Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday Wow

Somewhere, there must be a website which has catchy blog entry titles you can use instead of trying to think of something interesting for each post. You'll have to forgive my lack of originality and excitement and just enjoy the photos instead!

So, I'll start today with what I actually worked on last - a set of ATCs (Artist Trading Cards - these are 2.5x3.5 inches) for a swap with Lenna's Creative Swaps website - the theme is Angel, Fairy & Diva and the cards have to use an image from an Altered by Design image sheet. This sheet was called (surprisingly!) Ladies in Red. I had fun with these - I had fewer red embellishments than I thought I did, so it was a bit of a stretch to find what I wanted - I think I need to buy some more embellishments - perhaps that's what I'll spend my money on at the various shows in the upcoming quilt show season, rather than fabric, which I have quite a bit of. I used one of the extra pieces from the styrofoam stamping swap as a background, and on the back as well - it had a silvery paint, but with some bits of gold showing through, so I have mixed silver and gold on the front of the cards with the red. 6 will go to the swap, 2 will show up here sometime in May when I post some ATCs for general trading. Not for a few weeks yet, though.

I actually spent most of the day today sewing, etc - after a quick run into New Malden to pick up a different zipper for the bag I was going to finish today (I had bought a neutral one, but didn't really like it with the bright pink and purple fabric so I decided to take it out and put in one more appropriate in colour - I'm glad I did, as I know it would have bothered me every time I used the bag, but a word of advice - don't ever remove a zip unless you have to - what a pain - almost as bad as putting the blessed thing in, in the first place). I can't show the bag (which is the May bag for the BQL Bag Challenge) until tomorrow, but I will show it then - it's fantastic, if I do say so myself (I didn't write the pattern, so I can say that, right?) - it's got an insulated lining, so it will be a picnic bag - and we picnic a lot - sometimes in a more formal way, and sometimes just in the sense of taking a packed lunch along on an outing - so it will get a lot of use.

I also worked on my quilt for the Miniature Booty Swap, which I ALSO can't show, so I've just put a little arty teaser photo above right - it doesn't give much away except a bit of colour, and as I showed you the fabrics I was going to use a while ago on the blog, you knew that anyway!

Above left is the next step of the mystery quilt (on nancy rose's site) I did today - 4 strips of 4 patch blocks made from nickels - I'm beginning to really wonder what this mystery will look like - it's bothering me less than I thought it would not to know in advance, which is a good thing...

And finally, my fabrics from the Just Japanese fabric club - 16 fat sixteenths of Japanese fabrics - some nice red ones this month. I thought I'd share the way they arrive in these sweet little bundles - I immediately unbundle them and have a better look, of course, but I do admire them in their little packets first.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Memes and stuff

A while back, Lenna tagged me for what I think is a really hard meme - a six word memoir. Lenna's was "Creative girl, loves sharing, connections, art". Which I think is very good. I've been pondering this myself for a while and I think I'm going to just have to go for it and stop trying to get it perfect. So, here we go: "Ex-pat quilter, mum, blogger keeps busy". It's not great - for one thing, I'm not thrilled with the word quilter as I am beginning to prefer fibre artist (nothing wrong with quilting, but I do so much that isn't quite quilting, these days), but that was two words! I suppose if I eliminate the verb, I could have "Busy ex-pat fibre artist, mum, blogger". What do you all think?

I'm not going to tag anyone, though (that will surprise no one who knows me) - but if you want to play, please do - I'd love to see what you all come up with.

I also saw another meme I'd not seen before on Libby's blog recently - Fluff Five. This one should be a lot easier - hence the whole "fluff" concept.

Five things Found in your Bag/Purse:
  • keys
  • phone
  • wallet
  • lipgloss
  • mints

(can't really provide anything more interesting on that one - my bag is fairly small and minimal)

Five Favourite Things in Your Room*:

  • postcard wallhanging
  • naive beaded "angel"
  • DD1, Sarah (ok, that's cheating, but she's in the room)
  • brown "Straights of Georgia" lap quilt
  • February bag with art nouveau fabric in it

*not sure quite what to do with the phrase "your room" so I have simply chosen the room I am in at present - the living room

Five Things You Have Always Wanted to Do:

  • drive around all over Europe (or the US) stopping anywhere that takes my fancy
  • have enough money to not have to work so I can spend my time with my kids and my art*
  • visit exotic lands like India, China, Australia, Japan and so on
  • be able to knit
  • speak another language fluently

*this one I've actually nearly managed - hoorah!

Five things you are currently into:

  • ATCs
  • cooking
  • making bags
  • yoga
  • cycling

I'm supposed to tag five people, but you know how I am - if you want to play, go for it.

All those secret projects...

Well, not much to show today, as although I spent several hours working on a bag, I can't show it - I'll show instead, a sneak peek of the bag, in the form of this one block on the right. Luckily, the bag is for the May challenge, so it won't be long before you can see the rest of it!
On the left is some stuff that I bought in my local haberdashery department, which is so dull I wouldn't normally show it, but the lack of other things to show today made me desperate. It's a roll of craft vilene (the stabiliser I use inside postcards, journal quilts, arches, inchies, atcs and so on - I get through tons of the stuff - I should buy stock!), a 20" zip (for the bag), some sticky patching material (for DH's trousers) and a package of oriental themed paper (which is somewhat interesting, I guess) which was lurking by the counter and tempted me at the last minute.
Tomorrow I intend to finish the bag, but then hopefully I will have some other things to show as well - though I might work some more on my quilt for the miniature booty swap, which I can't show, either!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Scrappy Giveaway

Something totally different this week - this is a zip-loc bag full of bits and pieces left over from a few journal quilt pages and other projects. Some of the material is craft vilene which has had fabric fused to it and been stitched on to create a textured surface - not big pieces, just scraps. For instance, the pink triangular piece at the front centre of the photo is about 3 inches long on the shorter side of the triangle. There are also scraps of sheers, net, ribbon, and other bits and pieces which I am not saving, for whatever reason. Most of these scraps are pink or purple or both. Perhaps you can do something with them, or some of them? Anyway, if you are interested in my bag of silly scraps, leave a message here before Sunday and I'll enter you into the draw.

Goodies abound!

Well, today started off nicely - I got back from yoga to find a parcel waiting for me outside - and it was this lovely bunch of treasures from Janey in New York - some Alexander Henry FQs (how did she know?) and a pom-pom maker (heart shaped) and a quilt magazine - plus, of course, the best of all, my Spring Four Seasons Quilt Swap quilt - a sweet wallhanging which says "watch my garden grow" on it - I have even found space to hang it, which is always a challenge in my house.

You can see why I love these Alexander Henry FQs - aren't they great? I am hoping to find a bag which they will do for as I'd really like to use them for something I myself will use.

And that wasn't all - I also got a package from Deb with three blocks for the birthday block swap in it, and an environmentally friendly dishcloth - I love these blocks, especially the star, which is really super. And, believe it or not - a 1960s postcard, which is from a swap in January - I know Carol posted these a long time ago - I assumed they were completely lost, but apparently, they were just walking here from Australia...

I also picked up some inexpensive acrylic paints in Tchibo today - I am always pinching the kids' paints when I need some, so decided it would make sense to have my own. And I finished off the birthday block, which I think is kind of fun - it's not my usual style, being a bit folksy and imprecise, but I think it works - I hope she likes it!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Birthday blocks on the go

Here are one and a half of the birthday blocks I need to make this week. The one on the right is finished -it's three slightly odd daffodils (in that they have purple stems and leaves, but I wanted to use the moss green as a background, so what else could I do?) and a watering can. It's a large block - 15" because I didn't want to set them straight on - but there's loads of space, so if she needs a smaller block, it could readily be trimmed.

On the left is a block to fit into a virtual village - I haven't yet stitched down the top of the spring tree, and I plan to add some windows, flowers, and so on, but haven't got to it yet. Tomorrow, I hope. I know I'd be forgiven for being slightly late on these, but I always feel bad if I don't meet the deadlines. These will be a little late, as it's unlikely they will get there by the end of April.

Cross-stitch winner

It's funny - when Betty left a comment saying she wasn't going to enter the drawing, I emailed back to her that her number would almost certainly be the one drawn - and sure enough, it was - 5 came up first. So I did it again, and the lucky winner is... no 4, Dagmar, aka Quiltmoose. Congratulations, Dagmar - send me your address to katelnorth at yahoo dot com and I'll put the pattern in the post to you.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bags of fun

Making up for not posting yesterday, by posting twice today, including one with a reasoanble amount of stuff to show (though actually, one of the things I did today, I can't show yet). Firstly, here's what came about 8am in the post - my bag from the bag swap that Barbara organised. And it was loaded with lots of goodies - in fact, not sure how she managed to fit them all in. The bag is from Weronica in Sweden and I love the fabric, even if the bag is probably a little too glam to suit my incredibly boring mumsy lifestyle! But I like it a lot so I will use it anyway. Inside was some tea (the large canister), some sweets, a tray, some sticky gold trim, a quilting record book, a kit to make a lovely bead necklace and a covered tape measure - when you press the purple flower on top, the tape measure retracts. I've seen these done before, but have never got around to making myself one - and now I don't have to - yippee! Anyway, a great bag and a great bunch of treasure - thank you Weronica.

And I did some work myself today, as well. The first thing I did, I can't show - I made 8 blocks for the May Block Lotto on, but as it's still sneak-peek only for the May Lotto, no photo there. One to come when May comes - sooner than I can believe anyway - where did April go? I also did three last blocks for the April lotto (I had done 5 before; there's a maximum of 8 each month; I usually do the maximum as it's more fun that way) - they are shown on right. These are 6" blocks, so quite small. Nice for using small scraps.

And then, I decided to put together the orange blocks from the orange block swap - I decided they'd make a nice baby quilt, and as I'll be needing more of those before too long, it seemed a good time to put them together. I had 11 of them, so I had to make another one first (middle block, 2nd row) and take one apart and reconstruct it slightly (one piece in backwards). I decided to sash them, partly because sampler tops work better that way and partly because I thought the top needed a little bit of another colour or two.

New goals

Another busy week, complicated by the fact that I ended up spending most of Friday driving to and attending a memorial service for an old friend who died recently - and I do mean old - she was 95, so had a pretty good innings, as they say. The service was very nice and I got to see my friend Miranda (whose mother it was who died) and her kids, who are my age, more or less, and live in Australia and the US, and who we therefore don't see often, so in all, I'm glad I was able to attend, even though it wiped out most of my Friday (hence the lack of blog post, for those like my mother, who wondered - I didn't even get anything in the post yesterday, if you can believe it!) [Oh, and apologies for that dreadful run-on sentence!]

Anyway, here are the goals I had set for the week - did fairly well, though I didn't tick everything off:

  • work on quilting the second Hawaiian shirt quilt this is about half quilted - maybe 2/3. I hope to finish before too long
  • do stamping swaps for Dyehard and Surfacing groups (deadline 30/4) - done and in the mail
  • work on April arch for Arch swap (deadline 30/4) - finished, and mailed
  • complete at least one birthday block for Birthday block swap (deadline 30/4) - nope, but I did sew another small square for one of them. I hope to finish soon. I may be a little late with this month's birthday blocks
  • work on quilting "Beach" challenge quilt (deadline 1/5) - nope, not at all, just wasn't in the mood for it
  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 26/4) - done

So, next week, I really need to put my two uncompleted goals from this week to the forefront, as they have deadlines coming up very soon - but hopefully there will be time for a few other things as well, despite losing some of Thursday to the kids being off school (polling day):

  • finish two birthday blocks (deadline 30/4)
  • work on quilting "Beach" challenge quilt (deadline 1/5)
  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 3/5)
  • do some work on the Miniature Booty Swap quilt (deadline 23/5)
  • make 6 ATCs for the Angel, Diva & Fairy ATC swap on Creative Swaps Blog (deadline 24/5)

I have to say, I haven't been very inspired by the Beach quilt lately, so I suppose it's a good thing that if I miss the deadline it only affects me - the quilt doesn't have to be posted to anyone or shown anywhere other than on the challenge quilts blog. Sometimes that's a good thing, though usually deadlines help me focus...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday stuff

First off, apologies for the colour on these top two photos - they seem really washed out, when in fact the yellow is quite strong and the fabric on the right is a bright pink - yes, really. Ah, digital cameras. Anyway, the block on the left is a birthday block for my collection from Stacy and the fabric on the right is a little extra she sent with it - very sweet. I'm really loving these blocks - they are going to make some super quilts - I think it will have to be quilts, as there are going to be lots of them.

These two things came in the post - the left is an ATC - the shape I received in return for my diamond - this is a star, obviously, from Jan. And on the right is a Brown postcard from Sharon.

Nothing of my own to show today - busy day with a cup of tea with friends in the morning, then my daytime quilt group and in the afternoon I spent a lot of time reading email and parcelling up swaps and things to go in the post - amazing how much time that can take. I did finish a little square which will be part of a birthday block but it's too small and uninteresting to show - and it's in the other room anyway...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stamping and so on

Lots of stuff to show today - and even more if you want to see it all in depth because you're some sort of mad-dyeing addict... This first piece above is for my stamping swap with my dyeing group - we are swapping 8 fat eighths, done anyway you like as long as the piece used a stamping technique. Because it's a dyeing group rather than a surface embellishment group I have used thickened dyes rather then paints or similar. I had a lot of fun with this - I did this differently than I usually do, in that I did it as one large piece rather than individual pieces. And I decided that I would resist the tempation to get all my stamps out and use them, but rather try out a few things I've had on The List. So I started with bubble wrap to add a textured background, then did a large leaf in two colours, then added some potato stamps (nothing too intricately carved, just rough and ready) and finally finished up with a scrub-brush. I've got photos of the whole process step-by-step in my flickr album for anyone who is one of those dye-addicts I mentioned above...

I also did some stamping for another swap, this time with my surface embellishment group (actually I did these first, but whatever). The idea behind this swap was to use stamps made from styrofoam trays, like pizza bases or meat trays. I "carved" the designs with a fairly pointy chopstick. Because this was a surface embellishment group, I used a variety of paints and dyes - did a couple with thickened dyes, but actually, these worked better with other things - I like the MetaMica paint best, I think. More details on those in the flickr album, as well.

I also worked for a while on my little quilt for the Miniature Booty Swap, but I can't show any progress on that, as it's all secret :) Then I decided to put that aside while I knocked up a quick bag for a friend's birthday. (This is front and back view showing).

The baby quilt below wasn't strictly speaking something I worked on today - I finished the quilting ages ago, but hadn't got around to binding it yet - sewed the binding down last night at my quilting group. I now have two baby quilts in stock, which is a good thing, as I have two pregnant friends. One of the teachers at school, who had two of my kids in nursery is having a baby in the summer so I think I need to get another one ready - and then, of course, I need more for my stockpile - it never ends!

And finally. Last but not least, and all that. A brown postcard from Chris and the piece which I am going to send on for my latest complex cloth round robin. I usually pick a piece which didn't really come out to be as exciting as it should have done. This is a parfait type piece which was just a bit washed out. Hopefully, having three other people add some sort of treatment to it will improve it a bit!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Blue silk day

After my various errands and so forth this morning, I did find some time to work today - with some windows open and laundry hanging outside in the spring day (finally). I decided to do some work on the April arch and my journal quilt for the week - I was inspired to do both of them with a blue silk background, which was salvaged from a top which I bought for 20p in a jumble sale, but never wear (it's too short at the waist). I could have sent it to the charity shop, but decided instead to use the fabric for backgrounds. As I suspected, although I was having trouble with inspiration for the arch, once I started working on it, it all fell together. This one is for Cathy, who said she liked Victorian things, architecture, interesting views, rainbows, whimsy and flowers (I think it's the whimsy that was throwing me - I'm never entirely sure where whimsy ends and stupid begins) and blues, greens, golden yellows and some other colours I can't remember off the top of my head, but not neon (as if I'd do anything neon, anyway - though this blue is fairly bright, I admit).

The background views are from an Artchix image sheet of some sort; the Victorian family (or perhaps they are Edwardian, not sure) are from an image sheet I've had for a while - think I might have got it on ebay, but honestly I can't remember - however, on the same sheet (it's lightweight card) was a small ad for knitted corsets, which I took as a sign vis a vis my journal quilt, what with the corset exhibit last week... The wings are German scrap, the sequins are from Simply Sequins and the rainbow fabric is swatches of hand-dyes. The ruffle around the outside is from the bottom hem of the same shirt - reduse, reuse, recycle, right?

On the journal quilt, I have used the corset ad I mentioned above, one of the corset postcards I bought at Snibston, more bits of the hand-dye swatches, some eyelash yarn, green plastic fruit netting, and a big lace flower. I have only put the ruffle edge around two sides of the quilt because I ran out, but actually, I think it looks better that way anyway. It will certainly fit in the box better that way!

I also got a couple of nice things today - the first is a pile of cast-off turquoise fabrics - most of the pieces are fairly small - the larger piece at the top left is about half a metre - my friend Lana is paring down her scraps in preparation for moving to India for a few years in July, and as I have an upcoming commission which will involve turquoise, I mentioned I'd be a happy recipient for the fabric. Oh and I should state publicly, a huge congratulations to Lana whose small quilt Learning Curves won first place in its category (wall hanging) at MQX (Machine Quilters Exposition) this year. I will see if I can find a photo for you later...

I also got the piece for the next round of the Spring Fling Round Robin, which I am due to work on. I saw this on the SFRR blog recently and thought it wanted some soft, curving applique for the next round - now that that round is up to me, I'm not sure if it will get that or not, but I still think it's what it wants (ideally).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Back to school at last!

OK, the alarm going off for the first time in ages is a bit of a shock, but it was certainly nice to have the kids back to school today - especially given how much they were arguing yesterday evening. Too long at home and they get very bored. Summer is slightly better, but even so...

Anyway, I took advantage of the time by first going grocery shopping (oh joy) - I usually get stuff delivered, but do go in person once a month or so, and as there was little food in the house, this seemed a good opportunity to do so. But once that was out of the way, I decided to do a bit of quilting on the Hawaiian Quilt (II) - and here it is, a little over half done. Probably I won't do any more on it this week, as I have a lot to get done, but I feel better for it not being completed neglected. If I'm lucky, I might get some work done on my dyeing swap tomorrow - that's what I'm aiming for, though I do have a full morning.

Received in the post today some lovely things - a brown postcard from Diane, and below, some goodies from Karol-Ann. Recently I won a blog draw she hosted, and as I already had most of the fabrics she was offering up, she sent me an "alternative prize", which I adore. Some fabrics, which are lovely, as usual, but what I really like is this little doll - isn't she fab? She's now hanging out on my sewing room window-sill with my cute Valentine's pup and my funky plastic bag chicken I got in Camden Market (looks like these only mine is yellow and pink).

Cross-stitching giveaway

I'm sure there must be one or two of you out there who like cross-stitch - this is a pattern (only the pattern) for a cross-stitch which I have actually completed! I can't imagine doing it again, so thought I'd offer it up for grabs. It's in good condition, though it does have some number notations next to the thread requirement list where I have used different numbers than suggested - nothing to impede your completing it, though. If you are interested in the pattern, leave a comment before Sunday and I'll put you in the draw.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Goals & giveaway winner

And now, all the admin of my week... First, my goals for the week. The kids are back to school this week, though the girls will probably be at home on Thursday, as there is an NUT strike that day, and both of their classes are affected. I was going to take them somewhere for the day, but Sarah is doing a bike road-safety awareness course in school over the week, so they are allowed to come in for the bike lesson (1-2.30pm) as it's not run by their teacher but by the local council. So while we might go out in the morning, we can't do an all-day thing.

But even so, I should have a lot more time to myself to do stuff than the past few weeks, which is nice.

Last week I did pretty well, but then again, I didn't aim too high. Here was my list for the week:

  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 19/4) (finished, used brown theme, as with other stuff for the week)
  • make a start on a set of brown themed postcards for a swap (deadline 30/4) (finished these cards, ready to post off)
  • Shape lottery ATC (just one ATC - should be able to manage it!) (deadline 30/4)(yep. brown again!)

So for next week, I can aim a little higher, or at least aim for some different things - I have a lot to get done before the end of April, but I think I will manage. I hope!

  • work on quilting the second Hawaiian shirt quilt
  • do stamping swaps for Dyehard and Surfacing groups (deadline 30/4)
  • work on April arch for Arch swap (deadline 30/4)
  • complete at least one birthday block for Birthday block swap (deadline 30/4)
  • work on quilting "Beach" challenge quilt (deadline 1/5)
  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 26/4)

And I think that's quite enough!

Now, the part you really care about - the giveaway winner...there are ten comments posted, so here I go off to a random number generator and the winner is...6. Otherwise known as...Brandy. Congratulations, Brandy - send me your postal address and I will send the block your way. New giveaway tomorrow.

I'm back

Well, I'm back. You may have guessed that. And here's the sum total of all the work I did while away - one 4" watering can block (paper pieced). It's part of a garden themed block for the birthday block swap - I intend to do 4 x 4" squares, sashed as necessary to make up the total required size of the block (can't remember if she wants 12" or what, at the moment). I think the other three blocks will be flowers or flowers in baskets, but haven't decided for certain yet. I took my Carol Doak book and enough supplies to do all four blocks, but didn't get to it. Didn't do any cross-stitch, either, just read and helped around the house and played with the kids. Kind of relaxing, really - not that I'd want to do it TOO often, mind you...

On the right, two lovely birthday blocks from Nell, for my birthday month in the swap - I'm really pleased with how these blocks are turning out - they are going to look great together, I think. Lord knows what I'll do with them all, as I am going to have tons of them - perhaps I will tackle a double sided quilt.

These are some postcards I thought you all might enjoy - while up at MIL's house, we went to Snibston Discovery Park, which is essentially a kids museum type thing in an old colliery, but in addition to the interactive sciency-displays and displays on the history of coal mining and transport in the area, and an excellent outdoor play area (which it was too cold to really enjoy on this trip) they have a very good gallery on fashion - in some ways, I prefer it to the V&A - they don't have quite so many really old dresses, but they have an excellent variety and the blurbs are very good. They had a super display of various types of corsets, and the temporary exhibit at the moment was from a local, extensive scarf collection, some photos of which are below.

Will post new goals list and giveaway winner shortly.