More of Scotland

First day of the tour started with a terrific breakfast and I do love the Scottish porridge.  Our first stop was Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.  It seems like the majority of castles or palaces we visited did not allow photos inside. Not sure if it was a flash could do damage to the items inside but we could take photos outside or from the windows aiming outside.

This castle has 3 floors and areas were  built during different centuries.  The three floors have different styled columns – Ionic, Doric and Romanesque.  The royal family still comes out to this palace and when they do, the tours obviously are halted.  However the gift store is always open.  Our tour guide, Richard, told us that Prince Charles loves to visit and goes on early morning walks.  The Queen also attends the local church when in town.

The statue in front has had some added features.  The Abbey in the back still stands minus the roof.

DSCN1262.JPG The palace is worth the visit especially when you have a wonderful tour guide.  Richard had so much information like how the swans were named by the Queen, Sally and Sid. It is believed that she named the swan Sid after Sid Viscous after the lead singer in the Sex Pistols.  The gates surrounding the castle are quite ornate.DSCN1285

DSCN1280.JPG

Across this palace is a more modern government building.  The gift store had some beautiful items but when you are starting off the tour, you need to remember not to buy huge, expensive items that could get broken or damaged in your suitcase.  My purchases were confined to tea towels, thimbles, pens and postcards.

After a delightful group lunch, we were driven through the town for a panaromic tour. We went past the Greyfriar Bobby statue.  This was a dog that sat at his master’s grave for over 14 years.  Such devotion.  People pat or rub his nose so it is quite shiney.

Our evening group dinner was the first one where we met each of the tour group – how long had we been quilting, where we lived, other craft hobbies, etc.

As always, we are given instructions on when to have out bags outside the door and when to meet at the bus.  The nice thing about the tours is you meet terrific people, learn about other areas and you see the country from a comfortable bus.  Celtic Quilt Tours, LLC, obtains the best drivers and tour guides. You don’t have to worry about driving on the other side of the road, traffic signs or skinny little roads.

Day 2, we were on the road to Perth and the Black Watch Museum.  We started off with a Sashiko class taught by Susan Briscoe.  You usually see sashiko on indigo or navy blue material. We were given tartan material and the pattern was a thistle.  This was my start and I did finish it once I got home. It is very relaxing and just the opposite of redwork – meaning you stitch right to left as opposed to left to right.DSCN1315.JPG

The Black Watch Museum also provide luch for us. We were given a bowl of soup and 4-5 different types of sandwiches.  The tour gave a background on their uniforms, where they were stationed throughout the centuries.

We were also told that the blue/green tartan plaid was great to blend in with the water and the forest so your enemy could not find you easily.  The red tartan was also good for hiding any wounds.

The Black Watch Museum is worth the visit.DSCN1312.JPGDSCN1306.JPG

The towns also have beatiful baskets of flowers handing on buildings or in planters.  Just gorgeous.

DSCN1308.JPG  So if someone asks you to go to Scotland, just go. The people are wonderful, the scenery is terrific and the food is great.

 

 

 

Scotland 2017 – What a great place

So since retiring, I have done some work on the house. Then in 2016 I went to Ireland with a quilt tour group (Celtic Quilt Tours LLC) on my own (meaning no husband and I didn’t know anyone on this tour).  Ireland was so well planned, that I signed up for their Scotland trip.  The terrific people I met inspired me to travel again on my own.

However, this time I decided to return to Dublin for two days after the Scotland trip. So off I went.1505131612184 First leg of the trip was LAX to Paris with 90 minutes to get connecting flight to Edinburgh.  I took my little Alpaca bear along so he does show up in some pictures.

The flight was on Air France and I have to admit that I was nervous at first. But that being said, Air France was terrific on both legs of the flight. Be forewarned that if the flight attendant is handing out a form, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want you to sign up for a credit card. This was an entry card so the Customs person knows who is coming in.

I had asked my travel agent (Pam at Open Gate Travel who is awesome) to set up a driver to pick me up. Two of the other travelers coming in from Canada were to meet me and we would share the ride in. Well British Air bumped them and then lost their luggage…. more later on that.

The driver was terrific and gave me a running account of the buildings that we passed. He dropped me off at the hotel where after checking in, I went to the bar where our group usually congregates. We were all pretty excited to be back together.  The hotel was near the train station and the Royal Mile.  The next morning I met with the front desk person, Siohban, who was from Galway. She was so helpful telling me about the buildings across the rail tracks and how to get there. She is the kind of person you want to greet you at a registration desk.

DSCN1099With my trusty map from the front desk, she gave me perfect directions on how to get over to the monuments. No rain but a little chilly. I visited the City Services building which, when built, was a jail. Also hiked up Calton Hill. There is a lovely monument to Admiral Nelson. The fee is 5 pounds to climb to the top. Worth every penny. Here are a few photos. Climbing up Nelson’s monument is over 180 steps but I made it. Magnificent view of the entire city.

DSCN1110

Nelson’s Monument

There are other areas up there. Some have not been finished. But it was a picture perfect day. Sun was shining and the breeze was great. Just the right temperature to get rid of the cobwebs from the previous day’s flight. A gentleman from Germany asked me if I would take his picture and he reciprocated by taking mine.

DSCN1129

 

The sign stated Calton Key which is kept in the building that was a jail and not City Services.

DSCN1111

There is also the Solider’s Monument which is over 275 steps which I thought I would do when our tour ended up back in Edinburgh.

DSCN1106

On the Royal Mile sits St Gile’s church. This is one beautiful piece of architecture and they ask for a 2 pound donation to take photos. As the sun came around and hit one of the stain glass windows, you could almost hear the angels go ‘Ta Da” so I paid the fee and got my sticker. The church is amazing and while I was in the gift shop, the mid afternoon service started. So I went back in and listened. Very inspirational, very moving and very touching.

DSCN1220  DSCN1229

After hitting numerous stores, it was time for a little break. So the bear and I stopped for coffee. The odd thing was, you didn’t hear much of bagpipe music but more Motown.

DSCN1257

 

 

 

There are numerous hanging baskets with beautiful flowers on almost every building. So nice to see. Just ignore the grumpy looking guy.

DSCN1243

That is all for now which sums up about 1/2 my first day in Edinburgh. It is nice to explore on your own and it’s great to explore with friends. I hope that my blog can inspire you to take the leap and go on a trip by yourself.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

2017 – Let’s have a terrific New Year

Well, it’s January which means time to get ready for Road to California Quilt show.  This is more than a show – it’s more like an explosion of fabric, classes, vendors and amazing teachers.  So if you are ever in the Ontario, CA area in January, please consider attending at least one day to view some terrific fabric art.

Craftsy star quilt.jpg

Summer Stars

This was a free project from Craftsy and designed by Kimberly Einmo who I met at Road and had as an instructor.  The top is not quilted when I took this picture but my long armer did an exquisite job.  Kimberly is one of the teachers that has also published books on Jelly Roll designs.  For non-quilters, a jelly roll is anywhere from 20-40 fabrics all precision cut into 2 1/2″ strips.  You can find her books at quilt stores or on Amazon.

Spanish tiles is a pattern I bought at a Road show, bought the fusible interface that went with the design but then put it away. Pattern is by Marin and Colusa (always give credit to the designer) and the tile design is already on the fusible interface.  Not sure why, but I put it away.  Well, in cleaning out some items, I found the pattern.  Then found the interfacing so that got me started.  After a nice “cuppa tea”, I read through and found out that it wasn’t that hard after all.  I tried a couple of squares with fabrics from my stash.

Spanish tiles.jpg

Spanish tiles

I really liked it and decided to go on with the pattern.  My lap size turned out to be 5′ X 5′ 1/2 ish.  I also say “ish” as one side is usually just a tad longer or wider.  To quilt this one, I will do hand quilting.   It would a nice change of pace even though I do love standing at the long arm and getting the quilt done in an hour or two (depending on the size and pattern).

Here is a picture of the completed quilt top that Elwood decided to check out.  As usual, my quilts are CTCA, Cat Tested-Cat Approved.  Again, this was done with stash fabric.spanish-tiles-3

Quilting is my hobby, my passion and my stress reliever.  However, when I want to rush through the pattern, that’s when little things will pop up – the tension gets askew, the thread breaks, one of my cats demands my attention, etc.  Plus I usually like to sew when there is day light.  However, since I wanted to get this top done to show at my guild meeting, I plowed through until 8 p.m. (Plus I wanted to watch NCIS).

So I am excited about attending Road to California again. http://www.road2ca.com.   New quilts to ogle, new tools, returning friends and new ones, returning vendors and so much more.  There are also lectures scheduled, late night mystery classes and how to design your own patterns electronically.

Thanks for reading.  I appreciate your time.  Have a terrific 2017!

 

 

Quilt Tours and Why you should go Part 2

Well, I’ve been back from my first trip to Ireland and have gone through all the photos with relish (and a cup of tea).  So many terrific memories and meeting great people.  So here are a couple of my favorite areas.    Now some people told me that you shouldn’t go to Belfast -too many fights, bombings, etc.  Well, nothing could be further from the truth.  Yes, they have had their differences.  But the people have worked out some differences and the 30′ high gates are open.DSCN0423.JPG.  Here is how one side decorated the fence.  The gates/fence were all about 30′ tall.   This was to keep the Molotov cocktails from being tossed.  You could view this as graffiti or as artwork.

They have the Black Cab tours which are conducted by the locals and give you a tour of the City.  The City is continuing to work out differences and rebuild.   We did tour the Titanic Museum which was sad but very informative.

This photo was taken at Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. (I’ve tried to get it posted the portrait way and not landscape but have failed) Giants causeway 2.jpgThe landscape is truly amazing and that day we had terrific weather.  The stones are not carved.  The shape juts up and is amazing.  You can get an audio tour which tells you the history and folklore of the area.  I could have spent all day there hiking on the rocks and just breathing the ocean air.

From there, we headed back towards Ireland.  Each hotel was top rated, great staff, wonderful food and very accommodating. Now this tour was listed as a Quilt tour but we went to so many historic places, museums, famine ships and castles.  One party was a Grandmother, Mother and 2 daughter group.  Since one of the daughters didn’t quilt, she was able to do a horseback ride while we were at a famine/workhouse tour.  So you can do other things as long as they fit into the time schedule.  Just be upfront with your tour people and things can be arranged.

My favorite city was Galway.  It is so vibrant and filled with art and music.  Again, friendly people, great food and the locals are wonderful.  We went to the Aran Islands (Inishmore) and was able to climb to the top and look over the cliff.  It was the perfect boat ride over and back.  Again, great food, wonderful people and some great shops.Aran island castle.jpg  I just followed the others and got on my hands and knees to creep up to the edge.   However, I did creep to almost the edge for a photo.DSCN0723.JPG It’s a far drop below , and it is a stunning view.DSCN0712.JPG  The photo below is the hike up to the former castle.

We also visited Malahide Castle, Kylemore and the Rock of Cashel.  Each one so full of great photos and history.

If you have the chance, save up your money, get your passport ready and go visit.  I would love to go back right now but have decided to do Scotland next year with the same tour organization (www.celticquilttours.com).  Our group consisted of Canadians and Americans.  We ranged from hand quilters, long-armers, designers, wool workers, appliquers, etc.  Just remember to get pounds and Euro’s before you go and get a Horizon VAT card.  You get money back when you swipe your card at the airport before going home.  Also this trip was made special because we had an awesome driver.  Tony, from Kerry Coaches, knows the roads, the histroy, the jokes and how to keep the tour on time.  He was the best,

So to keep my Irish feel going, I watch Quiet Man, Secret of Roan Inish, The Commitments, and listen to the Merry Ploughboy band (they have a great Pub in Dublin that is worth the visit).  I also have a cuppa Irish Afternoon tea as well.  DSCN0640.JPG  I leave you with this photo of foxglove from the Kylemore Abbey.

Thank you for reading.

 

Purple Maze – Purple Haze

I recently retired from a government/county job and let me tell you, retiring through the system is like going through a maze. So as I was perusing through the American Quilting Society (AQS) magazine, I found a pattern that caught my eye.
pattern

I ordered the pattern was happy to see “NO Y SEAMS”. Yea, my favorite term in quilting. To do a “Y” seam, you have to stop 1/4″ from the end, tweak the fabric and then sew it to another piece. I’m not fast at it and my seams end up a little wonky. So, it was off to the Calico House for some fabric. Sometimes I will use fabric out of my stash but this one needed to be selected from the store. I love purples and found 3 fabrics for the maze. bulk fabric maze All I needed was some black.

The cutting instructions were super easy and fast. I cut, separated into piles and then pinned so they wouldn’t get messed up when my cats jump up on the table. Cut maze. The other great thing mentioned is it is a “Two Block Wonder” meaning there are only two types of blocks to make. I just needed 5 of one type and 4 of the other. I finished up this top on Sunday, was able to take it to my guild meeting (Orange Grove Quilt Guild in Garden Grove) on Wednesday and will quilt it in a couple of weeks at Quilter’s Garden on the long arm.

So here is the finished top. unquilted mazeThe actual pattern name is Labyrinth Walk, designed by Christopher Florence and is published at The Guilty Quilter in Portland, Oregon. It is 84″ X 84″ and I can’t wait to get it on the long arm machine. You can check out more patterns at http://www.theguiltyquilters.blogspot.com. I also purchased Christopher’s other pattern San Marco Square which I will do in greens. More on this one later.

With retirement, I am no longer relegated to just weekend sewing. Thanks for reading about the quilts I have made.

Family History – ask about it – save it

This will be a slight detour from my quilting but it does go hand in hand. Frequently, quilters will just make a quilt and give it to someone without a label on the back……. For my future quilts, I am adding a label on each one.

The label will have the following:
Who made the quilt
Who quilted it (I sometimes have my quilts custom quilted)
The date finished
Who the recipient is

Keep a picture of it in a file so you can also remember the art. Now with family history, please talk to your elder family members. As a kid, I never asked my grandfather about his service in World War I, how he met Grandma, his family or anything else. I just knew he had served in them Army, liked his golf, his cigars and his family.

I remember he was normally gone in the summer months but always remembered my birthday (July baby) with a little something when he and Nana returned.
grandma This picture is of my Nana and the ladies she lunched with. Lydian Marie Stiger is 3rd from the right. Great clothes and beautiful hats. That was an era of great fashion.

Recently, my Mother was given a box of old letters and files from one of her cousins. It seems that he asked my Grandpa about his father and the other uncles. It was amazing reading about where the family settled, what companies hired them, the earnings, etc. Grandpa typed a 5 page letter, single spaced with very little margins and gave a detailed report about the Stiger family history. My Mom is taking the information and writing a book on our past.

When you come across photos, find out who is in the photo and approximately when it was taken. I remember being with my paternal grandmother decades ago and describing the photo and she could tell me everything about it. Now Grandma was blind but she remembered everything and everybody. The sad thing was I didn’t write any of this down thinking that other family members would receive the photo albums. Oddly enough, my cousins did not want the albums and I ended up with them. My dad, aunts and uncle I recognize but am at a loss as for the background.

So ask your grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts and uncles about your history. Write it down or do some research but keep the memories to pass down.

Twist Around Hawaii

This is the name I gave my last quilt. As I have stated before, going to Road To California is the highlight of every January. Held in Ontario, it is a week of classes, shopping, meeting up with old friends and making new ones.

I have also previously blogged about Breast Cancer, Race for the Cure held in Newport Beach and the quilts I have raffled off to raise money. Some quilts I give away, but some are donated for a raffle.

Well a co-worker, who is so awesome, recently told me that not only had she just recently had her thyroid removed due to cancer, but her latest mammogram came back with signs of breast cancer. She had thanked me earlier because I sent out an email to our office staff that said when getting dental x-rays or mammograms, to ask for a neck guard. So to be told that she was facing potential cancer treatments, I did what I could do. I made a quilt.

This co-worker loves Hawaii and visits there when she can. So while running around the vendor mall at 2014 Road To California, I had to stop by Beyond the Reef. They have the most extensive selection of Hawaiian/surf/turtle/palm tree fabric. There was a bolt of Hawaiian fabric with a pink background. I immediately bought 3 yards, came back the next day with a Judy Martin pattern book. Twist around the Garden was the perfect pattern. I’ve made it before so it would be snap to make. The next day (yes, I took 4 classes at Road this year) I went back, and their staff help me select 2 colors for the Twist part plus I bought 2 more yards of the pink background. Look, when the fabric speaks to you, purchase at least 4-6 yards.

This would be my next project – I put away the class projects and started cutting. Here it is:
Twist around Hawaii

Happy to say, she loved it. I would like to close with if someone tells you they have breast cancer, tell them they can beat it. By keeping a postive attitude, getting second opinions, talk to others that have gone through it. Another co-worker found that when going through treatment, she was often cold, thirsty, dry mouth, etc. So she put together bags for others that included a lap blanket, Jolly Rancher candies, water bottle, socks and positive affirmations.

This is one of my long writings but just be there for those going through cancer treatments. Look at them and think “THAT PERSON WILL BEAT THIS!”

Thanks for reading

New York Beauty Simplified

Image

Linda O’Riley Hahn, instructor

First let me apologize for the photo as I should have checked the phone to make sure the lens was clean or asked the lady to take a second one.  That being said, this quilt is called New York Beauty Simplified.  Linda O’Riley Hahn taught at the recent Road to California Quilt Conference.  Paper piecing made so easy.

Now I have taken numerous paper piecing classes where you would have to rip out the paper or I would use freezer paper.  Linda has a method where you leave the paper in.  No, it doesn’t make the quilt stiff or hard to use.  When you wash your finished quilt, the paper ends up being more like a stabilizer.

Linda is from New Jersey and has an engaging way of teaching.  Plus her books are easy to follow and they have some great color combinations.

I am currently finishing up the class I had at Road which was titled “New York Beauty Diversified”.  All I can say is if you want to try her method, you won’t be sorry.

I’ll try to post another picture when I can find my camera.  Every year I vow not to buy a lot of items from Road but end up with a basket full.  Then I need to find time to put items away, reduce my stash along with old magazines.  Now where does that stuff go?  To a local senior living facility where they have a small contingency of quilters.

Thanks for reading – now go get creative.

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that breast cancer will strike 1 out 7 women? Look how many women you know at work? At church? In your neighborhood? And men can also get breast cancer!

Well I lost a very dear friend who was an amazing teacher, dancer, practical joker and great gal. The first year a bunch of us got together and did the Susan Komen Orange County Race for the Cure, she was there but did not walk or run. The next year, she did the 1 mile with the promise that the following year, she would do the 5k with us.

She didn’t make it. Her cancer was progressing so rapidly that she decided to forgo her cancer treatments and just travel.

It is because of her that I got involved and became the Team Captain for Fire Walkers. Sometimes when I am running and get really tired, I can hear Karen’s voice saying “Stop being such a slacker. Our dance group used to dance for 8 hrs and then party for 10. You can do this!” So at that time, I pick up my pace.

This will be my last year as team captain since I am retiring from the Fire Authority next March. To raise money for our team, we hold an annual bake sale and raffle.

I picked up our team t-shirts and bib numbers and one of the survivors asked me if I minded if she turned in the quilt I made that was presented to her. No problem. For one thing, I was taught that once a gift was given, it was up to the recipient to do whatever they wanted. So now the quilt is being raffled off.

Pink and Chocolate 002
The pink and chocolate colors had an impact when I saw them. The background fabric has a nice silver sheen to it. And Pink is the color for Breast Cancer.

What I am trying to say is Cancer can be beaten by early detection, monthly breast exams, diet, prayer, exercise and the support from your “sisters”. Join a local walk to help fund to find the cure. Or come join us at Fashion Island, Sept 22 and meet over 25,000 of your new closest friends.

So when you see someone fighting breast cancer, look at them and think “There goes a healthy, strong person who will beat cancer.”

Thanks for reading.

My Bernina is back home!

I purchased this fabulous machine (the 440) at the Ricky Tims, Alex Anderson, Libby Lehman Super Show in Downey in 2009. It has enough bells and whistles that you can really add some great embellishments to your quilt. The reason it was away from me was I hit the 2,000,000 stitch mark.

I have been a Featherweight sewer for so long that I actually left the Bernina in the box for over a month mentally telling myself, “Oh that machine is too much for me.” Finally, I took the plunge and started up my new machine.

Now it is time to try some new techniques.
new techique
With all those great Bali Pops that are out there, this is a quick and easy pattern for gifts. You just take the precut 2 1/2″ strips and sew 7 together (either do 2 at a time or start at opposite ends of each new addition – that way you do don’t get the curve).

Mark from the edge 1 1/2″, then in increments of 1″ to the other side. Pinch on the line and stitch 1/4″ straight down, then 1/16″ from the edge. Iron to one side and stitch in the ditch the rows facing down. The next seam stitch the rows the opposite way. Add some fabric in the middle and then another wavy end and you have yourself a nice placemat.

Many of us are working long hours and usually end up eating at our desks. Why not make a nice placemat for your office or for your office mates? Quick and easy! Pattern found in April/May 2012 The Quilter Magazine. I found it as I am starting to weed out some of my magazine collection. The ones I don’t want to keep will be past along to a local Senior Living apartment complex that displays quilts on their walls.

Again, thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments.