Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dexter Is Here for Christmas!

We are SO happy to have a dog for Christmas, even if we don't get to keep him.  He's excellent company, does great tricks, and is well-behaved … provided we don't leave the bread or buns out on the counter when we go to bed.

He snuggles in bed with us and curls up on the couch to watche tv with us.

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A Plus Quilt for Luke

This quilt was such a pleasure to make, partly because it came together so easily and mostly because it's the first quilt I've made for any of my own immediate family. It's for Luke. He's a mathematician so a "plus quilt" seemed appropriate. The fabrics aren't from any one line. They're all reds, creams, blacks, greys, and taupes. I included fabrics that have fleur de lis on them because it's the symbol I most see in Louisville. I also included fabric with crowns on it because he is, after all, my prince. And I included some Sweetwater Hometown fabric that has the names of cities from around the world. I made sure to include some pieces that have "Saskatoon" on them as well as some other cities Luke has been to.

Since I hadn't decided on the finished size of the quilt, I waited until the top was finished at the end of November before going to Periwinkle to pick up the backing fabric I'd had my eye on - super soft and cuddly black dimpled minky. I'd been watching it regularly and even the week before there was still TONS of it on the bolt. When I went to get it, though, someone had arrived only 20 minutes before I got there and bought ALL NINE METERS of it!  All of it. Gone!  The people at Periwinkle were great, though, and were able to get some in just in time for Lynette (who longarm quilted it for me in an all-over pattern) to do her magic. I got it back the Saturday before Christmas. That night, fortunately, Luke was out and I spent the evening doing the binding and getting it machine sewed on to the front. There was no way I would get the hand sewing part done so I wrapped it up for Christmas as it was and did the hand sewing a couple of days ago. It was a 4 movie job and since I was … am … mostly sick with a nasty head cold, it was just the kind of sewing I could do.

So today we took some photos before I wash it.

I ended up a few inches short on my binding and while I could have easily added some scraps from any of the fabrics used on the front, I was feeling a little edgy and so added a touch of shot cotton in blue. After it comes out of the wash, that's where I'll write a little note for my boy.

Next ... baby quilts (SO MANY BABIES!!) and then a quilt for Hannah. 
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Dresden for Auntie Anne and Learning About Thread

Auntie Anne celebrated her 80th birthday this Christmas and since I was on a mug rug roll, I made one for her. I've had and wanted to try out a dresden ruler for some time and so I busted it out for her mug rug.

A few firsts went into this mug rug - dresdens and machine quilting that isn't just straight lines. I learned a thing or two and so I made another dresden mug rug for Mom for Christmas and I think it turned out better, though I forgot to get a photo of it in my rush. 

For Mom's, instead of machine appliqueing the dresden to the background fabric, I just pinned it securely and attached it with the quilting stitches. It turned out better that way.  I got better at knowing when to pivot with my second effort.  The centre of the dresden looks a little more balanced (more round and less hilly) with my 2nd effort, too … I think because I used one less dresden piece.

I'm finding mug rugs good test projects for bigger things. I've confirmed that I want to do a bigger dresden project.

Something else I learned is that thread really matters both in piecing and machine quilting. Mettler threads in my machine are a marked improvement over Guterman. Aurifil and Sulky threads are even better. Aurifil is definitely my go-to thread for piecing after trying a few different brands and I'll be picking up some when I'm next in Kentucky, which is where I picked up the ones I have now. I don't know of any place to get it here. The variegated Sulky thread I machine quilted the mug rugs with worked very nicely in my machine, too. Interestingly, when I was machine quilting Robert's baby quilt, I was using various colours of Mettler silk-coated cotton thread and the colour yellow worked for me so much better than the other colours. Orange worked better than green and Blue was the worst. That whole quilting experience was so traumatizing, I didn't even get to the brown thread I was going to include. The memory still gives me the shakes. Still, odd that the colour of the thread could make a difference. While hand sewing bindings on the mug rugs, I noticed that different coloured threads in the same line sometimes had different textures, some being smoother than others. What a lot to learn!
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Co-op Mug Rugs

I work at the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives at the University of Saskatchewan and since the United Nations declared 2012 the International Year of Co-operatives, it seemed important to mark the year in a crafty way.

Just in case you didn't know, the rainbow flag is one of the symbols used by co-operatives, representing the seven guiding principles of the co-operative model.  So, with that in mind, I made each of my colleagues a rainbow mug rug and then backed each one with fabric from my stash that I felt most reminded me of that person.  I even made one for myself, though I still hadn't finished the binding at the time I took photos.

With renovations recently done in our building, the room where we regularly had lunch is now sometimes booked for events meaning we often have to eat lunch at our desks. I thought these might come in handy for that purpose. I won a mug rug a couple of years ago and it has been the handiest thing to have sitting in front of our desktop computer.
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A Baby Quilt for Robert

Well, it took me over a year. It's approaching "toddler quilt" status. But it's done. Josh and Noelene are both pilots, hence all the planes and copters!

This is my first attempt at machine quilting. Just straight lines. I hadn't anticipated any trouble but man, was I wrong!  I had a terrible time with that minky fabric I backed it with.  You would think that minky, which is so soft, would slide easily across surfaces but not so. Static developed and I really struggled with getting it through my machine. I unpicked threads, I pulled, I wore machine quilting gloves to help push. Finally what worked best was trying to lift as much of the quilt off the surface as possible and even creating a bubble of air just before the fabric when under the needle. Of course, this led to all kinds of other problems such as a few puckers here and there.  After each line I stitched, I spewed many, many bad words and after completing 2 or 3 lines, I would have to take a break to calm my nerves before going back to it.  It took me all bloody night!  I was up until 3:00 a.m. I was a mess!  It was a very traumatizing experience and I was quite disappointed in how it came out. Not nearly so nice as I intended.

Regardless, I am undaunted. I know now that I need one of those Super Slippery things that attach to the sewing surface that will allow the fabric to slide more easily.  I'll be getting one of those.

After finishing the quilt, I contemplated what to do with some leftover squares I had. I decided to put them together and make it rectangular by using some bits of pieces of scraps and ended up with a smaller quilt. It's probably a nice size for a wee baby play mat or for a quilt for a big stuffed critter.   At any rate, I'm sure they'll find a use for it. If Robbie doesn't claim it ... maybe a NEW little one will enjoy it!! Yes, Noelene shared the exciting news that she and Josh are going to be having another child in 2013. I'd better get some baby quilts in the vault because I know of several babies being born in the next few months and I want to be able to give them quilts. Boys? Girls? Who knows? I'd best be prepared!

We were able to Skype with Robert and his family on Christmas day. He looked to be having a perfectly wonderful Christmas with his Grandma and Grandpa Kerr and Aunt Kathy there, too.
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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hannah Comes Home For Christmas

It's so nice to have both of our kids home for Christmas.  For the first time in we can't remember when, we all decorated the tree together after Hannah got home.With Hannah home, we also got to see some of her friends who are still here or, at least, here for Christmas. Leah, Cody, and a bunch more. Sadly, we did not get to see Kayla, Gillian, Marissa, or Katelyn (except briefly at Shelley's and Ian's Christmas party).

Luke is not allowed to hang balls on the tree anymore!

Hannah came home carrying 3 boxes of home-made gluten free cookies that she had made in Vancouver.  Beautiful … and delicious, too!  She decorated the box in the style of my heart/peace ring that I've been wearing since I was 13.

The holidays went by too quickly and before we knew it we were waving goodbye to Hannah at the airport. In a couple of days we'll be doing the same with Luke. Boohoo.

Of course, both of them are probably glad to escape. We all got sick over Christmas. Kevin started (thanks, Kev) the ball rolling with a nasty cold just before Christmas. Hannah and Luke both caught it, though Hannah seemed best able to hold it to a minimum and she got out of Dodge before it got worse.  Luke, on the other hand, got it the worst! He got a stomach flu with it, has been feverish, feels very crappy, and was given penicillin when he went to the medi-clinic yesterday. He's still not feeling any better.  Me neither.  I caught it last … starting on boxing day … and have felt very awful ever since. It's really socked in. Luke doesn't remember a time when he's been so sick and is feeling a little frustrated. He had planned on going to the gym and getting his lacrosse stick in his hands every day while here so he'll be ready to start his last college lacrosse season as soon as he gets back to Louisville in the new year. That gym thing hasn't been happening and he's even lost weight because of his sore throat and ears! Not good for an athlete who has trouble keeping pounds on in the first place. He might never want to come home again!     
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Luke's Home for Christmas!

And when Luke comes home, all our other boys come home, too!  I missed some latecomers in this group shot and a few who couldn't make it … some because they had exams this morning.

In case you're not sure which one is our Luke, he's the one with the black LA ball cap ... and the MOUSTACHE!!  None of them can be contenders with Kevin's moustache and Movember beard-like thing.

Evan's eyes were half closed for the group shot so I've made sure to include a photo where his eyes are open.  This was taken after the 2nd batch of young men arrived ... and then they kept on coming. Girls, too.

Kevin and I smiled so much all night our faces hurt today.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Belated Giveaway Winner

I'm a little late with the results for my giveaway ... well, a LOT late actually.  Nonetheless, Teresa has just won this little bundle of fat quarters!  Congratulations Teresa!  I'll email you and get your contact information right away.

I used an online random number generator and with numbers from 1-19 (inclusive, it spit out #10 as the winner and that person is Teresa.

#10 Teresa wrote:
Saskatchewan...I tried to convince my husband to move there for years! My best friend and her family just moved to Yorkton. My cousin moved to...I'm actually not sure where in SK she lives. We moved to NS...and love it.
Thanks to all 19 who entered!

I have no quilty things to show, by the way, because (and I'm sure I'm not the only one), some of these things will be given as gifts.  I expect a plethora of backlogged visuals throughout the quilting blogisphere come January.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Canadian Quilters Connect & FIrst Giveaway

SewSistersQuiltShop Thank you Patti (of Retired to Quilt) for including me in the list of Saskatchewan Quilt Bloggers. I feel like a bit of a poser among the others but I'm starting to feel more and more like a REAL quilter all the time!

And thank you Sew Sisters Quilt Shop for hosting this wonderful event and for including me. I'm very excited to find more Canadian quilt bloggers!

Welcome visitors. 

Obviously quilting hasn't been the primary purpose of my blog but I'm happy to say I'm moving in that direction thanks to knocking down most of my hurdles. Click on the "QUILTS" tab above to get some idea of the quilting I've been doing. Maybe you'll want to check back from time to time. I hope to have my Plus Quilt top done this weekend and soon I hope to undertake my first machine quilting! YIKES!

And, oh yes, my first ever GIVEAWAY!  The thing is I don't know what it will be yet. (Oh yes, I do ... scroll down to see what it is).

Meanwhile, just add a comment to be entered. International entries are most welcome.  In your comment, tell me something you associate with Saskatchewan or share a Saskatchewan experience. And feel free to say so if you had to Google "Saskatchewan".

I'll make the draw and announce the winner on November 25, after the tour has finished.

Good luck and enjoy visiting all the blogs!


Here's what I'm giving away - 5 fat quarters. I think they're lovely. They're all from one fabric line except for the lime green chicopee at the top. I took this photo at night since I hardly ever see real day light during the week except out my window at work (thank GOD I have a window), so the colours aren't exactly true. In the photo the chicopee looks yellow instead of lime green and that tone on tone grid is actually more red than orange. Click on the links below to see better online photos of each fabric. Darkness sucks ... just sayin'.

From top to bottom
  1. Chicopee - Heatwave Stripe Lime
  2. Restoration - Large Medallion Black
  3. Restoration - Check Red
  4. Restoration - Intertwined Lace Black  
  5. Restoration - Stripe Black


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tag! I'm It!

Sam (from Eatonia, Saskatchewan) who blogs at Quilting Curve has tagged me in a "get to know the quilter" game. I feel a little sheepish even being considered a quilter since I'm really quite a novice but since I have actually finished a few quilts for real, I guess that qualifies me as a quilter ... even if I do feel like a poser!  

First, I guess, I have to list 11 random things about myself. Then I have to answer 11 questions Sam asked. And then I have to tag some other quilter/bloggers.

By the way, Sam's HERON QUILT - of her own design - is absolutely stunning!

Read more after the jump if you're interested. Just click the "read more" link below.


Exciting Vintage Fabric Development

In March of this year I posted about this fabric pictured here. Mom and I had discovered it in the bags of scraps Mom had brought to the city for us to sort through and cut into quilt squares. I didn't recognize this fabric and Mom thought it must be from Grandma Kerr's scraps.  There were some quite large pieces of it and it had obviously been used to make some garment.

I was fascinated with the fabric right away. It's a very high quality cotton to my mind and the design on it is so artistic and detailed and finely reproduced. 

And then, bonus, we found a piece of the selvedge that reads, ""A Signature Fabric, "Rubaiyat", created by Vincent Malta of Associated American Artists, copyright 1955."  I don't recall fabrics ever having information in the selvedge when I was a kid and since this fabric is from before I was born, I thought that alone meant there must be something special about it. I did some rudimentary Googling but didn't find anything. 

And then, On Oct 31, I got a comment on my blog post from someone named Ariele who wrote, "It is part of a large series created by other American Artists. Here is a link for more info. There is another I've seen from 1953 titled "Iliad", and she provided a link to a pdf article about this series of fabrics. My fabric wasn't listed in the table provided in the article so I Googled the author of the article, Karen Herbaugh, a curator at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachussetts. So I emailed her, sent some photos and asked her if it's of any interest or if I should just go ahead and cut it up into a quilt. She promptly responded that she would really rather I NOT cut it up into a quilt and that they would like to have some of it for the museum, which houses the largest museum collection of Associated American Artists (AAA) fabrics. She is currently working on a book about AAA fabrics in collaboration with Kansas State University and was unaware of the existence of this particular fabric, though there are some others in the series by the same artist, which explains why this fabric wasn't listed in the table in the article I read.

She writes, "Between 1951 and 1957 artists belonging to the Associated American Artists strayed into designing textiles prints as a means to make extra money so they could pursue their art careers."

In my email to Karen I speculated on where my Grandma might have come across this fabric. Karen wrote, "AAA fabrics were sold at high-end department stores around the country. I have seen pictures of store window displays including Macy’s in New York City. Maybe your grandmother did get it on one of her family trips. I haven’t seen it  advertised in Sears catalogues but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t."

So I'm going to gift the American Textile History Museum with the largest pieces of this fabric and the intact selvedge and the smaller bits that I keep will go into a very special quilt square. I really do wonder where it came from in the first place.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Blogathon Canada - Nov 19 - 24, 2012 (Canadian Quilters Connect)

SewSistersQuiltShopI'm pretty excited about this event that starts today. I follow lots of quilting blogs but I get especially excited when I discover a Canadian quilting blog and even MORE excited when I find one really close to home. Recently I found a few Saskatoon quilt bloggers and even met a few of them over coffee, which was very exciting.  I'm not going to list them here because Patti of Retired to Quilt will be listing the ones she knows of on Wednesday. But on the other days quilt bloggers from all across Canada will be posting links to other quilt bloggers in their areas.

And there will be giveaways! If you're interested in sewing, crafting, quilting, you should follow along.

Click on the Blogathon Canada button above to see the schedule of bloggers.

The event is hosted by Sew Sisters Quilt Shop.

No Booze for ME!

Every now and then I need a reminder that drinking any kind of alcohol is not recommended for me and that it increases my risk of breast cancer. This is my note to self after having some drinks while in Vancouver and since I've been home. No more martinis for me ... for a while.

Healthy Diet Does Not Offset Heightened Breast Cancer Risk From Alcohol Consumption - Food for Breast Cancer

Now. Where Was I? Oh, Yeah ... QUILTS!

I haven't made much quilting progress lately. I would love nothing more than a week at home alone to just sew and sew and sew. I've been experiencing some "life interuptus" and now it's time to get back to doing what I want to do, which is SEW.

This mess of reds, greys, blacks, and creams will be a completed quilt top this week ... I hope. I got all 21 strips sewn and these are them overlapped in order on the dining room table.  Now I need to spend time pressing all the seams open followed by sewing all the strips together. And then the top will be done unless I decide it needs to be bigger, which would mean some borders. I'll worry about that later.  This pattern is called, I think, a "plus quilt" because it's a bunch of interlocking plus signs. I've been wanting to make one for some time.

Kevin and I went to Vancouver last week for 5 days to see Hannah and to get out of Saskatoon for a bit. We had both been very busy with work and a little vacation was required.

We stayed on the top floor of the Sutton Hotel in downtown Vancouver and it was a wonderful luxury.
We had lots of time with Hannah, Matt, and some of their friends. We shopped a lot and ate at some fabulous restaurants.

Matt, Hannah, and Leah cooked for us one night and we attended an art opening. We tried to go to the new James Bond movie across the street from our hotel but no luck. It was sold out.

I haven't posted for so long so I'm including a couple of extra photos from October. Here is the sad deconstruction of the Traffic Bridge (aka: the Victoria Bridge, the Iron Bridge, the Skinny Bridge).  I'm sad to see it go. I'm all for it being reincarnated in a simiilar style but as a pedestrian/bicycle bridge.  I know others would like to see it used for vehicles again but I'd prefer not.

I took part in the C95 Radio Marathon for breast cancer research again this year. I get better every year at not crying. I only cried a little bit this time, though I know my voice was pinched almost the whole time because I was trying hard not to cry.  This is me with Rob and Shauna. They are such genuinely nice people ... and I'm not just saying that just because they noticed how much thicker my hair is now than last year (which isn't saying much). I really don't know how THEY hold it together for the duration of the marathon. I'll bet they need a holiday after it's over.  There are so many other people that make the event happen and they do such a fantastic job. I will always remember how kind, caring, and encouraging Lisa was the first time I was on the radio marathon only a few weeks after my last chemo. RIP Lisa.

And this is a little bouquet that Sylvia gave me. So sweet!
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival Fall 2012 - 90 Squares of a Curious Nature

Anyone who regularly visits my blog will already have seen and read all this but since Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival is going on, I'm telling the story for new visitors as part of the festival.

Amy's Creative Side

Category: Throw Quilt

This is one of two largish quilts I made this summer. In fact they are my FIRST largish solo quilts EVER!  I'm kind of new at this.

This quilt is for Uncle Reg (my mother-in-law's brother) who turned 90 this year. He's quite the inspiration with his good health, energy, humour, and attitude. He's had a really incredible life that has taken him from a modest Saskatchewan farm, through World War II as a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force (remarkably surviving several crashes), family life with three daughters, and now grandchildren. He still golfs and curls and both cheers and curses the Roughriders (our professional football team). He's also famous for his gardening expertise, roses in particular.

I won 6 one yard cuts of this fabric. It's Curious Nature designed by David Butler. When the fabric arrived I liked it so much that I bought fat quarters of the complete line. It's very masculine fabric and, for whatever reason and before I even realized it was Uncle Reg's 90th birthday this year, the fabric reminded me immediately of him. So ... good reason to make the man a lap quilt. I picked out the blue/oyster/cream/black toned fabrics from the line for this quilt. I envisioned photos on the quilt so I undertook figuring that out. It turned out to be challenging and time-sucking but, ultimately, I'm very happy with how the photos printed onto fabric. What I learned about that process is a whole blog post on its own.

Auntie Eileen volunteered to embroider the strip with the words, poppies and roses. She has a fancy embroidering machine.

I had the quilt longarm quilted by Lynette Hankewich of Ladybug Longarm Quilting. She just quilted in the ditch so as not to quilt over the photos. She did a great job considering "stitching in the ditch" is not so easy on a longarm quilting machine. Perhaps I could have quilted this by myself on my little Pfaff Tipmatic but I've never machine quilted before and I didn't want to start on this particular quilt.

I pieced the back of the quilt using what was left of the six 1 yard cuts that I won.

I used all the fabric scraps pieced together for the binding and I included a strip of red fabric with fleur de lis on it for a touch of red. I do like a touch of red. And this is Canada after all, so a nod to the French is always in order for we English Canadians.

The above photo (the one on the park bench) shows the colours in the quilt more realistically than in the other photos, which make the quilt look overall more "blueish" than it really is.

I was very lucky to have Sean stop by to hold the quilt up for me. Sean's Mom is a quilter, too. He and his brothers and his Dad are all closer to 7 feet tall so they are every quilter's "best friends". Prior to that I tried to take photos of it all by myself at various places at the University of Saskatchewan campus.

Quilt Stats:

Name: "90 Squares of a Curious Nature"
Size: 54" x 69"
Fabric: Curious Nature by Parson Gray (David Butler), one charm square in the middle of the quilt that has various synonyms for "home" on it and is from Sweetwater's Hometown fabric line, and Kona Pepper for sashing and borders.
Inspiration Quilt: Chrysalis by Heather D at the "Crafting ... Blog"
Longarm Quilting: Lynnette of Ladybug Longarm Quilting in Saskatoon
Particulars: The quilt has 90 squares representing 90 years. Photos were printed using an Epson laserjet printer and Epson ink and I used cotton inkjet sheets from Electric Quilt Company available at Periwinkle Quilt Shop in Saskatoon and PeachTree Quilt Shop in Regina.
Best Category: Throw Quilt

I didn't use a pattern but, after looking at the "inspiration quilt" and knowing charm packs were used to make it, I used 5 inch squares (a good choice because I could get two 5" square photos out of one cotton photo printer sheet), and 1.5 inch strips of Kona Pepper cut to 5" and 6" lengths. The squares have black borders on 2 sides only and then you just turn every 2nd square to get this jiggy look. If it hadn't been for struggles with my first attempt at printing on fabric, this would have been a very quick and easy quilt to put together. It's worth noting that if you decide to make a similar quilt, prepare all the fabric squares first and then lay the whole thing out and figure out where you're going to put your photo squares because that will determine where you put the two sashing pieces on those. You don't want to end up with upside down photos!

I like how Sean's sneakers peak out from under the quilt.

For the quilt label I used the corner of a handkerchief that features red roses since Uncle Reg is famous for his rose gardening.

The quilt was delivered and, with blessed happenstance, the quilt colours match Uncle Reg's decor perfectly! I'm so pleased about that.

Click on the photos if you want to see them full sized.