Saturday, 11 September 2021

Circles Throw


The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. 
Jeremiah 18:1-6

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
Romans 9:20-21

I picked up the pattern leaflet for the Circles Throw at a Len's Mill store on my last visit to Ontario. The pattern called for 14 circles each of 3 different colourways of Bernat Handicrafter Cotton, for a total of 42 circles. However, I decided to try and see if I could do each circle in a different colourway. And I was able to do more than that. Not only did I make each circle in a different colourway, but completed each round of the border in a different colourway, for a total of 45 different variegated colourways, plus the solid white. 

However, that's not the only change I made. Some time back, while sorting through clutter, I came across a crochet pattern for the Flat Braid Join. It was several years old and the pages had gotten mildewed, but when it came time to assemble this afghan, I wanted to try something other than sewing the motifs together. Trying to avoid using the mildewed pages, I googled and not only found the original pattern, but a new variation that allowed the crocheter to complete all of the joining without breaking the yarn. That was even better!

The joins at the corners were a little complicated, and they didn't all turn out as well as I would have liked, but I'm still quite pleased with it overall. 
As I was working on the joining, I was considering what was going to work for the edging. With this type of join, I was doing a half flat join on the edges of all the blocks, including the outside edges. This wouldn't necessarily work with the edging from the original pattern. Besides, the orignal pattern had the final round done in reverse crochet, which I really don't find very attractive. The website that has the new variation also has a link to a pattern that not only uses the flat braid join, but has an edging that works with it as well. (The afghan pattern is quite pretty, too). So I purchased the pattern and proceeded with the edging. 
In the pattern, the edging is all done in white. I felt that my afghan already had enough white and chose to do each of the three rounds in a different colourway. 
The circle motifs are done in the following colourways: Azalea, Beach Ball Blue, Blended Navy Lemon, Blue Camo, By the Sea, Candy Sprinkles, Chocolate, Coral Seas, Country Sage, Country Stripes, Creamsicle, Crown Jewels, Damask, Emerald Energy, Emerald Isle, Faded Denim, Fleur do Lavande, Floral Prints, Freshly Pressed, Fruit Punch, Garden Party, Granite Pink, Hippi, June Bug, Lemon Swirl, Lotus Blossom, Love, Marble Print, Mod, Moondance, Patio Pinks, Pepper, Pretty Pastels, Psychedelic, Purple Perk, Quiet Sea, Rick Rack, Stoneware, Summer Breeze, Summer Print, Sunkissed, and Swimming Pool. The border was done in Playtime, Salt and Pepper, and Lively. By the way, Lively looks very similar to Psychedelic, maybe slightly less loud. 
And so, it's finished. And, in my opinion, it's much prettier than the original pattern. 
And that's how life can be. Sometimes we plan our lives, like the original pattern. But the Artist recognizes that that pattern is not what's going to work best for our lives. And it can be uncomfortable, even painful sometimes, as the Master Artist works with the yarn. And, like the Bible text from Romans I quoted above, we want to ask Him, "What on earth are You doing?, Why are You doing it this way? I had my own plans and that's not the way I wanted my life to go..." And we often can't see how what looks like a mess of failed and aborted plans can possibly turn into something beautiful. But it can. And it will, if we trust it all in the hands of the Master. Because he promised in Romans 8:28:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Home on the Farm


As I stated in Amazing Grace, I started about 4 different quilts before I settled on the one for that occasion. This was one of the quilts I started. Yet, when I posted a picture of the first block, the Barbara Frietchie star, to Facebook, one of my great nieces said that she loved it.
Well, generally, family takes precedence and, since I had already given both her brothers their quilts, I decided it was time for her to get hers. 
It's interesting that the purpose for which I originally purchase fabric is not necessarily what it becomes, or for whom. this batch of fabric went through a couple of different recipients before it became my niece's. I had purchased the dark green, brown and yellow fabric, but when I looked at the block pattern again, I realized that I needed another colour. I found this red in my stash that was left over from my Canada 150 quilt, and felt that it worked quite well. This is the first quilt I planned on using the farm panel in, but the unit clerk's impending retirement made Farm Friendship a higher priority. Personally, I prefer this one over that one. But I designed them both myself. 
I fiddled with the brown fabric to make all of the pieces with the farms right side up. It worked in the Barbara Frietchie blocks, but not in the flying geese. I used the no-waste method and I couldn't figure out if it was even possible to end up with all of the farms oriented in the same direction. So, it didn't happen. As my mother used to say, "A blind man will never see it." And I used the easy eight method for the HSTs in the Barbara Frietchie blocks. Originally, I was going to use part blocks of the Barbara Frietchie star to surroud the panel and not use the flying geese, but then felt this might look better. And I'm pleased with the results. 
The quilt is packed up now and hopefully, I will get it in the mail tomorrow. 

Friday, 25 June 2021

The Solid Rock

Under ordinary circumstances, I try to coordinate the backing and the pantograph with the quilt top. But this, this is no ordinary circumstance. 

What can you do, what can you say when you find out that a young friend has been taken advantage of sexually by a pastor she knew and trusted? And it devastated her to the point where she attempted suicide. And I knew him as well, at least I thought I did. I ate in his home, I laughed with him, shared with him and prayed with him. But I guess none of us really knew him. My feelings ranged from being dumbfounded, to murderous rage, to heart-rending grief. And what do you do with those impotent emotions? 

Quilting has long been my creative outlet - for stress, anxiety, depression and compassion. It started as just a hobby, but has become almost an obsession because I can use it to work out toxic emotions and frustrations. For me, when the going gets tough, the tough get quilting. I have made quilts for people who have lost a loved one, for people experiencing health challenges. But this is the first time I have made a quilt for such a reason. So, this quilt is rather unique. 

First, I found out that the young lady's favourite colour is dark turquoise. Well, I had plenty of leftovers from Audacious (and still do), which includes dark turquoise. I had picked up a second panel with Bible texts/inspirational thoughts and I wanted to include something from there in this quilt. So, I had to find a pattern that I could fit it into, preferably one that would work up quickly. 

I turned to my vast library and came up with the book, Supersize 'Em by Debby Kratovil. I decided to use the Starry Starry Brights pattern, because I could fit the panel in the middle. I had to use partial seams to do it, but those are a lot easier than Y-seams! I eliminated the final border because I just wanted a throw size quilt and with this border, it would have been bigger than I wanted. 

I had to decide which Bible verse I wanted to include and had narrowed my choice down to "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10, and "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13. I finally settled on Philippians 4:13 because I wanted to give her courage that, with Christ in her life, she can get through anything. 

I had plenty of the Stonehenge Solstice fabric, but no pieces big enough to make a backing. And as I pondered this quilt, I thought about the fact that this young lady is still a teenager, and decided that it needed a backing that would liven it up. The Stonehenge fabric is beautiful, but it is rather solemn. So, I found this. 

There was some of the same fabric in a dark turquoise, but not enough for backing. This one still has dark turquoise in it and it's very cheerful. I had a hard time convincing myself to use this as a backing fabric because it really doesn't coordinate with the quilt top. But the goal was liveliness and cheerfulness, and I decided to go with it.
Then I had to decide on a pantograph. What would coordinate with both the top and backing? Nothing! I could have chosen a nondescript feather or swirl or paisley. But this young lady is entering nursing school this fall and I do want to let her know that she still has a life and a future and not to lose sight of her goals. So, I went with Lady with the Lamp
You can see the nursing cap in this picture, plus part of an ECG tracing (above and below the nursing cap to the right) and the end of a stethoscope on the left. Also included are bandaids and needles/syringes. A fun pantograph by Dave Hudson from Urban Elementz. I love how the nursing cap ended up right in the centre of the quilt. Even though we don't wear caps any more. 
Finally, I had to come up with a name for this quilt. Starry Starry Brights didn't work because the quilt top really isn't bright. A lot of the Stonehenge fabric has stone-like texture, so I played around with that a bit, and came up with The Solid Rock. There are many Bible texts and hymns that liken Jesus to a solid rock, and I wanted my young friend to remember that Jesus can be depended on, He never fails. And, of course, there's this hymn. 


Sunday, 20 June 2021

Farm Friendship

Another signature quilt for a colleague that's retiring. This time it's a unit clerk on acute care. And I surely will miss her. She's a great unit clerk, as well as a wonderful person. But I wish her well. She's also a quilter. She makes rag quilts out of flannel, and makes one for each acute care nurse that retires. So, I definitely could not let her retire without receiving a quilt of her own, though I'm not planning on taking up her mantle and start making quilts for the retiring acute care nurses. Technically, I'm part of the home care team and will spend enough time and money making quilts for my team, in addition for all of my other projects. 
I find it interesting when I start out making a quilt for someone, and decide I like it too well and plan to keep it. So, I have to come up with another quilt to gift to the individual, and end up producing something that I think will suit them even better. That happened with Amazing Grace, and it happened with this one. Originally, I was going to give the recipient Fiesta, and I think anyone would be happy with that one. I certainly am. And then I started on this one. And I found out how much she likes horses. So, this quilt is perfect. 
I have several of this panel, and am in the process of using another one for a quilt for one of my great nieces. But for this one, I had to decide what to surround the panel with that would work for signatures. I wanted something that would work up relatively quickly. Then I found this MSQC video. 
Yes, I could make the Friendship Braid work, using solid cream coloured fabric as alternate strips for the signatures. And for the print strips, since this panel is an autumn scene, I was able to use leftovers from my daughter's quilt. I didn't quite have enough, but did have enough of the black print that I used for the binding as well as some of the setting triangles and some strips. 
Here's the backing: 
I really love it when I can coordinate a quilt so well, including the pantograph. 
This is Wild Horses Grande by Deb Geissler from Urban Elementz. I debated on this one versus Mustang Stampede from Meadow Lyon, and this one won out (they've changed Mustang Stampede, by the way - the one in the link is the newer version, which I don't like quite as well, and it's 15" so would be about the limit of my throat space).
Now I have to try and keep this quilt a secret while gathering signatures.
By the way, in case you can't read it, the backing says, "Count Your Blessings" and "Be Grateful for All Things". Isn't that a great message? Every time I worked with it, I started singing. 


Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Tulip the Decepticon and Other Quilt Blocks


I honestly did not set out to make a quilt block that looks like a Transformer. It's actually supposed to be a tulip. A Tennessee Tulip, to be precise. But my choice of fabrics for this Sew Along resulted in this block looking more like a Transformer than a tulip. 
See what I mean? I have therefore nicknamed this block Tulip the Decepticon. It's Brackman 785.7, if you know what that means. Brackman, as in Barbara Brackman, the author of the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. I finally own my own copy, the newest third edition, just out last year. As someone who loves trying new blocks, this comprehensive volume has been on my Amazon wishlist for quite some time. But then I found out that Electric Quilt was bringing out a new edition. Why pay $150 for a used second edition when I can get a brand new third edition for far less than that? Yay! In addition, they also brought out an updated version of the BlockBase software, Blockbase+. Double yay! So, instead of drafting the blocks myself from 2" line drawings, I have software that will print out rotary cutting instructions, foundation pieces and/or templates in whatever size block I want. That makes me a very happy quilter!
And then I found out that Electric Quilt was having a sew along to teach participants how to use the BlockBase+ software. What better way to learn the software that learning by doing? So, I joined in. 
This are the fabrics I chose for the project. And here's the first block, Brackman 1273. 
Since some blocks have many names, and some names refer to several different blocks, Barbara Brackman assigned each block a number. That way it's much easier to keep track of which block is being referred to. 
But before I started this sew along, Bernina started an Old Block Quilt Along. I don't usually join in on these things because I generally have more than enough projects on the go. But I love old, traditional blocks, and I love trying new blocks. Besides, at the end of the year, I could win a Bernina! What's not to love about that? Owning a newer Janome, and a Brother (plus my vintage Singer...), I figured I would give the Bernina to my daughter if I won it. She just had a cheaper Singer, but then she told me that she bought herself a heavy duty Singer, plus she will someday get my mother's Janome, which is currently in my possession, and I figured I will keep the Bernina if I win it. I can't have my daughter owning more sewing machines than me. LOL! 
So, here are the fabrics I purchased to use in the Bernina project: 
These fabrics are stunning and I think I could make the ugliest quilt blocks around and people would still love them just because of how beautiful the fabrics are. 
Here's the first block, Brides Bouquet. 
By the time I made up my mind to join these projects and purchased the fabric, I had some catching up to do. 
Quilter's Delight

Bird's Nest, which I christened Rat's Nest, because it was such a mess. Still people loved the block just because the fabric is so pretty. 

Cross and Star. So, having caught up on the Bernina project, I then had to catch up on the BlockBase+ one. 

Brackman 2898

Brackman 1638

The Bernina Quilt Along is one or two blocks a month over a year, for a total of 20 blocks (I think) and the quilt will be a maximum of 60"x80". The blocks are different sizes, so it will be interesting to see how they are all arranged together. 
The BlockBase+ Sew Along, on the other hand, has only 8 blocks, one block every 2 weeks. The participants can chose what size to make the blocks. I chose a uniform 12" for all of the blocks and decided to add more blocks to make it at least a throw size. 

Brackman 1232, one of my own additions. There are some incredibly challenging quilt blocks in this book. 

Morning Star. Still having to keep up with the Bernina project. 

Brackman 2328, another one of my additions. I messed this one up because it should have had two of the solid purple triangles on the top and bottom, and two of the print triangles on the sides, instead of one of each on all four sides. But with all of those bias edges, I didn't really want to start ripping out seams. And I really wasn't that happy with my choice to use all purple fabrics. 

Brackman 3953. This one used a combination of foundation paper piecing, regular piecing and applique. And I think it's a truly amazing block. I likely would have never attempted some of these more challenging blocks if I didn't have BlockBase+, but this is one I chose to include. 

Mill and Stars. For the Bernina Quilt Along, my goal is to use some of all 7 of the fabrics (6 coloured fabrics, plus the grey texture for background) in each block. (The 8th fabric in the picture, the border print, is for the backing). This makes it challenging to keep it from looking like a "rat's nest" because the fabrics are rather busy. But I'm hoping I learned from the Bird's Nest block.
Brackman 2734. For the BlockBase+ Sew Along, I chose not to use all of the fabrics in each block, generally following the guidelines for the number of fabric choices by the number of colours in the book and software. 

Because I got started on making some of the most challenging quilt blocks in Brackman's Encyclopedia, I asked in a Facebook Quilting group for recommendations on what they considered challenging quilt blocks. Someone recommended Brackman 3806.5. This one has 8 mini stars, each less than 2 inches square, as part of the design, including 8 tiny Y-seams! There is no way to make these stars using foundation paper piecing. I tried using the templates, but the pieces are so small that it's virtually impossible to stitch on a sewing machine. Hand stitching? Not my forte. And then I thought of English paper piecing. Yes, it's still hand stitching, but the cardstock would give a little more structure to the pieces while being stitched. So, the above picture is the first of the mini stars. Far from perfect, but still recognizable as a star. You'll have to watch this blog to see if I actually end up completing this block. 
Meanwhile, I've got several quilts that are works in progress and I want to get them finished, so I'll get to those projects and put these blocks on the back burner for now. 

Monday, 12 April 2021



I hadn't intended to enter the Johnson's Sewing Centre quilt challenge this year. I pretty well always have more than enough projects of my own to complete, without joining QALs, BOMs or quilt challenges. But I intended to make a signature quilt by making HST units from a charm pack of print and a charm pack of white. And this year, the challenge fabric was a charm pack of bright, cheerful tonal fabrics. Perfect, so I decided to "kill 2 birds with one stone" and bought the challenge charm pack. 
The challenge is that you have to use some of each fabric on the front of the quilt and you can add whatever other fabrics that you want and the quilt can be whatever size you want. Some entrants even made bags and clothing. 
I had a pretty good idea what I was going to do with the centre of my quilt. I just had to determine what to do with the rest of it. I already had the solid white charm pack in my stash, and ordered 8 different coordinating colours of Kona from Mad About Patchwork. The ideas for what to do just sort of progressed as the quilt did. It was already March when I started my project and entries were due by March 31, so I didn't have time for really elaborate stuff. But if I wanted to win, it needed to have the "wow factor." And I think it does. How can you miss with those colours?
I wasn't sure what I was going to call this quilt. Initially, I was thinking "Whirlwind" after the centre motif, but as the quilt grew, I felt it was taking on a Latin American "flavour" and so ended up with Fiesta. To coordinate with this, I quilted it with the pantograph "Sol" by Patricia Ritter for Urban Elementz. Sorry, I didn't snap a close up of the quilting. 
The only unfortunate thing is I think I like it too much to give it away. So, I have started on a different signature quilt. 
If you want to view all of the entries in this quilt challenge, you can view them on Johnson's Sewing Centre's Facebook page. There are some amazing entries this year, pretty stiff competition. And if you want to vote for mine, it's number 27.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Gone Golfing

 Well, no, I haven't gone golfing. Aside from mini golf and a very brief try on my Wii, I've never been golfing, and likely never will. The title of this post refers to this quilt. 

A member of our management team is retiring and I determined to make her a signature quilt. No one seemed to know her favourite colour(s) from which to compose her quilt, but then I remembered that she likes to golf. It's not very easy to find golf-themed fabric. I don't know why. But I was able to find this pattern by googling. I could pay and download it right away, which was important since the recipient didn't give us much notice. So, I really didn't have time to wait for a pattern - or fabric, for that matter - to arrive in the mail. And I could also figure out how to turn this quilt into a signature quilt by changing the squares into signature blocks. 

I was dropping off my Fiesta quilt, which I haven't blogged about yet, at Johnson's Sewing Centre in Edmonton for their quilt challenge and checked out their sale fabric section. Yes, they had the colours I needed in batiks. I picked up the Deb's Golf pantograph at Sparrow Quilt Co on the same trip, and found some appropriate backing fabric at Fabricland. The pink, the cream for the signatures, the white for the golf balls, the grey for the clubs and the batting all came from my stash. 

I really love being able to coordinate my pantograph with the theme of my quilt. 
I chose green for the thread colour, because what other colour could represent golf? However, if I had to do it over again, I may have chosen a thread that matched the light blue. It wouldn't have stood out as much. But I'm still happy with it. And I'm hoping the recipient will be, too.

Another signature quilt is in the works because we have a unit clerk retiring in July. She has made rag quilts for every nurse in acute care that has retired, so I asked the unit manager if there was anyone besides me that would make her a quilt. No, there isn't and I can't let her retire without getting her own quilt.