Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sugaring Off Season

Saturday was the annual BMP Hospital sugaring off party fundraiser, and what a terrific day it was!  The sun was shining and temperatures went up to 15 degrees, and that alone can put a smile on anyone's face!  It's an annual event that has been hosted by the same family for 22 years now, the Rhicards from Stanbridge East.  It's an event where you meet everyone you know, knew, or will know from all over the countryside. It's kind of like a county fair, but without the rides!

The air was full of the smell of syrup boiling and the sugar-on-snow troughs did a brisk business.

There were four teams of horses giving wagon rides around the farm.  I am particularly fond of Dave Evans girls that were being driven by his grandson, under his expert eye.

A troika hitch was there too, not something you see very often.

There were demonstrations of working with hand tools--this gentleman is making a wagon wheel.

Here, John Rhicard is squaring up a beam. (There has been a sawmill on the farm for over 100 years)

One of the barns was set up for dancing, with people of all ages joining.  I always love the country duos who play, sing, and have taps on their shoes for percussion.  Such fun.

Rob Young brought his ox, who also pulled a wagon for a few rides.

But then he got tired and had to take a nap!

All in all, it was a wonderful community fundraiser with over 900 local people showing up to support our local hospital.  My hat is off to the organizers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Poissons d'Avril

 Poissons d'Avril as we say in Quebec, and April Fool's Day in the rest of North America.  I thought the saying came from the cinnamon candies shaped like fish that used to be sold, but I haven't seen them in a long time.  ( I just looked it up on Wikipedia and found this reference:  Although not directly related to Easter, the tradition of “Poisson d’Avril” is followed by all French children on 1 April. Paper fish are used to play an April Fools trick, involving sticking a paper fish onto the back of as many adults as possible, then running away yelling “Poisson d’Avril” (April Fish!)

The joke is on all of us as spring is still nowhere to be found.  Today is the first day in a week that it hasn't snowed, and the sunshine and warmer temps made everyone tilt their faces to the sun.  As a celebration of it being above freezing, many of my co choir members and I met at a resto for fish and chips.  It just seemed appropriate!

I've been playing around in sewing world lately, trying to decide what block I'd like for my turn of the quilting bee.  I did enjoy last month's more challenging (for me) blocks and would like something really "my style" when it comes round to my month.

I started playing with scraps in the same colour and tried different sizes of wonky star, both of which turned out well.  As always, I love blues, but I don't know how an entire quilt of these blocks would look. I used this tutorial for the stars and really like the end result.

I like the look of the stars offset mixed with the central ones.  I think it would be a happy quilt with lots of colour and individuality.  It doesn't show in the pictures, but the two are very different in size.  The original makes a 17.5" block, so I shrunk mine down to 15" for the blue one and 13" for the pink one.

Then I made some oversized flying geese blocks with the idea of having a wild and crazy design with geese going in all directions.  I like the size of the blocks and think it could be fun, but more white is needed to give space to the fabric.  It looks quite muddy even though, individually, I love the fabrics and colours on the left, but there's not enough contrast.

I'll try a few more with whites or lots of white in a pattern and see how they go.

I'm linking up to The Needle and Thread network today, so hop on over to see what everyone is up to.  Let's all keep thinking about warmth and green grass!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Look Mom, I'm Paper Piecing!

A few months ago, I thought I'd like to try something new, so bought three little paper piecing patterns to make as birthday/baby/friendship gifts for people who like owls, foxes, and elephants respectively.  But nobody told me to start small and work your way up with paper piecing, and none of the helpful websites had the same, crumpled, mismatched and sad looking items that I had.  So, I threw them into a drawer and went away to sulk.

To my horror, this month my Wee Bee Canadian wanted us to make flying circle of geese blocks with the dreaded paper piecing.  Not only did I have churn dash issues last week, but this week my knickers were definitely in a knot just thinking about starting to paper piece.  So, I looked at the approved web site (, picked up my papers and started one step at a time.  I have to say, that it was an excellent tutorial.

To show how inept I was, it hadn't occurred to me to number the pieces on the wrong side too, so no wonder I got frustrated.  This time I cut my pieces really big to eliminate the constant "wrong size,

wrong angle" issues I'd had before.  Strangely, it all seemed to go well! Then I got cocky; I started eyeballing instead of checking and then, of course, my very last piece was wrong, very wrong.  So, I threw it across the room and went away to sulk.

Next day, same place, different time.  I do own a seam ripper, so I was able to repair the offending piece, but then I was on a roll and nothing went wrong the rest of the morning.  I made four squares, sewed them together and ended up with an actual flying geese block.

The only problem was removing the paper, when I realized that I should have anchored some of the starting points to stop them loosening up.  I was able to fix that before sewing it all together and I'm mighty pleased!  I might actually dig out the owl, fox, and elephant patterns and give them a whirl.

So that's it for sewing this week.  Yet again we were hit by a massive snowstorm with high wind and drifts, so we were housebound for one whole day, then digging out another.  My husband is very fed up with plowing the yard!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dashing Off the Churn Dash

I didn't expect to have anything sewing related to share this week, but yesterday turned out to be a day of puttering in sewing world.  This month's block for the Wee Bee was a mini churn dash, which seemed simple enough but caused me lots of frustration.  There are so many seams that the smallest inaccuracy ended up with a block that was ever so slightly off size.  Now, you might think after the first off size block I might smarten up, but no, it took me THREE to stop and analyze what might be wrong! I've never been one to worry about perfection, but this was ridiculous!

So, I narrowed it down to zipper foot, ruler or pencil line.  (or all three) I measured the zipper foot and all was well there.  Then I took out a newish ruler and held it against my beloved 3x18 one and lo and behold, it was a hair different.  So I backed it up just past the line when measuring and found that all my blocks were right on size.  Who would have thought that over the years a ruler would wear down on the cutting side.

The requested format was "scrappy-happy" with purples, blacks and burgundy.  I realized yesterday that aside from solids, I have not bought any fabric for six months, and am finally getting to use up all the bits and pieces on my shelves.  What's left now I don't much like and don't know why I bought it, but will donate it to a craft circle for them to use and now I can buy some more!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


My daughter came to visit on the weekend, so any thoughts of sewing or knitting went right out the window!  As anyone with adult children knows, it's a joy to have them visit--it means they actually want to see us!

It was one of those picture perfect winter times with fresh snow and dark blue skies, perfect for being outdoors.

We did the traditional snowshoe trek, but found it was hard going.  We usually put on our snowshoes at the back of the barn, but Emma made one step too many and ended up in soft snow past her boots, so had to back out quickly to get her gear on!  It was fine going across the fields where the wind polishes and hardens the snow,

 but in the woods, it was soft and powdery and even with snowshoes, it was up to my knees in places. That's when it's useful to have a big stick for balance!

Sadly, it was too hard for my faithful companion, so I had to break off and make a trek to the road.  Her hind end doesn't work like a young dog any more, so she was struggling to get going forward with the deep snow.  I had to take three steps for every one step forward to tread it down, making it solid enough for her to walk on.

Once we made it back home, she spent a lot of time snoozing to catch up on her rest!  Neil always makes fun of her with her "dolly" as a pillow, but I find it adorable.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Winter Olympics

So, the winter Olympics are over for another four years and once again I am in awe of, and horrified by the event.  I am in awe of all those wonderful young people who work their guts out for a chance to represent their countries with very little monetary support for most of them.  I am horrified at the media's attitude that it's all about the medals.  Of course, it's great to win, and being a true blue Canadian, the men's and women's gold medals in curling and hockey are wonderful, but no athlete should apologize if they don't win gold.  It's all too sad.  I am also struck by the sheer bloated spectacle that both summer and winter Olympics have become.  The amount of money involved with Sochi is beyond my imagination.  Anyway, rant is over.  (and, of course, I did watch!)

With the Olympic couch potato event that I was involved in, I was able to get stuck into some knitting.  We have one TV and that's at the other end of the house from my sewing room, so I had very little sewing output!

I decided to try a new sock technique for heels called the Fish Lips Kiss Heel by Sox Therapist on Ravelry.  I tried the toe up method a few times, but it didn't really click, and this method advertised that there was no picking up heel flap stitches and no holes left in the corners, so I tried it.  Very interesting! It's kind of  hard (no, impossible) to twist myself into the appropriate position to show the heel, but you can see it doesn't have the heel flap.

That's better!  Now you can see that there's nothing except a line of stitching to show the heel, with perhaps the only negative thing being the colour pooling.  But I figure no one but me will see that! I'd be curious to hear from anyone else who has used this technique.

It's still doing a lot of this, but the days are lighter and longer, so spring must be somewhere.

My faithful companion is still up for anything I do, although right now she's doing some Olympic snoring as she naps by my feet! The amount of whistling and snorkelling that an old dog can broadcast is amazing.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that she's ten, but other days her back end is weak and it makes me sad. But, she is a happy dog and she has the best life a dog can have.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Joy of Snow

I like winter.  I know, a collective shudder goes through the blogoshpere, but really,  I do.  Take today for example--a deep blue sky with fresh snow so bright that it hurts the eyes. It is incredibly beautiful.  I like the extremes and the changes, from hot and humid summers to cold snowy winters.  Sometimes it's harsh, but  as I plodded along in my snowshoes this afternoon I was happy to be right here right now.

Last week I had reason to be grateful for snow.  I had a particularly Canadian driving experience with fresh snow and unplowed back roads.  Usually it's no problem until the snow starts making a bow wave over the hood, but that day I rounded  a curve and met a tractor completely blocking the road.  There was no time to to stop and precious little time to react, but I managed to avoid both the tractor and the hydro pole and got airborne as I headed towards the neighbour's pasture.  But, because of 10 cm of fresh snow, my car just landed with a metallic phflump and settled into the drift.  The airbags didn't even deploy!  Neil was able to pull me out with the tractor and there was minimal damage.  Since my car is 14 years old, a few more dents and scrapes make no difference to me!  I was lucky and all thanks to snow.  I could get out of temper and blame the snow, but really, it saved me too.

Winter also means more indoor time, which translates to more sewing and music time.  This week was a zippy pouch week, always fun.  I made a few for some friends of my daughter--I hope they like them.

I have no idea where this cat and mouse fabric came from, but I love it!

It's funny how all the bags have this strange trapezoid shape when photographed, even though in the flesh they are perfectly rectangular.  Anyway, this one is lined with a Denise Schmidt fabric that I love.  (I received an email last night with a picture of the delighted recipient, so it was well received!)

 And this one is made from fabrics my daughter brought back from Uganda when she worked there.  I've been saving them for something special again, but my self-imposed fabric diet means that I have started using lots of special stuff on the shelves.  It feels good.

And now a dog glamour shot--my faithful companion looking noble. I love the little icicles hanging off her whiskers!