Thursday, 25 August 2016

Travelling Makers

Over the past summer we have done some travelling. As a maker, I am not always drawn to souvenirs. Often they are over priced made-in-china nick-knacks that I always feel I could make myself... like a shall... or a scarf.. or a postcard type of thing. Also, because I am a "maker" I love to go to shops I have heard about but live too far away from. Wool shops, fabric shops and paper shops are often a great way to meet like minded people who live in this different place. I find friendships in these places. I feel like these are the friends I would have if we were not 2000 miles apart. I love the conversations we have - the typical tourist conversation but with a crafter/maker/quilter theme. This is also a great way to find new styles in crafting that are more local, less popular, and you can implement into your own work to create a brand new hybrid style. Who isn't inspired by a quilt shop wall? All the amazing quilts - local designers work - the "in" colour of that season. The thing is - the "in" colour for Ottawa and Montreal is very different from the prints and colours that are popular in San Francisco. Combine the two styles and suddenly you have a unique way of looking at things - your work represents you - and not just the hottest pattern on Instagram that has been re-made 2000 times.
Local Yarn from Atelier in San Francisco 

My example happened last weekend, we travelled to San Fran and I walked into a fabric shop that had these dark blue-greens against steel greys and a pop of burnt orange. I couldn't stop staring at this. The lady explained its a San Francisco scene - the intense colour of the bay water, the grey of the skies in all that fog, and that burst of colour from the iconic bridge. I will definitely be incorporating this colour scheme into my next work - as a reminder and a memento of where I was. Colours often ignite memories or feelings so it will make the perfect souvenir to hang on the wall.

Also, souvenirs like fabric and wool become practical objects, not just silly things to be pushed to the back of  dusty shelf in a year. I picked up some local Alpaca wool and I plan to make a fall scarf. Every time I wear it I will be reminded of the San Fran hills hand in hand with my husband, just the two of us.

Next time you travel I invite you to skip the tourist nick nacks in the airport and head to a local craft/yarn/fabric/paper shop. Meet the people, exchange tips, and get a feel for what this area really is!

Friday, 1 April 2016

Our Very First Give-Away!

Hello readers I am so happy you stopped by and you will be glad you did!

Today I am posting to tell you about this great quilting book that has become an essential bedtime story in our family! Brandy Lynn, you probably recognize the name as she is the host of Canadian Quilt Talk (among other crafting ventures) recently wrote a charming children's book called, "Kristy's Quilt". I was so excited that Brandy wrote a children's book about quilting because I am always involving my five year old daughter in my own quilting endeavors. I ordered the book and Brandy was kind enough to sign the inside and I cannot even tell you how excited my five year old was when she saw that Brandy had wrote her name and a little message on the inside!

When we read the story I was very impressed at one thing in particular - the book was about modern quilters. Now, I don't mean modern as in only using contemporary fabrics or a certain type of quilting - I mean modern in a sense that the story is about a bunch of quilters at a retreat, using rotary cutters and sewing machines! Most storybooks about quilts that I have gotten from the library have been about an old hand pieced quilt from a special grandma, and please don't misunderstand, those quilts are sometimes the most special ones, but they don't really connect with our family.

Best way to carry your favourite quilt
Recently my daughter Chloe sewed her first quilt, a 24" x 24" patchwork piece for her little sister. Chloe had a stack of 5" squares, arranged them, sewed them, and quilted them all by herself. She was so proud of this quilt and she learned so much during the process. Her baby sister of course loves it and points at the little Elmo while carrying it around all day and night. Chloe's quilting experience was a modern one - she used pre-cuts, a sewing machine, and even decorative stitches for the actual quilting.

Even this squirrel wanted to hear the story!
Chloe's experience is just like the experience the little girl in the book is having, and Chloe really connects to the story. Another great part of the story is the sense of community and sharing from the quilters it portrays. My daughter is going to her first guild meeting this month and is very excited to help me at the Charity Baby Quilt table, and this book really shows quilters off in a great light. The story tells how the quilting community is one of the most supportive communities that you can find - all we want to do is share! How else can you describe a craft based on hundreds of hours of planning, cutting, pinning, sewing ect. just to give that work away to a charity or a special neighbor. Quilters are givers - quilters are sharers and I am so excited to welcome my daughter into this special community. She already loves visiting our local quilt shop and last month she learned from one of the ladies working there how to purchase a thread that blends with your patchwork for the quilting design.

This leads me to the really exciting part- remember how I said that quilters love to share? Well, Brandy Lynn from is definitely one of those quilters because she offered a free signed book to one lucky reader on this site!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This book is a great addition to anyones bookshelf and supports an amazing Canadian quilter and author! Here is where you can purchase your own copy: Purchase the book HERE

Crochet - A New Go-To For Crafting in Spring Weather

With spring weather finally making an appearance here in Ottawa I keep finding myself less drawn to my sewing machine and more pulled to a sunny window - or even crazier- outside. Helene has now taken her first walk outside on the grass (she learned to walk in the middle of winter so only walks inside so far). She is now 16 months old as is becoming a little toddler in abilities and attitudes. I barricaded her in the living room today and she goes between free play on her own with little things and brings me books to read every five minutes. Her meals are getting bigger, her bottles fewer and her naps fewer still... this means a lot less quilting time. This is where crochet comes in!

A few months ago I started watching YouTube crafting videos (or had them on the background while playing with V tech toy farms all morning). I stumbled across Melanie Ham and I have really enjoyed her casual but informative tutorials. Melanie produces high quality interesting and on trend DIY tutorials that I really enjoy watching. One of her most popular topics is her crochet videos, and I always skipped over them as I gave up crochet when I was ten after my grandmother tried patiently to teach me. Then spring came and I thought to myself that crochet would be a great craft to do while I'm watching the little's play. It was better than hand applique (too many sharp things), was fairly inexpensive and the projects always look so impressive!

Melanie has a crochet video on Granny Squares and I really loved the finish look of the square, I am finding crocheting in the round a challenge but I am enjoying the learning process. I decided it would be a great way to learn some more advanced crocheting while getting ready for one of our homeschooling projects for the fall. I decided that during our pioneer/first peoples studies I would teach Chloe about natural dyeing of materials. I think a crochet table cloth will be a grat candidate for dyeing because the 100% cotton natural wool I found will soak in the dye well, and a little variation in the saturation of colour will be great for a table cloth. I am doing the granny squares with only the natural cotton wool instead of switching colours in the traditional way they are made and it is really turning out great. I also realized that doing them all in one colour is hiding my imperfections as I learn!

So far from Melanies tutorials I have made 3 scarves (all different) 4 washcloths and now I have started my granny square table cloth project! If you would like to check out some of Melanie's tutorials go to . There are tons and tons of crochet videos on YouTube so I suggest finding one person you are inspired by rather than watching a million different videos - some people explain better than others and techniques can vary greatly.

I hope this inspires you to pick up a hand craft and enjoy this warm weather we are having. I think some crochet in a comfy chair (of course wrapped in a quilt, we are still in Canada) and a hot cup of coffee on the deck sounds kind of amazing right now... For now I will settle for the front room with the big window and the Elmo toys.
Helene running to grab my camera and my project!