Wednesday 20 August 2014

Hearth, Home and Himself...

... are being abandoned as we depart on our annual summer migration north. The crochet is packed. What else do I need?

Unfortunately our departure has been delayed somewhat today by the untimely and sad demise of one Sprinkles the Gerbil. She will be sorely missed in this household.


Tuesday 19 August 2014


Twelve magical, ever changing years. Twelve years developing into the unique and wonderful individual that she is. Twelve years to believe in herself and know that marching to her own drummer is the best thing.

Emily turned twelve today (in case you didn't guess). Above she has one of her favourite birthday presents. A bento box. Because she wants to make her own school lunches, Japanese style mind you. No boring sandwiches for her.

At twelve she knows what she likes. And she likes Thai food as well as Japanese, hence the lunch that was requested today. We took her best friend with us too.

As a bonus, there was a lady doing henna tattoos at the bank in aid of raising money for the local hospice. Actually, they all got tattoos.

Today we celebrate the youngest member of this household. I've still got a bbq ribs meal to do for dinner. And chocolate brownies with whipped cream and strawberries which was requested instead of a traditional cake. Today the birthday girl gets what she wants and if she wants brownies she is getting brownies.

Today is an especially good day. I couldn't be a prouder mother than I am with the two girls I am blessed with. A very happy birthday to my (not so) baby girl.


Saturday 16 August 2014

The Planning Stage

Just because there is a total dearth of sewing time happening here does not mean that I don't have plans. I have plans a plenty scurrying around my head, fighting with each other as they try to take priority.

Plans require fabric. With that in mind, I've been preparing for the day that sewing time resumes.

I might - just maybe - be thinking about making a red and white Christmas quilt. Amongst other things.

But first I have three days of family things to be attending/organising. And then I disappear with the girls for our annual summer migration north. School resumes at 0830 on September 4th. Sewing resumes almost immediately after. Bring it on!


Thursday 14 August 2014

Throw Back Thursday

I've had a friend visiting from Canada this week. We met in 1990 when we started studying Travel & Tourism together. The friendship was pretty well instantaneous. We interviewed with Princess Cruises one after the other. And we got hired in the same phone call.

Then we got posted to different ships and barely saw each other until 1994. Fortunately we then got to share an adventure of a lifetime together. The first time I went to China I was on the same ship as Gillian. We were on an itinerary that went all over Asia, then headed for the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. Gillian disembarked in Venice and we never sailed on the same ship again.

But the friendship remains as strong as ever, as do the memories.

The Great Wall in the winter.
Us in uniform whilst transiting the Suez Canal.

Gillian took this photo of me with another of our friends,
as we sailed into Venice in the early morning mist.
Out for dinner the night before Gillian disembarked the ship.

Twenty years on we look like this.

We've not changed a bit obviously. (Just nod your head and pretend I'm telling the truth here, please.)


Tuesday 12 August 2014

Private Swapping

I had another private swap, this time with Juliet over at The Tartan Kiwi. She is a lovely person and an amazing paper piecer. Seriously amazing paper piecer.

Now I am the proud owner of this.

My photograph is wonky, not the mini quilt.
Juliet used Oakshotts and low volume. And her own butterfly pattern. Actually, she has a whole slew of patterns available on Craftsy. If you are a paper piecer check out this tab on her blog and you can see all the ones she has designed. Obviously I am not a paper piecer, so I cunningly asked to do a swap so I could have a butterfly without losing my sanity.

I have my clever moments!

In turn I sent Juliet this fabric basket I made not so long ago.

Now that I have the butterfly I'm feeling that I rather got the good end of this deal big time. Thank you, Juliet!


Monday 11 August 2014

Finally _ Something To Show You

To be completely  honest, this is something I made ages ago but I can finally show you, and it feels so good to be able to do a blog post that is all things quilty.

This QAYG cushion is featured in the latest issue of Fat Quarterly - Issue 18 Zakka.

Unlike all my other QAYG cushions, and despite it being a commission, this cushion is for me. I love it and I'm keeping it. It's alike the song from The Sound of Music - My Favourite Things. Heather Ross, Aneela Hoey, Denyse Schmidt, a kerchief girl, a little bit of Flights of Fancy and a snippet of Farmdale blossoms, some sewing text, etc. This cushion is me through and through.

Add in some perle hand stitching, a corduroy backing and a contrasting zipper, and it's even more in my happy place.

It's been hiding out in my sewing space like it couldn't be used until the FQly issue had been published, or something silly like that. But now it is free to be squished and squashed, plumped up again and tossed around. All within reason obviously.

Sorry, I had to put in another photo, just because I could. So, so happy to be able to show you this one finally.


Sunday 10 August 2014

The Day That Was

Yesterday was a gloriously good day. It's hard to beat friends, fabric and quilt viewing for a fab day, after all. Mostly it was about the friends. Saw too many people to name them all (because I will inadvertently leave someone out and then feel really bad) and there were others I wanted to see but failed - this time. For some reason my phone declined to make calls from almost everywhere within the hall. It managed intermittent IG connection. Anyway, I was so pleased to see those I did.

Cindy and Nicky were my partners in crime. Needless to say, it was great to spend time with them. Nicky got up at the scary time of 4am to catch a bus from the south coast to come to the Festival so how she managed the day of chatting, and walking, and standing, is beyond me. She even did hand sewing on the bus on the way to meet us! I also introduced myself to Jen, the editor of Love Patchwork & Quilting. Unfortunately I may have confirmed her suspicions that I am mad, so we shall see if she ever asks me to make something for the magazine again! (We are standing infront of Lynne's amazing quilt found in the latest LPQ issue.)

Then there were the quilts.

The quilt police (aka the really nice women wearing white gloves who made sure no one touched the quilts) watched us very, very closely. Because we kept peering so closely to a lot of the quilts. I was in a constant state of envy at peoples ability to do really tiny, detailed piecing, and to FMQ incredibly well.

As always there was a huge variation in the types of quilts to see - from traditional, to art quilts, to modern, and some a little...   um...   odd. The one thing they all had in common was the talent and attention to detail that went into them. It was great to see some of my friends with their work in there too (bottom left - Trudi - and bottom right - Reene).

So, did I buy anything? Of course I did, but not nearly as much as expected. I was quite restrained for me, and very relaxed on the whole buying front.

I ordered the Swiss dots from Cindy from her Fluffy Sheep Quilting shop, and she hand delivered them. They are an excellent addition to the LV stash and I love the lime green dots in particular. The purchases on the right are from Natalie and Tracey at Pin It & Stitch. I'm really pleased to say that they are in the process of launching their website now so expect to see even more from them in the future. They just got Aurifil floss in on Friday so I had to buy some to test it out. And I finally got around to getting myself a Sewline glue pen to speed up my epp basting. The fabric cuts were bargain end of bolt pieces that are about 10" wide WOF and were only £2 each!

The rest of my fabric purchases were a mixed lot of things that caught my eye. I love the whales I bought from The Eternal Maker. Then a couple of cuts of the re-release of FFA, and one of Cotton & Steel, this despite expecting some of each line to be arriving from the USA any time now. Not sure where I got the mushrooms and the other two whimsical FQs, but I like them. (Obviously, since I bought them.) The purchases from Doughty's were real bargains at £3.50 a half metre, except the FMF which was £5.50 - still less than the usual fabric price here in the UK.

Finally, I splurged on two Bloc Loc HST rulers, because I've never heard anything but good about them. I chose to try the 2.5" and the 4.5" ones and if I love them as much as everyone else seems to maybe I can add other sizes in the future. I was tempted by the Flying Geese Bloc Locs, which the man explained could also be used to square up Square in a Square blocks. So many toys to purchase if the budget is ever there!

And that was the day that was. Today it is very stormy. I've already taken Cindy to the airport to return home, and a good friend from Canada arrives tomorrow. Just enough time for a quick change on the bedding and to do a hoover.


Saturday 9 August 2014

Starting To Plan

My head is starting to think sewing things, even if the actual time to make stuff is not available. I have bee blocks to catch up on, a shared secret project to do some blocks for, some quilts in my head that need transferring to fabric, and then this wee project.

I was lucky enough to see that my Brit Bee mate Jo was getting ready to sell some HR and nabbed three panels before it got offered to the wider public. These are Munki Munki pyjama panels, all flannel and all winter prints.

These have to become a Christmas cushion. I'm already planning how my Christmas sofa will look with my Christmas cushions (two in existence and this one to come) and my Christmas quilt - yet to be finished obviously because that would be too good to be true. In my imagination I have a new sofa too, but that's a different story. These will make a lovely, soft and cosy seasonal cushion though.

Meanwhile, I am off to the Festival of Quilts today with this lovely lady who is staying with me.

Cindy and I have been great friends for ages now so it is fabulous to have her stay with us for a couple of days, and to be able to spend a whole day doing nothing but chatting, fabric stroking and drooling over machines we can't afford. Oh, and looking at quilts made with more skill than I can ever imagine having. We will be seeing lots of other quilting friends while at the festival too. Slightly excited here.

I shall report back tomorrow to tell you all, and show you what I bought of course.


Thursday 7 August 2014

You Would Think...

... that after a very relaxing two week holiday I would be chomping at the bit to get back to the sewing. Well I am, but I am not allowing myself to do so. Because stuff needs doing and I have finally got the drive to get it done.

I am sifting through the hell hole that was once my office and became the dumping ground of everything and anything. I am shredding a stupid accumulation of statements and bills. The poor shredder has gone into shock. I am binning stuff right left and centre. And I have been finding fabric that I do not want.

Rather than think about it I immediately took photos and put it on IG for the first person who wanted to pay the postage to have it as their own. Don't panic, there wasn't a queue for this stuff. Honest!

On the left is 8 lbs (3.5 kgs) of assorted Christmas fabrics that I swear I paid about £2 a yard in a sale years ago and have used some but not much. I'm sure I had a plan for it all at the time, for gift bags or something, but that never came to fruition. On the right (apologies to those who suffer a reaction when exposed to batiks) is a whole whack of batiks bought for a commission and never touched since really. They have now all departed the building.

So here I am, spending my days sat on the floor shredding paper like a madwoman, making trips to the tip and the post office too.

Then there are the traumatic mother moments when you help your eldest dye her hair for the first time. I insisted she go for a temp colour (mean mother that I am) but she likes it, though as it dried it became more ginger - which I like but she is less enamoured with. She is aiming for more brown next time. Apparently there will be a next time then!

Between all this excitement I have been cooking and baking.

When I am not inadvertently dropping the butter on the gravel drive. Oooops! Promise all stones were removed prior to use (and the icky bits on the butter around them). Flapjacks had to be made. I'm off to the Festival of Quilts on Saturday and there has been some requests from those working there for sustenance of the chocolate variety. Requests noted and acted upon obviously. (recipe available above under the recipe tab)

I do hope to be sewing again soon. Really, I do. Apologies for the lack of anything happening of the stitching kind around here.


Tuesday 5 August 2014

Some Of The Things I Bought...

... whilst in Sweden.

For the most part we didn't shop, because we weren't anywhere near shops for the majority of the days away. But far be it for me to avoid shopping totally. I think the beautiful weather influenced what was purchased though.

Some outdoor lighting. For the table top, a lamp that has a fuel insert, or a candle holder. We had the flame burning last night but (despite my best attempts) the evening light precluded the flame actually showing up in the photo. The glass bottle lamp on the right burns lamp oil and has a hook to attach it to a wall. (It's suspended from my finger here.) It is also bigger than it looks in the photo and I fell in love with it, and it's half price sale price.

There was a big barn a five minute walk from one of the cousin's houses where they sold antiques and second hand things. I found the blue glass candlesticks there for less than £9 for the pair. In town I found the green glass jug, and love the etched vines on it. The candlestick snuffer was bought at the girls insistence. They said we needed it. Who was I to argue?!

Himself found the bbq forks. He bought one for each of us. They each have a pouch to store them in when they are collapsed. Bring on the bbq tonight and the marshmallows for roasting afterwards.

I also bought a selection of spice blends that you can't find in the UK. The girls and I are totally addicted to this one. Despite the name it is not a hot spicy mess of a tongue killer. It is a blend of different chillies, including smoky chipotle, mixed with rock salt, sun dried tomatoes, black pepper, mustard seeds, paprika, etc. There is a built in grinding mechanism so you get a nice fresh taste each and every time. And it is just so, so good. I may not have bought enough.


Monday 4 August 2014

While Away...

... I did a great deal of nothing. Swimming, walking, socialising, eating - the good kind of nothing. But I did manage to get my crochet project started.

I decided that the heavy colour contrasts I had gone for would show well in a chevron pattern. Rather than winging it - my usual mode of operating - I consulted my crochet book. It offered up Ridged Chevron Stitch, Sharp Chevron Stitch, Close Chevron Stitch, Peephole Chevron Stitch and Crunchy Chevron Stitch. The last chevron stitch listed was obviously the one for me though - Simple Chevron Stitch!

I did 252 chain stitches. (The pattern goes in groups of ten, plus two at the end of your chosen amount.) It didn't seem too long. Ha! I did a few rows and it didn't seem too long. Funny how the weight of the yarn can change things. Lets just say that my throw is more than 60" wide now. But I'm not pulling it out because there is too much work in there now.

I got my head around the triple three together stitch, which makes for a nice tight stitch through the pattern. I wanted to avoid a pattern that had 'holes' in it for this project. It's a very easy pattern once you get going - hence the 'Simple' part in the pattern name. You do three triples, three triples in the same chain, three triples and then triple three together, and then just repeat this along the length. The only variation is there are five stitches on either end of each row. If you don't crochet then just stick your fingers in your ears and chant 'lalalalala' now. It's how I would react to knitting so I won't be offended.

Each ball of wool does almost four complete rows. Four rows measure up to just under two inches. I have 21 balls of wool. not quite 40" long then. When it's 60" wide.

The conclusion to this is I am going to have to buy a lot more wool!


Sunday 3 August 2014

2001.7 Miles Later

That's how far we drove in the past two weeks. Not one with me behind the wheel of the car though, as I am too chicken***t to drive a left hand drive car on the right hand side of the road. Thank goodness himself is much more adept than me!

We had a brilliant time. Not sure how to encapsulate the holiday in words so this will be more of a photo recap. Hope I won't bore you too much.

We drove to the east coast of England and spent the night before boarding the ferry the next morning and sailing for Holland. We didn't stop though, as we headed straight for Germany and spent the night in a lovely little town near Bremen. The next morning it was off to the north-east of Denmark to the family summer house.

It was right on the beach, with the water shallow for ages, which therefore made for lovely warm water for swimming. The sunsets were spectacular and our two nights there set the pace for the rest of the holiday. Totally relaxing. The weather also set a pattern - hot and sunny, over 30C almost every day for the rest of the trip.

The girls loved it there, especially the fact that back door to being in the sea took about thirty seconds. They were on the beach first thing and last thing each day. But two nights later we moved on.

We drove to Copenhagen and took the girls to Tivoli. I managed the roller coaster and the high swings with them but opted out of the high drop one and only Helen went for the one that spun you around on the end of the long arm. Uh-uh, no way!

The next morning we were off to Sweden and the first summer house. We stayed with family there, out in the middle of no where.

It's an old farm house that has been in that side of the family for several generations. The drive is about a mile long, and there is a guest cottage where the girls slept.

Who needs wifi when there is a wood pile to stack, swings to have a lazy swing on and a hammock to loll about on? The girls adored it there.

A few minutes drive and there was a crystal clear lake for swimming. On the edge of the garden were wild raspberries for picking. And the cousin's daughter had her children there for entertainment too. Elin (seen above) was the most entertaining little three year old going, who chattered away completely oblivious to our ability to understand her.

We left there for the other summer house - sort of like camping with wooden walls. No electricity or indoor loo there. But look at the location! And above you have proof that I did get some crochet done.

Besides swimming there was boat driving to do, and... um... boat callisthenics?

Our last four nights in Sweden were with another cousin, still playing on and in the water. Dining outdoors and basking in the continuous good weather. We walked, we swam, we ate, we slept, and then we repeated the whole process again and again. We went down to the lake twice most days.

There is no way I can truly convey how good this holiday was for all of us. We left Sweden with heavy hearts as I think we could happily have stayed for a few more weeks. With a night in southern Denmark and then another night in the town near Bremen, Germany we were back on the ferry and home late last night.

I want to go back.