Thursday, February 26, 2015


Today I went to the country quilting group and had a very good day there.  They meet every Thursday from 9 a.m. to around 3:30 p.m.  One of the group brings lunch for everyone, and today there were nine of us.

I had made the blocks for the split 9 patch last August when I visited our daughter in Ontario.  She had to go to work each day, and I amused myself by making these blocks.  Two weeks ago I sewed them all together at our town group meeting.  This week I did the machine quilting while at the town group, and today I finished it off with the binding.

I really like this quilt, and find it amazing that it looks so good with just odds 'n ends of scraps.  The red border was the finalist, and it looks good and rich.

So nice to come to the end of a project and like how it turned out!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


 Over the past weekend I finished knitting the second scarf, the one for Helen.  This morning I put on the fringe.  Here it is just trimmed with the rotary cutter and the scraps picked up with the lint roller.

This one is 90" long, rather than 100" as Tom's was.  I took a second picture to give an idea about how long it is.  It's wrapped completely around two times, with ends hanging down.  I think it will be really cozy.

I will mail it this afternoon, and hope it reaches Helen on time to be useful this winter.  That's not saying I hope their winter weather hangs on much longer!

We had a nice break with rising temperatures for a few days, warm enough for Jim to spend a few afternoons trimming shrubs in the landscape.  Now we're back down to -15ºC, about +5ºF, with light snowfall.  Oh well, it makes the old snow that was looking dirty and discouraged all fresh and white again!

At quilt club yesterday Sharon showed us a different approach to pinwheels that she learned from a pattern.  I so very impressed, because her points were
meeting so precisely in the middle.  That
quilt I made last year that was half pinwheels pretty much decided me to never, ever do pinwheels again.

In this method you begin with two contrasting 10" squares.  Lay them down right sides facing.  Sew the outside edges together, all four of them.  Now cut across the squares diagonally from corner to corner, turn and do the same cut from the remaining two corners.  You then have the four parts of the pinwheel block.  Sew these four together in the traditional manner .

The pattern she's using is called a "Disappearing Pinwheel," because the next step is to make four more cuts, 2 1/4" from each center seam.  That gives you a smaller pinwheel and some rectangles that can be arranged in various ways around the pinwheel to give an interesting block.

I was kind of excited about trying this new method, so when I got up just before 5 a.m. I cut two 10" contrasting squares and made the large pinwheel.  It did come together very nicely, but what I discovered in doing this is that the outside edges are all on the bias.  That makes it a little tricky to handle.  You would have to be quite careful when you sewed the blocks together, but, for sure, it's an interesting alternative to your regular method for pinwheels.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Fresh snow overnight revealed these delicate pawprints leading up to our backdoor.  A little too far apart for a cat, but possibly made by a fox.  They led here and there around the house, out to the greenhouse, back from the greenhouse, out the driveway and across the road.

Coming the other way were bigger paw prints.  They could have been made by a dog, but were more likely made by a coyote.

One of the really interesting things about living in a rural area is the interaction with wildlife.  We've seen foxes, coyotes, deer, a moose, muskrats, weasels, gophers, mice, skunks!  Surprisingly few deer have visited our yard this winter.  I hope that stays true through spring, when all the tender new growth is so enticing!

That's not to mention the incredible number of bird species we see and listen to here, especially during the long days and short nights of June.  We wake to birdsong, accompanied by frog chatter.  The frogs begin courting as soon as the ice is off the pond.

What do you see and hear around your home?

Sunday, February 15, 2015


When the Dear One and I were "young marrieds" I soon learned that I would drive him quickly "batty" if I said, "On the other hand...."  He wanted my "Yes" to be "Yes" and my "No" to be "No" and nothing in between.

Today I came into the sewing room and saw the backing of one of last summer's quilts--a deep, rich purple, just as I had been thinking of using for the Split Nine Patch.

 I put it underneath the Split Nine Patch quilt top and took a picture.  Often a picture shows up flaws or good choices quicker than examining something visually.  Then I put both pictures up on my "desktop" of my computer.

When I look at them this way, I think there's just no contest as to which is the better colour choice.

What do you think?

Friday, February 13, 2015


I had thought that a deep purple or a glowing blue would be a good border for this quilt.  There was a good purple at the LQS, but somehow, this rusty red seemed a better choice.

That meant I also had to buy a different backing, because this rusty red looked pretty bad with the nice purple flannel that was already in my stash.  The new flannel backing is a deep orange with small cheddar polka dots.  Another surprising choice.

I've been spending the evenings watching t.v. with Jim and knitting on Helen's scarf.  It's growing nicely.  Now up to 72" on the way to 90".  If you click on the picture to make it bigger, you can see the double point needle marking 90" on the tape.

That's a quilter's measuring tape, a full 120" to enable you to measure a large quilt all at once, no guessing if the tape moved, etc.  Very handy!  This one came in a neat little tin that looked as if it couldn't possibly hold such a long tape, and cost just a few dollars.  A good investment for a quilter.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


One surprise, quite nice: the quilt top is complete, I don't have to add any blocks to it.

The other surprise: I had thought that this finished top measured 40" x 50" but it's just 36" x 47", which means I need to add some borders.  Not a big deal, and I think the right border will do a lot for it.  So I'm off to town to see what fabric I can find for this.  I have some purple flannel that will make a nice backing and is the right size, so I just need a meter for some borders and binding.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


when I can't sleep, I don't fight it.  I get up and act like it's the middle of the day.  I put on a pot of coffee.  I check my email and answer any new messages.  I knit.  I read.  And sometimes, like today, I go to my cutting table and catch up on processing scraps.  Here's my setup:

In the center is the basket of scraps.  Not too full at this point!  On the right is the iron, the pressing pad and the water spray bottle, so the scraps can all be nice and smooth under the quilter's ruler.  The ruler and the rotary cutter are in the middle.  To the left is a lint roller for picking up tiny scraps.  In the upper left are the growing piles of trimmed scraps, sorted by size, 1+1/2", 2", 2+1/2", 3 etc.  There is also a wastebasket on the floor handy for dumping pieces too small to use.

As you can see, I keep scraps right down to 1+1/2" square.  When I finish a project still on the go with the blocks made from the 1+1/2" bin, I'm going to up the smallest size to 2".

The trimmed scraps then go into scrap boxes labeled from 1+1/2" up to 4"+.  Ready to use at a moment's notice.

This is not my own idea; I got it from Bonnie Hunter.  If you google her, you'll find quilting ideas galore.  

Because I use her system of organizing scraps I was able to grab a bag of 2+1/2" squares and a bag of 3" squares just before leaving to visit #1Daughter last August.  She had to go to work each day, the week I was there, so I used the daytime hours to sew.  By the time I came home I had enough blocks made to put this up on my design board:

These blocks are called "Split Nine Patch."  I got the instructions, again, from Bonnie Hunter's blog.

Yesterday our local quilting club met.  I had been looking forward to spending the afternoon and evening there.  I really enjoy the fellowship of that group of women.  And I spent that time sewing these blocks together into a quilt top.

But now that I look at this picture, I realize I need to make another six blocks to fill in the right side of the quilt and make it a mirror image of the left.  Often a picture of a work in progress will tell you something that just looking at it will not show you.  That's what happened here all right!  Glad I have more ready-cut scraps to quickly make another six blocks.  Glad I noticed that before I "sandwiched" and quilted this top!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


starting a new project.  I promised myself I wouldn't, not until the scarf is finished.  It's just making a gauge swatch--an important part of the process of knitting!  And I really, really wanted to get the feel of my new Knit Picks needles.  They are SMOOTH!!!

These are two balls of Mary Maxim Aloe Sock Yarn, Oasis on the left and Sahara on the right.  Ever since I discovered the lovely effect of mixing two related balls of variegated yarn, I've been enthusiastic about the possibilities.  I'm considering this mix for a pair of socks for the Dear Daughter in Law who has never had a pair of socks from me.  It's her turn.  She does read this blog--what do you think, Cindy?

Monday, February 9, 2015


A set of Knit Picks cable needles and a set of Knit Picks double point needles.  When our Dear Daughter in Law showed up a few years ago with these high class needles, I had a stab of envy.  Now I'm the happy owner of my own sets.  The sock yarns are Tropical Breeze Puddle Jumper on the left and Tropical Breeze Grasshopper on the right, a lovely addition to my stash of sock yarns.

From July of '13 to September of '14 I knit just one pair of socks, no other projects at all on the needles, because of problems with a "trigger finger" in my right hand.  That has been cured by some physiotherapy, an injection and lots of "not knitting."  Since September of '14 I've made two pairs of socks, the 100" long scarf pictured recently, and an identical scarf (for Helen, Tom's wife) that is already about 58" long, on its way to 90".  So I feel really ready to jump into several pairs of socks as gifts for the kids and grandkids, and maybe a pair for myself, as there's nothing that feels better on the feet than handknit socks made from good wool.

The needles will replace the following drawers of straight, dpns and cable needles, plus this set of Denise cable needles which I never really liked very much:

These new needles will be very handy.  They are compact, well organized and very portable.  As long as they are in my knitting bag I'm ready for almost any project!

Sunday, February 8, 2015


They weren't crows.  I knew that, but "crows" sounded better in that line than "Bohemian Waxwings" which is what they are.  They migrate through here this time of the year, and "harvest" all the Mountain Ash berries from our landscape.

They're all perched up there again, now, in the last hour of sunlight for today.  I looked at them through the binoculars.  They are all puffed out into little round balls, their feathers fluffed to keep out the cold.

I often think that birds have a hard life.  Imagine building your house with your mouth!  Imagine raising four or five offspring at a time, all with wide open mouths hollering, "MORE FOOD!!!MORE FOOD!!!" 

Saturday, February 7, 2015


In the early morning cold

the poplars wore

a crown of crows.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


I don't understand how this can be, but I surely won't complain!  When we were in Arizona I tried three times to bake bread.  Each time the loaf turned out like this:
It was edible, but that's all.  I also baked a dozen hamburger buns.  They were disgusting little flat things, too.

I did some research on the net, which assured me that "it's easier to bake bread at a lower elevation."  Our place in Arizona is at 1,200 ft.  Our place here in Alberta is at 3,000 ft. That's supposed to make it harder to bake a good loaf here than in Arizona.  The opposite is true for me.  I don't know why.

A few people assured me in Arizona that it's the flour there.  They said, "The flour you buy in Canada is better flour."  And it's true that here I buy Robin Hood Best for Bread flour.  I couldn't find that in the stores near us in AZ, so I bought what seemed to be the best flour there.  Didn't help.

I took the flour I had in AZ home with me, because it would go rancid left there over the hot summer.  (I empty the fridge and turn off the electricity before we leave.)  So today I baked bread, using Arizona flour.  

It turned out beautiful.  It's not the flour!


Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I shouldn't leave you thinking we are still on the road.  We had a great trip back, couldn't have asked for better winter driving conditions.

Once we are past Las Vegas we are on Interstate 15 which brings us all the way to the Alberta border.  We chose to drive through the Salt Lake City area on Saturday morning, hoping that would mean less traffic than we've encountered at other times.

It worked wonderfully well.  Although we started out from Fillmore, Utah (where there's an excellent Comfort Inn which I highly recommend) at 8 a.m. in fog and rain, by the time we approached Provo, Utah the weather had cleared and the roads were dry.  We got into the HOV lane and sailed right through.  Traffic was moderately busy, but the HOV lane markings were absolutely obeyed.  In and out only at designated areas.  By 10:30 we were through the whole Salt Lake City area and back out into countryside.

The weather was perfect, clear and dry, and traffic on the Interstate was light.  We deliberately chose Saturday and Sunday to do that drive, hoping for those conditions.  It was an excellent trip.

Saturday night we stayed in Helena, Montana at a Super Eight, a real step down from the comfort of Comfort Inn, but an o.k. experience, and a good hot breakfast.

By 7:50 we were on the road and reached home around 3 p.m.  Thankful for a safe drive, not even having encountered any accident scenes on the whole trip.

Our area here had been having a very mild winter up to this point.  I kept track every day by checking the Weather Underground site.  But as soon as we got home the temperature fell.  There had been some snow falls earlier, and light fluffy snow fell Sunday night and all day Monday.  Today was beautifully bright and sunny--but with a high of about +10F.  No wind, so going for our morning walk, all bundled up, was a good experience.

Soon I hope to get back to some quilting projects.  For now I'm knitting on that scarf for Helen.  It will be just like the one for Tom, but 10 inches shorter and with slightly shorter fringes.  An easy knit!