Monday, October 6, 2014

A flowery finish, finally!

Finish Along 2014

Completed Flower Garden baby quilt

It's time to wrap up Q3 of the Finish-a-long and I've completed one project out of the list of seven that I posted on my blog in July. I'm not surprised I only finished one project, but I am happy to report that progress has also been made on my Madrona Road baby quilt and I hope to finish it before the VMQG's UFO Challenge wrap up on October 20th.

 I quilted this 40"x40" quilt in a spiral pattern at a summer VMQG sew-in. It was finished in 3.5 hours! This was my second time quilting a spiral and I have to say I love the look of them.

 I went overboard with floral prints on the back and used large pieces of Heather Bailey and Erin McMorris fabric. I sewed the binding on by hand at two quilting events: a few stitches at the PNW MQG meet up sew-out at Trout Lake Park (I got distracted by chatting and hardly accomplished anything!) and the rest at the Guild Gathering, a meeting of local guild leaders that is held twice a year.

As this was my longest standing WIP, I'm very happy to have it completed. My goal is to cut down on my UFOs to allow myself room for new projects without feeling guilty about the projects I've abandoned. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Who loves kids' books? Books for all four seasons

In honour of the autumnal equinox today, and the fact that it coincides with the momentous return of British Columbian public school students to school, I thought I'd share a lovely series of books celebrating the four seasons. Three out of four of the books are written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Mark Jones with "Mermaid Dance|" (summer) being the outlier (written by Marjorie Rose Hakala and illustrated by Mark Jones). I was first introduced to this series by a friend and became slightly obsessed with collecting the whole set. Caveat: some of these books are hard to find, I think "Mermaid Dance" is particularly rare. They were all published by Blue Apple Books between 2008-2010 and I think they're mostly out of print.

"By the Light of the Harvest Moon" celebrates the autumnal equinox. I've been reading it to my daughters over the past week and we brought it to school today so Sophia's teacher could read it to the class. What I love about these stories is that they're whimsical stories with imaginary characters and they centre on the equinoxes and solstices. If you're aware of other fictional series about the seasons, please let me know, because I love to celebrate the change of seasons!

The book is full of beautiful illustrations and starts with a harvest moon rising over a hillside full of yellow, orange, and crimson trees.

The leaf people enter the picture and start preparing for a big party to celebrate the autumnal equinox.

It turns out it's a dessert party, the best kind of party!

Then Grandma tells the children what the equinox means and everyone eats pie. All's well that ends well!

The series continues with "Snow Party" about a group of snowmen (snowpeople? they are men, women, and children) who have a winter solstice celebration complete with music, dancing, and icy treats.

The first book I purchased from this series was "Butterfly Birthday" and I gave it to my daughters, who have birthdays very close to the spring equinox. In this book, all the insects gather for a party to celebrate the coming of spring and at the perfect moment, the butterflies emerge to take the celebrations to the next level.

The last book in this set is "Mermaid Dance" and although it was written by a different author, it still has Mark Jones' lovely illustrations. In "Mermaid Dance", a group of mermaids has a summer solstice feast at the seashore.

I hope you've enjoyed this peek at this collection of books celebrating the seasons. I wish you luck in finding them in your public libraries, used book stores, or favourite online sources. Happy autumn!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild Mini Quilt Swap

Memories of QuiltCon 2.0

When my guild announced a mini quilt swap recently, I didn't think twice before joining in! I have a wall in my new sewing area that's begging for mini quilts and I loved the idea of decorating with a quilt made just for me by another Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild member. I made a quilt for Matt, a long time member of the guild, and his questionnaire gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted (just not in pink flowery fabric). I thought this was the perfect chance to try another "Memories of QuiltCon" style HST quilt with larger finished squares. Here are the two side by side:

My original Memories of QuiltCon quilt had HSTs that finished at 1" and the squares in the one I made for Matt finished at 1.5". 

Just like with my original, I had fun doing some dense matchstick quilting.

I love how the placement of some of the squares and HSTs led to a 3D effect in the centre of the quilt!

I was pressed for time, as I was finishing this at the last minute, so I tucked my label into the corner and sewed it in with the binding.

Here are a couple shots of me and my quilt in our very short-lived time together!

Me and Matt at the August Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild meeting after we'd exchanged quilts.

Most people didn't swap with the person who was making a quilt for them, but I was lucky enough to be paired up with Matt. He made me this beautiful quilt full of all my favourites: triangles, brightly-coloured solid fabrics, rainbows, and geometric shapes!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Finish Along Q3 Goals

Although my participation in the Finish Along has been erratic, I think it's a wonderful idea and a great way to stay motivated to finish up those long-standing WIPs! I've amassed quite a few in the past several years, so I'm staying motivated by linking up to the Q3 Finish Along with The Littlest Thistle. Do you want to participate and have a chance at winning some great prizes? Sign ups for Q3 are open until July 14th.

For a double dose of motivation, I signed up all the following projects for the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild's UFO Challenge that wraps up in October. I'm not kidding myself and saying that all of these projects will be done in time, but I'm hedging my bets and adding them all to the list. 

1) Flower Garden baby quilt, started in Fall 2009 (which makes it my oldest UFO!) when I bought the "Modern Baby Quilts" pattern from Elizabeth Hartman on Etsy. Lots of HTF prints here, including Erin McMorris's Wildwood, Heather Bailey's Pop Garden, and my first-ever Pearl Bracelets by Lizzy House.

2) Madrona Road LOVE. Another baby quilt, made using Kelly of kelbysews' LOVE Mini Quilt tutorial on Sew Mama Sew. I just need to decide what I'm doing for the other side and the quilting. It's small, so once I get going, it shouldn't take long! Started Spring 2013.

3) Perfect Circles baby quilt. Started in a July 2013 workshop with Cheryl Arkison. I love where this is going, but don't believe anyone who tells you these circles take just six minutes!

4) Neutrals with a pop of colour: My blocks from the Fab Bee members have been supplemented by several blocks from friends. I have 19/20 blocks now and am nearly ready to piece the top. I'm keeping this one for sure! Started May 2013.

5) Red & Aqua Bee quilt: Started in early 2011, these blocks were made by members of my very first online bee. It was meant as a baby quilt for Ellie, but now that she's three, I think I might need to add to it and make it a big girl bed quilt!

6) Little Folks Patchwork: I won some fabric in early 2010 and decided I'd make a quilt just like Ashley's (Film in the Fridge) beautiful patchwork quilt that I'd fallen in love with. The squares are cut, I just need to assemble them!

7) Habitat Challenge: I got as far as completing the quilt top in November 2012 and haven't finished it. The top measures 42"x42".

Finish Along 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cosmic Kites - a half rectangle triangle baby quilt

I'm happy to share Cosmic Kites, my latest finish, my project for The Modern Quilt Guild's Michael Miller Petal Pinwheels Challenge, and my first ever half rectangle triangle quilt. Right off the bat, I want to thank Latifah Saafir and state that I followed her great tutorial on the Modern Quilt Guild's blog all the way from cutting fabric, to assembling my blocks, to the final layout. Latifah's quilt is called Kite Tails and I agreed with her that the diamond shapes looked like kites. I quilted stars into the centres of my kites to mimic the shapes in the grey Star Jacks print, hence the name Cosmic Kites.

Detail of eight-pointed star quilting. It took me several tries to figure out how to draw an eight-pointed star continuously, but once I figured out the trick of skipping two points and aiming for the third point, it was great!

I'd never tried half rectangle triangles (HRTs) and I thought this challenge was a good chance to give them a try! I found them trickier than HSTs and more fussy to trim because you don't just line everything up on a 45 degree angle and cut. There's marking and careful alignment involved. However, they give a great graphic effect, so I may just try them again!

I brought my blocks to a recent Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild all-day sew-in and finished piecing them by lunchtime.

I worked surprisingly hard all afternoon and evening and got the quilt basted and quilted by the time I packed up around 8:30pm. I heard plenty of expressions of disbelief in reference to my unexpected productivity that day! (I'm know for chatting and not getting much done at VMQG sew-ins!).

I posted the previous picture to Instagram (that's where you can find me all the time these days, my blog isn't nearly as active) and Debbie Jeske (A Quilter's Table) emailed to let me know she'd like to feature this quilt in her July Quilting Trends column on Sew, Mama, Sew! I was thrilled! That gave me the incentive to get this quilt bound quickly and I think the Ta Dot print in Apple green brings out the green in the Petal Pinwheels line. Thank you, Debbie!

I backed the quilt with an Erin McMorris Leaf Dot print that I'd been saving since I spotted it in a remnants bin at a LQS in Langley that has since closed.

I loved zipping along and sewing up these straight lines (no marking involved) with my Janome 7700. I used Aurifil 2024 in 28wt and the lines have beautiful definition.

This quilt will be shared at the upcoming annual VMQG outdoor meeting (don't wanna miss the group photo!) and then gifted to a new little second cousin who was born the day I was quilting it!

Have you given HRTs a try?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Twelve years ago today

Holly and Dean with all eight grandparents, July 6th, 2002

Today is our twelfth wedding anniversary and in looking back over our photos, I found this treasure of me and Dean with our grandparents. We were lucky enough to have all eight of our grandparents at our wedding and these four loving couples represented over two hundred years of marriage! When take into account our parents' marriages, which were both close to thirty years old at the time, you can see we were raised with a wonderful heritage of love and partnership. Happy 12th, Deano!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

QuiltCon Registration - check!

Vancouver MQG members Paula, Holly (that's me!), Arita, & Paul in front of our fellow member Diane Thompson's quilt, "A Tribute to B.C. Binning" at QuiltCon 2013

Exactly one week ago, my heart was still racing after an exhilirating QuiltCon registration experience. I had done all I could to prepare, including a last-minute strategy session with my QuiltCon roomie Michelle, watching the "How to Register" video numerous times, and creating a text file full of course codes and member discounts so I could easily cut and paste. I know registration was a stressful situation for many and I want those who didn't get into their first choices to know that there is so much at QuiltCon in addition to the workshops! I took 1.5 days of workshops at QuiltCon 2013 and that was plenty for me, as I had people to meet, inspiring lectures to attend, a quilt show to drool over, vendors to visit, dance parties to go to, etc, etc. 

 Me and Lizzy House with the HST mini quilt top I made in her workshop

This time, I was lucky enough to get into my top choices and I will be taking Patchwork City with Elizabeth Hartman and Creative Quilting With Your Walking Foot with Jacquie Gering. Those are two full day workshops on Thursday and Friday respectively, so I'm going to take yoga on Saturday morning to stretch after an intensive period of sewing. I've booked a number of awesome lectures on Saturday and left Sunday mostly free for recovery. I'll also be staying for the leadership conference on Monday because I'm geeky like that.

Registration for the general public opened today and I'd highly recommend the experience if you can make it to Austin, Texas next February!

Oh, and for you QuiltCon newbies, a piece of advice. Expect QuiltCon withdrawal in the weeks after you return home. I had a hard time readjusting to life without QuiltCon, so my eldest (who was nearly six years old at the time) drew me my own quilt show. Love that kid!

Will I see you at QuiltCon in Feburary? What are you most looking forward to? Are you considering entering a quilt in the show?

Friday, February 28, 2014

I love the library!

Central Branch of the VPL in downtown Vancouver

Have I mentioned before that I love my public library? Did you hear that the Vancouver Public Library and the Montreal Public Library recently tied for best libraries in the world in a study from Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf? I'm so proud of the VPL!

One cool thing my library offers is the Just Ask! chat system. When I have a question I can immediately chat with a library staff member from on of the libraries across the Lower Mainland. I did so today when I read Cheryl Arkison's blog post about "The Orenda" and decided I needed to read this book asap. I checked the VPL catalogue and there were 533 holds on 61 copies. I clicked the chat button on the VPL website and had a nice talk with a librarian about a variety of books I could read while I was waiting for my hold to come in. I also learned that the reason the VPL doesn't have the eBook is that publishers won't sell certain eBooks to libraries because they're worried about digital rights. Boo!

Oh, and those recommended titles? Here's the list of books I'll be looking for while I wait my turn in line for "The Orenda". 

"Three Day Road" by Joseph Boyden
"Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" by Maria Semple
"Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes
"State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett
"Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett

Do you have any recommendations for me? One of my favourite recent reads was "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion (and not just because it had a red bike on the cover!) (but that didn't hurt!).


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