Monday, 27 June 2011

Bucks Open Studios

Saturday a friend and I went to a couple of locations featuring artists exhibiting for Bucks Open Studios.  We started off at Monks Risborough at St Dunstan's Church where a selection of artists had set up their work. Monks Risborough claims to be the oldest recorded parish in England. (It's amazing the stuff you find out when you look up a place to blog about it!)

St Dunstan's Church at Monks Risborough

There was a wide cross sections of mediums being exhibited including: felt made goods, textile wall art, shaker style boxes, sculptures, paintings and jewellery. In fact I bought a small pendant which I'm yet to photograph. But I guess regular readers knew that was coming with my love of jewellery!

When we came out of the church (after tea and cake and a jewellery purchase each) we found this wonderful vintage car had parked in front of my friends Fiesta. Isn't it lovely?

Vintage Ride

From Monks Risborough we went on to nearby Haddenham. I have a bit of a soft spot for this village. It's  the largest one of the few Wychert villages, which gives it quite a distinctive look and feel. It's close rail links to London and accessibility to a variety of motorways makes it a highly desirable village to live in. I only took a couple of (poor hence no posting) pictures because we had limited time and were there to visit more artist venues and have some lunch.  It's a village I keep saying I'll go back to and explore more. Not least because it has other pubs to try! 

I didn't get any pictures of any of the art at either venue because I know artists are a bit funny about having their work photographed in case people intend copying it.   There whole of the downstairs of the Methodist Church in Haddenham was filled with quilts and quilty items.  Whilst they were well made they used the kinds of fabrics many quilt shops in the UK stock but are not to my taste. Upstairs I may or may not have been tempted by more jewellery! I will get some photos of that and post another time so you can oh and ahh and tell me how pretty they are!

If you're in the Buckinghamshire are do consider checking out the Open Studio events. It's lovely to see what other people make and you can see demonstrations and talk to the artists. I now know how shaker style boxes are made.





Friday, 24 June 2011

It's Friday Night and...

...all those who haven't been spending all their pennies on fabric are out partying.

I really need Angela to have a fabric diet again. Or at least put me on one. You see the strange thing is, when I start buying fabric I seem to stop sewing. I know go figure.

More goodies

This bundle of goodness jumped into my cart a few days ago when Seamstar sent me a pre-sale preview thingy for regular customers. I'd already got a charm pack and a fat quarter of some "It's A Hoot"  by Momo fabric. But look how much more I scored - all reduced! I could have bought more. This is me showing restraint. Ha! I also got myself a couple of Hideaway fat quarters. Sadly my absolute fav' fabric of this range wasn't available. I also got me some more Pips. Because despite having a fat quarter bundle and a charm pack, I couldn't resist this little cutie dogs running about on that pink fabric.

My Mum really took a shine to the "It's a Hoot" fabric.  It's quite unusual for her to be really enthusiastic about fabric. As she handled those fat quarters she kept saying. I really like these. I like these a lot. These are very lovely. I'm going to have to make her a quilt with it now. You see if I had to choose fabric that was for a quilt for my Mum; fabric that she'd really go nuts for, I'm not sure what I'd choose. I mean when someone appears to like most of what you buy, but nothing really seems to wow her it can be hard to define a taste. I'd have never thought she'd go nuts for the It's a Hoot Line. 

This bundle of goodness turned up a few days ago.


Good Mail Day!

Kaelin of the Plaid Scottie was having a destash over on Etsy and again these jumped into my check out before I could say Katie Jump Rope or Park Slope ::Wink::

At the moment I can also blame the lack of sewing on my excitement as posting time draws nearer for the Brit Quilt Swap. The group pool is choc full of some of the most amazing selection of quilts I've seen together in one swap. I am really excited to see which one is mine!  

 Have a good weekend folks xox

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Brit Quilt Finish!

By 'finish' I mean I've done the label on the back. I'd already shown you here a picture of the front. 

Back of the quilt...

This is the label. I made it in the shape of the bone to echo the 'story' on the front.  I blanket stitched the patterned and plain fabric together, then attached it at the top so you can flip it over to read the label...

Bone shaped label

...if I was smarter than the average bear I'd have thought and made this so the birds were the right side up and so was the writing when you flipped it over. Still if my partner likes doing hand stands she'll be able to read it just fine ;-)  I may snip it off and attach it from the side of the bone so it opens like pages in a book.


Brit Quilt Label


I've started working on the extras. Normally I photograph everything I'm sending but I do want some extra surprises for my partner. So I'm just going to say a few words and leave the rest to your imagination. Handmade. Scraps. Chocolate. ::wink:: ::wink::

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

What I love about Blogland...

I've just this minute read this post and was about to leave a comment when I realised the answer was a whole blogpost. So in answer to Angela's question:

I love blogland because...

...I can share pictures of fabric I've bought or want and my readers totally get it and understand the (sometimes guilty) pleasure that is chosing and owning fabric.

...I can always find a really good tutorial to help me when I'm stuck. Whether it's because I really need to improve an existing skill or just want to make something new and don't know what. Best of all those tutorials are FREE to me.

...Whey my 'real world' friends and family are too wrapped up in their own lives to include or bother about me I can chat with my blogland friends. Who never expect me to fit in with their plans or needs. They're just there.

...I can feel totally inspired by quilters who's skill level far exceeds mine.

...I can use my blog to say what I want and don't have to restrict it to purely quilting stuff. (I have so many interests and would feel under too much pressure if my blog had to be too specific). I also like that there is nobody talking over me, wanting to change the subject because they're just not interested in what I have to say.

...I love that other bloggers do the same. I feel more connected to the blogs that share all aspects of their lives. (Maybe I'm just nosy).

...I love that through blogland the world is suddenly a lot more local.  Before joining this online community it would never have occurred to me to buy fabric from overseas. Now the US feels like a town down the road from me somewhere.

...If I mess up a sewing project I feel ok about owning up and sharing it with blogland.

...and last but by no means least - I LOVE that I've had the chance to make some lovely, wonderful, inspiring friends. Who knows. One day maybe I'll meet a few of them out in the real world.

Thanks for making me thinkg about this one Angela x

Monday, 20 June 2011

Sunday Strolling

It seems in recent years that more and more people are out at nature reserves and woods whenever I visit. Maybe because of programmes like Spring Watch there are more people interested in the countryside around them.  Of course another reason could be in this recession, walking in your local wood or nature reserve is a way to get fresh air and a day out for free.  You need relatively little equipment and there are rarely even car parking fees.

Yesterday, my other half (Moh from now on) and I visited Aston Rowant Nature Reserve and then Bernwood Forest.  Aston Rowant is one of the best places in England to watch Red Kites. I would say where I live it's rarer to see a Sparrow than a Red Kite.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't great for Kites so we saw no more at the reserve than you would over my house.  Moh really wants to take some decent Kite pictures. Hopefully while they were sat and not in flight. We did however have a really nice long walk before getting caught in a shower!  Part of the walk gave us fabulous views down on the M40.

M40

One of the famous landmarks between Oxford and London is 'The Cut' where they literally carved the M40 through the middle of one of the Chiltern chalk hills.  So many times I've been to London and seen people walking up on the hills and wondered where they came from. Yesterday Moh and I were those people!

Walking at Aston Rowant

The chalk hills are home to all kinds of wild flowers. The bee's loved these thistles.

Thistle

The Common Spotted Purple Orchids were going over here. (A few miles away at Bernwood they were at their best.)

Common Spotted Orchid


There is a field full of mounds like this. They are the homes of Yellow Meadow Ants. Apparently because this field has not been ploughed since 1904 the bigger mounds could have been in occupation by ants for over 100 years.
Ant Hills

I didn't take that many pictures at Bernwood. We need to spend more time there and maybe visit at different times of the year as it was really hard to spot the birds.  Bernwood is actually a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the rare butterflies that can be found in that area.

 

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Saturday Stuff

I haven't spent any time sewing today. I did manage to finish my quilt for the Brit Quilt Swap last night. I just need to do the label. I have a plan for the label. It's just going to take a bit more thought and possibly a couple of attempts at execution. I hope my partner likes the quilt I made for her.

Finished Quilt for Brit Quilt Swap

I picked this fabric for the binding because the colours echoed the linen boarders.

The weather is showing no signs of letting up from the limited sunshine and frequent showers. I did manage to snap a shot of my front garden between the showers.  The rain is doing the rose blooms no favours. On the whole the garden is benefiting from the natural irrigation.


Front Garden

On a final note: I found this link amusing.  I confess I'm a bit of a closet zombie movie fan.  I grew up loving all horror films and books. In fact I was probably watching movies and scaring myself witless at an age when I really shouldn't have.  As I've got older the appeal of the gruesome horror films turns my stomach. I doubt you'll ever find me sitting through Saw or similar.  But I will confess I still watch Zombie movies and watched The Walking Dead when that was shown here recently.  I'm also strangely drawn to all apocalyptic/dystopian stories/films.  Which may not be what you expect of someone that lives in a cottage in The Shires, likes to garden and make quilts.  Go figure.

Enjoy your weekend.


Thursday, 16 June 2011

1st Blogiversary


Strawberries


Today, is my first blogiversary. Well the one I'm choosing to recognise anyway. My first ever post was way back in 2007. But I didn't really blog any further and even switched my blog to private until I resumed last June.  I hope to have a giveaway to celebrate in the very near future, but I've been side tracked by things like making Farmer's Wife blocks and going to my local Pick-Your-Own.  I could send the winner a stack of strawberries freshly picked by my own fair hand. Some how I don't think they'd be edible by the time they arrived. So I'll have to come up with something else.

On the subject of giveaway's have you seen this post?  I can see this being debated across blogland. It's a thought provoking post. When I get my act together give away wise, then it won't be sponsored but I do hope you will enter.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

More FW blocks and special fabrics.

Someone posted this link over on flickr it reminded me just how much I need to be creative in order to stay sane. Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you how hard life is for me because in many ways I'm blessed and in a far more fortunate place than many on this planet. I'm a glass half full not empty kind of gal, so I like to concentrate on what I have, rather than what I don't have. That said there are times when life is difficult, not what I want it to be. At the moment  it's a horrible feeling of inertia. Stitching or creating helps me through these periods.  I'm sure it's the same with a lot of creative people.

Another thing sure to cheer me up is arriving home to post like this:

Good Post Day

I have no lush or KJR in my stash and just lately I've realised that some of my smaller projects would really benefit from a little something special.  With that in mind I've fallen of the not-buying-fabric wagon and treated myself to a few goodies over on Etsy. Ok, so I still don't own any Flea Market Fancy (unless you count a hexie in my charm quilt.) and I'd probably faint from the loveliness of it all if I was ever able to get any of those lovely paint-by-number birds without taking out a mortgage. Slowly but surely I'm adding to my range of specials. Fabric I never want to completely use up because it's so lovely! Fabric that elevates a project from good to, well, special.

Lush and Katie Jump Rope

This seller even threw in a scrap of Pips. I am sure Pip's is going to be remain one of those special fabrics. So people that don't snap it up before it's OOP will regret it!

I've spent some time this afternoon hand sewing the binding on my quilt for the brit quilt swap making more blocks for The Farmer's Wife QAL.

block #29 Economy

This block is called Economy.  I can't remember who made these birds. The green is American Jane Punctuation in green and the gingham is more vintage stuff. (Ignore the green backing it's just the beach towel I sometimes iron on to save getting the big board out!)

 block #6 Big Dipper

This block is called Big Dipper.  I cut into the KJR straight away! I like it with the Authenic - another of my 'special' fabrics.

block #108 Windmill

This is block is called Windmill.  I am not sure what the green fabric is or the circles or paisley type fabric is. The vine fabric is Riley Blake. The other orange fabric is one of the Wildwood ones by Erin McMorris. First time I'd cut into this as I've never found a use for it since getting it when on sale.

I hope you all have a good post day soon ;-)


Monday, 13 June 2011

New Shoes!

Come on summer!

Don't you love new shoes?

I've been shopping today to buy a few extra bits for my summer/holiday wardrobe. At the moment June seems to have swapped weather with April. It's meant lots of shops have good deals on summer clothing and footwear. This is my fourth pair of Birkenstocks. Apart from one pair, all of them have been bought at a reduced price at various TKMaxx stores.  They saved my feet last summer holiday when I sprained my ankle, as they were the most comfortable and supportive shoes I had with me.

These were bought in Cowley which is a small residential and industrial district just outside Oxford, which is a few miles up the road from me. In the same vein as yesterday, where I shared a few facts about me, here are a couple of facts about Cowley. 

1. Cowley is home to the BMW car plant that produces the Mini.  As it exports cars to around 90 different countries, the chances are wherever you are in the world, if you drive a mini it's been made at the Cowley plant.

2. Cowley is not a 'well heeled' area like a lot of Oxford city. It's bordered by Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys Estates. Blackbird Leys is one of the largest estates in Europe. Whilst Oxfordshire is the most expensive place to live outside of London, Blackbird Leys homes some of the poorest residents in the county.

3. The shopping centre in Cowley centre is named Templar's Square. Probably named for the links Cowley - in particular the Temple Cowley area - had with The Knights Templar, who were gifted most of the land in the Cowley area back in the 12th Century.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

All About Me

Wife or Mistress? Blocks so far

A rainy day has been the perfect excuse to make more blocks for The Farmer's Wife QAL. I'm actually finding it so good that each block has it's own template as I don't have to think about maths!  I'm pretty sure I'm destined to be a mistress not a wife. The thought of trying to assemble a queen sized quilt and then baste and quilt it terrifies me. So I'm thinking I may go for Twin. This is a long term project for me so I don't feel under any pressure to get it finished by a certain date.

A lot of blogs I've been reading lately have had a confessional, get to know the blogger feature. I thought with my 1st year blogiversary looming, I'd share a bit more about myself with you.

1. I was first introduced to patchwork when I was at primary school and my class made a hexagon quilt for a local children's hospice. We also each made cushion covers and I gave mine to my mum.  I loved the fact you could recycle left overs and unwanted fabric into something new. Even though I buy lots of yummy new fabric, I still like to add vintage or re purposed fabric to the mix. I'm particularly fond of recycling military uniforms. 

2. I am the only female where I work. I doubt anyone where I work has any idea I can make stuff.

3. I am slightly phobic about driving.  The thought of long distance driving or driving out of my comfort zone scares me more than anything else I can think of.

4. I wish I could dress make properly. You know, so I'd actually want to wear what I've made once I've made it!  I admire people that can make clothes. If I get the chance to take a class in the future I will.

5. I regret I've never been able to cultivate more long lasting female friendships. You know the sort of friends that are more like sisters. That are there for you no matter what and are definitely not the fair weather variety.

6. I can't knit. I've tried and tried, but I make a complete mess of it every time. I've accepted that knitting and I will never become friends. If the opportunity came up to learn how to crochet I'd give it ago.

7. I love to get dressed up and go to a ball, function or just out dancing! I don't get much opportunity though. When I first was getting to know my other half he used to tell me about all the functions they had at his work and he'd talk about taking me. When we got together he stopped talking about taking me and all his dinners seem to be 'stag'. It's caused lots of tiffs between us. He has no idea how much it has upset me that he's never organised to take me to a single dinner in all the time we've known each other.

DSC08506


8. I can make pillow lace. You know the kind with bobbins and hundreds of pins.  I'm forever at the beginners stage. I have a large collection of bobbins which are works in art all by themselves. I haven't made any lace for years. But I like that I can. Albeit only simple designs.

9. My family is very important to me. My niece is only 11 but she is one of the kindest, nicest people I know and she constantly inspires me.  My brother is forever doing jobs for me. Yesterday I went out shopping and left my car outside his house. I've noticed this morning when I got in it to go and get a newspaper it's been washed.

10.  I am more of a jack of all trades than a master of one. I can do lots of things to a certain level rather than one or two things to a really advanced level. 

So that's enough sharing! I hope you've all had lovely weekends.

Jan xox

Saturday, 11 June 2011

My New Addiction

You know you're addicted when you can't see your living room floor for stray fabric, there are templates and post-it's full of coded notes everywhere and you tell yourself you will stop after you've made one more...then promptly start working on the next one.

I am of course referring to my latest addiction.  The Farmer's Wife QAL.  Last summer I had hexie addiction.  Now I have an addiction to making the traditional blocks in The Farmer's Wife by Laurie Aaron Hird using lovelies (and a few not so lovelies) from my stash.  The book is just wonderful. The letters give a glimpse into another world. While many of the blocks are deceptively straightforward.  I am having so much fun pouring over my stash, choosing combinations of fabrics.

Block #1 Attic Windows

This is the first block I made. It is called Attic Window and is the first block in the book.  I went to the trouble of fussy cutting the centre square as all the blocks are on point. I was really pleased with this block and then I turned it on point just like the one in the book and realised I'd sewn my centre square in the wrong direction as it should be rotated to the right of what's in the picture above.  So maybe this should be re-named through the letter box lol.

I deliberately didn't try and directionalise the fork and spoon fabric as I like the movement of having them the way the are here.   This block reminds me of tea time. The table cloth is checked, the napkins spotty; the cutlery has been laid out and of course there is jam ready for tea time!   I am enjoying making up little stories about the fabrics in the blocks I've done so far.

Block #2 Autumn Tints

This second block I made is also block number 2. Autumn Tints.  I wanted to use fabrics that reminded me of the end of the season when the harvest is in.  I used some Farmdale Apples, some Hope Valley, Dots by Michael Miller and the oranges are a Clarice Clift reprint fabric I've had for ages. This block looks totally different in real life than it does here. When I put it in the group pool the thumb nail makes it look so boring.  In reality it's much more zingy.

Block #16 Calico Puzzle

I didn't want to make the blocks in order as I'm trying to make blocks using the combinations of templates I've already cut. With that in mind I went on and made block 16 Calico Puzzle.  More Farmdale combined with a vintage gingham I've had for years.

Block #48 Homeward Bound

This block isn't as wonky as it looks in this photograph. I took a quick snap and then realised I had photographed it with the trees looking like they'd been felled! I used Flickr to rotate it and it's looking very wonky.  This is block 48 - Homeward bound.

Block #84 Spool

This is block 84 - Spool. More Farmdale. I am still kicking myself for not getting more of this range when it first came to my attention.  I'm not sure who the dots are buy, as I won them in a giveaway that Kerry had. 

Choosing fabrics is surprisingly difficult. I am hoping to include as many fabrics as possible.  A project like this is making me realise some gaps in my fabric purchasing. Although I don't want to buy any fabrics specifically for these blocks, I am wishing I had more blenders and scraps of yummy cool fabrics.  This is the sort of project that can really showcase treasures in relatively small quantities.








Saturday Stuff

I went into Oxford this morning with my Mum. We'd intended being tourists so I could take photos. Then we were going to shop. At the last minute it turned into a shopping trip only. I thought this might be the time to go in search of the only haberdashery/sewing shop in Oxford. I'd found it on the web quite by accident.  We used to have a Kings Fabric's and I was sorry when it closed because Oxford really needs a decent sewing/craft shop as none of the department stores have sewing departments any more.

Darn it and stitch

Darn it and Stitch is located in Blue Boar Street Oxford, which you can access from St Aldates or The High (if you walk down the quaintly narrow Wheatsheaf Yard passage).  It's a tiny shop which I understand from it's website it's having refurbished so will be closed for much of next week.  Inside it sells a small selection of buttons, ribbons, vintage zips (which were tempting, but with metal teeth, I suspect could rust if the paint starts to wear off, so I avoided buying - even though I really need a 12" zip for something). They sell a small selection of quilting cotton and other gutterman threads.  They have lots of vintage haberdashery along side a few Moda jelly rolls and charm squares.  They also sell yarn and embroidery thread and yarn. There was a narrow winding stairs with a sign blocking it off informing a patchwork class was in progress. 

I only came away with some shearing elastic thread and quilting cotton. There was nothing else to really tempt me. The customer in front of me in the queue tried to pay with a card and was told they didn't take cards only cash or cheques. She didn't seem that happy about having to pay with cash. Another customer over heard this exchange and decided not to purchase after all when she found out they didn't take cards. 

If you happen to be in Oxford with nothing better to do you may want to go and check out the shop. But I don't think it's worth a special journey - even for a local.  Don't get me wrong it's a lovely little shop. It's just so small they aren't able to stock very much.

I got home to find that Amazon had delivered "The Farmer's Wife" by Laurie Aaron Hird. I can now get started with some making as I've joined the QAL over on flickr.  I know I said I wouldn't, but I just love the idea of using up treasured fabric scraps in order to make traditional blocks with a more contemporary flavour.

It's arrived!

Having read lots in the group about template issues I am a little nervous of it all going horribly wrong. I think the author/publishers could have come up with a better way of doing the templates on the CD as there is no sizing and a single template (yes a single template not the whole templates for one block) print out on a single sheet of paper. Now I know you could cut and paste etc but I've had so many problems with printing stuff to the correct size in the past, I'm a little nervous to start messing with them.

Many of the templates are duplicated in the blocks and to save me from getting in a muck and fuddle, I'm using the table that Kerry very kindly provided.  I've printed off a small selection of templates to get me started and am working my way through the book writing down all the blocks that just use those templates. These will be the blocks I tackle first.

The planning



Wish me luck. When I've finished typing this the fabric and rotary cutter is coming out!


Friday, 10 June 2011

Favourite Things Friday: My Secret Obsession

I haven't done a Favourite things Friday for a long while now. Today seemed the perfect time to link up Favourite things Friday with:
verykerryberry

When I saw that Kerry was hosting 'my secret obsession' over on her blog I knew I wanted to take part. It's just when I started to think about it, I realised I have lots of obsessions. This has meant I've spent nearly a week ruminating on what exactly I could share with you.  I know that my regular stalkers followers will know that I love books and I'm passionate about gardening. Checking out my flickr account would tell you that I'm a little obsessional about taking photographs too. I wanted to share something that I hadn't really shared before.

Jewellery.

In more general terms I have loved jewellery from as far back as I can remember. If it's the one of a kind or more unusual hand made stuff then so much the better. I'm not into valuable jewellery in any way shape or form. I like the sort of jewellery I can enjoy wearing without the fear or getting mugged for it. Now I could have taken lots of pictures of the vast numbers of earrings I have, or pendants, bracelets, rings, necklaces...you get the the picture don't you? and stuck them all on here in a jumble. Instead I decided to focus on one particular range that I love.

And it all started with this pair of earrings. 

P1070550

Some years ago I was at Art in Action. In the market bit where you can buy stuff more affordably than at the rest of the show and there was a group of women excitedly clustered round a small stand. They were about 4 deep with one being replaced the moment someone left, usually clutching a purchase. I had to go and check out what all the fuss was about and I discovered Circle and Dash.  Circle and Dash make jewellery from hand decorated papers and silver.  Each item they make is part of a limited number and each season they bring out new designs and colour ways with tempting names such as 'Blackberry Way" "Cool Britannia" and even one called "Vintage Quilt". 

This one pair of earrings started a bit of an obsession. I would buy from them at every craft fair I saw them at. Friends and family spotted me wearing this distinctive jewellery and they'd buy it as presents for me too.  Each piece really is a work of art. With such wonderful colour combinations and some with metallic highlights. There are even lovely details on the reverse side.
P1070552

As you can see I've built up quite a collection (And I've spotted stuff missing!).  Last year I thought I had enough Circle and Dash jewellery and I wouldn't buy anymore. Already I'm hoping I can get to a craft fair where they are in order to buy something new - a different shape to a pendant or pair of earrings. 


P1070553

The big problem I have with saying no to Circle and Dash is it's just so lovely and wearable. One pendant or earrings will go with so many different things. Looking different depending on what you're wearing at the time. It's so wonderfully light to wear.  (Do I sound like I'm on commission? I'm not promise. I wish I was!)The paper is varnished and quite tough. I wouldn't recommend getting your earrings wet. But I confess I did accidentally get in the shower wearing a pair or earrings once and they survived to tell the tale.

So there you go. My name is Jan. I LOVE jewellery. I LOVE jewellery by Circle and Dash. 





Monday, 6 June 2011

Hit and Miss Quilt.

Hit and Miss

You have to ignore the stray threads and the fact it's not trimmed. This is what this pile of fabric has turned into.  The next time you see it will be next year - all being well. As I don't want to show it finished until after it has been gifted to the recipient I have in mind.  

I am thinking I'm going to call the design 'Hit and Miss'. Hence this being the Tufted Tweets Hit and Miss Quilt.  I came up with the name after a little story I heard about a fence.  Let's just say Mr and Mrs Smith erected a new fence at considerable cost.  They were keen to tell their neighbours Mr and Mrs Brown how special and expensive this fence was and how much trouble they'd been to in order to get it. It had been imported from abroad because English fences weren't as good as this fence and you couldn't get this design over here.  This conversation was over heard by the Brown's landscaper who was working in their garden. After the Smiths had gone the landscaper looked up at the Brown's and then looked at the fence and laughed. "They went to all that trouble and expense to get that fence imported from overseas? They should have just gone down the local builders' merchant and asked for some six foot hit and miss panelled fencing."  And as this design looks a bit like the Smith's expensive fence I'm going to call it Hit and Miss.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Because it's not my birthday.

Inspirational

For as long as I can remember I've wished my birthday was in June or one of the summer months rather than January. A birthday I can celebrate in hot weather, outdoors and wearing shorts, a vest and flip flops.  A birthday that isn't in the middle of winter, four weeks after Christmas when everyone is depressed about the weather and how much they spent and ate over Christmas.  It has come as no consolation, when I'm told that if I lived in Australia, then my real birthday would be in the middle of summer. I live in England and have never been fortunate enough to visit Australia. 

However, it's occurred to me recently there is another good reason why I'd like my birthday round about now. Normally when people ask me what I'd like for my birthday in the way of gifts. My mind goes blank. I've had what I've wanted for Christmas four weeks previously and can never think of things I want for my birthday. Now, 6 months, on I could write a list that fills pages. Books I need on my bookshelf, foodstuffs and equipment I'd love in my kitchen. Stuff I'd like in the garden and then there are the clothes, handbags, jewellery, fabric and fripperies I'd like because they are frivolous and make me smile.

Alas, it is not my birthday for another 6 months. So I did what any girl like me would do and bought myself a gift. A book I'd had my eye on since I'd first heard of it. Thanks to Amazon and Royal Mail it arrived today. It's everything I hoped it would be. If you want me I'll be reading and dreaming of projects to come...

Friday, 3 June 2011

Tweet Tweet! The early bird catches the worm?


A few months ago the online quilt stores seemed full of Tufted Tweets. So much so, I have to say it didn't immediately grab me. I put this down to seeing it everywhere and I felt over it before I'd had any of it.  I felt completely different about Laurie Wisbrun's other line Urban Circus: I couldn't wait to get my hands on some. In fact just as I'd placed an order, I won more in a giveaway too! However, as soon as I purchased some Tufted Tweets in a Sale, I loved it so much I wanted to get more and managed to score quite a few of the designs in the range - all on sale!  Tonight I've been cutting into it in order to start on a small lap/baby sized quilt. 

Those of a nervous disposition should look away now.  Why? Well because I'm going to mention the 'C' - you know the word that most of us do not want to hear only a few days into June. But here goes. Christmas. More specifically this idea I've had to have as much of a hand made Christmas as I can.  Which if I stand any chance of achieving I need to be planning and starting on now. 

I am already in two minds about this because I know getting hand made stuff is not every one's idea of a good present. Some people (usually those not creatively minded at all) think home made is what you get when the person giving doesn't want to spend money on you. Of course this is not usually the case as when you take into account all the costs including your time you're often giving a far more expensive gift than a purchased one.  And with that in mind the last thing I want to do is spend time and money on people that would rather I just gave them a gift voucher or toiletries.

Now despite what I've just said about handmade gifts often costing more than a shop bought gifts, I'm also conscious of how much I already have in the way of fabrics and other crafting materials. Given that I've already invested in my 'stash' and I want to use it and enjoy using it. It could be that Christmas giving turns out cheaper to me because I'm using things that have already been paid for.  If I only use my 'stash' on myself, I'm going to end up buried under a tonne of quilts and a whole host of other small gift items.  It would also be quite liberating to free up some space because I've used up a lot of long hoarded materials - and not just fabric either!

And the real pleasure behind it all is to give people I care about something I've lovingly made just for them!

So I will give you some sneaky peeks of my progress and maybe I'll inspire some of you to do the same.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Watch the Birdie


I should have had this finished up by now and be working on some fun extra's for my partner. However, since it stopped raining, after a washout here on Bank Holiday Monday, I've been alternating between work and gardening.  This blog could actually turn into a gardening blog if I don't watch about because I'm a little obsessed with it.  cute bird picture blog because, I've just looked up from my lap top to see this out of my living room window.




This was taken with a point and shoot camera, zoomed in so to minimise the leaded lights appearing because it was taken through a window.  Not a particularly clean one either. So it just goes to show you do not need fancy equipment to take nice pictures - just a steady hand and a good eye...and some good luck!  (OK so 'proper' photographers are probably groaning and moaning about the technical bits. But I like it so that's all that's important right?)

Back to the quilt.  This is the back.  I obviously hadn't lined it up with the front when I basted it and didn't notice until I trimmed. Bummer. Do you mind partner? I mean it is the back.  Or should I try and do something about it and if so what?

It's Sew Fresh Sewing Day over at Lily's Quilts, so I'm off to browse the other entries. I hope you've enjoyed seeing my entry for May. I hope you also like the cute birdies too? And I do welcome any advice re the quilt not lining up after I've QUILTED it!

Fresh Sewing Day