Sunday, December 14, 2014

Getting ready for Christmas

So, how are you doing in preparation for Christmas?   Are you remembering to keep the reason for the season in mind?

Sometimes, it's too easy to get caught up in the popular "Santa" christmas.

Around here, the Advent banners that our quilt group made for church are going up, one more each week, and they look marvelous.

At home, the tree is up.  Unfortunately, the cat has an interest in the tree - particularly in climbing INTO the tree.  Today my poor doggie got the fright of her life as she walked past the tree and got ambushed by the cat.  Now the dog is afraid of the tree !

The shopping is just about done.   You know Murphy's law?  The one that bites you when you least expect/need it?  Well it was in full force here this week.
I succumbed to the pressure and ordered a new cell phone for my son for Christmas.  His iPhone was 3 years old and the contract was finished, so it was a good time to trade up.  The phone arrived, and is carefully stashed.  I even found a buyer for the old phone (a friend).   Then Friday, he dropped his phone.  He's done this before and it always survived just fine.  This time, it didn't.  It dinged the top right corner and cracked the screen - about a full square inch in that corner.  My heart sank.
You see, my son is a very "fussy" kid.  He wouldn't even use a case or screen saver on his phone because it changed the texture enough to bug him.  Normally, he'd freak out at this kind of accident.  But he didn't.  That worries me.  Does he know???????
He just grumbled a bit, then said how now he had to get a new phone because this one was too old and slow anyway.  I offered solutions to repair it, all of which he denied, saying he was surprised this hadn't happened sooner and how it was ok, because it still worked even with the cracked screen.

Then I had to tell my friend that the phone was broken.  I called around town and the cheapest repair shop wanted $39 to fix it.  And that was with an appointment, and he needed for 24 hours.  Well, that was out because how was I going to get his phone away for 24 hours and not spill the secret that he was getting a new one?

So, my friend still agreed to buy the phone for the price we had agreed on, less the $40 it was going to cost him to fix it.

Today, I stopped at the dollar store and bought him a new charger cord for his phone that he's been asking for.  I hope that throws him off until Christmas.

Oh, and when I ordered his new phone,  I also bought one for ME !!!  Woohoo :)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Feeling blue

Today, I spent the day in bed.  That means, between doing laundry, cooking meals, letting the dog out, reminding (several times of course) my son to do his delegated chore of the day (cleaning out the van) and other things.
To survive, I used a timer.  Put the laundry in, set the timer, go back to bed.  When the timer rings, get up and put in another load. Set the timer and go back to bed etc.
Why am I in bed?
Feeling yucky.
I've been burning the candle at both ends for the last few weeks and I think my body is just telling me to "stop!"
It's a good thing my son is a teen now.  He can be independent- at least when he wants to.  I remember these days when he was a toddler - I would just lay on the floor in the middle of the family room and let him just crawl all over me.  That way he was safe, and I could rest.  That was back when I spent half my life on night shift.  I don't miss those days at all.
So, I've not accomplished a thing today.  Yesterday I finished a customer quilt and started pinning the next one.  It's just going to have to wait for a couple of days now.

So, sniff, cough, that's it for today.
Back to bed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why Black Friday isn't such a big thing in Canada even though the retailers are trying.....

Canadians just aren't "into" Black Friday.  Ok, maybe a few who live within a reasonable driving distance to a border crossing, but for most of us, it just isn't an event.  My opinion is ....

First of all, our Thanksgiving is in October, not November
We don't do mob scenes
We started our Christmas shopping in July
We don't do mob scenes
We aren't as impressed with "sale" signs until we actually calculate the cost , in Canadian dollars.
We don't do mob scenes
We have to take into account the exchange rate - which right now, well, sucks.
We don't do mob scenes
We have to pay tax and duty at the border, which seriously cuts into the savings.
and, since we don't do mob scenes, we look for off-peak hours to shop - like suppertime at Costco.

Like I said, that's my opinion.

The retailers are trying to make Black Friday a thing here.  They are trying.  The whole thing lacks credibility though, when the sales start the week before Black Friday - duh.
It's the same with Boxing Day.  Now that used to be a sale.  You could stock up on anything "Christmassy" and save it for next year.  Now the Boxing Day sales start the week before Christmas and last a week, or two, depending on the store.

We've seen it coming.  Swimsuits on sale in March.  Back to school sales the second week of July, and Snow suits available before August.  I don't know how parents with growing kids shop this way - my guy grew in spurts, so I never knew from one month to the next what size he would be.  He still does.  He's grown 2 inches in his trouser waist size since school started.  And the medium sized shirts are starting to look quite short, so, he's on to size large.  They hang on him since he's so slim, but he needs the length in the body and sleeves.  I don't think he's done yet either.  He's taller than me already, and the doctor figured he'd be about 6'4" based on his childhood growth charts.  That isn't unusual for our family though, we are all tall - my nephews are all well over 6'.  Let's not even talk about shoe size !

On the quilting scene, our church group finished the Advent banners last night.  YAY!!   It was a much larger project than anyone thought.  If we do a banner again, it will be 1 piece, and with a lot more notice.  Finishing a 5 panel banner in less than a month was hard.

It's also a good thing it's done because my customers are starting to hand in their projects for quilting.  In the last week, I've received 5.  That's great in my book, that part of quilting is fun for me.  Add to that the bonus of being paid, and it's all good.

By the way, is anyone out there looking for a used Handiquilter?  Our local rep is moving with her family to PEI, and has her rig for sale.
FOR SALE!!!! HQ Fusion with a Pro Stitcher! We are moving out of the province and I am needing to sell my machine. SHARE this post because I have to sell it. Please message me for serious inquiries.

That's it for today.  I'll check in with you soon.  Happy Quilting !

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Monday

Well, they say Canadians talk about the weather more than anyone in the world.  I'll bet the folks in Buffalo are way past that this week.  On behalf of all Canadians, I wish you well.  Hang in there.

I spent the afternoon with my sewing buddies in Dorchester today.  This is a fun group.  We get together to sew, quilt, knit, gab, laugh and basically enjoy each other's company every week.  I managed to get the top done for my nephew's "going to college" quilt.   Three more nieces and nephews to go before I start on the great nieces and nephew.  By then there should be another one as my niece Kristen and her hubby are expecting their first child soon.  They just moved into their new to them house on the weekend, so let the nesting begin !!   Really, I wish them well.  They've already endured some heavy duty stuff in their lives together, so they deserve to have a wonderful time with parenthood.   As I say to all new parents - enjoy every minute - even the crazy ones.

I had enough blocks left over from Connor's quilt to make the top for a kid's quilt for our charity.  Since the guild provides the batting and backing, I should have it done for next week.  I really need to get a new camera- the computer won't recognize my cell phone, and even though it has a pretty good camera, I miss the ability to get creative behind the lens.

On another note, I'm getting together with the Bethel quilters tomorrow afternoon to hopefully FINISH the banners for Advent.  I think we all know now to stick to less ambitious projects when time is limited !!  It   falls under the "live and learn "  category.

On a personal note, I spent Sunday afternoon with my Mom.  The gravestone for my Dad was installed last week, so we went together to visit.  It looked really nice.  We all got to see the blueprint for it, but it looks much different - in a good way - in stone.  I'm glad they were able to put it in before winter.  It has given us all a bit of closure.  So far Mom is doing really well.  |W|e'll be spending extra time as a family over Christmas this year - it could be a tough time.

So that's it for today.  Will check in with you later this week.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Have you watched Quilty lately?

I like watching Quilty.  Mary Fons, yes the daughter of Marianne Fons of Fons and Porter has been making episodes of Quilty again.
I love her "querky" "quilty" persona.  She's funny, smart, and easy to follow.  Her videos cover everything from the very basics for beginners to how to put difficult blocks together.  Along the way, she drops hints and tips and ideas from viewers.
You can find her videos on youTube ---- search Quilty.

There's only one problem, once I start watching, hours go by.  Seriously, I don't know where they go.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hello again

Wow.  I just checked in and can't believe it's been so long since my last post.  I guess life got away from me again
My darling son is now in high school.  It seems like yesterday I held him in my arms for the first time.  That wouldn't be easy now - he's taller than me and has a bigger shoe size!
My family has had a few ups and downs over the last 2 years.  My sister fought a battle with breast cancer and won !!
This summer my father passed away after a long battle with heart disease.  I miss him, but I know he is in a better place and no longer suffering.
Other events have kept us hopping, but somehow, I have made time for some sewing and quilting.

This quilt that is my banner now, is finally finished.  It took me over 2 years to complete.  I worked on it off and on, since the piecework was tedious.  Each 5" square has 25 pieces.  That's over 4,750 pieces just in the blocks!    I changed the border from the pattern as I wanted a simpler view.  So now that it's finished, I've renamed it "Stars over Ireland."

I've already completed a couple more quilts since that, the most recent being a queen sized falling charms from the Missouri Star Quilt Company video on youTube.   I love their videos, and Jenny, the hostess is a hoot!

My next major quilt I want to make is the most recent block of the month by Eleanor Burns.  I'm not sure of the name, but you can check it out here.
She has the video tutorials all posted.  Look for the "case of the missing quilt" series.  It's lots of fun and there are some really special guests on the videos.

I'm also teaching again.  We've started up a quilting group in our church.  There are about 10 ladies who come out twice a month.  There is a real spectrum of talent, from the raw beginner, to accomplished garment sewers, to experienced quilters.   It makes for a challenging group.
Right now we've put our block of the month on hold to make new banners for the church for the season of Advent.  We're making a series of 5 panels, each 18"x60" depicting one of the advent candles.   We're using raw edge applique.  They're starting to look good !   I'll try to post some pictures once they're completed.

The block of the month we're working on is a sampler wall quilt/table topper.   The center is a pieced wreath about 18" square made of squares and half square triangles  The border of that has appliqued flower boughs.   That is framed with a 1" border.   The next border is made of 6" squares of all different blocks.  We started with a snowball block, then a 9 patch, then did a disappearing 9 patch, friendship star, dutchmans puzzle, jacobs ladder, ohio star, , square in a square etc.  Each block building on the skills of the previous one.

It became clear along the way, that we as quilters are too hard on ourselves.  When I see someone obsessing over one clipped point out of 26 or so, I really feel the need to say "relax ! "  or as Eleanor Burns says - hang it high and keep it moving!   The only one who will see it is you, so go easier on yourself.  Do you think Rembrandt redid a painting because a brushstroke was off?

Anyway, I am going to revive this blog.  So if you're still out there, sent me a line.d


Sunday, September 22, 2013

No longer Missing in Action

Wow.  I didn't realize how much time had gone since my last post.  I guess I kind of missed the summer!  We did have a good summer with camping, day tripping, lazy days and my son had friends over for a week at a time - which is great because it keeps him from getting bored.

I've been busy crafting.  My son's school has a fall fest bazaar coming up the beginning of October.  I have a table booked for selling my crafts.  So, here's the short list:
My Highlands quilt  If someone is willing to pay the price I want for it, I'll sell it.
Several sock monkeys
Some tabletop place card holders - for parties, or wine and cheese etc - holds the id cards  Made from black binder clips painted with glitter nail polish and a gold braid tied around the "tabs" = cute.
Teddy bears - made of wash cloths with googly eyes :)
silver wire "viking weave" bracelets.
An apron or two
A dozen quilted, and appliqued table runners - most with a Christmas theme
Many winter themed quilted potholders
Some desk caddies for post it notes made out of dollar store photo frames.
and best of all
Bottlecap necklaces for young and old.

In preparation, I made a quilt stand to put up against the wall behind my table.  Cut one 12' 1 1/2" PVC  pipe into two equal halves.
2  pieces of 2 1/2" PVC pipe approx 24" long.
Take one wooden dowel, *I used a staircase ballister*  cut in half
One piece of 16"x36" MDF board cut into to squares.  Mark the middle.
Two large "eye" bolts.
One curtain rod

Drill a pilot hole through the middle of the boards. Use a larger bit to open the first part more so the screw will sink flush with the board.  Drill a pilot hole in the middle of the end of each wooden dowel
Screw the board to the end of the dowel X2
Slide the 2 1/2" PVC over the dowel.  Drill a pilot hole through the side into the side of the dowel and screw it together so the pipe won't slip off.
Now slide the long 1 1/2" PVC pipe into the larger pipe allowing the end to slide over the dowel inside the larger pipe.  This supports the upright pipes.
Slide the eye bolts onto the curtain rod.  Place it across the top of the upright posts just slipping the end of the eye bolts into the top of the pipes.   BINGO.
I'll take some pictures at the show so I have something to post soon.

This is the first time I'm having a craft table solo, so I hope it's a success.

I have a Square for my smart phone.
Have you heard about "Square?"
It's a method for smaller businesses to be able to accept credit cards.  The Square is about 1"x1" and plugs into the earphone jack of your smartphone.  You can swipe M/C or VIsa and it deposits the cash into your designated bank account the next day.  Your clients just sign your phone with a stylus that you can buy at a dollar store or a office supply - made for use on tablets or smart phones.
AND one of the best news stories this week was that the Square company is setting up offices in Kitchener Waterloo Ontario.  This is the good news that kind of buffers the nasty news of how Blackberry is laying off 40% of their staff in the same city.

So, wish me luck.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Muscular Dystrophy Association - Raffle quilt

I have a niece who has Muscular Dystrophy.  That alone makes doing volunteer work with the association meaningful.
Recently, I volunteered to design and make a quilt to be raffled as a fundraiser for the London Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada.
It took a couple of months to come up with the design.  The colours of the association are red and black.  The logo for the MDA is 3 connected puzzle pieces.  So including that into the theme, here is the result.  The quilt is named "Solving the puzzle of Muscular Dystrophy."
The draw date is Dec 4, 2013.  Tickets are $5 each or 5/$20.   Tickets are available from me or any chapter member.
The photo at the head of the blog is this quilt.

Happy Summer!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ok, so I do make rookie mistakes, but that's ok right?

When I saw this pattern, all kitted up and ready, with a life sized example in the store to drool over, I HAD TO HAVE it.  So home it came, and I've been waiting for other projects to fall off the radar before opening it because I knew that when I started, I'd have to keep at it until I had it done.

I thought I had it all under control.
I spent nearly a day just cutting fabric.
I couldn't wait to start making those pieces dance.
The first 8 blocks came together rather nicely.   
They measure 12.5 " square

 The second 7 blocks came together well too.  
So, by the time I moved on to the pieced sashing blocks, I guess I was getting a bit overconfident.  Remember the first two blocks were 12.5" square?  
Well, these sashing blocks are supposed to be 12.5" long. 
Unfortunately, mine weren't.
 Not even close.
They were 13.5" long, and nearly .5" too wide.
I didn't notice until I tried to attach the flying geese units to each end.  They weren't wide enough.
That's when I realized that all 28 of the units I had made so far were not right.
Needless to say, "I was not amused."

I admit, I lost sleep over this one.  I contemplated adding a small border to put between the blocks since they obviously wouldn't be matching up now.
I tried coming up with anything that would "fix" the problem.
I even called the quilt store to see if they had some of the fabric so I could just recut the pieces and start over - they didn't.

So, as much as I hated to admit it.  I'd have to pick all 28 of them apart and resew them.

Yes, I had skipped the basic part about CHECKING THE SIZE after making the first block to be sure I HAD IT RIGHT.  Yes, I'm yelling, but that's what I do when I make a mistake that I know I should have not made.  But, I am human.  Sigh.

You see, when I'm making half square triangles by the method of sewing across the squares twice and then cutting them in half along the line, I have to have the needle set at "7" to get the right space between the pencil line and the stitching to get them to come out the right size.
When I return to sewing that scant 1/4" straight seam, I have to have the needle set at "6".
I didn't.
So, to put this in perspective, look at this picture.  The space between these lines of stitching is the difference between the setting of "7" and "6".
Barely the width of a pin.
Unfortunately, when it adds up over this many seams, it adds up.
And it makes a big difference.
So, even when all the points match up perfectly, it can still be wrong.
Dang. (The family friendly edition of what I really said.) 

So far, I've spent two days picking and resewing, and I have half of them fixed.
And I'm feeling better about it now because I know it was the right decision.

I'm just really, really glad that I starched the heck out of the fabric before cutting it or those bias edges would have been so fragile.  If anything, I've learned that:
1. Measure twice, cut once
2. Read the pattern, especially when it says "proof to .... size"
3. Making a practise block is NEVER a waste of time.
4. Starch is my friend
5. Humble pie is a great learning tool.

I love this pattern.  I love the fabric.  I am going to love the finish.
And all that picking will be totally worth it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Embroidery Birds

This winter has been really goofy so far.  I usually have mood problems when the season turns gray, but this year has been awful.  Dreary wet days with no snow on the ground and just cold mud are not my favorite.  I don't mind if it's cold, but I love the snow.  It brightens up the world.
On that note, my quilting passion is on a slow note right now, so I've turned to some embroidery to feed my craft hunger.
I'm not a fan of redwork, and cross-stitch I wasn't in the mood for, so I picked up some crewel work.  I just copied photos from the internet, enlarged them on the printer, outlined the main parts with a sharpie and then traced them onto cotton chambray.  The soft blue fabric makes an excellent background as it can be sky or water.
Once the patterns was traced, I fused a light weight interfacing to the back of the fabric.  This not only gives the fabric more substance, but helps to hide the threads from the back of the design.
Once the embroidery was done and pressed, I made the backing from fabric fused with heavy interfacing and used scraps of quilt batting in between.  Then I bound the edges just like a quilt and added a hanging sleeve.  They brighten my day!

My mom is celebrating her 77th birthday tomorrow and she's a bird lover too.  Maybe I'll just wrap them up!
So, what have you been working on?