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October 9, 2010

Quilter’s Connection Magazine has a new website, and the blog is on the site, so you can visit our new home to see all the new (and old) posts here

Manitoba Feast

September 24, 2010

Thought I’d share a recipe my aunt made for dinner the other night. My uncle used to grow and harvest wild rice. Wild rice is not like the white rice we make – it’s actually a grain, not a rice. And it has a wonderfully nutty flavour. I’ve been eating wild rice all my life, but this is one of my favourite recipes so far.

North Country Wild Rice and Broccoli Casserole
4 cups cooked wild rice
2 bunches broccoli
2 cans cream of mushroom or chicken soup
1/2 lb grated cheddar cheese (or substitute 1/2 cup Cheeze Whiz)
parmesan cheese
Cook broccoli until just tender. Combine soup and cheese over low heat. Arrange soup mixture, broccoli and rice in layers in casserole dish. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350F for 1 hour.

Calories Consumed Outside the Home Don’t Count…

September 23, 2010

I hope.

My aunt’s are great cooks -

Moosemeat Roast with gravy and home-grown Potatoes mashed with lots of butter and canned milk

Saksatoon Berry Pie

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Raspberry Jam

Fried Pickerel

Wild Blueberry Pie with Ice Cream

Wild Rice Casserole

Bacon and Eggs with Toasted Home-made Bread and Wild Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Did I mention the Wild Blueberry Pie? A little taste of heaven!

I always seem to be hungry when it comes to mealtime here. I can’t believe the amount of food I’ve been consuming. Must be that wild northern Manitoba air.

The abandoned dock at Herb Lake Landing

As many of you know, I am in family country. I’ve come here to reunite with family, and to find out a little more a about my paternal grandmother, Ethel. Ethel was a quilt-maker too. I’ve learned since arriving that Ethel was also trained as a lacemaker, and I’ve seen many samples of her work. She was a feisty little woman who was a good cook (that’s where my aunts get it from!). Her cinnamon buns were known by many. She always had room for another person at the dinner table. She made do. She always had a smile.

As I sit here watching the sun rise over Wekusko Lake, not far from the spot where my grandmother lived, I look at the same lake and islands that she would have seen from her kitchen window, and wonder what her life was like. Though I’ve heard many stories in the days since I’ve arrived, I would love to have heard them directly from her. Especially her quilting stories.

Nana's house - so much smaller than I remember!

When my aunt told me she had some quilts – the quilts that were made by Ethel, I thought there would be two or three left after all these years. But when she opened the trunk and pulled out at least a dozen quilts, I nearly wept with joy. My cousin and I spent an afternoon going through all of them, and I listened as Cathy reminisced about the fabrics that Nana used. “This was Nana’s favourite ‘house dress’. I always loved that fabric with the blue flowers,” she remarked. Or, “Nana made a skirt for me out of that purple and white fabric,” she remembered.

I am sad I don’t have any of those memories, but thrilled that I have someone to tell me about their own memories of my grandmother. They are not pretty quilts, well at least not the pretty quilts we are used to seeing and making today. But they are each beautiful to me. My aunt tells me that the quilts were all made sometime between the 1940′s and 1970′s, and the fabrics Ethel used reflect the times. Sometimes the backings are pieced with scraps of fabric just to make a piece large enough to fit the front. Where there are holes and tears, I can see inside to what she’s used as batting – wool blankets, old curtains. Whatever was available. The quilts are not straight. They do not lie flat.

But they are stunningly beautiful to me.

~ H

Lots and Lots of Quilts!

September 14, 2010

Saturday was a lovely day in Vancouver BC. We were so fortunate to have the sun shining, as we spent the day at an outdoor quilt show. Who wants to be at an outdoor quilt show in the rain?? Not me!

Quilts at Tanglebank Gardens is an annual event in Vancouver, hosted by three local designers, and one BC guest. Susan Jensen of Quilted Escapes, Cheryl Wall of Country Quilts, and Dougal Anne Walker of The Freckles Collection were joined this year by Pippa Moore of Kitambaa Designs for a lovely show featuring many, many quilts of their designs. Here are just a few photos from the perfect, and very busy, day!

Many thanks to Susan Jensen for sharing these photos. I can’t believe I forgot my camera!

How to make an old nag new again…

September 13, 2010

I recently visited my friend Laurraine of Patchwork Pottery for an afternoon of stitching. I didn’t want to haul my sewing machine over to her place, so decided to work on a hand project. I wanted to embellish an old skirt I had, that needed a little livening up.

The skirt turned out beautifully, and I’ve had so many comments on it since I’ve been wearing it. I used Autumn colours, but you can do this with any fabrics – to match the skirt. You could use this to embellish jeans or a jean jacket – the sky is the limit!

I am not the professional photographer, but the photos do show the detail, so you will have a better idea.

Here’s the pattern I created. Enjoy!

Flower Applique Skirt

Re-tracing My Roots

September 9, 2010

Remember this photo?

That’s me with my Nana. I was about seven years old. One of the last trips I made with my family to visit my grandparents in Manitoba. I blogged about my grandmother way back in January.

My Nana was a quilter. And my cousin Cathy, who lives in Manitoba, is a quilter.  And I am a quilter.

It does run in the blood.

If you read the post from January about my Nana, you will not be surprised when I say that on Tuesday, my husband and I are packing the car, picking up my parents, and heading to northern Manitoba for two weeks. I’m still in a bit of shock about the decision, as I never in a million years thought I’d get back there. It’s been too long since I’ve been with my family. I don’t know any of them. But it’s time to spark old (and new) relationships and friendships. Long overdue.

On the way home I will be stopping in Dauphin, Manitoba. The Parkland’s Crocus Quilters’ Guild is hosting a quilt show September 25 & 26, and Quilter’s Connection Magazine will be a merchant. More details on the show here, if you are in the area.

I’m quite looking forward to the trip. Looking forward to learning a bit more about me. I hope to blog a bit about the journey, but will be saving all the really, really good stories for an article for the Winter issue of the magazine.

Wish me luck.

Experiential Experimentation

September 4, 2010
Curiosity gets me once in a while. Just like today. I wondered, what happens when you take a perfectly lovely piece of fabric and introduce it to a bucket of bleach? I’ve been reading a lot about Bleach Discharge lately, and wanted to try it myself. I remember as a kid using bleach to tye-dye my t-shirts, but didn’t want that look for my quilt fabric. At least not this time.

So I got out the bleach and experimented with some sample fabrics. Here’s what happened -

Then I decided to try creating some blocks from the fabrics – you can see that the fabrics work together, but how do they look when cut up and sewn back together?

I wasn’t particularly impressed with the green fabric, but the purple fabric works quite nicely combined with the new colour!

Want to try this yourself? It’s quite easy. Here’s what you need:

BLEACH DISCHARGE FABRIC

rubber kitchen gloves
large, shallow metal or glass bowl
2 litres hot water
500 ml (2 cups) bleach
metal spoon
small pieces of fabric for bleaching

Warning! Wear old clothes so if you splash bleach on yourself, you won’t be too upset :)

Put on the gloves so the bleach will not harm your skin. Mix hot water and bleach in bowl, then place fabric in mixture. Leave fabric in bleach mixture for 5-10 minutes, depending on the amount of bleaching you would like to occur. ‘Stir’ gently so  fabric bleaches evenly.

Remove fabric from bleach, rinse thoroughly and put through a regular washing machine cycle to completely remove bleach.

You may need to experiment yourself a little, as every fabric bleaches out at a different rate.

Smaller pieces of fabric are best for this project, as you want the fabric to move freely in the bleach so the liquid is distributed evenly. However, if you plan to do larger amounts of fabric, ensure you have a large enough bucket or bowl, and plenty of water. The ratio of bleach to hot water is 250ml to 1 litre.

Enjoy! ~ Heather

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