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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CQA block quilts

Here are two little quilts that have just come to life! I’m tempted to call them Romulus and Remus, but I leave the naming to the new owners. 71783162_10217952955550052_3919930803252887552_nThis January the Canadian Quilters’ Association challenged quilters to make a block a week for 52 weeks. Free instructions for each 6″ block, designed by Jacquie Philpott, appeared every Tuesday morning and were available for a few weeks. They were well written instructions for charming blocks, doable by even beginning quilters. Always in search of a challenge, I went straight to my stash and started cutting.

I love yellow. I love red. Back in January, there was probably still some Christmas red on the cutting mat, and there was certainly some yellow from a yellow and grey quilt there. I’d make scrappy yellow, red and white blocks. For the first block, I found a princess. And then there were some bluebirds… And a geisha…And gnomes…

72111676_10217952971990463_5872695627783077888_nThe year progressed and I kept up with the blocks, even if I sometimes made three at a time. They were fun. I finished ten, twenty, thirty blocks. And then I was done.

By late August I was in the throws of Charlotte construction, and the unfinished blocks of the Summer Sampler 2019 were weighing heavily on my mind. I had also committed to the Wonderful Woodland quilt along, and that was about to start. Why was my hobby causing me grief? Surely, it should bring me joy. I needed to declutter. Those blocks had to come off my to do list.

I spent much of last year finishing UFOs. I certainly didn’t get them all finished, but I resolved there would be no new ones created, so the already constructed CQA blocks had to be dealt with.

I took 20 and arranged them into rows, alternating with a cute print from my stash that reminded me of Richard Skerries’ books.72312547_10217952953990013_6777738403480862720_n

When I was left with 10 blocks, I made a few more, and combined them with the last of that print and the trimmings from the back of Charlotte.

72394592_10217952954390023_8682247110071943168_nI pieced backs from flannel, quilted them in a very relaxed fashion, and bound them with stripes. This morning, I threw them in the washer and dryer, and took them out to play in the garden. Possibly I should have played first and washed second, but it’s too late now. The pictures are done. I think I avoided the bird poop on the wharf.72297198_10217952954550027_2132996671770984448_n

As you can see, our leaves are changing. I couldn’t resist the look of red and yellow quilts in yellow dogberry trees. And of course, they had to have wharf pictures taken. See? The leaves are changing across the pond, too.

 

 

Then, because I painted the railing on my deck this summer for the express purpose of taking quilt pictures, I took one there. It’s a bit dark, but doesn’t that railing look good?72275119_10217952955630054_3192471293018505216_n

Here they are, the little darlings. I think they’re on their way to some neighbours with a three year old and a new baby where, please God, they’ll bring joy.

Happy quilting.

Linking up with Dione, the Clever Chameleon.

and Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlotte

Charlotte is a fabulous girl. She is smart and quirky and funny and kind and driven and warm and just the kind of person we want our daughters to be. She has been my daughter Margaret’s colleague, study buddy, and  partner in crime as they navigated the five years of  Anesthesia residency together.  More than a year ago, Margaret asked me to make Charlotte and her fiancé, Jeffrey, a wedding quilt. What could I say? Yes, but it won’t be a bed sized one.

This is Charlotte, the quilt. 70335153_10217757109374020_4930567024960077824_nIt’s always a little challenging to make a quilt for someone else, especially someone whose taste you don’t really know. This time the decisions came in stages.

I saw Charlotte and Jeffrey on Boxing Day. They were wearing t-shirts that they had given each other. Both were light grey. The quilt clearly needed a light grey background; it’s Kona silver. Like its owners, it would be modern and classy.

After a few false starts, Margaret and I found a quilt pattern, Les Amis, by Shelley Cavanna, the 2018 BOM from Bluprint, that we both liked, although we weren’t sold on the suggested palette. There was a bit of a vintage feel to it, that we thought Charlotte would like. I paid a month’s membership and downloaded it.  In February, I spotted the Tilda Applebutter fabric at Quiltcon, sent a picture of it to Margaret, who happened to be with Charlotte, and got immediate approval. I filled my cart with fabric, and headed through customs with a smile on my face. I’m pleading the fifth amendment here about the reason for my smile. After all, I was at the American/Canadian border after a quilting meeting.

You would think that, having found fabric and pattern, making the quilt would be absolutely straight forward. Far from it. Never in my 15 years of quilt making have I ever struggled with colour the way I struggled this winter. I tried multiple combinations and created some terrific cushions. I made blocks that I cut up for scrap quilts because they were too ugly for cushions. I dragged out a least fifty fabrics looking for four families of three that would work together.

I eventually determined that each block needed to be a single colour family. I found three families. There were four different block designs alternating in the pattern. I realized that the fabric I had bought for the background blocks didn’t work, and put Charlotte’s favourite fabric there instead. That looked nice, but I hadn’t bought enough fabric. No worries: I’d order more. My original supplier was sold out, but there was some in Australia. Yippee! Gotta love the internet. 70700414_10217761459282765_4955312500510818304_nI made a green block. It couldn’t hold its own. By now I was sending desperate texts to my friend Gillian, @sewgolly. Not only is she an early riser who is willing to give an opinion at 6am, she has an excellent eye and formal education in colour theory. She told me the green didn’t work because it was a secondary colour and the others were primary. I could put in orange and purple. I didn’t want to put in orange and purple. Feeling spitey, I decided to go with only three kinds of blocks.

Then it was time to decide on a new layout, since the original one wouldn’t work with three colours. That was when Gillian pointed out that a 1:1:1 composition wouldn’t work, because of the difference in intensity of the blocks. I’d need more yellow than red and blue to achieve a balance. Well, sh*t. At least I was getting an education. I made a bunch of blocks and put them on my design floor.

Much as I love the blue blocks, putting one in the centre didn’t work. Nor did a yellow or a red. I contemplated making a single block with all three colours, but for a joke, put the green block in. Yes!!! Now the balance was good. All four kinds of blocks were present. I could put on a ring of blue blocks and be done.70351298_10217761416721701_8277937962776264704_nIt was a nice quilt. But I had a bunch more blocks made, the quilt was a little small, and the green block looked like it had blown in from another quilt. On went another ring of yellow, red and green. And then, because in this case, blue is best, I added a border of blue. That border also meant that my points wouldn’t lose a battle with binding. Here is flimsy Charlotte on my clothesline, all 102 x102 inches of her.  So much for not making a big quilt.

The quilting began. I had no idea how I wanted to quilt her, other than that I wanted the grey to recede with dense quilting, and the colours to be prominent. As a result, there are several different dot to dot variations in each colour, but I convinced myself it only added to the charm. The grey is pebbles and swirls. In all, she took 18 prewound bobbins of glide thread, and many hours to complete, but I was happy with her. There was no room for a binding that demanded attention; it’s the same blue as the border. I sewed it down by hand, just in time for a quick wharf shot, before the two of us headed to Nova Scotia.71032156_10217757105613926_5172947366801571840_nShe made her debut at the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild’s meeting. The photo credit for this shot of me bowing to Charlotte goes to Gillian, as does credit for some of the other shots, and the editing of some of the ones that I took. 70602519_10217757105813931_7479831201209909248_n

She enjoyed the garden of the cottage at White Point where we had a early birthday celebration for Christine, @grandbankquilter. 70372439_10217757108133989_739392458391027712_nShe threw down her last challenge at the beach. How do you photograph a huge quilt in the wind?

Well, you get some friends…71140193_10217757105933934_3987470005796077568_n

Or find a big rock…70582850_10217757107053962_1606837661610278912_nYou can even hang it from a balcony, with the help of those friends. How many people does it take to photograph a quilt? Four. Three to hold it and one to take the picture. (Sherri, @violetquilts, is the person in the middle). 70385676_10217757108013986_5777362648190418944_nBut certainly, the most fun is when your quilt makes friends with your friend’s quilt. 70176008_10217757107013961_2455469546568417280_nHere they are, Charlotte and Margie’s Swap together.

Gillian’s Margie’s Swap has some of Gillian’s blocks and some made by her good friend Margie (known on Instagram as @redwood165). Charlotte is the celebration of the love of the quilt’s namesake and her husband, Jeffrey, but also of another friendship, that of my daughter and the newly weds. There they are, each lovely in her own way. Each making the world a warmer, happier place.

The wedding is underway as I type this story of struggle and success. I hope that Charlotte and Jeffrey are blessed with good fortune, good friends and a happy life together.

Linking up with Dionne, the Clever Chameleon and Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.