Saturday, May 28, 2011

Latest awesome quilting flikr meme

I don't know, is it called a meme when a whole bunch of people start to sew the same thing? Or is it a trend? Are X & + blocks "trending"? Is trending an official word yet? Should it be one . . . oh, right, I digress. You really must check out Strawberrylicious' awesome quilt in progress . In fact, check out the whole flikr group of people working on these blocks . I totally want to make some. Do I have time right now? No. But I'm staring at my scrap basket dreaming of it all magically transforming into these beauties. Sigh. Maybe a summer project? But before or after my teacups? That is the question.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What's a long weekend for

if not to give you a chance to finish up some projects. This weekend is Victoria Day (as in the former and much loved Queen) in Canada. In Quebec, its called Fete des Patriotes, and is a holiday that I think relates to the separatist movement. Not sure, really.

In any case, either way, Monday was May long weekend. I finished my skirt (photos another time) and played around with these. Just a few more half-square triangles to stitch, lots of trimming to do, and about a hundred tea cups to make. Oh, and I guess I need to stitch the triangle squares into blocks, too.

Okay, so maybe "just" is the wrong word?

Anyone feeling generous and want to make me a teacup? Just saying . . .

SUTK Swap Mosaic

SUTK Swap Mosaic
Originally uploaded by davenjilly
Hello, all! Well, my latest swapping adventure is the Spicing Up the Kitchen Swap. This is my mosaic for my partner. Hi, partner!

So, here's the story. I would love a table runner, or some hot pads or an apron. I don't actually have any of those things and any of them would be fun. I adore all the motifs and colours in all these pictures. Yes, I know I'm ecclectic and not very picky. But I figure that gives you lots of choices to express yourself creatively, right?

So, take any of my mosaic photos for inspiration and just run with it. Have fun. Do your favorite thing. Or do something new. Or do something old that you love doing. Play. Enjoy yourself. I am sure I will love what you make and happily display and use it in my kitchen.

Thanks so much for your thought, care and time in putting together something for my kitchen. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Little Tinkering

 Well, the days have been busy around here lately. My schedule looks something like this:

5:00 boys wake up and climb into bed for a snuggle, causing much noise and chaos
5:10 boys get kicked out of bed to go play
5:45 my alarm goes off and I get up and get ready for work
6:30 I leave the house and walk up the block to catch the bus
6:50 I transfer from the bus to the metro
7:30 I transfer from the metro back to the bus (with the bus driver that flirts with me every morning despite being a good 20 yrs older than me)
8:00 I arrive at work and deal with argumentative and rebellious teenagers with a serious sense of entitlement (as in "Just because I haven't handed anything in all term doesn't mean you can fail me.")
12:30 lunch
2:40 done teaching and so I clean up, get everything ready for the next day and rush off to
3:30 catch the bus back to the metro station
4:00 transfer from the bus to the metro
4:25 transfer from the metro to the bus
4:50 arrive at the top of my block and walk down the hill to my house.
If its a daycare day, I then:
5:00 get in the car and drive to pick up the kids
5:15 start supper
5:45 eat supper
6:20 do homework with Andrew, while Aaron and Emma have a bath
7:30 start putting the boys to bed (usualy mostly Dave's job)
8:30 start putting Emma to bed
9 - 10 fall asleep with Emma

Occasionally in that 9 - 10 block, if Emma is not falling asleep, I will do a little bit of sewing while she plays (or watches and tries to sew her hands to the fabric). In that way I have had a chance to stitch a little here and there on various projects:
As you can see, I have been tinkering with a bunch of things.  The pink and green thing is my dysfunctional flower for sarah and molly's free piecing study (glad I made mine first, not Mel's). The blue fabric is my unhemmed skirting the issue skirt (pattern and fabric Anna Maria Horner). The scotty dog shape is, well, a scotty dog in the making (following the free downloadable pattern on Denyse Schmidt's website).

This is the other thing I picked up last week: an embroidery kit. I thought it could keep me busy during my commute, or when the school year starts drawing to a close and I have nothing to do at work (since I don't know where I'll be next year I'll have some free time on my hands in between invigilating exams - On a side note, I love the word invigilating. It sounds so sinister.) The embroidery patterns are from the Black Apple. I think I might stitch a hedgehog and rabbit having tea . . . not sure what for yet. I also want to use the cute little village for something, eventually, but I'm not sure what yet.

What have you been doing in those little spaces in your day?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Little Clarification

So, I don't know how much those of you who are from other countries know about Canada, specifically about Quebec. So here's a little background that might make our situation a little more understandable.

The thing about Canada, is that it started as a colony not of England, but of France.

What is now Central Canada was once valuable property because it was full of wild animals, and fur was THE hot fashion item. Not only were there lots of furs, but Canada had (still has, actually) this great system of rivers and lakes that meant you could travel all through the forests by canoe. And there were lots of people here who would gladly swap you valuable furs for some shiny glass beads or an old cooking pot.

Once England found out what a killing France was making, they had to get in on the action. So, two different parts of this big land mass were settled by two different groups of people. One section English, one section French. Some parts having both English and French settlers. A little while later there was a battle about this. Guess who won? England. But they were nice enough to let the French stay.

Fast forward a few hundred years and you get the complex politics of Canada, especially Quebec. While most of Western Canada is mainly English (well, technically its new immigrants from all over the world that are told they have to learn English to fit in), and much of Central and Eastern Canada is bilingual (speaking both our official languages), Quebec is aggressively French speaking. So much so that there are laws about signs, language, education and cultural protection. So much so that dyed in the wool Quebecois (decendants of the original French settlers) want Quebec to be its own country. There's even a political party whose mission is to seperate Quebec from Canada.

In the midst of Quebec, there is Montreal. Back in the day when boats were still the main form of transportation, most Canadian immigrants funneled through the port city of Montreal. Many stayed. Many were Irish, Italian, or Jewish. They chose English as their preferred language of choice. When things got sticky with Quebec, and it became aggressively French, those English groups (who had also been here for generations) became a minority.

So, in Montreal, the Western side of the city (closest to Ontario) speaks mostly English, while the Eastern side of the city (closer to the rest of Quebec) mostly speaks French. English speakers around here are called Anglophones, French speakers are Francophones, and people who grow up with both languages are known as Allophones.

And that is your lesson on culture for the day. How does it relate to us?

Well, Andrew is in English school. In order to get into a French Immersion school in the English school board here, we had to fill out all kinds of paper work to prove that we had gone to school in English, otherwise he would have had to go to a straight French school. Andrew and Aaron's daycare lady is from Guatemala and speaks French and Spanish. Its hard to get official things done because all the websites and government workers and phone company people are French and sometimes you can get a translation. All the signs in the stores are French. When you walk into a store in the mall, you are helped in French.

Did I mention that the last time I took French was in grade 8? And it was mostly fill-in-the-blank-congigate-the-verb style French lessons? Yeah. Its been a bit of a stressful year trying adjust. In many ways, Quebecers have succeeded. Even in Montreal, although we are still technically in Canada, it does often feel like we have moved to a new country.

One of the fun things about Montreal . . .

is that I've got to meet friends like Mark. He's an artist, and he's going to do an art installation in Korea for the next month. Want to find out what he's doing and how you (one of my vast plethora of readers) could help him fund his project and get yourself an art print? Check out his video with details here and see what you think. Sounds like fun to me, and I think I could afford a 4x6 from his project. How about you?

Monday, May 02, 2011

One of my least favorite parts of my new job is the commute. I spend about an hour and a half on the bus/metro/bus each way. My classroom doesn't have an overhead projector, but it does have a video projector hooked into the ceiling and a screen. So I've taken to typing out my notes in Power Point and carrying my laptop to and from school. This means my laptop travels with me on the bus / metro / bus twice a day and all around the school, since I don't have a key for my classroom (which is another story altogether). So, this of course means that my laptop needs some stylish protection.

If you combine this with the fabulous half yard of Echino fabric that came with the fat quarter pack I ordered from Pink Chalk Studios , the answer was obvious:
This was a really cool piece of fabric. The front and the back of my laptop case were each strips, with green and purple "fields" of fabric in between them. There was just enough to cut it into this laptop sleeve.
The pattern is from Oh Fransson's blog ( on her small projects page), and as with all her patterns and tutorials, the instructions are easy, the method of sewing is elegant and the results are beautiful. This blue topstitching is, I think, my favorite detail. See how it matches the birds' wings? The best thing about it was that it was accidental: I was being lazy and didn't switch out my bobbin thread when I was sewing the flap. I liked the look so much that I switched out my thread to topstitch the top of the laptop sleeve, too.
I'm not showing you the inside because it is pretty plain. The pattern calls for flannel, and the only non-juvenile flannel I have right now is a natural cotton colour. I figured the outside is dramatic enough.

Even I can admit that sometimes there is such a thing as too much drama.

My Doll Quilt arrived!

I got a lovely surprise in the mail today (lovely must be the word of the week)! My doll quilt winged its way from Australia today! It is a very cheery and bright bottled rainbow / ticker tape quilt.As you can see, Megan picked some of my favorite colours and some beautiful little scraps and put together this quilt just for me. It is super cheerful and fun in person (if rain wasn't in the forecast for the next three days I would wait and take a sunny photo).
As well as this cheerful little quilt, I also received some Amy Butler Love, a handmade card, and a really funky broach. It fits perfectly on my black felt hat, where the old button had fallen off, and it really makes my hat super classy (and if Aaron hadn't stuck his fingers all over my camera lens trying to get it open to take a photo, I would take a photo of it -- it shall have to wait for another day).
Also, check out that cute, cute tape she used to wrap it up in. Thanks, Megan. Cheers.

Whew! Real Life has been Busy!

Hello, friends! Well, this full time job thing is busy, especially when you throw Easter in the middle.
These are Easter eggs we dyed at church -- I took all the Sunday School kids and did this craft with the help of the youth group so all the teachers could sit in church on Easter. It went pretty well, except when word got out among the moms that we were taking the kids to the park and they panic-ed about Easter dresses getting muddy.
These are the Easter baskets I gave the kids -- they only got a few candies and some lego guys (that was their request) so everything is gone already. These are based on the pattern by maya made. I bought this organic duck canvas a long time ago at tonic living , and didn't ever get around to using most of it, so I was happy to use it to make these cute little baskets.
I've been shopping in the shed this weekend. These are, ironically, clothes for Emma - leftovers from her brothers. I figure with a few cute flower appliques and ribbon trims and we can have a cute little brown and blue and grey wardrobe for Emma. Fortunately I was more given to buying the boys brown over blue. And a little blue never hurt any girl's wardobe, now did it?
I also found some shoes that might fit Emma (well, the yellow boots were hers already). Can you tell she likes shoes -- she started grabbing them before I could even snap the photo. I love these little See Kai Runs so much I may have to pick up a girly pair. The pair that does fit her are the completely wrecked blue and red ones.
The boys had a perfectly lovely day pretending that they were soldiers -- complete with lego guns, goggles and helmets, hidey holes behind the couch and in the bike storage (and even in their fort for a while -- imagine that). And, of course, as you can see from their lovely faces, war paint and blood. Sigh. Boys. But they were happily busy all day long with this game, so I didn't complain, I just scrubbed them up well before church.