Sunday 5 June 2016

Feeling Seasonal

Totally out of season actually. Because I had an idea and I pulled the fabric. For a Christmas project.

And I actually cut it. I might even finish it before Christmas. Now that would be a Christmas miracle.


Saturday 4 June 2016

Because It Is England

And everything is close. Well, in the mind of this Canadian it is. And in fact when you live where I do then London is only an hour away on the train. And, believe it or not, Oxford is only 20 minutes, and I only got there for the first time earlier this year.

I've been back though. I met up with an old friend from my days on the cruise ships. She lives on the Isle of Wight where we too lived for three years so I miss the frequency that we could get together there. We did have an absolutely wonderful time in Oxford though.

Because this is England and when the sun shines it is hard to beat.

We walked around peeking into the gates of the various colleges that make up the university.

And just kept walking because it was too nice not too. Believe it or not we didn't go in one shop. Oh, I tell a lie. We did go in a sweetie shop. The lovely old fashioned kind with almost all the sweets in glass jars behind the counter.

We were so taken with the groups of school children we saw on the way to the playing fields for their sports day. Looking far posher in their uniforms than you generally see around our way.

No, we didn't go for a punt. I have the coordination of a two year old on a trampoline, and my friend said the one and only time she tried she came so close to falling in that she would pass up the chance of tempting fate again.

You can't beat England in the sunshine though. Just saying.


Thursday 2 June 2016

The Fabric Is In The House

I have two more quilts lined up and ready to make. And now I have the fabric to make them with.

Lecien Fabrics have been brilliant to work with. Both their fabrics and the wonderful people behind the scenes who help me sort out my choices. I am so blessed to have this support. And now I need to get cutting.


Wednesday 1 June 2016

Siblings Together

Seeing as how I was well ahead of the game making quilt tops for the Siblings Together charity, it goes without saying really that now I am trying to find the time to actually finish them so that I can get them to the charity before the summer holidays. Procrastinator extraordinaire here.

It turns out that I didn't have the backing fabric that I thought I did. But I did find enough grey sketch to baste one. Then I went for the fastest quilting session I have ever done.

Two hours it took to whack stippling all over this quilt top. The Bernina beeps at you when you are fmq-ing too quickly. Let's just say that it was one long continuous beep that night. But I got the job done and I have the binding on the front. Now to get it sewn down on the back over half term.

Yeah, half term. The girls are off school for the next week. Again!


Tuesday 31 May 2016

Happy Happenings

I was so surprised and happy after my rainbow quilt came out last month in Love Patchwork & Quilting to be contacted by Lecien Fabrics, who provided all the fabric for the quilt, asking if they could take the quilt to Salt Lake City for their Quilt Market booth.

Seriously! I cannot describe the way I felt when they posted this photo online. Never in my wildest imaginations did I think something like this would happen.


Sunday 29 May 2016

The Most Pieces Ever

I made a quilt that will come out in Love Patchwork & Quilting that will appear in an issue in the autumn. It had more pieces in it than any quilt I have ever made. But due to the previous quilt turning into a planning and pattern writing nightmare I really thought this one out before I even started cutting fabric. In fact -  miracles of miracles - I even cut all the pieces out before I started sewing and I was the chain piecing champion here in this household for a few days.

There are almost 1,000 pieces in this quilt top. And I absolutely love it. For such a 'busy' quilt it was far more easy to make than I expected it to be.

And even how I wanted to quilt it came to me as I finished it up. I usually hit a road block at that point but not this time.

And I have got to say, I can not wait to show it to you.


Saturday 28 May 2016

A Mini Mini

Make Modern Magazine in Australia put up a challenge on Instagram that I couldn't resist. Mostly because it was a quick and easy challenge and I could avoid doing what I was supposed to be doing.

Make a mini - really mini- quilt. Six inches or smaller. I dug through my HST off cuts and a quick play produced this.

I had so much fun doing this that if I have a mind to ignoring what I am supposed to be doing again I think I know how to distract myself.


Monday 23 May 2016

Small Is Good

Lots going on here and I do have the best intentions of telling you about it. I'm just kind of buried under work right now. And as I have a lot of stuff to get done before I disappear 'up north' for a week next week, and then for much longer in the summertime I have been prioritising. Blogging took the brunt again.

I have made my smallest quilt ever though. Mostly because I have been head down and working so much that yesterday I broke and just made something because I could.

I used HSTs that were offcuts from a quilt I made for Love Patchwork & Quilting a while ago. They finished at 1" in this little mini. Then some FMQ matchstick quilting to make all those little triangles of colour pop and my playtime was over. But it makes me smile and it was fun to make. It works with that almost instant satisfaction thing that I do so like.

So today I write patterns, and make dinner, and take Helen to the paediatrician (where she was fully discharged to continue healthily on in the world, thank goodness), and finished a quilt that has almost 1,000 pieces in it. Yeah, that would be the one that has been keeping me busy. Just have to write a pattern for it this week. Fun!

Just to note, I like the making bit, not the pattern writing bit.


Sunday 8 May 2016

May Was A...

... Good month for me.

I got to appear in not one but two magazines for the first time ever.

If you look closely you will see that a little insert photo of what I made in the issue is on the cover too. Never in my life would I have thought these things would happen to me. I am so not too cool for school. I'm more of the squealing, happy nerd sort.

And there you have it, my Lecien Rainbow Quilt made with all those cuts of Ls Modern Basics, and my Circles cushion made for the PCSwap I participated in.

I'll tell you a little secret too. The quilt has gone on a little visit to Lecien. They liked it and asked to borrow it. (Another stupidly geeky girlie squeal from me then.)


Saturday 7 May 2016

Off Again

I am not the only one in the family with a bucket list. My mum has one too. That was one of the reasons my brothers and I took her to Venice last year for her birthday. There is lots she still wants to see and do. Far be it for me to not help, or just accompany her. Silly not to.

So last weekend (sorry for the delayed report but someone messed with the wifi passwords while I was gone and my laptop wasn't sorted until the end of the week) I met up with my mum in London and we had a lovely time.

We checked into our hotel early Friday afternoon and went off for a stroll soon after. We were staying by Kings Cross Station as that is where mum arrives into from 'up north' so very convenient for her. Across from Kings Cross is St Pancras Station from whence the Eurostar departs, therefore full of lovely shops. We may have had a browse but I showed remarkable restraint in my spending. We also found out that the British Library was around the corner so wandered over there too.

There was a wonderful stature outside and whilst you cannot wander willy nilly inside, you can see the main atrium and the wonderful glassed in books there.

We had dinner in St Pancras Station that evening, and there is a huge statue of lovers kissing at the far end of the platform but I was way more interested in the frieze around its base depicting the history of the station. The detail was incredible and I wish I could have studied it for longer.

If you look at the bottom left photo you will see it depicts soldiers departing for war and their loved ones waving good bye. But if you can look behind those relatives waving farewell you will see a line of injured soldiers returning from the front. There was more emotion in each of these detailed works of art within the frieze than you see in most places.

Saturday dawned mild, with that wonderfulness that is and English spring day - on a good day. Versus the snow and sleet we got the week before. We decided to head down to St Paul's Cathedral, originally thinking to take the Underground until we saw the queue for tickets. Abysmal. I had an Oyster card but sadly Mum did not. But you've got to give it to my mum, she may be 81 but she acts far from it. She decided we should walk instead, and walk we did. It was a lovely peaceful walk through a very quiet area of London.

St Paul's was gorgeous. It has been about 20 years since I had last been in. I didn't climb to the top this time because even Mum admits she isn't up to that any more. No photos were allowed inside but it is such a nice contrast to the other cathedrals in the country that were built several centuries earlier. Then we had lunch there and enjoyed watching all the guests arrive for a (very posh) wedding that was taking place in a chapel in the vaults. Some seriously nice outfits paraded by. My girls would have loved it!

* Fun fact about the cathedral - if you buy a ticket to enter that ticket is good for a year, so I can go back and take the girls without paying for me again, and walk up to the top of the dome then.

The reason we went to London occurred that evening. My mum has always wanted to go to The Royal Albert Hall. We had tickets to A Gala For St George which was all set to be a very English affair. The Canadian in me thought it was fantastically entertaining and unique.

We also had our dinner at the hall. Unfortunately we didn't have time to fit in dessert before the show would start. That was when our waitress told us something we did not know. Our table was ours for the evening. So we could order our dessert, coffee, liqueur (me not mum) and it would be waiting for us at intermission. Score!

I tried to upload a video clip of a bit of the concert, flags waving, voices lifted in unison, singing Rule Britannia. Emily laughed her head off when I showed her. And then she played it over and over again, laughing harder each time. At least I entertained a thirteen year old.

Sunday I got mum on her train bound for the northern regions and went off for a wander. There was something that I wanted to pick up from a shop near Piccadilly Circus but found that it wasn't open when I arrived due to Sunday trading laws. So I went for a wander. The wonderful thing about the centre of London is how accessible everything is.

Over through a very peaceful Leicester Square. Then down towards Trafalgar but stopping off for a 45 minute wander about the National Portrait Gallery. (I shall never stop being amazed that these museums are free entry). Into Trafalgar Square, full of people enjoying the sunshine, time to watch some buskers before wandering back to find my shop open.

I am very lucky to be able to spend time like this with my mum. We are already making plans to tick more items off her list. Meanwhile she will be going gliding without me. That was an 81 birthday gift from her husband. You have got to love that!


Thursday 28 April 2016

February, March, April

So I fell behind in my bee block making. And with commissions pending I had to pull my finger out and put some time aside. All these are for the wonderful Stitch Tease Bee

First up was February for Dianne, who asked for Mid-century Modern blocks. I struggled with this but using her Pinterest board for inspiration I came up with these two.

For March Cindy gave us a super easy block (which I appreciated considering the month I've had) and it was just a matter of randomly pulling colours and cutting 2" squares. Throw in some low volume and Bob's your uncle.

It's my photography skills that are wonky,
not the blocks.
Finally, I made the April blocks for Agnieszka in the month they were actually due in. Small miracle there. Se asked for botanical blocks that resembled how a child would press flowers, taped down in a notebook, little hand printed labels.

I tried some thread painting for one of them. I have to say this was not as difficult as I thought it would be but I do believe a have a long way to go before I was proficient enough to be proud.

The second block was a no brainer.

It's my favourite of all the blocks I made in the last couple of days.

I hope all the lovely bee ladies are happy with what I made for them, albeit it late for two out of three. Now I am ready and can say, bring on the next round.


Wednesday 27 April 2016

Me Thin?

Yeah right. And here is one of the reasons why I'm not.

Emily made cupcakes on the weekend. Her piping skills far exceed mine. Seriously impressed with her chocolate roses.

If a bunch of luscious chocolate cupcakes wasn't enough to tempt me, then this appeared in our kitchen last night. This time Helen was the culprit.

The perspective doesn't truly give you a true impression of how big this ombre cake is. It's about six inches high for one. And there are four layers under that icing, with lemon curd and raspberry jam too. Once again, the piping skills put mine to shame.

So I can't lose weight because my girls are damn good bakers...

... and I have no willpower at all. That may factor into the equation.


Monday 25 April 2016

Finally, Another Reveal

These big reveal days are always exciting for me having had to keep secrets for extended periods of time, other than the odd sneak peek that I can give you without giving the game away. And in all probability, by the time I can reveal the projects you have forgotten all about the sneak peeks and...

... The point is, I made a quilt and I can show it to you now. Yay.

Photo courtesy of Love Patchwork & Quilting
I used all Lecien fabrics in this quilt - Ls Modern Basics for the blocks, their solids for the background and binding, and even the back which is a yarn dye and I will show you in a minute.

Photo courtesy of Love Patchwork & Quilting
I even got a little corner of the cover. Woohoo!

This pattern is a twist on the watermelon pink and white one that I did last for the magazine. I drew up so differently for me though though that I didn't catch on until it was almost finished. And it just goes to show that little tweaks on a block can completely change things and give you and all new quilt. So next time you are playing with block design I say tweak away. Who knows what may happen.

Because I love this quilt, here is a photo I took myself before it shipped off to Love Patchwork & Quilting.

You can see that it is spiral quilted, and to make that spiral more prominent I used charcoal thread instead of one that would blend in with the white.

Isn't it nice that quilting that looks so nice from a distance is in actual fact rather wonky and imperfect. All to be hidden with a good wash and some good old fashioned crinkling.

Finally, the back - which I may love as much as or more than the front. I know that is heretical but, come on, what's not to love?

I forgot how much I love this quilt. I send them off and then kind of forget about them until they come home again. This one will return soon and I think I will keep it. Many quilts I have a new home in mind before they are even returned but this one - this one I think will be mine, all mine.


Thursday 21 April 2016

A Very Successful Swap

Way back when I wrote some blog posts earlier this year I showed you a cushion cover I was making for a swap. Well, I finished it and posted it off to New Zealand to live in its new home. Liz says she likes it very much and that makes me happy. Because I liked it too.

In turn, Caroline - who lives in Southern California - sent me a wonderful cushion to live here with us.

Gorgeous HR unicorn, linen, Alison Glass, and the stitching.

The stitching is amazing. I need to up my game. The work Caroline put into this cushion is phenomenal. And I truly appreciate that she made the effort on my part.

Not only did she make me the cushion but Caroline went the extra mile and stalked me to find out my shoe size. (Sadly this is information you can find out on my social media.) Then she made me slippers.

Heather Ross slippers.

Almost too good to wear. Please note, I said almost.

And that is what you call a successful swap. Happy people all round. A huge thank you to Alison for twisting my arm and having me join in this swap she co-organised. She and Sami did a brilliant job.


Wednesday 20 April 2016

Was There Ever Any Doubt?

I have been very restrained on the fabric buying front for a very long time now. Though I have to admit that receiving fabric for some of my commissions has relieved the pressure on the 'must buy all the fabric all the time' gene.

There was never any doubt that there would be one fabric line I would purchase this year though.

Mendocino. Yeah, like I could ignore the re-release of one of my favourite lines from my very favourite fabric designer. That was not going to happen.

It helps when your husband promised you a birthday present last July and failed to fulfil said promise. I retained the knowledge and held on to it for the right moment. I'm special like that. The correct moment would have been when Mendocino came up for pre-sale. I helpfully brought up a yard bundle on my computer screen and called him over. Then I reminded him he had failed to provide the promised birthday present. Helpfully I suggested an alternative gift.

Yup, a full yard bundle. Guilt is a wonderful thing when you play your cards right. I do believe I played a winning hand.

And this Mendocino is now mine all mine. Woohoo!


Monday 18 April 2016


Long time readers of this blog may recognise that I have a (bad) habit. When the going gets tough the tough get going I hibernate. It is my way of dealing with stuff. I narrow life down to the essential and get on with it. My problem lies in getting back into the groove after things start to clear up.

So, since my last post things have been happening. I was busy with work. Both girls got ill. Fortunately they got better enough that my mum came to stay and for the first time himself and I went away, just the two of us, in fifteen years. (More on that shortly.)

We arrived back in the country and before we got home my mum was ringing to tell us she was worried about Helen, she wasn't well. So we beetled back home from the airport as fast as we could and within a short while of returning we were phoning for a ambulance. It couldn't come fast enough so we took her off to the hospital ourselves.

The long and short of it was many blood tests, administration of drugs, painkillers, rehydration, an x-ray, CT scan and lumbar puncture later we were relieved to be told she didn't have meningitis. And an EEG later it was confirmed she didn't have encephalitis. What she did have was bilateral bacterial pneumonia. And a four night hospital stay.

Since then it has been all about recovery, which is going to take a while longer. She is on partial school days, exhausted and fed up. I can't say I blame her. It is going to be weeks before she is fighting fit again but she will get there and soon it will all be a distant memory.

Meanwhile, Em threw a viral throat infection into the mix and barely ate or drank for five days. I had a bunch of work to catch up on. And all told everything put together left me exhausted myself. The blog paid the price. Sorry. But I am back and once again will endeavour to not let it go for so long again. It has been a miserable few months on the blogging front for me and I do miss it. I just need to get back in the groove and get the blogging routine re-established.

That's why I disappeared. Please do not worry, all is headed in the right direction once again in life. And I wish to have a happier stuff to talk about in this post...

... so let me tell you about our long weekend in the magical city of Carcassonne in Southwest France. Above is the view from our hotel room. It was so beautiful the way the buildings changed colour as the light changed during the day.

Him and me, well we never really had a honeymoon. And Helen arrived soon into our marriage. Holidays and escapes for just the two of us had to wait. This is not a complaint, but more an observation. Family changes the way life is and I wouldn't have it any other way. It isn't like I haven't had some pretty fabulous holidays over the years.

But Carcassonne was on my bucket list of 'things to do and see in the future'. My list is a mental one, I've never written it down. The list exists none the less. (Please note that I intend to put wanting to ride in a bi-plane to the top of the list next if I can.) Despite seeing huge chunks of the world there are lots of places for me still to see. If you have a 'places to go' bucket list and have never been then I highly recommend you add Carcassonne to your list.

The old city is walled - with two walls - and beautifully restored. It oozes character, lacks any tacky elements and abounds with restaurants and shops that lure you in.

We stayed in an amazing five star hotel with the friendliest staff I've ever come across. Every last person we dealt with was charming and welcoming. The hotel also has a Michelin starred restaurant. While we don't live the high life in general, far be it for us not to take advantage of the chance to partake in a little fine dining when such a chance was right there.

Six courses of exquisite food chosen by the chef, with the sommelier choosing wines to match. There I went thinking when we made this 'lucky dip' choice from the menu that we would get little samplings of wine. Um, no! He kept pouring and pouring more every other minute. Turns out that our sommelier had lived on the Isle of Wight and he enjoyed chatting to us about the island we too have lived on. Such a small world and a happy coincidence like that meant I had more wine in one night than I had in months. Can't say I didn't enjoy it though. That sommelier knew his wines.

Exploring the town is easily done on foot as it is small, but you can take all day doing it as you wander in and out of shops and stop for food.

You can also visit the old chateau and walk the city walls if you so desire. We did so desire. We went first thing one morning and had the city walls all to ourselves.

It was a magical long weekend and it was a shame that I didn't get to tell you all about it when I was still glowing from it all. But instead went from a five star hotel to sleeping in a hospital by my daughter's side. Such is life. I'm just happy we were home in time to be by her side.

I leave you with a final photo, of the stairs to our room. Who doesn't want circular stairs in a turret to get to their hotel room? Look at the fabulous way centuries of feet have worn them away. Honestly, weekends don't get much better than this.


Thursday 25 February 2016

Stuff I Made

I sewed over the weekend. And when I say that I mean I actually focused, got on with it, avoided distraction and sewed. And sewed. And sewed some more. So much easier to do when everyone is doing the same.

I turned my two piles of cut Lecien Ls Modern Basics into two quilt tops. All the charms I cut were turned into this.

Then the other pile of fabric became this.

I am going to finish these quilts (eventually) and they will donated to Siblings Together. I have given to this charity for the past few years and would like to continue to do so. I really like the thought of these two quilts going to sisters (or brothers, or a brother and sister) who are in care but unable to live together. And I like that when I have lots of fabric leftover from a commission that I can put that fabric to good use.

Those two quilt tops took up almost the entirety of my weekend sewing time. All I managed to squeeze in otherwise was a Brit Bee quilt block for Jude that measures up at 15" x 30". I was glad that I managed to make a feather the right size in this bee what with the nightmare I had last time I tried. Though Di bringing me templates would have more than a lot to do with me getting it right this time.

I wonder when I will be able to accomplish that much that quickly again?


Wednesday 24 February 2016

Big Birthdays and a Plus One

We Brit Bee managed to pull a couple of surprises this weekend. As we are quilters we like to make quilts to celebrate occasions within our group. It would be silly not to really. This time it was the turn of Fiona, who celebrated a big birthday in the past twelve months. (We like to make quilts but no one said we give them in time.)

As always we each contributed a block or two for the quilt. Katy coordinated us all and pieced them. Trudi, our quilting guru did the quilting and then Di did the binding.

We totally caught Fiona by surprise. She is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Being able to see her receive this quilt was a total pleasure.

Next up was the turn of our youngest member (and founding bee mama) who is about to add to our Brit Bee The Next Generation population. Again we had a quilt, and a few baby items as well because shopping for babies is too much fun to pass up.

There is almost five years of history in our Brit Bee group now. There has been more happenings than we ever could have imagined. And I wouldn't be without a single one of them.

I leave you with this happy photo.

I am so, so lucky to be a part of all this.