it's six months, or seven months, depending on which province you live in.

When we lived in Oregon in the early 80's people spoke about the Canadian system with horror as "socialism."  Well, if that's socialism, a system that takes care of people even when they are poor, I'm for it!

P.S.  When S. came back from her lunch break, she said to Jim, "You can go relax now. The Owner is back!"

Thursday, May 28, 2015


said the spider to the fly...."  A little drama unfolded beside me in a sunny windowsill.

A fat fly became entangled in a tiny spider's web.  He buzzed and wriggled and tried to fly free.  The spider danced around him--climbed right onto his back.  Much buzzing and jiggling.  The spider had a wild ride.  But in the end that little spider, scarcely bigger than a pinhead captured the fly.  

Do tiny little spiders have poison to kill a fly?  Or did the fly simply get too tangled and exhaust himself?  The whole drama took just a few minutes.  I was impressed.  The one fly should feed that spider for many, many days!

I prefer spiders to stay outside, but now I have conflicted feelings about the doughty little fighter.  What odds the little beast overcame!


Sometimes when I run into trouble with a quilt I put it aside and let it moulder for a while.  That wasn't an option this time, so this morning I sat down with the stitch ripper and carefully removed every third stitch of the seam joining the rippled border to the pinwheel quilt top.  It took a while because the seam is 84 1/2" long.  Pick, pick, pick and finally it was finished.

I removed the loose threads--a lint roller is helpful for a quick job--resewed the ends of the cross seams that had given way when the border was simply ripped from the quilt, pressed everything nice and flat.  I laid the quilt top out on the floor, took the border piece, which is exactly the length of the quilt and pinned it VERY carefully, about every six inches.  This time when I sewed the border on I (smartly) used the even feed foot.

All that care (that should have gone into the process the first time) paid off.  The border is just how it should be:

Three other borders to go and then layering the "sandwich."  I hope to get to the machine quilting stage today.  We have an overcast, drizzly day, which probably means the garden center won't be too busy today and that will give me more time for sewing.  YAY!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I had some fun this afternoon at the local quilt shop picking out several pieces of fabric to finish some of the quilt tops I've been working on.  I bought this nice brown cotton for the borders of the Pinwheel quilt.  It was only $9.99 a meter, so I bought enough to cut the long borders on the lengthwise grain without needing to piece them.  It's a very useable brown!

I cut the long borders at 85" as the quilt had measured 84 1/2". That would give me just a little margin.  I marked the halfway point on the border and pinned it to the halfway point on the quilt.  I smoothed out the rest and pinned it at intervals.  Then I sat down to sew the border to the quilt, with the border underneath and the quilt top on top.  That way I could see just where the points were.

I sewed the whole seam and, to my dismay, found it was 3/8" too short!  It seemed like an awful lot of stitch ripping, so I loosened the first block and a half, and then I took hold of both sides and RIPPED THE SEAM OUT!!!  Scary, but fast.  It worked fairly well, except that several of the cross seams also ripped open about a 1/4".

I cut another border section of 4 1/2" width and this time 86" long.  The strip was actually 105" long before I cut off the end.

I sat down at the machine and sewed this new border strip on.  AND THE SAME THING HAPPENED!!!  The blooming border was 3/8" short.

I should have given up at that point, but wasn't smart enough to do that.  So I tried to work around it by taking out the last 15" of seam, cutting off the end piece of the border and sewing on a new, long piece.  Most borders are pieced, eh?  There finally was enough material to reach the end and then some.

But when I turned it over the truth of the "shrinking border fabric" became evident.  THE WHOLE BORDER WRINKLES ALONG THE EDGE OF THE QUILT.  The sad truth is that I now need to take my stitch ripper, sit down and take the whole seam out, stitch by stitch.  OUCH!!!

I think I need to do a little repair on that stressed out edge of the quilt, and then carefully pin the border in place and attach it, but this time let the border be on top and the quilt underneath.

I think I'll leave that for tomorrow.  I've had enough for today!  The good part: I have oodles and oodles of border fabric.  

Monday, May 25, 2015


That photo in the last post is quilt #12 for this summer.  I bought some more strips to finish it, but couldn't resist trying out that pattern in some other fabrics--the ones the pattern was actually meant for.  I'm really, really liking this combination.

There was hardly any time to sew last week, with all that cleaning, which included the   garage.  But yesterday afternoon I did find time to get into the new fabric.

Around 6 p.m. I made a stupid mistake and decided it was time to quit.  Here are some of the strip sets and you'll see the one on the right has one of the seams facing the wrong way.

This morning I spent time picking out all of those stitches, 42 inches worth, pressed the strip flat and resewed.  Well, sometimes it's possible to be just too stupid!  I sewed it on the wrong way again!  There's some pickin' out ahead!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Yesterday I didn't sew at all, which is pretty unusual, especially considering I'm trying to finish a dozen quilts before summer.  But on Monday, having finished the Boxy Stars top I had to try out the next pattern, "Tradewinds" by Cozy Quilt Designs.  This is a super easy pattern and goes together very fast.  You make strip sets of 3 strips and of 2 strips, cut them into triangles and put them together with a triangle of background.  Four of these blocks make a complete big block.  I made all of these in one day.  These were made using a bought strip set.  Looks kind of 70's, doesn't it?  Then I ran out of strips and had to wait until I was in town again to get another set.

In the meantime, it was a lovely sunny day on Tuesday and I was inspired to do some heavy duty cleaning.  Got out the power washer and attacked the garden shed which was direly dirty!  Mouse droppings and dirt and grease, all gone!  Well, there are a few soaked-in greasy spots on the floor, but the shed is transformed!  AAAAH, satisfaction.  
But the weather was still nice and I was still inspired, so I carried the deck furniture that had been stored in the shed out to the deck, sprayed them with Fantastik with bleach and power washed them.  Doesn't this look inviting?  Just needs a pitcher of lemonade and a plate of cookies on the little table.
 Still felt ambitious so I did the same with the furniture on the back patio.  By that time it was 6:30 and time to quit and enjoy a well deserved rest with some diet coke and lots of ice!

I just wonder how I could still feel ambitious about cleaning this morning, but when you're on a roll, go for it!  So I filled a bucket with some hot water, dishwashing liquid and ammonia and attacked the linoleum with a stiff scrubbing brush.  Fortunately I have one with a long handle and am able to scrub standing up.  Then down on hands and knees to mop up with hot water and dry with an old terry cloth towel.  OH BOY!  Do I love a clean house!

In the meantime I will share a few comments that came through my email.

Sharon wrote: "...more or less keep up the good quilting work and stamina...ha, ha and also show us your completed work!!  I also enjoy seeing the nature comments and cooking, green house, etc. etc."  

Betty wrote: "My opinion of the boxy stars is that it should be shown somewhere - it is so clever, the colors seem perfect to me."

Shirley wrote: "The Boxy Star top is really pretty.  Maybe I will try that one day because it is paper piecing.  I do lean toward the blue border but the purple does look good too."
(I happen to know that blue is Shirley's favourite colour.)

Thanks, Friends, for sharing your encouragement and comments!

Monday, May 18, 2015


I did find time now and then over the weekend to do some sewing on the Boxy Stars quilt, and the top is finished.  This is a very easy pattern that you can find on Bonnie Hunter's Free Patterns tab.  I made paper piece foundations for it, and the points are very precise.  I'm hoping that the machine quilting will bring out the "stars," the darker fabrics at the centre of each block.  If not, well, it's nice the way it is.

There's the usual decision making involved: a purple binding or a blue one.  I'm leaning toward the purple, mainly because there's been a lot of blue around lately.

There were lots of scraps from these blocks, and I had been throwing them all into the waste basket.

 As I was looking through my looseleaf binder of patterns I came across a paper foundation for a Pineapple block and realized that these little scraps, ordinarily too small too save, were just right for the little triangular spots on that block.

I upended the wastebasket on the dining room table and started sorting.  It proved worthwhile, as I now have two bags of scraps toward a pineapple block.  Some are already cut into triangles and others are an appropriate size also.  My general rule is a scrap must be 2" square to be saved.

A few friends here have let me know that they do have a problem posting a comment.  The permissions are set for anyone to post, even as anonymous, so I don't know how to fix this problem.  You can always email me at either of my two email addresses.  One is given on my blog information, and the other one my friends and family know.

Friday, May 15, 2015


Yesterday I sewed all day--well, apart from cooking meals, running errands for the Garden Centre, going into town for the mail, etc.  I wanted to finish sewing all twelve blocks for the Boxy Stars quilt.  It wasn't fun!  I got way too involved!  In the middle of the afternoon I had to take a break, breathe a little, read a little, just "unhook."

But I DID finish all twelve blocks.

Today I'm taking a more relaxed approach.  I sewed some of the individual blocks together (the four parts), and they look really good!  Just two blocks are finished, all put together.  But I also did a good whack of weekend housecleaning, served a great dinner, planted onions and helped out at the sales building.

Maybe I can finish them this weekend!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


There's been progress over the weekend on the Boxy Stars quilt top.  At first I had the blocks right up against each other, but that gave a puzzling appearance.  It was hard to distinguish the stars, the dark fabrics from the rest of the block.  Separated by a planned 2" sashing with cornerstones, that becomes a little easier.  Perhaps with the right sort of machine quilting they will stand out more.

In the meantime I started  machine quilting the Colour Block top (with the teal sashing in a lattice-like pattern.)  I'm doing a simple stitch-in-the-ditch on either side of the sashing.  This morning I was continuing that work when I noticed the stitching was pulling.  Have no idea what was causing that.  Perhaps the machine needs to be rethreaded.

The variegated blue for the backing was almost empty, so I took out the bobbin to refresh it, and can't find that blue thread ANYWHERE!  Where could it have disappeared to?  I have no idea.

I'm also looking for an apron pattern that I bought from a friend recently, since I now have the perfect combination of fabrics to make one.  Can't find that pattern anywhere either.  Have there been some gremlins in the sewing room lately?

The past two days I have seen this sight twice: on Monday a robin was in the garden picking up pieces of straw in his beak.  Yesterday this chickadee was perched on the balcony railing for a while.  What a mouthful!

I'm always impressed with birds.  Such hard workers!  Such devoted parents!

Saturday, May 9, 2015


The colour block quilt top is finished.  It just needs borders, quilting and binding.  The pinwheels quilt top is also finished, completely sewed together.  That might get some borders added to make it big enough for a single bed.

The new project got started yesterday: a Boxy Stars by Bonnie Hunter, although I've made a paper pieced pattern from it, rather than just using strips.  I bought a pack of 24 - 2 1/2" strips in the lighter colours, as there were not many light coloured fabrics in my stash.  I'm choosing the darks to go with the lights from my stash.  It'll be a nice, bright and cheerful quilt.  The blocks are large (consisting of four smaller blocks.)  I'm thinking of doing a four block by five block setting, which would give somewhere around 48" x 60".  We'll see as we go along what seems to work.

The white fabric was on sale at $8.49 a meter, so I bought altogether 5 meters, thinking it's a good background fabric.  There are little white flowers on the white background.

There have been no comments on the blog for a long time.  I'm wondering if there's a problem getting a comment published.  That happens to me sometimes on other blogs, the comment just disappears when I click on "publish."  I do have the comments set to accept anyone, even anonymous.  Let me know if there's a problem.

Monday, May 4, 2015


 This first quilt was actually finished about six weeks ago.  I brought it to Brenda McRae for long arm quilting, the first quilt ever.  She did a good job and I'm happy with it, but I do find that long arm quilting stiffens a quilt.  I think I'll go on doing my own machine quilting.
This second photo shows a close up of the machine quilting.  I like the pattern, especially that it's quite open.  I should try some of these patterns on my DSM.
Second finish: a raggy quilt that I cut out and started sewing just over three weeks ago.  Not too evident on the picture is the fact that every other block has an appliquéd heart on it.  Very quick to make, but all that chopping on the seams takes quite a while.  I wouldn't want to do it without the proper scissors!  They really do make the job easier!

Friday, May 1, 2015


with a new project!  After our quilt club's final meeting I immediately cut out a new quilt.  I have a drawer full of batiks and decided to make a "colour block" quilt with them. This is a pattern I've used several times already, and it's quick, easy and effective.

In this picture you see the cut squares along with the book that has the colour block pattern.

I cut 48, 5 3/4" squares, each of a different batik.  Then I cut 10, 1 1/4" strips WOF of the teal.

Cut the squares diagonally in half, inset the 1 1/4" strips and you have the following pleasing arrangement:

I realize the two blocks on the 2nd and 3rd row from the top have the strips facing the wrong way.

Actually that gives me ideas for something different.  How would it be to make a different arrangement of the sashing?  Could be pretty interesting!  But I think with this one I'll do the standard arrangement.  This top still needs 4" borders to fill it out to a 40" x 50" lap quilt.