Monday, 1 April 2013

In the throes of academia

I have about 2 months to go. Courses will be done by April 15 and two months until I defend my Master's thesis. Then - as I've promised my husband - my academic career will be over. Back to the easy life of full-time employment, full-time motherhood, full-time spouse...part-time everything else.

Since I've been back in school I've been reminded of just how much you can get done in one day if you put your mind to it. My goal is to have this mindset carry over and do a better job of incorporating some of my passions into our everyday life.

My passions: quilting, knitting, reading, photography, scrapbooking, decorating, sewing, can see there are plenty of things to incorporate, but my mind set now if live life to the fullest, because there is so much living to do!

In the mean time, I've been keeping inspired. In the last year I discovered pinterest - YIKES is that fun! And a great way to take a break from data analysis for 10 to 20 minutes (realistically at least 30). Then I was introduced to etsy - OMG inspiration you can buy!!! I'm in heaven.

So lately between the blogs I follow and etsy I've purchased some fun quilt patterns, two quilt kits (its so nice to just touch fabric!). Here are some projects just awaiting my retirement from academia...and a cleaner basement in which to work, but that's a whole other post :)

This is the Good Old Hockey Game Quilt - pattern by Kristie at OCD.  The pattern is available on Etsy here.  My little guy - one of the rookies from the Winnipeg 2012-13 Timbit league - will be thrilled.

I'm a sucker for anything Christmas/winter/holidays...I found this cute Winter Wonderland Quilt Kit on Etsy - it can be found here.

Plus a few others...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Recovery Quilt

Mom at the beginning of chemo holding up the "Recovery Quilt"
In early January, 2009 we received the news that my Mom had stage 1 breast cancer.  After many hours of crying and weeks of feeling useless I decided I wanted to make my Mom something to comfort her during her recovery. 

I decided on a quilt.  I had several partially started projects and I knew the basics so I set to work.  I knew that if Mom couldn't go out much after surgery, chemo and radiation she'd love to have photos of the family, especially her grandchildren, around.

The centre medallion of the quilt read: "Marlene, Mom, Grandma"

I selected some photos - 24 actually and got to work cropping and printing on fabric, fusible paper.  Then I went to the fabric store and bought fabrics from the breast cancer research fund raiser line.  Within a couple of evenings the quilt was cut and pieced and ready for quilting and binding.  I convinced a local long-arm quilter to put me to the front of the line...with my no-quilting-experience, who knew it usually took weeks or months to get to the front of the queue!  It turned out to be a really large quilt...have to work on that part of the planning.

Close up of one square - my three beautiful nieces.
All in all, I was ecstatic with the end of the project and it was ready for Mom when she came home after surgery.  Mom recovered completely from breast cancer and is healthy.  Thank God for that!
Close up of the borders, these are the breast cancer fabrics.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

One of my favourite traditions...

Christmas, 1996 was my first Christmas living in my own apartment.  My boyfriend at the time, now husband bought me a beautiful floral bouquet.  I looooooved it!  Over time, I began to arrange my own Christmas flowers.  In the apartment we had one arrangment each Christmas.  In our house I usually get 4 - 6.  I love this tradition; it is my tradition.

It also signals to me that Christmas is getting close!  This year I made four arrangements, and had enough greens left for a vase full to spruce up the powder room.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  Our Christmas was peaceful and relaxing filled with loved ones.


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Done, Done, Done, Done, Done, Done, DONE!!!

As you may have suspected I have completed my one and only hand-made Christmas gift, the prayer shawl I mentioned in my last post.  I'm happy with how the project turned out and I think my mother-in-law will like it as well.

Gramma's Shawl, Christmas 2012

Friday, 7 December 2012


I am not a prolific knitter, in fact beginner might be a bit of a stretch.  I have completed 4 scarves.  The first one was a sampler scarf where I experimented with purl and knit stitches.  It was knit with low end black yarn and can't be worn because of the awful synthetic feel of the yarn and the waaaaay too big tassells I used to finish off the scarf.  That was at least 5 years ago.

The second and third scarves were totally composed of plain knit stitches, using variegated and bulky yarn.  Both were completely wearable.  The second of the two, third one total, I actually gave to my sister-in-law as a hostess gift after a family vacation.  Wish I would have known that besides were being a near-professional seamstress, quilter, and folk art painter that she is also exceptionally advanced at knitting.  I consoled myself that while simple, the scarf was presentable and not too riddled with flaws.

The third project.  I loved the idea of this project.  I came across beautiful Christmas yarn (2009, Lion Brand, I think it was from Vanna's collection).  I bought a ball of white and a ball of red.  These were bulkier yarns both with a little gold thread in the yarn for added, festive interest.  What to make? What to make? A scarf of course!  This was mid-November, I started knitting the scarf in early December after being laid up with foot surgery.  My design was knit two rows of read, knit two rows of white repeat.  Easy-peasy.  Turns out I had no idea how to change colours.  I improvised - rather than looking on-line or asking a more experienced knitter.  I knit two rows of red, snipped the yarn, tied on the white, knit two rows.  I repeated the process for about 30 inches of scarf.  Then my mother-in-law saw the 3/4 completed scarf and took pity on me and showed me how to correctly change colours!  What sense, what style!  So the long and the short of it is that I have a pretty Christmas scarf that I wear with pride, especially the last six inches of it!

This brings me to my fourth and current project.  A beautiful prayer shawl for my mother-in-law.  As for shawl read as "really wide scarf".  This is another one of those situations where I saw the yarn and was inspired to do a project, rather than, as I understand, the traditional chain of events where you have a project in mind and find the materials to make it.  I was browsing at the local craft store when I came across a beautiful mauve yarn, again of the bulky variety.  I thought "perfect for Gramma".  What can I make her? She doesn't care for overly bulky scarves with her winter coat....hmmm this project may stretch the bounds of my scarves only repertoire.  The photo on the yarn was of a lovely woman wearing a prayer shawl.  Perfect!  Knit only stitches, (wider) large rectangle.  It was again November when I found this project.  November, 2010.  Now November, 2012!  I have three more inches of knitting and tassells and I will be done!  Finally the hand-made Christmas gift I've been wanting to give.

Wish me luck!  I really hope to posting a photo of the completed shawl/scarf soon!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Keeping Inspired

I have to admit it takes a lot of energy to keep on studying - sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is very dim and very small.  To inspire myself to perservere, to get school over and done with so I can go back to my life I have several techniques.  The one I engage in the most is following blogs.  My two favourite quilting blogs are: OCD - obsessive crafting disorder and Tamarack Shack.  I visit these everyday as part of my morning routine when I arrive to school.  Coffee, check e-mail, check blogs, get to work! 

My second strategy is reading magazines.  I have been a faithful subscriber to Quilters Newsletter since 2004, and have recently subscribed to Quilters Connection, for some Canadian content. 

I'm also a bit of a Christmas "nut" or "Holiday Enthusiast" as it were.  Christmas quilting magazines....ahhhhhhh

Another passion of mine is baking, specifically Christmas baking with an emphasis on Christmas cookies.  I've purchased THREE Christmas cookie magazines so far this fall!

You can see the magazine on the left had a "sticky note" tab...I'm making the "Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies" just as soon as I finish a paper I've been working on FOREVER!

Stategy number four, or number three if you count both types of magazine reading as one, is visiting my stash - and sometimes adding to it. 
I have a cupboard in the basement that is half filled with various backing materials and the other half of the cupboard is dedicated to my knitting yarn. 

The yarn is double stacked, sometimes its good to remove the front stack and remind myself what's back there!

My second cupboard is ALL quilting material!  I love to go and visit the stacks of neatly folded fabric.  I have them sorted by colour.  Last week I broke down and went to my local Fabricland and added a few meters to my stash.  I went under the pretense of buying fabric for my son's Halloween costume.
Not sure if this would truly be considered a "stash" in the quilting world - but it's a start.

I also made a quick stop at a "new to Winnipeg" fabric store: Mook's Fabrics.  I enjoy exploring a new store and I found that Mook's had a decent selection of quilt fabrics, nothing jumped out at me that day but I did get a couple of baby blanket panels with coordinating backs.  My intention is to teach myself to machine quilt using panels.  Conveniently, one of my fellow student's wife is having a baby soon; this makes for a great excuse to log some sewing time.

 That's me for now.  Thanks Kristie at OCD and Kathy at Tamarack for your continued inspiration!

My next post: knitting.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Finally, post number 2!

It's now late September, which makes me not a prolific blogger, but I hope to get going!  September is a crazy month!  School starting for me and the kids, activities gearing up and summer ending.  This month we have started school, Brownies (I am now a leader and district treasurer), and piano lessons.  We will be starting swimming next week and indoor soccer a couple weeks after that!  I love the structure and predictability of the school year but could have used a break in between fall routines and summer fun for transition.  The pool is down in the back yard, the cabin season is coming to a close.

Now let's talk about my academic progress - slow is a generous description.  I'm planning to be completely done my degree, thesis submitted and printed by the end of June.  To do that I'm going to need to start putting in some serious hours.  Being productive during the hours would also greatly help! 

To gear up for the new school year I tackled my home office.  This is the before photo.


This is after.

Ahhhh - before school started!

and this is today - the command centre.  Processing data on one computer and using the laptop for writing a paper.  Every geeky engineer's dream!

Getting down to work.  Next blog: Keeping my creative side alive!