Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nothing like a deadline to motivate me!

As soon as I opened my eyes this morning I knew what I had to do. I quickly dressed, grabbed a tiny drink, and a couple little plums and headed out for a walk. It was a beautiful morning and the first day in awhile with no rain, so I decided to grab the opportunity while I had it. Even though it is only the last day of July and it seems there really has not been much summer, it is easy to see signs of fall approaching. Seems kind of silly to say that but when I see the goldenrod starting to flower, I always think of Fall.
Back home, I made myself a nice fresh fruit salad

Tidied up the kitchen, and got a few other little jobs out of the way and headed out to clean my mess from the previous three quilting projects. It is much nicer to start a new job with a clean work surface and I was putting off a less than likeable job as long as possible. I have often heard quilters say that bindings are their least favourite part of quilting, but for me it is sandwiching and basting.
The actual quilting is not hard or time consuming but the prepping is what I really dislike. 
It had to be done so I got at it and by suppertime the job was done. After supper I sat and hand stitched the binding and I have to tell you, I think this is my favourite Schnibbles so far. I know the fabrics have a lot to do with that, but it just looks so cheery. It makes me smile. 
I mentioned in a previous post that our July Schnibbles project is Lincoln.
This is Carrie's version

This is Sue's version

Sue made hers in 1930 repro's. Always a favourite! So cheerful and "vintagey" looking. She decided this would make a perfect baby quilt if she added a few more blocks, and I have to say that "it's a lucky baby who gets this quilt". It is such a generous size and so cozy looking...and all she did different from the original pattern was make 5 extra star blocks and 7 extra rail fences! 

I knew when I started that I wanted mine larger too, but I wasn't sure just how much. I played around with a few ideas and sort of went with Carrie's larger version by adding a couple extra borders. I didn't make larger blocks or even more of the smaller ones, but After making the smaller version according to the pattern, I added a narrow and a wider border so mine finished up at about 45 x 45.

The photos are not great because I was too lazy to get out the camera and instead I used the camera on the Ipad. Usually that is okay, but in low light and with no flash, the image is just not as clear and focused as it could be.

It was such a beautiful evening; with glassy waters and a pretty sunset that it seemed a shame to photograph it inside. 

Well, I am clapping my hands and grinning because I squeaked another one in just under the I said, "nothing like a deadline to get my buns in gear!"

Be sure to drop by for the Schnibbles Parade on August 1 at the following blogs.

 Sinta's blog 

  And Sherri's blog.

 It is sure to have lots of eye candy. I can hardly wait to see what the girls have in store for us in August. 

Bring it on! 

I started playing and got sidetracked...

I think I said in my last post that I would be playing around with borders to my Lincoln and hoped to have it quilted by today...
I am pleased to report that I have decided on a border and have it all cut and sewn. My Lincoln is ready to be sandwiched and quilted, but you know I really wasn't in the mood to sandwich and quilt, so I dug out a kit I had purchased this winter on my travels. 

Variations On A Theme by Mauri Richey, purchased at Oklahoma Quiltworks.
It is the perfect pattern for those pieces of fabric that have a very large pattern repeat that you just hate to cut up in little pieces. You strip piece a border and then make a free hand wavy cut along one edge. No offence to the pattern designer, but after reading the directions I decided to finish the quilt the way I thought made more my mind anyway. 
I recruited help from Mr. O to help me line things up straight and square...

I had a theory on how best to do it, but I thought a second opinion would be a good idea. I try to follow a wise bit of carpentry advice... measure twice, cut once!
I added the striped border to the body of the quilt and with the help of low tack masking tape and about 300 pins I secured it well enough to move to the sewing machine and get things all sewn down.

after sewing it together, I added a bias trip over the seam and then another border on the opposite side and voila! I had a quilt top ready to sandwich and quilt. It finishes at about 45 x 65 so I think I can handle that on my home machine. 

Not a great photo, but you get the idea.

Well, the evening was still young and "the mood" to sandwich and machine quilt my Schnibbles still hadn't "hit" so I pulled out another project. I am a little late to the twister party, but when I was first introduced to this template and method of making "windmill" blocks, I turned my nose up at it. As it so often happens, we judge a quilt pattern by the fabrics and colours it is made in and decide too quickly we don't like it. Well this winter, I saw another twister quilt done in colours that spoke to me, so I thought I might give it a try. I expected it to be more complicated than it was, and so I picked some scrap fabrics from my basket that would not leave me in tears if I messed up the project.
It really was quick and some charm squares together, 

sew a border around it, 

place the ruler/template so that the printed lines on the template line up with the seams and cut. 

After they are all cut, sew them back together and this is what you get.

My biggest not using a fabric I liked. This won't go to waste though, because with several grand daughters who still have dolls this will make the perfect doll quilt!

But now it's late and I really must get some sleep. If I am going to make the parade on time, I need to wake up in a sandwiching and quilting mood. Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The weather outside is frightful...

Oh the weather outside is frightful,

But inside is so delightful...

...and since we've no place to go, I will sew, I will sew, I will sew!

Oh I am absolutely blissful, to be at our summer house with my little sewing space set up, choosing fabrics to work on my monthly Schnibbles project. The weather has not dampened my spirits at all.

This month we are working on Lincoln, and my first thought was to make my project in black and white fabrics, just because in my mind the slavery issue was such an important part of Lincoln's presidency.
Then I took a look at the calendar and with having company so quickly after arriving home from France, I decided to use a couple of my favourite charm packs to eliminate the time involved with picking out coordinating fabrics.

These seventeen pieces make up one of the star blocks. Multiply that by 13 star blocks and that makes for a lot of cutting. Then you still have to cute and sew the remaining rail fence blocks. Lots of cutting for a quilt that measures just 32x32.
The fabrics I used are Avalon by Fig Tree. 
Because I have some yardage as well as the 2 charm packs I am considering adding a couplenarrow  borders, much like what Carrie did in her larger version of Lincoln.

Instead of making a piano key border as in the above photo, I will use a solid red dotted fabric. This idea is still rambling around in my mind, but for now this is what I have accomplished so far.

Looking kind of cheery, don't you think? 

I have auditioned just finishing with a red dotty binding...

And with a narrow white and wider red dotty border before binding....

I like that it will make this project a little bigger, but I am still not sold on the red border. I do have one or two more things in mind but for now though I am going to sleep on the next stage of this project...who knows what the morning will bring?

You see just because it is rainy and gloomy outside, that doesn't mean it has to be gloomy inside?

P.S. how many of you are humming "Let it Snow, let it snow, let it snow" right now....  :-)

Friday, July 19, 2013

We"re Home!

Well, it was a wonderful vacation, we saw and experienced so many new and wonderful things, but I am dog tired and glad to be home. That may change once I have to start weeding and cleaning toilets and scrubbing floors, but for now, I am a happy camper to be sleeping in my own bed, and not wearing the same few items of clothing for seven weeks and for being able to shower in my own familiar shower and not always have to be keeping my eyes peeled for a public toilet. (such hardships eh?)
These were not hardships, but I am starting to realize how much I take certain things for granted, and how much I like familiarity.

Unpacking is all done, one more load of laundry to get done. Stocked up the refrigerator and started sorting through the stack of mail. Maybe bake a loaf cake tomorrow, BUT I hope to get a start on my July Schnibbles, so with any luck I will have a little something quilty to show for my next post.

"Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Bucket list is a little lighter...and a couple things I forgot to mention.

First, the part I forgot.... After checking into our hotel in Brugges, we decided to take a little walk to acquaint ourselves with the area. When we walked out of the hotel, this is what I discovered almost directly across the street...

This photo was taken from our hotel doorway... Now at this distance you may not be able to make out what this shop is, but I took a few more photos.

Can you see a little better now? Yup! You got it...a quilt shop! Totally seems quilt shops the world over send out special magnetic vibes that can only be detected by other quilters (and their husbands) because I had absolutely nothing to do with booking the room! That didn't stop me from taking a peek inside though...the owner spoke little English, but there was a lot of fabric and I speak fabric fluently! Now I have to tell you this shop was a bit chaotic...boxes half unpacked sat on floors and shelves, fabric stacked in front of other fabric, books stacked on fabric stacked on scrapbooking supplies, toppling onto the yarn. All in a very small area, probably smaller than my studio area. Difficult to take photos and not photographically inspiring, but I snapped a couple later in the evening after closing. 

This photo is quite flattering and makes things look tidier than it really was...and yes I bought a couple half meter cuts to add to my civil war repro stash, but seriously friends a total of one meter. I did well. I just couldn't come home and say I was in a quilt shop in Belgium and came out empty handed...could you?

The other fun thing I saw when we were leaving the memorial ceremonies at the Mennin Gate at
Ypres was this...

Some local knitters had yarn bombed a tree along our route! I have read about these fun occurrences and have seen many, many photos of yarn bombing on line, but had never seen one in real life, so of course it warranted a photo or two, or three. I really must get some of my knitting chums together to try it at home somewhere.

After dropping the kids at the airport, and taking a forty minute taxi ride to our hotel, I was ready for a nap in our cool air conditioned room to escape the relentless Paris heat, but of course time was slipping away from us and we were on foot, so it was going to take a while to see all we wanted, so we set of to explore Montmartre, in the 18th Arrondissement of Paris. We walked up, up, up through throngs of tourists to make a visit to Sacre Coer Cathedral and all it had to offer atop a very high hill overlooking the city of Paris.

Mr. O climbed up to the top of the tower of the Cathedral to snap some shots while I admired the view from below.

There we many street entertainers, playing typical french music of all kinds.

I am a real people watcher and I loved trying to pick out the locals.

Some were easier to spot than others.

We walked to the famed Moulin Rouge...just to see from the outside. We are not much on burlesque shows...famous or otherwise.<grin>
This area was the inspiration for many of Talouse Latrech paintings.

I'm not really sure how a red windmill ended up in the middle of Paris and became so famous for burlesque, but I will take a minute to Google it later.
A few souvenir shops and supper at a local cafe away from the crowds rounded out the day and we made our way back to the hotel for an early night(by Paris standards) 
Day two we tackled the underground metro system (not my favourite way to travel,  I always feel like I want to come home and shower off the dust and grime and smell of urine) I am such a country bumpkin! 
Today Mr. O was taking me to a flea market...not just any flea market either...we were heading to the famous Paris Flea Market area that boasts upwards of 2000 vendors selling just about anything you may be looking for...for a price, of course! I have dreamed of shopping Paris flea markets for many many years, and now I can cross one more thing off my bucket list!

We are talking very confined streets and shops with thousands of items for sale!

I made a few purchases that had to be small enough to fit into my already over crowded luggage, but I was happy. I spent more than I ever imagined I would on buttons, but I have a plan for them...

Two cards of buttons, 2.5 meters of lace, and a packet of letters and postcards, circa 1912.
A few other purchases of new items from other street vendors rounded out the shopping trip until we decided  that we really needed another suitcase to get all our(my) other purchases home. A stop at a luggage shop and the we found ourselves on the over crowded subway with a suitcase heading back to our room. A bit of a rest, a walk around the corner to what happened to be France's largest fabric shopping district (remember what I said about the vibes?) that was totally unplanned. Thankfully, they had closed about 30 minutes before our arrival so no need for another suitcase. 
Supper at a different cafe and we sauntered back to our room to rest up for our last full day in Paris. 

Day 3 we braved the metro again, and visited the Musee d'Orsay. I loved it! I have always admired the paintings of Jean Francois Millet and to see the in personal was pretty special. 

We saw paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet and many more. My feet were killing me but I was a happy camper. After the museum, we had lunch in a street cafe (quiche Lorraine mmmm) and the another lengthy walk to a Paris quilt shop raved about by many bloggers. Le Rouvray. The have a website, a small line of patterns, their own collection of fabric (Romance of Paris) and they carry some of the few fabrics made and designed in France.
Yes I shopped, yes, I bought fabric, and yes the suitcases were full, but I managed to squeeze a bit more in. They gifted me with one of their patterns too!

Another street cafe supper and back to the room to finish packing.
I snapped a quick shot of the Paris rooftops at sunset from our room as a parting shot.

As I write this we are somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, next stop Montreal. Back on Canadian soil and then hopefully home by 11 p.m. We should be in our beds by midnight,which will be 6:00 a.m. France time. I am thinking I may just sleep in tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Winding Down.

I really can't believe our month in France finishes tomorrow. We have returned the keys to our lovely house in Normandy, the kids have come and gone. We had a wonderful time with them, showing them some of our favourite places and discovering new places with them. We took several overnight or two or three trips to see some of the sights of France.
We visited Mont St. Michel, 

...and Bayou, the home of the famous Bayou Tapestry.
It is not an actual tapestry— but an embroidery on linen, nearly 70 metres (230 ft) long, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of Englandconcerning William, Duke of Normandy and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings.

We also spent a bit of time in Honfleur. It is especially known for its old, beautiful picturesque port, characterized by its houses with slate-covered frontages, painted many times by artists, including in particular Gustave CourbetEugène BoudinClaude Monet and Johan Jongkind, forming the école de Honfleur (Honfleur school) which contributed to the appearance of the Impressionist movement. The first written mention of Honfleur is a reference by Richard III, duke of Normandy, in 1027.

All of these places are Unesco World Heritage Sites. 

We also made many day trips, to Rouen (where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake), to Dieppe, to Etratat...also a very picturesque coastal town across from England. 

We spent 3 days in Paris with the kids and did city tours, visited the Louvre, rubbed shoulders with thousands of other curious tourists to see the Mona Lisa and The Lacemaker by Vermeer. I was a little disappointed to see her "under glass" but I understand the reasons.

We did the Eiffel Tower by day

...and by night!

We even sealed the deal on the Bridge of Locks over the Seine.

Everyone knows Paris as ‘the romance capital’ and the ‘city for lovers’. Some years ago, a new fad started when love-struck sweethearts began locking padlocks onto the chain link fence of the Pont des Arts, which crosses from the left bank to the Louvre museum. The love padlocks, called cadenas d’amour, multiplied until there were thousands of love tokens on the bridge, each engraved with a message of love. After locking the love padlock onto the fence, lovers toss the keys into the Seine river – a sign of their eternal devotion.

It's a done deal! The keys are at the bottom of the Seine!

After spending the next day at Versailles we headed "home" a weary bunch of travellers. The next morning we did laundry and headed out on the road again, this time to Brugge, Belgium!
A beautiful little city and so much history and charm, I have to say, if you ever get the chance to see it, take it!
We walked miles around the city , along the canals, shopping at all the tourist traps, haunting some wonderful chocolate shops, snacking on Belgian waffles, visiting cathedrals, one of which claims to have a vial of Christ's blood, one that says they are the tallest brick church in all of Europe, snapping pictures of the local swans, charming architecture and countless other things.

I bought a cross stitch kit of this charming row of colourful step gabled houses. At the same shop my son and his wife bought me a beautiful gift and souvenir. 

I got to pick out a pair of these very pretty scissors in a silver holder and chain. I should be able to keep track of these ones!
(The vial of blood)

We saw the city on foot, we toured it by boat on the canals...

And then if that wasn't enough we did a city tour on bicycles!

What do you think? Do I look like a local?

After several busy days we headed back to Normandy to the house. We spent our last day relaxing, catching up on laundry, packing, and picking cherries, while the girls splashed around in the pool. 

I really hated to leave the next day. The place sort of got hold of me...
Bright and early Sunday morning we packed up and headed back to Paris to drop the family off at the airport to head home and we were to spend our last three days of vacation in a different area of Paris.

Thats it for today. Tomorrow while spending countless hours in the airport and on the plane I will fill you in on our three days in Paris.

Bonsoir mes amis

(Backup) (Backup) On The Road Again Ok, telle me the truth...are you humming thatsong now? Cause I am and I fear it may be runni...