Tag Archives: block of the month

Bold Move

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Bold Move
Be Bold

Be Bold

This month’s Sugar Block! It’s called Bold. I really like it, especially because it was my first block in the new house. It was very difficult to undertake, because the cords for the iron and the machine were in the air and the cutting board was taking up a lot of space, along with pencil crayons and felts strewn all over the place. We’ve been here for a week and I managed to squeeze some sewing in. I think that’s amazing.

empty apartment

empty apartment

Bronwen was the best at keeping the kitty company for the ferry ride and was great at getting him settled into the new house. My sister said this picture was a sad shot. Personally I think it was a crazy day and this was the calm before the storm.

The truck

The truck

This is the behemoth I drove from Victoria, onto the ferry (at the commercial rate because I was 13′ tall and 33′ long) and then through to the north of Surrey. (For those of you not from these parts, that means I drove for about 3 hours). I even managed a three-point-turn in this puppy with no help!

fish tank hilarity

fish tank hilarity

This was probably the most comedic aspect of the truck unload process. The classic joke “how many <insert person’s title here> does it take to <insert mundane task here> pops to mind. It really did take three full grown men to move one aquarium. Okay, I’ll stop ribbing them. My husband is bent over to help the other guy on the end to slow the tank down, and they had it balanced on two dollies. The tank is 120 US gallons and empty it weighs about 300 lbs.  Luckily there were no injuries or issues with it. (It’s in the carport now.)

coming together

coming together

We got to hang up a few things since we got here. First was my big collage. It’s 4’x4′. I think it looks wicked cool in our entryway. I love the house’s original “pendant” light there.

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This is a scrap fabric rug I’m making in the shape of a heart. I think it’s super cute and I look forward to finishing it.

craftsy inspired tool wall

craftsy inspired tool wall

Right before we left the island a lovely lady, Bonnie, who is a garment maker, gave me a big stash of quilter’s threads! Loads of aurifil, marathon metallic, and YLI polyesther! Perfect for embellishing!! I also thought I’d hang my rotary cutters and specialty rulers since in the old house they used to get lost under stuff all the time. I love the fact that most people would use my area as a dining room. In this house it’s a quilter’s den.

quilter's den

quilter’s den

As you can see the fabric has started bubbling out of the bins and I’ve configured things in a somewhat functional order. I was proud I managed to get the design wall batting up on my own!

pressing board

pressing board

My first official sewing project was to make a pressing board. The ironing board got trashed at the old dump. It was rusted and wobbly. I got a 2′ square piece of plywood, cotton batting (three layers), some strip yardage I made a while back that was simply taking up space, a staple gun, and duct tape. Layer all those together, staple, and cover the staples with the tape, and you have a killer pressing surface!

sooooo excited!

sooooo excited!

In other news, I  just treated myself to a mystery quilt workshop with my idol, Amy Gibson!!! This will be the first thing I get delivered to our new address! Way to start off on the right foot!!!

Scrap Happy block 1

Scrap Happy block 1

This is what I made today:  a 15″ square lone star as part of the 2013 Scrap Happy quilt along. I got my Y-seam skills on and made a truly scrappy block! This is the first time I’ve ever made a lone star that is not meant to have each row matching colours. I think I like this more random look. Suits me fine!

So now you all know what’s been going on in Handy Danielle land! I hope you are all doing well and I can’t wait to get back to regular updates!

Love,

Handy Danielle

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Service

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Service
July Sugar Block

July Sugar Block

Here’s this month’s block that Amy Gibson calls “serve.” It was an interesting combination of techniques: quarter square triangles, paper foundation piecing, and the basic nine patch assembly. It was a fun task to grab some stripes and make them line up the way I wanted them to. I’ve always had an irrational fear of stripes in my quilting–probably because they never lined up in one direction, like when my grand mother used to force me to wear striped pants when I was a kid! But they worked great this time around and I’m so happy!

Anyway, Amy put it to us to “serve.” She quoted the Bible and seemed to find some solace there, and that’s cool. I liked her bullet list at the end of the entry that was a bunch of down to earth methods to be a better person. Like patience in line, giving people your seat, doing others favours when they ask you to (ie getting them a drink from the fridge while you’re on your way over; there’s a common request in our house!) etc. Just being good. I’d like to think I follow those tenets of living. Although depression makes it very hard sometimes.

For those who’ve lived with a person who is depressed they probably think it’s a selfish disease. It looks like that on the outside. But it’s not. It’s an exhausting disease. And any medications don’t help. And for the same reason depressives often fall on depressant drugs like alcohol and pain killers, the pharmaceutical companies produce meds that have the same sedating effects. It’s a drag, quite literally.

Bronwen's tomato sprouting seeds

Bronwen’s tomato sprouting seeds

One thing that’s been inspirational lately is watching Bronwen grow up. She has developed interests that I never had at her age, like nature. This girl is a whiz at sprouting seeds and keeping plants alive.  Her father and I are terrible at it, but she’s got a green thumb. She also remembers factoids about certain trees, plants, and animals. She makes sure our fish and invertebrates are doing well each day. It’s so refreshing to hear her spout off about that stuff. Don’t get me wrong–she’s a normal kid, too. She loves video games, cartoons, Disney princesses, and being colour coordinated.

When she was a baby she felt like a small animal that was constantly unhappy. My husband and I were fighting day and night to keep her and ourselves alive. It was a strange feeling. I didn’t feel love for her at that point and I’m not proud of that. But in “service” of this person that I wasn’t particularly fond of yet, I did all the laundry, diaper prep for the diaper service, bathing (in between my own mandatory sitz baths), and bottle cleaning. Now she’s school age and we can talk things through. We are happy we served her well and she is a happy, thriving child about to enter kindergarten.

an earring bundle!

an earring bundle!

I just sold these earrings yesterday. It was so awesome to see a happy lady take some merchandise off my hands. Some of you may not know this, but I actually make jewelry too! I just haven’t made any lately because I have a full inventory! So there you have it: another facet of me. It’s a lot of fun meeting people who will be wearing my goodies.

This lady who came to my home had two very gregarious young boys. The oldest told me he was five and by the looks of his brother (who was dressed in a super hero costume) he was likely around three. They immediately spotted the trappings of another kid’s house: building blocks laying around, balloons, and of course they couldn’t resist the keyboard at full blast. Now the old me (especially prior to motherhood) would have dwelled on those kids making such noise. But in service to my client I talked to the kids about kid stuff and talked with their mom about mom stuff. It was fun, really. And it was all following the basic tenets of being a good person, I think. And I think that’s what I read into Amy Gibson’ s blog post about service. Give it a read. See what you think.

mighty bail of batiks

mighty bail of batiks

These are just some wicked awesome batiks that I wanted to show off! They’re for my next quilt! I never used to think much of batiks but I’m starting to really like them.

Have a fun week everyone!

Joy

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Joy sugar block

Joy sugar block

“Oh joy! Love you bring! Oh joy! Make my heart sing!”– Joy from Mick Jagger’s album Goddess in the Doorway

This is the May Sugar Block. I think it came out cute. It was simple paper piecing. Right now I’m doing a Dr. Who quilt for a friend of mine and it is totally the opposite: paper piecing in the extreme! But I am still joyous in the process of making it because I have finally figured out how to free motion quilt normal looking stitches! No more long stitches and short stitches and eyelashes on the back. Just normal looking machine stitching. I am so happy about that.

Another bit of loveliness is that I am a featured artist for Jennibellie’s TAT (Tell all Tuesday) on her blog, jennibelliestudio.blogspot.co.uk. Here’s the link to the article (with pics of my office in a clean, rare state):  http://jennibelliestudio.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/tell-all-tuesday-featured-artist.html. I would be so honoured if you took a read and a look at the fun pics.

The comments the post generated are lovely; apparently many people live with the same or similar obstacles that I do. It is nice to read that. Not that I enjoy knowing other people suffer, wow, that came out totally wrong! But we all seem to think “I’m alone in my pain.” We’re not. It’s just so hard to keep focused on the positive, the eyes on the prize.

My husband just got his two week notice this morning. Too much expansion in the firm he has articled at has caused a financial strain. Many support staff are leaving, and other lawyers. Even one of the partners is leaving. So that’s heart breaking. Just when things are looking up, the pit shows up. It will be a very rough time for me and my family for the next while, so be forewarned if my posts are a little less, well, joyful.

I leave you with the first block I made for my friend’s quilt. It is heavy duty paper piecing. I’ve made six blocks so far in the sampler series and they’re all turning out superb. I’m doing a quilt as you go method, so it’s been nice to make a block from start to finish in a day, ready for sashing.

Tardis

Tardis

Have a good week everyone. I know I’ll be trying.

Dilapidated Fence Rails

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Dilapidated Fence Rails

We all have run across the fence rail block if we’ve been quilting for any length of time. Typically this block is done by cross-cutting strip sets, right? Right. That only makes sense.

Okay. Having said that, I’ve been doing this year’s Craftsy block of the month (bom). It’s not really a class I’d expected–this one is all about colour theories and principles. The ones we’re all familiar with: warm and cool, complimentary, an examination of value, and the less obvious like hexadic. Anyway, every single block is strip pieced. So the whole quilt will be string blocks, and four patches or another configuration of squares. It’s all pretty straight forward straight line piecing.

So after finishing the various exercises you’re inevitably left with something like this:

strip remnants

     strip remnants

So this time around for the fence rails I decided to challenge myself beyond the requirements for this month’s colour study. I decided I’d cut a lot of yardage for previous blocks and didn’t want to cut anymore. As you can see by my pile of leftover strip sets, there’s a lot of fabric here that satisfies any colour study. So I went ahead and started being a strip surgeon. It’s not as tricky as it sounds. It was kind of fun and I got some nifty surprises when it came time to do the final block trimming.

Step One: figure out what strips you want to use. Remember, this is a method of lengthening your stubby strip sets. Find several of the same width and get to stitching them in to a strip. Or if you don’t have any already cut that match the width you need, piece some narrow strips together until you reach your width requirement. It will make for an intricate looking block!

leftover strips from earlier trimming

leftover strips from earlier trimming

piecing the leftovers

piecing the leftovers

press the seams open and then from the front

press the seams open and then from the front

Step Two: Now you have a long Frankenstein strip ready to use in a traditional strip set, or you can carry on adding other pieced bits, as I will below.

prepping for a new seam

prepping for a new seam

You need to cut away any selvages and jagged bits so that your new addition is straight and easy to add.

ready to sew

ready to sew

Discard the old selvages and grab your Franken-strip. It’s ready to be added.

adding to another strip set

adding to another strip set

Okay, you’re almost done! All you need to do is figure out what placement you’d like and pick out a few stitches for your horizontal seam allowance. Sew your seam and press open.

Step Three: Sew the vertical (lengthwise) seams and press them open as well.

long seams

long seams

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Tada!! You have just added more fabric to your existing stub. You can do this as many times as necessary to make the required length and width for whatever your pattern calls for.

My class pattern called for 24 of these little 6.5″ square fence rails. It was fun to make, but man, 24! I think what made me want to use up the remnants of what I had was the fact that  1. I hate having leftovers that are difficult to deal with, like strip sets, as they were made specifically for another project and would require a lot of ripping to be useful in another context and 2. I was thinking of my old house today.

Yeah, I was a bit sentimental. Probably because I’m not feeling well. Whenever the weather changes from rainy to sunny warm like it is now, the barometer changes and I get a sinus infection. Every year. Without fail. And it’s painful. It is depressing. The only thing that stops me from paying someone to curb-stomp my head is the nice weather! And whenever I’m sick I think of places, people, and things, (all nouns, actually, haha) that are comforting.

Anyway, in our townhouse complex there was horrific Franken-fencing. The strata had no contingency fund and the fees were too low. So the fencing was all rotted away and would blow in the wind. No kidding–it would wobble and the neighbourhood cats would fall off if they were walking along it! Nobody wanted to try saving money to replace the fencing. It was always a hot button issue, not unlike what Republicans think of Democrats, I figure, when it comes to lowering taxes and only the wealthy can afford the luxury of getting sick. But I digress. My husband and I were more than happy to pay more so that when the fencing finally fell down, it could be replaced. Because the strata fees were so low, when the roofing went, every unit in the place had to pony up $5000 because there was no money to replace it!

So I decided that this piecing exercise had a certain symbiosis: use up the extras and make a whacked out fence as a tribute to the one we had at our previous home.

Have a great week everyone!

 

 

Presence

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Presence

So have any of you lovely people found yourselves addicted to blocks of the month? I sure have.

It started with the craftsy block of the month classes, which are free. Then I got into paid classes. Then I found out about a great (and economical) block of the month called The Sugar Block Club, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Last year’s cute blocks are in my latest sampler that I’m still quilting (it’s an oversized queen bed quilt that I’m doing by hand, so yeah. It’s been a very long time in the quilting). They came with recipes for goodies, if that’s your thing. This year’s blocks are about going “beyond the block,” so there’s recipes and reflective themes around which the blocks are designed.

an embroidered quilt label

an embroidered quilt label

This month is “Presence.” I find this theme interesting, as I have joined several blocks of the month groups from all over the internet and have been having fun keeping up. By the end of the day I get a chance to read and get caught up on correspondence, whether that be email or facebook or anything else.

Lately I’ve been on the phone more than usual. My grand mother was just in a serious car crash that broke her arm and killed her friend that was travelling with her. It has been very sad for us. Luckily Maria’s family went to my Nonna and told her they bore no ill will and they forgave her for what happened, even though it wasn’t her fault. We’re greatful that Nonna didn’t have another stroke from the incident’s physical and emotional strain. She suffered a stroke last year trying to help Nonno back up after he fell getting out of bed.

It’s very sad and one of the hardest things in my life to sit back and witness my grand parents getting older. I mean, it’s going to happen, I get that. But my grand parents are very strong willed people. They grew up in Mussolini’s Italy. My Nonno was a very young man in the war and kept as a POW for two years in Cologne Germany after liberation while the countries were able to cobble up a rail line to get people back to where they needed to be. My Nonna is 10 years younger, but suffered in her own way at that time. She had to raise her brothers from the age of 11 after her father died of the flu. Her sisters and mother worked the field and considered her still too young and needed the house run. To this day nobody manages a house like Nonna. It is always pristine.

Having said that, this concept of “presence,” as put forward by this month’s sugar block, I’m intrigued by the history of that. What is meant by that term in this case is to spend quality time with your loved ones. No screens, no divided attention. It’s funny because my grand parents wouldn’t have had the time for “quality” time either in childhood or as parents themselves. They were hard workers–and still are, as much as they can be. They still live in the same house they built in 1956. It’s a typical two storey rambling house from that era. Superficial things are different about it now, such as the vinyl siding my Nonno installed back in 1989, the “new” kitchen that was done in 1974, the carpeting that was replaced in 1986. But otherwise the place remains the same.

They worked very hard to pay for that house in cash. Never had a mortgage. Nonno worked Christmas eve and Christmas day shifts at the Cominco mine for triple time so they’d have extra money. Quality time? Time spent not working was a waste for this generation.

My parents were very similar to this, in a contemporary sort of way. Yes, they had a mortgage, car payments, credit card debt, the usual stuff. But because of those factors, they worked hard in their white collar jobs. Mom was a legal secretary (and still is) and my dad was (and still is) in the aviation industry. By the end of a work day, we’d sit together and have dinner, and then ask to be excused from the table and me and my sister would blast off downstairs to the TV room. My parents would stay upstairs and chat, or more commonly, watch their own TV.

This was light years before the internet became ubiquitous as it is today, so TV was pretty much the only diversion of the time. I never blamed them for not spending “present” or “quality” time with us as we grew up. They were busy. Parents who care are busy. That’s how I saw it.

But now I’m a parent. I am busy and I care about our daughter. So does my husband. But sometimes the best way we can spend time with Bronwen is to sit and do our own things. She likes cartoons. I like reading or watching craftsy classes, sitting downstairs quilting, or dashing off a block or two for my BOMs. My husband likes to play zombie games on his phone. The one thing that is “quality time” in the traditional sense is bedtime stories. We do make a point of having that. Cody and Bronwen go to the library once a week and pick out new books. When we have the extra money we buy books from those Scholastic book orders through school. So she has a healthy love of books that we are proud of.

books and games!

books and games!

So are we “present”? Well, half way, I suppose. I think it’s a matter of finding what works with your family. I know some parents who refuse to allow their children any TV at all. The kids can only use the internet for homework, and no phones after a certain time of night. It seems like a lot of work to have a daily battle about this, especially if the kids happen to be teens. Not a battle I’d want to fight! But they do it because they want to keep the bad out as best they can. I don’t argue about it with them. I just feel like that’s the same attitude as the war on drugs or the war on terror in the States. It’s a hollow comfort for those who believe we need that kind of approach.

Anyway, I hope all your families are experiencing positive time together in your own ways. Have a good week!

Oh Bronwen!

Oh Bronwen!