Datura Again..

Datura – Jimson Weed

This I had to share.

This morning I had one bloom – that would be it for today, I thought. I just happened to glance out my bedroom window at the balcony now, almost dusk, to discover two more this evening. Looks like several more will open tomorrow.

So I went out on the balcony to photograph the plant – oh my – what an overpowering scent. My airway immediately shut down – had to head back indoors. I’m still wheezing. Lovely to look at, though!

This is yesterday – covered with aphids! I promptly dug out my Safer Soap, prepared a spray bottle, and doused the plant. I guess the aphids haven’t prevented the blooms from opening. I’ll douse the plant again tomorrow morning.

Marlene, my friend who gave me the plant, told me I’d enjoy it. She was definitely right.

Five Islands

Five Islands is a spectacular location on the NS Fundy Coast on the way to Parrsboro via Hwy 2 (the Glooscap Trail). Sitting on a park bench yesterday at Lighthouse Park, overlooking the islands, it’s clear from the panorama that at one time the islands must have been one continuous point of land projecting into the Bay connected to the mainland beyond the island at the far left of the photo. In the photo you see the western end of Moose island on the left. From left to right you have Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg, and Pinnacle islands. Beyond Pinnacle Island you can just see a seastack called Pinnacle Rock on the far right.

Five Islands at low tide

I’ve been driving by Five Islands on my way to Parrsboro for more than twenty years. Each time I’ve always wanted to take a photo of the islands at that spot on the highway where you come around a bend and see the islands through a gap in the trees. But there’s no stopping spot there – there’s sort of one on the water side of the road but I have never stopped until yesterday. I left the car parked on the shoulder, hazard lights on, and walked ahead until I got to the exact location where you can see the islands framed by the opening in the marsh.

Five Islands

The perspective here is somewhat different from the view at Lighthouse Park – you only see four islands with Moose Island on the far left and Pinnacle Stack on the right. At this angle, Diamond Island is hidden behind Moose.

My friend Ruby and I sat for quite a while on the headland bench enjoying the peaceful quiet of the afternoon. There were a pair of clammers digging quahogs on the mud flats while the tide was out but they quickly ended their harvest when the tide began coming in. This is the Bay of Fundy – the tide comes in very quickly and the water becomes very deep very fast. These locals were taking no chances and although their buckets were only partially full they knew enough to leave at the first sign of water returning.

At Five Islands

I was able to capture a photo of Ruby on the bench watching the men at work in the distance. This will definitely be my next wall art piece. I love her relaxed posture, her position against the coast, her head against the sky. I don’t know whether I’ll show low tide or imagine the Bay at high water. All to be determined.

The two of us had a lovely day. I wanted to return to the exhibit to take more photos and I knew Ruby would love to see the quilts hanging. After a short visit to the gallery (we were sneaking in because it was closed to visitors yesterday due to social distancing restrictions (there was a drawing workshop happening with Tom Forrestall) while the workshop participants were away having lunch), we had delicious lobster rolls at the Harbourview Restaurant then slowly made our way back to Halifax, taking side trips on small roads I’ve passed for years but never explored.

It was a lovely day.

BTW – show comes down Aug. 20 in the afternoon.

Double Purple Datura

Double Purple Datura/ Jimson Weed is an herbaceous annual with large flowers that are purple on the outside and white to cream on the inside. It is a summer-flowering plant that grows from seed.

I was given this plant by a friend six weeks ago or so. She started it from seed during the winter. The plant showed buds soon after I got it but the buds have been slow to develop and open.

Yesterday I got my first flower and I must say it is spectacular – however, it only lasted a single day. Today, it’s limp and droopy and it’ll probably fall off tomorrow.

There are lots of flowers to come, though. There are plenty of buds in various stages of development. Looks like I may get close to a new flower each day, although I don’t expect the next flower to open for another couple of days.

I’m hoping to see a couple of flowers at a time if the plant continues to grow and produce buds. The dilemma for me is the plant likes full sun. This is the sunniest place on my balcony but since it’s now past mid-summer, I’m getting full sun till about 10:30am with full sun decreasing slightly each day. So I don’t know for how long I will continue getting buds and flowers. I’m assuming the buds that have formed will open, but you never know, they may stop opening as we near September.

Oh well, I will have enjoyed whatever blooms that have opened.

Opening in Parrsboro 2020

Yesterday I drove to Parrsboro (2 hours from home) to hang 7 quilts and 15 wall art pieces in the Art Lab Studios & Gallery.


This is the sixth summer I’ve been privileged to show my creations in the gallery. It’s a small gallery in a small town but it’s becoming known for it’s displays of high quality art. The five resident artists are themselves fine artists who paint, make pottery, fashion textile pieces, along with a roster of other well known local artists who both show and do workshops at the Studios during the summer.

The space is perfect for hanging my lap quilts and other smaller pieces.

When we’re finished hanging the show I look around and think about the amount of work I’ve done in a year – the range of style, the intensity of colour, and the technical improvement the show reveals.

A number of pieces were created as projects for classes I was intending to teach (except they were cancelled due to COVID-19).

Kaleidoscope Table Runners

Other pieces were inspired by fabric in my stash – they called out for me to do something with them.

Then there were the two quilts I started work on at the sewing retreat last fall that turned into quite striking throws.

Grey called out to me this year – last year it was turquoise.

I think I want to return before the show is taken down to photograph everything once more – it’s very difficult for me to hang the quilts, in particular, and photograph them at home – when they’re on the wall, like this, I am able to capture each piece without distortion.

The quilts and wall art will be on display until August 20, 2020.

If you get a chance, the Art Lab Studios & Gallery is a wonderful destination for a day trip from Halifax – leave around 10am, stop at the Masstown Market in Masstown (they make great sugar donuts if you get there early enough). In Parrsboro you can have lunch at either the BlackRock Cafe or what locals call “The Pier” (now called, I think, Harbourview Restaurant), then visit the gallery, schmooze Main Street, and have a leisurely drive back home either through Joggins/Amherst or back through Truro. If you stop for dinner in Truro you can expect to be back home around 8pm. Even fun on a cloudy day.

Kaleidoscope Table Runner – IV

Before the pandemic arrived I was scheduled to teach a class on constructing a Kaleidoscope Table Runner (to demonstrate how the Stack ‘n Whack technique actually works). Do a table runner and you know how to turn the technique into a quilt or wall hanging, even a garment if you wished.

The class was cancelled. As businesses and life are slowly resuming here in Nova Scotia (we’ve effectively been without any new cases for close to a month – well one at the end of last week – someone who’d travelled from the US and then didn’t bother to quarantine for two weeks and managed to spread the virus to three young folks in PEI!) we’re beginning to think about resuming some aspects of our previous life.

So the class was rescheduled. One woman signed up, another was interested but not during the summer, so it’s been moved back till the end of September.

However, I’d started yet another kaleidoscope table runner as a demonstration piece and of course I kept working away at it.

Finished it this morning:

Kaleidoscope Table Runner IV

And here is the back:

Kaleidoscope Table Runner – Back

I did have to buy the yellow bordering fabric but the rest was constructed from fabric I had in my stash. Not many scraps left over!

I’ve finally written instructions for how to make this table runner – took a while because I kept forgetting to take photos as I went along. I was able to use images from  several different runners in order to show how the various parts of the project are constructed.

Kaleidoscope Table Runner – How To Construct

Let The Trumpets Sound

I must say when I began this Drunkard’s Path quilt I didn’t anticipate the chorus of trumpets that would emerge!

I had decided to give this quilt  idea a go (from a photo I’d seen) because I liked it’s modern quality – two fabrics and stark lines.

Trumpets – Front Of Quilt

39 Drunkard’s Path blocks – the rest is filler to create the overall layout.

Working on this quilt has let me consider all kinds of possibilities for using Drunkard’s Path in unusual layouts. I picked up a panel the other day which I think might turn into something quite interesting were I to cut it into squares and use both the Pie and “L” elements contrasting the dark and light tones.

Hoffman Skylines – Multi

I didn’t buy a full panel – the fabric is 106″ wide! – I bought a metre (40″) which is most of the pattern. Use the multi-coloured buildings cut out as, say, the Pie pieces with some kind of blender – a grunge of some colour – as the “L” pieces with the fillers done using fabric from the panel – I think I’d end up with something quite unusual. That might be my next project… (after a couple of garments).

Trumpets, Back Of Quilt

The back of “Let The Trumpets Sound” – I made several more Drunkard’s Path blocks using the leftover pale turquoise Pie pieces with different leftover red fabrics to complete the blocks. I didn’t use all the blocks I made – I still have four tucked away in a box now. Never know when I might find a use for an already constructed 6″ block, right?

I decided to do a hidden binding for this quilt to emphasize it’s modern qualities. I matched the colours in the binding on the back so it blended in precisely with the back assembly. I like how that turned out – you have to look closely to see the binding on the back.

Socks…

The question is always which colour to accent with the cuffs, heels, and toes. I didn’t have any purple solid, although I did have a pale blue and a dark teal, but after auditioning those yarns, I decided I wanted to highlight the dark red – and it worked nicely.

Socks with Dark Red Accent

I have enough patterned yarn for a pair of legs – I must go through the collection of leftovers to see if there’s anything else there to complement it.

In Case You Wondered

Just read a piece in the New York Post – “This is the fabric for DIY Face masks, according to science“.

“Much to the delight of many an American grandmother, the quilt fabric performed best as a protective shield against respiratory droplets.”

Anybody surprised? Of course face masks made with a good quality cotton quilting fabric stops cough droplets better than other sorts of home made face coverings.

“Without a mask, droplets from the simulated cough flew more than 8 feet and up to 12. They traveled 3 feet when the bandanna was worn; 15 inches with the folded handkerchief; and 8 inches with the surgical-grade masks.
The stitched, two-ply quilt mask, however, halted droplets after just 2 and ½ inches.
Why quilted? The study suggests that the masks made with quilting fabric fit faces better than loosely tied material. Plus, sturdy two-ply material gives a mask an added layer of protection, other studies have shown.”
So all my efforts haven’t been in vain! I’m now approaching 300 masks – I’ve really lost count. I keep making batches of a dozen. This last week I made another 36.

Latest Face Masks

I keep giving them away. Sent another dozen to my niece in Toronto last week. Have handed them out as I’ve gone to have my haircut, my nails done, had a filling repaired, saw the massage therapist…

This pandemic is going to be going on for a lot longer than people want to believe. Washable face masks are on the way to becoming essential for any socializing if we want to keep infection at some kind of containment level!

I’ve been using bolder, more colourful fabrics with each new batch. My personal collection is closing in on a dozen – I choose a face mask to go with my outfit. Why not, hey? It might as well be a fashion accessory if I have to wear it. And I do wear one whenever I’m in public, everywhere I go (except while actually eating in a restaurant -which I’ve done twice so far).

BTW, this is not all the sewing I’ve done since I last posted. I’ve finally got my latest quilt sandwiched, pinned, and ready to quilt; I made a cotton nightgown for a friend of mine having a birthday on Thursday; I’ve been puttering with Kaleidoscope Table Runners for a class that’s not going to happen. I bought small amounts of fabric yesterday to add to two different sets of octagon “blocks” so I can finish the runners and get on with sewing some summer clothes for myself. Oh yes, and I put elastic inserts into the waists of 7 pairs of pants! And took out excess fabric from the seat of three pairs of jeans I bought at Costco.

I’ve not been idle!

Still Knittin’

These socks took longer than usual to knit – I found the emerging pattern rather boring even though the socks are colourful; I was caught up with other stuff – nothing outstanding but the days slipped away and I didn’t end the evening by knitting as I would normally do. Maybe it was just Covid-19 getting through although my life has been minimally affected by the virus – I’ve been able to carry on as usual. The only disruption has been the absence of my three times a week exercise at the pool which I miss a lot.

Regia Blue Socks

These blue socks are my standard size – for a person wearing a size 7 1/2 – 8 1/2 shoe. They’ve gone into the give-away stash which is growing quite large. I definitely must give these socks away! Likely in the fall when the weather starts getting colder.

A Very Modern Quilt

A while back I saw an interesting modern quilt on Pinterest:

Pinterest Photo

I really liked the stark contrast between the two colours and the very modern use of drunkard’s path blocks. I printed the image and put it in my “think about” pile. I had 3m of an interesting red batik I thought would work with this idea but I needed something pale to contrast with it. This is just after everything shut down in mid-March so I went online, found a pale turquoise batik at the Missouri Quilt Company and ordered 2m. That fabric took quite a while to arrive – COVID-19 in action, of course, affecting both warehouse and the postal systems. After finishing the Crossroads Quilt I decided to try this quilt.

I began to deconstruct the image, but discovered this quilt was a 2018 Kauffman quilt pattern so I downloaded it. However, the finished dimensions (a twin size quilt) were larger than I wanted to make so I scaled it by 85% (now that I have the top completed I realize I probably should have scaled it 80%). That meant downsizing all the pieces.

First, I experimented with the size of the drunkard’s path block – taking it from 6 1/2″ down to 5 1/2″ – but I couldn’t go from there until I started assembling some blocks into larger units because I wasn’t sure what size the connecting elements would actually turn out to be. I started by constructing 10 drunkard’s path blocks (I knew I needed 39 in all) and created the first column, added the second column, then the sashing elements between as well as the outside left border.

First Two Columns Assembled

The next part of the assembly was less straightforward – I constructed the remaining 29 drunkard’s path blocks and began working on the central panel:

Centre Panel

I joined the first pair of drunkard’s path blocks with sashing, add the third block to one end, next the side sashing, put the second triplet with it, then add the end sashing…. I only knew what size the sashing elements needed to be by measuring where they fit as the parts of the “block” came together. It was easier figuring out what size fabric pieces to cut as I went along by measuring where they went rather than trying to work out 85% of each piece in the pattern.

Centre Panel Attached

Finally the right-side panel – same process:

Finished Quilt Top

Now I have a finished quilt top – 51″ x 68″ (instead of 61″ x 75 1/2″) – a large lap quilt.

Yesterday, I bought turquoise fabric for the back. I have all 39 pale turquoise “pie” shaped pieces cut from the “L” pieces as I built the drunkard’s path blocks. I plan on creating a dozen or so reverse drunkard’s path blocks using scraps of various red fabrics that more or less blend with this background batik for the “L” pieces so I can set up a strip to insert into the back panel.

That’s where I am right now – I have to cut out a dozen or so drunkard’s path blocks – downsizing the turquoise “pie”shaped pieces, cutting out red blocks for the “L” shaped pieces, creating the blocks and stitching the panel.

So on to that next.