Wednesday, October 21, 2015

This is Danielle's snowman -- he's lovely!

Danielle's Percy, sporting a hand-knit chapeau
Yesterday, I told you all about the class I taught at the CreativFestival last week in Toronto.
Percy, as I called him, is a paper-pieced a 3-D snowman.
Last night, I received a photo from the talented Danielle from Montreal. She finished her snowman with a hand-knit hat and scarf.
Isn't he just a cutie?
Danielle gave herself a gift of a trip to Toronto and several classes at the CreativFestival. I was so honoured that she picked my class as one of her "treats".
Thank you, Danielle, for sharing a photo of your finished Percy, and for allowing me to share it here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A number of lovely friends helped me make this!

Artsy shot of the back
Last year, I agreed to join a birthday block swap on a Faceboook group I belong to called the Craft Cafe. We've been meeting up for the past few years, sharing our crafty life and a laugh or two.
There are 12 people in the swap. Each of us agreed to make 12.5 inch blocks in the recipient's colour choice, to be sent in the month of the recipient's birthday.
My birthday in March was filled with lovely packages from all over the world, each bearing a beautiful red and white block.
I made my quilt and wrote about it on last week. It also came along with me to last week's CreativFestival in Toronto. It was a privilege to teach a workshop on English Paper Piecing to a lovely group of women from across the country.
Then, I was able to answer questions on quilting and embroidery at A Needle Pulling Thread Magazine's booth at the show. After lunch, I did a little shopping and found FQ bundles of Sweetheart, the new range from Tilda this fall and winter.
This is the front of my lovely birthday quilt
The countdown is on --- Tilda's Toy Box, the new book, is out in just a few days. I have a wish list of projects from it, and now, all the fabrics to do them.
I am not lying when I say I did a little squeal of delight when I found the fabrics all prettily packaged at Ruby Pearl's booth at the show. This is a quilt store, located in Oshawa -- not TERRIBLY far away -- and they have more Tilda fabric.
Ooooo -- can everyone guess the contents of my Christmas list?????

Monday, September 21, 2015

Changed my name in bloggerland

A change is as good as a rest -- as they say -- so I've decided to change my blog's name to better reflect the crafty goodness that happens around here for much of the time.
I've been busy working for for many months.  I took a break for the summer to clear my mind and just you know, be.
Well, that's over.
I have just finished a series of posts for October about a special quilted throw I made, slated for publication on a computer near you during the week of October 12, 2015.
It has been the usual round of nonsense around here for the past few weeks. In late May, DH hit a deer on the highway near our home and totaled the car. In June, I set the oven to self clean and the inside glass shattered.
Long stories short -- we found a new car, but there seems no way to fix the oven. The door repair would be more than buying a new baseline stove.
In the meantime, I am exploring the range and limits of a convention toaster oven, the microwave, and how much barbecued grilled food we can tuck away before winter makes that no longer an option. By then, hopefully, we will have saved enough to replace the stove. Otherwise, Christmas baking will have to be done offsite at the home of my friend and partner in all fabric crimes, the lovely Sandra D.

But, these are first world problems.
So, welcome to Nancy Dee's Needleworks, formerly Heaven is Handmaid.
Whatcha all been doing?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Holiday plans in my fortress of solitude

Lots of materials in the kit

Tomorrow it is a holiday in Canada -- Canada Day! It is the 148th anniversary of our country's confederation as a nation.
It is a holiday that never moves, so sometimes it happens mid-week, as it does in 2015.
I am spending my day in the fortress of solitude (aka my studio) working on this Tilda swimming girl because everyone else will be working.
I consider this a gift -- a Canada Day gift.
I will also be listening to an audio book, Inferno by Dan Brown.
Sure, it's fairly sedate way to spend a vacation day, but I am looking so forward to it.
So far, I have sewn her up, clipped all her curves, and turned her right side out. Tomorrow comes the onerous task of stuffing a Tilda figure. This can sometimes go quite badly and I have to start again. I don't like lumps or giving my figures a horrible neck wrinkle. It take some luck and skill to get it looking good, especially with those skinny arms and legs.
In this particular version, the hair is painted on, which will be anew technique for me, but I am up for the challenge, since I fell in love with this doll when I first saw it back in December or January.
Sewn, curves clipped and turned
I ended up ordering the kit from Art Attack. It is a US-based online shop, with excellent customer service and decent pricing. I highly recommend them.
I will post some more photos of  this bathing beauty as soon as missy is ready for her close-up.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

I've pre-ordered my flying monkeys

Tone Finnanger's Tilda range is hitting the toy box on September 25, 2015.
That's the release date for the new book Tilda's Toy Box. I've pre-ordered from Book Depository in the UK because they offer free shipping no matter where you live in the world.
This new book is aimed at sewing specifically for children.
There are also two new lines of fabric : Autumn Tree and Sweetheart. I am not entirely sure I will see either of them in stores here, but I can certainly admire them from afar. I have also found a pink polka dot fabric which is very close to that delicious red and white polka dot fabric.
The premise of the book is one of adventure, specifically, adventures little ones can go on with that sweet huge headed doll. The doll has outfits for adventures on the high seas as a pirate, exploring the jungle with some very cheeky monkeys, and even making a sweet little quilt fort for adventures that happen closer to home.
I am pretty sure my monkey loving daughter will be wanting a monkey, while I am looking forward to making that bird house purse. I don't plan to walk around with a bird house purse (although I might, you just never know), the house purse will actually become part of my Christmas house decorations. I even bought some battery operated LED mini lights for it on my last trip stateside, where such things are not only readily available, but also do not cost the earth.
The chances are good that I will put wings on my monkeys -- Wizard of Oz style. Because you know, I've always wanted to have my own army of flying monkeys...I just think they will come in handy now and then.
Now all I have to do with wait for 89 days until I get the book. What will I do?
Two new fabric lines!

I will likely make monkeys with wings...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wedding Saturdays within the month of June....

Old friends are the best table favours
It has been a while since I've been to a wedding. And, June being the month of weddings, I thought I'd tell you about a recent event I attended.
After years of never going to weddings -- it is one of those occasions that passes through phases of life --  is it not?
First, it seems like all of your friends are getting married...
And, then, all of a sudden, you are planning your own wedding.
Many years pass...
Suddenly, all of your friends' kids are getting married!
Which is weird, since you are all still young yourselves.
My best friend -- from kindergarten onward -- is knee deep in preparation for her eldest daughter's wedding.
First up, we went to the bridal shower.
The candy buffet and the cake! Pretty,  fun, and yummy!
It was a lovely event.
The colour scheme is one of my favourties: turquoise and pale grey -- all artfully pulled together with a simple centre piece -- a white hydrangea head in a square glass vase, filled with blue glass stones.
We played a trivia game (our table won), had a lovely buffet lunch. It was topped off by a candy buffet (treat bags and twist ties included), chocolate dipped strawberries, and the most delicious cake I've ever sampled. Made by the aunt of the groom, a true cake artist, it was finished with turquoise fondant and pale grey lace.
I liked the topper -- a little white chocolate plaque proclaiming: from Miss to Mrs. (the bride is a high school teacher).
Fun fact: one of the trivia game questions was which gaseous marine mammal is the bride's favourite? After much discussion, we picked dolphin. Wrong. It is the manatee. She just loves them.
I think I found a little wedding gift for her: one of my favourite artists, Patience Brewster, has created an ornament honouring the lovely, yet gaseous, creature of the deep.
I am thinking wedding cake topper...why not? It is far more personal and interesting than the traditional bride and groom. She's got a ton of options for unique toppers, as well as many other  special, whimsical holiday and Christmas ornaments. I've got quite a little collection of her things, including a cake server that stands on a little Christmas bauble with a face and feet. Oh yeah, she's my kind of gal!
When DH and I got married -- a million years ago -- I wanted bride and groom turtles to top our cake. Sadly, no one else did -- it just wasn't the "done" thing to make one's wedding personal. Glad those days are gone!
This thoroughly modern bride and groom will have their wedding is at the beginning of August at a simply elegant event centre that had been heritage barn. Now part of an agricultural museum, it features exposed wooden beams and tons rustic charm.
The couple have simple tastes and favour handmade touches. We've been invited to the wedding, so I can't wait to see what they come up with at the main event, since the shower was so very pretty.
As for me, I have purchased a sewing pattern to make myself a new outfit for the wedding. It has been years since I made myself clothes, but I like the pattern. It is Burda design for a sort of flowing  top and simple Capri-style pants.
I bought some knit material for $3 a metre. I am going to practice the top before I get the silk /cotton blend fabric I want to use.
I'll keep you posted on the results. Fair warning, I might chicken out on the pants and wear ones I already have so I can just focus on the top.
The bride is lovely, so no one will notice what I am wearing -- as long as I don't mess it up. You just don't want people noticing you for the wrong reasons.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Biscuits, tea buns, whatever you call them, these are good

Yogurt tea buns with raisins.
Now that spring is here, I like to make something a little lighter for Sunday morning breakfast. It is now the only day when the whole family is home.
These tea buns go together quickly, and you can add in a couple of handfuls of any dried fruit or sharp cheddar cheese.
I  serve them warm. with butter, fresh fruit and a nice hot cup of tea. They are also pretty good when they are cold.
These buns, made with cheese, are my go-to side when there's soup or chili in the slow cooker for a rainy night supper.

Yogurt Tea Buns (makes one dozen mid-sized buns)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, blueberries, chopped cherries or cranberries)*

1 cup plain (1 or 2 per cent) yogurt

*for cheese tea buns, add 1 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Use a pastry cutter to blend in butter or margarine until the flour looks like damp sand.
Add fruit (or cheese).
Add yogurt to the flour mixture. I add the yogurt with my hand. This way, I can feel the very moment the dough comes together better. (Tea buns get tough at this stage if they are over mixed.)
When the dough has come together, pat it into a sort of rustic round on a well-floured surface. Use a round biscuit cutter to cut out  the tea buns. The first pass will likely produce about 6 buns, gather the dough together again, pat it down and cut out the remaining buns. Placing them on a parchment lined cookie sheet as soon as each one is cut out.
There will be an ugly little one at the end of the process. (My kids have actually fought over who gets the ugly bun -- I kid you not)
Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm, store left overs (!?) in a zippered plastic bag. The buns are best eaten within two days.