Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Great Little Stocking Stuffer

If you have a quilter on your Christmas list (or if someone is looking for a great little stocking stuffer for you) you might want to consider a recent find that I just love. I tend to have several spools near my machine and almost as many bobbins, switching them up as I go, but when several weights of white all start looking the same it's a bit of a guessing game as to which bobbin belongs with which spool. These little gizmos have taken all of the guesswork out of it for me.

They are called bobbini, and they easily keep your bobbin matched up with the correct spool of thread.

This was a system that I had tried for a while - just using an elastic to keep the two together, but the bobbinis are even easier.

They are pliable and rubbery so when you push the wide end into the centre of the spool it collapses and stays in place.

Then just slip the bobbin over the nub on the top. I like to slide the end of the thread into the hole in the bobbin as I do this so that there aren't loose threads flying about. Easy peasy, and no more playing 'match game'. I got mine from Connecting Threads but I suspect that Santa might know of other shops where they are available too. Happy shopping!...M

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

It's That Time...

When I start crawling into bed with my Christmas cookie mags you know that the Christmas Cookie Bakeoff can't be far off. We're getting together on Saturday to bake to our hearts' content and start filling our freezers with goodies, so I'm making a list and checking it twice.

I found this recipe for a Cream Cheese Gingerbread Thumbprint which looks very tasty and would be sweet on a plate, but I'm not sure that I could nail the piped frosting. Nothing to lose in trying though, is there?

And while I've been pouring over mags and recipe books Stephanie introduced me to a gorgeous one that I had not seen before called Bake From Scratch. It's produced in the States and she has picked up four editions so far, so there is lots of eye candy for me to drool over.

It is a truly beautiful magazine, from the recipes (which do not look overly complicated) to the paper stock. I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

It's not all cookies - there's baking of every kind - but there are definitely cookies to tempt me.

I've always wanted to try making Madeleines. Apparently they are best just out of the oven, so they won't make the cookie tins, but some day soon the Official Cookie Tester is in for a treat...

So, I'm prepping my tins and trying to pick my top four recipes. Somehow I always end up with a baking list that is much longer than four recipes but things always turn out - time determines how many of them will get baked. Christmas karma....M

Friday, November 24, 2017

Vintage Pleasures

As we arrived at Bridget's quilting bee (see my last post) we were greeted with this beautiful vintage Friendship Star draped over the back of her car (another version of a Trunk Show!) leaving no doubt that we were in the right place.

Made by one of her great grandmothers, it has stood the test of time beautifully. We weren't three steps out of the car before we were all admiring it up close.

The backing is gorgeous

And it is signed by the maker.

There was also this one, which is made with the same pattern and uses the same beautiful turquoise for the sashing.

Such treasures, and they are both in wonderful condition...M

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Have Quilt, Will Travel

Bridget, a wonderful childhood family friend who spent several years abroad, recently returned to Canada and was keen to show her girls what a quilting bee is all about, so a few weekends ago her sister Trish and a couple of my sisters joined her at their lovely home in the Gatineau Hills, which she affectionately calls 'Chateau des Cerfs'.

I didn't see the following note until I arrived back home, but she sent it out to everyone in advance of our weekend. It explains much more perfectly the quilt's history and her wishes for the weekend than I could, so I will let her beautiful words do the talking as you scroll through pics of our fun together.

'As I’ve just managed to drop and break a gifted perfume bottle from Qatar, I thought I’d give a little background on this quilt that has followed my path around the world for over 25 years; it started in the Middle East and it looks like we’ll be finishing it with a hint of those unmistakable oils in the air.

1992:  On an isolated military hospital compound, in the desert region of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, hundreds of international healthcare professionals lived and worked in a 5-km walled ‘city’ ... 15 kms inland from the Persian Gulf.

Men's and women's living quarters were separated by gated 15-foot high cement barriers, manned by armed military guards at three separate check points.

Ten pm curfews, no TV or internet (or alcohol 😳)  ... not to mention gender segregation ...  turned out to be the perfect boredom busting combination. This imposed state of stillness sprouted so many new and interesting hobby/interest groups; we shared our knowledge, passions and talents.

One such opportunity was gifted by an Australian woman, who offered to give classes on hand piecing quilts. Off we went (this international group of ladies - Flemish, English, Scottish, Australian and Canadian) to the Souk to buy material for our blocks, meeting in the segregated women’s quarters weekly.

Soft pink with flowers contrasted with dusty blue, these little triangles were carefully sewn together, moving from pin to pin, following the 1/4" guideline. As I journeyed, the quilt tagged along to Scotland, France, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Malaysia, Thailand, and finally, to Canada.

As we can all relate through our growing years, the exposure to the sometimes year(s) long process from choosing the pattern to the penultimate quilting bees, the talent, camaraderie and lightheartedness between the women closest to us was contagious and exhibited nothing short of artistic and technical excellence.

The closeness and connection I felt with my Mother, my extended family (Grannie Afelskie and her five sisters from Eganville and Wilno, Auntie Barb Hoffman, Aunt Marcella Pecoskie) and of course, close family friends ... including your mother Martha Burchat, Edna Kilby, Norma Boyle, Lois Marshall ... left a lasting impression on me. The laughter that emanated across the garden from Grannie's house late in the afternoon drew us children like bears to the beehive to see what the ruckus was all about (of course conversation was entirely Kashub but it didn’t matter ... we loved it). History repeated itself as my mother’s bees soon took on the same flavour and, as previously shared, I distinctly remember a certain talented quilter sewing her shirt to the masterpiece 😉.

To watch all these matriarchs, whose work ethic was undisputed, let down their hair and come together in the world of quilting was so much more than fabric and thread.

It’s by no mistake that I have asked each of you specifically to this, my first Quilting Bee. All of you have had an incredible impact on my life and as I’ve often mentioned to Frannie, the Burchat girls were - and still are - true role models, legendary in our minds. Returning to Canada, I could never have dreamed the re-connection I feel with you Trish; I cannot imagine life without you.

I feel honoured to have such an incredible collection of talented, artistic and strong women from my past influencing my gutsy and graceful daughters in this wonderful tradition that our ancestors participated in.

Welcome ... ❤️ ... and may the fun begin!'

Needless to say, we had a wonderful reunion and both Munro and Kenzie are naturals - they took to the process like ducks to water. As quilters are known to do, we shared delicious meals and lots of great laughs and some great new tunes (you are going to want to crank it!). We also celebrated two recent birthdays...

each with their own cake (nothing beats birthday cake!).

And this is how we left our hostess, happily stitching this beautiful quilt that has followed her around the world for a large part of her life. She is enjoying these long November evenings stitching to her heart's content. It's going to be a beauty....M

p.s. Your eyes did not deceive you. In the fifth photo Betty is indeed using an often under estimated quilting tool - the hand saw! Once the quilt was stretched and rolled to a narrower width we cut the end pieces shorter so that it could be moved around easier.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Well...Maybe Just One More...

I thought that my table topper frenzy had come to and end but I found one more that I could finish up before my bundle heads off to Madonna House.

This summer I played around with making large Friendship Star blocks using the remains of a couple of Canada 150 fabrics. They were to be for a sesquicentennial quilt project that a local museum was organizing, but when I measured the blocks they were just a tad too small (mine finished of at 11.5"). I didn't want to make more and I didn't want anyone having to fight to make them fit, so I sewed them into a runner instead.

It's large (17" x 49") so I'm thinking that it would suit a nice big harvest table.

It's been pinned and ready to quilt for ages and I decided that rather than walking by it one more time I should just pick it up and quilt it and move it along to the finished pile.

I quilted it with diagonal lines randomly spaced (it always amazes me how the quilting softens the look of a piece). I started out with lines spaced 2" apart and then added lines at will in between, so as much a it's a random pattern there is a little bit of structure to it.

This teal fabric is one that I got from Roberta once when I was dropping of a quilt - she had it for a backing and I just couldn't resist taking a piece of it home. Love it with the gold and cranberry - I might need more...

My first choice for binding was the gold but I found a piece of the teal just before I started cutting and I think it gives it much more life.

So, one more finish. I'd say that it's the last topper/runner for a while, but you never know what I will find lurking about....M

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Last of the Holly Bazaar Table Toppers

Peppermint Twist Table Topper - Quiltbee
Despite sitting on the back of a chair for quite a while, the two Peppermint Twist table toppers got quilted and bound in time for the bazaar, and I really like how they finished off.

Peppermint Twist Table Topper - QuiltBee
I found a happy red and white polka dot that was perfect for the backing. I have yards of it. At some point the plan was to back a quilt in it but it just seems like a bit much for a large quilt. That said, it might work nicely for Christmas Crumbs (which is still on the design wall, but will likely end up a lap quilt). It is quilted with simple diagonal rows an inch apart, which I quite like because it doesn't take anything away from the pinwheels. Actually, a lap version of Peppermint Twist with this as the backing would be fun too.

They are both bound with a crimson print that frames everything nicely.

hexagon Christmas table topper - QuiltBee
I also promised to make something for the silent auction at the bazaar so I made a Christmas version of the hexie table topper and combined it with a large red candle. Actually, I made three.

My big dilemma was which order to put the fabrics in. This poinsettia print started it all and I thought it would be great as the outer border but I only had enough to eek out three hexies for the centres, so that sort of decided things for me.

One made it to the silent auction and a second went to the craft table.

Today I will finish hand stitching the binding for the third and then it will either go to Madonna House or, I might even keep it. Then again, how many table toppers does one girl really need?....M

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Holly Bazaar

Well, today was the day - the Holly Bazaar. All of the frantic last minute sewing was set aside for a couple of all-out evenings of baking, and soon this...

and this...

were replaced with this...


and this. Lots of favourites along with a new (and delicious) recipe for Cherry-Pecan Oatmeal Cookies. So. Good. Makes me want to make a cup of tea just thinking about them.

My bowl of Moravian Stars had grown to a little over 30 and they all got strings.

And a collection of the table toppers and pot holders were pulled together for the craft table too. I think I sent 10 toppers and the rest will go to the Madonna House Christmas gift shop.

By all accounts the Bazaar was another success. Over 200 people enjoyed a delicious ham and scalloped potato lunch on a surprisingly chilly afternoon, stocked up on home baked goodies, did a little Christmas shopping and enjoyed the company of friends. It's almost like finishing a quilt though - all of a sudden I feel like I don't know what to do with myself now that I'm off deadline. Fear not, that will change!...M

p.s. Next time I'll show you how I quilted the pinwheel toppers and a Christmas hexie topper that got added to the mix.