Monday, February 29, 2016


This past Thursday, Friday and Saturday I went to my very first quilt retreat.  About time!  I've been quilting for 24 years and been a member of two quilt guilds for 13 years.

This retreat was held in the rural school--an old building just a few miles out into the country, that has been kept up and updated, added to, and is used as a community hall.  There are lots of windows and lots of lights in the ceiling, so it's an excellent place to be quilting.  Attendance varied from 13 to 17 women, all with their sewing machines and packs of projects.  Here's an album of some of the quilts shown at the retreat:

The first three are Monica's and they are finished tops, not complete quilts.  All very beautiful!  The fourth picture, the brilliant orange and purple quilt is Shirley's.  It was a Jinny Beyer kit that she thought about for some time and then finally bought.  She kept track of her time and it added up to 25 hours of preparation and 75 hours of sewing.  It was completely finished, layered, quilted and bound.  A perfectly stunning quilt!

We played a game that was new to me: Strip Poker (quilter style!).  Each person brings four, width of material, 2 1/2" strips of floral (specified) fabric.  There is a set of three dice, each with four possible instructions: C, R, L or a big black dot.  The dice are passed around the table clockwise and each person throws to find out what action she needs to take: Place a strip in the Center, give one to the person on your Right, or on your Left, or the dot: keep your strip.  Gradually the pile in the center grows.  When you have given away all your strips, you are out of the game--unless the person to your right or left has to give you a strip, or two.  At the end the last person having any strips wins the pile in the middle.

At our gathering that meant one of the women won 60, 2 1/2" strips.  The kicker: next year that winner must bring to the retreat a quilt made from those strips.  It was lots of fun, with exaggerated groans and cheers as the fabric changed hands.

I did lots of work on two sample quilts for my friends who have a wholesale fabric business.  One is finished and the other one will be complete by the end of this week.  Displaying a quilt made from the sample fabrics is a big help in stimulating sales.  Here's the one finished: front:
 and back:

Monday, February 22, 2016


This morning I took my first cup of coffee to the living room, opened the curtains and was treated to a beautiful sight: the moon just as it set on the western horizon.  I quickly picked up my camera and went out on the balcony to capture the image.  Wished I had been a few minutes earlier when a bigger portion was visible.  It was a beautiful  luminescent pearl!

Saturday, February 20, 2016


I'm making a pair of socks for my friend, Marcy in AZ.  By our last week there the first sock of the pair was finished and I asked Marcy to come try it on.  The foot part fit very well, but I noticed the leg part was a little short and a little tight.  I "unknit" the sock to the ankle and reknit it with needles one size larger.  I also added four stitches to the round, in the purl section between the cables.

Yesterday I finished the sock again, this time with a picot edge rather than a ribbed cuff.  The picot edge didn't look right; it needed about five rows of stockinette before the picot row.  So I "unknit" that part.  Then thought to try the sock on.  It was really too big around the leg.  I doubt that Marcy's legs are any bigger around than mine, so the sock needed to be "unknit" right down to the increase row.

A cable pattern could be a little difficult to pick up from a ravelled section, so I found the row I wanted to "unknit" to and picked up all the stitches with the smallest size dpns that I have.  They're a U.S. size 0, a metric size 2.00 mm.

After that it was easy to go from there.  This is the third time through this section of this sock!

Another thing I realized from trying on the sock was that I wanted to knit one more repeat of the cable before finishing and binding off.  I'll post a picture when this pair is completed.

Those stripped socks that I was working on?  They were finished the day before we left, as they were a present for my sister.  I just didn't find time to take a picture of them.

Monday, February 15, 2016


Today was a holiday for most of U.S. and Canada.  In the U.S. it was President's Day, the current form of what we celebrated in February when I was growing up: Washington's birthday and Lincoln's birthday.  Though, as I remember it, we did not have a day off from school for either one, and I think it's now a Federal holiday, so most people, including teachers and students, have a day off.

When we lived in Salem, Oregon, we took the kids to a mountainous area one time on President's Day and went "tubing" down a slope.  It was fun, but was a little too warm that day, and we all got soaking wet from the melting snow.  We warmed up by going to the Organ Grinder Pizza place in Portland for supper.  That was a memorable day!

Here in Alberta it was "Family Day."  We didn't take the day off because we had already enjoyed a very relaxed Saturday and Sunday.  Plus, the weather was beautiful--a good opportunity to get some work done!

Today, as so often happens after a night of sleep cut short--my day started a 3 a.m.--I had an unusually productive day.  I don't know how that works, but it often turns out that way!  I spent some hours in the kitchen:

I finally got around to making a pot of "Best Cheesy Broccoli Soup"--a recipe that I've had for some time, don't even remember where it came from.  You can see we've lowered the level somewhat.  It was delicious!

After lunch I just had to take advantage of the fabulous weather: blue skies, strong sunshine and no wind combined to make it a perfect time to do a quick window wash.  This house is built into a berm, and the windows that would be too high to reach are very easily taken care of because there's a balcony surrounding that side of the second floor.  In the back, the second floor is ground level.  

If you look carefully at that photo you can just see the imprint at the top of the window of a bird's wing.  What you can't see, because of the sun shining through is that there is an imprint of the whole body and other wing beneath that.

Birds must be very dusty!  There were several imprints of bird impacts on the living room windows.  I'll have to ask S. if she found any dead birds on the balcony while we were away.  It's always such a pity when that happens!  I feel so sorry for the birds.  Quite often they can just careen off the window and be gone, but sometimes they lay stunned on the balcony for several minutes before shaking themselves off and leaving. Occasionally it's the end of that bird's life. 


Saturday, February 13, 2016


My friend S., who started quilting just 2 1/2 years ago, has defined her area of interest: she loves to appliqué, and she makes some amazing appliquéd quilts.  Her latest project is a birthday present for a grandson who will be two in March.

She simply used her own ideas for this project, very loosely based on pictures she's seen. I think any two year-old would be thrilled with this play-mat, let alone a two year-old who has "vroom-vroomed" since he could toddle around!

Sunday, February 7, 2016


This past week has been one of sorting, packing and cleaning.  We had a request to rent out our condo in AZ for the spring months, so that meant sorting out our personal effects for storage, packing all the odds and ends we wanted to take back to Alberta, and giving the condo a good cleaning in preparation for the renter moving in.  He was due to arrive yesterday.  So it was a busy week, but I was thankful to have more time than last year, when the arrangement to rent was made just two days before we left for "home-home," a useful term I learned this winter to distinguish between our home in Alberta and our home in AZ.

We left on Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. and got all the way to Provo, Utah by 6:30 that evening.  We were fortunate to get the last room in a Days Inn there, a very nice room, and quiet.  Unfortunately, I woke up by 12:30 because I was too cold and had to go turn on the heating unit.  After that I slept only in fits and starts, a bad night!

Saturday morning we drove through Salt Lake City in very moderate traffic.  We follow Interstate 15 all the way from Las Vegas to the Canadian border, and the unfortunate part is that we have to go right through Salt Lake City.  We try to do that early on a weekend morning, and that seems to work quite well.

We were very blessed with good roads, all the way until the last 20 miles of Idaho and the first 10 miles of Montana.  That's the first time (out of three) that I 15 crosses the continental divide, and that section was slush covered and then whiteout conditions with blowing snow.  The Dear One did a great job of careful driving and we came out into blue skies and sunshine for most of the drive through Montana, with the exception of another 10 or so miles north of Butte.

This was our view for a good portion of our drive.  In Utah the landscape was all snow-covered, but the roads were clear and dry.  This photo was taken in northern Montana, not too far from the border.

Saturday evening found us in Helena by 4:30 in the afternoon, ready to take a room in another Days Inn.  That's an excellent motel, just off the Interstate in Helena.  They advertise "an awesome breakfast" and fully lived up to that claim.  It was great.

There are some curvy, mountainous parts to the road north of Helena, but not for long.  North of Boulder, Montana, you've got good open spaces.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and blue skies.  We reached home-home by 3:30 p.m., grateful for a VERY good winter-time drive home.

Now to unpack and catch up on the piles of mail on the dining room table.  Need to go grocery shopping, too and stock up the pantry again.