Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lanterns revisited, sort of

You might be thinking these lanterns look familiar - like the ones from the Lantern Swap, but actually, these are a lot smaller - 4x6, in fact. Can you guess what I am going to use them for? :) This is for an open theme swap with a new(ish) group. I probably won't be swapping a lot with this group, as it's not like I have enough groups already or anything, but I am in the birthday group with them, which I think will be really fun to do.

I also joined (I know, I know) a new group called Fiber Art Bits, which is for making things smaller than ATCs (I am still resisting ATCs and think I will continue to do so - I like my postcard size too well) - yes, inchies, but also other sizes sometimes, and that appealed to me. I haven't signed up for a swap there yet, as I thought I might try making some things first and see how it goes before committing. The first swap is for little charms - 5 sets of 5 charms (1 inch) - so tempting!

Oh, and here's a postcard to make up for yesterday's lack of post - this is for the Triangles swap on Fiber PC - it's from Rosemarie - isn't it cool?

Contest update

Thanks to everyone for sending in some guesses for my little contest. So far Dani in Lincoln NE has guessed one correctly and Myra got three right (go Myra!). Both of them will be enterred in the draw, as will everyone else who has taken the trouble to comment, even if it's just to say they are stumped. At the moment, that "everyone else" consists of Anne B, Papoosue, Karol-Ann, Leah, Anne W and Nola. I've decided to give a few more day's grace - in fact, I know what I'll do - I'll draw the winners on Wednesday in honour of a little holiday they celebrate where I come from originally :) So if you are out there, even if you're completely stumped, leave a comment and you too could be a winner...

A little ps - I noticed that this week was also my 250th post - as I am going to do a blogversary draw in August when we're a year old, I'm not going to celebrate 250, but I'm very pleased with it, as I am trying to blog regularly and I think that number shows that I've been good about this.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Second post, with actual sewing

Just to show that today wasn't a complete loss - not that I consider catching up on email and blogs a loss, per se, but I do try to get some sewing of some description or other done most days, so it was nice to do some this evening. I hand-pieced this (foundation pieced) on magic paper, my favourite thing for hand paper-piecing (and great with the machine, too, for that matter) red and green flower - it's one quarter of the block for one of the July birthdays for my birthday block swap and I think it's going to look very pretty. I also needed some new hand work for while I watched telly, so this is a good project to have on the go.

A nothing day - and the contest revisited!

Every once in a while - and it doesn't happen very often - I just don't feel like working on anything. Today is one of those days. It's a bit rainy, and I think my brain is full of summer fair stuff (for school) and I just am not motivated. So I decided I'd do some notes for the stalls at the fair, and read my email and catch up on some blog-reading. And there's nothing in the post to show, either, not because no one loves me :) but because there is no delivery today, as we are having a postal strike. So, aren't you glad you stopped by?

However, just to make your day more interesting, I want to bring up again the little contest I am running for the washer postcards - I've had NO ONE guess any of my themes :( though I did have a couple of comments, so you gals are in the running for a card even without guessing. I promise it's not as cryptic as it sounds, so please do leave a comment or take a guess and sometime next week I shall draw five names (if I have 5 names to chose between!) to win a card each. It's just a little bit of fun...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Arty farty stuff

Today I have been mostly embellishing stuff. I finished these postcards, which are for the Arts in the Mail June challenge, which is Fabric painting - I used Jacquard Lumiere paints, and Markal Paint Sticks (which I don't think I ironed enough, as they are still rubbing off a bit, though not seriously). Then I did some free motion quilting (not very well, but it's very different on a domestic machine than on a longarm - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and added some net on top to soften it a bit. Then edged them. Tada.

Then I worked a bit on the piece for Quiltswap 4 - first I made a number of little pockets of sheer fabrics with stuff inside - beads, glitter (which comes through - interesting but a bit messy), sequins, washers, seashells, angelina, star-shaped confetti, and other stuff I can't remember any more. These I did with the same method as on the triangle cards -stitched the sheer fabric down with a shape, then burned the extra away with my mini-soldering iron. After that, I used the Markal paint sticks to go around the edge of the sheer shapes for a little interest. And then I started layering yarns and stuff on it. I've only just started with that process, I plan to add a LOT more than what is on there now, but personally, I enjoy seeing things in process and though you all might also.

And I got some fun stuff in the post. A postcard from Debbie in New Zealand - this is for the summer swap on FAI. And the first issue of the journal thr3fold by Linda and Laura Kemshall, which I haven't had a chance to look at yet, but which looks very promising. I probably won't have a chance to do much with it for a while, but I just wanted it - you know how it is!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lovely postcards...

Big postcard day today - but three of the five I received were only my own coming back to me. Not that I don't like my own cards, I do like most of them, but I already know what they are going to look like, so they aren't as exciting as these, which were unexpected and lovely. The one on the left is from Freida, and is not from a swap precisely - I sent her show programme from Sandown as two of her quilts were in the colour section (and her Log Cabin Ladies won the theme section) - she offered to reimburse me for it, but being me, I suggested I'd just as soon have a postcard or ATC... And I was right - I'd much rather have that card than the £3. Wouldn't you?

The card on the right is from Chris, and is for the Open Theme with Beads swap on FAI - the poppies' centres are beaded. Excellent use of beads, and a very pretty card. So that was definitely a worthwhile postal day.

Didn't get a lot of work done myself as I decided I should go buy some groceries after my tutoring session this morning (I am giving lessons in computer literacy to a friend), but I did manage to put Alex's blocks together into a top. And that was about all. No photo as it looks very similar to yesterday, though I'm sure they aren't in the same order.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Impatience is a virtue for some

Ever since we got home from Sandown with new fabric purchases in hand, Alex has been nagging me "when are we going to make a quilt from my favics, Mummy?". And when I say nagging, I mean asking me dozens of times a day. So I decided that that would be the order of business today - some blocks for a quilt top using Alex's new fabrics and also some of the others he already has in his stash (yes, my 4YO son has a stash, LOL). Rather that just sew them all together, which was his idea, I decided to do something a little easier on the eye. Hence the square in a square in a square blocks above (just blocks at this stage, not sewn together yet). And just his thing - sharks and bears and pandas and aeroplanes, kitties and fish and cars and planets. And so on.

And this beauty in the post today - my DD2 hasn't seen it yet, which is probably a good thing, as I wonder if it would go walkies (she's into faeries big time). This is from the Picture Frame swap and is from Sue W. Nice ribbon, Sue. Sue says she got the ribbon at Sandown - I think I remember seeing it there, though you may have noticed I didn't buy any myself...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Triangle thingy & other exciting stuff

Didn't do a lot today, just finished putting together this base for my quilt for Quiltswap 4 - it's approximately 18x24 inches and now, it's time to heavily embellish it.

I'm going to work with sheers on this one - capturing stuff behind the sheer fabric, using thread to make shapes in the sheer and then my little soldering iron to cut away the excess. Not sure just what I'm going to do, but I intend to have fun with it. Hopefully, it will turn out well. Watch this space, as they say.

I also got all my FQs from Sandown washed and ironed - and most of the kids' ones, too. Given that there were about 30 of them in the wash today, this is a slightly more impressive feat than it may seem at first glance :)

And tonight I finished sewing on the binding onto the blue and white quilt - I still would like to photograph it outside for better colour, but it may actually never stop raining here, so... But at least this gives a decent idea, even if it does look less white than in reality - it's really very white - the closeup shows it better. It's not destined for a specific purpose (other than I am going to show it at Hever quilt show) but if you are a friend or relative of mine and plan to get married any time soon, you might well get to see it in person...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sandown revisited

So, here are the girls with their quilts - don't they look great? And of course, they had to go shopping for some stuff for next year's quilt...

Sarah's selection on the left, Olivia's selection on the right - the butterflies were actually a gift from one of the stallholders we bought fabric from. And below, Alex's fabric on the left and Mummy's fabric on the right. OK, so I bought some FQs I didn't really need, but in my defense, they were all from the £1 bins - or in the case of the ones on the left, the 50p bin (yes, really).

Angelina two ways

Here's today's playing - I added some more paint onto my fabric from yesterday, in the form of Markal Paint Sticks, which I've had for a while (we won't say how long) - there are lots of ways to use the paint sticks, but I just used a stencil, rubbed the paint stick on the area I wanted to stencil and then used my finger. A little messy, but a nice effect. I think I might buy more colours at FoQ as I can see myself using these again, definitely. Nice to add something new into the repertoire.
And then I finished the cards for the Angelina swap - I added some loose wispy bits on Angelina on top of the cards, and stitched a triangle of net (from Friday's purchases! I'm on a roll...) down on the card to hold the Angelina down. I'm going to call them Angelina Two Ways...
I also stitched the binding onto the blue and white quilt so that I can sew it down. Pictures later - as it's raining (so I can't hang it on the washing line) and the quilt is a bit big to photograph easily in the house. Who knows, might even get the binding finished before I get the picture taken...
We're off shortly to go back to Sandown so the kids can see their quilts and pick some fabric for next year - I'm sure they'll have fun with that. Especially the shopping, if I know my girls!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Postcard city & prizes!!

Lots of photos today, mostly postcardy things. I finished off the summer cards - I borrowed Judi's technique of using invisible thread and a blind hem stitch to attach fluffy yarn around the edges of the cards, and it worked very well (and already, I've used something I bought yesterday - invisible thread!).

Then I got started on Anna's washer challenge. I decided to do a series of six cards called Washers: Traits in Common. Each of the cards has three items (or item groups) in the boxes. And on each card, the items all have something in common. No two cards have the same single thing in common, though it's possible it may appear so at first glance or that two elements may share something on a different card, if you see what I mean. Here's where the prizes come in: As these cards aren't for a swap or anything, I am going to use them as prizes for the 5 people who correctly guess the largest number of themes (I will keep one for myself, too, as I like to do that when I make a series). And just in case this sounds really cryptic, we're not looking for the DaVinci Code here - the kind of stuff they have in common is "things which are green" or "things which are square". ..

You have until the end of June to send in your guesses, and just so that people don't get an unfair advantage by seeing what's already in the comments (we'll not call it cheating, because I'm sure none of you would cheat, would you!) why don't you email me your guesses to katelnorth at yahoo dot com instead of commenting. I will update the blog regularly with who has guessed, and how many guesses each person has right. I tested my DH and kids (well, the girls - not the 4 year old) on these earlier today and they got most of them, though I will warn you, one of them is pretty tough. In the event of a tie, I'll draw names randomly. Oh, and you may notice the edges don't look finished yet - this is because the edges aren't finished yet :). But they will be, before I send them out as prizes.

Just so you can see better, here are some more detailed photos:

I'll give you a clue - the "hard" one is the bottom card in the middle photo. The rest are fairly straightforward. The bottom right is a little tricky perhaps, too. For those of you who haven't seen the washers in person, they are about the size of a 5p (or a dime, if you are American - for elswhere in the world, you will just have to guess!), though much thinner and are made of silver coloured metal with a rectangular hole in the centre. I think that's all fairly obvious from the photos, but just so there can be no doubts. With that information, you should be able to work out all the themes. If you have any questions about the other objects I have used, just ask - some of them may not be obvious from the photos.

Anyway, I ALSO started work on some postcards for an Angelina theme. I decided that this time, I would do something different from what I normally do with Angelina, which is to fuse it into sheets and cut shapes, or else use wispy bits of it over other images. So what I did was to take all the leftover pieces from the sheets I normally make and scrunch them up into balls and re-iron them, which changes the colour and takes away some of the shine. Then I used my new darning foot (see? all those purchases were obviously justified - although perhaps I shouldn't admit that both those things have been on my list of stuff I need to buy for a while, rather than being impulse purchases) to do some free motion quilting to hold the angelina down. Then I took them downstairs and painted them with Jacquard Lumiere paints. Some of it, I just dabbed on, but some of it, I put a squiggle on a piece of paper, then put the card facedown on the squiggle and blotted. This was fun, and frankly, the resulting paper looks great and will definitely get used for something down the line...

The paper is on the left - on the right is a piece of fabric I have painted squiggles on as the basis for a couple of postcards for a fabric painting challenge with one of my postcard groups. I may add more once it's dry and I can have another look at it. Or I may (finally) get out the paintsticks that I bought a while ago (we won't say when - not sure I even remember) and give them a try.

And finally (I think) - here's some post I received. I got both of these cards today, as well as my own London card back safe and sound, charm and all.
The butterfly on the left is from Ella as part of the Open Theme with Beads swap on FAI, and the fish are for the Angelina swap (as usual, the Angelina doesn't photograph particularly well) and are from Cheryl. And I think that's it for today. Maybe :)

Friday, June 22, 2007

A day of loot...

Well, I spent the day at the National Quilt Championships at Sandown with my friend Lana today, and enjoyed looking at the quilts (including the girls' two) and of course, buying stuff. I bought very little fabric this year - in fact, didn't buy any at all until right at the end, when I remembered that I needed binding for the blue & white quilt, which has now come home from the longarmers and looks great (photo later - too photo-heavy already today!) and also, I passed The African Fabric Shop & decided to get a piece of African fabric to use in my one-on-one African block swap with Karol Ann. Almost all of the African fabric I have now (other than the 3 cats indigos, which are very different in style) came from her, so I thought it would be fun to be able to make her a block using fabric she wouldn't have sent me in the first place...

Anyway. Mostly I bought "bits" although I did get a few things I needed like Miracle Fabric Sheets and a darning foot for my machine (so I can do free motion quilting - or rather, attempt it - it's kind of weird trying to do it on a domestic machine after using a longarm, but as I'm doing more small pieces, it makes sense to learn.) Other than that sort of thing (and some needles, a rotary cutter blade & a new long measuring tape as mine has gone walkies), I had always intended to spend the day looking for embellishments and other things I could use for postcards, journal quilts, art quilts, fabric charms - that sort of thing. And wow - what a fabulous selection there was there. Much better than last year - obviously, the demand for this sort of thing has increased and the suppliers and working to meet the demand.

The top photo shows everything I bought, and the smaller photos are closeups of sections of the display. I'll leave you to browse and wonder, but I bought lots of sequins, some buttons (there were some amazing teeny tiny buttons, which I know I'm going to have fun with), some bits of semi-precious stones with little holes drilled through, to use as beads, some beads, some sequin punch, gold angelina (I have lots of colours, but not gold), coloured net, a piece of metallic silk fabric, invisible thread, some interesting paper net stuff and some crafty bits (I think that's what they were called, actually). And probably some other stuff I am forgetting. I look forward to using all this stuff, and actually, I feel good about this, as I really have been using the stuff I own lately, so I don't have to feel guilty about buying things and leaving them in a drawer somewhere.

And as if that wasn't enough, I got home to find a bunch of really great stuff in the post. A triangle card from Beth, and the gorgeous wool I ordered from Simmy, as well as some extra free bits (I do love extra free bits). But wait, there's more! I also received a big package from Karol Ann, with my latest African block - and a big selection of novelties- she's trying to reduce her novelty stash and I mentioned that Olivia was thinking to do a story quilt for her 2008 Sandown entry (we try to plan well in advance - it's the only way these things get finished!) so she's sent a big selection of useful novelties. Since this photo was taken, we have had them spread out on the table and the selection is superb, Olivia will have great fun with them. Being a person who remembers what it was like to be a kid, Karol Ann also included a small bag of bits for each of the other kids - bears and doggies for Alex and some very funky fabric for Sarah - for someone who has actually never met my kids, she did a very good job of suiting fabric to each child. OK, Alex probably wasn't so hard, as he's a 4 year old boy :) but Sarah is harder, and it was just right. In fact, she liked it so much (particularly one which is kind of like funky flames - it's in the baggie at the front right, the bottom of the two purpley blue fabrics) that there were no complaints about Olivia getting more fabric than she did. Perhaps that was also helped by the promise of buying fabric for her 2008 quilt on Sunday when we return to Sandown with the kids, but still!

And isn't the African block lovely? I have an idea I might try for the next one, but not sure how it will turn out, so have to play around a bit. But not for a week or two. Watch this space.
Oh, I did take some photos of quilts, too, but as there are all those copyright issues about quilt show photos, I'm not going to post them here (though you'll get pics of the kids with their quilts and my friend Lana with hers at a later point) - most of the photos I took won't be of much interest to everyone else as these days I mostly tend to take closeups of details of technique that interest me rather than whole quilts. Whew!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer, expanded squares, and so on

So, here's what I did today - got a start on some "summer" themed postcards. I've known for a long time that I wanted to use this stamp on them (actually, ever since I saw it and bought it, thinking it would be good for a summer themed postcard) - the stamp actually has the words "wish you were here" across the bottom, but I left that off. Originally I was thinking I'd stamp a postcard sized piece of fabric to use as a background but I didn't have quite enough fabric, and anyway, I wanted more colours, so I decided to stamp the fabric (this is good fabric for stamping as it's a very close weave, so it holds the detail well), then cut it close around the stamp and use decorative stitches to sew it onto a background.

So, after I fused the stamped piece down and stitched the edges with decorative stitching in a variegated orange thread, I added a large flower (these came from a sale Early Learning Centre - I got 12 of them for £1 - bargain!) and then some metal flower mini-brads (sale rack at WH Smith - yes, I AM impressed with myself for actually using the stuff I buy). I love these - I want more in lots of designs. I do have more flowers, and also some tiny stars in gold, silver, bronze & copper colours, but I want more more more.

Anyway, next is some mini beads, also from ELC, in seashell designs (being handwork, those will probably go on tonight while I watch House and Tuesday's CSI). And I intend to finish off the edges with some of that funky fluffy hairy yarn - like the postcard I got yestrday was edged in.

Also today, I got this item in the post, which is Karen's starting piece for the Twins: Separated at Birth CCRR for my dyeing group. Not sure what I am going to do yet, but I might stencil it. The orange fabric I used for the summer cards was stencilled (with a cold wax resist) and I was reminded when I was using it today that I enjoyed using that stencil. Anyway, we'll see. It doesn't have to be work on until July, so there is plenty of time for it to hang out and tell me what it wants.

On the right is an exercise in negative space - the current issue of Quilting Arts magazine has an article about making and using expanded squares, so I gave it a try - I don't like the overall effect of this square, but I do really like the design at the top of the square, and I think it would look great with that design on all four sides - might try that some time. I like the one at the left as well - looks a bit like a bug or something.

I was glad to get some work done today, as tomorrow I won't get anything done. But that's ok, as Lana and I are going to spend the day at the National Quilt Championships at Sandown - with no kids. A whole day (well, 10-2.30 or so) of looking at quilts and quilt-related stuff (and shopping, too!). Fun!

Blog comments

I've had a couple of people lately say they were unable to leave comments on my blog :( including my mother, who it wouldn't let register and Simmy, who has the great blog Echoes of a Dream over on typepad, so I've changed my preferences - you no longer have to be registered with blogger to comment here, but I've turned word verification on, to try to keep all the junk out - luckily I haven't had too much problem with that, but we don't need to start! I do love having people leave comments, even if it's just "hi, I enjoyed reading your blog today", so if you've been lurking out there not commenting, please say hi, I'd love to meet you. Anyway, if you've had problems in the past, hopefully this will fix it.

Later this summer, look out for a blogversary draw (1st anniversary of this blog is in August, though I've been blogging my family blog a lot longer than that - since July 2002! - so I guess this blog will turn 1 and the other one will turn 5 - wow) which will require you to leave comments in order to be enterred into the draw. Not sure how many prizes there will be, but certainly at least 10. (I'm thinking postcards, you won't be surprised to hear.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Off to the longarmer's

Two posts in one day! But I thought I'd share some photos of the quilt tops I have taken to Lana for her to quilt on her longarm - I have resolved to try to get some of my many tops quilted, so here's my start. The fans, we still aren't quite sure what we're going to do with - she's going to have a think about it. The other top, the Heirloom Delft Swap top I happen to know is on her machine right now and it's having Baptist Fans in a pale blue (it's on the machine now because when I took it to her, she was coincidentally working on a top using Baptist Fans in a pale blue, so it was much simpler to just carry on with my top now). Which is exciting, as I'll have it back later this week. Talk about quick service!

It must have been a bit windy out when I photographed this one as I promise, it really is square! I've enterred this one to the quilt show at Hever (not a competitive show, it's the regional show of Region 2 of the Quilter's Guild of the British Isles, held every September in the grounds of Hever Castle, Kent). As it's not a competitive show, it's no problem that the blocks originally came from a swap or that it was longarm quilted by someone other than myself... When I made this quilt, I commented that I probably used more white in this quilt than it all the other quilts I have ever made, combined!