Friday, July 31, 2015

Minnie Takes a Little Trip

Much as I am hooked on making the Country Charmer blocks we had planned a few days away along the Rideau Heritage Route and taking hand sewing made much more sense than a machine, so I packed Minnie into the car to see if we could get reacquainted a bit. We headed to a long-time family favourite, a cabin at The Opinicon at Chaffeys Locks.

The Opinicon is a traditional fishing resort - not that we fish - with tons of history that goes back over a hundred years. Sadly, for the past two years it has been closed but much to our delight (and that of hundreds of other regulars) new owners are breathing new life into the old gal. It's a work in progress with much more to be done but it was a real treat to be back for a few nights. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a meal on the porch will recognize these chairs.

The Rideau is rich in history and home to the oldest continuously operated canal in North America and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Forty-seven locks dot the 200 km waterway from Kingston to Ottawa and work today much as they did when the canal first opened in 1832, using hand cranks to operate the massive wooden locks.

It's a haven for boaters, anglers, and paddlers, and for land lubbers like us, an amazingly relaxing source of entertainment just watching the boats lock through. The fabulous food doesn't hurt either.

Minnie and I spent a little time together, either in our porch or atop the hill overlooking the lake, and four more larger diamond sets got finished.

It was totally relaxing and really fun getting back to this one.

I've still got a pile of diamonds to work with but I'm realizing that they are all quite light in colour; I need more mid to darker tones.

Here's the last one. Still lovin' the wide variety of colours and prints in this quilt.

I thought that I might finally take the next step and join four of the four-diamond panels, but with a view like this I was too easily distracted....M

Monday, July 27, 2015


The waiting is over. I've finally tackled my first blocks for Country Charmer and am totally charmed. I absolutely love this block!

There are 53 pieces to a block (yup, 53!) but they go together relatively quickly. I'm a process person and Lynn's instructions are really clear so I am totally in my zone.

I love seeing the different fabric combinations come to life and then how they all work well when the blocks are put together.

This is the first block that I made and you can see that the centre sections are just a tad off. I adjusted the position of my needle slightly for the next one and the rest have worked like a charm (pardon the pun).

Trimming is the key to happiness with these blocks.

Most of the bocks have two red and two green fabrics, but the odd one doesn't.

The colour in my photos is off a bit but you get the idea. I'll try for better colour next time out (red is always a challenge for me).

This is what they will look like when you add in the sashing strips and corners. Just love it!...M

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cream With a Side of Sashing

I know that I said that my cutting for Country Charmer was finished but now it truly is. All of the cream background pieces and the strips for the sashing are now done too.

I just laid all of the cream pieces on top of the little stacks for the blocks so they are all on the same tray and easily contained. It's amazing that all of those little piles are enough for a quilt top.

So now to sew. I resisted the temptation of making a block right away and opted to work on the 9-patches and the sashing to really feel like I was making progress. And progress was made. All 9-patches are finished (I think there's around 40) and all 71 of the 8.5" sashing strips that I need too.

I'm totally loving the red and cream together and can't wait to see these pieces beside the blocks. The cream is a tad on the grey side, sort of the colour of vanilla bean ice cream (how can that not be good?), and the red is just perfect in my books. On to the blocks....M

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Whole Lotta Cuttin' Goin' On

My kitchen table has finally been released from bondage, and none too soon as far as the Official Cookie Tester was concerned, I'm sure. I decided to put my nose to the grindstone and cut everything for Country Charmer, but I brought it upstairs rather than doing it in my sewing room so, with the exception of one small corner, the table has pretty much been unusable by anyone else. Incentive enough to move things along, and now the cutting's done. Yippeee skipeee!

The pattern includes a block layout sheet so that you can test your colour combinations, but once I got the hang of the piece sizes and where they sit in the block, I just laid them out on my cutting board. Besides, there was so much fabric flying around in a relatively small space that it was just easier to work on the board.

Each block has four different pattern pieces and then several background pieces. As each combination was cut I'd stack them together and lay them out on a tray. It helped me keep track of how many blocks I had cut as well as the distribution of fabric colours/prints.

I'm adding an additional row and a column of blocks because I want this to fit our bed so I cut for 30 blocks instead of 20. This is the Coles Notes version of what the quilt will look like, without the cream backing. I'll play with the final layout as the blocks are made but it was good to see a bird's eye view of things. I like!....M

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer Frolic

I was thinking that Jane would spend her summer holidays finishing up Danuta's Garden, but I wasn't thinking that she would do it so quickly! She was off the first two weeks of July and her first day at the cottage it was done (between you and me, I think that she wanted to be certain that she could spend lots of time in the lake :) ).

Isn't it a beauty? She laid it out on the hammock to get a good look and decided to rename it Summer Frolic, which suits it perfectly. All of those lush, large summery prints with a few stripes mixed in just scream summer, especially in the dappled sunlight of the trees.

The soft yellow sashing print isn't showing up that well but you get a better sense of it in this shot.

It is all hand stitched, with a few extra blocks to boot. Somewhere along the line she made 30 extra 4-patch blocks for the sashing so she's already got a great start on another beautiful creation.

She's thinking that the backing is going to be something big and bright but hasn't gone through her stash yet to figure out what that might be. In the meantime Linda, maybe it gives you and I a chance to catch up to her a little bit.....M

Monday, July 13, 2015

Window Shopping

I had admired Lynn's Country Charmer pattern for quite some time before seeing this photo in one of her posts just after Christmas a few years ago. It sealed the deal. I wanted a Christmas quilt and this was going to be it. When I asked her permission to use this shot she kindly obliged. She said that it had been hung in the window at In Between Stitches for a car commercial that was filmed in Livermore when the photo was taken. Apparently, the producer wanted the downtown decorated for Christmas, so everyone happily obliged, and when the commercial aired she and Mr. Joe watched it over and over again to catch a glimpse of it :).

So, after much washing and ironing I am now finally cutting the pieces for mine.

And, despite my huge pile of fabrics to choose from, I even dug through the scrap bin for a few extra bits to make sure that there is lots of variety.

If you want to make one of your own you'll be happy to know that the pattern is still available for purchase; just check out the In Between Stitches site to order. Start it now and you could be sleeping under it when Santa pulls into town later this year....M

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Thinking of Christmas

It's July now and if I'm serious about having Country Charmer on our bed for Christmas then it's time to get at it, don't you think? It all started when I was my digging for reds for more yo yos. One thing led to another and in no time I had an armful of reds...

And another of greens. I'm following Lynn's suggestion and going for lots and lots of variety. Of all the colours that I have in my stash, red and green are at the top of the list so that's not going to be a tall order.

The block background and sashing will be done in this cream with tiny white swirls, very reminiscent of winter snowdrifts.

And for the red in the sashing there's another swirly print - the red vine that's sitting across the top of this collection. It's quite grey but very soft at the same time and I really like it.

For the borders I'm going to go with a gingham and a larger floral; I like the way they go with the sashing fabrics.

I'm one of those people who tend to buy yardage rather than fat quarters - a yard, or two, or three - so there's loooooots of fabric on the table right now. Time to get it all washed and ironed and get serious about cutting....M

Monday, July 06, 2015

A Pair of Hearts and Lots of Goodies

Well, my second appliqué heart has now moved over into the finished column. They are really sweet, either together or separately. I think with some old lace and a few embellishments they would make great pillow covers so I'll need to do a little thinking on that.

And, because we celebrated my birthday recently, there have been a few other little bundles of love showing up. Anne discovered a new quilt shop in Combermere recently when she was out touring with Jane so she bought me this little selection of pin dots with Minnie in mind.

She also gave me a bag of ground walnut shells for stuffing pincushions and the Ultimate Marking Pencil for Quilters & Crafters. I've not seen these before but it reminds me of a technical pencil that I had years ago when I took a few night courses.

If the back of the package is to be believed this is one amazing pencil...

And it all came bundled in with one of Linda's beautiful cards.

The Official Cookie Tester also got in on the quilting theme and gave me two of these great bags from Piece O Cake to move my projects around. I just love the pattern on them and particularly like that they zipper close. Guess now I need to transfer the projects that I've had in my LCBO bags into these :). (For those who don't know, LCBO is our government run of liquor stores - they have great bags and, in addition to using them for my quilt projects they are my go-to bag for grocery shopping.)

He also bought me a pair of cycling shorts so I'm thinking that it's a hint that I need to move away from the needle and sewing machine a little more often and get some exercise. Wise man.

I'll leave you with the sentiments from my beautiful card and a good reminder for all of us (though if you are quilting, you have a good start on the life that you've imagined)....M

Friday, July 03, 2015

A Second Heart Ready To Go

My second yo yo heart is all prepped and ready to be appliquéd.


I had toyed with making two smaller hearts side by side on the same piece (it's the last piece of backing that I have) but opted for one larger one instead, so I made a few more yo yos and then glue basted things into place. Isn't it amazing the difference is colour when photos are taken at night, with the lights on?

It looks like it's going to be a beautiful weekend so this will give me some stitching to do (like there isn't already a list!) and time to enjoy the last of my peonies.

They have such a heady fragrance!

Love, love, love peonies....M

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

My Foray Into Appliqué

Given that today is Canada Day I thought I'd try and be a little patriotic with my quilting and pull out something red and white to work on. So, cast your mind back to August 2013 if you will and this little yo yo heart project that Jane and I started at the cottage.

Originally I thought I was just going make more yo yos so I started digging through the reds. But a quick count confirmed that I had more than enough to work with so I thought I'd bite the bullet and attempt my first bona fide appliqué project.

A little more digging was required to find my grey linen, and in the process I pulled two other pieces to audition because I didn't think I was going to find the linen and was keen to make sure that I didn't stop. Any of them would work but I opted for the grey with a tiny white vine.

You could play with the placement all day long so I cut that part short and moved on to the heart of the project, so to speak, so that I wasn't just finding reasons to procrastinate.

Once everyone was in place I wanted to make sure that they didn't move as I worked on them, so that meant bringing out all the weapons tools. I was taking no chances. I'd bought a tube of Roxanne's Glue-Baste-It a while back to try on another project so I started with that.

A couple of tiny dabs on the back of each yo yo was enough.

Not having used it before, I was concerned that the yo yos might pop off as I worked with the piece so I went for re-enforcements and used my Clover appliqué pins as insurance that everyone stayed on. I think it might have been overkill, but it worked beautifully.

A deep breath and I was off and running. You can see from the back that it took me a bit to find my rhythm - the bottom left yo yo was my first and I was figuring things out - but things fell into place fairly quickly after that. The one white circle is for the white yo yo - I didn't want red thread showing.

So there it is and I'm pretty darned happy with it. The yo yos are an inch in diameter so the heart is about 6 1/2" x 5 1/2". Not sure what it will be when it grows up - maybe a pillow, maybe the centre of a medallion quilt, or maybe I'll just frame it - but the important thing is that I know that I can do it. Who knows, maybe I'll become an appliqué fiend! There's one more piece of that grey and white backing so maybe I need to make another one :).

From our house to yours, happy Canada Day everyone!....M