Tuesday, 31 August 2010

One of those days...so take me back to Brownsea

My mum, niece and I went to Brownsea Island for the first time last year when on holiday in Bournemouth, Dorset. We enjoyed it so much we decided to go back and spend a day there this year and explore a different part of the Island.

Brownsea Island is a 500 Acre Island in Poole Harbour comprising a pinewood, heathland and salt marsh. It makes for a varied natural landscape and when you take the 20 minute ferry trip from Poole Quay it's hard to imagine you're so close to a vibrant bustling place like Poole. Here's a fact to remember for any quizzers - Poole Harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world - after Syndey Harbour in Australia. If you think you've heard of Brownsea Island, but aren't sure why it's probably most famous for being the place where, in 1907 Baden-Powell held the first Scout camp. It's also one of the few places where Red Squirrels thrive as there are no greys on the Island.

The National Trust take care of Brownsea Island, so securing its long term future. The North of the Island is leased as a Nature reserve and there are hides and nature trails you can follow. This year we concentrated on finding an easy route to the beach. We didn't have such great weather for our holiday this year - but the day we went to Brownsea Island the sun shone and the skies were blue.

This looks more like an Island in the Med!

We need to find our way to that beach!

Lichen on a branch on the way to the beach.

We found the beach

I love this tree - I took this from the ferry - I did the same thing last year but the picture wasn't so good. It would be good inspiration for some needle felting.

So why is today a bad day? The day after we went to Brownsea Island I twisted my ankle and it's been causing me some problems. I went to the doctors today and he sent me off to A&E for an x-ray as he suspects a break. Unfortunately triage said they can't authorise an x-ray because the injury happened two weeks ago and I hadn't been given a form by my GP. So I had to wait some more before I was seen by a nurse who wouldn't authorise an x-ray either without paperwork from the GP. She said she would only treat for a sprain. I phoned my GP who said you need an X-ray, you meet the criteria so said he'd get the form faxed and get the hospital to phone me for an appointment. I'm still waiting, I still have a sore ankle - some stupid exercises to do for a sprain - which I can't do as I can't move my foot the way I need to in order to do that and I can't use my sewing machine. Still tomorrow is another day and at least the sun was shining all day today!

Sunday, 29 August 2010


Anyone reading yesterdays post might be wondering how on earth I got 20 5" squares out of a fat quarter...well I did sort of wonder about that when I counted my first 20. It wasn't until I was ironing 82 squares that I realised they looked awfully small for 5" squares. Doh!

When I checked my template and my cutting mat I realised I'd put the template on the 1" mark and read 5" so thought I was good to go. I should have moved the template a whole inch over to the left of the 1" marker. As it is all the squares I've cut are 4" squares. I had this horrible feeling any of my disappearing nine patch blocks would in parts look so small they'd be stupid and unworkable in even a lap sized quilt. So I took a selection of 9 squares I'd cut and sewed them together to create my first block. Well there is no point cutting up a load more of my stash if it won't work for this project - thankfully the 4 fat quarters I'd cut up so far were ones I had more than 1 fat quarter of.

This is the block I've made. I'm happy enough with it to continue in this size - phew (what else was I gonna do with 82 4" squares?).

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Creativity is back on track.

I've started cutting out 5" squares from my Mendocino stash. I can get 20 squares from a fat quarter and that leaves me some long thin scraps I can use for other scrappy projects. I have some more Mendocino coming in a swap and 10 fat quarters from a different Etsy supplier. I'm hoping I'm going to have enough to make a decent sized quilt. Even though I've done the maths for each block, I've not worked out how many blocks I'll need. I like to fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants in at least part of my projects :-)

Talking of scraps I've signed up for the Scrappy Pinchushion Swap over on Flickr. I'd missed round one, but have been admiring all the fun with this swap for some time. This swap appeals to me because it's not too *big* and it should be doable without huge pressure.

This morning I went into Oxford shopping. Oxford now has a Paperchase store back and I bought some goodies for stocking fillers. Yes, I'm already thinking about Christmas and I hope to get cracking on some quilted stockings shortly. I'll post some pictures, although as at least one recipient could be checking in, there will be lots of sneak peaks rather than finished items ;-) I am also planning a house warming pressie for one of my friends that is moving at the moment. (So many people I know are moving right now.) I think she twigged I'm making her something earlier when I sent a text earlier asking for some measurements. What I will say is it will be cheery, practical, fun and utilise scraps...

I have been reorganising my stash a lot of late - so I can access what I have easily, cut down on clutter and make sure I use what I have instead of keep storing it and buying new just because it's lovely and I *may* find a use for it one day. A big proportion of my stash is quite traditional and eclectic stuff that's caught my eye over the years and rather than destash, (because I still love a lot of it) I want to use it by mixing it with some of the more modern fabrics I'm buying these days. Of course this means I do need a system of fabric storage that works for me. I can't really justify a whole room given over to craft and sewing. Portable projects I like to do on the sofa or floor in front of the TV anyway. I have a small corner of the dinning room as a sewing/craft storage area and use the dining room table when I want to sew with my machine. I have been mixing in long kept scraps with newly acquired ones - including ones from remnant and scrap bag purchases recently. I keep them in this plastic box and love how they look like nice mini bolts.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Busy, Busy Me as the Long weekend starts...

Last night started off with a fun night out with a group of Bookcrossing girlies. We met in a pub in Oxford, had a nice meal, a chat, swapped books and talked about things we'd been reading and things we want to be reading. We had a great book swap game and I ended up with: "Random Acts of Heroic Love" by Danny Scheinmann, which I'm really looking forward to reading.

Today I had the day off from work and my Mum and I took ourselves off to the Chiltern Craft Fair at Stonor. It's a craft fair I try and get to every year because they have a large selection of different crafts with a good mix of old favourites and new sellers each year. It was looking like we were in for more rain so I didn't bother carting my camera there. I was quite restrained too. I did a little bit of Christmas shopping, bought myself a couple of pairs of earrings (because a girl can't have too many) and also watched an interesting demonstration on how dichroic glass gets fused. I'm home but tired.

I may start reading one of the books I picked up last night...

...or I may start cutting 5" squares out of my newly acquired Mendocino stash. I've decided to make a disappearing nine patch quilt with it and maybe applique a turtle on top because I have a bit of a turtle thing going on right now.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

So what first?

Do you ever get that thing where you are so buzzing with potential projects and so much non creative stuff to do, you just don't know where to get started? That's the position I'm in. I've been sorting photos all afternoon so I can take some in to get printed properly. I've also been lurking on Flickr, browsing on Etsy and catching up with some blog reading and I just don't know what project to tackle first...

I'm keen to sign up with some of the great swaps going on over on Flickr because I'm much better at getting stuff done when there is a purpose behind it. As much as I love making quilts and other stuff I don't want a house full of things I made - just because I needed to get creative. Also, until recently I've been really bad about photographing the goodies I've made - I always intend to - all to often stuff gets given away and I realise I haven't. I'm thinking if I sign up for any swaps I really should have some more stuff in my Flickr photostream so the swap mamma's can check I'm not some sort of incompetent nitwit who nobody would want to swap with. ;-)

But before I do more than go through my stash again here's some more holiday snaps. :-)

Bournemouth pier from the beach.

My niece making a mountain with a tunnel through it. I think she was going to add a castle but the weather got the better of us...

Just what you don't want to see coming over the end of the pier when you're settled at the beach :-S

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Some where beneath the sea....

I got home from work to these goodies in the mail. *squeals*

When I received my order of Heather Ross Mendocino fat quarters recently I loved it so much I went back to the Etsy shop and ordered another bundle in gold...she had this great: 'having a break from the shop' postage rate so the next day I ordered a near duplication of the first order too (that arrived when I was on holiday - a lovely surprise to return home too!) The other goodies to arrive were the tiny glass bottles. I think my pre holiday mind had been focused on the seaside as these bottles remind me of 'message in a bottle' bottles. I've got a few ideas of things to do with them. But really they were a bought on a bit of a whim. Aren't they cute?

Ok, so now's the time to look away if you don't want to see some holiday snaps...you've been warned ;-)

The following pics were taking on this years trip to the Bournemouth Oceanarium. Sea life is just so inspiring!

I just love both these turtles. I'm thinking maybe some turtle applique on top of the quilt I use the Mendocino in?

Monday, 23 August 2010

I'm back...

Boy am I tired out after 8 days spent with my Mum and my niece on our annual trip to Bournemouth on the South Coast of England. I expect my next few blog entries will be full of holiday snaps...if that isn't your kind of thing well...sorry...once I can get caught up with the mountain of washing and chores I'll get back to the crafty stuff!

As you can see my niece and I used our new bags while we were away. We were even stopped on Brownsea Island by a fellow quilter who admired them.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Another new recruit

For the next 8 - 10 days I'll have no Internet access so this will be my last post for a while. It'll also explain why I'm not commenting or getting back to you. My head is buzzing with things to make so hopefully I'll have plenty more posts in the future showing you what I've been making.

The other day I made an small across the body bag for my niece. It was made from one leg of a pair of army trousers, a skinny quarter of fabric, same of wadding and some fabric scraps. I had already made myself a bag for my holiday out of an army shirt. Ever since I made my niece her bag I've been wanting one myself. I loved the Kaffe Fassett fabric I used in hers and was tempted to use some for mine. I only have an uncut 1 metre left and didn't want to cut into that. So I settled on another skinny quarter. This time a Philip Jacobs design. The bags are pretty much the same design only different. I'm taking mine on holiday instead of the big one. My other half may not be able to come on holiday with us, but at least I'm taking part of him with me - A trouser leg and a shirt sleeve that used to belong to him anyway!

This is the first time I've cut into my recently acquired Heather Ross (Spoonflower) gnomes. I think they will love travelling about on this bag.

I actually made the body of this bag last Sunday. Utilising the pocket was more of a faff because of another pocket on this side of the trousers. I decided to unpick and have stitched it on this side of the bag. It's made a double pocket with some of the left over Dahlia's fabric that my nieces bag was made from.

Do you like the straps? I confess last Sunday when I was making this bag it was more fiddly than my nieces one - maybe because of the pocket issue - anyway I completely messed up the straps. I have left it all week to re-do the straps because I figured they went wrong last week because I was tired and trying to rush.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Favourite things Friday: - BookCrossing

BookCrossing - Because books just want to be free...

I was introduced to BookCrossing back in 2005. It's a wonderful initiative that lets you register books on a website so you can keep track of where they go in the future. Ok, that's the simplified version. If you go to the website you can find out more. And I urge you to do so - even if you don't think it's going to be for you!

Why is BookCrossing one of my favourite things? That's what this blog entry is really about. BookCrossing has an active community both online and off; with BookCrossers regularly meeting up all over the globe to catch up with like minded people who share a passion for books and reading. Through BookCrossing I've discovered new books and authors that I'd probably never heard of without BookCrossing. You can swap books with other BookCrossers - we're a friendly bunch. There are also RABCK's too - Random act's of bookcrossing kindness whereby members will surprise other members with a book they might like to read - just because.

It's so fun when you release a book and get a "catch."

A themed release - a wild book on a church wall

Me and some other BookCrossers at a meet up playing the Book Swap Game.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Mermaids in the post.

Don't you just love days when you get home from work and find that you've had goodies turn up in the post?

Today was one of those days for me. I've been drooling over Heather Ross Mendocino for some time now. If it was ever in the fabric shops around here I missed out on it. I missed out on it at online suppliers too. So imagine how stoked I was to find some on Etsy recently. Today my first order arrived. 6 fat quarters which will probably end up in lap sized quilt.

Any left overs I'll use in a doll sized quilt. I've been admiring the work of the DQS group over on flickr for some time. I've only ever made a couple of doll sized quilts before - it's a size that really appeals to me though. I'd love to join the swap one day.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Quilting begins!

Yes, I know I said I'd wait for it to get cooler before I decided to start quilting. Having basted the quilt last night I couldn't wait to get started on the quilting (hmmm anything to delay the boring housework!)

I may go a little quiet from here on in. I am itching to get started on a million other projects - BUT I want to finish this one more!

So here are some yummy close ups of parts of the basted quilt. Those of you that were kind enough to raid your stash to donate or swap with me can grab yourself a cuppa and play spot the swapped hexie.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Favourite Things Friday: What Would Mrs Beeton Do?

Earlier in the year a friend and I went to stay with my cousin in Somerset. I'd only been telling my cousin I'd come and stay for the last...oh 20 odd years. However, due to the age of her and her husband, (and the maintenance required of their very lovely 4 bedroom thatched house) they've decided to downsize. I thought if I didn't get down there now I'd miss the opportunity - we actually arrived as the first house viewing was taking place! I don't envy her having to get rid of more cherished possessions. Can you imagine how delighted I was when she asked if I wanted this?

She also gave me the small photos of our great aunts Em and Laura. Both were in service and this book was a present from Em to Laura. (Laura was a cook.) The book is not only part of my family history, (I still live in the home where these two ladies grew up) but a wonderful insight into the social history of the time. I love the way this book has been used and cherished. I get pleasure from reading sections much as you would a novel. Of course there are times when I'm cooking and I can ask myself: What would Mrs Beeton do?

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Taaaa Dah!

See I've finished the piecing. I was going to baste the quilt today, ready for quilting, but I've had quite and eventful day. The good bit was my other half had a few hours off from his exercise, so came and spent them with me this afternoon. The bad bit was waking up at 1.30am this morning with a really itchy ankle (something bit me a couple of weeks ago. Only it hadn't really been a problem until now.) I went to the chemist to get something to relieve the itching and she said I needed to go to the doctors. I am now on antibiotics and have a Biro tide-mark around the infection. If it spreads beyond that I have to go straight back to the doctors. It probably explains while I've been feeling so grotty and sleepy the last couple of days.

So for now here's another pic of the quilt top. (I'll get more with detail another day.)

This is a picture of my festering foot. Those of a sensitive nature may choose to look away now...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Breaking News!!!!

...we interrupt this Blog feed to make an important announcement!...

I have at last finished piecing my hexie quilt top. No photos at the moment because it's dark here and I want to go and photograph this outside in the sunshine! I am not sure how many hexies are in this quilt so far. I need to do some counting!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Walking with Wolves

Today, through Spice I have had the opportunity to go walking with two beautiful wolves called Mosi and Mai in the Berkshire countryside near Reading. I can't tell you what a fabulous experience it is to get so close to these wild animals that you can tickle their tummies. As for the howling - well wolves died out in the England in the 1700's so there is something quite eerie and special to be able to hear them howling to each other in the English countryside.

Above and Below is me meeting Mai.

This is me meeting Mosi

The event was held at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust
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