Country Mouse

/ Thursday 28 June 2012 /

Last night I experienced something new: I went to Joann's Fabrics. We don't have it in Canada, but every American blogger I read talks about Joann's (usually disparagingly), so I was interested to see what we have been missing. I'm in Munster, Indiana at a training course this week, and I saw it on the way back from dinner last night. We got there at 8:40 and it closes at 9, so I knew I couldn't get in too much trouble. I did check on my phone to see if I could find a coupon on the internet for 40% off, but no such luck. But here is my haul: I'm very happy with it. I thought I'd never get any of this DS fabric since it's the Joann's-only line, and this book has been on my must-buy list. Goodness, it's a huge place, isn't it? I certainly did feel like the Country Mouse, looking around at everything there. I can see how the 40% coupon would be a huge enticement to stock up on staples. And how nice it would be to be able to just drive out and pick up the tools and notions you need instead of having to order absolutely everything online, like I generally have to do. The fabric itself, however, was of limited appeal, which is what I expected, given what everyone seems to say. Nevertheless, I am happy that I had the chance to see how the other half lives, and to score a few goodies!

Summer Wedding

/ Tuesday 19 June 2012 /
Summer Wedding
In my last post I explained that my radio silence over the last month or so has been mainly due to the fact that I've been working like a dog on a special quilt for a couple who are getting married this weekend.
Summer Wedding
This couple met at university, and in fact, they met in my lab, where they volunteered for a couple of years and did their Honours thesis research.  I have been lucky to come to know some very special young men and women in my role as a professor, and it's a wonderful blessing for me to see these two take this step together.  As I wrote in the card I included with the quilt, I feel a bit like the mother of both the bride and the groom, if that is possible in a way that isn't too weird!
Summer Wedding
I chose the colours for the quilt from the wedding invitation: blues and yellows, and I threw in some gray and black for a bit of added sophistication.
Summer Wedding
The background is Essex linen/cotton blend in ivory.  The pattern is a traditional one called Ocean Waves and it's made from 8" blocks, and it finishes about 64" x 70".
Summer Wedding
I made a little label for the back, with their names and my name and the date of the the wedding. The binding was scrappy, made from some of the 2 1/2" strips that I had leftover from using those Marti Michell templates.
Summer Wedding

Because the bride-to-be told me straight up that she can't resist surprise busting and she already knew that I was making her a quilt of some description, I had to maintain some element of surprise by limiting any progress shots and keeping the quilt off the blog.  But Purolator's online tracking showed me that the quilt has been delivered to her family home, the bride just phoned me to say how much she loved it so I think it's safe to share it now. 
Summer Wedding

I cannot tell a lie - this quilt really put me through the wringer. It called for 888 HST units.  I started out using Marti Michell's templates because I didn't want to make the HST units and then trim to size, but that meant cutting 2 1/2" strips and then using that template to cut each triangle. And if you layer too many strips, you start to lose precision.  Cut, cut, cut for hours on end.  And the template had those blunted corners so that you could match everything up, so those little tiny cuts had to be made, too.  It practically killed me.
500 triangle units cut with the BigShot Pro in 20 minutes
Summer Wedding
Summer Wedding
I am well acquainted with the phenomenon of falling out of love with a quilt during the process of construction.  It happens with just about every quilt I make. Somewhere in the middle of it, I start wondering what I had been thinking, and inevitably I begin to feel dissatisfaction with the colour scheme or block choice creeping in. I am experienced enough to know, however, that this misery vanishes like a puff of smoke once the finished quilt comes out of the washer/dryer.  Surprisingly, though, I never wanted to break up with this quilt, and by the time it was finished I was nearly heartbroken that I had to send it off to a new home.
Summer Wedding
Summer Wedding
Summer Wedding
In fact, this quilt was single-handedly responsible for me busting the bank and buying a Sizzix Big Shot Pro.  I had made about half the units I needed and could see carpal tunnel syndrome on the horizon.  After I ordered the BSP online, I had serious buyer's remorse until about ten seconds after I unpacked it.  I cut the rest of the triangles I needed in 20 minutes.  Woo hoo! I also ordered the Accuquilt Winding Ways die, since Accuquilt dies are compatible with Sizzix products (but not the reverse) and I'd always wanted to make that block.  Here's a photo of my test blocks - can't wait to make a proper project using that die!
Trying out the Winding Ways using the accuquilt die

Back in business

/ Saturday 16 June 2012 /
I have been as silent as the tomb, haven't I? My apologies! I have been very, very busy on a number of fronts and have had fairly little worth reporting.  For example, I recently attended the convocation exercises for our university.  Here's a view from the stage:
A couple of more exciting things do stand out: Our local guilds had their quilt show last week, where I entered three of the quilts that you have seen previously on this blog: I Dream of Ogeenie, Paprika, and Gong Show (below).  I was a White Glove lady and reminded people to wear the plastic gloves they were given when they paid their $6 admission if they wanted to touch the quilts or look at the backs.  I wasn't able to volunteer as much as I wanted to, but the show committee and other guild members, like Ariane and Michelle, invested hours and hours to make the show a success.  It was my first time entering in a show, and it was great to see the extent of the talent that was represented.  The aesthetic was far and away a traditional one, with only a few art quilts and the occasional modern or improv piece.  I was blown away by the perfect piecing on some of the entries.  My own quilting ethic is "get 'er done", but that level of skill is definitely something to aspire to!
Mine at the quilt show!
Also, I was recently in Copenhagen for a conference! It was my first time there; what a beautiful city!  My doc student and I were sadly underdressed, since we foolishly packed according to the weather network, which predicted sunny skies and warm temperatures.  It was so cold and it rained every day.  One night I went to dinner wearing my pajama top since it was the only long-sleeved top I had brought with me, and I needed it underneath the two cotton jackets I was wearing.  
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
We especially liked the Tivoli Gardens, which is the second oldest amusement park in the world, and is filled with restaurants and beautiful gardens. It also has roller coasters, etc., but it is not a tacky midway.    Hillary Clinton was in Copenhagen at the same time, and in fact she was eating her dinner in the Tivoli Gardens at the same time as we were, at the restaurant next door to ours.
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen  
The photo below is Nimb, which is a hotel and several restaurants. We ate there one night and there was a peacock on the terrace right outside our window.
 Nimb in Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
This is what I had for dinner there: the best lemon sole ever!  In fact, I had fish for dinner for every single lunch and dinner for the five days I was there. 
lemon sole
I saw lots of quilty inspiration on my trip: how's this for a colour palette? Inspired by the seats in the auditorium at the conference!
Colour palette inspired by chairs at conference
And what about this as a crazy kind of drunkard's path? It's a sign outside a bar in the Tivoli Gardens.
Quilty Inspiration Tivoli Gardens
But not everything was wonderful. Apparently, the Danes are like the Dutch in their fondness for licorice.  In our conference bags, they had given us some candy.  Can you imagine anything like this?
Nasty Danish candy #nothanks
I have one more thing to report. I have been working long and hard on a quilt destined to be a wedding present for two of my former students who met in my lab five years ago.  Just this morning, I sent the quilt off to the bride's family home, so it will be a few more days before I can show the photos.  There have been no progress shots because the bride to be is an inveterate surprise buster and knows where to find my blog photos and Flickr photostream.  This is one reason I have been AWOL - it has been a lot of work and I have been unable to say anything about it.  How do those famous bloggers who are always working on a book manage to keep an online presence and still keep everything under wraps? Suffice it to say for now that the quilt is one of the nicest I have ever made - it was very hard to box it up and say goodbye to it.  I can't wait to show you the glamour shots - just a couple more days and all will be revealed!

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