Help! What now?

/ Saturday 31 July 2010 /

What now?, originally uploaded by Shadrach Meshach & Abednego.
Help needed, friends! I need to make a quick lap quilt for a wedding gift. I have left it to the last minute and I have found that I cannot command inspiration the way I thought I would be able to! I have long admired this Echino linen, and I thought it would make an elegant centre panel. This is 1 yard x WOF. I cut a million 4" squares of pink, turquoise and purple cottons and linens to make a border. Originally, I had a plan to make a second, spiky border, similar to this one, with a background of a few Kona cottons in green, and the spikes in the same turquoise, pink and purple as the squares. Do you think that would be too much like a train wreck? Or would it look awesome? Another possibility is to make a border that incorporated words, like Tonya does. I could put "Denys + Nina August 6, 2010". Too tacky? Or I could just leave it like it is. Oh, please sing out and give me some good advice!!

Take It Away

/ Tuesday 27 July 2010 /

Allow me to brag on my husband for a moment.  This past weekend was our local dragonboat festival, which always features several breast cancer survivor teams and a pink carnation remembrance ceremony.  If you watch the video above, you'll see the song that my husband wrote for our local breast cancer survivors' organization.  The song was adapted from a poem by the lady in the wheelchair, a breast cancer survivor who now has ALS.  That's my husband, singing and playing guitar.  I'm very proud of him.  Don't forget your mammograms, ladies.

Bee Productive

/ Monday 26 July 2010 /
I've been shamelessly behind on my bee quilting, so this weekend, I caught myself up.  Here are photos of three of the four bee blocks I made yesterday.
This one is for Joan, one of the Incredible Shrinkers.  It's a scrapbuster made from this tutorial.  It took ages to cut out all those 1.5" squares; I did them one at a time since I didn't want any duplicates.  I like the contrast with the dark background.  This is going to be a very pretty quilt.
Joan's block for June
Lydia is in two bees with me.  Here is the block she asked the Modern Tradition Bee to make for her.  The block is called Stars Around the World, and it's from an old quilt book that she had.  The fabric is Happy Campers from American Jane.  I love the big, airy feel of this block.
Lydia's block for July
The other block I made for Lydia was a quilter's choice block.  She asked us to use Amy Butler fabric from the Love line to make a 12.5" block with straight lines and no obvious, traditional pattern.  Here's what I managed to put together.  I love these fabrics so much, but I find it hard to make them work together.  Each one is a prima donna.  So I'm not really happy with this one - I feel like it "tries too hard", but I'm not sure what else I could have done.  I hope Lydia likes it well enough.  I am very interested in seeing this top all together.  The Love line is really one of my favourites, with all the rich colours.
Lydia's block for July
The fourth one was one I finished late last night and I was desperate for my bed.  I packaged it up before realizing I hadn't taken a photo of it.  It was for Carmen in the Maple Leaf Bee, and she assigned us each a colour and asked us each to make trees.  My colour was grey.  So I made a 14" block of liberated trees.  This -- liberated, wonky, improv, call it what you will -- is definitely not my best thing!  But I did my best - fingers crossed that Carmen likes them!

Miss March

/ Tuesday 20 July 2010 /

Miss March, originally uploaded by Shadrach Meshach & Abednego.
At last! My month for the Modern Tradition quilt bee was March (hence the working title of this quilt). I had to make six additional blocks, besides the four I started with, to complete this quilt top. And isn't it stunning? I am just thrilled to pieces with it, since it's my first experience making a quilt with the help of others. Let me tell you, the ladies in our bee are talented and hard-working, and they really pulled out all the stops to think up creative ways to action this block. I could never pick a favourite - each one is unique and so, so pretty! The background is Essex linen/cotton blend in putty, and I really like the extra heft it gives to the quilt. It's going to be big enough for our bed, at 70 x 84".  I just ordered the backing fabric this morning. is having a Westminster sale, and I got this Treetop Fancy for $2.98/yard.  Updated to add:  This block was adapted in general principles from the traditional block Granny's Flower Garden, as featured at Quilter's Cache.  I asked the bee members to use their creativity to construct the blocks, so there is no more specific pattern for it.
And let's not forget my little assistant, who was, as usual, the best helper in the world (no, she is not unionized):
Susie helping
Updated to link to Amy's Sew-n-Tell Friday.  Head on over and see what all has been finished this week!

Fantasy in the Forest

/ Monday 19 July 2010 /
I went to a little art show this weekend called Fantasy in the Forest.
It was out on one of the many lakes that surround Kingston.  We drove out towards Perth Road Village and parked in a farmer's field.  The artist who was hosting the show had arranged for shuttles to drive from the parking area to the cabin where the displays were, about a kilometer or more along very narrow, twisty roads deep into the woods.
Birch trees
The artists had set up their tents along the shore of the lake.  It was a beautiful setting.
The artists weren't keen on having their wares photographed, so these are mainly photos of the cottage and the lake where the show was held.
hidden in the brush
water lily
Look at this big spider on this coneflower!
scary spider
They had a little cafe set up on the screened in porch where you could get homemade pie and lemonade.  Or you could buy grilled sausage that was cooked in this amazing dragon barbecue!
insane outdoor grill 
In keeping with the theme, there were quite a few artisans who created fairy or fantasy-esque pieces.

These are not really my cup of tea, but, while the subject matter was not interesting to me, the talent and creativity that went into them was impressive.  My favourite thing was not for sale.  These photos show little seedpods that were growing outside one of the studio buildings.  Less than an inch in diameter, they had been carved with little faces!
carved seepod
carved seedpod
carved seedpod
And in sewing news, I finished the last of the blocks I need to make the flower garden quilt that the Modern Tradition quilt bee helped me with.  There are no photos, but with the blessing, I'll put the top together in the next couple of days.  I'm excited to see how it looks all together!

Back from Berlin

/ Thursday 15 July 2010 /
I had a great trip to Berlin: a successful conference and some wonderful catch-up time with friends/colleagues from around the world whom I only get to see once a year.  I also got to do a bit of sightseeing.  We took a bus tour that took us past Checkpoint Charlie and the remains of the Wall.
Checkpoint Charlie
Remains of the Wall
The Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gates
Brandenburg Gates
And many modern things to see, as well, like the Sony Centre and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
Sony Centre
Memorial to murdered Jews
Berlin is a very interesting city, full of history.  There is much more to see than I was able to take in.  Partly this was due to the crippling heat wave that gripped the city.  I snapped this photo of the thermometer near our hotel.  The equivalent of 40 Celsius is 104 Fahrenheit.
Berlin heat wave!
It was brutally hot, but not as humid as it would have been at home.  If you could find some shade, and if you sat still, it was almost pleasant to be outside, since the linden trees scented the air delightfully.  This was the nicest place I found: a wisteria covered tunnel outside the Jewish Museum.
Berlin Jewish Museum
Wisteria tunnel
Our conference dinner was held in the food hall at the magnificent department store Kaufhaus des Westens, or KaDeWe.  This Guess advertisement is not as classy as the merchandise inside the store.
Oh, classy.
I was skeptical when I heard the plan, because I was thinking of a typical food court in a North American mall, but this was nothing like it.  Here are just some of the things we sampled.
KaDeWe antipasto bar
KaDeWe pastry department
695 euro for that tin of caviar
KaDeWe chocolatier at work
The big news while we were there was the FIFA World Cup.  Germany made it into the semifinal round and team spirit, like these flags, was very high all over the city.
Before the ignominious defeat to Spain
However, they lost to Spain, as was predicted by Paul the Octopus.  If you don't know Paul, he is an octopus who predicted, with perfect accuracy, the winners of the World Cup matches.  In the picture below, you see the plastic boxes representing Germany and Spain.  Each box contained a mussel.  You can see him wrapping himself around Spain's box and prising open the lid.
The FIFA Oracle
I had a fairly stressful trip home, since my initial flight from Berlin to Paris (for which I rose at 3.30 am) was cancelled, sparking a chain of mini-disasters involving luggage and missing flights that saw me flying home in the middle seat.  Somebody has to have the middle seat, but it's pretty awful when both your seatmates are strangers and the flight is so long.  Never mind, I'm home now and pretty well over the jet lag.   While I was away, my blessed husband did a major house cleaning.  He really is a marvel around the house - and he is by far a tidier person than I am.   However, he dumped everything for which I am remotely responsible on the dining room table for me to deal with on my return.  I would show you the acre of stuff that is piled up there, but I'm afraid you would never visit my blog again from the horror.  That should all be dealt with by the weekend and I can get reacquainted with my sewing machine again.

Next stop, Berlin

/ Sunday 4 July 2010 /

red block, originally uploaded by Shadrach Meshach & Abednego.
In a few hours I'll be off to Berlin for a conference. I've been so busy getting ready, preparing my poster and helping my students with theirs, and organizing all the bits for the Board meeting, that I barely touched my machine in the last couple of weeks. That was so frustrating; I did, however, get some satisfying sewing in yesterday.

I finally got my fabric back from a bee member who dropped out and stopped communicating with us, so I am able to start thinking about finishing this quilt. Do you remember, this was my block (March) for the Modern Tradition bee? I asked everyone to make this block, but to use their imagination in block construction, as long as it kept these general dimensions. It's worth going back to this post to see some of the amazing things that these talented women came up with. Now that all the blocks are in, I'm ready to make my last six blocks to bring this to a 70" x 84" quilt. Well, make that five blocks, after this one. Can you see that every red square is a HST?
a zillion half-square triangles
Auf wiedersehn for now, friends! I have my camera and will post some travel photos, G-d and the internet permitting!

Happy Canada Day!

/ Thursday 1 July 2010 /
I've been so swamped with work, getting ready to go to Berlin for a conference, that I haven't had time to do any quilting for the last week - I am suffering withdrawal terribly! I have been wanting to take a "year in review" picture for awhile, but the weather has been so bad recently that it's been hard to grab a photo. So I took the opportunity of being home on Canada Day to throw these quilts over the fence and snap a couple of photos. These are some of the quilts that I have made in 2010; there are a couple that have been gifted and don't appear here. Not bad! If I didn't have to work, I could have made more!

I hope to get some time at the machine before I go abroad, but if not, I'll be posting some travel pics from Germany.  I wonder how one says "fabric store" in German?

And it's Canada Day, folks!  I'll leave you with this bagpipe serenade of The Maple Leaf Forever:

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