Sunday 31 July 2011

Are We There Yet?

I've scheduled this post to publish as I head the car northwards to my mother's. My mum lives about a mile from the coast and every summer we have spent time there. One of my favourite beaches in the world is Long Sands Beach in Tynemouth. Even on the busiest days there is plenty of room for everyone, especially when the tide is out. Weather permitting, we hope to be on that beach tomorrow.

When my girls grow up they are going to have many happy memories (I hope!) of time spent with their grandparents, on the beach, relaxing, enjoying life. To me that is the ultimate summer holiday for a child. So here we go again.

The waves are bigger when you are smaller.
And there is always hope that you will catch something.
A warm towel and a comfy place to sit.
You haven't lived until you have been buried in the sand.
Or buried your uncle.
Boredom doesn't exist on the beach.
The imagination runs free.
Dance because you can.
Explore every rock pool...
... and you might find a rock.
Summer holidays are the best!

We are off to make some  more memories. Hope you are making happy memories too!


Saturday 30 July 2011

Harvest Time

We have had an amazingly bad year for our pots of vegetables this summer. The tomatoes never forgave me for putting them outside in June. It was dismal - the weather and the way the plants looked. They  never fully recovered from the trauma and all this time later only one pot is showing the signs of baby tomatoes. What are the chances of those becoming fully ripe before the summer sun is done for another year?

The beans? Well Emily's died. Helen's has produced one superb specimen of a bean - but she took it to school to show it off and I have not seen it since. There are some new flowers on it so we might as one or two more beans before the season is done. Oh yippee!

Two plants did flourish though. The girls potato plants, which we used two spare recycling bins to plant them in. Today we decided to harvest them before we headed off in the morning. It was so nice to have one of our crops actually produce. And produce very nicely they did.

Emily had planted white potatoes and Helen Red Roosters.

We'll be having potatoes with our dinner tonight and we will be packing some in a bag and taking them to my mother's too.

In other news, I got post yesterday. Of the most exciting kind. Sarah - Narcoleptic in a Cupboard - is Miss August in the Brit Bee. (If you have never read her blog than get yourself over there. She's brilliant!) And she came through with a doozy of a bee month (in a very good way I might add). Just look what emerged from the envelope she sent through.

Can you believe it!? All that black and blue fabric and we can do whatever we want with it. Well, we do have to produce two 12 1/5" blocks to send back to her but there are no other rules. There are some amazingly imaginative sewers in our bee so this month is going to produce some fantastic blocks.

To help us along our way, Sarah sent us tunes to sew by -

Chocolate, and this -

Fizzy lemonade!! Full of 'E' numbers. Sarah is looking for some seriously interesting blocks. I love it. Other than the fact that it is my month next and the only things I can think of to put in the envelope to reflect my Canadian heritage is pancakes (you know the fat fluffy kind) with maple syrup all over them. I may have to think a bit more!


Ugly Fabric Finds New Homes

Okay, I have organised myself to sort out who gets what in the Ugly Fabric Re-homing Scheme. It all has a new home, which is fantastic. And now I just have to get it to you.

For the fabric that had more than one person offering to adopt, I wrote the names on scraps of paper -

Got a hat -

Went and got a Miss Number Generator, who is impartial as she doesn't have a clue who any of you are (and would happily keep all the fabric for herself) -

And she went about the business of drawing names -

So, without further ado, here is who is getting what -

Lot #1 - Wendy

What are you talking about!! Lots 1 and 6 are lovely (except that green batik thing on the left of lot 6).

I LOVE the blue one with roses!

Lot #2 - Jan

there are some prints in two that would fit in with my hexie quilt which is unashamedly old fashioned!

Lot #3 - Annabella

What`s one man`s meat is another man`s poison I guess...I would like to go into the hat along with Judith and Dianne for the rocket fabrics as I know someone who would love something made from them. On the others? You seem to have enough takers and I`m sure they will go to good homes or Judith`s charity quilt. Thanks Susan!

Lot #4 - Pomona

I actually like pics 1 and 4 - oh dear! I am obviously very old-fashioned! Any thing retro, that's me . . .

Lot #5 - Judith

(Here you go Judith, ten FQs to kick start your charity bee.)

Lot #6 - Linda

i like your #6 i am making crazy mom quilts 36 patch quilt along and as i am just starting i have not got too much of a stash and you need quite a bit for this 36er.thanks for the chance if i am lucky or would you say unlucky :)))

I hope that by adding your comments you know who you are. And now I need addresses please. If you could email them to me that would be great. susan (at) standen dot me dot uk

If I don't get them in the post this morning (which is obviously not likely!) I will see if I can squeeze them in the car and take them to my mother's and post them from there. If not, many apologies and they will be posted upon our return from northern shores.

I do hope that you offer these fabrics a better, more loving home than I did and find that you have projects that they fit into. Thanks for stopping by and participating.


Friday 29 July 2011

The Silence is Broken

My girls are home. If there was any doubt about it then you would just have to walk into my kitchen and know for sure. No really and truly it is hard to miss the signs!

They opened their cases, showed off what they wanted to show off, and then they moved on to rooms with more space. Ah yes, I did miss them so!! The washing machine is hard at work on the pile of laundry produced, there are lunch plates scattered about, things to put away, dinner to make. What did I do while they were gone?!

And I wouldn't have it any other way. Okay, maybe a wee bit tidier (just a tad) but as much as I enjoyed my week of quiet I can't think of a better life than that of me with my family. Please feel free to remind me I said that when I am having a rant in a few weeks time. My girls are my girls - for better or for worse. More so for the better once they have had a bath.

And besides, I have a lovely new fridge magnet to make up for the mess that descended.

What more could a mother want for?

They have told me so much about their five days away. The things they did, and made, and experimented with. The group was divided into teams and they all took turns cooking, and cleaning, and doing what needed doing. You can tell from the state of my kitchen floor that all this work had a beneficial influence on them. Ha! I live in hope.

So I am linking up with Shay over at Quilting In My Pyjamas again because without a doubt my girls are my most favourite thing, this week and most other weeks too.

Before I head off to sort out that pile on the floor I have to say that I depart on holidays with the girls in less than 48 hours time. We head northwards in search of the summer sun. (Yes, I am being sarcastic.) Newcastle and Aberdeen here we come. John will be left to fend for himself. I will not have much computer access at my Mum's and I am not sure about posting from my iPad at my brother's so posts will be fewer and far between while I am gone. I am going to try and set up some pre-written posts but have never done that before either so no guarantees. I am telling you all this as I love to hear from you and I make an effort to reply to comments - because I want to not because I have to. But that will not be happening so much while we are away so please do not be offended.

We return just in time for me to beetle off to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. John's parenting skills have been booked in for the day to make sure he didn't inadvertently arrange a meeting for then. If anyone of you are going to be at the show on Friday, August 12th and would like to say hello please let me know. Leave a message and I will try to send you my mobile number before that Friday and maybe we can see each other face to face.
And that is it for today. I've got favourite things to feed. Enjoy your weekend.


Thursday 28 July 2011

The One About the Zipper

I did it! And I lived to tell the tale. Oh my word, it wasn't plain sailing and I sounded like the sailor I once was, but I did it. Woohoo!

Here's a quick summary of what I have done this afternoon.

I finished piecing, I layered and I basted.
I then did a quick stipple.
I never thought I would be able to say that a few years ago.
It just goes to show that anything is possible!
I found out I do own a zipper foot.
I got a number of feet for my machine and I don't have a clue what most of them are for.

I then promptly forgot to take any photos of my progress
because I was concentrating so hard.
So no sewing piccies.
No seam unpicking piccies. (Shame!)
And no zipper insertion piccies.

You are left with the final result.

It's a little bit wonky.
The zipper only looks 'invisible' from this angle.
And I learned - the hard way as per usual - that you shouldn't buy zippers
that are as long as the cushion is wide.
Harder to hide them when they are like this.
But you know what? I did it. I put a zipper in a cushion.
All by myself.
And it didn't make me cry.
Or lose my mind with aggravation.
That's kind of cool (in my not so cool world).

I made a zippered cushion!
I'm ever so happy.


The Ugly Post

I promised you ugly fabric and I give you ugly fabric. I literally give you ugly fabric. The fabric I am about to show you is orphaned. It has no home. How sad! Mostly because I have decided to remove it from my home. Do you look at it and take pity on it and wish to offer it a new home? Just let me know if you do.

If more than one person hankers after these fine offerings then I will do a lucky dip name from a hat draw and send the fabric to whoever's name pops out. If no one wants it do not despair and think you need to offer it a home out of pity. The lovely Judith, over at Rags to Bags, is hosting a charity bee in the autumn and she will get some of this fabric regardless to how many people want or do not want it, whatever the case may be. Nothing will go to waste here one way or the other.

The first photo is not up for grabs because it has already been grabbed. By Kat, and I shall be posting this off to Australia once I get my act in gear. She is sending me some of her unwanted goodness. An ugly for an ugly. Though Kat informs me that my fabric is not ugly. Huh?! I beg to differ - though some of it may just be deathly boring rather than out right ugly. I shall let you be the judge.

Kat's choices to rehome.
And now, the fabric that I do not love -

Lot #1
The very first FQ bundle I ever bought.
Some FQs partially used.
From a line called Old Fashioned.
(That should have been a clue for me!)
Lot #2
1 yard of the pink
1/2 yard of the purple
1 panel from a FQ pack that was lovely - other than the panel
Lot #3
I thought I would make a boy quilt with this.
I never did.
1 yard of each.
Would make great cushions for a boy's room.
Lot #4
1/2 yard each
From a 1/2 yard bundle, the rest of which I could live with.
Lot #5
10 FQs not used in any part
From those lucky dip buys. Lucky my a**e!
Lot #6
More 'lucky dip' FQs.
Six, all unused.

And that, folks, is my destash. Out with the old; in with the new No, you cannot have any of the following. This is mine all mine! Bought this week and received from M is for Make today. You like it? Then it is all one sale right now. Off you go.

Beautifully wrapped just like it was a late birthday present.
Which is what I will consider it to ease my conscience.
One FQ of each
And a scrap roll full of fabricy goodness.
So if you are interested in any of my uglies please leave a comment. I shall see who 'likes' what, if at all, before I decide what Judith gets - though she is welcome to chip in with an opinion or two - and I'll email anyone who is receiving some to get their addresses.

Now, I'm off to glare at a zipper.


Wednesday 27 July 2011

The Sound of Silence

The sound of silence is broken only by the busy hum of the sewing machine, and the less peaceful sound of me swearing at my computer because the Internet connection has been less than adequate today, often non-existent. Apologies for any lack of replies to emails or comments of on blogs - it got too frustrating to persevere.

That meant I had to concentrate on the sewing. I am very good at procrastinating and having the main method of procrastination removed proves to make me far more productive. Scarily so. Not having to feed anyone else, or ferry anyone around, or provide entertainment also aids the productivity.

First I have the heart blocks for Caroline completed. I shall be posting these by the end of the week and fingers crossed that she has blocks pouring in from everyone now. It would be so nice if she got enough blocks to make several quilts.

Moving on swiftly, I made another reversible top. This one on a request of a friend for her daughter. I'll be paid. Exciting! I used two different weaves, a purple gingham and a soft green with a little bit of pink woven through as well. I don't think the green shows up as nice in the photos as it actually is. I will be handing this top over to its new owner on Friday.

Next I worked on the D9P that I found yesterday, but other than one little teaser photo I am not going to show you any more. I think I will save it for another post, for when I am on holiday. So this little bit of FMQ is it for now.

I looked at my list and checked it twice, and then finished off another item that lurked there. A present for someone. A wee little purse made with my crocheting fingers instead of quilted - for a change. I seem to have ignored the crochet for a while.

Next on the agenda? Well it involves this nightmare of a thing-ma-bob -

Time to face my worst enemy. The Zipper! I am going to make that long promised cushion. I said I would so time to man woman up and do it. I also want to do Kat's tutorial for making a lovely little pouch, but forgot to buy two zippers while in the sewing shop the other day. I think panic started to set in as I perused them. The pouch may have to wait until after our wee holiday. But I still intend to do it - unless this cushion sends me completely doolally and I get hives if I ever touch a zipper again. There is that possibility.

I meant to post the ugly fabric today in a separate post but the computer had other ideas so that will have to wait another day and see if the computer is nicer tomorrow. I am sure you can hardly contain yourself with excitement!

Sorry, this is a dull as dishwater post. Turns out I am really boring when left on my own too long, with no human interaction. Talking to the fish and swearing at the computer do not compensate for real live people. Have no fear, himself is on his way home as I type this. There is a bbq at the sailing club tonight. We're going. No idea what to expect. Hope there is talk other than sailing.


Tuesday 26 July 2011

Finds At the Bottom of the Fabric Heap

You would think that being alone would spark a huge surge of creative energy in me and I would be able to show you all the things that I have done today. Or not, as the case may be.

After spending yesterday evening battle the invasion of the flying ants I knew that today would involve a trip to town to purchase ant killing potions. I don't do flying insects. I really, really  hate them. I come from a country that has fly screens on the windows and doors so an invasion of flying insects in my house really freaks me out. So to town I went this morning.

Three hours later I had the ant poison. I also had five new tops and a cardigan! Now that I call a successful shopping trip. Once I started I just couldn't stop, and this is the woman who hates buying clothes for herself - mainly due to changing rooms, full length mirrors and possessing a body not to the standard proportions of any clothing size. Not sure what got into me today - but I like it!

Home again. Lunch, then a little mooch at the computer and suddenly there was an order of more perle cotton being ordered, and two fabric orders confirmed in my email. I think it might be dangerous to leave me alone! Next I got chatting online to Kat of Mumma's Time to Create in Perth, Australia. Turns out she had been doing what I had been doing. Turning out her fabric stash and having a sort. Here's what my hallway currently looks like. The space in the centre is where I sat while I sorted. And where I have to return to finish the job.

Turns out that Kat has the same problem as me. Ugly fabric. Bought in those early days when we didn't know what we liked yet and were swung by a good deal rather than common sense. We had an ugly fabric contest, sending each other photos. I thought mine was bad. But Kat won. She has one fabric which beat the rest hands down. It is ugly! I am going to send her more photos of mine and she is going to choose some and I will send them to her. In return she is going to send me some of hers. Is this the first official online ugly fabric swap?

When we have done giving each other our unwanted fabric I am going to post some on here and let any of you who see a use for it have a chance of getting some. I gave some to Fiona weeks back as she said she was doing a quilt for charity and she could easily use the FQs I had posted. So if you think you know what to do with dull as dishwater fabrics, stay tuned.

Other than shop, kill ants, mess up the hallway and play on the computer you might be left thinking that I haven't got anything done. But in the hauling out of fabric I found this -

A disappearing nine patch quilt top that I noticed when one of the pins still stuck in it got me as I dug around. I have some sashing pinned on. Only sewn on one side so far and the rest of it cut. When did I make this and why did I abandon it? I don't have a clue. But it is quite pretty and is a good size for a baby quilt so I got it out to finish.

I also found an old beach sarong while I got my fabric out. It wasn't mine originally. It might have been from my  mother-in-law. She is always gifting me with fabric to 'help with my sewing'. My MIL is a lovely lady but some of these fabrics have been of very questionable content and I don't think that cotton was even thought of in the manufacture of it. But this sarong was 100% cotton and as soon as I saw it I knew what I was going to do with it. So this -

Became this in about an hour and a half of cutting and sewing -

And the top is reversible so that the paler blues are on the other side.

It isn't easy to see but there are the little outlines of starfish in silver all over the fabric. It is super soft and should make a very comfie top for Emily. It will be a surprise for her when they get home from Brownie Camp. Now I must think of something to make for Helen.

Next thing on the agenda is to make two blocks for Caroline over at the Contented Quilter. She is making some quilts to raise money for cancer research and is asking for 8" blocks with appliqued hearts on them to put together and make the quilts. She would like to be able to have these quilts finished in August so I want to get them posted to her before we leave on holiday. I have the eight inch squares in white cut out. Now just have to choose the heart fabrics. Not the ugly ones!

I am coping with the quiet. Keeping busy and having some fun too (shopping). Tomorrow I need to focus more so I can complete everything that I wanted to this week. So enough time at the computer for me. Time to cut out some hearts.