Monthly Archives: June 2012

Aside

Canada and the United States have a great deal in common. One of the many similarites is that both countries celebrate their independence in the first few days of July. Canada Day is July 1st and the American Independence Day is July 4th.

According to Wickipedia, “The Canada-United States border, officially known as the International Boundary, is the longest international border in the world shared between the same pair of countries. The terrestrial boundary (including small portions of maritime boundaries on the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts, as well as the Great Lakes is 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi) long, including 2,475 kilometres (1,538 mi) shared with Alaska. It is Canada’s only land border.”

The relationship between these two countries is important to my family. My husband and I were born in Canada and spent the first 30+ years of our lives there. I became a U.S citizen in November. My two teens, who were born in the United States, were granted their Canadian citizenship a few months ago.

To honor these independence celebrations, I’ve made 2 wall hanging. Here they are, pictured on my longarm.

(If you can’t see the photo, please check my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com)

Canada & USA wall hangings

Canada & USA Independance Wall Hangings

Fabric: Collector, Addict, Hoarder?

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I subscribed to a fabric-of-the-month club ten years before I started quilting. I didn’t do anything with it, but I loved the look and feel of the florals. A dozen years later, these fabrics have been moved cross-country and are still in special plastic fat quarter bags in my sewing room. Except now they are outdated and I think they are ugly.

I spent this past weekend organizing my sewing room. I have a LOT of fabric and a LOT of patterns. What I don’t have is a LOT of space. My sewing room was originally our home dining room. It now functions as a place to sew and use my computer, as well as a dumping ground for books, stuff to be filed, and — if we are having company — dog walking paraphernalia and the entire shoe collection from the front hall. I admit that the thought occurred to me that I don’t need any more fabric. Yikes!

I like to think of myself as a collector. The dictionary defines collectors as “a person who makes a collection, as of stamps.” This is a great definition. I bet nobody goes up to a stamp collector and says, “What are you going to use those for?” They understand that collecting stamps, for them, is a way to feel good.

I also think that there’s an element of addiction in my purchases. Not the dictionary definition of “a person who is devoted to something a jazz addict” kind. More the — “I feel bad and buying fabric is an action that will make me feel wonderful.”  In a lot of ways, I think the fabric-buying high is comparable to other possibly addictive behaviors like gambling or eating an entire carton of ice cream. Even after I concluded, on Sunday, that I didn’t need to buy any more fabric for the rest of my life — I was reading through the equilter.com fabric site and considering buying some of their new offerings. Geez that resolution didn’t last long; sorta like with most addicts.

Hoarder is the word that scares me. I can picture my home filled with fabric, with only narrow pathways to move from room to room. The dictionary definition of hoarder is “a person who accumulates things and hides them away for future use.” Well, many of my fabrics are in my “tomorrow” stash. I have many friends who talk about saving fabric for their retirement projects. Gulp. That makes me a hoarder as well.

Here’s the problem as I see it — fabric changes. The “gotta have it” fabric from last year pales in comparison to the “gotta have it” fabric just released at Quilt Market. Personal tastes and colors change. Your skill level improves. Your stage of life changes from mother to empty-nester to retiree with grandchildren, and your stash should reflect your sewing projects and stage in life. Whereas I have no problem throwing out a pair of pants that is out of style or does not fit, I can’t get rid of fabric that meets the same criteria.

So why haven’t I given away the ugly, no-longer-my-taste, fat-quarter-of-the-month  fabric in my stash? That, my friends, is a great question.

Jamie Wallen rescued me

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I have a new man in my life — and please don’t tell my husband of 28 years! His name is Jamie Wallen and he saved me this week. Let me explain …

Since I’ve had my A1 longarm, I’ve been fortunate not to re-time my machine. However on Monday afternoon, I broke a needle. It was obvious that it was time to re-time!

Now I had prepared for this day. I’d taken 2 courses on longarm maintenance and watched the process demonstrated. I had my A1 maintenance manual. I followed the directions. I was clueless and pretty much screwed. After my husband came home from work, we spent almost 2 hours trying to figure out what we were doing wrong — until I had the brilliant suggestion of checking for Youtube videos. Thankfully, Jamie Wallen had posted a wonderfully clear video on the subject. After about 30 seconds my hubby had an “ah ha” moment and knew what we (he by this point) were doing wrong. My timing was complete! My machine was now working beautifully again.

Here’s the link, along with my sincere gratitude to Jamie for creating and posting such a valuable video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhnvSYo1VpU

Turns out, Jamie is more than an A1 mechanic. He also creates incredible, beautiful quilts. His website provides some serious eye candy. I hope you’ll appreciate him as much as I have!

http://www.jamiewallenfineartquilting.com/jamiewallenfineartquilting/Gallery.html#grid

“Cat Parade” Wall Hanging

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I picked up this pattern when I was in Canada last week. They had it made up in the shop and I loved it’s simplicity, not to mention that I have a huge stash of black and white fabric. This was a quick and easy project and will be a gift for my physical therapist, whose child-cats are the love of her life.

I wanted to keep the quilting on this very minimal. The first pass through, I did not quilt the cats at all. However, when I unzipped the project from the longarm, the lack of quilting in such a large area meant that it didn’t hang correctly. I went back and quilted the tails, as well as some fur in the bodies.

I also chose a cream color thread for the middle of the quilt. Although it appeared to be a slightly different color than the polka dot fabric, it actually blended in so well that I couldn’t see my quilting lines. I’ve made this mistake before, and I’ll probably make it again.

You can find this pattern at: http://www.designstoshare.com/patterns/viewpattern.php5?id=116

(If you can’t see the photo, please check my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com.)

“Cats on Parade” Wallhanging

Back from vacation, eh?

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I’m happy to be back home after a wonderful vacation in Ontario, Canada. It was a busy 9 days, but I managed to squeeze in visits to three local quilt shops.

I was pleased to discover a new line of Canadian fabric. I was looking for Canadian fabric in November, as both my kids had just been granted their Canadian citizenship, and there was nothing available. So I was thrilled to discover that Northcott fabrics had an “Oh Canada” collection. This was created by Linda Ludovico in support of Quilts of Valor.

This fabric cost $16.47 per meter (a little larger than a yard) plus 15% in taxes. This is the second time I’ve ever spent $19 a yard on fabric. (The first time was custom-dyed fabric from Ricky Tims.)  However the fabric is beautiful and I’m excited to use it.

You can see the entire line of fabric, as well as free patterns, here:

http://www.northcott.net/?sid=2&layout=2col&content=fabric_details&colid=512&colorid=864

(If you can’t see the photos, please go to quiltnotes.wordpress.com)

“Oh Canada” fabrics by Northcott

Father’s Day Quilt

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This weekend is Father’s Day and — for the first time in more than 20 years — I am spending it with my father (as well as my mother and 3 siblings). For 15 years I lived about 3,000 miles from my dad until I moved five years ago, so a quick trip for family celebrations wasn’t feasible. I am now a “short” 14 hour drive away, and Father’s Day happens to coincide with other plans in the area.

My family does not generally exchange gifts, but I saw this panel at a recent quilt show. My dad grew up on a farm in Northern Ontario (Canada) and I immediately thought of him. As this was something I thought he could hang in his computer room in the basement, I wasn’t looking to do anything too fancy with the quilting. However, once I started on the grass, I realized that it was a very time-consuming endeavor. Nevertheless, it looks great and I know he will like it.

The panel is available at http://216.67.235.130/p-20721-farmall-tractor-wducks-panel-troy.aspx

Speaking of traveling … I will be on vacation for the next 10 days and back to the blog-o-sphere on June 25th.

(If you cannot see my photos, please go directly to my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com)

Farm panel

Grass is easy to do, but time-consuming

Even the backing is coordinating!

 

 

Linda Warren Lecture

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On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Linda Warren in New York City. She was speaking to the Empire Quilter’s Guild about color.

Linda was not born knowing about color.  She describes learning color as being akin to learning any other set of skills — you do not sit down at a piano and know how to play — you practice! And learning a musical instrument is just like learning about color. Practice! Practice! Practice!

Linda suggests that we don’t be afraid of colors. Set up a design wall (a flannel sheet will work just fine) and play around with blocks and with color. Her final words were: “Try Stuff. Play to learn about design.”

I actually like this idea. I’ve always figured that good use of color was some kind of magical skill that others (not me) were born with. Her lecture made me much more willing to play around and not just accept the first color combination I come upon.

You can see Linda’s quilts at http://lindawarrendesigns.com/gallery.html.

I also purchased one of her patterns. The quilt, as you can see from her gallery pictures, is stunning.

(If you can’t see the photo, please go to my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com)

Linda Warren describing one of the block-of-the-month quilts that she designed

Linda Warren quilt pattern — I can’t wait to try this!

Transitions … My Homeschooling Journey

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I feel like our journey, as women, is full of change. We are married (okay, I’m old-fashioned, that’s not a requirement) and then become parents. Our roles as mothers constantly change. The requirements of an infant, 2-year-old, kindergartner, pre-teen, and teenagers are all different. We go from being a custodian, to a hero, to an ATM machine that has little to contribute to their lives!

My journey has been a little bit different, in that I have homeschooled my children for the last 8 years. Homeschooling was never my intention. In fact, I thought that all homeschoolers were religious zealots with at least a dozen children. However my son had some medical challenges and, when he was in 5th grade, I decided that homeschooling was the right decision. At the time my daughter was in 2nd grade. Very quickly, we became a homeschooling family and heavily involved in the homeschooling community.

Fast forward 8 years to June 2012, and my son has graduated from high school. He won a top scholarship at a New York state university, and we believe he is the first homeschooler to win that award. He will be spending the summer volunteering at a camp in upstate New York, and then be off to college several hundred miles away.

Yesterday I filed my last homeschooling reports for my son. I am done! My role as parent/educator is over. It finally hit me that I am no longer responsible for his education. I was euphoric!

I am quickly realizing the amount of stress I felt as a homeschooling parent. But it was not without rewards. I got to spend a lot of time with my kids. As my son heads for college, I feel like I truly know him and am ready to let him go. My daughter and son, being in a “classroom” with 2 students, have spent a lot of time together and are extremely close. We have had the freedom to travel as a family. And the kids have had time to explore their own interests.

It is especially tough for homeschooling moms when their kids graduate, because being parent/teachers is all-consuming. Their friends and interests are generally entirely homeschool-related. It seems easier to have a few more kids and stay in homeschool mode than to move on with our lives.

That’s why I was so excited to discover quilting. It is MY hobby. It makes ME feel good. It has enabled ME to make friends who were interested in my life and not just the accomplishments of my children. Quilting has given ME a way to move on with my life.

Today begins a new chapter in my life. My daughter, who just completed 9th grade, is still being homeschooled. Her next few years will pass quickly and then I’ll be at another transition point — empty nester. Although I’m sure this will break my heart, it will also give me an additional bedroom to store my stash of fabric! Like clouds, every transition has a silver lining!

Lecture: Phyllis Twigg Hatcher, “150 Years of Quilts”

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This past weekend I attended the Peconic Quilt Show on the east end of Long Island. One of the highlights was a lecture by Phyllis Twigg Hatcher featuring 150 years of quilts.

There is something magical about seeing quilts that were made in the 1800’s. Especially quilts that had a modern design. It makes you see that these women were truly artists and — despite lives that involved a lot of mundane household chores — they took the time to make their quilts beautiful.

Phyllis is an excellent speaker. She was informative, energetic, and very funny. She had great stories about the background of each quilt, and she probably showed us 30 of them. Even though I’m not especially fascinated by older quilts, I learned a great deal and came away with a far greater appreciation of older quilts. I also learned quite a bit about the dying process.

One more comment … I had my teenage daughter with me at the lecture, and my daughter even admitted that Phyllis “did not suck.” That kind of praise is equivalent to having your quilt win at Houston!

You can learn more about Phyllis at http://www.quilt-appraiser.com/about_phyllis.html

(If you can’t see the photos, please check out my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com)

Phyllis talking about a redwork quilt.

One of the crib quilts from the lecture. Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s about 150 years old.

My New Cutting Mat

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Until recently, my largest cutting mat was 24″ x 36″.  It sits on a cutting table that my father made for me. It’s a great system for cutting pieces and strips — but not so good when it comes to trimming finished quilts. As you can imagine, the quilt falls over the sides and pulls away as I use the rotary cutter.

Unfortunately, our house doesn’t have a large enough surface for a big cutting mat. And, every time I looked at them, I wondered where the heck I’d store it.  (Lots of people store big mats under their beds, however our bedroom is on the 2nd floor and the mats are heavy to lug around.) My only alternative seemed to be leaving it permanently on our kitchen table and throwing on a couple placemats on it whenever we wanted to eat! I probably would have done that, except that we’re always spilling stuff and I would have wrecked my mat!

A few weeks ago, I had the brilliant idea that I could buy a large cutting mat and store it on the floor under my longarm. The mat I bought is 56″ x 33″. The narrow part fits fairly well under the large batting rolls that are suspended under my machine. When I need to cut, I just slide out the mat and cut on the floor. This eliminates any drag on my quilt. Cutting has been fast and easy.

Using the mat in this location also allows me to cut batting with a rotary cutter. Previously, I was using scissors.

As you can see, this mat has been a game-changer. The exact model that I purchased is no longer available at Joann Fabrics, but this one is similar and is currently on sale:

http://www.joann.com/36×59-cutting-mat/xprd74039/