Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Who, Me???

Remember the massive give-away Sew, Mama, Sew! had a few months back in May?

Well, of course I browsed around and found lots of cool blogs and lots of things I wanted to win. I don't know how many give-away's I entered, but hooray, I won one, at This is weird for me, as I rarely win compared to some people out there.

I think my odds were slightly improved by only having 2 other contestants. Hmm.

Either way, after emails getting lost in cyberspace and one parcel getting lost in the mail (within Canada, not even international mail!), I finally received my winnings the other day: these supercute home-made magnets:

They have fabric glued below the glass and look quite nice on my fridge. I'm not off to send my thank you photo to Wendy!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Seal watching...

... and getting paid for it!

The other day during a field work trip (I do aquaculture research), we came across a seal colony on a sandbank. The boat scared them off the sandbank, but they came really close to the boat in the water - some of them were whopping huge!

This guy's head would have been bigger than mine. He was massive (I'm assuming it was a he).

There were lots of babies for some reason - I thought they're born earlier in the year.. hmm..

In the end, there was this ring of seal heads bobbing in a wide circle around us, that's the last image above. It was strange being watched like that!

This little baby stayed behind till the end; it was either really young or sick. There was another one that barely lifted its head. Don't think that one will last long.

See how close there were to our boat? They made many big splashes, presumably showing us how strong and dangerous they are.

We also saw some bald eagles, adults and juveniles, but there were far up in the sky of course - too far for the camera.

So sometimes work is pretty exciting.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Quilt Show Last Minute Prep

This weekend is my guild's quilt show!

I was there yesterday, "demonstrating". It was really quiet since I had the supper time slot, but I didn't get much done in the 2 hours I was there. By the time I had set up my machine, laid out my fabrics (plus made 3 trips to the tea room for cookies since I didn't have any supper) and chatted with a few guild members and visitors, it was already time to pack up again! I think I sewed about 15 seams max :) I was working on my blue string quilt though, so that's at least something! (Yay, working on my QUIPs.)

But let me tell you about getting ready for the quilt show (there'll be more posts about the show later)! I finished sewing on all my sleeves on Monday, hooray. (Turns out two of my quilts didn't need sleeves because they were draped over things instead of hung, hrumpf).

I had a tiny problem regarding the drop off, because it was scheduled during working hours. Luckily, the lady who chaired the show committee parks in front of my house on work days, so I could do a drop-off with her at 7:20 in the morning. That was Wednesday morning. Tuesday night, I packed up the quilts - all 10 of them. That's when I discovered that I never removed the chalk markings on the border of my WonderChain quilt. Uhoh. I had been told to remove them by washing and drying the quilt. Well, that wasn't about to happen at 10pm.

Pink chalk markings still here :(

I tried rubbing the borders together, but that didn't seem to do anything. Next, I took a moist rag, still not much luck, plus the quilt was getting damp of course.

Then I had an idea: a brush. I didn't want to use a used toothbrush and also didn't want to sacrifice a new one, but I found a potato brush in my kitchen (I never used it for potatoes, it was one of those purchases).


So I scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed all around the border of my quilt. I felt pretty silly doing that at 10:30pm, let me tell you. But it worked :)

No more chalk! :)

With that crisis averted, I continued rolling up quilts until I got to my Imagination 1 quilt. Uhoh. Did I ever finish quilting that? Of course not *grins*. Well, there was no short cut to this one. I found three seams that were obviously unfinished (e.g. a circle stopping halfway around) and sat down to stitch those up in a hurry.

See where I'm pointing? That's where the green line ended - too obvious to leave as is.

There is more to be done on this, but it's filling in spaces and since there's not rhyme or reason to this quilt, no one but me knows that, so it's hanging in the show right now, officially finished, but you and I know better :)

Thursday, 23 September 2010


At last week's quilt guild meeting, I was talking to a fellow quilter about my bargellow attempt.

I was huffing and puffing about the tedious alignment of all the seams, and she said "You aligned the seams? But you don't do that in a bargello, you have all the seams in the middle of the adjacent squares."



So I went online and googled Bargello quilt, and my quilter friend was right!

It's quite obvious, the rows of the bargello quilts are all offset 1/2 square. Do you know how much work that would have saved me? Plus, I was a bit baffled about how steep the curved line turned out to be. Big *SIGH*!

Maybe using a pattern has its advantages to just winging it from having seen bargellos on a few internet photos???

I'm chuckling quite a bit about this new-found knowledge and my own bargello version!

Maybe I will do a full-sized one now, I just have to start fresh - can't really do one section with the seams aligned and all the others off-set!

Have you done something funny but dumb like this recently?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


***Warning: this is a plea for Pakistan donations - I don't mean to preach, I'm basically stating my view points and making an appeal to consider helping out - if you're not into that kind of appeal, better not read this post :) ***

Well, we've all heard enough about the flood disaster in Pakistan in the news this summer.

I finally got off my butt and donated money to the relief effort.

I'm not sure if the US government has a similar program, but Canada is matching private donations until October 3rd - what a great way to double my impact!

Image from

I looked at the different relief organizations that work in Pakistan and participate in the "Government Matched Donations" program and decided to support the following:

Medecins Sans Frontier

SOS Children's Villages


I chose these 3 organization because I really support their work (MSF: independent medical help in sometimes scary places, SOS CV: support for orphans, abandoned children and families and UNICEF: child protection, survival and development) and because in the case of SOS CV and UNICEF, I grew up watching my grandmother and mother support these organizations, so they feel familiar.

I would like to encourage all of you to look at some relief organizations and see if their causes interest you and maybe donate some money or time to them. Some of you might already have done this, and I'm grateful that you did - I know that my contribution won't move and shake the world, but add yours and everyone else's to it, and we might just make a difference in some lives.

I just hope that if I ever need emergency relief, someone like me who can spare the money easily (I won't starve or be homeless next month after making my donations) will donate and make a difference in my life. And in some way, I feel like I'm paying my dues for having had the pure luck of being born where I was, with sufficient food (well, maybe excessive food? More than I need, anyway ;) ), shelter and education.

As a final note, this post is in no way meant to make anyone feel bad for not donating to the Pakistan Relief Fund. I know that especially quilters are extremely generous, and many of you donate quilts to local or international causes! And even if you decide against any kind of donations, that is entirely up to you - I'm merely posting this to draw attention to one of the many problems in the world!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

To Do This Fall

Okay, once this quilt show is over, I need to tackle a few quilts-in-progress (hmm, that could make QUIPs, I almost like that better than WIPs :) Not so much into black leather, haha!). Mostly, because some of these projects are starting to be a tad embarrassing...

So here goes, my 2010 Fall To Do list

The two biggest culprits:

(1) Disaster Triple Irish Chain (started ~ January 2009)

This quilt came together so quickly and has been collecting dust while waiting for a border and finishing ever since. At some point I considered foregoing the border, but I think that would look weird... So, onwards!

(2) Northern Solitude Baby Quilt (started ~ May 2009)

I'm not sure how much is actually left to do on this *hand-quilted* quilt, but it's not on my completed list. I might be as simple as adding a label, but first, I have to dig it out and decide to finish what ever needs finishing on it!

LESSER CULPRITS (i.e. much more recent starts, meaning started at least in 2010!)

(3) D9P Variation

To Do: easy peasy: quilt and bind - I already have the backing picked out!

(4) Free As A Bird

To Do: work up courage to try intricate whole-cloth-type-quilting in the grey background triangles. Oooh, it's on the bias, ooh, it'll stretch and puff?!? Scary!

(5) Blue String Quilt

To Do: everything, yikes! No progress on this since this picture was taken...

(6) Bargello in Yellow and Brown

To Do: decide what this will be: a baby quilt, a wall hanging, something BIGGER?

(7) Sunset on Water

To Do: same as above, but worse - it's not even baby-size yet :)

(8) Filmstrip Cafe

To Do: Decide if I like my choice of backing, then quilt and bind!

Now, the million $ question for you: Do you think I can do this before 2011 is here? Well, I hope so! It would feel so good to have all these quilts done. My only obstacle will be that I'll have about 10 more quilts started in 2010 by the time I've finished all the old QUIPs ;) And of course that working under pressure isn't half the fun...

Hmm, I like seeing all these quilt photos in one post, maybe I should do a year in review post this new years... they seem popular, anyway!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Sleeves! Doh!

One thing I hadn't realized about the quilt show (one more week to go!!): the quilts have to be hung somehow - duh!

So for the past few weeks, I've been cursing while hand-sewing on various scraps of fabric as sleeves.

Now I wish I hadn't entered so many quilts into the show ;) (12 or so?) Luckily, many of them are baby-quilts, so they don't need sleeves, wahoo!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

So Many Stitches

As promised, here's Finish #2, the Love U in green quilt. Concentric squares take a long time to hand-quilt, I found out. I don't know how hand-quilters do the intricate patterns (on traditional quilts), which must include thousands of stitches! (Hundreds of thousands? Millions?)

There's something about hand-quilting that just looks more traditional, isn't there???

Or maybe I just choose square quilt-patterns that I wouldn't do with free-motion (wobbly straight lines for me) or a walking foot (too much turning) machine quilting.

I find that printed flanelette on the back makes the quilting and any mistakes disappear, but you can see the pattern even on this small picture.

As mentioned, I did concentric squares in the solid green blocks. The prints are MODA Love U, I picked all the green and yellow prints and substitute a few from my stash to reach the right number.

For the border, I tried another stencil out of my collection - I'm usually more a fan of wavy lines, but the straight edges of this braid seemed to suit this quilt.

Now that I look at it on the photo, the briad reminds me of a strand of DNA ;) Such a science geek, hahaha!

I might yet stich in the ditch around the little yellow squares in the 4 corners, they look a bit lonely right now, and that wouldn't take too much effort.

Overall, despite taking quite a while (4 or 5 months, I think), I'm glad I hand-quilted this quilt and even more glad that it's done!

I won't even show you a picture of my pour right middle finger (the one that I use to push the needle through). My ring finger is starting to have the same hole in it, because I switched over when the middle finger was too damaged to touch a needle ;) It'll heal, and it better, because I still have about 3 circles to quilt on my BIG hand-quilting project, the Imagination 1 quilt, and that must be done for the quilt show! (Though I bet no one would notice a half circle in among all the concentric circles! So the pressure to finish is only moderate - apart from my pride!)

Soon, I'll be ready to baste and quilt the Filmstrip Cafe quilt, still debating quilting options. I might do parallel straight lines on it, as I've seen it on other quilts and liked it. Oh well, time for another anti-strep-throat pill, ugh.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Two Finishes!

Well, I'm sitting at home with strep throat, bored out of my mind, so I managed to finish two quilts this week, and one of them hand-quilted, wahoo!

Today, I'll show you the machine-quilted one (won't have anything else finished in the next few days, so I've got to stretch this over at least two posts ;)

The only thing holding me up with my Hoot Hoot quilt was the lack of embroidery thread and needle. For how little I needed to do on this quilt, I didn't want to go and buy everything needed, but I was lucky enough to find someone I could borrow a needle and a foot of thread from! After that, it only took a day to get the claws and 'ear-hair' on the owl:

I basted the quilt that same afternoon.

Didn't have any hesitation deciding on the quilting, for some reason... sometimes the ideas just snap right in, other times I have to hum and hah for a few months, it seems.

I started with the owl, outlining the wings, body, face and pupils as I didn't trust all of my hand-applique to hold up during subsequent washes. I also quilted some feathers (the owl kind, not the decorative kind) on the body.

Next, I loopy-loop quilted all over the background. I learned that you have to plan carefully where to start if you don't want to cross lines and end up where you started WITHOUT having to go around the outside of the quilt first - puffiness alarm! I made it work somehow, but next time I'll think ahead ;)

Lastly, I outlined around the wonky stacked coins. That was a bit of a pain because I used a walking foot, so had to turn every 1/2" to 2". Luckily, it was a small stack of coins!

And here is the finished product!

You can even see the owl outline on the back (on the left in this pictures)!

This quilt was fun to make and I love the personal touch of my own applique shape. Maybe I'll make a series next, I'd love to make a giraffe and an elephant!!

Stay tuned for finish #2!

Friday, 3 September 2010

A Bit Of Knittery

In January, I saw some felting yarn in a store and loved the colours they had (notice that they're the kind of colours Moda often uses :)

I decided to get a couple of skeins of each and make arm and leg warmers - I'm just knitting them regular size and am not planning to felt them (you felters out there - can I hand wash them cold and there'll be no felting going on?).

I've just finished the first arm - summer is just not motivating enough to make warm clothes :) But the nights are getting cool here, below 15 C... so this will pick up, soon - plus, I've discovered the joy of audio books - no time wasted holding a book when I could move a quilting or knitting needle instead :) And as a bonus, the "movie" plays in my head, so there are no interruptions to check what's going on on the screen (I often quilt while watching a DVD). Win-win, I say!