Monday, 30 January 2012

Catching up!

It feels like forever since I blogged. Maybe it's felt forever because I've not been online so much in general lately. As with many things in my life right now I feel a bit behind. So if you only check in for the sewing related stuff you may want to skip this post.

I had some health problems again on Friday which meant I had to cancel a much looked forward to, get together and meal out with a friend. Chief had been saying he thought he could get down at the weekend and maybe we could have a night away locally.  We discussed whether it was sensible for him to book somewhere given I might still be unwell and would I prefer to be at home if that was the case. Well given where he was booking was literally 10 minutes up the road we thought it might be just what the doctor would order. He didn't tell me until he was on his way down, when he casually dropped into conversation: 'By the way did I mention I'd booked a suite?"

  P1110574ps 
Our bedroom (note in use the lovely bag I was sent by Jill in the Goodie Bag Swap!)

It was a bit decadent but he figured 1) I would need as much luxury as possible given I wasn't feeling great and 2) We deserved it. I can't really fault his logic and as he doesn't read my blog I can tell you that Chief was a 5-star 6 star boyfriend and pampered me the whole time - including giving me a lovely massage and even doing some India head massage. (A lovely way to spend a Saturday!)

P1110563ps
This was our large living/dining room. Umm it's too big to get it all in - like the table and second TV!
(The bathroom was Mahooosive too!)

P1110570ps

In fact this is me sat in a corner of our BIG bathroom.

I even managed some energy to go down and use the spa/pool. I don't often have access to swimming pool/sauna/steam room so really hate to miss out using these facilities - even if for only a short while.  On Sunday after we'd had a lovely breakfast and checked out we popped over to Waterperry Gardens for a stroll about, followed by a cuppa in the tea shop. The gardens have annual snowdrop weekends in February. But given they won't take place for a few weeks I suspect the snowdrops will be past their best. It's so encouraging to know spring must be on it's way if the snowdrops are out!

Snowdrops
They have so many different varieties of snowdrops in the garden.

The weekend seemed to pass by so quickly and this time (probably because I felt so unwell) it was really hard saying good bye to Chief.  So fingers crossed I get to see him again soon! 

Today I went back to the doctors to get some test results. In some respects the news was good. I don't have Anaemia (which I've had in the past), Diabetes, Liver problems blah blah blah. However, something has shown up. I won't go into details but I need a repeat blood test next week and then a visit to a neurologist. And as this is the good old NHS no doubt I'll have to put up with these attacks for some months until I can get to see a neurologist. 

I don't want to end this post on a low note so I'm going to share with you the lovely birthday surprise I had from Darcy

Wonderful Mail Surprises.
A pretty drawstring bag, some birdie fabrics for when I do my birdie quilt and the grey Hope Valley I was missing for my Color Brick Quilt.

Such a lovely and unexpected surprise from Darcy. Thanks again Darcy. :-)

I also had some lovely birdie goodness from Susan only now I'm in the middle of this blog post I realise I haven't taken a photo! So I'll have to share that next time when I can give Susan a proper public thank you! Hopefully I'll have even done some sewing by then. But I may just have a little snooze now. 


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Winter Stitching Mid Winter Check In

FairyFace Designs

Well despite my sewing drought of the past couple of weeks I thought it was about time I blogged about something sewing related and as it's the midway point for the Winter Stitching, so an ideal time to see if the rest of my winter has been as unproductive!




1.) Make a goodie for Scrappy Swap. I'm thinking scrappy log cabin pincushion?
It was so long ago I really struggled to remember what I made - or much about the swap at all. But here it is the scrappy log cabin pin cushion.
Scrappy Pincushion

2.) Make a bag for the Goodie Bag Swap
I made three bags before I was happy I'd got the one my partner would like the best. This was it. Funnily enough the other two bags immediately shouted at me they were ideal for other people I knew so I got two Christmas presents sorted along the way!

The Nanette Tote

3.) Make a cushion for the Brit Pillow Fight Swap
Done - I think my partner liked it but she was quiet.  This was one item my Mum really loved and wanted so she was hoping my partner wouldn't like and would send it back so she could have it.

Pillow done! 

4.) Try some basic foundation paper piecing so I can master it well enough to do this lovely lovely pattern designed by Kerry.
I bought some freezer paper does that count as making a start?


5.) Make some of these yummy organiser baskets as per Ayumi's fab tutorial
I made one. I didn't make any more because this wasn't as rigid as I'd hoped so I need to work on that.

First Try at Storage basket 

6.) Make at least another 50 hexies for my Hex-A-Long Quilt which has been badly neglected.
Ok so I still have a way to go but I think I've made about 10 more? And every little helps!
More giant hexies!

7.) Make at least two more 2-4-1 totes for Christmas presents.
I didn't do this intentionally because I decided on other bag patterns. But I gave about 6 bags away as Christmas presents.


8.) Make some flannel/voile scarves for Christmas presents.
I think I made half a dozen of these.

Circle Scarves

9.) Make pincushions, mug rugs, fabric baskets and other small handmade gifts for Christmas presents
I didn't go down this route in the end. For people I was considering giving smaller items I opted for these Buttercup style bags.


Heirloom and Klona 365-316 13 November 2011 Another adapted Buttercup Bag

10.) Practice some FMQ as per the Friday FMQing thing that I said I'd get involved with and then haven't done so far!
Not even thought about this!
11.) Finish the table runner/cushion cover out of the Petit Poulet charm pack.
Umm put away before Christmas and not touched.


12.) Make another cushion cover or two for me!
Not done a thing about this.
13.)Quilt and Bind my Spring Greens Quilt.
Completely inspired by the Finish-A-Long I cracked on to get this finished! Here it is drip drying as I have no tumble drier.


Drying String Greens quilt

14.) Do some embroidery - maybe a decorative hoop or add more embellishment to other items
Still want to do this but haven't!
15.) Try out some bag patterns that aren't 2-4-1 totes!
As well as the bag I made for the Goodie Bag Swap and the Buttercup style bags for presents I also made another three different bags. If you click on any photo it should take you to my flickr stream which has pattern details!


Trying out Patterns Pleated Tote P1110242

Still with me? I know it was a long post, but it seems I've achieved quite a chunk of my winter stitching list. Still lots to do though!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Delightful Deliveries

Despite doing a 'Resolved to Sew list' and joining in with the Finish-A-Long fun I've not done any sewing in what seems like ages. Maybe I should have just put 'Find the Time to Sew' on top of the Resolved to Sew List and left it at that! We all have these little phases when life and other stuff gets in the way of what we want to be doing.  Of course it's meant this week it's been really easy to keep on my fabric diet. I do have fabric to show you as my pre-fabric diet order from Sew Fresh Fabrics arrived yesterday.  It was ordered over the Christmas period when they had a shipping special due to the fact they wouldn't be shipping until after the holidays.  It all looks quite co-ordinated - that was a happy accident.

New Stash Additions
Wood grain fabric, two lots of fabric with keys on it, a city scape fabric in black and whites along with some Kona Ash and some fabric with fun looking tickets on it.

With the exception of the Kona Ash I haven't got any plans for this fabric. It was all for my stash.  I'm thinking I might cut the ash into 5" charms to use with my charms from the Over the rainbow Charm swap. I am thinking of making a rainbow pinwheel quilt. 

It's a jolly good thing Chief does not read my blog because I'm going to tell you what he's gone and done for my birthday and there is no need for him to get a great big fat head now is there? Which he may well given the Piglet post yesterday and what I'm about to say today.

Chief can't make it down for my birthday due to an exercise somewhere up in northern parts.  He asked earlier in the week if I could give him some clues of what he could get me for my birthday. I said, 'Well we're going to Paris aren't we?!' and he said yes but due to his work that was unlikely to happen until Spring so he wanted to get me a little something for my birthday.  I suggested a Lovelink for my bracelet and he told me to send him a link. I said I'd keep thinking of things so he had a choice.  I don't find it easy suggesting presents to people - especially if they don't want to buy something sewing related.  I never know what people are considering spending and coming so close to Christmas it's so hard to think of more things to want. 

Anyway, I sent Chief and email with about half a dozen links on it - with reasons behind them if necessary. All of this done to try and make life easier for him at what is a very busy time for him at work.  I had a very stressed Chief on the phone on Wednesday to say he was getting a migraine and going for a lie down and trying to get me a present had not helped. Thanks to the time he spent faffing about on the Next website only for it to not work and lose all his details.  He said however, that he had ordered me something. Two somethings. Not exactly what was on my list but he said they'd come on Friday and he hoped I'd like them.

I got home from work on Friday to this:

A lovely end to a stressful week.
me with a big bunch of flowers!!! 

Gorgeous Smelling Birthday Flowers
Lime green chrysanths, pink roses, alostromeria and a gorgeous smelling pink flower I thought might be Daphne but I'm not sure.


I had to go out yesterday afternoon and when I got back I discovered a delivery from John Lewis. I had been under instruction from Chief to open whatever arrived as usually I save presents until my actual birthday.

Early Birthday Present
A Portmerion Jug from the Dawn Chorus range. Decorated with lovely spring images of birds, butterflies and flowers.


So wasn't I a blooming lucky girl?! And it's extra nice because having ordered a ruler for my Mum to give me Cotton Patch have let me down this time as my order is yet to arrive! It's not helped that for the rest of my present my Mum and I looked at a few things on my Amazon wish list. (I can't normally send people to my wish list as not everything on there is bookmarked for me!) Anyway, We picked the items she wanted: job done. Two days later I thought it was very odd I'd had no dispatch email. I logged onto my Amazon account only to discover they goods weren't due for another month! When I looked into it one book (the only quilting one!) won't be available for three weeks! I removed it from the order as it was holding other items up, but alas they still had an estimated delivery of 23 - 24 January and as they haven't come today I'll have to wait until next week! 

And the ironic thing is I ordered something from Etsy for my Mum's birthday at the end of February and that arrived two days after I'd ordered it! I can't show you what I've got because it's hidden away. But when I can blog about it I will because this artists work is lovely!






Friday, 20 January 2012

Favourite Things Friday! Piglet!

I'm countering the theme for recent times (stress) with something far cuter and today's Favourite Things Friday is Piglet the cute little fellow from the Winnie the Pooh Stories.

Piglet was one of my childhood nicknames. Given to me by my first childhood best friend Anna who lived down the road from me. She was also born two days before me and we used to like telling people how we'd known each other for as long as two people could. I was a huge fan of the Winnie the Pooh stories and I guess Piglet would be a fair character for me to be likened too. As a child I was certainly one of the smallest in my age group. I may not have been a particularly timid child like Piglet is, but I certainly didn't have the wisdom (and crabbiness) of Owl, the bounce and hyperactivity of Tigger or the depressive, sad sac nature of Eyore. So it was apt I was Piglet to Anna's Pooh. (For the record I'm sure I didn't call Anna Pooh because it seems a tad impolite!)

Anyway, Anna moved to the neighbouring village when she was about 6 so we saw less of each other and then to the far side of the county meaning we saw each other infrequently, but kept in touch via letters. These days our communications are confined to letters in Christmas and Birthday cards. This friendship was my first taste of real friendship. Anna was the girl who showed me how to ride a bike and awarded me a red cross sticker when I could cycle on her bike to the end of the lane where she lived. She was first girl I knew that had a duvet on her bed (when the rest of us were still under layers of scratchy blankets and bed spreads.) And Anna was the most enthusiastic dancer to Shakin' Stevens records I've ever known - she would play singles of in her bedroom on one of those old record players that came in a suitcase.  When Anna moved there was nobody to call me Piglet, but I remained a big fan.

Fast forward to last summer when Chief and I were playing back gammon online and he put his web cam on, so he could see me pulling faces at him every time he played a move I didn't like. I spotted something pinned to his notice board. I asked about it and he said it was a piglet soft toy a member of his family had given him. I was mortified to discover it was pinned to his notice by a bootlace which was tied round Piglets neck! Squaddie humour eh?!  Despite a lot of protesting on my part that it was mean and telling him about my love of Piglet he was unmoved.

Next time he visited he brought this bag with him.

Hmmm what's in the bag?
Hmmm a bag from the Disney Shop.


Inside the bag was a gift box. (I've kept this because it's cute.)

What's in the box inside the bag?

I thought the wrapping was cute too - Mickey detailed tissue paper and little Mickey shaped sequins.

Awww mickey sequins

When I unwrapped the tissue paper look who was inside! Piglet!

It's pink and fluffy!

Piglet!

So I have my own little Piglet now and he lives in the lap of luxury in my bedroom. He took a shine to the lovely mini pillow Reene made me in the PIF so has snaffled it to rest upon. It's awfully hard work being a timid little pig. 

Pay it Forward Mini Cushion

And as I've got older one of the things I love about Piglet is, even though he's a bit timid he really does try and be as brave as he can. 





Thursday, 19 January 2012

Stuff.

The last few weeks have been a tad fraught to say the least. So much going on. So much that's stressy or just tedious. Everyone seems grumpy and miserable in that Post Christmas/January Blues kind of way. I've deliberately been avoiding anything remotely toxic so I can deal with what I have to deal with right now and not have to deal with other peoples 'stuff'.  Yesterday was one of those days when I should have had time to regroup, but work 'stuff' got in the way.

Yesterday has been much better. I had a 6 month check up at the Hygienist and Dentists and not only do I not need further treatment, but the Hygienist was really pleased with me. For the first time ever there was not even the slightest sensitivity when I had the water jet clean thingy. I've never found it unbearable as I know many people do, but sometimes I'd get the odd twinge and think 'Glad this is over quickly!' When I commented to the hygienist about this she said it's because all the work with the tiny brushes has paid off. So not only do I not have to worry I need expensive dental treatment right now, but I get to feel smug about how I've been looking after my toothy pegs. Yay me!

My brother had given me a lift to the dentists because parking can be an issue and on the way home we stopped at MacDonald's to get my niece an after school treat. Seeing as I'd been so good I had a double cheese burger and large fries. When we got back to my brothers he wanted me to go and look at his computer again. Several hours later I'd got no further forward really - so told him he really needs to get the PC replaced.

So no more sewing today either. And it's looking unlikely tomorrow unless I get a second wind tomorrow night!

And seeing as I don't like blogging without a photo I'll leave you a picture of that sh*t  glory hole I told you about in my Nosey Parker post.  So anyone who thought I was maybe bigging up the messy state of this corner: I give you proof and anyone who's easily shocked and offended should look away....Now!


Glory Hole

Ok, well I never promised a big picture! 

The irony is this desk was originally put in for me to use my computer. Then I started a craft course (unfinished) and decided I'd be better of painting etc downstairs where there was a hard floor surface (no worry about spillage on carpets!) and I relocated my computer upstairs.  All the time my computer was there this area was super tidy and organised. Now it's just a Stuff collector.  I really should get it sorted once and for all. As I've not had expensive dentistry to pay out for I'm hoping I can buy a new sideboard for the dining room next month. It maybe that if I give the room a little make over it will be more enticing to use and easier to keep tidy and free of ...stuff.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Nosey Parker in the Neighbourhood 3

It's time for another 
Diary of a Flutter.Kat




This one is all about sewing!


1)  How long have you been sewing? Are you a first generation sewer or was the knowledge handed down to you? Basically tell us about your journey...


I've lost count of the number of times I've answered this with a different answer because I'll forget about something. Having thought about it really hard I suspect my first attempt at sewing was at play school (kindergarten) when we were given little rectangles of Binca canvas and embroidery thread and made little mats to take home for our mothers (so probably near to Mother's day). I suspect my mum still has it somewhere!


 I also recall being about 5 or 6 and being given a toy sewing machine. It was a nightmare to use, but with the help of a neighbour that was into sewing we managed to make a pillow for my dolls pram. The fabric was some pinky red and white cotton micro checks with Disney characters - possibly the seven dwarfs sprinkled on it.  Then when I was about 7 my class started an English Paper Piecing Project to make a hexie quilt for a local childrens hospice. We also each got to make our own patchwork cushion. Mine was made from Oblongs sewn together into a Fence and Rail style block. I remember picking fabrics I liked - but didn't necessarily go together. We had to provide a remnant fabric to make the rest of the cushion.  I can't show you any pictures because we had it on our sofa until it fell apart. 


That experience got me hooked to patchwork which I've dabbled in over the years.  My mum is not into sewing so it's not a hobby we could do together. Unlike embroidery which she was really into and she showed me how to do that.   I've probably most seriously got back into sewing and patchwork in the last 18 months. 


2)  Where do you sew?
I had these great plans for a little sewing craft nook in my dining room. I am too ashamed to take a picture of it right now because it's just a giant s***t hole. No really it's that bad. I've got boxes of craft stuff tucked under the desk area so it's impossible to sit at the counter and work. So the desk top just gets covered in stuff. I did clear it once a while back see: 



In truth it's too dark to work in this corner and even cleared it still wasn't inspiring enough to sew here. So I use the dining room table behind when I want to use my machine. I do most of my cutting on the living room floor in front of the TV. I've also cleared out a chest in the dining room which is where my fabrics now live.  This along with the crap collecting space under the desk area in the above picture is where all my craft stuff hides.  Even though I am rubbish at keeping the surfaces tidy like the desk I am actually super organised in the drawers! See:


P1090782

3) What does your sewing  room/area look like today in it's real state. Take a picture of it if possible and show it to us real :)
As I mentioned above I don't really have one sewing space and certainly not a sewing room. On my living room floor right now is my cutting mat and this: 


Good Grip

The ruler handle arrived today. It cost me about £2.50 plus postage from ebay and is not a quilt ruler handle but a dent puller for use on cars! I am loving my new cutting mat as my cutting is more accurate than ever. But I am a bit scared of slips with the rotary cutter. I always thought the handles were a bit pricey; then Clare suggested a dent puller in a post the other day and even though I've not cut any fabric yet I've clamped it to my ruler and I reckon it'll do the job a treat! The piles of fabric are ready for me to cut some to send to Susan for her Birdie Quilt. (In fact this picture was taken yesterday when I started putting this post together and they are in the post now Susan!)

4)  What is the first thing that you made which you were really proud of. Show us pics of your favourite project.
The first thing I made I was really proud of is probably the patchwork cushion that fell apart through extreme use. Sadly I don't have a photo. So the most recent project I've been most proud of has to be this hexie charm quilt. (Regular readers probably think I use any excuse to wheel this old chestnut out and should really get some new material!)
Ta Da! All finished the piecing at least

5)  Do you always stick to the "rules" when you sew, or are you more improvisationally minded?
I've not done enough Improv work in the conventional sense. If you count my inability to read and follow instructions and the tendancy to do my own thing - then I quite regularly improvise! I am getting better. For example more recently I've bought and made bags rather than thinking oooh I'll just work out how to do it myself. If someone's written a pattern already I'm more likely to try theirs first - and then maybe do my own thing with it...



Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Resolved to Sew 2012




If you pop along to here to Very Berry Handmade, you'll discover Ali is hosting the most fab giveaway. (Can you finish reading this post before you go rushing off though?!)

You can have one entry just because she's nice like that and another entry if you blog about your sewing resolutions for 2012. Now normally I'm not a big fan of New Years resolutions because I think if you want to change something you should resolve to do it the moment you think of it and not have to wait until a new year. But seeing as it's the start of a New Year it seems like a great time for me to stop procrastinating and get on with some of those 'if only I did this...' thoughts and nail them down in a way I can check back on them throughout the year. This isn't about listing all the stuff I want to make. It's about setting more general sewing related goals.

1) First off I want to up my game. I am by no means one of those perfectionist people. I know people that go through life avoiding stuff that they can't be perfect at, and perfect at two seconds after they try it. I am not like this. I am happy with something if I've tried the best I can at it. I am not going to agonise over how it could be better if I was more accomplished or start blaming the tools around me. Having said all that. There have been times when I've made something and tried my best and I'm still not happy with it. I look at it and think - you know I should be able to do better by now. Most often it's because I've been dissatisfied with the fabrics I've chosen to work with. The projects I'm thinking about would have been so much more lovely if I hadn't got precious about the fabrics I have and the one's I'm prepared to use.  This brings me nicely on to point 2.

2) I am going to stop hoarding fabric because I'm scared to use it and mess it up or fret about finding the perfect pattern to use up some special fabric and then decide a week later when I've cut into it and it's too late, that I've just found another even better pattern.  As much as I love seeing my fabrics all neatly folded in the drawer they look even lovelier made into a useful, pretty item for my home or a present.  I have already made a start on this by cutting into my beloved Hope Valley Stash for this ColorBrick Quilt.


The individual bricks have been made

3) I started off 2011 with all these intentions to learn new quilting skills and I didn't seem to progress very far. I keep banging on about wanting to try my hand at paper piecing and I have everything I need so I need to get on with it. I'm also going to try out new things for small finishable projects like table runners, so I don't get overwhelmed by the magnitude of a complicated design, when faced with having to make it into a quilt. I recognise I get more satisfaction out of making a quilt when it's achievable - which for me means not getting ideas above my station. The chances of me completing a Queen Sized EPP hand pieced and quilted is unlikely - so why start it?

4) Swaps. I am going to be more circumspect as to what swaps I join.  I've noticed quite a few swaps are becoming by strict invitation only now. "Closed to New Members" which might limit my swap choices anyway. 

5) Finish stuff. Does that need more explanation? The FAL being hosted by Rhonda has really got me thinking. I need to finish stuff I've started before I blindly get hooked starting new things. Each quarter this year I'm going to try and finish off stuff I've already started so I don't get a house full of WIP's squirrelled away. And like I said in point 3 - I'm going to think hard before starting something and if I don't think I'm likely to finish it I'm not going to start. This is why I am  not Swooning along with the rest of Blog Land right now.

If I'm lucky enough to win the blog draw then I think my first choice would be this Erin McMorris bundle kindly offered up by Backstitch. Such a happy vibrant collection. 



So what's your sewing resolutions for 2012?




Sunday, 15 January 2012

My weekend

I had high hopes of a sewing filled Saturday. However, my plans were thwarted when my niece telephoned to say could I sort a computer issue for her. I went down at 11 am and returned home at 5pm feeling like I'd done a day's work. One computer related chore ran into another as I ended up sorting out both my nieces laptop and the aged family pc. The laptop had plenty of memory, but no storage and the aged PC had no memory and plenty of storage. So there was much time consuming tinkering.  The only remotely sewing related thing I managed to do all weekend was cut my squares for the Over the Rainbow Charm Swap - and of course being mathematically challenged I've managed to cut more squares than is required. I have a plan that involves cutting more 5" squares so these won't go to waste.

Too Many
My colour is pink and I chose this Bliss fabric which has little stylised red flowers and tiny green leaves on the predominantly  pink fabric. 



I was rooting about in my handbag the other day and noticed that the diary I bought at the end of last year matched perfectly the goodies I've received in swaps and carry about with me daily.  I tend to leave buying a diary until after Christmas, just in case I get one as a gift. I refused to pay the £5.95 Paperchase were asking for their little spiral bound diaries and the cheapo ones I saw else where were just too cheapo in feel to last a year of note and appointment writing.  Then I spotted this diary in Clinton cards for under £3. The Union Flag design is actually a photograph of cut up bits of fabric laid out to make the flag.  I hadn't realised at the time of purchase just how well it co-ordinated with the little zippy pouch Rachel made me in the first round of Brit Quilt swap. I use it for carrying about odds and sods like the little mirror I received as an extra in the Goody Bag swap from Jill.  Then everything matches perfectly the lovely red and aqua tissue holder that Judith made me in the Goody Swap.

Unintentional Co-ordination
When you make swap stuff do you ever wonder if it gets used or just ends up discarded in a drawer? 

And yes Chief made it down for a few hours this afternoon and we had our Christmas. I had made more Cheese and Ham Palmiers as he'd missed out on my New Year batch.  I got to find out what he'd meant by 'Chav Presents' - this is all of my haul, not all of which is Chav like in any way.  He thought the most Chavy item was the one that's probably come out the least well in the picture - a pink fleecy mitt, ice scraper and 'Babe on Board' sign all in baby pink. When I first saw it I thought it said 'Baby on Board' and asked him if he was pregnant because I knew I wasn't! After much eye rolling, he said it was for those mornings I hate when I have to scrape the ice of my windshield - a job I hate with a passion.  

Christmas Swag

So there you go Christmas done and dusted for another 12 months. At least the present opening has given me some practice for next Sunday when it's my birthday. Assuming I get any presents to open. I do know I'll be getting a 12.5" square ruler from my mum as I ordered it earlier ;-)  Hope you all had a great weekend.  I'm off to package up my charm squares for posting tomorrow before Sherlock starts.  Toodles.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Funny turns and swapping.

What a week! After enthusiastically starting my Hope Valley ColourBrick Quilt last weekend I've made absolutely no progress. There was me hoping I'd have had the top all pieced by now!  Alas I have a bit of a funny turn health wise (as I seem to keep having) and I've not been safe to be sat at a machine, even if I did feel so inclined. I even had to cancel going out last night. Chief had thought he could come and nurse me in my sick bed. But he's been working late each night this week and last night turned out to be no exception. Fingers crossed I'll get to see him at the weekend because I'm kind of keen to get opening this little lot:

Unopened
A bag of what he says are 'Chav' Christmas presents.

Anyway, as these 'funny turns' have been occurring quite regularly over at least 18 months and might be a type of Migraine, I at last took myself off to the Doctors. I do not like going to the doctors. I avoid it where possible. I now have to have a full blood screen and was astounded to discover I couldn't have a fasting blood test until a week today. Long gone are the days when you walked out of the doctors room and along to the nurses office and got your bloods taken there and then. Progress eh? Comfortingly (Not!) The doctor has said he has no idea exactly what are causing the symptoms and without a lot more further tests he has no idea how to go about treating it. 

I have, however, during my very limited computer time this week, managed to join two swaps. I had had a bit of bit of a swap hiatus because a lot of the regular swaps I'd joined had lost some of the really fun participators. I have to say in all honesty I've only ever once received something in a swap that wasn't up to standard and in that case the person hadn't followed the swap instructions and sent less than was requested and hadn't entered into the spirit of it. My dissatisfaction with swapping centred largely around swap partners choosing not to participate or even bother saying thank you properly. In a couple of cases I only found out my items had been received because my partners name was listed on the received list!  I kind of started to wonder why I was bothering, as for me there is as much fun in the making and putting together a parcel for my partner as there is in receiving a lovely hand made item.

However, you just know if you join a swap run by Cindy, Hadley and Susan you're onto a good one and with a name like Mouthy Stitches it has to be just the swap for a trappy-getting-involved-in-the-the-thick-of-it mare like me!

Mouthy Stitches

If that swap wasn't enough I signed up for the second round (round one filled too quickly and I missed sign ups) of the Over the Rainbow Charm Swap! The first kinds of swaps I did on Flickr were fabric ones, when I was making my hexie charm quilt. This is slightly different to those as we are all assigned a colour and must buy a metre of fabric in our given colour and then cut it into 5" charm squares. We post these off to Emily who will then sort them all into packets so we get back a rainbow of charms. I am already hatching ideas of what I want to do with my charms. Of course it has meant that into the second week of the year I have fallen off my fabric diet waggon, as I had to go and order some pink fabric.  I just didn't  have a whole metre of any suitable pink fabric. And seeing as I was having to pay for postage on that order a couple of other bits may have fallen into my online sewing basket.

A week on Sunday is my birthday. I had better get a move on with my Birthday list. I'm hoping (probably in vain) for some quilting books I've been eyeing up for a while and also a new quilting ruler or two. I have a 24 x 6" one but wondered what other rulers you all find invaluable? I'm also wondering if there is anything else sewing tool wise I really need to be adding to my Birthday list? Any suggestions welcome.



Sunday, 8 January 2012

My Plan 'B' Weekend

This weekend has been another occasion when what I intended up doing is very very different to what I'd hoped and planned for even a few days ago. You see plan 'A' had involved Chief coming down and taking me away for a night. We're talking 4 star hotel, spa, lounging around relaxing, good food and some couple time. Somewhere along the line we'd open our Christmas presents; that are currently wedged down Chiefs side of the bed, looking a bit forlorn and unloved in their Christmas paper, now it's January.

When Chief drove back to camp on at the start of the month he had a sore throat which has developed into a full blown lurgy. He was sent home from work on Wednesday and ordered to bed on Thursday for a couple of days. Up until the last he's remained optimistic he'd shake it off and come down - even if it was only for today. The unfortunate side effects of health problems he had last year is he now seems to pick up every germ that's going. His doctor says bugs will no longer pass him by and they may take a lot longer to shake off.

This has left me with a whole weekend kicking my heals and it's been the perfect time (amongst other things) to get on with some sewing. The Finish-A-Long has been a great motivator for me.  I've already done and dusted the first item on the list my string greens quilt. There will be a whole post dedicated to that quilt when the weather is not so dismal and I can get out side to take some pretty pictures.

First Quilt Finish of 2012
I even made a label which is pretty much unheard of unless a swap dictates it!

Anyway, fired up with the enthusiasm of finishing a quilt I decided to crack on with the Colour Brick quilt. This had featured as a QAL over on Rachel - Stitched in Color Blog. It's a great beginner project and has very clear and comprehensive instructions.

Getting ready for some brick laying

I'd wanted a simple project to show case my Hope Valley stash for some time. I think I'd bought a pink/grey FQ bundle a couple of years ago now and had been cutting into it a lot as it plays so nicely with other fabrics. Then I'd spotted a few quilts on Flickr made with nothing but HV and maybe a bit of kona and I loved how it looked used together. I started buying bits of HV as and when I saw it, and had massed far more different types than was strictly necessary for the Colour Brick quilt. But I thought it might be a manageable project for me. I am not sure I'm ever going to be making big complicated quilts. Well not if I want to finish them.  I was actually up until stupid o'clock last night this morning cutting the bricks. I cut far too many as I followed Rachel's instructions to cut up some whole FQ's and also cut into some of the left over bit of HV I had too.  I figure I'll use some of them pieced on the back along with more HV and maybe some more Kona. I really don't want to have to buy more fabric to finish this quilt so I'm trying to be creative with my backing solutions.

I did find I sort of did my own thing with cutting the sashing because the instructions were so comprehensive I felt confused.  I know this is nobody's intention but sometimes if I get too much information I make really elementary mistakes. I am loving my new cutting mat, which you can see in the above picture. It's got a slightly textured surface - unlike my other smaller one. I'm finding I'm a lot more accurate with my cutting using this mat. The right tools for the job really can make a great deal of difference.

The individual bricks have been made

Anyway, all the bricks are sewn on one side to the Kona medium grey sashing and I've laid them all out to get the pattern I'm happiest with. They're all pinned together in organiser rows ready for me to get sewing. You may notice that the grey flowers and the grey leaves with the little checks are missing from the HV line up. I  can't find the latter and I wanted to save the grey flowers for the back where I'm hoping they'll show up better than they would on the front sashed in medium grey kona!

I've also left out the black basket weave fabric, of which I have a half yard, because I'm thinking I may bind the quilt in this.   So there you go that's my weekends sewing and I feel firmly back in the sewing groove.

I hope you're weekend has been good too. xox

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Reflections and Trends going into 2012

This time last year I kept seeing all the reflections and trends blog posts popping up on my blog roll and really wanted to join in. Only I read a whole bunch first and it felt like much of what I had to say was already being said. So this year I've decided to join in with the Sew Mama Sew industry reflections before going and reading what everyone else thinks. It feels a bit like I've been interviewing myself. But these are my thoughts on the given questions:


Looking back at the 2011 sewing scene, what trends stand out in your mind?
Embroidery became much more popular. People were including embroidery in blocks, using perle much more for quilting and doing more projects that included some embroidered elements. The Hexie trend that seemed all the rage in 2010 continued; Only the hexies got bigger and pieced. The Famers Wife Blocks seemed to capture everyones imagination and everyone put their own stamp on the traditional by adding their favourite modern fabrics. Also everyone (but me who's still not tried it) seemed to be getting into paper piecing.

What were some of your favorite things related to sewing this past year?
I enjoyed taking part in lots of different swaps in 2011. I really feel motivated and encouraged by having this whole online presence of people that totally get the need to make and create. In the UK this has largely been influenced by Brit Quilt started by Lynne of Lily's Quilts. I also think with the likes of the Sewing Summit and the FQ Retreat in London this online community is becoming more and more real world and I think this trend will continue, as we all want to meet the people we consider our 'virtual' friends.

What did you make that you’re most proud of? 
I loved making and my 'Somewhere Under the Sea' Quilt because is used my favourite Heather Ross Mendocino fabric. I loved the colours and the satisfaction finishing a quilt gave me. (Because I'm not very good at finishing big projects.)

Mendocino - first finish of 2011 

I'm also really proud of the first 2-4-1 tote I made because it completely inspired me to have a go at other patterns and not just make up my own bags as I went along. Nothing wrong with that, but having patterns to follow took a lot of the stress away.

241 tote

Do you have a favorite sewing book or pattern from the past year to recommend?
I would totally recommend the 241 tote pattern by Anna over at Noodlehead. If you've never made a bag before, but want a bit of a challenge (Not too much to be scary - enough to make you feel you've achieved something) then this is the pattern for you. Along with many others I enjoyed the Farmers Wife quilt book too.

Are there any trends you’re over and done with?
Hexies...I will finish my giant hexies (although the quilt I'll end up making will be considerably smaller than I'd first envisioned!) and then I never want to do another hexie quilt in my life. Ever. It feels so last year and the year before. Now I want something new. Something I won't need to hand stitch ...forever. I'm also completely over this whole fabric hoarding thing. It has to stop. I can't afford to go on buying fabric just because I love it and really really want it. I'm sure it's the same for many people. I'm looking forward to shopping my stash a bit more often.  USPS are putting their prices up and customs VAT charges mean those of us in the UK are facing charges on just £15 worth of goods. Fabric is looking a lot more expensive to get over seas and it's not cheap in the UK either.


Did you have a favorite fabric collection or print in 2011?
I loved the boldness of Circa 1934 by Cosmo Cricket and the colour scheme. I also loved anything LakeHouse Drygoods produced. Amy Butler's Lark collection was another favourite. But I also loved anything from Joel Dewbury (Aviary and Heirloom people?) and anything with text/maps on it.

What do you predict for 2012 in the sewing industry?
As we went into 2011 the yellow/gold/grey combo seemed to be everywhere. This year I think orange will be huge. Mixed in with lots of grey and maybe surprisingly, teal. I think teal will be used almost as a neutral and maybe mixed in with berry reds. I think there will be a lot more dark colours about. Not as in sludge dark. Just stronger tones and less white.  I think embroidery, especially with perle will continue to be popular.  I think some of the most popular prints will be abstract and slightly masculine.  I also think we'll be more drawn to fabrics that blend and play well with others, meaning we don't have to buy whole collections to get a cohesive look.  I think more people will be influenced by solids and the solid substrates and this will create some modern and interesting quilts where colours and textures tell the story - maybe mixed in with the occasional print.

Can you tell us what to expect from you in 2012? Any big projects or life-changing goals?
I want to make more cushions and items to add interest around my home. There is hopefully something very life changing for me on the horizon this year. But it's not sewing related and I'm not ready to go public on that one yet!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Finish-A-Long?

A few days ago when the Finish-A-Long logo started appearing in photo streams I thought. Nah not for me I only have one thing I'd like to finish this next quarter and that only needs trimming and binding so no need for me to play along.

2012 Finish-A-Long

Then I started thinking about it some more, and more importantly being honest with myself, and actually there are more WIP's around here than I care to admit to. You know what they say: "Denial is not just a river in Egypt!"

I really need to get some finishes under my belt before I contemplate starting new 'big' projects.  So I have prioritised the ones I'd really like to get finished this quarter and here they are:

1) String Greens Quilt.

String greens

I thought I had a more up to date pic of this, but unfortunately not and laziness prevents me from going up stairs to grab it and photograph it in this bad light. Anyway, it's quilted it just needs trimming and binding. There is no reason for me not to get on with this. I think I put if off because my mind went blank and I forgot how you square up a quilt to trim it. (Is that the most feeble excuse you've ever heard in your entire sewing life?!)  

2) Remember this hit and miss quilt top I made with the intention of giving it to a friend as a present?

Hit and Miss

Well I've done nothing more to it since I laid it out on the lawn to photograph it. I had second thoughts as to whether the friend I was going to give this to would really want a quilt. So I lost enthusiasm for finishing it. My niece has a birthday in March. I'm thinking maybe some perle quilting on that grey kona in co-ordinating colours and I'll have a birthday present sorted. She totally 'gets' my making so I'm sure she'll appreciate it.

3) Another quite old WIP that languishes unfinished is the scrappy value quilt I started. I shared this sneak peek months ago back in December 2010!! I got as far as sewing a few of the squares together so I could chop them up as HST's but that's it. There are many more that need cutting and even more that need sewing.


5.5" squares ready for a value quilt.

So I think that is more than enough to be going on with as it's not easy to get the where with all together to finish stuff after this long!!!  If you are still yet to pop over to Rhonda - Quilter in the Gap then I suggest you do, because it's easier to finish stuff when you're accountable isn't it?!