STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Quilts, Quilts, Quilts.

It's time to show you some of the quilts from the Broward Quilt Expo in Fort Lauderdale. The entries were varied - traditional, modern, improv, challenge pieces... there was a good variety, just what I like in a show.
I'm more of a traditional quilter but I must admit, there were a number of "modern" quilts that I really liked. Since today was the first full day of spring, and also my birthday, let's start with a big bouquet of flowers!

This is Flower Power by Sarah Michaels.

3rd Place, Appliqué Duo

5 More by Karla Irby

3rd Place, Large Pieced, Single Maker

Confusion of Life 
by Deborah Krajkowski

A Day at the Sklar Museum
by Barbara Kline

Diamonds in Luxe
by Jane Taylor

Honorable Mention, Modern Design

Curiosity by Karla Irby

3rd Place, Modern Design

The Space Between 
by Deborah Krajkowski

I really liked the quilting on this one. I thought it was very effective, with the wavy lines softening the graphic angular lines.  Deb is a friend of Sandi's. She has recently opened a long arm quilting business, Quiltographic. She is doing great work, be sure to click on the link to see some of her awesome quilting.


"The older you get, the better you get. Unless you're a banana." ~ Betty White

Friday, March 17, 2017


I'm back! Oh wait, you didn't know I was gone.. I'm just back from a lovely week in sunny warm Florida. What a treat it was! Blue skies, green grass, palms waving in the breeze, bougainvillea in bloom... Sigh.

(On cloudy dreary days, remember, above the clouds, the sky is always blue and the sun is shining...)

My wonderful friend Sandi Mac invited me down and she always coordinates my visit with a big quilt show. This year it was the biannual Broward Quilt Expo held in Fort Lauderdale, a large show presented by six quilt guilds of Broward Co. in southern Florida. Sandi picked me up at West Palm Beach airport, and we headed directly to the show after dropping my luggage at our Pompano Beach accommodations. As always, we agreed to "do the vendors" first, then look at the quilts the next day, but as we entered the show, she said "Just come see this one thing first." I was expecting to see a spectacular "Best in Show" or perhaps an amazing art quilt that she loved, but we rounded a corner to see a display of miniature quilts. (Ah yes, she knows me well.)

Do you see anything that looks familiar?

Look a little closer...

Do you see what I see?

It took me a few seconds to realize I was looking at "my" quilt (made by me, now owned by Sandi) with a first place blue ribbon on it!!! What a thrill! She had entered "our" miniature without telling me, and that 1st place ribbon made the surprise all the sweeter. Oh yes, there was a sweet prize cheque too, in US dollars of course. What a great way to start off a wonderful week! THANK YOU Sandi!!!

The ribbon is larger than the quilt! :)

You can read the background story on the miniature quilt here and here. It was made from the trimmings when Sandi squared up the blocks while making this king size quilt. Yup, one extreme to the other.. king size to miniature!

I have lots of photos to share with you, from the show and otherwise. I've been busy catching up today, unpacking, laundry, watering my plants. etc. but once that's all out of the way, I'll be editing photos, so come back soon.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope you've been wearin' the green today!


May the dreams you hold dearest be those which come true,
And the kindness you spread keep returning to you.
~ Irish blessing

Monday, March 13, 2017

Stitching Update

Here's a quick update on my little stitching project. You can see I've made fairly good progress since my last post here. All that's left now is filling in the background (sky and snow) and then all the beading. So it's coming along.. The background will take me a while...


"The only place where housework comes before needlework is in the dictionary." ~ Mary Kurtz

Saturday, March 11, 2017

In the Kitchen

I recently had some buttermilk to use up. It's not something I purchase very often but needed a small amount for a new recipe I was trying, and then had almost a full quart to use up. After making buttermilk biscuits one night to go with homemade soup (yummy!) I thought "what now?" I'm not one to throw out good food so began searching for recipes using buttermilk. Then I remembered this recipe which I've had for many years. I love bran muffins, and always have All Bran cereal on hand. This batter will keep safely in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, so it's great to have on hand if you have unexpected overnight company, or friends who drop by for coffee- you can have fresh baked muffins in literally minutes!

Large Quantity Bran Muffins

5 cups flour
5 tsp. baking soda
1 Tblsp. salt
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups natural bran
3 cups All Bran cereal
2 cups raisins
3 eggs
1 cup oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 quart buttermilk
1.5 cups water

Combine all dry ingredients and raisins. Beat eggs, add oil, molasses, buttermilk and water. Pour into dry ingds. and stir until well moistened. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Flavour is better if refrigerated at least 1 day before baking.
To bake: Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray muffin pan with Pam or use paper muffin cups. Stir cold mixture and fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for ~17 minutes. Makes 4-5 doz.

**I think the next time I make these, I'll add a little more molasses (decreasing the sugar and water a bit to compensate) and add a little cinnamon too for more flavour. Do you like to "play around" with recipes, tweaking them to your tastes?


Food is essential to life; therefore make it good.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Quilt Atlantic Retreat

Just a little shameless plug today.. I'm allowed that, aren't I? After all it IS my blog... Just wanted to make my local readers aware of the Quilt Atlantic Retreat coming up April 7-9 at White Point Beach Resort on beautiful Nova Scotia's south shore. Registration is now open and there are still spaces available. Why not come and join us for a great weekend retreat? I am thrilled to join the teaching faculty this year, along with several other well known NB quilting teachers, Sue McEachern, Juliet Nowlan and Brenda Dunsmore. Class topics include landscapes, wool appliqué, hand quilting, hand appliqué, top-stitched appliqué, stained glass quilts, miniatures, (that's me!) fabric jewelry, and there is a hooking class with Jane Steele of Riverhouse Rugs. Lots of selections to tempt you!

I've been told the meals are fabulous and just look at the venue! Although the trees won't yet be green and a walk on the beach may be a little cool and breezy, it's a beautiful resort and I know it's going to be a wonderful weekend of learning and camaraderie with Atlantic fabric artists and fiber enthusiasts.
Full details are available by clicking here. Register early to get your first choice of classes!


Surround yourself with those who make you happy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Noah Update

It's time for an update on grandson Noah. He is growing fast. At 7.5 months now, he's working hard on cutting his first tooth, and perfecting his crawling skills. For those of you who have been asking how he's doing, here are a few recent photos.

Photo Credit: Jolene Vovk

Photo Credit: Jolene Vovk

Photo Credit: Mommy Laura
He's really beginning to look less like a baby and more like a little boy, don't you think?


"The child must know that he is a miracle. That since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him." ~ Pablo Casals

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Anxious for Spring

March. That "in between" month. It's not quite spring, but you're hoping winter is on the way out. The sun is strengthening, it feels warmer on the face, but the wind is still bitterly cold. The snow has receded a lot, but now it's no longer pretty; the snowbanks are dirty, and sidewalk areas that had melted are now icy again. The potholes are rearing their ugly heads, or should I say bottoms - yes they seem bottomless! Hit just a couple and you need a wheel alignment. Although spring "officially" arrives (according to the calendar) in just over two weeks, we all know the reality can be a bit different. The fact is, I'm ready for spring now. I'm tired of winter. I'm tired of being cold. I'm tired of white. I'm ready for green.

So to feed my thirst for some green, I visited a local nursery/greenhouse this afternoon. I thought perhaps you are tired of winter too, and would appreciate seeing some colour. It just gives me a boost to see lots of green, and the odd bloom doesn't hurt either! The numerous shades of green and the many leaf shapes are always interesting... large, small, striped, fuzzy, curly, spiky, heavily veined, so much variety!

And of course, there were colourful blooms, from the seasonal shamrocks and primulas to the exotic orchids, all are a feast for the eyes.

Aren't these beautiful?

And who could resist the hibiscus or the hellebore? Ahhhh, a winter greenhouse visit feeds my soul...
What about you? Are you dreaming of spring? Do you visit your local greenhouse for a taste of what's soon to come?


"...when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also." ~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stringing Along!

Four of my finished string blocks
Do you find that sometimes you just want something "mindless" to work on? Something that doesn't take too much brain power, planning, calculations, etc.? String blocks fit the bill. They are a great way to use up leftover strips, strings and bits. The width can vary so no cutting/trimming required to bring them all to the same size! I do like mine to be straight/even, so sometimes I need to do a little trim here and there just to straighten an edge. After a Guild workday in late January when we made slab blocks for CQA's Big Quilt Bee project, I realized I had a large container of leftover strips and strings all in blues (imagine that! ME with a lot of blues!) Many of them were left over from this string quilt I did a few years ago. It was donated to the Veteran's Unit and I've always thought I'd like to do another. So... or should I say Sew...
As I mentioned above, sometimes you just need a "mindless" sewing project, for various reasons... your brain is just tired, you are stressing over something and need an "escape," whatever. Well I needed an escape for the month of February to take my mind off my worries. My brother, who has been healthy all his life, has had some serious health concerns in the last 8 months. The most recent was surgery to remove a foot of colon, and the days seemed endless while we worried and waited for 4 weeks for the pathology results. I am now very happy to say he is fine and no further treatment is necessary (Whew!) So this project was the perfect thing to work on as I worried and prayed... I guess in the back of my mind I was thinking if I got the blocks done, and we found out he needed chemo, I could quickly put it together for a warm and cozy flannel-backed lap quilt for him to take to treatments. Luckily it's not needed for that purpose so I will likely put it away for now, and finish it later. I have 18 blocks done so will need at least 2 more, and no doubt I'll go further than 20. We'll see. I'll keep an eye out for sashing fabric in the meantime.
So how are string blocks done? It's simply a matter of applying the strips to a "foundation." I use old phonebook pages as the paper is thin and so easy to remove. I cut a square from each page, about 1/4" larger than I need, apply the strips then trim the block to size, in this case I trimmed to 8.5" blocks, so I'll have finished blocks of 8". Because I work across the block diagonally, the strips need to be varying lengths. As you are working, it doesn't take long for your nice neat piles of strips to end up in a scrambled mess like this...

I found I was wasting a lot of time searching through the pile to find the correct length strip to add next. (I try to have as little waste as possible so I'm not just creating more shorter "bits" to use up.) So a trip to the local dollar store fixed that! I bought some trays (3 for $1.25 so not a huge expense) and labelled them from 3" to 13". Then I sorted my strips and strings by length into the appropriate trays. This made things so much faster to easily choose the strips and complete a block. (This would work well for log cabin strips too, or any block requiring strips of various lengths.) When done, the trays nest together and stack so they take up little space. A cheap and easy "organizing" solution!
Have you tried string piecing? It really IS fun (and doesn't take a lot of concentration!)


What do you mean, quilting doesn't count as exercise? Next you'll be telling me fabric shopping isn't an aerobic activity!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Little Sunday Stitchin'

Just a short post today to show you what I've been working on, stitching-wise. You've heard me say before how much I love the Mill Hill kits. They come with everything you need, except the scissors for snipping thread ends! Pattern, fabric or perforated paper, floss, beads, buttons and needle(s).

I picked this one up a while back, and started it a week or two ago. I haven't put a lot of hours into it yet, but here is my progress. Looks like I'm about half done. I do all the stitching first, and then go back and fill in the beading. There's a fair bit of beading on this one.

As my eyes get older (not that I am getting older, just my eyes!) I find it easier to make a "working copy" of my pattern. I enlarge it a bit and as I stitch, I shade in with pencil the sections I have completed. If it's a larger and more complex pattern I use coloured pencils. This really helps, when you have a number of floss colours which are very close, and only a few stitches with each colour in an area.
I'll make a little more progress tonight as I watch the Oscars. What are you stitching on these days?


Stitching is the answer. I don't care what the question is.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

On My Bookshelf

The Deep End of the Ocean, Jacquelyn Mitchard's debut novel, is the story of a child abduction - every parent's worst nightmare. It opens as Beth Cappadora heads off to her 15th high school reunion in Chicago with her three young children and a babysitter in tow. While she is registering in the busy hotel lobby, three year old Ben disappears, escaping the (not quite watchful enough) eye of older brother Vincent, aged seven. It seems he has vanished without a trace...
His disappearance leaves Beth wallowing in guilt and agony, and drives a wedge through  her marriage and the family as a whole. As the family dynamics deteriorate over the next nine years, it seems things will never be the same again. And then... Well, I can't tell you anymore - that would spoil the story, wouldn't it? You'll have to read it yourself to see what happens.
I'm sure every mother could identify with what Beth goes through, who knows how one would react? Indeed, it IS every parent's worst nightmare. I can remember so clearly being in a similar situation sixteen years ago.. We had taken our two, ages 10 and 12 at the time, to Florida; our first big family vacation ever, their first time flying. It was a fabulous holiday, spent mostly at Disneyworld. The kids had been SO good - no problems at all, and we all had had SO much fun! But on our very last full day there, Laura disappeared. We were still at the hotel, ready to have breakfast, after having a family portrait taken (you know, one of those promotional package deals offered by the hotel that you couldn't resist.) We split up before heading to the dining room and both of us thought Laura was with the other parent. It was all a misunderstanding, and she had gone back up to our room. But for a few agonizing minutes that seemed like hours, I was in a panic. I was sure someone had abducted her, on our very last day!! I think I almost squished her to death, hugging her so tight when she re-appeared. I'm sure I aged at least 20 years in those few minutes...
Have you ever had a similar experience with one of your children?


"Children are happy because they don't have a file in their minds called "All the Things That Could Go Wrong." ~ Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Another One Off the List

Another finish feels good! I can only take credit for doing the binding on this quilt, but it IS another "To Do" crossed off my list and that feels good! This is the quilt I told you about a week ago - a donation by our quilters' guild to our provincial youth drug addiction treatment centre. They have requested quilts for all their beds and this is the one we'll be giving. Guilds across the province are answering the call. Now that it has been shown at our guild meeting last night, I can share it with you here.

The pattern is called Disappearing Four Patch, as you start with a four patch, make a few cuts through the block, rearrange the pieces and re-sew it together. Quick and easy. Many thanks to Kathleen D for piecing the top and some extra blocks, to Jean K for adding one more row to bring it up to single bed size and for preparing the binding, to Sue R for donating the nice cozy flannel backing, to Gwenda M for doing the quilting and to the Nashwaaksis Lions Club for covering  the cost of the quilting, batting and thread. It was my pleasure to add the final stitches by doing the binding on this quilt. Such a great community project!

EDIT: You can see another of the beautiful quilts my guild has just completed and donated to a worthy cause by clicking here. 


"It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving." ~ Mother Theresa

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Backyard Box Office

Who needs HBO or Netflix when you have live entertainment right in your own backyard? The kitties and I have been watching Red Squirrel Theatre.

Yep, the battle continues. "Little Red" has figured out how to jump down onto the suet balls... watching his antics has been most entertaining. I think I will nominate him for an Emmy Award... wonder if there's an Emmy for best stunt man squirrel? I must say, he makes the day more interesting for Scamp, and he keeps me laughing, now that I've just given up on trying to keep him away from the suet...

On a happy note, I have had a flock of robins in the backyard. Yes, a FLOCK. Not just one or two, but at least 10. They have been feasting on the old apples still clinging to one tree. This is not a great photo, taken two days ago, but it's the best I could get from a distance. Today a number of robins were on the ground, pecking at some fallen apple bits. It is so wonderful to see robins here in February, it gives me hope for an early spring!! A nice thought after last week's storms.


"No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn." ~ Hal Borland

Friday, February 17, 2017

On My Bookshelf

I recently finished reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It took me a while to "get into".... in the beginning I found Ove to be annoying - a cranky  curmudgeon and I was thinking to myself "Seriously? A good friend LOVED this book?" But I continued reading, and just as Ove gradually "softens" so did I. Ove has recently been widowed and he is angry and lonely, bitter and truly lost without his wife Sonya. Ove is grumpy and to say he is set in his ways would be an understatement! He has little interest in forming relationships with his neighbours, particularly the new ones who have just moved in next door. He just wants to be left alone. But like it or not, they come into his life...  I won't reveal any more of the story, but it will make you both laugh and cry and touch you in a very human way. It is simply written with a good deal of humour and although not a page turner, I kept wanting to read "just one more chapter" to see what Ove would get up to next. Read it, I think you'll like it.


"Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die." ~ Anne Lamott
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