Thursday, 31 December 2009

Horror, health, hope & happiness

I’m not big on New Year celebrations, but 2009 is a year I will happily bid farewell. It has been a year of horror, but in that also lays new beginnings. It has been a year of moments that has changed our lives and who we are. It has been a year of bright spots of pure happiness and hope for the future. It has been a year of building a new health from rock bottom to bursting with energy. It has been a year of joyful times with family and making new friends. It has been a year of life.

I always get a bit blue after Christmas; after the family has left and husband’s back to work, so I do what I always do – quilt the blues away. Normally the Christmas decorations would go tomorrow morning, but I think I want to keep them for a little while longer; I have not really had the time to enjoy them, and the tree does serve a purpose – I can dance around my living room without people lining up outside to watch.

So, with these little guys (yes, they are teeny tiny, and I have hand sewn them using felt during another post-Christmas-blues), I’ll say Takk for det gamle, which means Thanks for the old, and is what we say to each other at the end of the year here.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Quilty Goodies

I was so lucky to receive some quilty goodies for Christmas.

Christmas at the guild is always fun; and I got some lovely cards from my friends

Liv Kirsten who also gave me a wonderful glass pendant (which I wore at Christmas), napkins and a candle.
Marit at Quilt It gave me a fat quarter of the perfect Christmas fabric. I had been drooling over her fabulous Snowmen projects, and now I can make my own:-)

And from the guild a poppy bag, tissues and 2 spools of thread.We were struggling financially for a long time, but now our economy is great due to an event we hosted in 2008. It was so much fun picking out the presents this year, not having to come up with ideas that would cost next to nothing. Thus being said, coming up with non-expensive ideas did stretch our imagination and creativity, which I’ll get back to in a separate post.

I got some wonderful fabrics from my sister and nieces. I love to receive fabrics as gifts; I find that it expands my palette. Working with other people’s fabric choices can be a challenge, and it’s stretching my comfort zone, which always is a good thing.

I also received the new book by Mary Lou Weidman, which I ordered a while back, and with it came a surprise piece of fabric. Mary Lou is one of my favourite quilt book authors, I love her story telling. Even though I have not really been “in the box” quilting wise (self taught and really never bothered with all the supposed-tos, just happily quilting along), but I enjoy a quilt book that I can read, and not just browse through.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Let It Go, Let It Grow

Last night I finally got started on my Christmas hand sewing project. I prepared it for (all...) my down time during the holidays, but it was left alone in its sad little plastic bag.It’s a piece of bright orange-red linen which I got from a fellow member in my guild. It has been washed and ironed, and sewn to a piece of batting with unevenly spaced lines by machine. I picked lots of skeins of pearl cotton yarn from this post, and the plan is to hand quilt the piece.

Last night, when I was sitting in front of the TV with my feet up, I took it out, cut some pieces of yarn and started hand quilting. Some of the stitches were uneven, so I unpicked them. Doing so, I thought, what if I just leave all the little mistakes there, and let the piece grow any way it wants to? What if they are not mistakes, but a part of the design? I do most of my work more or less this way, but wouldn’t it be nice to just let go?

So my challenge to myself is to Let It Go and Let It Grow.
Here’s how far it grew last night
If you would like to join me, feel free to use the image.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Family Days

So, Christmas is officially over. My parents have arrived safe back at home, most of the sweets are gone, and husband and daughter are waiting for their pizza. I have been soooo good, no sweets, no treats, and no snacking in between. The 30 minutes a day walk-plan had to go though, but I have been running around the house all day, so I have done lots of sneak exercising. All you housewives know what I mean; being the hostess at Christmas is kind of busy.

Yesterday the whole family went for a 2 hour walk bringing our old sled for grandson. Most of the roads were rather icy, but it was so nice to get outside in the cold weather.
After taking my parents to the airport today, I have pretty much been slacking off. The bills have been paid, but my Dream Theme panel has to wait until tomorrow; I’ll be watching TV all night with my feet up…

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

My Dream Theme

I have decided on a theme for my panel for The Dream Rocket – my dream for the future:

“I wish that every child in the world will have someone warm and friendly to comfort them.”

The statement might need some work (the translation from Norwegian to English is strangely difficult on this one), but you get the idea. I have made a little sketch of the panel; I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and test out a design I’ll be teaching in March at the same time (I have 20 people who have signed up for the class already, so it’s time to make some samples). Since the panels will hang outside and be viewed from a distance, I’ll use simple shapes and simple quilting. I signed up for this almost 2 months ago, but got lost in all the UFOs and Christmas projects. Oh, well, January is great for quilting too.

You can read more about the project here; I love the idea of being a part of something that is so much bigger than my little sewing room. Anyone can participate, also groups like guilds, classes or families.

This is the 2009 project, isn’t it the most amazing thing you have ever seen; I want this tree in my garden!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Instant Village Giveaway

Sorry, the giveawy is now closed!

My 100th post, Snow day, and the 25.000 visitor mark was passed about 800 visits ago, so yeeey:-)
I wanted to do something special for my first giveaway, so I have put together a kit for a Village Table runner top, with the precious snowy fabric and all.

All you have to add is the white squares for the snowy roofs, thread and your time. The house fabrics are not exact the same as in mine as I ran out of a few of them, but here is the kit (sorry about the ray of sunshine that snuck into the picture):

The houses are the appropriate size, all 20 of them. The snowy fabric is cut into one strip for the mid section and one strip for the sashings (sorry, you'll have to cut these yourself).
If you are new to the Village Table runner, you’ll find my tutorial on how to build a house here, and my free pattern "Building A Village" here. Your village will be 1 house unit shorter than mine.

This is how you enter the drawing which will happen on January 31st. Let’s face it, it’s already too late for this Christmas season, and with all the family gatherings, eating and napping, it will probably take us a while to catch up on our blog reading. Wouldn’t it be great to get a head start on next year’s projects though..

1) Leave a comment to this post and you’ll get one ticket in the drawing. Make sure your blogger profile includes your email address (Click “Edit Profile”, check “Show my email”, and click “Save”) or leave one here so I can get hold of you if you are the lucky winner

2) Post about this giveaway in your blog including a link to this post (feel free to use the image on the top of the sidebar too; I have in vain tried to make this button thing work…).
Leave a new comment when it’s done and you’ll get another ticket in the drawing; I will check though.

3) If you are one of my wonderful followers (or become one), leave a sparate comment telling me so and you’ll get another ticket in the drawing.

I wish you all good luck:-)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Snow Day

It’s here - again - the first snow of the season. I live on the west coast, so snow is not a regular issue, however, the chaos that follows is. It snowed for more than 12 hours yesterday, probably around 12”. Today is windy and freezing, and a nice weather to stay indoors.

Our little front tree at 04:47 (just a tiny bit insomniac)
at 10:02 and at 11:28. I love how it changes with the light.
I have just dropped grandson off at daughter’s and I think I might take the rest of the day off, or maybe drag out the rest of the decorations…
Happy Holidays!

Friday, 18 December 2009


For my last Sew & Tell Friday (at Amylou’s) and Fabric Friday (at Rosebud’s) this year I have the last Christmas projects from my To Do List. I’m so happy I’m done with these. Now I have only my red table cloth to hem + 2 place mats. I had some fabric left over, and thought it might be a good idea to have a couple of extras for grandson. I’m not so fond of solid coloured table cloths really, every stain is visible.

Home for Christmas is my purple version of Urban Christmas (sorry about the light and shadows in the picture, there is just one, unstained fabric on the right side). I used this and The Pink Snowman as a demo on my workshop. Have you any idea how difficult it is to get the pieces placed properly when you are in a hurry to show everybody how it’s done? Anyway, now I’ll just need a nail to hang it for holding our Christmas cards this year.

The other finishes are All is calm 29-32, the last 4 Christmas-card-quilts from this post. I did not manage to get them done by Wednesday (when I should have handed them out), so these will go in the mail, safely tucked into envelopes.
Now I’ll add this post to the show & tells, pop over and get inspired.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Home Spun Holiday Show N’ Tell

I have joined in on Piece N Quilt’s Home Spun Holiday Show N’ Tell, and have chosen my “Village No.1” table runner for the show. I’m afraid the “No.” is a bit deceiving. It indicates that there are more villages than one, but I will build them, but not for this Christmas season.

The table runner is made from 22 different house fabrics (some of them are Christmassy, but most of them are not) with white fabric for snowy roofs. The houses are pieced together with sashing and mid section from a black fabric with white dots, which looks like snow. I am sorry, but I have absolutely no idea who the manufacturer is; I found the fabric in one of my drawers, and there is no information on the selvage.

If you like this tablerunner including the house and sky fabrics, you might want to keep an eye on this blog. It will soon be time for celebrating; it could be Post. No 100, 25.000 hits, 50 followers, snowday...

You can see pictures from the building site here, and the finished village here.
You will find a tutorial for building a house here, and a free pattern for building your own village here. It would look great in any colour way or seasonal theme.

Right now the village is decorating my window sill,

but from Christmas Eve it will be laying on our dining room table with a solid red tablecloth under (I got 3 meters yesterday at IKEA, washed it, and just have to iron it and hem the edges) and these little guys, one for each guest.
I made them 10-15 years ago for a Christmas party we were hosting, and they have decorated the table every Christmas since. They are very roughly made from air drying clay, and I love them. Don’t they look like the perfect villagers?

Now, pop over and have a look at the other inspiring holiday projects, just click on the button
Happy holidays!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

All is calm

Yeah, right…

My 28 little quilted Christmas cards, "All Is Calm 1-28", are done, and will soon be gone. I keep one for myself, and the rest are shared with family and friends. They are all signed and numbered on the white backing.

Each appliqué cut out made one positive and one negative shape so half of the quilts have dark houses and trees, the other half have light houses and trees.
I did the quilting before I added the backing, sew them right sides together, and then turned them. Usually I would use my ¼” foot around the edges, but I wanted a narrower seam on these, and I cannot adjust the needle position with my ¼” foot. Instead I used my new in-the-ditch-foot. I adjusted the needle position a few beeps, and used the guide at the edge. Worked like a charm.

I did not measure the envelopes before I started cutting the fabrics, so I had to cut the length on most of them. Unfortunately I lost a little of the design in the process.
I used these ornament-hanging-things as hanging device. They are made from brass, and will probably stain a bit.

Well, this is a Christmas card, not a museum piece, and will probably be fine. Earlier years I have used safety pins, fancy paper clips (I had these amazing Keith Haring clips which lasted for 3 rounds of Christmas cards), metallic rings from the hardware store, and jewellery making rings. This year I found these in my craft room; really timesaving as there is no sewing required, you just slip them in between the stitches.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A Pair of Pink Projects

Two more finishes to cross off the to-do-list:

The belly quilt
Remember 35 weeks down, 5 to go post? Writing it I remembered that I did start on a pink version for daughter, and decided to finish it as a little Christmas present. Grandson is 2 ½, so it was long overdue.To those of you that were so kind to ask for a pattern, I will finish it, but there is just not enough time before the holidays. However, I understand that time will exist on the other side of the 24th of December, although it does not feel like it right now.

The Pink Snowman
is a wall hanging from the Mix & Match for Christmas pattern, and is also for daughter. Yes, she does love pink. I use most of my pink fabrics for her quilts, but I really should use it more, it’s such a pretty, clean colour, and looks fabulous together with grey. She has seen this one as I had to ask if she wanted the vinyl pocket, which she did not. I’m not used to making the same quilt twice, but working on several projects in different colour ways has actually been fun. I’m amazed how different they look even though the design is the same.

The third thing I’m happy to cross off my list, is deciding on a design for the class I will teach in March. I really need to start working on the samples soon, and having a design in mind sure does help. As my brain is buzzing with ideas and fabric combos, I still have a lot of baking and cleaning to do before my parents arrive. I would, for instance, love to see if the kitchen table is still under the pile of fabric and stuff I washed last weekend. It would also be nice for parents to have beds to sleep in, so I will be off to IKEA first thing Monday morning. I hope I can make it through the Christmas decoration department without being tempted; we’re running out of storage space…

Friday, 11 December 2009

A little less on my list

For this week’s Sew & Tell Friday over at Amylou’s and Rosebud’s Fabric Friday I have some finished Christmas projects from my To Do List:

Grandson’s Christmas stocking

He chose the blue fabric himself, and I added the strip of soccer fabric as he loves soccer. We don’t use our stockings for decoration, just for stuffing with a little of this and that on the morning of Christmas Eve; a Christmas magazine, a little gift and some sweets.

Now, I have made a few stockings over the years, and each time I have to make a new template – they always get lost. I never seem to get the size right, it should be a generous size but not jumbo. I had to adjust this one a little, and daughter is happy with it. This is the first Christmas they will be living in their new apartment, and it was with both a little bit of sadness and lots of pride that I sent her home with some of our old and well loved decorations. I’m happy she wants to start her own traditions with some of ours.

The other finishes of the week are two “Big & Strong” quilts, just made from scraps and even finished with a ready made bias binding by machine. If I should do everything by hand these days, I would not get much done.I played a little with quilting horizontal and vertical lines on the two, using the grid in the red fabric as a guide. It probably does not show here, but where there are no black lines; there are turquoise lines on one and variegated metallic lines on the other

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Big & Sagging

It’s been a while since my last post about the Big & Strong program, but that does not mean I have gone back to the coach potato mode. I’m still going strong although I missed a few weeks last month. All the hard work and giving up on sugar is paying off. My blood sugar level is half way down to where it should be, and my doctor is very happy with my progress – as am I:-) I’m not dreading all the temptations around the holidays any more. Eating sugar is just something I don’t do, like I don’t smoke and I don’t sky dive.

I don’t have any pants that fit; I’m back in the jeans that were too tight 2 years ago, and have to tie them around my waist to keep them from falling off. Seriously; I’m actually tying them with a repurposed piece of bias tape as I have not been able to find an elastic belt. I have bought elastics and a belt buckle to make my own in the proper Do It Yourself spirit; I’ll just have to finish all the Christmas projects first.

I’m still loving water aerobics, love it, love it, love it, even though I’m totally exhausted when we’re done. Yesterday we worked out to Christmas music, and “Driving home for Christmas” will never be the same after I have been jogging around in a heated pool in my fancy turquoise and blue swimsuit and a not-so-matching black and red swim cap. From mid January we will only meet once a week in the gym, so I have already signed up for another water aerobic class to fill up my quota of healthy fun.

Fitting in exercise 3 times a week during our 2 week holiday break will be a challenge though…

Monday, 7 December 2009

Virtual Christmas Quilt Show

Now, as this is the season to be jolly, I have joined in on SewCalGal’s Virtual Christmas Quilt Show. One of my favourite things about blogging is all the sharing and inspiration that goes around; and being a part of virtual quilt shows is wonderful – you get to meet so many nice people, both as visitors on your blog, and as a guest on theirs.

Picking one quilt for the show was not easy, so I was happy when SewCalGal said that I could post about more than one quilt. Having worked on the Mix & Match for Christmas quilts from rainy July to rainy December, I just had to choose some of them for this show. These two motives have been favourites from both my workshop and pattern.
You can see all my samples here, projects from the workshop and online quilteres here, read about the pattern here, or send me an email if you would like to order one.

Urban Christmas

Designing Christmas patterns in July is not that easy, especially if you’re spending your summer vacation in pouring rain at your cabin (just try it; you’ll se that I’m right). To get into the spirit, I was thinking of the Christmases I spent in my home town, where all Christmases seemed to be white. I grew up in Lillehammer which is known for its beautiful old wooden houses – and voila, the idea for Urban Christmas was born.
I made this quilt into a “julepost” with a vinyl pocket for displaying Christmas cards. I chose vinyl so that the quilt can be on display all through winter.

Santa’s Cats

Among the fabrics I dragged (well, it was husband who did most of the carrying to be honest) up to our cabin, was this fun Christmas print with cats which was perfect for a cat themed quilt. I thought that if Santa had cats, they would be really, really happy ones, so I drew these smiling cats, and used them for a table runner.

Celebrating Christmas
One of my favourite parts of the holidays is advent, and after I started quilting, making quilted gifts and cards is a big part of my Christmas preparations. Before I started quilting, I used to create lots of ornaments for family and friends. Grandson and I made some for his mom yesterday, and we had a wonderful time; our first little Christmas workshop:-) I also make everyone’s favourite cookies (which I know will be eaten), and buy a few.

I decorate the house at December 22nd, and the decorations are gone again at January 1st. I’m more of a sentimental than stylish decorator as I pretty much use the same decorations every year; just adding a santa or an angel to my collection now and then. I still use daughter’s ornaments from kindergarten, as this is what Christmas is about to me.

I’ll spend this Christmas with my family – husband, daughter, grandson (2 ½), parents, and in laws. Any Christmas I get to spend with my family is a great one (I have to share them with other people you know...).

We celebrate Christmas Eve here in Norway, and eat our Christmas dinner (dried and salted ribs of lamb (which are steam cooked for hours), potatoes and mashed Swedish turnips –yummy, yummy) before we open all the gifts. As we have a young boy in our midst this year, we might do the gifs first. We also walk around the Christmas tree, holding hands and singing carols. This is not husbands favourite part as it is my family’s tradition.

On Christmas Day we have a long traditional brunch with lots of food, stories and laughs, go for a walk, and have dinner at the in laws in the afternoon.