Saturday 30 June 2012

Three Out of Four Ain't Bad

It is time to report in for the end of the Second Quarter of the Finish-a-Long over at Rhonda's. I went for a different tactic this time round as I did so dismally in the first quarter. I went for the K.I.S.S. rule - Keep It Simple Stupid. (The stupid referring to me obviously!)

I only listed four things to finish. All big projects but an achievable goal. And I did it - almost. I managed to finish three out of four of the projects listed. To say I am strutting around here pleased as punch would be putting it mildly.

First on my list was to finish the long running project that was Emily's quilt. For those of you new to my blog, it took me the best part of five years to accomplish this. Partly because I fell seriously out of love with the quilt in the process and learned that letting a five year old help design her own quilt is not always the brightest idea. The quilt was hand quilted and I would pick it up, do a little and then put it down for months and months at a time again. But finish it I did and the other lesson I learned in this process is it is not about me but about the recipient and she loves it.

This is the most muted quilt I have ever made.

Next on my list was my Stained Colourful quilt. Well, since I have flashed this unashamedly about blogland with abandon, I think you can be pretty certain this is a success story. It is one of my most favourite quilts ever and resides on my sofa making it 100 times more beautiful than it ever was, though that is not the right praise as I do possess one of the ugliest sofas going.

My third item was my Brit Bee quilt, another project that had been pushed aside as once I had all the blocks I had a huge self doubt moment thinking I had got it all wrong. And what better way of dealing with that than ignoring it? I wanted to be able to take it to the retreat though, and show it to the wonderful Brit Bee ladies who were such an essential part of it. So I made it, and learned another lesson. Because I love this quilt too. My first instinct was right. While the quilt might be too colourful for some, it works brilliantly for me.

This quarters finish failure is One for the Birds. It shall be moved into the third quarter - but that is a future post. I'll just give you a brief glimpse of some of the other things I managed to make this quarter so that you know I have been keeping out of trouble.

Having made that collage I am well and truly chuffed with myself and am going to stop writing before I begin talking about the bits I didn't manage to do. Because that would just be silly and wipe the smile right off my face. Stop while you are ahead say I.


Friday 29 June 2012


... (mostly) in the car - don't worry, I am hoping this car theme will be less predominant next week.

I am really second guessing myself here on the Framed Purse Swap. I have started -rather randomly - appliquéing the hexies down on a charcoal background for the purse. I liked the almost black background showing off the colours, but I don't know if my partner will like it. I'm thinking some perle cotton to relieve the dark, dark grey too.

Any suggestions gratefully received.


Thursday 28 June 2012

In the Car

It has been pointed out to me that I am quieter than normal this week. No worries happening, just been busy. Mostly in the car. In the car to the school. In the car to the dentist (repeatedly). In the car to dance. In the car to the secondary school while Helen does transfer week. Just been in the car a lot.

Therefore I have not been at my sewing machine. At all.

I have got a little done here and there though, in the car. Most of the hand quilting on the diamond hexies is about done. I am rather pleased with it as I think the stitching completely changes the way it looks.

Another thing I had to turn my mind to is the In the Frame Purse Swap. I have a partner! Oh boy, do I have a partner. In the 'wow, she is so good' sort of way. I need to pull my finger out and do something good here. With that in mind I cut some hexie papers today and started pulling fabric. Then I started basting them. In the car of course.

This time I basted my epp without sewing through the papers, just stitching the corners. I think I have found the method that works for me. It was quick, easy and I like it. I have a number more to do but this is a start. I used the Go! Baby to cut the hexie papers. I find it much easier to use it to cut the papers than the fabric. The fabric doesn't need to be precise, the papers do. And I cut hundreds of hexies today in different sizes. Because I was doing some for a friend as well.

A care package is being sent out to help in a project she is doing. She needed hexie papers and eye spy type fabrics. I hope that what I had proves to be useful to her.

Tomorrow is more of the same. Dentist (me this time and that's enough said) again. Multiple school runs. Brownies. If you are looking for me I'll be in the car.


Monday 25 June 2012

Post Three for the Mosaics

Since I did three mosaics I wish to enter them all into Cindy's contest (found here). In all honesty, Cindy does tell you in her post that you need to do separate posts for the contest if you do more than one mosaic - but I was never very good at listening. I thought I could pull a fast one by putting them in the same post and then linking each photo individually, but I was taking a short cut that I think deep down I knew wasn't going to work. Teach me to read instructions before proceeding. 

My last mosaic to enter is Dusk -

Black, Coal, Ash, Dark Violet,
Magenta, Teal Blue, Jade Green, Azure

Hope you take the time to enter the contest too, and have a look around Fluffy Sheep. It's a great shop and a welcome addition to the quilting world. Great fabrics at fab prices and the essential Aurifil thread in all the colours you could ever dream of.


Learning as I Go Here

I need separate posts for each mosaic for Cindy's contest to link them into her party. So Just two posts for you to ignore here as I put all the info in the first post here. Forgive me my ineptitude!

So, mosaic two is Sunrise -

Off to link it up.


Playing with Colour

Each and every day I look for things to aid my procrastination. Today my high level of success in this quest is all down to Cindy. Because of her my carpets aren't hoovered, nor the laundry hung out in this rare bit of sunshine.

And why do I blame Cindy, you ask? Well, because she is hosting a contest over at Fluffy Sheep Quilting. Cindy would like to offer up bundles of Kona solids for sale in the Fluffy Sheep - the shop. So she is letting anyone who would like to put together a bundle (or two, or three) of eight different Kona solids from the ones she sells in her shop (conveniently all shown here in Flickr for you). Make a mosaic of your colour choices, link to Cindy's post and then on July 9th it goes to public vote.

The winner will receive 2 yards of Kona solids of their choice from Cindy. Well, we all know you can never have enough solids in your stash so what are you waiting for, go on and make a mosaic of your own and enter the contest. Right after you check out my choices that is!

I've done three mosaics because I couldn't make up my mind. Typical, I know! (If you do this too, please be aware that you have to link each mosaic separately to Cindy's post.)

First up we have my Tropical Smoothie -

Bright Pink, Bubble Gum, Bone, Papaya,
Magenta, Lime, Jade Green, Bahama Blue

Followed by Sunrise -

Tomato, Red, Tangerine, Orange,
School Bus, Papaya, Corn Yellow, Canary

Which inevitably is followed by Dusk -

Black, Coal, Ash, Dark Violet,
Magenta, Teal Blue, Jade Green, Azure

Not sure if these will appeal to anyone else, but I can see quilt possibilities in all of them.


Sunday 24 June 2012

In The Kitchen

It has been a food day today. Procuring, cooking and eating. No sewing done at all, at least not on my part. Apparently the needle on my machine is broken. The child in question does not know how it happened. Happily I have spare needles for a change so neither her nor I am traumatised by this occurrence.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen with me, today's treat is Whoopie Pies. Wonderful little cakes sandwiched together with a butter cream icing. I have heard tell that a 'real whoopie pie' is sandwiched together with something more resembling marshmallow. I do not know if this is true. Whether it is, or not, the whoopie pies that happen in this house are still good.

The following recipe makes approximately 18 whoopie pies.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

Line two or three baking sheets with baking parchment.

Ingredients -

1 large egg
150g (5 oz)caster sugar
75g (3oz) butter - melted
150g (5oz) crème fraiche
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk
200g (7oz) plain flour
75g (3oz) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Beat the egg and sugar until the mixture is thick and light in colour. Beat in the butter, crème fraiche, vanilla and milk. Sift the dry ingredients together and then beat into the egg mixture until smooth. You want a thick but pipable mixture. (Note - The recipe suggests adding extra milk if the mixture is too thick. I use about twice the milk they list in the ingredients.)

Fill a piping bag and pipe walnut sized balls onto the baking sheets with space between each ball.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until firm and golden. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the icing -

115g (3.25oz) butter
200g (7oz) icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add milk a little at a time until a good spreading consistency is gained. Sandwich the whoopie pies together with the icing.

Eat and enjoy!


Saturday 23 June 2012

The Bad News First...

Well, our campsite outside Windermere was 6" under water last night. Lovely!

The good news? We weren't there! We packed the car, went and got the girls out of school a little early and then the phone rang. Our friends had reached The Lakes before we did. And the site assigned to us in the campground was already an inch under water. The site owners were adamant it was fine and no money back was due. Our friends suggested we not come. (Our friends checked out the site this morning and that is how we know the water levels continued to rise.)

Well, as you can imagine, that was just fine by me. Unfortunately there were two children in the car who's little faces fell. So we drove the Peak District instead. And we pitched the tent in a near empty field - only three other tents there - which squelched when you walked on it. But it wasn't flooded. This was in its favour. And it wasn't actually raining much in The Peaks.

Though the wind was pretty darn gusty!

Once the tent was up things weren't too bad at all. Warm and dry inside we had a nice dinner of pasta with bolognaise sauce. I read to the girls and by ten o'clock all were tucked up snug as bugs in rugs.

Well tied down!

Setting up their side of the tent.

Can you camp without a quilt?
(Remind you to show you this quilt some time.
I didn't make it myself.)

The favourite form of entertainment was
wrestling caterpillars.
Enough said.

The chef.
Water in that mug? You take and educated guess.
Sorry about the photo quality. I forgot my camera. We relied on my phone to record the event. So all in all not a bad time last night.

Other than the train tracks the other side of the next field - which were surprisingly busy and loud. And the cockerels this morning. And the baby lambs in search of their mother. And the air mattress from hell. Nah, I had a great time, until it came to the sleep bit.

Home a day early. Napped the afternoon away. I think we came to a good compromise over the flooded fields of Cumbria.


Friday 22 June 2012

Have a Laugh

In case your weekend is not sounding ideal I thought I would cheer you up but telling you what I will be up to.

This is our weekend ideal -

Image source

But here is the reality of the weather report for this weekend -

Rain Cloud Clip Art

Me in a tent. All weekend. OMG! And there is no getting out of it, no matter how much I whinge. Trust me, I've tried! So you have a great weekend. And please pray that the weatherman has got it so wrong that I might not drown after all.


Thursday 21 June 2012

Halfway Square

I've been filling in the gaps in my little English Paper Piecing project. Two sides are now done and I think it is coming together nicely. I would offer up a better photo but the skies opened just as I placed it upon the trampoline surface (one of my preferred backdrops). I took this off-centre shot in record time and beetled back inside.

As I look at this project coming together I have decided that another thing I like about all these angles is the stars are slightly rotated so they don't all sit at the same angle to each other. This appeals to my off kilter brain.

I am going to spend my afternoon finding my way around Northampton in search of the music centre so Helen can do her violin exam. I am not familiar with Northampton at all. The music centre is right in the middle of it. I think I had best give myself extra time to find it. Just saying.


Wednesday 20 June 2012

Plan! What Plan?

I've got about fifty birdie blocks pieced now. So I decided to see how hard it was to then turn them into bigger blocks. I thought I would do my usual thing and make it up as I went along. I want to see just how big a quilt top fifty birds would make. Because I still have a lot more birds I can use. Do I turn them all into mini blocks first, or do I estimate how many I need and then realise that I have enough for two quilts?

This block measures approximately 21" x 14".

This randomness of the placement of the blocks was what I envisioned all along.
I am hoping a whole quilt like this will work.

So if I had eight blocks of this size, there about, then I would have a quilt top of approximately 42" x 56" - without any borders or anything like that taken into consideration. We are starting to get into a nice size throw by then. Therefore I think it would make sense to piece all the mini birdie blocks together and see how it looks. Because I really don't plan to do a queen sized quilt like this. And I am already running a new (easier) idea through my head of what to do with round two of the birds. 

I would welcome opinions before I reach the point of no return, if you have an opinion about this at all that is.


Tuesday 19 June 2012

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I thought I was doing really well. I thought I would get more done today. Well I did, but I am not sure you want a report on  my housekeeping endeavours. Sewing wise, well, let's just say that me and my seam ripper were best friends today. Because I had more blocks made for the Sew Stitchy quilt. And I was playing with them, looking at the wee blocks lined up. And something was wrong. Because some most of them weren't square. They are supposed to be square.

So, it seems I am perfectly capable of figuring out the angle of the paper pieces I need to cut to piece together four large hexies. But I can't figure out the much simpler idea of how wide to cut three strips of fabric so that they sew together to make an unfinished 6" square. There goes all the glowing pride of yesterday.

The best bit was that even after I realised I had made the mistake and corrected it in the necessary blocks - I still managed to do it again!

I thought I would have a lot more blocks finished by the time I had to go on the school run today. Obviously I didn't. But those I do have are now all the correct shape.

Onto brighter happier things. The lovely Marjorie over at Marjorie's Busy Corner has nominated me for the Sunshine Award.

This is just a nice make you smile happiness sort of thing. Answer a few questions and link to some blogs that you like and want to spread a little sunshine to. First, the questions -

Favourite colour: these days - watermelon
Animal - sea otter (if you ever see one you will understand why)
Number - depends if we are talking desserts or FQs
Drink - water (sorry, I know it's boring)
Passion - let's just say chocolate and leave it at that
Giving or getting - both (really, I would like to be altruistic and just say giving but I do love getting too)
Favourite Day - Christmas Eve (the work is done and the fun begins)
Favourite Flower - African violets? Lilies? Daisies? I haven't a clue.

Now here are four blogs for me to recommend and that might like a little sunshine in their lives (some of them are overworked, underpaid and not getting enough sewing time in; all live too far away from the rest of us) -

Sarah at Sew Me
And I would like to encourage anyone who has not yet done so to pop on over to Plum and June to see this weeks featured bloggers and read some interesting links from some really popular and well known bloggers.

Plum and June

Beth is running an excellent series and it is well worth a visit.

Right, that's me done. My brain has taken all it can today. I think there is half a bottle of pink wine in the fridge and I am sure my name is on it. Maybe I can find a few of the missing brain cells at the bottom of it.


Monday 18 June 2012

Needle and Thread

I actually got quite a lot done today. But I am not going to show it all to you now. I'm holding some back for future posts. Why? Well, if my whole week suddenly goes shi pear shaped it means I can fake it and pretend that I am a competent modern woman capable of doing it all. Yeah, right! Okay, let me live in my deluded little world. But it really does do to keep some things back at times just so that when you are lost for words or productivity you have something to blog about on those crap days.

So here is what I have to show you today. More of my hand stitching.

This was the fourth hexie I made. I like it, a lot. But it didn't go with the others, or at least I didn't think so. So I made a fifth. and then I took the four that I felt went together best, did some maths, stole borrowed Em's protractor and worked out the size of the paper pieces that I was going to use to join the four hexies up. And it worked! Woohoo!

I am ever so pleased with myself because I was prepared to have to rip it all out and try again, having little faith that I would get it right the first time round.

While doing this wee project I have tried other things new to me as well. One of them was at the advice of a bloggy friend. Try using a washable fabric glue stick to secure the fabric to the paper pieces and then use a warm iron to remove them when you are ready. It might work well enough, but not for me. I ended up a sticky mess and I probably used too much glue because I felt that the needle kind of got all sticky and ugh while sewing the pieces that were glued. So I won't be trying this again because I think I use a glue stick too much like an over enthusiastic five year old to have this method work effectively for me.

Over all I am very pleased with my first EPP project though. I am going to turn this into the cover for a cushion. I don't think I am up to doing a whole quilt like this yet. Mostly because I need to build up a seriously big callous on my middle finger so I stop piercing it with the eye end of the needle. Man it  hurts when that happens!


Sunday 17 June 2012

Sew Stitchy

If the mojo has gone missing we all know a sure fire way of getting it back. Start making something that is not on your list of things to do. Better yet, do the new item with new fabric. I have some Sew Stitchy to play with and I adore it. Aneela Hoey designs the most delightful fabrics!

I love this fabric line.
The fresh colours and sweet sewing theme.

What's not to like about little spools, birds and pins?

Currently my plan is to make more of these small blocks
and then join them all up with more white sashing.
Needless to say, I will iron the white before cutting. Honest!

So a very happy Father's Day to all those fathers out there, including the one in our house who has been properly spoiled today. But more importantly, welcome back mojo!


Saturday 16 June 2012

Finally Made Something!

It's only a little something. But it needed making and I did it. Tick that box, pat myself on the back and smile proudly. Of course it wouldn't be me if I made it properly the first time round. And I did start it ages ago. Those points aside, I finished another block for Stitch Tease and this time it is for Helen. Wonky stars on a Kona Ash background.

Attempt one.

Slight improvement.

And all pixelated out because Helen is not allowed to see it yet.
Just that one wee star nice and clear for her.

So, other than that small victory, I have a question for you. Am I the only one of us who leaves the grocery store these days clutching the receipt and scanning it like a mad woman hoping that somehow they rang in my green beans 100 times rather than once and that was why it all came to so much?


Friday 15 June 2012

Out of My Comfort Zone

Right, if you can't tell, I've been shaking things up round here and I have to say - it has taken me right out of my comfort zone. I have changed the blog in ways that I think it needed changing but I was so used to the way it looked that it doesn't feel like my blog now. Does that make sense?

There has been a lot more playing working on this today -

Me and Picmonkey like each other. A lot. I used it to make the new header. I'm ever so proud of myself because I managed to do it without crying for help to my more IT literate friends. But I did run it by them for approval once I finished making it. And my uber-cool friends said they liked it. In fact, Laura Jane (yes, she really is that cool) said she was so busy admiring it on her phone that she walked straight into a hanging basket. Now, she could be humouring me, but let her. I like it! It's good for my soul.

Between this and that, and some stuff I can't tell you about really but is filling my time effectively there has also been some muffin baking round here. Karen posted a recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins over on her blog and it got the thumbs up of approval over here in the middle of England. It is also a super fast and easy recipe to make, perfect for kids to do on their own if they are happy in the kitchen and I think one that they will want to return to again and again.

There has been a wee bit of sewing too. Not as much as I hoped but it has been happening. Proof -

Is it me, or is that black and white owl freaking scary?!

Super close up because I am not supposed to be showing it.
And sorry, but it wasn't until I downloaded it that I realised how crap a photo it was.

So that's me, heading into the weekend. I will leave you with a look at the random acts of embroidery that happen in our house. Both possible suspects in this house deny any responsibility. Do embroidered flowers suddenly appear on your pillow cases without explanation?


Thursday 14 June 2012

Trying to Learn New Tricks

Today I went off to a friend's house for the morning. I took some of the quilts I made last year with me and spent some time in my friend's garden taking photos. I am trying to improve my abilities in the staging of my quilt photos. I think I still have a long way to go. But I had to start somewhere.

And my friend's garden is a good place to start. Because it is nicer than my garden. And a lot less weed strewn. Thank goodness for nice friends with nice gardens!

Here is a sampling of some of the photos I managed to capture today.

I've got to learn more about light.
I might have to buckle down and learn to use himself's
'proper' camera rather than my point and shoot.

I think I am getting the idea of placement of the quilts.
Though I may just be deluding myself.

I have wanted a stack of quilts photo for ages.
I really need to take my bigger quilts out for a photo shoot too.

This is a  mosaic of shots all of one quilt.
Trying to capture from different angles to show it well.

So, you lot with more camera skill than me, hints, ideas, suggestions? That is if you think there is any hope for  me. I see such lovely photos of quilts out there. I just thought it was time I put a little more effort in.