Thursday 31 May 2012

The Pre-Retreat Day

Leanne is fabulous! I have to tell you that I am very lucky to get this bonus day with her. Have we done much more than talk all day? No, not really. She knit a little. I sewed the label on my Siblings quilt. The backs of the hoops are all finished. I sorted out the things I needed to take with me. We talked some more. It has been great.

Stuff needing to be packed.
And my fresh from Canada big box of freezer paper.
Ha! to the Bramble Patch and their prices!

While we talked, and talked,
Emily absconded with Leanne's laptop.
That photo app could keep her entertained for days!

All finished with ribbons on.
Ready to exchange with others.

See, the backs really are done now.
Oh, and a cheeky glass of pink sneakily showing itself there!
If I fail to post all weekend, take that as good sign, and complete lack of wifi. Laura will be here before lunch tomorrow and onto the motorway to London we will go. Woohoo!


Wednesday 30 May 2012

Some Things Are More Important Than Others

I know that I have things to accomplish here, but today I had to prioritise. First up, I had to take Helen to the doctor today. It all started with this yesterday.

Emily decided to help me in the garden. She pruned the bush really well. In fact she pruned the bush (almost) more brutally than I do. Wonder where she gets her gardening skills from? Bush pruning proved to be a popular activity. So she asked to prune some more. I directed her to the overgrown bushes on the other side of the drive to which she could do no harm.

Helen came out to help. In their endeavours they found that there was a natural cave behind the bushes which would make a good den. And it would need cleaning out. A pitchfork was enlisted to help. Said pitchfork and Helen's foot had a collision. The pitchfork won. There is no visible damage. But there was very visible pain. The doctor has strapped it up and told her it would hurt for a while. He told her to expect to be limping through half term. Oh joy!

There was the restocking of the larder after I took Helen to school. (Yes, of course I popped her back into school. She can limp and learn.) When I came home there were a number of things needing doing. The need to prioritise continued. I don't know about you but I find that being ready for the retreat involved a one on one session with this.

I'll admit to my age but that doesn't mean that I am willing to go down without a fight!

Sorry, there is so little sewing to talk about. There will be again soon. I promise. I did have a break through in my fabric search for the retreat though. I have rethought my choices for the Portholes class completely. Because sometime in the stupid dawn hours, while I listened to way too many very loud birds, I remembered that I had a layer cake with coordinating solids of Salt Air. Just what was required for this project and it means there will be more than enough fabric to continue the project when I come home if I manage to learn it correctly.

And I have found my fabric choices for the clasp purse, Not exciting, or bright (surprise, surprise) but I like them. I have yet to decide which to use as a lining fabric so will take them both with me.

Leanne will be here tomorrow. She can remind me of all the things I should have packed, and haven't. Not sure if that was what she was looking forward to but sure that I can bribe her with home baked goodies or something.

Oh lovely! The skies just opened with torrential rain - just in time for the school run. Happy me!


Tuesday 29 May 2012

Finally Four

I have finished the stitching on my sample swap items. We won't discuss whether or not the backs are finished. The fronts are and that is good. Because I am starting to panic here. Realising how much stuff I still have to do, and haven't done yet! Why, oh why, do I leave things to the last moment? (Hadley, stop looking smug!)

But things are coming together. I have the items that needed purchasing for my classes, but still have not gone through my stash and chosen fabrics - yet. Maybe tonight. I do have a growing pile of things that need to accompany me stacking up on a toy fabric box. I guess I might not be completely disorganised. Only partly.

Meanwhile, do you ever wonder how your children see you? Because Emily drew a picture of me last night. She wasn't angry at me. That would have explained a lot actually. No, she was laughing so hard she was about to do herself an injury. Too bad she didn't draw it before the Retreat linky party. I could have used it instead of a photograph of me. I am sure you all would have still recognised me.

Hairy chin?!?!

My daughter is so lovely!


Monday 28 May 2012

Sunday 27 May 2012

Blog Hopping with Plum and June

Beth over at Plum and June has organised a brilliant blog hop. She invited a whole bunch of bloggers to join in with the one criteria being that their blogs were begun after Jan 01, 2011. It is a huge mix of people who will be posting, some I have heard of and some I haven't. Some blogs are small - like mine - and others have grown huge in that short space of time. But we all have a love of sewing in common.

Plum and June

Every Tuesday and Thursday Plum and June will feature two new bloggers. The hop started last week and it is off to a flying start. There are tutorials and some gorgeous quilts on show. So if you have time then I recommend you hop on over to -

Eventually I will be in the hop but the pressure is on already because if the level of the tutorials and work being accomplished by those featured already is any indication then I am going to have to pull my finger out and come up with something before my turn rolls round.

It has been a brilliant, and relaxed, weekend here in the middle of England. The girls are recovering from the exhaustion they returned home with. Emily has been loving her quilt. (What a relief!)

And Emily's new bear has pirate tendencies apparently. 

Really, that is about as stressful as the weekend has got. Hot sun, clean dry laundry, nice food and family all together. Other than the odd sibling spat, it's been great.


Saturday 26 May 2012

FQ Retreat Linky Party

I knew I was going to this retreat almost as soon as they announced it. It just took me a little bit longer to convince someone that I needed to have it as a Christmas present. Luckily my powers of persuasion still work. And I cannot wait.

Photo taken a couple of day ago.
My hair usually looks more crap than this.
Sad but true.

Who am I? I am a Canadian who was a nomad most of her adult life. But I finally got married and settled down in my late 30's. I am 48 years old but you are free to tell me I look much younger. Lie! Please!!! I am a stay at home mum, almost the world's worst housekeeper, though not yet reached a point I should be featured on any of those tv shows.

I started quilting about six years ago. I wanted a hobby, something that wasn't directly involved with childrearing. I tried card making. That didn't do it for me. I tried beading. I was crap. Then yet another friend got pregnant. And I decided I would make a quilt. How difficult could it be? Yeah, I know, but I learned, the hard way most of the time.

I took a few classes with (very nice) quilt police so I learned to do some things the proper way. I decided that I like doing things my own way most of the time. And then I started reading blogs about a year and a half ago and found out that you lot all knew way more than me and I learned to do things the best way - finally!

My quilting life changed forever when the fabulous, wonderful and inspirational Lynne (shhhh! I'm sucking up here!) started Brit Quilt. I joined up in the very beginning and just moments later Laura Jane volunteered to be mama for the first ever Brit Bee. Scared witless, I took a deep breath and put my name down for it. That was the best thing I ever did for my quilting, because I met eleven of the nicest, funniest and best quilting buddies I could have hoped for. And I will be meeting them all face to face next weekend.

I am so excited!

At the retreat I will be doing Portholes, Framed Purses, Freezer Paper Piecing and the design challenge. If you don't recognise me from my photo above then you will by the language. I apologise in advance but I have been known to spout the odd swear word or two (or three, or four, or five). It is the legacy of living the life of a sailor for five years when I worked for Princess Cruises. (Truth be told I already had a foul mouth but I use the sailor thing as a very convenient excuse.) I talk too much, especially if I am nervous. I laugh loud and and I am known to be ditzy so shall be sitting by Annabella as much as possible so that my mucking up things doesn't show up as much because she claims to be much the same.

I will be sharing a room at the Grange Strathmore with Annabella and Laura Jane. And I am so looking forward to meeting everyone next week. I think next year we should aim for a Retreat week. I have joined the linky party. Click on the button and read all about everyone else who is attending the retreat.

Fat Quarterly


Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Winner

Thank you so much to the response I had for my giveaway. There were some brilliantly funny comments with ideas for future hoops. I was thrilled by the number of people who stopped by because I fully expected that the numbers would be way lower. Those who came by and decided to stay, hope you continue to have a laugh with me.

But, without further ado, Mr Random Number Generator has come up with this number and as I don't have my comments numbered (yet) I have a wee bit of counting to do and then double checking.

True Random Number Generator  66Powered by RANDOM.ORG
Mr RNG could have been nice to me and picked a number that was really low! I had to skip a comment or two when counting for people who left more than one. It was a one comment per person giveaway this one. But eventually I got there and the winner is -

Mommy en France said...
Hilarious! I sew, but am not a quilter (yet). However, I have a friend who quilts, for whom this would be absolutely perfect. Totally her personality. I have contemplated making myself a hoop that reads "Your drama is not my drama" and hanging it up at work, or one for home that says "No Llama Drama" (something I tell the kids, a phrase from the book "Llama, Llama, Red Pajamas". There's also the sign you see on French gates, "Chien Mechant" ("Mean Dog") that could be fun in a hoop. Thanks for the giveaway; whether I win or not, your post and the comments really gave me a good laugh. :-)

I will be sending an email to you, Mommy en France, for your details. Congratulations and I hope you like the hoop in reality - or your friend does as it sounds as if the hoop is going to her.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to enter.


Friday 25 May 2012

A Lesson in Love

I am not quite sure if this is a lesson in love for me or for Emily, or what. But love is involved, of that I am most certain. Almost five years ago, when Emily had just turned five, I sat down with her and we designed a quilt for her together. I hadn't been quilting long. I didn't have a lot of fabric. But I did have the whole line of Simplicity which was used for both Helen and Emily's quilts.

Since then my style of quilting has completely changed. Because where my quilts now are much more modern and full of colour the one I have made for Emily is the polar opposite. It was tough to finish because it is so not me now.

But Emily still wanted it. I know this because I offered her alternatives but she wanted this quilt. I am not sure if it is because it was the original one, or she worried she would hurt my feelings if she chose otherwise. I finally had to suck up my indifference to this quilt and finish it. Because it is for Em and that is what counts. So, while the girls were away this week, finish it I did.

It is the softest most subdued colours I have ever used.
But the sunshine made it look even more washed out.

It puts me in mind of a quilt that is 100 years old,
and been washed hundreds of times.

The bottom of the quilt is traditional Irish chain.

It has been entirely quilted by hand with perle cotton.

There are appliqué hearts.
Traditional appliqué.
I am not fond of traditional appliqué to put it mildly.

Hearts stitched in soft blues, pinks and yellows.

And lots and lots of hearts stitched in white.

The back and the binding all used fabrics from the Simplicity line.

The only interloper is this appliqué heart on the back that Emily requested.
The dragonfly fabric is her favourite fabric in my stash.

The girls are going to be back from the their trip this afternoon. I will make Emily's bed up with this quilt on it. I hope to hell she likes it now it is done. Bet you she asks for black or something like that next time round!


Thursday 24 May 2012

Day Four of 'The Week Off'

Okay folks, the girls have been gone since Monday now and I have to say I am starting to miss them. Truth be told I miss them other times too - in the evenings when things are quietening down. Hearing about their day. But I have been getting things done without the interruption of the school run and other activities. I will be ready to see them tomorrow though.

I have been working on a variety of things today. Including getting together the things I will be needing for the retreat. I had my list, checked it twice, and still came home without an essential item. Hoping to just pick it up on Friday in London now. Or beg some from a friend. Because I don't want to go back to the quilt shop. Really, I don't.

I can show you one of my accomplishments though. I made a pouch for Danny, who can be found over at Mommy for Reals. She has been asking for help in making zippy pouches and draw string bags for children in care in America. If you think you have a half hour to spare and some fabric then I am sure she would appreciate the help. I made a pouch for a girl. The request is for a simple pouch. She would like them to be as much the same as possible so that all the girls feel they have received an equal gift. I hope one of them likes flamingos!

The pouch needs to be 7" x 9".
One fabric for the outside, and one for the interior.

My zip ends behaved. Yay!

I hope someone finds this bright, cheery and fun.

So that will be posted off to Danny tomorrow. With luck she will soon have 40 pouches and 40 draw string bags.


Wednesday 23 May 2012

Better Late Than Never!

Prepare yourselves for a photo heavy post because I am so proud of this finish. It only took way, way longer than it should have. Way back last summer I was busy cutting up fabric like a maniac when I won the Go! Baby and sent Drunkard's Path blocks to all my bee pals to piece for me.

I went with tons of colour. Nothing but colour. I love colour. You guys will have figured that out by now. Off they went for the beginning of September and back came all these gorgeous pieced blocks. And I laid them all out on my kitchen floor, took a photo and lost faith.

Yes, I totally thought what the hell was I thinking putting all these fabrics together. I looked at my vision and did an internal scream. I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it. I thought I had just created the crappiest bee quilt ever. So I picked up all the blocks, stacked them up and put them away. And ignored them.

Well, wine may become finer over time. Apparently so can quilt blocks. Because the quilt I fell out of love with in the autumn has become this -

Now I know this will not be everyone's cup of tea. A complete lacking of negative space, somewhere to rest the eye. But me - I like it. It's in your face and over the top, yes, but in a good way.

I chose one of the DP circles and stitched in the ditch - sort of, because getting the walking foot to move around that little circle was a bit of a task. Then I did concentric circles for the remainder of the quilt. I use a 40w variegated Aurifil thread in gold. I have never tried quilting like this before but some of the lovely talented quilters I know have been inspiring me to take myself out of my comfort zone and to try something new besides stippling. So I did and I think it was the right decision for this quilt.

As much as the front is a shot of unrelenting colour, the back is the polar opposite. The only colour is provided by the signature blocks. I framed the smaller ones with Kona charcoal to bring them up to size with Judith's which worked out into a look I loved and I think works really well with this Ikea monochrome print. I used the same charcoal solid for the binding.

What I love most about this quilt most is the contrast of the front to the back. I think that any other backing would have competed with the front, but this one compliments it.

I just love the constrast. It was when I brought the two sides together that I went from being doubtful about this quilt to thinking that maybe I had done the right thing for a quilt for me. (Phew!)

The quilt measures approximately 72" x 48". I thought about making it 60" x 60" by making another block myself but then I would have had to change the backing and I didn't want to do that.

That's it. My very first bee quilt. But not my last.


Tuesday 22 May 2012

Happy Thoughts

I'm happy today. Happy for lots of different reasons.

* I'm happy because I got so many lovely comments about Stained Colourful from people who dropped by from the Quilt Festival.

* I'm happy because far more people were interested in winning my hoop than I thought would be. And some of them left brilliant quotes that could be used on future hoops.

* I'm happy because I got my hair cut today. I love getting my hair cut - when it goes right.

(I am not happy that my photogenic nature disappeared a few years ago though!)

* I'm happy because I am getting things done. I am multi tasking on a number of projects but I can see progress. This is good.

Three down, one to go.

* I am happy because despite refusing to work nicely at full speed (my preferred sewing speed) my machine is letting me get things done. I can do sedate if I have to!

* I am happy because we are having a respite from the draught.

Look at that brilliant sky. Woohoo!

* I am happy because this weather is happening on the week the girls are away. It means that while they gorge walk, hike, canoe and climb walls, etc. they will be doing it without the chance of hypothermia or getting waterlogged which was a distinct possibility until this week.

* Happy is good.


Monday 21 May 2012

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day

It is one of the biggest days in the blogging year, Giveaway Day, where hundreds of bloggers join in and have a giveaway on their blog. It's huge fun. You get to meet lots and lots of new bloggers as well as having the chance to win something. The generosity of so many people who just want to join in and be a part of it is phenomenal. If you have come over from the linky party at Sew Mama Sew, thanks for stopping by. If you have no idea what I am talking about, click on the link button above and go see what is going on. It shouldn't be missed.

With so many people joining in it would be silly for me not to take part as well.

This time round I am offering up one hoop -

I know, it is a love it or hate it sort of prize. I got a 'mixed reaction' when I blogged about it. But I still think it sums up life some days and that some of you reading this will think it is a fun prize. 

To have a chance at winning leave one comment. If you would like something in particular to say then tell me what you think would be a good quote to have on a hoop.

That's it. One chance for each person who enters. If there are multiple entries from one person I will delete them. If you are a non-reply blogger and do not leave an email address that I can contact you at if you are the winner than I will redraw the prize. I will do the draw by Mr Random Number Generator on Friday, May 25th at midnight UK time, and post who the winner is the next morning.

That's it. The very best of luck and thanks so much for stopping by. Enjoy looking at and entering all the other giveaways too!


Saturday 19 May 2012

Nothing Like a Well Oiled Machine

I have the best friends. Really I do. Because no sooner had I said the other day that my machine was sounding like an 80 year old who had smoked twenty a day for sixty years than, not one, but two of my bloggy, quilting friends came to my rescue.

Cindy sent me some oil. And Trudi sent me the most incredible gizmo for getting the oil to where I need it. She calls it a sonic screwdriver. I call it amazing!

Here's how it works -

You unscrew the top and put the oil in the reservoir there.
Then replace the lid.

Then take the cap off the other end.
When oiling you place the tip just where you need one drop of oil,
then push the button on the top of the device.

Presto, one drop of oil just where it is required.
That long, narrow tip makes getting into the  machine innards so much easier.
(Obviously, the freezer paper was used for demonstration purposes only.)

I swiftly went about getting my bobbin bits out of the machine.

Oiled the bobbin race, or whatever you call it. Changed the needle for good measure. And then put the foot pedal all the way down. Wow! Not a complaint at all. No jarring, shuddering, swearing (from the machine or me). In fact it sounds like, well, just like a well oiled machine. Bliss!

A happy machine makes for a happy me. Now if you will excuse me I think I will go play. If you are interested in this amazing sonic screwdriver then you might find better results looking up Laser Precision Oiler. Doesn't sound near as good as Trudi's name for it though.

A huge thank you to both Trudi and Cindy. You guys are the best and I can't wait to see you in two weeks time.

Oh, and before I forget, I will leave you with a photo of my gorgeous purchases from Fluffy Sheep Quilting. I couldn't resist, and I have wanted the seeds prints for a very long time. It would be churlish not to support a friend in her new venture after all. The fuchsia is a perfect stash fabric. The seeds are just divine.