Thursday, 21 May 2009

Snow and Stars and Stuff ...

What did you do over the long weekend? (That would be the Victoria Day weekend in Canada to which I am referring.) I had ideas of going camping, but it was mighty cold and promising rain. I'm thinking it wasn't such a bad thing that other factors besides the weather intervened as this is what I woke up to Tuesday morning ...... May 19th and snow! Our local newspaper reported 5 cm of the stuff. I just know I had to put socks on (and that REALLY annoys me this time of year) as it was cold enough I could see my breath. It turned to rain later that afternoon but still very cold. By today, it was back to bare feet in sandals and shirt sleeves again. I'm thinking all those foolish people who rushed to set out bedding plants during last weeks heat are going to be spending more money at the garden centre!

So what does one do when weekend plans fall thru? Let's all say it together now, shall we ... START A NEW PROJECT! Very good girls and boys, you're really getting to know and understand me.

L. and I noticed this ...... while perusing a quilting magazine in front of the fireplace (I told you it was cold!) The conversation then went something like this:

L.: I bet you have enough fabric in your bins to make a quilt just like that.

Me: No bet ... GUARANTEED I have more than enough fabric.

My buddy L. will think of something to bet on with St Peter upon arriving at the Pearly Gates, and is not one to let go of a betting possibility.

L.: I bet you couldn't make a quilt like that.

Me: Why would you say that?

L.: Cuz you're all "matchy matchy". You'd have to go out and buy a bunch of new fabric to get all those stars coordinated properly.

Me: HAH! I wouldn't have to buy ANY fabric cuz it's a PATCHWORK quilt and the joy of patchwork is the randomness. Besides, what do you mean I'm all "matchy matchy"?

L.: I bet you couldn't make a quilt like that without spending the next year sorting and planning all your fabric. In fact, you'd spend so much time sorting and planning all your fabric that you'd NEVER finish a quilt like that!

Me: I bet I could! In fact, watch me prove you WRONG!

Yup. Hook, line, and sinker! What can I say? Without further ado, I closed my eyes and reached into Fabric Bins A, B, C, and D, and pulled out the first piece of fabric my hand touched. Then I stuck my hand back into Fabric Bin A and pulled out a second piece because the first 20 inch block of this quilt required 5 different fabrics. Here is the lovely random result ...... maybe not what I would plan, but kinda cool. That's the joy of patchwork ... unplanned yet cool! Here's the second 20 inch block:And here are three 16 inch blocks:
This 16 inch block presented a bit of a challenge ...... because we all know one cannot herd ladybugs! I ripped my stitching out three times before I managed to get those little beauties lined up correctly:
That's 6 completed blocks, and I haven't even BEGUN digging into Fabric Bins. I foresee NO problem completing this quilt top without duplicating fabrics ... although I'm a little concerned that I won't have enough light-coloured bits as I tend to sew with brights and darks. WAIT! FORGET I SAID THAT! I will have NO problem finding enough interesting fabrics ALREADY IN MY FABRIC BINS!

Y'all know I live in a basement suite and this house is for sale. Well, practically the moment the for sale sign went up on the front lawn, the "looky loos" began parading thru the place. There are some RUDE people out there! I asked both house owner and listing realtor to PLEASE give me a heads up about tours and I would do my best to make myself absent. Both agreed that would be no problem. DID THEY STICK TO THEIR WORD? NO! They barge in at all hours of the day and evening. I REALLY resent "looky loos" first thing Sunday morning, although the worst ones (so far) came to see the place last night. Without warning, I might add!

It was nearly 8 pm, and I was working on my quilt blocks. My sewing machine is set up on its own little table in my kitchen, and my ironing board was in the hallway right outside my kitchen. I had fabric and scissors and ruler and stuff spread out on my kitchen table. The realtor came downstairs, "looky loo" couple in tow, and asked if it was okay to look around.

"Go ahead" I said said, "you're already down here." (with a strong touch of sarcasm and irritation)

The woman proceeded to poke through the things ON MY KITCHEN TABLE! Without a word to me. Had she said hello and expressed a tiny hint of interest in what I was doing, I would gladly have showed her my project and discussed it. She acted like the fabric and scissors and ruler and stuff on the table WAS PART OF THE SALE ... so I explained (with a much stronger touch of sarcasm and irritation in my voice) that my private belongings were NOT part of the house sale so HANDS OFF ALREADY.

If that wasn't bad enough, the silly woman then UNPLUGGED MY IRON!

Me: Did you just unplug my iron? (disbelieving my own eyes)

Madam Looky Loo: You aren't using it.

Me: I'm sewing! I iron as I go! (truly disbelieving this amazing stupidity and rudeness)

Madam Looky Loo: No you're not using it, you're over there. Irons should not be left plugged in.

At that point, I arose from my chair and explained that it was best she leave immediately. And then explained to the realtor that showing my suite was no longer permitted when I am home. The time for cooperation is now gone. Sheesh! I might be moving faster than I originally anticipated.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Mother's Day

I was playing with some fabric scraps left over from the completed BANANA PROJECT ... which I CAN'T post pictures of because BANANA does read this blog once in awhile and that would totally ruin her surprise package ... and my new sewing machine. So far, I've experimented with about six of its 70-some built-in stitches ...
... 3 or 4 of which are visible above. As I was stitching, I recalled a beautiful little dress and matching bolero I had when I was 5 or 6 years old. The hem of the dress and the edges of the bolero featured different coloured rows of fancy machine stitches ... very much like the rows of fancy machine stitches I sewed into these scrappy potholders. That dress was the most SHOCKING bright chartreuse colour ... a colour NO redhead should EVER wear, and that was part of what was so special about it ... celebrating the rebel for both me and the seamstress. The other part of what was so special was the seamstress herself. Sadly, we never celebrated Mother's Day together.

Here's the almost finished potholders on the ironing board ...
... yes, that is FINALLY a fresh new ironing board cover! ... waiting for me to press the bias binding to the back and stitch it in place. When I grew up, NOBODY I knew had "store bought" pot holders. My female family members and their closest friends were all creative sewers and quilters, and pot holders were how they experimented with new fabric combinations, quilt block designs, and quilting patterns. While I sewed these scrappy pot holders, I recalled how two ladies I called "Auntie" competed with each other in the pot holder department. One was famous for her ZANY fabric choices, and the other for her tiny exquisite quilt block details. Besides creating interesting pot holders, those ladies maintained that "store bought" pot holders were never ample enough in size and never had enough "stuffin" to protect your hands from hot objects. I agree ... although I suspect the silicone gloves you can buy now might blow that theory out of the water. I haven't tried them yet ... I still use old-fashioned home-made pot holders with old terry toweling inside.

I wish both of my Aunties were here today so I could show them these scrappy pot holders.
Very poignant thoughts for a Mother's Day.

Since I can't show you pictures of the completed BANANA PROJECT, here's a photo of the socks I finished last night ...
... using an easy lace-rib pattern. I experimented with a different kind of heel-shaping, and it turned out rather "boxy", so I'm not sure I like it.
Doesn't really matter, because it's finally warm enough to go WITHOUT socks now. I'll go back to knitting my usual heels until after I wear these ones a bit next fall.

Do y'all have a favourite pub? I did ... until this past Friday night. Headed there for a pint after work with L., and discovered my favourite Olde English Pub had been transformed into ...
No Guinness or Kilkenny on tap! Linen tablecloths covering those lovely scarred wood pub tables! Expensive entrees instead of good tasty pub food on the menu! I was too annoyed to try their fare ... which I admit might be very good. Dammit! Now I have to find a new pub!

I'm off to watch the last part of a Star Trek DVD. Since it's election season in our province, I'm REALLY glad I don't own a television as I'm REALLY sick and tired of the negative political campaigning that's going on. I would much rather hear what each of the candidates would like to do than what their opponent has done wrong! Anyone else feel that way?

Sunday, 3 May 2009

It's here! It's finally here!

Spring that is. In two short weeks, my front yard has gone from this ... ... to this ...One lonely little clump of frozen snow left, and I'm pretty sure the rain that's coming today will wash it away. Trees and bushes are swelling with new life ...... and the multitude of crows in this part of the city are busy cooing sounds of LURV! (in that rusty raucaus way crows coo sounds of LURV!) All my neighbours have been busy raking up the dead remains of winter ...... and will probably soon be engaging in battle with these hardy guys ...... which I truly don't understand because I think Dandy Lions are much prettier (not to mention TASTIER ... especially the first tender spring leaves) than lawn grass! It doesn't take much sunshine to motivate Northerners to get outside and start enjoying it. The temperature may only be 5 degrees above 0, but you'll see kids wobbling on bikes ...... and all kinds of people sporting bare neon-white legs and arms. I've walked home from work in shirt sleeves all week, and even went out in sandals (NO SOCKS! YAHOO!!!) twice this week! Oh the relief, the joy of NEKKID FEET!With this particular spring comes change. My landlady is moving away, and a FOR SALE sign will be going up at this house (I'm in a basement suite). I really like this neighbourhood, but I'm not 100% convinced I want to live with new (AKA unknown) owners. I like the space I'm renting here, but it does have a few drawbacks ... such as lack of a proper kitchen sink, and a driveway that needs to shovelled too damned much. So I've been looking at apartments and have discovered a couple of buildings (and new neighbourhoods) that might be very pleasant to live in. Rent is going to be a little bit higher, but not astronomically so. However, my landlady really wants me to stay here so she can go back down south and not leave her house empty while it's for sale, and has offered a couple of tempting incentives. At the moment, I haven't totally made up my mind to go or to stay. Hmmm. I'll have to keep y'all posted on that!

On the creative front, here's my finished quilted CELTIC KNOT TABLE TOPPER:... with a few of my still growing collection of cows (which, I repeat, I did NOT start myself, and do NOT want more of!). And here's a shot of the back:In hindsight, I would do a few things differently if I were to do the same project again (which I won't because I get too bored doing the same thing twice).

First, I zigzagged around the "knots" after applying them to the blocks with Wonder Under (iron on fusible stuff). I did the zigzagging with my old sewing machine. My new sewing machine has 70-some built in stitches, and one of them is a blanket stitch. I tried that stitch out on some scraps, and immediately regretted not knowing about it when I started this project!

Second, I started machine quilting with green thread, and instantly HATED the look of green thread on yellow fabric. So I spent several evenings carefully picking out those stitches, and re-quilting with green on green and yellow on yellow. However, I'm not totally satisfied with yellow thread showing on the green BACK of this project. I should have used green thread in the bobbin, but I don't have the energy or inclination to pick the stitches out and re-do again. I'll just refrain from looking at the back!

While I was in the quilting frame of mind, I whipped up a set of four placemats like this:Crazy cat ladies with a touch of class on one side, and zany farm critters and equipment on the back ...... cuz y'all know you can take the girl out of the country, but not the country out of the girl! It was a spur of the moment project using bits of this and that from my notorious multi-bin fabric stash. (I had not yet pressed the finished placemats in these photos, so the binding looks wrinkly.) I've really been enjoying this quilting binge, and especially enjoying it on my new sewing machine.

On an entirely different topic, I found the nicest book this past week:It's a combination recipe book and travelogue ... I could hardly put it down once I started reading it! If you like baking breads, and you like letting your imagination travel to unusual destinations (AHEM! ELDEST DAUGHTER!) ... I very highly recommend this book!

Okay, I'm off for my weekly Coronation Street fix now, and then some baking. Happy First Week of May, y'all!

P.S.: Banana, here's a tantalizing sneak peek. S'alright?