Rwandan inspiration

Last week I attended a basket making workshop and met some inspirational women. The Nyamirambo Women’s Centre in Kigali, Rwanda, was started in 2007 when group of 18 women, mostly single mothers, in the neighbourhood of Nyamirabo, came together to create better lives for themselves and their families. Their goal was to address gender based violence, inequality and discrimination. With some support from a Slovenian Peace Institute, the Swiss A Tree for Rwanda, the Rwandan government, and private individuals, these amazing women have created nothing short of a miracle. Their Centre conducts free courses, geared towards women at risk, in literacy, English, computer skills and sewing; an outreach program in hair dressing is scheduled to start soon. Their line of home décor, clothing and souvenir items, made by their graduates, is lovely, and they offer walking tours, basket making and cooking classes for tourists. There is a library with books in three languages. The Centre is an embodiment of the positivity, and sense of community. of the amazing country of Rwanda.


I do not have a future in basket making, but I had a fun morning making this sisal necklace, with lots of help. The fabric cord is braided strips of 1cm wide fabric, which are twisted (like knitting yarn) as they are braided, to prevent ravelling.

Here are a couple handmade cards and the shopping bag from there. Did you know plastic shopping bags are illegal in Rwanda?


And for those scrap lovers among you… Look at these treasures I discovered in the market. They are made from circles of fabric wrapped yoyo fashion around beer caps, which are then attached to each other where they touch. They looked a lot like EPP hexies to me. Trendy or what?


And then there’s this necklace. Talk about something from nothing! Can’t wait to wear it.


Of course there was fabric. None of it is made in Rwanda, but it is certainly worn there, by stunning women in lovely dresses. I bought myself a couple of 6 yard lengths. I have no idea what I’ll do with it, but until I decide, I can admire the striking colours and patterns.


Now that I’m home, I need to get cracking on projects related to my daughter’s May wedding. No more lazing about like this.


Happy Easter. Enjoy that chocolate, however you come by it.

Progress on the Shimmer

This is Shimmer in her present state. She’s almost off the PHD list.
29177464_10213782279645761_428994982930546688_nYou may have read my Quiltcon at Home with the saga of the backing for this quilt. I am happy to report that I’m now pleased the original back was flawed. The pieced back didn’t cause me too much thread breakage grief, and that I love the initials. I hope the newly weds will be charmed by them too, when they get the quilt in September.29104056_10213782305606410_7539180957681582080_nI struggled with the quilting. My tension wasn’t great for the first third of the quilt, despite having done a trial sample. The lines were fine, but the swirls were plagued with eyelashes. And there were tucks. I was ready to take the whole thing and pitch it. I left it for a week. Then I put on my big girl pants and went to work. I adjusted the tension, and checked and checked again. And kept going, thinking all the while that I could applique some pictures to cover up those tucks. When it was done, I rolled back to the beginning and picked out the worst of the eyelashes, and redid those bits of quilting.

Yesterday I pulled it off the frame and dumped it on a bed. Oh my goodness, it’s OK. The tucks don’t scream at you, and the bits with questionable tension will do. 29179051_10213782279405755_7867688081141268480_n

This quilt is proof that some mistakes you obsess over really aren’t so critical in the big picture; you just have to put your head down and keep going. Rule to live by.

29186746_10213782279805765_6453885212093841408_nThere will be scallops in the final border. They’re quilted in, but can’t really be seen until I add the binding and trim the curves. That’s a project for the summer, after my own daughter’s wedding in May. I need to get going on her quilt first; so far it’s just a small pile of squares.

Linking up with freemotion by the river.




Christmas Hanging Gardens


Have you ever noticed that sometimes serendipity provides just the kick in the pants that you need?28471872_10213705210999093_795464885919901012_n

Moda says the third Saturday in September is National Sew a Jelly Roll Day. Who knew? Not me, when I sat down with my morning coffee last September 16. It was pelting rain and, for once, I had no particular plans for the day. No plans, that is, until I started browsing the quilting websites and learned the day was significant. I confess, my first response was, “I’m Canadian, this doesn’t apply to me” and “Who is Moda to name a day that is clearly in its own best interests?” And then the coffee kicked in, I thought of the lovely Holly’s Tree Farm by Sweetwater jelly roll gathering dust in the sewing room, and the Hanging Gardens pattern I’d ordered from the Cozy Quilt Shop. By the time I was two cups in, the jelly roll was unwrapped, a matching set of charm squares located and a contrast fabric found in the stash. Didn’t bother with the Saturday paper- I was too busy changing the blade in my rotary cutter.


By the time I next caught my breath, every scrap of jelly roll and charm square was cut into log cabin sized pieces and five blocks were completed. I headed for the LQS, found a lovely robin’s egg blue Northcott solid to serve as background, returned home and cut into some of it. By then the caffeine had worn off, and I realized this would make an ideal retreat project, so I put it away. By the end of the fall retreat, the blocks were made, and shortly after, the top was complete.

Buoyed by the success of my quilting Freefall Maple Leaves, and wanting to have some hand sewing for the Olympics, I opened my roll of extra wide batting, ironed the top and flannel backing, and got to work. There followed another LQS trip for binding and many hours of hand sewing while the sports commentators kept me entertained before I earned my queen sized trophy, Christmas Hanging Gardens.


There’s another jelly roll waiting for the third Saturday of this September, if it rains.

Linking up with Amanda at Crazy mom quilts

February PHD progress report

Here it is…my PHD progress this year. 28377951_10213671641719882_1758105490586566811_nIn the spirit of the recent Olympics, I thought a photo finish was in order. There are nine items there that have been finished. Some took no time to finish, like the Valentine runner and the baby quilt that just required binding, but some were huge, like the two quilts on the right, and all are out of my PHD pile.

I have a large quilt on the frame, partly quilted, another  in flimsy form (it had been in blocks), and a third looking at me from the design wall. I think I know what I’ll do with that, but it’ll take time. What do I do with this? It’s 17″ across, was made as a sliver demo years ago, and I can’t think of a single person who’d use it, in any form.

28468419_10213671746042490_7389470872034520524_nTime will be a problem this month, but April is looking promising. In the meantime, I’ll be plugging away when I can. I may actually start something new. Sssshhhh! Don’t tell my academic advisor.

So this is it, Quilting Gail., my PHD work to date. Btw, I’m not discussing the number of additional PHDs I’ve discovered since I made my list.