Shadow Quilt – Quilt Back

I started this insert for the Shadow Quilt back by cutting 2 1/2″ strips of the fabrics used on the top and sewing two strips together. At that point I wasn’t sure what I would do with the double strips. I ended up cutting equilateral triangles, sewing pairs into diamonds, then compiling four diamonds into a larger one.

This large diamond gave me 9″ for the start of what I intend to be a 14″ strip.

I aligned five large diamonds end to end: 75″ – long enough for the quilt back but I wanted to fill in where the points touched. I added single small diamonds on each side in the space. That still left ten half-diamonds needed on each side. The easiest way to figure out the dimensions for these half-diamonds was to place a sheet of paper beneath the diamond layout and draw in the missing half-diamond (I added a 1/4″ to each angled side to be sure there would be adequate seam allowances).

I did the same for the 1/4 diamonds needed to complete the ends as well.

Now diamonds are pieced in diagonal lines. Because I was improvising as I went along, I already had the large 4-part diamonds sewn which complicated the process somewhat. In the end I laid out the pieces and assembled the strip section by section.

Width so far: 9 1/4″ – so I’ve cut strips for each side:

The borders: 1″ red, 1/2″ dark grey, 2 1/2″ light grey on the outside. The strip will be inserted into the darker grey fabric with vertical pale lines and dots.

I’ll add the borders tomorrow.


I returned from Toronto with a couple of pair of worn out socks. One pair was beyond salvation. The holes in the foot and heel were too large to repair. I’ll save the legs and knit new feet, I thought, but there was so much lint embedded in the yarn I knew I’d never be able to restore the legs to a wearable condition. That pair got trashed.

The second pair, on the other hand, had possibilities: one sock had a hole in the toe and both heels were worn through, but the main part of the foot wasn’t worn too badly. So I cut out the heels and removed the cast-off toe portion of both socks and started to work. I knit new heels and toes and those socks are now just like new!

They’ll go in the mail In the next few days.

Sewing Studio – Plan

sewing studio

Here is my current tentative layout for my sewing studio. The kitchen/dining room/living room is a large rectangular space: from the kitchen island to the windows/sliding doors/ is 31′. Width at the doors is 11′ – at its widest the room is 15′. It’s a big room! There is a doorway on each side leading to a bedroom, but the overall main space is uninterrupted.

There is enough wall space to accommodate the sewing tables for each machine at the balcony/window end of the room. Because the room is so wide, I envision a kitchen island for a cutting table – the unit 24″ deep, 6′ long, with a 3’x6′ top (this will overhang the base by 12″ and perhaps allow the “back” of the island to have shelving) with a cutting mat surface for rotary cutting. I see something like this:


(without the granite top) and probably 12-15″ longer to accommodate shelves at the end as well as the back. Since most of my furniture is teak I thought a finish something like this would work – simple and in an approximate colour family.


A unit like this would compensate for the lack of a closet with shelving in this main space. Right now, my sewing room is very compact and has spilled over into the closets of two other rooms!


However, I think with this shelving and repurposing my teak shelving storage unit and the dining room buffet to handle fabric and notions I will have plenty of sewing storage. (There is also a “den” – for a “box room” where I can put the overflow if I need to.)

Now I need to be patient and wait until I’m actually in the apartment to place what I do have and then see what kind of space I have for the island – who knows, I might be able to make it even bigger. I want to be able to stand at the cutting table and not be far from the machines, ironing board, and the shelves where stuff is stored. Right now I can do that in my small sewing room (9.8′ x 8.7′).


While I will have much more space I want things to be close to hand.

Getting this all set up is going to be fun!



House Sold!


My house sold this week – now my life gets crazy! I’ve got six weeks to sort through my “stuff”, decide what to keep and what to pass on, pack it so I can actually find it when I arrive at the new apartment.

I will actually have more floor space than I have in the townhouse. Before I looked at apartments I thought about how I use the space I have: I spend almost all of my time sewing, doing things at the computer, and knitting/watching TV in my bedroom. I don’t use my living room/dining room space much at all. So I decided I would actually set up a sewing studio in the main area of the apartment. I spent yesterday afternoon with a friend scaling up the floor plan I obtained online so I could think about where to position existing furniture and consider what I might want custom made.


There will be lots of room for three sewing tables (one for my quilting machine, one for my serger, and one (much larger than the one I currently have which needs to be built) for my embroidery machine which I use to quilt the quilts. There is also going to be room for a cutting table. I had originally planned to use my dining room table with a cutting mat surface for that purpose, but I was in Home Depot yesterday and realized a kitchen island with drawers and shelves in the end sitting in the middle of the room surrounded by machines (and close to the ironing board) would be just the thing. I’m not going to order that until I get the machines set up. So I may end up with room nearer the kitchen island for the dining room table.

I plan on using the smaller second bedroom as a computer/sitting room (with a day bed for an occasional guest).

Now I have to go through all the books (there are books in every room, right now) and get rid of almost all of them – I will just keep those I actually reread: the Dorothy Dunnetts, the Exordium (a si-fi 5 series set which I reread often), and I don’t know what else. The challenge will be figuring out what to do with the discards – I hate sending them to the paper recycling depot, but there aren’t many used book stores left in the city.

Then I will have to go through all the ornaments/dishes on the shelf unit currently in my living room and sort those. I will also need to carefully sort the art so I can easily find the few I’m going to have space to hang.

I have a check-list that I need to dig out and start working my way through it. I’ve also got to keep in mind I’ve committed to having a showing of 10 new quilts end of August through to mid-September. I’ve got 7 completed, #8 is being quilted at the moment, and #9 I’ve just finished piecing the top (borders still to come). So I have to come up with one more quilt and get it stitched before mid July when I have to be out of the house!

And there’s still a possible quilting class June 7 and 28. I know what I’ll be making during the class – a variation of the quilt the participants will be working on.

So my life has suddenly become a lot busier!

Shadowed Blocks Quilt


Just finished piecing the centre portion of this quilt top. I will add 4″ borders in the off-white background fabric. I’ve got a medium/dark grey small print fabric for the backing – have no idea yet what kind of piecing I will do. I have plenty of left overs from the blocks (part of my Fossil Fern stash) so I will do something with it.

I saw photos of shadowed block quilts a while back – squares, rectangles… It was something I wanted to try. It’s a relatively simple pattern to figure out – I did deliberate a bit before deciding on that charcoal colour for the shadow. I auditioned dark reds, lighter greys, but this grey seemed to make the coloured blocks float which is the intention of this quilt idea.

Now to come up with something for the back of the quilt.

Grey/White Striped Socks


I liked working with this yarn. It was just a bit softer than most of the socks yarns I have used. (Don’t you know I can’t find the label – I’ve tossed it out! It is a blend of 75% merino/25% nylon).  Because I only had a 50g ball of yarn, I interspersed a solid white and a pale grey as I knit so I could extend the pattern most of the way to the toe.



These are my mother’s fine china dishes. She passed them on to me in 1993 when I moved to Winnipeg. I used them reasonably often while I was there, but since returning to Halifax in 1997 they’ve been used only infrequently – I just don’t do the kind of entertaining that would warrant tableware as elegant as this.

I’ve just sent this picture to my niece asking if she’d be interested for sentimental reasons in having her grandmother’s dishes – she doesn’t, I know, particularly like the china she got when she was married.

If she declines the offer, and I’m expecting she will, I may just put them in my kitchen and use them for everyday dishes and wash them in the dishwasher. 

Nobody really wants fine tableware like this these days. There is little point in having the set stored in my buffet unused. So if the gold edges wear off in the dishwasher, or pieces break, what does it matter – it’s just “stuff”.

Then the question is what to do with my reliable, unbreakable Midwinter white stoneware dishes which I’ve used faithfully for 35 years! More stuff I have to decide what to do with!

George Carlin had it right in his hilarious monologue about “Stuff”. Never seen it, don’t know it – watch it! We all have too much STUFF!

Multi-yarn Socks II

Finally finished this pair of socks made from two different variegated yarns. I could have bought two 50g balls of either, but wanted to see what I could do by interleaving the two.

The two variegated yarns were based on blue – one more strongly patterned, the second subdued. Unlike the previous pair where I alternated rows of each yarn, this time I knit 10-15 rows changing yarn when I thought the colours would blend. My problem was because I couldn’t discern the repeating pattern in either yarn it was impossible to duplicate the starting place on the second sock – so the two socks, while related, are different.

Nobody will notice when they’re being worn! So into the gift pile they’ve gone – I know a couple of wearers who will smile when they put them on.

Sewing Inspiration

It’s very hard for me to shop because I look at garments and notice the sewing imperfections and remember fabric in my stash and think how easy it would be just to make it. Instead, “shopping” for me is about ideas! 

Yesterday Sheila and I dropped into Desigual – their stuff is interesting although their sizing doesn’t fit me, it’s intended for women 40 years younger and skinnier than I am (I wear a size 12-14!) I actually tried on a black and white shirt in a large (forgot to photograph it) but I’d have needed an XXL (which they don’t make) to hang properly and even then I think the shoulders would have been too narrow.

But there was inspiration galore:

A denim jean jacket with inserts and sleeves in an almost sheer print fabric used in the shirt underneath. I’d never have thought of doing that but now I might.A shirt in contrasting bold colourful prints – I might have considered doing something like this. It’s a reminder to look through my stash of shirt fabric when I get home with something like this in mind.

Inspiration everywhere!

Toronto’s Harbourfront

Yesterday I had lunch with Sheila who I met last spring in San Francisco at the Betzina Sewing Retreat. We were supposed to have spent a week together sewing again beginning of April, but I was hit with norovirus and couldn’t go. 

She lives in a high rise building in the Distillery District on the Toronto waterfront. Imagine sipping coffee on your balcony enjoying this view:

This is the Toronto working harbour – the terminus for the lake barges and occasional ships that come through the St. Lawrence:

Behind this high rise is the site of the recent Pan Am Games:

We wandered the Distillery a district – had lunch, window shopped, dropped into some of Sheila’s favourite stores including this one (didn’t record the name) – every pair of shoes here looked like it had come from the Shoe Museum:

Last we stopped at a coffee shop for some dessert and sat outside enjoying the warm spring afternoon. We won’t have window boxes like this in Halifax for another three weeks!
We had a lovely visit and both of us are looking forward to next April in San Francisco and another Betzina Sewing Retreat.