Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Joy of Summer

Summer has come to the Alberta prairies and I am on a hiatus from school. Somehow I thought I would get back to blogging sooner but I have been doing other things- some quilty and some not. One of the first things I did was get some plants for our front deck to add some color out there. Isn't this purple container a beauty of color? I did put some flowers together in the barrels at the bottom of the front steps, but this one I bought, just because I loved the rich colors. Purple and Pink are my favorite colors so this one just spoke to me.
In the spring time Craftsy offered this box of fat quarters at a great price so I decided to buy them. They are all Free Spirit fabrics- designers like Riley Blake and Amy Butler are in the box. It is such a pretty rainbow of fabrics and more modern than I would normally choose. Sometimes a girl has to check out some other lines, and these fat quarters will make a fun wedding quilt for someone. I have some great fat quarter patterns to try out someday. The list of someday quilts continues to grow.
A friend of ours had made this lovely traditional Dresden Plate quilt. She had wanted to finish it and needed a bit of help with the binding so I gave her a hand with it. Binding is one of those jobs that is so much easier with the proper tools. Our friend had it quilted by a local long arm studio and was really happy with the completed project. I believe that the quilt was started by her mother.

In my previous post I shared this four square batik quilt with you. Here is the completed quilt being given to its new owner. My friend, Ms. G, was quite surprised with it. I am very happy with the quilt pattern and would make it again. It was a tutorial from the Missouri Star Quilt Company and is called The Half Square triangle quilt using the four Seasons block. I had not used their technique of making half square triangles and it was an easy technique to use.  A friend showed me another technique using a tube and and a strip ruler that is another way to make half square triangles.
A while back I participated in a giveaway contest hosted by The Fat Quarter Shop in Texas, when they were at Quilt market. I was very excited when my phrase was chosen and this beautiful package of Kate Spain fat quarters arrived in the mail. The Fat Quarter Shop does have a lovely on line shop and are very generous to quilters. If you are looking for an on line shop to try, they certainly are a shop to consider. They have lovely fabrics and fair prices. Their products always come beautifully wrapped and you get excellent service from them. Postage costs to Canada are getting more pricey, so I have not bought from them as often, but I do love their shop. They have an excellent blog called the Jolly Jabber.
Athena -also known as Atari or Kitten, the Tonkinese cat ( she is a cross of a Burmese and Siamese cat) has taken over in the roll of quilt kitty at our house. She has quite a different disposition than Mars cat, but loves to leave her mark( lots of white fur) on my current quilt projects. She is quite partial to this wedding signature quilt that is now together as a flimsy. I will spray baste it later this week and will get it quilted before too long. I have added borders to it since this photo was taken.
Our good friends V. and A celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this past week and I decided to make them some pillow cases to match their quilt. I dug around in my stash looking for fabrics that had come from their quilt but, unfortunately, I did not have any larger pieces to use, even for the two inch piping. I was surprised how quickly that the pillow cases went together. I used another tutorial from the Missouri Star quilt Co. - Jenny Doan gives good instructions . I have since made more pillowcases for my parents ,who celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary today. There is a  Dusty dog under this pile of pillow cases- if you look closely you can see her head and red collar on the left side.

My second major summer project is to get Kevin and Roseanne's wedding quilt put together. These fossil ferns are some of the fabrics that I am using in their quilt. This is a collection of the whole line of fossil fern fabrics. I got a kit from Craftsy called Under the Stars Quilt Kit by Nancy Smith. I have over 80 blocks made, but the quilt is a king sized quilt so I need almost that many again _ I think... I have loved this fabric line forever and it is really a lovely line to use. It handles beautifully.
In the image below you can see how the block is going to go together- I think it will be a pretty quilt when I get finished.
 The summer is flying by- I have been reading some great books - "I am Malala" and"The Pearl who broke its shell" are among my favorites. I have been out with friends for lunch and taken care of some general health/ dental things. I still want to clear out some things in the house. It won't be too long before the summer is gone.
I did get a chance to visit my folks early in the summer, as a beloved cousin passed away. While the reason I went to visit was a sad occasion, I did get the opportunity to see extended family. Part of that trip included some time spent traveling with my mother's brother and sister. It was nice to have that time to reconnect with my uncles and aunts.
 I recognize since I have gone to google +,that is difficult to leave a response or comment on the blog. I find that frustrating because one of the things that I loved about blogging was making connections with other bloggers. I don't know if anyone has any suggestions about this, but I would love to hear them. I do miss hearing from my other quilting friends on the blog. A few blogging friends have emailed me comments and I appreciate them taking that extra effort to leave comments.
 I hope you all are enjoying your summertime and get some time to spend doing the things that you love to do. Until next time,
 Be well,
Warmest regards, Anna

Friday, May 23, 2014

Half square triangles can create a beautiful quilt design

Mother's Day came a couple of weekends ago - I was lucky enough to enjoy  these stunning pink sweetheart roses and some lovely cards from our son and my beloved. I had quite a lovely day exploring a local rock and gem show on Mother's Day. There were lots of pretties and bling to tempt this bling girl. One of the things that I brought home was a lovely soft blue celestial geode.
 Currently  I have postponed working on our son's wedding quilt, as I had a quilt project that I wanted to complete for someone special. I plan to go back to working on the wedding quilts over the summer. After checking out a few patterns and talking with some quilting friends, I chose this pattern that is a tutorial from the Missouri Star Quilt Co. of the Half SquareTriangle Quilt using the Four Season Block
  The project is a quilt pattern from the Missouri Star Quilt Company pattern called Half Square Triangle quilt using the Four Season Block.  Unfortunately I do not have a design wall at home so I took the blocks to school and laid them out on the tables so that I could see how to  better arrange them.
I then brought the quilt blocks back and got it all sewn together in a top.Last weekend (which was our Victoria May long weekend) I went back to school and  and spray basted it all together. 
 I knew I had limited quilting time just now so I was very happy to have some time over our long weekend in May.  This photograph below was taken of  the quilt now that it is quilted. I took my time choosing the outside border and I am pleased with the results. I still have to bind it but I am well on my way to finishing it.
Jenny Doan from the Missouri Star Quilt Co, does a great job of explaining how to put the quilts together step by step. I had not tried the technique that she used to make the half square triangles but I liked the technique very much. I found that the triangles less daunting than usual and would use this technique again.  I would have liked to have a written version of the quilt so that I can check it out what I am doing but the tutorial was pretty clear. I understand that the Missouri Star quilt Co, has begun to write a magazine called Block. I believe that they have two issues of the magazine- one that has come out recently. I don't know if they have written out the instructions for this particular  quilt.
 This quilt used 6 charm packs- three dark collections  and three packages of little fabrics that were combined with a little bit of yardage for the wide borders. The back of the quilt is Stonehenge fabric by Northcott - it quilted up beautifully.  The quilt is a large twin sized quilt. I hope the intended recipient will really enjoy having an afternoon nap under the quilt.

On another front entirely, we have a new cat named Atari. She is a senior cat who needed a new residence as  her owner was moving to New Zealand.  We are beginning to adjust to  each other though she still is a bit shy. We wonder if she will be quilt kitty like Mars was?
 Or perhaps we will have a dog quilt helper- - you can see that Dusty the dog thinks that she could help too..  The jury is out whether the two of them will be compatible or whether they will just put up with one another.. Stay tuned for news about the pet front..

The next few weeks will be filled with school projects that need to be finished at year's end. Then I can look forward to summer which will be busy with some old and new quilt projects. More  next time..
Warmest regards,
Anna

Monday, April 7, 2014

Finally a new post- a wedding and the current quilt project.....

When I look back at this winter, I can't believe that it has been 3 months since I posted on my blog. Yikes- maybe the title should be " Dear Abandoned Blog... During this time I have had a number of different flowers that have graced our table including tulips, poinsettias,
lovely orchids and more tulips that opened out spectacularly beautifully
and the gorgeous remains of wedding flowers -

Did I say wedding flowers - Yep- these gorgeous hydrangeas were combined with greenery and plum carnations and roses. They looked stunning as our son Kevin and his lady Rose (now wife) said their vows in February.
A photo of the loving couple looking gorgeous. Her beautiful bouquet was silks with rhinestones and pearls and had deep plum flowers in it.
They were married in Banff on a cold day in early February. The majestic mountains were a stunning backdrop for this auspicious occasion. It was a very small intimate affair and was enjoyed by all.

Below is a photo of  my beloved and  me, decked out in our wedding finery. My jewelery included pieces that belonged to my grandmother, Grace. She would have loved being there on the kids special day and I felt like she was with me celebrating the momentous occasion.
We were so happy that my parents were able to join us in Banff. It was so nice to spend time together enjoying the mountains and wonderful views.
My mother took this photograph of the view from their hotel room.Isn't it an amazing view? In the summer, the valley has a golf course with the river coursing through it.
And here are Rose's parents all decked out to celebrate the nuptials. We were happy to meet them and look forward to other times when we might cross paths.
In the meantime, life has gone on with other things- I have been working on Kevin and Rose's wedding quilt but, it will be a while, before the king sized quilt will be completed. So far I have cut and completed 83 blocks - I am not sure exactly how many blocks it will be but at least twice that many. This is what a few of the blocks look like when they are placed together to form bigger blocks. The pattern is called Under the Stars and is a Craftsy kit of Fossil Fern fabrics by Benatrex. It is interesting to see the secondary patterns forming when you place the blocks together.

I went to a quilt workshop with some quilting friends in March, and have been the usual busy with my kindergarten students. Our kinders went to see some little chicks and rabbits on a field trip just before spring break, which was last week.
 During spring break- I got in some good quilting time , where I got some work done on another quilt project. More about that as that quilt comes together - right now its a secret project for a friend. The pattern is a one of the Missouri Star Co. tutorial patterns and I am pleased to see it starting to take shape.

 We went to visit my family for a couple of days to celebrate my parents birthdays ( Happy Birthday Dad and Mom). I also got some time with my favorite girls and their parents. My dear friend, V and I had an afternoon of visiting and beading which is always fun.

 Since Kevin and Roseanne's wedding, Bruce and I have taken in a few concerts including one to see the band" Yes". Our first date 35 years ago, was to a Yes concert, so it was fun to see the band still playing all these years later. We enjoyed seeing the band and hearing the music. It took us back to a different time and place. This photo is a little selfie taken on the cell phone at the concert.
Yesterday we went off to the Art Gallery to see the newest exhibits.The main exhibit is called High Adventure on the Columbia Ice Fields- 1924.  It is a lovely showing of photographs taken by Byron Harmon and Lewis Freeman. The pictures, done in 1924, showed the Columbia Ice fields,which feeds 6 different glaciers and rivers to three different oceans. The exhibit had some very cool archival footage that included a dog named Buster riding on horseback across the cold lake water. There are also some paintings done by Lawren Harris and A. Y. Jackson (two painters from the Group of Seven) done in 1924 in Jasper. Lots of Mountain connections in this post, it seems.
 Today I returned to the classroom and the third term begins- my this school year is flying by. Life seems to have been particularly full the first three months of 2014, with lots of special celebrations happening.
 I haven't forgotten you my dear blog friends - just got a little busy on the home front. I will try to be a less of a stranger to blog land in the coming months. Keep watching for quilty updates.

 In the meantime, I hope this finds you all well. Happy Quilting,
Warmest regards, Anna

Friday, December 27, 2013

A lovely visit- babies and some new quilts...


Poinsettias were my wedding flowers and yesterday, my husband, Bruce and I quietly celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. It does not seem possible that we have been married quite that long- through good times and bad we have always had each other's back. Our journey together has had our fair share of twists and turns, but I feel very fortunate to count my partner in life as my dearest friend. This beautiful pot of poinsettias is a large one- we considered briefly putting on lights and decorating it as our Christmas tree. The poinsettias were a Thank you gift from a friend and we are enjoying their luscious rich colored petals. ( In the end , we did put up a small artificial tree and the poinsettia adorns our table)
 Time has flown by quickly and this fall has been particularly hectic. I seem to have disappeared from my blog page this year- especially this fall. When I sat down to write I suddenly realized why it had been so long. Here are a few highlights...

In Mid November our son and his fiancee arrived home for a couple of weeks to finalize the plans for their wedding in early February. It was so lovely to have them here for parts of two weeks. Here are the four of us gathered in my parent's kitchen. I am sure that the wedding is going to be lovely. The wedding will take place in Banff- a beautiful spot in the Canadian Rockies. It will be a small intimate celebration but I know that it is going to be a special time for us all, but most especially, for Kevin and Roseanne. I have chosen a quilt pattern and have the fabric for their wedding quilt. One of my goals over this Christmas vacation is to get a good start on the blocks for the quilt. I hope to have the top put together by their wedding.( it is always good to have a goal LOL) We shall see....
  While the kids were here visiting we celebrated my November birthday. They brought me this cute little sewing machine to decorate my sewing room. It reminds me of my featherweight that I will be using to piece the 200 or so blocks in their king size quilt. The wedding quilt fabrics that I have chosen are a kaleidoscope of color from the Fossil Fern line by Benatrex. I have always wanted to use this fabric line as it has so much movement and texture in the fabrics. I am sure there will some photos in upcoming posts of the wedding quilt blocks.
 Late November is always an exciting time in kindergarten. We wrote letters to Santa and made some drawings. I thought you might enjoy seeing my student's drawings of Santa along with their reindeer.
Santa Claus came to visit our kindergarten students. It is such an exciting season and the children are always awestruck when Santa comes in, bringing parcels and goodies with their names on it. I love watching the magic of Santa - It is always a special day when he comes to school.

Quite  awhile back a dear friend gave me this quilt top to finish. With our combined efforts, it is now a  completed quilt. I knew that my younger brother's quilt had seen better days, so when I was home for Christmas, I brought this quilt to him. I called it The Twist and Turns of life and I know that he was thrilled with it. I hope that he gets many years of enjoyment out of it .


Last summer I was busy making wedding quilts for two of our sibling's children: one for  a niece and  the other for a nephew and their new spouses. One of the quilts was delivered to our nephew and his bride in October. Now the mate to that quilt has now been delivered to my niece and her husband. The pattern is a disappearing 9 patch and the fabrics were all batiks. I had both of the quilts all pieced in the summer, but I had not finished quilting this one in time for their August wedding. I am pleased to finally get them both finished.May each couple enjoy many happy years together and may they know how much they are loved by their family and friends. 

2013 has brought three new babies to our extended family. Two of our nieces on my husband's side of the family had babies. We had a new nephew arrive in August and a new niece in September. Here I am with my arms full of two beautiful babies wrapped in their baby wraps. They are both sweet and will enjoy lots of good times  together as they are first cousins. They sat so nicely with their grand auntie - There is nothing like holding small babies - and this pair were as good as gold.
This handsome little boy with all the hair belongs to another nephew of ours. He was born in late November. What joy these new family additions are bringing to all of our lives.

The festive season has been a busy one- lots of preparations - cooking, decorating, shopping and wrapping for the big day. Now is the down time of the Christmas vacation: a little  rest and relaxation along with some fun times spent with family and friends. I know that January will be a busy month and our son's wedding is the first part of February so the new year will be exciting.

Hopefully when I post next I will have the beginnings of the wedding quilt. The New Year will certainly start off with a bang.
 I want to wish you all a wonderful 2014. May it be rich with good times spent with loved ones. May you enjoy good health and prosperity in the year ahead.
 Warmest regards, Anna

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A quilt finish, One hundred widows and other November news..

This pretty bouquet of flowers  given to me to remember Mars, was left on my desk at school by a lovely school friend- The blossoms were the colors of Mars cat- rich oranges, carmel and white. It was  such a touching gesture of kindness. My colleague is also a pet lover and knew how sad our house was with the passing of Mars Cat. We still have bits of the bouquet brightening our dining room table.
Winter has arrived here in Alberta- the trees were laden with snow and look so pretty after the first snow fall last weekend. I was grateful that I had a day to get used to the snow before I had to venture out in it with my car. ( I managed to get my hair cut across town before the snow started- wahoo) It snowed all day today so the roads will not be too wonderful for the next day or two but I don't have to go too far and Monday is a holiday as it is Remembrance Day on November 11. We made poppies at school and talked about Peace- and living Peacefully. There is something quite peaceful about trees covered in snow..
I started this Twister Jack pattern just before we lost Mars. I have yet to do the second cut of this quilt- not sure when I will tackle it. It is made using a fun little tool called a twister ruler- Don't you wonder how people come up with these cool ideas? I have seen a heart done this way too. You can get varying sized rulers to make different sized pattern blocks with it. Have you tried a twister pattern?


This is as far as I have got but I have lost my motivation to finish it just now- perhaps by next summer I will get back to it again.
In the meantime, I have returned to finishing the second wedding quilt from the summer- This first view shows it just before I decided on the outside border. Like many quilts I auditioned various borders before choosing this one. The pattern is the disappearing 9 patch and is a  companion mate to the one that I made for our nephew and his bride that live in New York.
While it snowed last weekend, I ventured upstairs to my sewing room and got the quilt quilted. It is almost a queen sized quilt so it took a little while to free motion quilt it but it is now quilted. I am pleased how nice and flat it quilted up. I trimmed the quilt today and will try and get the binding on it before this weekend is over. It is sometimes difficult to get things finished during the school year but I want to get this to our niece and her husband soon. While the two quilts had some similar fabrics- the different borders do change the look of each of them. The camera really doesn't capture the rich batik  colors. I got a new camera awhile back because my I had problems with my other one- however I really don't like the picture quality of this one- sometimes too cheap is just too cheap to produce a good photograph. I guess I will put it on my wish list for my upcoming birthday or Christmas. Our son and his fiancée arrive next Friday. We are  so excited to see them both- I know we will talk about what their wedding quilt is going to look like as I need to get started on it.( Their wedding will be in February 2014) Christmas will have come early in our house with their two week visit.
  Recently, Bruce and I went to see a very fun earring exhibit done on some netting called 100 widows. The earrings were all singletons- ones who had somehow lost their mates. The day that Bruce was reading in the newspaper about the exhibit ( it was created by Elizabeth Withey)- I lost one of my favorite earrings ( or it appeared to be gone) I searched high and low for it- by some miracle it had got caught in my sweater and it fell out at my feet, a couple weeks later when I took the sweater off. I was thrilled to find it. The exhibit had some really interesting stories that went with the lost earrings. It is always fun to check out what is happening at some local art galleries.
One Hundred Widows Exhibit - Latitude 53
Check out the link if you are interested in reading more of the one hundred widow stories

We are off to a concert with Three Folk artists on Monday evening- Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris and Richard Thompson. It will be a terrific evening of music...The venue has wonderful acoustics and live music is always a great way to spend time together..
One of my blogging friends Victoria from Bumblebee quilts is having a giveaway of her terrific book time to Play. Victoria Finlay Wolfe of Bumblebee quilts ( click on the link and it will take you to her very fun blog). We all need to take time to play with  whatever fills ones creative soul...
 In the meantime, I have some cleaning, as well as school work to do and some reports to finish so the weekend will fly by.. It is the season of craft sales and Christmas planning.. I expect I should do a bit of shopping soon so that I don't have to mail presents after the kids return to the east coast. LOL
 Have you done some Christmas shopping? baking? decorating? Perhaps we will put up the Christmas village while our boy is here...
'Til next time, have fun creating and planning for the upcoming festive season...
Warmest regards,
Anna

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mars the cat and some of her quilts...

Our beautiful quilt cat Mars has passed on. She leaves behind a bundle of quilts for others to cherish. Each and every one of Anna's  many creations, were cat tested by Mars. She always seemed to be around to help test the fabrics and check on the finished ones for comfort. Sometimes she would come and help sew ( a few times I thought she might catch her paw in the sewing machine needle) when she was younger, she liked to come and supervise the stitching of the quilts. She is mourned by her human parents, Bruce and Anna and their son Kevin and his fiancée Roseanne. She will also be missed by her dog sibling Dusty. Mars had just turned 15 at the time of her passing.

Mars had a number of interesting past times that included sleeping in a variety of baskets, checking out the birds and squirrels outside the window and chasing Dusty when she got sufficiently annoyed. She had some favorite foods- soft vanilla ice cream, milk from a tall cup and roast chicken. The only cat  food she would eat was Whiskas.

This quilt pattern is called a Disappearing nine patch and is made of a wide range of batik fabrics. I love the texture and colors that can be found in batiks.

Here the quilt is laid out on my tables at school to be spray basted together.

This quilt has been safely delivered to this lovely couple- our nephew and his bride. I know that this quilt will be well loved by them both.
I recognize that I have been away from my blog for awhile- Life this fall has been very busy with school work and tending to our sick pet. It is hard to believe that it will soon be November. We are looking forward to our son and his girl visiting from PEI in mid November. I will leave you with a few more photos of Mars and my quilts...Perhaps one day I will have another quilt helper- It is hard to imagine that there could another cat who would look so pretty on my quilts.. The leaf quilt on the left was often Mars favorite quilt- We wondered whether she recognized that she was similar in coloring to some of the leaves. This is just a few of the 100 quilts that I have created since 1996.
Mars came quilting with me during most of my journey... It feels just a little odd to think about quilting without her being their to check out my work.
This is my current project - a twister jack- o- lantern that is partially done.
It has lots of oranges and red-
I know Mars would have liked it too.
Happy quilting,
Warmest regards, Anna