Pioneer Spirit Challenge

Last week, the latest instructions for the Pioneer Spirit Mystery Challenge were published.  This is a mystery quilt challenge created by Sherri Hisey of Border Creek Station Pattern Company especially for Quilts at the Creek.  Quite a few guild members are participating in the challenge, and the finished quilts will be displayed together at this summer’s Quilts at the Creek Show on July 18 & 19 at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

I didn’t start the challenge until last month, but have managed to get quite a bit done.

Pioneer Spirit Large BlocksYesterday I put together the 12 large blocks (although it took me all day, even though many of the units were all assembled).  I haven’t completed all of the other units for this month’s challenge, but decided to wait until I get more information about how the quilt is going to go together before I complete them.  There is an option to make the quit extra-scrappy by creating 4-patch units in places, and although I didn’t use them in these blocks, I think I may want to add some in other places.  I have some 4-patch units made, but also some plain squares cut so I can decide when I see the next instructions.  I may be doing some reverse stitching, depending on my decisions, so I don’t want to get too far ahead.

Part of the challenge is to use fabrics from your stash for this project.

I have lots of batiks, especially in greens and creams.

Storm on the Lake

Storm on the Lake

I’m making quilts for the guest  suite at the cottage, which has two double beds (I finished the first one in the fall, in time have it hang at the Celebration of Quilts XII show last November).  I wanted lots of variety in the fabrics of “Storm on the Lake”, so had been collecting green and cream batiks whenever I was at a quilt shop or show.  Even with using them for the pioneer challenge, I think I’ll still have plenty left for a second quilt for the guest suite!  I’ve added browns and tans to the mix for my pioneer spirit challenge, to give the finished quilt an earthy feel.

I think it will be really interesting to see all of the quilts when they are finished, especially hung together at the show this summer.  A few of the organizers have been posting their progress, and there are lots of different colourways!

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Some Assembly Required

Cottage Dining Room Cabinet

New Dining Room Cabinet

Our kitchen at the cottage is undergoing renovations and my wonderfully talented husband is doing all the work. It actually started last fall…. We wanted to open up a wall between the kitchen and living/dining room, so we knew we were losing scarce kitchen cabinetry. Stage 1, last fall, was to build this unit for the dining room, so we could move dishes and other kitchen supplies here while the renovation was ongoing. A local kitchen place sold the pieces to make the individual cabinets, and Steve designed and put them all together. I love it!

Cottage wall opened up

There’s a hole in the wall!

In June, the wall was opened up!  Now I can be part of the conversation going on in the living room, while I’m cooking!  There’s green painter’s tape marking the positioning of cabinets, and also which electrical circuits go with the various switches, since he was doing lots of re-wiring.

Cottage windows replaced

Replacing a sliding glass door

At the end of August, Steve started replacing the windows. A sliding glass door that was never used was replaced with a window, and the other two windows in the kitchen were replaced as well.


Cottage Kitchen Unassembled

Kitchen – Unassembled

Early in September, we got a delivery from Ikea – 131 items (including knocked down cupboards, drawers, butcher block for the counters, trim pieces and all the hinges and packages of legs).  It has taken over one of the bedrooms!



Cottage Drawer Unit

First drawer unit assembled

Since then, Steve has replaced the kitchen lights, rewired the stove so it can be moved, insulated the walls under the windows, installed a range hood and is now starting to assemble the cabinets. He built this one about 2 weeks ago, just so he could see some of the final product (not yet in it’s permanent location) .  This weekend, he installed two of the upper wall cabinets  (although the doors aren’t on yet).


Cottage Upper Cabinets

Upper cabinets installed!

The location of everything in the kitchen (dishes, cutlery, etc.) changes daily, and the stove seems to be forever covered in tools (not cooking ones!), but that just means we use the BBQ more often.

We shopped for back splash tiles today, too.  There’s still lots to do, but the end result is going to be fantastic!

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Knitting by Candlelight

We lost power for about 12 hours on Sunday at the cottage. It had been raining all day, and just before noon, the wind really picked up. The large trees were swaying and there were actual waves on the channel in front of the cottage (usually it’s just a little current). We knew that it was likely that we would lose power, and it wasn’t long before the lights started dimming and went out. Power did come back briefly a couple of times but didn’t stay on (until just before 1am Monday).
Luckily I had lots of hand work projects that I could do during the day, while there was light. My husband was installing some new lights in the kitchen, and has some battery powered tools, so that was OK too. We always keep some jugs of drinking water on hand (we lose our water pump and sterilizer with no power) and I finished cooking the soup I was making for lunch on the BBQ – it has a side burner. I was going to puree the soup, but since I had no power for the blender, I mashed it instead and it turnout out well (curried sweet potato and white bean soup – yum!).
Since the kitchen is under renovation and it was getting dark, we ended up going out for dinner. We were teased when we got home to see lights on in the cottage, but just as I put the key in the door, out they went again.Orange Brown Variegated Mitts
Out came the candles and my knitting. I managed to knit a pair or mittens before going to bed under the light of seven candles! OK, they are little mini mitten decorations, so each mitt is only 2″ long – but I got the pair of them finished that evening and felt like a pioneer.  I choose to use my variegated yarn rather than the self-striping sock yarn that I’ve used for a few other pair because I didn’t want to deal with trying to find the place to start in the candlelight.


These threeTrio of Orange Mitts pair are all made from the same ball of sock yarn, but look completely different since I started each at a different point in the yarn.  I knit one mitt from each pair and by the time I’d finished the 3rd one, I was just about back to the same pattern in the yarn, so that I could get a pair of matching mitts.

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It’s Worldwide Quilting Day

It’s a day to celebrate all the joys of quilting!

One of the ETSY teams I belong to issued a challenge: Make something based on your first ever quilting block.

The first quilt I ever made was a rag quilt (and I still love making rag quilts), so there were no pieced blocks – just squares stitched together. I had seen one at the quilt shop where I was taking machine embroidery classes. Machine embroidery designs were used to “quilt” the squares before they were stitched together and the blocks are sewn with exposed seams, which are clipped so they fray out when washed. Without needing accurate 1/4″ seams, I figured that this was a project for me! I’d post a photo but i realize I don’t have one – and the quilt is at the cottage now and I’m at home, so I’ll have to wait until we’re next there….

Shortly after I got hooked on rag quilts, I convinced mAdvent Calendary Mom to go to a 45 minute demo on Paper Piecing with me while we were at the Creativ Festival in Toronto. We all got to piece a small Christmas Tree block, and I was hooked! I bought a bunch of paper piecing patterns at the festival…one was the Quilter’s Advent Calendar which I made that summer. It’s made up of individual little quilts Advent Seasonal Blockswhich you insert into the background quilt. As as matter of fact, I leave it up all year and have made little quilts to celebrate other seasons as well – fall, halloween, winter, Easter…


Anyway, to get back to the Worldwide Quilting Day Challenge, Pine Tree Coasters FourI decided to make some rag-quilt coasters using that paper-pieced tree block. They actually sold this week in my ETSY shop, so I made another set, too.

Pine Tree Coasters2 with Mug

If you want to see other WWQD projects made by my team members, I’ve posted them on Pinterest:

To celebrate quilting today, I’m working on a challenge project.  Are you celebrating quilting today?

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Cyber Surfing

I’ve been having lots of fun the past couple of days, being inspired by other quilters.  I was just accepted last week as a member of the ETSY “Quiltsy” team and have been busy exploring new shops and trying to keep up with the chats!  I found some really bright quilts that appeal to my love of bright colours!

These ones are from TessieTextile:

A couple from Sieberdesigns:

From Jamberries:

…and from ClothStitched:

I feel like the sun comes out when I look at these quilts!  Since I sold my “Rainbow Path” quilt on the weekend, these quilts give me the feel of the rainbow, again.

I’ve also been busy following Blogathon Canada this week, sponsored by Sew Sisters, a favorite local quilt shop.

I’m learning about lots of Canadian Quilters from this blog.

It’s a good thing that the East Toronto Rotary Club Arts & Crafts sale was last Saturday…I’m not getting any sewing done this week, since I’m too busy surfing!

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Autumn Explosion

Autumn ExplosionThis is my “Autumn Explosion” quilt that was on display last weekend at Quilts at the Creek.  I started this quilt in a class with Jan Krentz in February 2010 and it’s based on her “Summer Salsa” quilt in the book “Lone Star Quilts and Beyond“.  I did change the corners to New York Beauty blocks that I designed in Electric Quilt.

I actually finished the quilt top at a retreat in April of 2010, but it hung in my cupboard for 3 years because I wasn’t sure how I wanted to quilt it!  York Heritage Quilters’ Guild has a challenge every couple of years called TGIF (Thank Goodness it’s Finished!), so I decided to enter this quilt in the May 2013 TGIF challenge to inspire me to finish it.  Always working better under pressure, I finished quilting it on the Thursday before our Victoria Day long weekend, just before the May guild meeting on Tuesday.  I used Superior Metallic thread to stitch in the ditch around the diamonds, rockets and star-bursts, and also do straight line stitching in the rockets and diamonds.  I used a Marathon rayon thread to do the stippling and short feathers in the center.

That night, I decided to block the quilt before attaching the binding, to aid in getting it to lay flat (since the diamonds make the edges on the bias).  I used Ricky Tim’s method of sticking the quilt in a washing machine full of water, then spinning out most of the water, and laying it flat to dry (the use of fans blowing over top of the quilt helps to speed up the drying process).   Conveniently, it fit on the top of my ping-pong table so it was easy to spread out flat.  Unfortunately, in the morning I realized that the brown patches on the neutral fabric that I thought were just wet spots were actually some bleeding of the brown fabric that I’d used for the backing, even though the brown fabric had been pre-washed.  I didn’t have time to try and wash it again that day, since we were leaving for the cottage, but I did attach the binding so that I could do the hand stitching and bury all of the thread tails over the weekend.  When I got home on Monday, I used Oxy-Clean to scrub at the brown stains, then washed the quilt with a bunch of Shout Color Catchers.  Luckily, the stains did come out, and after blocking the quilt overnight again, it was ready to display at the TGIF challenge that evening.  It even won a ribbon for second place in the Viewer’s Choice Awards!

Next time, I’ll remember to put the Color Catchers in the wash the FIRST time I wash the quilt, and hopefully won’t have the panic attack!  I just wish that they were available in Canada.  They seem to be in all grocery stores in the USA.  One vendor at a quilt show I attended in the spring had them for sale, but they were charging twice the price that I’ve paid in the USA.

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Quilts of Valour at Quilts at the Creek

The Quilts at the Creek show at Black Creek Pioneer Village this weekend was great!  The weather couldn’t have been better and to see the quilts hanging outdoors, blowing the in breeze was fabulous!ImageImage

The boutique was a success…here’s a photo that shows some of the items I put in for sale.  The black, white and rainbow quilt hanging in the back is mine (I’ll post a blog entry about that later), as well the Christmas Tree Wall Hanging in the front, and you can see some of my framed pieces on the table in the middle beside a box of my greeting cards and postcards.  I’m pleased that a number of pieces sold!Image

Here’s a photo of my Country Plaids quilt at the show:Image

“Autumn Explosion” (I guess I should blog about that one soon – I finished it in May!) was hung indoors, and I didn’t get a picture of it.  In the Quilts of Valour area, two of my quilts were hanging:ImageThe blue and white one is “Canadian Valour”, from a pattern by Pat Lore on the Quilts of Valour website.  I also made the brown and gold one and it seemed to attract quilt a bit of attention.  I “manned” the Quilts of Valour table on Saturday afternoon and visitors were very interested in the project.  Many took pamphlets and indicated that they would like to support the cause.  We talked to an ex-forces member who had served in Kosovo who was very appreciative of the project (and wished that there was such a project when he served).

I also volunteered at the boutique on Saturday and on Sunday demonstrated machine quilting.  It was such fun to sit outside with my machine, beside the hand quilters, showing “then” and “now”.

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Slabs are Addictive!

Slab LogoOn Friday, I was reading a bulletin from CQA (the Canadian Quilting Association) which featured an article about helping those in Alberta who have been devastated by massive flooding. Cheryl Arkison (co-author of “Sunday Morning Quilts” is coordinating a project to collect “Slab” blocks. Basically these are 15-1/2″ improvisational blocks made in a single colour.  If you are interested, here’s Chery’s post about her project:
Cheryl has volunteered to assemble the blocks into quilt tops, and has “an army of local longarmers lined up to donate their time”.

Slabs2Having a large stash and lots of scraps, I figured this would be a fun way to spend some time this weekend, while doing a little to help those in Alberta. By late Saturday afternoon, I had 8 blocks ready to send:

Slabs1 I was just going to make a couple, but each time I’d stitch a few pieces together, I’d dive back into my scrap bins to find a few more bits and come across some pieces in another colour family crying out to be made into a block.

I stopped at 8 though, since it was time to get ready to go to the cottage.  I’ll send them to Cheryl tomorrow, when the Post Office is open.

Happy Canada Day!

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Quilty Week

This week I’ve had lots of opportunities to play. I was at a three day quilt retreat at the Nottawasaga Inn this weekend with 39 other quilting friends. It was great! Good food, good company and lots of inspiration.

I managed to finish off one quilt (I just had the binding to do) and complete another quilt top.

Denim and Homespun QuiltThe first one is up-cycled denim and homespun plaids It’s based on a quilt that I saw in a “Quilt It…Today” magazine and I knew I had lots of denim to use and some homespun scraps as well. It took more homespun that I anticipated (I made it bigger than the one in the magazine, so I didn’t have accurate fabric requirements) but since it meant a trip to the fabric store, that’s OK. If I make this again – and I have lots of denim to recycle – I think I’ll use some rectangles as well as squares since I had to baste many of the intersections to ensure that they met correctly.  I hope to sell this quilt and use the proceeds to fund more supplies for Quilts of Valour Quilts (see my website: to see other Quilts of Valour I’ve made).

BW Bento Box


The quilt top is a black and white “Bento Box” style quilt. I had cut the fabric on Thursday, before I left for the retreat, so I was all ready to stitch when I finished the binding on the denim/homespun quilt.  I’m quite pleased with it – the patterned squares seem to float on the plain black and white background!


Monday and Tuesday this week, I was lucky enough to attendHappy Daisy two workshops with Susan Cleveland. The first day, we created a small quilt “Happy Daisies” which uses heavy weight threads to embellish the edges of the daisy applique and also to decorate prairie points.

On Tuesday we learned how to do “Piping Hot Binding”. I was able to completely finish the project to display at “Show and Share” on Tuesday night at the guild meeting (OK, I admit that I added the hand embroidery stitches around the border last night while watching TV).


Tomorrow, I get to go to a quilt show put on by the Mississauga Quilters Guild so I’m looking forward to seeing projects by many of the participants in last weekend’s retreat. On Saturday, I’ve got another workshop, this time sponsored by the small guild I belong to (The Pieceful Night Quilters Guild). This one uses freezer paper piecing to create a quilt with various houses. Paper piecing is my favourite method for making blocks, so I’m looking forward to this workshop.

Fortunately, I have more than one sewing machine, since my newest one decided to up and quit on me. It’s going to be expensive to fix –they tell me it’s the main circuit board that’s blown. It’s also just out of warranty, so I’m not pleased…this is the second time it’s happened so I don’t feel very confident in this machine any more 😦

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Playing with photos in Electric Quilt

Back in September, there was a post on the Electric Quilt blog entitled “EQ7 Image Wortable and Modern Parrot By Dianne Gronfors”  which really inspired me.  Diane had taken a photograph of a parrot, imported it to the image worktable in EQ7, then used one of the distortion features to “explode” the original photo and come up with something brilliant.  I was inspired to use this technique to make a few art quilt pieces.

I took this image of the centre of one of my quilts (a New York Beauty style quilt done in bright batiks), brought it into EQ7, used the photo distortion tools to change it, and printed the result on EQ printable fabric.  I then machine quilted it, hand beaded it and framed it to get this 5″x7″ piece:








A photo that my daughter took a couple of years ago at the Bala Cranberry Festival of a glorious red maple tree overlooking the Moon River became this:








An image dowloaded from the Hubble Telescope site: of the Cat’s Eye Nebula (they do say that space telescope imagery is free for anyone to use) became the piece “Nebula”.  This is so much fun!  I’ve spent hours playing with photos.  Every time I try distorting the same photo, I come up with something different…it’s addicting.  These were done with the “Zoom Wave” distortion, but there are other distortions you can do, too.



I’m currently working on a piece using the “Swirl”  distortion, but I decided to hand quilt this one, so it’s going to take a while.  The original in this case was taken during a walk down Acton Island Road on a clear day in October (rare this fall since we had so much rain).  Nature creates such beautiful colours!

The members of both the quilt guilds I attend (York Heritage Quilters Guild and the Piecful Night Quilters’ Guild) seemed impressed when I took these for “Show and Share”.

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