Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

This year was a very special Christmas for our family.  All 12 of the members of my family were able to celebrate together on Christmas Day!  We did have to wait for two members of my family to get off work before we could eat our turkey dinner, but the important thing was that we were all able to be together.

To commemorate this occasion, we took a picture.  Well, actually, we took several pictures!  It took some time to get all 12 people to be looking the same way, not be talking, etc.  We were a bit challenged because of limited space in our living room, but we managed to get a decent picture in the end.

Pictured, standing in the back row, left to right:  my husband, myself, my son, my son's finance, my daughter's fiance, my daughter, my nephew, and my brother.  Sitting in the front row, left to right:  my niece, my dad, my mom, and my sister-in-law.

Years ago, (I am not sure how many exactly, let's just say many years ago) my mom and I were at a local quilt show.  My mom spotted a table runner that she just loved.  She purchased the kit and I brought it home.  I pieced the top right away and then the project sat on the shelf....for years.  While going through some things in my studio before Christmas, I came across the unfinished table runner.  I decided I would finally quilt the runner and then surprise my mother with the finished product in her stocking at Christmas.  My mom was surprised when she opened up the runner--truth be told, it has been so long since she purchased the runner, she likely forgot that it existed!

I also came across a runner kit that I bought from the same shop during a shop hop one year--poppies instead of sunflowers.  My kit is still in the plastic.  *Sigh*  Maybe I will finish my table runner in 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Prairie Window

After spending most of December long arm quilting for others, I was looking for a fun project that would be quick to finish--a reward project.  This project is a quilt that can be cut out and put together easily in a weekend.

The print in the center of this quilt was in my stash for some time.  The go-with fabrics were purchased during a Boxing Week sale after Christmas last year.  It was time to assemble them into the intended quilt.

This pattern is called, "Prairie Window" and is by Anne Wiens of Sweetgrass Creative Designs.

This quilt is lap size and finishes at 56" x 68".

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Popsicle Sticks and the Fifth FAB Birthday PAR-TAY of 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to my quilting friends south of the border in the U.S.A!

Today is my birthday.  I am the fifth and last FAB to be celebrating my birthday this year.  We have postponed the PAR-TAY until the new year--either January or February.  With 5 busy people's schedules to organize, Thanksgiving celebrations, Christmas and New Year's celebrations, we have all agreed that we will have more time to relax and celebrate after the New Year.

In the meantime, I have picked the quilt pattern that I want to work on during my PAR-TAY day.  I have chosen Popsicle Sticks from Atkinson Designs.

This is my test block.  I am glad I spent the time to put together a test block ahead of the quilting day as I now know that I will make the most efficient use of my fabric if I use WOF strips rather than FQ's.

I still have many fall coloured / themed fabrics in my stash to pull from so this will be another quilt from my stash.  I am planning to make my quilt King sized - 112" x 112".  I will need 49 of these 16 inch blocks made from 2.5 inch strips of fabric.

Terry Atkinson mentions on the pattern jacket that you will need 4 jelly rolls (2.5 inch strips, 42" long) or 50 fat quarters.  She goes on to say that if your fat quarters are smaller than 18" x 21", you will have to allow extra yardage.  When I was making my test block, I found that fat quarters did not work for me--too much waste.

This is a copy of the quilt from the pattern jacket.  This quilt is simple but effective--a take off from the traditional Rail Fence quilt pattern.  I have my strips cut and I am ready to PAR-TAY!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Green Work Basket Block #1 - Ivy

I have started a new project.  It is a good idea to have a handwork / portable project available for those times when you are travelling, watching TV, etc. 

This is block number one in a basket series by Bee Tree Designs.  There are a total of 12 blocks--each with something different in the basket.  The designs fit nicely on an  8.5 inch square.  The level of detail on some of the blocks and the size mean these are quick-to-stitch so this project will take some time to finish.

I am using two strands of DMC #988 and a backstitch to do the stitching.  In hindsight, I should have likely used three strands of floss to make the design stand out more, but it is now done and IIWII.   


There has been a lot of discussion on the Internet about Pilot's Frixion pens for marking designs on fabric.  I tried the green Frixion pen to mark this design and I love it!  The ink is thermo reactive and can be removed from paper with friction.  The ink can be removed from fabric by applying the heat of an iron.  I also read somewhere that someone removed the ink with a blow dryer but I haven't tried that yet.  At 65 degrees Celsius, the ink becomes translucent (invisible).  The ink reappears if you cool your piece to -20 degrees Celsius by putting it in the freezer so be careful what project you are using this ink on.  Previously, I was using a permanent ink marker to mark my stitching designs onto fabric.  If I happened to make an incorrect line, I had to live with it and work it into the design.  With the Frixion pen, I can just use the tip of my iron to remove the mistake and remark.  I am not so sure I would use the pens to mark quilting lines on finished quilts, but for marking red work/green work, they are perfect.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Button Up - Merry Christmas

Linda thought it was time for a reward project on Saturday.  You can always count on me to join in on a fun, quick project.  Linda and I seem to specialize in taking turns leading each other astray.  LOL

So Saturday's project was Merry Christmas, a cute pattern included in the Button Up Collection from Joined at the Hip (BU #21).  The Button Up quilt series is a group of seasonally inspired 28" x 48" quilts that button onto a quilted foundation for easy decorating with the change in seasons. 

Although this is my first Button Up, Linda has completed several already.  I need to button hole stitch around my star and then this will be ready for quilting.  The pattern calls for some paper key tag disks available from stationery supply stores to be made into ornaments and to be stitched on the branches, but I think I will see if I can find some suitable buttons instead.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Minnesota Hot Dish - Finished Flimsy

This is my queen sized version of Terry Atkinson's Minnesota Hot Dish.  This quilt is now finished to the flimsy stage and has moved to the waiting-to-be-quilted pile.

This is a copy of the pattern jacket.  I believe this pattern is now out of print.  Atkinson Design patterns are great--never disappoint--no surprises--always end up looking like the pattern!  I know it seems funny to say that.  Shouldn't quilts end up looking like the pattern if you follow the pattern instructions?  Although this is what we expect when we purchase a pattern, many designers do not take the time to thoroughly test their pattern designs with real quilters and you end up frustrated at some point in the construction process.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fourth FAB Birthday PAR-TAY of 2011

Yesterday, we celebrated the fourth FAB Birthday PAR-TAY of 2011.  This time it was Pat's turn to be honored in the celebration.

We started the party in the morning with Pat opening the gifts sent through the mail to her.  I was in such a hurry to get my parcel mailed off to Pat before my holiday that I forgot to snap a picture of it.  So, the picture below has been "borrowed" from Pat's site. 

I made Pat this bag/purse from a pattern called, the Cross Town Carry - Regan's Bag by Marlous Designs.

This is a fat quarter friendly pattern which can be made from 7 fat quarters.  This was a pattern introduced to our Monday night quilting group by Leslie.  Thanks for sharing your talents Leslie and leading us in successful completion of our bags!

I included a package of Coffee Crisp Bites in with Pat's gift.  It has become a tradition this year for me to include something Coffee Crisp in with the birthday packages I send.  We love Coffee Crisp in our house and I have been sharing this not-available-across-the-border treat with my friends. 

After Pat was done opening her birthday presents, we started working on our quilts.  Pat's choice of pattern was Minnesota Hot Dish by Atkinson Designs. 

This is one of my blocks.  You would never suspect that this log cabin inspired block would become the spiral design of the finished quilt.

I didn't have time before Saturday to cut my strips so I only finished a few blocks--enough though, that I could see the design emerge when you placed the blocks together in a quilt. 

All the fabrics in my quilt were 2.5 inch strips cut from my stash.  Shop the stash first!

Utah-New Mexico Vacation-Part 11

From Colorado, we continued north to South Dakota where we visited the Crazy Horse Memorial site.  The day we were at Crazy Horse the fog was so thick that you could not see the mountain.  Instead, we had to be content with looking at the smaller bronze statue of Crazy Horse located within the Visitors' Center.

There were many quilts for sale in the Visitors' Center and Gift Shop.

There were also quilts within the Museum connected to the Visitors' Center.

After leaving Crazy Horse, we headed over to Mount Rushmore.  As you can see by my picture below, the only thing visible was the fog.  Somewhere behind me, through the fog is the famous mountain carving of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.

This is a picture of my husband in front of The Avenue of Flags.

While in South Dakota, we spent two nights in Deadwood.

With the discovery of gold in the Black Hills in 1875, miners, muleskinners, madams and entrepreneurs were flocking to Deadwood by the spring of 1876 to discover their fortune. Gunman, Wild Bill Hickok was Deadwood's most famous resident.

By 1876, Wild Bill had reached the age of 38 and had just recently married Agnes Lake, whom he promptly left in Cincinnati as he made his way to the Black Hills of Dakota Territory, no place for a respectable woman. He organized an expedition to travel west from St. Louis and arrived in Deadwood via Cheyenne in June of that year. Traveling in his company were other famous characters of the Old West, Calamity Jane and Colorado Charley Utter along with a host of “women of ill-repute” looking to make a living in the gold town.
Wild Bill’s reputation preceded him. As a noted lawman, gunslinger and gambler he was already immortalized through American folklore and dime store novels. Some speculate that he came to Deadwood to attempt to land a job as the local lawman, others muse that he was after the gold that the miners spread across the gambling tables, or possibly a combination of the two.

Deadwood Gulch was filling to the brim with humanity that summer, all looking for the same thing: gold. Main Street rang with the sounds of the constant construction of retail stores, saloons, brothels, and hotels. The breeze was sweet with the smell of fresh cut pine and the sweat of hard work. The street, a trail blazed along the creek where miners and prospectors toiled long hours, was a muddy path cut deep by the ruts of heavy wagons and horse hoofs. The town was rife with lawlessness and home to several noted killers of the time. The lower section of town, the north end, became known as the badlands as the seedier establishments congregated together to attract those searching for “recreation.”

Wild Bill was known to frequent those establishments that summer, in particular to join a card game on a regular basis. He was always careful to sit with his back against the wall as there was always someone looking to make a name for himself by ending the famous gunman’s life. On August 2nd, shortly after noon, Bill made his way down from the covered wagon he called home to the No.10 Saloon where he greeted the bartender, Harry Young, and made his way to a table where a game was already in progress. He was wearing his typical black frock coat and hat, his mustache and long brown hair flowing in fine fashion. Around the table sat Carl Mann, Captain Massie and Charles Rich, leaving one seat open, back to the door.

Bill asked Charlie Rich to change places, but he laughed and refused as he was winning and had no desire to change his luck, so Bill sat down on the fated stool. He hadn’t been playing long when a drifter by the name of Jack McCall entered the room. Jack circled the table and then as he made his way around Bill’s back he swiftly drew a pistol and shouting “Damn you, take that!” shot him in the back of the head. Wild Bill Hickok, Prince of the Pistoleers, folded forward onto the table splaying his cards, black aces and eights, forever known as the “deadman’s hand.”

The bullet traveled through Bill’s head and struck Massie in the left wrist. McCall waved his gun wildly and attempted to shoot others in the bar but his gun wouldn’t fire so he backed out the rear entrance.

McCall ran up the street but didn’t get far as the cry arose that Wild Bill was shot and he was drug from a hasty hiding place in Shroudy’s Meat Market. The no account drifter was tried by a miners court and acquitted because of his claim that Wild Bill had killed his brother. He left town on a fast horse that afternoon. It was later discovered that Jack didn't have a brother and he was captured and hung in Yankton, SD, where he is buried in an unmarked grave.

This story of Wild Bill Hickock was taken from the following site on the Internet:

From Deadwood, it was a long day's drive back to Regina, Saskatchewan and then a flight home to BC.

This was a spectacular holiday full of great experiences and fantastic scenery!

Utah-New Mexico Vacation-Part 10

After our stay in Santa Fe, we headed north to Colorado.  We awoke in Colorado Springs to a dusting of snow.  As the sun warmed the ground the snow melt everywhere except Pikes Peak visible in the background of the Garden of the Gods Park in the picture below.

In August 1859 when two surveyors started out from Denver City to begin a town site, soon to be called Colorado City they came upon a beautiful area of sandstone formations. One of the surveyors suggested that it would be a "capital place for a beer garden" when the country grew up. His companion, exclaimed, "Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods." It has been so called ever since.

Below is a picture of Balanced Rock within the Park.

This is a picture of my husband posing as though he was the full weight of the rock on his shoulder.
To get the perspective of size, this is a picture of my husband next to the rock.

After leaving Garden of the Gods, we travelled down the highway to Denver.  We enjoyed a tour of downtown Denver with our step-aboard guide which included an inside look at the Capitol building.

The capitol building was built in the 1890's and in 1908 24 karat gold was used to plate the dome. The gold plated dome commemorates Colorado's Gold Rush days, and the early pioneers and miners who helped build the state of Colorado.

The architecture inside the Capitol building was spectacular.

The interior of the capitol was built with the rare and priceless Colorado Rose Onyx.  The mauve marble is so rare that its known supply was completely used up in the process of beautifying the capitol.

This quilt, hanging in the Capitol building is comprised of blocks that symbolize Colorado.  The 19 stars on the left and right side of the quilt represent the 38th state--Colorado.  A total of 250 hours of hand embroidery and machine stitching was necessary to complete the quilt.  The quilt was originally hung in the 2007 Colorado Quilting Council Quilt Show which was held in the Capitol building.  What a fantastic location for a quilt show!
I spied this quilt hanging in the office of the Governor.

Utah-New Mexico Vacation - Part 9

From Santa Fe, we took a day trip up to Taos.  In Taos, we visited the Taos Pueblo.  The Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. The multi-storied adobe buildings have been continuously inhabited for over 1000 years.

The Pueblo is made entirely of adobe -- earth mixed with water and straw, then either poured into forms or made into sun-dried bricks. The walls are frequently several feet thick. The roofs of each of the five stories are supported by large timbers hauled down from the mountain forests. Smaller pieces of wood are placed side-by-side on top of the large timbers; then the whole roof is covered with packed dirt. The outside surfaces of the Pueblo are continuously maintained by replastering with think layers of mud. Interior walls are carefully coated with thin washes of white earth to keep them clean and bright. The Pueblo is actually many individual homes, built side-by-side and in layers, with common walls but no connecting doorways. In earlier days there were no doors or windows and entry was gained only from the top.

The North-Side Pueblo is said to be one of the most photographed and painted buildings in the Western Hemisphere. It is the largest multi storied pueblo structure still existing.

The pueblo wall completely encloses the village except at the entrance.  The wall used to be much taller for protection from surrounding tribes.  The pueblo's primary purpose was for defense. Up to as late as 1900, access to the rooms on lower floors was by ladders on the outside to the roof, and then down an inside ladder. In case of an attack, outside ladders could easily be pulled up.

This is a picture of me with our guide--a university student who supplements his income by narrating tours of the Pueblo.  I asked him if he was often asked to pose for pictures with tourists.  He told me that yes, he did get lots of requests, but he didn't mind as he thought it was neat to be in photo albums all over the world.

After visiting the Pueblo, we headed into Taos to the Taos Plaza.  Our bus parked in a parking lot within walking distance of a quilt shop--Taos Adobe Quilting.

This is a picture of me outside the shop.

The shop was small but jam packed with colourful fabrics.

I bought a selection of SW Themed fat quarters...

...and a kit to make a pepper table runner.  The pattern and fabrics are from a collection called Caliente Peppers by south Sea Imports.  We have seen lots of red peppers hanging from buildings and in doorways so this table runner will definitely remind me of my trip to the SW.