Wednesday, 23 March 2016

We have a WINNER!!!

Laina's quilt won Viewers' Choice!!!
(2016 Canadian Quilters' Association/ACC Youth Challenge)

Laina and her quilt

Laina is over the moon! She truly did not expect to win, which makes this even sweeter.

She will receive a show ribbon, NINE meters of fabric (!!!), and her quilt will hang in the 2016 National Juried Show! Her photo and story will also appear in The Canadian Quilter magazine (summer edition).

"Tag, You're It!" by Laina (ten years old)
Laina has been making art with me since she was old enough to hold a paintbrush. She was very sure of her colour and design choices once she'd made them - though she did say "deciding" was the hardest part of the process!

Adding a ponytail.

Laina mainly needed help with some of my quilting tools (e.g. iron, rotary cutter). She also needed to learn how to work with fusible webbing for the applique, and how to apply a binding (not her favourite part). Oh, and how to make a hanging sleeve (also better when it's finished...).

Hanging sleeve in progress. Patience nearly gone (hers, not mine!), but she wanted to FINISH.

Laina has used my sewing machine before, so was familiar with how to use the foot as a guide, and how to pivot around curves and corners. She started with the tree leaves so she could be practiced up by the time she got to the girls' silhouettes. Sometimes she "fell off the edge" or overshot a pivot by a stitch or two, but we didn't rip stitches unless something was quite obvious. She could usually back up to where things looked good, and carry on from there! 

Laina's favourite part was using my longarm to do the quilting. (I suspect that "carrot" kept her going when she was sick of stitching around applique!)

Laina, at the helm!
Under Laina's direction for placement and size, I used a template to stitch the outline of the sun on the horizon - and then Laina took over the controls! She was able to stitch everything else freehand - even the horizontal lines. I was a bit worried that we'd be ripping stitches at some point, but she loved every line she added!!!

We used an invisible thread so it wouldn't interfere with the colours in the fabric. Bonus - we didn't have to change thread for different areas of the quilt!

Riley Quilts, Too!
My grandson, Riley, also entered a quilt in the challenge!

"Knock Out", by Riley (seven years old)

Riley is a boxer, so we used a photo of him in a boxing stance to make his silhouette, and he drew the punching bag from memory.

He loved Laina's sunset idea, but I thought she would be most displeased if he copied. We rooted through my stash until we found a combination of fabrics that made him happy. He chose a vibrant hand dye for the background, a stripe for the silhouette, and used the challenge fabric for the bag.

Riley, hard at work.

Riley has also used my sewing machine before, and did a super job on the straight runs. He had a hard time judging how to get around intricate shapes, though. We worked together on those, with me leaning over his shoulder to help him steer as he drove and worked the controls for pivoting. (Oh, my aching back!)

The big finish!
Riley had great control of the pedal, and was getting the hang of steering, so the straight-line quilting was much easier (on my back - ha!) for him to manage with the walking foot.

He wanted quilting lines radiating out from the bag (where he "punched it"). He envisioned varying lengths, but I suggested continuing them to the edges of the quilt to hold the layers together. He saw the point, and was okay with the change.  Riley enjoyed using a fancy (programmed) stitch to make the chain for the bag.

Ruh Roh...

So. Both were entered in the same age category, so we knew for SURE it would be impossible for both quilts to win a prize.

Our thinking was that they'd already won, just by participating!
  • Their quilts would be shown on the CQA/ACC website 
  • They had the fun of making them
  • They will enjoy seeing them hanging in their rooms every day!

When it came time to vote, Riley said to vote for Laina's quilt because she did more work on hers.
That was a Proud Granny moment!

Not that anyone listened...I'm pretty sure most of the guys in our family voted for Riley's quilt.

Thank you!
It was hard keeping the kids' quilts under wraps for this long, but I didn't want to influence the vote!

If you popped over and voted, thank you for supporting the challenge! What a great way to encourage young quilters to join our ranks, don't you think?

Linking up with:
Linky Tuesday, at Freemotion by the River
Let's Bee Social, at Sew Fresh Quilts

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Buffalo Down!

My great grandmother used to knit over-sized socks and mittens, and then "felt" them down to size in the Icelandic way. My grandfather (her son) used to reminisce about how warm they were, and my mother remembers watching the process.

Family stories were all I knew about wet felting until last Saturday when I attended a presentation at our local museum on "Wet Felting With Buffalo Down".

Yes, North American buffalo have down! Who knew? 

Turns out that buffalo have five layers of hair, with the down being closest to the skin to provide warmth in winter. Down is shed in the spring, and can then be gathered from tree branches, fence posts, scratching posts - anything rubbed against by the animals, really. Collecting is the only way to successfully harvest buffalo down.

Yarns, roving, felts, artwork, and garments made from buffalo down.
The down is usually a medium brown - a colour now officially named "buffalo" in the fibre world - but the beasts also have darker brown, or even white, coats. Breeders work hard to keep their herds separated by colour to keep the lines pure. (They are known to jump the fence for  *ahem*  romantic purposes, so this can be a challenge!) You can see colour samples in the green baskets in the photo, above.

Fibres for touching!

Buffalo down can be carded into roving and then spun into yarn, or it can be left as roving (a long strand of loosely twisted and drawn fibres) and felted. In the photo above, a piece of brown roving is laying on top of the felt pieces. I think the white "ball" is also roving that has been gently crumpled.

Presenter Adele Boucher has been a trailblazer in the marketing of buffalo down as a useful fibre in modern society, and still continues to lobby for its use through her company, Buffalo Yarns (fibres and stories!).

Felted art by Adele.

Adele is very knowledgeable about other fibre types, as well. She explained that sheep and alpaca provide wool, buffalo provide down, qiviut comes from northern muskox, and even possums provide fur that is blended with merino wool to make yarn that is valued for its heat retentive properties. (Again. Who knew? I never would have thought "possum" when imagining yarn! A sample was passed around, and it was surprisingly soft.)

As part of the presentation, Rhonda Warren demonstrated wet felting with wool. We were each invited to felt some of her wool roving scraps into little hearts. We fluffed the scraps, put them into plastic baggies, added a bit of soapy water, and squished away! While we squished, Rhonda explained the theory behind the process, and showed us how to make felted fabric using bubble wrap and bamboo sushi rollers to work the fibres.

Felted art by Rhonda.
Meanwhile, my baggie leaked . . . but it didn't matter. Squishing the wool into shape was quite fun, and I managed a passable heart!

Fresh off the Frame

If I remember right, the maker of this quilt took part in a fabric exchange, and was then challenged to show off the florals she'd collected. Mission accomplished! This pretty quilt brightened my studio and made me smile. :-)

Pretty floral with Ebb and Flow panto

This fun Star Wars top was a dream to quilt. Look how straight the piecing is!

Star Wars with Modern Twist panto

Cute prints on the next quilt practically begged for a panto to match its mood!

Butterflies, flowers, ribbons - Spring Garland panto!

Hmm, this may be another quilt inspired by that floral fabric exchange? Another great way to show off large prints - very striking!

Striking floral with Bush Berries panto

I do love the look of blocks pieced into a backing!

Striking floral - back

I feel like I want NEED to show the Star Wars quilt one more time - yes, I must! This time a bit closer so you can enjoy the prints.

Linking up with:
Whoop Whoop Friday! @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Fabric Frenzy Friday @ Fort Worth Fabric Studio
Show Off Saturday @ Sew Can She

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Love, in various forms

Lucky me! 
Brynne made me a work apron with lots of pockets - perfect for holding sewing tools.

Brynne made me a beautiful work apron!

I love that it's personalized with a Batty Bat applique!

Batty Bat applique makes me smile!

Batty Bat is practically a member of our family. He has quite a personality, and is loved by at least three generations!

When she was six, Laina sewed scraps into clothes for Batty Bat.
I love my apron. It makes me happy every morning when I head to work! Thank you, Brynne!

Such cheerful fabrics!

Youth Challenge Update
Please visit the Canadian Quilters' Association Youth Challenge and VOTE for your favourite quilt. The quilts are fun to see, everyone is welcome to vote (no need to be a member), and it is an easy click to have your say! The theme is "My Favourite Game or Sport", and the challenge fabric is a turqoise-y blue with dots. Enjoy the show!

Granddaughter Update
Hubby and I gave Laina a special, fire-retardant blanket for Christmas so she can be cozy - and safe - by the campfire as she hangs out with her Girl Guide friends. Last week Laina and I whacked a hole in it, and made a comfy poncho that is much easier to wear than a blanket! We up-cycled an old turtleneck sweater of my Mom's, so the neck is nice and soft, and it's easy to pull on and off.

Camp blanket, turned poncho

We also sewed on the crests that Laina has collected in her Guiding travels. Actually, they are so crazy tough to stitch that I took pity on Laina and did them by machine. She positioned them and kept me company as I worked.

She could have done the sewing, but would have had to pivot and stuff the whole blanket through the machine as she sewed around each badge. I cheated (and saved several hours) and used the free-motion setting to make the whole process easier. She needed the blanket for the weekend, so time was of the essence.

Camp blankets are purely recreational, so it is completely ethical for me to have helped in this capacity! If this were part of her program, SHE would have done everything herself. As it is, we've agreed that she will sew on new crests as she receives them so they won't turn into such a monster of a job. 

Hubby Had a Birthday
It was a biggie, so his work colleagues asked for torture-fodder in the form of old pictures. I happily obliged, and they created a wickedly funny PowerPoint, and proceeded to plaster their work place with various posters wishing Chuck a happy 60th.

I was kind and only supplied dignified photos - a fact I mention every day when Chuck shows up with another pile of confiscated posters! Ha!

Here is my hunny in his early years. What could possibly be embarrassing about this sweet baby face? (muahaha!)


 Or this cutie patootie?


 Or this hunka teenage hotness!


There were more, but we will fast forward to a more recent photo . . . Happy Birthday, Chuckie!!! Just be glad you rate all that extra attention at work - not everyone gets that kind of press!


Oh, and this was the photo his buddies used on his cake - I told you they like him!

He brought me the piece with his face on it. Hmm. What do you suppose that meant? I took it as a sign of love, kinda like a penguin pebble. Ha! ;-)

Linking up With:
Needle and Thread Thursday, at My Quilt Infatuation

Try, Learn, & Grow!