Sunday 30 September 2012

3rd Quarter for the FAL

The time has come, once again, for a Finish-a-Long link up and admission to successes and failures. Rhonda didn't manage any so I am not feeling so bad now. On the other hand, she did send us three amazing aprons to love and use - so I think she did pretty damn good. But this report is about me, not Rhonda.

It is not a promising report I am afraid. The summer started incredibly busy with the end of the school year. I got little done during the actual holidays, and then I aimed to make September my catch up month. Instead I decided to spend that time with the NHS keeping Emily company.

Usually I feel like a failure when I see what I haven't completed on my list but, quite honestly, right now I am so tired and caught up in the important family stuff that I made what I made and I am happy with that. No excuses, no nothing. It is what it is.

1. Finish the Birdies Quilt. Fail! But I did get more done and piecing it is a b***h I have to say. I have enough birds for another birdie quilt if I am so inclined but I am going to think of a more sensible way of doing it next time. That being said, I really like the higgledy piggledy layout that I have come up with so far.

2. Finish the Sew Stitchy quilt. Success! Love it and it is finally on its way to where it belongs, very belated posting as per normal for me.

3. Finish the French Knots from Hell hoop. Fail! And I do not give a fig if I ever finish it. Enough said on this matter.

4. Turn my Diamond Hexies into a cushion. Fail! But it is still out in the open to remind me, not buried and ignored. I do - honestly! - want to get this done.

5. Turn some rainbow hexies into a cushion. Success! My modest pile of hexies three months ago became the cushion that I sent to Kat. Which she loves, thank goodness.

6. Turn my rainbow charms into something, anything. Fail! Let's not even go there. I didn't give them a thought in the whole three months.

7. Make my HR Fan Club quilt. Fail! Time was not on my side here. It will happen, one day. For now I will leave  you with another look at yesterday's block just so you know little bits of my HR collection do get used. on occasion.

8 Combine my hexie project with my rainbow charm project. Fail! Yeah, that was just stupid wishful thinking.

Lest I look totally pathetic, I shall show you some of what I did accomplish. Bee blocks -

There are other bee blocks but some are of the secret kind, and then there was the I forgot to take a photo kind as well.

Additionally, there were the unplanned for items that slipped into the making schedule.

Let's not forget the party of the year.

And then there was a bit of family fun as well.

And that brings my FAL3Q report to a finish. Two finishes is better than none, and more than I expected. Success!


Saturday 29 September 2012

Square Deal

I took some time today to think about what my Mouthy Stitches partner would like on her tote bag. And I had a poke through my stash. What's left of it, as I seem to have packaged the majority of my fabric and readied it to post to my Brit Bee buddies.

I had a little left though. And I indulged in my recent obsession with square in a square blocks. Not that I have been making many, or anything like that, but they have been on my mind and I keep seeing them pop up all over the place. The more I see them the more I want some. I do hope my swap partner feels the same way, because this was the result of my first experiment today. If she likes it I will make a couple more.

It is a square in a square with a wee twist in the form of that teal strip through the middle. Does anyone else out there just piece their square in a square blocks? I know it is a paper piecing block but this was my second attempt and I just drew it out on paper, worked out the maths, cut the fabric and sewed. It seems to be fairly accurate so I am happy with the results. I was just wondering if I was the only one, and am quite sure I am not.

I will be popping a question, or two, onto the Mouthy Stitches Flickr group to see if this appeals to my partner, and whether she has a preference for background fabrics. I know I do, but this tote bag will be for her not me so best to let her have a say. The choices I am giving her are either navy or grey Essex linen.

Meanwhile, as I fussy cut the Heather Ross bicycle, I got the Queen song Bicycle Race stuck in my head, which then segued into Fat Bottomed Girls. Do you think I have issues?!


Friday 28 September 2012

Catching Up

Finally getting caught up with a few things today. I posted some things that should have been posted ages ago. Procrastination explains the first delay. Life the second delay. But I am proud to say I have successfully completed another visit to the Post Office.

This morning I transferred my mystery embroidery from the big blue plastic hoop of the girls' that I had been using, to a more aesthetically pleasing wooden one and finished it off. The back is all nice and tidy, and the hoop is now on its way to its new home, so soon I will be able to reveal all.

Then I finally got around to posting the Japanese charm packs and apologies to everyone in the swap. Any lateness is all my fault and Sarah has been ever so nice about it so shout at me, not her, please.

And I sorted through stash fabric some more. I am getting very excited about 'my month' for Brit Bee - Round 2. Hope my bee mates like my idea as much as I do!


Thursday 27 September 2012

Fondling Fabric

Do you ever write a blog title and then instantly know you are going to get the weirdos coming out of the woodwork due to it? I - obviously - just did that. And do you know what? I don't care. I am getting so much spam these days that what's a few pervs thrown in for good measure?

Yes, my attitude might not be quite up to Mary Poppins level, but is it ever? So we shall ignore all that nonsense and talk fabric instead.

Because I got some new stuff. I was very surprised to win Rhonda's giveaway from Fluffy Sheep. I am not sure why, but I was. Maybe because I found out at a less than opportune time so I just thought Rhonda was taking the piss in my sleep deprived state. But she wasn't. How nice is that?! Today a package from Cindy popped through the post and it is gorgeous. I have to say, it is even better in person than in the photos.

Some fabric lines are like that. I see them online and think they are nice, but then I see them in person and swoon. Unfortunately there are times I think something is stunning online and then when I get it I am less than impressed. Thankfully that doesn't happen very often.

But, as Rhonda would say, I digress. Back to the fabric I won. It is from the Ladies Stitching Club line and I love it. In fact, despite arriving just today, some of it got earmarked for a quilt already. Besides, there are birds in one of the FQs and they will have to be added to One for the Birds.

When I wasn't admiring my winnings, I was diving head first into my stash. I pulled out all sorts. The photo below is just the tip of the iceberg. Because I need to post out some fabric. October is my month in Brit Bee. My plan will be revealed shortly.


Wednesday 26 September 2012

Groundhog Day

Seem to have been repeating things here. Wish we weren't.

Home again. Hope this time was the last time.


Sunday 23 September 2012

Canons Ashby

Autumn came today, with a vengeance. It is cold - only 10C - and wet, very, very wet. Today was the first time I have felt truly chilled to the bone in ages. I did not like it. But that didn't stop us from having fun.

We went off to Canons Ashby which is an Elizabethan manor house just two villages away from us, now owned by the National Trust. This weekend was an open weekend, no entrance fee and extra little things going on. So off we went with friends for an impromptu day out.

The day was too wet for grand vista photos of the exterior or the gardens, so I became obsessed with the small details in the rooms inside. Canons Ashby is not a large house but you get good insight into what life was like, being able to visit the formal rooms, bedrooms, nursery, servants quarters and kitchens. The lighting was dim and use of flash banned so I concentrated on the little things. Unfortunately the lace making, cross stitch, and other demos I just could not capture.

It was the kitchens that fascinated me most. I could  have poked round there for ages, but the girls were put off by the rabbits and pheasants hanging in the cold store. The girls took pleasure in writing their names on the dusty bottles in the old wine cellar though.

Outside there was a demonstration of apple juice making. The girls had a go and then drank their wares. I must say it was lovely. I also found an item that I coveted. I need an apple peeler, corer and slicer - all in one go thingy. I really, really need one! I may also need an apple press. Just saying.

So even the wettest days can be enjoyed. Especially as we have been decadent and put the heat on when we got home. And there is the lovely smell of a chicken roasting in the oven. The first Sunday roast in months. A sure sign that autumn is here indeed.


Saturday 22 September 2012

Stopping to Smell the Roses

It was a good day. Not much to report. I'm just enjoying life. My mum left for northern regions today. Not such a happy thing, but I do hugely appreciate the help and support she provided during the week. There were some of the necessary tasks done, but otherwise I have just been appreciating all those small things.

Like my children playing outside all day. In lovely autumn sunshine. The sound of their laughter. The knowledge that this time last week was so different, and so very happy that Emily is absolutely fine.

Taking an afternoon nap. I know! The decadence of it all. Bliss!

And having a friend not laugh too hard when I told her I didn't understand where the remaining epp pattern pieces were for my snowball block, because my brain wasn't working well enough to work out they were just a portion of the main octagon.

Cutting the next bits from Kona Coal and loving the contrast of the coal against the bright oranges and yellows.

It was a peaceful day. I truly appreciate that.


Friday 21 September 2012

Oh Deer!

Yay! Cindy has Oh Deer! in stock over at Fluffy Sheep Quilting. I have been waiting for this line to come out for just about forever. It was this print which first caught my eye.

I just love it. I love all the colours in the line. Yes, even the brown, Hadley! It is a good brown. A rich dark brown. A 'chocolate' brown. The line is fabulous, and even more fabulous is the fact that Cindy is having a giveaway where you could win four FQs of Oh Deer!, or whatever your favourite fabrics are at Fluffy Sheep Quilting. Personally I want the birds in red, the deer in orange, the yellow with orange spots, and...

... well I am still dithering about the fourth choice I would make if I won because there are too many lovely fabrics to choose from.

All you have to do for a chance to win is get yourself over to Cindy's blog - Fluffy Sheep Quilting - and choose your two favourite fabrics there and leave a comment telling her your top picks.

For a second chance at winning blog, tweet, or facebook the giveaway and go back and leave a comment telling Cindy that you did. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

I'd like to wish you luck in the draw but I am kind of hoping I win, and I will be gracious and try not to be too smug if I do.


Thursday 20 September 2012

Keeping It Clean

Actually, I meant to say, keeping us clean. Rhonda - Quilting in the Gap - has taken it upon herself to send the girls and I a gorgeous package in the post. Happily it arrived on Tuesday and Emily got to open it at a low point in her day so the package did double duty in cheering things up here. Thank you so much, Rhonda, for the amazing sewing you do and your ability to make us smile.

Rhonda knows how much we love food, and food preparation, in our house so she undertook to make us each an apron. And each was tailored to exactly our tastes.

Emily got dark, rich colours, and a touch of glitter. Perfect.

Helen got the sweetest owls, and a touch of bright colour. I am impressed that Rhonda brought herself to be parted with owl fabric.

I got something more elaborate. First off, a full apron as Rhonda is somehow aware I am messier than the girls, and she knows my upper half has more than a bit that might happen to get in the way. Though I am loath to use something so pretty, and made so well, for fear of getting grease on it.

I took photos of all the pieces of fabric she appliqu├ęd on the apron. Some of them are so perfectly apt, though I do wonder where Rhonda got the idea that I like chocolate!

My particular favourite saying there is the 'Forget Love, I'd rather fall in chocolate.' I don't know about you but I can just visualise it. What a tantalising thought. A luscious vat of warm, dark, melted chocolate to fall into. Mmmmmmmm!


Wednesday 19 September 2012

A Little Bit To Report

When Emily started feeling poorly on Thursday night I obviously made the decision to keep her home on Friday. As she wasn't a happy bunny I thought it best I ignore my plans to hoover - as you can imagine this was a difficult thing to do - and get some hand sewing under way so I could sit by her side. I had been kind of craving a new epp project to do anyway.

I cut and I tacked. Then I ended up accompanying Emily to the hospital. That night I asked Helen if she could put together a zippy pouch with the epp items in so I could do that while there. I wish I had cut and basted a lot more because then I would have a lot more to show now. As it is, I do rather like the block that I made with the bits I did have. I still need to turn it into a square block, because the future I have for it requires that, but this is what I accomplished so far. I am happy to be doing epp again because I once again am left with the impression that something I thought would be tedious and time consuming is fun and goes rather quickly.

When Emily checked into the hospital ward we realised that she did so without one single soft toy. Now I don't know about your's - if you have children - but  mine do not do anything without at least one of their favourite soft toys. The more stressful the situation the more the necessary the comfort the toy brings. I remedied this lack by nipping over to the Sainsburys that was near by and getting a new, special, take care of you in the hospital friend. He got named Basil.

On request, Helen packed up my epp for me. She also put some yarn and a crochet hook in the pouch. I was a happy hooker, and when the yarn ran out (one ball does not go far) I pulled it all out and did it over again. Eventually I decided to stick to the block I made and it became a blanket for Basil. He was doing such a good job of comforting Emily he deserved it.

And that is what I managed to make over the weekend.


Tuesday 18 September 2012

Unexplained Absenses

Some of you may have noticed a temporary suspension on blogging on my part. There was a very good reason. It involved this -

All is well now, and proved to be a much less scary scenario than originally thought. Emily and I are home again, she is almost back to normal - and I was incredibly thankful to have a shower yesterday after three nights as a guest of the NHS.

And just so you know. The NHS is bloody brilliant. Everyone we met there was amazing, and I cannot fault them for a thing.

Normal service will resume shortly, I just have a wee bit of sleep to catch up on - and my mother came down to help out so we are going to hang out together as well.


Thursday 13 September 2012

Country Living

I have gone on the last couple of days about accomplishing things. These spurts of energy are rare so today I did more on the domestic front while the urge existed. Honestly, I came home from the school run and donned my apron, looking rather like this.

Except with more grey hair.

While the laundry churned away in the background I produced two meatloaves - one for dinner tonight, and one for the freezer. Then I made and cooked a whole stack of frikadellen - Scandinavian pork patties - and these were popped in the freezer too. Laundry came out and was hung, more put into the machine. Next, dozens of double chocolate chip cookies were baked.

The recipe for these cookies can be found here.

Now, before you get the urge to bludgeon me to death with a blunt instrument, please keep the following in mind to balance out the 'supposed' domestic bliss of above -

- I made myself feel decidedly sick eating as much cookie dough as I could, making this the main part of my lunch.
- My staircase looks like it has grown a layer of fluff it is so dusty.
- There is a spider in my sitting room that is so big it can physically resist being sucked into the hoover.

And most important of all (especially for any of you who may envy me the joys of living in the countryside) -

- I couldn't hang any of my laundry outside despite the perfect weather for drying it because the local farmers have spent the past few days muck spraying in every field within a five mile radius. No matter where they are we seem to be down wind. Not sure about you, but I do not wish for my clean laundry to be smelling like s**t!

Thought that might put things in perspective!


Wednesday 12 September 2012

Doing the Right Thing

I continue in my quest to clear my desk/sewing table to the long list of things that should be done. And I am making headway, therefore I am feeling almost smug. I am not used to this feeling of actually being in control. It's kind of nice.

Today I trimmed all my charms for the Japanese Charm swap. I was really pleased because I had about 7" of fabric left after I had cut all my charms. I know a metre is longer than a yard, but not by that much. Someone very generous was cutting this at the Festival of Quilts when I bought it.

Everything on the left is my leftovers. Yay!

Then I got on with my bee blocks. Yes, more. But these will actually be finished and posted in the month they are due. How's that for an improvement in service here?! I was making for Jennie, over at Clover and Violet. She requested the Four Acres block in specific colours for one, and up to us for the other.

And now it is back to the real life stuff. Dental appointments and such to be rushed off to. Not for me but these things must be done.


Tuesday 11 September 2012

Better Late Than Never

I've had to sell my soul to the Post Office today. Because I dug through the piles of things that have accumulated in the sewing pile this summer and organised. In the process I also got all the things I had postponed posting and got round to packaging them up. There was more than I thought. Way more!

This isn't all of it. I need some different sized envelopes. But I am getting there. And I suppose that is a good thing. I really, really need to learn the art of not procrastinating.

Susan x

Monday 10 September 2012

Sneaky Peeks

I've finished my latest embroidery. Just have to buy a hoop that isn't big, blue and plastic to put it in permanently, finish the back and it will be off to its new home.

So here are some sneaky peeks of it. Sorry for any unintentional blur. I was making my camera do stuff it wasn't really up to. (Yes, Katy, I know I have the big toys I should be playing with but life just seems to be too busy for my brain to catch up.)

Hope this leaves everyone more confused than ever. All will be revealed once it has arrived at its destination.

And speaking of post, I got a small packet today. From Spoonflower. I ordered a little FQ of HR that was new to me. I love it. It is called The Ugly Duckling and you might already be familiar with it, but it is a welcome addition to my collection.

Look at that poor wee duckling!! You just want to pick him up and make him happy. And that wee one wiggling her tail feathers is asking to be fussy cut.


Sunday 9 September 2012

Happy Days

It's all good here. We (myself, Cindy and Hadley) were completely astounded yesterday when Mouthy Stitches 2 opened for sign ups and about four hours later all places had been filled. It was scary, in an absolutely awesome way. Thank you so much to all the wonderful people who had time in their days to join in the swap.

Needless to say I had to stick to the rules as well as everyone else, so I have posted my inspiration mosaic for my secret partner. Despite being one of the mamas I will not know who is making for me until I receive my package. I wanted my mosaic to show my partner that I like colour; I like modern; I like hand stitching; and most of all - I like quirky. I want to see how much my partner can surprise me with this guidance.

I had to stop putting camper vans on my mosaics for the first time ever as Nicky so perfectly fulfilled that need for me now.

Meanwhile, today has another significance for me, well us - himself and me. Because as of today we have been married for 12 years. I like that. Thankfully he likes that too. It is a good kind of happiness that fills me to the brim. Twelve years ago we celebrated in an understated manner in my brother's garden in Canada, with family and friends. I wouldn't change a thing.

Today is a good day. I hope you are having a good day too.


Saturday 8 September 2012

On Your Marks, Get Set...

... Go!

Mouthy Stitches 2 is officially up and running. If you are interested in being a participant in this round then I do not want to sound alarmist, but be quick because the places filled up far more quickly than expected in round one - and there are fewer places available in round two.

This time we will be making (drum roll please)...

TOTE BAGS!  Not just any old tote bag, but this tote bag... Skip to My Lou.

All participants MUST FOLLOW THIS PATTERN, however you will be requesting, and therefore making in return, one side pieced to your partner's desires, based on the sign up form information and mosaic.

To be eligible to join the swap you must have an active, craft/sewing Flickr photostream, with recent activity and examples of your makes and style; if you are new to Flickr or have not uploaded in a long while, you are unlikely to be able to participate in this round.

You must be a member of the Mouthy Stitches Flickr group, then complete the sign up form in order for the Mamas to check your eligibility.  You will be required to make an inspiration mosaic AFTER you have received an acceptance email from one of the Mamas.

Important dates: 

Sign ups - Saturday 8th September until 75 eligible swappers have completed the Sign Up form.  Please note, all forms will be checked in the order that they are submitted; we will close the form as soon as we can, once we have reached 80, but as you can appreciate, we may not be able to do so immediately as this is an international swap, and we may reach capacity during the night; we will retain the last 5 as reserves.

Saturday 15th September Midday BST - All mosaics must be posted in the group pool; failure to do so will mean that the reserves will be called in.

Saturday 22nd September - Secret Partner allocations will be sent to all swappers.  YOU MUST NOT REVEAL WHO YOU ARE MAKING FOR AS THIS IS A SECRET SWAP!

Mailing: 20th-23rd October International, 23rd-27th October Domestic.  You must be prepared to send internationally by Airmail.

That's 4 weeks to stalk, shop, make and have fun!  Please do not sign up if you cannot meet these deadlines.

The only extra to be sent with your tote bag this time is a handmade keyring/keyfob; we do not want there to be the pressure to make more, spend more or create more than these 2 items, so please don't.

More information will be posted in the Flickr group after sign ups are complete.

So... what are you waiting for?


Friday 7 September 2012

Things Are Happening...

... but I can't tell you about them quite yet. So I will tell you about stuff I can. Maybe tomorrow I will be more forthcoming.

Meanwhile, the creativity in this household continues. Helen sat down and sewed the other day. She asked for some fleece and then didn't bother me until she showed me her new bunny. I was well impressed. Long gone are the days where they dream up ideas and I end up bringing them to fruition. In fact, the tables have been turned a bit. Because I told Emily about pin toppers, and she made her first foray into their production the other day. I for one find they make my pin cushion a far more cheerful place to be.

And I continue to do some stitching. Satin stitch is my new best friend.

Tomorrow I am going to go to Staples and buy large envelopes in bulk. I have a lot of stuff that needs posting. A lot!


Thursday 6 September 2012

If 'X' Marks the Spot...

... where exactly is the spot?

I've been doing some stitching. Who for?


Wednesday 5 September 2012

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I love my kids, a lot. That doesn't mean I would deny them a good education just to spend more time with them. So I bundled them off to school today...

... and tried not to grin like a loon when I kissed them good bye.

I suppose that I am going to have to eat this chocolate bar all by myself then. In this quiet, quiet house.



Tuesday 4 September 2012

In Amazing Company

I woke up this morning to find out that my hexie cushion has made it to the finals of the Festival of Hexagons. And I am in some pretty amazing company there! Some good online friends are there, some I've met in real life friends. (Hello Kelly, Charlotte and Jennifer.) You probably know them too.

But what a wonderful feeling to have made the finals.

If you have a minute please pop over to a.squared.w and vote for your favourite.

Festival of Hexies