Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Hometown...

This quilt is from Quiltmania Magazine Summer Special 2012. It's rated as a 1 spool project and has 2 basic blocks - one of which includes applique which I am currently learning. The applique consists of 4 petals - so I can work on my curves and points. I am doing them by hand. The quilt also has some basic stitching around the petals with embroidery floss.

For fabrics I did have to purchase a few fat eights to add to my stash (which I think is growing at an alarming rate considering I only have 2 finished quilts under my belt and I am a "newbie").

Thus far I think this is a great project for me because of the portable applique aspect (for both travelling and watching TV) as well as speed of the machine for doing other blocks.

Everyone has an opinion or idea or tip on ways to make the process easier or more precise. Because there are 25 blocks consisting of 4 petals each, I've been exploring different techniques. I originally had the freezer paper petals ironed on top of the fabric. The advantage was they were easy to peel off when done - the disadvantage was they were usually half peeled off before I was done. I have now reapplied them to the wrong side of the fabric and this makes for a crisper edge for my needle turning. I'm also adding a wee swipe of Elmer's glue at the petal point to help make a sharp point. This works great - but the downside is trying to pull out the freezer paper! This book Applique 12 Easy Ways by Elly Sienkiewicz is a great primer with lots of clear easy to understand directions - and lots of how to pictures. My third technique may be the marking technique described below - I just need to ensure the marker comes off...

I'm also watching lots of You Tube videos. There are a few by the Piece O' Cake duo Becky Goldsmith and  Linda Jenkins. Here's a fairly lengthy one - there are shorter ones on YouTube as well.

In the meantime I've also cut my squares and rectangles for the other block and border. I've been taking this project to my LQS Quilt Alongs which I am enjoying immensely. I get my own big table, it's nice and bright and everyone is friendly. I like the social aspect and since I'm a bit of a social butterfly and distract easily - a basic easy sew - no math project is a good choice.

Happy Stitching!

Christmas in Bloom

So just as the snow began to fly I decided to take a "my first fusible applique" class. I had waitied til the last minute to register - because I wanted to make sure the weather would be okay - as this class was out of town. The forecast looked good - and of course - it was wrong. It got cold. And foggy. And loads of snow started to fly.

The upside is that the Rumpledquiltskins shop is a classic heritage building and when winter comes it is decorated with lights, and festive tins, and boxes. Seasonal quilts and boughs and tiny lit Christmas cottages abound. Add to that - festive fabrics, threads, patterns, books and ohhhh! The wall of quilty gifts of goodness!

But back to the class... the store has a "class runs no matter what" policy so even though there was only 2 of us - we got the full benfit of the instructor. Almost like 1:1 which is great because I can be  v e r y  s l o w on the uptake (especially after a full day of work).

Having said that - the pattern I chose for my first fusible project is called "Frolic". It's part of a group of patterns by Jane Spolar of Quilt Poetry. Because I wanted to be working on something that was in keeping with the winter festive season I decided to choose some lovely fabrics (some from my stash) that had some metallics and Christmas ornamental themes.

Using a lightbox (add to wishlist) I traced the reverse image of the pattern onto some Wonder-Under fusible web (need more of that). I then cut out the pattern pieces and ironed them on to the wrong side of the various fabrics. I then cut out the pieces on the marker lines.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I am mended...

Okay - so the cracked rib has healed. My three weeks of commuting via auto has come to spectacular halt (in which I realize that I hate driving the car back and forth to work and I don't know how anyone can do it - unless they absolutely have to). Granted the halt itself (I merely hung up my car keys) wasn't so spectacular as the eureka moment in which it occurred.

I was sitting (as usual) in peak flow traffic listening to the daily commute radio tweeters and road warriors announcing congestion hot spots, helicopter reports, what road is closed, open but down to one lane, has a new pot hole, a widening old pot hole, black ice, sheer ice, flying truck debris, and whoever lost their couch on Deerfoot Trail - please pick it up at the side of the road (and bring your hefty garbage bags because it's now in pieces).

Meanwhile in an effort to keep myself entertained I try listening to an audiobook (no luck). I read billboards for muscle supplements, free car washes. Bongs and plenty more! A store that sells "girdles that instantly take 10 inches off my waist" (I kid you not). An electronic sign blasts "only 14 months til "not this Christmas - but next Christmas sale -SALE SALE SALE!"

I wearily turn my jaundiced eye to my side view mirror and what do I see? This little wiener merrily riding along on his bicycle. And that was my eureka moment. I want to be there...

I had decided to resume driving for one primary reason. I was afraid of falling. Granted falling for me is nothing new. I fall / stumble all the time. I always have. I have been known to lose my balance while merely standing. I am the poster child for the word "clumsy." Having said that my latest "worst injury" was sustained while merely pushing my chair away from my desk. I prefer to say I was "bucked off" because it was so unexpected and dramatic.

Anyways - I am back to happily walking to work. I am enjoying the snow and cold, crisp, crunchy ice under my boots. It is nice to smugly resume my renouncing of all cold weather haters with a "the problem isn't the weather - it's people who don't dress  for the weather". Yes I can be a royal pain.

Having said that - today is a snow day at home for me. I've got some buns rising on the counter, and I've updated my quilting blog "stitchcat studio." Stitchcat is my sheepless alter ego - since I don't have a cat (and it seems most studios do) it seemed like a good compromise...

The "second" first quilt...

Learning half squares
This is my "second" first quilt. I'm calling it that primarily because I was so long in between quilts I had to take another "beginner" quilt class! I also wanted to take the class to get comfortable with my new sewing machine.

I learned about how to make half squares and how to square my blocks. 

I tried my hand at free motion quilting along the border which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a liberating experience once I decided to just "go for it!" (I highly recommend the Wendy Butler Burns "Machine Quilting... and more" class which I took online via Craftsy).

Unfortunately - in my exuberance of actually getting the quilt done and sending it off to a newborn kin - I forgot to take a "finished quilt" photo! However here is the last picture I did take. (I'll be more attentive next time!)


Monday, November 5, 2012

A new website...

Good morning! Long time no write. As you can see since my "Under Construction" post there has been nothing going on. And I mean nadda. NO construction either. Just a de-struction of sorts. I strained my bicep (lifting my bicycle onto a bike rack  - which put painting walls and ceilings off the agenda. This was follwed by a vacation to San Francisco (where I spent hours at Britex and came home with one fantastic fabric remnant). Back to work - fell off a chair and broke a rib. That was a month ago - and I am finally getting back to where I can start sewing again.

But - in the meantime this weekend I found a new "Ravelry like" group on the net - with a slant towards sewing and quilting. It's just getting off the ground but it looks like it has lots of potential. I've joined up using my sheepless alter ego "stitchcat". Click on the image above - you will go there...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall...

So - a few weeks back I fell off a chair at work ( and no I wasn't standing on a wheeled chair trying to dust cobwebs off the ceiling). I landed on a recycle bin ... and broke a rib. Turns out it is definitely a "no laughing / sneezing / coughing" matter. I am s l o w l y healing.

I am now afraid to go outside because of the snow and ice,

I am afraid to ride my bike.

I am afraid of falling...

I think I am getting old.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On VA-Ca-shun!

A little birdie told me so...

sheepless is currently out of the office. I will return...

So good morning! Yes I am on vacation  f i n a l l y!  I tend to wilt in the heat so my prefernece is to take a bit of time in the spring and fall (and winter) rather than during the dog days of summer.

I don't like to repeatedly post my apologies about not blogging (perhaps because that implies I think that someone out there is actually reading all this hooey). After awhile even apologies can become meaningless in their redundancy. So lets just move along folks!

In terms of my blog I've been spending a good deal of my recent efforts trying to simplify things. I went through a brief period of time when "free blog"  meant starting new blogs. One for photos, one for cycling, one for quilting (which is now more of a craft journey blog) and lastly my general all purpose day to day stuff blog. I also tried to transfer all my old stuff from my typepad blog - which has proved be be daunting. I was a bit anxious about just cutting the cord (pulling the plug?) on that one - as it was my "baby". My very first real blog. But time moves on...

So the first thing I did was clean up my personal space in blog land (no easy task) and I am down to 3 blogs :
I'm currently doing a "room reno" for all my stuff (moving once again from the underbelly of the house (in which I have loads of space - but no natural lighting) to the main floor (a little room with heart and big bright beautiful window). Since I am no longer hauling spinning wheels and looms all over the place I think the little room will actually work this time.

So... Stitch Cat Studio?  What the heck is that? Well that's what you get when you announce you want a cat - and the response is "only by death or divorce"...

The Old Guy apparently is most definitively not a Cat Guy. When I was a kid we had a big old second hand Tom Cat named "Clean Dreams" (presumably christened during a hippie haze induced state by his previous owners). My mother (who was also a self professed non-cat person) went from dismay to devotion in all of about 60 seconds when  "Cleany" turned out to be a prolific mouser and solved a whole host of problems. So having said that - I believe that it isn't so much that one isn't "a cat person" as much as a haven't found the "right cat" person. After all - if I only had a "purse pooch" as my understanding of what a dog is all about  - I would have to say I am not a "doggie person." And I already know that I am. 

Historically I've also been known to be a "birdie person".  My first "pet" (not counting the turtle I begged for when I was 7) was a little turquoise & white budgie named Fannie. She was a lovely bird and she lived with me in "my first real apartment." I was celebrating my independence. It was a "no pets allowed" environment. I guess birds didn't count as a pet. First designated as my "back up pet" until I could get a "real one"- she quickly evolved into my beloved "Fannie Bird." She would start singing "pretty birdie" as soon as my key turned in the lock. I did let her fly around unrestrained. She liked the curtains best. She never made a mess - except once (down the back of a friend's alpaca sweater). We had a very happy relationship and I was heartbroken when she died.  I never had another companion until "the dogs took over came along". 

But back to Stitch Cat Studio. I was looking for a new name for my "process crafty blog" and as I was perusing the blog-o-sphere I realized that lots of studios and offices have cats. Big cats, old cats, little cats, long hairs, short hairs, tabby's you name it. Lounging on quilts, snuggling into balls of yarn - sunning themselves in the glory of your sewing basket. 

Of course they don't show them jumping from bookcase to bookcase like the banshee from meow hell or doing their business in your stash (which I have heard of)... ugh! It was at this point I realized that while yes I do want a cat - perhaps what I really need is a "virtual" cat. And so  Sheepless Quilts was revamped and is now Stitch Cat Studio.

After all it is only fitting - I am sheepless in suburbia because I have no sheep. Therfore I am stitch cat in my studio - because I have no cat!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Moving' on up...

Long time no write! I'm in the throws of moving my studio from the bowels of the basement to the little room with a view.  Life is full of compromises and this  is one of them. Lots of space with artificial light (downstairs) vs tiny space with a nice big window (upstairs).  So after six months in the former I have decided to go with the latter.

PS: hexxie quilt still in process and after receiving my new book "Feathering the Nest with Vintage Inspired Quilts" it's getting much grandeur all the time.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Whip stitching through the mountains

Stage 16 and 17 took us through the Pyrenees and I'm finally over the half way hump on my top. At least the centre. Now that I've got a whip stitch groove going, I'm thinking of adding more hexxies around the perimeter. But we'll see.

Monday, July 9, 2012

TD - Fabric stage 6

TD Fabric - stage 6 - the strip stitching of hexxies continues....

In other news...

Who knew that summertime could be such a hot bed of activity in my quilt-y world. Firstly it seems almost all of my LQS are offering discounts on fabric. Some as high as 40% off - granted you have to buy a metre or more - but none the less that's a great deal. 

Nextly (is that even a word?) I've been taking another beginner quilt class -  this time with the primary objective of learning more about my new sewing machine. The first thing I've learned is that as much as I love it - it's h e a v y and b i g and not at all p o r t a b l e ... 

Well that's all for now folks! Keep on stitching!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

TD - Fabric'12 stage 3

I've finally started sewing the hexxie strips together. Almost finished joining strips A&B.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fibre Week 2012

So last weekend I was away ... as in " away from it all." I packed up all my cares and woes aka ten bags of much loved books and magazines which I've been desperately wanting to destash - threw my trusty 1960's folding bicycle  aka "the Cinzia Creamcycle" on top and headed towards Olds College to  wrap myself in 4 days of fibre-y goodness... Fibre Week!

This is my Fibre Week 2012 pictorial (with a smattering of narrative here and there) as sometimes a picture really is more than a thousand words... 

Meet Michelle - also known as spindleprincess on twitter. She's an Olds College Master Spinner graduate and instructor. When she isn't travelling, teaching, blogging or spinning - she organises all the submissions for workshops for the upcoming Fibre Week. She must be doing a marvelous job because Fibre Week has been growing by leaps and bounds recently with attendees coming from all over North America - and even further (more about that later).

This is Jen. She too is a Master Spinner graduate and instructor. She has been teaching the prelude to the Master Spinner program "Beginner Spinning". This is where future masters and enthusiastics are hatched. She feathers their nests with loads of ideas, skills, and fibre samples - then gently pushes them off the edge to watch them take flight... and most of them go directly to the merchant mall. Where they buy loads more fibre and bid on fleece (because no beginner spinner can have enough stash).

There were a wide variety of classes this year. Everything from japanese knitting, lace design, humble hook crochet,wool judging and felting to spinning & meditation. I think I must have been focused on felting this year - as most of my pictures are from these classes. (Above is the Pug Purse).

Lots of great hand felted purses came out the "Here's Looking at You" class by Tracey Kuffner.

"Illuminating Ideas In Felt" by Sharon Costello also resulted in many glowing faces (excuse the pun).

Below  is  Frazzlehead's magnificent "hair tamer" which she designed from her "coils & beehives" yarn which she spun last year. (Not sure who would want to tame a mane like that - it's spectacular!)

As many of your know - I have drifted a bit to the dark side (as in hand stitching and quilting) and lo and behold looked what showed up! This is a terrific quilt made by Kathy (below).

She related that she found a batch of tea towels she thought were perfect to make a scrappy quilt - so she just decided to  in her words "whip something up." And so she did.

This is a closeup of the quilt front and back. (Give it a double click so you can get more details of the towels).

I started this post with "Fibre Week has been growing by leaps and bounds recently with attendees coming from all over North America - and even further."  And here is a little story. This is Karen Workman (above). Prior to May 24th of this year - I really didn't know who Karen was. One day I opened my inbox and found an email with the subject header: "Volunteer." Now normally I might think this is something that has slipped through my SPAM filter - but it was right around the time when I was setting up the Fibre Week Volunteer roster for this year. (I am the FW volunteer coordinator).  Soooo - I held my breath - clicked the button - and prepared for the Trojan Virus of Doom to erupt or discover that a relative who I just spoke to is being held hostage in a foreign land and needs me to send him all my credit card information.  Well was I wrong! Enclosed was a lovely email from Karen offering to volunteer. She had never been to Fibre Week before - but just happened to be visiting Canada from her home in New Zealand.  Well what a stroke of good fortune. And as even more luck would have it - we were in need of a keynote speaker (due to unforseen circumstances). And Karen gladly stepped up. As it turns out Karen is already an established feltmaker in her own right. And she treated us to a wonderfully entertaining, insightful and enlightening presentation entitled  " How I sold my Landskin Wrap for $2000" 

Above is just one of Karen's magnificent felted pieces. It has reminded me why I saved all my felting books from the "Great 2012 sheepless books & Magazines Destash".

And last (but certainly not least) Fibre Week is an embracing environment where people share their knowledge and passions freely with others. The pave ways, decks, solariums, condos and dorms are  awash with positive energy. It is much more than just a conference - it truly is a retreat.

Many, many thanks to everyone who attends and supports Fibre Week. My special thanks to all the volunteers new and experienced who help each year - it couldn't be done without you!

My good morning view - handmade pottery yarn bowl by Heather Edwards - wrapped in a hand knit woolen embrace shawl by Deb - a perfect beginning and end to my everyday.

Weave, spin, knit, dye and sew - happy!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Welcome to le Tour de ...Fabric?

Now historically this time of year can only mean one thing. It's time to start getting ready for TDF. As in  le Tour de France - which (if you're on Ravelry)  means le Tour de Fleece. This  is a wonderful challenging event in which we all spin our little hearts out (using spindles and spinning wheels) to reach goals - conquering a perplexing technique - or using up mountains of stash etc. I was planning to participate this year - but I am in the middle of my hexxie quilt top. And  I   r e a l l y didn't want to interrupt my progress.

And sooooo... with that in mind...

Instead of treadling madly through my fibre stash on my spinning wheel for the entire month of July - I have decided to swap out the "F" in the TDF from "Fleece" to "Fabric" - as in le Tour de Fabric. So - similarly to TDFleece - TDFabric will include watching the tour de France (which starts today by the way) and stitching everyday they ride. I will rest day on their rest days. On July 22 (the final day) I will stitch hysterically towards victory - reaching the finish line with the boys as we enter the Champs- Elysees in Paris (yes all very heady stuff!)

So here's the 2012 schedule:
  • June 30 - TDF starts 
  • July 10 - rest day
  • July 17 - rest day
  • July 18 - special challenge day
  • July 22 - Victory Day!
I'll post my progress here as I am able. I'm now heading off to set my PVR to the TSN HD network and pre-thread a load of needles... 2012 TDFabric starts today...

Sew - if you're doing the traditional TDF (as in fleece) I hope you have a wonderful time. If you're want to challenge yourself with the Tour de Fabric (as I am ) I'd love to hear from you!

Getting ready for the tour de .... fabric?

Now historically this time of year can only mean one thing. It's time to start getting ready for TDF. As in Tour de France - which for me has traditionally meant the Tour de Fleece. This year however I have decided to add a twist.

Instead of picking up spindle and wool or treadling madly through my stash on my spinning wheel for the entire month of July - I am swapping out the "F" in the TDF to include Fabric - as in the Tour de Fabric. As many of you already know I have been working on a not so traditional Hexagon Quilt and have become quite enchanted with the process of handstitching (see sheepless quilts if you are looking for more details).

Having said that - if you're doing the traditional TDF (as in fleece) I hope you have a wonderful time. If you're going to challenge yourself with the Tour de Fabric (as I am ) let me know - I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Quilting with Caroline...

Yesterday I had a wonderful afternoon of quilty pleasures. I went to my friend Caroline's house. This was our first get together (in which we ate turkey wraps, drank tea and watched one of our favourite BBC series Upstairs - Downstairs and worked on our projects). We started with a show and tell.

This is Caroline in her sewing room. It's a wee bit dark at the moment, but it is a temporary relocation as Caroline (like me) seems to move here and there into whichever nook seems available in between children coming and going and whatever space is on hand. The entire wall on the left is floor to ceiling shelving with labelled and suitably arranged boxes of craft. Having said that she is very organised - and of course that is nothing less than I would expect - for that is she. 

This a a sewing machine cover made from vintage Laura Ashley fabrics many of which were leftover bits from dresses that Caroline made while growing up in England. Underneath is her mother's vintage singer on which she learned to sew. (I should have taken a picture!)

On to the quilts. First off let it be known that although Caroline does the piecing by machine, she is a hand quilter at heart - so all of the quilts shown are exactly that.

This bed quilt (above) was made by Caroline when she lived in (Texas?). It came from a kit and although the colours "are what they are" (her words not mine) she says she enjoyed making the blocks and it is perfect for this bed which is in the guest room (which used to be her sunny sewing room - but that's another story).

This quilt was made to go with some curtain fabric she had from another era. It's only now when I see it that I realize she has a pattern with a pattern going on with the pink, aqua and ochre squares. Now aren't you a clever girl?

In looking at this quilt - I realise I need more details. I will have to link this entry to Caroline so she can tell me more. However irregardless of what she says - it has one element that I love to see in a quilt. The backing is a surprise...

I love the back of quilts that have a surprise - it's like getting a bonus quilt - 2 for 1! And you know I am always a sucker for a deal!

And now on to tea and DVD's... in which Caroline snips away at her biscuit quilt - and I whip-stitch  hexagons.

All and all a lovely afternoon - the only downside... too short!

(PS. Caroline has already emailed me to say the biscuit quilt is done and she is very with it - more pics to come).

UPDATE: Caroline's biscuit quilt all done!

What type of quilter are you? And opening the box ...

Recently I've become a dedicated "Sewcialite" at my LQS. We meet every Monday and work on our projects. Some of us are prolifi...