Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gnomes in the Garden, Raccoons in the Coop

Folk Art Gnomes
We had a raccoon in the fenced in hen yard last night.  My husband heard a sound and looked out my quilt room window and saw the critter in there eating the left over corn.  It heard the window open and got in a panic trying to find its way through the fence.  It finally figured it out but my husband went out this morning and did some repair work to prevent future visits.  We don't mind it eating the excess stuff but are afraid the next step is bringing in its family and then finding a way into the coop and the eggs.
If the problem persists, we might have to live trap and move it/them.  We try to let the animals continue to exist in the area that has always been their home but we expect them to allow the human newcomers to live as well.
I found a place for the gnomes, as you can see.  I think they look nice perched among the rocks.  They even have their own flower garden.  There is a small worker gnome in the area so they will be looked after in their latter years.
The fundraiser bags are almost finished.  I am sewing the ribbons on this morning while I make bread.  It is nice and cool again so I am doing that while my husband cuts the grass and gets some of the other chores done.  We still don't have any rain though and it is really needed.
Another installment of the Scrappy quilt as you go tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Taking a Break

I have been working on bags for my sister in laws fundraiser and have stopped for a few minutes to break the tedium.  I am not sure why the repetitiousness of making half a dozen or so bags, each with two handles and a cancer ribbon would be so much more tiring than quilting but it is.  I have the body of the bags finished and am now doing the handles.  There isn't a way to put them on quickly.  Each end has to be done individually; sew around all four sides and add an X for security, clip, do the next one.
Having decent music on the radio helps but it is still mind numbing.
It is quite cool today-comparatively.  I took advantage of it and spot cleaned the carpet and did some of the other jobs that kept getting put off.  Tomorrow, I am going to do some baking.  We have been eating bought bread this week and I am ready for something with some taste.
I also made some pumpkin curry soup for lunch and there is another place where canned tastes so different.  The first time I made this recipe, I used the pumpkin from our garden.  Today, I used the canned stuff and it doesn't even taste like the same recipe.  Must be the processing method that makes the difference.
Enough grumbling.Time to get back at those bags.  I should be done them today so I can get back at my quilting tomorrow. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Fabric

I have been busy taking advantage of some on line fabric sales.  I've ordered two charm packs from
craftsy .com-80 pieces for 14.00 and then I got some thread and fabric from Connecting threads.
I needed 7 yards of brown for the background of an applique quilt and also got some theme fabric to do little placemats with matching mug mats for a fundraiser.
The temperatures dropped down quite a bit today although it was still too warm.  Late this afternoon, however, a nice cool breeze has made it possible to get outside and plant some petunias and flowering kale.  Even was able to take the dog for a run and I haven't done that for over a week. Too hot. Too many flying bugs. The breeze has taken care of both.

When I was coming back inside, my husband mentioned that our painted turtles had returned. We have two and last year we watched as they laid their eggs. This year, it appears as though they have chosen another, and less sensible spot; right on the driveway. We haven't seen the snapping turtle yet but, unless it didn't make it through the winter, it should be along soon.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Quilt as you Go-Step 2

My husband  I have just returned home, picked up the dog, gathered the eggs and unpacked our bags from a day away.  We went to Orillia to hear B.B. King and then stayed overnight.  We enjoyed the concert although it is obvious that B.B. is showing his age-at 86, he has earned the right.  I did find the venue led to some irritating behaviour on the part of some of the other attendees.  The event was held at a Casino and, I don't know if this was to blame, but people wandered in half an hour late, some left and then returned.  Our tickets were a gift but if we had had to pay for them I would have been really annoyed as it was difficult to enjoy the entertainment when you had to stand up to let others to and from their seats.
I was able to buy the batik I needed to finish my Baltimore album blocks so that was a plus.
We had a nice time but I am glad to once again be back in my backwoods home.

Here are the next steps for your strippy, quilt as you go, pattern.
Adding the strips:

12” X 12” Blocks

You are going to be sewing the strips onto the batting.  If desired, you can place dryer sheets between the batting and sewing machine bed.

Place first strip diagonally from one corner to another, inside the border of the 12” X 12” strip and pin in place. Place another strip, face down on the first and sew ¼” seam, on one side of the strips, through all layers. Open and press.  Add a third strip face down on second, and stitch. Repeat until you reach a border edge and then add strips to the other side of the first strip.

Repeat with the remaining (3) 12” X 12” blocks.

Note:  Make sure you do not stitch past the 3” border.

If a zigzag pattern is desired, refer to the photo for layout.

12” X 9” blocks

Follow the steps above except you will place the first strip from inside the drawn line to corner edge opposite. Continue adding strips ensuring that they don’t extend beyond the 3”  marked border.

Repeat with the remaining (15) 12” X 9” blocks.

9” X 9” blocks

Place first strip right side up from one corner to the opposite. Pin.   Place second face down on first, sew on one side, open and press.  Continue adding strips on either side of the first until the block is covered.

Repeat for the remaining (14) 9” X 9” blocks. 

Square all the blocks by trimming, if necessary.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Back Basting

I have talked about using the back basting method of hand applique and thought you might be interested in the directions.
I don't think I will be posting tomorrow as I will be away until Friday.  You will then get the second steps to the quilt as you go pattern.

Hand Appliqué Using the Back Basting Method.

The pattern:  your pattern should be a full size line drawing (outline) of the picture you are reproducing. (Usually referred to as a placement diagram) If you don’t have a full size pattern, it will be necessary to assemble the templates on a blank piece of copy paper to replicate the pattern and trace around the shapes.

Note: if the templates have the seam allowance included, remove it before tracing to make the full size pattern.

Place your background fabric on the pattern, right sides together.  Trace the pattern (I use a retractable pencil) onto the back of your fabric.  A light box or window can be used if the pattern lines are not visible.  (I go over my pattern with a fine line sharpie making sure I follow each line accurately)  If using a window, tape both the pattern and the fabric to the window to avoid shifting.

I number the sections on the pattern in the order that they will be added to the fabric.

Cut a piece of fabric that you are going to be using for your first appliqué piece about an inch larger all around than the pattern.  Place the fabric on the RIGHT side of the background fabric.  Hold up to the light and move until all the section is covered.  Pin in place.

Thread a large needle (tapestry or crewel is a good size) with buttonhole or similar thread-do not knot the end of the thread.  Baste along the line drawn on the wrong side of the fabric.  Remove the needle.  (Needle and thread should be large enough to leave holes which are used as a stitching guide) Using sharp scissors carefully cut around the outside of the stitched line to remove excess fabric.  Seam allowance should be 3/8” or less.  If your fabric frays easily, you may wish to spray it with sizing or starch before using.

Thread your appliqué needle and insert at one end of the basting line, remove a few stitches-two or 3, turn fabric under (on stitch line) using a tooth pick, or cuticle stick.  I like using a wooden shish kabob stick because I am less likely to lose it when working-I actually keep it in my mouth.  Wetting the end of the stick will help in turning under the fabric.

Continue removing basting stitches and sewing around the appliqué piece.  Repeat previous steps until pattern is complete.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A New Blankie for Heidi?

It is a bit cooler today but it sure was hot for the long weekend.  The air conditioning wasn't on in the hall were our quilt group meets so, by mid afternoon, we were ready to pack up.  It was getting hard to see with our glasses fogging up.  There was a new volunteer working and she did know where all the buttons and switches were so I am sure everything will be working fine for next week.
I was working on some blocks that I have assembled and taken apart 3 times.  I just didn't like the pattern.  I have finally given in and gone back to the least offensive.  I am sure the dog will appreciate having a new blankie to lay on when it is finished.
Life is like that sometimes, isn't it?  There are times when everything looks wonderful and even the most intricate pattern almost assembles itself.  Then there are the days when even walking is a challenge.
I didn't get a lot of sleep last night as our little dog was sick just as we were going to bed.  She got up a number of times through the night and I followed to comfort her and clean up the mess.  When she was sleeping, I had to keep checking to make sure that she was still breathing.  She is fine today, I have spot cleaned the carpet (they always use the carpet, don't they) and all is right with the world.
During my wakeful times last night, I was thinking about a quilt that I want to make for a wedding present.  I know the colours I am going to use but still haven't decided on a pattern. Something over all like nine patch rather than the maple leaf is where I am at the moment but will probably change my mind.
I should be making bread today while it is cooler but it is too late now.  Maybe I will cheat and do a loaf in the machine.
Don't forget to watch for the next step in the quilt as you go scrappy pattern. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Peace in the Hen House

All the chickens have adjusted to each other.  The new ones have found their place in the pecking order and the others have quit trying to push them around.  It is funny watching them.  They have a lot of the same character traits as well humans.
I got a lot of odds and ends done the past couple of days.  I had a letter to writer, booklet to critique, etc.  I had been putting them off and fussing about them because they were hanging over my head.  Humans, or at least this one, are funny that way.  It takes more effort fussing than it does to do what we are fussed about.
I still have a zipper to put in a jacket and that is going to be done today.  Honest!
We have planted a lot of tomatoes this year in the hopes of a large crop.  I like making chili sauce and having frozen tomatoes for use in casseroles.  In previous years, we had been the recipient of a friends surplus.  Sadly, she died last year so we are missing her and her generosity.
I have almost finished the quilt that is on my frame and have another ready to go on.  I am gradually getting all my unfinished projects, finished.  Most of my new ones are hand applique so they aren't going to pile up very quickly.
Hope everyone has a safe and fun weekend.  They weather is going to be good in this area which will be nice for the campers and cottagers.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scrappy Quilt As You Go

Here are the first steps for this quilt.  If you have any questions, please let me know.  Next step will be posted in a week.

Scrappy Quilt as You Go

Supplies for 45 X 60 quilt

Backing and Batting-55” X 65”

Used dryer sheets-optional

Strips: 2” X 14”

 1 yard fabric for sashing and binding

1/2 yard fabric for border.

Step One

Cut (2) strips from the batting 12” wide by width of batting (55”)

Cut (5) strips 9” wide by width of batting

Sub cut: (4) 12” X 12’ squares from one of the 12” wide strips of batting.

Cut (16) 12” X 9” squares from the remaining 12” wide batting strips

Sub cut the 9” wide batting strips into (15) 9” X 9” squares

Step Two

Using a rule, draw a line 3” from the edge of one of the 12” X 12” blocks.

Draw another line 3” from an adjoining edge.

Repeat with the other (3) 12” X 12” squares

Using a ruler, draw a line 3” from the top of one edge on a 12” X 9” square.

Repeat for remaining squares of same size.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I feel like I am running late today although I'm not.  We went out after breakfast to plant some perennials that that been given to me and to get some other outdoor things done.  Then came in for a cup of tea and to watch the news.  We usually do the news after breakfast but leaving it until later means we can get outside while it is still cool and no bugs.  This afternoon we are going into town to buy more plants.  Our gardens seem to be in a 'expansive' mood and getting bigger.  One of the square foot gardens has sprouted a wild strawberry that seems to be doing well so we think we might add a few cultivated ones there and turn it into a berry plot.
These wee Gnomes are my husbands creation.  They are just under three feet tall and he made them from scrap wood.  They will go in an appropriate spot in the bush for the summer.
I finished another chicken block yesterday as well as a Baltimore album.  I do both at the same time as they are perfect antidotes for each other.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Always Something to Do

Our chicken flock are adjusting to the additions.  At first, there was a lot of squabbling with one of the original hens picking on all the news ones much like a school yard bully.  The new hens are the same size as the other but that didn't seem to matter.
My husband has had to intervene a couple of times to make sure the newbies are getting enough to eat and drink.  I suggested setting up a system in the coop where he could show a video on the nonacceptance of bullying and perhaps follow it with a photo of a roast chicken!
We have planted the last of our garden.  Now that black fly season has arrived, we try to get outside and do our work early in the morning.  By early, I mean before nine a.m.  I was out this morning planting a tomato and heard my neighbour.  I yelled over a greeting and she said she is trying to get her jobs done early as well. 
I have almost finished quilting another project.  Just a couple more rows to do and then the border.  This, like the last quilt I finished, is another version of a previous project.  Both have been selling quite well on Craftsy ( so I thought I would offer an alternative colour and layout.
I also have to replace a jacket zipper for a friend and get some donations finished for a fundraiser.  Good thing I am retired.

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Free Quilt Pattern

I have been talking about scrap quilts and quilt as you go quilts with on line quilters this past week and that has given me an idea.  I haven't posted a free pattern, BOM or mystery quilt for a long time so I am going to combine something. Sort of.
Starting next week, I am going to, weekly, post the instruction on how to make a quilt as you go strip quilt.  This will give you a chance to use up some of those scraps, particularly the smaller bits.  If you want to start getting ready, you will be using strips 1 1/2" wide by a maximum of 8".  That is all the advance info for now.  I will give you the first step next week sometime between Tuesday and Friday depending on my schedule.
I am trying to get most of my house work done today as I am going on a fund raising walk for our local food bank tomorrow.  It is warm and sunny and I would like to be outside so hope I can do that a bit later-bugs permitting.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

An Addition to the Family

My husband brought home four chicks yesterday. He got the addition to our family from my brother who had more hens than he needed and, as he and my dearie are going to start hatching their own, it was time to downsize.  So, we now have a flock of nine; seven of whom are brown and two whites.  The whites will be going into reirement soon so we need to hire some younger staff to take over.
Roger usually puts the hens into their coop after supper and ours are used the the routine.  The new ones, however, like many a rebellious teen were having none of the early to bed nonesense.  I watched from my quilt window as he tried to herd, cajole and scoop them through the entry way all without success.  He finally left them until nightfall when they were glad to join the rest of the flock.
Now we are going to have to broaden our customer base for eggs. The sale of the of these little gems pay for the feed which means our farm-such as it is, is cost free.
Anyone need eggs?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Time Wasters

Have you ever checked the time and noticed that the morning has disappeared and you have no idea where it went?  I have just done that.  The morning isn't completely gone but a good portion has and all I have done is had breakfast, watch the news and check my e mail.  The latter activity is the one that takes time.  There are posts to read, videos and photos to view, replies to give and it all takes time; especially when you belong to a lot of groups and have a ton of stuff from other sources as well.
I am not complaining, mind you.
I get antsy when I check my in box and nothing new has come in.
E mail is the equivalent of the 'over the back fence' chat or meeting in the feed store to catch up on local news.  The main difference is that you don't really know most of the people with whom you chat.  However, you feel as though you do and that is probably all that matters.
We had a fire in our area last night.  I saw the flames which covered most of the front yard and had already engulfed the detached garage as I was going into town for a meeting.  It hadn't reached the house but, as the emergency vehicles hadn't arrived, I knew it was going to be close.
I kept an eye out for the trucks as I drove and they did pass me so I felt that they would arrive in time.  When I returned home, the fire was out and the house, thankfully was still standing.  I wanted to share this because as I was driving, I saw a vehicle come up behind me with the hazards lights flashing.  I pulled over to let him pass because I have learnt that this is a volunteer on the way to the station to pick up gear.  I was annoyed however, to see that he got stuck behind a number of other drivers who were totally oblivious to his/her presence.
This person had just left his home, possibly a meal, to risk his well being to help others and was met with inconsideration.  Made me want to shake the other drivers.  I am going to mention this in my newspaper column but, if you or a member of your family is a volunteer firefighter; thank you.  You are appreciated.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quilt Completed

    I finished this quilt Sunday evening and was able to take a photo on Monday morning before the sun got too bright.  I intended to hang it on the clothesline because it is too big to do anywhere else.  That should have been a simple task.  Not so.  It was still touching the ground when I got it on the line so I carefully moved it it along to the farthest point, easing it over the raspberry canes.  Went over to the quilt, brushed off the cobwebs and other bits and pieces and found that it still touched the ground.  There was still a bit more space on the line so I grabbed the quilt to -gently- move it but, you guessed it, the pegs came off.  Back up to the stoop, refasten and deal with it there.  I did get some reasonable pictures while trying to ignore the blackflies that were starting to gather on my glasses and other places.
Scrappers Scrappy 2
I am pleased with the quilt and it now has the additional expense of a black fly bite just below my left ear!  Rural life isn't all honey and singing birds!
It is a bit of a dreary day today so I am getting caught up on some housework and then will get this pattern written up and ready to sell.  It will be available on my web page and Craftsy (  I am also going to sell the quilt so that too will be on my web (
My husband saw a hummingbird yesterday so I think I will get a feeder out before doing anything else.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Real or ??

Sunset After the Storm
Sometimes it seems as through life is imitating art rather than the other way around.  We had a thunderstorm yesterday evening around 6.30.  It didn't last long and, when it was over, I glanced out the kitchen window and saw a sunset.  Because of our homes position and all the trees around us, we don't often get to see much of the evenings colour so went out to take a look.  Then I went back to get my camera.
It may look as though this photo isn't real but this is exactly what I saw.   I took the photo through the trees so you are looking at a lot of little branches but you can still see the colour.  The blue was the darkest I can remember seeing and the red started with a faint tinge and went up to the deep shade you can see on the left.  An amazing sight.
I have been working all morning on designing a pattern so after lunch went for a run down to the pond with the dog.  While we were there, I heard what I thought was a large group of geese coming in.  Turned out it was two pair.  I am hoping they are nesting as it is a good spot for potential parenting birds.
We left them in peace, jogged back to the house, down the driveway and back again and into the house to catch my breath. 
It seems that every day brings something new here in the backwoods.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fiesty Feathered Friends

I have been watching the finches that are at one of the feeders which hang outside my quilt room window. They are quite entertaining and, surprisingly, aggressive.  The females don't let the males near the perches until they have eaten first.  The males also have a pecking order.  There is one male that seems to have to wait until everyone else has finished.  He is probably younger than the others.  When the nuthatches arrive everyone else leaves. 
I turned my radio down for a while so I could listen to their song.  My husband says that a nearby tree is full of the tiny creatures which is probably why the sound is more noticeable.
It is nice to have my own private entertainment while I work.
I have been getting ready to put another quilt onto the frame.  I wanted to do a different pattern this time so I laid it out on the table so I could 'trace' it with the laser.  After a few moments, I started to feel queasy and realized I was getting motion sick.  That happens once in a while.  When it does, I have to stop and do something else for a bit.  I don't know why it bothers me sometimes and not others but I am glad it is fairly infrequent.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

They Are Coming

The black flies are starting to arrive.  We are getting just a few at the moment but they are on their way.  I am glad I have lots of indoor projects to do and we have a number of appointments to go to this month so that will help.
I just picked up a bunch of plants from a friend who was dividing hers and will need to get them in the ground.  I haven't quite decided where they are all going to go but, as they are pretty hardy, I can always move them next year if I change my mind.  One thing about having 10 acres of land is that there is lots of room to do things.  My husband built a nice stone wall to divide our vegetable garden from the rock garden and I think the day lilies will look nice against it.
My goal is to have gardens that will, more or less, look after itself.  I am not big on gardening so my commitment to weeding is somewhat less than what is needed.  I haven't told her yet but I am hoping that when my sister moves  here from England that she will be delighted at having another opportunity to get her hands in the dirt.  I will gladly make tea when she is finished.
I am starting to get the binding sewn on the scrappy quilt I finished.  It took me a while to decide on the fabric for the binding and I finally chose to do it scrappy.  I often sew together all my short left over bits of 2 1/2" wide strips and, when I have enough, use it for binding.  As I do a lot of scrappy quilts, it comes in handy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Spring Time in the Backwoods

Our bush is starting to show more green each day.  The majority of it is on the ground with ferns, grass and tiny flowers all making an appearance.  Our purple trillium's are starting to bloom as are some tiny blue flowers.  The trees have the faintest shadow of colour but it is getting more dense each day.  The change is more evident when we go for a drive and can seen a group of trees in the distance.  Here at home, the colour barely shows against the sky and tree bark.
The birds have been busy for quite a while and the feeders are a popular place.  We have a lot of woodpeckers from the smallest to the huge pileated that announce their presence with various levels of drumming. For some time, we had been hearing a particularly loud jackhammer sound and wondered at the size of the woodpecker that was making it.  We finally discovered the source and were amused at the ingenuity of the bird.  We have a small bird house hanging near the chicken coop and one of the smaller woodpeckers had been using it like a drum.  I bet he got the interest of a lot of female birds as well as the envy of the males.
I haven't checked yet to see if he has made any holes in the birdhouse but, even so, I will leave it for him.
I finally finished the quilt I had in the frame.  I took it to quilt group to remove all the threads and today will get the binding ready.  I also will get the next quilt into the frame.  It is just a lap size so it should get done fairly quickly.
My husband will soon be starting the addition to the house so, when that happens, I will have less time for quilting; in the daytime anyway.  I am looking forward to my new larger quilt room which my dear one is designing just for me.  I can't quite imagine what it will be like to have so much more room.  I am truly fortunate.
The latest edition of the Quilt Pattern Magazine ( is out and contains some great new patterns as well as my article.  I will have to find some time later to read it.