Monday, December 28, 2020

The Magic of the Season

I hope that you enjoyed a very Merry Christmas! Ours, like so many others, was much quieter, but we adapted and found ways to still make it a special time. 

With the holiday hustle and bustle behind us, and a week free of obligations ahead of us, I found myself casting about for something to do. Not surprisingly, I didn't seem to land on any of the many projects that are in play - sort of that feeling that you get when you finish a quilt and don't know what to do (though I didn't finish anything...). Then the other night I decided to play 'follow the leader' and see if I could put my hand to starting the Little Trees quilt like Jane's that I shared with you the last time. The templates have been cut for months and there was even a small pile of fabrics nearby, so I gave it a shot. It was just what I needed.

My first effort was fun but I goofed a bit with the tip of the tree so adjustments were made. I also decided to try a narrower tree trunk.

Here's how the two blocks compare; I will stay with the revised version on the right.

I pulled together a few inspiration pics of Anna Jantina's quilt and then dug around for more fabric...

...following Ana's lead and including a little blue in the mix.

A new hand stitching project is born. Luv!....M

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town!

The standing joke in our family is that Santa Claus can arrive any time after the kitchen floor is scrubbed. Well, I managed to get the floors scrubbed last night so I guess the big guy's on his way 😉.

Jane has a much more enticing sign that it might be time - a new Christmas quilt! 

Just over a week ago she shared the good news - Little Trees was quilted and bound and ready to be enjoyed! It had been on the back of her sofa but that particular night the temps were to drop considerably so she wasted no time putting it on her bed for an extra layer of warmth.

And who wouldn't want to snuggle under this little charmer??? It's based on a pattern by Anna Jantina. She started it in June 2019 after her cottage had flooded for the second time in two years and needed a project that would cheer her up. This quilt was just the thing. Those tiny little trees were the perfect hand stitching project.

She put it all together while staying with her sister Linda in the early weeks of the pandemic (I had shared a progress pic with you back in April) and then added the borders and lace in October. 

Roberta quilted it with a gorgeous panto called Let it Snow. Absolutely perfect! And it shows up so beautifully on the mossy green flannelette backing. SO cozy!!!

To say that she is happy with it is an understatement - she just loves looking at it (and I do too!). You can buy acrylic templates for the trees but Jane just drafted her own after being inspired by seeing the finished quilt. Months ago I drafted my own pattern but that's as far as I got. I'm not nearly as productive as Jane.

I think that Santa will be very impressed!....M

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Party of One

There have been many, many things changed or cancelled this year because of the coronavirus but I have to say that the one that I felt quite deeply of late was not being able to gather for our annual Christmas Cookie Bakeoff. In the general scheme of things it doesn't really seem overly important, but it really left me feeling a little in the dumps. 

What to do? Why, dust off my apron and spend the weekend with Aaron Neville, of course! Years ago he came out with a wonderful Christmas album and it kept me company through a weekend of baking. (I will admit to having a few earworms after the fact, but they are good earworms 😀.)

Out came the supplies...

and a new attachment for my mixer. This pouring chute (on the right side of the bowl) just clips to the side of the bowl and helps direct ingredients, either wet or dry, into its centre. I just used it for adding my dry ingredients but I have to say I loved it - no frequent stops to lift the beater so that I could add stuff in, just one continuous flow.

When it comes to Christmas baking I don't stray far from my traditional list, in part so that I can make some headway. New recipes, if they are tried, end up added in towards the end of the process. There are about 7 tins to be prepped this year so I needed to make my time count and still ensure that I was having fun.

The White Chocolate Gingerbread are always a fave. They are a humble little cookie, not fancy at all, but they are yummy.

Then there were Fanciful Ribbons...

and Toblerone Shortbread (these are one of my faves though the Official Cookie Tester was seen circling the island looking for castoffs as well as he enjoys nothing more than a good shortbread with hot chocolate).

There was a special request for Linzer Hearts, so onto the list they went. It's been years since I have mixed up a batch of these as Jane usually brings the dough for these cookies to the Bakeoff. They are time-consuming but worth every minute.

I enjoyed another walk down memory lane when I pulled out mom's cookie press to make her Shortbreads. These are such a sentimental favourite and fully adopted by my favourite nephew. We grew up with these cookies and I only remember having them at Christmas - that single silver dragée was just magical to me, and still is. The press can be a bit tough on the wrist when pushing the dough through so I made certain to beat the butter until it was very soft and held back about a tablespoon of flour; worked like a charm. 

This plate is as close to quilty as I got. It is another sentimental favourite, a souvenir from a trip to British Columbia years ago to visit my good friend Sheila. I picked it up on an excursion to the Queen Charlotte Islands, also known as Haida Gwaii, and used it to roll the balls of Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread dough in sugar before baking.

So, in two days I managed to burn through 11 pounds of flour and countless pounds of butter, but I have lots in my freezer to package up now. There's still a couple of batches to make, but it feels good to have this much done!....M

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Linda's Labours of Love

I've got two recent finishes from Linda to share with you - one big and one little. Let's start with the big one. 

I know that she's been working on this quilt for a while, but in my mind it's come together very quickly. It is going to her godchild who is a physician in Janesville, WI, one of four doctors in that community that is treating COVID-19 patients in hospital. Originally she was making it for herself but generously came to this conclusion: "I figured there would be more happiness in giving it to her; she likely needs some comfort right now". I can only imagine.

Here's a better look at the entire quilt. The design is her own with each star block measuring 10" and it is completely stitched by hand. 

I wish that I had a photo of the fabrics that she used to share with you, because they are beautiful, and obviously beautiful together. There is this one that she sent when she was debating using the floral border. You get the idea, but it still doesn't do them justice.

One who sleeps under a quilt is comforted by love.

The second one was finished a month or two ago and is for the granddaughter of a dear friend. She used a series of fairy panels and it is as sweet as sweet can be.

There will be lots to keep a young mind entertained as they explore each new scene.

Sweet little four-patches in corresponding solids adorn the corners.

It's backed with this lovely little green check (if memory serves me correctly, it is flannel). The floral quilting design works beautifully with the woodland scenes.

She had just picked it up from Roberta and was tickled with how it turned out. I would be too! I'm certain that baby will be thrilled. Happy maker 😊....M

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Lovely Lena

Despite my recent moaning and dripping about making quilt backings, there is another one that I finished recently.

It was for Hugs 'n Kisses, the baby quilt for my darling new great niece, Lena.

I had lots of yardage of this sweet, sweet cherry print, so it was a breeze to put this one together. No wailing or gnashing of teeth this time around.

And Roberta at Cocoa and Quilts brought it to life with the beautiful feathered swirl panto that I have a definite obsession with. 

All that was left to do was bind and wrap it.

Apparently Lena loves it. I know that I am just a tad biased, but I have to say, she is just as cute as a button and suits it perfectly.

It's plenty large so she will be able to enjoy it for a good long while, rather than when she is just teenie tiny.

Given that she was born in September, we've been having to social distance for everyone's safety, but that doesn't mean we haven't been able to love every little bit of her from afar. Hopefully it won't be long before we can cuddle in person....M

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Backing Up

I've whined before about how making backings is just not my favourite part of quilting, but there comes a time that you just have to buckle down and get them made. So, when a recent sudden spurt of initiative struck I didn't feel inclined to argue with it, at least for the first little bit.

God's Green Earth was the first one on the block. I love this quilt and have had the backing fabrics for ages so to the front of the line it went. If there were a few more meters of this blue I would have loved for the entire backing to be made solely of it, however, I only had about half of what I needed so at least one other print had to join it; a mauve won out. 

BTW, I love the way ThousandsOfBolts ships their fabric labelled - no need to unfurl, measure and refold the entire thing to figure out if the piece will do.

Roberta always chuckles at my backing grumpiness saying, 'It's one big seam!' But I realized as I moved on to Snippets why this was seldom the case for me. My quilts tend to be BIG, so they are quite often a little shy of being able to just use two widths of fabric. I also try and avoid having a seam directly down the middle. It all means that there's some figuring and math involved. So much for one big seam.

I was very close with having enough width on this one but it was just too tight and I didn't feel good about making Roberta make it work when she put it up on the frame to quilt. Sooooo, down to the sewing room I went to see if there were any remnant blocks. Eureka! I found a few and a few others that could be sewn into HSTs and added to the mix.

So they became a strip...

and added just under three inches to the width. 

I'm happy with it, but what started out as 'two quick seams' quickly moved to a couple of hours of work. I shouldn't complain - they are now both ready to go. Maybe I need to start working to a smaller size so that I can avoid some of this grief.

Now to figure out how to quilt them....M

Sunday, November 08, 2020


I'd be lying if I said that we haven't been glued to the US election news for the past couple of weeks. Now that it's over, we join millions around the world in their optimism for the President and Vice President Elect and congratulate them for finally putting a woman (and a woman of colour!) into high office. Things can suddenly be seen through a more positive lens - a perfect time to get back to some soothing hand quilting.

I'm hoping that between the morning talk shows and the afternoon football there will one or two more hexies finished up (assuming I don't get hijacked by washing windows....).

If memory serves me correctly, there are about eight pieced hexies left, so I will focus on them first. Then there will be several unpieced hexies to tackle, and finally the setting triangles. Hopefully there is no need for a recount 😉....M

Friday, October 30, 2020

Ghoul Friends

Halloween is just around the corner, so when I opened Jane's handmade card letting me know that she was so glad that we are 'ghoul friends' it seemed a good time to share a few 'spooky' projects that she, Linda, and I have been working on. 

We got together to swap fabrics and come up with a few hexie table toppers.

I'm not sure which was more fun - playing in everyone else's stash or seeing the toppers come together.

There were lots of different combinations and I found it interesting to see how they changed when they came together in the hexie.

Of course, with Jane and Linda both being speed demons, theirs came together quickly...

and are already hand quilted with a cobweb design, and ready to go.

Isn't this just the best backing?

I, on the other hand, brought mine home with good intentions thinking that several would be for the Holly Bazaar, but I never really found my mojo. It didn't help that I needed to turn my bazaar items around really quickly this year because of the new online format.

The layout we were following included sewing strip sets together, cutting 60 degree triangles and then alternating the two sets of triangles that are the result. For some reason, I just kept seeing a radioactive symbol when I laid mine out, so I sought expert advice from the Official Cookie Tester. He agreed.

I had prepped two sets of each strip set so I had enough triangles that I could just have all of my rings concentric. 

The long and the short of it is that I have six hexie toppers sewn together but none quilted. Ah well, maybe they will be the start of my 2021 Holly Bazaar making...

And here's one of Jane's scrappy endings. She used her trimmings to make a few sweet mug rugs; makes me smile. Aren't I lucky to have such creative ghoul friends? Happy Halloween everyone!....M