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.