Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The other side to pretending I'm in a Bee!

After the tummy bug of last week I've had another infection over the weekend - either related or as as result of being run down. It's completely wiped me out.  For a while yesterday we wondered if we it was mumps.  My neck was so swollen and my chin had virtually disappeared into the swelling making me look like I had about 20 chins.  It was painful to touch the swollen area and it was uncomfortable to swallow. As for being tired. Well, if the Olympics had a sleeping event then I'd surely get a Gold for Team GB.

So in amidst of all the misery of yesterday having these fab blocks turn up from Judith was a real highlight.

IMG_5062 IMG_5063 

 If you read this post you'll know I have been doing a little swap with Fiona for low volume blocks. It gave me a chance to pretend I was in Brit Bee.  When Judith heard about what Fiona and I were doing she offered to make me some blocks too in exchange for blocks for Bee Blessed.  I have really enjoyed making the blocks for Bee Blessed over the last few months.  I only wish I'd had the confidence to join in sooner.  If you haven't got involved, maybe because you're too nervous, I really urge you to have a go.  Each month details are posted of the block of the month.  A link to the instructions on how to make the block are always posted along with any special requirements like if there is a colour request.  You use fabrics from your stash so you don't have the added fear of messing up with someone else's fabrics. These blocks then get turned into quilts that go to people that really are in need of some quilty TLC.

If you've not been involved with a Bee you've not experienced the pleasure at seeing fabric you've sent out become a wonderful block. Each of us approaches a bundle of fabric in a completely different way.  It means you get blocks back that are realised in ways you may not have thought of. Bringing a new perspective to the finished quilt.  It was both strange (in a good way) and wonderful to see these blocks appear in Judith's Flickr stream as I recognised the fabrics I'd sent and they were used so imaginatively.  

Thank you so much Jude. They're going to be fabulous additions to my low volume quilt.  As for me I think I must be due another sleep.  


Saturday, 28 July 2012

Bee-n Playing and Olympic Fun!

I sat up last night and watched the whole of the Olympic opening ceremony. What can I say: WOW! I confess at times I've been firmly in the camp that thinks the Olympics was not good for London. The huge expense in a time of recession and all the negative side to hosting it seemed to make the event come at too high a price.  However, as it's got closer I've found myself getting more and more enthusiastic about it and at times emotional. Like last Sunday when I watched on the BBC torch relay coverage, my school friend Arun, carry the torch through part of London - having his Moment to Shine.

His Moment To Shine
Arun's moment to shine!

Last night I felt truly overwhelmed by the amazing feast for the senses Danny Boyle had put together to show case what's great about Great Britain. Even the sceptics on face book who started off moaning about the opening, seemed to change their tune as the show went on.  So many highlights it's hard to pick just one.  I have to say as a normally patriotic kind of girl, I felt incredibly proud watching the opening ceremony.  So many reasons as to why there is a 'Great' in Great Britain and I'm glad for once we did blow our own trumpet as far as achievements go. As a nation we definitely took our Moment to Shine last night.  I also loved that many of the athletes in the parade had brought along cameras and video equipment and were intending to capture the moment themselves, not rely on the professional coverage. As a complete photo junkie I've often wondered at big events why nobody has snuck a camera or their iphone into their bags and pockets because I'm not sure I could resist!

The view from my sofa
The view from my sofa last night!

So today I got up feeling a bit rubbish. I'd planned on a lie in as I've not felt great this week. Bit of a tummy bug I think.  But the neighbours seemed to be intent on banging every cupboard and wardrobe in the room next to mine first thing. I did go back off to sleep, although when I eventually did get up I felt like one of the Walking Dead.  I put the TV on to watch a selection of Olympics and set about doing the second block for Fiona.  I had the idea for this block before I did block one. It was an ambitious idea and several times I thought I should just do something different.  But you know when you get an idea and even if it seems a bit mad, you just have to do it? Well this was one of those times.

Fiona's brief requested a higher volume traditional block in amongst a low volume larger block.  I wanted to do a block that included some reverse and needle turn appliqué. It was going to be ambitious because the high volume block was to be the considerably smaller part of the overall block.  This meant some small appliqué.  The appliqué parts took most of the day.  There were times when I thought I was made to be doing this.  I used some of my own Flea Market Fancy stash to add to the bits Fiona sent me and now I see the block all together I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I just hope Fiona feels the same way - especially as I got a bit carried away and it's a bit larger than it should be (you can trim down if you want Fiona!)


Second Block For Fi
Block for Fiona


My Mum is due back from an 8 day holiday to Scotland tonight.  The weather hasn't always been kind to her but she seems to have had a good time each day when she's phoned. I now need to go and remove threads and fabric scraps from everywhere, as being this creative was not a tidy process ;-)

Friday, 27 July 2012

Pretending I'm in Brit Bee

Some of my favourite bloggers are also members of Brit Bee.  Before I read about the exploits of the Brit Bee-ers over the last year I'd thought of bee's in two ways: They either went wrong with people running off with your fabric and flaking on your blocks or they were for the super talented - Ringo Pie anyone? I thought they weren't for me in terms of skill required or the level of commitment (the latter I used as an excuse to justify the first.)  But the Brit Bee girls make each months bee blocks look like so much fun. Just the right amount of challenge, fear and a whole heap of encouraging friendship and laughs.  If I didn't like the members I know so much, I'd have plotted a Cluedo style knock off of a member to get myself a position in that Bee, just to be in on all the fun. I'm thinking Ms Klona Coal, in the sewing room with a pair of Pinking Shears - and cue evil laugh Mwahhhhhhhhhhh!  


So imagine my delight when I had an email from Fiona after seeing my low volume blocks asking me if I'd like to do a little block swap with her.  She was doing a very similar low volume project as me for her month in Brit Quilt and thought it would be fun if we made each other blocks.  She emailed me the Brit Bee instructions and sent me some of her precious low volume scraps. I in turn have sent her a package of low volume fabrics for my blocks.

IMG_5022
Fiona's Low Volume Scraps.

 As it was cooler this afternoon I decided to have a go at the first block.  Now I have to say I've been a bit nervous of machine sewing since it became clear I needed a new machine. The fall back of the Brother I was given had previously only been used for free motion/creative stitching. I thought I could raise the feed dogs and snap on the general sewing foot and away I'd go. However, after trying to use it this afternoon for straight forward sewing in Fiona's first block, I nearly had a melt down at how unpleasant it is to use.  I won't bore you with details, but after I'd assembled the spool block and taken the unpicker to it about a zillion times I grabbed my old Janome - fiddled until I could get the feed dogs to re-engage and decided to use that. It may be no good for thicker layers or quilting, but I think I can use it for straight forward sewing at the moment. Hopefully between the machines I'll manage until I can get a new machine in about a month or so.

Anyway, this is the first block all finished. I did the high volume bit in the spool pattern from The Farmers Wife book.  I used scraps to make up the rest of the block. Mainly because some bits were too pretty to cut into - like the vintage sheet. So I just went with what the scraps dictated.


IMG_5024

So this is how I got to pretend I'm part of Brit Bee. And hopefully Fi won't see this block and regret entrusting her precious scraps to me. I've got an idea for block two, but it's going to involve some hand sewing/EPP and a few of my own scraps to eek out what Fiona sent. 

It was seeing how the fun out ways the trauma of being in a bee that made me only too keen to say yes to joining the hipBees.  


Our first month is August and today I had my package of fabrics arrive from Miss August aka Reene of Nellie's Niceties.  So exciting. I hope to be able to show you what I come up with before too long!

In the mean time have a lovely weekend, whatever you may be doing!




Thursday, 26 July 2012

I've been like a snail about showing you my mail.

There has been no sewing here of late partly because of the scorching temperatures which have seduced me outside and partly because I've had a bit of a tummy bug over the last few days and there just hasn't seemed like enough quality hours in the day.  However, I realise I do have stuff to show you. All that mail that's been trickling here that might be of interest. Some of it arrived so long ago, I had to go back and check as to whether I had blogged about it or not.

Like these fun earrings from Poppys Pocket. If you've not already heard, Poppys Pocket is the Etsy shop of Judith's talented daughter.  I'm a sucker for jewellery of any kind and am not adverse to doing a bit of kitsch should the occasion call for it. And the occasion for these will be the annual girls only family holiday with Mum, my niece and of course me. I'm having the ice cream cornets and my niece will have the cupcakes. Only I'm not going to give them her until she arrives at the hotel. It will probably be we'll end up swapping through out the holiday, as we have been known to swap our jewellery before when we're away.


IMG_5016
My bad for not sharing these cupcake lovelies with you when they arrived!

IMG_5015
Don't you just love the stars?

Another purchase I've forgotten to share with you that arrived some time ago are some Moo Cards. I know everyone got these ready to go to the FQ retreat, but as I wasn't going I didn't see a whole lot of point. I'd ordered Moo Cards before for other projects, although I didn't really think I needed any craft advertising ones. Then Katy gave me that cute Teddy Bear Moo Card and I really felt I did need some of my own and it would save a rush purchase as I'm thinking about packing for next years retreat, eh!  

IMG_5004
I opted for a mix of craft and photography and I had my details put on the back.

Should you have not purchased your own moo cards, and I can't believe there is anyone left, then you can get yours here! (With a 10% discount off of first time orders no less!)

For those of you more tempted by fabric, the bundle that I ordered from Jo, after Hadley gave me the heads up arrived on Tuesday. Given I'd only ordered it on Sunday (I think) this was super fast shipping and Jo even included some buttons and I can never have enough buttons. The card was a nice touch too.



IMG_5005

The Flea Market Fancy bundle is to add to my stash. I already have most of these colourways, but it's my intention to use DS fabrics and this bundle in particular for my month in the hipBee's. Which is actually only a few months away so it doesn't hurt to get planning does it? I'm sure my fellow bee's won't mind using a spot of Denyse Schmidt. The new Laurie Wisbrun fabric is just begging to be made into a framed pouch I think.

On the same day this bundle arrived an order I'd made at Hancocks of Paducah arrived too.  I don't know why, but I like to say out loud 'Hancocks of Paducah'. I wish I could get away with telling random people that: Oh, I shop at Hancocks of Paducah.  I don't know why. I'm easily amused sometimes.  


IMG_5011
Summersville

I can't remember the price I paid for this but it was ridiculously cheap on some offer I read about. It's destined to become quilt backing sometime. 

So that pretty much sums up my fun mail over the last few weeks or so.  With a purse from the framed purse swap to arrive and a prize I won in a give away I'm due some more happy mail. But of course you can never have enough happy mail can you?  so I hope I have lots more fun surprises to share with you all soon!






Monday, 23 July 2012

Sunshine Stops Play

Even though I'm aware I have an ever growing list of sewing and sewing-area-sorting stuff I should be getting on with, the gorgeous sunny weather we've had the last few days has seduced me outdoors, in the garden with a book.  I am sort of feeling guilty about it, only not so much that I want to go indoors and sew instead.


Progress so far

I was hoping to have this all pieced for my partner in the Brit Quilt Swap.  I think it looks a bit plain to just leave it like this so I'm thinking my partner would prefer a border of squares round the outside in more DS fabrics.  I hand appliqued the octagon ring onto the linen. In order to avoid any really horrible creases in the linen I fused some light weight interfacing to the back first. It worked wonders in making the hand appliquing go like a dream.  One of the things that appealed to me about octagons in a ring like this was the star shape in the centre.  I love using the DS fabrics and I'm thinking of using them when it comes to my month in the hipBee's. With that in mind I may have ordered some more.  I wasn't going to be buying fabric because I'm saving for a new sewing machine. However, Hadley made me do it. She practically gave me a Chinese burn, whilst kicking me in the shins and threatening to steal my stash (apart from any brown fabrics obviously) by pointing out the great value bundle you cold get over at Jo's shop.  I'll look forward to getting that in the mail. It's been ages since I've had a good mail day!






Saturday, 21 July 2012

Just One Day

My mum left first thing this morning for a coach trip with some of her friends to Scotland.  If I wasn't envious enough of her getting not only an 8 day holiday while I'll be at work, she left the itinerary details behind to make me even more jealous! Highlights of which include a trips to the Isle of Skye, Armadale, Glencoe, Rannoch Moor, Loch Ness, Ben Nevis Distillery...

So after I'd waved her off I went to bed with a book for a bit. Until I heard the post lady delivering a parcel - the order I placed with U-Handbag on Thursday night arrived before 8am this morning!! I've had nothing but fantastic service from U-Handbag. Whilst it was tempting to play with the goodies inside I decided to take myself off to Oxford to stock up on some foodie treats in Marks and Spencer's. It had said on the news the summer sales had been brought forward and there were loads of great sales on. I think they'd missed Oxford - or I'd missed them. That said I did buy myself a dress with loads off the price. It's a grown up sort of dress and I'll need the right sort of grown up occasion for it. But given I've grown out of quite a few of my dresses it was required.

When I got home I pulled fabrics for my Brit Quilt Swap Round 3 Quilt.
Brit Quilts Swap 3

 I think my partner may well be quite keen on DS fabrics. I know I am.

DS Fabrics
This is mainly Flea Market Fancy and some of the lines for the Joann's ranges
 I've kindly had sent to me in swaps etc.

Octagons anyone?
I always do hexies so this time I went for octagons - 8 of them!


Would you like them on some linen?
I'm auditioning fabrics for the backing.

So that's my day so far.  I'm not sure whether to go with the linen as a back ground or something else. Something I may have to purchase? Still I have plenty of time to procrastinate a while longer. Maybe I'll make a framed pouch while I'm doing that procrastinating. Well, I do have new frames to play with.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Chief's Recipe for Deep Fried Ice Cream

Last night Chief came over after his course and we went to the local Thai place. The place Katy and I went that time.  Chief hadn't been before.  Tomorrow I'm going to make him Mexican before he has to head home and then head off to the North East for work. Mexican hadn't really been on my radar, although Chief loves it.  I've tried to make it him before, but several times I've had it all ready and something has happened and he's not got down to share it.   It means he's only once before tried my deep fried ice cream. Which is actually his recipe and apparently you get this on the dessert menu in Mexican restaurants. He thinks I make it the best. I have no idea where he got it from; only that it is far more delicious than the core ingredients would suggest.  As it's best made the night before I've just made some.  I was going to do a step by step photo recipe until I remembered  it's quite a messy-in-progress recipe so I'll leave some bits to the imagination.

IMG_4892

To make Chiefs Deep Fried Ice Cream you will need some vanilla ice cream, some cornflakes and some runny honey.  I use cup cake cases to keep the Deep Fried Ice Cream together in the freezer as this recipe is best put in the freezer over night.  This is the first time I've used diabetic ice cream and I wouldn't recommend it if you don't have to. It didn't hold together as well as regular ice cream. As Chief is diabetic I felt I should cut out as much sugar as possible though! An ideal ice cream is soft scoop as it will allow you to get nice round balls of ice cream out using a scoop.

Half fill a freezer bag with cornflakes and then smash the heck out of them with a rolling pin.  Go on get stuck right in and if it helps to imagine someone who's got on your nerves during the day then go for it!

IMG_4893

You don't want a bag of fine powder but you do want about the stage before that.  When you've done this tip the contents into a small bowl.

IMG_4896

Next add a nice big dollop of runny honey onto a plate. (The plate doesn't need to be vintage as in my picture! )  Keep the rest of the honey on hand because you might need more.

For the next stage I couldn't get any pictures. I was covered in cornflakes, ice cream and honey!  Grab an ice cream scoop and get a nice ball of ice cream out and roll it around in the honey on the plate. It may be easier to use a couple of soup or dessert spoons for this bit and you may need to drizzle more honey straight onto the ice cream ball.  When it's well coated - you need to work quickly to stop it melting and it might be easier to use your hands (You remembered to wash them well first didn't you?) - dump the ball into the bowl of cornflakes and toss it around well so its coated in cornflakes. Then pop it into a cup cake case and sit it in a freezer proof container ready for the freezer and go make another...and another. They're quite rich so you maybe only want to allow two per person.  

IMG_4897

I couldn't get the diabetic ice cream to hold together so these are not the most photogenic Deep Fried Ice Creams I've ever made.  They taste good though; I licked all the utensils clean before I washed up! 

Tomorrow I'll serve these with whipped cream with grated chocolate on top. And in case you're wondering they only look like they've been deep fried. They don't go anywhere near a deep fat fryer!

Edited to add pictures of how they normally look when I haven't used diabetic ice cream. 

Deep Fried Ice cream




Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

P1120077

We have a winner in my latest give away.  It is not a Chicken Dinner of course, but a framed pouch full of scraps 'n' stuff. And the winner is: 

Di said...
Poor, poor you. So sorry about the sewing machine and thank you for the giveaway. Let us all know the outcome. Di x

Congratulations Di @Willowbeck Designs - I'll be emailing you shortly for your address!  Thank you everyone else for taking part.  I'll have to find another reason to have a give away soon. Maybe this is why people have sponsored give aways so often - it's so much fun giving stuff away :-)


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Craft Corner Progress

I don't have a lot of time to sew this week as Chief is on a course in the same county as me. Which means he can see me almost every night. He can't tonight as he has homework in the form of a team project. It did feel sort of strange seeing him yesterday after 'work' when I'd seen him just the day before.  I am feeling more obliged to do housework this week as Chief does find my aversion to housework a bit of a challenge and as he'll be spending more time here this week, I thought I should make a bit more effort!  You may start to get sick of my craft corner updates, but I figured if I feel obliged to tell you all how I'm progressing, I may actually achieve something this time!


Today I set about tidying up the bench area. I tried out my cutting mat here for size. I need to fold my scraps in the mini picnic basket, but as I'll be pulling it out tomorrow to stuff some in my give away purse I figured that job could wait.




Today
Progress so far

I need to get my brother to fix the magnetic noticeboard on the wall opposite to where it's now sat. That way it won't be visible from the rest of the room.  I may hang a mini quilt in its current place. You may also spot a few treasures I've had in swaps like the fabric basket that I've been rounding up scraps into.  I won't show you under the bench or the rest of the room because, the rest of the room in particular, is not looking that great...yet.

It seems I'm not the only one having a tidy up. When I got home from work I saw the neighbours had started having the laurels that block out a lot of view and light from our garden cut down.  The neighbour popped round and said he intends getting the fence between us replaced next week.  He also asked if we'd seen the truck that had turned over down the farm track that was needing some assistance to right.  (I didn't like to mention it would have been a bit difficult for us to see the farm track until he took some of his laurels down.)  When I did go and have a look out of the bedroom window I saw the truck that had turned over looked like a dustbin lorry and it needed a crane to get it upright and a huge flat bed lorry to take it away. It explains why it was so late before the rubbish was collected yesterday!

Monday, 16 July 2012

What Happened Next

Thank you all so much for the comments regarding my sewing machine issues in the last post.  (There is still time to enter the give away if you feel so inclined.)  I have decided that I want to save up for a new sewing machine. Part of me wanted to go out and buy a good quality sew-all machine that I could probably pick up for under £300. Having read all your advice and checked out all the shops and links I'm inclined to save up and go for something a little pricier, that will offer me a lot more features and benefits.  I have been agonising about this though because I'm really not good at spending big chunks of money on stuff.  If it had been Chief in my position he'd have bought a new machine at the first sign of the older one playing up. In fact Chief would have probably upgraded before the machine played up, justifying the purchase by how much use and enjoyment he would get from it. Which is pretty much what he told me to do the first time I had problems with my machine quilting the Hope Valley Quilt.  

I've decided in the time I'll take to save up and make sure I get the right machine for me at the right deal; I really should make more effort to sort out that sewing corner I showed you in this post.  There are no before photos now, but lets just say it quickly reverted to a clutter hole and it never did get the pretty touches and the junk cleared out from under the bench so I could sit and use the desk area. On Saturday I decided it was time to at least move the stuff from under the bench so I could aim at eventually using it as a desk area. (I'm still not convinced it is deep enough to quilt at. I was not long into the task on Saturday when I got to that awful stage where I'd created a scary amount of mess and not seemingly achieved much.  I did however manage to clear out most of the boxes of craft stuff over to the other side of the dining room. They may not look very attractive stacked up like that and will eventually need properly sorting, but it will do for now.

This afternoon I took all the books off the two shelves, dusted thoroughly, straightened them and put the ones I'm keeping back. 

Tidy

 It looks tidy and organised. I figure if I tackle this task in bite sized chunks then it is more than achievable.  I will have a dedicated sewing area and I'll pretty much need, if not deserve a new machine - don't you think?

Friday, 13 July 2012

I could cry really I could. So I'm having a give away instead.

IMG_4815
My third framed purse - would you like this one partner? 
I promise 'll scratch off all the glue from the frame.

Maybe it's the Friday the Thirteenth effect.  In the last two hours of sewing two things have gone wrong in a spectacular way.  Regular readers will know I've been having a few machine troubles. I decided that next week I'd have to make it to the local town where I've found a shop that has someone come in and do servicing.  I thought in view of this I should crack on with a few WIP's I need to get done sooner rather than later.  Then last night I was laying in bed listening to the rain and contemplating another drenching on the way to work, when I wondered if the problems I'd been having were to do with the feed dogs.  I thought that maybe the mechanism that allows you to rise and lower the feed dogs had accidentally been knocked and maybe I'd been sewing with them lowered or something.  So earlier I got out my manual and worked out what I had to do to lower the feed dogs and what do you know - the mechanism doesn't work. When I unhooked the lever and moved it to the right and rehooked it, as suggested in the manual, the feed dogs dropped and refuse now to go back on their own to the raised position. I can see by pushing my finger up under them that they were sitting far lower than they should in the first place.

This begs the question what is likely to be wrong. I've taken off the plate that covers them and checked screws etc but I think whatever isn't right is way inside the machine.  Should I take the machine in and pay the £65 service charge and just hope the prices for the repair aren't stupid?  (It looks like I'll have to pay the service cost to get even an estimate as this is the charge for service/looking at the machine with additional charges for parts etc on top.)  Or should I cut my losses and start shopping for a new Janome. I do want a Janome. I realise that even if I trim down my wish list I'm still likely to be shelling out a good chunk of dosh for a machine - which is doubly scary when I'll have to order it online. There is a decided absence of sewing machine retailers in the area. So I can't try before I buy.

Any suggestions will be very welcome. I have access to another machine. A very basic Brother a friend kindly destashed in my direction. But it's not a joy to use and it feels like I've gone from driving a nice sports car to something with far less va va voom.

So I decided to try out the Brother with some straightforward stitching - which I've never done on it. I normally use it for free motion type work.  I don't have a manual for it so it takes some fiddling to do stuff with it.  It has an automatic needle threader for example - but no idea how that functions.  The plan was to finish the hexie purse for my partner.  It was all going relatively well until I glued the frame in wrong so I could only close the purse by turning the purse inside out. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Thankfully I could rip it all out before the glue was too set. I'll spend a good chunk of time now picking glue off the frame. Oh and the hexies are wonky because I obviously didn't sew them on straight and it's noticeable. So my partner may not like this purse. Even though I think it's quite cute.

IMG_4810
The Lakehouse Dry Good Penelope fabric lining.  
Ok so it's glued in wrong in this photo but I sorted that partner. 

IMG_4812
Glueing the frame purse.

IMG_4814
I need to get the glue off the frame. Do you like this partner or prefer the first purse I ever made?

On to the giveaway. If you've sat through this heap of woe-is-me you jolly well deserve a giveaway. And as I didn't do my blogiversary one last month, I am well over due one.

How about this framed pouch with melody miller typewriters (which a smarter person would have fussy cut - ho hum) one side and those cool view finder reels the other. I'll fill it with some scraps and stuff.  It's not the 2-4-1 tote some of you were hoping for, that'll be for another giveaway.

IMG_4807 
It's surprisingly roomy and I'll stash some scraps and stuff in here before posting ;-)

IMG_4806

How to enter:

Just leave a comment - it's that simple. If you've any sewing machine related advice to my current dilemma would be jolly useful.

Anyone can enter providing I can mail it to you. Please check you're not a no-reply blogger. If you are you need to leave your email address in the comment. If I can't contact you I'll have to re draw. It's surprising the number of no-reply-bloggers that comment. I notice when I go to reply to your lovely comments and it tells me I can't :-(

I'll drawer a winner on Wednesday 18 July 2012


Winner Drawn!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A bit behind.

It's amazing what a couple of days of jam packed activity can do for getting in the way of sewing and bloggy correspondence. Big apologies if I haven't answered your comment/email yet. I will get to them!

Monday I had my first Parish Council Meeting for a couple of months. We weren't able to meet in June because we couldn't get enough councillors to meet at the same time due to various holidays.  But before that I decided to watch the live coverage of the Olympic Torch going through Oxfordshire.  I suspect I made completely the right decision to watch the live streaming as I got to see far more of it than I ever would have if I'd gone to one of the local towns. But believe me I did try and fit in a trip to see it. It actually started in Oxford only a few miles from where I live.  However, there is no parking in that area so I ruled out trying to attend there. Then someone told me on Facebook 10 minutes before it was due, that their husband had taken their girls to see it at the start and was parking at a local sports club that had opened up their parking facilities for spectators. Was it publicised? No of course not, it was word of mouth! I'm not sure what it was like in your area, but I really felt in Oxfordshire they discouraged people from going to see the torch unless it was going outside their house and then people were encouraged to go and view. The route in Oxford city took in the less attractive parts, the BMW plant (the benefits of sponsorship!) and the Iffley road running track where Roger Banister ran the first ever sub four minute mile.  That venue was ticket only.

I had even taken the day off yesterday with the intention of driving to watch it at Abingdon when it went through the town. It was due through at just before quarter to eight in the morning. I had great plans of getting up early and driving to the outskirts of the town where there is ample parking, having breakfast after the torch came through with a friend who works in the town and then having a shop and doing some photography in the town.  In the end, after lots of research I decided against it.  They were closing car parks at 7am and roads up to an hour before it went through for a sponsors parade.  It was beginning to look like I'd have to get up at 5.30am to get me out of the house and parked in time!  I am not great in mornings so I took my Mum and I off to Bicester Village instead.

Spoils.
Spoils from Bicester Village.

In case you don't know Bicester Village is a Chic Outlet Shopping Village.  They have locations all over the world.  Bicester Village is hugely popular and successful.  They have extended it and rumour has it they want to expand onto the site of the nearby Tesco.  I have mixed feelings about Bicester Village.  I am always excited when I decided to go and then I get there and I end up feeling slightly deflated and wonder what all the fuss was about.  Whilst they do have high street stores like Fat Face, Hobbs, Jigsaw and Clarks Shoes, the majority of the shops are Designer:  DKNY, Versace, Vivienne Westwood, Missoni, Mulberry, Burberry, Ralph Lauren.  If you've never been you may be forgiven for thinking outlet means bargain.  That would all depend on your view of a bargain. The items at the stores are the previous seasons and whilst there are some huge discounts I doubt too many of us would still want to pay, say, £395 for a dress that started off at £900.  I came back with more than I often do.  The Cath Kidston store has moved since I last went there. I think it may have taken over the old Clarks shop and it's really rather big.  CK fans would probably think they've died and gone to heaven. I did a bit of early Christmas shopping and also bought myself a fun little oil cloth bag which I'm using already.

After lunch at nearby Bicester Avenue I did something that may shock a few of you. I came back on the motorway - just one junction to Oxford Services. Health problems in my late teens have left me borderline phobic in certain situations with regards to driving and even long journeys as a passenger on public transport if I'm alone.  One of my big issues has been motorway driving and I've never before driven on a motorway without another driver as a passenger.  I don't talk about this issue very often because people tend to want to help by offering advice and it's not always helpful, as if it was just as easy as doing what's suggested, a million phobics across the world wouldn't have a problem would they?!

If that wasn't enough excitement for yesterday, in the evening I had my first book group meeting. A few of us in the village are getting together to read a nominated book and discuss it at 6 weekly meet ups. Our first book was Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brookes and well worth the read.  

Hopefully when I next post it'll be sewing related and there is that birthday give away coming up soon!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Hope Valley Colour Brick Quilt

Hope Valley Colour Brick Quilt
This quilt is best viewed from a distance.

When it appeared like we would get a largely dry day I figured I was safe to wash and line dry my Colour Brick Quilt. I was going to take pictures after this stage. Until I remembered the quilt had a very light backing.  So light, every mark from the dirty rain washed surfaces, is liable to be attracted to it. It made more sense to wash it after its photo shoot.   Laying it flat outside I see as well as the wonky quilting, I've managed to trim down the quilt on the wonk too.  I'm not completely off of the idea of making large quilts, but I've decided if I do I will not be finishing them. And I am not sure I'll be attempting anything bigger than a mini quilt until my machine has had that service!

For this reason all the pics that follow are not close ups.  You don't need to examine the errors of my quilting ways. And if you're reading this from the Quilt Police - well I'm probably guilty as charged! But I figure if this quilt is far far less than perfect I will be more inclined to use and love it, rather than keep it folded, to be brought out on special occasions.

IMG_4725
Not sure why the colours are bleached in this. It's more vibrant in person.

IMG_4727p
Opps the breeze caught this. But the colours are a bit more true. 

No sewing for me today - well not so far.  I sat in the garden for a good chunk of the day reading the book for my book group choice. It's a very new group and our first meeting is on Tuesday.  I have a busy start to the week. But hopefully I'll be back with more sewing soon.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

When Rain Doesn't Stop Play!

This weekend I have a completely free weekend.  Nothing in the diary whatsoever.  I decided yesterday when the forecast was wall to wall rain, I'd keep things that way and just stay at home and do stuff. Stuff like sewing.

I started off with another attempt a the Bee Blessed block for July. What can I say. I can't sew straight lines. It's come out under 12.5". Not as bad as my first attempt (before I took the seam ripper to it) but I've definitely lost a few fractions of an inch somewhere along the line. Not consistently. I can only assume I don't sew straight. Oh and my machine did not like the patterned fabric. If I went anywhere near the edge (ie starting and finishing.) my machine liked to eat the fabric.  Not sure what that was all about.  I can't remember what the blue fabric is. I won some strips of it in a swap, which I was pleased about because despite seeing it in shops when it was released I didn't buy any.


IMG_4715
Maybe I just need to keep making until one comes out right. 
If none do I may get a quilts worth of wonky blocks in the attempt?

It was as I was finishing this block I realised I was hungry-bordering-on-the-grumpy. So after eating I decided to do a bit of housework.  Not enough to get in the way of anything fun. Just enough to stop my fabric adventures encroaching too much in the living room.  I started to wish I could get that little corner in my dining room set up to be a proper sewing area.  But it just tends to attract stuff I have no home for else where. Like unfinished quilts. Or my Hope Valley Colour Brick quilt to be precise. You know the one I put on the finish-a-long and didn't finish because my machine/walking foot decided to not play ball and the quilting looked pretty bad?

I only had strips of binding to join and sew on, but without a walking foot even that worried me.  Today I just thought lets do it! I didn't bother with my walking foot I used my regular foot. And as soon as it came to attaching the binding to the quilt my machine started doing those teeny tiny stitches it sometimes does when I use my walking foot. I really don't know what causes this. It seemed to feed the layers of fabric fine and I tried going fast and snail pace slow to see if this was the issue, but it still decided I needed about a zillion stitches per inch. At least the binding won't go anywhere I guess!!  I then spent about an hour and a half in front of the TV hand stitching it on the back. The quilt just needs a wash and a label. The quilting is nothing to be proud of; nor does it bare close inspection. However, it might look a bit better after a wash and crinkle.  The quilt is for me I'm sure I'll enjoy it anyway. And at least it is finished.

IMG_4720
Hope Valley Colour Brick Finished! 

Everywhere was so wet out side I knew I'd not get a decent picture. I'll have to save that for another day.

Whilst I was doing my bit of fabric-mess-in-the-living-room sorting, I found some linen I'd cut out to become another framed purse.  I've just added a few Liberty Hexies. I can't remember the size. 3/4" I suspect.  


IMG_4723
Essex Linen in Sand and some Liberty Hexies

It co-ordinates better with the pincushion I made yesterday so maybe my partner would prefer this? I'd sort of put this to one side as I'd always planned to put these sized hexies on it, but as there are several pouches in the swap with hexie designs I'd not progressed with it any further.  

So rain has enhanced my play today. How about you though? Has rain aided your fabric play this weekend so far?




Friday, 6 July 2012

Friday Stuff!

Do you think you'd like this pinnie partner? 
Excuse the dodgy pics the light is not great.  The linen is not as dark as this.

I have been procrastinating on what to make for the extra in the framed purse swap.  I thought my partner might like a little pin cushion. I opted for a spot of linen and text with a few 1/2" hexies made from Liberty scraps.  It's the sort of thing I'd like myself. I've come to the conclusion it's best to make stuff you'd love yourself. For one if my partner hates it I get to keep it and two, it's more enjoyable that way and I think I make better if I'm using fabrics I love.

The text fabric is new. I had a good mail day as this was amongst the bills today.

Good Mail
Texty fabrics and other treasures.

It's felt like a while since I've had a good mail day.  All these came from Sew Me A Song. They'll be ideal for my low volume quilt. I didn't buy them for this though. I bought them to feed my texty fabric addiction! I got the lined fabric because I've always coveted the Cosmo Cricket lined fabric which I've only ever had already used in items I've received in swaps. 

Last night I made another Low Volume block using up another Farmers Wife block. 

Last Nights Low Volume Block
It's not this wonky it's just on a chair cushion that I didn't plump up first!

I'm not sure what block I'll make next, but I'm sure some of that new fabric will figure in.  I have the first completely free weekend in what feels like forever and as the forecast is rain and flood I may stay in all weekend and sew up a storm.

I hope wherever you are you're dry and safe. Having to walk to the car after work via the bank was not a pleasant experience. I say walk. It was paddling to be precise.  The water was ankle deep for most of the High Street.  Despite a brolly, waterproof over trousers and a waterproof coat I was wearing sandals.  I've had nicer journey's home.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Under the Influence of Drink

I'm not really a drinker. The most I may manage is a couple of glasses of bitter shandy, the odd glass of wine or maybe something a bit more exotic. But most of the time I really can't see the need or the appeal. I'm not anti drink.  I've just never felt the need to get absolutely trollied in order to have a good time and a lot of the time alcohol makes me feel really rubbish within a short while of consuming. Friends may have stories of things I've done on nights out, presumably under the influence of drink. But I'll confess I was probably stone cold sober as if I was that drunk I'd be unable to function. (Not get up and dance on the bar.)

So it is a bit of surprise that tonight I've had a couple of glasses of wine. I'm not sure what made me. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.  And do you know what? (I may be obliviously typing gibberish here, that I'll regret tomorrow morning.) I sewed up my third low volume block whilst under the influence and not only was it the quickest block, the most fun block, but my favourite block!

First though, here is block #2. Made this afternoon when I got in from work.

Low Volume Block #2
Lots of light quiet fabrics along with a slightly noisier farmers wife block.

It's only crumpled in the picture because it was very windy in the garden when I took this.  I've decided a few of my Farmers Wife blocks are a bit shouty for this project so I thought it might be fun to not only make some new blocks, but try some new techniques.  I have no idea how to make porthole blocks as I didn't go to the retreat and learn with Lu Summers. Not that I'm bitter. And I don't generally do curves and circles because they are too scary. After a glass of vino not only was I making my first port hole type block without a safety net instructions but, I was inventing my way of doing it too. I had thought about piecing the centre of the port hole, but I figured even without the vino this could go horribly wrong, so maybe I should use some less than precious fabric and not something I'd spent hours working on.  The fabric then made me think of bugs collected on a field trip and science classes at school: Microscopes, typing up results on the computer, plotting results etc and I had a theme for the surrounding elements of the block. 

Low Volume #3 The Field Trip Block
Block #3 The Field Trip Block.

I really really love this block. (Oh dear, did that sound a bit drunkard-talking-to-everyone-they-meet?) Anyway, whilst I would not suggest drinking and operating a sewing machine, let alone a rotary cutter, I have to say on this occasion it worked out a treat for me. Now to dream up the next blocks...oh and finish my wine!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Some Quiet Play

Having yesterday, hit upon turning my Farmers Wife Blocks into the high volume element in a low volume larger block, I was keen to get playing.  The first block I grabbed was one of the naturally low volume blocks. I trimmed it down to round about 6 inches then started playing with bits of fabric in a sort of scrappy log cabin design.  I am really pleased with how it turned out.

  P1120067
My first low volume with a hint of colour.  

I'm loving being able to use scraps of fabric treasures that might not have any sensible use elsewhere. It's also good to be able to use fabric with a history to me like the wonky stripes on the right hand side that are off cuts from when I made myself a reversible duvet cover many years ago.  There are bits of fabrics I've had as extra's in swaps and even a tiny piece of a vintage sheet I've had for years.

I get the feeling it'll take me a few blocks to really find my feet with this style of working, but I am really enjoying myself and even remembered I had some more scraps with low volume potential.

P1120063

I've started on joining some more teeny tiny swatch squares together to potentially use in another block. It was only when I started joining them together I realised that some were a slightly different size to each other which meant I had fun joining all these.  


P1120065

When Chief phoned (as he often does while he's travelling from one part of the country to the other) I bored him silly entertained him with news of my project and what I was doing.  His response was: 'Cool, sometimes I think you you think I'm a Doris, when you talk to me about this sort of stuff." (Doris being politically incorrect military slang for a person of the female persuasion.) 

Oh and if my Brit Quilt Swap partner is reading this and thinking - is she not going to get on with my quilt?! Well, yes I am, but I'd like to show you a couple of options and something I'm waiting on might be perfect for one option and I can't photograph it until it arrives. I'm not slacking honest!!

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Farmer and I have split up.

I was never destined to be a farmers wife.  I knew that from the start when I was first seduced. At most I figured I'd be the farmers mistress. I'd flirt, then I'd maybe go off and pursue other interests, before some further dalliance.  But now a year on since our relationship started I've decided that the life of a farmers mistress is no longer fulfilling me and it's time to move on...

If you haven't figured it out yet, I am of course referring to the blocks I made in The Farmers Wife QAL.  Like many people the chance to make traditional blocks using modern fabrics completely seduced me. I bought the book. I made blocks and blogged about them here and here. I created a flickr set of blocks and then I got completely distracted by something else and they have been shoved in a bag in the bottom drawer of my fabric chest.

Don't get me wrong I like the blocks. I enjoyed making them, but I do not want to make the hundreds more that would be required to make even a modest sized lap quilt.  The blocks are only 6" square and so you do need an awful lot of them.  I've felt bad about having them orphaned with no home, but not so bad I actually want to make more.

Then over the weekend I saw these two blocks that Judith made for Fiona in the Brit Bee.  I'd been seeing lots of low volume stacks of fabric appear in my flickr stream over the last few weeks and they do appeal to me. Maybe because they seem the exact opposite of what I'm normally drawn to with the rich jewel bright, rainbow colours.  Having seen these too blocks I'm wondering if I could take some of my Farmers Wife blocks and enlarge them to bigger blocks by using low volume fabrics until I could actually make a quilt out of what I have. I have a couple of other small practice blocks that I could add to the pile. The overall effect would look like a few pops of colour were floating on a mixed neutral background.   I'm thinking this would be the sort of quilt that would benefit from a mixture of machine and hand quilting in different threads.

So I pulled some low volume fabrics from my stash to see if I had enough to make things work.

Low Volume Stack
A mixture of low volume/neutral fabrics including linens

P1120057

So that is what I'm thinking. Is it a good idea? Or should I just hide away those blocks until I come up with something better to do with them? 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Sunday Stitchery and the Weekend that flew by.

I actually commented the other day how I'd like them to make Friday part of the weekend because I keep getting to Thursday and thinking it's really Friday and the weekend is much closer than it really is.  I could do with an extra day in the weekends (as I'm sure all of you could.) as they just seem to go by so quickly!

Yesterday I went to a Book Crossing meet up in Oxford.  We had lunch at the Mitre, chatted and then played a couple of rounds of the book swap game (far too complicated to explain.) which is lots of fun and a chance to maybe score a couple of books you'd have not thought of reading before. It was lovely to catch up with book crosser old and new.

Then today I was up ridiculously early because my Mum needed a lift for a day trip to the Isle of Wight. No I didn't have to drive her to the Isle of Wight - just down the road to get the coach.  I decided to take advantage of these extra few hours (and then a few more) to do some stitching.

First up I made the Summer Block for Bee Blessed.  Maybe it's because of my unfinished grudge quilt, but I rarely buy blue/white fabrics so I really had to scratch around in my stash and scraps to get the required colours in the amounts needed. This block was in theory easier than last months. However, whilst it came together in a flash, it came up short of the required 12.5" square so there was some cursing, muttering and reaching for the seam ripper and I'm still not happy with how this turned out.  Obviously sewing that early on a Sunday, when I'd normally be in bed is not my forte!  I may have to find out some more blue fabric and have another go.


P1120055
Blue and White Block for Bee Blessed

My next project for the day was whipping up one of the sewing organisers by Judith.  You can buy a pattern here and it's a lovely beginners pattern and goes together a dream. Although my finishing is a little wonky due to my being tired (yep early mornings don't do it for me) and not wanting to risk using my walking foot which would have been ideal whilst stitching so many layers including some stretchy shifty linen.  

P1120053
Oppsy I think I needed to iron that a bit first!


I decided to add some half inch hexie flowers on the cover and inside to give a little additional decoration. As I didn't want the velcro stitching to show on the front I changed the bit in the pattern about adding the second piece of velcro and opted to do it at the penultimate stage and then assembled the organiser.  Then I added a button to cover up a little pucker that I wouldn't had if I'd got my walking foot in action.  I decided it also needed some more buttons and then I remembered I'd meant to embroider some words on it. So I did this when it was finished - which (strangely) was probably easier than trying to do it before.

The inside has plenty of space for more stuff. I decided not to add the optional back pocket as I want to be able to keep a smaller square ruler in here. In fact can anyone recommend somewhere in the UK I can buy a 6.5" square ruler from online? I'm struggling to find one and with no LQS I'm going to have to buy online.

P1120051
Umm it is not that wonky it's just the grass is not even so 
it's not sitting flat in the photo honest!!


 I'm delighted with how it turned out. And think you should all go and buy the pattern and make yourself one. 

P1120049
Close up of some of the detailing. Ignore the really really bad top stitching please!


This is going to be perfect for storing all kinds of sewing stuff - especially whilst on the move.