Friday, November 30, 2007

Advent on the way...

Well, here it is nearly December (where did November go - anyone know?) and that means, time for advent calendars again. We have a variety in our house - Alex and Olivia each have one of those fabric ones with the little pockets, where you get a little treat or present each day, Sarah has one with the chocolates inside (Divine Fairtrade, not Disney character), we have a paper Christmas tree shape which we stick stuff on every day (Sarah and I made that one the first year she wasn't going to have a fabric one anymore), I have one of those paper type with windows, and of course, the big one is this one - the advent quilt* - which hangs in the computer room, in place of my shibori fabric quilt, for the month of December. What can I say? We like advent calendars, lol. Tonight, my quilty one looks a little barren, with 25 empty spaces, but each day we will choose a picture to add and it will gradually look less lonely. On the right here is the stack of pictures - which are approximately 4 inch squares, all paper pieced, in a variety of Christmassy & winter themes - star, snowman, mitten, Father Christmas, angel, wreath, stockings and so on. I propose to include a photo of each day's advent picture with my blog entries (or perhaps as a separate entry, so it doesn't get lost), so you can have a virtual advent calendar experience. Won' t that be fun? And it will also help my blogging in December, as I imagine I will get a lot less done this month than normal, between the holidays and my mother visiting.

The only other thing I have to show today (I spent the entire day at school getting stuff ready for our Christmas fair - it's just that time of year again) is this postcard, from Anne, who misread the name of the swap, so instead of strips and stripes, has sent stars & strips & stripes - which is fine with me - it's a nice cheerful card & I like the stars...

*Some of you will have spotted the resemblence to my postcard display quilt - it was this advent calendar from which I nicked the idea in the first place. Credit goes to Meadow Lily Bridge, where I got the pattern for the calendar.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday thrills

So, it might look like I got a lot done today, but looks can be a little deceiving - both the Hawaiian shirt quilt top at the left and the autumn one on the right were mostly done the other day, but only photographed today. And the one on the right is still in block form; they aren't joined up yet. Looks nice, though, doesn't it!

I did do some real work today, though - first I edged some Christmas postcards, but got really bored with that after half a dozen or so, so I decided to work on the 3 leaves, 3 techniques swap - the idea being to represent the same leaf using three different techniques. Which begs the question of whether attaching a skeleton leaf is a technique, strictly speaking, but as that's where I got my shape from, I decided it counted. The other techniques are free motion embroidery and foiling with glue (onto a different piece of fabric, which was then trimmed and sewed on). The bottom right card is a little different as it was the first one I did - but I didn't like it as much, so I changed what I was doing. I think the two where the foiled leaf is at left bottom are the nicest composition - live and learn!

On the right, another Christmas card - this one from Annika - and the shinyness of the angelina and the envelope mean that it doesn't photograph brilliantly - it's a much nicer card in person. And Annika also included a little package of bits - bits are always fun!

Just wanted to list my final list of people I am swapping Christmas cards with - if you get a card from me and didn't think you signed up to swap, don't panic - I am sending some cards to other people for various reasons, including that famous reason "just because". But here's the list of swappers - a few of these went out in the post today, the rest will go out later this week and next week. They should all be posted by the end of next week.

Four Seasons Quilt Swap

Can't remember if I mentioned this before - I meant to, certainly - but I have signed up to take part in the next Four Seasons Quilt Swap (having watched lots of entries for the autumn one around blogland) - today I received my partner (i.e. who I am sending a quilt to - I do not know who is sending me one until after I get it) by email, so will have to go off and do some research - luckily, she has a blog I can check out. The theme is winter - should be easy enough. I hope.

This swap is now full, but if you are interested in something like this - making small quilts to swap with someone around the world - keep an eye on the blog for the next time around. (i.e. Spring)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas postcards...

So, guess what I did today (this is probably not too hard a challenge). And now my postcards are all done, except for the edging, which I will do tomorrow. I started with the Christmas trees with a white border, then used the cut out bits of those on other cards (two cards in one!). Then there is a variety of snowflake cards, at least some of which I've shown before. And today, in addition to finishing up those two groups, I added some strip pieced cards with some sort of snowflake or star on the top - some have FMQ snowflakes or stars, some are cut from lutradur, one has a sequin waste star, and one has a kind of star in ribbon (actually, I don't like this one - might recycle it).

Tomorrow, they will get edged (probably) and then, they will be ready to go out in the post. There are a few extras beyond what I'm swapping, so a few people may get (hopefully nice) surprises.

Didn't get any cards in the post today, but I did get these two FQs, from Barbara, who took me up on my offer of swapping squares (on my part) for larger pieces of fabric (on her part). Not that it's made much of a dent in my scraps, mind you...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bright idea

Not a lot to show today, as I had to spend most of the day cleaning my house (bummer). Usually, you understand, I have people who come in and clean for me - don't get me wrong, I have to do all the day to day stuff, but every two weeks, two sisters come in and do the hoovering, dusting, clean the bathrooms, kitchen floor, and so on. This was one of the first things I decided to spend my money on when I took on some child-minding for a friend a few years ago - it's like buying extra time :) Anyway, they have unexpectedly had to go home (to Poland) because their mother is ill, so I am doing my own cleaning, and hoping their mother gets well - it sounds serious, sadly. But due to the cleaning, I didn't really spend any time sewing, except a quick foray to test if my idea for the "starts with L" swap (which came to me, I kid you not, in one of those cartoon moments - yes, that's right - the ones where a lightbulb goes on over your head..). Good news is, the lightbulb idea works well. Hard to see in the photo as there are two layers of sheer fabric - inside is a piece of wire, twisted to look like a lightbulb filament (sort of). And the screw part is made from kitchen foil & silver metallic thread (note to self - change needle before attempting to sew anything else!). The filament wire shows really well in person on the card, but not so well in the photo - only to be expected with all those sheers and shinies.

And speaking of shiny, got my first postcard from my Christmas swap today - this one is from Doreen in Australia, who is obviously more on the ball than I am :) Thanks Doreen! My cards will probably go out towards the end of next week, for those of you swapping with me.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ornament giveaway

Given that we are rapidly approaching the festive season, I thought this week's giveaway should have a festive theme. And as I don't have any more Christmas blocks to give away, I thought some Christmas ornaments might be in order. They are pictured with plain holes, but will come with gold cord for hanging on your tree (or not, as desired) - they are all fairly small - 3 to 3.5 inches high. As usual, if you are interested in winning one, leave a comment on this post before Sunday - I will draw three winners on Sunday. Hopefully, that will leave plenty of posting time to get them to you in time to hang on your tree this year! Next week, it's back to rogue blocks :)

[Just a note to say, light is so strange with digital cameras - all three of these pictures were taken against the same table, within minutes of one another and yet, it could be three different tables... The bottom right is closest to the true colour of the table...]

Journal Quilt Project: Week 2

Well, here I am in the early part of the week again for my Journal Quilt Project. This is week 2's offering, and is another 8x8 piece. I think I may stick with this size (though I'm not commmitting myself) - it's big enough to do a variety of stuff, without being intimidatingly large. This week, I decided to use some of the fabric I got for my birthday and which I (uncharacteristically) have already started making into blocks - as I was looking at the four fabrics I suddenly realised they would go nicely with some of the rust-dyed fabric that Anna recently sent me as part of her little art challenge/giveaway, and that I could do a piece for her at the same time.

The nice thing about a journal quiltlet like this is that you can take some shortcuts if you like, as it won't ever need to be washed etc - I didn't piece the fabric, just fused it down (the rust dyed fabric is the centre piece), and then added the black "leading". Then I just free motion quilted over the whole piece. I decided it was very autumnal this week - both these fabrics and the weather, so I did some leaves on the piece (and yes, I AM very pleased that the leaf at the bottom on the reddish fabric turned out to have such a nice shape - usually the ones that show look terrible and the good ones are on the fabric which goes best with the thread). Meanwhile, I fused some snippets of the fabric to another piece of rust-dyed fabric - originally, they were going to be leaf-shaped, but I can't cut freehand shapes very well, so I decided to go with something a little more free-form. I also FMQ'd leaves onto this piece, which is a postcard (4x6).

The next step was to add some texture, so I rummaged around in my drawers of bits and came up with "silk scrunchies" which are something funky I picked up from The Thread Studio at the Knit and Stitch Show (if you are a fan of the Thread Studio - or even if you have never heard of it - you should also check out Dale's blog, which is great), and which I haven't used yet - I couched some of these down on each piece, on the larger one, making a few bends to emulate leaf shapes. Then, more leaves - some skeleton leaves, plain and some which I had which were half gold. On the postcard, I've sewn them down quite thoroughly, extending from the spine, etc, as they have to survive being mailed; on the journal piece, I have just stitched down the spine, so they actually flap up a little, which gives the piece some texture as well. And then, beading. Anna had included some funky aluminium beads she made, and coincidentally I got some wire and beads in the right colours as part of a little inspiration pack from Lana on my birthday, so I beaded some wires and threaded them in and out of the two pieces. Finished the edges with some black, sprayed the whole thing with some Moon Shadow Mist, just to add a little hint of gold.

Several people asked or commented about labelling them or keeping information with them - what I've decided to do is simply write on the back. The first two quiltlets, I've simply backed with card (as a last step before binding/edging), so this is easy enough to do (both of the first two are constructed with a pelmet vilene base with fabric on top - this is a thin, rigid construction, like most of my postcards, rather than a more puffy, quilty construction, so paper works well on the back. This is one of my favourite ways to work with small pieces.). In future, I may back with fabric on occasions, but hey, I have fabric pens, I can put them to good use!

Right, and since we've got all autumnal, here's my finished cross-stitch autumn sampler. I'm really pleased to have finished two cross-stitches this autumn - this is thanks to my new strategy - small pieces with lots of open space! I have now started the NOEL piece I got for my birthday, and will alternate working on that with working on my other, ongoing Christmas piece - which probably means neither of them will be done before Christmas, LOL, but I can't let the season go by without working on the angels piece (photo later, when I dig it out and give it a press).

And finally, two things in the post of interest today - two blocks from Adrienne for the Orange swap (she sent me an extra, as she was making two for all the others - isn't that sweet?) and this postcard from Caroline, for the theme Strips and Stripes - great idea Caroline, I laughed aloud when I first saw it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday: work done, winners drawn, pay it forward (again)

Well, spent most of the day sewing of one sort or another - my favourite kind of day. Of course, I didn't ONLY sew - I also helped Olivia with her lottery project homework and listened to Sarah's spellings and sentences, and did laundry, and so on and so forth. But I did manage to fit a lot of sewing in there.

First thing I did was to finish up two sets of postcards - the 1930's card from yesterday, which are overdue, and the mostly black cards, which are due today (which means tomorrow, as you can't post them today). I did mine mostly black with some teal blue in them.

The art deco cards look essentially the same as yesterday, but with edging...

The other thing I did today, because I am peripatetic by nature (in terms of my art, anyway) and simply can't resist starting new things, even when I haven't finished old things, is start making some blocks from the fabric I got as a birthday present, from my trip to San Diego. These blocks are actually only partly finished - there will be one more round on each one. And I have some more in progress, too - there will be 16 total. But you get the idea of how they will go together and the secondary patterns they will make. It will be a lap quilt, though I wouldn't hold my breath in terms of it getting quilted real soon - this is me, after all. [Weird thing happened with this photo on the left - blogger wouldn't upload it, nor would flickr, and when I tried to open it in one of my image processing programs, it said "unable to open non-graphic file" (it should have been a jpeg - it was labelled .jpg and was just downloaded from my camera at the same time as all the rest of the photos in today's post). So I opened it in Paint, saved is as a jpeg and tried again - and then it worked fine. Computers are so weird.]

The photo on the right is a piece I received in my complex cloth round robin. It's only had one person work on it after the original piece of fabric, but it's so lovely, I find it a bit hard to know what to do with. At the moment, it's telling me it wants sequins sewn on in some of the blank spaces. Luckily, this piece is on the surface embellishment group so we are not restricted to painting and dyeing - a good thing with this piece, I think.
Next order of business, the giveaway draw for the magazine from last week - winner, courtesy of DH, is Sequana (again!). Well done Annie, the magazine will be on its way to you later this week. Tune in tomorrow for something seasonal and (I hope) interesting.
And finally (congratulations if you are still reading this far down the post), I have signed up for another Pay It Forward swap - this one was on Sandra's blog, and the terms are the usual - if you are one of the first three people to express interest, I will send you a piece of handmade Kate art stuff, in return for you promising to offer the same on your blog. You have six months to get your promised goodies to your recipients, though I am going to offer something slightly different - I will send you, if you like, a handmade Christmas ornament as my pay-it-forward. If you would prefer to have something different, that's fine, I'll send you something else, but it might not be until January (which is still well within the six month limit). If you opt for the ornament, I will post straightaway so that you can hang it on your tree this very year.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Postcards today

So, today was busier than expected, but I did manage to nearly catchup with my 1930's postcards - they aren't edged and backed yet, but the fronts are done - hoorah! So they can go in the post on Monday.

And these two cards have arrived in the post recently- Sir Len the Cricketer (who didn't photograph well, sorry) yesterday, from Anne R, as her contribution to the 30's, and strips and stripes on the right, arriving today from Heather. And that's that.

Swapping fun?

A while back, when I was tidying up my sewing room, I mentioned that I keep a lot of scraps cut into squares, for ready use in projects (in theory). I do sometimes use them this way, but frankly, not as much as I might, so I thought I might try again to turn some of these lovely squares into larger pieces of fabric... If you are a person who uses a lot of squares and would like to swap, this idea was made just for you! I have listed below how many of what size square can be cut out of an average FQ and in brackets, how many I will send you - mine will be all different, except in the 2.5 and 3" sizes, where there might be some pairs thrown in - no more than two the same of any fabric, though, I promise (if you want more than one FQs worth of squares, I can't promise no repeats, but I'll try to put in as many different ones as I can). In return, I would like FQs or FEs of more or less anything except 30s reproductions, neon colours, flannel and cutesy novelties. Particularly favourites are tonals, batiks, Civil War Repros, geometric prints, stripes, but really, I'm not very fussy, bar the exceptions listed above. Leave a comment or email me if you are interested in playing!

One fat quarter equals:
56 (65) 2.5 inch squares
42 (50) 3 inch squares
30 (35) 3.5 inch squares
20 (25) 4 inch squares
16 (20) 4.5 inch squares
12 (15) 5 inch squares

Friday, November 23, 2007

Floating Hawaiian Squares

Look - actual sewing! Yesterday evening, while bloghopping, I saw this great block on my friend Judi's blog - it's called Floating Square, and it struck me as just the thing to do for one of the quilts with the Hawaiian fabric. So I made 20 blocks today, using 6 inch squares of shirt fabric (there are 22 shirts, so I was able to use most of them once each - I left out the two that were most similar to two others) and four different blues. There are only 12 in the photo as my dining room table isn't big enough, but you get the idea. I think this will work really well and think this may be the one I keep for myself, we'll see.

On Jane's blog yesterday I saw a neat meme using images from Google image and decided to do it, but as it's nothing at all to do with quilting and rather long and photo heavy, I put it on my family blog - plus I needed to post over there anyway... If you are interested, it's here.

Got a couple of things in the post, one a calendar from Australia - a suprise from Sharron, who I know from an online postcard group (thanks Sharron!) and one a postcard, which I seem to have neglected to photograph - I'll include it in the next lot, because I'm just too lazy to do it now!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday's things

Another nice day's worth of post, which is great, as I don't have any sewing to show for today. I should have taken a photo of my cross-stitch piece, which is nearly done, but I didn't before and now, I can't want to (this is my favourite saying of a friend's little girl - or rather, she is 10 now, but she used to say it when about 3 & her mother and I still use it all the time). What I got was a birthday present of a cool bag and a cross-stitch pattern creation CD from Karol Ann, the new Quilting Arts, and two postcards - confetti from Myla and mostly black from JoAnn - doesn't it go nicely with the QA cover? :) It was great to get a birthday present from Karol Ann, though slightly sad to get it in the post, because we were SUPPOSED to meet up in London next week before she heads out to South Africa for the winter, but unfortunately, we've had to cancel that meeting as she won't be able to get down to London until the last minute. Bummer. Maybe next time, though.

Forgot yesterday to send you all off to look at Susan's blog when I was showing my goodies from her - do go look, she does amazing stuff. I'll go back and edit the link now, but thought I'd mention it here, too.

I do have a good reason for not sewing, which is that I went to Ikea to get a new (bigger) dresser for Alex, partly because his is only a small 3 drawer one anyway, and partly because we needed to move the 3 drawer one downstairs to serve as a table for the gerbilarium we will shortly be acquiring. Yep, we are getting gerbils (yes Jane, if you are reading this, we have now decided on gerbils - one each, rather than a hamster. Everyone seemed to agree that as small rodents go, that was the way to g and the kids liked the idea of each being able to pick and name one). They are sort of a Christmas present, but because I don't really like the idea of pets being Christmas presents (pets are a responsbility not a toy, yadda yadda), we are getting them before Christmas, with the understanding that there won't be lots of presents from Mummy & Daddy under the tree.

Anyway. Went to Ikea to get the dresser - no traffic, very little queueing at Ikea, so I actually did that whole trip in under two hours, which meant I had time to assemble the dresser before the kids came home and wanted to "help", which word I use advisedly! And once I got that assembled, I could move his clothes to the new dresser, move the old dresser downstairs, move the bookcase which was where the old dresser needed to go, move the smaller bookcase which was where the larger bookcase needed to move to - well, you get the idea. Amazingly enough, I did actually get all that stuff done before dinner (though I did have to go get the kids towards the end of it all - but it was ok when they got home - they didn't want to help as there were large carboard boxes to play with). I did not, however, have any time to sew. This will no doubt shock you. Maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Goodies galore

Well, maybe not galore, but it was a nice day in the post - a few Christmas catalogues, which were promptly recycled, and these two postcards (below - for the mostly black swap, from Diane and ) a package from Susan. Now, I knew there was something coming from Susan, as she had to ask for my address, and I did think there might be an ornament in it, as I knew she'd made some and would likely have extras, but that didn't prepare me for 1) how great the ornament looks in person - the photo doesn't really show all the lovely embellishments and shiny bits and other stuff - and 2) the Christmas postcard and the two fabulous bookmarks, which are so simple and yet so fabulous at the same time. What she's done is take a bunch of interesting fibres, sew them down to an interesting bit of heavy paper and add leaves/feathers, leaving some of the fibres loose at the top for a tassle. Sometimes the simple ideas are really the best, and these I love. They deserve a place of honour, so I have put one into Jane's book (The Gentle Art of Domesticity), which I am reading a little at a time to savour it and the other into my Nancy Crow book, which ditto. Thanks again, Susan, I'm really pleased with it all.

And of course I love the (mostly) black postcards, too.

I did do some work today, but no photographs to show - what I did was add sashing to a number of blocks which I am helping a friend assemble for a purpose which isn't Christmas but which is a secret, so I'm not going to show them. Maybe later. Anyway, it wasn't that exciting, though the fabric is very pretty. At the same time (or rather, in between adding pieces of sashing) I also put away a bunch of the bits and pieces which have been accumulating on my sewing table. How exciting is that. But it has to be done, or chaos takes over. As I'm sure you all know (in principle anyway, if not from personal experience - though I've seen photos of some of your workspaces!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A whole lotta Tuesday going on

Well, I have lots of photos to share today, even if I don't feel like I got a huge amount done. I finished off the K is for... cards, which I had printed the fabric for ages ago, just never got around to finishing. They will go in the post tomorrow, as the glue on the jewel star wasn't quite dry today when I made a trip to the PO to send out everything else I had. The photos showed better in Picasa than when printed, but I think they are still kind of fun.

And the other thing I made was this little set of pink inchies for the Inching Artists challenge "monochromatic" - they are not as glaring pink as they appear in the picture - I may try to get a better photo in better light, if we ever get such a thing - the light at the moment is not great, as everything is grey and drizzly and horrible - makes a (not very pleasant) change from my week in San Diego!

That may be all I made, but I did receive lots of things in the post today - two postcards (actually, the black one came yetserday and I forgot to blog it) - the lace is for the L is for... swap from Annette; the black one is from Flischa for a swap called mostly black, , which I need to do my cards for as well - maybe tomorrow, if I have time.

That's not all that came in the post, though - I also had these two orange blocks, for the orange block swap (they are early - the swap isn't due until January). I've made two blocks so far, need to do about 10 more, I think. But it's not due until January... These are from Megan and Mary S.

I also got this lovely selection of sunprints, from my sunprint swap with my dyeing group - woo hoo, more funky fabrics to use!

And last but not least, I got these two selections of goodies. On the left is some stuff from Annie, who I sent some clay faces to recently (I got the better end of this deal, I think!) and on the right is some birthday presents from my friend Lana - I especially like the "inspiration pack" which is essentially, a baggie of bits - one of my favourite things ("bits", that is). What a nice day for stuff.