Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Christmas tradition

Since our kids were small we have had this tradition around Christmas time, that I wish would go away. It seems that at least one of us would be sick or have a bad cold around that time. This year was no exception. The Friday before Christmas Jenny noticed swollen glands in her neck. She went to the doctor, who was quite sure it was the mumps Swabs and blood were taken and she was told to stay home, in quarantine ,for the next 9 days or till the samples would come back negative. Christmas eve they came back, possitive. Since we had had the mumps she could come here. Whoever did not have them or did not know, stayed away for the holidays. We all stayed home on Christmas eve,missing the service at church. Christmas Day was quiet, but very good. Grandma and our friends from up north came over and the food disappeared. Boxing Day came and Jenny was again a free woman,so off to the mall she went with Tony and Laurence. I stayed home to clean up .Since the temperature was around freezing it was a good day to put our, very small tree out in its pre-dug hole. In the morning I took the decorations of (the ugly duckling had turned into a lovely swan with all the decorations) In the afternoon the guys took the tree outside and under the watchfull eye of Bernie, the Bernese, planted the tree. We put 2 bales of straw around it and now we hope that it will survive. The papercut quilt has been named. From now on it will be known as "Plain and Fancy" That's the best I could come up with. It has very plain blocks and fancy blocks.I like to enter it in at least one show and the date to enter is coming up. Laurence and I had tried to take pictures outside, but the quilt just about flew away. More help was needed. And that I had on Saterday afternoon. The wind quieted down for about halve an hour and with the sun behind the clouds conditions were just right.
Only one more week and I will be on my way to Japan. I'm looking forward to it more all the time. The yens have been ordered and a long list of things that have to be done, has been made up.
It looks like we will have a very quiet New Year's Eve. Laurence is sick with a cough and a sore throat, so we will not be going anywhere. But to everybody reading this, I wish you a very happy 2010Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Of a small tree and a big trip

Once in a while Laurence insists on getting a real, potted Christmas tree. We have done it before and they all have survived. This year again he made me go with him to Frank's greenhouse on the other side of Listowel for a potted tree. And we were in luck. There were different ones there, even on sale. Now the one thing I do not like is, that they are small.Not enough room to decorate. But we came home with this Colorado Blue struce. Laurence dug a hole right away outside, so after the holidays we can pop it into it's spot. With a few straw bales around it for the rest of the winter and everything should be fine. We put the tree inside this morning and I decorated it later in the afternoon. And yes, I put something around the garbage bag! We also put another smaller quilt up in the hall. The way it is right now I can almost change quilts by myself. This one I made years ago and it is an amarillis in a pot with 3d accents. It has never hug on any wall before. I realize, that it really is a tad small up there, but soon I will be working on the one meant for that place. Here are my Christmas cards I made for this year. I was early and they were all ready at the end of the summer. And now you might wonder, why a Japanese kimono on a Christmas card. Well I have some news. In a little over 2 week I will be going to Japan for 2 weeks. I heard about this trip during Quilt Canada from Sandy Simmelink. She got me in contact with Kathy Nelles, who is the organizer. As soon as I received all the information I signed up. Later at our guild meeting I asked around and Elizabeth decided to come along and later 2 other members decided to join the group. We are going to Kyoto, Nagoya and will end up at the International Quilt Show in Tokyo. But first there is Christmas. Tomorrow evening is the candle light service at our church and it is one of my favorite times. With the church full ,the singing is great. Jeanette and Tony will be here tomorrow and grandma, Tony's parents and some friends will join us for Christmas Day. Shawn and Emily decided this year to stay out in Alberta. They will be here during the coming year for different weddings. To everybody out there reading this, I wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best for the coming year.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New heat source

It is just over a year ago that we moved to this house. It took some getting used to, but I like it very much. Most of all my sewing room. At the farm it used to get very cold in the winter, here it is nice and cosy. What I did not like was the heating system. This big house was heated by electricity. We looked around ( or mostly me) and decided on a geothermal system. And last Thursday, right in the middle of the first snow storm of the year, it was time to start the digging. A small high hoe started digging a trench from the house, around the back of the house to the end of the yard. I had moved some of the perenials, but I could not save all of them and a few of the roses did not make it back into the ground. Out at the edge of the yard a bigger high hoe started to make 3 deep trenches. Each had 2 loops of pipe at the bottom. The 6 loops were hooked up to the loop from the house. The pipes were filled with a mixture of ethanol and water. The heat in the ground will warm up this mixture and that will heat the house. Right now the fellows are hooking up the water heater. This will pre-heat the water to around 40 degrees. As you can see it make a big mess. At the end everything was back filled as much as possible, but with the bad weather and the snow we were getting, it was hard. Friday the furnaces were switched and we did without heat for a day, but right now the new system is working fine. We still have more snow coming down. At least the wind has calmed down.
A few weeks ago I was at the local grocery store and noticed a large group of amarillis bulbs. These had been in boxes and had started to grow in the boxes. The floral department had potted some of them up and they were on sale for 50% off. First I bought one for my mother in law, then went back and found this one with 2 buds. Right now the first stem with 5 blooms is in full bloom with the second one not far behind. Very Christmas likePosted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ready for pictures

Once a quilt has been quilted, the work is not done. The next step was to square the quilt. I was thankful that we had managed to get the table tennis table together. That made the job much easier. The final size was 951/2 by 951/2, give or take 1/8 of an inch. I use a long carpenter ruler. That makes it easier to get a straight line for cutting. I have had my share of wobly bindings. Next step: the binding. With this get-up it went fairly fast. I turned the binding to the back and basted it down by hand. Another member of the guild asked if she could do the hand sewing since she did not make it up here for the quilting. This way we can take pictures and the sewing can be done later. Next step was the sleeve. I put a divided, 4 inch sleeve on the back. Some shows ask for a divided sleeve if the quilt is over a certain size. I also put a temporary, narrow strip on the bottom. Just in case it is windy when we take pictures. That way I can put a narrow dowel it to keep it straight. Then this morning: the moment of truth. You never know, how it will look and hang, till it is accually hanging. The ceiling in my quilt room is 8 feet tall, so there was just enough room to hang it on my stand. And it looks great hangs really, really well for such a large quilt. Let's just say that I'm very happy. A fantastic result with the help of over 100 participants. A real group quilt! There are a few things to do yet. We will have to take a good look at the back in case some stitches have been forgotten and look for loose ends. Now it is time to start writing the Christmas cards and do some baking. I'm not very good at multi tasking. The weather has not been good today. First rain, then snow , a good day to stay inside. A few weeks ago I got lucky at the local grocery store. Right there, in a shopping cart, were 2 orchids. Price: 99 cent each. I had a good look at them and they were healthy. How could I leave those behind. Just in case there is a bug present,they will be by themselves for a few weeks, but I repotted them and they are blooming well. A friend told me once, that orchids seem to breed in the night. Slowly you seem to get more. I had a good laugh, but that seems to be happening here.
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Thursday, December 03, 2009

The last stitch

This is what it looked like yesterday morning. We were very close, but all along a small strip had to be quilted yet. Esther, Judy and Kathy came early and were determined that we should get it finished. There was only room for 3 quilters without getting in each others way. So I did not get in the way and let the pro's do the work. By early afternoon they got close, just a few more stitches and then at 2.40 p.m Kathy put the last stitch in the quilt. I'm quite sure there will be some forgotten areas, but I can find those later. And then the moment of truth.Would it look as good as we thought it should after all this work? And yes, it did. The quilting looks just right and looks even better from the plain back Right now I have it on a spare bed, just to get all the wrinkles out. The next step will be to square it and put the binding on . I always take a large quilt to church to do the squaring. I can put 3 or 4 tables together and have lots of room. But son-in-law will get a table tennis table for Christmas and since they do not have room at home it will stay here for the time being. Daughter asked us to buy it (on sale) last week and could we put it together please. What a job!!!First it was awfull heavy for the 2 of us to get it in the box down the stairs. Once there we left till till the quilt was out. So last evening the time had come to put it all together. Let's just say after 21/2 hours and 2 trips to the workshop and 2 sore backs later it was together. I washed the top this morning just to be sure the paint would not come of and now I'm ready to do the job here. The table is not wide enough, but I figure that with the straight edges I will be o.k. Winter must be close. We had a sprinkling of snow this morning, but a minute ago I saw the first snow plow driving past. Looks like winter is on it's way. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's not all quilting

Yesterday I had 6 ladies here to quilt and a lot got done. Tomorrow another 6 are coming and my wishful thinking is, that by the end of the day we will be finished, or very close to it!

But it was not all quilting. Jeanette gave me a book with sock knitting projects called Sock Innovation by Cookie A. I can use it for a while, but she wants it back.The patterns are not easy, but very interesting. I am working on my second pair from the book, and during our chats around the quilting frame, I found out that a lot of quilters are also knitters! Florence would love to have a copy, and since I am using Jeanette's, I ordered two books.

Carol, Thelma, Shelagh and Florence closely examined the book and my one finished sock. Florence had made a few samples, and in the photo here, the discussion was about some of the knitting patterns.They are a little different, but once you catch on, they are very easy to follow. And yes, a lot of quilting got done, but there will not be a picture of that till the last stitch has been put in!

It’s almost December -- and I found this pansy in the garden! I bought a tray of plants in April, and some of them have bloomed for over 6 months now. And the harvest is finally over: Laurence finished Monday evening at 11 o'clock. Rain was expected, so there was a push on to get it finally over with. The days have since turned to cold and very rainy -- great weather for staying inside and getting some quilting done.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It has been a busy week

I know this is a day late, but we have been busy. Up until today, the weather was beautiful and the corn harvest was in full swing. Here, the guys are finishing one of the fields. The quality of the corn around here has been very poor this year, and that did not change. The moisture content dropped some with these past several nice days, but today is a different story: it was raining all day. Laurence used the day to fix all the things he did not have time for during combining. But he is ready and hopes for a few more sunny days. Don't forget, we are in an area where we can get snow anytime now! Last year we did have snow by now, and it really did not go away till the spring. 

I have been busy with the quilting. On Tuesday, we had a small group, but we got everything lined up for the bigger group today. I did not take a picture, but I hope that by getting 6 people out next week on both Tuesday and Thursday, we can get it almost finished. We all really like what we see.We complain a little at times, when we hit one of the more difficult blocks, but that never lasts long. And some of the centre blocks are very hard to quilt. There are lots of small areas, where you can only do one or two stitches at a time.

Yesterday was our guild meeting. As usual, it was a full day for me. The morning started with getting parts for Laurence, followed by some shopping for gifts. The guild meeting was a lot of fun. The tables were all covered by white table cloths with a cyclamen in the center. Since this was our Christmas meeting, members brought in finger-foods, which we enjoyed while being treated to a fashion show by members. It was a fun and relaxing meeting.

I had to leave early to go to the nose,throat and ear specialist in Stratford. He looked in my ears… and after almost 2 months I'm infection-free -- finally! That evening, I did my trunk show for the guild right in Stratford. They let me do my presentation first, so I could leave in time, and I was home just before 10. It was a fun, but very tiring day.

While getting ready for my trunk show I found this wall hanging I made years ago. My mother-in-law made a full size quilt with this pattern. I liked it and wanted to give it a try. It was fun, but one block was enough for me. I did machine quilt it and then it kind of disappeared under some other quilts. I seem to like it better now and I will put a sleeve on. Then I will find a place to hang it up for a while.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Still more quilting

Last Thursday, it started to snow in the afternoon and by the next morning it looked like this outside. Riley and I went for a walk and I tried to take some pictures for my photography course. The rest of the class had gone on a field trip Saturday, but since I had to teach I was unable to go.  I did manage to take a few pictures I liked, but this is my favourite. The snow did not stay around long, and by the afternoon it was gone. 

Then Sunday morning, we woke up to a very foggy dawn.I went outside with my camera before breakfast and took this picture of the sun coming up. An hour later the fog was gone and the sun came out. And we have had sunshine ever since. Laurence has done some more combining,but the crop is still very wet, even with all this sunny weather.

Today was another quilting day. Just like last week, we had another quilt to admire: Clara brought her beautiful Wedding Star, a variation of the Double Wedding Ring. This quilt will be a gift for one of her grand children. But is was not all talk (and eat). A lot of quilting got done, so now I have hopes that the quilting will be finished before Christmas.

Here are Judy, Jeanette, Shelagh, Emily and Clara, hard at work(I must mention that it was a very hard working group!!!) You can see my "throne" in the back. I still do my quilting with the stab method and I'm very slow at it, but every stitch is one that does not have to be done anymore. The two ends are almost completely quilted and we are just about ready to roll again on both sides. Next week, I’m hope to get groups in on Tuesday and Thursday.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Start of winter?

As you can see, there is still a lot of quilting to do. This was yesterday’s crew, with Judy, Arlene, Eileen, Lois, Emily, Shelagh and Jeanette. At the end of the day, both ends of the quilt could be turned at least once.

Then today there were 6 of us, and by this evening if looks a lot different. Now we will take a break till the middle of next week. When you have this many quilters around you can get in some tight spots. It helps in times like that if you are very flexible, like Judy and Arlene show us here!

Judy showed us her fabric portrait of a Haitian woman. She is taking an on line course with Quilt University and this is her project. She has done a marvellous job, as you can see in the close-up. She had not decided if she would frame this or if she would turn it into a small wall hanging.

Now on the farming front: we have been farming since 1974, and this is one of the worst years we have had for growing corn. First there was the late spring, followed by a non-summer; we had a decent fall, but with an early frost. All our corn is still in the field, really too wet to combine. But today was supposed be the day: Neighbours wanted high moisture corn to fill up their silo's for their dairy cows. So this morning at 6 we were up, but after breakfast it rained just enough to change our plans. For the rest of the day we had rain and sleet for a few minutes followed by sunshine. They did start for a while in the mid-afternoon, but around 5 o'clock it started to snow and right now we have a white world out there.

Needless to say that the supper I had almost ready to take to the field was eaten right here in the kitchen! But the forecast promises a few sunny days ahead. Let's hope they have it right this time!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Things don't always go the way you think they should!

I have been taking a photography class at night school for the last few weeks. I’m used to taking my pictures on the automatic setting of my Nikon D40 and the first thing we had to do is change it to manual! That started all kinds of new things for me, from aperture to shutter speed. My home work was to take certain pictures on different settings. So Sunday afternoon saw me tramping through our bush.This tree was as colourful as I could find.This year the colors of the trees have not been great. 

I did find a few roses at the side of our house: they are not the prettiest, but they give some color. I'm not very good at this manual thing yet, but I did get a few things figured out.

Then on Tuesday I could not go to class, because of illness. Last week we started with the quilting -- there is a lot of it, but we’d made a good start, till Tuesday. In the middle of the night I woke up, all dizzy. I could not stand or even sit! A week before, I had been to the doctor with my ear infection, and he’d made an appointment with the specialist for me, that just happened to be on the Wednesday! Laurence managed to get me there. As it turned out, the dizziness had nothing to do with my ear infection, but something floating around in my inner ear. The specialist twisted my head a certain way and almost instantly the dizziness was gone. But not being able to eat or drink much for the previous 2 days had left me weak.

Needless to say, that there has not been any quilting done, but I hope to be back in business by the beginning of next week. Here is a picture of the Monday group, with Margot, Jeanette,Charlotte and Emily.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ready to quilt

A quilt top is not a quilt till it has been quilted.

Tuesday was the day to put the "papercut" quilt in the frame for quilting. There is lots of room down here in the basement to set a quilting frame up. Emily and Carol, both very experienced, drove up from Waterloo to help. In just 45 minutes, the quilt was all ready to go.

Wednesday, we had our guild meeting and I made sure I had lots of hand-outs with the directions to our place: today was the first day for quilting. We started of with only the three of us. Better to say two and a half: I have trouble with hand quilting. My back just won't let me do much of it.

This morning, I tried really hard, but did not get much done. In the afternoon, I tried the stab method. By having one hand on top and one on the bottom and stabbing the needle up and down, I managed to get more done with even stitches. So from now on this will be my(very awkward and slow) way.

Here are 2 expert quilters, Carol on the right and Florence on the left. They worked very well together with one being left handed, the other right handed. Tomorrow, I expect 6 ladies to come here. There is a lot of quilting on this quilt, but any less would not look right. Notice the 2 posters behind the quilters? That are two of the quilts done by the guild and the church, both sold at the Mennonite Relief Sale in New Hamburg. The one on the right was finished in 1999, and won an honorable mention in the group category in Houston. It sold in 2000 for $16,000. The one on the left was sold 6 years later. Made by the same groups, this one showed interpretations of the aerial photography by Carl Hiebert. It was purchased by Carl for $11,100. The quilt currently in the frame will be the 6th one to go to the Relief Sale.

The weather has turned again. It is wet and cold. The soybeans have been combined and the winter wheat planted, so we are not in too bad a shape. The corn has to be done yet, but that can wait a week or so. With weather like this, it is kind of cosy quilting downstairs!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Woodstock fleece festival

This is later than normal, but nothing happened on the quilt front. The design wall is empty. Not that nothing is getting done. The weather is much better and Laurence has been busy combining the white beans(of pork and bean fame) and soybeans. And as often happens, once the weather clears there are about a dozen jobs that have to be done at the same time. We are lucky , that we share our field work with our neighbour Herb. Today he has taken over the combining, while Laurence is planting winter wheat. It looks like we will get a few more sunny days and we need them. Jeanette came over last night and this morning we went to the first Woodstock Fleece Festival. Last year she went to the Wool Festival in Rheinbeck, New York, but with all the work going on at home, it was just too far to go. And we had a great time.This was much smaller, but there was lots to see and buy. The first picture shows a fellow quilter from the Oakville Guild,Marnie Parkin, who also makes socks on a 1925 sock machine. They are the neatest thing to see in operation. And despite the age this machine still works perfect. And then there was another quilter, Rita Budd. I have admired her landscapes for a long time. I even took a 2 day workshop in her barn a few years ago. A perfect place to have workshops. Outside there were a few sheep and 2 alpaca's. This one seemed quite content, but the other fellow did not like it one bit. There was lots of beautiful yarn for sale. When I used to knit sweaters for the kids, a long time ago, you could choose between wool or acrylic. Now the choices are endless, from bamboo to soybean, to camel,to cotton. to wool. And the colors!!!!! I did come home with enough yarn to knit a pair of socks and a scarf. Now to find the time!
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Way up there.....

As long as we have been living here ( all of 10 months) I wanted to have a quilt hang way up on the wall. Now that was easier said than done. To get up on the left of the railing was easy, but to install a hanger of any kind on the right side, was almost impossible. But yesterday, after another miserable, rainy day and no combining in sight, Laurence decided, that it could be done. He had this long plank, left over from a cementing job, that he could put across.He could stand on there and install the 2 eye hooks. I had my reservations, but it worked. Now if you have a close look, you can see that this all is just temporary. This wallhanging is one of my first and it is not quite big enough for that spot. It was one of the few with a sleeve though.Then notice the long dowel. The next one will be cut to the right size. And the string. All I could find was this white string and I knew that this would be a one time deal. I used that. On my list for town is nylon fish line. Main thing is, that it hangs straight. The quilt meant for that spot has been basted and it will be quilted in the next few weeks. Not too much is getting done. I thought that my ear infection was gone, but it has returned, with a vengeance. So back to the doctor it was and now I'm on 2 medications, oral and drops.And no hearing aid for the next few weeks. So it is back to shouting for my poor husband. The medication also seems to affect my stomach. Just to have something to do I got a few left overs together and made this post card. I appliqued the circle, left over from another project, and did some sashiko in the same pattern as you see in the applique. Quick and easy. Next on my list is the marking of the large papercut quilt.I will put it the frame in the basement and ask members of the guild to come and quilt on it near the end of the month The weather has been very poor with lots of rain and hard wind. All the crops are still in the field and it does not look like there will be anything done in the near future. A few flowers are still in bloom. These flowers were called "naked ladies" by my mother in law. They are different. The leaves come up in early spring and then die down. The flowers won't show up till late in the fall. They almost look like a bigger crocus and they are very pretty. Clean-up of the garden will start on the first nice day.
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