Friday, December 12, 2014

Remembering Bandit (2002-2014)

Two women’s best friend died this week. Bandit brought joy to our lives, especially to my daughter and me.
Andrée and daughter with Bandit
Adopting Bandit

Bandit was a rescue dog from Florida. Apparently there are a lot of cocker spaniels in Florida and so older dogs have more difficulty getting adopted. Bandit obviously had some wonderful owners in Florida. He was generally well trained and confident…sometimes a little too much!

Bandit's two moms
Two mothers
This is my daughter and I adopting Bandit in January 2012. We got him from a wonderful foster mom. Thanks Margaret for all of your support! Although I had a dog growing up, he wasn't my responsibility so it was a steep learning curve. We also had a good coach in Jane Madigan of Inspired K9s.

Bandit in Northern Ontario
Bandit in Northern Ontario
Within a month of moving in, Bandit went on his first road trip to Northern Ontario to my grandmother’s funeral. For a Florida dog, he sure loved snow, especially when he discovered that he could eat it all! He had no problems adapting to the cold and the snow. He was also wonderful in the hotel room. A perfect gentleman.
A confident Bandit on his pink and brown quilt
A confident Bandit on his pink and brown quilt

Of course as soon he moved in he got his first quilt. He would lie down on the couch on his pink and brown quilt. No doubt about it, he was a confident cocker!

Bandit and Twix on the quilt
Bandit and Twix

Bandit on his new quilt
Bandit has his own quilt
Bandit was often in my room when I was quilting. Here he is with his cousin Twix (my brother’s dog). They both wanted to be there as I was binding the quilt before my brother and his family moved to Denmark.

Finally, Bandit got a quilt made just for him. I had a great time shopping for fabric in Philadelphia last fall. I also got to practice my free motion quilting.

Last Christmas I made mug rugs for my colleagues. Since I worked late into the evening, Bandit made himself at home in my Christmas stash. What a sweetheart.
Bandit nesting in the Christmas fabric stash
Bandit in the Christmas stash

This is one of the last photos of Bandit. He was quite sick and lost a lot of weight. He still loved to hang around with me when I was quilting. I think that one evening he decided that he wanted attention – lying down on my sewing machine pedal did the trick!

Thank you so much Bandit for your love. You are truly missed.

Bandit sleeping on my sewing machine pedal
Bandit wants attention
What I learned:
  • It turns out that having a healthy pancreas is important :-(
  • Unconditional love is rare and precious.
  • It's almost more upsetting that it hurts less as time goes by.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Projects Update

December is here! Somehow it always sneaks up on me. Today it feels like fall is finished and winter is on its way. That’s tough because I haven't started my winter door hanging yet…. Although it feels like there is never enough time to quilt, I did get ahead on a few projects, and even managed to finish one!
Orange Peel update

Orange Peel Quilt-along Update

In my last Orange Peel related post, I had finished 29 of my original 36 peels. I had purchased more Tula Pink fabrics and needed more background fabric. Since I wasn't sure which “white” fabric I was using, I ordered a meter of two whites and one neutral. For the record, I’m using the Kona White. Of course, I've now used up my meter and ordered more at Mad About Patchwork…. Got it yesterday. It’ll be in the wash tonight!

Three weeks late, I added an update to the bottom of my original post. By then, I had started cutting and preparing more peels, from both the original and the new Tula Pink fabrics.

Peel chart
Here are the latest numbers:
  • 68 finished peel blocks
  • 21 basted peels
  • 14 peels ready to baste (I got energetic after I took the picture
Now that I have 144 peels to complete (instead of 36), I’ve prepared a charts to keep me on track and motivated. I get to add a check mark whenever I finish a peel block.

What I've learned:
  • Might be a good idea to plan ahead…..does that sound familiar? It’s not a lesson I’ve assimilated yet!
  • My second batch of peels weren’t as precise as the first batch (i.e. the points aren’t as pointy!) I’m now being more careful about the points. They are much better this time around.
Re-quilting a Batik Runner

A few years ago I fell in love with a pattern for a runner. It was from 'tis the Season by Mount Redoubt Designs. In my head, I had a vision of a beautiful runner in batiks. I completed the runner (without the appliqués) but wasn't really impressed with the result. I used beautiful batiks but it just didn't do anything for me. At the time, I was also very new at machine quilting so the runner had very little quilting.

Centre quilting to highlight the flowers
Centre quilting to highlight the flowers
Since I've been re-quilting various projects, when I last came upon the runner in my linen closet, I took it out. I finally got around to FMQ it. What a difference it makes! I thought I had taken a picture of it when I originally finished it, but I guess I was so disappointed that I didn't.

I started by stitching each seam in the ditch. That was actually a real improvement. I had created this runner around the middle fabric – which has daisy shapes painted on in different colours. I was able to quilt around the daisy shapes and make them stand out. I left the pink blocks around them un-quilted to highlight the daisy blocks.

A rounded feather for a corner triangle
A rounded feather for a corner triangle
I FMQ the light fabric at the ends of the runner with a feathered heart. I wasn't quite brave enough to quilt it free-hand so I drew it on and then sort of followed the pattern. The pattern comes from Follow-the-Line Quilting Designs Volume 4 - Full-Size Patterns for Blocks and Borders by Mary M. Covey. It’s the Rounded Feather for a corner triangle.

For the light blue squares near the end, I FMQ flower designs within 4 squares and then quilted a smaller flower in the two remaining squares. The large flower pattern is from Eva A. Larkin's Free-Motion Quilting Made Easy. The design is a diagonal double loop. I used a simple design since anything fancy would not have shown against the batik background.
Finished re-quilted table runner
Finished re-quilted table runner

In the four on-point red squares next to the light blue squares, I just followed some of the lines that are within the fabric. Finally for the dark blue batik squares surrounding the centre piece, I FMQ a continuous-line lotus flower in each block.

I'm really happy with the result. FMQ has turned a drab table runner into one with pizzazz!

What I learned:

  • The second feathered heart came out much better than the first. I should have practiced it before quilting it on the runner.
  • When I FMQ free-hand, I always practice beforehand. However, when I use stencils or follow hand-drawn patterns, I tend to just “wing it” instead of practicing these new patterns. Invariably, my quilting always gets better with practice.
  • I really need to prepare some sandwiched fabric pieces to practice these patterns. I’ve used up all of my good practice sandwiches. I’ve learned that it’s important to use dull fabrics, otherwise I can’t see the FMQ on the busy fabrics. Let’s face it, the real problem is that I don’t want to use any of my fabric to practice on!
This post is linked to Fabric Tuesday - Quilt StoryAnything Goes Mondays and Needle and Thread Thursday. Check out these links.