Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Theday after

This is about as energetic as we all felt early this morning. We had a few busy, but very good days. The family and friends are gone and we are left with good memories and lots of left-overs.
It started with a very meaningfull church service on Christmas Eve. At the end everybody, about 250 of us, gathered in the gym, with a lit candle and we sang the old carols in four part harmony. Getting out of church took a long time. Jeanette and Tony were along and this is the only time Jeanette will meet up with her buddies from her childhood. On Christmas day we had good company, good food and then presents. Now it is back to the two of us. When the sun came up we saw a winters' wonderland. The trees were covered with frost and and everything looked like a picture. Right after breakfast we went for a walk, but I missed the best part, when there still was some fog hanging in the fields.
I have tried to take pictures of birds with my new camera, but I have not been very successfull. After a few pointers from Tony I feel like I can do a better job. I took this picture of a woodpecker this morning, through a window in the kitchen. Mom and pop woodpecker are both around, but I have never seen them together. They seem to take turns at the feeder. This one, with the red spot on his head, is the male.

Tomorrow it will be back to some sewing. My plan is to have all 9 mariner compass blocks done by year end, at least the machine sewing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winter breakfast

That is the name of this wall hanging. When I made this 2 years ago I had seen all the birds at our feeder, though not all at the same time. Then a few decided to take a break. But that was till a few days ago.
Mom and pop woodpecker and mom nad pop cardinal have returend. I only saw cardinals here once before and it seems that we are as far norht as they go. You never see both of them. They seem to take turns. So do the wood peckers.
It has been another stormy week. No church on Sunday. We stayed indoors, except to blow snow and do the chores.We had a quiet day.
The bottom picture I took through the window. I cannot get any closer, or all the birds fly away. The suet ball has a small stick through the top, what hangs on the hook. It looks terrible, but this feeder is in a very windy spot and this way the birds do not have to be scared to be blown awayThe Christmas cards have been send, the tree is up, most of the gifts have been wrapped and the cookies have been baked, so I feel that I can spend some more time on the Mariner Compass quilt.
By now I have to figure out what I will do for the sashing and that will have to depend on how much fabric is left over. Still have not learned to get enough fabric right from the start.
I hope that you all have a great and safe Christmas and that the new year presents you with lots of joy and happiness in your life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas arrangements

It has been a quiet week here on the farm. Winter is still here, so most of our time is spend inside. But there was the job of cleaning the workshop.
We have a heated workshop on the farm. During the busy season equipment, that is in need of repairs, is driven in and repairs are done. What is not done, is the clean-up afterwards. So that was one of the jobs we tackled a few days ago. The floor was swept and things were put back in their right place. Then I decided that I might as well make my arrangements right there and use the picnic table. Usually I do that in the kitchen ,but there is always a big mess to lean up. This way all I have to do afterwards is get a broom, sweep the left overs in the tractor bucket and that's it.
On my visit to the One-of-a -kind show in Toronto last month I bought this small container, or really there are two, one inside the other. I love the shape and came up with this design, using my own yuca leaves, dogwood, corkscrew hazel, euyonymus and some cedar. The carnations I bought in town today.
Dogwood, corkscrew hazel, euyonymus and 2 ivies in a shallow bowl with water and cranberries.
I had so much fun ,that I had to make a third one, quite similar.
Here are the rest, still without the carnations. The start of most of these was a piece of wetted foam in a big mug .I will not keep most of these. Tomorrow I will put them in the car and deliver them to our neighbours. The deal is, that if they give me the container back, they will get a refill next year, at least if I'm still in the business of doing this.
Today I bought our (real) tree. It will have to wait till Saturday before I will put it up.
Still plodding along with the compasses. Will finish the piecing on number 7 tomorrow. Then I will put the machine away and instead work on finishing the blocks
And yes, there has to be some baking done yet too.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Gallery show

Snow, sleet, freezing rain, hard winds we had them all in the last week. Talk is now, that we will have an old-fashioned winter with lots of snow. I do not mind some snow, but Laurence is just dreaming about getting his snowmobile out.
Last Thursday the quilts were hung at the gallery and on our way home from Jenny's on Saturday we stopped by and had a look. It is a very good display and it was fun to see so many of my quilts hung in good light.
I had brought a little of everything. Something new, something old, some large and some small. This show will stay here till the end of the year. So, if you are in the neighbourhood, stop by and visit the quilt and knitting store on Woolwich Street in Guelph.
It is the time of year again to be thinking of making Christmas cards. I have made 10 cards for years now, but I just realized that I never kept any back for myself, so I have forgotten what all I have made over the years. I do know, that I never came up with this card. I made 11 this time and one will stay with me!
The background is a piece of ragpaper I bought years ago. I ripped the edges, the rest has been fused on. I put a piece of ribbon at the top, so it can be hung. Now my yearly letter in Dutch yet. This is about the only time I write in Dutch and it is not getting any easier. When I talk to my relatives we use the Frisian language.
This year my plan was to get all the greenery I need for my arrangements before the snow would make it hard. Last week the forecast was for maybe some rain and not too cold. Boy, were they wrong. So again this year I will tramp through the snow to get cedar, boxwood, holly and twigs. Next week will be the time to make big and small arrangements. I just keep on going till I run out of "stuff"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lessons learned

This was the day I had to take my quilts to Guelph for my show at the Gallery at Greenwood Quiltery. So with 26 quilts, both big and small, old and new , and a few other items I drove over the snowy roads to Guelph. They will be hung on Thursday and be there till the end of the year. It was a good feeling to have it all done No more quilts without bindings or borders, though a few are in need of a label yet. From there I had to go to Elmira. It got blustery, but not anything to worry about. That changed, when I wanted to go home. The wind had picked up and I could not see the road through the blowing snow. A good enough reason to visit my friend. An hour later it looked better, so I did drive home, but it was not good driving. Seeing a few cars with dints on the side of the road did not help either. But I did make it home. Tomorrow Jeanette,my friend Lois and I have made plans to go to the One-of-a-kind Show in Toronto. Let's hope the wind will quiet down.
I made this wallhanging "Victorian Bouquet" as a workshop proposal for Quilt Canada in Winnipeg, so it must have been about 6 years ago. I taught it a few more times and never got it quilted. When Florence ( who quilted the crane quilt for me) wondered about quilting something for the Mennonite Relief Sale I thought right away about this one. She loved the idea and had it quilted in no time. Once I got it home it was time to put a binding on.
Lesson one: When you make a quilt top and have some extra fabric, cut enough for the binding right away. Put this in a bag with a note what it is for and put it in a safe ( and in my case somewhere I can find it again) place.I did not do that and could not find the right color. As a last resource I rummaged through my fabrics and found some left-overs. Once I cut it all out and sewed the pieces together I needed about a 6 inch strip.

Lesson number 2: Never give up. I went through my stash 2 more times and on the last time I found a small piece, rolled up in a back corner of the shelf. It was the right width and at the end I had 3 inches to spare. This is one of the quilts I took in today

The rest of the week looks very busy, but by the week-end it will be back working on the Mariner Compass blocks. 3 finished, 6 more to go.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Yesterday was our guild meeting and some members were asked beforehand to bring traditional quilts "with a story". I brought these 2 quilts. The one above was the first quilt I owned. It was pieced by Laurence's grandmother, Margaretha Axt, when she was already in her eighties. According to my mother-in-law she was not a real quilt maker, but she did a very good job with this one. It was quilted by members of First Mennonite Church in Kitchener.
When we got married, she was bedridden, but we send her an invitation anyway and as soon as the pictures were done, we went for a visit. That's when we received this, her last, quilt.

This is my first appliqued quilt. I always wanted to make one and when I saw that Rosemary Mahkan would teach a 10 month workshop close by, I was the first one to sign up. Most of the blocks in the center were started during these classes. After one year, the quilt was finished. The hand quilting was done by my mother-in-law, Hilda Mae Helmuth.
Almost all of the blocks came out of the books by Elly Sienkiewics, but this one is my own. It shows my pride and joy, Marietha, my Frisian model mare I left behind, when I emigrated to Canada.
And I'm still working on the Mariner Compasses. It goes slower right now. Too many other things going on. Tonight I have a trunkshow in Brampton. It is snowing lightly and I hope it will stay like this. Then no other quilt commitments till next year. There are also a few Christmas project to be done.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

First attempt

It must be over 10 years ago that I found a book with Mariner Compasses by Judy Matheson. I loved the book and after getting some fabrics I was brave enough to give it a try. Don't forget, this was in the days before I knew about paper piecing, rotary mats and rotary cutters.

I drew the pattern pieces on cardboard, cut them out and used those to mark the fabric. Then the fabric was cut, including a 1/4 inch seam allowance. I started to sew and oh wonders, it all came together with the first try. I guess it was beginners luck. I made the large compass in the center with the flying geese. Since I did not know what else to do, I put it away.

More than a year later I found out about paper piecing and the rest came together. At the same time I taught a workshop at my church and the ladies there made enough of these smaller compasses to make a large quilt for the Mennonite Relief Sale. That quilt also had flying geese as sashing and was red and green.
Once the top was done, I marked it and my mother-in-law, Hilda Mae hand quilted it for me.
This quilt spends its time with the rest on the spare bed and only gets shown during a trunk show.
I never even took a picture, so when I had it out to take to Simcoe this week, I put it on the design wall and finally took some pictures.
Now back to today. I finished the second block and all the points turned out well. When I put it on my design wall, there appeared one spot ,that did not match at all. Very frustrating!
It will have to come out. So now I' even more carefull with the 3nd one. I figure by the time I'm working on the 9th block I will have it figured out.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Farm... finished

This morning the ground was covered with snow. It is time to find hats, mittens and winter boots.But inside it is warm and there will be lots of time for quilting.
The farm quilt is done, finally. All it really needed was some embroidery, binding and a sleeve. The last 2 are not my favorite activities, so I have a bad habit of putting a quilt away before it gets done. Than, when I need to take the quilt somewhere, it is a scramble to get it done in time. But with the show in Guelph coming up I have been busy getting things done. All my quilts have sleeves now!
I'm not totally happy with this quilt. The applique is fine, but trouble started when I did the machine quilting. I quilted once around the light colored inner border and then around the green outer border. This distorted the green border enough, that when I squared the quilt, the mitered corners did not match. It is not too bad, but it bugs me none the less.
I find the sky too wavy. I quilted that before I put the foliage on.I should have quilted closer together, but once the foliage was on, it was too late.
This was my first attempt to applique a building and it will be my last for a while. But according to my brother and niece it "looks just like it used to be" and that is good to know.
It seems I'm better with plants and flowers.
Now it is back to the Mariner Compasses. I was worried that I did not buy enough fabric. So after teaching in Paris(Ontario that is!) yesterday I managed to get to the Creative Sisters store in Kitchener 5 minutes after closing time. They were still there and were very willing to help me. I found enough of the background fabric and the light green ,. the rest was gone. But I can make do. This morning I cut out patches and soon I will start with the second block. In total there will be 9. The sashing and border will be decided on once I know how much fabric I have left, but I hope to put some smaller compasses somewhere.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

First frost

Sunday evening we had our first frost. I took this picture of one of my begonias just in time. I love these begonias with their bright colors. By now their bulbs have been taken in and are drying on the picnic table in the workshop. Once dry I will over winter them in peat moss. Now that we had our first frost it is time to clean up the garden. The weather has been cooperating. It is cool, but sunny.

This week I have made my first Mariner Compass block. And I managed to get the one with 64 points together. I used the paper piecing method and it went easier than I thought it would. Some of the points are a little on the short side, but I can correct that next time. But it is laying flat, my main concern. Before I go on I have to go and get more of the background fabric. It takes a lot of make 9 of these and then a border.

Right now I'm working on the center of the MCC quilt or the postcard quilt. I ironed Wonder Under on one side of the dark blue fabric and cut the different parts of the world out of that. I ironed all the pieces on with a hot, dry iron.
The next step is the go around all the pieces with a narrow blanket stitch. That will take some doing with all the little pieces. Than it will go to a friend, who will embroider the names of the countries.
While she is working on that I will go and finish the farm quilt. It is still on my design wall. It needs a few things added and corrected and I have not quite decided how to go about it.
I did find some more of my favorite dark brown fabric to use for the binding.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Machine quilting......grrrrrrr!

This is what I could see from out of my window this morning. A beautiful fall day. The harvest is over for the year and the yield was above expectation. The year has been the dryest on record. We have had some rain, but could use more. I still have not done my fall clean-up in the garden. The begonias are still blooming and I like to see color as long as possible. The winter is long enough. And what did I find this morning? A new pansy. I had some blooming under the snow this spring and it looks like I will still have some once the snow comes. I love their cheery colors.

This last week I have been working hard on machine quilting the farm quilt and it did not go well at all. The sky went ok. After that I quilted around the tree trunks. I found out, that this made the roof puffy, so the next step was to quilt along all the roof tiles. But, after a good look I realized that one corner of the barn seemed to have sunk in the clay. Laurence told me to leave it like this( it is an old barn,, right!) ,but I could not do it, so there had to be some remedial work done. By that time the border looked all frilly. First I tackled the inner border, so far so good. Then I quilted the outside border in straight lines, 1/4 inch apart and started to look much better. Today I sewed the foliage down and after going through a whole pack of needles that job is also finished. This picture shows a part of the back.Now the finishing touches yet. You notice that for the back I choose fabric with a maple leaf?
I have the next project all ready. When I asked Shawn and Emily what quilt they would like me to make for their wedding, the answer was a red and green Mariner Compass ...and not those with 8 points!
So I thought that this one had 32 points, but after having a closer look I find, that there are 64 points. Now I'm not a good piecer at the best of times, even using the paper piecing method.
I will give it ONE try. If it does not work out, the next one will have 32 points and so down the line till I can manage it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A little of this....a little of that

Last week I received the new book "Points of View" by Valerie Hearder. It is a beautiful book with lots of very good information. And the quilts in the gallery are almost all by Canadian quilters ,what was very nice to see.
Inside you can find one of my landscape quilts, Waterloo County, aerial view. With it is a short description of how I go about making a landscape. This is the first time, that I have seen one of my quilts in a book and it is really of neat. And it is an honor to have it in such a good book.

This week I have been doing more machine quilting. The second Tuscany landscape is finished , except for the binding, and today I did the last little bit of the sky of the Farm quilt. That was a very slow process. It was about 5 minutes sewing with a half hour of tucking in the ends. The next step will be the tree trunks. This is the biggest piece I have done on the machine up to now and I cannot understand how you can do a full size quilt. Now I know, that you are not supposed to turn the quilt, but I have not been able to master that trick. Today was our guild meeting and it was good to see so many friends again. I had not been there since June. It seems ,that a lot of guilds have their meetings on the 3nd Wednesday of the month, so I miss some because I'm talking at another guild.

I have a show coming up in December at Greenwood Quiltery in Guelph. More about that later. That's one of the reasons I'm trying to get things finished. Today I bought more doweling and screws for hanging the quilts.
About my spinning wheel. I had some nice remarks with some very good advise. I know now, that there are guilds not far from here , that I could join. But that will have to wait for a while. There is first of all this show and than the MCC postcard quilt and the Mariner Compass for our son to finish. Than it would be nice to take a break and give spinning a try.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

One done....2 more to go

Machine quilting is not my favorite thing to do. I seem to get very tense and that means it does not take long and I have a sore back and shoulders. It is not that I don't like it, just that I do not like the discomfort that seems to go with it.
I did finish one small piece, that I made earlier this year. In the center I went around all the appliqued pieces with a smoky invisible thread. The inside border has the little pebbles I like to do and the outside has straight lines in a variegated thread. I'm working on number 2 right now
Then it will be on to the The Farm. This one will be harder to do on my regular machine, because it is much bigger. I do have the threads and I will give it a try.

I have made a start with the "Postcard quilt" This will be the working title. Later it will get a better name.
The center is made with 2 inch squares in different blues.
I want to put a fused world map in dark blue on top. This piece of North America is a trial. Today I went to my friend Audry, who is very good with embroidery and she will try out different ways of making little squares with the names of the countries, where MCC is working. Around that you see some of the cards. I want to put 2 rows of cards around the center. They will be put together, so that I can make a 2-sided quilt. How I have not decided quite yet. It seems that we have to take it one step at a time. I figured out how much fabric I would need and I was very lucky that the store had enough for me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spinning wheel

Earlier this year my mother moved to a smaller apartment in a retirement home. That meant, that a lot of her things could not go along. My brother and sister-in-law were very good in getting a big box ready with things for me. And an excellent job they did! Nothing got damaged, not even the dishes.
Included was this chip carved box, made by my great grandfather around 1920. It is about 30 cm across and was used by my grandmother, his daughter, as sewing box. He made one of these for all his children.
This spinning wheel was also included.
I had my eye on that since I was a small child. I remember it standing in the hall on the farm. I loved to see how fast I could make the wheel go around. My mother had been after me to take it along years ago, but it would have been very difficult to take in a plane with me.

My brother took it carefully apart and at the same time took pictures. Once it was here, it did not take long to put it together again.
I never knew where it came from, but when I asked my mother it had an interesting history.
During the second world war my grandfather was supervisor for part of the sea dikes in Friesland. He would receive large logs that were used as pilings to be driven in the sea. Groups of these logs were held together by large pieces of oak. Since things were scarce at that time, he would keep these pieces of lumber and take them to the furniture maker in town. Now this was not just any town. This was Hindelopen with a long seafaring history.
Ideas from the long journeys were used to paint the furniture. You can see some of this if you google Hindeloopen
My grandfather ordered a spinning wheel from this furniture maker and friend of his. They had the sheep and it would be my mother's job to spin the wool to be used to knit the socks for her father and 5 brothers. So each evening she sat there spinning away. After the war, when she got married she could take the spinning wheel with her. But by that time she could not stand even the sight of it, so as long as I can remember it stood out of the way, upstairs in a corner.
So now it is here in Canada. I have nver done any spinning, but it would be fun to give it a try. I could spin the wool and Jeannette could knit it. So the roles would be reversed.
In 1/2 hour the corn harvest will start, so it will be busy around here for a few weeks.
I do hope to get some machine quilting done though. 2 small landscapes are ready to go. They will be my practice pieces before I will start with the farm, but that one is also ready to go.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I feel like I have accomplished something......finally. The farm is ready for quilting. The foliage of the trees is missing, but I will machine quilt the sky and the tree trunks first. It will be easier that way. Than put the foliage on and quilt the rest. The orchids are also ready for quilting. This morning I took the rest of the paper out of the back and pressed the top. I have not quite decided, but I think that hand quilting would look better. At first I thought some more sashiko in the dark areas of the border might work, but now I think that it might get too busy. Maybe some sashiko with a light colored regular quilting thread. So you can see it, but just barely.

Yesterday I took my quilts in for our bi-annual quilt show and on my way home stopped at the Creative Sisters quilt store in Kitchener. They had their monthly "full moon madness sale"
I did very well and found fabric for the back of the orchid quilt, red and green batiks for the Marnier Compass quilt I will make for our son's wedding and blue batiks for the project below.
I also picked up 3 more returned postcards at the MCC office for my next project. The total now is 53 returned from the 80- send out in the spring. A few straglers might show up, but next week I will start with this project.

These pictures show you the back and front of the 3 cards I picked up.
I have it all figured out in my head, but now we will see if it is possible. The first step is to make a piece in the "trip around the worls" pattern and have that quilted for a base.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It has been a dry year

Yesterday my friend Betty came for a chat. She has moved further away, so we do not see each other very often. But she will stop on her way to Kitchenere once in while. Since her husband and her travel a lot, she decided to store her threads in plastic boxes. That meant, that these 2 (yes, there is a second one) beautiful, wooden spool racks were not used anymore. And they are mine to do with what I please.
I will not have any problems filling them ,though it will not all be threads, once I get Laurence convinced to get the drill out and put some screws in the wall.
She had some beautiful quilts along also. These will be in our bi-annual show next week.
The Waterloo County Quilters Guild will have their quilt show next week, September 28 and 29 at the RIM Center in Waterloo.

The last week has been very busy with other things than quilting. I did get a few orchids done, but there are still 3 more and a few buds.
We are busy with the harvest. The yields have been disappointing, but this morning we heard on the radio, that this year has been the dryest on record in our area, not a surprise really. Going by that, it could have been worse.
The white beans are off and next will be the soybeans and the planting of winterwheat.
The harvest is about 2 to 3 weeks earlier than normal. I try to stay home as much as possible during that time. Mid September has been a safe time to book a trunkshow/workshop, but not this year. In a few hours I will be on my way to Chattam for a trunkshow tonight and a workshop tomorrow.
Got to run. The call to help move equipment from one place to the other just came.
One thing we cannot complain about this week, is the weather. Sunny and up to 28C

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Woodstock, Ontario that is

We are in the second week of September and that means for the farmers in this area one thing, the Outdoor Farm Show near Woodstock.Today was our day and we left early, because we had free entry tickets and free breakfasts, thanks to hubbie's involvement with the Soil and Crop Association and a sponsoring Company. And a good breakfast it was! Later it was for lunch to a special, and free, BBQ lunch for poultry producers, also good. In between we could get water, coffee, apples, popcorn, candies, all free. And in the afternoon the wheelbarrows with peanuts in the shell were placed all over the grounds. By missing the cup playing a golf game, I even got a ticket for a free ice cream cone.
Total cost for the three of us ( a niece went along for the day), was 75 cents to upgrate to a waffle cone for the ice cream.
And what did I learn? Not much, just that things change fast in agriculture, just like everywhere else. The machinery is getting bigger and more expensive. More computers and GPS. More rules and regulations.
And hubby had a good look at some pieces of equipment, that he thinks need to be upgraded, but that will have to wait till winter.
It looks like tomorrow will be a sunny day and that means the start of the bean harvest. So more time outside for me.
I have been working on the last orchid and this is what I have accomplished so far. There are 8 more flowers to do.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Last days of summer

We can notice, that summer is nearing the end. Evenings are cooler and at times a jacket comes in handy. Saturday I picked some flowers and leaves around the house. Jenny gave me a handy tool for using with flower arrangements, that I had not used yet.
It did work very well. It fits in the large vase and holds the flowers and leaves straight.
Around it,but inside the vase, I put some hosta leaves to conceal it.
The begonias are at their best, but they are better left outside.
Back to quilting. Whatever I had in mind for the front of the farm did not work. Instead I appliqued one piece along the front, what seems to work much better. I cut the pieces for the border and pinned them on the board. And there it will sit for a few weeks, while I will be looking at it. I wonder if I should quilt the sky, before I will sew the foliage of the trees down. It would make it much easier.

I think I have to machine quilt it, because in places there are a lot of layers of fabric.
And it will need some more hand embroidery.
While I'm taking a break from this one, I picked up the quilt with the orchids. The 2 orchids at the bottom were finished a while ago and by that time I had run out of steam. This time I managed to come up with suitable orchids for the top. This one is a pansy orchid and as the name implies, it looks a lot like a pansy. The leaves and stems are sashiko, done with 2 different kinds of variegated thread. It looks nice, but the extra thickness made it hard to pull the needle through the fabric. I hope to get this side done this week. Than it is one to the last side, all ready to go.

My goal is to get both tops ready for quilting by the end of the month. We have our guild quilt show (Waterloo County Quilters Guild) on the last week-end in September and after that's all behind me, I want to start on the "postcard" quilt for the MCC sale. I'm just hoping for a few more cards to return!