2015 Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge

Happy 5th anniversary to the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge! It’s being organized by Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. High Five, Sarah! It’s a lot of work to organize a challenge like this!

Quilters are invited to make a quilt and donate it to one of the charities listed on the Hands2Help website. (But don’t worry if you can’t afford to mail the quilt, you do have the option of donating to a local charity. There are no barriers put in your way if you want to participate.) The object of the challenge is to get quilts wrapped around the shoulders of those who need them.

Extra exciting is that this year, Because You Matter Quilts for Kids is the Canadian recipient! That’s me!! Canadian quilters who don’t want to mail their quilts across the border can mail them to me as an option (if they don’t know where to donate locally or want to contribute to Because you Matter specifically.) How cool is that? !!! Thank you so much, Sarah! I’ll also be posting the quilts I’m making as I go along. I have a special project in mind for Because you Matter this year and I’ll be telling you all about it soon.

Sarah has arranged lots of sponsors and lots of prizes, a linky party, free patterns if you need ideas and all kinds of fun for participants, so head on over to Hands2Help and sign up.  Registration opens today!

Two Bookmarks

I love stitching these little gifts!



I traced the pattern from a little book called Embroidery pour le Jardinier by Sylvie Blondeau that my son gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago.



I used Kaffe Fassett fabric on the backs.



Quick and pretty!

Thankful for Rick Rack: The Simple Woman’s Day Book, January Edition

Today I am taking part in The Simple Woman’s Daybook. I haven’t done it for awhile. Today seems like a good day for it. Check out the link to see what other simple women are up to today. And if you’re a blogger, join in! 🙂
simple-woman-daybook-smallOutside my window… The sky and the lake are both the same colour. Fog obscures the far shore. Everything is shrouded and still.
I am thinking… about how I am procrastinating this morning. I mean to wash the floors but keep finding other things to do first. Like this blog entry. And how I couldn’t do anything (even get dressed!) until I sewed a bag. And my fiction story is waiting for me. I would prefer to devote the majority of my day today to it. And I just might do that! Who needs clean floors, anyway? (insert shifty-eyed emoticon here)
I am thankful…for the love of my husband and the care of my friends and my laptop and the web. And for pink shoes. And rick rack. Definitely thankful for rick rack this morning!
In the kitchen…no mess! Nothing baking, nothing cooking. Just the kettle waiting to be filled.
I am wearing…leggings and my funky green baby-doll top, my favourite brown sweater that could really stand to be new (but maybe that’s why it’s my favourite – well used/loved), beige & brown polka dot socks and my birks.  and a good collection of loose threads. Insulation, you know!
I am creating… a bag! I needed a bag for the Friendship Garden Quilt that I finished (click the link to see it) and just happened to have some happy denim-like sunflower fabric that I got at the thrift store that actually kind of matches the quilt! But I had some bobbin tension issues…
002Ta da! Rick rack to the rescue!
003The bag looked kind of small. Would the quilt fit?
007008The pattern is from The Green Bag Lady. I changed up the pattern a bit…4″ straps instead of 3″ and I used French seams.
I am going…to the Big Band Valentine’s Day dance in Whitehorse on Saturday! Pink shoes, you know. Just sayin’.
I am wondering…who of my old friends will be there to dance with me? 🙂 …And also what it would be like to write a song. My friend Fawn Fritzen, who is an awesome singer, is taking part in FAWM (sort of like NaNoWriMo except it’s February Album Writing Month) where she has to write 15 songs during the month of February. It would be fun to write a song together, except maybe more fun for me than for Fawn, lol! since I have never written a song in my life and can’t sing a note to save it!
I am reading…Festive in Death by J.D.Robb. I checked it out from the library and it is due tomorrow!
I am hoping…that I can  finish this book tonight! Shouldn’t be a problem…I love J.D.Robb’s Eve Dallas stories. 🙂 (did you know that J.D.Robb is actually Nora Roberts? Such a versatile author! And prolific…eee gads, that gal can write!)
I am looking forward to…spending time at the Fox Lake cabin. Really looking forward to it. I want to walk in the door and not walk out again for days and days. I love it there so much!
I am learning…always.
Around the house…dust bunnies to sweep. kitty and doggy footprints to mop, a rug to vacuum, a bathroom to polish.
I am pondering…whether I should sign up for a free Open University Future Learn course called Start Writing Fiction, which focuses on the central skill of creating characters. It’s 8 weeks long and starts at the end of April. Only 3 hours per week, but I am so slow, I know I will  need to devote more time than that to it.  I should sign up for this. Yes, I should.  But I’ve never taken one of these free Open University courses before. Have you?
A favorite quote for today…“If we walk far enough,” says Dorothy, “we shall sometime come to someplace.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
One of my favorite things…cold left over pizza and tea, earl grey, hot – for breakfast! Served with a good book in a corner of the couch and don’t talk to me until I’m done!
A few plans for the rest of the week…Spend time writing on my fiction piece. I need to get another couple of chapters ready to send to my two critique partners, Holly and Lisa. And I’ve got Holly’s chapters to read and make comments on. Plus, I am determined to make 14 (yes, I said fourteen) baby elephants for the elephant-a-long that I’m participating in. 🙂 Here are the momma and daddy elephants:
013A peek into my day…because no matter else what I may or may not do today, writing is at the top of the list. 🙂
012and this:
045with a good dose of this little guy who will need to go for a walk.
IMG_1174What are you doing today?

Four things to build Momentum in 2015

Do you choose a word to guide you for the year?

Last year I chose the word Play. You can read about it here (and there are also some great family photos on that post, too!) It was the perfect word for my first year of retirement.

But now it’s time to switch things up. I’ve thought about it a lot and the word that keeps popping into my head is Momentum.

Driving Power…Strength…to (continue) Moving Forward…to Repeat Recent Success.  I’ve felt stagnant lately. Bored, even. Recognizing signs of depression hovering around the atmosphere, like little dull grey sparkles just inside my peripheral vision.

Time to start moving forward again….build up some Momentum!

There are four areas I’ve identified that need some work. That need some momentum.

  1. Writing: I wrote over 50,000 words last November during NaNoWriMo and then totally let it fall to the side.
    What I’m doing about it: I’ve joined a writing critique group. In fact, I have someone’s first three chapters on my laptop waiting for my own comments right now! Wow! Now, not only does this give me serious aakk! moments but it also gives me incentive to keep on writing. In fact, my goal for today is to get a chapter ready to send around for a look-see. I’d like to send it out this afternoon. And a bonus is that it reminds me that I am capable and competent – something I have struggled with this first year of retirement.
  2. That number on the scale: I gained 15 pounds. Yup. In one year. You’ve heard of the Freshman 15, right? Bet you hadn’t heard of the retirement 15, l0l! Eee Gads. How embarrassing to have to admit this out loud.  Several years ago I lost 65 pounds with Weight Watchers. Read about it here. Then Weight Watchers changed from the Momentum plan to the “new” Points Plus plan. The new plan just didn’t work for me, and my weight crept up until I had re-gained 15 pounds.Over the next 4 years I started and quit weight watchers three times.  Finally it sunk in. The new plan just doesn’t work for me. At all.
    What I’m doing about it: I’ve dug out my old weight watcher’s momentum plan stuff. I’m going back to what worked for me the first time before any more damage is done. Did you do the math? Yup…15 + 15 = 30 pounds “found.” I remember my friend Judy saying that she wasn’t loosing weight, she was getting rid of it because she didn’t want to find it again. Right on, Judy! Does this put me in the same category as all the other people who vow to loose weight and get fit in the new year. I suppose so, but I don’t care. What I care about is regaining that feeling of good health that I enjoyed up till recently. So YAY for the old Momentum plan. It worked for me before and so far it’s working for me again as I am already down 4 pounds in the first two weeks. And I’m having fun! Just like I did before.
  3. Fitness: My fitness plans went sideways, and I’m not sure why. I’d been doing a fair bit of walking…Sammy and I have covered quite a bit of ground over the year, and I’m really pleased about it. But I’ve also been doing a fair bit of sitting, what with all the sewing and quilting and book-reading I’ve been doing. I really missed my treadmill this winter when the weather hasn’t been cooperative for going out.
    What I’m doing about it: we moved my treadmill out of storage in the garage where it has resided since we moved in last year and set it up in the sewing room. Yup. My little 99 square-foot sewing room just got a little bit smaller, lol! And better yet, I’ve built a little desk for my laptop, so that I can move while I write.
    046Yup! and the little pink balls you see there weigh a couple of pounds each, perfect for a few overhead presses while I’m thinking or watching an episode of SG-1 on DVD. How’s that for two birds with one stone, eh?
    045It isn’t hard…I haven’t fallen off once. In fact, I’ve spent 68 minutes writing this post  at the low low setting of 1.2 mph and have walked 1.35 miles. That’s over a mile on my feet instead of on my butt! Awesome!
  4. Social: I often feel isolated and lonely.
    What I’m dong about it: Not 100% sure yet, but things are going to change. I’ve gone to a second quilter’s group and may join – though I am deathly afraid of becoming an old lady who does nothing but quilt. I am thinking of maybe joining a line dance class or something active and fun like that. Even teach a dance class, maybe? Tomorrow night I’m going to attend a meeting at the Sunnybrae Community Hall down the street from us and see if I want to get involved there in some capacity. The important thing is that getting more involved is on my radar and this will be the year to do something about it. I need to make a life for myself outside of being home alone all the time.

So there you go. Four things to build some momentum on. Four things to move me forward. AND a plan to help me do so.

And did you notice that sewing and quilting didn’t even make the list? That’s because there isn’t anything at all wrong or lacking in that area. I aim to continue learning and growing and playing with needle and thread.

Do you have a plan for the year? and seriously…what do you think of my walking desk? too cool, right?

A sweet little bookmark

A tiny little embroidery project to finish the day 🙂

001From the Little Stitches book of embroidery designs by Aneela Hoey

002So sweet!

….and now you also know what I am reading! What are you reading this week and what do you use for a book mark?

The Friendship Garden Quilt

Warning: this post is photo intensive!

036Let me introduce you to The Friendship Garden Quilt!

017 It comes by its name honestly, because it started out life as a bee block!

018I am part of a Flickr group quilting bee with 5 other ladies. We call ourselves We Bee Canadian. We each make 2 blocks for the month’s Queen Bee.

031When it was my month to pick a block (a couple of years ago!), I asked everyone to please make me two bow tie blocks using garden-themed fabric.

008Because we were all pretty much beginners, nobody’s 1/4″ seams were very good and the blocks didn’t square up very well. There were an awful lot of mismatched seams.

007Then I had an idea!

025I decided to cover some of the wonky seams with English paper pieced rosettes. Perfect! Before you knew it, I had hand-appliqued a flower in every single blank square, wonky or not!

033Because a garden should be an absolute riot of colour, don’t you agree?

011I used a bed sheet on the back. I think it would qualify as a vintage sheet. I remember having sheets like this on my bed in the 70s.

027The quilt is hand quilted in circles.

034I don’t think I’ll try to do hand quilting through a bed sheet again. I actually bent needles and had to use pliers to pull the needle through the layers. Ouch!

035Mr. C. did a marvelous job behind the scenes, don’t you think?

022I used black for the binding to set off the colours. Oh, how I love this quilt! It is so cheerful and bright and sunny! A bit of summer in the depths of winter.

010I hope it will be as loved in its new home as it is in mine 🙂

029These photos were taken at the sweet little Notch Hill Community Hall and Church on the only sunny day in January.

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Linking up with the binding blitz at Julie Quilts and Lets Bee Social at SewFreshQuilts.

catching up

I’ve written so many blog posts in my mind over the last several weeks. Sadly, none of them have made the (sometimes torturous) journey from my head to my fingertips and onto the keyboard.

So while I’m sorting it all out, and just to let you know that I’m still here, I’ll post a little update from the sewing room.

I finally finished The Friendship Garden quilt!

022All that’s left is sewing on the label.

006Goodness, I didn’t know if I would ever finish this quilt! It just kept demanding more and more. It was ridiculous! I’m only going to give you a brief glimpse here. This quilt has an interesting story but it hasn’t had it’s photo shoot yet. And you know me…a quilt isn’t truly finished until it’s had its picture properly taken, lol! So sorry…you’ll just have to wait for it.

011Last September I started taking a class at my local quilt shop (Threads & Paper in Salmon Arm). The class is called A Quilter’s Garden. It is a beginners machine applique class. Let me stress beginners! It’s perfect for me. Exactly what I need, considering that I am still learning how to use my new sewing machine with all its various stitches and features.

012Each block introduces a different skill, such as couching, and sewing on buttons with the button foot. Sadly, I cannot seem to master the button foot.  Consequently, I’ve been sewing on all the buttons by hand. sigh.

014And the couching. Well okay. I admit that my first try at couching was a complete and absolute bust. In fact, I was so nervous to try it that I didn’t even try!  that’s how much of a bust it was! Instead, I decided to totally redesign the block. Completely. This block (below) isn’t even close to the pattern that we were given.  But I love it!

016Did you notice the sweet little diamond buttons eyes? They make me so happy!

017Of course, I like to do things my own way, so haven’t exactly been following the patterns. I’ve kind of carried on doing my own thing..

018For instance, there aren’t any birds in any of the original patterns. None!  Now, I don’t know why, but I really wanted some birds in there! This quilt just begs for birds, don’t you think?

019They’re so tweet!

And yes, I finally did attempt the couching (above). 🙂

Christmas wine tours and some sewing

This has been a busy weekend for us! Last night was the Salmon Arm Community Concert Band Christmas concert, and Mr. C’s big debut as co-conductor. I am very proud to report that he stood up on the podium in his suit and waved his baton around and didn’t fall off once! More importantly, the audience loved him. I don’t have a single photo for you, though, I am so sorry to say. 🙁

Here…I’ll take a quick two-selfie for you (is that a word?)

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Today was Date Day and we spent the afternoon visiting every single winery that Salmon  Arm has to offer. Because today was also Christmas Open House day! (At the wineries that, is. Not at my house, though you are welcome to drop in anytime…which makes everyday open house day at my house, actually…)

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We came home with 8 bottles of wine, two from each winery:

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Sam loves Open House Day at the wineries, too, because I sneak out pieces of sausage and cheese from the party trays for him. (oh, um….yes, that is a quilt you see on the back seat, covered in muddy paw prints. And yes, you are correct…it is hand quilted. But before you get your knickers in a knot over my mistreatment of such a precious heirloom, I quilted it myself and so I can do whatever I want to with it. Get out! get out! No quilting police allowed at my house, lol!)

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After we got home and I made myself a nice cup of tea, I finished the last row of the Trifle Dish Quilt. The quilt-along was so long ago that the directions for the last row weren’t on the website anymore, so I had to write to them and ask for the directions to be sent.

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It’s called a Trifle Dish quilt because it’s built up in layers (rows). I made it because I love (L.O.V.E.) trifle. Next comes the borders and then finishing and then off it will go to its new home.

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This is the flimsy (that means just the plain top, before it has been put together with the stuffing and backing and then quilted). Please excuse the bad lighting. Indoors, flashbulb, too much wine….you know.

Here is something cute…Michael’s girlfriend had a birthday last month, and as I was too busy with Nanowrimo to think about much else, I whipped up a couple of little coasters to put in her birthday card.

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And I also made another book mark. Just because.

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Oh! And today I am celebrating an anniversary! One year ago Today exactly, I pulled into my driveway in Salmon Arm for the very first time as a new early retiree. 🙂

How’s your Sunday shaping up?

Bookmarks the Spot

My goodness, this has been a busy week. Since I committed to attempting to write 50,000 words as part of nanowrimo, my time has been completely taken up. I am a slow, slow writer. Sometimes it takes me all day long to reach my daily goal of 1650 words, the amount I will need to average if I’m to reach the 50,000 mark by midnight on November 30th. Yesterday was a bit of a bust.  My entire morning and early afternoon was taken up by the last minute decision to check out the Shuswap Needle Arts Guild. Of course, I came home in the mood to stitch, not to write, and I only managed 700 words. Argh. Well, it’s the spirit that counts, right? It’s all about balance.

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So to rid myself of the stitching urge, I made this sweet little bookmark after supper while we watched Man of Steel, which Mr. C brought home from the library yesterday.

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She is hand embroidered on tone-on-tone quilting cotton. I used heavy Pellon interfacing to give her some weight and backed her with this sweet 1930s repro print.

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The pattern is from Little Stitches by Aneela Hoey. I’ve had this wonderful book for an entire year. I got it for Christmas last year and this is the first project I’ve made form it.

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What’s keeping me away from the keyboard this morning?

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…a fresh loaf of sourdough artisian bread, fresh from the oven.

What are you procrastinating about today?

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo

Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? The goal of National Novel Writing Month is to write a novel (or 50,000 words of a novel) during the month of November. That’s about 1800 words each day. When I retired at the end of last November, one of the things I looked forward to doing was to spend time writing. I haven’t. Written, that is (unless you count blog posts, which I really don’t.)

Now, I’ve been visiting a friend in Ottawa for the last two weeks, so haven’t been able to do much in the way of preparation. In fact, I’m dashing off this little post while waiting to board my flight home! Anyway, according to the NaNoWriMo calendar, today is the day to publicly state your intention.

I am going to give this my best shot. I’m going to put my head down and see what happens. Good or ugly. Maybe no one will read it but me, and that’s okay.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo too, you can find me on their site under the name nitadances. Hope to see ya there!

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Vogue 8379: It’s a Wrap!

Have you heard of the Curvy Sewing Collective? If you haven’t, and you are a curvy gal, plus-sized or not, you’ve got to check them out! Anyway, right now they are having a wrap-a-long, which is being hosted by Jenny.  Since learning to sew my own dresses is on my retirement play list, I decided to play along.

Jan 13 007

This was my first real foray into sewing with stretchy fabric and I was quite nervous! I didn’t want to screw it up and end up wasting the money I’d spent on the fabric and the pattern. I really hate waste (which is probably why I love scrap quilts so much). Anyway…I’m not going to learn how to sew if I don’t jump into the deep end, and this sew-a-long was the perfect opportunity to have a support system. If I needed to call for help, I knew help would be there.

Jan 13 016

Jenny was making an entirely different pattern, so her instructions didn’t match exactly up with the Vogue instructions. Because I don’t have the confidence to step off the path yet, I elected to follow the Vogue instructions, but at the same time pay close attention to the differences as I went along. My thinking was that this would be a good way to learn, and I could then make a second dress and follow Jenny’s directions where it made sense to do so. That way I’d understand the whys and how comes instead of just blindly doing it. (If you know me, you’ll recognize this trait! I always want to know how come things work the way they do!)

Jan 13 020

Some of the differences in instructions were:

  1. Vogue had me assemble the bodice and the skirt separately, before attaching them together while Jenny suggested sewing the back bodice to the back skirt, the front bodice pieces to the two front skirt pieces, and then sewing together at the shoulder seams, leaving the side seams open (for now).
  2. Vogue had me sew the sleeve seam and then insert it into the arm hole scythe. Jenny walked everyone through how to sew the sleeve in flat and then sew up the sides and sleeve all in one.
  3. Vogue had me make an interfaced neck facing. Jenny taught everyone how to replace the facing with a t-shirt edging.
  4. Jenny also had us using products such as wonder tape and knit stay tape. Which I didn’t use, but probably will next time.

Jan 13 015

I plan on sewing this dress again, using Jenny’s directions this time as everything she said made perfect sense and I could follow along with her reasoning for the changes. Also, I’d like to try the different way to finish the neck line.

Jan 13 010

I didn’t have enough fabric for the ties, so I had to piece them. Since I was piecing them anyway, I also made them longer. Surprisingly, I can wrap them around so they cross in the back twice! I love this because it feels much more secure. Next time, though, I’ll use a  diagonal seam on the piecing because the straight across seam has left a bulge that annoys me (even though I’m sure I’m the only one who can see it).

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It was a challenge! I can’t tell you how many times I balled it up and threw it in the corner! Seriously!

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I had some trouble with the neck gaping. It really bothered me.

Jan 13 021

…then this morning I woke up with the idea that if I moved the side opening (where the tie comes through from the inside) down onto the skirt instead of having it on the bodice, it would snug the left bodice piece up a bit.

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And it worked!

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…but if any of you are sewers, I’d appreciate some tips on how to prevent neck gaping in general. What can I do next time to make the neck edge snug down instead of curling back? Does it do this because the interfaced facing prevents stretch?

Jan 13 018

Next time I’ll also lengthen the bodice about 1 inch. I’ve been giving the dress a test run around the house today, and I find I have to keep tugging the bodice down. It wants to sit just above my waist. Again, a bit annoying. I don’t like to be constantly tugging at my clothing. Other than that it is very comfortable!

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Vogue 8379 is a keeper. I think it is surprisingly flattering (I didn’t expect it to be!) and so I will definitely make it again. Next time I’ll make view A with the long sleeves.

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A Yardstick and a Sneak Peak

I have the most wonderful husband in the world. Have I ever told you that?

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“Honey, do we have a yardstick?”
“Nope! I don’t think they even make them anymore.”
“Oh.”
“Why? Do you need one?”
“I need something to measure my hem from the floor”
“Do you want me to make you one?”

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Aaaand…he knows how to use it!

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He’s a gem.

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I think I’ll keep him!

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And now for the sneak peak:

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