Finally, a quilt for the cabin: Garden Party by Blackbird Designs

I finished this quilt just in time to give it a good test drive during a short camping trip to Jasper National Park last week!

Columbia Ice Fields, Jasper National Park

Columbia Ice Fields, Jasper National Park

It’s so much fun having a quilt to photograph when you’re camping!

Columbia Ice Fields, Jasper National Park

Columbia Ice Fields, Jasper National Park

This particular project was a “Shop your Stash” challenge quilt hosted by the Good Time Quilters, one of the guilds I belong to.

Snaring River, Jasper National Park

Snaring River, Jasper National Park

We paid for the pattern, sight unseen last fall, then had the rest of the year to make something using the pattern as inspiration. The only caveat? You had to shop your stash. And did I ever!

sept-2016-017The pattern is Garden Party by Blackbird Designs. It’s a combination of piecing and applique, with little 3-D flower centers.

And, because I always try to learn something new with every project, I decided this quilt was a good opportunity to try out the quilt as you go method.  This allowed me to use up a whole lot of those small pieces of batting that are too big to throw away (because batting is so damned expensive!) but too small to back anything larger than a place mat. I’m not 100% sold on the method, but at least I’ve tried it. 🙂

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The backing is made up of miscellaneous bits and pieces of green & brown fabrics. What I’d call my ugly fabrics.

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Including this interesting piece:

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Mr. C. actually likes the back better than the front.  I guess there’s no accounting for taste, lol.

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It’s quilted free-motion style on my little Janome 2030 in what’s called the stipple pattern .

Folks, this was my very first attempt ever (ever!) doing free-motion quilting, and I’m pretty darned proud of myself. I didn’t quilt inside the flowers…as a result, they’ve puffed up a bit. I like the effect.

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And you know what? It’s 100% made from my stash. I didn’t buy a single new thing to make this quilt. 🙂 This makes my thrifty heart do a happy dance!

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It’s destiny is to live at our cabin at Fox Lake, in the Yukon, where I plan to spend chilly visits snuggled up in front of the fire for years to come. If you come visit, I’ll share a quilt corner with you.  But you might have to fight Mr. C. for it…

Mr. C. doing his sworn duty to uphold Nita's quilts

Mr. C. doing his sworn duty to uphold Nita’s quilts

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!

Alaska Highway, Whitehorse to Watson Lake one year ago today

One year ago today I drove away from Whitehorse, embarking on a solo journey down the Alaska Highway in -30 something temperatures. I stopped along the way to take some photos and jot down some poems. Here is that post.

Day One: Whitehorse to Watson Lake (December 2, 2013)

This is the Alaska Highway: 037

 

 At 10:45 in the morning my car’s thermometer is pegged at-30: as low as it will go. I do not know how cold it really is, only that it is colder than 30 below. After an hour on the road, there is still ice on the hood of the car and the clutch is still as stiff as tar.
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I am driving East, into the rising sun, with everything I own.
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Poem:

When the road ahead
is drenched in molten gold
I know to raise my hand
in anticipation of being blinded,
until
the road slides west
and sunrise
falls

behind me.

044Haiku:

outhouse in December
someone has left the seat up
amber icicles

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Poem:

Driving east,
sarah brightman
eases the pie jesu
into the rising sun

as brilliant bursts  of liquid bronze and gold
splash champagne,
while shadows
chase the sweetness
of the melody
across the hillsides.

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Poem:

Telephone poles stretching
one after the other,
t-braces white with frost,
a thousand messiahs
with knees and feet of alabaster

and frosty brows bowed down,
connected by living wire,

carrying my whispered voice
from christ jesus
to christ jesus

to christ jesus
until it reaches
your
ears.

This is a short video of the road, shot holding the camera on the dash as I drove. It’s beautiful. Click here if you can’t see it.