Monday, December 26, 2022

The 12 Days of Christmas - A Treasure

Large, fluffy flakes are drifting to the ground, making the world outside a snowy winter wonderland, a welcome change from the wild weather that much of North America experienced just before Christmas. A calm has descended. These days between Christmas and Little Christmas (January 6), also known as the 12 Days of Christmas, are one of my favourite times of the year, with much of the hustle and bustle behind us. And I feel that they will hold a special place for Betty in the years to come as she has just finished up a beautiful appliquéd throw by the same name. It's been in the works for a number of years, since before Mom passed away, so it's been a while, but so worth the wait.
As far as we can remember, Mom had been commissioned by a friend to make a Christmas quilt inspired by this Twelve Days Treasury designed by Jodi Warner. All of the elements of the song are in it, from the partridge in a pear tree to maids a milking and lords a leaping. 

Betty opted to design her own rendition of the elements, creating rows for each one in the shape of a Christmas tree, and that's what Mom made, on a green background.

Then they decided to make a second version for Mom on a cream background. If you look closely, it is appliquéd overtop a bare deciduous tree, though my photo doesn't do that justice.

There's five gold rings interspersed with a few little blue birds...

ten lords a leaping...

and eight pairs ballet slippers for the ladies dancing. You get the picture.
The partridge in a pear tree anchors it all rather than sitting atop the tree.

Beautiful beads, trims and silk ribbon embroidery embellish the elements throughout, as in these pipes for the pipers.

She hand quilted around each of the elements with red and then the balance of the background is randomly stippled in a soft gold...

resulting in a spectacular overall texture. It's backed with a piece of cream wool and she's mitred the corners.

The wool is wrapped around to the front to create a wide binding and finished off with a blanket stitch. She's going to commission a young local gal who has her own knitting and crochet business (Dame With a Hook!) to make four large tassels for the corners.

So much love and attention has been incorporated into each and every step of the process, resulting in a beautiful, sentimental work of art. Betty is thrilled and Mom would be too. 

I hope that you enjoy these next 12 days of Christmas too....M

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

What's Left on the Cutting Table?

Remember these trees? When planning my Holly Bazaar sewing I like to do a sweep through my sewing room (particularly the table) and see what remnants I could work with to pull together into a table topper or placemats. This year I found a small bundle of trees that did not get used in the Vintage Tree Farm quilt that I made for my niece and her husband a year ago, but I ran out of time so they continue to wait for their moment to shine.

I'm not certain, but I think that I might have more of this green left, so I could add to the little forest, if I need to...

Not sure what this will be when it grows up but these two rusty red/cream prints might be nice to include - a very different feel from the original quilt.

But, with Santa just days away from arriving, there's a few other priorities on my plate right now. Lists have been made and I'm on the final countdown to have everything ready for our Christmas Eve celebrations (including scrubbing the kitchen floor, which is always a sure sign that I'm really ready 😏). Yesterday I prepped the pastry for the Mincemeat Tarts that will be baked Christmas Eve and took a bit of a diversion, also making a batch of Butter Tarts. The Official Cookie Tester did not complain.

Hope your prep is going well and that you are enjoying the season, in spite of, and just possibly because of, the lists....M

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Hand Pieced and Gorgeous

In June, I shared my sister Betty's beautiful Farmer's Wife WIP with you. Well, you may want to take a seat because she's got it all together now and it is truly something to behold.

She took great joy in using up many small bits and pieces to make it work and the effect is spectacular -  to me it looks like it is woven when viewed from a distance. She's taken scrappy to an entirely new level.
Our friend Linda put it so well: 'You have been gifted with the unique talent of making quilts from fabrics that others wouldn't even consider and turning them into creations of beauty." 

There is just a little bit of everything in this quilt but she has curated the fabric choices beautifully. Oh, to have such a good eye for colour.

If you look closely, you will see that all of the cornerstones are randomly chosen to further blend the blocks with the sashing. It amazes me how quickly it came together because it is all hand pieced; she will hand quilt it, likely putting it up after the holidays.

Click on the images to see a larger version of them, if you like.
What I really like about it is her choice for the sashing. It's a muted floral and really supports the blocks rather than fighting with them, creating a soft impression that is hard to beat.

Hang onto your hat because this isn't the end of it. She loves working with this pattern so much that she's started another one, this time blues and whites, and already has a lovely bundle of blocks completed.....M

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Holiday Lane is Ready for Christmas

A couple of posts ago I promised to share the finished Holiday Lane runner but a few cookie-baking sessions got in the way of that, so here it is.

The snowy palette of this one was what made me think that I needed to make it, and it was a good decision. Several really graphic prints and that one loose floral are a terrific combination. And the beautiful, soft feathered swirl that Roberta used to quilt it suggests a winter winds blowing through the neighbourhood.

It's amazing how the two simple house and tree shapes combine so effortlessly for such a sweet presentation; it's really all about the fabrics.

The grey and white backing and pinstripe binding really finish off the feel so nicely; this grey is a slightly darker version of the same print used in a few of the houses.

This will be a good one to keep out long after the Christmas decos come down because it can easily be a 'winter' runner, but it will definitely be enjoyed over the holidays. LUV!....M

Sunday, December 04, 2022

More Christmas Cookies!

Believe it or not, there was more baking on the schedule this weekend. 

Alla, her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter moved to Canada shortly after the war began in Ukraine last spring, thanks in large part to our friend Arlene and her family. And, while she doesn't usually celebrate Christmas in the same way that we do, today she was game to join a few of us to try her hand at baking Christmas cookies, spiced nuts and granola. She had a blast and so did we! 

She is a beautiful baker so it was fun introducing her to new recipes...

and was over the moon to be able to try her hand decorating with Royal Icing. 

Arlene couldn't resist the icing and the sprinkles either.

There were some real beauties to be enjoyed when all was said and done.

Arlene also made batches of delicious granola and spiced nuts for everyone to take home.

We hadn't made any Thimble Cookies last weekend so they got added to the list.

And a little hit of chocolate and gingerbread never hurt anyone either.

Another great day in the kitchen thanks to Alla, Arlene, Anne and Betty and a Christmas memory that will long be remembered by all....M

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Lena Hosts the Christmas Cookie Bakeoff

For two long years we have had to forgo getting together for our annual Christmas Cookie Bakeoff, but this year it was a go! Lena and her mom Julia were happy to host and she dug right in.

She and Nanny were both very careful cutting and placing her gingerbread men. As luck would have it, she was the only one able to enjoy an afternoon nap.

So many favourite recipes were pulled out...

and a few yummy new ones added to the list.

Much of the magic happens at the decorating table in the capable hands of Julia and Jane. Oh, and Betty too (it pays to hang around graphic designers).

Royal icing is the perfect medium to put a new spin on old favourites.

And sometimes things go a little retro.

We were down a couple of bakers this time around but still managed to bake 131 dozen between us, including these delicious shortbreads (again, beautifully decorated).

Lena got a big thumbs up at the end of the day and we're really hoping that she will consider hosting again next year. 

Such a blessing to be able to be together again to share this tradition!....M

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

A Stroll Down Holiday Lane

Our first snow of the season arrived this week. Well, at least the first snow that stayed. With everything white on the ground it seemed like a good time to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee by the window as the world woke up. 

Apparently I wasn't the only one to be excited. The guys down at the Works department couldn't wait to get the plows out and were on our street by 8:30 am, a small miracle considering both the amount of snow (very little) and the fact that on a good day, they don't seem to be able to get here before noon. Ah well, who am I to deny them a little fun?

Anyway, with the world now looking very white it's time to share a little fa la la.

When I was still in Holly Bazaar mode I finished things off with two very snowy runners from a pattern by Cluck Cluck Sew.

It's from this booklet (the one at the bottom) and is appropriately named Holiday Lane

The original pattern was done up in what I would consider primary colours but about a year ago I saw a kit being offered by Sweet Daisy Quilt Shop done up in this lovely, airy collection of prints - red and green enough to say Christmas but light enough to be used all winter.

I just fell in love with the look.

It's an easy pattern to make with just two different blocks - a cute little house and an evergreen tree.

The big bonus for me was that I was able to squeeze two runners from one kit (which, unfortunately, is no longer available) - the only fabric that I didn't have enough of was the white, but that was easy to remedy. It's a little tough to see in this pic, but I used a white on white.

Absolutely love it. So much so that I'm trying to figure out how to use the same elements for a Christmas throw. I'll show you the quilted versions next time....M