Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dreams Come True

This past Friday I went with my husband and a few of my friends to see this guy perform in concert.

For those of you that don't know(I'm guessing that's most of you), this is Paul Brandt. He's my all time favourite country singer and he's Canadian(shout out to Calgary). Another Canadian band, High Valley, made up of three brothers with Mexican Mennonite heritage, opened for him (we were treated to the Backstreet Boys in Low German). Anyways, back to Paul Brandt. I had wanted to go to his concert while I was doing my undergrad 4 years ago, but unfortunately it conflicted with one of my exams. He hasn't toured since, but recently kicked off a new tour. So off we went to Brantford and watched it. I had a fantastic time and would go again in a heart beat.
See how much fun we're having?
Please ignore the fact that I seem to have one and a half eyes.
Although this has nothing to do with crafts or math, it falls under the category of other things I love.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nerd Alert

I spent the weekend in Waterloo planning questions for a math contest. Isn't it nice to get together with people who have similar interests to you? I had a wonderful time discussing math, education and even board games. I also got to whip out some first year math to help someone. It's also so encouraging to see so many teachers who care about getting students interested in math. It might have been a little nerdy for some people, but it was perfect for me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fish Quilt:The Process Part 1

You're probably going to get sick of hearing about the fish quilt, but it consumed my life for a while, so it will consume my blog accordingly. I want to outline the quilt making process for those of you that are unfamiliar with it.

Step 1: Planning

Substep A: Decide to make a quilt/Choose a pattern
When we heard that friends of ours were having a baby, my mother suggested to me that we make a baby quilt. I agreed and we started thinking. Now, making a baby quilt for a known baby means you have 9 months, and since most couples don't announce until the 3 month mark, in reality 9 months is down to 6 months. Add to that some gathering of ideas, some hemming and hawing, and some reconnaissance work to find out colour schemes, and all of a sudden it was the end of August, and the baby is coming at the beginning of December. We were headed to my grandparents for the weekend and gave ourselves an ultimatum of the end of the weekend to choose a pattern. Once we got to gramma's we got right to work flipping through quilt books, quilt magazines, quilt patterns, and the internet. Finally we found a picture of a quilt we liked called "Swimmies" by Lisa Boyer. It was settled. This would be the quilt we would make.

Substep B: Choose Fabrics
There are two advantages to having a gramma, and a mom who quilt. The first is knowledge. You can always ask them questions when you get stuck or don't know. The second is a supplies. Chances are if you don't have something, they will. This is how we got started on our quilt. Gramma started pulling out bins and boxes and containers and drawers full of fabric, and we started picking out the fabrics we liked. It seemed like a never ending supply of fabric. Once we had picked out our pile of fabric we began sorting them, trying to decide which ones looked good together. This is where my mom and I differ from my gramma. She is very good a colour choices. We chose to get a little support in this area by looking at the picture we had found online. All of the fabric for the fish and the outer border, as well as the backing came from my gramma's stash(Thanks Gramma!). We went to the fabric store for the background and the inner border. (Quilt Making Tip #1: Find a gramma, or a friend with a good fabric stash, and good advice.) When you buy fabric it's a good idea to figure out how much you will need and buy a little extra. I didn't do so well in this department. It was pretty close for a while, and since we had gone to the states to buy the fabric, we didn't want to have to go back.

This is all of the scrap we had left from the background.
For reference that largest piece is 26" long at the longest
 point and 6" wide.

Step 2: Piecing
Substep A: Practice
Because we were making the quilt from a picture and not a pattern, we did a practice run. I drew up an exact copy of what the block would look like, based on the proportions from the picture(yes I did blow up the picture and hold my ruler up to the computer screen), Gramma got out her scrap fabric, and we got to work. Although it was a little tricky, we came out with a practice block after not too much time or too much trouble. (Quilt Making Tip #2: Do your own practice block.)

Substep B: Create the quilt top
This is it. All that planning and practice is for this moment. You take those nice pieces of fabric, chop them up and sew them back together. For us this was also the most frustrating part of the process. The practice block had gone so nicely at gramma's, but at home, we couldn't get it to work(see QMT #2). We spend a frustrating Sunday afternoon and couldn't even finish one block. When we finally did finish we decided the best way to go about things was to do each section of the fish for all of the blocks(all the tails, all the fins, etc.) rather than each fish one at a time, because otherwise we would forget how we did it each time. We used a process called paper-piecing, which is pretty much what it sounds like. Along with stitching the fabric you use a piece of paper to help make the correct angles, etc. Once it is stitched you rip the paper off. It also uses more material than you might think(see photo above). Once each fish was made, we sewed them together in rows, with spacing pieces in between, and then each of the rows together. We also pieced the border with 3.5"x1.5" strips from Gramma's stash. The inner and outer border got sewed around the outside, and we were done.

This was the quilt top completely put together.
(Sorry about the Blackberry quality photo)
That's the end of part 1 of the process. I started writing this a long time ago and am just now finishing (partly due to procrastination, but we'll blame it mostly on my computer cord breaking). Hopefully I won't take so long in putting up the second part.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Finished Fish Quilt

Well, as promised, here are some pictures of the quilt I was making with my mother. I'm going to take a few more tomorrow to try and get better lighting, so you can see the quilting better, but here's a general idea.

Here is a picture of the whole quilt.

This is an up close picture of the swirls we quilted.

Here is a fish with bubbles, and swirls around it.
I know the last picture isn't great, but I was hoping it would give you a better idea of the quilting we did. I will try and post better pictures later, and also some pictures and information about the process.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I have a confession to make. When I thought I was writing to the big wide world of the internet, I was excited to share my thoughts, ideas, and projects. I thought it would be an adventure. But now that I know that my mom, and my gramma read my blog...I'm a little intimidated. Apparently I have no problem sharing with complete strangers(let's be honest...I didn't actually picture anyone reading my blog), but with my family?...not so much.

One of my favourite crafty activities to do is to quilt. It is something I have mostly learned through observation. Both my mom and my gramma are quilters. My gramma produces quilts like nobody's business. She's always got at least two projects on the go. I've also seen my mom produce a number of quilts, although not nearly as many as my gramma. Between raising two kids, and working part-time or full-time, she squeezes quilting in when she has time, or for special occasions. Another way that I have been exposed to quilting, is through my church. There are a number of ladies that meet every Tuesday to quilt. When I was a child, my mother would take us and she would quilt while we would play. Even when I was in school, we would go and have lunch with everyone. Since I have become a "grown-up" I have gone to quilt whenever I have the chance. I have learned so much from the "quilting ladies" and have enjoyed their friendship and mentorship. All of that do say, I have never been explicitly taught most of what I know. I have learned by watching, and by getting oral instructions. Because of this I don't always feel comfortable about my abilities. I feel intimidated by the experience and the knowledge of those around me, and am very aware of my limited knowledge.

Now that we've had that nice moment, I just wanted to say that although I am working on a number of projects, they are all intended for gifts, and thus I do not want to reveal them online. I have been photographing some of the things I have already done, and will be posting those until after Christmas, when I can show you my current projects. I leave you with a picture of the beginning of my current project(I don't think it reveals to much) and the current state of my crafting dining room table.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's Out!

Well, my mom and I have been quilting up a storm (with a little help-thanks Lynn!). She's been working on it since she got back from Hawaii, and I spent all my waking time that I could at my parents. We worked Saturday evening, all afternoon on Sunday, Monday evening and tonight and it is finally out of the frames. We are getting closer and closer to our goal of getting it done for Saturday. The rest is pretty much up to my mom as I won't be around again until Saturday, but I could put a few stitches in in the car on the way to the shower if I need. Oh, and I'm buying the bag to put it in. I will post pictures, hopefully Saturday evening so that you can see the finished product after the big reveal.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Get Your Math On

I have been so focused on my crafts that I have been neglecting my math. I have a meeting in a couple weeks for which I need to answer and analyze 95 math problems. For those of you that don't know me, I have a 4 year math degree, and I love math(well parts of it), so this isn't as torturous for me as it might be for some of you. However, it is still going to take some time. I haven't exercised my math muscles in a while. We'll see how it goes. I'm off to get my math on.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sneak Peak

Here is a project I am working on for a baby shower in a couple weeks. I don't want to give it away, but here are some snippets.