Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunny Sunday

Ian must have taken this picture of my baby today as I found it on my camera when I went to delete all my images. It's almost like he's saying - dog food - you expect me to eat dog food? Is that all there is????

Our city is host this weekend to Ribfest - Canada's largest! Restaurants from all over the U.S. and Canada compete in this annual event. It is held at our waterfront park and when you drive by, the smells are very enticing indeed - and I don't even like ribs.

I embroidered a couple of labels this weekend - one of them is for a christening gown. She gave me a 'very' small piece of silk to stitch it on and I had everything crossed the whole time it was stitching out as you just know when you have to get it right the first time, that is when your machine will screw up. Luckily it didn't but it reminded me again of how I could never do anything like that for a living. I would be a nervous wreck and I admire all you longarm quilters who take someone's masterpiece and enhance it even more. Of course, I also know you get a lot of tops that are less than masterpieces and they are probably even more challenging as the customer expects you to somehow take this quilt that is waving to the world and make it square and flat.

It's been a beautiful day here today so I'm going to go and catch the last rays of sun before it sets.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Summers End With My Girls

After a grueling week at work (seriously), I needed a fix with my girls, so we headed out today to a local bird sanctuary and petting zoo. They are growing up so fast - Britney is headed for Grade 3 next week and Madison will be in Senior Kindergarten. She just lost her first tooth and was so excited to point it out to me.

This was a lovely little spot with beautiful weeping willows shading the area and lots of benches along the trail to sit on and watch the ducks, geese and swans.

As you can see from this picture, I think there has been some hanky panky going on as some of these guys are definitely of mixed heritage.

We had lunch at a roadside stand and the girls wanted their picture taken with "Old Rusty" - I can't imagine where it got a name like that. Madison pointed out that nobody would want to sit in it as it didn't have a seat - now I wouldn't even have noticed that if she hadn't pointed it out.

We stopped at a local farm market on the way home and picked up some fresh corn, peaches straight from the trees and some early apples. A perfect day!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Taking a Break From Work...

Just thought I'd check in to let you know I'm still alive after all this working! 2 days down and 3 to go...

I got exciting news on Monday from APQS. The new Millenniums have been CSA approved so they are sending me a new one and I'll send mine back. I really debated about making this switch as I love Tillie so much, but since this is a free switch, it didn't make sense for me to keep an outdated model when a new one was being offered for nothing.

There are some new features on this machine so I'm looking forward to receiving Tillie II. Leo is less than thrilled as he is the one who has to switch out the heads, but I'm sure he'll get over it - he just likes to hear himself complain.

I'm off to my Guild's Executive meeting tonight - a woman's work is never done!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

House Hunters International Edition

Here's my own little version of House Hunters. We all know that housing prices differ in different parts of the country. I frequent the Buffalo area a fair bit and I've driven through some pretty neighbourhoods in the suburbs down there. Out of curiosity, I checked the real estate prices in one of those suburbs - Amherst, N.Y..

Here's what approximately $400,000 will buy you there:

Here's what the same amount of money will buy you here:

Which one would you rather spend your money on? Too bad green cards are so hard to get...

Saturday, August 23, 2008


That seems to best describe how I feel right now - totally overwhelmed. I'm sure, like everything else, this, too, shall pass. I spent another day yesterday with Sandra dress shopping. I found a dress and jacket I really liked, placed the order, paid my deposit and an additional $50 for rush delivery and felt like the weight of the world had been taken off my shoulders.

I wasn't home more than 10 minutes when the dress store called to tell me they couldn't get that outfit in time for the wedding - they could get it in a different colour, but not the colour I wanted. So, I did what any self-respecting mother of the bride would do. I burst into tears and went to bed. Poor Leo didn't quite know what to do. We usually go out for dinner on Friday nights and he poked his head around the bedroom door long enough to say - I guess we're not going out? No, we're not going out!

I went out again today and I found a dress. I don't like it quite as much as the one I ordered yesterday, but I do like it and this one was in stock, fit me perfectly without having to cut 2 feet off the bottom and it's now hanging in my closet. Besides, this isn't my day, it's theirs and all I want is a beautiful day filled with memories for both of them.

Now I can stop stressing about my outfit and start stressing about something else - like the fact I have to work 5 days next week :-)

This may sound crazy, but I also feel a certain obligation to "produce" something to feature in my blog. I guess that's where the "blogging without obligation" ring came from. From now until November, all I may be producing are pictures of my baby - you can't say you haven't been warned.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This and That

I've been cutting and piecing backings in preparation for some serious quilting that needs to be done around here.

I need some advice on this wallhanging though - any idea how this should be quilted? I'm reluctant to put a design on it as I don't want to detract from the 3D effect - should I crosshatch it? Any and all suggestions would be welcome.

Isn't it funny how your tastes change. I saw this wallhanging last year (I think) in my LQS and fell in love with it. I bought all the batiks to complete it and now when I look at it, I don't even like it very much, although this isn't a very good picture as it was hanging quite high on the wall and I couldn't get a good angle shot.

I may have said this before (my memory isn't what it used to be), but someone said quite recently that you should make any kits or fabric you buy for a specific project right away as the longer you have them, the more they lose their appeal. Very true.

I got the latest edition of Fons & Porter's 'Love of Quilting' today and I noticed they are going to bring our a new publication called 'Love of Knitting'. Just what I need - another magazine subscription...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fun Playing

I picked up my wheel this morning and I'm back in business. The Circle Lord is installed and I've spent some time playing this afternoon. It really is fun and I did a couple of feathered wreaths that look pretty good. Michael said people either 'got' how the feather template worked, or didn't, so thankfully I 'got' it and it seemed pretty easy to me.

I played around with the Ginko too and did some pretty medallions. I haven't even unpacked the large templates yet!

I've had a few people e-mail me and ask which templates I bought. Here they are - and remember, I'm supporting our local economy!!!!


Featherz Combo - Featherz + Border



Ginkgo & Pattern Booklet


King Baptist Fan

King Swirls

Too bad I have to go to work tomorrow - I'd love to stay home and play some more. While I'm on the subject of work, be prepared to listen to me moan all next week as I'm working 5 days in a row! Can you imagine? I don't know how I did it for all those years.

My kitty fabric arrived yesterday from Webfabrics. Carly gives the best customer service along with very fast shipping.

Isn't it purrrty - sorry, couldn't resist!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Christmas Came Early This Year

I can hardly contain my excitement! Lee and I visited Kay and Michael of Circle Lord fame today. They live in a beautiful home in the country and we were treated to a full demo of the basic Circle Lord and all the templates. Michael also showed us his workroom where he stores all the attachments for the various longarms and where he does some of the machining.

Kay had sample quilts showing all the different design combinations that can be achieved from each template. I think to say we were impressed was an understatement. We both had an opportunity to try various templates and it was amazing to see the designs take shape before our eyes.

They are a lovely couple, both extremely talented in their own areas, and both very interesting to talk to.

So....did I buy one? What a silly question - of course I did, and a bunch of templates to go with it! Just wait till you see what I'll be able to produce now!

Oh, Mary - you'll have to order the 7 Treasures of Buddha - it looks great. Besides, Deb already has one on order so you can't let her get one up on you!

Now I just have one little problem. When Leo was raising the head on Tillie he snapped a piece off one of the carriage wheels. Michael told me this is a first, but as Leo said, with the luck he's been having lately, if it were to happen to anyone, it would be him. It's not a big deal, other than I'm dying to play but have to wait until I get another wheel. Carol, my wonderful dealer, just e-mailed me telling me she has some in stock, so guess where I'm going tomorrow!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Ramblings

I'm feeling much better today and got up fully intending to spend the day quilting. However, the best laid plans and all that...

I volunteered to distribute our quilt guild's newsletter - must have been one of those - what on earth was I thinking moments. Actually, it isn't a bad job. Half the guild receive it by e-mail which, once I got the e-mail addresses into my address book, was a very simple procedure. The other half (about 90) like to get a copy by snail mail.

I received the newsletter from the person who composes it this morning, so off to Staples I went to run them all off. Everything was fine until I noticed that the Block of the Month diagram didn't show the shading of right and wrong side of fabric that was in the original. The girl at Staples said it must have been done with a highlighter and that's why it didn't show up. Of course, I didn't realize this until all 90 copies had printed.

So, I spent the rest of the afternoon with a pencil colouring in the proper shading. I got that done, then stapled, folded and stuffed them and they are ready to go to the Post Office tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow I have big plans. I'm picking up Lee and we're going to visit the Circle Lord. I received a very nice e-mail from Michael after my last post about the Circle Lord and he suggested I visit their studio for a one on one demo. I'm really looking forward to it and I've promised Mary I'd check out the new template called 7 Treasures of Budda which looks like an orange peel pattern.

This is better than Christmas!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Whole Lot of Nothing Going On

My little girls were supposed to come for a swim today, but I woke up with a bad migraine so I had to call them and cancel. It was too bad as we didn't get any rain today - at least none that I heard from my prone position on the bed.

This summer with all the sudden storms has been a bad one for migraine sufferers - especially if changes in barometric pressure is one of your triggers. I'm feeling better now, but have what I call a migraine hangover - those who suffer migraines will know what I'm talking about.

I did summon up the energy tonight to take a picture of the scrap quilt I finished.

I have to stop piecing for a while and start quilting. I think it was Judy that commented recently that she seems to crave piecing, then craves quilting. I feel the same way.

With all the rain we've been having lately, I think I need to get a pair of these - too bad they don't have any in pink!

It's Party Time

Suzanne is throwing a party to celebrate her 600th post. Join in the fun and bring something along. I'm bringing some cupcakes that I've been dying to try from this cute little book Sandra gave me for my birthday.

Friday, August 15, 2008

How To Depress Yourself In One Easy Lesson

Just go bridal dress shopping! Today was the day. I got up bright and early and drove into Toronto where I met Sandra at the first store on our list. I quickly found out that they size mother of the bride dresses the same as they do wedding gowns - i.e. - you need to buy at least two sizes bigger than you normally wear. Why they do this is beyond me - they should do it the other way so we could all wear a size 6 for once in our lives. The second surprise I got was these dresses, like the wedding gowns, also have to be specially ordered. You have to squeeze yourself into a size 12 (that is really made for someone who is a size 8 in regular clothes) and see if you think you like it. Then you have to picture it in a different colour. After all these decisions are made you get a look at the price tag and your daughter picks you up off the floor.

Now, I don't consider myself cheap and I was prepared to spend whatever was necessary to get a dress that was flattering and comfortable. However, I am not prepared to take out a mortgage on our house to buy a dress to wear for one day.

Depressed and tired, I dropped Sandra off at her apartment and headed home. The drive that took me 35 minutes in the morning took me 2 hours and 15 minutes this afternoon. By the time I got here I was ready to kill something.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

We Were So Close....

Those of you who read Rian's Pages know that she is visiting friends in 'cottage country' north of Toronto. We had hoped to get together before she flew home - I was going to drive to the airport, pick up Rian and Jim and take them out for lunch. Unfortunately, their flight leaves a lot earlier than originally thought, and it just isn't going to work. It's so disappointing that she is so close, yet still so far away. I told her she'd just have to come back - real soon!

I'm having trouble finding graduated hand dyes for my upcoming class. Can anyone recommend an on-line source? Carol Bryer Fallert used to sell them, but her website says she is getting out of the business. I need 3 graduations of at least 6 colours - and I need to order them soon or they won't arrive in time. I've Googled just about everything I can think of, but can't come up with much. HELP - please!

I wanted a break at lunch today so dropped into a local wool shop. Oh, my, I could start a whole new addiction with some of the gorgeous fibres available these days. Must keep reminding myself it hurts my hands to knit.....must keep reminding myself it hurts my hands to knit....must keep reminding myself.........

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

They Don't Get Much Easier Than This

Here is the little preemie sweater all ready to go:

It's just straight knitting - couldn't get any easier. The pattern was a freebie on line here. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed knitting - but I also forgot just how much my hands and arms hurt for days later. Getting old really sucks!

I think you can probably get 2 of these out of a 50g ball of wool, so I've cast on another one and hope I don't run out of wool. I'm going to have to limit myself to only knitting at Stitch N Chat though, as I spent most of the evening last night knitting and I couldn't sleep my hands were so sore. I do have braces for carpel tunnel but I usually end up throwing them across the room half way through the night. It's like sleeping in a straight jacket. Did I say getting old really sucks????

I was just looking at the Olympic medal standings. Armenia with a population of almost 3 million has won 3 medals, Mongolia with a population of almost 3 million has won a medal. Canada, with a population of 33 and a half million hasn't won any. What's wrong with this picture? We're just waiting for the Winter Olympics.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Really Nice Day

Stitch N Chat today was at Jeanne's house and the weather co-operated, for once. We sat outside in her gazebo by the pool, surrounded by beautiful flowers with a gentle breeze blowing and a cold drink in our hands. Sounds nice, doesn't it - it was! We were laughing so hard at one point the tears were running down our faces.

Jeanne does some amazing machine embroidery and she got this out to show me:

This picture does not do justice to this - she 'somehow' took all the decorative stitches in her machine, digitized these designs and then embroidered them on linen. The detail is stunning and I really admire her ability.

It was one of those pieces that the more you looked, the more interesting stitches you found.

I also got a tour of Jeanne's sewing room and I've decided I want to live at her house. It is SO well organized and she has this amazing cupboard - looks almost like an armoire - that hold all her thread on spool holders with revolving cabinets inside. She has a section devoted to her embroidery threads, one for cotton piecing thread, one for polyester and another section for all her serger thread. I should be typing this in green because that's how envious I was! To top off her sewing room, she has a 32" computer monitor for use with her embroidery software. Yes, 32".

I did manage to get the little knitted preemie sweater finished - it just needs to be sewn together, so hopefully I'll get that done tonight.

Monday, August 11, 2008

More Scraps

This is what I've been working on - another attempt at trying to use up some of my scraps.

Only some of these rows are sewn together, so if it looks a bit wonky, that's why. I learned my lesson from the last one and this is going to be lap size.

I did have a little helper and he was very upset that he wasn't in the picture, so I appeased him with this.

After he thinks I've spent enough time ignoring him, he jumps on my lap at the machine as if to say, O.K. - now it's time for me!

In preparation for going dress shopping on Friday, I went and bought a new bra today. Not just any old bra, but a bra that I was properly measured and fitted for. They say that most women are wearing the wrong size bra and I wasn't the exception. The size I should be wearing is a lot smaller in the band and a lot bigger in the cup than the ones I've been buying. For what I paid for this it should have been gold plated, but you know what they say - foundation garments are so important...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Guild Quilts

Here are pictures of the two quilts I quilted for our Guild yesterday. I used Daisies Galore on this one.

This one had a lot going on in it, I thought (understatement of the year), so I wanted something simple for the quilting. I used Seaweed and they don't get more simple than that.

This quilt looks a lot better in the picture than it does in person. IMHO it's as ugly as sin and they gave me horrible cheap poly batting that's more like craft stuffing than it is batting. It quilts up horribly and ripples all over the place.

I noticed this quilt in the latest edition of Fons & Porter's Easy Quilts.

The last couple of years I've donated a dog themed quilt to our Humane Society so I thought it was time I gave the kitties equal time. I just ordered enough fabrics to make two of these from Carly at Webfabrics. It is such a pleasure to deal with her and her customer service is excellent.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Productive Day

I got two charity quilts quilted before noon today, and would have done a third, but then the thunder and lightening started so I had to unplug Tillie.

We had another terrible storm this afternoon and it's still raining. I unplugged Tillie, unplugged the computer, unplugged my sewing machine then didn't know what to get up to. You'll notice I couldn't care less if anything else blew up, other than maybe my hair dryer. I ended up hand sewing the binding on the charity quilts. I tried to take a picture of them, but my camera battery needs charged, so the pictures will have to wait until tomorrow.

What a storm we had - one clap of thunder scared the living daylights out of me and I jumped out of my chair. Then came the wind and rain - the wind was so strong the rain looked like it was coming sideways. We are still under a severe thunderstorm watch and I just checked the Weather Network and it looks like we are in for more of the same for tomorrow with an 80% chance of thunderstorms.

I'm going to watch Juno tonight. I got it from the library - that's where I get all my videos - and a number of CDs too. The ladies there said if they gave out frequent flyer points I'd be able to go around the world by now! I love to read as much as I love to quilt!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Busy Days Ahead

It's starting to get busy around here. The wedding preparations are in full swing and showers are being organized. I still haven't gone shopping for an outfit, but Sandra has made me promise I'll go with her next week to start the search. I guess I'm not going to lose 40 lbs. in the next 3 months huh?

Things are also getting busy on the quilting front. Every September I attend an Annual Quilting Seminar at the Amherst Quilter's Guild in New York state. They bring in national teachers every year and this year I'm taking classes from Bonnie Browning and Jodi Barrows. I got my supply list yesterday which is always exciting.

I'm taking Bonnie's class on this stunning quilt that was shown at the beginning of Simply Quilts,

and this one from Jodi called Southern Skies:

I need to order some hand dies for the Windmill quilt and I better get them ordered soon as our dollar is really dropping.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Carol, my APQS dealer and she is offering a week of classes in September with Deloa Jones in her studio here in the Niagara Region. I took classes with Deloa last year and she is a very good teacher, so now I'm pouring over the list trying to decide what classes I want to take. Carol has also invited Michael, the inventor of The Circle Lord to do a presentation one evening during the week of classes. Now, I've had one of these on my wish list for a long time and I planned to visit his studio very soon as he's only about 45 minutes away. I wonder if I can wait until the end of September......

Leo has encouraged me to go ahead and buy it - one of his favourite sayings lately is - life's too short. I just feel the teeniest bit guilty for spending so much money on my hobby - but I'm sure I'll get over it!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Baby Pictures

Ben loves tissue paper - he loves the tissue paper more than the present inside and he's very adept at opening his own pressies.

OMG, Blogger has added a new feature - you can now upload more than one picture at a time. There's no telling how many Ben pictures I can upload quickly now.....

Mrs. Paws is coming tomorrow for a badly needed clip. He's always so excited to see her, then he suddenly realizes who she is and he tries to hide behind my legs. He's very well behaved though, and obediently goes out into her travelling 'salon'. An hour later he's back - more handsome than ever and smelling simply gorgeous, dahling!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

So Much For That Idea

You can't say I didn't try. I stitched out another scarf today - using the right stitch length - but it was still pretty tedious and boring, although it only took about 2 hours today and an 1,100 yard cone of thread.

Here it is before I dissolved the stabilizer - doesn't look too bad, does it?

And here it is hanging on a towel to dry:

Still doesn't look too bad, but wait - look at this one:

See the gaping holes where there shouldn't be holes? Yup, me too. This one just joined the one from yesterday in the garbage. I could have knitted two scarves in the time I wasted trying this - and had a lot more fun too. I'd still like to try one using wool and the couching foot, but it won't be anytime soon. I'm going back to something I know I love - quilting!

Speaking of knitting though, my 'new best friend' and I decided we'd start bringing some knitting to our Stitch N Chat group. I used to do a lot of knitting, but that was one of the things I had to give up when I got arthritis in my thumb joints. However, knitting for a couple of hours every two weeks isn't going to kill me - and it might stop me from eating so much at these get togethers!

I'm knitting a little preemie sweater for the NICU at McMaster Children's Hospital. Our Guild donates small coverlets for the preemies there and the staff asked if we could also do some sweaters. They only take a couple of hours to knit, so I've got one almost finished.

I can't believe we're having ANOTHER thunderstorm. I think we've had one every day this summer - well, almost. The grass is green and I remember last year at this time some of the trees were actually wilting and dropping their leaves from lack of water. The irony is they are putting in new watermains on our street this summer so we aren't being charged for water use while the work is being done. Normally this would have been a huge saving as we'd have the sprinkler on at least every other day and the pool would need topped up too.

This year, though, our pool level has never been higher and the hose hasn't been in it once.

Those big round circles are raindrops - I just took this from the kitchen door. Enough already!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ever Have One Of Those Days....

When you wonder why you bothered to get up? Well, I feel like that today.

For the last couple of months, I've wanted to try to make a 'lacy' scarf using water soluble stabilizer and my sewing machine. Today was the day. I drew out the rectangle on the stabilizer, set my machine for the recommended fancy stitch, reduced my tension as suggested in the book, and away I went.

About 3 hours later, this is what it looked like:

To say this was about as exciting as watching paint dry, would be an understatement. It was tedious and took FOREVER just to stitch one row - and each row had to be stitched twice. At this point, my idea of making one of these for some people on my Christmas list went right out the window.

Then I started to really look at it - it didn't really look like the one in the book - it wasn't nearly as lacy. I'd also used a variegated thread for a couple of rows - big mistake - didn't like that at all. Then I had a light bulb moment - I had shortened the stitch length instead of reducing the tension - talk about stupid! No wonder it was taking so long to stitch out.

So, after about 5 hours of the little voices in my head arguing saying - why don't you just throw it out and start over - but I can't - look at all the stabilizer I have invested in this, and stabilizer isn't cheap - I hate the colours and don't like the variegated thread - but just finish it and maybe you could give it to someone you don't like very much or maybe you could give it to the girls to play dress-up with.

So this is it - maybe once I rinse the stabilizer out it will change from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan - maybe - but I'm not counting on it.

I'm getting used to our new computer - it certainly is fast and I like that! Of course, it hasn't been without it's complications. The sound on it was terrible and when I told Leo the speakers sounded fine on the old computer but sounded tinny on this one, his reply was - it's a computer, not a stereo. Not funny. Music is a huge part of my life - I almost always have music on when I'm on the computer and this just wasn't going to work. He started to explain that the old speakers only had one wire, and this computer has multiple connections blah blah blah - I really don't care why it sounds awful, I just want him to do something to make it sound better.

So, off to Best Buy he goes and comes home with new speakers (that sound wonderful, by the way). What he also neglected to tell me is the old printer doesn't work with this computer either, so not only did he buy new speakers, he bought a new printer/copier/scanner/fax. Now, we already have a scanner - we don't need a fax - was on sale! Must be a man thing. Fabric I can understand, printers - not so much.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

It's Finished....

Well, the top anyway - it still needs to be quilted. This is Version 2 of the blue/white quilt - this one has pieced borders.

I had to do quite a bit of calculating to make this border work, but all those hours spent in math class finally paid off.

Which one do you like better? Version 1 with the regular borders on the left, or Version 2 with the pieced borders on the right?

I'm not sure I have a favourite - I thought I did, but now I'm not so sure. I'd love to hear which one you prefer.