Monday, November 21, 2011

Another turn of the celestial wheel

Elf laundry

The sun is making its way to shine more on the southern hemisphere's summer. Up in here in the north, we greet the turn of the celestial wheel with something akin to resignation. We put up our Christmas lights and decorations because by 4:30 in the afternoon, it is getting dark. There is something very cheerful about their shining efforts. It is comforting in a way, bringing these little bits of light into our gardens and attaching them our eaves troughs.
Down the lane, we do Christmas with a full-on frontal assault. Lights, real tree, decorations, baking, making, friends and family invited over for the festivities. Oh yeah baby, it is about the only thing that makes the other five months of winter bearable.
Solar-powered Christmas
On the weekend, my dear husband began our back yard ice rink. My lavender will be under constant threat from stray pucks until April, but it has survived thus far. The back yard rink is a project of epic proportions.
A special liner arrives at the end of October, the lumber comes out of the garage, along with the special hardware to attach the liner to the boards, it takes the better part of an afternoon to assemble the whole 40 x 35 feet framework. And then we wait.
Usually, the weather becomes unseasonably warm -- and windy/rainy. Windy/rainy is bad. Leaves blow into the rink. When the sun hits them -- even under the ice, they heat up and create pits. So to avoid pitted ice, I have to skim the leaves out. Worms also manage to get into the liner. They have to come out too. Yuck!
Lavender in peril
Mr. HH turns into a weather hound. The minute forecasts predict temps below 0 for three consecutive nights, he begins pouring water into the framework. Then, nightly, especially on very cold nights, he applies a thin layer of water to the ice that has formed. Until it gets very, very, very cold. Putting on water at that point might wreck the surface. Trust me, it is science in action out there.
In other Christmas-y projects, I created a little tabletop tree from my summer potted rosemary. I used a set of solar powered lights to wrap the plant into a tree shape. It charges all day long (even in our often weak sunshine) and then lights up for about six hours as soon as it gets dark. At the moment, it is sitting on the tarp-wrapped table on the deck -- and given the puck situation -- it is probably safer there.
In other news, the Splendid Sandra has returned from her travels. She shared some scraps from sweet little quilt store scrap packs -- because I LOVE scraps. She also brought me back some lovely black and white polka dot fabric -- and Colour Catchers. I washed the scraps by hand and then hung them on the little dryer on the deck.
When I finished, I thought it looked like washing elves might put out on a line. I just had to take a photo -- and of course -- share it.
Hope everyone is having a great day! I'm off to do more Christmas presents. Fa la la la, la la la la...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

FNSI on the front door -- and other places

Welcoming deer ones...
Friday Night Sew In was really quiet down the lane. Normally, I have my stitchin' pals over for giggles and projects, but they were otherwise engaged this time.
I finished up my reindeer from Tilda's Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle.
In a flash of near brilliance (if I do say so myself -- which I must because everyone else was out doing other things), I used an attachment method of own design.
We have a steel door, so hammering a nail isn't an option. Instead, I used super strong neodymium magnets. These are the little flat silver disks. (WARNING: These are very dangerous for little ones as they are a swallowing hazard).
Neo magent strip
I made a four inch long by 2 inch tube of fabric and then dropped a magnet into the bottom. Then I sewed all around the magnet by hand. I did this for all four magnets. Then, I sewed the whole magnetized tube to the neck seam of the reindeer. I am confident the deer will stay attached to the door, despite the wicked wind and snow storms that hit our front door in the depths of December.
Not quite finished, but getting there
His neck bow (which covers most of the magnet strip) is actually a remnant of a jellyroll pack. It was part of a scrap pack from a quilt store in Kingston.
I just did a row of zigzag stitches up either side -- an idea in Tilda's Winter Ideas The new booklet that arrived in my mail box this week -- I'd pre-ordered in August.
As usual, I love the photos and several of the projects are on the to do list -- especially the Santa with a little pointed hat.
(More on that later, hopefully.)
Quilting brings out the details
Once the deer was finished, I decided to do some whole cloth quilting on a little Henry Glass & Co. panel by Jacquelynne Steves called Sewing Room Social. It's going into a frame (eventually).
For the hand quilting, I used a spool of silk sewing thread. What a treat  it was to use! The thread just glides through all the layers and resists tangles and knots. I just quilted around the outlines on selected areas to define them. I am not quite finished yet, but it was such a pleasure to do some handwork while watching Grimm. That show creeps me out, but I like it. I am also enjoying Once Upon A Time. I guess no matter how old I get, fairy tales are still appealing.
I hope everyone had an enjoyable FNSI! Now I am off to visit some blogs and see what you all got up to last night.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Festive FNSI

A Canadian needlework magazine
I did this!
As I continue to ponder just what my FNSI project will be, I wanted to share some news: The festive issue of A Needle Pulling Thread will soon be in Canadian book stores. It is also available on iTunes Newsstand.
That's exciting news because my little gift card pockets included in this issue. I was working on them last May, and it is so exciting to see them in print now.
I hope people like them. It was fun to design them. I had a blast putting them together, and writing the instructions so that other people might be able to do them too.
I think I might do some more gift card holders for FNSI tonight. Maybe...
FNSI won't be nearly the festive occasion it normally is -- my partner in all fabric crimes -- the sensational Sandra -- is on vacation right now. She is leaving no Joann's unvisited. I am SO looking forward to her show and tell session sometime next week.
Though I will be flying solo this evening, I know there are a whole lot of us sewing and doing some festive Friday night finishing. Cheers to you, one and all!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nanie's precious handiwork

Nanie's coverlet
My Nanie Stella was busy raising three small children, my aunt, my dad and my uncle, and was expecting her fourth child in 1934. She was 34 years old and living in an Newfoundland outport that was a half day's cart ride to St. John's.
Her life wasn't an easy one. There were no modern conveniences like electricity and the village's only telephone was in the post office.
Nanie and the other woman of the village spent their days making sure the children were cared for, the house was clean, the gardens were tended, and the men fishing in little boats out on the Atlantic had three nourishing meals a day. I never thought she had a lot of time for 'fancy work.'
Not long ago, my Aunt Rita called to ask if I would like to have a coverlet my Nanie had embroidered. The tears welled up. We have so little of Nanie. She and her newborn daughter died in July 1934 from complications following childbirth.
Delicate, precious stitches
The coverlet was one of last things Nanie made. It is a summer-weight covering for a double bed, and it is embroidered on sturdy cotton calico.
When I first saw it, I was struck by how delicate and pretty it is -- such a contrast to Nanie's rustic life. The stitches are so delicate, so neat. You can't tell the right side from the wrong side.
Nanie traced the design, likely from a magazine pattern. These magazines were published in Boston or England, sent to Newfoundland by mail ship. Over the course of year, the patterns were traded around the village. Women made items their own by the choice of fabric and floss.
In this coverlet, there are parts of the embroidery pattern not covered by the floss. It is magical to me that these ink marks were made by Nanie 77 years ago. I am also surprised that the floss colours have not faded. I think I am going to turn the coverlet into a duvet cover by adding backing fabric and some ties to close it. It will be used and loved, because Nanie meant for that to happen. I just know it.
Aunt Rita's flour sack fantasy
Aunt Rita also had another surprise for me, a coverlet she made from flour sacks in 1941. Once again, the colours are vivid and the calico as sturdy as it was when it held the flour that made my ancestors' daily bread. This coverlet is so lively that it begs to go back into use.
Later this winter, once the Christmas crafting is over, I am off to Ikea for  a lightweight duvet. I will use a cotton sheet for the backing of Nanie's coverlet and before long, her handiwork will be on display once again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pooch pouches for presents: a tutorial

Figure 1
These little pouches -- similar to shopping bag holders -- clip onto the end of a dog leash. They can be filled with small shopping bags or the plastic bags used to protect the morning paper from rainy weather.
I am making these for my friends who have dogs to walk and dog messes to clean up along the way.
This is a great way to use up little scraps of fabric. The most expensive part of the project is the swivel clip.

You will need 3/4 inch elastic and rick rack trim.
Here's what you do: (all seams allowances are 1/4 inch)
Cut a piece of linen 3 1/2 inches wide by 6 inches long.
Cut two pieces of patterned fabric, 2 inches wide by six inches long. (figure 1)
Cut a piece of lining fabric, 9 1/2 inches  wide by 6 inches long.
Sew the patterned pieces to the long sides (figure 2)
Figure 2

Figure 3
Press the seams toward the linen. (Figure 3)
Figure 4
On the right side, cover the joining seams with a length of rick rack. (Figure 4)

Figure 5
Sew the main fabric to the lining with right sides together at the short ends. Turn right side out and press, trim any excess fabric from the sides.
Measure the width of the elastic at the short edges, and top stitch line across the short edges to form a channel for the elastic. (Figure 5) .
Figure 6
Using a bodkin or a safety pin, thread 5 inches of elastic through the top and bottom short edges.
Pin the elastic on one side, and pull the elastic until one edge measures 31/2 inches across and the other measures 3 inches across. (Figure 6) .
Cut a 1 1/2 wide by 3 inches long strip of linen. Fold the strip in half and sew, right sides together. Turn and press.
Thread the strip through the bottom of the swivel clip. (Figure 7).
Sew the strip across the top, near the end of the swivel clip. (Figure 8). Pin the swivel clip about a half inch down from the 3 1/2 inch edge.
Figure 7
Figure 8

Pin the long side, right sides together, and sew. Turn and fill with plastic bags from the top (where the swivel clip is). This one fits about 10 bags.
Figure 9

Figure 10

Figure 11

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Charm-ing Tilda!

Charm squares gathered together

Huge button

Finished the Tilda Charm Squares bag today. I am very pleased with the way it turned out.
I also used one of the squares to make a huge covered button.
I really like the look of the Japanese bag handles on this bag.
The interior pocket and the button loop are made from Basic Grey's Blush range.
This was a huge learning curve for me, but now that I know I can do FMQ I will be doing more of it. It was fun!
I am looking forward to using this tote, and I am thankful to Wendy who made it possible for me to use the Tilda Charm Squares.
Thanks, my blogging buddy!

Bag interior