Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A Hug To Wrap Up In

In terms of cozy comfort there are few things in life that can offer the same sense of warmth and love as curling up with a handmade quilt...well, perhaps snuggling a wee puppy would come close, but we just can't go around passing out puppies when the going gets tough.

Months ago one of my Secret Society of Barn Builders friends, Glen who blogs over at Quilts and Dogs, found herself victim to Louisiana flooding and lost practically everything she owned. My heart was broken for her. I couldn't imagine watching dirty floodwaters destroy my home, but she did. She watched it, she lived it, mourned it. And then she triumphed over it; brave, strong and determined. 

Being so far away meant there was little I could offer in terms of help or support so I rallied our SSOBB friends and together we set out to send her our love. Quilters don't necessarily need more quilts but this one definitely needed a hug. Blocks came from far and wide to make the quilt that would wrap her in our support. I stitched them together in the middle of a power outage with a little lamp and my old Kenmore plugged into a tiny generator...it gave me pause to think of my small inconvenience compared to the problems our friend was facing...you know, count your blessings, right?  The Robot made short work of the quilting and soon it was ready to go.

Glen had plans made to visit Nova Scotia in September but the flood ruined that too. On learning that she had canceled her East Coast excursion it seemed to me that a piece of Nova Scotia tartan needed to be included in the binding, and i just happened to have a piece if it in my stash. When I set out to take pictures of her quilt to share with the SSOBB gang I thought that they should showcase a bit of Nova Scotia's oceanside charm as well...and Sister PurpleBoots has just the spot for such a photo shoot!

During the time I was trying to get the SSOBB's hug finished and sent out to Glen my own world had turned upside down. I ended the 27 year relationship with Mr. PurpleBoots at about the same time and had difficulty focusing on quilty things and The Robot offered little in terms of therapy. Jack helped some, but some things just have to be processed at face value...raw, real and messy. 

It was during this time that I received a box in the mail from New Hampshire. My friend and quilty mentor, Lynne from The Patchery Menagerie, had lovingly sent me my very own hug. It came at just the right time...warm, cozy and colourful. Her quilt brought tears of joy and has since absorbed the weight of many more tears, some not quite so joyful, because she made me promise to use it...thick or thin. And I have!

As quilters we know some people refuse to use the quilts we share because they think they are "too nice" and "don't want to mess them up". While this may well be a thoughtful mindset and it certainly shows the recipients care I think quilts are best used, abused and lived with. Quilts should accompany you on your journey at arms length, always at the ready when you need them. A quilt in the closet can offer little comfort on a day when you need a hug.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Weight of Love

Valentines day. Love is in the air...

What better day to dig into the Jack tin and set to work on the "Weight of Love" quilt that I started in November when the MMQG brought quilter extraordinaire Libs Elliot to town for a workshop.

I pulled some yardage from my stash with these incredible fishies swimming in a bright orange sea and then dug into the shelf of fat quarters for a bunch of supporting fabrics. True to my "just giv'er" style I didn't plan, count or otherwise predetermine anything about the fabric placement. I am always happiest just winging it!

I fussy cut all the fishes and cut up a whack of triangles and half hexies to prepare myself for the workshop, packed up Voodoo Duck and all my gear and headed off to the classroom.

Libs says that Y-seams aren't supposed to be cry seams. I've never really had trouble with them so my progress was uninhibited by the little buggers. Things went together quite smoothly until I got bored with the monotony  of repetitive sewing. Y'all know how much that bothers me. I think I got 6 or 7 rows completed that day.

I've pulled it out a couple times since but haven't really felt compelled to jump back in the fish bowl and do anything with it.

Until today...we've entered back into the hell that is Snova Scotia in February; yesterday's storm has dumped in excess of 50cm of snow and my back is too sore to shovel. So, I'm off to swim with the fishes instead.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

In The Middle

Well, hello again! Things got a little crazy around here since my last post. Go grab yourself a cuppa and I'll do my best to get you up to speed. Oh, better throw a shot of something tasty in it since this is going to be a long post.

How to begin...hmmm...

Do I start right in with news of the end of my 27 year relationship with Mr. PurpleBoots? Or should I tell you all about the bright and shiny human being that crossed my path one September day that finally prompted the ending? I could give you all the back story that brought me to the point of taking the leap of faith, how scary it is to actually jump when you're safely perched on the edge of something familiar but that isn't really working? Perhaps you'll wonder how all this impacted Not-So-Little PurpleBoots? And what about the springy things? I could go on and on about how painful it is to see the ache of seperation on the face of your child and hard it is to go from being a full time mother to nothing, as the boy and the dogs stayed with their Dad. I could roll my eyes and recount tales of all the juicy gossip that I've stirred up here in small town Nova Scotia. I could try to establish for you the ratio that defines the numbers of people who understand and support the pursuit of happiness toward those who feel it best to settle and simply stay.  I'd be happy to tell you all about the wee house I've moved into, it's very happy making and there is a new sewing space. Of course, I could always ramble on about all the noteworthy little moments that fill a new relationship with excitement, happiness and hope and there are an equal number of awkward little moments that come with a new relationship that haven't been experienced at all or at the very least not in a long, long time. 

There is so much news, and change, that it's hard to know where to begin. Speaking of beginnings, maybe there is no best place to start and perhaps this vague glimpse into my last few months is enough to tell you. Maybe it's simply enough to say I am in the middle of a beginning, and an ending...and the middle can be both a blessing and a curse.

Enough about the messy stuff...I did mention there is a new sewing space, right? It took a while to get things sorted out here at the new place...holy-stash-moving-hell! If only The Stashpocalypse had done more to reduce my hoard; bags and bags and bags of fabric have made their way here and I haven't even tackled The Closet of Doom up at Mr. PurpleBoots' place yet. The Robot still lives there too, though a plan is being masterminded to eventually get him moved down here to The Harbour as well. I've been granted the luxury of time in an amicable split to work out solutions without rushing to empty the old homestead. Mr. PurpleBoots is a wonderful human being and I am grateful beyond words that we are maintaining our longstanding friendship through the turmoil of seperation...so many couples lose everything.

Even once the space was repainted, cleaned up and my stuff got somewhat organized in there it felt a bit foreign to me. I needed some mindless sewing to help me find my groove. I dug through the scrap bag and came across the sample pieces I had made along with the guild in Pictou County when I led their improv workshop back in November. I pulled out all the bits and bobs, winced a little as I recalled the end of my finger being once again lobbed off by my rotary cutter during the class that day, and set to work. My wee house has a tiny dining room that has become home to the giant and whimsical painting of my dear old springy thing, Tetley, and some fun, bright placemats were in order. 

I've never before bothered to make myself placemats, but I had so much fun with these I think I may one day make some more; seems small projects are great ways to kick start ones creativity. So after the placemats were complete there was still the oblong element made with the word Hope in free pieced letters left to play with...an ideal sentiment to have as a coffee table mat for someone my current place of being. I put a coveted piece of Art Gallery fabric on the back of it and bound it with the left over Kona binding from the placemats.

It feels good to be sewing again. The hum of the machine quiets the noise in my head; the act of building patchwork and finishing an object engages the spot in my brain that reminds me that everything has a process. There is a beginning and an ending to everything...and therefore, there'll always be a middle too.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Sing It Fatboy

Every good quilty story starts with a trip to the fabric store, right?

The Fatboy sang to me this day, begging for a ride on a sunny fall day. How could I resist? Country road, sunny mild-ish day, blue sky, and a rumour that Cotton & Steel skull fabric was in stock at Avonport Discount Fabrics. 

The C&S skull fabric was there...oh yes, indeed...but there was also this oh-so-incredible collection of skull laden Halloween bolts that demanded my attention. The quilty world needs more skulls. And if you should find yourself wrapped in black leather looking all bad-ass in the middle of a fabric store then skulls are exactly what you should buy. 

So, as I'm piling up 8 bolts of the Halloween collection on my cart I hear a woman come in the front door and demand of the clerk, "Who owns that big motorcycle?"  Of course my first thought was, "Oh Jeezus, please tell me you didn't hit it!?" followed by a chuckle when I realize that the ole gal was just shocked to see it there.  Soon, I'm piling my bolts on the cutting table and she comes over for a closer inspection. She didn't show me her badge or any identification but I suspect she was an undercover agent of the Quilt Police. With furrowed brow she looked at my fabric pull, gave me a head-to-toe once over and the interrogation went as follows:

  What are you doing with all that?
  You're a quilter?
  How old are you?
  How many quilts have you made?
  Do you hand quilt?
  Do you belong to a guild?
  Do you know so & so?
    What about so & so?
    You must know so & so! 
  Don't you own a car?
  How in the world are you going to transport fabric on a motorcycle? 
  Where do you live? 
  Would you like me to take your fabric back to Sackville for you?
  Do you have many scraps?
  What do you do with your scraps? 
  Would you like to give your scraps to my guild?

You can imagine I'm dying inside answering her questions with certain but limited information...just enough to satisfy her but not enough to blow her mind. Don't tell the Police anything...that's what Poppa always said. 

It never gets old this reaction to a biker chic in a quilt shoppe. 

My favourite place to ride? 
A countryside fabric store...clearly.

Anyway...this is the quilt that happened:
A sinister Giant Vintage Star (a la Jeni Baker in blogland @ In Color Order) with Kona Stone in the background all quilted up with "Haunted Web" edge to edge from Apricot Moon using purple variegated Coates thread up top and orange variegated Aurifil on the back. 

It needs to be noted that The Robot loved that Aurifil thread...virtually no lint to clog his belly button. The purple Coates? Holy linty hell. Even worse than the typical linty hell of the solid colour Coates. I recently won a dozen spools of Aurifil thread (1st place!!!)  from the MMQG through that Paint Chip Challenge and so I'm looking forward to quilting with it! Even though it's 50wt cotton like all my other threads it's finer...which translates to more thread on a bobbin which translates to fewer bobbin changes for The Robot which translates to a much happier lil ole me.

After I got this quilt all bound I noticed a teeny weeny tear in the backing fabric...I was somewhat gutted but not defeated. I must have snagged a pin in the mountain of quilt off to the left side of the machine as I  was stitching down the binding. What odds? I just hand appliqued a bitty skull to patch it up. If only I could've found an itsy bitsy spider...

I should've waited to snap photos of this finish til this week...the leaves here right now are stunning. Last week? Not so much. Adrienne over at Chezzetcook Modern Quilts waited and got amazing shots of Mr. Chillingsworth in a old graveyard somewhere on the back road between Windsor and Avonport. I toyed with bringing this quilt along that sunny day but alas, her Mister had to go it alone. We were on a fabric & cheese bun run in the Jeep, because:


Monday, 12 September 2016

Inspiration...Or A Lack Thereof

Back in the Spring my guild set forth a challenge, a paint chip challenge to be exact. Willing participants drew 3 random paint chips from a brown paper bag and agreed to make a quilt using only the colours drawn along with black and/or white.

To say the least, my colours did nothing to excite me. They did however give me an excuse to do a little fabric shopping. My first stab at the colours was done by memory because I had forgotten the paint chips the day I went to the fabric store. My minds eye served me well: I nailed the yellow with Kona Cheddar and played it safe by taking home two blues and two pinks. Remember this picture? These Konas have been kicking around in my stash for quite a while.

I thought of building colourful little row houses. I pondered making a pig setting sail in a yellow dory. I toyed with a block of cheese. I contemplated free pieced fishes, free pieced letters and even a funky free pieced springy thing. But nothing struck me. I bought piece after piece of fabric in these colours. I lugged home more blue chunks of fabric than I'll ever use. But still, nothing set my brain on fire.

That is until I realized that "it" was in my hand the whole time. The piece of notebook paper I had carted around for all those months was exactly what I needed to make. A big piece of white Kona, a strip of each of the matching Konas and some pink & blue thread was all it took. It happened suddenly: a lit match sets forth a fire in my brain that cannot be extinguished til the last stitch is made.

I appliqued the paint chips in the manner they were placed on the original note paper and quilted the lines to look like scribbler paper. I even used a fancy long triple stitch to make the pink line appear bolder than the blue. As the quilting took shape I became more and more giddy about this cheeky response to my uninspiring, ugly colours. I couldn't wait to finish it but the punching of holes down the left side became a bit of a stumbling block; they put a lump in my throat that was somehow tough to swallow.

It seemed to me that the cutting of holes in a finished quilt might be in direct violation of the Quilters Code of Ethics and I feared the wrath of the Quilt Police. I put a panicked call in to Linda over at Scrapmaster to ask about my guilty quilty ideas, dropped by to pick her brain and she cheered me on. Between us and some spare change we decided the holes should be somewhere between the size of a dime and a nickel and given that it was a wall hanging and not a quilt that would be washed often it didn't really matter too much about the holes fraying out.

I made a few test holes when I got home and decided that a very tiny straight stitch around the traced coin line would both define the hole and secure the fabric layers so that I could trim out the centers. I finished the inside of the holes with a bead of fray check just to stay the stray threads. I even took a scoop out of the hanging sleeve so it wouldn't show through the hole.

Challenge accepted. Mission accomplished.

The response I received from the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild gals at reveal night last week was great! So. Much. Laughter. There is a Viewers Choice online vote happening on the MMQG blog if you care to take a gander at all the paint chip challenge creations...who knows, maybe you'll take the time to vote for your favourite...wink, wink...there are some great sets of Aurifil thread up for prizes and I sure would love to win some of it!

Thursday, 1 September 2016


How can this be?

Where did all my summer go?

Not-So-Little PurpleBoots cannot possibly be turning 15 tomorrow!?!


Time surely flies. So cliche to say it,  but it is oh-so true. And, catching up is oh-so hard to do. Let me at least try to get ya'll up to speed with some pictures....

We had a little (big) quilt show in July. Myself and 3 of my quilty peeps organized and pulled off what was the first of its kind around here and it was awesome, if I do say so myself! The 2 day show exceeded my every expectation: it was well attended, we awed the folks who came out to see this huge body of work, we sold lots of stuff, and we're able to donate about 1100$ to the church!

We took a family trip to Newfoundland...spent a lot of our time relaxing and exploring Fogo Island. There was a boat tour on the Ketanja out to Little Fogo, cod jigging (and then cod eating) and some fabulous hiking...we found The Great Auk on what turned out to be a race against the setting sun one evening and stood on Brimstone Head, which is known to the Flat Earth Society as one of the four corners of the earth. On the boat tour Not-So-Little PurpleBoots caught the biggest cod of the lot...a 3 footer!

I got some time in the Fatboy's saddle but mostly concentrated my vehicular fun on jeepin' with Daisy and the Nova Scotia Jeep Club. I've been picking away at getting her toughened up so she could run with the pack; though we're not finshed her transformation yet, she isn't exactly a mall crawler any more.

Turns out Not-So-Little PurpleBoots is all set & ready to wrench for me...bonus! And, I still remember  how to pitch my tent and work a naptha gas Coleman stove that hasn't been out of the garage for MANY years. 

Along with half the country we watched the last Tragically Hip concert. But we watched it Jeepers style: in the woods, projected live on the side of a Jeep with a campfire blazing and drinks in hand. I honestly can't think of a better or truer "Canadian way" to watch what has become a part of our history!  

Oh summer...you've truly been a blast! 
And you Fall...how will you ever measure up?