Saturday, July 31, 2010

Variations on a Theme

Sometimes my large patterns can be a bit intimidating. But don't let that stop you! Mary Alice Stevenson sent me pictures of her smaller versions of two of them. Here's my original "Saltboxes on the Corner" pattern, measuring 80" x 88".

She was able to figure out how to make it about half the size.

My "Village Sampler" pattern measures 69" x 83".
She changed around a few blocks and left out a few. I think they turned out great! Thanks for sharing, Mary Alice!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lazy Dayz of Summer

How do you like my bird bath? Check out her pedicure! And she's reading the latest "Crowsmopolitan". A great way to finish off a hot summer day.
After my mini-meltdown on my last blog, this past week has been the total opposite. Blogging friends and friends in the flesh coming over to buy fabric and patterns and to offer kind words of encouragement. Orders from new (and previous) customers. Topped off with an incident that almost felt a little surreal. A woman called with an emergency—she had to buy a quilt NOW for a wedding she was attending on the weekend—never had that happen before. So she came by and bought one I’d posted on my website and I almost thought I could hear God laughing. Reminding me he hasn’t forgotten about me in this mess, and that I might not have to stop quilting to earn money whether hubby Ben goes back to work or not. I feel so much better.

Thank you!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Legends of the Fall

I didn't realize when I left home to go grocery shopping on December 7, 2009, that my life was about to undergo a drastic change. If you followed by blogs back then, you'll remember that I came home to find my husband had fallen some 30 feet out of a tree in the back yard and had been taken to the hospital by ambulance. He was there for 10 days, during which time he had surgery to repair a broken right arm, among other things. Unfortunately, during the surgery, the plate which was inserted pinched the nerve, leaving him with very little use of his right hand, which in his job as a truck-driver made him unable to work. He had a second operation the next day, to release the nerve, but by then significant damage had been done. The physiotherapist designed a splint for his hand which he wore to prevent his fingers from turning into a claw. It was a great conversation piece!
After several months, he underwent tests to see if the nerve had started to heal but it had not.

There was one other option left, which was to have nerve replacement surgery, and he had this operation a couple of weeks ago. He spent the night at Vancouver General Hospital in a private room. I think he had the best view in there!
The neurosurgeon removed an 18" length of nerve from his right calf, and used 5 sections of it to graft onto the damaged nerve in his right arm. They used over 70 staples to hold his wounds together and today he had them removed. Caution: if you're squeamish, you might want to look away now.
It will now be at least another 6 months before we know whether the nerve graft surgery has been successful--ie. the nerve in his arm has started to heal. It's a very slow process and the doctors have told him that it's unlikely he'll ever regain 100% use of his right hand. So now we wait again.

I am not good at waiting. People sometimes tell me they wouldn't have the patience to quilt like I do and so I think they assume that I'm a patient person. But for me, the patience required to create a quilt is a life-giving energy so I don't care how long the process takes. Almost every moment is a joy. I don't like being forced into situations (like this) in which I have no control and just have to let time take its course, not sure of what the outcome will be. My husband, who is in his late 50s was not supposed to retire for several years so we've had to adjust to his being at home where I work. For someone like me, who loves quiet and solitude, this has not been easy. And while we're so thankful that he's able to collect disability insurance while he's off work, it's a fraction of his former wage so that's been an adjustment as well.

After the initial shock and getting "used to" this new life, it's become a matter of taking it a day at a time. I've learned how life can change in an instant--sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Most days I'm okay and grateful that the accident didn't result in something much worse and I try not to think of all the "what-if's" about our future. That said, there are moments when it feels like too much. I'm not fun to be with at those times but I'm human and I can't always hold it together. So occasionally I give myself permission to lose it and I throw myself a one-person pity party.

This isn't the way I expected my life to be at this point. But then, to use another quilting analogy, one of the things I love about creating a quilt is when it seems to take on a life of its own and the design I had in my head when I started is very different from the finished product. The quilt may not be what I'd originally envisioned--but it's still beautiful and sometimes it's even better than what I'd dreamed. I'm hoping that this "detour" in my organized life will lead me/us to unexpected and yet lovely places that otherwise I would never had known. I guess time will tell.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A House of Another Colour

"House Sampler" is the first Block-of-the-Month pattern I designed (several years ago) and it's still one of my bestsellers. Here's the original version.
I always love seeing how other quilters reinterpret my patterns by choosing different fabrics and colours. This week I received several photos in the mail from Jody Burch, a quilter from Tennessee, who made the pattern mainly in black, white, and red fabrics with a few other bright colours as accents. Isn't it amazing what a change fabric choice can make? Suddenly the pattern has transformed from country to contemporary! I love how the bold use of colour makes the graphics pop. (I'm sorry Jody--my scanner doesn't do the photo of your beautiful quilt justice.)
Thank you for sharing your photo with me!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An Amazing Afternoon

Several months ago (I don't remember exactly when) I received an email from a woman I'd never met--Martine (at right in the photo below) who lives in the Loire Valley in France. Thanks to the internet, she'd discovered my patterns and tracked me down. She belongs to a group of quilting friends from France and Belgium who travel to quilt shows around the world. (How much fun would that be?!) She asked me whether I'd be willing to invite this group of ten into my home and studio, while they visited Vancouver, and then traveled on to the Sisters Quilt Show in Oregon. What an honour! Of course, I said yes! They arrived yesterday afternoon.

I gave them a quick tour of my home so they could see my quilts.

And then invited them into my "shop" where I have items on display which I've made, as well as fabrics to purchase.
What a wonderful group of women and what a wonderful afternoon! If anyone had told me several years ago that someday a group of quilters from France and Belgium would visit me, I would never have believed it! I was so thrilled that they came.
I'm sorry I can't remember all their names--my menopausal memory kicking in again! There was one male, a husband to one of these beautiful women. He was assigned the "photographer" job.
They'd handmade some gifts too, which were so beautifully wrapped I hardly wanted to open them.
Look at the beautiful stitching! A sachet filled with French lavender, a delicate thimble-case and thimble from Angers, a fun little mouse to hold thread, and some nougat. Yum! Thank you so very much all of you!
I'd made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and some ice tea, since it was such a warm day.

They took a few cookies to the bus driver (waiting patiently on the street outside my home) and then they said good-bye, to drive back to Vancouver and continue their travels. You can follow their journey on their blog,

Au revoir, mes amies! It was an unforgettable afternoon and I hope to meet you all again very soon!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Birthday, Canada!

Canada turns 143 years old on July 1st, 2010!
See more of our beautiful country at
Come visit us!