Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh My!

I've been following Sue Spargo who does incredible contemporary folk art pieces, primarily with wool and an amazing array of creative embroidery stitches and bright colours, so I was more than excited to see that she recently did a workshop in Ontario at what looked like an amazing little shop. These are a few images from her recent post - Jane & Linda, I can't help but think of you when I see her work.

She lives in Ohio so her post was a little vague as to the shop's location, describing it only as being in Ontario. Needless to say, I had to do a bit more digging; I am SO glad that I did.

Photo from Stitch, by Nella
The workshop was held in Jordan at Stitch, right in the heart of wine country, and is a little piece of heaven. Operated by Jocelyn Chamberlain, it is self-described as a sanctuary for knitters, quilters and needleworkers and looks like someplace that you'd just love to spend days and days. Their website is fairly basic but I found Nella's Acorn Lane Vintage Living blog that has lots of really fantastic images of it. Take a look and tell me that your heart doesn't go pit-a-pat. I haven't picked up a pair of knitting needles in a few years but its hard to resist when you see this shop (Dawn, this might be a new addiction for you). Sue is planning to return next fall for another workshop and me thinks this might need to be added to my calendar.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Giving Thanks

A belated happy Thanksgiving to our American friends who are celebrating the holiday this weekend. Even though our Thanksgiving was a month ago all the hype got me to thinking about everything that I am thankful for, and that very long list includes this quilt that I finally finished this summer. It has proven to be a favourite and is now happily in use on our bed.

We have had a glorious autumn here so recently I decided it was the perfect weather for airing out the quilts and when I saw this one on the line it reminded me of just how much I like it. The pattern is Frothy by Kaffe Fassett from his book Glorious Patchwork. I started it probably 10 years ago and I remember having a hard time finding a good selection of large blue, pink and cream florals, but find them I did. This one is particularly special because was the last quilt that mom quilted for me before she passed away; all that was left to do was bind it. For whatever reason it spent the next 4 years folded (and buried) on a chair in my sewing room, patiently waiting to be finished. Really, all it needed was binding but that seemed to be a huge challenge for some reason. This summer I decided it was time to finish it off and start using it.

I had a pretty little yellow Moda print that I had wanted to bind it with but for whatever reason I was convinced that I didn't have enough to do the job (why I didn't measure is beyond me!). So I spent some time hunting for alternatives and finally found two options, but when it came time to cut the binding I just wasn't convinced, so I went back to my original option and decided to measure it. Miracle of miracles, there was more than enough so I quickly cut it before I wasted any more time.

I love everything about this quilt. The fabrics, the colours, the tiny strawberry flannel print that I used for the backing, the random swirl pattern designed by my sister D, the lasting memory of mom's handwork, and most definitely the binding. Why do we wait so long sometimes to do the simplest things that can ultimately give us so much pleasure?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Treasure

Yesterday's blog prompted my friend K from Peterborough to send through pics that she has of two antique quilts that she treasures, both beautiful but very different in style and function.

The first is a Depression era crazy patch made of woolens/suiting and is a study in functionality. It is sewn on a vertical grid and the occasional bursts of colour and lighter fabric suggest the frugality of its maker, incorporating whatever was at hand. It had the potential to be very dark but the soft grid of red yarn ties and delicate crosshatched embroidery soften it nicely.

If you look closely tiny, quirky vignettes are revealed. This looks like a 'patch on a patch' but instead of attempting to blend the patch into the overall piece it's highlighted by being applied in an obvious yarn and stitch...

and here too...

In keeping with it's practical side it is stuffed with a wool blanket - like a ration or army blanket - and the backing is quite coarse and functional, likely to support the weight and texture of the top.

Her second treasure is much softer, more delicate and was probably considered a dressier quilt. It's called Around the World and was likely made in the 50s. The palette is light and airy and it was made with specific fabrics in mind rather than incorporating remnants.

Take a look at the light fabrics used on the centre square and three most central rounds. Doesn't it look like they are different versions of the same print?

Thanks for sharing K. Lucky girl!


Monday, November 21, 2011


About a week ago five of us piled into the car and headed to an antique quilt show in nearby Arnprior. We weren't quite sure what to expect but were far from disappointed. More than 100 quilts were displayed throughout their museum, most from the early 1800s, with an impressive range in style and fabrics. You can see the age of the fabric in the upper left of this one starting to dissolve but the beautiful embroidery and quilting shine through after all these years.

Flying Geese
A lovely green Flying Geese welcomed us just inside the door...

And I totally fell for this basket pattern - I think it might have to go onto a TO DO list. Those blocks are about six inches square; it was just stunning. I can't imagine how long it took to quilt this one!

Grandmother's Garden
Maybe it's because our dad was a carpenter, but we couldn't help but admire the brilliant simplicity of these quilt frames. The Grandmother's Garden quilt that was on the frames was lovely too - it looked like it might have been a crib quilt. What a lovely scalloped edge.

Grandmother's Garden
And more hexagons, this time in rich velvets.

Log Cabin

And a great Log Cabin made from rich woolens - tied instead of stitched.

This pretty Fan pattern done in a lovely sherbet palette.

This little one was really interesting. Each square was stuffed and then sewn together like a series of Chicklets. Lovely velvets and satins.

And last, but not least, this beauty. This is only a very small section from a full sized quilt, with the leaves about 2.5 inches long. The vine is embroidered with a chain stitch instead of using bias fabric strips, which, when combined with the soft grey/lavender background, gave it a real air of sophistication. But look at the range of fabrics in the leaves - almost contemporary. Which only goes to prove that everything old is new again.

Many thanks to my sister B for taking these shots.

On the trip home we stopped in the tiny hamlet of Burnstown for a fabulous lunch at The Blackbird Café and then discovered a great bakery in Renfrew where we picked up dessert(s) for dinner. What's not to love?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

You know the feeling...the one where you're whipping along nicely on finishing up a long-awaited border, you're all smiles and full of self-congratulatory talk, and then, in the glow of the finish you take one last look and realize that you've sewn it on backwards. Drat! Take a look. Can you tell which one is wrong? Unfair question because  you don't know what the next border is. I'm making the final border the pink print so the one on the left is the wrong one - the pink triangles should be on the outside so that they transition into the pink border.

Well, as our Australian friends say, time for a little 'unpicking'. I'll do that and then be back with more details on this quilt but in the meantime I thought I would tease you with a peek at this little number that I've been happily plugging away on. Did someone say more hexagons?

Candied Hexagons
And I'm delighted to report that my Comments box is now working (just click on the comments link in the grey box below), so feel free to share your thoughts - I'd love your feedback and your insights. Unfortunately, I don't think that you can go back and put entries in the posts where the Comment Box was not activated so you'll only be able to hear it from this point onward.

Oh, here's a recap on the Holly Bazaar recipes that I wasn't convinced about in an earlier blog: the butter tart square are delicious but you can easily use only half a batch of dough without losing anything but the banana chocolate crunch cookies are a little on the dry side - it could be the whole wheat flour or maybe I needed a bit more banana. I think I'd give them another try some time.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hexagon Heaven

Martha Washington's Flower Garden
Today it's all about inspirational photos.

This is the hexagon quilt of my dreams. It is called Martha Washington's Flower Garden and was stitched around 1840 by Hannah Wallis of Philadelphia. I can't even begin to imagine the number of hexagons we're talking about here but I do find it interesting that the colour palette is still very contemporary. These colours are so warm and comforting but I've seen a similar quilt a few years ago at a local quilt show that were done in hot, clear colours and it worked equally well. It had come all the way from Australia to be part of a local show and to this day I regret not getting a photo of it because it was truly spectacular. 

It's on display at the DAR Museum in Washington, DC, which was founded in 1890 concurrent with its parent organization, the National Society Daughters of the Revolution, and collects quilts of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Grandmother's Garden

This is a more contemporary Grandmother's Garden quilt from a recent edition of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine that I love as well. The palette would be ideal for our living room. Just goes to show you the flexibility of the humble hexie.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Holly Bazaar

Every year in early November our church hosts their annual Holly Bazaar (don't you just love the name?) so I try and sew up something for their silent auction and sometimes for the craft table; this is affectionately known in our household as 'sewing for Anglicans'. I decided it was time to use up a Christmas fabric that has been in my stash for longer than I care to remember and make a table runner using a random half square triangle pattern.

I played around with the block placement until I liked it. Originally I thought that I'd go 4 blocks wide but opted to drop it back to 3 and make it longer, and I'm glad that I did.

The fabric has lots of great colours in it so I was able to incorporate browns and turquoise for a non-traditional twist on a pretty traditional fabric. And, because the diagonal quilting on the baby quilt turned out so well I opted to quilt it like that as well.
I also whipped up several tissue cozies for the craft table from a tutorial I found at Don't Look Now; they'll make great stocking stuffers.
I made 9 of these little guys in total. They're cute but stuffing the tissues in at the end is a bit of a test.

And, because it's the Holly Bazaar it marks the unofficial start to my Christmas baking season - my favourite! Bundles of Martha Stewart's Banana Walnut Chocolate Chunk cookies are all wrapped up and ready for the bake table...

...and some yummy mini Apple Pecan Bundt cakes...

I also tried a new Trish Magwood recipe for Butter Tart Squares but the jury is still out on those. The crust seems really thick for the size of the pan and the topping seemed pretty thick as well. I'm wondering if there was an error in the pan size indicated in the recipe, but they are baked. They are supposed to sit overnight in the fridge before cutting, so tomorrow morning we'll see if they are good enough to send off to the bake table. I just have this sinking feeling that they are going to be too thick and the topping too runny. Note to self: don't try untested recipes for the Bake Table.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Ta Da!

It's done and ready for shipping. I'm still really loving it and anxious to get the large one for our bed moving again, but there are a few things on the TO DO list before that happens. At any rate, I hope that mother and child will enjoy lots of great napping under this one.

Here's a close-up so that you can see the fabric details - amazing how all of the different textures really worked.