Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Something new

Can't remember if I showed the kit for this, it was one of those special 'had to have' goodies found at the Harrogate Quilt Festival earlier this year. I simply had to do something for my sanity, to get my thoughts away from what was going on at work (did I ever mention my bully boss). The kit consists of shades of fabric in charm size squares, a large square for backing and border, the batting, paper foundation all neatly labelled what goes where, very well set out instructions and a photograph to show what it should look like when finished.

Being in no rush it seems that each square takes about 45 minutes. This is my first kit and it's been ages since I last did some foundation sewing. At this rate it shouldn't take long and I'll show you when it's finished.

Winter fishing ponds

Yesterday ended with this most beautiful sight.

After clearing a cupboard or two of stuff not used for 12 months, getting some new curtains for our very recently redecorated diningroom and then driving to the DIY shop to find a new toilet roll holder (because I broke it) I drove past Bierley Woods. It had a mystical feel with low fog, oak leaves peeping out of snow on the ground, fallen tree trunks looking black against the frozen snow and ice of the fishing ponds.

I thought of and was inspired by the photo's that Rafael's Mom has been sharing and so came home, fetched Harry and off we went armed with his lead and camera. Usually when we go to the woods we'd let Harry run free but not today, I just did not want to take the chance that he might run onto the ice and have it crack under his weight. He is a proper couch potato even though he is small. It was a bit scary, walking on thick ice, listening to the crunch under your feet, silence apart from the water running from ponds higher up to those on lower levels. It is good to get out, enjoy what sights nature has to offer and just clear the mind. Having said that, even Harry was happy to get back indoors where he promptly curled up on his bed.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Merry Christmas

I'd love to be able to say that this was the result of my handywork, but it isn't. In fact, it's a mini quilt that was at the WI stand at the recent knitting and Stitching show held in Harrogate in November. The show opened on the day we had our first snow this winter .... brrrrr and since then as we all know, it hasn't really let up. Being stuck indoors at this time of year is still a novelty [well for me anyway] and it's a good excuse to get some stuff done.

So, on the spur of the moment, after watching some cheffy stuff on morning telly, I decided to make a chocolate yule log. The last time I made one of these I was still at school and thanks to some non-shopping list buys we had everything needed. It tasted great but didn't last too long :)

Lastly, I want to show you what Adrienne sent me in our STUD swap. Unfortunately the first parcel was reported damaged in transit (and it never arrived nor was returned to her) and she had to do it all over again for which I'm very grateful. It's my first hexagon quilt to own. Oddly enough, I'd made her a hexagon quilt using her favourite fabrics, which had a safer journey.

While we have received many good wishes for the festive season, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families great big bundles of love and warmth, wisdom and laughter. To all those that have shared their ideas, finishes, successes, daily lives and families with me, thank you. You have no idea how often reading your blogs and seeing your pictures has spurred me on.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Boxy bag

Boxy bag, originally uploaded by Wandering Wendz.
Lately I've felt the need for some 'instant gratification sewing'; you know the kind, when you can make something that doesn't take too long (like an hour or two) and before the sun sets you can square up your shoulders and look on with pride at something useful you've made.

For sometime I've wanted to make this boxy bag that I'd bookmarked when I saw the tutorial at Kelly's blog. I made it bigger than the measurements in the tutorial because I used a scrap piece of fabric and didn't want to leave anymore scrap after cutting and it takes all my hairclips, hairbands, slides etc. It is lined and was much easier than I thought. Go on, try one yourself ... it would make a great gift for Christmas too.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Mr Man

Wednesday morning we said goodbye to Mister Man, he was 17 years old.

He'd not been well for a while now. Being predominantly white haired and pale skinned he contracted cancer on the tip of his right ear. Last year the vet did a partial amputation of his ear in an attempt to heal it. The vet also told us that he had a heart murmur and prescribed tablets he had to take every day.

Despite all this he ruled the roost and put everyone in their place of pecking order. He kept laps warm and was company while you cooked in the kitchen. In the garden many a bird made the mistake of looking at him and thinking they were safe.

On Sundays he would dawdle to our neighbours over the road to get his weekly titbits left over from their roast dinner.

It's strange without him around and even Missus and Harry are behaving differently.

Mr Man, we will miss you.

Monday, 8 November 2010

No cross contamination

One of my colleagues recently celebrated her birthday. The environment we work in exposes us to MRSA, CDIF and a number of other contagious illnesses and so we are constantly on our guard to ensure our personal safety by using disposable gloves and aprons etc. This does of course mean that when we have our break and make a cup of tea, chances are you're going to be using a teaspoon that someone with MRSA has used. Some of us have our own mugs and cutlery at work and the rest, well, they just wing it. One colleague however, has serious issues with the possibility that she could contract these viruses, she will not even wash her mug in the same sink/dishwasher.

So, when it came to getting her a birthday gift I thought back and remembered how my Mom had made me a cutlery roll when I was 12 yrs old and going off to boarding school. (Note to self: remember to ask Mom what happened to it.) There is space for a teaspoon, knife, fork and soup/dessert spoon as well as space for a cloth to wipe your hands or dry your cutlery.

I've made it so that there is a flap to fold over the cutlery and then you roll it up and tie it with a tie that is stitched to the outside. The fabric is some that I got when I was in South Africa and my friend was thrilled to bits with it because she is of african descent and the print is very much the kind that her tribe uses in their traditional dress code.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Mouse on a shroom

I know, I know, I've been MIA but all for a good reason. You might remember me telling you that there was a little studying going on. Well, it is done! All my work has been handed in and the internal examiner assures me that I've done really well and can hold my head high. Shew, when she said that I could have cried with relief as I'd been quite stressed about it all. Now, I'm just waiting for the external examiner to agree and send the necessary bit of paper that says so.

In the meantime, while I was studying, researching and 'producing evidence' (Yip, that's what they call it) to prove that I know what I know, Enman was poorly and in need of attention. He decided to go through our collection of Sew Hip magazines and look for something to make. Last year he made an Owl and thoroughly enjoyed the process of doing it all himself. The moment he saw this cheeky looking mouse he was decided and I had to oversee him choosing fabric (to make sure he didn't use anything that is earmarked for quilting). In no time he had finished Mr Mouse and had to take photographs. You remember the mushrooms I showed earlier, well this was a new one and it came in pretty handy.

Most men would be happy with this achievement but not mine. No, he went back to the magazines and found another stuffed animal to make.
As soon as I get a piccie of it I'll show you all. I've also got lots of other stuff to show.

Until then, take care.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Scrappy Mug Rug

These little mug rugs are seriously addictive and quick and easy. If you have a quilter in your family or close friends then don't be surprised when your next birthday package or christmas gift or care package contains one of these. Of course, if you are a quilter then this is a brilliant idea to make as a gift.

After making a few 'practice' rugs and signing up not once, but twice, for the Scrappy Mug Rug Swap, it was not long before the email containing details of my secret partners arrived.

This mug rug is for one of these partners. I sure hope she is going to like it.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Inspiration for mini quilts

Who would have thought that inspiration for mini quilts would or could come from junk mail.

It does make one wonder if there are quilters working at their Ad agency.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Happy Birthday Dad

He would have been 74 today. Time goes past so quickly and it is hard to believe that it's 4 years already. We take so much for granted when it comes to parenting but you know at least once a day there is something that I do, when I'm reminded of when and where either my Mom or Dad showed me how to do it and to do it properly. Thanks Dad. Miss you.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Taking a breather

Inbetween creating a paper trail from here to eternity for my studies I needed to take a break and decided to clean up my sewing area. You know how it is when you get distracted ... sorting and finding little bits here and little bits there ended up becoming a 6" square mini quilt instead ... and the mess is still a mess :)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

I won a giveaway

from the very talented Carol. You simply have to go and have a look at the most amazing mini quilts that she makes. I 'met' her while participating in the Doll Quilt Swap. This is the first giveaway I've ever won and it arrived a few days ago even though it was posted very promptly after the draw. I'm so chuffed. Thank you Carol, it already has plenty of pins and the fab part is that being such cheerful colours it is easy to spot on my messy and cluttered work table.

Talking of the Doll Quilt Swap, I have posted this offering for the swap to my partner and can't wait to hear that it has arrived safely ... am also patiently waiting for the postman to deliver mine.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Things I like

There are some things I really enjoy:

* birthdays - yours mine and theirs
* quilting - yours mine and theirs
* quilt festivals - the closer to home the better
* picking fresh goodies to eat out of the garden
* sunshine - anywhere anytime
* seeing new things/places

Earlier this year we lost my brother in a road traffic accident. It was horrible and for sometime it had me battling with some demons. In the midst of all of it I turned 50. It was a birthday I had actually been looking forward to but as it was a week after he died it became quite irrelevant. Days, weeks and months passed and it was time for the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham and I've been lucky enough to go every years since 2007.

This year Enman arranged for us to stay with his sister, took time off work, drove us down, gave me spending money, dropped me off and at the end of the day picked me up again. The rest of the weekend we spent in the good company of his family. That was my birthday present from my man! Isn't he just the best!

It was lovely to see all the quilts, exquisite workmanship, new ideas, all the fabrics, extra notions and just enjoy the experience. This time I decided to shop first and then look at all the displays. One of the first things I did was sign up for a monthly subscription of the Sew Hip magazine. I've been getting them since the first issue came out and they're great reading and inspiration. Some months there are patterns that jump out and have sent me to the sewing machine and then they're great reading with a cup of tea. Having signed up Alice offered a choice of gifts and guess what I found:

She then told me that Kaffe Fassett was at the Festival, where he would be and when, so after chatting a little bit more I headed over to his stall and there he was knitting. He must have thought I was such a dork, just standing there watching him. Eventually I found my voice and asked him if he would be kind enough to sign the book for me and he did. Straight after a group of women arrived and got busy chatting with him while he signed their books and took photo's. One day, hopefully, I'll also be able to get a picture. In the past I've bought some of his other books and absolutely love his use of colour and the way he is able to look at shapes that we all look at every day and just make them extra special. Just getting the book and having him sign it was the best birthday pressie ever, but it did not stop there. Other shopping included

Something for the stash ........

Some Moda for a quilt-along over at Fat Quarterly

and some more stash building fat quarters .... just because I liked the colours.

All in all this the day / weekend was one hellova birthday present!! Enman turns 5 in three weeks .... how on earth do you top this?

Edit: Enman turns 50 in three weeks ... Oh boy ... it's a good thing he has a wonderful sense of humour :)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

and even more Festival of Quilts

There were many folk at the festival and obviously everyone is trying to get the best shot of these artworks, so sometimes I was only able to take a picture of a portion of the quilt.

I loved the detail of this quilt.

Again, the detail was beautiful. You can click on any of the pictures to get a better look.

Again, this is just a portion of the whole quilt. The use of colour is so clever and the stitching adds texture. Loved it.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

More Festival of Quilts

So sorry that I don't have a catalogue so I'm not able to tell you who the quilters of these magnificent pieces are. Photo's will never do them justice but at least those of you who could not be there are able to get a glimpse.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Festival of Quilts

It was fab! Over a couple of posts I'll show you some pics and what I got. In the meantime here are some of the miniature quilts.

You can click on the pictures to see the larger version for a better look at the details.

Spores, spores everywhere

Don't quite know where they've come from but all of a sudden we have lots and lots of mushrooms growing in the garden. There is even a partial fairy ring. Yesterday we found this one.

So I grovelled and got a shot of this angle.

Then Enman picked it up and just look how big it is flattened out (and Enman has big hands too).
This is probably the strangest one ... it looks as if its upside down
These are now pretty common in our garden but just look ... and we'd removed some already.
While I was having fun at the Festival of Quilts, Enman spent the time with his sister, Jo and her husband they've also got a fungas growing ... but this is a fungus of note ... huge
This fungas effectively killed the tree so they had to have the tree 'carcus' removed which involved two cherry pickers, lots of ropes ... you get the picture.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Pets on quilts

This is picture of my Dustyboy. I was given him as an orphan and we loved each other for many years. He was also my quilting companion, he would sit on my lap when I was sewing, lie on top of the fabric that needed cutting or on top of the quilt that was being quilted. Any pile of blocks that were part of a WIP immediately became a cat bed. So, it should be no surprise that when I got up to go and get a cup of tea he took over prime spot on top of this quilt.

The quilt is made of South African made schwe schwe fabric. When I first got the fabric it was washed three times, until the colour no longer bled and then after drying and ironing, cut into four inch squares. These squares were sewn together and looked absolutely awful so I unpicked the whole thing. Then I tried the sewing the squares with sashing and it still looked horrible and so it was unpicked again!. After that the blocks got packed away and lay in the cupboard for about ten years.

One day when looking for something else they got dug up and and I decided to have another bash. Each square was cut into two triangles and a strip of white sashing was placed down the middle and then the blocks were trimmed back to 4 inches.

This time the quilt came together like magic and I was soo pleased with the end result. Do you see that little piece of red sticking out of the pile? Well, it's the one and only red block and I decided to place it strategically where your heart would be when you're lying under the quilt.

As the blocks were done they were placed on the design wall and it looked like a jigsaw puzzle. Each day a space was filled until the whole of the top was done. Once the top was assembled it was pinned and quilted by stitching in the ditch. It is also backed with schwe schwe fabric. Sadly I don't have a photo of the back or the label which was embroidered because you would see that it is called 'She's come undone'.

Before I left South Africa to come to the UK I gave the quilt to my late brother and I know that he used it a lot when camping in the bush. I'm glad it had a loving home and still has with my Sue, my sister-in-law.

Why am I telling you all of this? Firstly, it is probably my favourite of all the quilts I've made, secondly, you haven't seen it yet, and lastly it is my entry into the competition, Pets on Quilts, that is being held by SewCalGal.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Keeping busy

When we were children there was one thing you never ever said: "I'm bored" because in no time my parents would find things for us to do. We didn't have television or any of the gadgets that todays' young folk have and in retrospect it was a blessing because we learnt to cook, knit, sew, garden, clean, do laundry, iron and read many many books. As we got older we were allowed to go into the chicken run and collect eggs and we considered it a privilege. Maybe that's why I still feel so chuffed when I'm able to go into a chicken house and fetch eggs without being pecked or herd sheep so they can be dipped and walk amongst horses in a stable. Our 'Townie' friends couldn't do that but we felt hard done by because they had the cinema just down the road and could all get together by just walking a block or two to someone's house or go for a milkshake at the steakhouse.

So with this background I don't find it difficult to get my days to pass quickly and sometimes, maybe, put a little too much on my plate. Right now I'm doing DQS9, am a member of a VQB, have numerous patchwork tops in various stages, tops that are finished and need pinning and quilting, a family, household and garden, a job and now I've decided to and have taken on doing an NVQ. Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love my needlework. It is what charges my batteries and fills my soul. The NVQ is something I've wanted to do for sometime but circumstances have just never allowed for it. Now, I have the opportunity to do it and need to finish it fast tracked. Apparently, you need to spend time at work doing some of the bits and pieces that go into it but our job just does not allow for it timewise so I'm fitting it in at home and obviously for the duration something else will have to give. Instead of dropping one thing I've made the decision to take a little bit of time from each activity and at the end of the day everybody is happy.

The DQS9 doll quilt is progressing too. After ironing the DQS9 autumn leaves in place it was a pleasure to go shopping for coordinating threads which were then used to stitch the edges down using blanket stitch.

I've decided to quilt it by hand and since it's been some time since I last did hand quilting it's taking time. Some days I get on a roll and then my finger tips get quite sore so it gets put away for a day or two before I pick it up again. The time inbetween is used to catch up on NVQ theory.

The quilting has actually progressed somewhat since this last picture was taken but I don't have another just yet to post.

Hope you're all keeping busy.
Take care

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Liberty of London

Just a little stash building .... I love these and they feel so beeautiful but then Liberty has always been the prettiest and most tactile of fabrics. Don't you agree?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

DQS9 update

After butting my head against the wall for a few weeks now this is what eventually appeared. A selection of autumnal fabrics grouped themselves together and then the heat 'n bond joined them. 4 Pieces of A4 taped together to form an A3 piece of paper, compass and pencil, lightbox ... a good programme on the telly ... you know what it's like once you're n a roll. After cutting out the shapes it was decision time: how to place the petals, or in this case the leaves.

It was wierd, because they just placed themselves. Don't you love it when a plan comes together?!

They are raw edge leaves and I've decided to stitch them down using buttonhole stitch and hopefully will be able to colour co-ordinate the thread. In the past I've used invisible thread but this time, maybe colour is in order. Then to be contradictive, it might be nice to quilt it with the lightest colour thread possible.

I'm really enjoying this one!

PS: I'm watching Bridget Jones: The edge of reason and thoroughly enjoying it. She is such a klutz.


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