Saturday 29 June 2013

Science and Faith

I remember once during a college class, our instructor directed us to stroke out certain information in our textbook and dictated what to substitute in its place. It was a weird experience. How could incorrect information get into a textbook? After all, textbooks are not self-published. Wasn't there a textbook review committee? Didn't textbooks have to undergo a rigorous process before being published? Is not scientific fact actually scientific or factual? 
Because health science is the field with which I am most familiar, I will address a few comments here. When I was pursuing my degree, the last course I took was Medical Anthropology. It was a fascinating course and I'm glad I took it. It really gave me an interesting view of medical "science." One of the course readings was the book Medicine and Culture, by Lynn Payer, which compares how medicine is practiced in 4 different countries: the US, England, France and Germany. In the words of the author, "How can medicine, which is commonly supposed to be a science, particularly in the United States, be so different in four countries whose peoples are so similar genetically?" Good question. Why is it felt necessary to be as aggressive as possible in treatment in the US, but not get any better results than in other countries where treatment is not so aggressive? How can medications that are released for public use as scientifically validated for safety and efficacy be later withdrawn due to serious and sometimes fatal adverse reactions?
Just how trustworthy and reliable are science and scientists? In a paper by Daniele Fanelli, How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research?, nearly 2% of scientific researchers admitted to fabricating, falsifying or modifying data and almost 34% admitted other questionable practices. Hmm, seems to me that if you're guilty of fabricating data, you're not honest enough to rely on to admit it, so I suspect the percentages are much higher. 
It seems that science is not a safe and reliable source for truth. 
Which brings me to the topic of evolution. When I was in public schools (elementary and high school), evolution was taught as scientific fact. It seemed so rational, a foregone conclusion that no one could controvert, that I almost came to believe in it. But then I came across some information that showed evolution is not so scientific after all. As a matter of fact, the theory of evolution (yes, that's exactly what it is - a theory, not fact) actually violates some inviolable laws of science. Like the laws of thermodynamics, for example. If you don't remember what those are, you can google them. I'm not a scientist, so I don't intend to get into a scientific discussion here, nor do I intend to engage in controversy, but from what I've studied, it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in creation. I'm not asking you to take my word for it. But I am asking you to study it with an open mind. Here's where I'd start: This is information written by Dr. Walter Veith, a man who used to be an atheist, evolutionist, university science professor. 
Here are some more links to consider: 
 To those of you who profess to believe in God and evolution, I ask you: if your god isn't powerful enough to create and sustain the universe, what good is he? How can you pick and chose what parts of the Bible are truth and what parts are myth? What is your guide to absolute truth? If we evolved, then what need have we of a Saviour? "Let God be true, and every man a liar." Romans 3:4.
Study the information for yourself and make an informed decision, not just what you were taught in school. 
"Keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called which some professing have erred concerning the faith." 1 Timothy 6:20-21 KJV; or in the New International Version: "Guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith."
God bless.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Quilting Nomenclature

Nomenclature - isn't that a great word? I first learned it way back in high school science, as in "chemical nomenclature." Nomenclature is a system of names or naming things, and of course, chemical nomenclature is a system of rules for naming chemical compounds. For example, H2O is water (sorry I don't have any idea how to do subscripts in Blogger, so I can't put the numerals in correctly), H2SO4 is sulphuric acid, H2O2 is hydrogen peroxide and H0H 0H0 is Santa's postal code.
Years ago, we had a pastor whose wife was from Central or South America. One time we were chatting at a large church gathering and she questioned me on why Canadians shorten so many words. I was puzzled. I wasn't sure what she meant, and then in parting I said that I had to go to the caf (as in cafeteria)... Abbreviations can be part of nomenclature, as NaCl is shorter than Sodium Chloride. We quilters have our own nomenclature as well and abbreviations can be one of the most confusing parts, especially to the newbie. I remember the first time I ran across the term HST in a fellow quilter's blog. HST? Some provinces in Canada have HST, but I'm sure they're not as excited about Harmonized Sales Tax as quilters can be about Half Square Triangles. Recently, someone's post mentioned a QAL and it took me a minute to figure out that meant Quilt A-Long, which is similar to a BOM (block of the month). 
Then there are the names of our tools and supplies. A rotary cutter? Is that like a circular saw, or more like a rotary tool? No, it's more like a pizza cutter, and being similar to a kitchen gadget is more appropriate anyway since it's used to cut jelly rolls and layer cakes! And I always thought a stiletto was a type of high-heeled shoe. And a fat quarter is not a monetary coin that is too thick to fit in the vending machine.
Let's not forget the names of quilt blocks. Have you ever wondered how some of them got their names? Many of them don't look anything like their names suggest, at least not to me. There certainly are no hard and fast rules like there are in chemistry. Do the block creators come up with a name first and then create a block that they feel represents that name? Or do they create the block and then meditate for awhile on it before christening it, "Texas Tears" or whatever. And some of them are very "puzzling": Missouri Puzzle, Bachelor's Puzzle, Indiana Puzzle. And what about Mr. Roosevelt's Necktie? Or one named Five Patch, when it's actually a nine-patch? Or a seven-patch named Nine Patch? And there are many blocks that have more than one name. In a previous post, I shared my Irish puzzle block. According to Jinny Beyer's book, this block has 17 different names, including Storm at Sea, which is also the name of 2 other blocks. There are at least 5 different blocks named Blazing Star. 
If I ever get into designing quilt blocks, I could come up with some creative names. How about a really nasty looking block and name it Dentist's Chair? Or a really peaceful block named Nap in the Hammock? 
Actually, the reason why I'm discussing "nomenclature" is because the July blocks for the 2012 BOM are both variations of the Dresden Plate. You might recall in my blog on the Irish Puzzle Block, I said that I needed to do a German block to honour the other half of my heritage. So I googled for German quilt blocks and yes, I found some quilt blogs and quilt guilds in Germany, but I couldn't find a specifically German quilt block. However, it really only needs a German name, not necessarily German origin. After all, who's to say that the Irish Chain or the Irish Puzzle actually originated in Ireland? And Dresden is a German name. The actual Dresden china, for which this block was named, was manufactured in Germany. I did a little research on it. Try googling Dresden Plate. You get page after page of quilting links before you finally find anything about china. Here's some actual Dresden china:
It's gorgeous, isn't it? This picture is taken from an auction website: . In addition to quilting, I do collect a few vintage dishes, and this one is very lovely and a suitable inspiration for a quilt block, but probably way out of my price range. You can go here to find a  Dresden Bonbon Dish for $250. Definitely more than I would want to spend on a candy dish.
But back to the quilt blocks - the first is a more traditional Dresden Plate, which I haven't completed yet. The second block, named Modern Dresden Wheel by the class instructor, uses only one fabric alternating with blades of background fabric, without any pointed or rounded tips on the blades. Thus it looks like spokes on a wheel. However, I chose to make this one my German block. As the German flag is black, red and gold, I alternated a red and a gold print in the wheel on a black background, and I christened it the German Wheel. And voila, I now have the German block for my quilt.
I had yet to complete my Canadian block. I made the Irish puzzle block for my Irish heritage and the German Wheel block for my German ancestry. Now I needed one for my Canadian nationality. What could be more Canadian than a Maple Leaf? And just in time for Canada Day!
So here are the German Wheel and the Canadian Maple Leaf:

I'm not 100% thrilled with how the German Wheel turned out. My circles aren't as round as I would like them. I found I liked the piecing method for the fan block in the 2013 BOM, even though it involved curved seams, more than the applique method for this one. I actually ripped out the centre circle as it wasn't centred as well as I wanted it. I still think it looks a little lopsided, but it will have to do. I don't think I'll use this method again. I do like the colour combination, however.
The Maple Leaf is from Jinny Beyer's book. While she doesn't suggest colours, she does have the blocks marked with fabric values: large prints, small prints, borders, light, medium, dark. She does show a lot of blocks with "outline" or "border" fabrics, which is basically cutting a stripe from a striped fabric. That's what I did for the stem of the Maple Leaf. Two different red fabrics compose the body of the leaf.
As I was perusing Jinny's book, I came across a block called Lena's Choice. My mother's name was Magdalena, and most people called her Lena (even though she preferred Maggie). I think the Lena's Choice block is going to be included in my 2012 BOM, even though it looks rather complex. But I love a challenge. 

Monday 24 June 2013

Wasn't That a Party!

Yesterday, I hosted a dinner party for my ex-husband's 60th birthday. I know. That's more than just a little weird. Why would I host a party for my ex-husband? Trust me, there were many times leading up to the party when I did question, "Why on earth am I doing this?" Sometimes, I jokingly say that I'm too nice for my own good. And that's probably a big part of it. I knew that he couldn't count on our daughter to do anything special for him, a subject which I will not discuss at this point in time. His only other close relatives, his brother and sister, are not close geographically. They live in Ontario, whereas we live in Alberta, so there's no way they could plan a party for him. So that left me, and honestly, I still can't totally explain why I did it. As an ex, I certainly wasn't under any obligation. It's not like I owe him anything. And even though I maintain an amicable relationship with him, by choice, hosting a birthday party for him was a little over the top. However, it's over and done with and it was fun. I enjoy cooking and enjoy having company, though working full-time doesn't leave me a whole lot of time or energy for it. The one negative consequence is that I now have people speculating that we're going to get back together. Well, they can speculate all they want, but that's just not going to happen.

However, that's not why I'm blogging today. No, I want to talk about the FOOD!
Here's the dinner menu:

Zucchini Spinach Lasagne (Recipes from the Weimar Kitchen, p. 63)
Sweet Potato and Caramelized Apple Casserole (Holiday Collection 2011, p. 109)
7 Layer Salad (Give Them Something Better, p. 30)
Garlic Bread (my own recipe, based on how Mom made it, with a little help from The Five Roses Guide to Good Cooking)
Frozen Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake (Good Nutrition for Life, p. 117)
Carob Cake (Good Nutrition for Life, p. 113), topped with Peanut Butter Carob Pie filling (p. 122)

The lasagne recipe is a tried and true recipe that I've had good response to previously. I'm a little frustrated with how the recipe is composed, however. It gives a list of ingredients, amongst which is "2 c. tomato sauce (see recipe)". It doesn't even give the page number for the recipe, and when I check, there are actually two tomato sauce recipes in this book. Which one am I supposed to use? Does it matter? And I'm not happy when I have to make the tomato sauce recipe first, then add it to more ingredients to make pasta sauce. Why not just list all of the ingredients and make the whole sauce at once? So, on the very back page is a place for "notes." And here I wrote down all of the ingredients to make the sauce to do just that - skip the step of making the tomato sauce first, just make it all in one batch. I also added a note in the recipe to just use 5 - 5-1/2 cups of prepared tomato sauce for when I'm too lazy (or pressed for time) to make the sauce from scratch. The second thing I wasn't sure about in this recipe was the fact that the zucchini is added to the sauce and the spinach is layered in the lasagne. I always felt that it made more sense the other way around and that's how I've always made it, with good results. I'm sure either way, it will still be delicious. The "cheese" in this lasagne is a Cashew Pimento Cheese Spread, found on p. 33 of this cookbook. I find it annoying when a recipe calls for another recipe from the same cookbook, but fails to provide the page number. However, I don't hesitate to write the page numbers in myself. This lasagne was well-received, even though not all guests were vegan or vegetarian. Regarding the cookbook, I've made some really rockin' recipes from this book, as well as a few ho-hum ones. It's a keeper. 
The sweet potato dish is definitely yummy. When I first tried it last Thanksgiving, the comment was, "This tastes more like dessert." Just a couple of minor changes to "veganize" it: I substituted Becel Vegan margarine for the butter (I think I used Earth Balance at Thanksgiving and either way turned out great). For the whipping cream, I used Silk Creamer. While this is definitely not a vegan cookbook, lots of the dishes are readily "veganizable," and I've tried several recipes that I've been very happy with, though one or two could use a little tune-up. The main dish section is almost exclusively meat dishes, but there are two recipes that are vegan: Ethiopian Vegetable Stew and Moroccan Vegetable Ragout. I've tried the stew - very good, but very spicy hot, so next time I will reduce the cayenne, and adjust the cooking process because some things turned out "crunchy" that shouldn't have. 
The 7 Layer Salad is a fun recipe that doesn't require a whole lot of work, other than chopping and slicing vegetables. And it looks very pretty layered in the bowl. But you have to have the right bowl for this salad: tall, straight and clear glass. I found mine at a Thrift Store. Here it is:

I probably should have photographed it against a plain background, so that it would show up better, but I wanted to show off my orchids. Can you tell which one is real? It's the one on the left. It's an Ice Orchid that you water by giving it three ice cubes once a week. We'll see if I can keep it alive. It was given to me by one of the guests at the party last night. The one on the right was given to me by the daughter of a client to thank me for all the work I'd done for her mother. So, back to the recipe - the dressing can be made either using the Aioli recipe in the cookbook (and yes, it does give the page number) or a commercial soy mayonnaise, to which you add 1/2 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of sugar. The first time I made this, I used the Aioli, which also has lemon juice in it, and I found it tasted too strongly of lemon juice, though I still got complimented on it. I was planning on reducing the lemon juice when I made it for the party, but was using Vegannaise instead of the Aioli, so I opted to include the full amount. I was pleased with the result, and again got compliments on the salad. The dressing turns our fairly runny, but it needs to be in order to trickle down through all the salad layers. This cookbook I've mentioned in a previous post, when I wasn't happy with the pancakes. However, after making the carob cake (discussed following), I realize that a big factor in my unsuccessful pancakes was my outdated baking powder. Whoops! Much more to explore in Give Them Something Better...
Garlic bread - who doesn't like garlic bread? Made with a 900g loaf (that's 2 lb.) of light rye bread, I used two whole cups of Becel Vegan margarine and 24+ cloves of fresh garlic. Honestly, it's been many years since I've made home made garlic bread, so I consulted both my Five Roses and Purity cookbooks. Purity only called for 2 cloves of garlic per 1/2 cup of margarine and I knew that was not enough. If I want to eat garlic bread, I want to really taste the garlic. Five Roses called for 6, so for 2 cups for margarine I used over 24. Some of them were too small to be considered full cloves. :-) Wrapped in foil and baked 30 minutes at 350 degrees, and enjoyed by all. 
I have to admit that in all my years as a vegetarian and vegan, I have tasted some pretty poor excuses for dessert. Some just tasted too "healthy" to be dessert. I want dessert to taste like dessert. Can't something be both healthy and delicious? Well, the Frozen Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake could make a believer out of anyone. This dessert is fairly labour intensive, but it's well worth it. My only complaint is that it freezes too solid. The suggested 10 minutes defrosting time is not nearly long enough. I had it out since we sat down to eat and it still was pretty solid. And the carob layer in the middle is the hardest part of all. One of the male guests, as you can see in the picture at the beginning of this post, actually took over slicing it for me, as it required some "brute strength." But it's very tasty. I just wonder if there's a product that could be used to help keep it from turning into a rock in the freezer...
As mentioned above, I discovered that using outdated baking powder doesn't work very well. The carob cake didn't rise like it should have, and ended up quite dense. The flavour was good, but the texture was not. In order to attempt to redeem the texture, I made the Peanut Butter Carob Pie filling, poured it on top of the cake, and poked holes in the cake with a knife so that the filling could seep in. It didn't help. The pie filling was very tasty, however. I used unsweetened carob chips for this recipe and it gave it almost a dark chocolate taste. 
I bought Good Nutrition for Life primarily for the Frozen Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake. As I have a very large cookbook library, I have many cookbooks that haven't seen much use yet, and this is one of them. But there are some promising-looking recipes in there. 
All in all, I think it was a great dinner. I believe everyone enjoyed themselves and the food, and I enjoyed making it. I have enough leftovers that I've frozen some and will be eating more for most of this week...

Saturday 22 June 2013

Random Ramblings

Went to a regional camp meeting today.  (See Wikipedia's article Camp Meeting if you don't know what a camp meeting is). Too tired to stay the whole day. It's been a busy week.
As I first walked in the door, I entered just behind a man whom I didn't know. The woman greeting at the door asked me if I belonged to him. I replied that I belong to no man. She was only asking to find out if she needed to give both of us a copy of the program bulletin...  LOL
My ex-husband was there as well. He sat with me for lunch. As he was about to sit down beside me, I teasingly said, "If you sit there, you might start rumours." Sure enough I was questioned several times on whether we were getting back together... Well, that really doesn't bother me, but I don't plan on going into details on why that's not going to happen. I can jokingly tell people that we get along better when we're not married (which is true), but I don't feel it's productive to bad-mouth my ex-husband. Suffice it to say that the problems have not gone away and, as a wise pastor once told me, forgiveness does not mean you need to give the person the opportunity to hurt you again. We share a daughter and I choose to stay on friendly terms with him for her sake. Besides, life is too short to hold grudges. However, people have no idea what went on in my marriage, so they shouldn't be hoping we would get back together. Maybe the fact that I left camp meeting early and he didn't will put the rumours to rest.
Got a rather outrageous compliment at camp meeting as well. I was standing by the doorway into the sanctuary (main auditorium) of the church where the meetings were being held. A man that I might have slightly recognized stopped as he was entering the sanctuary to tell me, "I hope I won't give you a swelled head or create a stumbling block for you, but green must definitely be your colour because you look really good in it." Here's how I looked:
I admit that this particular green is one of my favourites.
As I was setting up the tripod to take this picture, Mystery, one of my QIs (Quilt Inspectors) decided he was also a tripod inspector. He smelled the legs, chewed on them a little and then indicated his approval by rubbing against them... And then sat in the middle underneath it once I got it set up. Here's my boy sitting on the back of my chair (and yes, my hair is wet):
Right after lunch, we had a heavy downpour, which every good Adventist knows is camp meeting weather. I have joked before that if the farmers need rain, they just need to ask the Adventists to have a camp meeting... In the afternoon, a friend played Via Dolorosa on the violin. Love that piece and loved her playing. Then the daughter of another friend was baptized. Headed home not long after that. Alberta is the only place I've ever lived that I recall finding it prudent to wear sunglasses in the rain. It can be sunny and raining at the same time. Yes, the raincloud will be overhead and the sun is farther over, but still bright enough to wear sunglasses. I wore them on the trip home, till it fully clouded over. Then the downpour got so bad that I had to slow down and switch my windshield wipers into high gear. After that it cleared up enough to put the sunglasses back on.
When I got back into town, in light of the flooding down south, I decided to look at the river here in town. It's such a small river that I'm not even sure why it's even called a river. Back home in Ontario, we've got creeks bigger than that. However, from what I've been told, it did flood back in the 70s, though I really have a hard time imagining that happening. And it was well below the top of it's banks when I checked today. Sure, it was more than its usual trickle, in light of all the rain we've been having, but no danger of flooding there. Ditto for the trout pond in the local park. I honestly was not worried about it. I checked the river more as a joke than anything.
Currently, I am living in a construction zone, which is not much fun. Noise, traffic. And my neighbourhood is like an obstacle course. Getting to and from my home can be a challenge and I've had to do some creative rerouting. Pylons, piles of gravel, equipment, construction company vehicles and workers. They're tearing up and replacing what I thought were perfectly good sidewalks. When I questioned one of the workers about it, he said something about them wanting them all of a consistent height for when they pave the streets... Oh joy, street paving should be even more fun than sidewalk replacement. I actually considered riding my bike to work Friday afternoon to facilitate getting around the obstacles, but I wanted to go to Wal-Mart after work. And Wal-Mart is a little far for a woman who hasn't been on a bicycle in a few years, not to mention the fact that I have no place to carry what I was going to buy. So, I ran the gauntlet with my pickup truck again. Hopefully, the whole process isn't going to take too long. I can't imagine how they're going to work the paving part when people have to get to work. And I don't have alley access from my property, so it's not like I can just choose to go the opposite direction down the alley to exit on a different street. It certainly would have been nice if the town had actually informed us of their plans before they started.

Peace in the Storm - Dedicated to the Flood Victims in Southern Alberta

First of all, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the flood victims in southern Alberta. Check here for videos: Global News Calgary. It's devastating. 
As I was watching one of the many videos, I thought of the hymn, "Master the Tempest is Raging" by Mary A. Baker. Here are the lyrics:
  1. Master, the tempest is raging!
    The billows are tossing high!
    The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
    No shelter or help is nigh;
    Carest Thou not that we perish?
    How canst Thou lie asleep,
    When each moment so madly is threat’ning
    A grave in the angry deep?
    • Refrain:
      The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
      Peace, be still!
      Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
      Or demons or men, or whatever it be,
      No waters can swallow the ship where lies
      The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
      They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
      Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
      They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
      Peace, peace, be still!
  2. Master, with anguish of spirit
    I bow in my grief today;
    The depths of my sad heart are troubled—
    Oh, waken and save, I pray!
    Torrents of sin and of anguish
    Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
    And I perish! I perish! dear Master—
    Oh, hasten, and take control.
  3. Master, the terror is over,
    The elements sweetly rest;
    Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
    And heaven’s within my breast;
    Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
    Leave me alone no more;
    And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
    And rest on the blissful shore.
 It's based on the story found in Mark 4:35-41 (NIV):

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” 

While I very much appreciate the message of this hymn, I don't feel the music is the most appropriate. The whole thing is a little too syrupy for a song about tempest, storm and fear. There needs to be a greater contrast between the music for the verse - about the tempest - and the chorus - about peace. Here's an orchestral arrangement that more nearly accomplishes what I'd like to see done with the music:
Regardless, the message is still a good one. While Jesus may not keep us from trials and troubles, He still rides through the storm with us, and gives us inner peace in the midst of these trials. 

Sunday 16 June 2013

Random Quilting Inspiration

When I have shown a new quilt block to my youngest sister, Cindy, either on facebook or Skype, she has often hinted that she would like a quilt. I finally told her that she is on my quilting agenda. She will celebrate her 50th birthday next year, and what better occasion to gift someone with a quilt? That also gives me sufficient time to get it made. So, in the back of my mind, I have been mulling over quilting ideas, nothing serious and definite, as I've got other projects currently on the go, but it's been there stewing... She lives in Nova Scotia, loves the ocean and her favourite colour is blue. A nautical theme, perhaps?
I found definite inspiration when Rose Smith of Ludlow Quilt and Sew posted the new Ocean Waves Fabric by Fabric Freedom ( I won't necessarily use this fabric, but it does give me an idea of what's available. And it's beautiful fabric.
Jen of Quilts by Jen, writes on her blog about finding quilting inspiration in random places like the tiles on the wall at a local Tim Horton's ( I didn't think I'd been quilting long enough to get inspired at Tim Hortons, but the other day I did have a serendipitous moment at home, sitting at my dining room table. I had a Canada's History magazine open on the table to an article I had been reading on the Bluenose:

Glancing at that picture of the Bluenose schooner was my "aha" moment. Cindy and I both love Canadian history and this schooner is part of our history and is even featured on the Canadian dime. And it's home base is Nova Scotia, where Cindy lives. Its history is too detailed to go into here, but if you're interested, you can check it out at the Nova Scotia Archives.
I am currently enrolled in Craftsy's Pictures to Pixel Quilts class, which is one of their free classes. The demonstration quilt was a picture of the instructor's eye, which I really didn't find inspiring. So I started working on a picture of a hydrangea that I took at Muttart Conservatory, but it hasn't made it off my computer yet. I haven't gotten past coding all of the colours. It's quite tedious. And I didn't have a specific purpose for this project, other than learning the technique, so it was no big hurry. However, when I saw that picture of the Bluenose, I figured it might make a perfect pixel quilt. Actually, unless I want to do the quilt all in shades of gray, it will have to be the Bluenose II as I don't think any colour pictures exist of the original Bluenose. So, here is the Bluenose II, thanks to the Nova Scotia Archives, in all her glory:
Isn't she a beauty!
No promises that this quilt will ever see the light of day. If I can't make it recognizable as a schooner and not just a random bunch of blocks, then I won't do it. And I don't want to do it in 1 inch squares. Even 2 inch squares I figure will take nearly 2000 squares to make a double quilt. Thanks to Pic 2 Pat, which is actually a cross stitch site, I have the following pixelated version:
This Pic 2 Pat is really a great site, whether you're into cross stitch or pixel quilts. And it's free! It gives you a wide range of options for the final product, so that you can change the size of the picture and the number of different fabrics (or floss) that you need and what the picture will look like with each. You get more detail in the final product with a bigger picture, smaller squares and more different colours. If I tried it with fewer squares (which would also mean bigger squares to work with), the detail wasn't as great and the Bluenose II was more like blobs of white on a blue background, more like a modern art schooner, which is not what I'm aiming for. This looks good in this size, but how good will it look in a full-sized quilt? This version has 68 different colours, which will require an extensive fabric stash and quite a bit of coordination. Pic 2 Pat also produces a black and white schematic, so it's easier to figure out what fabric goes where. I'll still be mulling over whether I can make it work, and to determine if it will be worth stitching together nearly 2000 2-inch squares of fabric.
As I was proofreading this blog, I had another "Eureka" moment: I could do the centre of the quilt with the above picture in 1 inch squares, then surround it with nautical-themed blocks and a seashell border... still in the mulling stage however... Nah, I don't think so - that will mean 2000 1-inch squares and still have blocks and borders to complete as well!

Thursday 13 June 2013

Irish Puzzle Block

I have to say that this is probably the most complex quilt block I have ever made (to date). But it was really fun.
Irish Puzzle Quilt Block
 I will admit that it did end up a little wonky (i.e. not perfectly square), not quite the 12-1/2" I had planned, and a few other imperfections, but I'm still quite pleased with it.
I chose this block because of my Irish heritage. Now I just have to find a German one to go with it... (Irish father, German mother). :-) And I suppose I should throw in a Canadian one as well. 
I got the pattern from Jinny Beyer's book, The Quilter's Album of Blocks and Borders. It was first published by Ladies Art Company in 1898. It's the first quilt block I've drafted and will be one of the extra blocks I need for the Craftsy 2012 Block of the Month quilt in order to make it twin size. The 2012 BOM is the course where I learned the drafting skills and this is the first time I've put them to use. I also had to do Y-seams, which I learned how to do in the Craftsy 2013 BOM Class. I found the ones for this block a little trickier than the ones in the class, but they still turned out acceptably. Part of what made it tricky is that the seams around the centre medallion are all bias seams. Setting in that medallion was probably the most challenging part, otherwise, it's just all HSTs.
I really wish someone would invent a self-cleaning house so that I could have more time for quilting. I'd better go and get some of the house and yard work done. 

Monday 10 June 2013

June's Blocks

Here are the 2012 BOM blocks for June:
 These are both variations of the 9-patch block. After the wildly vibrant wonky log cabin for May, these two are pretty sedate, almost boring by comparison. Both are very simple blocks.
Somehow I had gotten the impression that the 2012 BOM quilt was going to end up being big enough for a twin-sized bed. I think it was because the materials list said to use a twin-sized batting. However, the actual finished size of the quilt is only 55" by 68.5" - nowhere near big enough for the twin-sized bed for which I intended it. I don't want just a throw size. I want it to cover the whole bed. So, I did some calculations and figured that I will need 35 blocks to make it the size I want, not just the 20 blocks that this project calls for. So, I'll either be doing many more blocks per month or else will take much longer than originally planned. And that's okay. It's not like I had planned it for a special occasion and had a deadline for which I needed to complete it. 
So, what are my plans for the extra 15 blocks? I am also enrolled in Craftsy's Quick Strip Paper Piecing course, and 4 of the blocks from that course are 12" blocks, so I can use them without having to alter the patterns at all. Also, in one of the previous lessons in the 2012 BOM, we were taught how to draft quilt blocks. And I have Jinny Beyer's book, The Quilter's Album of Blocks and Borders, so I expect I will be drafting some of my blocks from this book. In my newest book, Quilting Shortcuts, are some block ideas that I can use. So, eventually, my 2012 BOM quilt will grow up to be a twin-sized quilt with quite a few blocks that were not in the original course. Now I just need to buy some more fabric...
And here is the June block for the 2013 BOM:
 This is the LeMoyne Star and involved Y-seam construction. The Y-seams, however, really weren't too much of a problem. No, it was getting my diamonds to look like diamonds that was the problem. We started out by cutting 2.5" strips from the two fabrics and sewing them together in pairs. Then we were to cut them into diamond pairs, using the 45-degree marking on our rectangular rulers. Well, if you read my blog on the spool blocks, you will recall that I accidentally used the 60-degree marking on one of my triangles and so I decided to just use my 45-degree triangle ruler to avoid any further mistakes. And so I chose to use my triangle ruler for cutting the strips for this block. But something was wrong. I was being careful to measure the 2.5" length on the ruler for each diamond pair I cut, but my diamonds were turning out wonky and really weren't diamonds at all. Well, I really can't explain what I was doing wrong because I'm not totally sure what it was and I did it to everyone of my diamond pairs. I hoped that once I got them sewn together, they would turn out alright. But they didn't. The next step in the process was to sew the pairs into quads, bigger diamonds that were also wonky. By this stage in the game, I knew I had to make a decision. I could try to sew them altogether and produce what would be a really wonky star, if I could even manage that. I could start over, but I would have to use different fabrics, because I didn't think I had enough left of the ones I had already used. And then what would I do with my wonky diamonds? I hate to waste fabric. 
By this time, I had figured out what I had done wrong - sort of. I was measuring the 2.5" linearly on the strip with my triangular ruler. If I used the rectangular ruler, the 2.5" actually was measured on a different angle. As I said, I really can't explain it. It's been too many years since I took geometry. But I will add that a few of the other quilters in my class also ended up with wonky diamonds - and they used their rectangular rulers! Hmm, I really think the instructor for this class should have demonstrated this aspect more carefully and thoroughly. I don't recall the camera zooming in on the actual cutting, so that we could know exactly how it was done. And I'm still a little uncertain about it.
What did I decide to do? I decided to use my wonky diamonds, trimming them down so that they actually looked like diamonds. Believe it or not, I basically did it by "eyeballing" the pieces, measuring how much needed to be cut off and applying that measurement to all of the pieces. So eight wonky 4-part diamonds became 8 normal-looking diamonds. Not perfect, but much better than previously. If you enlarge the picture, and look carefully, you can see that my seams didn't match up in the centre. I'm not sure how this happened, and I found it rather amusing as all the other seams matched up. The centre is the best place for the seams to not match since all the pieces are the same colour and it's not noticeable unless you look carefully.
Since I made my diamonds smaller, I knew that the block would end up too small and I would have to add borders to make it fit into the quilt properly. So I did. The finished block was supposed to have measured 19.5". Mine finished out at slightly over 16. So, I added 3.5" ON ALL SIDES. While I was sewing the borders on, I remembered that I hadn't allowed for the 1/4" seam. It wasn't until I finished the block that I realized that I should have divided that 3.5 in half, plus seam allowances, to get the actual width of the border. <sigh> I now have a block that finished out around 22.5". LOL Definitely having a blonde moment when I worked on this block.
I haven't decided what I'm going to do with the extra border width - whether I'll trim it off or add some extra sashing elsewhere in the quilt to make it fit. Overall, in spite of my many mistakes, I'm actually quite pleased with this block.

Sunday 9 June 2013

All's Well That Ends Well

The bad news is I never made it to the Edmonton Festival of Quilts today. Well... I suppose I should start by telling you that I drive a pickup truck, which will come as no surprise to those of you who have been reading my blog for sometime. And not just a little pickup truck. This is a full-sized, extended cab, standard box, 4x4 pickup truck with a V8 engine. Not only that, but it's not just a beat-up old farm truck. It's a 2011 Chevy Silverado in laser blue metallic, a gorgeous purply-blue colour. You know how some men feel about their cars? Or if you live in the west, about their pickup trucks? Well, that's pretty much how I feel about my pickup truck. I even like the way the engine sounds. The only drawback is that, being a rather large vehicle, it's not very easy to park (and it gets terrible gas mileage). And being as I'm rather particular about my truck not getting scatched or dented, I avoid parking in crowded areas.

I arrived at the site where the Festival of Quilts was being held. And the parking lots were full. And the streets were full. Cars parked on both sides of not very wide streets. I swear if I'd had the towing mirrors on the truck, it would have almost touched the vehicles parked on both sides of the street as I drove through. Not enough room for two vehicles to pass each other. And I drove on through looking for a place to park and finally came to a section of the street where I could park the truck, quite far from the site. But then I thought that, with all that traffic and so many vehicles parked on the street and not much room to get through, someone might hit my truck. And I decided to park at the nearest mall instead and walk to the quilt show, which was probably not much longer a walk than from where I could have parked on the street anyway. On the way to the mall, I got to wondering what I would do if I bought stuff - lots of stuff, heavy stuff - at the quilt show and had to lug it all the way back to the mall. And what about the crowds? As my best guy pal, Phil, who was with me said, we would have been shoulder to shoulder. There were an awful lot of cars for the size of that hall. I really don't do crowds. So, all things considered, I decided not to go to the Festival of Quilts. I'm disappointed, but feel I made the best decision for me under the circumstances.
Phil had never intended to go to the quilt show. He was just going to go to the mall. Instead, we both went to a thrift store, where I found the book Quilting Shortcuts by Maggie Malone. I might already have this book (still have some books in boxes in the garage) or maybe I borrowed it from the library, because it looks familiar. But it also looks good, and as Phil pointed out, it would cost me a lot more than the $8 the book cost to drive back to buy it. You can see the book in the lower right of the picture below.
We then went to Fabricland, where I bought the 4 pieces of fabric in the picture. On the upper right is a panel for a pink John Deere barbecue apron. I intend to make this up for my niece's birthday. I will probably back, batt and quilt it. In my opinion, the fabric's not thick enough for a decent apron otherwise. On the upper left is a pillow panel that I couldn't resist, being the cat lover that I am. The fabrics in the foreground don't show up very well. The one on the left is a poppy print and the one on the right is a rosebud print, both for future quilting projects. On top of the fabric in the middle is a package of clear fabric grabbers to put on the backs of my quilting rulers. I've had too many "slips" ending in uneven cuts, and sometimes useless strips of fabric.
I also hit a Staples to buy toner for my printer. It was almost out - kept taking it out and shaking it up to get a little more life out of it- and I need to be able to copy patterns for my Quick-Strip Paper Piecing Class.
The good news, at least quilting-wise, is what's in those 4 orange packets sitting on the fabric. After I had dropped Phil off and was on my way out of the city, I stopped at a big WalMart (at least bigger than the one in my small town) just off the highway to see what they had in quilting supplies. I was quite disappointed. I believe there was less fabric than in our WalMart and no quilting rulers, where our WalMart has a reasonable selection of different quilting rulers. It was kind of puzzling to me. Then I looked on their clearance shelf in the craft section and found 5-packs of Fiskars rotary cutting blades for only $10 each. That's only $2 per blade. Here in Canada, those 5-packs are normally over $20. Yippee! So I bought all four packs that were there.
Yes, disappointed that I didn't get to the Edmonton Festival of Quilts, but happy with my purchases, especially those blades. That should do me for awhile...
By the way, I'm constantly meeting new quilting friends on Google+ and getting new ideas from their blogs. Come and join the link party at 
Stitch by Stitch