Monday, April 2, 2012

Manitoba Mini

If you've met me, you've probably heard me refer to myself as a prairie girl, despite the fact that I happily live in a very urban place. I adore Toronto and I can't imagine living anywhere else, but so much of who I am is thanks to where I grew up.

I left Manitoba when I was just 17. I can't be sure how exactly I convinced my parents to let me move 2500 kilometers away, but I'm grateful they did every day.  It was a surprising decision to many who knew me: I didn't know anyone where I was going, and Winnipeg, a city of 700,000 people, seemed unbelievably, unmanageably big. But I think everyone should have their own adventure at least once in their life, and this was going to be mine.

I had no idea I'd be so inclined to stay in Ontario. The longer I stay here, though, the more and more I realize how much Manitoba made me who I am.

Wide open spaces made me appreciate how lucky we are to have land, trees, and fresh air, and the importance of taking care of them. Farming communities showed me the importance of agriculture, while teaching me about local economy and our dependance on one another. The family cottage, built by my grandfather with the help of my dad and my uncle, helped me understand how places and buildings connect us to our past and the people we love when we can't be together. Being someone with a minority political opinion, I learned quickly about the importance of fairness, but also about diplomacy and communication.

And being so far away from my first home, I learned my family and friends are the most important things in my life.

I wanted a way to bring a little piece of Manitoba to Toronto, and I've been mulling over a way to express my love for my home province in quilt form. Eventually, I came up with this pattern for a mini quilt, and, of course, it had to be pink. Because of all of the small pieces and funny angles, I paper pieced the top. The backing is a piece of vintage fabric that my grandmother once used to decorate our family cottage. Hand quilting felt the only right way to finish my mini.

I really love my new mini quilt. Now the only thing left is to decide where to hang it ...

Monday, February 6, 2012

farmer's wife sampler quilt

I did it: I joined the Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt Quilt Along. And it's so. Much. Fun.  Last year, Amanda and Angela started a quilt along for Laurie Hird's sampler quilt. I hemmed and hawed and enjoyed the flickr group, wishing for a bit more time to sew so I could join in.

When Karyn started talking about getting a Toronto group going, I couldn't resist the urge to join the quilt along any further. Along with several friends, we've started a real-life support group and, so far, it's been a blast.

The only downside of the Farmer's Wife quilt along? It's too much fun, really: I can't get anything else done.

I've abandoned all other sewing projects to spend time picking out fabrics, cutting tiny pieces, sewing them together in adorable little blocks.  I haven't written a blog post in forever because every bit of spare time (rare these days) is spent with my scrap bin and Farmer's Wife book. This is supposed to be a year-long project (and, truthfully, at the pace I finish it probably will be), but I can't imagine not wanting to work on these blocks over the next few months.

I've been following Amanda's lead and using only fabric scraps for my blocks. It has been a great way to get my overflowing bin under control, plus it's giving me the opportunity to try new colour palettes in every block. The end quilt will be scrappy and very colourful and unlike any quilt I've made before. I'm pretty excited about it, and can't wait to see how it turns out.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

cog & wheel top: finally finished!

Finally, I can say I finished my Cog & Wheel quilt top. It took me an awful long time--actually, an embarrassingly long time--but I enjoyed myself along the way. This quilt has some of my favourite fabrics in it (mermaids! circuses! Heather Ross roses!), which made it even more special to sew.

It's the first queen size quilt I've finished, and it's destined for my bed once quilted. I'm sending this one off to the lovely and talented Lindsey for quilting. Let's just hope that it doesn't take me as long to bind it as it did to sew the top ...

P.S. Taking pictures of queen size quilts is really hard!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

wedding quilt

In early September, a friend of mine was married. Perhaps people will eventually tire of receiving quilts from me, but I hope not. I have it on good authority that this particular friend was not going to be disappointed with a handmade wedding gift.

The colour palette is outside of anything I've done before, but I knew that I wanted to give a quilt that incorporated the wedding theme of simple black and white. To avoid a checkerboard look, and, again, to symbolize the blending of two, I was liberal with my use of grey.  It worked out well, since my stash of fabrics is low on black fabrics, but loaded with greys of all sorts!

Instead of machine quilting, I tied this quilt. I love the look of it, and for a wedding gift I liked the symbolism of binding the layers together with ties. I read somewhere that people think tied quilts are old fashioned. Maybe, but there's a sweetness to them that I adore. Next time I hand tie a quilt, I'm going to try with wool.

This is the second quilt I've made from simple squares, and I'm working on a third. I love the classic look of it, and it's perfect for showing off favourite prints. And it's quick, because, let's be honest, in today's world, we don't always have as much time for sewing as we like. It doesn't make it any less special, just more practical for what is for me one of the busiest work periods.

I liked working outside of my comfort zone for this one, and it's got me thinking about more quilts with dark colours and neutrals. Perhaps something like this or like this or even this?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

new beginnings

So, it's been a while since I've visited, hasn't it? It wasn't intentional: sometimes, life just gets in the way. I've been busy with family, with friends, with work, with crafting. For a while, it was exactly what I needed.

But here I am, even if I don't know where to start. I hope you'll forgive one more mushy feel-good post before I give you a real project (they're coming!).

During my blog break, I finished two (!) quilts; I spent an amazing weekend away sewing with four amazing women; I turned 30. I went to the inaugural Sewing Summit with Karyn, one of my favorite people, and met more amazing women (like Amanda J, Amanda H, Jeni, Deirdre, Angela, Jessica, Kait, and Lindsey). I made new friends. I got to hang out with Lizzy twice, and once with her equally amazing sister, Melissa. Lizzy is another of my favorite people, and I've decided officially that we need to live much, much closer together than we currently do. I made not one, but two improv mini-quilts.

Mostly, though, I've been thinking. About inspiration, about possibilities, about the people I'm so grateful to have in my life, many of them because of quilting. Reminding myself about what's important, and who I want to be, where I want to go, forgiving myself for things that were never really a problem in the first place (yes, being analytical can make me a better quilter, and yes, it is sometimes good to let go of reason).

When Lizzy was in Toronto in August, she said something that was profound to me, even if I instantly knew it to be true: people create things that look like them. I started seeing it everywhere. My quilts, my garments, indeed, all of my craft projects looked like me: pink, soft, and, mostly, orderly. It's a comforting thought, isn't it, that we really are a part of everything we create? The more I sew, the more intrigued I am about how craft shapes who we are, and vice versa.  For me, it's meant an interesting collision of my worlds--quilting, politics, and family--without really knowing where those things will take me.

It doesn't matter, though, because I'm feeling inspired to branch out and put a little bit more of me into the world, one day at a time. Especially if it means more improv patchwork and mini-quilts.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wiksten Tank Top

Way back at the start of summer, I managed to find some time to make this adorable tank top in a fabric from Alexander Henry. It's since become my summer staple, and I'm wearing it with jeans, shorts, and skirts.

My friend Carolanne recommended I try the tank top pattern from Wiksten long ago, but since the pattern is only made in limited quantities I had to wait until this past May to order a copy for my very own.  The wait was most certainly worth it.

The pattern comes together quickly and easily, and the finish is completely professional. I lack a serger at home, and I dislike zigzagging fabric edges immensely, so the added instructions on doing french seams was a wonderful treat. (I've made clothing with french seams before, but always seem to forget about them when it comes time to actually sew anything!).

I'll be making more of these for fall and winter; they're perfect under cardigans and blazers. Perhaps I'll even try a silk version for dressier occasions .... ?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

thank you

What a lovely, surprising response to my last post. Emails, post comments, phone calls, and random hugs from people I had no idea read this wee blog reminded me that so many have and are experiencing the same things as me. We're never alone, though we sometimes might feel we are. Please know that your kind thoughts are returned ten-fold.

And thank you.