Happy Trees

Here we are with only ten months to go until Christmas, so I thought I’d share my newly finished Christmas quilt. Am I an early bird, or what? Obviously, or what. I must confess it was my intention to have it done for 2019. Other quilts got in the way. Please God, I’ll have many more Christmases in which to enjoy this piece of happiness.

87206198_10219183489712637_9145048046877278208_nThere’s something irresistible about a festive Christmas quilt. The pure joy of bright colours and happy images pulls me in every time, so when I saw Amy Smart’s Pine Hollow Patchwork Forest quilt, I had to make it. I was up to my eyes with projects, but it didn’t matter. It had to be made.

I based my colour scheme on a piece of  Helen’s Garden from Festive Forest by Tamara Kate. Many sensible people read a pattern, cut all the pieces and proceed in a methodical fashion to make it. Not me. I picked six fabrics and made six tiny trees.

I found the navy trunks overpowering. I decided I didn’t want all the trees to have the same trunks. It was time for some medium sized trees, and then three big ones.

Stars landed in a couple of those big trees, as suggested by the pattern, but my favourite block was the medium sized lollipop tree. It took a little fiddling to land that star where it should be, but I did it. Here’s the block on my front door. 87174003_10219183466352053_8264080267975589888_nIt was so much fun to assemble the blocks; each added something to the overall effect. Even the little orange trees, which were the last I made, were important. They brought brightness to the quilt; it was the final infusion of life.

Don’t you just love my design floor? I have a wall, but at 4×7′ it is too small for a biggish quilt, so the design floor is important, situated as it is, beside an open stairwell, where I can stand and view things from on high.

The flimsy was finished well before Christmas, but I had more pressing things to make than a quilt for myself, so it waited. The last few weeks I’ve been on a mission to quilt tops, so Happy Trees finally made it onto the longarm and was finished. Each block has it’s own motif, as does each tree. I had lots of fun playing with different designs, confident that they’d never be clearly seen because of the busy fabrics. Then I took it off the frame and looked at the back, which was a solid velour, and every stitch was evident. Luckily, from a distance, it looks fine. In fact, I was rather pleased with it.

It’s been a challenging winter, as you may have guessed from the pictures. Yesterday evening I was a bit too late getting outdoors, but this morning, I put on my snowshoes and ventured over to my friend’s place to take a few pictures. See my tracks?

85251191_10219183489792639_9113988990876254208_n Then, inspired by the banks of snow in her driveway, I staged the first Hogans Pond Quilt Show. Who needs clotheslines when you have snowbanks?

You may recognize the pink quilt as one of my orphan block creations, mentioned in my first blog post of the year. It, too, has been finished, as has the third quilt in the show. You’ll hear more about that one later. For now, here are a couple more winter pictures for those of you who think it is spring.

Happy Quilting!

Linking up with Cyndy at Quilting is More Fun than Housework.

 

 

Home

Have you heard of Pliny the Elder? He was a Roman naval commander, scientist, humanitarian and the author of the first Encyclopedia. The phrase “Home is Where the Heart is” has been attributed to him.

84863144_10219050867837173_4807016303506227200_nWhen my younger daughter secured a job in Australia for the winter, I decided to make her a travel quilt. My plan was that it should be small and light enough to take on the journey, and would be a little bit of home to cuddle. After all, she would be saying farewell to her girlfriend and cat for a few months. I set to work.

My plan was to set some  northern creatures in 2×4 blocks. In typical fashion, I started slicing some Harry Potter fabric and some wax prints from Cameroon since both would be meaningful for Maura. I gave no thought to the colour scheme, which resulted in the grouping on the left. Yuck. I removed Harry and the really bold African print, added some pink and peach, and got the group on the right. Better. Not fabulous. My immediate response was to add some yellow, which in my world, solves all problems. My friend Gillian challenged me to make a quilt without red or yellow, my favourite colours, saying other colours could do the same job of adding life. I beg to differ, but a challenge is a challenge. This quilt would be free of yellow and red.

I decided to make some creatures that I didn’t think would be seen in Australia.

These are Elizabeth Hartman’s seal and bear from her North Stars pattern. The quilt needed more wildlife.

84769543_10219050866677144_8060668031266717696_nElizabeth’s fox was joined by John Renaud of Art East Quilting‘s beaver and puffin. Subtlety is not my strong suit. I decided to add “HOME”, which I made without a pattern. Don’t you love the heart in the “O”? I filled in the empty spaces with more 2×4 blocks, keeping to a green/turquoise/orange colour scheme. 85019508_10219050867957176_6493014855241433088_nDid you spot Morris? This is Morris. 83766748_10219050867797172_7270195372205539328_nAs is this. Morris and me and the gypsy wife.My legs are under the quilt85006703_10219051119003452_7139531235721740288_nHe’s the reason this post hadn’t been written earlier. You see, Morris belongs to my daughters. He was Margaret’s cat for five years, and this summer moved to Maura, who fell madly in love with him. When she got the job in Australia, he came to Granny Ann  for the winter. Morris has always been an outdoor city cat, a prize hunter of birds and rodents. After he was with me for a couple weeks, I let him out to explore the country and he didn’t some back. I put up notices, I posted on facebook, I visited the spca. No Morris. We had bitterly cold weather, followed by a record breaking blizzard that shut down the city for a week. We were all up in a heap. Then, after two weeks, when we had given up hope, Morris fetched up on a back step about a kilometer away, meowing to be let in. The kind people there took him in, fed him a can of tuna, put him in a crate and brought him to me. I was never so thrilled to have strangers banging on my door at 11:45pm. Come to think of it, I don’t know if I’ve ever had strangers banging on my door at 11:45pm before. I was ecstatic. My daughters and their significant others were over the moon. Morris seemed pretty pleased with himself too, and took no time settling back onto my bed. Apart from a cut on his cheek, and a bit of weight loss, he was none the worse for wear. It was a miracle. Now that he’s looking at me from across the room, I can write about Morris. I can show off the quilt.85048153_10219050867757171_3699821181101146112_n (1)

Here it is. Please note there is neither yellow nor red, although one of the oranges is pretty close. I backed it with a bamboo rayon sheet, and used Cotton Dream for the batting, but it was still too big to make the trip. It will always be a momento of journeys, both Maura’s and Morris’s, and of triumph over the unknown. Especially, it will be a reminder of home.84446780_10219050867597167_4539814649876447232_nLinking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

and Dione of Clever Chameleon.

Freddie’s Path

83903523_10218860895567985_7944571474663178240_nOnce upon a time, likely in the second half of 2019, likely while sipping my morning coffee, I was cruising Instagram. I say this like it was a rare event instead of a daily ritual, but on an otherwise unremarkable day, I saw this:

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I thought it was brilliant. I still do. I snapped a picture so as not to have it disappear into the fog of “I know I saw something cool, but where?”. I had a serious hunt for the designer and pattern, but didn’t find them. In truth, I was just trying to give credit for the design. I had already decided how I would try it out.

It seems many of my posts start the same way. “My daughter’s friend is expecting a baby/getting married…” I have two daughters, one on either side of 30. This Christmas, the game was to drink to each of their friends who announced an engagement over the holidays. The count was at 17 when I left to come home on December 30. It didn’t include the ones who said “Yes!” as the new year was rung in. Just as well I came home when I did; my aging liver would never have withstood the celebrating.

So… one of my daughters has a friend who was expecting her second baby. I had made a quilt for the first one a few years ago; she loved it. Now, those of us who have had two children know that there are always fewer pictures and presents and moments of wonder with the younger child. This is in no way a reflection of the love that we feel for the little one, but it is pretty hard to explain as she grows older and wonders why there is only one volume of pictures from her first year, not the three starring her older sister. This new baby needed a quilt.

My first thought was that the blocks should be 6″x6″ and the contrasting background path 3″. I had some orphan Tula Pink City Sampler Blocks that I could use to make the quilt in no time. I started putting them on the design wall.

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I studied the picture again and realized the blocks were in two sizes, 6″x6″ and 3″x6″, and those two sizes were necessary because of the additional 3″ of path in each row. I quickly made a few 3″x6″ blocks and was underway.

As with many quilts, it developed a life of its own. I ended up using only three of the orphan Tula blocks. The colours of the others weren’t right for the progression I wanted; colour became the most important criteria for fabric selection. The most important criteria until I realized I was making an I Spy quilt. Suddenly, I was on a hunt for a turquoise cat, and then a blue dog, and then… I had so much fun rifling through my fabric stacks in search of just the right piece!

And then it was together. I dumped it on the spare bed and snapped a picture.82432152_10218860949969345_1977430795941314560_n

There was a pretty piece of pink flannel in my stash for a back. I quilted a boxy meander on the white path, and a bit of free motion on the blocks. Unfortunately, weather and time did not cooperate for pictures, so I don’t have a good one of the quilting. 83224218_10218860895847992_6889481508218732544_nI do have one taken at my daughter’s home in Ontario, just before it went to Freddie (Fredericka).80324745_10218860888447807_1999854845963534336_nThe bright sunshine of Christmas in Niagara washed out the colours a little, but I thought it looked sweet anyway. I hope that sunshine blesses little Freddie throughout her life.

Linking up with mmmquilts TGIFF.

Plaid-ish at the Pond

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My daughter Maura has a lovely girlfriend, Maris. Last summer they lived together, with Morris the cat, and the multitude of quilts I have made for Maura over the years. That made Maura and Maris and Morris. Try keeping those names straight. I digress. At the end of the summer, Maris moved east to grad school. When I visited Maura shortly afterwards, she told me Maris had really liked the coziness of the quilts. Of course she did. Quilts, layered several deep,  are the original weighted blankets.

My quilting follows a pattern. I love a good challenge, be it technical or in design, but when it’s done, I need something easy. I need to play. This past summer I signed up for the Summer Sampler 2019 and loved learning the tips and techniques to make the blocks. Some were quite difficult, but I finished them all, and now have a completed flimsy. Here’s a sneak peek. Beside it is Charlotte , which required some considerable thought in terms of colour and design, and time to make. It is 104″square.

At the end of the summer, I saw Plaid-ish by Kitchen Table Quilting, on Instagram. I loved it. It used scraps and charm squares. Believe me, I have those. There was a retreat coming and I needed an easy project. Maris needed a quilt. I needed to cut and sew with abandon. Plaid-ish at the Pond ticked all those boxes.

Off I went to retreat with my charm squares and no clear idea of colour, other than that I needed light, medium and dark. This happened. 81156903_10218754761434698_7985554464918470656_n

Oh my, it was ugly.  I pulled out a few blocks that really didn’t please me.81152548_10218754762034713_7902604984141742080_n

Better, but really dull. And then I realized something I should have known from the start: even a scrappy quilt needs a clear colour scheme. Mine would be purple with a bit of blue and green for the dark, the bright fabrics of my yellow/pink/aqua summer sampler for the medium, and white based low volume for the lights. I put away those random charm squares and went shopping for more fabric. New fabric solves all problems. Well… many of them. It solved my shortage of purple.

The quilt was SO much fun to make. The blocks flew together. I realized that if I always pressed to the medium fabric, the rows would fly together too. 81594011_10218754787795357_5616464712196685824_nThis picture is a present to all of you who beat yourselves up because your sewing room is messy. This is my rec room, home of the cutting table and design floor (for use when the design wall is too small). Note the piles of dark and light fabric on the arm of the chair and the laundry basket full of the mediums. There’s an aged UFO on the other arm. It’s just as well I live alone.

I took the flimsy to the wharf just before sunset. The sun fair danced on the fabric, and I love the effect, even if the shadows are ridiculous.

81717678_10218754794155516_6407857593770835968_nI waited a few minutes for the sun to sink beneath the hill and got this shot. 82864639_10218754794115515_1944107360167395328_nA swirly yellow flannel went on the back to make it cozy, and the quilting was kept fairly sparse, with mostly straight lines in an irregular grid. I put in a little free motion every once in a while, but time was short and I really didn’t want to take away from the tartan look. You can almost see the quilting in this picture.81556674_10218754808795882_19315734945464320_nHere she is, just before she went to her new home. And yes, she will be loved.81449620_10218754808755881_1142956613544443904_nLinking up with Dione, theClever Chameleon.

Start of a Decade

2020. A new year. A new decade. A time to reflect. A time to set goals. A time to pat oneself on the back. A time to share these pictures, taken at sunrise at Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America, in late October. A time to administer a firm kick in the pants to myself.

I have not been blogging. I have made four quilts this fall, as well as a top and a number of small items, but they were all presents and could not be revealed. I made a set of placemats but didn’t take pictures.

There was a bit of Christmas knitting for little people. The sweater ornament pattern was from Kathy Lewinski of JustCraftyEnough.com. The addition of the initials was a nod to Mrs. Weasley of Harry Potter fame, who knit scratchy, initialled, sweaters for her children.

There was a bit of knitting for a new family member, my daughter’s girlfriend, who joined our slightly belated Christmas celebrations. Her stocking was made to match Maura’s, knit 29 years ago. I had to dig to find the ancient Mary Maxim pattern. Truth be told, I dug and couldn’t find it, but it was available online for a couple dollars.

There was a Sew Together bag for my daughter Margaret, made from fabric designed by fellow guild member Julia Wentzell of  Briar Hill Designs. Margaret does a lot of garment sewing, knitting and embroidery, so I thought she might like a little tool bag. 81699044_10218740762724739_939954451723059200_nJames, Margaret’s husband, couldn’t be left out. He got a cushion cover to remind him of their cat, who went on vacation to Maura and is now with me. That’s a story for another time. Here’s the top, made from a pattern in Make Modern, issue 5, called Geometric Kitty, and brought to my attention by the Clever Chameleon. 81559833_10218740783325254_2220380186589790208_nAnd there was a hot water bottle cover, of my own design. I prequilted the flannel before I cut out the cover, putting a cat face in the stitching. In retrospect, it would have been more effective had I appliquéd and embroidered the face. That’ll be a tip for the next time. This one is done. The slot for the bottle is up nice and high so it can be filled without removing the bottle, at Maura’s request.

The quilts will get separate blog posts over the next little while, when I get my act together. In the meantime, I need to sew. There are a half dozen tops to quilt, which have been on hold partly because of technical long arm issues. There are two more tops that need something done to them, one to make it more interesting, one to make it more functional.

The real decision is this year’s focus. I know I’d like to use some scraps. Make something from nothing. On New Year’s day, I tidied my cutting table of scraps from the hot water bottle and made a pouch. 81083459_10218741118533634_7123138900331069440_nThen I got into my orphan block box and started a charity quilt. It needs to be a bit longer, but here it is. I’ll be ready for the next request for a comfort quilt. Maybe the visually impaired will need one. Truth be told, I like it, but it is BUSY.81799227_10218741115733564_3627642112503185408_n

Last year I planned to work from my library. I didn’t do that, but I’d still like to get into some of my marvellous books. I’d like to explore new techniques. Try new colour schemes. Design some quilts. Stay away from sew alongs that explore other people’s ideas and see if I can come up with some myself. Yesterday I unearthed a project I had started several years ago, and made a few more blocks.We’ll see where it goes.

Firstly, I need to get started on a project for our guild special show in May, which features men’s ties and grey fabric. And make a few baby quilts. Oh yes, and there is my actual job, which might just be in its final year. I haven’t been working for quite as long as these fossils have been around, but almost.

I took the pictures this fall at Mistaken Point, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a couple hours drive from my home. It is the best place on earth to see the seabed of 565 million years ago, especially in the fall when the sun is low, creating fabulous shadows.

Tomorrow, Christmas ends. On Tuesday, the decorations come down, and the New Year starts in earnest. More walking, less eating, sewing with intent… May you all have a wonderful year of health and happiness and quilt making.

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