31 October, 2012

Wink Wink

Wink Wink
34" by 44''
Special Techniques: Improvised Curved Piecing
Bloggers' Quilt Festival Category: Baby Quilt

Made with and completely inspired by Mark Cesarik's Cosmic Burst line. It came out months ago, but I've been playing with these blocks and this quilt since March. That whole baby, new book, working, summer thing got in the way of finishing this top though. The last stitches in the binding finally went in over the weekend.

Check out all the process posts here:
The Fabric
Making Blocks
Layout Options 1
Layout Options 2
Finished Top
I absolutely love sharing the process like this. I don't always do it in such an intense burst (minus the finished quilt) because I'm always working on a million things at once. Or nothing at all.

And, as much as my little girl would love to keep this quilt for snuggles and fort building it is on its way to a baby boy. My husband actually commissioned the quilt for a friend and we'll be delivering it shortly.

Sharing this as part of the Blogger's Quilt Festival that Amy Ellis does twice a year. She is an awesome lady! And make sure to check out all the other quilts.

28 October, 2012

Weekend Reads - Launch

In an effort to appease my husband and focus on the family a little more I've decided to not quilt on the weekend. No work (even if a lot of my quilting is for fun) on Saturday and Sunday. That means I'm getting some relaxed mornings sitting in a comfy chair, tea in hand, reading. The girls read with me while the baby naps or we all watch cooking shows while I flip through cookbooks and magazines. Needless to say, I have a million things I could share with you.

This week I'm launching Weekend Reads, a new series here on Dining Room Empire. Each weekend I'll share with you what I'm reading, whether it be fiction, cookbooks, magazines, or quilting books. Perhaps it will involve a little book review, perhaps not. It might just be a capture of my weekend reads.

Take this weekend, for example. We went away to Banff for the weekend. A whole weekend of wonderful eats, total maniac time for the girls, some easy winter hiking/tourist activities, wood burning fireplaces, and lazy mornings. I actually got to read part of my novel yesterday. Now that was a treat!

Right now I'm reading Sweet Tooth, the latest from my favourite author, Ian McEwan. Curled up in a quilt (yes, I bring my own quilt to a hotel) I luxuriated in the time to get lost in a thrilling novel.

26 October, 2012

Lucky Penny Stripes

With no discredit to the designer, whenever I write the words in this post title I automatically default to Lucky Stripe. Blame it on Mad Men or a lack of sleep. I can say, however, that this fabric is a helluva lot nicer than a pack of cigarettes.

The colours are incredibly rich in the Lucky Penny line. I fell in love with these wavy, dotty stripes as soon as Allison Glass previewed them. The rest of the line is gorgeous, but I was definitely smitten with these. So much so that Allison sent me this stack of fat quarters. I've been fondling them since they arrived, a little too much like Gollum and his precious ring.

Those of you who know my work can recognize that the colours are a bit earthy compared to my usual choices. Sometimes, however, you can't explain the love you feel for something. It might be the arrival of winter, it might be that the richness is tempered by the amazing grey and that awesome chartreuse, it might just be because the fabrics are so damn pretty.

I'm not entirely sure what will become of these. Perhaps something that does indeed connote a lucky stripe, or some curves or, or, or...

23 October, 2012

Wine Gums Top

Well, I'm managing to sneak in bits of sewing here and there. The baby is napping well and my little girl loves to putter around the house on her own, when we aren't having tea parties. Phew.

It didn't take much to finish this top. Worked on in snippets (hah, get it Amanda?) it comes together rather easily. I love this top. I love the concept, I love the colours, I love the construction. I'm looking forward to the finished project.

At one point I can grand plans to make 4 square panels of these and use them as quadrants, all in opposing directions for a large quilt. It is SO hard for me to work small. But I decided to stay true to the original pattern size so people can appreciate it for what it is.

17 October, 2012

The Start of Mountain Meadows

Hmmm.... I'm not sure about these.

I had a chance to play with my green scraps recently and this is where I started. I did sort the scraps by value/colour to begin with. This is the first go around, with predominantly light greens. My overall concept is to have light and dark areas, to mimic the race of light across the mountain meadow. I don't want each area to be a solid block though, that's why there are some dark bits mixed in. The dark blocks will be the opposite.

This is also the beginning of adding in the idea of flowers in the meadow. In a real meadow the flowers are small and scattered across the hill, that's why there aren't many here. I've got some pink, yellow, orange, and white scraps set aside to make more flowers.

However, I'm not sure about these. Maybe the green chunks are too big? Maybe it is too random? Should I stop being so literal with my interpretation and make these blocks instead of one giant slab quilt? What I do know is that I need to play a little bit more before I make any more judgements.

15 October, 2012

Maple Leaves

There have been many bursts of patriotism in my life over the years:
- Silken Laumenn winning a silver medal at the 1992 Olympics after a brutal accident
- When our former Prime Minister Jean Chretien attacked a would be burgler with a soapstone sculpture
- Watching any Olympic hockey, but especially Crosby's goal in 2010
- The moment I see the mountains as I round the corner on the road to Banff, the splash of seals from the bow of my boat on the Halifax Arm, or the endless gold and blue of a Prairie sky
- Every time the gay marriage and abortion debates are raised in other countries I am thankful for our protection of freedoms
 - And when I saw Amy's Union Jack quilt

Yes, I'm serious about that last one. I have no special affinity to the UK, unless you count Earl Grey tea and Masterpiece Classic series. But Amy's quilt made me think about whether a Maple Leaf quilt could be made just as cool. She had confidence in me to do it and this weekend I finally tried.

I wanted to adapt our national flag into quilt form. The red portions are all pieced slabs - a technique we describe in Sunday Morning Quilts. The proportions are that of the real flag. And I eyeballed the actual leaf based on the original. Using fusible I cut the leaf out from a slab then fused it to a white background.

There are more blocks to be made, possibly in other colours. Let's see where this goes! Cool? Not sure about that, but I do think it is pretty neat.

03 October, 2012

Green Scraps

Much to my dismay, I'm still not getting much time to quilt. I would love to sit at the dining room table and make a giant mess with this gorgeous fabric. Alas, the mess being made in my house is from the painters and tilers working away in the basement. This, of course, is a very good thing. But between that and this, all I can manage on my mountain meadow quilt is a little organization by value.

02 October, 2012

Dream Big

I made a quilt. It's taken me almost a year. It was very intense to make. Both in terms of the effort in the quilting and the emotions it brought up. It's finally been delivered to the recipients.

Last August Jennie's husband died quite suddenly. He was helping his daughter on her bike on the streets of Brooklyn when he collapsed. Jennie was only someone I knew through her blog, tweets, and the occasional email. But I, like many others, needed to rally around her in a mass of support for this unexpected loss of the love of her life. We made pie, we sent notes, we read her posts about the grief. And I, well I did what I do, I sewed.

I think it was the fact that Jennie could have been me. Two young girls, a vibrant writing career, and a relationship with a great husband. Her story was tragic and life-altering and it could just as easily have happened to me. I've never met Jennie and so embarking on a queen sized quilt seemed overly generous to people I know. But it felt like the right thing to do - for me, yes, but for Jennie and her girls.

Grief can be all consuming and very lonely. It matters to know that people are thinking about you. And even though it wasn't my intention to take so long to finish, it is nice to have these gestures after the fact, when the initial support has gone away. I hope to meet Jennie one day, give her a hug, and watch our girls feel each other out then walk in front of us, hand in hand in their coordinating Saltwater Sandals. For now, I can only encourage her on her journey to Dream Big.

Dream Big
Approximately 80'' by 90"
Scrappy letters in low-volume fabrics, pieced then fused
Machine quilted at home with Aurifil 50wt
Fabric contributed by Jen Yu