Thursday, March 31, 2011


I recently finished this vest.  It is pieced and reversable.  I used Jodi Barrows, Square in a Square ruler for the blocks.
This is another of those projects that has been laying in my WIP (work in progress)  drawer for over four years.
I have also been working on a paper pieced quilt and was having trouble with one of sections.   I did it four times.  The first time I  put the pieces in in the wrong order, the second time, I did the same thing.  Then I put piece in upside down.  By now the paper is in pretty bad shape so I had to tape it. Fourth time through I got it done correctly.  I could have understood if this was the first time I made the section but it wasn't.  This was the last block.
Sometimes you just have to keep at it.  I probably would have started from the beginning with a fresh pattern but I didn't want to print another one.
Anyway, after all that, I just have the corner pieces to do and the top is finished.  And people expect to buy quilts for the same price you can get one at Walmart!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Beaver Tails

We are at a balmy 5 degrees today.  I was in Huntsville to do some shopping and had my coat off most of the time.  Of course, in a couple of months, 5 above will be a deep freeze but right now it is lovely and warm.
Went for a walk with my husband and dog yesterday to the pond at the back of our property.  Roger had seen the beaver there a couple of days ago so I wanted to take a look.  As we got closer, we could hear a crunching sound and was wondering what it was.  As soon as we could see the pond, we had our answer.  The beaver, who I am naming Justin (Justin Beaver, get it) was chewing at the ice trying to increase the size of the open water area.  He didn't pay any attention to us and Heidi, fortunately, didn't bark although she was trembling with excitement.  We stood and watched for quite a while.  There were a couple of deer on the other side of the pond who were also interested in the sight.
If I can get up the energy to go out again, I will see if I can get a picture of our industrious neighbour.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Phone Calls

I think I have spent the whole morning on the phone.  As I was away both all day and into the evening yesterday, today is spent catching up.  There are people who need to be reminded of meetings, others to contact about various  events etc.  I have always disliked talking on the phone but hate not having one.  If the service goes out, I feel as though I have lost an arm.  At the same time, if the thing keeps ringing, it drives me crazy.
I think my calls are done for the day so now can get on with other stuff.  I have been working on a quilt pattern design so need to do more on that.  I also want to take a walk back to the pond.  My husband tells me that our beavers are busy working on the dam and the sign of their activity is evident from the tracks on both the ice on the pond and the snow covered shore. 
Each year, spring seems to reveal itself in different ways.  Last year, we were hoping that beaver would move to the pond and this year we can celebrate the arrival of the cubs or kittens or whatever the babies are called.
Our loon, crane and other birds should soon be making an appearance.  I love hearing the loons call in the morning and evening as it travels from the pond to the nearby lake.  There is nothing more Canadian than that long mournful note echoing through the stillness.
For those of you who quilt, have you checked out Jinny Beyer's free patterns?  What an amazing designer she is.

Friday, March 25, 2011


My birthday will arrive in a couple of weeks and I will be celebrating my 65 years on this earth.  I think I mentioned that my husband has been planning a surprise for me which will, in part, consist of an open house.  I have been trying not to think about it as I don't want to be trying to guess what he is going to do.  He did have to tell me about the open house as we will need to tidy up.  Also, I suspect, have to rearrange furniture. 
While I wait for this momentous event, I have been busy in, where else, my quilt room.  I have been finishing up another project that has hung around for a while as well as designing a pattern for the web page.  This is a foundation pieced pattern and I really like the way it is coming together.  Lots of my favourite bright colours with a few others to give your eyes a break.  The overall effect will be 3 dimensional; another of my favourites.  I've always liked patterns that have hidden designs and this will have that.
Last night I gave our wee Heidi a bath and today she got her nails done.    She had begun to smell doggy and, because her hair is quite fine, it gathers up all manner of flotsam.  Now, if I can only keep her looking pretty for a few days.
It looks as though the cool weather is going to continue.  Some of our snow has melted but it still looks like winter here in the backwoods.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nature's Bounty

Nature's Bounty-Maple Syrup
 This is our first lot of maple syrup for this year.  Doesn't it make a wonderful picture with the different shades of brown and gold in the old mason jars.  Actually the jars are new but the style hasn't changed for as long as I can remember which, I must admit, isn't very long on some days.
We are hoping the weather will cooperate so we can get some more but, with the new set up, we already have more this year than we did the previous.
We have a better method of cooking now so we were able to get this much in one day.  Last year, it took the better part of a week.
If we get a really good run, I am going to look up some recipes.  I would like to be able to substitute the syrup for sugar where I can.  Of course, if we boil it long enough we cuold get sugar but I don't think we are ready to do that yet.
Don't you wish you could have some of this on your morning pancakes?
Blessings ,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Another Lesson

Free Patterns

You may be wondering why I have posted this pattern again.  It is because I have just learnt how so do something new.  My web master (mistress) Rachel, previously taught me how to add a link to my photos.  Today, she showed me how to add a name so that when someone is searching for an image (photo) of winter or free pattern, mine will pop up with a link to my web page.
Isn't that the neatest thing?
You may already know how to do this but as I am, officially, approaching old age, I am quite excited about learning new techie stuff.  Especially as it is something I have been wanting to be able to do for some time.  So, thank you, Rachel!
Today, while I am mucking about on the computer, my dear husband is boiling maple syrup.  It isn't running that well this year due to weather conditions so he decided he might as well get at what he has.  He has the cell phone with him so I can be a good wife and take him lunch and tea as needed.
I can see him working from my studio window and I feel a bit guilty watching him slaving away so I had better get something accomplished myself.  Back to the sewing machine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Antiques and Free Stuff

Do you like antiques?  I am not fond of most things that are labelled 'collectables' (althougth I have a few) but I do enjoy the solid, hand made articles of the past especially if it belonged to a family member.  We have a lovely set of dishes that were owned by my husband's Grandmother.  We couldn't afford to replace even a saucer if it were to get broken but we try not to just use them on special days.  We also have a chest of drawers that belonged to a great-grandparent again from my husband's family.  My side has contributed jewelry and a few smaller items.  We have a couple other bits and pieces of furniture that is quite old that we found at sales or were given to us.
I have recently started collecting pin cushions and am watching for any that are unique or old.  One of my favourite web sites, Sisters Quilting Expo, has a number of reproduction sewing items which are quite nice.
Because of the size of our home, anything collected is going to have to be small so sewing things fall into that catagory.
I have just completed another block with will go onto my web site as a free pattern.  This one would be perfect for a little boy and is called Dinosaur Garden. If I have done this correctly, you should be able to click on the name and the link will take you to the pattern.  It hasn't been downloaded (uploaded) just yet but will be later today.
It still isn't very warm yet.  My dear man is waiting to get his maple syrup done. Like more things in life, things happen when they do.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Contest

I am thinking about holding a draw to mark the one month anniversary of my web site.  I haven't quilte decided how to do it yet so stay tuned.
I noticed that we have another sign of approaching spring; I can now see the bottom step at the back door entrance.  The snow had been covering it all winter which made the dog happy as she could jump from the ground to the landing.  We had so much rain last night, combined with wind, that I am surprised to see there is any snow left at all but the bush still has quite a lot.  Our lane, on the other hand is bare and muddy.  The car tires sunk about four inches when I got back from picking up the mail in the village.  Guess I will have to park somewhere else for a while.  We need to get some gravel on that part of the hill.
I was just talking to my sister-in-law and she and my brother have just bought some chicks.  We have been think about it but it isn't something you do to save money.  When you factor in cost of the birds, feed, heat etc., they will end up costing about $8.00 each.  On the upside, they won't be pumped full of water or anything else.
There has been quite a response to the free patterns on the web site so I am going to get busy and do some more.  I am thinking of an applique that would be nice for a child's quilt. 
And now, my bread needs to come out of the oven and the dog is waiting for her walk.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day and Yesterday's BOM

Are you wearing green today?  I'm not but  I am English and we tend to be contrary.  I have just finished a quilt pattern that has a lot of green in it so that will be my celebration.
There might have been some confusion yesterday when you went to access the free pattern.  After you clicked on the photo it took you to a store check out.  The price would have shown as zero but those who haven't done a lot of on line shopping weren't used to the process.  My webmaster has changed the site so that when you click on the photo, you get an immediate download. I hope this makes it easier for everyone.
I am going to be adding a number of freebies-tutorials and hints, as well as patterns.  Is there something you would like to see?  I think I will also do some easy labels as I find that a lot of the ones you buy don't have much room for writing.  I like just a border and some lines where a quilter can fill in their information.
It looks as though we are going to have a nice day here in the backwoods.  The sun is shining and the temperature is already above freezing.  I have noticed more birds flitting through the trees lately so it does seem that spring is on the way.  Another sure sign is the flowing sap.  My husband is out in the bush now checking the pails and getting ready to collect what has accumulated.
It won't be long before I will have to put aside my machine and be at the ready for carrying lunch, mugs of coffee and any other necessities as Roger is kept busy stirring the syrup to be.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just Me and the Dog

I have had both an early and a late start to this day.  The dog woke me around 2 a.m. and I didn't get back to sleep for a couple of hours so I slept in this morning.  I didn't get up until 8, which, I know, is not sleeping in to most people but we usually have the day started by 7 a.m.
I watched the news with my husband and then saw him out the door as he was going to spend a bit of time with his parents.  So, I am now in my office and it isn't even ten o'clock. 
I am in the midst of putting another quilt pattern together and want to get at one more unfinished item.  I am going to consider myself at work until later afternoon.  I will need to check the maple syrup buckets to ensure they aren't overflowing but, aside from that, the day is mine.
Our temperatures are above freezing and there is a light rain so you can almost see the snow disappearing.  It is way to early but I am thinking about my flower gardens.  I am not an avid gardener but do enjoy getting everything ready for another season of colour.  I stick mainly to wildflowers that will attract and feed the butterflies and other smaller creatures. The rest of the plants are perennials that pretty much look after themselves except for an occasional thining or deadheading.
Time for another cup of tea and then back to the cutting table.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March BOM

This month's block of the month is ready for you.  In retrospect, I should have done something with the colour green but didn't think of it at the time.  You will need to go to my web page ( to access the pattern.  Just look for the Free Stuff page.  I have included the easy half square triangle method in the instructions.

I am working on a quilt pattern that uses this star as a center block.  It should be ready near the end of the week.
Did you know that yesterday was pi day?  I didn't.  Apparently, it happens on the 14th day of the third month because of the numbers 3,1 and 4 relate to pi.  You can look it up on wikipedia as they explain it better than I can.  Numbers and I don't have a very good relationship. You celebrate the day by eating pie, of course.
We have had above freezing temperatures for a few days now so it is starting to look, or at least feel, a little like spring here in the backwoods.  Later today, we will be gathering the sap that has accumulated in the pails.  There isn't much yet but my husband has to go away tomorrow and doesn't want to take a chance on them overflowing.
Making maple syrup is very much a go slow and then hurry up process.  We only have about an inch left in our last jar so I am looking forward to replenishing our stock.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsanami and Block of the Month

The title of today's blog couldn't be more opposing than if I had planned it.  We have been watching the news reports of the tsanami that has hit Japan and is headed for our west coast.  With the closeness that the internet has caused, I 'know' people all over the world and, wherever disaster strikes-man or nature made-there is someone I am thinking about.
The other effect of the immediacy of news is that there is a tendancy to get , not quite bored, but certainly blase about the reports.  As we watched the same photos and heard the same reports being repeated over and over, I found that my mind was wandering and I started thinking about turning the television off.  It isn't that the devestation doesn't cause concern but just that we are getting used to it. We have information overload.
And so, while I will keep an ear open for the news, my day continues.
I am putting together a free block to share for the 15th of this month.  There will also, a few days later, be a quilt pattern that uses it.  That will be on my web page but I will let you know in case you are interested.
I now have to, once more, tackle the mess that has accumulated in my studio.
Do you have, like me, difficulty in keeping things in their proper place or, perhaps, even have a problem finding where that place should be?  There is an excellent article in this month's issue of Quilter's Connection that you might find helpful. Kristie Demke has one suggestion which I found particularly interesting which is to determine the purpose of your room. Once that has been done you can remove (or store in an out of sight place) those things which don't belong.  I am going to take a good look around my space and see how I can improve my mess.  I am also, as she suggests, going to try to stop quilting a few minutes before I need to and put things back where they belong.  Try being the operative word.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Food and Friends

Where would we be without friends to encourage, guide and wipe off our clothes when we fall.  I have been so fortunate over the years to have had froends who have seen me through some difficult times.  Friends who stayed friends even when the things I did caused them pain.
I had another example of the generosity of a friend today.  One of the ladies in our local quilt group has been generous enough with her time to give me her opinion on some of my designs.  I know she will be honest and, as she is a quilter, knowledgable.  Frequently, no matter how often you go over something, you can miss a problem that would jump out at someone else.  It is much better to catch these mistakes before the pattern is published.
Speaking of published; the spring edition of Quilter's Connection is on the shelf.  I have another installment of my adventures here in the backwoods in this issue.  I noticed that a word got changed.  I mentioned that fisher (a creature similiar to a weasel but much more vicious) were a challenge.  The word got changed to fishermen.  Three letters which totally change a word.
My husband and I went into the village today to take part in a luncheon that is put on by a community group.  This is the fourth time this week I have been out.  Time to chain myself to the quilt room and get some work done.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More Snow and Good News.

We went to Huntsville this morning to do our shopping and returned home just in time.  It has been snowing and blowing all afternoon and there is a prediction that it will continue through tomorrow.  My husband was going to go to Orillia  to spend the day with his family but that got postponded because of the weather.
It is hard to believe that we go back to day light saving time on Sunday and the following Sunday is the first day of spring.  Probably is somewhere but not here.
Got some good news yesterday and then more today.  I sold my first two patterns from my web site just before I went out for a meeting.  Very encouraging news.  When you are doing anything artistic; whether writing, painting, woodworking, you are never sure if anyone else is going to like your creation.  It is a real boost to find out they do.  Today, a local quilt store owner said she was interested in carrying my patterns.  I have to book a meeting with her to discuss the particulars.  Again, an encouragement.
I finished making my Elvis bag today.  I don't really know what I am going to do with it but a person can't have to many carrier bags especially if it has Elvis' picture on it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Beautiful Reminder

These photos were taken on Saturday.  Such a beautiful day.  I could have taken have pictures all day. The first one was taken on my sisters property and shows how thickly the snow was lying on the trees.  The other is of the sap buckets waiting for the weather to warm up.
The final shot shows the wonderful contrast between deep blue sky and snow iced trees. I took two or three of these photos.  I could hardly see what I was aiming at because of the brilliance of the sun and it didn't help that the snow was dropping on me from the overladen branches.
This day was a blessing as I had started getting grumpy about the continuing winter.  It served as a reminder of why I enjoy this time of year so much.
In addition to taking photos, I have started working on some freebies for my web site.  I hope to have something on by the end of the week.  I am also making surprisingly good progress on the quilt I am top stitching by hand.    I thought this might be a summer project but it looks as though it will be done in a couple of weeks.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Wee Doggie

Our little Heidi wasn't feeling well this morning.  She didn't eat her food or any treats.  We were, of course, quite concerned.  I took her for a walk after breakfast and she romped around just as always and, once we were back in the house, she ate everything.  Not sure what that was about but glad it wasn't anything serious.
I finished up another pattern today.  This one is the blue quilt that I had on the blog a few days ago.  I am getting quicker at doing the patterns but still keep getting hung up on something.  This time the fabric amounts weren't working out properly.  Then I realized I was working with the wrong size block.
I should think my math skills are improving.
We are getting a snow storm again.  It is the World Day of Prayer and when my husband and I went out before two the sun was shining and the temperature above freezing.  When we came out of the church ninety minutes later, it was snowing.
Hope it will be nice for Sunday as we are having company.
Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Successful Basting

This quilt is the latest pattern that is available on my web site. It has been designed for a child and, as well as being a nice cuddle blanket, it is also an educational tool.  A child can practise his/her skills counting the various colours.  They can also look for the theme blocks.
I have had a productive day as, in addition to finishing this pattern, I also completed the business plan I was working on.  That has been a big job so it is nice to have it finished so the customer can now apply for financing for her quilt shop. I just have to go over it to check for mistakes and then can send it off.
On Friday, I mentioned that I was going to try to baste a quilt on my long arm frame.  I was successful.  I set the speed control to low and then just moved the machine at a slow pace across the quilt.  The resulting stitches are just under half inch long which will make them easy to remove.  I marked one of the squares and stitched it while watching television in the evening.  I am pleased with the way it is turning out.  Only either more blocks plus sashing and borders to go!
Unless I get this finished much quicker that I've planned, this is my outside summer project-something to work on while I sit in my lounge chair. (I am assuming that we will get summer this year.)
Tomorrow, I have another quilt to go in the frame and this one will be sewn with the machine.  I am steadily getting through my pile of unfinished work.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Something Different

I am doing something different on my quilt frame today.  I want to hand quilt my Mosaic Windows quilt and thought it would be easier to baste with my machine and frame.  I have it all set up and ready to start.
It is somewhat nerve wracking doing those first few stitches on a project.  Not sure why.  The worst that can happen is  needle or thread breakage or, perhaps, a snarl of stitches and these have all happened and been dealt with numerous other times.
It is strange how we can be apprehensive over nothing.  One of those irrational fears, I guess.
It has been quite breezy in the backwoods this morning.  The trees were almost dancing and a few times the wind carried the snow from the ground into a swirling, white tornado.  It seems to have settled down here now but other areas of the province are still getting a sweeping.  I expect we will have a few limbs down either on our property or my sister's.
I will let you know how I make out with the basting.  If it works, it will certainly be easier than all the pinning that I usually do.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mixed Emotions

These photos were taken at a local winter festival that I went to on the weekend.  I went for a hay ride behind these magnificent horses.  They are owned by a lady we know and her son is the driver. The next picture is one of the floats in the parade.  The lady standing is our next door neighbour's sister who is quite the comedian.  Their float always get a lot of attention and it gets better every year.

This morning as my husband and I left to go to North Bay, we noticed flashing lights and emergency vehicles on the road.  As we got closer, we saw that the house of a neighbour had been gutted by fire.  Of course, we were quite concerned about the man who lived there but had no way of finding out, at that point, how he was.  While we were out, a friend whose son is a volunteer firefighter phoned to let us know our neighbour had died.  (This is how you get your news in a rural area.  The paper I write for phoned called me later to see if I had information.).  We are quite saddened to hear the enws.  We didn't know him to do more than wave when we passed his house and to know that he always had a herd of deer around waiting to be fed but he was a human being and a neighbour.  Another friend called to ask if I thought the deer would be okay and I let her know that there are a number of people around here that put feed out.  Now everyone is getting in touch with each other to see what they can do to help.  (Another rural things-do what you can for the people and the animals.  By the time we read  Thursday's paper, everything will be arranged.)
I feel quite unsettled.  You want to do something but there really isn't anything that you can do.  I don't know the brother who lives in the village and the people there will see he has enough food to see him through this time.
Our sky is blue and the sun bright but this area is saddened by the death of a good man.