It's Totally Okay. Honest

Hugs and Kisses and Swimming in the Pacific

Looking back on my 2016 goals these days, I see that I failed miserably. 

And I'm totally okay with that. Surprisingly okay with that. 

I am a goal oriented person. I like to tick things off and say that I succeeded. Setting clear goals, as I did last year, gave me something very tangible to work towards. And work, I did. What I did not account for was all the other stuff I wanted or had to do. Nor did I account for new opportunities. So yes, if I look at my list I didn't have a successful year. But if I look at all the things off the list I have absolutely nothing but election results to complain about.

2016 Goals and The Results:


  1. Secure contract and write 4th quilting book - Nope. The reality of a family schedule and knowing what it takes for me to finish a book made this an impossibility. Honestly, I am a bit bummed about it, but that doesn't mean the idea is gone...
  2. Finish and launch new website and blog - Done!! I'm so happy that I sat down and did the work on this. I hope you are too!
  3. Teach at least one 3-day workshop - Actually, I taught a few. This was a goal because I find these immensely rewarding for the students. They get so much done and they get a lot of me. And I get inspiration in return.
  4. Sell more local classes, potentially self hosted - Nope. I had some, but no more than usual. Again, that family schedule made it hard to plan this out. But it remains a 2017 priority. 


  1. Try climbing and Crossfit and maybe Muay Thai again - None of these things happened. But I tried ballet (which I love) and got back to skiing. I joined a gym in the fall and have been going fairly consistently. So, in my head, physical gains made regardless.
  2. Leash train our dog, Roo - The damn black dog remains a challenge. He is getting better. And after many different leashes and harnesses we've settled on a system that works for us (very short leash for a walk then some off leash time). But he stills escapes and barks like the world is ended. Sigh.
  3. Remember and celebrate friends' birthdays - At the beginning of the year I made a big birthday calendar. I can't say I wrote on every FB wall or at least sent a text on each birthday, but I was infinitely better than I'd been in the past. Still room for improvement.
  4. Relearn bread making - I've been working hard at this one. I can do a yeasted bread fairly well. Sourdough? Not so much. It is a new skill for me and I haven't given up yet. The cold of winter seems like a good time to keep experimenting. At least the kitchen is warm.


  1. Learn to English Paper Piece - Yes! I played and figured it out. I'm rather excited to get going on my big project, hopefully later this winter.
  2. Finish 10 quilts from the Quilts Under Construction List - Hmm, I just counted, and I finished 7 from that list. Not too bad, actually. A few moved around the list. And I finished 19 quilts in total last year so there is nothing to complain about there!
  3. Keep a weekly writing date - Well, it wasn't every week, but creative writing did make a fairly regular appearance in my schedule. Enough so that I am expanding on that for this year.
  4. Label all the quilts - Does it count if I made a lot of labels? I have a stack of them in a drawer in the sewing room ready to attach. But I did stay fairly on top of things as I went. Sort of. 
Bike Riding
Hopscotch Quilt

The good thing about a goals list is that it did keep me focused. If I found myself straying or struggling to focus the goals list gave me the direction. But I did find it restrictive a bit and totally ignored it. I ignored it because I had other work come up, because my family's needs were more than I anticipated, because other opportunities shone brighter. And all of those are good reasons and why I don't care that I didn't meet my goals. I don't have shareholders or a board of directors to answer to, only myself. Plus, if I look at what I did accomplish on top of this list, I'm pretty happy.

  • Finished 19 quilts. There is a lot of secret sewing in there (soon, I promise!) and some things I still haven't blogged about.
  • I played, explored, and committed to a Morning Make and my life is not the same
  • My first fabric line comes out any day now.
  • Published about 20 articles in magazines and blogs, not counting my own.
  • Judged QuiltCon and lived to tell the tale.
  • Travelled to Australia, Red, Deer, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, and Leduc to teach. Oh boy, memorable trips, all of them! Bonus: a sunrise swim in the Pacific Ocean.
  • Participated in the Mighty Lucky Quilt Club and The Splendid Sampler.
  • Filmed The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Timms and brought my daughter along with me to make it extra special.
  • Made it through the heavy family schedule of school and competitive sports with the kids without snapping. Possibly even thrived through it, I think. Bonus: watching my kids become fiercely competitive and proud of themselves.
  • Finally figured out how to take out and put back my slider windows so I can wash them myself.
  • Made new friends and built stronger relationships with the dear people in my community. 
  • Committed to and planned out one of the 4 novel ideas I've sat on for a few years.
  • Every week sent out a handle of queries to try to publish at least one of my children's picture book stories. A lot of rejection there, but I won't stop trying, refining, and writing more.
  • Did not sit on the sidelines with my kids. With the exception of trampolines, I go out and do the things with them now. Bought a fancy brace for my knee and that has me back on skis. Not to mention hiking and biking more. Plus nightly frisbee in the park in the summer and bringing them into my Morning Make.
Sentinel Pass
Picnic in Fish Creek

So yeah, 2016 was a pretty good year. It wasn't perfect, I was far from perfect. There were ugly moments, sleepless nights, arguments, and a stress too. A lot of it. But I do believe life is the sum of all our moments. You can add and subtract along the way, but as long as the overall equation results in a positive you are doing okay. 

This look back on the year has me rethinking my goal setting process for 2017. Some people do the Word of the Year thing too. There is also a more business minded approach that gets me thinking about mission and vision statements. I usually get that thinking done over the holidays but we did not have much downtime there. So look for more in my newsletter (are you subscribed?) and here. There is a lot to look forward to this year, again, election results aside.

Champagne Rose
I am Love

Great Grandmother's Geese - Modern Quilt from Vintage Fabrics

Vintage fabrics Flying Geese Made Modern

Great Grandmother's Geese

40'' x 48''

Days away from delivering her second baby a friend popped by my house. Part of her nesting was clearing out things from home. I was the lucky recipient of a stack of vintage fabrics once belonging to her grandmother. Now vintage fabrics aren't generally my thing. No doubt, they are pretty, but that doesn't mean I want to sew with them. Something changed a week later. I got the right idea and the fabrics began to talk to me.

As is my style, however, I started the quilt without a plan. I cut all these squares to make HSTs. I was going to just sew them together randomly. But this wasn't about making a Values quilt, I wanted some order and repetition. Without thinking it through I screwed up. Soon I realized that what I envisioned was not going to happen with the process I started. I very nearly lost the time and maybe the fabric to impulsive cutting. So I regrouped, cut my squares into triangles, and got very deliberate with placement. Of course it would have been better to cut the geese shape from the beginning, but so be it. The overall effect is the same.

Vintage Fabrics Made Modern

The vintage fabrics were a bit of a challenge to work with. First off, I should have washed them. They were all clean, but one had that distinct old smell (mothballs) every time the iron hit it. The weight and stiffness of each fabric varied too. So I took my time, made sure not to pull or stretch any of them, and gave the quilt a lovely soak once I finished it all.

The yellow fabrics are all modern, with one classic Denyse Schmidt pink floral also making an appearance in the blocks (Just when I needed a few more blocks cut I temporarily misplaced the vintage fabrics in a studio tidy-up). 

Putting the top together required some patience and attentiveness. One row at a time. But I did it without messing up. Phew.

This is a baby quilt I hope will get used and loved, so I didn't stress about anything too fancy for the quilting. Texture and ease won out. Simple straight lines so the graphic design stands out. In case you were wondering, I used the magical Aurifil 2600, the dove grey. The quilt is pieced with it too, actually. 

On the binding I uncovered another old Denyse Schmidt print, this one from a Joann's release years ago. It was the perfect sweet touch. Because Denyse is so inspired by vintage textiles it works so well.

Denyse Schmidt Quilt Binding

Now I get to hand the quilt back to my friend. It is a thrill to give these old fabrics new life, especially when there is a family connection like this. A handmade legacy.

The Power of a Quilt - Why Do You Quilt?

Reasons To Quilt 1

Originally sent to newsletter subscribers, but I've decided to share this here as well.

This is the story of a quilt. It is a quilt that is showing it's age - the binding is coming undone, there a few marks from who knows what, and the label can hardly be read anymore for the fading on the back. Sometimes it smells a little because it got damp, I didn't notice, and then it sat in the car for a few days before I washed it. 

I started the quilt about a decade ago. The top was assembled in my first ever attended mini retreat. My memory is a bit off on this, but I think there were 6 of us gathering at my quilt mentor's house. I was the youngest by at least 20 years. But gather we did and in one afternoon we assembled a quilt top. Then we had a little raffle and I won the top! It took me a few years, but I added to it - one of the few quilts I've ever made with borders. And because it was one of the largest quilts I'd ever made at about 90'' square I sent it to a long armer, the mother of a girl I worked with. I remember obsessing about which panto to use, then learning that on a busy quilt it really doesn't matter. Then I likely obsessed about the right binding fabric. I was still a relative beginner and every decision seemed so big.

In the past few years that quilt became our picnic quilt. We take it for after school relaxing while the kids run around. It comes to the beach as a respite from the sand. Basically, if the opportunity arises where we have to sit on the ground, this quilt comes.

Reasons to Quilt 3

So, of course I had it one day in the mountains last week. We were meeting up with friends who'd spent the week camping. The quilt laid by the shore of a pond while the big kids ran around exploring. One adorable 18 month old kept trying to pick the candies on it, mistaking polka dots for M&Ms. After our picnic it went back in the car. Adventures by the river, rock balancing, a potluck dinner all came next. The kids explored the woods and staked claim over secret hideouts. A fire was lit, marshmallows emerged. A tree was climbed.

Then someone fell. She fell from the tree and the collective gasp of eight adults and twenty kids sucked all the breath from the forest for a minute or an hour. We parents jumped into gear, a flight attendant calling on her training, Dads calling on their instincts, Moms keeping the calm, kids trying not to freak out. At one point I recall someone asking for a blanket for the girl, or maybe I just thought she needed one because the sun was setting and she must be cold. I ran for my quilt, my old and stained picnic quilt. I covered her legs, one broken badly from the fall. With assessments done and a fear that the ambulance may never come despite one Dad racing down the road until he could get a cell signal, the call was made to move her, to take her to the ambulance. This girl was so strong, so brave in those moments.

So we made a bed in her family truck, a king cab. The tent and pillows of one family, packed up for a departure before the rain, extended the comfort of the seat. Someone, maybe me? Placed the quilt over the seat. One small gesture of comfort for what was likely to be a harrowing ride. We moved her, calmed her and her parents, and they sped away. The rest of us reeling and picking up the pieces of the nearly shattered, remaining children. There were tears and confusion and fear. All I wanted to do was wrap them all up in a giant quilt and giggle and feel safe. That was to come, but not just yet.

Only broken bones. Only. We cannot What If? for the days and days to come, even though it feels nearly impossible not to do so. Two days after the fall I got a text from the girl's Dad. He was almost apologetic for the battle scars the quilt now bore. There was blood. Just blood? Only evidence of a life lived, for the quilt, and a reminder of survival. The quilt helped move the girl from the truck to the ambulance, like they use sheets in the hospital. Then it helped keep her warm in a drafty hospital room. But the quilt's job was over now. Later that day I delivered a different quilt, one whose only purpose to that point was as part of my act telling stories in a trunk show. It deserves a better life, a life of true comfort.

This, this is a story of why I quilt.

Reasons To Quilt 2

Pretty Things Too

Yes, Market is all about work, but there are pretty things too. You didn't think I'd not post some of my favourites, did you?

The Rise of Organics

Daisy Janie, Cloud 9, Birch, and some of the major manufacturers, including a line by Betz White with Robert Kaufman are all producing organics. The lines are varied, the colours have a great range and with the solids from Kaufman and the stripes and dots from Birch it is pretty much impossible not to build a solid stash now of just organics. And after seeing the video from Jan during her schoolhouse it makes me want to seek these out even more.

Favourite Fabrics

In two totally different corners I've got my four favourite lines that I saw there. Marcia Derse and Malka Dubrowsky have these intense, rich commercial prints based off of their own hand-dye and batiks. On their own or playing together these are exciting. Very exciting.

In the other corner is Echo by Lotta Jansdotter and Summersville by Lucie Summers. Graphic but soft, quietly bold. I'm in love with both of them (designers and fabric). And Lucie is very lucky I didn't steal one of her mugs. Thankfully I made it out of Market with a bundle of Echo to keep me going.

Somewhere in the middle is Ty Pennington's new line. To be honest, it seems like his fabric doesn't get a lot of attention. He does. But I do like his fabric. I've used a few prints from the first line and I can definitely see myself using some from this one too. And when I stopped in his booth he seemed quite thrilled that I wanted to talk about the fabric and not snap a picture with him. He's quite enthusiastic.

Speaking of Men

It would have been obvious to take photos of the men at Market, but let me tell you, they are there. A lot of the booths are staffed by men and there are definitely a lot of buyers on the floor. This was my first big surprise of Market, the men. Then there are the designers and sherpas that are there. Ty, David Butler, Mark Cesarik (all were conveniently located within steps of each other) showcased very different but equally engaging lines.

And Patterns

There are patterns all over the place at Market. With the quilt stores seeking out the interesting, the pretty, and the sellable, the pattern booths are packed and filled with pretty things. All to different tastes. I neglected to take a picture of her work or booth, but my absolute favourite was Carolyn Friedlander. A former architect turned designer. Her patterns are intense, graphic, and so beautiful. It's almost enough to make this improv girl seek them out. You definitely should.


Houston itself, while monstrous, is a pretty city. I may have been blinded by weather that made me feel like summer when it was snowing back home. Or it might have been the colour, lights, and personalities of Market. But Houston's downtown was dynamic and captivating. I got a walk or two in. I can see why Cherri House loves her town so much.