It's All Just Smoke & Mirrors Over Here People

For those of you who think I never make mistakes when I sew and that all my projects turn out perfectly all the time - thank you so much for the compliment, but - let me present to you Exhibit A ...

Need clarification?

Exhibit B ... my new one.

See the difference? 

I use my stitch ripper so much I've almost completely worn away the letters!

I only show you my work when it looks good ... AFTER I've fixed my screw-ups ... all smoke & mirrors, I assure you. ;)

Happy weekend everyone!


Hexagon Love Affair

For the longest time, I had this oh so pretty Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Garden Rose pile of fat quarters on one side of my desk.

And these two templates on the other side. 

I bought these fabrics here a while ago and for a long time I didn't know what I was going to do with them.  I just liked to stare at them while I was working away at my computer.

I've also had a love affair with hexagons since my very first quilt ... in 1987 ... and the several quilts that followed ... all English paper-pieced.

My girlfriend had these templates and I've been dying to make something with them ... just didn't know what.

Until one day I FINALLY made the connection.  DUH!!!  Use the fabrics & the templates for the same project!  (Sometimes it takes me a loooooooong time to connect such obvious dots.

So I got to work.

Happy work.

Very pretty happy work. :)

The kind of work that (almost) makes you totally forget you have any responsibilities at all ... you know, like picking up your children from school and making dinner ... (why doesn't my family like to eat peanut butter sandwiches or cereal for supper?  It's not like my cooking is anything to write home about!)


I'm a Lucky Blogger

Wanna know why?

'Cause I have like the nicest readers EVER.

That's right.  I had a giveaway (several months ago now ...) and the winner took time to send me a thank you note ... in the mail! 

Not only that, she sent a HANDMADE card,

personalized with my favorite appliance in my favorite color.

And by the way, it is just my humble opinion, but quilters have superior skills when it comes to other crafts like scrapbooking and cardmaking.

See?  A perfect mix of a solid (scalloped applique, no less), floral & check ...

... even stitched together with a zigzag.  (LOVE that!)

With the sweetest message inside.

But the best thing about a homemade card is this ...

the logo on the back by the maker.

Thank you for the thank you, Becky!


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 47

Red, Pink, Yellow & White

While reviewing my nerd sheet for this week's colors I was surprised this combination had escaped me!  Wohooo!!! Something new. :)

#44 - Gentleman's Fancy

I waffled sooo many times on the colors for this block.  I thought I'd do it in "boy" colors ... blue & gray. 

But as much as I like to invent SOME sort of meaning or purpose or story to my blocks, this one came out this way because a) it could handle 4 colors and b) I was in the mood for something easy after ...

#95 - Temperance Tree

... THIS 41-piece monster! 

Now, IF I were to make this block again ... and chances of that ever happening are slim-to-none ... and Slim just rode out of town on his horse ... I'd change the yellow triangles to white.  I like the tree-type blocks to look really graphic.  I threw the yellow in there out of necessity.

I'm ok with the results, just not over the moon happy with it.


Mystery Block of the Month 10

Ok.  This is DEFINITELY my favorite block so far in this project.

Just LOOK at it!  So cute.

I admit to fussy cutting the red floral.  I didn't want big blank spaces of solid red.  There are still a few "bald spots".  But overall I got the look I was going for ... very flowery/blossomy.

And the polka dots in the corners?  Love.

Designed by Gudrun Erla of GE Quilt Designs.

She's from Iceland, you know!  I think that is ... SUPER COOL.  Cool as in totally awesome, not as in polar bears & frostbite. 


Mystery Block of the Month 9

I do NOT know what was UP with me for this block ...

I think I messed up on at least half of the outside points!

(Designed by the HILARIOUS sister team of Barbara Groves & Mary Jacobson!)

Although now that I think about it, I was sewing this block on a Saturday nite when hubby and the kids were out, leaving me with several unadulterated hours of freedom!

So I may have had a beer with my leftover chili supper (which I zapped in the microwave and then ate standing up in my sewingroom while I stared at my WIP) ...  guess I shouldn't drink & sew!  LOL!  Mind you, I really shouldn't drink and do ANYTHING! 

Anyhow, here's another group shot.

Only 3 blocks left! Eeeeep!

Has anyone else started working on the finishing kit yet?  I think I'm gonna start on all the flower stems ...


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 46

Pink, Green, Gray & White

This color combination came about as a .. well ... like this:

#36 - Flower Garden Path

When I read the name of this block my poor brain went literal.  The main detail in the block is the big X - presumably the path made of grass.  Then I saw beautiful stone benches one sees in romantic, French, palatial gardens.  You know, like Versaille.  So my garden has 4 benches. 

And then what color flowers?  "Pink", said Queen of the Obvious.

I love the light and airy feel of this garden ... no dirt, bugs or worms anywhere. :)

#98 - Waterwheel

I'm starting to feel a little restricted by my "two blocks with the same colors" approach.  With only about 20 blocks left my color format is becoming ... tedious.  I may have to let that go soon.

However, I managed to make a mate for the above with this block.

At first I was a little disappointed.  Didn't like the fussy cut flowers in the middle.  And didn't think the contrast between the gray & green was strong enough.

But then my feelings moved from disappointment to indifference to possibly a hint of like.  Whatever the reason, this block is growing on me. 


Happy Easter!


Couldn't decide which photo I liked best.

According to my daughters,

they should ALL have jelly beans in them.

Happy Easter!


Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

We have to say goodbye to someone special today ... my daughter's Grade 3 teacher (who also taught my older daughter).  As far as teachers go our family has been pretty lucky, but Mrs M really topped them all.

She got married last summer and in September when we found out she'd be my daughter's teacher for the second year in a row (yay!) I informed her that she & her husband were allowed to ... you know ... "get busy" in another month because we needed her until the end of June. 

Jokingly of course. 

Sort of.

Sometimes I say inappropriate things like that to people, especially if I've known them for a while.  But she got this weird look on her face.  I thought she was just a little surprised that a parent would say something that ... personal.  A few months later I learned the reason for that look ... she had NOT waited for my permission to get busy!

Anyhow we are all very happy and excited about her new arrival due later this month.  But we're also very sad to lose the best teacher ever.

My daughter - the same little munchkin who made this,

and this,

really wanted to make her a farewell gift.  So here's what she did.

Found a font she liked for the letter "J", Mrs M's first initial, and printed it out.  I gave her a piece of white fabric, she picked a floss color, grabbed my light board and got to work. 

The note on her Template says "Don't throw out! Thx :)"   Apparently my children are used to me tossing out unidentified bits paper they leave lying around.

She stitched this up in about 25 minutes. 

Did I mention she's 9?  You can't see me here but my chest just exploded all over my keyboard with that special & unique sort of pride that can only be known by a mama for her little one.  You know, the kind that can reduce you to a puddle of tears?  Especially if you have PMS?  (Excuse me for a sec while I go get the mop ...)

When she finished the embroidery, however, she didn't know what to do with it.  I suggested a lavender sachet ... 'cause ... well ... what can I say ... I'm just really excellent at solving crafting emergency problems.

Another 25 minutes later and we had this ...

I wish you could smell it.

Happy motherhood, Mrs M.  We will miss you!


Mystery Block of the Month 7

I signed up for this project with a friend.  But she lives almost an hour away and our schedules are turning out to be far from compatible.  We've only managed to get together ONCE last Fall to sew our blocks.  I cheated a little and did a few more without her, but I felt so guilty for going a little ahead so I haven't made any since.

But I'm starting to feel so disorganized and I have so many other projects going on here that I just NEEDED to get caught up with this & start planning the final quilt.  So she graciously gave me permission to continue if I promised to still help her when we can get together. 

Done. :)

So!  Here's block #7 ... only about 5 months late.

It was designed by the lovely Cyndi Walker.  I had the pleasure of meeting her at Quilt Market last year.  Super nice girl.

Cute, eh? 

While making this block I realized these are my two favorite prints ... polka dots and little flowers on a tiny dot background.


Workspace Makeover, Part V

Whoops!  I got so distracted with my Daisychain Sampler I forgot to finish off my Makeover tour

So.  Guess whose fabric I used for the drapes? 

Right, Laura Ashley. :) 

People, I was SO not kidding about bows being genetic for me.

And guess where I got the lace panel? 

Right again!  (I totally bought it before I was married & had a house.)

Yeah, I agree the lace should probably go.  It's a bit fussy.  And don't look too close 'cause it's seen better days.  But I keep it for now because I like how it lets in the light and I can see what's happening outside my window, but the neighbors can't see me if/when I'm still in my jammies.  There's a roller blind behind the lace that closes every night for privacy.

I found this mannequin a few summers ago in Utah.  It was an impulse buy.  I thought she would look pretty and add interest in the corner without hogging the space because she's not a solid object. 

She does look really nice right now - especially with the pink bolts of old Moda barkcloth and laminated fabric.  But she's usually hidden under ... stuff.

One of the things I'm very happy about is my table. 

My uncle made it for us as a wedding present and it was our kitchen table for a long time.  I positioned it with the short side against the wall so I could have 3 accessible sides.  I sew on the one side but I can cut from all 3 sides - very helpful when I'm cutting yardage and I don't have to lift the fabric to turn it around.  The cutting mat is 24" x 36".

I hang all my rulers here on the end ... nails installed by moi.

A scribble on the drawer from years ago by one of my daughters that I just can't bring myself to scrub away.

And now the best part of all ... the fabric.

My books, (lots of Japanese craft books & magazines) and a portion of Moda Simplicity on the top shelf.  My Moda Fig Tree stash underneath ... the pile in the foreground will be used to finish my Mystery Block of the Month quilt ... another project I've neglected but will be catching up on this week.

Lecien/Japanese, whites & brights ...

Romantic and very pretty shabby chic colors ...

And some of my lovely pins from my lovely friend Gigi.

I think I should be embarrassed that this is (most of, but not all) my fabric AFTER getting rid of about 150 lbs!  Yikes!  I better get sewing!

So there you have it.  (Check out these earlier posts to see the rest of my Sewing Room Makeover Series.)  It's not perfect.  And I'm not a professional decorator or anything.  (And there's probably an ugly rubbermaid container and a few ... er ... several ... other things hiding in the hallway while I take these photos.)

But I really like being here.  This place suits me just fine ... as long as I keep the hoarding and the shoving and clutter under control.

Confession:  You know how you have to hold in a fart when you're in public? And then when you're finally alone you can "let loose" and be normal?  Yeah, well, now that the photo shoot is over my room just farted.


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 45

Gray & White

According to my nerdy chart, I'm still really behind with gray.  So in the event I never catch up, I decided to do the backgrounds of both blocks gray instead of white.

#76 - Sawtooth

I always thought I was going to use a larger print on that nice big triangle ... but I just couldn't resist those little posies.  Man are they ever cute!

#75 - Rosbud

Speaking of "Rosebud", have you seen the critically acclaimed movie "Citizen Kane"?  My husband & I finally watched it a few years ago.  We didn't get it ... you know, the whole "this is like one of the most totally awesomest movies ever made in the history of forever".

We much prefer watching things like "America's Funniest Home Videos".  I laugh hysterically during the clips where people get scared/surprised.  

Sorry.  I've tried to cure myself of finding that sort of thing funny, especially since I don't like it when people scare me.  I'm profoundly aware of my hypocracy. 

But I just can't help it.

What make you laugh?


Daisychain Sampler "U"

Ok, this was kind of a weird one to do.

But also super cool (I think I've been using that phrase too much lately ... but I can't think of any other way to decribe it right now so ... super cool it is.)

I kept thinking feathers on an arrow, as in bow & arrow.  Can you see it too?  Or am I just going completely mental here?

I was also asked about my needle size yesterday so I thought I'd do a little show & tell on the subject.

My favorite brand - Jeana Kimball's Embroidery/Redwork needles.  Love them.

And my favorite size is 10.  HOWEVER, I ran out of 10s and have been resorting to an old pack of 9s lately ... which are longer.  Embroidery needle numbering is such that the larger the number, the smaller the needle.  Totally decided by a man, I'm sure! LOL!

But I don't like buying new needles if I have some that still work, even though they are a little cumbersome. 

Anyhow, a #9 embroidery needle is about 1 3/4" long. 

I think my needle looks so big in my photos because it's really hard to judge the size of my letters without accurate reference ... they are just over 1 1/4" tall.

Remember, I like little. ;)

And since it's the end of another row ... AND it's Friday ...


And one more thing ...

As to my plans for this Sampler when the embroidery is done, still no final decision.  But the floss was inspired - in part - by these fabrics ... Moda's Seaside Rose from about 7? - 8? years ago?

I may or may not use them for the finished piece.  All I know is that it will become a wallhanging of some sort.

All right, that was 2 weeks of Daisychain Sampler catch up and it sure felt good!  But my old tendonitis is starting to bark at me a little and my sister has gone home so I should take a little break.  Kay?

Oh wait, and just one MORE thing ... I've had a few questions lately about the floss I'm using. 

Here's a link to a previous post with all that info, including where to buy the pattern, the floss and what colors I'm using.  There's also a category called Daisychain Sampler under Tags on the right side of my blog where you can check out my progress to date.  ;)

Happy weekend everyone!


Daisychain Sampler "T"

You guys are just like totally awesome with all your pink S snake remedies!  From trumpets to tubas you had some fantastic alternative visuals.  But my favorite - and the most popular solution - was to fill in the curl at the end of the so-called tongue.  I'm gonna do that.

But the problem in my mind is already solved because for the rest of my life when I see that "S" I will think of you and how funny and kind and generous you all are. :)

Also thank you for letting me know I'm in good snake-phobia company. :)  I know it's irrational.  And I don't want my daughters to inherit my junk ... I've gotten over A LOT of some pretty major hangups since becoming a mom ... like catching diarrhea with my bare hands and pulling teeth out another human being's head (that is!  and that's what DAD'S are for!)  But this snake thing ... I dunno.

But now on to T.  This was a super fun one for me.

I loved how the colors in this letter turned out ...

... that what a happy coincidence Alicia's original Sampler has the reverse coloration and it works here for my Sampler too. 

LOL!  "Coloration!"  Look at me using such a fancy schmancy word ... guess I'm feelin' kinda cerebral today ...

AND I got to do the long-short stitch again.

Sooo simple.

And yet sooo fun and cool looking.


Am I right or am I right?

Tee hee!  I knew it.  I'm right. ;)


Daisychain Sampler "S"

It's amazing how much embroidery I can get done when my sister is visiting.  I really wish I had more stitchy friends that lived near by.

Why is it so hard to find people who like to sit around, drink tea, maybe eat yummy snacks, chat about whatever and make pretty designs on fabric with a simple needle and lovely thread?

Oh, and a few people asked me last week what I'm going to do with this Sampler when it's done.  I do know it'll be hung on the wall.  I'm leaning towards some sort of patchwork piecing to frame it.  Maybe just in a frame.  Haven't decided for sure.  I'll have to play around a bit.  I'm open to suggestions ...

This letter is done with a backstitch fill.

Which was totally ok with me.

'Cause it doesn't really matter (at least to me) if the stitches aren't all the same length.

And it has such a neat texture.

[Insert panic here]

Oh crap!  NOW all of a sudden it looks like a pink snake - all poised like a hooded cobra, sticking out its tongue and ready to strike ... I HATE snakes!!! 

No, you don't understand!  I mean REALLY ... as in full blown phobia ... as in like Indiana Jones only add screaming like a girl running in the opposite direction with arms flailing in the air!!!  (I won't even go into the reptile house at the zoo ... )

[Insert reconsidering very irrational response to thought of a snake in my Sampler and attempting to regain SOME semblance of maturity here] 

But then again, maybe I don't like them because they don't come in pink ... maybe I could learn to like pink snakes ... hmmm, I'm gonna have to think about that one ...


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 44

Color Riot!

#32 - Farmer's Daughter

A few months ago I was smurfing the Interweb and came across this cutie little idea.  I only remember noting how much fun it would be to do and then forgot about it ...

... until I was looking thru my FW book and came across this block. 

I've been skipping over it A LOT - I just couldn't settle on color placement & value.  But then a lightbulb turned on in my head when I remembered the fabulous idea and this block was born!

I think it's super cute.

#70 - Prairie Queen

Flipping thru my book again looking for another design that would work all scrappy and found this one.

I completely ignored the original color/value placement and only paid attention to the cut pieces.  It looks TOTALLY different from the original, but I like it, despite the rather obnoxious volume.  I started by cutting one of each of the same squares for the other block and then added a few more favorites.

If you look carefully, you'll notice I made the 4-patches in color pairs and positioned them opposite each other.  I like how it brings just a little bit of order to the crazy bold scrappiness.

I have a feeling I'll be looking at these happy colors a lot today instead of out my window as 20 cm (8") of snow are expected to fall today ... life in Canada.


Daisychain Sampler "R"

R is for I'm on a ROLL here!

And if you're Canadian, it's also for RRROLL up the RIM to win time, eh?!  LOL!  I actually went into a trash can yesterday because I forgot to roll up my rim before I threw out my cup ... didn't win anything though.

For those of you who have absolutely no flippin' idea what I'm talking about, lemme 'splain.  There's a famous national donut chain (yes, there is some merit to the stereotype about Canadians & their donuts) called Tim Hortons - locally known as Tim's, Timmie's, Hortons ... and probably other nicknames I haven't heard. 

Tim Horton was a hockey player turned entrepreneur.  And may I just throw down the gauntlet by saying that Tim Hortons beats Krispy Kreme (an American donut chain) every day of the week and twice on Sundays.   Other donut shops have gone head to head with Tim's, but none have lasted. 

Just sayin'.

So once or twice a year, Tim's has a nationwide contest where you have a chance to win a prize ranging from a free coffee or donut to a car.  The potential prize is hidden under the rolled edge of a paper cup, hence the term "roll up the rim" - and you have to roll the R like you're Scottish. 

I don't drink coffee.  Tim's does have a nice steeped tea, but I can get tea for free at home.  And then there's also the thing about me not having enough self control to walk into a donut shop and NOT order a donut ... so "just a cup of tea" ALWAYS turns into "a medium steeped tea, double double (that's how I order cream & sugar) and a 10 (or 20) pack of assorted Timbits".

However, yesterday I was at the swimming pool for an hour on a field trip with my daughter and I WASN'T allowed to bring any stitching because then I wouldn't be WATCHING her jump off the diving board like I promised.  And I also didn't have time to make a cup before I left home.  But there just so happened to be a Tim's drive-thru on the way to the pool ...

But I digress.

LOL!  I'm gonna make all you non-Canadians at least honorary citizens by virtue of meaningless trivia about this fine country if it KILLS me!!!  LOL!  You can thank me next time you're struggling for a topic of conversation and you find yourself talking about donuts and Snowy Owls at a cocktail party. ;)

All right, all right!  Keep your shirt on ... here comes the Sampler.

I wasn't sure if this dark brown & light pink would work together.

I was worried the dark would end up super loud ...

... and the delicate pink would disappear.

I don't think that happened.  I am totally diggin' how it turned out.


Daisychain Sampler "Q"

The first time I did a search for something on the internet was in June 2002 for my first daughter's first birthday.  I wanted to take a picture of her wearing a fairy crown made from the pink daisies growing under our kitchen window.  But I'd never made one before so I Googled "How to make a Fairy Crown." 

Here's how it turned out. 

That's my little cutie almost 10 years ago. 

(Sorry 'bout the quality - they're photos of photos ... remember, I took them back in "the olden days" before I had a digital camera!  LOL!)

A few years later, I made another one for my second daughter.  This time we were on a holiday (and she was almost 18 months ... you know how it goes with the second child ...)  No pink daisies to be found, but there were tons of white ones.

This is the little munchkin who made the anniversary embroidery I showed last week.

Is it normal that looking at these pictures of my babies makes my heart ache?  I miss that new baby smell & the squooshy squoosh & pudgy cheeks & baby giggles & tiny fingers & them sleeping in my arms. 

(Sigh.)  Anyhow. 

This is my long way of explaining WHY I wanted to make this "Daisychain Sampler" in the first place.  Seriously.  It was this post on Alicia's blog that sold me.

And now with this letter?  I would do the entire alphabet with this style of letter.  Really, I would!

I admit to almost wishing I'd used a darker background fabric so I could make the daisies white.

But I think this pale buttery yellow worked out so beautifully.

Normally, I'm a little (ok, a lot) fussy about my lazy daisy petals being exactly the same length and perfectly spaced around each flower.  But in this application, I felt the haphazard, "natural" approach would suit this letter best.

So I let go of my OCD perfectionist tendencies and just let the petals be where they wanted to be.  Some flowers with 5 petals and some with 6 ... and a few are just half flowers. 

Love it.

Something told me to go with my favorite blue as the flower centers.

Could you not just weep? 

Isn't it THE.most.unbelievably.pretty.letter.EVER?!


Daisychain Sampler "P"

Yay!  More Daisychain Sampler! 

As you found out yesterday my sister is visiting.  But despite the time lost searching for the Snowy Owl on the weekend, my sister & I still found some time to stitch & chat.

I forgot to show you the group shot after I finished the last row ...

And now for some poetry.

P is for Pretty.

P is for Pink.

P is for Perfect.


I totally missed my calling as a poet.  LOL!  NOT!  Think I'll stick to stitching & sewing. 

Unless Sesame Street calls. 

Then it'll be all, "I can't work with this big yellow bird.  Get him off the set or I walk!"

I have a very rich ... & delusional ... imagination.


I Could Have Stayed Home To Embroider But My Sister Made Me Do This Instead...

Ok.  Here's the thing.  My big sister is a birder ... bird watcher. 

I know. 

I don't get it either. 

But experience has taught me that what SOUNDS like a COLOSSALLY BORING waste of time can turn out to be something special.

She's in town for the week and was reading a bird magazine and discovered there's a tract of prairie land about 1/2 hour's drive east of my house where the Snowy Owl hangs out for the winter.  (I can't beLIEVE I'm telling you this stuff ...)

And FYI, all the pictures in this post were taken from the safety and comfort of my driver's seat.  Just so we're clear on that.

Now, she's taken us on some "wild goose chases" before, but she learned that she can bribe my daughters (& me too) with the prospect of a treat (that involves something bad for your waistline) if we help her find what she calls a 'lifer bird' - a bird she's not seen in the wild.  (Seeing a bird in the zoo or on tv or even on someone's camera DOES NOT COUNT.  There are very strict rules in the birding community about what counts as a sighting and my sister is nothing if not a stickler for following the rules.)


She proposed we go look for this Snowy Owl. 

On a Sunday afternoon. 

I would have MUCH rather stayed home to work on my Daisychain Sampler, but ... well ... sometimes I manage to get off my duff and actually venture out into the world to have an experience that doesn't involve a comfy sofa and a needle & thread.

We travelled about 150 kms (93 miles).  Mostly on gravel roads.

Did I mention she bought each of my daughters their own pair of real binoculars?  Yeah, like 3 years ago.  And they use them too.

We saw a lot of this ...

Yeah, the landscape isn't exactly ... lush this time of year.

These are wheat fields.

So you get to see the odd barn.

And silos.

And horse.

But mostly more of this ...

(have you fallen asleep yet?)

and this

Oh goody!  We get to come to a complete stop at an uncontrolled railroad crossing!

And then continue with more of this ...

(No, the above photo is NOT the same one as the first picture, it just seems like it ... )


Shrubbery ... ;)

This goes on for over an hour.

(Can YOU say "boring!")

And then all of a sudden Sister yells, "STOP STOP STOP!!!! THERE IT IS!!!!!!!"

I slammed on the brakes ... on a gravel road (think Dukes of Hazzard!) ... and behold ... there it was ... the Snowy Owl!

A sub-adult male Snowy Owl, to be exact.

Just sitting there waiting for us to find him. 

According to the article, the Snowy Owl usually returns to the arctic around the end of February, so we were lucky to see him.

We got out of the van to get a closer look but he took flight (surprisingly magnificent ... sorry I didn't get a shot of that.)

BUT, according to the rules, my sister WAS able to identify it.  It counts.  Another lifer checked off her list.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit how exciting it was.  I mean it's just a bird.  But we saw it.  And it was fun.  I can't explain it.

Don't get me wrong.  It's not exciting enough to make me want to do this as a hobby or anything.  But the few hours us four girls spent driving up and down quiet back roads, braking a lot for what might have been the Snowy Owl but always turned out to be a road sign, tuft of snow or litter is now a fun memory for us all.

For my sister, that Snowy Owl is #561 out of (roughly) 900 birds in North America she has seen.  And in case you're interested, my daughters and I have also helped her find the Island Scrub Jay, Rock Wren, California Gull & Abert's Towee.

And tomorrow we get ice cream. :)