Tuesday 30 September 2014

Playing Catch Up

With the sewing space clear for sewing I thought it was best I just get on with it. I looked at the list of what needed doing and started on the bee tasks that I am behind with. First up was to add two 42.5" x 6.5" borders, plus two cornerstone stars, to one of the Brit Bee medallions.

These medallion quilt tops are doing the rounds of our bee group, with each of us adding a stage to each other's quilts. Since the end result is being kept hidden until the big reveal in the new year this is all I can show you. But I am pleased to get it done as I will be able to hand it over to the next person in the chain on the weekend.

Another (small) box ticked.


Sunday 28 September 2014

Under All The Mess

I dug deep this weekend. Deep into the shameful state of my sewing space. I have always been clear about not being a great housekeeper, but I have my limits and when your sewing mojo is lower than low it is hard to try and motivate yourself to do it anyway when you can barely find a spare inch of space to get on with it.

So I went to Ikea on Friday, to get some things to finish of Helen's bedroom, but to sneak in a few things for me too.

I bought the bookcase and the blue and white storage boxes. The bookcase was only £15. It will sit in that doorway quite nicely. While it may seem a strange place to put a bookcase you would have to see this house to understand. The architect who designed it never gave much thought to actually living in it. The sitting room is on the other side of that door. In the sitting room every wall has something major in the middle of it - doors, fireplace or large window. The placement of furniture is hugely curtailed by this. I finely gave up trying to work around it and placed the sofa right across the doorway on the other side of these shelves. This door, therefore, is not used.

To the left of the new shelves is my sewing desk, that himself made me. It is 'L' shaped and big. I love it. So I cleared most of the stuff off it to turn it back into a useful space. At the far end of the desk is my fabric storage. 95% of the fabric I own is stuffed into these drawers in a good semblance of order. It is a system that works very well for me. I know where to look for stuff. I can pull out a drawer, or two, get the fabric I want, cut it and put it back without any bother at all.

Which would bring into question why I have that big pile of fabric and scraps sitting at the end of my desk waiting to be sorted back into its appropriate drawers. In my defence, some of it has never made it to a drawer before, and...     well, actually there is no other defence. It needs putting away, full stop. On my cutting mat is an assortment of HSTs that are left over trimmings from various projects. I want to square those off and use them. Squaring them off and sorting them according to size would be a good step in the right direction.

On the right hand side of my desk is my new desk tidy which I love. Two deep pockets for pens, Sharpies on the left and everything else on the right. A shallow bit for spare needles, spare rotary blades, needle threaders, etc. Two small drawers in which I currently have epp papers and stuff. It is so nice to have somewhere to pop these little items rather than digging around a mess of a desk and wondering where the hell I left something the last time I used it.

The shelves are still being filled. On the floor below the bottom shelf are magazines and my freezer paper. Above the Go! Baby and spare - of which I am having a wee dilemma. One of those cutters does not work well, eats up cutting mats for breakfast. Before I moved them into my sewing space I knew which was which and never got around to binning the duff one. Now I have them mixed up and am not sure which is which. All I can think is to buy two new cutting mats and see which one is the cutting mat killer, getting rid of it right away. Meanwhile, they will both just sit there.

Beside them are my embroidery pouches with projects within. The wicker basket has all my Oakshott in it. And the bag on the end has my lavender. The shelf above has my colour cards - Kona, Aurifil and DMC. A box full of scraps and an epp project on the go.

Next up are the new storage boxes filled, with sewing books and note pads below them. Thread on the left, perle in the middle (with my embroidery floss box below it), and zips on the right. The shelf above holds bits and bobs. An old giant spool wound with ribbons, a tin with my basting pins in it, washi tape, quilting feet, a fabric basket with selveges in it, buttons, etc.

The top shelf is still almost empty, other than the fab clasp purse Nicky made me which is full of ribbons and such.

I am feeling vaguely on the way to being organised. It is not a normal feeling for me. Maybe I can do some sewing. After all, if I have accomplished so much in the tidy up I can ignore that pile of fabric that needs sorting a little longer, can't I?


Thursday 25 September 2014

Friends and Chocolate

My antidote for feeling like I have the past few days is a simple one. Family, friends and chocolate. Okay, it doesn't fix the world, or even the specific horridness of what has me in a funk, but it does help.

Today I met up with a friend and I gave her a small gift as she has just celebrated a birthday milestone.

I did a mini quilt as you go heart shaped panel, then turned it into a lavender bag. It is 100% Heather Ross on the front, and backed with some soft pink corduroy. It was good to spend a couple of hours chatting and laughing. Where would we be in life without friends?

And for the chocolate side of things, I made cookies yesterday - Double Chocolate Chip. I followed the recipe totally, until it came to the amount of chocolate chips required. I doubled it. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Half the cookies have been eaten already too. No sense making them and not eating them, for breakfast she says, hanging her head in shame.


Tuesday 23 September 2014


We spent the weekend getting Helen's room painted and her new bed in. The new bed has been built by himself and is five foot high which allows for the her to have her bean bag chair underneath for a reading space (it's a very small room) and the bed will have a built in chest of drawers too - not yet installed but they will be shortly.

Helen was way more adept at doing the edges than I was. Both girls helped the whole weekend and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The colours are a total hit, chosen by Helen and loved by all. She is very happy with the transformation. Emily's room next then, I guess.

Meanwhile, I ordered a bunch of pom pom makers. I bought four different sized normal ones, and two different heart sizes. (One maker seems to have gone walkabouts already!) Emily is the most adept at making the pom poms. These things are super fast and easy to use, except the heart ones, at least for me. I am useless at hearts. I don't seem to be able to pull the string tight enough and they 'unravel' on me. See above, as the red heart is disintegrating. I need to practice, but this sure beats the cardboard circles used in the past. I am envisioning pom pom garland on my Christmas tree this year.

And Emily has been doing her textiles tech homework today, preparing a piece of tie dye fabric for cushion making. I love the aqua colour she chose.

But what I have been really avoiding saying is this.

Two friends in 48 hours with really crappy news. I am venting here because as much as I would like to keep some stuff off the blog this has really, really got to me. I can't really think of anything else. So please say a prayer, or think a good thought, for all those people out there suffering from this evil disease. And give someone you love a hug.


PS: I am turning off comments for this post because I am currently a bit too emotional to reply. I know everyone has been touched by cancer one way or the other. I appreciate all prayers and good thoughts sent out to those who need it. Thanks.

Friday 19 September 2014


Oh the sure fire satisfaction of small projects. All the joy for a fraction of the work. I finished the little mini this morning.

It measures up at 20.5"x18.5". It was made by delving into my stash for fussy cuts and and low volume. I use my long ignored Go! Baby to cut the hexie and triangular shapes. It was super easy to piece as long as I paid attention to layout. Not a 'Y' seam was encountered.

It was pieced using my go to Aurifil dove grey. And quilted with my favourite thread again. A small stipple in yellow on the white borders, and a smaller stipple in white on the low volume fabrics. I deliberately did not quilt on the featured fabrics to let them pop out of the design more.

I made a narrow binding, cutting my strips at 2" instead of 2.5". And I backed it with some of the number fabric leftover from a previous project. Since the medium and navy blues didn't feature in the inner design I brought those colours out in the narrow sashing and the binding.

A gratuitous final photo because I can. Making this mini jump started my mojo. I love my hand piecing epp projects but I really, really needed to sit at the machine and produce something, a little instant gratification if you will. This fulfilled that requirement.

Now, I have a weekend of painting ahead of me. Keeping in mind that I have never painted a room in my life, and the girls intend helping me, let's just hope I come out of this unscathed. Years of renting and constant moving prevented any previous desire for decorating, and when I was single I thought it was just a job you paid someone else to do.

After all that, I have a load of bee stuff to get out of the way. Now that I remember how to use my machine again.


Thursday 18 September 2014

I Thought I Was Stippling...

...until Nicky pointed out I was sewing Scottie dog shapes.

 Do you see stipple or dogs?


Tuesday 16 September 2014

Because The List Is Long...

... I stuck my head in the sand and did something entirely different. To be clear, I also stuck my head in the sand about a whole crap load of stuff that needed doing in the house too. I figured a load of laundry and dinner being made was enough to give me permission to play.

I was clearly not in a thread trimming mood today!

And after the school run I played some more.

This mini has been in my head for a while. Kind of nice to see it translating into fabric.


Monday 15 September 2014

Stocking Up For The Winter

It's been a pie sort of day. It involved a kilo of flour, and half a kilo of fat, to make a lot of pastry. And a tonne of apple pealing.

I ended up with five pies for the freezer, all using the apples we the girls picked last Thursday. I couldn't have accomplished this so quickly if it wasn't for the ingenuity of the Victorians and that handy dandy little apple pealer/slicer/corer thingy. I'd still be in there pealing otherwise. And less than happy for that fact. But I do have the apple thingy which makes life so much easier when making pies and crumbles.

We won't be eating any of these pies tonight though. The girls and I are still recovering our appetites after a less than stellar weekend. It is a well established pattern. Girls go to school. Germs come home. They get sick. What is unusual is me getting it too. And it was an ugly one! Anyway, pie is not on the menu yet as it would just go to waste, or himself would have to eat the whole thing on his own. Actually, I am sure he wouldn't have a problem with that, not that I am going to cook a pie and indulge him. I'm not that nice.

Hopefully I will get some sewing time in tomorrow.


Friday 12 September 2014


It would be silly to do things the easy way when I can make them more complicated, or so it seems. I finished the inner part of my epp rainbow and then decided to change it up a bit as I made it bigger.

I decided to fragment/shatter/mess about with the lozenges and give a broken look to it. To say I am having second thoughts whilst doing this is an understatement, but then I have second thought with just about every project I ever work on so what's new? I am hoping this 'effect' I am giving it will have a bit more continuity when I have completed it right around the whole of the mini. I'm going to be super annoyed with myself if it doesn't because doing it like this takes about five times longer than just adding whole lozenges.

Meanwhile, we went apple picking at my friend's house yesterday. I have two large bags of apples to turn into pies for the freezer this weekend.

Then I might go back and pick some more. Not that I actually picked any of these. I sat on the terrace and sipped a rather wonderful French red wine while my girls, and their girl, did all the hard graft. Somehow I think I should feel vaguely guilty, but I don't. Not one little bit.


Wednesday 10 September 2014

Making Deals With Myself

Do you make bargains with yourself? I do. Today I bargained that I could have the morning for sewing if I gave over the afternoon to hard graft. Stuff I didn't want to do but couldn't ignore any more. Seemed like a fair deal (ish).

Therefore after the school run and breakfast I sat down and got on with my latest project.

I have to say,
those little black and white squares just make my day.

Round one of basting complete I commenced sewing them together.

I like hand sewing. I have reached a stage in my ability that I no longer drill a hole in my finger pushing the needle through, and I don't wear a thimble because it's like I have five thumbs when I wear one. It's a happy place to be, just me and my epp in the house alone.

On top of feeling pleased with getting so far with this project already, I am feeling all self satisfied because I scrubbed the cooker, inside and out, and I cut the grass - for the next door neighbours too because they always do stuff for us. Now dinner is made, and I think I've earned some more sewing time this evening. Life is good.


Tuesday 9 September 2014

Crossed Off The List

Well, with much grumping and stupidity, I got my foundation paper piecing project finished and posted so I no longer have to think about it.

As I have crossed that item off the list I felt that meant I could crack on with another item there. I have joined the first swap I have done in ages and ages. Mostly because just about everyone I knew was joining up and I eventually cracked. The time line is a nice long three months so I should be able to do this without panicking, and it is on Instagram not Flickr which was the bit that tipped me over to join. I rarely, if ever, go on Flickr any more because when they changed it I fell seriously out of love with it.

If you are on IG the swap has a hashtag of #igminiswap and we are divided into subgroups of which I am in #ashleybsteam. If you aren't on IG, no worries, I will be posting what I am making here regularly. This is what I came up with as an idea for my partner.

I'm thinking a rainbow of lozenges in an epp project, with monochrome black and white squares between them. If this doesn't float my partner's boat that's okay as I have another recipient this would be perfect for. I can go ahead and cut with impunity because either way I will be crossing another item off my list with this - eventually.

Meanwhile, we are celebrating fourteen years of marriage in this household with a posh dinner entirely not made by me. Coquilles St Jacques with salad followed by a Tarte au Citron. I'll be off to pop the main in the oven then. And to sip a glass of wine with himself. It's been a heck of an interesting fourteen years and it's all good here. Hope the next fourteen are equally interesting - though in a different way. Life is always changing. No need for repeats.


Saturday 6 September 2014

Three Down...

... Seventeen to go.

It's probably the world's easiest paper piecing project going, but I am still making a total mess of it. Just redone one of these blocks totally. Seriously! Why does everyone find this so easy?


Thursday 4 September 2014

Oh Dear

It seems, that in my lack of sewing time this summer, I found solace in buying fabric. I didn't quite realise how much. The more I pulled fabric off all surfaces of my sewing space the more I seemed to find. Embarrassingly so.

The photo on the left is what the sewing space looked like this morning. I am not going to show an after shot because I have not yet reached an acceptable level of tidiness. The photo on the right is mid sort out. I was folding by colour prior to putting in the appropriate boxes. What you see there is only some of what I found.

Putting it into the boxes was the hardest part. Physically difficult because it just did not want to fit into most of the designated boxes.

The solids are voluntarily erupting from their box and I have stored some elsewhere. The reds and blues are so tightly packed that taking any out now might constitute a hazardous activity. Even the colours that I always felt I lacked I now seem to have copious amounts of.

There is nothing for it but that I get sewing as soon as possible. The only remedy for this situation is to use my fabric, because that is the more affordable option to building an annex onto our house so I have more room for storage.

Meanwhile, I've made headway on my lists. I caught up on my invoices. Did all the ironing. Got most of this fabric situation under control. The usual domestic activities occurred as well, and the school run routine has begun.

But I forgot to take a first day of school photo this morning so made them do selfies in the car. Sad but true.


Wednesday 3 September 2014

It's All About The Girls

Our annual pilgrimage north is mostly about the girls. Oh, I have a wonderful time too, but it's about spending time with them, and my mum and stepdad, and my brother. It's family time, fun time, do stuff the girls like time. We were way for twelve days this visit and we got lucky. Because while the weather reportedly sucked at times down south I was getting sunburnt in Aberdeen. I kid you not.

Rather than give you a full run down of all that we did I shall give you a brief photo heavy highlights of the silly stuff we got up to.

Roman ruins at Vindolanda,
with a sushi bento box lunch of course.
Playing chicken with the waves.
Hanging out with their favourite Scottish-Canadian uncle,
at his future home (once extensive renovations are complete)
and learning to drive his wee tractor.
Skating time with Uncle Andrew.
Playground time with him too. (He's the biggest kid of all!)
Enjoying our first dosa - so very, very good.
And a sushi feast prepared by Em and Andrew.
As always, time at Tynemouth Market.
Fish & Chips down on the quay,
followed by sword fighting with those little wooden chip forks.
And a visit with Helen and Archie, always enjoyable.
Yes, Emily is in Archie's cage.
The bubble ninja.
I blew the bubbles.
Emily burst them.
Helen took the photos.
Team work at its finest.

School starts tomorrow. Summer is over, but it has left a lifetime of good memories with us. 


Tuesday 2 September 2014

There Is A Bed In My Kitchen

I kid you not. The girls and I got home last night and I found a bed in my kitchen. It's Helen's new bed, still under construction. Apparently the work shop floor (aka the garage) is not flat enough so it needed to be in the kitchen to ensure it was level prior to all the bits being permanently fixed together. The fact remains that I have a bed in my kitchen. I cooked dinner last night squeezing around it. My kitchen is not that big. There is also dive gear in my hallway and a wet suit over the bannister but we won't go into that.

So, we are back from the last of our summer holidays and life needs sorting out. I'll talk about the latest holiday briefly tomorrow. I don't think I've ever had a summer where I was so busy or away so much. This is not a complaint, mind you. It's been brilliant.

But that does not negate that there is now a backlog of things to do...

There is another page actually. With nine items on it, seven of which are quilts. I may be overly optimistic. No sewing will get done until I get some of the items on the list on the left done though. In particular I have to find a home for fabric acquired over the last little while. It's currently hiding my sewing extension table.

I need to get cracking and get things sorted because I am really missing sewing. Here is the sum total of what I have accomplished all summer.

My head is overflowing with ideas. The girls go back to school in two days time. Then I tackle the house, the lists and hopefully get himself to remove the bed from my kitchen. It's about five foot high. It's really in the way!
It will eventually be a captain's bed.
In Helen's room, not the kitchen.
I hope!