Sunday, December 31, 2006

I forgot to add in my post yesterday that if you click on this link to Amazon, you can read an excerpt from 'The Quilters'.

Last night I made a red and white square for Clare at Dordogne Quilter. It was a complete cheat really, I had some red bandana-print fabric and just cut out the hearts, fused them on and blanket stitched round the edge. Kind of effective though, I think. I might do some more like that - at least I know they'll come out at 8 1/2 inches square.

I'm still cutting out the pieces for the lilac, green and cream quilt, which is slow work - I've got about 60 different fabrics and each fabric is used just once for each block part (hope this makes sense, Keryn of Quilting Twin explains it much better here in her blog, which is where I got the pattern and idea from). At the end I'll have 8 bags of fabric, for the different components of each block, numbered 1 to 8. I'm not going to lay out the pieces first, I'm just going to dip my hand into the bag and pull out the bundle that I come to first and when I have 8 bundles numbered 1-8, I'll have all the parts for the block and it'll come out how it comes out. Each block has to look different, because no fabric is used twice for a particular part of the design. I am so looking forward to the random scrappiness of making the quilt, but it could be some time before I have all the pieces cut.

I will try to take a pic of the finished Antique Cutie tomorrow - I think I need to do it outside in the light, meant to do it today but forgot about it whilst cooking New Year's Eve lunch for my parents and my brother and sister in law. Weather's terrible anyway - really windy and rainy, some cities have postponed their New Year's Eve celebrations.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

What I've been reading

I ordered this book, second hand, before Christmas and it arrived on 23rd December, just before we set off for Carlisle and read it while I was there, in one sitting. I'm sure many of you in the US will be familiar with it, but if you are not, I implore you - go out to your library and borrow a copy. It is so fascinating to hear stories about quiltmaking in the early years of the last century and the relationship between the making of the quilts and the lives of the women. Their lives were so hard and the quiltmaking gave them both the opportunity to express themselves artistically but also to come together socially. Psychologically, it was an activity that took their minds away from the everyday hardships. I have been thinking about this and I do think there are parallels in the modern world. Whilst our lives are not hard physically as they were for the pioneer women, they are stressful, the world seems to move at breakneck speed. I work full time and I know full well that if I didn't have a craft activity of some sort to return to in my 'leisure' time, my quality of life would be diminished. For me, as I have said in my profile, the act of making something is as good as it gets. I have found that once something is completed I lose interest, I don't have much compulsion to keep everything. It's a bit like building a den in the garden when you are little, it's the building of it out of sticks and grass and whatever that is enjoyable, once it's built, the buzz has gone.

The stories in the book reminded me of my grandmother. My Nan was always making things, for as long as I knew her. She used to make wedding dresses in the forties, and in the fifties she made beautiful dance dresses for my Mum, sadly none of which survive. When I was little she made all of my dresses, I don't have any of those either, which I would dearly love to. She was always doing something, and her sewing machine was always 'up' in her front room, it was never put away. Later on, she took up crochet, but like those pioneer women, she didn't buy new wool. She went to jumble sales and bought old handknitted garments and washed them and unravelled them to re-use the wool. One of the first recyclers, I think - though this would be entirely in keeping with the women in the book, who rarely bought 'new' fabric. When I went to university she made me an afghan to go on my bed and it was bright and cheerful and everyone admired it. My Nan did the Daily Mirror general knowledge crossword every day and she bought me books, whole carrier bags full of books, because I loved to read.

So, I'm not making any New Year's resolutions (other than to try to be a little bit more organised so that I can buy myself a bit more time). For me, sewing and quilting isn't about the finish, it's about the doing. (Though to be fair I do like to have 'finishes' - I don't have many WIPS). I do what I can do in the time that I've got and I don't beat myself up if I can't. I have enough deadlines and tasks to complete in my working life, I'm not about to replicate that at home.

Talking of the home front, we have had a lovely day today. My friend and her small daughter came round this morning to play on DS's Nintendo Wii (very scarce still in the UK). DD had a friend sleep over and a friend of DS came round in the afternoon. I love for my kids to have their friends round. Because we lived in the country when I was young, that just didn't happen spontaneously. Since I was 18 I have always vowed to live on a bus route. Public transport = freedom as far as I'm concerned.

Blimey, this has been a bit of a philosophical post - must be that glass of Pinot Grigio Frizzante!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Crochet Squares

We spent Christmas in Carlisle and came back yesterday. Whilst I was there I crocheted some squares for an afghan maybe. The patterns were from this book by Jan Eaton, there are lots of different patterns that you can mix and match, just like patchwork! (Vera also has some lovely pictures of crocheted afghans on her blog today) I've had the book for a while and it's interesting to try to crochet all of the different squares, though I think experienced crocheters might find the patterns quite easy. I like to crochet, but I'm certainly not the world's best - yup, the squares are all meant to be the same size, say no more! I don't worry too much, they'll stretch!

In the background in the photo is a present from DH, a daylight task lamp. It was a real bargain, they usually retail at around £45 here in the UK but this one was on special offer for £16 - probably because it is the most vile shade of pastel pink. I don't care, it does the job and provides the light I want.

I don't have to go back to work until January 3rd so today I finished quilting Antique Cutie and machined the binding on. I love to handsew binding down so I'm looking forward to doing that tonight - I'll post a picture when it's all done.
And finally, proof that I'm getting older (and possibly wiser) - the January sales have started and I can't be bothered to go. All this getting and spending over the Christmas period gets a bit much - why waste time in shops when you can sit at home quilting?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Signing off for Christmas

Oh yeah, I hear you cry, thought she'd signed off for December anyway! Well, I promise to be a better (note that was better, not beta) blogger next year.

Today was my last day in my job at the place where I have worked for the last 15 and a half years. When I started there my daughter was only 18 months old and I weighed a delightful 116 lbs, now she is nearly 17 and I weigh significantly more than that! (But, like Patti, I will do something about that in the New Year). The years have seen the best of times and the worst of times but as always, wherever you work, it's the people you work with that make the difference - whilst not many of them have now worked there as long as me, I do count them among my friends and a few tears were shed today.

But ... at the same time I am looking forward to my new job, I already know most of the people working there and I'm ready for the challenge.

I'm going to have a good rest over the holidays - maybe do a bit of crochet as well as quilting - we'll see, like Nancy, I'm not setting any goals.

Wishing everyone who reads this a peaceful holiday and a happy New Year.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I couldn't resist buying this Christmas decoration for my mantelpiece when I saw it yesterday. It has tealights behind the houses to give out a glow - you can see the back of the house reflected in the mirror that's above the mantelpiece. Sorry about the blurry picture quality but I had to take it without a flash and I don't have a tripod (I did try balancing the camera on the end of a broomhandle but let me tell you it doesn't work).

Nothing even vaguely quilty to show. Today I did stitch in the ditch (which in certain areas turned into 'stitch somewhere near the ditch') on Antique Cutie and now and then I have been cutting out pieces for the green and lavender quilt, which is taking me a surprisingly long time.

I am feeling guilty as I haven't commented on posts as much as I usually do - my only excuse is that I am still really busy at work - despite the fact that I leave in two weeks. I keep reminding them, but it doesn't seem to have sunk in as I still keep having to answer technical queries, get invited to meetings and work out processes. As I said to my boss, it's a good job I've got integrity because most people would have taken their foot off the gas by now whereas I'm still going at full speed.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Oh my, I've taken the leap and switched to beta blogger - hope it doesn't play up. Seems they must have ironed out the wrinkles that first occurred when people switched as I've noticed a few people have now switched and it seems okay.
The picture shows an advent calendar that I made probably 12 or 14 years ago. Didn't know anything about patchwork and quilting but I saw the instructions in a magazine and made it up. I'd love to say I put it up faithfully every year but ... every year I lose either the piece of dowelling to hang it up with or else the hooks that go over the picture rail. This year though I managed to find the hooks and something to thread through the loops at the top. In previous years I've gone rather more to town and wrapped up small individual presents but this year the kids will have to make do with a chocolate each in the pockets.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A couple of blocks

The last week was every bit as tiring as I thought it would be - in fact I'm still tired, I left work at 4 p.m. today because I couldn't concentrate at all. Might be something to do with waking up at 2 a.m. unable to sleep. When I wake up in the night, I get up, no sense in lying there tossing and turning. I wish I could feel like sewing in the middle of the night - just think of all I'd be able to get done. But I can't, so I do a crossword or watch the 24 hour news channel, then I go back to bed when I'm finally feeling sleepy.

Haven't even had the energy to sew much. I did do a couple of blocks as try-outs for my next project(s). The lilac and green star is this one that I saw on Keryn Emmerson's blog, Quilting Twin - she had done them in pinks and greens but it really caught my eye because I was looking for a pattern to make up a queen-sized quilt for my bed and I've got lots of scrappy lilacs, greens and creams. As Keryn showed, you can make the block look really different by varying the placement of colours. We just bought a new bed from that great British institution, Marks and Spencer's (now known rather more uninterestingly as M&S) and I wanted to redecorate the bedroom in shades of lilac. You may have spotted the 'oops' in this practice block so I'll have to be careful when I make more - but I'm not going to unpick it and it will go into the finished quilt - it'll get lost once there are a few more blocks together. I think this must be a sign that I'm getting older - when I was younger I probably would have had to unpick it - nothing less than perfection would have done - now I'm a bit more laissez faire.

The other block is a bit different - I'm looking for a pattern that will show off all the shirting plaids that I've accumulated, this is a variation of Scrapbagger, from Quilter's Cache but I'm not quite sure about it. I think I need to make up a few more blocks to see what the overall effect is like.

Have a good week, everyone.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Finished Top

Here's the Antique Cutie top all sewn together. I haven't given it a really good iron yet so it looks a bit wrinkled but I'm pleased with how it came out. I might start to quilt it quite soon because I now have three finished tops that are waiting to be quilted and for a completer finisher like me, that is three too many.

And that's about all I've had time for this weekend. We went to see the new James Bond film, Casino Royale, last night and today we went into town to collect a birthday present for DS and are going back into the city centre tonight for the official 'switch on' of the Christmas lights. I did have the grand idea that I would make Christmas postcards, too, but that kind of fell by the wayside. Maybe this won't be the year when people receive fabric card off me after all.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ain't nobody here but us chickens!

Here are my 15 finished chickens in a basket (oh, yes, those corny phrases are coming out thick and fast).

It has taken me a while to sew all their button eyes on. DS is going to sell them at Charity Week at his school, which we think is next week. All the kids have to sell things to make money for charity like cakes, old books, sweets etc.

I feel as if I haven't blogged much lately or commented much on other's, work has taken over a bit and I've had to spend time preparing papers and presentations. Over the next three weeks I'll be out on the road as I have meetings with 20 of our contractors, some local, some not, so I know I'm going to be tired And after Christmas ... I will be starting a new job, with a new company. I have been with my present employer for 15 years so this is quite a change, but man, am I looking forward to it.

Still haven't sewn up all the blocks of Antique Cutie - hopefully there will be a picture at the weekend.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Here are my 'Antique Cutie' blocks and sashing all laid out and ready to sew together. Sorry the pics are so dark - don't know what happened there, I'm sure the flash went off but I bought myself a new camera to go to Florence with and I'm still getting used to it - I'll try to take some outside when I've finished the top. I think I've worked out why I found this quilt top so hard to work on - because I know exactly what it's going to look like when it's finished. With other quilts I have used patterns like Strip Twist from Bonnie's fabulous Quiltville or using triangles as in Margaret Rolfe and Judy Hooworth's Spectacular Scraps. Using these patterns is really exciting, because you don't quite know how it's going to turn out in the end - the fun is in mixing up all of the scraps and seeing what comes out, or deciding what you are going to do next as you go along, as Hedgehog is doing with her beautiful medallion quilt that she is currently working on. With mine, although the florals are different from those used in the pattern in the book, it makes little difference because the overall look is very similar. That said, the pattern is very pretty, and I like the 30's feel it has to it, although I haven't used any reproduction fabrics.

And hey, at least I'm working out what makes me tick!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Finally, I have been able to get back to something I want to sew. These are the sashing strips and cornerstones for 'Antique Cutie', although I have still only completed one block of the machine applique. Don't know what it is about this one, but it's very slow going, I suspect that although it has lots of different florals, it just isn't scrappy enough for me.

I made DS a waistcoat and altered his school trousers into breeches and they went on their trip today. That waistcoat took me all of Sunday to make! I made it the largest boys size but it was a teeny bit too short - I seem to remember from when I sewed clothes a lot that they usually came out too big/long so that was surprising.

Today I went out for lunch with some workmates to a really pretty restaurant close to Bradgate Park in Leicestershire. Bradgate Park was the home of Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for just nine days until she was ousted by Mary I and executed. The restaurant is called Gibson's Grey Lady after her and is right in the heart of some beautiful countryside. The pics show the restaurant and some views of Bradgate Park - the food is great too. In this picture you can see some of the rock formation peeking out of the ground - Bradgate Park has some of the oldest surface rock formation in England.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Just a couple more pics of our holiday (if blogger will play nice).

I'll be doing some sewing at the weekend but maybe not quite what I want to do. DS is going on a school trip next week to an old manor house and all the kids have to dress up in Victorian costumes. For boys this is a long sleeved shirt, neckerchief, breeches, waistcoat and flat cap. I can adapt most things from clothes he already has, but I need to go into town and get a pattern for a waistcoat to make this weekend so it looks like that will have to come first sewing-wise.

Drat and double drat, blogger has just got rid of my third picture - got to see if I can get it back. Why does it do that?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ciao! We had a great time in Florence. The weather was fantastic - sunshine, blue skies and t-shirts in late October. I did get bitten by mosquitos despite my preventative measures, but you can't have everything. We were only there for a few days so there was a limit to what we could do. I think I could spend a year there and still not have seen it all but we did visit the major churches: Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce, San Lorenzo and the Brancacci Chapel at Santa Maria del Carmine, as well as climbing to the top of the Duomo and spending a morning in the Uffizi Gallery. DS was very keen on seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa so we took a day trip there. I had been before so I knew what to expect but the rest of the family were surprised at how small it is. I would really recommend going to Florence in October - the weather is still good but you don't get the crowds and the uncomfortable heat of high summer.

This picture of the city was taken from the Piazzale Michelangiolo - I do of course have many more photos but it has taken me about 7 tries to upload this one so I think I'll quit while I'm ahead and go off and read all those blog entries that I've missed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Phew, blogger has let me in! Tried to post yesterday, but it wasn't having any of it. Not much to report, really, it's been a busy week workwise so all I've done is some blanket stitch on my wallhanging. But ... another member of the family has been at work. This is my boy and his first ever quilt which he pieced and quilted by himself (with me sitting next to him) and I put the binding on. He likes sewing very much, and has already started on his second, bigger quilt. The idea of ordering fabrics with trucks and cars on is very appealing to him.

This week the kids are off school for half-term so we are going away again - this time to Florence. I spent a couple of months in Florence and Rome when I was at university studying Art History but this is the first time I have been back there and I'm really looking forward to it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Here is the wallhanging I spoke about in my last post. It is from this book by Katharine Guerrier, The Little Book of Little Quilts. But I have altered it from the version in the book, which had reindeer which I wasn't very keen on. So I copied the snowman from a rubber stamp I have, drew out a gingerbread man and added them and arranged the trees differently. I am quite pleased with the result. Hope no-one minds the Christmassy theme - I read one blog recently (apologies, can't remember who's it was) bemoaning the fact that mention of Christmas was starting to creep into blogs and Halloween wasn't even here yet. In many ways I agree, I am not wild about all of the commercialisation of Christmas and I think all of the hoo ha does start too early. But ... this is what I'm working on at the moment and this blog should be a record of my current activity and anyway, believe me, it wouldn't get finished before Easter if I didn't start it now. I've started the blanket stitch round the edges, the book said to fuse all the parts before starting to stitch, so I have. Common sense seemed to indicate it would be better to add them as I went along to stop the edges of the trees curling up, but I went with the book anyway. Sorry about the wavy fabric - I hung it up on my picture rail and it decided it really wanted to be a flag.

I have also been buying bargains - a quilt book for £3.99 and a 100% cotton shirt from a car boot sale for 20 pence. I've been trying to think what you could buy for 20p to illustrate what a bargain it was, but in truth, you can't buy much, not even a cheap chocolate bar or a newspaper. I wanted to post a picture of my bargains but blogger won't let me - maybe another day.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Just one block to show for now. I cut out the fabric for this quilt a while ago, but it went on the back burner while I did other things. Mainly because I was being indecisive about whether to do the blanket stitch round the leaves by hand or machine. I know they would look so much nicer done by hand but I don't think I've got the patience right now. So, I tried going round them with a machine zig zag stitch - looked absolutely terrible, like it was just tacking or something. I don't have a stitch that mimics hand sewn blanket stitch so this was the nearest one that looked even a bit like blanket stitch. It is a bit heavy, but I think it will be okay.

But I do want to do some hand sewing, so at the weekend just gone I put a border on the Depression Block quilt and I am going to 'utility quilt' it a la Finn with cotton perle.

I have also been cutting out fabric for a Christmas wallhanging that has applique on it using blanket stitch. I will post a picture once it's all cut out but there's not much to see at the moment.

And ... I made 15 Christmas Chickens for my son to sell at his school's charity week. They just need button eyes sewing on now.

Not a bad week by my standards. I even made a Lemon Drizzle cake too!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Went into the city centre this morning for the first time in weeks and look what I found in the market. Aren't they spangly? Haven't a clue what I will do with them but I just couldn't resist them. Leicester market is one of the oldest in England and sells just about everything - half of it is fruit and veg and the other half is a variety of stalls both outside and under cover. You might be surprised that many of the stalls sell 'exotic' vegetables. The reason for this is that well over half of Leicester's population is of Asian origin from when Asians were forced to leave East Africa under the regime of Idi Amin. In Leicester there was available housing and people had relatives here so they came and started a new life. Shelina recently wrote about this in her blog too. This picture of a corner of the market was taken a few weeks ago when there was a 'mini-mela' in the town centre on a Sunday and the market was opened up (usually it is closed on a Sunday) for stalls selling Asian food, clothing, jewellery etc. One of the streets in Leicester is known as the 'Golden Mile' and is famous for Asian Restaurants, Sari and jewellery shops. At the end of October Hindus celebrate Diwali, the festival of light, and the whole road is decorated with lights. I believe it is the biggest Diwali celebration outside of India.

On a more quilty theme, I also picked up a parcel containing this, from the post office - no stash depression for me!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I've been sewing up Christmas Hens and I will post a pic at some stage but I thought you might all be chickened out by now. However, on the Christmas theme ... here are a couple of unfinished stocking tops and one that I did finish. I can't remember when I made / started them, I think it was a couple of years ago. And once again the blue fabrics make an appearance - I just didn't have so many then. I am promising myself that I will finish the first couple of stockings by Christmas this year.

My grand plan was that I would save any odd scraps (not strings because I keep them to make up my string blocks from time to time as previously posted here). Then, now and again (in my dreams) I would make up a crazy patchwork stocking and give them away at Christmas. Fat chance! I saw that Pam had been making some Christmas placemats so I thought I'd dig these out - the way I'm going I'll probably put them back unfinished after Christmas too.

Tomorrow is the publication date for Kill Chain by Meg Gardiner. This is the fifth in her series of Evan Delaney crime novels - I've read them all and believe me they've got the lot: romance, action, humour and melodramatic turns of events and are set in Santa Barbara. I've ordered the new one from Amazon so it should be here tomorrow (or probably Friday knowing the Royal Mail). It had better not be Saturday because I've arranged for it to be delivered to my work address and I shall be gnashing my teeth if I can't get hold of it. I am so looking forward to a new book in the series, hope I'm not disappointed.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Well, I did finally make a chicken like I'd been promising myself, but little was I to know that it would start a fight. Now I thought I was making it for myself, but my kids had other ideas and both of them claimed it as their own - to the extent that it was nearly torn apart in a tug of war. I did of course promise to make another one a.s.a.p. but my son was insistent that he had first dibs on it because it was made from left-overs of 'his' quilt. In fact they were left-overs of left-overs because it was what remained after making this small quilt. Eventually they came to an agreement between them and my daughter will get the next one. You would think they were toddlers, not nearly 10 and 16!

Before all of this I did start to cut some strips from Christmas fabrics to make some Christmas Chickens, either for presents or as a useful standby for the Christmas Fair at school. You can never have too many chickens, it seems.

I got the borders on the recycled blue quilt (must think of a better name) but it might be a while before I gear myself up to start quilting it. I've had to wait until now to get a photo as it has been raining buckets with thunder and lightning for most of the day. Sun's out now though.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Am I the only one among us who has just one pincushion? I haven't posted apicture before because it is just a pincushion, nothing cute, nothing fancy, but my Mum made it for me and it does the job. Having said that, I am desperate to make some chickens like Joyce, but that will have to wait until the weekend. This week I've hardly had time to do anything in between more parents evenings, making cakes for a charity coffee morning at work and ferrying the kids here, there and everywhere.

One thing I did finish last night was this needle case. I had bought the felt when we were in Carlisle with this in mind. Since making postcards stiffened with Timtex I had thought it would be ideal to stiffen a needle case. I always worry about losing needles so there's no excuse now for not starting a hand quilting project.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I feel as though I have accomplished something this week - a finished Take the Leap crib quilt and a bonus pair of red and white blocks for Clare at Dordogne Quilter. Now I'd better get back to my other works in progress. However, I am starting to feel a burning urge to tidy the sewing room - it's getting a bit too messy even for me (and I am without doubt the most untidy person I know).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Nothing quilty to report - I have meandered on the top of the Take the Leap Crib quilt and am now handsewing the binding down. It will definitely be finshed by Friday. Other than that the usual work week, interspersed with a parents evening at my daughter's Sixth Form College. So, just to have something to post, here's a picture of Frankie and one of our back garden. My friend can let her rabbits loose in her garden because it is completely secure but I wouldn't dare, there are holes in the hedge where foxes and cats wander through. That's why there is a grid on the top of Frankie's run - otherwise the foxes would get in - we move it round the garden so he can nibble on some fresh grass and he gets to come in the house too and he goes in the garage at night or when it's raining. What a life of luxury!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Completed top for the Take the Leap Challenge. I will sandwich it tonight and hopefully start to quilt it tomorrow. I was a bit unsure about it until I put the borders on but they have made a big difference. It is going to Clare at Dordogne Quilter for a leukaemia charity. Since the fabric for the borders for the blue scrappy top still hasn't arrived I should get it finished posted by the end of the week. I've enjoyed working on a small, quick to finish project this week. With any luck I'll be able to send Clare a couple of red and white squares too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Okay, I'm going to give it another go. I've had foolproof instructions from Nancy and Judy so I cannot fail! Or at least, if I do, there's no hope. (It's looking like it just might work, so far.)

I've been run ragged at work this week so haven't done much sewing in the evenings but I have made another X and O block and a couple of four-patches to go with the wonky houses I made a while back and this will be the basis for Tonya's Take the Leap Challenge Crib Quilt. I've enjoyed doing them and I like the bright colours of these fabrics.

Lois has asked how I cut up shirts to maximise the yardage so I'm going to take a few pics of the next one I cut up and show how I use every little scrap.

I just viewed the published blog entry - the links worked - oh happy day!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Is this a picture of my extensive collection of green and orange threads? No - it's a fabulous carrier bag that my daughter's friend brought back from a holiday in France. I only have it on loan to take a photo but I covet it so much - why can't they make carrier bags like this in the UK? Incidentally, on the reverse side are rows of green and red peppers.

On the quilting front, whilst waiting for my border fabric to arrive I have made a start on Tonya's Take the Leap Challenge Quilt . This block is square, don't know why it doesn't look it. Did you also notice there, that after 50 blog postings I have finally worked out how to insert a shortcut instead of the whole URL? (I am ridiculously proud of myself - please don't laugh!)

AAARGH - have just tested the link on the uploaded blog - and it doesn't work. Now I have to ask you to STOP laughing!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

And here we have ... a bigger blue top, now measuring about 52 inches by 69 without borders. I made so many extra blocks to get it bigger that I have enough left to make a bonus smaller quilt too.

I am going to have a dark blue thin inner border and a lighter and wider outer one. I have enough of a dark blue for the outer one but not enough of any lighter blue for the outer border so I will have to wait for it to come as I've ordered it by post.

I also finished reading 'Covered Wagon Women' which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I think that maybe I'm too used to reading fiction, where there is a beginning, middle and end, rather than snatches of lives, but it did bring home how very hard the women's lives were. Many of the women recorded the deaths of their children in their journals and it is heartbreaking to think of the pain behind those few sentences.

This morning I popped into a charity shop and bought a brand new, unused plaid shirt for £1 (about 50 cents I think). I had to go shopping because we had run out of fruit. There were major complaints last night from DS, who likes any kind of fresh fruit above all other foods and snacks on it right through the day. Give him a choice between a chocolate bar and fruit, and he would take the fruit every time. I would love to take the credit for this, and say, "Yes, it's all down to my wonderful parenting skills and encouraging a healthy diet". But I fear it may be a quirk of nature, as his sister will eat no fruit whatsoever unless it has been turned into juice.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My friend let me borrow this crib quilt back from her so I could photograph it on the blog. I made it a couple of years ago and it has handstitching on it. The ducklings wings, beaks and eyes are outlined in straight stitch. The pattern came from this book, The Little Book of Little Quilts by Katharine Guerrier. It looks a bit creased but it has been washed many times - hooray, that's what it was made for - it's great to know that it was used and not just put in a drawer and forgotten about.

I sewed some more strips for the recycled top at the weekend but it was mostly taken up by throwing 12 years of accumulated junk into the skip. Poor DH just had to leave me to it - he is a terrible hoarder and he knew that if he helped he would be tempted to keep all the half empty tins of paint, bits of wood etc., "Just in case they come in useful". Which of course, they never do. I am much more ruthless than him - once you get into the swing of chucking stuff away it's easy.

Thanks for all your kind messages regarding the missed start of term, DS is fine now, and getting used to being back at school. It's good to hear I'm not the only one who makes that kind of mistake.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I am such a twerp

I've finally lost it ... you will remember from my post yesterday that I said DS was starting a new school term today. So, I got his uniform ready, made sure he had his holiday homework and dinner money and then I rang my childminder to say that I would take him to school today, as it was the first day of term and he likes me to. "Okay", said my childminder, "But the first day of term was yesterday." I had missed the start of term. DH had the day off work yesterday and could easily have taken my son to school, instead, they spent the day in the house, doing chores and chilling out. Cue one distraught child in tears, both because he had missed the first day of school and because he thought people would think he was stupid. I tried to explain that actually it was his mother who was stupid, but he took a while to calm down. I still don't know how I got it wrong. In both my diary and the kitchen calendar I had Thursday as the start of term.

Blogger is still playing up, this is another one of the vintage quilt tops in Kaffe Fassett's collection at the Festival of Quilts. I have a picture of the whole top, but it just won't upload. Isn't it deliciously scrappy?

When we got back from the show I played at making a modern version with bright fabrics like this. However, before I go any further with it I have several WIPs to finish (or start):
- borders on Depression Block Top
- piece top for Antique Cutie
- finish piecing recycled top

I also really want to make a start on Tonya's XOX challenge quilt so this is going to have to go on the back burner for a while but it is a project that I want to return to soon.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A nice cup of tea

This is actually not the picture I wanted to show - I have been trying to upload some quilt pictures from the Festival of Quilts but blogger wasn't having it, no way, no how, and I should know, I've been trying for nearly 3/4 of an hour.
But for some reason blogger is happy to upload this picture of my favourite drink - tea. I drink lots of tea, and I like it strong, with a little milk. When we go to Europe I really miss it because it is not worth asking for as it comes very weak and the water it's made with isn't boiling. I just like the packaging on this box but this brand makes good tea too.

On the quilt front, I have been mainly cutting out more strips for the recycled top and will hopefully be able to sew more this weekend. However, could be dodgy as I have also taken it upon myself to hire a skip (think you might call this a dumpster). The time has come to declutter - starting with our garage, which houses a large and growing collection of old cardboard boxes, kid's toys and odd tins of paint. To give an idea of the scale of this problem, I have to confess that our garage contains no less than eight bicycles. And the loft (attic), well, I couldn't even begin to go there. No, seriously, I couldn't even begin to go there, the floor is covered with boxes, books, more old toys - you can't walk from one side of the room to the other.

Tomorrow is the first day back at school for DS, and DD starts Sixth Form College - feels like Autumn is here already.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Lake District

We spent the weekend at my in-laws in Carlisle, which is in the north of England near to the Lake District, one of the most beautiful areas of Britain. It is about 4 hours drive from where we live, DH's sister and her family were there also. I have to confess that this is an old photo, we didn't go into the Lake District itself this time. Although we did hop over the border to Scotland to do some shopping at an outlet village in Gretna and we visited the Roman excavation site at Vindolanda in Northumbria which was fascinating. There was a Roman fort there as part of the fortifications on Hadrian's Wall, which was northern limit of the Roman Empire. They have found an amazing number of Roman artefacts there including the earliest known document handwritten by a woman (actually an invitation to a Roman birthday party). An archaeologist on the site said that because of the sheer size of the site it will take them 200 years just to excavate it fully. They can only excavate in the summer months as the place is very bleak and inhospitable in the winter and the weather would be too cold and the winds too fierce to dig.

No more travels on the immediate horizon, so I'm looking forward to concentrating on some sewing and catching up on all your blogs.

Friday, August 25, 2006

We are spending some time with DH's family this weekend so I'll be offline until next week. Thanks for all the kind comments on my recycled top and have a great weekend everyone. P.S. This is the first post I've ever done that doesn't have a picture - feels kind of weird.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Much better

I took heart (and inspiration) from Finn's comment about cutting up the strippy top and decided to make a version of another of Bonnie's patterns from, Strip Twist, which I've made before. So I cut up the Simply Strippy top into squares and triangles and put it back together like this.

I am so pleased with how it came out, I like it much better than the strippy one that I started off making and this one will lie flat. It used up all of the top that I had made but I am going to carry on and make a bigger quilt - I just love the randomness of it.