Wednesday 25 March 2015

The Great Debate

How do you say it?

This funny little piece of fabric has been kicking around in my stash since the mid-90's. Several years ago I did a major stash cleanse and bestowed upon a couple of my quilty peeps 4 giant, blue bags brimming with yardage. There was lots of great stuff in those bags...but as years go by and styles/tastes/trends change I knew I'd never actually use any of it. I believe in using things and so, I also believe we should pass it on.  But this little quarter yard of Couch Potato cuteness was spared. I thought it was just too funny to toss; I picked it up the very first time I ever visited Keepsake Quilting in New Hampshire. 

I've mentioned that I've been digging out. I've also mentioned I've been lazy.
It could've been bigger. It could've said more.'s okay just like this.

So regardless how you say doesn't matter  if you're on the couch.
And these days, that's exactly where I'd like to be. 

Linking up with Lorna over at Let's Bee Social

Monday 23 March 2015


I hate to add myself to the harmony of the voices of folks fed right the f*ck up with winter but, I am defeated. Old Man Winter- you win! I give up. I want to hibernate. I don't want to go outside. I want to sit. Eat chocolate. Drink whiskey. Maybe sew a little. Dream of June.

We haven't seen snow like this in years...many, many years. I do remember real Canadian winters like this as a child, but this...this is not what we've grown accustomed to in latter years here on the coast of Nova Scotia. The calendar says it's Spring now, but clearly, it lies.

Things have slowed around here to a snails pace, my laziness has thwarted my productivity so there is little to report. There was some serious retail therapy at Avonport Discount Fabrics with The Enabler on the weekend. In fact, I ended up partaking in so much therapy that it required me to finally spend an evening folding, sorting, stacking & tidying up the quilting room just so I could squirrel it all away. I can almost see my desk now! Now, I didn't get carried away with myself and tackle the overflowing scrap totes, baskets or bags...but a little order is better than no order, right?

I quilted up my Tula Pink jelly roll throw; figured I should swirl the bejeezuz out of it just to help commit the new FMQ movements to my muscle memory. It's funny how often my arms want to revert to their meandering ways even though my head is yelling "swirl dammit, swirl". The evidence of the Head vs. Arms fight is visible in a few spots at close inspection of the quilting...but hey, it just adds to the charm, right? And, speaking of charm...check out the pieced back on this puppy. I think left over charm squares and boring hand-me-down fabric came together rather brilliantly for my make-it-do, make-it-modern backing.

At this very minute I should be wrapping my hands up nice & tight and pulling on my boxing gloves. It's Monday, I should be boxing. But it's awfully cold out there and, since all schools were closed today with weather related concerns, my boy went trucking with his Dad for the day. It's deliciously quiet here; the perfect cop-out/sewing opportunity. I did mention my current tendency to fall toward laziness, didn't I? So, I'll leave you with a glimpse of what I'm working on this morning...which ultimately is a direct statement as to how I'm feeling.

Look closely. Say it out loud.
Can you see where this is going?

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Digging Out

You'd think with the hellish, wintery state of things here I was making reference to the weather having had close to 70 cm of fresh fluffy snow come down overnight and today. But no.

This afternoon I wanted to sew but my noggin wasn't up to thinking about much of anything, I think I am coming down with my boys "plague" and was just kinda happy to plunk myself in my big chair and stare at the big screen...for a while, boredom didn't take long to settle in. Despite my finest efforts it turns out I'm just not much of a sitter and before long I started scrounging around for a small project.

A long, long time ago I lugged home some of Tula Pinks line, The Birds & The Bees, in the form of a couple 6" charm packs and a jelly roll. They sat and sat, waiting for just the right project. To be honest, I had all but given up hope that they would ever actually get used. But today I dug them out, blew the dust off them and sewed my lil ole heart out; straight, fast and true. Simplicity at its finest.

The Enabler made a jelly roll quilt a while back that has nattered at me since to get in on some of that strippy action but my jelly roll had only 30 strips. Not enough. I needed a way to incorporate at least one of the charm packs to make a throw big enough for snuggin up with a dog or two. So I sliced the charm squares into 2.5" strips and randomly sewed them between the strings. And, when I say "randomly", I mean it. I put my 60 little 2.5x6" strips in a box and shook them up, tossed them around and then stirred them up some more. I put them between the strings as my hand pulled them out of the box...sometimes as a single brick, sometimes as doubles or triple bricks and I think there might even be the odd quadruple brick stitched into that ridiculously long strip. Then, in the ever-popular Jelly Roll Race fashion I whipped up a flimsy that measures approximately 50x60.

Now, if we can keep our highways dug out for a few days I just might get a trip up to Avonport Discount Fabrics to scrounge around for some backing fabrics. Rumor has it they've filled up the sale bins. Who could resist a little retail therapy after the crap load of misery Mother Nature has bestowed upon us? Certainly not I.

Linking up with Lorna over at Let's Bee Social

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Luck Has Nothing To Do With This

It's Saint Patrick's, this doesn't impact today's quilty news much except to say that I feel I should write before I've a belly full of Irish Stew and a head full of whiskey.

I know I have written a lot about my Hope Lives in Pink Houses project, this should be the end of the story. I promise not to make it the subject of any more blog posts from this day forward but I wanted to share the finish with you.

I threw the layers on the frame yesterday.  My quilting machine is a short arm, it's a Pfaff Grand Quilter 1200 on a Grace Start Right frame, which comes with lots of pro's and plenty of con's. I love my machine for all it allows me to do and hate it for all the limitations it throws in my face when I want to do anything freehand straight lines for example or quilt into an area that spans beyond it's 9" reach. This little wall hanging needed more than an all over meander and I was gung-ho to practice some new-to-me FMQ skills; my guild mate & friend, Linda, would be proud of me for stepping out of my comfy, tried & true, stippled box. So with her in mind, I swirled my little heart out, tossed in some pebbles and gave the trees some texture but I ran into problems with the straight lines. The carriage is pretty sensitive and stitching anything that is remotely straight free hand poses a bit of a problem. I couldn't possibly eat enough bananas to steady my hands to achieve nice clean straight lines.

I should probably have pulled out the wonky, wobbly stitches  & resewn them on my regular machine but as I have mentioned in the past I believe in moving forward.  So I just kept going...wobbling along all the way to the finish line ending with binding, sleeve and label.

It's done! I am more or less happy with it. Overall I think it looks pretty good, at a distance at least. I learned a lot, had some fun and decided I need to investigate a new foot for my wee Grand Quilter that will allow me to get some rulers. Yes, rulers. I said it. Though I hate them for some applications I just might learn to love them for others.

Now, all that said, it's whiskey time.
I don't have a shamrock inked on my neck for nothing!

Sunday 15 March 2015

Just Another Snowy Sunday

Snow Sew Days are the best!

Like everyone I talk to these days, I am growing very weary of winter. We got the mother load of snow last night and it continued all day; shovel, shovel, shovel. On the upside, despite the really high blizzard-y winds, the power managed to stay on and I was able to brew a pot of brown holy water, do a wee bit of long overdue some cleaning and spend the rest of the day puttering away in my sewing corner.

The bits and pieces for Hope Lives in Pink Houses were perched on top of my printer in an old slipper box so rather than put them away when I was tidying up I decided to go ahead and build the flimsy. I hadn't put much thought into how I would attach the elements and had already free pieced several improv slabs to use for fillers and borders. I don't tend to obsess much about free pieced quilts...I just like to keep moving forward and let the pieces fall where they may.

Cut. Sew. Press. Cut. Sew. Press.

Sometimes I'm happy with it, sometimes I'm not; only rarely will I rip out my work...instead, I'll cut it up and sew some more. I play, I have fun with it following only my whim, saving my overly critical eye for other projects & precision piecing.

Hope Lives In Pink Houses 

This afternoon I made a couple more trees and began building borders. It's a really busy piece so it seemed that a small white border would allow a bit of space for the eye to rest. Rather than simply stitching a border all around the center medallion I came up with the idea to extend the borders out to the's not difficult to do, but it is a bit more interesting and I think it helps a little to break up all that crazy free piecing.  I ended up incorporating some selvedge strips (all the cool kids are using them) and sliced up my improv churn dash block, adding each part to opposite borders. Notice a pair of pink angel wings on the left border just beneath some heaven bound flying geese doves?

Right now, I kinda like it.
I also think it might be finished.
When I am ready to quilt it I will know for sure that's it's done.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Big Fish Little Fish

I knew when I finished up Go Fish that I wasn't done with free pieced fishes. I had way too much fun to give up my fishing adventure so soon; after all, a real fisherman casts his line over & over right? The wee fishes in Fish Kiss are a little more refined than the wonky fishes in the original, that's the difference a bit of practice makes...the evolution of a species doesn't happen overnight!

Just a cute little mug rug to take in for the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild's swap on Thursday night. Small projects are fun AND they use up lots of scraps, which pleases me...greatly.

*no fingers were harmed in the making of Fish Kiss

Linking up with:
Let's Bee Social

Sunday 8 March 2015

Phew! Glad That's Behind Me...

Baby's First Class.

I should look to see if Hallmark makes a Christmas tree ornament to mark such an event. I am not a teacher; never dreamed of summers off or wished for a room of giggly children under my feet day in-day out. In the weeks leading up to March 7th's Improv Workshop for the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild I was so anxious and worried that I would be ineffective as a teacher I was tempted to flee Halifax! But since the students all managed to go home with 4 completed elements of free pieced quilty goodness I guess I managed to impart some of my self taught knowledge into their quilters brains...not their left brains though, I encouraged only their right brains.

Things went along pretty well. Nobody cried, no one got sent to the office and the gals played well together in their textile playground; the Quilt Police did not make a single appearance all day. There was laughter, squeals of delight, headscratching, blank stares, the steady hum of sewing machines and the oh-so-satisfying sound of fabric being sliced up. I heard The Enablers excitement when she exclaimed, "I'm sewing angles!" and the glee was unmistakable when another gal shouted out, "Look! I can't believe I just cut all those strips without a ruler!"  

I think I planned the exercises pretty well; glad to have taken the time to draw out the process on an easel sized pad of paper for reference. These plans helped me stay on track and I did notice many of the quilters using it for reference. We recreated the elements I made this week for Hope Lives in Pink Houses. A bit of breast cancer fabric was included in every single house made yesterday to honour my friend & hero, Bernie, who passed away a week ago today. I forgot to do a few take pictures for example, these are the only decent shots I have. Where are all those little hopeful houses? 

Could I be convinced to teach again? Probably. 
Only next time experience suggests my planning should include a big note to NOT sail down the river of red wine the night before class.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Hope Lives In Pink Houses

Yesterday I got a call.
The daughter of a long time client-turned-friend phoned to let me know Bernie had passed away. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to receive that call, I had only ever met the daughter once. Clearly Bernie's family understood how special our simple relationship was to both of us. Hairdressing is an up and close kinda get to know your clients, they become a part of your fabric.

Bernie gave me this African Violet and made me promise not to kill it.
It is about to bloom.
The Cancer Sucks quilt was inspired by Bernie.

Bernie was a colourful, warm, loving, funny and courageous woman. Over many, many years she shared with me the stories of her life, her family, her battle with cancer and humourously recounted her lop-sided life with one boob. She was a character, that lady; full of life, laughter & profanity and I loved her.

Yesterday I had to start making samples for the improv workshop for my Guild. Procrastination gets you no where and suddenly Saturday isn't quite so far away. I feel rather anxious about teaching and prefer to look at my role as sharing. With Bernie heavy on my mind and taking up the whole of my heart the samples came together like this:

They're not my best work. They're not finished.
But they're gonna have to do.
I am outta time; the zebra stole my time.

Bernie would have loved that pink house...and those who didn't she'd likely have told to f*ck right off.

Monday 2 March 2015

Eye Can't Wait...

The zebra has taken over. It consumes me.
If I were a certain dog in a certain story I would tear him to shreds.
But I can't.

Instead, I work toward a finish. I keep adding stitches.
Hours pass.

Soon the zebra will allow the flames to settle down.
Until the next idea brightens the embers and the fire rages again.