Monday 21 December 2009

Happy Christmas

I hope that all of you bloggers and your families out there have a lovely Christmas and that 2010 brings you all that you wish for.

It has been a while since I posted and whilst I haven't managed to be truly creative I have managed to get all my Christmas presents made. These beautiful felt hearts are filled with sweets and were made following a pattern that Linda provided. I had to adapt it to half size as I hadn't got any felt big enough but I still think they look lovely.

In a previous post I was making cones to distribute to all of my shift as we are all working on Christmas day. Jackie was interested in seeing them completed so here is just one of them, filled with chocolates and ready to go. It was a little difficult to photograph as they are all wrapped in cellophane.

I've also received some lovely surprises in the post. Thank you so much to both Ros and Angela

From Ros

From Angela

Throughout the year I have been involved in the Popular Patchwork monthly Journal Quilts. I still have one to go but we are now in the 2010 challenge which is called Square Dance and involves making 10" square mini quilts. The first technique was right up my street as it was printing images onto fabric and I got carried away and made 4!! See my obsession with Red Kites surfacing here?

The Popular Patchwork postcard swap has also been in full swing.

Fireworks from Jan

Toys from Jan

Fireworks from me to Irene

Toys from me to Sue

And finally on the PP front, one of the Forum members is currently having treatment for breast cancer so a group of us made blocks all involving flowers and in her favourite colours. The pattern for this block is from a series called Shabby Roses from Jenny.


After trying to clear the drive yesterday, and having it fill up with snow again ten minutes after I came back in I decided that it was time to make a slip cover for this year's diary (yes I do mean 2009!)



... at least that got me going with the free motion quilting again - nice way to practise and to use up some of the fabric strips that were left over after piecing the kaleidoscope quilt.

I don't normally make New Year resolutions but this year I am going to make an exception and try to do a weekly blog post. I have enjoyed reading everyone else's so much over the past year even if I haven't always commented.

I hope that you all have a truly wonderful Christmas whether you are sewing, chilling out, enjoying being with family or even working. See you in 2010


Wednesday 2 December 2009

Loss of direction

I had a lovely surprise in the post today, my PIF gift from Jan. It is a beautiful trapunto quilted bag and postcard. Thanks so much Jan, I really love it. I will be announcing my PIF in the new year.

On a non-creative theme, I do try to shop local but unfortunately my local independent health food shop has been taken over by Holland and Barratt. They have stopped stocking most of the items that I used to buy there in favour of their own brand so I have been forced to travel further afield to Ashbourne. I usually  combine a trip there with a visit to replenish supplies at the RSPB shop at Carsington Water which makes it more economical. Yesterday, however, having shopped for the birds and my healthy essentials, I remembered that there is a lovely shop called Equatorial in Ashbourne that I have not visited for some time so, as I had plenty of parking time left, I decided to have a look around. It is one of those shops that only sells Fair Trade ethnic items so I didn't feel too guilty. It was, I should add, the coldest day of the winter so far and as I don't have a warm jacket the temptation to purchase a Nepalese wool jacket was just too great to resist. I think the beautiful patterns also may have had something to do with it.

At least I will be warm (and visible) this winter!

I ought to address the reason for the title of this post I suppose. I feel, at the moment, that I have lost direction in my creative work. I realised that when I decided to try out a Ricky Tims-style kaleidoscope hanging.

This is yet another quilty piece that I have started but is, as yet, unfinished. I have never been one to have loads of UFOs lying around but now they seem to be stacking up. I wonder if this is because I have been leaning towards more pieced items, not something I normally enjoy doing, rather than the art quilts that I do enjoy. It seems like a vicious circle as well because I feel guilty at having unfinished items lying around which prevents me from starting on other designs. Maybe it's just that the days are short and dark. Who knows. I'll be sure to let you know if I get my inspiration back.

Until then I hope that your inspiration is keeping you company.


Sunday 22 November 2009


Studying is taking up most of my time at the moment but I have managed to do some sewing along the way.

As I, and the rest of my shift, will be working over the whole of Christmas I thought it would be a nice idea to make some cones to fill with goodies to eat while we are are at work. They don't photograph too well as they are rather glitzy and obviously have to be sewn up but I think that you will get the idea.

A couple of weeks ago I went on a peg loom weaving workshop at the Threshing Barn. Not only was the workshop good but we had a wonderful home-made lunch in the farmhouse. The piece has yet to be finished but it will be!

And finally I have just got the setting triangles onto the curved pinwheel quilt. It's a little foreshortened in the photo as it is longer than the available space on my design wall. I now have to decide whether the next border should be with whole blocks ...

... or half blocks?

Any opinions will be noted.

I do apologise for not commenting on many of your blogs lately, be assured that I have been reading.

Happy sewing


Tuesday 20 October 2009

More curves

I had a lot of fun at Saturday's workshop with Barbara Chainey and Chris Franses but then again that is the joy of their workshops in that learning is made to be a great deal of fun, oh and did I mention the chocolate biscuits! It was a different take on curves than the log cabin, this time creating pinwheel blocks in the morning and then free-cut nine patch blocks in the afternoon.  I got all my morning blocks done but had to finish my nine patch blocks as 'homework'. Can't believe how quickly 32 blocks came together. I decided to set my pinwheels on point and add a wonky square border as the start to a full size quilt.

I'm sort of making decisions as I go along so watch this space...

The free-cut nine patches have ended up like this

They are going to be re-cut and re-sewn (what is it about quilters wanting to cut up and re-sew fabric!) and will be used in the quilt although just how I am not sure.

I have got myself organised into doing machining during the day and handwork at nights and, to assist with keeping things together and not placing pins where either the cat or I can sit on them, I made myself a sewing thing to go over the arm of the settee. The pattern is courtesy of Amy and can be found here. She has a lovely blog which is well worth a visit. I decided to be very lazy and just use the fabric as it was rather than piece it.

Very handy as it has pockets on either side as well as the pincushion on top.

My current hand sewing is embroidering the free designs from the Gum tree blog. I have done the first two but they are yet to be added to anything. Yet more UFOs

Very nice little projects for what are becoming quite cold nights. I think that winter may be ushering autumn out. Hopefully I will be able to get some embellished or woven backgrounds done for some hand stitching soon.

I have also been reorganising my workroom which was beginning to look as though a bomb had hit it. I decided to invest in some 'Really Useful Boxes' and now, hopefully I can be a little more tidy and spend less time hunting for things. Having said that I have been searching for a pile of colour catchers that I have hidden away somewhere but can't find which box they are in! This is the 'after' photo. I suppose that I should have taken a 'before' one but I forgot.

Nothing else for now so happy stitching.


Sunday 18 October 2009

Congratulations Brawn GP

If Ferrari can't do it, I can't think of a more deserving person than Ross Brawn

Thursday 15 October 2009

New TV programme

Talking Threads has just launched on the Country Channel and for those of us who do not have Sky it is also available to watch online. The first programme was silk painting by Jill Kennedy and it is well worth watching. Just follow the link if you want to watch it online.

I have received some lovely things in the mail over the last couple of days, the first of which was some fabric and thread from Dawn Hay in Australia. Dawn is one of the Gum Tree designers and sent a thank-you to a number of people who commented on her giveaway winner. Thank you Dawn, now I will be able to start my Gum Tree Christmas designs. Just look at that beautiful card as well.

My other surprise mailing has also come from Australia and it is my Friendship Bag swap. This was from Rebecca and included some fabric, an Australian magazine and some hand made soap . The soap contains olive, coconut and macademia oils and lavender and palmaress essential oil. It smells absolutely beautiful. Thank you Bec.

A few posts ago I mentioned that I had bought a peg loom from The Threshing Barn. Yesterday I decided to try it out. Not being sure how to start and finish it I did a small piece and then threw it under the embellisher. It has turned out quite well and with some added stitching could be heading for a small notebook wrap.

The result of this was a desire to learn more about the loom and so I duly headed off to the Threshing Barn to book in for a workshop in early November. I defy anyone to go in there and come out empty handed!

I even found these lovely buttons. The ones on the left are from the 1930s and were languishing in a box in a factory when they were found and offered to those of us who cannot resist such things.

The dragonfly button has come in really handy for a mug carrier that I have made using a pattern by Paula Storm. I don't really need to take a mug to the workshops that I attend so it will come in handy for keeping things tidy in my workspace.

A little worrying on the Royal Mail front is that the postcard for the latest Popular Patchwork swap and my first OU assignment, that were both posted on Saturday, do not yet appear to have arrived. The postcard theme was Harvest Festival and as I don't think that Alyson is a blogger I will add it to this post. It is foiled felt with a paper napkin embellished onto it then embroidered by machine hand and with some beads added.

The good news is that my teacup block for the Popular Patchwork 2012 quilt did arrive promptly. The background fabric is some Liberty lawn fabric that I had left over after making a blouse almost 30 years ago. The blouse eventually fell apart after excessive use.


Finally, I really must get around to making something to hang in my workroom window. Every time the window cleaner has been, one of the collared doves decides to do a kamikaze lunge at the window, leaving me with its outline for the next month. It doesn't seem to injure itself but is obviously not learning its lesson. Not the brightest dove in the flock!

Until next time, happy sewing


Friday 9 October 2009

In between the studies

Today I received the Summertime quilt from my swap partner Meg Haskins in North Carolina. This is Meg's first time in a swap and she chose to do a piece from 'The Little Prince' by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, which is, I think my most favourite book of all time. Thank you so much Meg, I love it.

It also came in a beautiful hand-painted hessian bag. The cardinal is the state bird of North Carolina and the Pine is the state tree. I was actually very relieved when the postman knocked on the door this morning, (even though he caught me in disarray, having just stepped out of the shower) as we are having postal problems in the UK at the moment.

I managed to get two more blocks done for the curved log cabin hanging that I mentioned in the last post. This is now another UFO that needs quilting.

If you scrolled down far enough you may have noticed that I have a button for Paula Storm's BOM 'It's a Hoot'. I have just finished the second one of these and decided that I would make small hangings from them. They are simply fused onto Pelmet vilene and edged with satin stitch. A lovely addition to my kitchen. These are lovely little designs that are really handy to sit and do in the evening, or even at work during my break. Paula is one of the 'Among the Gum Trees' designers and if you have not yet checked out their site yet, do pay them a visit, either through the link here or the button on my side bar.

Finally the second pincushion which will be going to my cousin on Sunday for her birthday. Both sides.

The Greek continues apace and my first assignment is due in on the 15th so that is all for now.

Enjoy your sewing wherever you are.


Wednesday 30 September 2009

Workshop overload.

I haven't had much time to blog of late as I have had four workshops in the last ten days, plus a friend visiting from France so I could not get to my computer which was in her bedroom. I will try to keep this short and 'photofull'.

I went to a workshop with Ferret 10 days ago and spent the most of the time cutting out tiny skinny triangles to produce this:-

It needs a little more quilting adding to cover the few spots where the background shows through and then the binding added. I like the effect but not a technique I think that I will try again in a hurry.

Last Saturday I went to a workshop with Barbara Chainey and Chris Franses called Walking Round in Circles. What a fun day and the really good thing about this technique is that it is when the circles are sewn together it is finished, no edges to bind etc.. If ever you get chance to attend one of their workshops do go as they are both great teachers. This will eventually be a table runner when I get time to do some more blocks. First of all the wrong side.

And then the right side.

We even got a free template to do the circles with which came in very useful for the cake that was produced in the afternoon - a Wedgewood plate no less. I meant to add a photo of the plate but my camera battery has just gone on charge. I have just added the link to their site and checked it out and the photo of the workshop is on the home page!!

On Monday and Tuesday I had the opportunity to do a couple of workshops with Janice Gunner at my local quilt shop Quiltessential. The first one was curved log cabin. We all managed to finish one block although on person managed two as she had lost her voice and could not chat. The blocks are here together in all their shapes, sizes and colours.

... and this is a picture of my block. I am thinking of making two more and turning it into a wall hanging.

The second workshop was machine quilting so there are no photos as it was all practice and samples. Again Janice is an excellent teacher and I certainly recommend her workshops.

I am currently taking part in a postcard swap with Popular Patchwork. This round is entitled Under the Sea. This is my card from Helen which is of very beautiful Jelly fish.

This is the one that I sent to my partner Irene. The mosaic effect was a technique that I learned in a workshop with Barbara Weeks quite a few years ago.

Finally I will leave you with a Biscornu pincushion that is a project from last month's Stitch magazine. I had intended that it should be a birthday present for my cousin but I liked it so much that I decided to keep it for myself and make her another one as her birthday is not until October 10th. I think I may have had a deprived childhood as I have never had a pincushion before and didn't realise just how useful they were.

I now have lots more sewing to do, many blogs to catch up with and Classical Greek to learn so if you drop by and make a comment it may take me a while to acknowledge it but be assured it will be read.

Happy sewing