Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fun With Quilting Threads

It has been a cold and wintery weekend here...perfect quilting weather! I have been quilting my "tessellating stars" quilt that I made in a class with Cindy Thury Smith last fall. It was a fun quilt to piece and has been fun to quilt. It is just the kind of quilt I like to make...scrappy with lots of bright colours. When I am machine quilting, I like to change thread colours frequently.Here is a photo of auditioning threads for the swirly design that I quilted in each star. In this quilt there are 18 full stars (each made from a different fabric) and 14 partial stars (there were some fabrics repeated on the edges), so that could potentially be 32 thread changes! Some quilters find it frustrating to have frequent thread changes, but I enjoy it.
Back to finish the quilting...I'll post a photo of the finished quilt when the binding is on...I'm using a lime green and yellow striped fabric for the binding!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Miniature Quilt Class

I taught a day long class today at Reichard's Quilt Store on how to use EQ5 to print out quilt patterns, and how to use wax paper as a foundation to piece arcs like the ones in this class sample. This miniature quilt was made for my guild's quilt show challenge this year. We were given two pieces of fabric and the theme of "celebration" - this was my entry called "Celebrating Beauty and the Beads". I had to abandon my original design idea when I realized it would be too large for the miniature category (even though the blocks are 2 1/2") and I eventually settled on this design. It won first prize for pieced miniature quilts and second prize for use of embellishments.

My class today included a pair of friends (a new quilter from Pennsylvania who was visiting her Canadian friend and decided to take a quilting class together), a mother-daughter pair, some very talented quilters that I haven't met before and an old quilting friend that I was very happy to see again! The students in the class worked really hard and did a great job on their blocks!

Monday, October 23, 2006

I am a Shop Hop Winner!

Much to my surprise, I received a phone call this week telling me that I was a Shop Hop prize winner! My name was drawn from the participating Shop Hop quilters and I won the gift basket from The Quilt Place in Shakespeare! I drove to the store on the weekend to collect my prize and this is a photo of all the merchandise they gave patterns, a ruler, fabric, etc. My favorite gifts were the cutting mat cleaner (I need to use this!), a book called "Rx for Quilters" by Dr. Susan Delaney Mech (which I am enjoying reading and learning a lot), and the Omnigrid mat/ironing board. Thanks so much to Heather Stock, owner of The Quilt Place for the gifts and for organizing the Shop Hop.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Busy Quilting Week!

I have had a very busy weeking having taught three quilting classes, given one lecture to a quilt guild, and driven over 10 hours, most of which were on highway 401, which means driving precariously, sandwiched between huge transport trucks.
This is the view I had last night, while speaking at the Oakville Quilters' Guild. A large audience full of attentive quilters, many of whom had brought handwork to do. I spoke about " Replenishing the Well: Quilting & Creativity", including obstacles or creativity blocks, and sources for inspiratio
n. I showed about 60 of my quilts and wallhangings. Here are some of the quilters viewing my quilts. I talked about the importance of filling up your well of creativity and working hard to find a balance between draining your well (thanks to Julia Cameron for teaching me this) in terms of the busyness of life and work, and taking care of others, versus filling up your well and taking care of yourself.
My favorite website about wellness and creativity is:
It was an interesting topic to speak about this week because I was so busy, and needed to listen to my own advice! So...this weekend I will take my own advice and make time to fill up my own well with activities that are energizing and life giving for me. I'll start that right after my on-call shift at my paying job! And after I throw in some laundry and get supper started and.......................

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Durham Trillium Quilters Guild

I spent a fun day with the Durham Trillium Quilters Guild yesterday. I taught two classes on making miniature quilts and met some wonderful quilters. The fabrics they brought and the projects they started were lovely. This is the mini quilt (which measures 5" x 7") pieced by Julia Smith in this class...thank so much to Julia for sending me this photo.
This pattern is made using a strip paper piecing technique.

Thank you to Shelley and Ann for treating me to supper... you sure know how to make a teacher feel welcome and everything was just great!

While I was away we had a water pipe break and flood the basement, so today, instead of finishing the quilting (my most favorite activity!) on my UFO, I'll be cleaning up (my most detested activity!).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

UFO of the Month

I am making progress on my UFO of this month. I went to the Centre for the Arts on "open studio" night and used their large tables to baste two quilts. This sure beats crawling around on the floor for basting...only did that once and learned my lesson! I am using a new thread from Sulky, which is thicker than I am used to. It is a 12 wt. thread and I had to do quite a bit of adjusting of the tension to get it workable. The thread has only snapped three times, when I was free motion quilting at a high rate of speed! I used to have a great deal of difficulty finishing quilts because I either had to send them out for quilting, or wait for inspiration to strike with ideas for quilting. I was tired of stitching in the ditch but didn't know what else to do and so the UFO tops piled up. Then I took a Quilt University class with Myrna Geisbrecht and learned how to overcome creativity blocks. Now I usually start the quilting by stitching in the ditch in a grid format to stabilize the whole quilt. Then I start free motion quilting in whatever design comes to my mind while I'm quilting. Sometimes I really like the outcome and sometimes I don't, but at least the quilt gets finished and isn't sitting in a cupboard. This quilt is a design by Debby Kaffunger and was going to be donated to the comfort quilt charity at my quilt guild, but my daughter loved the fabric so I made the larger size quilt and, of course, ran out of fabric! I will have to go shopping for more fabric for the binding, and hope there is something still available that matches these fabrics.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's Snowing!

It's a windy cold day here and the snow is flying! The leaves have mostly fallen, but with the wind today they'll likely all be down tomorrow. The snow was heavy at times ...this is one of our little lawn ornaments (actually we have a whole family of ducks):

In cleaning out the flower beds, I found a little squash or gourd plant growing around the composter, which must have taken seed from the gourds we threw in there last fall.
That was a nice surprise. I was inspired to make a little sketch and have started to paint the sketch with wax pastels. I learned this technique from Holly Knott's article in Quilting Arts magazine. I love her website and her work...

When the piece is finished, I'll post a photo.
In the meantime, I'm searching for my sweaters!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mending and Hemming

I am a quilter. I hate mending, and I hate hemming pants even more! Which is a problem because for the last 15 years I have had to alter almost every pair of pants I have purchased for my children. One is too thin and needs the waist tucked, and one is too short and needs the legs hemmed up. I might even describe this activity as bordering on torture for me! Here is a photo of my sewing machine where I am hemming yet another pair of jeans. I cut off 6" from the bottom of each pant leg, and force my machine to sew around each leg twice. Now, when I write that down, it doesn't sound as tortuous as it is. I procrastinate the task as long as I can until the children start getting worried about not having any pants to wear...okay I either have to do laundry or hem the darn pants!
Realistically I admit my reaction is bizarre, since hemming pants and quilting a quilt involves the same steps, the same skills, the same equipment. So what's the problem?? I don't know...I just know I hate it. After this past season of buying new pants, my husband offered to take them to the tailors shop at the mall so I didn't have to be tortured. That was very sweet, but made me think ...which do I hate more, paying a lot of money to have someone do something I could easily do, or hemming the pants?!?!?!? I hemmed the pants.
Which reminds me of a saying (I don't know the original source) but it goes something like this: Asking a quilter to hem pants, sew on buttons or mend clothing, is like asking Michelangelo to paint your garage door.
And speaking of painting....That is what I could be doing instead of hemming those jeans! These photos are from the fabric painting class I taught this past weekend. I love painting and wish I could schedule an "artist date" to paint once a week. The first piece was painted with blue and yellow and was heavily salted with course canning and pickling salt. I still need to heat set and then rinse the salt residue off before I can work with it. This second piece used the same colours, with a little purple added, and the paint was more diluted. Once the fabric was painted, it was pleated until it dried. Where the pleats were, the paint leaves a darker line. I am thankful to my first fabric painting teacher Maggie Vanderweit, who reminded me how much fun painting is, and my second teacher Michele Scott, who taught me about working with Setacolor paints and colour blending. See how much more fun this is than hemming pants!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

UFO list is ready

My UFO group had our first meeting this week. This is our third year together as a group and we always look forward to being together. We were asked to bring anything we had worked on over the summer, any UFO's we plan to work on this year, and food (of course!) for the potluck lunch. I was so happy to see my quilting friends again and talk about our families, jobs, travels, quilts,...anything we were thinking about.
I had my UFO list ready and reviewed it at the meeting. This is a photo of my selected pile of quilt tops for this year's list. One of the quilts is so old that it has a bad smell to it. It was a "Quilt in a day" project, that the group has renamed "Quilt in a decade" project!! And the store in which I took that class, has been closed for over 10 years! That is so sad! And I still really like that old log cabin quilt...except for the smell!
Hopefully these will all be finished quilts by June of 2007! So now I have one month to pick one of the projects, piece a backing, baste, quilt, and bind it.
One of the funniest moments of the meeting was when I arrived wearing the same outfit as the hostess...sorry Cindy!! We took a quick photo and then she graciously changed into another outfit before the rest of the guests arrived!
So, now I have to get to work. I also renewed my goal to stop
beginning new projects until I finish some of the old ones!
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mystery Finished

I finished sewing the mystery quilt from the Quiltaholics website. Debby Kaffunger is the designer and she always writes wonderful directions and each quilt she designs is completely different. I have probably sewn 6 of her designs, although not all of them are finished quilts...a few are still UFO's. I realized that I hate to sew on the's boring and I have a strong urge to stop working on the quilt at that point. However, with this one, I ran out of fabric when I got to the last border. I bought expensive flannels (Northcott, etc) that shrunk to about 38 -39", instead of the regular width of fabric, which is approximately 42-44" . When you're working with large amounts, like with this quilt, that's a lot of fabric you don't have (5" less on each 2 1/2" strip). So now I have to go back to the quilt store in Stratford and buy more fabric. This is dangerous because we all know I won't just buy enough fabric to finish this quilt!!