Stitching Away

  While I was home this Christmas I took pictures of all the needlework I had done and given to my mom and/or dad.  Actually, I have never given my dad, individually a piece of my stitching.

The Garden Cottage was the first piece I gave them.  It was a difficult piece to photograph as it is hung in a corner next to the picture window.  No matter where I stood, the glass reflected a slight glare from outside light.  The best image is a great example of parallel line perspective, not such a great representation of the work.  In hindsight I should have taken it down from the wall and moved it to a better spot.  Silly me.

This piece is a representation of an antique Dutch plate pattern.  My mother bought the pattern in the Netherlands on one of her trips.  She asked if I would stitch it for her.  It is not something that I would choose to stitch, but I did.  For interest sake I kept track of how long it took to complete by making crosses in the black squares of the pattern.  Each crossed square was a half hour.  The entire project took 117 1/4 hours.  I gave (returned?) it to my mom for her birthday and she took it to the framer.  The result is fabulous.  In the end I was very pleased with it.  It almost looks three-dimensional from certain angles.  Again, I didn’t think of taking it down from the wall to photograph, so the result is not the best.


My aunt Shirley did a petit point pair of Dutch children.  My mom always wanted these done of Ukrainian children dancing so that the nationalities on both sides of the family would be represented.  They turned our really well, although I am not crazy about the framing.  It is very ornate, and much to large for the pictures in my opinion.  Mom only went this route because that was the way they were framed in the example with the pattern.

I have not worked on any needlework for some time.  It might be time…

My Grandmother’s Quilt

2 Timothy 1:5   I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.

In 2011, shortly after my father’s birthday, my grandmother turned 93.  If you have read the post “My Father’s Quilt” you might wonder about this.  Let me know if you’ve figured it out.  She is a very special lady, loving, warm, a strong faith, and a godly mentor.  She has given me so much sage and valuable advice throughout my life.  She has also given me unlimited love and encouragement in so many ways, not the least of which has been prayer.  The Holy Bible only mentions grandmother(s) once, in the quote supplied above.  How appropriate that it speaks of the faith living in a grandmother.  She is a true gem.

I decided to sew my grandmother a quilt as well.  She was so pleased, saying she felt ‘spoiled.’  My grandmother is a crafty person, she taught me how to  knit, tried to teach me how to crochet.  I love this quilt.  It was a bit of a pain because all the blocks were individual.  I was using up scraps.  There was no sewing 2″ strips of blue and beige/white together and then cutting them into 2″ widths to make the four blocks.

The pattern was followed but I made a mistake, the large beige/white blocks were supposed to run in lines at right angles to the large blue ones.  I think it  turned out better this way.  I didn’t do any fancy machine quilting with this one.  I stitched in the ditch with variegated blue thread and used a dark beige thread for the two lines in the border.

I was a little concerned that it might be too masculine with all the plaid and the blue, but the white/beige contrast really ‘prettied’ it up.  Did I mention that I loved this quilt?

December in Northwestern Ontario

While home for the holidays, I took my camera out for a little walk about.  I love the way the weather bleached grasses contrast with the pristine snow creating textures and shapes.  Everything is so quiet, serene, beautiful and clean.  Last seasons growth persevere with heads full of seeds, waiting for warmth and melting to sprout green for another spring and summer.  There is hope and promise and assurance found in the cycle of seasons and growth.  We are so blessed.

Isaiah 55:9-11   9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,  11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Barn flower seed heads at the edge of the old garden

Goldenrod seed heads

The original farmhouse on the homestead

My Father’s Quilt

In 2011 my father celebrated his 90th birthday.  Its a long time to accumulate everything you could ever want or need.  What could I possibly give him?

My latest ‘fun’ has been quilting.  He’s colourblind and sees red the best.  I settled on a beige/brown/red lap quilt that I managed to finish enroute as we travelled to Ontario for the gathering of the family.  It was a splendid time.

He seemed pleased with it.  I asked if he would have a use for it, napping on the couch possibly?  He protested that he didn’t nap on the couch (although the day following his party he did, a little weary from regalling his guests with stories and jokes all night perhaps?).  He intends to use it when he is keeping the fire in the wood box going.  That requires he sleep in the recliner in the basement.  The woodbox only has the capacity to burn for a half hour at a time.  My mom dismissed that option immediately.  “It will smell of smoke and get full of burn holes before you know it!”  Better that than sitting folded in a closet somewhere.

     I attempted free motion quilting for the first time with this quilt.  The effect turned out alright, considering I had the incorrect presser foot for my model of sewing machine and I had to use duct tape to keep the foot slightly off the surface of the quilt.  I’ll  know better next time!

The Garage

Matthew 6:21   For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

My father worked as a machinist at the local pulp and paper mill for over two decades.  Everything had a purpose, even after it no longer could fulfill its intended purpose, so he would bring it home.  He was a hoarder of things with possibilities.  Someone once said that dad’s garage had all the resources to start WWIII.  I spend many a summer day looking through his treasures.

These antlers have been in the garage for as long as I can remember. They have supported a variety of things.

Past Echos

Deuteronomy 32:7   Remember the days of old, consider the years long past; ask your father, and he will inform you; your elders, and they will tell you.

My heart resides on the farm of my youth.  I love the ‘stuff’ that my father had ‘saved’.  (see – One man’s junk is another man’s treasure)  The textures, patterns, uses and stories they hold are my ground and my heritage.  Beauty is found in the practical uses of a time not long past.

Dump rakes and seed drill

Manure spreader

Manure spreader - inside

Manure spreader - outside gears

Soil discs

I’ve seen these all in use at some time or another.  They are the tangible connective cord to the earth and all greening, growing things, even when at rest in snow.

Impulsive Quilting

Last year our congregation hosted the ecumenical Good Friday worship service.  Two weeks prior I had this great idea.  I didn’t have an appropriate stole for the service, typically the liturgical colour for Good Friday is black or grey. I felt I needed something because my Anglican colleague had informed his congregation if they didn’t attend there would be no Easter Eucharist for them.  After all there is no latter without the former.  (I just heard the soup guy in my head — No Wine for You!)  Those Anglicans have almost as much sense of decently and in good order as us Presbyterians, so I decided I would quilt a stole for the occasion.

I was well pleased with the results and it was completed in ample time.

Genesis 28:10-12   10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. 11 He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12 And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Success plants the seeds for other ‘great’ ideas.  When the Genesis story about Jacob’s ladder came up in the lectionary I remembered that there was a quilt block named – Jacob’s ladder.  Of course, I felt the impulse to quilt another stole, in green fabrics, since the reading occurs during ‘Ordinary time’.  I only had a week, and found myself blind stitching on the binding at 6:30 AM Sunday morning.  Next time I have a ‘great’ idea, I’ll give myself more time.



The Iona Building – Vancouver School of Theology

In 2005 we moved to Vancouver with the intent of me returning to studies to earn my Master of Divinity.  There are three colleges recognized by my denomination as having the necessary courses for eligibility to be ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament.  The college I chose was Vancouver School of Theology.  From the onset I was so grateful that I had.  Not only were the courses challenging and enlightening, the community supportive and worshipful, but the campus itself was beautiful.

The north face of “the Castle” is lovely.  Set at the top of a slight rise it draws the eye upward.  When I began studies there the silhouette was uninterrupted.  Since, the skyline has been changed with the rectangular shapes of high-rise student residences and condominiums.  A shame.

The building does not boast many embellishments.  The subtle simplicity of the stone blocks in varying sizes and the small carvings over the entrance ways are in keeping with the purpose of the building.  God is in the small things. 

The charter of the college is magnificently illuminated.  Originally housing the Union College of British Columbia, the Iona Building was completed in the 1930’s and is an ecumenical college educating Anglican, United Church of Canada and Presbyterian students.  The charter hangs in the library.

I spent many hours there, writing, reading, researching, photocopying.

The Merton reading room is a quiet reading/meditation room.  It has comfy large chairs and it was not unusual to find a student napping there.

During my time there the college completed an environmentally controlled archive for many of its older and antique volumes.  People come from all over to access the theological resources.

The building was upgraded to meet seismic requirements, completed in 2005, the year I started.  The interior was brand new, bright and beautiful my first day of college.  Enjoy some of the interior views and patterns.  It was a delight to study and worship there.






Amazing stain glass window in the sanctuary, and beautiful glass sculpture depicting Creation in the foyer.

View of the north shore mountains at morning. Taken from the 6th floor of the Iona Building