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Today is my mom’s birthday!  I few months ago I was at Fabricland, because I like to torture myself every once in a while, when I spotted some Cape Breton tartan and knew that I had to buy it to make something for my mom who is all out obsessed with our home island. She has Cape Breton table cloths, napkins, wall hangings, photos and other island-themed paraphernalia all over her house. I initially wanted to make her something to wear to work so she could take her pride with her but I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t be super Nardwuar-esque.  I finally decided on a simple quilt.

For the silhouette applique, I found an outline of Cape Breton online then used this site to enlarge it to print onto four pages. Then I used Steam-a-Seam 2 to adhere it to the backing and I zigzagged around the edges.

I was in a rush to get this to the post office (almost a month ago – I don’t deal well with procrastination) so I failed to get any photos of the back but it’s just more tartan so I’m sure you can imagine it.  Lining up the front and the back so that the quilting lines would be straight was tough and I failed pretty miserably but at least everyone will know it’s handmade and not from a souvenir shop.

I think she likes it but I’m also pretty sure she enjoyed her early morning Skype chat with Kate more.

*For all those wondering how the sleep training is going; I don’t want to talk about it.  These are dark days my friends. Quite literally because it is da-hark at 5 a.m. which is apparently a perfectly reasonable time to wake up according to local infants surveyed.  If I had a souped up Delorean I’d totally go back to three weeks ago when getting up at 8:30 was all the rage.

I am so in love with this quilt it makes my heart hurt.

It also happens to be the most straightforward and simple quilt I’ve ever made, which ups the satisfaction factor.

I am so pleased with how the prints work with the red and natural linen.  It’s so Scandinavian by way of Japan which I LOVE.

I can’t wait to snuggle a warm baby in it.

You may remember me saucily hinting at a summery quilt in the works back in July and then seemingly abandoning the project.  The truth is I ran out of batting, then when batting was secured I realized I had no safety pins, which then took weeks to arrive, and then I held out for a walking foot.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned about living in a remote area it’s that running out of supplies is not an easily rectified problem.

Well, wait no more! Set your clocks back to summer because the Darla quilt is finally done.

It measures about seventy by fifty-four inches.  Not that we own a Double or Twin bed.

The Tanya Whelan fat quarters were sent by Melina in June, the white cotton for the sashing and backing and the binding fabric (from the Sweet line by Urban Chicks) were purchased at Fabric Depot in Portland in a total panic because I could not for the life of me recall what the fat quarters looked like at all. I think they match pretty well despite my poor planning.

I hate to chop up fabrics I really like so I chose to leave the pieces pretty much whole, using the Avalon pattern from Material Obsession (also from Melina!) for the front.  The pattern in the book was quilted all over in a random floral pattern but I don’t have the right machine foot for that nor the skills.  Instead, I stitched a foots length on either side of the rows, making a sort of double ditch.

I’m still not completely convinced that quilting is a craft I’m well suited to.  But, I still have a few fat quarters of my beloved  My Folklore fabric (which has apparently been discontinued!)  and a bit of coordinating linen so I may tackle a small baby quilt and then I quit! For now.

It’s been raining constantly here so I’m in the middle of a few small projects.  Unfortunately I have  nothing to show yet but that’s no reason to hoard links and little updates.

  • I’ve never been a huge mayonnaise fan.  Again, the tanginess.  Blech.  But I do enjoy potato salad now and then so I picked up Hellman’s with Olive Oil due to it’s non-scary ingredients list.  This stuff is delicious.  It’s so creamy I could almost stir it in to my tea.  Highly recommended.
  • My new favourite show is Hung.  O.k., that’s a total lie.  While I do enjoy Jane Adams as a pimp my actual new favourite show is Gossip Girl.  I started watching it when Chris was on nights and I am now obsessed to the point where I have to limit myself to sharing two to three GG related tidbits a day.  Do you know how hard it is to work the fact that Ed Westwick is actually British into a conversation?  Not very, apparently.  I feel like a fifteen year old fan girl.  Except that I tried desperately to convince my sixteen year old sister to watch the show so that I’d have someone to talk to about it and she was having none of it.
  • These cinnamon oat pancakes are my new favourite breakfast.  I never want to eat a plain pancake again.  Waste of my time.  They make a ton so I’ve been cooking them all up, freezing them, and heating them up during the week.
  • I borrowed a pile of books from the Cannon Public Library, informally known as Erin and Braden’s guest bedroom and I’m plowing my way through them.  I first read Cat’s Cradle, which was good, although none of his other books ever bowl me over like Slaughterhouse 5 did when I read it in university.  Next, I tried Switch Bitch despite concerns that it would crush all of my childhood memories but I totally loved it.  I filled my Amazon Wish List with other Dahl short story books and can’t wait to pick some up.  Now, I’m finally reading The Golden Compass after hearing so much about His Dark Materials for so many years.  I had already seen the movie so I was a bit bored at first but now I’m enjoying it.  Hooray for summer reading!  What are you reading?
  • Mashed potatoes are one of my ultimate all time favourite foods.  I thought I was doing an o.k. job whipping them up without a recipe so I let this one languish for months in my recipe bookmarks.  I am totally kicking myself now.  A-mazing.
  • My dearest Robyn has a new blog.  Check it!
  • I am way behind on this one but if you’re interested in quilting or are a beginner like me you must check out Oh, Fransson’s quilt-along posts.  So very helpful.
  • I just found out that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have announced that they will play Born to Run in it’s entirety in Chicago in September.  I wish there some way to be unemployed for the summer and still get paid so I could go lose my mind with a large assembly of WASPy, middle aged, working class heroes.
  • And, because I hate a pictureless post, here’s one of the paper banner I made for Chris a few weeks back:

*How very droll!  Because, you see, I made another pair of Monkeys:

Yes, I have gazillions of exotic patterns in the queue but after starting Cookie’s Vilai on bamboo needles my wrists and head almost exploded simultaneously and I had to put them aside until some nickel plated dpns arrive.  These, on the other hand, were fun, quick and easy. I needed that.

After finishing them last night I decided to rip out the picot bind off I had added to my Rusted Root in favour of the prescribed ribbed edging.

My first Monkeys also had a picot bind off and while I love the look, it’s just flexible enough to fit my curves.

I’ve also continued to explore my love/hate relationship with quilting.

This time around I picked a much simpler pattern at a smaller scale which resulted in a finished quilt top yesterday afternoon!  I’m not going to show it to you though.  That would make the final product a bit anticlimactic.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to put it all together until I get into the city and get some batting, which will have to wait until the after-vacation poverty wears off.  Here’s another teaser:

Get excited!

An update on the bad birthday cake: Chris and I agree that the tangy / sourness really mellowed after a day in the fridge.  This is excellent because we still have a large hunk of it in the fridge.

Chris is working nights this weekend which is always results in me eating my feelings and hitting the Google Reader next button every half a second so, please, for my sake, update your blogs this weekend.  I thank you.

Its finished!

It's finished!

I have to admit, after the zealousness of the last post I kind of lost my mojo.  Squares seventy-two to ninety were tedious.  And once I learned what was involved in finishing I lost all interest.  But I forged through!

Sleepers-eye view.

Sleepers-eye view (love this book by the way - last in the series!)

I think my favourite part is that it only cost the price of the batting – twenty five dollars.  The backing is a sheet from Ikea that we bought years ago from a bargain bin.  I loved that set so much  – it was so soft and cool – but the fitted sheet got a hole and we had to throw it out.  I insisted on keeping the flat one and now I’m so glad I did!  The batting is cotton-bamboo from Mitchell Fabrics (I drove to Winnipeg by myself Saturday to get it!).  It is so very soft and cozy I would have happily used it as a blanket.

Zigzag edge

Zigzag edge

I had always planned on tying the quilt with this leftover Cascade 220 and I had also planned on binding it until I saw this post on The Purl Bee.  To be honest I found some of the steps in this “easy” quilt super difficult.  I couldn’t figure out why you cut the binding and the muslin twice or why all of the tying and pinning and trimming were done on the floor. After a short while my body was aching and I was nauseous from all that crouching and crawling.  Is quilting supposed to me that physically demanding?  I ended up pinning the edging on the floor then sticking a few safety pins in it and doing the tying on my lap –  much more comfortable.

Corner

Corner

I also ran into trouble because my top was totally asymmetrical.  The squares I had worked on in early ’05 were larger than the ones I finished in the last few weeks so the top was much wider than the bottom.  I just trimmed the sheet to two inches wider than the top all around and now you can barely tell.

Also: man big quilts are hard to photograph!  I failed to clean our whole bedroom and had to crop out almost everything.  Plus Bowie kept following me around whimpering until I took his photo.  Seriously.

Look how he poses and everything!  Such a ham.

Look how he poses and everything! Such a ham.

Anyway, I would really love to hear more about your quilting process because the floor work really did turn me off a bit.  Or if you don’t quilt tell me how cute my dog is.  Whatevs.

I used feel the same way about quilting as I do about scrapbooking; it used to be something fun and economical and memory-keeping and now it’s a super cheesy industry that I have no interest in.  A few years ago it would never have occurred to me to go out a buy fabric to make a quilt.  So, when I decided to start one a few weeks after getting my sewing machine for Christmas in 2004, I went about it the only way I knew how, I bought a super cheap rotary cuter and teensy mat at Zellers, cut up some old blouses and skirts and pants, found a crappy tutorial through Google and went to town.

Misty watercoloured memories

Misty watercoloured memories

I was substitute teaching then too and underemployed as always.  This quilt trumped everything.  And then we moved overseas and my machine and the quilt were boxed up.  The quilt has been a guilty nagging secret since then.  As you may or may not know, I’m not an unfinished object kind of crafter.  I start doing something, I work on it for a while, I finish it.  Period.  So now, four years later, again home too often and bored I dragged old quilty out of the closet, pressed the squares I had already cut to size and dusted off the instructions.

Sorted squares - sort of

Sorted squares - sort of

I even figured out how big the quilt should be and figured out how many blocks I would need and how many little squares and supplemented what I had with a few scraps from my fabric stash.

Once again I have been sucked in.  I eat, breathe, sleep this quilt.  I don’t understand anything about binding or long arms or chain piecing and it’s riddled with mistakes large and small and some of the blocks are totally hideous but I don’t care.

Folded

Folded

I am so far gone that I am even plotting one of those new-fangled quilting-for-quilting’s-sake-quilts.  I have ordered a little My Folklore fabric and I have a large hankering for more.  I can see now how people have whole attics for their stash fabric.  With quilting there is always use for the cutesy Japanese fabric with the frolicking baby deer or the weird cotton with the naked cowboys on it.  It’s not going to be plastered across your hips so it can be as wacky or sassy as you please.

This is all I need.