Sunday, 14 September 2014

Report on Creative Stitches & Crafting Alive

It was a great day at the Creative Stitches Show in Edmonton. As usual, I spent too much money, but I don't have a husband to tell me not to. LOL! This year my niece, Julie, joined me, so that doubled the fun. We drove separately because she had constraints regarding her children's school day, but we managed to find each other using our cell phones. When she decided to go as well, I told her to bring a lunch. I don't remember what my rationale was for not eating at the café in the show's location, whether it was because the lines were too long or because they didn't have any vegan/vegetarian options, but I ended up eating junk food from the vending machine. :-( This year I determined to do better than that and took a lunch along. I decided to try Curried Tofu "Egg Salad Pitas" from this cookbook:

Honestly, I've had this cookbook for at least a year (probably longer) and this is the first time I've tried a recipe from it. Too many cookbooks, too little time. It was very tasty - the Curried Tofu Egg Salad that is, not the cookbook, so I will no doubt be sampling more recipes from this book. And while the title says "Vegetarian," as far as I can tell, it's totally vegan. Now that I've given my vegan commercial, back to the show...
The show starts at 9:30 in the morning. Last year I arrived around 9:00 and didn't have any problem finding a parking spot. My big pickup truck requires a lot more maneuvering room than a small car. This year I got there at 9:20 and had to park at the far, far end of the parking lot. Julie, who arrived later, ended up having to park in a different lot entirely.
The first items I bought were this book:
(I love table linens and I love nature, so this book was a win-win for me, especially since I got it for only $10).
And this Aurora Borealis panel for only $3:
There were several colour selections for this panel. but, of course, I chose purple. Simply gorgeous!
Lots of good deals on fat quarters and these ones appealed to me. I managed to find the Aurifil 2540 (the purple spool) that I need for topstitching my 10-minute blocks, and the same vendor also had beige in the large cone. Then, because I was spending more than $50 at this booth, I was able to buy the 6-1/2" ruler for $1.99. I didn't really need one, but it's the non-slip one and I sure couldn't beat that price!
I got this quilt kit for half-price. If it was made of ugly fabric, I wouldn't have purchased it, but since it was very pretty and I liked the pattern, that was a deal too good to resist. Mystery is impressed as well. If you're interested, you can find the pattern here: Contemporary Cottage.
I actually bought this fabric to use as backing for the above quilt kit. But I also have another quilt in my "back burner" quilt plans that it might be appropriate for as well.
Good deals could be found on every hand. More fat quarters - these ones were $1 each! Some charm packs, plus some rayon thread that I will use in my machine quilting course. I just love the Moda Rejoice charm pack. And the wonderful thing about buying at the show is, not only can I find good deals, but I don't have to pay for shipping!
Recently, I purchased Fons & Porter's Asian Influences quilting ebook, so this bundle of 1 metre cuts will be put to good use.
The wife of one of my nephews is expecting a baby in February. I have a girl's quilt made, but I need a boy's quilt as well, just in case. That's where this bundle of 1 metre cuts will come in handy. (You can see Mystery's tail in the lower left as he continues to test my new purchases).
While at the show, I introduced Julie to Sparrow Studioz and longarm quilting. I have offered to pay for her to take the longarm quilting course as a combined birthday/Christmas gift. She's still thinking about it, but I'm sure she'll become addicted as I am, once she tries it.
That's it for the show for this year. I left Julie exploring the scrapbooking booths as I wanted to drop off my Janome MC 8000 at Johnson's Sewing Centre for servicing and get out of the city before rush hour. While there, I purchased a couple of quilting stencils and a roll of quilting paper for my machine quilting class, plus some more Janome bobbins. Naughty me - I have been using some generic metal bobbins and I have been wanting to purchase the genuine article, but I can't find them in town. I have to go to the city to a Janome dealer. After getting my wrist slapped by the service technician telling me that using those bobbins could cause problems with the tension (or was it the timing?), I had extra incentive.
(Mystery's in the lower right this time).  I noticed after I took the picture that the pumpkin stencil is upside down. The top stencil is not very clear, but it's poppies.
I realized after I left the show that I still didn't get to the Copperfields Bookstore booth. I never got there last year and failed to again this year. But where was it? I looked at the map and realized why I missed them. They were way at the back past the scrapbooking, stamping and jewelry booths. Because those aren't my hobbies, I don't usually bother going back that far. Next year, I will have to do so. But I'd already spent more than enough money. It would have been easy to spend thousands at the show. I just need to marry well so that I can afford to. LOL! I've already decided that I want an APQS Millenium as an engagement gift. Who needs a diamond ring?


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Final Days of Vacation

Dare I admit that I'm still in my nightgown? I just didn't take the time to shower and dress yet. I took down some wallpaper in bedroom 3 (actually I took off the vinyl layer - I still have to soak the paper part off) after moving the furniture to the opposite side of the room once it was vacuumed. I plan to finish the carpet cleaning in that room, but I'll need to get dressed so I can go to Canadian Tire and get some carpet shampoo. Then I started moving furniture up from the basement to bedroom 2 as I'm turning it into my office. Yes, I'm moving furniture by myself: a 4-drawer desk with hutch, a computer desk plus computer, the printer table plus printer (a big laser multi-function centre, not just a little inkjet), two 6-shelf bookcases (eventually it will be 3 as one is going into bedroom 3), two 2-drawer filing cabinets and 2 office chairs (one was actually already on the main floor as I had moved it up previously). Plus the books and other paraphernalia that go in my office. Well, actually some of the books will be coming from the garage. I've still got one bookcase and the filing cabinets to bring up, plus most of the books and one office chair. But I think I've done enough of that kind of strenuous labour for one day. 
Yesterday, I went to a small rural church where I used to be a member, about an hour's drive away. Most of the congregation was away and there were less than 20 people present during the church service. With so few there, I helped with song service for both Sabbath School and church and had closing prayer for both services as well. Went to dinner at the home of friends afterwards. They live about 40 minutes drive from church in the opposite direction, so had quite a hike to get home afterwards. Another couple I know was there as well, and it was wonderful spending time with old friends. I was really thankful I went. 
Lots of bugs hitting the windshield both coming and going, so returning home was rather hazardous. With the lowering sun hitting all of the bug guts on my windshield, visibility was compromised. I scrubbed it off with a brush and vinegar and water when I got home. 
Friday had been a rather lazy day. Moving furniture and cleaning carpets on Thursday had left me tired, so I didn't do much physically. I vacuumed bedroom 2, but the carpet in bedroom 3 was still damp in the spots where I had pretreated stains, so I couldn't vacuum and move furniture. I did that today. I got four 10-minute blocks completed using charm squares. Here's the picture of the first two, which I've already shared:
I intend to make these into a tote bag. 
This weekend, Fons & Porter had 40% off quilting eBooks, so I bought 4: Asian Inspired, Block Buster, Tabletop Quilts & Triangle Quilts. Can hardly wait to try out some of the patterns. 
The daughter of friends is graduating from university in December. She has just been offered a job starting in January. That was a real answer to prayer. And meanwhile I realized that I ought to make her a quilt for graduation/housewarming. She'll have to get her first apartment as the job is an hour and a half away from her parents home. Personally, I really think we need to start a new trend. Forget bridal showers and start throwing showers when young adults first move out on their own. By the time they get married, most of them have already had a career and been living on their own for some time. When they first move out is when they need all of that stuff. And besides, why should those who never get married miss out on all the goodies?
I guess that's all for now. Too bad I have to go back to work tomorrow. So many quilts, so little time...  

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Vacation Days 4 through 7

Well, the week's almost over and what have I accomplished? I cleaned all of the bed linens, including throw and afghan, from the bedroom in the basement, then remade the bed. I washed my sleeping bag in preparation for carrying it around in the truck in case of emergency this winter. I moved all of the furniture out of one of the main floor bedrooms, disassembled the crib and packed up all the rest of my daughter's and grandson's stuff from when they were living here and moved it out to the shed. Used my new carpet cleaner to clean the carpet in that bedroom and part of the carpet in the third bedroom. I'm not moving all of the furniture out of that bedroom, so will do just one part of the carpet at a time. Hopefully, will be able to move all of the furniture to the other side tomorrow and finish that carpet. My bedroom and the living room carpets, as well as the carpets on the basement stairs will probably wait for another occasion. Once the carpet dries in the bedroom where I moved all of the furniture out, I will establish that room as my office, take down the shelving off the wall, move my desks and computer in, plus a couple of bookcases. But I doubt I will get all of that done tomorrow. I know that doesn't sound much like fun for a vacation, but it's a good feeling to get it done. And that's not all I've done this week.
I've been quilting and crocheting and watching Dr. Quinn. I actually completed a whole quilt top from start to finish this week. You'll hear more about it when I finally finish it. I tried to book time tomorrow to do the quilting, but they only had an afternoon appointment and I wanted the morning, so I booked time on September 29, my next scheduled day off. I started my cogitations on this quilt when I decided that I needed to make one for my friends Bob and Neva, who will probably be moving away this fall. I was mulling over what to make for them when I remembered this "back burner" quilt plan. (My back burner quilts are ones that I have most, if not all, of the fabric for, but haven't had a chance to make yet). I had all of the fabric for it, just waiting for the opportunity to make it up. 
Now, let me be honest: I actually prefer to buy fabric with a plan in mind rather than just buy random pieces not knowing what or when I'll ever make it into. I'm always concerned that I may attempt to use it in a quilt, only to discover that there's not enough of it. So, I'd much rather know what I'm going to use it in and buy all of the fabric at once. Or at least enough for the quilt top. The binding and backing may wait for another time. A second confession is that I often like the fabric and quilt plan so well that I want it for myself. Some quilt plans I'm more invested in than others. And I really fell in love with the Navajo/southwest style fabric that I used in this quilt, which I'm calling "Wild Mustangs of the Painted Desert." When I reviewed what "back burner" quilts I have in my stash, I had a difficult time coming to the decision to give this one away. There's the Crop Circles quilt that I will also have a hard time parting with, but that will probably go to a nephew, who is studying agriculture in college. There's the pink Pinwheel Polka quilt that will go to a niece. The swoon quilt is for the sister who turned 65 this year. The Tales of Ireland quilt will go to another nephew (just decided this recently, so will have to change the secondary colour from pink to something else, probably gold). The yet-to-be-named quilt featuring a stained-glass window panel will go to another niece. And, of course, the Fractured Glass, which is destined for my bed. That left the Clara Barton quilt and Wild Mustangs of the Painted Desert. I don't at this time think I'm going to part with any of the nursing quilts I'm planning on designing. And I also remembered that Bob and Neva used to like to go horseback riding before age and health concerns prevented that (they're both in their 80s). And the Wild Mustang quilt, of course, features horses. So, reluctantly, I decided to make that one up for them. Yes, I could have started from scratch with a totally new quilt, but I don't know how soon they'll be moving and want to have it done for them to take with them. I don't want to wait for decisions on quilt pattern and fabric, when I had this one all ready to go. It's not that I begrudge them a quilt. I just was kind of attached to that one... But, as I said before, quilts are a labour of love, and my love will certainly go with them when they move. 
But let me tell you how I actually got started on Wild Mustangs, when I've already got several others on the go. It's mostly made of HSTs, but I decided that parallelograms would work better. I had already cut out a couple previously, but then wondered if my measurements were accurate. I decided to draft it and the measurements were not correct. So I decided to start cutting while I still knew what all the measurements were for, including the setting squares and triangles. And it just mushroomed from there. Quilting really can be an addiction. Here's just a teaser, the centre star of the wild Mustangs quilt:

I've also been working on the Rosy Stars quilt. I'm liking how it looks. Here's the first block:

It's got a special recipient as well. I haven't touched the pixel quilt or the Law School quilt, both of which also have destinations, but they'll get done eventually. Here's my first schoolhouse block for the Law School quilt, which I completed previously:

It's kind of a tedious block. That's why I haven't been enthusiastically working on it this week. 
And I'm almost done my Tunisian crochet tote bag. Just have to stitch up the side seams and add the handles. But I think I'm going to line it, and maybe add some pockets to the lining, so it may take a little longer. 
I think I'll go visit with Dr. Quinn some more. And maybe tomorrow I'll visit Fabricland...

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Vacation Days 2 & 3

Yesterday, as usual, I attended church, then had dinner and spent the afternoon with my friends Allen and Airlie. My friends Bob and Neva were also there, and unfortunately, they let us know that they have an offer on their place, and have made an offer on a home in British Columbia. So, it looks as if they will be moving away this fall. :-( Not happy about that, but nothing I can do about it. It just makes me long for the day when "separations come no more."
One of the guys I went to Canadian Union College with used to sing this song and it has stuck with me ever since. Very meaningful when you're separated from loved ones by distance or death. 
Today, I went on a shop-till-you-drop trip with Phil. We hit a lot of our usual places: the thrift stores and both antique malls, but aside from gas in the truck and a sandwich for lunch, neither of us bought anything. All we have is achy feet and fatigue to show for our day. It was fun nevertheless. 
After dropping Phil off at home, I made one last stop at Fabricland and that's where I spent some money. I didn't have much time to look around as the store was closing in half and hour, but I managed to pick up enough fabric to back a couple of quilts I've been working on. 
This is for the Law School quilt:
And this one is for the Rosy Star quilt:
Right now I'm watching some episodes from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Season 5. Not that I've watched Seasons one through four, but Season 5 was the only one available from the local library. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

In a Better Place, Part 1

That's what we say about the deceased when we're trying to comfort and console ourselves and others, that they're "in a better place." No more pain, no more suffering in that better place. But how do we know that? On what do we base our assumptions that there is a better place and pretty well everyone that dies is "in a better place." Does everyone get to go there? And if everyone gets to go there, would it really be a better place? 
This particular post will not be about the place, but about who actually goes there. 
If you follow my blog, you know that I believe the Bible is the only reliable source for truth, so, to quote an evangelist from 40 years ago,
What says the Bible, the blessed Bible?
This my only question be. 
The teachings of men so often mislead us.
What says the Bible to me?
Let's start with what is probably the most well-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (NKJV). This verse shows not only the love of God, but also the gift of that love, everlasting life through His Son. It presents a contrast between perishing and everlasting life. This dichotomy is also found in Romans 6:23:
I get paid wages in my job. It's what I work for. While I do enjoy my work, I probably wouldn't be willing to do it if I didn't get paid for it. It's what I have coming to me. Based on Romans 6:23, as a sinner, death is what I have coming to me. Some might balk at that and think, "I'm not a sinner. I'm a good person." Some of us seem to think if we aren't out and out criminals, we're not sinners. But whose definition of good or sinner are we going to use? The Bible says, "No one is good, but one. That is God." Matt. 19:17 NKJV. "There is none righteous, no not one." Romans 3:10 and "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 NKJV. So, we are all sinners, deserving of death. 
How then do we get eternal life "in a better place?" Both John 3:16 and Romans 6:23 make it clear that it is only through Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Acts 4:12 states "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we might be saved." There is no other route to heaven, only through Jesus Christ. 
But how do we avail ourselves of this gift? Jesus Himself said, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John 3:3 NKJV. And how is one born again? First of all we need to acknowledge that we are sinners (Romans 3:23). We need to repent of the wrong things we have done (Acts 2:38), and ask God's forgiveness of them. Finally, we need to ask Jesus to live in our hearts and make us the people He wants us to be (Romans 6). 
And that's how we get to live "in a better place." It's not by being a "good person." It's not by our church membership. It's not by trying really hard and hoping for the best. Not everyone is going there, but we can all choose to be there by accepting Jesus into our hearts.
Need more info? The wonderful book, Steps to Christ, can be downloaded as a pdf or audio here. Or you can read the Bible Study guide, Get to Know Jesus

Vacation (Stay-cation) Begins - 29/08/14

Day 1 of vacation and it turned out a little stressful. It started out great. I went to Costco Hearing Aide Centre and finally ordered my purple hearing aides. They're top of the line and cost me less than half of the mid-range ones I was going to buy from that other place. Yay! I go back for my fitting on Sept. 10. I got to Costco around 10:00. I have never seen it so quiet, but if filled up by the time I was done at the Hearing Aide Centre and I struggled to get around everyone else's carts. Those carts are HUGE, and I hate crowds, so was glad to get out of there. Unfortunately, I felt like the crowds followed me around all day. I don't know if it was because I was driving in unfamiliar areas of the city, or because I don't usually drive in the city on a weekday, or because it was the Friday of the last long weekend of the summer, or because I didn't have my navigator (my buddy Phil) with me, but the traffic was crazy.
Next stop, the Canadian Tire on Fort Road. Following Google maps directions to get there, I had to take a detour because the street I was supposed to turn on had a police-erected road block, but I managed. I had ordered a carpet cleaner at the CT here in town over a month ago, having to make a 50% down payment. A couple of weeks ago I called to see if it was in and was told by the rather snooty person at the customer service desk that it was marked as shipped and they would call me when it came in. Yesterday, having still not heard, I decided to bypass customer service and asked to speak to the manager. She didn't know when it was supposed to arrive either and checked online for me and found one at the Fort Road store in Edmonton. She told me I could buy it at any store in Canada and to tell them I had her permission to do so. I wasn't sure how that worked since I had paid my deposit here in town, but took her word for it and called the Fort Road store and asked them to set one aside for me and I would pick it up today, since I would be in the city for my hearing test anyway. Hmph! Canadian Tires are independently owned and operated, so there was no way they could honour my deposit at another store. Fort Rd. called the other store and were informed that mine had arrived in their store, but the customer service manager in the Fort Rd store informed them that I had been told that I could buy one there. Anyway, I did buy the one in Edmonton, with the promise from the manager back home that they would return all of my money (deposit slips are stamped with the warning that only 50% of it would be refunded, but this screw up was not my fault). This was a different manager from yesterday (just how many managers does a small town CT need?). This unnecessarily shortened my day in Edmonton because I wanted to make sure that I got back to the CT in town to get my money back while that manager was still on duty in case I had any problems getting a full refund.
Next stop was an art supply store because I am taking an acrylic painting course starting next month, and of course I couldn't find the supplies in town. Do you know how many different kinds of brushes there are? And our instructor didn't specify what kind. She also said to get a size 7 and there weren't any. There also weren't the colours of paint I needed in 100 ml tubes, so I ended up buying 213 ml tubes. What if I decide I don't like painting after all? I will then be stuck with 200 ml of paint I don't need.
Then I headed to Johnson's Sewing Centre/Quilters Dream. Normally, I go to the south store - very easy to reach as it's just off the Whitemud Expressway. But since I was in the north end, I went to the north store. I don't think I've ever been there before. And I don't think I'll ever go again. It's in a busy area of town, and the crowd followed me there, too. I was able to find a parking spot on the street that I could fit my pickup truck into. But then the crowd kept passing by and I almost decided to climb out the passenger side before there was finally a break in traffic long enough for me to get the door open and get out without me or the truck door getting run into. I went to Johnson's because I'm taking a machine quilting class at the south store and wanted to maybe get some supplies, specifically a book they recommended. They didn't have it in. At least not that I could see. And since the crowd had followed me to Johnson's, no one offered to help me because the clerks were all serving the rest of the crowd. I'd had enough by this time and would have then headed to Fabricland, but, as I said, I wanted to get back to Canadian Tire to get my money back. And I did. And they told me that my cleaner had come in yesterday. Interesting. I never got a phone call yesterday and when I got home, there was no message on my voice mail telling me it had come in. Great customer service. But at least I got my money back.
And tonight I made vegan mint carob chip ice cream. Very yummy! And no problems with the ice cream maker this time. And I didn't have to share it with the crowd that's been following me all day.

Checking my email, I found this message from my LinkedIn profile:
Hello, I will like to connect with you here. We can do business if the need calls for it. But I won't lie, your profile picture really attracted me. Please get back to me so that we can get to know ourselves.
Seriously??? Dating scammers on LinkedIn, which is supposed to be a professional network and doesn't even have the option to display "relationship status"! Oh, and by the way, scamboy, I do know myself, quite well, thank you. Well enough to report and block you. Go away and get to know your own self. Search your conscience perhaps, if you have one. 
Maybe I should just change my profile picture to a quilt block. Oh yes, it's a professional network, so maybe a nasty-looking nurse...
Hmm, somehow I don't think that will enhance my professional networking...

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Go Wild!

I call this quilt "Go Wild!" 
Originally it was supposed to have been two separate quilts, or at least two. I started with the flowered fabric which, if you look carefully, has lions, tigers and leopards. I had plans for that fabric. 
Then I found the panel that featured 6 different African animals (Mystery doesn't qualify...) and added the striped fabric as I felt it was a good match for the panel. Then, as I was mulling it over, I recalled that I had a couple of animal print charm packs.
Then I tried to figure out how I could fit them all into the same quilt. I finally decided to use 12 inch squares of the flowered fabric alternating with the animals from the panel. Unfortunately, not only were they not 12 inches square (something more like 11-1/4"), but they weren't true to grain. So I added the striped borders on the tops and left sides of each square to square them up to the right size. If I'd added them on all four sides, the border would have ended up being only about 3/8" wide and the difference in width to square them up would have been more obvious. 
Since I was using the charm squares as a border, I needed to make the quilt top measurements before the border evenly divisible by 9" (or 4-1/2", the finished size of a charm square), so that it would come out even. So I added a strip of 3" squares to the top and bottom of the quilt. These squares are the flowered fabric alternating with the print from the border of the African animals panel. I also had to make some charm squares from the flowered fabric as I didn't have quite enough for the border with the two animal print charm packs I had. 
The final border was of the striped fabric. This is the first time I mitred the border. It really wasn't that difficult. I used my 45 degree triangle ruler to cut it. 
I wasn't sure what I was going to use for a backing - something that went with the theme of the quilt. I looked around my local quilt shop - they were having a 30% off sale - and couldn't decide on what I felt was right. I considered a waterfall fabric - very pretty, but it wasn't quite what I wanted. Then I remembered that I had seen a piece of tiger print minky in their remnants, and I decided to give minky a try. That was another first for me. I dashed into the store 10 minutes before closing on the final day of the sale and got this minky fabric. They keep their minky in the basement, so that's why I only saw a remnant of the tiger print in the main part of the store. They also had a leopard print, which would have worked as well, but I decided to go with the tiger. 
I did some online research on using minky. Some people had had disastrous results, and refused to ever try it again. I did speak to one of the staff at Sparrow Studioz and they just confirmed what I found on the internet - that  you must load it with the stretch running crosswise, not lengthwise. We also did some pinning, which we normally don't do on the long arm. But minky is slippery compared to cotton and the batting doesn't want to stay in place. 
Also in my research I found the recommendation to prewash your cottons, including the batting as minky doesn't shrink. So the cotton needs to be preshrunk in order to avoid problems when you do wash the quilt later. As I had charm squares as part of this quilt, and I wasn't going to wash them individually, and I had already started the quilt top before I decided to use minky, I just finished the quilt top and prewashed the whole thing. I didn't have my batting yet, so couldn't prewash it. However, I did have some polyester fibrefill batting at home and decided to go with that, since it wouldn't need prewashing. One of the things about minky is that it's quite heavy compared to cotton and I didn't want a quilt that I felt was weighing me down. So the polyester fibrefill was a better option as it weighs much less than cotton batting. 
After quilting it successfully on the long arm (I can't remember the name of the pattern, but it's leaves and twisting vines and the staff member assisting me said that was the first time she knew of that that pattern was being used), I had to decide on a binding. I had more of the flowered fabric, but felt that a self-binding using the minky backing would give it a better look.
Before I even had a chance to stitch the binding, the quilt was cat tested. 
And approved. Both cats had a liking for it. 
I'll be honest: when I was first laying the pieces out and deciding what was going where, I wasn't really sure if I liked it. But it's grown on me and I love it now. I might have to fight with the cats for possession of it, however.