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.