Saturday, October 31, 2009

London Roads, revisited

Here's a block for Anita's quilt in the Around the World Quilt Bee. Some of her other blocks are pictured to the right - I didn't photograph all of them as the only place they fit is my living room floor and people were doing things in the living room right now... She started with the block with the earth on it, and the words Around the World Quilt. Some others have done a world or place theme, other have just made a block to match. I went back to the London Roads block and did a slight variation on it - it seemed suited. The central fabric in the block is a small square of fabric with Big Bens on it (unfortunately, I only have a few small squares of this - it was a remnant of a project done by someone else in the first place); the others are just coordinating colours - and of course, some handbags, because if you are going on a trip, you definitely need them! The rest of the day was taken up with non-sewing things - famers' market, laundry, pumpkin carving, and so forth. Perhaps tomorrow I will get the rest of those green & purple blocks sewn together...

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Finished the Hallowe'en stitchery tonight - don't have a frame for it, but it's up anyway - though it needs ironing - must remember to do that the next time I have the iron out.

And the other (sewing related) thing I did today was to begin to put together these Buckeye Beauty blocks, which are an old block lotto win. I could look up when I won them, but quite honestly, I don't want to know! Tomorrow we have several things on the schedule (orthodontist appointment, and I have promised the cinema - their choice of either Up in 3D or Fantastic Mr Fox - I am quite happy to see either of them), but I do hope to get at least a little work done, maybe get these the rest of the way together.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bits and pieces

Well, I didn't get a chance to do any sewing today as I spent several hours traipsing around Kingston buying stuff for kids - amazing how much kids can grow, and how quickly - I did buy something in John Lewis's haberdashery department, but as it was just fusible interfacing, I haven't bothered to photograph it. These lovely things came in the post from Norma and Louise, in return for cross-stitch stuff I sent them. There was also a bar of chocolate, but, well, I'll let you draw your own conclusions about that!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

HST Swap Top

A long time ago - we won't say how long ago, as that would be embarrassing - I hosted a swap on the scrapquilting forum on Delphi, wherein we swapped 12" blocks composed of HST units only. We each picked our accent colour (a cream background being a given) and I chose black or BOB or mainly black. I received somewhere 20 blocks for this swap. Four of them, I gave away a while back (apparently, in April 2008 - where does the time go?) so that I could make a quilt with the remaining 16. Well, today I got them out and looked at them and decided that I didn't like the way they looked without sashing (you can see them all together in the linked post above) so decided to sash them with something bright, to give them some zing.

The problem there was, once sashed, we were looking at a really big quilt. Also, I didn't have enough of any fabric I liked with the black and white HST blocks to sash them without buying more fabric (and while I'm not opposed to buying fabric in principal, at the moment, I'm trying to make do from stash). So I decided to reduce the number yet again, down to nine. I chose the nine which worked best together, leaving out 6 which had black fabric with bits of other colours in (as opposed to being strictly black or black on black) and one which had a much more creamy background than the others (ironically, the block I made myself for the swap).

Of course, halfway through assembling the blocks with the blue sashing, I discovered that one of them was actually half an inch smaller than the others, so it came out and in went the block I'd made (actually, I'm glad to have that one in, so it all worked out for the best, lol) - as you can see in the photo above the difference in the cream fabric is not really that dramatic - can you spot which block it is?* Some of the blocks above look better in person, for instance the centre block has two different BOBs in it, and that actually shows in person.

The remaining 7 blocks I will use as part of the backing for the quilt - nothing wasted that way. And actually, I really like all of them, so I'll be glad to have them in the quilt rather than given away somewhere else. I can even use the one that's slightly too small (which is a Broken Dishes block, a pattern I love) if I'm not trying to line it up with sashing!

The border is a black and grey print with triangles on it - very suitable, I thought. I had hoped to be able to mitre the corners, but didn't have quite enough fabric - even with a regular border, I only had a 2x6.5" inch rectangle of the fabric left - and a 2" WOF strip from the original cutting. Oh and I should say that the fabric used for the sashing is a leftover from a commissioned quilt I made earlier in the year - there is still a little leftover, but not even enough for binding, I think, so I feel good about using that up as well.

On the whole, I'm very happy with this - I like the way it looks and it used several things which have been hanging about. It won't get quilted any time too soon as I don't have any spare batting at the moment, and am not going to buy any for a little while, unless there is something I specifically need to quilt for a reason. I have some small scraps, so can take care of little things without more batting. I will probably buy some at Farnham Maltings quilt sale in January as they usually have some good deals there.

I did actually do several other things today (though it's amazing how much time it took to work out what to do with these blocks) - I finished the 9 blocks for the November block lotto (these I can't show until November - which at least gives me something to show the week we go back to school and I have no more sewing time) and made a binding for the log cabin Christmas tree mini. Tomorrow I will attach the binding so it can get sewn down in the evening and then that's another thing I can tick off my list - in fact, it can go in the post with the rest of the goodies for that swap and I can consider that obligation fulfilled!

*bottom centre

Monday, October 26, 2009

Funky baby quilt

A quilt for a funky baby? Perhaps. Here's the blocks from yesterday, with a border (or two) added - I went for a black border, then a multicoloured print on black - one of those fabrics I've had around for ages, but never been quite sure what to do with. I wish I had a particular occasion for this baby quilt as I really like it. But then again, as I haven't enough spare batting to quilt it up at the moment, perhaps it's just as well I don't need it for anything specific.

I also worked on a few blocks for the block lotto for November, but I can't show them until November, so no photo there. I am hoping to get more sewing done tomorrow - amazing, three days in a row!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Little crosses

Today was quite a productive sewing day. I finished quilting the Christmas mini from yesterday and will soon put the binding on it - maybe tomorrow, depending. Then I felt like doing something simple and scrappy, so I just grabbed fabrics from my scraps and made this, which I think will be the centre of a baby quilt. It's not quite big enough to be one on its own, but with another border around it - perhaps a print on black - it should do nicely. It hasn't made much of a dent in my scrap boxes, of course (the blocks, without sashing, are 5" square) but it was satisfying to do - something to get me back into the swing of things. I hope to get some more sewing done this week - I don't suppose I'll accomplish great quantities of stuff, but at least I can do some bits and pieces! It's nice to be at the machine again - I missed it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Christmas Mini Update

I keep meaning to post this, but forgetting (started it yesterday, but was so tired in the evening I forgot to finish!) - it has been a super busy week, with lots of stuff on at school and home, culminating with a birthday trip to Chessington World of Adventures (theme park) with my newly 10 year old and two friends, yesterday. Today, I plan a nice, gentle day with lots of laundry and a bit of sewing, followed by an entire week off school. Much needed, especially as I have been offered work for a few hours each morning for the rest of the term (until Christmas).

Anyway, one of the things I hope to do today is finish quilting this mini - shouldn't be a problem, as all I have left to do is the coloured squares in the trees (which will have gold metallic stars) and the snow section. I did the sky background with silver metallic and the trees with a variegated green. None of it shows well in these photos, but I promise it is really quilted!

I know lots of us have to work in the week and get very little done as a consequence, but having had the chance to quilt and sew during the week for several years, I really miss it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trick or

There's still no sewing to show for my weekdays - perhaps next week, when it's the half-term holiday. But there's been some progress on the Hallowe'en cross-stitch - it may even be finished before Hallowe'en itself at this rate; I finished the second spider and the O of "Boo" tonight...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Milky Way...

is the name of this block, which is the choice for the October Block Lotto. It's one of those blocks which, when you look at just one, doesn't make nearly as much sense as when you see lots of them together...

Isn't that fun? I might even keep my name in the draw for these ones!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

London Roadworks

Another block for the Around the World Quilt Bee - this one is for Courtney, who asked us for blocks which tell her something about us, whether it be a geographical representation, a theme significant to us, fabric we like, favourite colours, etc. She placed no restrictions on the fabrics, colours or block choice, so I have taken her at her word and gone a little wild. I think mine is the only block not to use commercial fabric, but there's a lot of variety, so I don't think it will be out of place. I started with a variation on the London Roads block, then did some curvy slice and dice with it to insert the strips, and then put some borders on it, turned it askew and cut to size (12x13"). I figure this block says a lot about me. I am attracted to traditional quilting (London Roads block) but can almost never make a block as written (the variation thereon); I like artier quilty things (the slice and dice & turning it on its side) and am not afraid of harder techniques (curved piecing, etc). I am very organised but trying to be more free creatively, so while I planned the starting block of this and pieced it fairly accurately, after that, I just made it up as I went along. I've used my own hand-dyes, in some of my favourite colours. And of course, I chose London Roads as a starting point for fairly obvious reasons!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cross stitch update...

Well, thanks to all of you who expressed interest in my unwanted cross-stitch pieces. Most of them will be off to new homes shortly - if you are interested in either of the two pieces which no one has yet staked a claim to, please let me know (repeated below FYI).

On the actual stitching front, here's the progress I've made on my Hallowe'en sampler - not quite as much as I'd like, but then I got distracted by things like doing the (online) grocery shopping tonight and didn't stitch. Tomorrow, maybe! (And yes, it will say "Trick or Treat", not "Trick or At"...) No proper sewing will be done this week as I am still covering for a TA at school - until Friday at least. I have to say, I am glad of the money, though of course I miss the free time. Yes, time IS money!

Fruit Bellpull. I used to be really attracted to mammoth pieces (I think because a lot of the smaller things were kind of naff), and though I like this, I'm not in love with it, and I know I'll never finish it. I originally thought I might finish just the peaches, but realistically, even that doesn't really interest me. There's only enough linen included for the peaches, but the patterns are there for all the fruits shown. This is on either 28 or 32 count linen - I can't really work up the energy to count it! No threads included.

Fish. This is one I started a long time ago with an eye to possibly giving it my my mom & stepdad for a room in their house which had a nautical theme. They sold the house, though and I'm not really interested in finishing it. The booklet includes patterns for the one I've started and a bunch more. Blue linen, again a high count.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Actual sewing

Remember actual sewing? I think I did some a few weeks ago... Actual sewing does not, of course, count things like hemming or sewing buttons on, or breaking one's sewing machine by trying to take in the waistband of a pair of school trousers for a 6YO boy so they don't fall down around his ankles...

Anyway, today I did some actual sewing. First, I did some stupid stuff, like fixing a few holes and re-attaching loose velcro and letting out a hem, but then - hurrah! - I did a few bits of (ready for it?) actual sewing.

Of course, one of the things I worked on, I can't show you. And that was my addition to The Calico Cat's Bloggy Round Robin piece. It was fun. Her starting square was a photo of her (fairly) new (at the time) baby - he's very cute. Anyway. Having duly added to that piece, I then did a block for Debby's Around the World Quilting Bee quilt - she wanted liberated houses a la Gwen Marston, etc in bright, modern colours. I have done mine with a night sky and some fun people inside. She also asked that we include a selvedge (or more) somewhere in the house - I think she is going to have a really funky quilt. I am very tempted to do a small quilt with liberated houses from my scrap basket. We'll see...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cross-stitch clearout

Well, as I mentioned, I went to the Knit & Stitch Show this year, and one of the things I spent a lot of time looking at was cross-stitch kits (though actually, I prefer charts to kits as I have a lot of supplies in hand already anyway and I don't really like Aida cloth that much, prefering linen or similar) and samples.

And I decided that my tastes in cross-stitch - both to look at and to actually stitch - have changed quite a lot since I first started doing it. This is partly because there is a lot more variety available now, but partly just because I'm older and my tastes have changed. I really like a lot of these simple country style cross-stitches with lots of open space and little or no back-stitching. Partly, yes, they are quicker to stitch, but partly, I just like them.

So, anyway. In the interest of being realistic about what I actually want to stitch with my limited time and to make me feel less guilty about not finishing pieces I've started (even when I don't like them very much) I have decided to give away some patterns, along with the partly stitched pieces, where appropriate. I don't know why it's taken me this long to do this with my cross-stitch; I did it ages ago with partly finished quilts & blocks I didn't much like!

I am keeping a few of my old kits & patterns, which I might actually do, but I think if I still feel ambivalent about them in another year or two, they might go as well.

If you would like any of these pieces, please leave a comment. Preference will go to people who are regular commentors (if more than one person wants a piece) but feel free to ask anyway, even if you are new here - I'd like these items to go somewhere rather than nowhere. And though you can have more than one if no one else wants a piece, I'm going to try to spread them around a little bit. I don't want anything in return for these, though if you are not in the UK and postage is high, I wouldn't say no to a little fabric or something in return. I'll leave it open for a few weeks and then let people know who gets what.

You are NOT IN THE LEAST BIT obliged to carry on working with a piece I have started - please feel free to chuck it in the bin if you'd rather work on a different count or colour fabric or even if you just think my work is rubbish to start with. But I thought I'd offer the partly worked pieces as a starting point - could save you some time and effort.

1. Iris. I ought to like this. It's nearly done, I like Irises, I like the Deco style, but I just am not inspired by this. It's on 16 count Aida and was a kit, so has the threads included.

2. Victorian wardrobe. Yeah, I know, I was working on this recently. And it's not that I don't like the design, I do (though I don't LOVE it), but I remember now why I never finished it - it really annoys me - partly because there are so many colour changes so often, but mainly, it's the choice of linen, which I really dislike. It's about 16 count and although it's not Aida, it's really nubbly and I hate it for half-stitches. I find it very hard to be enthusiastic about this piece and will almost certainly never finish it, so would be delighted for it to go to a good home. Or any home. No threads included as it was only a chart and I'm stitching it from my DMC stash.

3. Fruit Bellpull. I used to be really attracted to mammoth pieces (I think because a lot of the smaller things were kind of naff), and though I like this, I'm not in love with it, and I know I'll never finish it. I originally thought I might finish just the peaches, but realistically, even that doesn't really interest me. There's only enough linen included for the peaches, but the patterns are there for all the fruits shown. This is on either 28 or 32 count linen - I can't really work up the energy to count it! No threads included.

4. Fish. This is one I started a long time ago with an eye to possibly giving it my my mom & stepdad for a room in their house which had a nautical theme. They sold the house, though and I'm not really interested in finishing it. The booklet includes patterns for the one I've started and a bunch more. Blue linen, again a high count.

5. Castle Alphabet. I'm not really sure why I ever started this one - I really like the border, but the rest of it isn't really me. Which probably explains why it hasn't been worked on in over 10 years. High count linen - 32 at a guess. No threads.

6. English Cottage Sampler. I think this project just has the kiss of death for me. I started it once on a finer count fabric, but really messed up the counting, to the extent that I simply threw that away and started again. Unfortunately the re-start was on that low-count knobbly linen, so it didn't get very far. I could re-start it again on a higher count linen, but I don't like it as much as I used to, plus also it feels a bit jinxed. There's not much stitched on this, so you wouldn't need to feel guilty about throwing my work away and starting again...

7/8. Paula Vaughan patterns. These are colour photocopies of two patterns which I simply won't ever stitch.

9. Inspire. This is a double pattern - on the left cross-stitch, on the right, wool applique. I've stitched it. I won't stitch it again. It came with some decorative buttons, which you can't have, but I'm sure you could find something which would work. This was quick and easy and very pretty.

Stitch & Stitch Show... Olivia persisted in calling the Knit and Stitch show, which we went to at the Alexandra Palace today. This may be because, as a non-knitter, I tend to look less at stall-holders who sell solely knitting related items. I do look at the actual knitting type art on display, though I tend to drift more towards the stitch side of things, I think, but in terms of shopping, even when I'm not buying anything, I tend to browse stitch stuff more - and mixed media art stalls.

Anyway. I didn't take many photos - in fact, any - because so many of the things I would have photographed had "please no photography" signs, and anyway, I couldn't really blog them due to copyright, etc. Suffice it to say, I saw some things I really liked, included a display of Janice Gunner's work (went back to that several times;, some fabulous vessels by someone whose name I've forgotten now, but who was located just as you went into the small, largely guild-stall room on the right hand side of the entrance hall (if you know who I mean, please let me know); some pieces combining photography, found objects and stitch; some very thin porcelain pitchers by a woman called Katie someone (I think - and I think this was in one of the degree shows) - she made paper models to start with and had some of these displayed with the pitchers and a cake stand. Also in the same area there were some pieces of wrapped wood which I really liked. And there was lots more I liked. Too bad I'm not only crap at remember the artists' names, but too cheap to buy a catalogue! You'll just have to use your imagination.

I think I like this show better than most quilt shows I go to, these days. While I like traditional quilts, there's a limit to the number I want to look at at any one time, and a lot of quilt shows seem to be quite heavy on the traditional quilt end. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they shouldn't be or that it's not appropriate to be, but in terms of what I personally want to look at, I'm less interested in a show that's more than half traditional quilts than in one that has lots of stuff that's mixed media or quite arty...

We did do some shopping as well, though not a huge amount. I didn't buy any yarn* as I am not a knitter and I avoided the art type stalls completely as I find it hard not to be tempted. I did buy a few cross-stitch patterns, which is what I had planned to do, so you will be seeing some of them in the near future. In fact, here are a few seasonal ones, now... No, I don't plan to have all of them done by the holiday in question, though I have started the sampler on the left tonight and think I can probably finish it well within the three weeks. The ones on the right, I adore, and was rather impressed with myself for only buying three of them (with 6 words - two each) - there were 6, I think, and a bookmark showing them all done as a single piece, which I decided was foolish as I'd never finish it, whereas individual words probably stood a good chance. Olivia helped me pick which were the best ones, and these are what we came up with. My kids love having Hallowe'en decorations, and I feel that the least I can do is try to accumulate a number of them that are tasteful...

I also came to a decision about some of my cross-stitch - but more about that in a separate post.

Tomorrow I have very little on my agenda, and all three of the round robin type things I need to work on (two blocks for the Around the World Quilt Bee, which I can blog about and the Bloggers Round Robin, which I can't) have finally arrived, so I may actually do some sewing tomorrow. That is, if I can move all the painting stuff out of my sewing room and actually plug my machine back in (it's still in the chair, which was the only free surface when I collected it from the shop on Thursday).

*Actually, I did buy one ball of sock yarn, but it's a gift for a knitter friend, so I'm not going to show a photograph of it. I'm not going to say who it's for or for what occasion or whether the friend in question is even a blogger/blog-reader, so if you are wondering, well, you'll just have to keep wondering!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

More lack of progress...

Well, I haven't even tried to sew anything in days, between the redecorating of the girls' room (one more wall - well, one wall and a corner - to go), my machine being in for a service/repair, being called in to work yesterday, tomorrow and Monday and a minor oral surgery today (I had an apiectomy - I won't go into details because I know a lot of people are squeamish about these things, though I've provided a link for those who aren't (though I will say, as mine was done in the Maxillofacial unit at the hospital, it was free) - it didn't hurt during the surgery itself, but the side of my mouth is really sore now - not where they did the actual surgery, but because of bruising to the cheek and upper gum caused by the retractor used. And I look like someone punched me in the cheek!) I haven't had much time to sew.

However. I do have my machine back now (ransomed collected it today, yippee!) and I got some lovely red fabric in the post (which I am itching to do something with - once I get some free time) and also, I will be going to the Knit and Stitch Show at Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace) on Saturday with DD2. Perhaps, just perhaps, on Sunday I will get a little time to sew.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Still here...

just not doing much sewing. I did pin together the black and white baby quilt so that it can be quilted at some point, but at the moment, my machine has gone into the little shop (and it really is a little shop - about a doorway and window wide in the high street!) for a service, etc and also, I am using my "free" time to redecorate the girls' room, which we have been promising for about 6 months now. This is a slow project, because I can only work on one wall at a time, as there is really nowhere to put the furniture other than elsewhere in the same room. I have done one wall last week, will do another this week - probably won't take the whole week, as the next wall won't require the border across the middle. Anyway. Consequently, very little sewing!

At some point, I will need to work on a few round robins, but they are all in the post on the way to me, so I don't need to feel guilty about not having done them yet.

I did manage to do some work on my cross-stitch - making good progress, really. I like this one - it's easy to stitch and shows progress well...