Sunday, November 20, 2011


Before I'd ever heard of blogs, Facebook, or Flickr there were Yahoo Groups. Back in 2004, my fabric and pattern choices focused on Thimbleberries. I loved her rich colours and well-written patterns. One day while I was surfin' the net for fabric, I happened across a link which took me to a Yahoo group of quilters who all had a love for Thimbleberries in common. I joined and, for the most part, have been part of the group ever since. I don't have any quilty pals where I live so the interaction I've had with this group has really been meaningful to me. I've met many of them at retreat (in MN, at the home of Thimblerries, of course!) and others, I've met with in or near their hometowns as I have passed through.

My tastes have grown and changed since then but I still belong to the group. It doesn't matter what type of pattern you make or what colours you choose, you can still learn so much from a diverse group of experienced quilters. I couldn't bring myself to get rid of my old stash (why would I?) or patterns, so I still have a lovely collection of Thimbleberries on hand. This is perfect when the holidays roll around. Each Christmas, we have a Secret Santa swap in our group. The themes and participants change from year to year but the premise is the same - you are assigned a name, and you create the designated project for that person. This year, I drew the name of someone who wanted either a wallhanging or a table topper. So, that is how I spent some time this weekend. To heck with work projects and marking (I teach at a college), quilting and creating make my heart sing and I'm probably a better instructor for it. I'm nearly done my swap gift; I only have the binding and label left to do. The mailing deadline is in early December but I'm making a run to the border (where I have a U.S. PO box) this week and it makes sense to mail my project from there so it doesn't get hung up in customs (my swap partner lives in the U.S.). This is a sneak peek of my project; she just might stop by the blog so I don't want to give too much away just yet.

This week, my American friends will celebrate Thanksgiving. Truth be told, I'm sometimes envious of how special it is south of the border. We celebrate in October and turkey dinner is always on the menu but I have to say, the four-day US holiday seems awfully nice, too. In the spirit of being thankful, I want to give a heartfelt shout-out to all the bloggers who so generously share of their knowledge and skills. I have never taken a machine quilting class in person. Instead, I have learned from online articles, blog posts, Flickr demos, and videos, and I think I'm coming along quite nicely. The kindness and willingness to share of the online quilting community inspires me to pay it forward right here, where I live. 

Happy thankgiving week to all.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Weekend Flurries

Here in southern Alberta, we expect almost anything when it comes to weather. Forecasts serve more as reminders of our unpredictable climate as opposed to anything to plan our lives by. This past weekend, the forecasters warned of snow flurries. Sigh. I'm never ready for snow. More correctly, I'm never ready for icy walkways and roads. As it happened, however, the snowfall I'd anticipated never materialized (thankfully!) though we had some blowing snow one afternoon.

Not that I ever need weather as an excuse to sew, but something about it being dark and blustery outside makes me want to hunker down in the sewing room with a good project. I seem to have difficulty concentrating on a single project at a time. Have you seen the movie Up! where that little dog is always being distracted by squirrels? That's me when it comes to projects. Some months ago, my husband took me to a quilt shop and told me to pick out the fabrics to make something I'd enjoy, as my Mother's Day gift. One of the samples on display was a simple quilt made from the Moda candy bar precuts so I chose that as my gift (which I promie, I WILL get working on soon). The pattern can be made just as easily from charm packs and one evening, I was inspired to use my Flurry charm packs to whip up a Christmas version of the same quilt. I got it all cut out and started piecing it, then I felt guilty for having abandoned a couple other projects midstream. I set my new project aside and went back to my other projects, but wouldn't you know, those darn pieces were all over my small sewing space and just kept getting in the way. The logical thing to do, of course, was to finish up that Flurry quilt top so it could be moved out of the way. 

I guess you could say the weekend forecast was all wrong; the flurries I was expecting didn't happen while the unplanned Flurry ended up coming together after all. The result of my "justified sewing room clean-up" is the top in the photo below. I honestly need to set the top aside and set my mind to other projects just now, but I'm hoping to get this one quilted up in time for Christmas. I'm thinking my son and daughter-in-law might like it for their new apartment.

I'm heading out of town on business for a couple of days so there won't be much going on in the way of projects - forecasted or otherwise. I'm packing a book (okay, and a ton of marking) and making plans to stay tucked into my hotel room for an uninterrupted "me time". 

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Next up...tree skirt

One of my girls left home this fall to attend university in a different city. Last weekend, her boyfriend traveled up to visit her. While I think she was happy he came to visit, she was also very excited that he would be bringing up her collection of Christmas decorations.Each year, she puts up a small tree in her room; this year will be no exception and in fact, her dorm room is bigger than her bedroom at home so I think she'll probably decorate even more. She mentioned last year, already, that she would be needing a tree skirt, made by her "mama".  I know it won't be long before she moves past bedrooms and college dorms and into a place of her own so I'm making her a full size tree skirt. She can always cinch it up around her mini tree, right?

My own taste in fabric has been evolving, but she is still very much a traditional girl. I still have a stash of Thimbleberries and Kansas Troubles fabrics and was able to pull, I think, a great selection of pieces to make her tree skirt from. All but one of the fabrics are TB; the other is actually a fairly modern piece from one of the recent Basic Grey lines by Moda. It plays nicely with the other rich colours.

I am about halfway finished piecing the top. It's looking pretty good so far. I think she'll like it. I know I sure like being able to work on a fun project like this.

In Canada, it is Remembrance Day today. We remember those who have unselfishly given of themselves in order to serve our country. Thank you, Canadian Forces, and thank you to your families who give so much for us. We do remember.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

The 12 Quilts of Christmas

Does anyone out there do like I do, and get all these great ideas for Christmas gifts right In fairness, I had my inspiration about a month ago and ordered up the fabric right away. Or maybe the truth is more that an online newsletter or Facebook post let me know about a sale and I just had to take advantage so I came up with justifications (e.g., the Christmas gift list) for buying them. Okay...let's get something straight right off the hop (you'll note this is my first blog post) - I'm not going to bother justifying fabric purchases. I'm just going to marvel at and enjoy the talent of today's fabric designers and support them any way I want, including buying their lines.

So in between work stuff and projects around the house, I got busy and started on the first of several Christmas projects (maybe not quite 12, but close enough) I'd like to finish. First up was the good old Yellow Brick Road pattern. I was a late-adopter of the YBR pattern but I thought it would work up into a great quilt for my daughter's boyfriend. I saw this great FQ bundle at Fabricworm and thought it would be great for C. He likes camping and he's an Oregon Beavers fan and their colour is orange. I prepped the fabrics, cut and pieced it over the past four days and it has a date with the machine quilter on Wednesday. This is a photo of the top taken in the back yard. Why yes, I did brave temperatures of -10 to get this shot but I'm glad I did, it looks pretty neat draped over the tree limb.

Next up: a tree skirt!

Hope everyone gets off to a great week tomorrow. Short work week for lots of us in Canada - we remember our vets on Friday, November 11.