Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Best of 2020

The end of 2020 is fast approaching and it's time to look back to what I have accomplished this year.  Cheryl is hosting her annual "Best of" party and I decided to do a post to link up with her blog. 

Since I spent a lot of time at home this year due to the pandemic, I did a lot of sewing, knitting, cross stitch and embroidery. I looked back over my blog posts to pick out the top 5 I would like to share today.  

1. My blogpost with the most views in 2020 was posted on August 22nd. It featured blocks from a new quilt started this year,  "lupins", pattern by Gudrun Erla. 

Here are my first few blocks:

I have finished all of the lupin blocks I need for a queen sized quilt and this quilt top will be put together soon so that I can take it to the long arm quilters.  It will go into the rotation of quilts for our bed. My husband and I went to Iceland for our 25th wedding anniversary a few years ago and all of the lupins were in bloom while we were there. 

2.  My blogpost with the most comments featured my Snowflake quilt which I made for a friend to celebrate 30 years of friendship.  I used up lots of red and white scraps in this quilt.  My friend was thrilled to receive this surprise gift and it is out on display in her living room for the winter months. It will keep her warm while she reads or knits. The pattern is available from Modern Handcraft


3.  I made several baby quilts this year but my favourite was this one, made as a month by month HST sampler quilt with the London Modern Quilt Guild.  This quilt was given to a baby boy born in the fall.  He and his parents were excited to receive it. 

I love the light blue seagulls in sweaters fabric in each block. 

4.  My favourite finish of 2020 was my Neutral Swap Barn Raising quilt.  The neutral blocks were made over the course of 16 months and swapped with members of the Elgin Piecemakers Guild. 

5. I participate in the weekly Slow Sunday Stitching Link up with Kathy and decided that I would like to add my favourite slow stitching project to my list.  I purchased an embroidery kit at QuiltCon in Nashville in February 2018 and completed the project earlier this year. 

Thanks for visiting. I look forward to finishing many projects and starting a few more in 2021. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Gifts of Christmas

Our daughter has been very busy over the last few months, working on gifts for us and her grandmother. I knew about the bee picture for her grandmother, but had no idea she was making something for us as well.  "Home for the Holidays" was a stitch-along at the Barmy Fox on Instagram.  Each day for 3 1/2 weeks, there were new stitches to learn and add to her picture. It looks great on our mantle with my little gnome. She learned several new stitches including the whipped backstitch, the feather stitch, the open and closed fly stitch, padded satin stitch and the Bayeux stitch which was originally on the Bayeux tapestry.  Wow!  I will have to get her to teach me some of these!

 If that was not enough, she also made us three Christmas ornaments. These patterns were from Thread Folk

Before Christmas, I took a short trip to Stitch it Central in London, Ontario to pick up some thread for a wedding gift cross stitch picture that I will be making over the next few months for a friend's daughter and her husband--they got married at the end of November and we attended the wedding on Zoom.  I offered to make them a cross stitch picture and emailed a couple of pattern possibilities.  They picked one called "Love Birds".  They made a diagram of the colours they wanted me to use and I picked out the matching colours at the store.  I made one substitution for the first colour when I got home.  My daughter had some thread that matched better. The pattern is from Peppermint Purple

I have made a start on the picture this past week. This project will take a while.  The newlyweds are patient and look forward to seeing my progress pictures as I work on their wedding gift. 

A while ago, I showed you a picture of a landscape that my daughter was stitching--it took a back seat while she worked on Christmas gifts but she managed to finish it this past week.  I took a close up picture of her bullion stitches.  I am in awe! The pattern is from Lark Rising

She is going to keep this little landscape picture for herself. 

Since August, I have been knitting a scarf and hat for my husband for Christmas.  I purchased the wool at my local knitting store, The Little Red Mitten. This wool was from Shetland in Scotland and was spun in England.  I had read about both places in the book my husband bought me for Christmas last year about the history of knitting in Britain called "This Golden Fleece".  

I just learned to knit this year so I am not very fast. I picked a relatively easy pattern from Ravelry. With some guidance from my knitting friends, I got started on the scarf. 

I tried to knit two repeats of the pattern as shown above each time I sat down to knit, at least 3 or 4 times a week. It was slow at first until I got the pattern memorized but eventually, it started to grow. 

I had to hide my wool and my knitting in a zippered pouch in my sewing room so my husband would not see it.  The knitting was done while my husband was at work or at a meeting.  I had to have a public project underway at the same time (that's why I kept making dish cloths and facecloths!) so that he would not suspect anything. My friend, Christine and I knitted in my backyard in the warmer weather and then we knitted on FaceTime when it got too cold to knit outside.  

I finished the scarf by the end of I am modelling the finished scarf.  It took two skeins of wool to make the scarf. 

The hat did not start out very smoothly and I had to take it apart 3 times before my friend, Pat, helped me to get it cast on correctly.  (I originally tried to use double pointed needles to cast on and thought I was doing fine until I discovered they were the wrong size...ugh! ) I used round needles to knit the main part of the hat and then changed to double pointed needles when it was time to reduce the number of stitches on the crown of the hat.  I lost a few stitches in the process of doing the crown, but Pat helped to get me back on track. Thank goodness for knitting friends!

Finally finished the ribbing:

I started knitting the patterned part. 


I finally got to the final stitches and finished the hat a few days before Christmas!

Here is the finished hat:

My husband was totally surprised by his knitted gifts.  He told me he did not think I would know how to knit something this complicated since all he had seen me make was dishcloths and facecloths!  He has worn his hat several times already when we went for walks and when we were shovelling the driveway--as you can see, we had a white Christmas! Keeping the pattern going as I did the crown of the hat was a challenge but it looks fine!  

Pat gave me cable needles and some wool for my next project for Christmas.  She will give me a quick, in person, masked, outside lesson in January.  I think I will make a practice piece before starting the actual project I have in mind. We sometimes trouble shoot my knitting questions on video chats as well.  I have seen a couple of videos of how to make cables so I have some inkling of how to do them.  

I made a couple of sewn gifts for my daughter for Christmas.  I ordered one yard of this book fabric from Spoonflower to make a pillow case and zippered pouch for her embroidery projects.  My daughter is an avid reader and this fabric matches the colours in her quilt that I made when she graduated from university a few years ago.  The white and gray fabric on the pillowcase was purchased at QuiltCon in Nashville. 

Here is the zippered pouch--the pattern is from Noodlehead. 

I still have a little bit of the book fabric left for another small project!  She loved both of these gifts, which  made me happy. 

One last little gift...I made a few counted cross stitch patterns to make ornaments earlier in the year and finished one off for Pat for Christmas.  I still have two more ornaments to put together---I think these last two will go on our tree next year. 

I will be linking up with Kathy and the other slow stitchers in the morning. I am sure that everyone will have lots of projects to share --after all, we are makers and we love to make gifts for our friends and families!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Santa's Helper

Last week, I mentioned that I had made a surprise gift for a friend.  This block was one of 12 free blocks --part of the Quiltmas Spectacular Block sampler that is available for free until the end of December 2020.  I have printed all the blocks, hoping to make several over the next year or so --somehow incorporating them into gifts for next year.  This block is called "Santa's Helper". 

 My quilty friend, Sandra, posted the picture below on Instagram recently, and once I saw this block pattern, I knew that I had to make it for her. 

I gathered up some fabrics from my stash in the right colours to match Sandra's ensemble.

I made this little quilt in one day and sent it off in the mail.  I heard from Sandra this week that it had arrived and that she loves it!  I told her it was a portrait of her from the knees down!  So fun to surprise someone with a fun little gift at this time of year!

I have been doing some more knitting on my orange facecloth this week. 

I also still have a few secret projects that can't be revealed until after Christmas.  I will have to wait another week to post them on the blog. 

Guess who is visiting at my house?  My daughter lives alone so she was allowed to come to our house for Christmas.  Finn was very excited to see us. In the background, you can see the fence we have around our Christmas tree to keep him away from the water reservoir and the ornaments.  Finn is currently keeping my left leg warm while I type. 

My daughter finished her bee blackwork this week.  I was on FaceTime with her as she put in the final few stitches.  It took a lot longer than she anticipated but she loves how it turned out.   I love looking at all the different patterns she stitched in the hexagons. This picture was taken before it was washed and ironed for framing. 

I would like to introduce you to Santa, our newest to us Christmas decoration.  Santa was painted by my MIL when my husband was a child.  She used to do a lot of ceramics.  I think he is quite jolly!  Santa is on display on the shelves in our living room. 

I participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange through one of my guilds and received these cute ornaments as well as a small zipper pouch and some fat quarters. They are hanging on my tree and I love the bits of fabric my SS used!  So fun to get a package in the mail!

We decorated the tree last weekend and I found this ornament that my friend Meridyth made for me many moons ago.  1988!  I was not married yet in 1988!

I just starting reading this book for the book club at the library...we will be discussing it in January on Zoom.  Interesting story so far!

I will be linking up with Kathy for slow Sunday stitching in the morning. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

More Christmas Gifts

We are one week closer to Christmas and my gift making is just about done.  I finished off this knitted face cloth this week and it has been gifted to a friend.  For me, one of the best parts of Christmas is making gifts for family and friends.  Since I learned to knit this year, all of my friends received a little knitted something in their Christmas parcels.  I delivered my friends' gifts this week.  

I started one more facecloth this week, just because I had the yarn to make it and I like to keep myself busy, especially when we are in the car.  This one is orange. 

Now that I have mastered face and dish cloths, as well as a simple hat, I am hoping to move on to some more challenging knitting projects in the new year.  I want to learn how to do cables next...

I did a little bit of sewing this week.  I made a second zippered pouch for a friend for Christmas...same outer materials as the one I showed last week but this one has a polka dot lining. 

I was inspired by a photo to make a gift for another friend.  I pieced and quilted this little gift in one day as well as finishing the hand stitching on the binding.  It is in the mail and I hope it arrives in time for Christmas.  It should make her laugh out loud when she sees it. 

Finn continues to assist my daughter with her stitching projects.  The bees blackwork is almost done! She is working on the last hexagon. Doesn't Finn look proud!???

Just in case anyone was wondering what kind of snack to leave out for Santa this year, I have it on good authority that he enjoys poutine!  We saw this inflatable food truck when we were out for a walk last week. 

I will be linking up with Kathy and the Slow Sunday stitchers in the morning. 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Gift Making

This has been a busy week with not very much time spent in my sewing room.  I did manage to make a zippered pouch as a gift for a swap with one of my guilds. I need to get this in the mail this week so it had a deadline!  The pattern is from Noodlehead...I have made several of these pouches as gifts over the last few years.  I don't even need to look at the instructions anymore!  

 I have a stash of zippers in various colours for these pouches so I am always ready to make a quick gift. The person receiving this pouch does not read my blog. I have a few secret projects going on in the sewing room at the moment that cannot be shared yet...

The facecloth that I started last week is just about done.  I did a bit of knitting every day this week. You can see from the picture that I also managed to do some Christmas decorating as well. 

Finn has been helping my daughter with her blackwork/counted cross stitch again this week.  He likes to guard her thread stash...

Her bee stitchery is nearing completion with only 2 1/2 hexagons to go!

We had some snow earlier in the week (it's all melted now). I go for a socially distanced walk with a friend at a local park most days and it was just beautiful with all of the snow clinging to the branches of the trees and bushes. 

Over the past few months, I have been taking pictures of quilts made by the members of the Elgin Piecemakers Guild so that I could put together a Power Point presentation for the Oxford Guild.  The EP group has 20 members and the pictures were taken at various interesting spots around our area.  The presentation was this past Thursday night --I must say that presenting on Zoom is nothing like presenting in person.  The "audience" all had their microphones on mute and I could not see them while I was showing my slides and talking about them.  I felt like I was just sitting and talking to myself, unsure if anyone out there was listening...  I did hear from several members of the guild at the end of the talk and the next day by email and telephone call to say that they had enjoyed seeing the sights and the quilts I had shared.  My husband took my pictures at the Elgin County Railway Museum.  

The quilts have all been shown on my blog before.  

1.  My neutral swap blocks quilt. 

2.  Elgin Piecemakers Music challenge. 

3.  Selvage Spools quilt made at the Beaver Island Quilt retreat. 

4.  Memory quilt for my husband, made with his father's shirts. 

The Elgin Piecemakers are a very talented group of quilters, with diverse interests.  This was a fun project for me!

I'm hoping for a bit more productive week in the sewing room this week.  Thanks for stopping by!  Take care and stay safe.  I will link up with Kathy in the morning.