Tuesday, 28 October 2014

"Friends are like stars...

...you don't always see them but know they are there." 



Finished Hipbee Quilt

A couple of years (or more now!) ago I was invited to join a new bee that was starting called the 'hipBee'. I knew some of my fellow bee members already either online or in real life and looked forwarded to getting to know those members that I didn't know already.

The bee was to be a low pressure swap. I think I got to be queen bee about the third month in. There was a range of abilities in the group. Some were experienced advanced quilters and other complete beginners. Many of us were in between the two somewhere. When it was my month I gave my fellow hipbees the choice of making me whatever star block they fancied. They could go for a simple wonky star or a more complicated star block.  I sent out packs of Denyse Schmidt fabrics from a selection of her ranges and some Klona cream to use as background fabric.

I got back a lovely range of stars and promptly put them to one side whilst I waited for one last block to come in. It gave me time to decide what to do with the blocks. The hipbee members were only making one block (not the usual two blocks a month most bees specify) and to get anything other than a baby sized quilt I was either going to have to make more blocks, add more negative space or do something completely different to make it a useful sized quilt.  I kept pondering what to do for the best and not actually getting on with any sewing!

Back in the spring I got the blocks out and pieced them into a top. I made some extra blocks myself and added in some negative space. I'd wanted people to have a go at a block they'd enjoy and maybe try something new or challenging. But not get so stressed about the outcome that the bee experience turned negative.  I wasn't overly worried if the blocks came out a bit bigger or smaller. I had so many worried emails from people who'd tried something and lost points on stars of miscalculated and made them a bit big or small. I sorted the blocks roughly into size and joined them together adding bits of extra background material as needed.

I added a border of more DS fabrics and then a sashing strip of background fabric. After that I basted the quilt and started hand quilting in perle. It was not an easy job as the klona was quite stiff to sew through. If you plan on doing a lot of hand quilting with perle you might want to invest in kona not klona. Whilst Klona washes up lovely and soft it has a lot stiffer texture when unwashed.

The weather turned and the last thing I wanted to do was sew in hot weather under a snuggly quilt. So I put it to one side and only went back to it when the weather turned. A few hours here and there over a weekend and in evenings and the quilt was quilted. (We just won't look at the stitching on the back ok?!)

Chief not turning up the other Sunday meant I could make binding and get the quilt bound. I then had to wait for the weather to improve enough for me to get some snaps.

I had promised myself I'd do proper quilt photo shoots and not just sling the quilts over the back fence, the front bench or lay them out on the lawn. But really I'm so busy right now and the weather is not playing ball, so I've had to resort to my usual approach after all.


Finished Hipbee Quilt

I can't thank my fellow hipbees enough for making the blocks that went into this special quilt. Not all of them blog so I do hope they get to see this blog post and to see how the quilt worked out in the end. 

This is also my first finish in Q4 of the finish along. My original list is here. Even if I don't finish another item on the list the most important one has been done. 

Finish Along 2014

Thursday, 23 October 2014

When Life Gets In the Way

So much has happened since I last blogged. I can't even remember half of it. I've had car trouble when a spring broke thanks to the rubbish condition of the roads - or at least that's what the garage told me. They said they used to do 5 a year now it's more like that a month. It meant being without my car over night and walking to work and changing plans due to lack of transport.

Then Chief couldn't get down last Sunday as planned. He's got a frozen shoulder and sometimes it plays up really badly. On this occasion he was struggling to even get dressed and in the process of trying to compensate for what he couldn't do he managed to hurt his back. Never rains but it pours. There was however a silver lining as suddenly faced with a whole day to myself, I could make binding and finish my hipbee's quilt.


#hipbees a finished quilt. Better pics when I can get outside and it's not blowibg a gale

I went for a scrappy Denyse Schmidt fabric binding to match the scrappiness of the quilt. The weather has either been too dull, wet or windy for me to do a proper photo shoot. But I will do as this lovely quilt deserves a dedicated blog post.

I also found time to read and bake on Sunday too.

Rock cakes. Hope they taste better than they look. Mix was a tad wet
rock cakes

Then I picked my Mum up after work on Monday and she announced bro was coming up to decorate the next day. Could I clear out the bathroom, hallway and wash the walls down? I managed to get it all done.  Although I didn't do a very good job of the washing down bit. If bro thought it was rubbish he didn't comment!

And so it begins
only snap I took of the clearing out in progress.

There was a bit of drama when I found an issue thanks to ongoing damp problems. I have to pretty much face that despite doing all I can to hold back the damp in our little cottage, I'll never eradicate it. 

The hall has changed from blue to a white shade. It's made it lighter and brighter. 

My hallway used to be blue

Not sure when bro will be finished. This phase is just bathroom and hallway. I have treated myself to new towels as I was bored with spending money on worn out things (car/boiler/paint.) 

So there has been no time for further sewing (I can't get to my sewing equipment/fabric.) But having finished one item on my Quarter 4 Finish-A-Long list I'm keen to get cracking on the rest.



Sunday, 12 October 2014

Another weekend bites the dust.

Thank you for all your comments and emails regarding my last but one post. I feel much better about blogging when I feel like it and more importantly about anything I like. Your continued support and friendship towards me is much appreciated.

Even though time has been lacking for sewing I have managed to go back to this:


Quilting continues x 
Hand quilting of my hipbee quilt.

It has spent the warm weather hung over the back of a chair in the living room, waiting for me to get back to it. Hand quilting a thick quilt in the summer months did not appeal. But now the weather has turned and I started to do my final quarter finish-a-long list, I was reminded of this quilt and have started quilting it. I've been at this over the past few days and have my sore fingers as testament to how much stitching I've done. I am on the very final stretch of the hand quilting bit. We'll not look at the back.

I will raid my Denyse Schmidt fabrics to make a scrappy binding. All the fabric apart from the solid and backing are Denyse Schmidt fabrics.

Like my one other bee quilt, this will be a quilt to treasure. Not in a prissy lets-put-it-behind-glass-and-never-use-it sort of way.  I want to be able to snuggle under quilts like this and remember my time in the hipbee's. The only bee I've been in and completed a cycle. I want to remember the friends old and new I made whilst in this bee.

This is not all I've been doing this weekend. Apart from the ongoing chores which never seem to end. I made some cupcakes.


Cupcakes

Then after a delicious Sunday lunch Mum and I popped over to Waterperry's Apple Weekend. I think I went to one of these events many years ago. I've always wanted to go back. Mum has a cold so I didn't want to drag her around too much. We did a couple of circuits of the glass house where they had the apples displayed, as well as lots of tempting foody and countryside goodies to purchase. 

Apple Weekend at Waterperry Gardens

Apple Weekend at Waterperry Gardens

We had just gone outside to find there was a group of Morris Men about to entertain us. 

Morris Men Dancing

We watched them do a couple of dances and then headed off to have a wander in the shopping areas before heading for home. 

Now I'm craving a cheese sandwich with some of the apple and pear chutney I bought today; so that's what I'm off to go and get.




Thursday, 9 October 2014

Q4 Finish-A-long: It's a biggie of a list!

I actually did more finishes off my list last quarter than I had in the previous two quarters! But there are still more things on the list that need finishing and part of my new decluttering/simplifying life regime means it would be far better to get finished some half started projects rather than keep starting new ones. So I'm going to put as many things as I can on this list and we'll see how well I do. I'm not ruling out Katy coming to kick my butt if I don't finish at least one project. It's not like she doesn't know where I live.

First up:

Yes, the camera cushions have not been made for the hide. Chief will be out of the army and perhaps no where near the hide they're supposed to be for if I don't do more than this!


IMG_9563 

The hexies I have made into a panel but not made into the cushion I thought they'd be mighty nice as.


Just a few bits to sew. But should I go bigger or sash what I've done so far?

Hipbee blocks - I didn't touch them as it was too hot in the last quarter to sit with a quilt on my lap and hand quilt. I really really want to get this finished as it wouldn't take that much more work and I'd so love to get it quilted and then bound.


Quilting is hard on the fingers as klona seams are quite stiff. Loving how it looks #hipbees

These just need hemming. I even have a blog post half written about their making.  Now the weather has turned it would be useful to be able to wear these!

Saturday

I have this half started somewhere. It's supposed to be a cross pillow cover - I've started sewing some of the crosses together and that's all!

Happy Go Lucky - cut up and ready one day to become a cushion cover!

And talking of cushion covers I have this EPP started but not finished.

Bank Holiday Monday

And this was intended to become a cushion.  I made the panel and fused with fusible fleece and pretty much did very little else with it.

WIP

Oh and there is this panel that I created to do the kantha style quilting on it at last years FQR only I didn't make it to that table top session. (too exhausted.) I started quilting on my own with a view to making a cushion or mini quilt and didn't get any further.

What I'd intended doing on Sunday at the FQR

I decided to make a lap quilt out of my vintage sheets as a present. Can't say much more obviously. But having started to cut charms I began to wonder if my love of just doing vintage sheet quilts in squares was a bit boring so stopped. But I need to get my act together as Christmas is coming.

WIP's

I bought these Oakshotts at FQR2013 because I liked them. Then I hit upon an idea to make myself a Christmas table runner. Involving dresden blades and matchstick quilting. I bought Aurifil from Cindy and didn't do any more. (Need to find my dresden ruler too.)


WIP's

Oh and I had a panel and some Christmas fabric with co-ordinating kona to make some Christmas table mats. I cut up some of the panel and didn't do anything else. I actually need to find that. Can't find a picture of it. So maybe it doesn't count for the link up?

Still I have enough else on the list as it is!

Linking up with Katy for the last time this year: 


Finish Along 2014






Thursday, 2 October 2014

Trying to find my mojo

I was going to stop blogging. I have stopped sewing. I'm not sure that I've stopped sewing for good. But I just don't have the time or inclination to sew right now. I figure most people are only interested in my creative endeavours so blogging seems a bit pointless.  I know some people blog as a personal record. I am addicted to making year books via Blurb. You download software to your computer and then upload your own photos and text. Then when you've got your book finished you upload it to blurb, pay according to size, paper, number of pages etc and a couple of weeks later you get a book arrive that is like a proper book from a bookshop. So I have no need to use my blog as a personal record. I've been pondering as to whether I should keep blogging. Have a blogging break; only blog when I have made something or maybe stop blogging altogether.

I <3 Blurb books!
A selection of my blurb year books.

I saw this interesting post that actually said writers are healthier than those who don't!

So while I ponder this issue further I'll tell you about last weekend.

Last weekend my Mum and I had tickets to go to the Malvern Autumn Show. I'd been to the spring show before but never the Autumn.  I try not to book stuff at weekends in case the one weekend I pick is the one weekend that month Chief gets free. It's even harder organising to see him right now as whilst he works out his notice he's working up north a lot. Sods law that having paid coach and show tickets he then announced he could get down that weekend. As there were spare seats on the coach we managed to get him a ticket. Although I was a bit nervous as to whether he'd like it. He'd already said he was giving up a day bird watching (he had plans if I went off the show and he had the day to himself.) As it turned out I think he enjoyed the show more than me. The show is vast. It seemed bigger and more crowded than the spring one I went to a few years ago. Also we didn't look at a map or a guide; just wandered aimlessly. I kept seeing all these people with plants they'd purchased.  We only found plant sellers half an hour before we had to go back to the coach. As a result the only thing I bought all day was some black charcoal cheese, which I'm saving for Christmas.  Chief on the other hand bought a shirt and some trousers. (The latter I ended up taking up whilst he went off to pick us up a takeaway!)

Malvern Autumn Show 2014
This whopper of a pumpkin was the largest at the show. It weighed
457kg!!!

Vintage Tea at The Malvern Autumn Show
They had a vintage area including a vintage tea shop!

The Maltern Autumn Show, 2014
Not surprisingly flowers were my favourite thing

The Maltern Autumn Show, 2014

Dahlias, Malvern Autumn Show 2014 

The Malvern Autumn Show 2014

The Malvern Autumn Show 2014
There was more veg than I've ever
seen displayed in one place.

Malvern Autumn Show 2014
There were so many animals too.
Chief pretty much stroked anything he went near.

Malvern Autumn Show 2014

I think we were all exhausted by the time we got back to the coach. The next day we woke up and despite being tired the sun was shining and it lured us out to Farmoor. Chief said we'd just walk along the causeway and then turn back. But at the end of the causeway the sun was so lovely we were tempted to walk back around the smallest reservoir. We'd not done this walk before.

I also added three new birds to my list for the year: A Kingfisher (too fast to get pics.), 

rock Pipit with a Pied Wagtail
A rock pipit (with a pied wagtail behind.)

Wheatear
A lone Wheatear

We headed for home around lunch time and decided to look for a pub to get some lunch. I saw a sign for 'The Perch' which I'd heard of but not visited before. We managed to bag a table in the garden, which was very busy and Chief went and ordered some food. I can't believe at the end of September I was sat in the garden like this: 


The Perch, Binsey Lane, Oxford
bare arms and tired eyes.

Soon it was time for us to get back home and Chief to get back to camp. He'd thought at that stage he was going to have go up North the same day. But luckily he had a reprieve. 

So that was my weekend. Not a stitch made other than in taking up his trousers. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

All Change

Fabric drawers emptied onto living room floor! Big sort out coming on!

See that pile up there? That's the contents of my fabric stash drawers. It was all neatly-ish folded in the drawers. Pretty crammed and all that, but still folded. So you can be forgiven for wondering why on earth I dumped it all out onto the living room floor this afternoon.

Well, the plan is to relocate the drawers into the adjoining dining/sewing room and sorting it all out so that it becomes a proper dining-cum-sewing room. Rather than a place where I sew at my machine, whilst surrounded by detritus. I'm rarely able to eat at the dining room table and I'd like to say that was because creative stuff was happening. In reality the room is just a dumping ground for anything crafty and stuff that doesn't have a home else where.

The chest is now relocated and drawers back to their crammed state. I said I'd never destash because the moment fabric is gone I'll wish I hadn't. Really there is some fabric I'll never use. The question is would anyone else want it either? 

I am going to have to be ruthless. Once upon a time the said chest of drawers actually held paper and card making materials. All that has been decanted into a big plastic box under the area where I cut for some time. I need to go through it and destash lots of other craft materials I'll be unlikely to use again. I haven't ventured into the craft tubs under the cutting area for months - years maybe. I really feel it needs to be a case of use it or lose it.

So wish me luck. This is going to be a hard one.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Opps I'm a bit late with this. As despite dragging myself out of my sick bed at the weekend to start on it I haven't been back online to post it! Sorry! 

I've been tagged by the lovely Lynz in the Around the World Blog Hop (and I've dragged myself out of my sick bed to play along. So excuse any rubbish I may type - over and above normal that is.)

So for those of you that don't know me and are checking in because of the blog hop I'll tell you a bit about myself.

Quilting/sewing is just one of my passions. I also love to read, spend time out doors and if I can combine photography with any of the others so much the better. I live in Oxfordshire, England and my other half: Chief is in the army. (For the time being at least.)

Onto the questions:

1. What am I working on

Ok, I'll be completely honest but I've not done a single stitch on my sewing machine since before my holiday in August. It's not so much lack of motivation, but lack of time as two weeks after that holiday I had another week off which involved some more travelling. Now I'm getting back to normal I have a lurgy. But the project I most want to get back to is this:


Bank Holiday Monday
This epp wafers pattern is by Nellies Niceties and is destined to become a cushion.



Before I get back to much sewing though I plan on a huge declutter/clear up which might just see at the end of it my dining room become my proper sewing room. I've also bought 6 cushion pads so I do need to get on with making some more cushions.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Umm it doesn't really. I am not a trend setter and am not entirely convinced that many of the trendsetters out there are doing anything that original either.  My tastes are pretty eclectic. Often driven by nothing more than the love of different fabrics and colours. 

3. Why do I create/write what I do?

Really I could have gone in any number of directions. I've certainly tried a variety of crafts over the years: jewellery making, embroidery, print making, lace making, card making - you name it I may well have tried it. I've always been drawn to textiles and by luck about four years ago I found this wonderfully creative community over on flickr and that got me started on blogging and firmly placed me in the quilting/sewing world. Sometimes I long to get back to the more art textiles, but as it doesn't seem to sit with what I do here, I never have taken the lid off of those storage boxes and got on with fulfilling that urge. Maybe one day! What I am sure is that I'm driven by a need to make things. Anything. Just as long as I'm creating I'm happy.


finished my hexie quilt! (Piecing the top at least)
This is the hexie quilt I made after finding a QAL on flickr. It's what started me off
blogging and quilting/patchworking again.

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

I'm often drawn and influenced to the wonderful array of fabrics out there. My other biggest influence has to be my cottage garden and the countryside around me. I work my colour process by what works in my garden and to be fair in a cottage garden everything works colour wise. Of course I'm also influenced by what I see going on in this online community.

Front Garden

I hope that's given you a little insight into my creative process. I'm now tagging three two blogging friends:

First up is Rachel who blogs at Mammafairy Sews I got to know her when we were both in the hipbee's round one. I was also fortunate enough to get to met her for real when we were both at the 2013 Fat Quarterly Retreat.

Secondly is Janet who blogs over here.  I have been following Janet's blog for some time and there is a lovely mix of  creative stuff and general life. I especially enjoy seeing a countryside and way of life that is so different to mine over in England.

Now I didn't hear back from the third person I'd hoped to tag and as I'm already late with this I'll just stick with the two.







Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Three Happy Things

I had a whole week off work to spend with Chief last week. It was the most time we'd spent in one go together in the last 7 years. The only thing to take the shine off our time together was illness - mine at the start of the week and his at the end; when he was totally exhausted from all the driving. But we made the most of out time together and the hardest part is finding the words and limiting the pictures to blog about it. So I'm restricting myself to just 3 happy things to share with you. (Although there are loads more pictures over on flickr.)

So here in no particular order are three happy things from our three day trip to Yorkshire.

1. Bempton Cliffs - No break away with Chief is going to be complete without some birds. He has two passions in life - his football team and birds. If he plans any trip it will have to include birds. I'd never been to Bempton Cliffs or seen the gannets. It wasn't the best time of year to go as birds like Puffins, Razor bills and Kittiwakes are long gone. But the gannets were pretty amazing.

Gannet at Bempton Cliffs

2. Seals at Greatham Creek, Seal Sands. Whenever Chief has been to see the seals I always comment on how I've never seen seals in the wild. So on Tuesday when we checked out he told me to get my camera ready because we'd not be making the four hour journey home quite yet. He detoured to see if the tide was out and the seals were basking. That detour also took in lots of other local highlights so that I got the most out of our trip north.

Seals at Seal Sands

3. Bird Island - We both had tombola birthday's this year (ones that end in a 0 or 5) and to my mind this is a cause for celebration. Although to be fair I can use anything as an excuse for a celebration! So when a special hotel up North happened to have two luxury rooms available and one of them was called Bird Island it was a no brainer that we'd blow our trip budget on one fabulous night. Not disappointed. Our own in room sauna and private hot tub.


Bird Island
The bed was so comfy I wanted to take it home. Especially the peacock
cushions!


Private Sauna
In room sauna just for us.

Bird Island Private Hot Tub
Our own private hot tub. It got a lot of use and was really
rather romantic being in this at night looking for stars.


But now normal life returns and I'm trying to find time and inclination to get on with some sewing. 



Thursday, 28 August 2014

Cold toes and other signs of Summers End?

Since I returned from Bournemouth it's been noticeably cooler. I've been back in full length jeans and been reaching for a cardigan and socks more often than not. Last Sunday I went out for a walk and it seemed that the signs of summer ending were creeping into every photo I took.


Signs of Autumn 
Loving all the yellow and reds

Signs of Autumn 

Signs of Autumn
Can't believe how many of the trees are starting to turn! 

Signs of Autumn 

Signs of Autumn 

Signs of Autumn

I've sewn together half of my wafers. They come together quickly. I'm just going slow because I'm enjoying the pondering over fabrics. I'm thinking if these cooler temps continue I'll be back to hand quilting my HipBee's star quilt soon. It will at least keeping my toes warm as I curl up on the sofa and stitch.