Tyler’s Quilt: Indomitable Spirit

Warning – this post has lots of pictures!

I have a quilt finish to show off today! This is the quilt I recently made for my second-youngest nephew, Tyler.

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A quilt is never finished until it has had its official photo shoot, and this quilt had two photography sessions! First, we took it on a beautiful nature walk to Margaret Falls. This was the perfect place to photograph this quilt.

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Look at how the shapes in the landscape compliment the shapes in the quilt. It makes my little quilt-photographers heart sing!

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The second photo shoot was just up the road. I really wanted to have the quilt photographed with horses (don’t ask me why, I really have no idea. Well…maybe because my nephew lives in Montana. And you know, Montana…horses…)

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Sadly, the horses weren’t as interested in the quilt as I thought they should be. Actually, they were afraid of it. Big piece of fabric – boo, scary!

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Happily, two girls came riding by and consented to help.
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And of course who could resist this shot? Love, love, love the long view down the valley.

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Every quilt has a story. Including this quilt. Keep reading, here it comes.

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Tyler turned 18 last week and is graduating from high school this year.

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While I am happy that I finished the quilt in time for his birthday and graduation, I actually was inspired to make him this quilt because I wanted to honour his accomplishments in in Taekwondo.

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This young man has two black belts and is working on his third. I am so proud because I know how much focus and dedication and practice that goes into mastering a craft at any age.

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Each of the coloured blocks represents one of the belts he had to master. The quilt is backed with simple white cotton to represent the outfit the practitioner wears.

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I chose the wonky cross-hatch block for this quilt because the shapes of the lines reminded me of the shapes drawn in the air and the shapes that the body makes when doing martial arts.

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…and also because it’s just a fun and funky pattern that is uber-suitable for a young man of 18.

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I named the quilt Indomitable Spirit, which is one of the tenets in the Taekwondo code. I don’t think I could have chosen a better name.

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Indomitable Spirit measures 50 x 74 inches and is hand quilted. I quilted it free-hand, without a frame and without marking. The first time I’ve ever done either.

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My stitches are what I prefer to call “organic,” (meaning they’re uneven, being the first time I tried quilting that way). I like to try something new whenever I can, and I wanted to try free hand quilting. So it was a bit of a learning curve for me. Appropriate, too, since this quilt honours accomplishment, which requires taking a first step and giving it your best.

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Nothing you accomplish in life comes without practice, right? Like a black belt. Like learning to hand quilt free-style.

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Congratulations, Tyler – your spirit is truly indomitable.

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Live long and prosper!

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Posted in Blog Categories, Hand Quilting, Quilting, Quilts | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

A Silver Anniversary

I’m writing this in the car…please excuse the typos!

The Big Band celebrated its silver anniversary last night. 25 years is quite a milestone for the longevity of anything, especially a band. Mr. C was a founding member, and since we’ve moved away he has managed to attend a few rehearsals on trips back, and has played in four gigs! He’ll play a fifth gig with them next week when the band plays its annual lunchtime concert in LePage Park. I think that means he’s still a member of the band, lol!

Anyway, in honour of 25 years, the band hosted a dance and invited all the past members to sit in. People were there that I hadn’t seen in years, it was amazing! A few folks even flew into town for the reunion. How great is that. 

It was an emotional evening for me. I found myself, part way through the evening suddenly awash in tears. I couldn’t stop,them. They just flowed out of my eyes like one of those fountains where the water just flows down a rock wall, a trickle that dampens the and ferns and mosses. Except my face was far from being rock. 
My tears were of tears of the joy I feel when I’m playing that music that I love so much, tears of playing the bari, following the lead player in the sax line, tears of love of the instrument with its big metal Berg Larson mouthpiece, doing what it’s supposed to do, which is snorting around on the bottom end of the sax line with George on bass in my right ear and the bass bone in my left; tears having a new role in the band (guest); tears of pride to be an alumnus; tears of revisiting what used to be a very big part of my life, looking down the line and there’s Kelly where he always used to sit, Leith beside him on tenor, Rebecca on vocals, up for the anniversary from Maple Ridge, BC, Mark on drums like the old days, Fawn on keys where she always used to be…and I realized that it doesn’t get any better than this. Happy and sad, pensive and elated. Emotion isn’t just joy or sadness, it’s much, much more than that. And it’s all coursing through me right now. I think a few cups of tea with old friends and a few more tears are in store for me yet today. 

  

Posted in Big Band | Tagged | 3 Comments

We Arrived!

When we left the Yukon to pursue a new life as early retirees 17 months ago, our plan was that we would return for at least one month every year. Except for that first year. Mr. C travelled back and forth quite a bit doing contract work, but I wanted to experience an entire uninterrupted year in the Shuswap before leaving. And also, I was a little bit afraid of coming back too soon. Afraid I would be overcome with homesickness.

But this year we have both come back together and I’m pleased to report that I don’t feel any grief or homesickness whatsoever. We really do have the best of both worlds. It was a good decision to relocate – we love living in the Shuswap. And it was a good decision to keep our Yukon property…our tiny-yet-full-of-character heritage log cabin that has sunk in the back corner so that a marble rolls in a lazy S pattern across the floor and where Fox Lake is only fifteen steps from the front porch. (Yes, I just got up and counted them. 15 steps.) Some sad day we will have to sell it because a time will come when we will need the income. That is the day that will break our hearts. But not yet. Not for a dozen or more years.

Here at the cabin, we only exist in the here and now. There is no yesterday. There is no tomorrow. Only today. And since we will be here for a long and luxurious 7 weeks, that is a lot of todays to enjoy.

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Fox Lake

So…we spent 5 days traveling 2,560 kilometers (that’s approximately 1500 miles for you metric-challenged folk) from our new home in the Shuswap to our home-away-from-home in the Yukon. Lots of people do it much quicker than this, and I think it’s a shame. I love the drive, I love the Alaska Highway and I love taking my time to enjoy it. A seven-hour driving day is just about right for us, though we usually end up driving for eight. After 8 hours, we’re tired and ready to stop for the day.

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The Alaska Highway somewhere between Fort Saint John & Fort Nelson, BC. May 2015

 

And the weather on this trip! Don’t get me started…the weather was completely, absolutely, 100% FANTASTIC the entire drive. Sunny blue sky. Warm. Perfect. Every day.

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When we arrived in Whitehorse, Mr. C picked up the car (he travels back and forth doing contract work in the winter, so keeps a car here) and went off to contact his flying students while I continued on to the cabin in the truck & camper. I was looking forward to that first glimpse of the lake … looking forward to following the twisting North Klondike Highway until it crosses Fox Creek, past the boot-end of the lake, all reedy and full of beaver dams before it climbs a bit and follows just above the lake. When we arrived at the top of the drive, I got out to unlock the chain and smelled the hot dusty smell of early spring, the sticky-sweet smell of newly opened leaves (spring comes late in the Yukon), the clear green smell of lake water. I smiled when I saw the Private Residence sign nailed to a tree. That’s Us! The Collins’ are back in residence!

In the truck, Sam stood on the passenger seat, his front paws on the dashboard. He was whining and staring intently down the drive, ears up, tail wagging. He knew exactly where we were. Back in the camper, the cats opened their eyes, stood up and stretched, enjoying a welcome break from the swaying and rattling of the “noisy moving house.”

“Hello house! Hello lake! I’m back!” I stood outside the open truck door and threw open my arms, yelled the words with a big grin on my face. The little cabin was so happy to see us, too! The first thing I did was unlock the front door and go inside, one step behind Samson. Sam jumped up into his window seat to see if his basket of toys was still there (it was) while I set about opening the house. I unlocked each shutter in turn, opened the windows to let in the air and light, turned on the propane, and lit the fridge. I carried the cats into the house and set them down on the bed. They knew exactly where they were, too. Whiskers curled forward, ears pricked up; they raised their chins and sniffed and sniffed. Then they set about investigating the entire place, saving the best for last: a roll-about on the deck and a good long soak in the sun on the deck they remember so well. Meanwhile, I unpacked the camper and stowed away the groceries, our clothing and the selection of quilting, knitting & sewing projects, my laptop, notebooks and novels to read that I’d brought with me.

There was still a bit of ice on the lake, and the leaves on the willow trees along the lakeshore were not quite open yet. I was so glad! I love to watch them unfurl. Spring in the Yukon lasts about 3 days. I’m glad I was here in time to see it.

When Mr. C arrived we set up the patio furniture and had supper.

Grilled cheese sandwiches & a bag of chips. Beer for him and a cider for me. Maybe not the healthiest supper ever, but just the perfect homecoming feast after a long five days on the road.

Ahhhh….It’s good to be back!

Posted in Cabin, Camping, early retirement, Fox Lake, retirement, Summer, Travel, Vacation, Whitehorse, Yukon | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Two more Because you Matter quilts!

Do you remember a while back when I told you about the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge? And that Because You Matter Quilts for Kids is this years Canadian recipient? It’s in this blog post here if you want to refresh your memory.

Well, the first quilts have arrived! It’s absolutely thrilling!!!

Thank you to Anita, who sent these two beautiful quilts:

Green frogs for a little boy (ribbit! ribbit!)…

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And a pretty string quilt for a little girl. Hand tied!

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And the back of this little quilt is so sweet, too!

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Together, we can be the change that we want to see in the world!

Now! I`m off to pack up the camper. We`re traveling North to the Yukon for a few weeks to spend some time in our little Fox Lake cabin.

Posted in Because you Matter, Charity, Quilts | Tagged , | 2 Comments

My first Colette Monetta

Here you thought I wasn’t sewing anything during April. Silly you!

003I’ve been seeing this dress all over the internet and finally decided it was time for me to make one. This is the Monetta dress from Colette Patterns, and INDY designer.

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I have a lot to learn about sewing stretchy knits. I think this crazy striped fabric is called ITY (interlock twist yarn.) I’m still learning what the different types of knit are and what they look like.  The fabric is really stretchy. It drapes beautifully and is Very Comfortable to wear…like wearing pajamas except its a dress, lol! But not the easiest thing to sew…slippery and I couldn’t press a crease into it, so it was hard to make a nice hem.

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I sewed it on my domestic machine (I don’t have a serger, though would dearly love one!) and used my walking foot and a ball point needle. Oh, and I also used a twin needle for the first time.

I don’t know what I did, but I stretched the neck out somehow. It comes dangerously close to falling off my shoulders, though it hasn’t yet. I hope it survives the washing machine.  I’ll be more careful with the neck next time.  And I couldnt find clear elastic so used regular elastic instead. I liked how the skirt is gathered directly onto the elastic. It was so easy to do! The hard part was sewing the gathered bit into the bodice – I caught a bit of the skirt up into the seam here and there, making puckers (not too noticeable). BUT… The regular elastic is stiff compared to the clear stuff, so there is a hard ridge that IS noticeable, which is why I’m wearing a belt. 

Oh, and I put a button on the front for decoration (not really…it’s so I’ll know which is the front when putting it on!)

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And this dress has pockets! …though I’m not happy with the job I did on them. They kind of stick out a bit. And really, I prefer not to have pockets in a dress, so I won’t put them into the next one. This is version 2 of the pattern. It’s a great pattern, I recommend it. Three sleeve options, lined or unlined bodice, collar or no collar (and you can download a booklet containing a big handful of different collars to use when you pay for the pattern – bonus!) I’ll make the next one with the lined bodice version and a collar.

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Next one? You bet! My friend Dee and I will be having a Monetta day together later this month! You can be sure to see the fashion show right here!

Posted in Blog Categories, fabric, Made by Me Clothing, me-made clothing, sewing | Tagged | 9 Comments

Brought to you by the letter Z for Jazz, baby!

Zap! …I really can’t believe the month is over and this is the last A-Z challenge post! No more daily Nita in your inbox!

I love the letter Z. There are a lot of great things I could have written about that actually start with a z, but I found out just a few minutes ago that today, April 30th, is actually International Jazz Day!

Jazz hands, everyone!  Yeah!
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Today I’m going to show you a couple of original fusion pieces I choreographed for the dancers to perform to LIVE Big Band music back in 2011. Bellydance meets Big Band!

OMG it’s the most amazing feeling to be on the big stage with a full 18-piece big band behind you. Amazing! I wish every dancer could experience it.

First, here is a new one that hasn’t hit my website yet (because I only uploaded it to YouTube about 10 minutes ago). Orange Colored Sky!

And here they are again, dancing to another great big band standard: Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps.

And last but not least…and entirely appropriate for the very last post of the A-Z in April challenge: our Rockin’ the Casbah FINALE done to New York, New York.

Phew! Can’t believe it’s over.  It’s over, baby!

I hope you had as much fun this month as I did!

I’d love to hear from you…which post was your favourite?

ZI’m participating in the Blogging From A-Z challenge.  One blog post for each letter of the alphabet, each day of April (except Sunday).

…but don’t go away! I’ll still be blogging, just not every day, regular as clockwork!

Posted in A-Z Blog Challenge 2015, Bellydance, Big Band, Creativity, Dancing, Memories, performance, Rockin' the Casbah, Whitehorse | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments