Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The last quilting of the year...

Well, here's two things accomplished today - finished the last of the string blocks and put them together into a top - this will wait until later in the year to finish - I want to get some fleece to back it with (and not put batting in) as it is quite heavy already, with the foundation layer under the strings. I might be able to find some at the fabric sale at Farnham Maltings, which I think is the 11th of January.
Most of the sewing time today was spent helping Alex make something with some of his fabric. This is 18x24" as is for some of his stuffed toys to sleep under. Just what everyone needs, right? He did some of the work - he chose the fabric (the black was my idea - I thought it would be a bit too busy otherwise), I cut, he counted squares, we both sewed (he ran the pedal), he snipped the pieces apart and I ironed. Later, we both pinned and then I quilted it quickly with a stars and loops meander. I still have to bind it - I originally thought I might do a pillowcase finish, but I wanted to use lots of small batting scraps, so that didn't seem too practical. Anyway, I don't mind binding - I'll get it attached on Friday and sewn down shortly after.
Tomorrow will be a non-sewing day (though I might post my cross-stitch progress) as traditionally I take down my Christmas decorations, clean house and move pottery & knick-knacks around on New Year's Day. A fresh start to the new year...
Thanks for being here in 2008 - hope to see you all in 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The final arch!

Well, here's my very last arch of the swap - the 12th one I've received, which came today in the post from Cathy - isn't it gorgeous? Look at all the lovely beading... This has been a great swap - I think I will miss it next year. Of course, I'll have my houses to be going on with, so perhaps they'll make an adequate substitute.

Did some more work today on the blue string squares - there are a lot more which are nearly done - just one or two strings left to go. Hopefully I will get most of them done tomorrow. Alex wants to make something from his fabric, so I may have to devote some time to that - I'm going to try to talk him into something small like a quilt for eagie (his toy eagle).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Some scrappy work

I started out today with the intention to run a few errands and then work on making this top (made a while back from block lotto winnings) into a baby quilt for my new nephew (for those of you wondering just who had a baby, technically, he isn't my nephew. He's the new son of my former step-brother Robert and his wife, but hey, even in today's world, calling someone an ex-step-nephew is just plain silly...) who was born on Christmas Day, but I got sidetracked, because when I went to see if I had a piece of batting the right size for a small quilt I realised that apart from a few leftover samples (i.e. 20x20" or so) I am totally out of batting. This hasn't happened in years, as I have been living down the road from a longarm quilter, who keeps rolls of it on hand, and sells to me at cost whenever I need it. As some of you will be aware, she moved to India for a few years, and off went my source of batting! How dare she!

Anyway, so the point of this is, I had to make a trip to my LQS today to get some batting, for the first time in probably about 6 years. I ended up with a full size batting, despite needing only enough for a cot quilt because a) she didn't have any cot sized ones in the 80/20 I like and b)I can always use it anyway. While there, I resisted nearly all the fabric in their yearly sale, but decided to grab this snowman fabric for the back of the baby quilt - it's cute, and as he's a Christmas baby, it seemed appropriate. And a spool of bright, variegated thread, to quilt it. Somewhere, there's also a FQ with racing cars on it which the small boy chose, but I think it's gone off to his stash. (Yes, my 5YO son has a stash!

With all that, and trying to get through Kingston on the way home (the whole universe went out shopping today, apparently), I didn't really have time to quilt the baby quilt today after all. I had an hour this evening before dinner (leftovers, so no cooking) in which I finished sorting some scrap strips and stuff from my scrap basket (which was full again) and started making some blue string squares for another baby quilt. I have two friends who are expecting in the spring - at virtually the same time - I am going to make 3 baby quilts - one blue, one using florals from my Japanese taupe stash and one neutral - that will cover both babies and leave me with a spare. Anyway, here are 3 string blocks - more are in progress. I have an amazing number of blue scrap strings - I haven't even got into the strips which are 2.5" or more wide, yet...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What day is it, anyway?

So, today I actually felt like doing some sewing - this cold may finally (touch wood) be going away - actually wanted to work and didn't feel like I might slice my hand off with a rotary cutter or anything like that. First thing I did was add the final arc to the NYB block from the other day. Then I had a tidy up of my sewing area - lots of people have sent me bits and bobs either for Christmas or with swaps, etc and they were mostly just in a pile (ok, several piles) on the table, etc. Which is fine for a while, but then it begins to take over the work space...

And then, I decided to do something new (because of course, I have nothing hanging around waiting for me, right?) - this is a little mini quilt (top) - inspired by a pattern in the QNM which Toni sent me with my Holiday Booty Quilt, only much smaller, and I decided to do it more free pieced - that is, not trying to get the points in the centres of the pinwheels (the maths conversion was doing my head in - plus working with small pieces - the 60 degree triangles were cut from 2.5" strips - I didn't feel like doing all the fiddling it takes to get the points right. Hey, I'm still not 100 per cent well :) I'll quilt it up with my orange variegated thread, should be fun. It's going to go off to a swapper whose quilt appears to have been lost in the post. Sigh.

This photo is actually not very representative, either - the grey bits are actually all different shades of blue. The orange is pretty much right, but the blue is way off. Digital cameras are odd things, aren't they!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cross stitch update

Despite having a whole day to do nothing (that's what Boxing Day is for, right?) I didn't do any sewing, as I still feel a bit run down with my cold - which has now moved into the sinuses around my left ear, so my ear is a little stuffed up and achey. Boring. Instead, I lazed around, played computer games, helped Alex work on a tiger puppet, played DS games with the girls, tidied up a bit in the living room - putting things away - had a bath with some of my lovely bath goodies, played board games with the kids and Pictionary with Geoff & the girls (Alex is too little), read my book and some magazines - and so on. Did laundry, of course !

But I have been doing some cross stitch in the evening lately, so I will show that - this is the angels - this isn't progress over the last week or two, but rather this year's progress - I have decided to put it away for the year. As long as I have this cold, I won't feel like working on it (too much counting) and by the time the cold is gone, I won't feel like working on it as it will be January... Anyway, it's fairly decent progress, especially given how little I worked on it this year. I'm happy.

And here's the Snowman update - this one will definitely get finished this year, as there's not much left to do - some snowflakes and another swirl or two. I've actually got another lovely little winter scene - a house in the snow or something like that (it's in this photo here - just found it while looking for something else) - which I might tackle next. And of course, I should go back and finish the birds. Then there's the schoolhouse sampler for Cathi and someone sent me a great little heart I should work in Februrary. Plus... Ok, ok - I confess - I do have enough cross stitch patterns to last a lifetime - which is not to say that stops me from buying more!

Speaking of which, would anyone like the pattern for the NOEL piece or the Hallowe'en alphabet or the little house sampler or the waterfall sampler? Oh, and there's this autumn sampler as well - I'm sure I have the pattern for that tucked away somewhere... The NOEL piece was a kit, and although there's a little left of the colours (not the white, which I put in my general stash) there won't be enough to stitch it again - still, there were only a few colours, so I'm sure you could easily just buy the 4 or 5 you'd need - they don't have to be precisely the same as the ones I used (it's not a DMC chart, so I've no idea what the numbers would be). The others were all just patterns anyway, so you'd have to buy thread and linen/aida. They are yours for the asking - I never sew the same thing twice, and I'm too lazy to put them on ebay. They cost next to nothing to mail, of course... Anyway, leave a comment and I'll get them out to you sometime in the next few weeks...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Advent Calendar - Christmas Day

I'm not a highly religious person, but I do love this baby Jesus for the advent calendar - I think it's the rays of light I particularly like. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Advent - Day 24

Last day of Advent, technically, though we will still place a square in the calendar tomorrow, on Christmas morning! Don't think I'll be doing any work today, so as this will probably be the only post from me today - I hope you all have a lovely Christmas...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today there was sewing!

Quite a good bit, as it happens - the kids slept in and I did some sewing while waiting for the boiler guy (who, as it turns out, was apparently booked for the afternoon rather than the morning, which is what I picked when they asked my preference and what I had written on the calendar - touch wood, the boiler seems to be working properly again - perhaps 3rd time's really the charm?). I made this little mini quilt top, which will go to one of my ALQS participants whose original quilt may or may not ever arrive. I may even quilt it tomorrow, who knows. It's actually more blue and less grey than it appears in the photo, for what it's worth.

On the right is most of a New York Beauty block - I need to put the final arc on, but ran out of time (Alex had a friend round to play, so I had to wind down - not that they needed me, but I wanted to have a cup of tea and a chat with his aunt, who was dropping him off). Anyway, the block is just laid on top of the orange floral, but you get the idea...

Advent - Day 23

Today's choice was mine - one of my favourites - a little angel. Two more to go!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Un-Christmas pressies

Nothing of my own to show today as the kids and I spent the day up in town doing Christmassy stuff, but came home to several lovely parcels - which is fun. On the left, from Judy in Canada, my December arch - hard to photograph, but it has snowflakes on it - really lovely, and very seasonal (in theory, anyway - it was about 12 here today, I think!) - I have it up in the living room where it adds to the festive air. She also included a few bits and pieces - some fabric with a Canadian theme and a bag of buttons (yep, that does look like a moose!). Can't believe this arch swap is over - it was a great swap. I am still owed one arch which I know is done or nearly done and will be on the way before long, so I'll have one more to show. Might collect the photos up together just for fun...

On the right, a surprise package of stuff from Kandy, the list mom (she hates being called that!) on BQL, which I co-moderate. Totally unnecessary, but also very fun. I especially like the pink bird brooch - might have to attach it to my bag or something!

Tomorrow is a lazing around the house day (though a friend of Alex's is coming to play for a little while, so not sure how much lazing will be accomplished with two 5 YO boys around) so I might actually sew. I know, I know, don't go dying of shock on me!

Advent - Day 22

A drum was the choice of the day - not sure who chose it; it was there when I went to check if one had been added. Only three more to go - one will be the angel (I'll insist - I like the angel); one will be the baby Jesus - the other? who knows!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Things I've done meme

Well, just for fun, here's a good meme - I saw it on Amy's blog and couldn't resist.

1. Started my own blog (duh)

2. Slept under the stars (in college, down by the beach)

3. Played in a band (band, orchestra mainly in high school, a little in college)

4. Visited Hawaii (no, though I've been invited several times)

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than I can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland/world (yes - the one in Florida)

8. Climbed a mountain (well, a small mountain - in England!)

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sung a solo (no, though I have sung with very small groups - 4 or 5 voices)

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched lightning at sea

14. Taught myself an art from scratch (not really - as a mixed media artist I am largely self-taught (read: I muck about a lot), but not entirely)

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning (bad oysters - yuck)

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (when I was a kid we went as high as you were allowed - I think that was the brim of the hat, rather than the torch, but I do remember a lot of steps)

18. Grown my own vegetables (bits and pieces)

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitchhiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon (not an ambition, either!)

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (no, but I did stay in the Venetian in Las Vegas, once)

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community (not quite, though we've been through the outskirts many times)

36. Taught myself a new language (does HTML count?)

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (I wish I could say yes to this, but really, I'd like just a littl more...)

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (a couple of times when I worked in DC I bought a cup of coffee & a bagel for homeless people - nothing more than that)

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had my portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie (no, but I've been on telly!)

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (more than I can count)

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (no, but I've tried - I have really difficult veins, so it's not really viable for me)

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar (but not the posh kind)

72. Pieced a quilt (just one or two!)

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone (I think maybe I broke a toe once, but it was never diagnosed)

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had my picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible (mostly, at one time or another, but not quite all of it - some of it is really boring!)

86. Visited the White House (with Girl Scouts - back in the day when you were allowed in on tours)

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (I'm counting fish here)

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous (most of them scientists - like Jim Watson of Watson & Crick fame)

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a lawsuit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Ridden an elephant

Blue and Yellow block

Here's the December block for Terri for the birthday block swap - she wanted 12" blocks in blue and yellow only, with a yellow background which she sent us. I decided not to use any other yellows, but just a variety of blues. Have to take the paper off, but the block is more or less finished. Normally a block finished on the 21st of the month would get to the person in time - even if going to a foreign country - but you never know with Christmas! Still, I should think it won't be too late, even if it's a little bit into January when it arrives.

Advent - Day 21

Alex's choice today - a stocking! Can't believe there are only 4 days left - wow.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Advent - Day 20; bird ornament

Today I chose the Christmas lightbulbs for the calendar - last night we went around to see some friends who live in a road which is very good for lights - I didn't bother to take photos as it never really shows that well anyway, but as it was fairly mild out we were able to have a nice walk and see all the lights, and of course a lovely visit with our friends.
Here's something else to show as well - my ornament from a swap on FAT (Fibre Art Traders) - isn't it cute? Lovely flowers on one side with leaves and the year on the other - made by Suzan M - thanks!
I did do a little work today - about 1/4 of a paper pieced block for the birthday swap, as well as printing the patterns and selecting fabric for another NYB block, also for that swap as a make-up block. But I am coming down with a cold and feel very tired today and couldn't focus, so gave up sooner than expected. Perhaps tomorrow I will get a bit more done...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Advent - Days 18 & 19

Realised this morning I forgot to blog the advent calendar yesterday (I did take photos, but after blogging two other things...) - so today you get one big photo and two little ones:

The new cracker and a mitten. Almost full now - only 6 more spaces to go!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Giveaway blocks - the results

Thanks to everyone for their interest in my lonely, unwanted blocks! I had a huge response, and wish I could send things to everyone, but even I don't have that many unwanted blocks...

Anyway, here's how I've decided to parcel them out - some of this is by sheer chance (drawing a name); a few are using other criteria. I think they will all be going to good homes, and that's what's important. I'll contact you all individually about postage (or whatever we work out). It always amazes me in situations like this how the distribution works - you think you might end up with everyone wanting one set and no one wanting another, but it didn't work like that - it was fairly split down the middle. Anyway.

These String Squares on the left above will be going to Colorado to live in a log cabin with LisaJo - that's really appropriate in many ways - I think they're very suitable for log cabin living.

The Jacob's Ladder blocks will go to Margaret in Maine, who will turn them into one or more charity quilts.

The baskets will fly off to France to live with Ann, who offered me a mini quilt in exchange in lieu of postage - now there's an offer I couldn't refuse!

And the 16 patch blocks will go to Karol-Ann's house in Yorkshire, where they will meet up with some other orphaned blocks from the same swap and be made into something with their bretheren. They may travel there with some rather well worn but still cute skeleton pyjamas, in a small boy size, if the interest is still there!

The lonely pineapples will go to Karol-Ann as well, while the friendship stars will travel off to Gina in Wales - not far to go, there!
English Rose has laid claim to the Paths and Stiles blocks, so they'll be heading off to Kuwait to live happily ever after and the little cracker blocks will go to Barbara, which is only fitting as she was one of the other winners of the lotto that month, so she has more cracker blocks at home to keep them company.
Thanks again to everyone for your interest.

Things in the post lately...

Well, lookie what I got today - this the most fabulous little quiltie from the 6-12" swap group on Flickr - it's actually the November theme, which was words (I made the "Joy" quilt for this) and it came from the fabulous Katy (who has a good name as well...) along with all this lovely lovely stuff on the side. A bag made from a tea towel, a string of felt stars, some ribbon with cardinals on it, and some excellent fabric. I really must start putting a few bits in my swap packages as I feel like I'm a bit stingy when it comes to swap extras. But aren't these the best birds? Fab.
Also received recently - a birthday present (again a bit late, as that was in November as well!) from my friend Barbara (not a quilter, and no blog) in the US - which contained these great batiks, a lovely silk velvet scarf, a bracelet and a great magnet which says "at last I'm forty"...
And finally, a postcard for the "X is for" swap - yep, you guessed it - Denny has ALSO chosen to do "X marks the spot". Luckily, a very different execution.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

X marks the spot!

X is for... X marks the spot - finally got these finished (to be fair, they didn't take that long to actually make, it was finding a block of time to sit down and do them that took the time). The fabric is a rust-dyed fabric (there is another on the back, as well, though it's a bit lighter) - I ran it through the printer, using a kids' colouring page from the web for the map itself. The edges and the outline of the land are done as FME on the machine, then colour was added with fabric pens and the red X is embossed. On the whole, a simple card, but I hope a fun one - the rust dyed fabric really worked a treat, I thought - looked a lot like aged paper. A little late with this swap as it was due in the post Monday, but not too bad, given the time of year...

Advent - Day 17

A star today - in honour of the Christmas play at school (last show today) which was called Little Blue Star. I got to be on stage today, with the nursery - at the back, making sure the shepherds didn't stand up and block all the angels. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it (actually, it IS a tough job - especially on the knees)...