Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Better Late than Never

It was a combination of putting off and kept forgetting that I never blogged about this. I decided today was the day. I thought I would show you the place I hang my hat when it comes to quilt stores. Some of you living in Ontario will recognize this place and know a quilter can have a lot of fun there. They also were chosen from thousands to be included in the Quilt Sampler magazine. I was so happy for them when it happened. This is the last issue from the magazine and the store is featured on page 44. It is called Quilters Cupboard .

Sue the owner of the store is an amazing person in more ways than one. To hear her explain how a store gets to "audition" for the magazine is a story all by itself. I never knew there was so much work involved. It's not just phoning them up and saying you'd like to offer your story. There were all kinds of preparations before the magazine decided to run their story and many months afterwards when the magazine decided to finally feature the store. Many nights with little sleep trying to meet deadlines and coping with all the changes made. Sue kept it all light hearted and managed to survive that. After all, she is a survivor of another sort. Sue was diagnosed with cancer (she had no signs whatsoever) and the prognosis was not good but with a lot of prayer and a lot of friendship from all she managed. During her various medical regimes she decided to host a cancer-quilt-marathon. She organized groups quilting around the frame non-stop (and I mean 24hours) for many days. People signed up for sewing, feeding the masses, entertaining, serving, quilting etc. The word got out throughout the town and even men were dropping in to see what the fuss was all about. Some even tried their hand at quilting. There were pledges signed and things sold through auctions via the store. People then started coming from all around to participate in this worthwhile cause. Sue also had a bet going with another quilt store to do the same (raise money for cancer) in another part of the province. Other quilt stores throughout Canada heard about it and did their bit as well. When Sue totaled the money that her store alone raised for the cancer society we all fell off our chairs. In the matter of 2 weeks (I believe) Sue's store raised over $30,000. Yes, more than $30,000. You have to remember that Uxbridge, where the store is located, is just a small town. It is in farm country. To me that showed how much Sue and her store is loved and how much the town and all that participated wanted to help fight a terrible disease. Word spread throughout the "land" and more and more people wanted to "help" so Sue organized another marathon the following year. I don't know how much that one raised but I'm sure it was a vast sum again. There have been other marathons for cancer put on by other quilt stores in Canada but to date no one has matched Sue's amount collected. There is more to this story but have kept it brief. Visit Sue sometime and she'll fill in the details for you. Besides, this will give you another reason to visit the store (besides shopping) and meet her in person. You won't regret going. If you live too far away turn to page 44 in the magazine to read about her store. Too bad the article wasn't longer. There is so much more to say. Then turn to the pattern section where Sherri designed a quilt for the article in the magazine. Wonderful, in a word. Sew-long!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all and hope that the year has started on the right foot for everyone. I for one love the New Year because it's like starting over again, a new slate so to speak. It reminds me of going into a pine forest after the rain when things are still damp and feeling that everything has been "cleaned" off. Then smelling that wonderful pine scent the trees give off which instantly refreshes and vitalizes me. How wonderful is that? My New Year has started with moving on from the deaths that occurred during December (we had 5) and thinking of getting back to my sewing and blogging (which I will be doing today).

This block  I made for my new partner Shirley living in Ontario who is a member in the IFQ. Shirley sent me the centre square and I added the other fabrics to the block. I have heard back from her and she loves what I did with her centre square fabric.

Secret Santa Swap
I joined my very first Secret Santa Swap. After I signed up I realized what that meant. It meant I had to send something to someone I had never met and knew nothing about. Talk about momentary panic. I did have her blog address and tried to glean some insight reading her blog but that did not help much. So I thought just do your best and keep your fingers cross that she'll like whatever I make her. I forgot to take pictures before I sent it off but I did hear back from Polly at Polly's Porch that she loved her present. Signing up for Secret Santa also meant that I would receive a gift in the mail from someone. It was Stephanie from the USA. This time I remembered to take pictures.
 Stephanie made this wonderful pin cushion from an antique demi-tasse cup. It is the perfect size and colour for my room. It just so happened I needed another pin cushion.
Pictured behind the demi-tasse was a huge candle and a Christmas card that she made herself.
If that wasn't enough she also made me these mug mats from wool. As you can see one is big enough to use as a small table runner if a person wanted to. She hand stitched the smaller mat with a blanket stitch and the larger mat with machine blanket stitching.
Stephanie didn't stop there. She also included a wonderful, big mug and some biscotti to have with my hazelnut flavoured coffee. Such a gal!
To top things off she included some candy cane and tree ornaments (which I put on my tree right away). I couldn't believe how blessed I was in receiving all of this from a stranger. Thank you, Stephanie. When I opened your parcel that day and peeled back all the layers I thought how this kindness has brightened my life. I hope all of you that signed up for the Secret Santa Swap were just as lucky.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Have Returned

I want to say a big heartfelt "Thank you" to everyone that sent their kind thoughts. I appreciated it very much.

Now to the blogging.  I decided today was the day to try blogging again. I'll see how it goes and if I think I am up to the task I will continue. This will be a short entry because I know all of you are very busy these days preparing for Christmas. I haven't decided as yet if I will make any New Year's resolutions (because I normally do not) since there is still plenty of time to decide. I will have a big "think" on it after Christmas. How many of you in the blogosphere make resolutions? Do you keep them? I wonder what the consensus will be.

This is a block I received from Mary. She was my partner in the Australian block swap for this month. I had requested a star pattern (of her choice) so Mary made me this Wonky Star. I just love it. I have never made this pattern myself so I now have one. Thank you, Mary

This block I received from Laraine living in Australia. She also was my partner in the Australian block swap but for November. I had requested a star pattern from her and Larain chose to make me this one. I'm sorry I am late in posting this, Laraine, but it arrived at the time we heard about my brother-in-law. On a brighter side, when I opened up the envelope and saw your block it really made me happy and put a smile on my face.

This is a block I made for Marie in Australia. I hope she liked it. She had requested a particular paper pieced block from Carol Doak. I fiddled, twisted and turned the block until I found the star in the centre. I don't think that was the original intention of this pattern but that's how I sewed it together. This block was for the month of November for the Australian block swap.
Just as a reminder to all, there are two Australian block swaps running simultaneously. The one swap is for Christmas themes and fabrics taking place monthly and the other is for a "regular" swap taking place monthly. Just use the links I provided and you'll be directed to the correct site.  In both cases you list your parameter for block pattern and fabric colours and in both cases you will be making a 12" block. The ladies are a great bunch and come from all over. I feel I have made many new friends in the short time I've been a member.  There is still space for new comers and membership is free.

This is an ongoing event I belong to from the IFQ. This is a block Jan from USA made me and I love what she did with my square. In this event you send you partner the centre square and she decides what fabric/colours to use to finish the block and mails it back to you. I'm sorry the picture doesn't do justice to my block but she did have a keen eye in her fabric choice.

This is a block I made for Jan in return. She sent me the blue centre square and I decided how to finish the block. I heard back from Jan that she absolutely loved what I did with her block and that the picture did not do it justice. If anyone is interested in this event just look up IFQ using this link and find Mosaic Colour Play on the right side of the site under "events". While you are there, look up the rest of the site. I think you will want to join when you see the planned activities that are ongoing.

I would like to say a final few words to all my new quilting friends. Your thoughts and messages and blocks came at a time when I needed them most. They brighten up my life at a time when I needed them more than I realized. You all put a smile on my face. Thank you and am glad I have you as my friends. Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quilt Block Swaps

We got a call Monday morning after breakfast. It was something we were not expecting. My sister-in-law's husband had died on Sunday. What a wonderful man the world has lost. He was a gentleman and a gentle man. He was a yachtsman and loved to sail on the sea or any other place that had a body of water. He was involved in many activities and was never one to be idle. Now he has made his final voyage. My DH and I feel we have a great void in our lives at the moment and I decided I was not going to sit and dwell on the negative but turn the moment into a positive action. I had purchased some flannel for making baby blankets for the neonatal unit at our local hospital and never got started. So as I make these blankets I will think of my brother-in-law's passing as sad but also think of the new babies coming into the world to fill the void. I hope you all will understand this will be my last post for a time.

I received this block in the mail yesterday and did it ever cheer me up. This block was made by my new friend Sue from Australia. This block comes from the quilting block swaps in Australia (button on my left side bar ) where you specify which colours you'd like used and which block pattern if you so desire. Sue also included a lovely quilt card and a small panel of Christmas images which I just love. The blocks in the panel are just the right size for me and I think have many applications like labels, pincushions, used in mug mats etc. Thank you so much, Sue. I love my block and you certainly brightened my life.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quilt Block Swaps

Do you remember when you were young and your mother dressed you up so warmly that you looked like a snowman. You had your arms stuck out permanently and waddled as you walked because you couldn't manage any other way due to all the fabric around your body? Well that is what I looked like last week trying to get in the last few days of "summer" on the golf course. It was wonderful and very cold and very worth the clothing aggravation to take those last swings. Looking back on it I don't know how I managed to swing the club and not fall over. But today I awoke to find snow on the ground and the realization hit me that winter was truly on its way. Mind you, I started to hear the words to the song  "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" in my head as I looked out which made me feel better about the situation. Speaking of Christmas, let me show you what the postman dropped off this week.

As you know I belong to the International Friendship Quilters and one of the events they hold is a block swap. You send your partner a 4 1/2" centre square and she decides which colours to use in order to finish the block. This is what my new friend Lynne made with my square. Too bad the photo does not do it justice but I think she captured the essence of the centre square in this block.  Thank you Lynne. If you would like to participate in this event or view any of the other programs the IFQ has just click on the link. Membership is free.

The postman dropped of another block next day. I also belong to the Australian Christmas Block Swap group and have been waiting for this one to arrive. In this group you can specify which block pattern you would like made using  Christmas fabric. What you don't know is what it will look like until you receive it. I was tickled pink when I got my block. This is Linda's original star pattern design. What a great job she did. Thank you, Linda. Because she took a little longer than expected to get the block to me she also included a Mug mat. I don't have one of these and have always wanted one so this made me feel like it was Christmas.

Whenever I use this mat I'll be thinking of her. If you like to have Christmas all year long this swap is for you. You can specify which type of Christmas fabric you would like used or leave it to the maker to decide and again which block you would like used or leaving it to the maker to decide as well. It's a fun group and I know I'm glad I joined.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hexagon Wednesday

Hello everyone and thanks for visiting my garden this week. My maids are all standing in a row curiously looking out from the garden and wondering who my visitor is. These maidens are new so I must apologize that they are staring and do not recognize you. Just give them time and it won't be long before they recognize everyone. My garden is growing but at a slower pace. I have other projects I want to start on so my flowers will only be growing at a rate of one hexagon per day. That's a comfortable speed for me to maintain at this point in time. As I mentioned last post I feel like "freedom 55" has taken hold because this group of hexagons were made without a thought of colour coordination. Personally I like the way the hexagons worked out and the hexagons went together with no stress nor fuss. If you would like a closer look remember to click on the image. There is a burning question I would like to know the answer to. When I sew the petals together I have to stop and cut my thread several times. I have not been able to figure out if there is a "route" to take where I would be able to sew all the petals and centre together without having to break the thread. Is that a possible? Would someone in the blogosphere please leave me a comment on how to accomplish this (if possible). I would also like to hear from you if it's only partially possible as in 2 thread cuts. It has been on my mind for a while now and thought I would ask, you, my quilting friends for the answer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fantastic Quilt Week

What a fantastic quilt week it's been for me. I feel like Christmas has arrived early for me. The only thing missing at the moment is being called to the table for brunch. I do smell a hint of cinnamon in the air and hear carols playing in the background of my mind. Let me unfold by week for you.

First, my friend Lynn helped me start on my Dear Jane quilt. I have been putting this aside far too long and decided it was time to bite the bullet. I decided to use 1940's fabric with a muslin background. Since 1940's fabric is difficult to find I don't know if I will have enough fabric variety in my stash but then I was never one to do things the easy way. This photo is my first block. It is one of the border triangles in the DJ quilt and was paper pieced. I have to say that I have never sewed with such small pieces before and found it possible to hold and sew. I sewed the block using a HANDCRANK machine. Yes, they still exist and I love them. I have now started my DJ journey and will show you my progress from time to time.

Next came an envelope with this lovely hexagon inside from my new friend, Linda. She and I are participants in the Inchy Hexagon exchange. I had requested pink petals with a dark green centre and this is what Linda sewed for me. She included a lovely card as well. I love the use of the stripes. Stripes are something people seem to either avoid or ignore. I think they do so much for such a small amount of design. I am of the opinion that stripes should be brought out to the forefront, either by promoting the product or more frequent use by quilters, so their beauty can be appreciated. Those dots you see are the paper pieces left in so the person can align the patch in order to sew it together.

Then the postman dropped this off in my mailbox. I was the lucky winner of Leona's giveaway recently and was I thrilled! Wait until I show you what lovely Leona sent me. She started off with a Cornbread stuffing recipe (which I must try) and two great cards as you can see. As I unfolded the package I found....

a hardcover book on vintage aprons. That subject is something I have been interested in for a while now and what a great reference book to receive. I used to make and wear aprons when I was young because that "was what you are supposed to do". Consequently I had always wondered what women in the past made themselves, what designs they made and fabric patterns used. Hopefully I will be able to sit and read this weekend and find out the answer to that question. But that was not all.

Leona also included a pincushion that was the perfect size for one of my sewing areas. It is already in use. She also gave me a button bag and a safety pin bag. How cute is that! It won't take me a minute to fill that button bag because I have quite a few of them. Very handy indeed but more is still to come.

As a final gift Leona included 4 yards of various Christmas fabric and a Christmas pattern as well. Talk about being giddy. For those of you not aware, Christmas is my most favourite holiday (and it's not about gifts) so receiving this fabric just put me over the edge. I could feel the love and generosity. Thank you so much to my new friend, Leona.

Last but not least I did manage to get some sewing done in between all this excitement. I made a Christmas block for the Australian Christmas block swap.

This block is for Larain in Australia. She had requested a star block of my choice pieced in traditional Christmas colours of red/green. I decided to try my hand at this star pattern, which is paper pieced, to find out if it comes together quickly. I must confess it took longer than anticipated and more fabric than anticipated but the process was fun and I might make the pattern again. I hope Larain approves.