Thursday, 26 May 2011

Brit Quilt Progress and an Awwwww moment.

Progress so far. by isisjem22
Progress so far., a photo by isisjem22 on Flickr.
I've spent this evening adding the scrappy boarder to the quilt I'm making in the Brit Quilt Swap over on Flickr. I'm not sure the lighting is right, but it does give you an idea of how it's shaping up.  The more I work on it the more I am liking it.

Yesterday, I had the day off from work and sewing too.  My other half made it down for the day. His first visit since coming out of hospital.  He had a good rest when he got here, then we went for lunch at a pub local to Otmoor the nature reserve we went to.  I blogged about a previous visit here.  As a coming-out-of -hospital-treat my other half had bought himself a new camera. A canon DSLR ( I can't remember the exact model.)  When he first handed me the camera I thought I'll never get on with using this as no matter what I did it wouldn't focus and I couldn't understand why.  He just said it was user error, until we realised his condition has caused major problems with his eye sight and as we were using the view finder the focusing ring was vastly different for him than me! Once I had that sorted I managed to take a few decentish pics:

This is a female reed bunting. I took pictures of the males and posted them in the last Otmoor post. Only then they were on the feeders.

Unfortunately this is a tad blurry. I'm not used to the camera or DSLR's in general.  I just missed the adults doing that heart shaped neck thing. But it was only when my other half uploaded the pics that he spotted one of the adults has a hitch hiker.  This is definitely an 'awwww' picture to me.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Hip Pip Hurrah!

Hip Pip Hurrah! by isisjem22
Hip Pip Hurrah!, a photo by isisjem22 on Flickr.
I ordered a charm pack of Sherbet Pips a month or so ago before yardage was really that widely available.  Today the fat quarter bundle I ordered on Etsy arrived in today's mail. 

I know this range was one of the things that people knocked in 'that' post. (You know the one that opened up the whole dumbing down in quilting debate?)  Well, I for one loved Pip's from the moment I saw the design. It did seem like it was being advertised everywhere for months before we could actually get our sticky-with-spray-baste-fingers on it.  

I like Pip's because it is cute without being all shouty novelty.  I like the fact the dot blender is actually little squares.  This range reminds me very much in style of Mendocino by Heather Ross and maybe that's why I like it. I like that there is a little story going on with the main prints. I like that it could easily be for us grown up girls as it could be for a child. I haven't settled on the design yet, but I want to make a quilt that I can snuggle under when the nights draw out and Christmas approaches. 

I've decided to put myself back on a fabric diet. Yes, I know that means I'll probably miss out on some Hideaway (the other range I am really coveting.) It's just I haven't been sewing that much over the last month and the last thing I want is to end up with more in my stash than I could ever make into quilts. So for the next little while I'll only be buying fabrics etc in order to finish up projects - ie materials for binding or backing quilts I make with my existing stash. 

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Salcey and Sewing!

Some of you may recall me telling you about Book Crossing in this post?  Yesterday I went to a Book Crossing meet up at Salcey Forest which is between Northampton and Milton Keynes.  We had lunch on arrival, perused the books that had been left on the book table and then took the remainder off into the forest for a release walk.  It's always lovely to catch up with friends and talk about books and snag a few more for our To Be Read piles mountains.  One of my favourite parts is the release walk as it takes in Elephant Walk named after the Elephants which were stranded here during World War 2 .  On the walk you pass Elephant Pond, where the elephants used to go after a hard days work in the forest, and onto Tree Top Way; which is a canopy walk way that leads 20 metres up into the trees.  On a clear day there are views across Northampton and the surrounding countryside. 

After the release walk it was back for the book swap game. I couldn't begin to explain the rules but it's lots of fun.  Then it was time to make the journey home - loaded up with books.  It wouldn't be a meet up without gaining a few book goodies.

Today I've spent some time just chilling and reading. Of course I've been sewing too!  This is how far I've got with my design for the Brit Quilt Swap. I'm at that stage where I'm really not sure if it's doing it for me. I often always hit this stage when I'm making for someone else.

I don't want to give too much away about the thinking behind this one. What I will say is the naughty bird in the top right corner has stolen the dogs bone (you could tell that blob was a dog even sans eyes and nose, right?) and the dog not being able to fly, has had to get a hot air balloon in order to chase after the birdie.  I still have some detailing to add. I may get on with cutting squares for the postage stamp part of this quilt first though.

I hope you all had good weekends!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Brit Quilt Swap: The Making Begins

I have joined up with a talented group of Brit Quilters for the Brit Quilt Swap.  I confess I am not usually the sort of person who sketches out a design because I hold images in my head. Normally the most I might do is jot down some sizes. It's just the way I work. This swap is a secret swap. We know who we are making for but not who is making for us.  I think a big part of the fun in flickr swaps is the show and tell element, with plenty of sneaky peeks to whet our partners appetite.  So this is the design I hastily sketched out for my mini quilt. 

I plan on a scrappy squares background with a little doggie in a hot air balloon.  I've already modified the design in my head because the doggie is really in the hot air balloon because a naughty birdie has stolen the doggies bone and the doggie wants to get it back!  So you have to imagine a birdie and a bone - ok?

I intend sashing the design in either white or a neutral - maybe some linen and then doing a scrappy postage stamp border and then some more sashing to match that already done.  Then I'll pick a fun pattern for the binding. I haven't thought very far about the back. Although I have plans for the label so that might influence what I do on the back.

I have already started on the background, but a couple of the greens are not doing it for me so I may alter a few or take the greens out all together and just use more blues.  I hope to get some more work done on this over the weekend.  It's so good to be able to get my fabric out again and play.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Bloggers Quilt Festival: Rainbow Hexie Quilt

Hi, My name is Jan and I blog at Isisjem - the Creative Life and Times.  I am getting right under the wire with this post. For a few days I've been checking out lots of entries to the bloggers quilt festival and I have been humming and hawing over whether to enter or not.  However, there is a quilt I've made that is very precious to me and some of my regular followers will know exactly which one I mean.  And I'd love to share it with you all. 

This is the quilt that brought me back to quilting after what felt like a very long hiatus.  It all started one morning while I was surfing on flickr and I came across this group.  I have always been attracted to English Paper Piecing for its versatility and ease to make just about anywhere. Having seen all the lovely hexies that were being basted in the group I decided to pull out my own fabric and see how many charms I could create. Within in a few hours I was not only hooked on making hexies, but completely out of different fabrics. My mission for the next few months was to acquire new fabric scraps; mainly from swapping with other group members.  An author friend of mine, who is a quilter, even heard what I was doing and sent some along.  As I added more hexies the quilt was becoming more and more special to me as it reflected scraps of treasured fabrics from stashes all over the world.

I lost count of all the hexies I made for this quilt.  There are well over 1000 1" hexies and then some. I chose not to bind this quilt in a conventional way but added a ring of one inch hexies on the reverse edge. 

Now there is a secret about this quilt that I don't think I've publically revealed anywhere else.  I'm normally a bit random with projects like this (ie when I've just started making without a definite plan). However, for this quilt I decided early on to break from my usual randomness and go for a rainbow design.  Readers that saw this post, will now know that The Wizard of Oz has special significance to me.  Everyone knows rainbows figure heavily in this story, so when I was told of an old tradition to include at least one duplicate fabric in a charm quilt, as a little puzzle for people to spot, I decided to fussy cut wizard of oz characters from some fabric I had and 'hide' these amongst the quilt. 

If someone had told me I'd ever take on a project of this magnitude (it's entirely hand sewn). I'd have doubted my ability to ever get it finished. As it turned out it has been one of the quickest quilts to make because it was just so fun! 

Now, I'm off to check out even more quilts in the wonderful quilt festival. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to visit my blog and see my quilt.  If you want to check out more quilts in this springs festival please pop along by clicking the button below. 

Amy's Creative Side

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Malvern Spring Show 2011

Regular readers of this blog will know that gardening is one of my passions. I have for a number of years wanted to go to one of the Malvern Gardening Shows; which take place spring and autumn.   Yesterday was the first time I'd managed a trip there. If you've never been to a show like this before you can expect show gardens like this:

and stunning floral displays like this...
In the floral marquee you could buy many of the plants you see on display. Well, not the actual display ones but certainly the same varieties. 
Outside in the rest of the showground there were all manner of trade stands selling everything from luxury hot tubs to gardening gloves - and of course more plants. 
I am still deciding if it met my expectations. Mum had been several times in the past and she thought it was far busier than she'd remembered it being and not quite so easy to navigate around.  I'm sure we missed stuff.  Yes, I did buy a few plants and some veg' seeds.  I'll let you know how I get on with those in due course.
If you want to see more pictures from the show you can see them over in this set on flickr.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Until I can sew, at least I can read!

e-read by isisjem22
e-read, a photo by isisjem22 on Flickr.
As some of you know I've had a little break from sewing (and it's killing me, so much so I had to buy fabric. Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.). But, whilst I can't get to my sewing machine, I've contented myself with another passion - reading. I've read so many good books over these last few weeks and I want to share with you the latest one, because I think some of you might like it too.

House of Silence by Linda Gillard. This book is really hard to put into one category. At the moment it's in the top five kindle romance books sold on Amazon UK.   However, this story has so much more to it than romance. There is mystery, intrigue, family saga and quite a lot of quilts mentioned.  Probably because one of Linda's passions (apart from writing novels) is quilting.  When she heard about my hexagon charm quilt project last year, she kindly donated some of her fabric scraps to help me finish it. I blogged about it here.

Back to House of Silence: I don't want to give too much of the plot away. But if you think you'd like a story containing an eccentric family with secrets, a rambling old country house and a mystery revealed through family letters stitched into a charm quilt; not to mention a couple of yummy leading men; then this might well be the book for you!

Now this book is only available for Kindle at the moment. Don't despair if like me you don't own an e-reader because in seconds you can download from Amazon: Kindle for PC - completely free. This book is also a mere £1.90. Or $3.17 if you're in the US.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Sorry if I've been spamming you...

Just a quicky to say: The account I use for blogging got hacked some how - either when I left a comment or responded to someone's mail and I see now I've been sending out junk to everyone stored in my GMail account. So sorry if you've got what I presume is a lot of rubbish. Luckily Gmail spotted this and closed it down. I discovered this when I went to sign into my blog and it had vanished from the web.

Enjoy your day xox

Monday, 9 May 2011

Lovely Lupins

I had to share with you all this picture of lupins growing in my garden. I planted them last year. They survived the sub zero temperatures of one of the coldest winters we've had for years and have come out a little earlier this year than we would expect.

I have joined in another swap - more details another post. Something that comes up in many swaps I've taken part of is a question about how we rate our skill level. Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced.  Now I don't class myself a beginner. And I doubt I'll ever be an advanced. So I tend to sit on the fence and put intermediate. Although the more I see of some peoples work on Flickr I think I must be a beginner if they rate themselves as an intermediate.  So fellow quilters how do you decide your skill level?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

There's no place like home...

It has been a challenging week to say the least. So much seems to have happened and not all of it has been good. Stuff like my other half being admitted to hospital miles away from me, where he still is now.  Then having my kitchen units taken out and the plaster behind hacked off to check on a damp issue have rated amongst the lows. Of course there has been highs too. A lovely meal at a friends in her woodland hideaway on Friday, followed by a trip to a local vineyard, where there was an art weeks exhibition, has rated amongst the highs.
Another high came yesterday. I spent most of the day cleaning and sorting out the kitchen, I saw the postman come up the path, but had my head down cleaning and didn't check on my mail until much later in the day. So imagine my delight when this wonderful pincushion and some lovely extras arrived. This was made for me by Janet CR in round 3 of The Scrappy Pincushion Swap. We had all thought this was lost in transit as it was posted a couple of months ago. Yet it made it all the way from Canada to the UK and was definitely worth the wait!

Round 3 of the swap there had been discussions about our favourite films and how they could be translated into a pin cushion.   The Wizard of Oz has special significance for me. As a child I loved to watch this film - it tended to be on the week before Christmas if not on Christmas Day itself and I just LOVED it.  Then when I was 11 and in my final year at Primary School they announced there would be a school play - The Wizard of Oz, and auditions for the main parts would be open to the oldest children. A friend had done lots of local amateur dramatics and she had pretty much been told she had the part of Dorothy.  All those interested in playing the part had to sing a solo for the audition. I learnt the words to "Somewhere over the Rainbow" and thought if I was lucky I might get cast as the scarecrow.  However, as you can see below I got the lead and ended up having to sing two solos and learn 16 scenes worth of lines. 

It's one of my most treasured memories and my old headmaster still calls me 'Dorothy' if he sees me in the street. 

Thursday, 5 May 2011

No sewing here.

No sewing here. by isisjem22
No sewing here., a photo by isisjem22 on Flickr.

This is the table I normally set my sewing machine up on. As you can see it maybe a while before I can use it again! I've had to relocate lots of kitchen equipment and 'stuff' from the kitchen so some damp issues can be sorted...behind the cupboards. It's going to be messy. It needs to be done. It'll be a chance to redecorate and have a good sort out of my kitchen cupboards.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Remember me?

It feels to me like I've fallen off the face of the earth these past couple of weeks. There has been so much going on - none of it creative. In fact while I'd been checking into all my favourite groups on Flickr and adding the odd comment I managed to miss sign ups for another round of one of my favourite swaps.  So if you only tune in to see what I've been making you may want to stop reading now.  I was going to blog separately about all the trips out until I realised that I'd be doing it for weeks! So I've decided to condense 'What I did in my holiday's' here. 

A week last Saturday I spent the day with some Book Crossing friends in Northamptonshire. It was a gloriously hot day (we shouldn't be having weather quite this lovely yet in this part of the world!)  We had lunch at one pub, drove up the road to another only to find that due to it being Easter Saturday and St George's Day they had laid on entertainment in the form of a town crier, The Moulton Morris Men and also a beer drinking competition.  If you don't have Morris Men in your part of the world it can look a bit strange. The man in the picture above, dressed up as a woman is known as the 'Betsy'. He was giving the dancers a smack on their bottoms with his blown up bladder on a stick! I think when he thought they were not dancing well enough.  There was another man coming round with cake for the audience - a thank you for watching the dancing.  You can just see the town crier sat down in the shot below as well.

After we'd watched all the entertainment we rounded off the day with a meal at the nearby Indian Restaurant. Now anyone who know's me well knows that I do not like Indian cuisine and you won't often find me anywhere near it. However, this was a birthday celebration so I made the effort. All in all it was a fun day.

No time for a rest the next day when my friend Sal and I took ourselves off to Buscot Park in Faringdon.  We had lunch in Lechlade first and then went for a stroll around the beautiful grounds of Buscot Park. It's definitely the sort of place I'd want to visit through the season. 

The next few days were spent either shopping or with family. Then on Wednesday I met a school friend in Oxford and we went for a walk around the University of Oxford Botanic Gardens.  We had lunch in the Vaults and Gardens Cafe which has recently featured in an episode of Lewis. During lunch my friend spotted that Ian Hislop (Editor of Private Eye and regular on Have I got News for You) was sat at the end of our table two seats away from me!  As my friend had quite a shopping list of things to get we spent the afternoon wandering around the shops. I'd done all my shopping the day before so I just went along as adviser ;-)

As well as all the gadding about I've had work to catch up at home and in the garden.  I have found time to read the odd book or 6!  But not time for sewing. Unfortunately I'm having to have some work done at home next week and that will mean a lot of my kitchen's contents will need to be the area I sew in! So it might be a while before I'm back in the swing of things. Although I am missing it - a lot!

I hope you've had a lovely Easter, enjoyed the Royal Wedding and are looking forward to May Day celebrations tomorrow.
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