Saturday, March 31, 2007
I had a little trouble posting while we were in Abbotsford, so put this together here this morning:
On Thursday we went to the Planetarium in Vancouver. I don't have too many photos from our time as it was very dark inside most of the activities we took part in!Here's one of the boys out in front of that amazing crab sculpture.
Inside we had 3 major activities: A day in space (where we got a chance to learn what it's like to do all the mundane daily things inside the space station - not mundane at all, as it turns out!), The planets - this was in the Star Theatre -( if you've never been, it's a huge dome screen with a 360 degree view, the horizon line being just above your head on which film presentations about space are projected), and a Mars Flight simulator. I think the kids will remember the simulator forever! It really did feel like we were careening along a foreign planet's surface, knocking out asteroids and saving the day!
After the planetarium excitement, we walked over to English Bay. The boys had both brought bags with them intending to collect some shells. I took a ridiculous number of photos - mostly of the ground. I love repetitive geometry, especially natural forms. Mother Nature pulled out all the stops for us and we had wonderful vistas of rocks and waves, of shells, of the clouds and the skyline. It was beautiful.
Youngest son even found a complete crab shell - so delicate that the breeze blew it apart in his hand shortly after I snapped this photo.
We spent most of the day in Vancouver, a city that I love. I spent some of my formative years there and have always retained a rather soft spot for it (I imagine we all do for that place we were as we became more fully ourselves).
It was wonderful to get to share some of those amazing places and little memories with the boys.
No trip to stay with my parents would be complete without a few good hours spent in the playground at the school around the corner (where I happened to have attended in my elementary years). There is only one piece of playground equipment remaining from when I was little and many other fun, new things to jump and swing on. The boys spent a goodly amount of time conquering the climbing wall.
All the children in that school district were in school last week, so when they all came out for recess, we went inside and had a look at all the old photos of past classes on the walls. We found old pictures of me - I guess I haven't changed too much as the boys were able to pick me out of that sea of faces! Our oldest commented that everyone looked very '70's - uh, well, yeah - it WAS the '70's!
While we were there looking at the photos a young, willowy girl came to show her friend a photo of her dad. I asked her about it (he would have been just 2 years older than me, judging by the dates) and it turned out I did know him and his brother all through our school years. Although I was surprised at the time, later I thought I shouldn't have been. It's a farming community and some families remain there for many generations. Still, it was nice to see her, to make that connection with my own past.
Last of all, I put in a warning to parents in playgrounds with cameras. OBJECTS IN YOUR LENS ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
You may not know, but here in Nakusp we are on a hydroelectric reservoir. There are several dams up and down the Columbia River, creating our beloved (and temperamental) Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes. The dams provide power to BC, Alberta, and parts of the United States.
There are up and down sides to living here - living on the lake is beautiful, but the environmental impact of the water levels rising and falling is something that we deal with every day. There are summers when the water levels are not high enough to reach our boat docks - no fun for the tourists, but even worse for the fish and wildlife that depend on the vast quantities of fresh water that our lake provides. We have had years when the water was low enough that they had to seed all the exposed land with grass to prevent extreme erosion. There are times, too, when the water is so high that it seriously erodes waterfront land that is not in some way re-enforced (all wild waterfront and not a small number of privately owned lots, too). Please don't get me wrong - I understand the value of electricity! I do also think that hydroelectric generation is one of the lower impact ways to produce vast quantities - it's just that maybe, with the newer advances in solar and wind, there may be a change in the air. It's great to look forward and see other possibilities (with micro generation and local generation) on the horizon.
The Stave Lake Dam is not in any way connected to our own reservoir - this dam provided electricity to the Lower Mainland for 90 years, ending in 2000 - and in many ways contributed to Vancouver's growth as a city. Just look at these happy people with their food cooked in electric ovens, wearing their clothes washed with electric washing machines!
With the advent of electricity came all kinds of new ideas for ways it might be useful - the electric belt has got to be one of my very favorites. Not only can you have your dishes washed, food cooked and clothing sewn with electric appliances under electric lighting, but you can become a strapping specimen of masculinity as well! Believe it or not, these honeys were at one time available through the Sears catalogue! - Now at $18.00, you would really want to invest in your physical prowess (at the time you could, as a labourer, earn 37 cents an hour in your 48.5 hour work week).
It's interesting how people refer to these as 'simpler times' - I don't think they could have been simpler in terms of labour - perhaps people were more innocent, but they certainly 'made' their livings in a way that we just don't anymore. I would very certainly be unable to have my shop here if I had to make ALL of our family clothing and wash them (the clothes) in a wringer washer, cook ALL our bread (not just when I want to, like I do now), pluck our chickens for our evening meal, grow our vegetables in the garden, - well, you get the point. My personal feeling is that technology has done as much for women's liberation as the baby boomers did...would the women's movement have been possible if there was still the massive daily workload we once carried? Somehow I think that the average woman in the 1800's probably did want to break free of the grind of household governing, maintenance and management, she just didn't have the energy to at the end of the day. And besides, there were only candles and oil lamps to light her sleepless, thoughtful nights.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Saturday Mom and I'll be going to the big sewing show in the Abbotsford Tradex building - there are a few people who will be in attendance that I really only get to see once or twice a year, if at all. Notably, the ladies from WonderFil thread will have their booth set up; it'll be nice to see them again!
I took my heart in my hands and mailed Bacchanalia away today...MQX, here it comes! Mom stood by and lent loads of moral support while I boxed it up. I hope it gets there in one piece! I sure taped it up well (sorry, Janet-Lee!).
Have fun through this Spring Break. I'll post when I can.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
There - don't you feel better?
My sigh is due to getting the borders on the centre part of this pesky UFO that's been cluttering up my brain for the past 6 months.
It's back up on the design wall as I work out the math for how the corners will fit. You can see in the picture at left some of the auditioning ideas - what you are seeing is what is proposed to be one side of the setting triangle...the centre of which will be white (between the black and black fabrics). Next, concentric rows of squares following the colours established in the centre of the quilt. Maybe. We'll see. That's what the auditioning process is for.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Here's what's been happening:
On Thursday, Jodi Beamish made the long trekk up here from her house to visit and try out some new products that will be revealed at MQX - o man, I am so excited about these! We were playing with her new templates - many completely new, never seen before in template form. I've been playing with them a lot since, but will not post photos - you'll just have to wait to see them at MQX or at Jodi's website after the big event. I hate to be a tease - BUT!
Friday (yesterday) found me and my youngest son back up at the emergency ward getting another 3 stitches in his head. Yes, this is the second time in the last few months. No, it doesn't get any easier.
Aside from all of this, I've been doing paperwork and more paperwork. Boring. I could post photos of the papers all sorted into piles on my floor...it did have a nice graphic rhythm to it, come to think of it...
Then there's this.
It's a UFO (unfinished object).
This is my scrap quilt from last year. A couple of posts ago I was writing about how I'd thought it would be a good idea to do a quilt from my stash each year...well, this one is last year's. It's mostly made of quilt shop samples that the fabric company sends me to entice me to buy a line of fabric. I haven't received a package like this in a while, but I have a large backlog of these squares from previous mailers.
I put it up on the design wall after finishing 'Stars' - and remembered why this is still a UFO.
As I didn't follow a pattern for this (that would be the easy way, wouldn't it?), all of the outer edges are on the BIAS. I seem to remember justifying that at the time by the notion that I'd add a straight grain border to it and set the whole centre on point! After doing tons of paperwork math I thought, "It's time for some quilting math!" and tried tackling the Pythagorean numerals that would make my 'on point' setting a reality. First step, put on the border, then measure the final finished diamond, THEN work out the setting triangles (and subsequent piecing) to move this quilt from the UFO list to the 'to be quilted' list.
Can you SEE the seam ripper on the ironing board?
I trimmed, measured and cut borders.
I sewed on first of said borders - and the result was as ruffly as a gypsy skirt. So...I rip.
Unsewing has got to be among my least favorite things - right up there with (but not quite as high as)taking my kids to get stitches.
You will notice, however, the prominent placement of the spray starch on the ironing board. I am attempting to rip the newly applied border off and stabilize that pesky bias edge with starch so that the next border-applying attempt will garner success.
I think it's time to knock off for the night and go watch a movie with DH.
May all your seams lie flat,
Friday, March 16, 2007
This one's for Carol...the pattern is from Marcia Hohn's site, "The Quilter's Cache". The block is called Spinning Four Patch and finishes to 12".
The swap has been a lot of fun so far. It's pushed me deeper into my stash than I've been in a while, and to use colour combinations that I've not explored too much. It's good for the soul to stretch a bit.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Y'know, 3 years ago I thought it would be good to have the goal of making one large quilt each year out of my scraps. I made a quilt that year...it took me from Jan 1 to December 31 - no joke. I put the last stitches in the binding on New Year's Eve.
The following week I started Stars. The idea was to string piece all these pretty stars out of my scraps, the colour wheel concept kind of evolved out of that part of the process. It sat for months at a time, stalled. Mostly due to lack of time, never due to lack of scraps.
About 5 months ago I pushed and finished all the blocks and put them on the background. I've never been completely happy with the machine applique on this... it sat on the design wall, partly to cover the wall and partly to remind me that it needed to be quilted. I had lots of big ideas for the quilting, but never did any big drawings to go with it. One night I sat down with DH and after a lot of drawing on photocopies of the quilt photo, came up with the geometric groundwork for the area around the outer circle. I don't think I knew what I was going to quilt on it (motif-wise) until I put it on the machine yesterday. Then it started to come together really fast.
I'm still not happy with the machine applique. I'll trim and bind it, then wash it, then remove the machine applique and hand applique all those stars down instead. At that point I'll probably put it back on the machine and stitch in the ditch around that outer circle of stars.
That's the plan, anyway. The pesky part is that I have to wash it first as I used glue pins to hold it on the background while I stitched it on the machine. There are parts in the points that I'll not be able to force a needle through until after it is all washed.
For those who are interested, the quilt pattern is from a book called "Great Expectations" by Karey Bresenhan for That Patchwork Place. The quilt I made is the antique one featured on the cover (all in pastel colours on white). I used Hobbes Black 80/20 Heirloom Batting and Countess cotton threads in many bright and wonderful colours. My quilt finishes to about 75" square.
Am I going to make a third large scrap quilt? Probably. Goodness knows I have enough scraps. I've got one started here - mostly pieced, in fact. The thing is, I'd have to make two this year just to catch up to my original plan of doing one each year. Fat chance!
Monday, March 12, 2007
It's so much fun to do all these big loopy freehand feathers after all that tight template work. This one's just for us, just for fun.
Just for fun, I've posted 'before quilting' and 'after quilting photos. I've always loved how a quilt's surface is transformed by the quilting process. I think it's one of the things about this craft that got it's hooks so deep into me.
I have the box, I have the address, now I just need to send it away...
The quilt will be at MQX, for those who might be interested, or may be there. I'll be at MQX this year as well, with Jodi in the Willow Leaf Studio booth. Come by and say hello!
Time to start something new!
Sunday, March 11, 2007
We played Oldest's team. All of us goofy (and some VERY capable) parents. At one point the line I was on was on the bench, and some of the parents were talking about the time change. THE TIME CHANGE? No wonder they were eating pizza when we arrived! We were an hour late! I later asked my DH about it, and he had no idea either. I'm really glad we didn't miss our boy's game. It was fun...and I learned that I'm completely useless with a hockey stick. No tremendous surprise, truth be told. I'm more of a 'fine motor' than a 'gross motor' girl, anyway.
Our boys are still pirates. Today they made flags for their ships. Oldest made his using paint on fabric (It's cool, Mom, it soaks right through - I only have to do one side!). Youngest made his using marker on his fabric - love the colour saturation on it. Both are very proud. Youngest insisted on making a YARR! face for his photo. Who am I to argue with a pirate?
In amongst all this, I did make quite a bit of headway with Bacchanalia.
The binding I made yesterday was from strips cut 3 3/8" wide. It will finish to 1", after all is said and done. Knowing I was running out of Celadon ink, I made the binding, then dyed it. This worked out rather well, as the fabric joins are less noticeable. The first thing to do here was to press one long edge under 1/4". I also cut my lead edge on a 45 degree angle and pressed it under 1/4". I use spray starch for this, as it makes everything behave so much better when it's time to run it under the machine.
After spending the night pinned out on the floor to dry (after heavy dampening and steaming), the quilt was as flat as it's ever going to be. This morning I go busy squaring it. I put a pin in at each corner, then ran a piece of ribbon around the perimeter. Using a large (15") square ruler, I checked to see if the corners were square. Naturally, they weren't. I remeasured from pin to pin to make sure top/bottom and side/side were the same length, then measured from corner to corner to make sure that each diagonal was the same length. It took a bit of move this pin, move that pin, check and recheck, but it all eventually looked about right.
Then, using a water soluble (Crayola) marker, I drew the cutting line, following the stretched piece of ribbon and using the rulers to make sure the lines were straight. I moved the whole works over to the big cutting mat, took a deep breath, and cut the edges off following that line, squaring the quilt.
( I think this is the point at which the boys came in to show me their pirate flags. Insert proud smiles here)
I use a mish-mash of different techniques for this next bit. Some bits are thanks to Judy Martin, some are thanks to Sharon Shamber.
I used my Featherweight to put the binding on. As it doesn't have a seam allowance guide wide enough, I put a stack of post-it notes on the machine bed at 1" from the needle. Leaving about 8" of the binding free I started stitching it on along the bottom edge. The the raw edge of the binding is matched to the raw edges of the quilt. *NOTE* This is NOT a double french-fold binding, but a single fold one. It's not great for quilts that will get a lot of wear (i.e. bed quilts), but fine for wall hangings. Once I got about 4" from the corner i stopped stitching and folded the binding two ways. One: over the end of the quilt. Two: Up as though to mitre. The earlier application of starch pulls it's weight here as the fabric is really easily creased. I creased those two folds into the binding, then opened them up again. In the photo at left you can see the two creases, unfolded (one of them is over the bottom of the quilt edge, one is on a 45 degree angle ending at the corner). This is the greatest little trick as all I had to do was stitch down to that first 45" crease and stop. This is the perfect spot to stop, giving a perfect 45 degree corner.
I refolded the binding into it's mitre, then started right next to my 'stop' point, stitching merrily along the next edge.
This quilt, being a show quilt, I did close the binding (usually I just 'sleeve' it).
After getting all the way around the quilt, I stopped about 15" from where I started stitching. You can see in the first photo at right how the binding is brought down to meet the established, pre-pressed edge. The second photo shows creasing the new piece right at the meeting point (yay starch!).
The two pressed 45 degree folds are going to be the stitching line. Once the creases were in well, I unfolded the binding, stitched the two pieces together matching those creases, trimmed the new edge to 1/4", and pressed the seam open.
Voila! Continuous binding. At that point all there was left to do was to finish stitching it to the quilt.
Once the binding was on, I lay the whole works out to make sure it was still flat. All that corner and binding manipulation can stretch the edges! (I should mention that I'm trying to keep this quilt as flat as possible at all times. Through all the finishing steps.)
My ironing board (like most) has an adjustable height. I set it to the same height as my table, plugged in the iron and pulled the ironing board over so that it was an extension of the table surface.
I turned over the quilt and pressed open the binding, Hand turning the corners. You can see in the photo at left that I could see right away if anything was amiss, and could have fixed it at that stage.
Once the front binding was pressed, I turned it over again and pressed the remaining fold to the back. The pre-pressed 1/4" edge is now turned under, giving me a nice clean edge to hand stitch down.
That's where she stands at this point, folks! Nothin' left now but some quality time with a thimble.
This morning we could hear birds singing! It's pouring rain...we're expected to get about 16 cm through the weekend.
DH was working out in the back entryway and called to say the woodpecker is back! Spring is here. While we were sitting watching it work (and all the damage it's doing to the bark of our tree) another one came to join it. I didn't manage to get a picture of both birds, but we sat and watched them for quite a while. You can see in the background that we still have LOADS of snow. Everything is melting quickly with the rain,though.
Today is our last hockey day for oldest, too - another sign that spring has sprung. We get to play a parents vs the kids game, so I'm preparing to have my butt soundly kicked by my 9 year old. I think I was his age the last time I held a hockey stick.
I blocked the Bacchanalia overnight, and spent most of the day yesterday dying binding to match the colours in the vines. I used every drop of Celadon dye that I have. The binding is now made and heat set, the quilt blocked and ready for its final squaring. I'll get going on it after I finish my tea. It occurred to me last night that I have to make a label, too! I'd completely forgotten.
I'll post my binding method how-to later today.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
The big challenge this weekend is finding space for everything! I have so many quilts 'in progress', but at BIG stages, that it's hard to keep things organized so that we can move around in here. I'll be dying the fabric for the Bacchanalia binding in the next bit, as soon as I can find my ironing board!
Oh, and anyone dropping by here today is hereby warned about the PIRATES! Cap'n Jack McKee and Scurvy Hans...they're building a blanket ship in the living room as I write this...
I thought I'd give everyone a few photos of yesterday's work. The stitching part (to my knowledge) is done. I've had my DH down here to scrutinize it with me to see if there was anything I missed in the background, but he didn't see any spots - which is good. He has a great eye and usually sees things right away.
I'll be putting the binding together today. I surprised myself by finding the 'how to' for Amish binding. Sometimes I'm more organized than I think!
The silliest things occur to a person when they've had their nose to a quilt like this for hours on end...one of which was that the deadline for entering a vest in this show is on the 14th - Hey, I could do that (Yeah, right...keep dreamin', Lisa, it's not like there won't be other shows)!
In all honesty I'm looking forward to doing some customer quilts, none of them have this density of stitching! There are a few here to do before we go away for spring break. Something I'm also really looking forward to !
Thursday, March 08, 2007
I'm looking forward to using some colours, I must say! Starting to think about binding, too. A long time ago I had a method written down (Amish?) for doing 1" binding. It would probably suit this quilt quite nicely to have that deeply bound edge, as opposed to the usual 1/4" finish. I'm also thinking about dye painting the fabric for binding, so that it matches really well. We'll see. There may be something around here that will suit it just fine in my stash - you never know.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
The wrinkly effect in the leaves and stem are partly because they haven't been quilted yet, partly because they have been rolled into the rollers since yesterday. I'm going to spritz the whole thing with water now in hopes of removing the last remnants of blue marker that were used in marking the trellis. Please cross your fingers with me that everything I want to stay is heat set!
By the way, I've had inquiries off-blog asking what kind of batting I'm using. It's just regular ol' Hobbes Bleached Cotton batting, the same as what I use in many light coloured customer quilts. I may wish that I'd put a layer of Hobbes Wool in it too for some false trapunto, by the time I'm done, but so far I like the subtle texture it's got.
I'm exhausted. 'Night.
I am, however, going through a LOT of thread.
Here is where I pause to go to school and get Youngest and his friend. I'll not probably get back to it again until after dinner now.
I meant to mention before that any of the pictures here can be clicked to show better detail.
Once these main shadows and structures are in I get to put in the deeper shadows. I'm starting to really look forward to that. I'll probably turn things right way up then, as it's so hard to remember which way the shadows go with it upside-down.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
I have to be careful, though - I find myself clenching my teeth! Deep breath, Lisa, things are going fine. I keep checking the back to see that my tension (thread, that is) hasn't gone wrong while I was stitching.
Well, onward and upward!
(P.S. - sometime last night marked my 3000th visitor since Dec 11, when I put a counter on the blog. Thank you all so much for looking in on things here, and for taking the time to comment! -L)
Monday, March 05, 2007
As with most pictures here, you can click on them to view a larger version.
Next on the machine, Bacchanalia. We'll see if I get it all done in one shot, or in many bits. Luckily I have zippered leaders and will be able to remove it if it needs unstitching, or consideration from a distance, or perhaps, a cremation. Ain't the creative process grand?
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Friday, March 02, 2007
I've been doing customer quilts over the last couple of days, catching up so that I can get back to the Cherub quilt (now officially "Bacchanalia" because I sent the paperwork in).
This one was tons of fun to do...the variety of scraps represented in this quilt is truly amazing! I love how the black gives structure to the rest...everything can be chaotic because that black is so regimented and predictable.
Here's a little detail of one of the blocks. Although almost all of my quilting is done in a magenta pink, you can't really see it - which is good. It would confuse the issue too much if the quilting was too demanding. I didn't want to do a panto over this, as it would nullify it, you'd lose the predictable square rhythm of it - so did a loose, continuous line freehand accentuating the 'exploding' aspect of the blocks.
If I could find a doorway into a parallel universe where I could make a scrap quilt for myself, I'd make this one.