Friday, January 31, 2014

Look East

It can be surprising where quilt patterns and inspirations come from and no one was more surprised recently than my sister Dori when she happened upon these inspirational sights.

She and her husband were visiting with my brother & his wife in Vientiane, Laos, strolling through an outdoor marketplace and all of a sudden they became aware of these 'quilts'.

It was one of those things where you are looking at something before it really sinks in as to what you are looking at.

Initially she saw them covering things and then was aware that they were being used to block the sunlight streaming in thru gaps in the roof.

It looked like they might be made from garment industry remnants - ironically they are often the proportions of quilts.

Beautiful. In some ways reminiscent of Gees Bend quilts..M..

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Think Spring

Maybe I'm just flushed from the thrill of having finally finished my Blue Diamonds top, or maybe my intention to 'use it up' is kicking in. Whatever the reason, I made a return visit to the big chair and picked Spring Garden off the pile. It hasn't been sitting nearly as long as Blue Diamonds, but long enough - about 18 months, which is really no time at all in my books :).

All I have left to do is the border but it was going to take a few brain cells to get myself organized enough to cut and then sit down and sew. I must have been having a good day because I'm into the swing of it and have the border about one quarter finished. It helped finding a quick reference chart for the setting triangles - especially cutting 4 at a time. I'll be using this regularly.

It's fun to see the transition from a sketch on paper to the real deal.

I don't have much of the blue floral fabric left so it will affect how wide I can go with the final border, but the quilt isn't that big so I'm hoping that there's enough to make it about 4 inches wide....M

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hexie Diamonds Are Piling Up

There are 6 more diamonds finished for Minnie so I thought that a group photo was in order.

I've been adding to the pile because I wanted to have a good distribution of fabrics when I assemble the next larger 4-diamond diamonds, if that makes sense, and realized that there are now 32 all set to go so it might be time to start sewing some of these together.

About six more are half sewn, just needing the final round to be added - not sure if I'll finish these off or move on to the larger diamonds. Either way, it will be an afternoon of hand sewing.

We're back into another deep freeze on the weather front so I wanted some comfort food to help take the chill off; nothing like Apple Crumble for that.

It always smells so great coming out of the oven that it's hard to resist digging in to it right away.

A hearty beef noodle soup to start and then some of this yummy goodness to wrap things up. It's great with ice cream, or just straight up - not bad for breakfast either with a dollop of yogurt....M

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Making My Way To The Podium

Sometimes I surprise myself, and this is one of those times. Not only did I take up my Olympic challenge, I beat my deadline by about 2 weeks. My Blue Diamonds are done - yay!

Curiosity got the better of me so I sifted through my books to get a better idea of when I would have started it. The pattern is from Kaffe's first book, Glorious Patchwork, which was published in 1997, so I likely started this in '98 or '99. It also means that my 'carbon dating' was off by about 5 years and its been 15 years in the works. Oh boy.


Like most things that we avoid, it ended up going together much easier than I had expected. I remembered having trouble lining up the seams but this time around it was easy peasy, and I love the end result.

I had miscounted the blue striped setting triangles that I needed by one so I decided that, in addition to the pink triangles that I had worked around one corner, I would insert 3 along the bottom edge, and I quite like it.

The fabrics are wonderful and it looks great on a bed. It would have been nice to have more larger florals in it I think, but I still like it.

And what I like even more is that it finally migrated off the back of that chair and is now ready for quilting....M

Monday, January 20, 2014

Goin' For Gold

Remember a few weeks back when I shared the visual branding for the Sochi Winter Olympics? Well, I couldn't get those diamonds out of my mind. When I finished piecing the Stars All Around table runners I didn't feel like quilting them but I still felt like sewing at the machine, so I went back to my infamous chair where WIPs tend to sit in wait for me and finally picked up this one.

To say that this one has been on the books for a while would be an understatement. I think carbon dating will be required to get an accurate date, but I put it at about 10 years because I don't think I've worked on it since we moved to this house.

It's a Kaffe Fassett pattern and I'm using the same colour across each row but not necessarily always the same fabric.

I must have been organized at one point because the shoe box had several neatly packaged and numbered bags which contained the pieces for each diagonal row; rows 18 to 26 have yet to be finished. There are 2 different stripes that I'm using for the inset triangles - the pink & white was an old night shirt of mine. Seems sort of appropriate that it now gets worked into a quilt.

I sat down and put row 18 together but realized that something was amiss - one of the pinks was out of order. After a little quality time with the ripper the issue was sorted out.

I'm going to work from row 26 inward now and then sow these rows to the piece that's already together. My goal is to have this top together by the time the Olympics begin on February 6 - my version of goin' for gold! Wish me luck.....M

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Soon It Will Be A Quilt

The rows of my Candied Hexagon quilt are slowly being put together and suddenly the weight of all the blocks make it feel like a quilt top and not just a pile of blocks.

At times I questioned if I had done the right thing be inserting the extra triangular blocks rather than butting the hexies up against each other as in the Kim McLean's version, but when I see it draped over a chair I'm convinced that it was a good move.

There are 11 rows in total and I think I have 4 more left to go, so hopefully catching up on an episode or two of Downton Abbey and a little Sunday afternoon playoff football will help get me closer to the finish line. Then it will be figuring out the elongated inset triangles for the edge.

It would be together by now if I was sewing the rows together by machine, but where's the fun in that? It's not a race. When I start stitching a quilt by hand I like to have the whole thing done by hand, and vice versa.

This morning was absolutely beautiful here - sunny and just below zero degrees Celsius - so the Official Cookie Tester and I headed out to wear off some of our holiday baking on our snowshoes.

Betty and I have signed up for 8 weeks of evening snowshoeing so it was good to get out and practice before Monday rolls around. We had the place to ourselves and it was spectacular....M

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

50 Stars - Count 'em - 50!

A couple more each day and I now have all 50 stars that I need for the Stars All Around runners made. They are so sweet - just love the size of them - and they look great all together.

The centre panels are different lengths (I made the second one a bit longer so I didn't waste the blocks that I had cut) so one will use 24 stars and the other 26.

I was a little concerned that the difference in the tones of the beiges and creams might be a bit too stark but I like it.

Some are more scrappy than others but I like the mix that way too.

The second centre panel is now  pressed so it's time to start sewing the borders (my apologies - I shouldn't have been shooting into the light)....M

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Working On Stars

When last I left my sewing room in mid December (sounds like a made-for-TV-drama, doesn't it?) I had lots on the go and the place was nothing short of a disaster, so I exercised my option and just shut the door behind me as I left so that I could get through the holidays without seeing the mess (love that I have a space that I can do that!). This week I took a peek inside. Wow! Lots on the cutting table. Bits and pieces of stars, fabrics pulled to cut more, strips from the Log Cabin potholders and placemats and tiny scraps from different projects that I had worked on over the summer and fall. I started with the bits and pieces and went from there.

I'm really loving this Stars All Around pattern and realized that I had enough blocks cut and sewn to make a second centre panel, so I decided to put it together rather than putting it all away in a drawer and then pulling it all out again at some point in the future. But that meant that I went from having to make 6 more 4" stars to 29.

Thinking it was the fastest way to use the fabrics that were strewn about, I got busy cutting. And slowly but surely I have been working on the stars - I think there's about 19 left to come together.

This batch is a little more scrappy than the first and I've incorporated deeper tans so I will wait until they are all together to decide on the final mix for each runner.

I was in major clean-up mode so I also finished little odds & sods that had been lying about, including a scrappy little 4" block that I had started for Jane in the summer. Lots of housekeeping and it feels good....M

Monday, January 06, 2014

And The Stockings Were Hung... the chimney with care.

This post is going to look a little dated, but, given that these stockings were all Christmas gifts for family and friends, I couldn't post them before Christmas without revealing my sister Betty's hand. She's been a very busy elf, deciding last February when we spent the weekend at Jane's cottage that these were her mission in life.

She made these 6 as well as stockings for both Michael and Lili; we delivered those when we visited China in October but she forgot to snap a few pics before they were packed up.

It's the same stocking pattern throughout but each one is a beautiful work of art on its own, cross-stitched, pieced and quilted with much love. Adorned with bells and buttons and fabulous trims, they are a delight to behold. And she doesn't hesitate to give the credit for much of her lovely fabric selections to the delightful art of klepto quilting.

She integrated an orphan block that Jane gave her into the three for the boys and then personalized them from there. Brad is a Lakers basketball fan...

Dustin is big into hockey and loves the Montreal Canadiens...

And Ted is a huge Boston Red Sox fan. He might be 25, but he'll always be her boy, so she incorporated this bear pin that a dollmaker friend crafted when Ted was just a tiny tot.

She pieced together the main block for Leanne's stocking and then worked her magic for the rest of it.

Each one is absolutely gorgeous and, like those that she gifted to The Official Cookie Tester and I several years ago, will become cherished mementos and an important part of Christmas for years to come. Hopefully Santa will be able to take his eyes off of them long enough to remember to fill them with goodies....M

Friday, January 03, 2014

The Olympic Patchwork Quilt of Sochi

Okay. It's still freezing here and has been all week. And maybe I've just been hiding under the blankets too long, but my heart skipped a beat tonight, not because of the temperature, but because I came across the graphic design that the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics committee has chosen to represent Russia's first games. It's a quilt!

And a gorgeous one at that - in 5 stunningly gorgeous colour ways. Can you believe it?!!

A combination of 16 designs representing the most famous traditional Russian arts and crafts, ranging from Gzhel to Khokhloma, are used and intended to express the character of modern Russia while introducing guests from around the world to traditional Russian hospitality.

A medley of geometric patterns based on traditional Russian quilt designs, it is fresh and colorful, much more so than traditional Winter Olympics designs. Say what you will about the politics that always surround the games, how cool is it that a sporting event is making room at the table for the visual arts and crafts?

The branding will be used all over Russia to promote the games - from wrapping trains to incorporating it into public spaces and souvenirs. My Russian is not up to snuff but I believe that this is a venue map. Gorgeous.

The Russian Quilters Association, based in Saint Petersburg, must be tickled pink - I know I am. Maybe I have been living under a rock and this is old news, but I still think it's wonderful, and wonderfully executed. It will be interesting to see if it takes off within the quilting community. Makes me want to start cutting lots and lots of colourful diamonds.

Have I mentioned that I LOVE it?...M