Wednesday, 30 January 2013

One down, One to go

I have at least got one set of my January Bee blocks done on time and heard they've safely arrived. Technically there is still a day left in January so I may well get the second of the blocks done tomorrow. They just won't be arriving in January.

Collette asked us for disappearing nine patch blocks using some white fabric and some Anna Maria Horner fabric. Helpfully she'd already cut us the squares. So I just had to sew them together remembering her request to go as random as possible.

January HipBee Block 2 January HipBee Block 1

It had been my intention to get them all done this week. However, I've had some more challenging news to deal with. I won't bore you all with it because I feel like a complete whingey old bag keep blogging about the negative stuff. Then last night a friend came round with a belated birthday present. Everything had a birdie theme. I can't think why she thought I might like our feathered friends.

Birdie Themed

Today I finally got out to get the birds some proper bird food. We'd run out just before it snowed and we'd been turning out our kitchen cupboards to get them some food. They didn't seem to mind. I've also been trying to declutter. Part of my news could involve a big lifestyle change for me, so I really need to stop talking about getting rid of stuff and getting on with it. And if I can flog some of it on eBay so much the better. But more on that another time. 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

A Post With Actual Sewing In It!

Yes, people I have been sewing. Sewing for most of the day. When really I should have been hoovering the floor, decluttering, putting the ironed clothes away (not leaving them hung from drawer knobs and sat in piles in the living room) and all that other boring stuff.

I was so impatient for the vintage sheets to dry yesterday that I switched the iron to 'dry' and ironed them whilst they were still damp. So not only did they end up nice and crisp, but the last of the dampness was removed. I then started cutting, in not very long I had a big pile of 5" squares.

Squares cut

As I ironed and cut I couldn't stop singing the theme tune from Terry and June.  These retro fabrics remind me of all the vintage British sitcoms. I love watching them now for the social history side. I'll be glued to the telly looking at the wall paper (was it ever really fashionable to have a lounge diner as per George and Mildred and have the dining area with one hideous wallpaper and have a clashing one in the living room bit or was that purely George and Mildred's bad taste?), clothes and general feel of the time in which these programmes were made. 

Today I started piecing. I sewed random squares into two's, then four's and so on. Once I had 12 squares joined together I did another strip and eventually joined 12 of these strips together.  I then took the quilt top upstairs and laid it on my bed. (Where I proceeded to take a really rubbish picture because I was too lazy to go downstairs and swap camera lenses!)


Now if I had wadding, a suitable backing and binding I may well have stopped now and decided to get on with a nan nap quilt like Judith's. However, I have no wadding, no backing and binding, so there is no chance I can finish this this weekend. Soooooo I decided to go bigger. This will not be a nan nap quilt. Oh no. This will be a full on duvet day quilt.  

Vintage Sheet Quilt WIP

It's getting bigger!  I love how all the fabrics play together. The beauty of a quilt like this is you could take a fabric that might be fuggly in a big piece and it works when mixed in with others. 

I keep imagining the finished quilt, on my bed with me under it. Spring sunshine streaming through the window and everything right in the world. Today Chief was supposed to come down so we could finally have our Christmas together. I think I made the best use of the day without him. Must go I need to cut some more squares...

Friday, 25 January 2013

Is that my mojo stirring from it's long slumber?

So where were we? Ah yes, I was taking pictures of birdies out of the window and pondering whether I would ever feel like sewing again. Then I heard today I'd had a parcel in the mail. A parcel that felt like fabric. When Mum told me this I'm sure there was a hint of: I thought you weren't buying more fabric in her voice.  I could sort of see why when I got home because the parcel was massive!

Sometime last year I signed up for the vintage sheet swap that Mary was organising. I'd seen some scrummy vintage sheet quilts made by Judith and really like the idea of making one myself. I kept reading on the Internet that everyone's local charity shop was full of hidden fabric treasures. So I went off searching myself and drew a big fat blank. Not a whiff of a vintage sheet. (Maybe a whiff of something else in one or two of the charity shops, but we won't go into that.) I had hoped I'd be able to go looking in a few different towns. Only I got ill and then it was Christmas and the swap was starting in January.  I resigned myself to sitting on the sidelines and watching.

Then the lovely Helen said she'd found some vintage sheets and could contribute some on my behalf. Wasn't that a lovely thing to do? I owe her a drink or two at the FQ retreat (and now I've seen just how many vintage FQ's I've scored, probably owe her a vital organ or something.)

Having not tried to cut up a sheet or two I had no idea how many fat quarters you could get and therefore I had no idea how many to expect. But look at this stack!

Vintage Treasure

You maybe thinking why haven't I spread these out so you can have a proper look. Well, I assure you I'm not hiding any horrors. Mary the organiser is a vintage bedding expert and she'd not send out anything that didn't pass muster.  There is a great selection, only my entire downstairs has recessed halogen bulbs that seem to go every few days. I currently have so many lamps out I am sure people passing by think we've forgotten to pay the electric bill. Winter light and lack of light bulbs mean it's just too dark to get a decent shot if they're spread out.  I will get more lamps tomorrow, so I can hopefully get some better shots. That's assuming I haven't cut into them, because the need to cut up these up and make a quilt like this is calling me. I've just given them another wash so they're currently drying. Tomorrow I may start cutting and...


Yes, people. Actual sewing may happen tomorrow. I am doing enough nan napping to deserve a nan nap quilt of my own.  If you have no vintage sheets and want to use some in your projects Mary stocks some lovely vintage charm packs in her shop.

What are you sewing this weekend?

Thursday, 24 January 2013


I had sort of made up my mind last blog post that I wouldn't blog again until I had some sewing to share with you. But seeing as I'm a dead loss at the moment, I'd not be saying 'Hi' on here to you all for a long time, if I started making rash decisions to only blog when I'd sewed something.

I feel I should be coming up with a really good excuse like my dog ate my sewing and then a dinosaur travelled through time and ate the dog...but the truth - short version is: walking to and from work because of the snow has wiped me out. Low iron, precarious health and walking a 2 mile plus round trip is not conducive with good health and the ability to stay awake for very long.  It's frustrating because I enjoyed my walks in the snow. Just not the exhaustion that went with them.  Especially since this year I bought some snow boots online in a sale. One of my few 2013 purchases and worth every penny. And on Monday I took a point and shoot camera with me and managed to get some lovely birdie shots on my way home - thanks to a Fieldfare that decided it was more interested in berries a foot away from me, than worried about me and my camera.

My Walk Home

The walk that should maybe take me quarter of an hour took half an hour on Tuesday as I just struggled. I told myself to 'man up' as Chief would say. But the reality was it felt like I'd been on the race to the pole with Scott of the Antarctic not strolling home. I got home and vegged out on the sofa. Barely enthusiastic to open what birthday cards and pressies had made it. Then my niece and brother called around to see me and I was chatting and trying not to be grumpy when really my body was shouting to be let go to bed. Not the most exciting way to spend a Birthday. I hope next years is more fun. Especially as it's a milestone one.

I did get sent some lovely flowers from Chief. That was surprise as he'd already admitted he hadn't got me a card and I'd have to have one late.

Birthday Flowers

I actually had a lovely present from a friend and fellow blogger. However, the pictures of it so far are rubbish and don't do it justice so I'll save that for another blog post. 

And in case you hadn't see enough birds around her of late here are some more.

"So" said the Pheasant to the Blackbird, "Do you come here often?"

We've had a lot of pheasant visitors in the garden of late. Although it was quite a surprise to see this fellow walking along the top of the 6ft fence that divides my garden from my neighbours!


I was amazed I got this shot. I felt rubbish. I was stood in my kitchen a good distance away from this birdie and took the picture in a snow storm through the kitchen window, which is not only leaded but dirty! The birdie, in case you didn't know, is a little owl and this is one of it's favourite sitting places.  It looks quite fat here because it's all puffed up against the cold.

So I've done better on the birdie front than the sewing front. But we're nearing another weekend and now Chief has a stinking cold it's unlikely I'll see him on Saturday as planned. I may just get to sew! I'm worried I may never want to sew again! 

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow not Sew

I've not been blogging so much of late because as I've not been sewing I don't have a lot to share with you. This weekend I hope to tackle my January Bee Blocks. Which will mean trimming and making an siggy block for January in the HipBee's and starting the feather blocks for Bee A Brit Stingy Bee.  I have cut a load more string,s but I was derailed by one of those turns midweek. Thankfully it was not bad enough for me to have any more time off of work. But it did put me out of action for an afternoon and evening and then made me sleepy after work the following day.

My creative efforts have pretty much been confined to the photo a day project. If you're interested you can see my first 18 days of the year here. I'm pretty pleased with the results so far.  I may start on a small sewing project of something just for me.  Something I can see a finish with sooner rather than later. And certainly something only from stash. I was given an idea of the cost to replace my leaky roof and it seems a lot more work is going to be needed so it's nearly double the price of what I had in my head. It came as a bit of a shock and will definitely be an incentive to use up my stash rather than buying more!

And because I don't like blogging without a picture. Here is a snow picture or two. I was the crazy lady that drove to work then had a lift home because I was too wussy to walk to collect my car and drive home in case the roads in my village were bad. (Well it's rare in deed they're gritted). My brother brought my car home a little while later and he and my niece went down the hill with her on a sledge!

Down the Road
Down the hill from where I live.

The robins are always happy to pose!
The robins love to pose.

I hope if you have snow and cold weather you are keeping warm and enjoying it rather than finding it too much of a stress.  Have a great weekend! 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Strip Teasing

I never thought the feeling I didn't want to sew would last this long. I am only sewing stuff "I have to" because I have committed to doing it. And even then if there is a chance I can put it off, then I am doing so. The easiest sewing seems fraught with needing to think far more than I actually feel capable of right now.  At the moment, anything that keeps my life simple is good for me. Working on the assumption I might one day feel less resentful towards my sewing machine I started cutting strips.

No prizes for guessing what I'll be making :-)

I don't normally find cutting therapeutic but knowing I'm 1) reducing my stash in a positive way. And 2) I am getting to use up some gorgeous fabrics that I'd been hoarding in case I used up the last precious bit and I'd never get more. Now it doesn't matter I won't get more because this quilt will be for me. I'll always have a piece of those yummy fabrics. One of the things that first made me love patchwork quilts was all the random scrapiness, the way fabric was recycled and represented bits of the makers history.  Even though my fabric comes from my stash much of it was bought for a reason or has been sent to me by friends. It actually won't take that long to have all the strips I need cut and then maybe I'll feel like sewing them together.  

Whilst I haven't been sewing I have managed to read 6 books already this year and I'm actually enjoying curling up with a book and losing myself for a while. 

In March it's my turn in a stash bee to be Queen Bee. I'd known all the way along what my preferred block would be. And then coincidentally I've just read it's been chosen already for February's block and now I having been so sure this would be my block, I've now got to come up with a new block choice.

So do you have great block suggestions? I'm noticing in the two bee's I'm in that often when a block is chosen many bee members have already made the block in other bee's. Does this put you off? Have you ever groaned because a block you *hated* has been chosen in another bee? Are there any blocks you wonder why nobody chooses?

As the Bee I'm on about is a stash Bee I can't specify a certain shade for the negative space in the quilt because people are making from their stash. It's no good wanting say, Kona Pond as the back ground, when the chances of everyone having it are remote. So any block that's chosen has to work well with no specific shade to tie it all together. A block that allows, say a low volume back ground, might be a better way to go.

I'd love to hear your suggestions because at the moment feeling so uninspired by sewing, I'd hate to request a block that I don't really 'Love', just for the sake of having some bee blocks.

I've also managed to not buy any fabric for a couple of months now. So I'm doing pretty well at my using my stash not adding to it plan!

I find this weather very stressful. So I hope you are all managing to move around safely in the snow and ice. Keep warm.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Good News and Bad News

Good News: I decided to sew at the weekend. For the first time in what felt like forever.


Bad News: trimming 2.5" HST's when the smallest ruler I have is 12.5" square.

Good News: Getting the block done and feeling relieved as I thought I was never going to get it done. It's a bit wonky and I've lost a few points. But it's OK, it's done with barely any fabric to spare. Phew no major cock ups.

November block for Catherine

Bad News: Uploading the pic I snapped yesterday and then seeing that I've transposed two squares so the diagonals run the wrong way. I actually really struggled with the lay out for this block. The instructions just tell you to how to make the HST's and then it jumps to telling you to sew it together to make the block. The only picture was the made up block and I just seemed to get block layout dyslexia. Now with very little fabric to spare I've got to hope that unpicking it doesn't damage it. 

Every time I've made a block involving small HST's I've messed them up. They are my nemesis and I now officially hate small HST's. 

Bad News: Found out via yesterday's news that a colleague and someone I've known all my life has died unexpectedly whilst playing rugby. He went to take a conversion kick and dropped down dead. (It's hardly any wonder I wasn't paying attention when I sewed together the block.) He was only 42. It was subdued at work today as colleagues came to terms with losing someone so young.  That's three deaths I've heard of in the first week of the year. 

Good News: I found out the actual name of the award Chief got recently. Nobody outside the Army has probably ever heard of it.

Commander Land Forces Commendation for Outstanding Service.

He has received two glowing letters from high ranking officers congratulating him on his award. It's been the first really good thing to happen to him this year.

Right I have a date with an unpicker...

Friday, 4 January 2013

Day by Day

For the last couple of years I've taken part in the photo a day project. I'd attempted and failed at it a couple of years before that. But determined I'd improve my photography and awareness around me I tackled it in 2011 and did pretty well. In 2012 inspired by Erin's journalling on her photos, I decided to do the same. It gives them more meaning and relevance and saves me the trouble of keeping a diary.

As I start 2013 I'm actually quite excited about this project. More so than anything else at the moment.

Hopeful dates
January 2nd

I'm not really a making resolutions sort of person. However, towards the end of last year I made a few decisions about how I'd like to live my life in 2013 and two words sprung to mind. 'Simply' and 'Frugally'. For the first part I think life can get too unnecessarily complicated these days and I enjoy it more when I keep it simple and I'm mindful of this. 

Frugality has been on my mind a lot over the last few months. Partly to do with lack of earnings while sick and the knowledge I have a new roof to buy. But also when I'm frugal life becomes more simple. It's not about being tight or stingy. I guess for me it encompasses lots of things. Not being wasteful, not hoarding or buying for the sake of it. 

A few days ago I went mad and piled up loads of fabric I wanted at Pink Castle Fabric. It was so cheap. Even with postage it was a steal. Then do you know what I did? I closed the tab without purchasing. I decided that wanting something is not the same as needing something. I reminded myself I have fabric bulging out of my drawers. I need to use up what I've got first and that's a challenge I'm excited about. When I cleared out a chest or drawers purely for fabric I decided, if all my stash didn't fit in these drawers, I had too much. Trying to push more into these drawers is stressful.  Each time I want to buy fabric just because I'm going to remind myself how much fun I'll have finding ways to use what I have and also shopping for new stash when there are great big gaps in those drawers. This doesn't mean I can't buy fabric. It just means I have to need it to finish something, not because I really really want it.

I will be looking further than my fabric stash. I have lots of card making stuff. I will be returning to making hand made cards (as I used to before everyone seemed to do this.) to use up the card stock and other craft materials I have. I will not be buying clothes just because I like something. My wardrobes are bulging. I will be buying when something wears out or is needed. As part of the living simply I'll be decluttering more. I'd intended to do lots of this over the Christmas holiday before I got the fluey virus.

I will be moving on my stash of book crossing availables. Whether that means taking to a meet up, passing on to friends or wild releasing.  I will re-evaluate the books I have on my to be read list mountain.  If I've had a book for a few years and not read it will I suddenly pick it up and read it now?

As for sewing - I hope to attempt some at the weekend. I have Bee Blocks to do! I'm resisting the urge to join the scrappy trip along - but hey don't the quilts all look great and wouldn't it be a fab way to bust some stash...?

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