Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Heart Fabric Challenge

In my opinion this fabric just begs to be made into a 9 patch block. I gather a few of the members agree with me.

Diane B. of Alberta chose to add 5 squares of a medium blue to her 9 patch block.

Tricia S. of British Columbia used all 9 hearts and boardered each heart with a different colour of 'dimple' fabric.

Judy M. of Ontario did a 4 patch with 2 different paperpieced hearts in opposite corners.

Judy went on to make a 9 patch using 5 bright pink squares in the alternate positions.

I'm wondering if Judy was thinking of the Calgary stampede when she pieced this final block? it looks terrifc and yes, i did see some Cowboy boots in Calgary last summer with hearts on the shaft.
I'll be back when I have more pics to post. Still expecting up to 11 more blocks.
This cowboy boot is from 'Sew Precise 4' software. Judy suggests that you could get a similar free cowboy boot amd hat pattern from Quiltseeds, or a cowboy boot pattern from equilters. If you go to either of these sites and make the pattern, send me the link so I can see how they turned out. Thanks.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Needlework Tuesday

I am fresh from the sewing machine and ironing board with the latest block. Okay, its still missing its eye and feet, but I will get to them. Didn't want to keep you waiting.
This is the Oriole block. The kit came with a very red fabric for the main body of the bird and my friend Janet and her mother both said no way and they chose this lovely orange from my stash. They are right, a very good choice.
Joan's son Ian and his wife were here on the weekend and I was happy to show them the other 8 blocks. Now he can let Joan know that I really am working on the quilt. She doesn't have Internet access (as far as I know) so she hasn't seen my progress. Really must print off a pic for her and pop it in the mail.
Didn't get as much sewing done this past week as I would have liked. Finished reading a few books and wrote a review or two. On Saturday before Ian and another good friend, Patricia and hubby (who is a birder) arrived I spent the morning volunteering at 'Mayfest' a fencing tournament sponsored by the Excelsior Fencing Club, of which I am a member. I find it very encouraging to watch other more experienced fencers. I did purchase a left handed glove and a chest protector for myself. As with many sports, the equipment can get expensive, so I am buying it bit by bit.
As you might suspect, my thoughts keep straying to the making of a fencing quilt. I don't want to use t-shirts (since I only have one) but rather would like images of fencers in various stances. Anyone know of a pattern source?
By tomorrow I should have posted additional pictures of the new heart fabric blocks that I have received. Come back next Tuesday and see what I do with the 'Robin' block.

Monday, 25 May 2009

The Floating Island: The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme by Elizabeth Haydon

Are we really allowed to have this much fun while reading a book?

I loved following the adventures that started when 50 year young teenager Ven Polypheme sets out on an un-named sailing ship to undertake its final inspection before delivery to the client. After being attacked by pirates, Ven is rescued by a merrow (mermaid). Wait, how can Ven be a teenager if he's 50? He's a Nain, they are underground dwelling beings that age/mature about 4 times slower than humans. This in its self further adds to his adventures.

Ven has worked with his father, 11 brothers and 1 sister in the family ship building business for decades. He has apprenticed at each skill needed to build these ships, but has not found his calling. While on the Island of Serendair, he is imprisoned by the young King until he can tell him the story of his life. This story is all over the place, sort of like the pieces of the puzzles that the King favours so much. The King has rules for his puzzling: 1) Focus on what really is as opposed to what it seems to be 2) look at the details and the whole picture separately, you will see two different things 3) solving the puzzles teaches me how to think in the right way. His father is always telling Ven to A) remember your lessons B) use the jack-rule it will help you to see clearly. These two very different, yet very wise men both offer wisdom to Ven which helps him to grow throughout the story from the free living teenager to hint at the considerate and resourceful man and friend that he is in the process of becoming.

This is a fun story for kids and teens but it holds enough to keep the attention of adult readers. The character development brings them to life. I loved the many illustrations by Brett Helquist that are scattered throughout the text. You will definitely want to continue reading Ven's journal in "The Thief Queen's Daughter" and then in "The Dragon's Lair".

If you liked "Airborne" by Kenneth Oppel, then you will want to read this right away.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Heart Fabric Challenge

After finishing my 'Secret Garden' block I knew I had not exhausted my imagination, so I went to the Quilter's Cache site to the 'Easy Pieced Butterfly' block and chose some additional fabrics.

This is a very easy and quick block to make. After piecing I embroidered the antenna and voila, finished. I suspect I'll be doing a few more blocks with this fabric. Its neat to see how many different ideas the members are coming up with. There are 4 more below to tantalize your vision and a few more sitting in un-opened envelopes for later in the weekend.

by Carol B from British Columbia
By Karen J. from Ontario

By Evelyn J. from Ontario.
Attic Windows pattern.

by Carolyn K. from New Brunswick.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville

This story follows the life of Daniel Rooke who was born in England in 1762. He is an odd little boy who doesn't quite fit in at school. His brilliance is recognized at a young age and he wins a scholarship to Portsmouth Naval Academy where he trains as an Astronomer for the British Navy. Within the Navy he finds that his unique abilities and intelligence are the keys to helping him finally fit in.
In 1787 he sails to New South Wales, Australia as part of the Marines guarding the first re-settlement of convict prisoners. Along with his mathematical abilities, Rooke is also adept at learning languages. He establishes a rapport with a young aboriginal girl, Tagaran, who attempts not only to teach him her language, but to understand the ways of her people.
It was a nice book, but it left me feeling kinda flat. I kept wanting Rooke to walk off into the bush with Tagaran and her people and to leave the Marines. I didn't like the treatment of the aboriginals and the attitudes toward them. It was their country to begin with. I did enjoy the discussion of the stars and the differing constellations in the southern hemisphere. Tagaran's approach to teaching her language was more a 'whole language' approach than a vocabulary listing. Rookes insite of how Tagaran is teaching him were wonderful. Knowing that this book is based on the real lives of William Dawes and Patyegarang, I understand that Ms. Grenville had to stay within the known facts. I found myself wondering that if there had been more men like Dawes involved in this venture then perhaps there might have been better relationships and understanding with the aboriginal population.
If you are looking for a nice read about settlement in Australia, then this is the book for you, but if you are a history buff and love the fine details, then go directly to the source materials.
The sailing ship on the front cover bugs me. Its stuck there between the two headlands and it looks like its going to ram the coast to the left. eeks. Anyone with sailing experience that can allay my fears of the imminent collision?

Heart Fabric Challenge

The other day I told you that I had selected the "Secret Garden" block to make up my piece of Challenge fabric. Yippee, its finished. I used a technique described by Cynthia England in the Mar/Apr 2004 issue of 'Quilts with Style'. She calls it 'picture piecing'. You can visit her website and learn all about Cynthia England's Picture Piecing.

First step is to trace out your pattern onto freezer paper. I needed 8 of each pattern piece. I traced once, stapled 8 sheets of freezer paper together and cut along the lines and then lettered each piece.

Next iron the freezer paper to the right side of your chosen fabrics as shown in the first photo. I cut accurate 1/4 inch seam allowances, though this is not required.

Next I started to sew the pieces together. The second photo shows the A and B section sewn together.

The third photo shows the ABC unit and the CrD unit.

Fourth photo shows the first of the 8 sub units, and then 2 of those units sewn together.

The fifth photo shows all 8 sub units sewn together. I have removed a few of the pattern pieces. It was easier to remove them if I pressed them lightly with the iron first.

The finished block. It measures 12 1/2 inches and lies fairly flat. Nothing that some quilting won't take care of. If I did it again, I would not put the blue in the corners, I would continue with the snowflake fabric.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Needlework Tuesday

I find it very exciting when I can finally see a project coming together. When I have a few blocks finished, its a nice feeling, but nothing to write home about. Now that I have 8 of the 12 bird blocks pieced, I am starting to get excited. I am by no means near finished as this quilt does not have simple sashing. Each piece of sashing is a separate pattern of bird houses or leaves or trees or some such bird related item. I am looking forward to piecing them as each section will work up fairly quickly and I don't have to make tons of any one item. I do plan to change a couple of them that I don't like. I don't see how a braided strip fits in, and I don't want to include 2 sections of checker board, one is quite enough. Artistic license allows and even encourages such personalization.

As you can see, the first block I finished was the Cardinal. Joan had this one pieced, but it wasn't lying flat. I took back one seam, did a bit more trimming, re-stitched and it was flat.

Next was the Downy Woodpecker. Not a bird I know personally, but have heard them. This one was tedious at times, 97 pieces and no colour guide was included. I sent and email to the designer asking her to send me a pdf, but no response. There were also 2 mistakes on the pattern. On the Hole A section, the piece numbered 4 should be re-numbered to 3 and the one numbered 3 should be re-numbered to 4. In the final assembly of the units, it should say to join Hole A to Hole B. Join Head A to Head B and then join Beak. Then join the Holes to the Head section. I admit to being annoyed to have to do some un-stitching due to these errors. Always important to have some one test patterns.

My online group, The Maple Leaf Quilt Guild, continues with their BOM program. This months block is a Log Cabin Variation from the Quilter's Cache website. Sorry to say I didn't get one done as its a nice looking block. Fairly simple as long as you cut accurately and have a true 1/4 inch seam allowance.

The blocks are 12 inches on a side. The six blocks submitted would be the good basis for a lively baby quilt.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Heart Fabric Challenge

Another nice week to be visiting my mail box. 4 additional blocks made from the challenge fabric.

from Lorraine in Quebec.
It seems to be a variation of the "Squares within Squares" block.

by Keran in Ontario
some sort of multiple Pinwheel variation

by Joanne H. of Ontario
called '8 Hands Around' from the Quilters Cache website.

by Faye B. from Manitoba
called ' Antique Tile'

I have chosen the block I will attempt. Its called 'Secret Garden' from Quilter's Newsletter "Best Blocks: 50 Editor's favorite Classic Patchwork Quilt Blocks" 2002. Shown is the hand pieced version I did ages ago. I am going to try and do it this time by machine. Will let you know about the technique I am going to try.
I already have a few more envelopes that arrived on Friday but haven't had a chance to open them and didn't want to keep these waiting any longer.
Come back in a few days to see more of these lovely blocks.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Once upon a Time by Barbara Fradkin

Inspector Green is back. He really doesn't like paperwork and will do almost anything to avoid it, so when he hears of the death of an 80 year old man his suspicion is aroused.
While the Coroner says there is nothing suspect in the death, Green noses around and gets enmeshed in a web of hidden secrets spanning back to World War II, Hitler's agenda, the Jewish Ghettos in Poland and men who don't want to acknowledge their past.
Makes for an intriguing tale that leads to places and events I could never have suspected.
We also learn a lot more about Green himself as well as his relationship with his father, a concentration camp survivor. Without giving anything away, I do love the choice of gift for Tony's first birthday from Green.
Not being a student of history, I did have a bit of a hard time following all the events during the war, but that should not deter anyone from reading this wonderfully written tale.
Be sure to read "Do or Die" where the character of Inspector Green is introduced and my earlier review.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

This is the story of the lives of Aminata Diallo. She is a free girl who lives in the early 19Th century near Sego in Africa before being abducted by other Africans and sold into slavery.
She spends many years in South Carolina as a slave, first on an indigo plantation and then as an assistant to a Jewish business man. When in New York she runs away from him and begins afresh as a free woman amongst other blacks and British Military.
After the War she is transported to another new life in Nova Scotia along with hundreds of other British Loyalists. Life there is better than slavery, but it does not live up to the promises of the British.
After decades of exile from Africa, the Sierra Leone Company offers to help re-settle the landless black Loyalists onto African soil. Aminata does try to return to the village of her birth but is challenged at every step, by distance (a three month walk inland), age and health and by those who would try and re-enslave her. Realizing that she can't turn the clocks back 60 years and regain her first life, she travels to England to lend her story and her voice to the cause to stop the slave trade.
I remembered when I lived in the Caribbean and studied the Slave Trade in 4Th Form. The teacher made it very clear to the two white girls in the class that they were personally to blame for the atrocities that happened more than 100 years earlier. Mr. Hill never made me feel as though he was assigning blame. He presented a well balanced account of who was involved at the various times and how they benefitted. Aminata is not portrayed as a vengeance seeking woman, though she had every right to be, but rather as a woman who has a goal (re-united with her husband, find her daughter and return to the village of her birth)and must survive in order to achieve it. She decided very early that anger wasn't going to get her anywhere but hurt or dead.
I'm glad that we learned much of Aminata's early life. She lived in a vibrant community with a rich history, with a loving family, an educated father and a religion that held the promise of a wealth of knowledge to come. I have heard arguments that the slavers were saving the blacks from their heathen existence. That has always bothered me that one group of people can dismiss the accomplishments and lifestyle of another just because it is different from their own.
I liked this book. Not only is it the story of a strong girl/woman who accomplishes what she sets out to do, but a humanized, historical account of a dark era in North American history.
This book was selected for the 'One Book One Community' read for Waterloo Region (where I live). It should provide lots of opportunity for discussion.
update: Sept 15 Community discussions of this book have began and the newspaper and local TV have good coverage. See the 'One Book One Community' link above for locations of readings with Mr. Hill.
Read a review by Bill over at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Needlework Tuesday

I love to visit with you all on Tuesdays. It gives me a chance to reflect on what I have accomplished in the previous week. It seems to me that I never finish anything and then voila I am writing to you about a completed project. yippee.

This week I did the final stitches on a fluffy gold scarf. Its made with yarn from the "Palatte Collection". Can't recall if I used 3 or 4 -50gram balls. The ball band said to use 5mm needles, but I should have used a bit larger so it would be more flexible. Looks good though.

This week I worked on the Canada Goose block. As you can see it is pieced, but still needs the eye. The pattern says to stitch it in Black rayon thread and then put a small white highlight. I don't think this will show at all. I need to do some research and look at some goose pics and see what the eyes really look like. I did some work on the Cardinal block. Joan had pieced it though it didn't lay flat. I took back one seam, re-trimmed one side and when I re-sewed the seam it was much better. Still needs the boarders and then legs and eyes. Picture next week.

My friend Janet and her mother were over for coffee this week . She brought me a package of 6 inch charms from her recent visit to Hawaii. Wow, they are lovely. The pic shows her quilting one of the stars on my cousin's nautical quilt. She promises to come back and do more when she has a chance. Need to help her a bit so she can better learn how to do the rocking stitch. Her mother was surprised to find that she knew how to quilt at all. Even mother's can learn more about their kids when given the opportunity.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Do or Die by Barbara Fradkin

A first novel by Barbara Fradkin, set in the vicinity of the University of Ottawa, Ontario.
Inspector Michael Green is called in to investigate the murder of Jonathan Blair, a grad student. With no apparent witnesses Green has to work from the vague recollections of student/librarian Carrie MacDonald. He also has to contend with the victim's mother, Marianne Blair, head of a major funding organization that benefits some of the University's research.
Love/Professional Jealousy/Honour Killing/Random???
From the first meeting of Inspector Green I felt comfortable with him, as though I'd known of him for years and that he would solve this case in his own way. I knew that he wouldn't suck up to the brass and hurry his investigation just to please them. What we learned about his home life and his relationship with his wife re-enforced my comfort with him. He's a real life guy who has to deal with stuff just like I do.
At the mid point of the story I thought that Green was going to make an arrest of the seemingly obvious suspect, but add a few more twists and some conflicting evidence and I was back at square one. I honestly did not know "Who Done it" till the final pages. I had had a faint glimmer of suspicion when I met the character, but the person's demeanor and responses threw me off the trail.
I really enjoyed this book. I felt comfortable with Inspector Green and look forward to reading more about him and his future cases. In fact I already have "Once Upon a Time" signed out from my local library.
Thanks to Kathleen Molloy for introducing me to Canadian author Barbara Fradkin.

Heart Fabric Challenge

Two more wonderful blocks have arrived. It always amazes me how the same fabric can inspire each of us differently.

The first Block is by Elaine in Ontario (thats my mom)
The second if by Dolly also in Ontario.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Heart Fabric Challenge

It has been such fun going to my mailbox this past week. I have found an assortment of squishys. To date, 7 blocks using the challenge fabric have arrived.

1 by Sandra M. -Ontario
2 by Gale L. -Newfoundland (pattern adapted from Patchabilities)
3 by Cheryl C. -Ontario (original pattern)
4 by Carolyn J. -British Columbia (Kings Cross Variation)
5 by Carolyn J. -British Columbia (unknown)
6 by Carolyn J. -British Columbia (log Cabin)
7 by Bev S. -Ontario (churn Dash)

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Needlework Tuesday

I was out walking the dog this morning and came across a wonderful treat. It had no calories and didn't involve any work on my part. It was an impromptu quilt show. There is a lovely Mennonite bakery down the block from me. I walk past it all the time with the kids/dog/ when I'm running. Fortunately they are only open 3 1/2 days a week. Today must have been washing day. The lines were hung with 6 or so quilt. A lovely Double Irish Chain, a scrappy Snowball and 9 patch. Another that was in blues (maybe Night and Day) was facing into the yard so I couldn't identify the pattern and a fourth reminded me of Blackford Beauty, but the corners were different. Hopefully I can get back for a pic before they are taken in. Sorry, no such luck.

I did some good work on Joan's birds this week.
She had started several blocks and I continued working on them. The Red Wing Black Bird needed some correction. Joan had mis-cut the fabric of one patch so I had to do some un-stitching, remove that piece, add a new patch and re-stitch several seams. Added the boarders and embroidered the eye. There was one other spot where the fabric was too small but it was so near the beginning that I decided to embroider over the error with black floss and hope that no one notices.

Next was the Blue Jay. I believe this was Joan's first block, since it was marked January and I know this was a Christmas gift. This time I added the grey ultra suede foot and the two boarders, gave it a good pressing and done.

To date there are 5 completed birds. They are on my design wall at the bottom of my stairs. I can see them any time I open that door. Hubby was looking at them and asked it we could please keep this quilt. Oops, sorry dear, this one has to go to its home. Didn't realize that he likes birds. We'll still get to enjoy it for a while and then we can make a nice picture.

I have seen some wall hangings where the quilter takes a photo of the quilt, transfers it to fabric and then makes a wall hanging of the transfer. They are a lovely keepsake.

I'm sad to report no progress on the Nautical Quilt. Fortunately it is getting warm here and my cousin won't need it for the next few months.

I have started to receive blocks made from the heart fabric that I told you about a few weeks ago. I plan separate posts of those over the next month. I hope that you will return to keep up with my progress on the bird blocks, the Nautical Quilt and the Heart Fabric Challenge.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Songmaster by Orson Scott Card

I caught this at a Bookcrossing meeting a while back and thought I would take a break from weightier books and give it a try. Something seemed familiar. When I checked my book log I found that I had read it back in 2003. I couldn't recall the plot so I kept reading.

If you want to find out more about the book, go to the Amazon website and check the 48 reviews listed there.

I only want to say that I was dissappointed in the hidden message in this book. Ansset falls in love with Josif and they make love. At the moment of climax Ansset is overcome with the most excruciating pain that does not end until he is heavily medicated. Josif, his lover, calls for help. Josif is then taken away and emasculated. This is all blamed on the medication that Ansset is given to delay puberty so that he will retain his youthful voice longer. In reality is it not a jab at homosexuality saying that you will be punished severly if you love someone of the same sex?

Up to this point I had been enjoying the story and the life that Ansset was making for himself. Then I get the message that his life is now destroyed forever because he loved a man? I'm sure this story could have ended in a thousand other ways.

To my readers, don't get upset with me for my comments. I am not waving any banners here, I would have been upset if Mr. Card had chosen to pick on any other group, ie: an ethic group, religious person, a tone deaf non-singer... I am stating my opinion.