Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Once Upon A Time…

There were two sisters…Zinnia and Dahlia…who resided in Somewhere, Ohio.

The ‘Flower’ sisters were quite young, both under ten years of age, if my memory serves me correctly.  One day, while playing in their garden, they noticed the entrance to a very small residence under their deck.  To their utter surprise, they found out that a family of gnomes lived there.

As time passed, the ‘Flower’ sisters and the gnomes started corresponding with each other by means of notes left in the mailbox just outside the gnome’s door.  Gifts and other treasures also passed between them, and the friendship grew as did the story.

Coincidently, the gnomes happen to live right next door to Tom, who carves the santas that I paint. 

Now the plot begins to thicken.


Do you see anything out of the ordinary in this photo?

Just a few moments ago I returned from the post office to find an envelope with a North Carolina return address. When I opened it, I found this strange little gnome-like figure inside…and nothing else.  I have a very sneaky suspicion that the gnomes are migrating northward.


I placed him in amongst my carved spool santas because I didn’t want him to be lonely.  The santas took to him right away and as a matter of fact, they’re enjoying a cup of tea as I type this.  I don’t know whether any of his family will be joining him in the future but I’d like them to know that he’s in good hands and that they’re always welcome.

If you’d like to know more about the ‘Flower’ sisters and their continuing saga with the gnomes, you can read all about it here.

Happy stitching!


P.S. Beware of white padded envelopes with a NC return address because you never know what might be lurking inside!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Pincushion Distraction!

On Saturday, my DH and I decided that it was time to put our winter duds away and break out the summer stuff…just in time as well because the temperatures soared to the low 80’s, a bit early for these parts.

While going through his closet, Sam decided he was going to downsize his necktie collection and selected about ten or so that he didn’t want any longer.  As I was placing them into a bag that was destined for the nearest Goodwill store, I got to thinking about other possibilities for these ties.

Off to my studio I went, ties in hand.  To my utter amazement, they came apart quite easily.  I ended up with piles of fabric, most of it silk.

DSCN0381All of a sudden, the light bulb went on.  Be still my heart…a pincushion!

And so it began.  As I started to cut some of the fabric, I decided that I would try to make a ‘crazy quilt’ style pincushion.  I cut out a heart template and started piecing.  What fun I had watching the project come together.

After I had completed the top, I added some decorative stitching with some shiny rayon DMC thread that I had in my thread collection.  I then sewed it to some backing, stuffed it, added a few doo-dads and voila…a crazy quilt pincushion!

DSCN0382It didn’t take long to make and I had fun during the process.

DSCN0383 Sam couldn’t believe how his ties had been recycled and that my fabric stash had grown without spending a penny! 

And then…

More good news!  Carrie from A Passion for Appliqué told me about a pincushion swap!  Can you believe it?

A P-I-N-C-U-S-H-I-O-N swap !


Sandra from Quilt At Home is hosting the pincushion swap.  She lives in the Netherlands and is inviting stitchers from all over the world to join in.  So if you’re even just a little bit like me and pincushions are your passion, visit Sandra’s blog to read all about it.

It didn’t take me long to sign up!

Happy stitching!



Friday, April 24, 2009

UFO’s or WIP’s?

I’m getting a little uptight because I feel as though I have too many things on the go at the same time which is not like me at all. 

Generally speaking, I’m kind of obsessive about seeing something through to it’s completion before moving on to something new.  Lately however, I find that there are so many projects that I want to do but doubt that there are enough days left in this lifetime to even put a dent in my ‘to do’ list, and I’m finding this a little overwhelming.

Currently, I have two projects on the go and I just started a third.  Yikes!  All three of them involve a tremendous amount of handwork, which I love.  The one I just started is called Red Radiance and it’s a redwork quilt that appeared in the December 2000 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting, my favorite magazine.  I wasn’t quilting back then so one of the gals in my guild kindly loaned me her copy.

DSCN0378I love anything redwork because it is so fresh and vintage looking. 

DSCN0379This particular quilt is comprised of nine embroidered blocks and four large embroidered borders that are connected by a gazillion half square triangles.  I’ve got my work cut out for me.

DSCN0380So far I’ve completed the large center block, two triangle blocks and just started the third triangle.

DSCN0377Projects with a lot of handwork seem to take forever before any progress is noticeable.  I promised myself that I would not start another quilt til I finish one of the three that are currently on the go. 

I refuse to allow myself to use the dreaded UFO term.  Instead, I would rather refer to them as WIP’s…or Works In Progress…because I do routinely switch from one to the other and by doing that, I don’t become bored with any of them and they all stay current.

Am I the only one who obsesses about UFO’s/WIP’s?

Happy stitching!




Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On Line Quilt Festival

Amy of Park City Girl organized an Online Quilt Festival. 

3437746881_4abcf175e0_m Her idea is for us to share one of our favorite quilts, give the story behind it then link back to her blog.  In this way everyone has the opportunity to view quilts from all over the world from the comfort of their own homes and to read the stories behind them.  Cool, huh?

My favorite quilt is derived from a pattern that was featured in the June 2008 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.

First Photos 003

The pattern is called "Sweet Retreat" and was designed by Holly Holderman of Lakehouse Dry Goods. In her design, Holly had included some large floral setting squares which I opted to leave out.

First Photos 004 I knew when I started this quilt that it would be a challenge for me because I hadn’t been quilting for that long.  It took me ten days from start to finish to cut it out and then piece it.  Then off it went to the machine quilter’s.

First Photos 007

The addition of Prairie Points framed the quilt very nicely.

This is my favorite quilt that I’ve made thus far in my still relatively short quilting journey.  Hopefully there will be many more to follow.

Happy Stitching!



Monday, April 20, 2009

Remembering the 3 R’s

I loved school.  School always brings back fond memories for me.  I can remember all my teacher’s names from kindergarten through to the ninth grade.  After that, the names aren’t as easy to recall, probably because we had a different teacher for almost every subject and it wasn’t as personal.

My first grade teacher was Mrs. Wilkinson.  I remember her to be a very tall lady with brown hair streaked with grey. 

I also recall sitting in the second to last seat in the first row.  There were five rows of desks with six desks in each row.  Those of us in the first two rows were the ones who could be assigned work and proceed with minimal teacher supervision.  Those students in the third to fifth rows worked with the teacher. 

My favorite subjects were reading, spelling and writing.  I used to love getting a new reader and to look at the pictures and to see if I could read what was inside.


I remember taking my reader home and my Dad and I would sit on the sofa after dinner so I could read to him and then we’d practice the words for that week’s spelling lesson in preparation for Friday’s test.  Gosh that was a long time ago.

About a year and a half ago, I was in a little quilt shop in upstate NY.  You can just imagine how excited I was when I came across the Look & Learn fabric by American Jane for Moda.  I was in nostalgic seventh heaven!  I purchased a jelly roll and some additional yardage and didn’t have a clue as to what I was going to make…but I knew I had to have it.


Back then, I hadn’t been quilting that long.  After much consternation, I decided to cut the strips into 4 1/2” pieces and proceed from there.  This is the end result.


Primary colors are such happy colors.  The pattern is not a difficult one as you can see.


I added sashing, three borders and decided to bite the bullet and attempt a scalloped edge.


I have a hard time now not to scallop the edges on all my quilts.  They’re not as difficult to make as I had initially thought and they certainly add interest and dimension to a quilt.

I also picked a fun coordinating fabric for the backing.


Whenever I put this quilt on our bed, a little bit of nostalgia sets in…fond memories of my childhood, school, friends…and of course my Mom and Dad.  I’ll probably pass this quilt on to my grand niece when she’s around 3 or 4.

Do you remember the 3 R’s?

Happy stitching!



Saturday, April 18, 2009

Almost Spring

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Eastern Ontario.  Every day from Spring until Fall I love to go out and play in my gardens but this time I took my camera instead of a trowel. 

I honestly can’t recall planting this early bloomer.  If any of you recognize it, please tell me what it is.  It stands out like a lone sentinel, the only flower in bloom in my entire garden.


The tulips and daffodils are about 6-8” high and still have a lot of growing to do before they come into flower.


Most  of the perennials have started to show signs of awakening from their long winter  sleepThis is one of my favorites…a beautiful cherry red lupines.


Even the lilac trees seem to be slower this year.  This particular one is a very deep burgundy/purple and the scent from the flowers when they are in bloom is intoxicating.


If the temperatures hold at what they have been over the last few days or even get a little warmer, I’ll soon be able to replace my silk flowers with a natural bouquet from my garden.  There’s nothing like fresh cut flowers in the Spring after a long winter.


It’s raining at the moment and the robins are loving it.  Fresh worms…mmmmmm.

Happy stitching…and gardening!



Friday, April 17, 2009

Pay It Forward

I have joined my first PIF from Khris’ blog Sew Prim Khris.

The concept of a PIF occurs when acts of kindness are performed without expecting anything in return and are passed on, trusting that the recipients will do the same and Pay It Forward, resulting in a never ending chain of kindness.

By signing on, my commitment is to make and send a gift to the first 3 friends who post a comment to this post requesting to join this exchange and who promise to Pay It Forward to 3 other persons, and so on.


At this time, I don't know what my 3 gifts will be, but I can promise you a gift made by me and from my heart that I will send to you within the next 365 days.  By signing on, what YOU then have to do in return is to Pay It Forward by making the same announcement and commitment on YOUR blog.

Isn’t this concept sooooo cool?   Won’t you come and play?

Happy stitching!



Thursday, April 16, 2009

Guild Meeting

Yesterday I attended our monthly guild meeting and as usual, it was uplifting and inspiring. It never ceases to amaze me how many talented people there are in this world.

Our guild is unlike other clubs or organizations that I have belonged to in that there are no elected officers or rules, regulations or by-laws. Everything is done on a volunteer basis, including those who wish to head up activities, donations, our bi-annual quilt show and sale and even the gal who chairs the meetings. We try to rotate our ‘leader’ on a yearly basis but if no one volunteers, then the current gal just continues until she decides that her turn is up and it’s time for someone else to take over.

The most popular part of the meeting for everyone…aside from the tea, coffee and goodies…is Show and Tell. Today is the first time I brought my camera to a meeting to try to capture some of the awesome work that these gals do. Our meetings are held in the basement of a church and the lighting isn’t that great, so I apologize for the quality of my photos.

DSCN0348This is a photo of our charity quilt in progress. As you can see it is still a work in progress. Volunteers take turns working on it throughout the year.


This quilt was made by one of the members as a wedding gift for her nephew. It took her a year to complete it. The appliqué and piecing is awesome and the photo unfortunately does not do it justice.


Look at this gorgeous winter-themed wool table runner. The detail on it is stunning.


One of the gals donated this appliquéd quilt to a hospital for a fund raiser but it remained folded up in the administrator’s closet for 4 years. Can you believe it? Rosemary is going to re-donate it to an as yet undetermined charity.


This next quilt top was found wrapped up in an elderly relative’s attic. If you click on the image to enlarge it, you can see the date in the center when the top was pieced…1904! One of the gals in our guild is a master at crazy quilts and I believe she volunteered to complete it.

I feel very fortunate to belong to a group with so many talented women. It is indeed a pleasure to attend our meetings every month. The fellowship, sharing and camaraderie are simply amazing…with enough inspiration thrown in to last a lifetime.

Happy stitching!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Work In Progress

About five years ago on one of my travel teaching trips to Ohio, I stumbled upon a shop in Hudson, Ohio where the owner happened to be an antique quilt collector.  She had about a dozen of her quilts on display in the shop and we struck up a conversation centered mainly on quilts and antiques in general and I soon found out that we had a lot in common.  As it turns out, she was downsizing her quilt collection and the ones that were in the store were for sale.  The end result…two came home with me!

One is a wonderful red and white quilt and the other is my favorite…a dated 1923 Grandmother’s Flower Garden.

Easter House Pics 014

This past summer, I decided that I’d like to try to replicate this quilt. 

Grandmothers Flower Garden 005 

I decided to try to follow the pattern as closely as possible and to use 1930’s reproduction fabrics to mimic the theme of the 1923 original. 

Grandmothers Flower Garden 008

Over 1200, 1 1/2” hexagons later, the 63 flowers were complete. 


My progress lately has slowed up considerably, but I knew that it would be a labor-intensive project when I started.  In order not to lose interest, I work on other projects in the interim and because of it’s portability, find it easy to pick up, sew a few together and put it down at will.  I don’t know how many more ‘hexies’ I’ll need to complete the connecting pathways, so I prepare 50 at a time just to keep me going. 


My goal is to complete the piecing, quilting and binding entirely by hand, just like in the original. 

Initially, I didn’t set a time frame for completing this quilt but if I can get it done by the summer of 2010, two years from when I started down the garden path, I’ll be happy.

This exercise has certainly made me understand and appreciate the labor that the generations before us put into the making of their Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilts.  Hopefully someone in the distant future will feel the same about mine.

Happy stitching!



Monday, April 13, 2009

T-A-T Block 4 – Appliquéd Version

Although we had no rain over the weekend and the sun played peek-a-boo with the clouds, it was still a little too cool to work outdoors in the garden so I stayed indoors and did a little Spring cleaning, read and stitched.

Have you seen the June 2009 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting?  It’s my most favorite quilting magazine and I look forward to each new issue because there’s always something in it that I tag and add to my ‘to do’ list.  This month there are two projects that I’d love to make, the first being a scrappy quilt called Pick & Choose and the second one called Mix It Up using 1930’s prints using the classic Jacob’s Ladder and 16 patch blocks. 



The featured designer in this issue is Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs.  The article has some tantalizing photos of Anne’s ‘to die for’ studio and sheds some insight into her daily life as a designer.

Coincidently, one of the projects that I completed this weekend was the appliquéd version of the 4th block in Anne’s Tisket-A-Tasket BOM series.



Also included in the magazine is one of Anne’s designs called Sweet Tweet.  It would make a perfect baby quilt, done in pastel Pinwheel blocks and embellished with rickrack, buttons and two sweet appliquéd birds.  Edit: That makes three tagged projects in this issue alone.

I hope that you all had a safe and Happy Easter.

Happy Stitching!



Friday, April 10, 2009

Gifts From Down Under!!!

You know that you live in a VERY small town when...

a. there is only one traffic light.

b. you can shoot a cannon off at 7:00 p.m. on the main street and not hit anyone.

c. you and the mayor are on a first name basis.

d. you walk into the post office and the clerk announces for all to hear, "You have a package from Australia!"

Answer...ALL of the above!

It just had to be from my Secret Easter Swap partner! Who else?

I'm not going to fib to you all...I'm going to admit it straight out...I sped home! I just couldn't wait to see what was inside...from OZ! Yikes! This is as good as it gets!

I opened the package and look what was inside!

An incredibly beautiful tote in the most delicate Spring colors. There are three appliqued hearts on the front as well as some butter yellow rick rack trim just above it. And...

there's a matching appliqued heart on the reverse as well. And have a look at what I found hiding inside the tote...

chocolates and Easter eggs which I'm NOT sharing with Sam. And...

a magnet...

which already has a new home and has settled in quite comfortably on our refrigerator. And...

a fabric coaster which I will keep right next to me at the computer to set my tea on. And...

some incredibly lovely, bright and cheerful charm squares. And...

some John James embroidery favorites! And...

a lovely card wishing me and my family a happy Easter.

Thank you from the very, very bottom of my heart Leanne. You have touched me more than I can say and I'll treasure your gifts for always...except for the chocolates which will never make it past tomorrow. And to Julie, a BIG hug for organizing The Secret Easter Swap. What great fun it's been!