Friday, July 31, 2015

Looking for that special SPARK? or maybe a giveaway?

Then you're in the right place!! I'm really proud and happy to have a new partner here on Poppyprint: Canadian online shop Fabric Spark.  I met Daryl at Spring Quilt Market and was immediately drawn to her kind demeanour and mutual love of unique fabric substrates and prints.  We recently enjoyed an unexpected visit right here in Vancouver!  I wanted you all to know more about Daryl and her lovely shop, so asked her to share her philosophy and vision.

Fabric Spark started as Daryl Aitken’s passion project. She had nurtured a love of design and creative endeavors in her spare time as a sewist/knitter/crafter and in her career spanning over 30 years in advertising and marketing. For most of that time, making took a distant back seat to work, but finally last year after selling her small business, Daryl got to turn her attention back to her first love.

Fabric Spark was launched last January and reflects Daryl’s belief that good fabric design should spark your imagination and start the ideas flowing. “I like to look at a piece of fabric the way a sculptor looks at a hunk of marble… if it’s really great, I start thinking immediately about all of the things I’d like to make with it” That’s her buying filter for the shop – the fabric needs to inspire her, and in turn, hopefully inspire her customers....

Lotta Jansdotter Follie

..and it does! Daryl provides a personally inspired write-up for just about all of the collections in her shop and even makes a few suggestions about what she’d do with it: what’s the “spark” from the fabric?  

I love Daryl's May bundle - still available!

Fabric Spark also has a great selection of patterns and Wool and theGang yarn from the UK, and there are monthly subscriptions that deliver a specially-curated bundle of coordinating fat quarters to subscribers every month.  She is also kindly selling autographed copies of my book from her shop at a great price (yay!). 


Often Daryl find unique limited run prints (I love her Japanese and double gauze finds!). Be sure to sign up for her newsletter at the bottom of her shop homepage so you don't miss out on these special fabrics. You can also keep up with shop happenings and specials on the blog, Facebook or Instagram. Fabric Spark is one of the few Canadian retailers with stock of Anna Graham's sublime Rainwalk (in organic quilting cottons and cotton canvas - pictured above). I may have just placed an order....


Thanks for reading all about my newest partner. I hope you'll check out her shop and support a fellow fabric junkie. Daryl would like to share one of her custom bundles featuring some gorgeous classics (below) with one of my readers (that's YOU). All you have to do is leave one comment below for a chance. A random winner will be chosen Monday evening (Aug.3) after what I hope is a lovely long weekend. Please be sure your email is linked to your comment, or written into your comment - if I can't contact you, I'm afraid the random number robot will get to choose another winner.

This is my last birthday month giveaway. Good luck friends!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

There just aren't enough blogposts about donkeys...

Here's my attempt to do something about this interweb crisis. Allow me to introduce Ozark and Isabelle:

They live on my uncle and aunt's farm in Nova Scotia. We've just returned from our family summer vacation in the Maritimes, so prepare for photo posts over the next little while. It is pretty tough to take a bad photo in the is such a scenic part of our country!  Okay, so donkeys.

Ozark is still getting used to his new stable-mate Izzy (witness ears back in top photo). Both of these cuties are rescue animals that now get to live a lovely life in a gorgeous barn and pasture, along with Bailey the horse (photo below). My aunt Karen is such a compassionate animal-lover and she's taking very good care of these donkeys.  She recently lost her first rescue donkey Owen and everyone was very sad and missing Owen and his hilarious personality terribly. A farrier alerted her to Izzy, who was suffering terrible neglect. Luckily, Izzy recently got to come live at her new home and she's settling in just fine.

Look at that face!!! She's a character like no other. Karen's been trying to find out what kind of donkey grows hair like a llama.  Apparently there is a very rare breed of long-haired donkey, but a large rescue centre in Ontario thinks it unlikely that Izzy is that kind of donkey, just because they are indeed so rare.

She likes to fill up her hair-do with dust.

Ozark seems mystified and rather embarrassed for her.

They both loved the love, though. I think Ozark's ears are back just to maintain his reputation. He really does seem like a sweet fella.  We had such a nice visit - it was my first time seeing the farm since they'd moved there. D was all smiles because she got to ride around the pasture on Karen's horse Bailey.

I took a zillion photos because a farm is too good a photographic location to pass up!  I rode and had my own horse all through high school.  I miss being around horses regularly.

The chickens get to free range all day and bring themselves inside every evening.

This is the neighbour's old barn next door.

After our visit we drove to a well-known lobster supper spot in Hall's Harbour for dinner. The tide was high when we arrived, but dropped about 6' during the 2 hours we were there!

Here's B with our dinner. You choose your lobsters from the tank in the gift shop, then walk them outside to the boil shack where they are prepared for you.  D couldn't quite reconcile the tank to pot scenario, so she chose to eat lobster mac & cheese instead.

I never imagined writing a post about donkeys with a side of lobster, but there you have it. More Maritime goodness to come. I hope you are enjoying your summer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cutting Garden featured in Homespun - and a giveaway!

If you've never had the pleasure of reading Homespun Magazine from Australia, I hope perhaps my latest quilt pattern will encourage you to order a copy! This has always been one of my fav sewing publications due to the varied projects (quilting, embroidery, sewing, collaging), gorgeous photography, matte paper, designer biographies and glimpses of quilting life DownUnder.  I wish it were easier to find in Canada. If you search online there are a few retailers in North America from which you can order copies.

Here's the adorable cover and a little detail of my quilt on the contents page!

The story of Cutting Garden is kind of a long one. You may recall that last year I worked with many neighbourhood friends (as well as others from my local quilting community) to make a Scrappy Sprouts quilt for our friend who was diagnosed with cancer.  The quilt we made was inspired by a quilt my friend Tracey made with sewing buddies the year before for her friend with cancer.  We both feel that the block is sweet and hopeful and I know that both quilts brought so much joy to their recipients. 

Cutting Garden by Poppyprint
The location photos in the magazine are just stunning and make me so proud to have a project included!

Well, the editors at Homespun saw a photo of my quilt online and approached me to create a similar one, but they wanted a design with more flowers and a darker "ground".  I first asked Tracey if she wanted the gig, after all, it all started with her block design and quilt.  The timing wasn't right for her, but she graciously allowed me to go ahead with a quilt using a smaller version of her block.  Because of Tracey's generosity and the origins of this quilt, I've donated my modest design commission to cancer research - that just felt right.

Cutting Garden by Poppyprint

The scale of a dresden plate flower didn't work with these smaller sprout blocks, so I designed some folk-art inspired flowers that are made up of two pieced quarter circles, some bias tape applique stems and machine appliqued circles.  I love how they look on top of those pretty rainbow sprout stalks.  It is really difficult to showcase the scrappy low-volume background fabrics in photographs, but trust me, there are tons of prints in there!

Cutting Garden by Poppyprint
One of my fav things about the quilt are the two Heather Ross bumble bees on the flowers (Briar Rose fabric line).

Cutting Garden (detail) by Poppyprint

This quilt is a fabulous scrap-buster. There is a lot of piecing, so it takes a while, but the results are so pretty. I cut the squares from pressed scraps using my Accuquilt GO!Baby cutter, which saved lots of time.  I have a little stash of leftover HST's, squares and stems that I saved for one lucky follower along with a copy of the magazine if you'd like to make this quilt yourself.  

Scrappy Sprouts leftovers

Please leave one comment below for a chance to win. Your email MUST be linked to your comment, or appear in the comment itself, in order for you to win.  I'll choose a random winner next week on my birthday: July 22nd. Good luck everyone!

ETA: comments are now closed. Congratulations to comment #74 chosen by the random number generator! The Rx Quilter, you've won!! I'll email you for details on how to get your prize to you.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Calendar Girls!

I'm so excited to share that two projects from my book were chosen by the editors at Martingale for inclusion in their 2016 That Patchwork Place Calendar. It's a gorgeous calendar and it includes a full pull-out booklet of patterns, so you could make each of the featured projects!

All photographs by Brent Kane, copyright Martingale Inc.

My Orange Grove quilt was chosen for August. This quilt it such a favourite of mine. I really enjoyed all of the precise piecing (which I have not tackled again since, mind you!). But the very best part is the incredible quilting that Krista Withers put into this quilt. I'm awed by her work and super proud to have this quilt in my collection.

I've got a collection of rainbow pine tree blocks made by the Stash Trad Bee on Flickr a few years ago.  One of these days they need to be pieced together into a colourful version of this quilt.   Here's the calendar spread:

Also included is a gorgeous photo of Ayumi's sweet Big and Little Totes - definitely one of the most popular projects from Make It, Take It that I know many shops are featuring as a sample on their book display. Congratulations Ayumi (Ms. April)!

Ask for the calendar at your LQS, or order directly from Martingale! They're available now (and make the perfect gift for your quilty friends, or a great door prize for your December guild meetings).  Better yet, leave a comment below for your chance to win one from me. Your email address must be linked to, or included in, your comment in order to win.  I'll randomly pick a winner on July 20th.  Good Luck!

ETA: Comments are now closed. Congratulations comment #13. Jen, you've won the calendar! 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Over 18 months ago I put this little baby quilt together at retreat just for fun. I had some leftover HST's from another project, so I grabbed some coordinating yellow, pink and orange stash fabrics to cut into charm squares.  Along with the perfect flannel backing, I folded the quilt top over a hanger where it's been resting comfortably for all that time just waiting for a baby girl.

Pink45 by Poppyprint
Pink45 measures 31 x 40. Perfect for baby rolling over practice on the floor.

When I heard the news that my neighbour's daughter was expecting a girl, I was super happy (and did some patting myself on the back) that this little number was ready to go.  Naturally, I waited until the recent Vancouver heat wave to quilt it. Luckily, it didn't take very long...I'm super fast at this loopy swirl and it is my go-to all over FMQ pattern when I'm in a time crunch.  The baby is coming to visit from California later this week!

Pink45 by Poppyprint
Quilted with Aurifil 40wt yellow 2115

It definitely makes me shake my head that I'm gifting a baby quilt to our former baby-sitter's baby!! She's a welcome first grandchild and I hope she uses this cosy quilt right up to the last threads.  Because it is always my wish that baby quilts will be loved, washed and loved some more, I usually attach the binding by machine so that it is extra sturdy.  In this case, I sewed it on back to front and completed the stitching with my Pfaff topstitch foot (which I LOVE!). It has a fence right in the middle of the foot that you can snug up to the fabric edge, and a wide needle opening so that you can move the needle over a few ticks to the left or right of centre (depending on what side of the fence needs the stitching). You can see what you're doing and it's a breeze to get a nice, straight topstitch line.

 Pink45 by Poppyprint
Donkey from Violet Craft's sweet Madrona Road line. Also pictures is some Lizzy House Castle Peeps & Pearl Bracelets and Happy Zombie Happy Mochi Yum Yum.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Alaska Photo Essay Part II - Juneau and Ketchikan

Bonus for us, our cruise aboard the Celebrity Infinity gave us the opportunity to see TWO glaciers! That's right, in Juneau one can take a public bus for a couple of bucks, then walk a mile and a half to the Mendenhall Glacier. So four of us did. The sun even came out!

Handy location right beside the bus loop in Juneau.

Juneau, AK
The walk along the highway from the last bus stop to the glacier was pretty enjoyable!

Mendenhall Glacier from the highway approach
Our first glimpse from the road!

Mendenhall Glacier & Nugget Falls
This is the view from the visitor's centre. We took the short hike along the shoreline to Nugget Falls, which you can see on the right side of the picture.

Mendenhall Glacier
Great glacier viewing from the sandbar below the falls.

At the Mendenhall Glacier & Nugget Falls, Juneau, AK
The "I was there" shot, photo credit: Dana Michaelson

Nugget Falls, Juneau, AK
This is the "Sindy was there" shot ; )

We lucked out and got a great cab driver back into Juneau who took us to a spot where we saw over 30 eagles in the tree tops, surveying the town landfill (which was out of view). We had a great seafood lunch, then we wandered around town, visited the beautiful Changing Tides quilt shop located in a historic building-turned-mall downtown and then made our way back to the ship.  Here are a few pics from my saunter. The town is built up a steep slope, so some folks have a very long staircase walk to get home instead of a sidewalk! On one of the higher streets in town, the steel grate sidewalk is cantilevered out over the slope beside the road.

Juneau, AK

Juneau, AK
For such a small town, it was exciting to spot three independent book sellers!

In Juneau, AK

Stitch at Sea Alaska 2015

Juneau, AK
I don't envy the homeowners at the top of this staircase on grocery day!

"Row housing" in Juneau, AK
I love that these homes are connected by an elevated walkway sidewalk to their front doors.

In Juneau, AK
The letter-carrier benefits from mail boxes at the bottom of the stairs!

Garden in Juneau, AK
A curb-side garden....condensation catchers or to keep birds out?

In Juneau, AK
This truck just seems to personify Alaskan fishing town.

Juneau stairs
I took this staircase back down to the pier and our ship.

Next stop, Ketchikan! I was there 10 years ago on a cruise with my whole family, celebrating my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. The town was pretty much as I remembered it.

We only had 30 minutes to snap a few shots of town before Katie, Joan and I had a date with a zipline at Southeast Exposure.  We weren't quite sure what to think when the owner of the company met us on the dock in a walking cast and crutches! She assured us that her ankle injury was from a hike while searching for a lost dog. That might have been the moment Joan started getting a little shaky.


Ketchikan, AK
The view as we pulled into the very long pier that can accommodate 4 cruise ships end to end.

Ketchikan AK

Ketchikan waterfront
Chief Johnson welcomes people to town from his statue on the pier 3 entitled "The Rock" by Dave Rubin.

Creek Street, Ketchikan
Ketchikan's infamous Creek St., where back in the day a fella could find whisky and the company of a 'lady' to take his mind off of the incessant rain.

And now onto our adventure in the trees!!  We were so lucky, only the three of us signed up for ziplining so we had the entire course to ourselves along with our fun guides Jeff and Cameo. We gasped, we laughed, we screamed. It was an awesome afternoon.

Southeast Exposure Zipline Trek, Ketchikan
Harnesses, check!

Southeast Exposure Zipline Trek, Ketchikan
The safety talk. I just love their faces as Jeff demonstrates falling off (and getting back onto) the platform above us.

Southeast Exposure Zipline Trek, Ketchikan
First stop, the ropes course!

Southeast Exposure Zipline Trek, Ketchikan
Cameo sends Katie off on her first zipline!

Southeast Exposure Zipline Trek, Ketchikan
Look who's conquered their fear and having a blast now!!

Southeast Exposure Zipline Trek, Ketchikan
This is an incredible 700 year old cedar that was part of our the zip trek through the forest. It was pretty humbling to stand "in" this magnificent tree.

Southeast Exposure Zipline Trek, Ketchikan
Just a short stroll over a wobbly bunch of 2 x 4's about 40' off the ground. No biggie.

DSC_0122 - Copy
Here comes Joan!

Docks at Southeast Exposure, Ketchikan, AK
The second to last line takes you out to this 30' tower in the ocean!! So cool!

Southeast Exposure Zip Trek
Jeff's doing some maintenance while we're out there.

Southeast Exposure ziptrek, Ketchikan, AK
And Katie's off to terra-firma once again.

Southeast Exposure Ziptrek
After our zipping, I took a little climb up the 55' wall. It's been ages since I did any climbing and it was super fun until my right hand started to cramp.  I managed to make it all the way to the top and ring the bell, yay!

And, that's pretty much it, folks!  The week was beyond wonderful and I'm feeling incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to spend it with such nice women. The balance of creative time, fine dining, dancing, discovery and excellent company was just right.  I never cracked my novel, but that's okay....I've got some beach time coming up this summer.  Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our Stitch at Sea.