Hourglass runner

There once was a frustrated quilter,

Whose blocks were a bit out of kilter.

Her luck had run out,

So she cast all about,

To find something to sew that was better. 

And that is how this hourglass runner came to be.


Early this month, I attended the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild’s retreat at beautiful White Point Lodge in Nova Scotia. It was wonderful. The place was lovely, the food tasty, the ladies absolutely fabulously welcoming. The weather could have been better, but that didn’t really matter. What did matter is that the project I most wanted to finish was causing me endless grief. For whatever reason, the intersections weren’t perfect, the colour was questionable and I just needed a break from it.

I had won a pack of 6 inch squares of Rowan fabric, and had some trimmings from a cream wide backing with me. In frustration, near the end of the retreat, I decided to make hourglasses. Fabric combinations were random, except I eliminated most of the duplicates in the pack, and didn’t combine like fabric. I sewed with more enthusiasm than accuracy, brought them home, trimmed them and put them on my design wall. 57490380_10216661500184475_8548540590554349568_n

When I saw that the hourglasses formed chevrons if they were staggered, I started to like the project. When I realized I had the makings of a very nice runner, I proceeded with gusto, finding more of that backing to make borders and backing and binding. In retrospect, a little less gusto and a bit more care would have resulted in more precise points, but given my initial frame of mind, it’s amazing there are any points at all.

At the retreat, Gillian, aka @sewgolly on instagram, helped Andrea, aka @3rdstoryworkshop, style a new quilt for beach glamour shots. Of course, I had to join in the action, adding seaweed and wood and pine cones and all manner of junk to their carefully orchestrated photos. This weekend, I visited Gillian at her Newfoundland home in Old Perlican, and took the runner for its turn in the photo sun. But that sun didn’t shine. There was snow. There was wind. There were two warmly dressed women trying to keep a quilt under control. And these are the results.

So much for holding the runner up! Full marks for effort, Gillian.

We tried laying it on the beach.

Please note that there are rocks on the runner. They were placed to keep it from going out to sea, not for artistic effect. And yes, that’s me, one mitten off, taking a picture. If you look really closely you can see white dots on my coat. Snow.

So we went a little further from the beach and tried laying it on things like winches and lobster pots.

Finally, we went to the gazebo, designed for lovely summer evenings. By then, the battery in my phone had run out, and Gillian took some pictures. They are definitely better than mine.

Photo shoot finished, we went inside to warm up. The next day dawned bright and sunny, and I drove home, via Dildo. And no, I’m not being rude. The name appeared on nautical charts from 1711 onwards, and the town is now known for excellent fish and chips (which I had for lunch) and craft beer (tasted that too). 57408120_10216658514789842_8586378054136233984_nThe runner is enjoying a calm day on the deck of the Dildo Dory restaurant.

May you all find peace and love and chocolate. Happy Easter.

Linking up with TGIFF at Quilting Gail

and Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. 

Polar Bear

Once upon a time, on the island of Newfoundland, by the pond of the Hogans, a young polar bear came off the melting ice and climbed a tree to get her picture taken. 55760010_10216511614277421_5379238339700326400_nAnd that is proof that you can’t believe everything you read. Thank goodness, because the last thing I need in my backyard is a real, live, polar bear. A moose was bad enough.

56191285_10216511615197444_5668980935182254080_nGood friends are expecting their first granddaughter in April and I wanted to make her a quilt. Her older brother has one of my creations already and we can’t have her starting life feeling unloved. It will be soon enough that she looks at the family photos and asks why there aren’t as many pictures of her as there are of her brother, and why he got more christening presents than she did. Mind you, that’ll be before he asks why she can have sleepovers at six when he had to wait until he was ten. Such is life with two children; I have two daughters. I would know.

This polar bear was adapted from Elizabeth Hartman’s   North Stars, which includes nine very cute arctic creatures. I was tempted by the seal, but worried her brother might start bopping it on the head; he is half Newfoundlander, after all. I wanted the quilt to reinforce those roots, so when I saw the Acadia line at Quiltcon in Nashville, I bought the lobster, whale, berry and tiny fish prints. The green background was an obvious choice. The colour was in the prints, I already had it in my stash, and the pink, white and green harken back to the independence flag of Newfoundland. It was just the thing for a child being brought into the world in the wild west of Calgary!

To bring the quilt up to about forty inches, I made four of the star blocks, two partial stars, and some flying geese. The backing is a beautifully soft minkie with unicorns, and the quilting is with  40 weight Glide thread. Finally, I added a little heart, so that she will know she is loved.

56340124_10216511615797459_7867687909342576640_nOne quilt, full of the best of wishes, is ready to wing its way west!

The Ugliest Quilt Ever

54361768_10216422478369079_3308245666945302528_nOnce upon a time, at least a decade ago, I ordered some 6″ squares of Hawaiian shirt fabric. Most likely, it was in winter and there was snow everywhere, and I was dreaming of sunshine. I can think of no other reason to have committed this folly.

More recently, perhaps four years ago, I read about leaders and enders that turn into wonderful quilts before you even realize they are under construction. In an effort to explore this idea, I cut the Hawaiian shirting to 5 1/2″, and found some really ugly mustard fabric and some white wideback trimmings, which I cut to the same size. I decided to make the squares into a modern split nine patch. Each block would have four or five light patches, arranged in any position. ‘

Well, a few blocks got sewn, but mostly the basket of ugly fabric sat beside my small sewing table, taking up space and jeering at me because I always forgot to use it. Two nights ago, I sat at my machine, spotted that basket and said, “Enough! You are leaving here, one way or the other.” I finished the half done blocks, sliced up the completed ones, and sewed them into a quilt top measuring 36×52. It was small. It was ugly. It was done. The rest of the fabric went into a plastic bag and will be given away/thrown out at the next guild meeting.

I found a piece of old fabric for a back, and put it on the longarm frame. I’d been wanting to try a prewound bobbin to see if my stitch quality would improve, so out it came. Stitching was much better. One of my quilting friends posted a shamrock motif by Lori Kennedy Quilts on facebook, so I tried it out, along with some general doodling, to get some texture for the quilt and some practice for me. It was actually starting to look decent.53336759_10216422479369104_7613033822279434240_n

Then I chose some binding. I wasn’t going to sew this one by hand, so I sewed it down to the back of the quilt and flipped it to the front. What better quilt to try a new technique? I glue basted it, and the next morning sewed it down with blanket stitch, trying to keep the line of stitching directly over the line left when the binding was attached to the back. I got my fingers covered with glue, and wasn’t sufficiently precise with my stitching, but the overall effect was good and worth repeating. This is the view from the back.53857889_10216422478569084_1586482763622514688_n

Since everything can benefit from glamour shots, I took it out in the wind this afternoon, ignoring the most basic instruction taught at my quilt photography workshop. It was by good luck, not good management, that I didn’t have to go quilt chasing in the water.


So what came out of this experience? I removed some ugly fabric from my stash. I learned that my longarm likes prewound bobbins better than the ones I wind. I tried a new binding technique that has promise for the future. I attempted a new quilting motif. And I made a small quilt that will go to an longterm care facility. Surely, there’ll be some old soul with failing eyesight sitting in a wheelchair who’ll be happy enough to have something to keep his legs warm. Perhaps I should put some apron strings on it.

May the luck of the Irish be with you!

Linking up with Myra at Busy Hands Quilts

Squared Away at Last

Here she is, quilters, in all her glory. 53898188_10216398681254166_2604385159461470208_nYou’ve seen her as a flimsy and you’ve seen her partly afloat. Squared Away has now been successfully quilted and bound. Here’s a close up of part of her. I’ve struggled to photograph the colours true to life, but this is close. It’s only a bit washed out .53892515_10216398681934183_8549305494164996096_nFancy stitching would be lost in the busy top;  I decided to use the blocks to guide Xs and Os  that would make the plain back interesting.  I even dared to use medium blue bottom line thread so that the stitching would be a little visible. 54521154_10216398960301142_6070659543858151424_n

I thought it only fair that you should see Squared Away at the site of her previous adventures, so I took her back to the dock on which I tried to photograph the first few blocks. The water is in a different state now on this first spring like day. The quilt, inspired by the Squared Away BOM organized by Mari , the Academic Quilter, and Angela, of SoScrappy,  and made with bits from my scrap bag, is now a miracle worker. She can lie on water. Me,  I can even walk on it. It’s a heady feeling, but I won’t be enjoying it much longer this year, I hope.53607182_10216398681294167_7281127451248295936_nNo blocks afloat today! As the sun sets with a beautiful pink glow, there is promise of more sunshine tomorrow, and maybe, just maybe, spring. 


53555050_10216322701674724_160008525576142848_nYou may well be asking, “What on earth is this?” and “Why would anyone write a blog post about it?”

Raindrop was created, and finished, by me at a 3 hour Quiltcon workshop called Every.Day.Creativity by Debbie Grifka. For the last few years, Debbie has nurtured her creativity by regularly devoting time to create, working from a prompt and having FUN. One year she made 10inch quilts, and that is what she had us make. The prompt for mine was “raindrop”, inspired by the rain which dogged Nashville while we were there.  Then we made postcards with black bias tape on white cotton. Here’s my effort.52856682_10216322771716475_3920229032897019904_nThe next morning, I took a photography workshop, from Kitty Wilkin, Night Quilter. Regular readers of my blog will be saying, “Finally!”

It was excellent: informative, well presented and fun. As I look at my notes, I’m wondering if I can remember half of the information, but even half is a lot more than I knew about taking quilt pictures last week. Students were encouraged to bring a quilt to the session to photograph, but I didn’t pack one; I needed my suitcase space for purchases. (Why, when I’m not buying fabric this year, I don’t know. HaHa.) What I did have was Raindrop, made the previous night, so I took her along and snapped some pictures in the conference centre. 53046582_10216322700594697_4698456860456386560_nHere she is on the floor. I thought the picture was straight, but as I look at it now I realize it isn’t quite. No, Raindrop hadn’t gone to the bar at the Omni the night before, drinking bourbon laced milkshakes. I might have. 53408377_10216322701194712_9187886441529606144_nAnd here she is, going upstairs. I forgot the rule of thirds. I still like it, though. 53340098_10216322854358541_3060907463965409280_nI’ve changed to vivid warm on my Iphone, and the colours are closer to realistic.

And here she is, telling a story.53513182_10216322701754726_7895385908621344768_nAnd now here I am at home after a marvellous week in Tennessee, looking forward to putting just a little Quiltcon inspiration into my quilting. I’ll get onto that just as soon as I get a half suitcase full of fabric, books and rulers put away.

Happy Quilting!

Linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a fabric addict