Monday, March 25, 2013

Panda Diplomacy

Our Prime Minister Stephen Harper was at the airport today to greet the giant pandas that are beginning their visit from China. He is taking some heat in the press, because, you know, he has other important stuff going on. But the pandas are an important diplomatic token these days, so it is beneficial to our relationship with China to treat them well. It is certainly better than selling China all our future oil production... oops, too late!

All right, I'm off my soap box, because really I just wanted a chance to dust off my photos from the pandas' last visit in 1985. Are the pandas an exciting zoo exhibit? Judge for yourself:

I recall that there was quite a while between each of these photos. I think the series says it all. :)

Hopefully I'll be sewing again soon!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I had a major piece of good fortune today. Not quite Irish luck for St. Patrick's Day, but Scottish. My wool crazy quilt idea has been living in the back of my mind since I had to abandon it in December. All along I've wanted to include some tartan scraps in the quilt. Today I managed to acquire this sample book of authentic Scottish tartans from The Wee Tartan Shop in Port Perry, Ontario.

It really was a case of being in the right place at the right time. We were actually driving out of town when I felt strongly that I should turn back. Sample books like this are not offered for retail, but it just happened that they had recently bought a new one, and the owner was in the shop and willing to sell the old one. Who knows, maybe they will see a new business opportunity with quilters! There was quite a bit of tempting jewellery as well, but I spent all my money on the fabric, as usual.

So now I am the proud owner of 32 authentic tartan samples, each with about 6.5" square of usable fabric. The quilt pretty much designs itself from here!

I am a little disappointed that I won't be doing this project as part of CQJP. Maybe I could beg my way back in, but I think it is clear to everyone (even me) that I tend be deadline-challenged with creative projects.  It will probably be best to just work on it as inspiration strikes. And right now I have lots!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Appreciating Simplicity

Today I have been revisiting my Collector quilt project, and appreciating how such simple blocks can still be so beautiful. This quilt is all about the fabrics, of course. The first four are all Kaffe.

I have been using translucent vellum to foundation paper piece these blocks, which makes centering all the motifs a breeze! Normally I hate fussy cutting, but this way it's fun.

I'm not sure why this quilt has been languishing so long, but I think it is just "out of sight, out of mind." Anyway, now the last 10 square-in-a-square blocks are done, and it's on to the sawtooth stars.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Melon Spikes

Here are the next pieces of the puzzle for my Riviera Star, using the foundations from Judy Neimeyer's Prairie Star. She calls them the "melon spike" units. There are eight in all, but I thought just the six made a nice arrangement too!

One really great thing about Judy's design is that none of the points go all the way out to the seams, so there will be no danger of cutting them off when I sew the pieces together. What an excellent idea!

So far this project has been surprisingly easy and fun, considering how dramatic it looks. Next up will be the "circling geese" units.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Scrappy Trips Variation

The original instructions for these Scrappy Trips Around the World blocks are here. If you look closely, you can see that I have introduced a slight variation:

The red and white fabrics down the main diagonal alternate, while all the others remain the same. I did this for two reasons:
  1. I don't want the main diagonal to distract from the red squares in the final layout.
  2. I'm hoping that down the road people may look closely and wonder, "how'd she do that?"
Well, this is how!

Each block uses six half-WOF (width of fabric) strips. Because I am almost always cutting from full-width pieces of fabric, I naturally get two half-WOF strips, so it makes sense to sew the blocks in pairs. I sew them together in the same order for each block, using a different red and white fabric in each set:

I continue to follow the instructions until both sets get to this point:

Then I pull out every other strip:

And replace them with the corresponding strips from the other set:

Voilà! Another two blocks done. :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Epic Fail

Many of you know by now that I am perfectly willing to share my mistakes as well as my successes. I don't think any blogger sits around producing perfect work on the first try. I certainly don't! So here's what I've been working on recently. I'm over 20 hours in on this. Doesn't look too bad at first glance, does it?

This is where I found myself today:

Inside the circle is a gap of five stitches that is supposed to be a gap of one stitch. Don't kid yourself, this is a serious mistake. As far as I can tell, I counted wrong on the very first row I stitched. How did I do that? I stitched the extra four stitches on the chart twice!!

I'm an experienced cross stitcher, I know how these charts are supposed to work. I do remember that the day I started this project I knew I was a little tired, so I chose something that I thought would be easy to work on.

The worst thing is that I kept having nagging doubts while I was stitching, and I ignored them. I started my Août sampler in the wrong place, and while I was stitching that I kept remembering previous times I had counted wrong. Sure enough, the next time I pulled it out I could see it was wrong, and it was an easy fix. The same thing happened with this project, but I said to myself, "surely I am not wrong again!" Argh. I am all about trusting your gut and listening to your inner guidance no matter what, so believe me, this is doubly humiliating for me. A good lesson, though!

What now? I have to think about it. I could unpick the entire right side, which has less done on it so far. However, the whole piece will end up very close to the left edge of the fabric, which may make blocking and framing it more challenging down the road. The kit fabric wasn't very large to start with. Plus, now there is going to be a thread issue. The threads appear to be DMC colours, but the quality is not the same as the individual skeins you buy retail.

I could just throw it out and call it bad luck all around, but this is just one of a set of four, and I've actually really been enjoying it up until now.

Probably I'll buy some new fabric, replace the missing threads, and start over. I should be able to blend together the new thread and the old so it doesn't show. And I'm not happy with the quality of the kit fabric anyway - the piece is pretty small and there is an awkward flaw right in the middle of an open section of the design. You can view the chart for this project here. I would recommend buying just the chart, rather than the whole kit. Then you can use your own better quality fabric and threads.

Now I'm wondering if this is a good opportunity to upgrade the project to a nice evenweave and better threads. I'll let you know what I decide. Maybe everything has worked out for the best after all!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...