Saturday, May 31, 2008

Journal Quilt, Knitting

Ta da - the last day in Ireland, and I have done another journal quilt - this one with a bit of an Irish theme. I have used some of Cathi's fabrics, along with some lace and trim from my scrap bag, as well as a picture of the Rock of Cashel and a feather collected by my DS (who is obsessed with feathers) - and some wild cotton grass from our walk up to the Portroe Millennium Cross. The seashells are actually from a previous visit - collected on a beach somewhere, can't remember precisely, but they seemed apt. And also, a photo of my next knitting projecct, which unfortunately, I can't take in my carryon bag on the plane - too likely to hijack the plane with my wooden knitting needles, I guess. It's just another scarf, but this time I have enough yarn to make it a bit longer and also, put some tassles at the end. Sarah is angling for the other scarf, so I might give in and give it to her - it's not as long as I like, ideally, though I am very fond of the yarn.

And here's my little tree piece with the binding finished, in its new home on Cathi's design wall - along with a piece I made last year (with really bad quilting) and a little heart quilt made by Anne - everyone seems to have one of those but me these days - I shall have to see what Anne would like to swap for one, LOL.

Given that I'm still away from home and all that, I'll do a goals list tomorrow instead of today - i know I accomplished my goals for this week - only one, and that was the journal quilt - but without all my lists and so on, I can't be sure exactly what has a deadline coming up...

Scarf goes travelling...

In the spirit of all the sock with scenic view photos I see on knitting blogs, I offer this gem - my scarf, at the Swiss Cottage outside Cahir. I meant to take a photo of the scarf at the Rock of Cashel, which is even more scenic, but although I had the scarf in my bag, I forgot to take the photo. But if you want to see lots of photos of both Cahir and Cashel, you can check out my flickr album.

We spent the whole day out and about, so there's no real sewing today to speak of - I have put the binding on the little tree piece, helped Cathi work out some paper-piecing, and finished the scarf (Hoorah - a bit short, but very nice, nonetheless, if I do say so myself). Also, yesterday, I made some blocks for the June block lotto on, but I can't show them until Sunday...

Only one more day (or most of it) here and then we shall head home - it's been fun, but I'm sure it will also be nice to be home - it's always good to get back to your own turf - and just think of all the fun post that might be waiting!

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Well, the knitting is come along apace - at left, the teddy bear scarf, which is now finished. It looks ok, a little odd in places, particularly where I was practicing increasing and decreasing, but Olivia loves it, and I'm sure it will suit the teddy bear.

I have started a new knitting project - this is a scarf for me, using the yarn from the oddball bin, using large needles (7mm, I think) to create a more lacy effect - for one thing, I like that sort of look, but also, I only have one skein of yarn in that colour, so that will help stretch it. It's a straight knit, nothing fancy, and goes VERY quickly - must be the big needles...

Another addict born? Probably.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Little trees & nine-patches

So today I actually had lots of time to sew - this is because Cathi and Geoff took the kids off to the swimming pool this afternoon and I elected to stay home and sew. First I put together the nine-patch blocks which I had cut out the squares for yesterday. And then I decided to make something to try out Cathi's new Big Foot quilting foot in case I wanted to get one - I have to say, I like it - I think it would be quite useful particularly at the edges of things and where there are lots of seam joins - also, probably if I was doing quilting over pieces which were just fused down or thrown on top of a surface - the size of the foot helps keep stuff from getting stuck underneath. I might get on - it's not at the very top of my gadget list, but I will certainly look and see...
The tree piece will be finished off later tonight - just needs a small binding attached - the piece is only about 6x17 inches - I think they were 6 inch squares to start, though I didn't measure them, just grabbed them out of Cathi's scrap basket. It will be given as a gift to someone I know who is really into trees. I've put up a picture of the back of the piece so you can see the tiny quilting - which was fun, but I sure wouldn't want to do it on a bed-sized quilt.
Tomorrow morning I am off to Cathi's knitting group with her - perhaps I will have some knitting pictures to share!

Birthday Block Swap - Wanna play?

So, some of you are already playing along with the birthday block swap I am hostessing on; some of you might not be aware of it and might like to join - here's how it works
  • pick your own theme - what kind of block or theme would you like? you choose - you can have a specific block or just a general theme ("stars", "the ocean", "football teams") or even just colours
  • only one block to make each month - the swap lasts for a year, but you only have to make one block each month, so it's not very much work
  • happy birthday to you - in the month of your "birthday" you receive blocks from all the other players in your group

There are spaces left in the 12 player group, a few spaces left in the 24 player group (which is 2 blocks per month) and spaces left in the advanced group (the blocks/themes are allowed to be a little harder in this group). The beginner group is full, but the 12 player group won't be VERY hard... I would really like to fill all the groups - I know a few people in some of the other groups would be happy to take a space in another group, but I'd like to offer the spaces to new people first. Please email me or leave a comment here if you are interested.

Yes, more yarn

Yep, that's right - more yarn was purchased today - couldn't resist these gorgeous skeins of yarn - because they are hand-dyed, of course, and because they are cotton. And I bought some fabric from Cathi's local shop - that was about it... We browse some charity shops too, but didn't find a lot - I did pick up one bag of miscellaneous earrings for 1 euro - lots of bits which can be used as embellishments. Lousy weather today, so we didn't do much - but then again, not doing much can be fun as well.

I also cut up a bunch of scraps from Cathi's stash to make 9 patches with - I have enough cut out for 16, so perhaps i will do those tomorrow, unless we get distracted with other stuff.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Treats from Galway

Well, I decided I had to fix the journal quilt - the couching was bothering me in its lack of symmetry so I ripped it off and redid it following the lines of the pattern a bit more. I've also added some beads - still not edged or backed, but I will probably do that tomorrow.

And while we were off on our travels today (up to Galway and environs) we found a little quilt shop - well, we knew more or less where it was, and went in search of it - ironically, we discovered that we had walked right past a quilt exhibition in Galway itself, but by the time we knew about it, it was too late in the day to go see it. Still, we had fun buying some fabric (the FQs on the right) - I bought some black and white prints and some brights for the June block lotto - I may make some blocks for it this week, though as it's still during the sneak peek, I won't be showing them just yet, even if I do. I also bought a few FQs that I just really liked and some funky retro prints that were buy 3 get one free.

On the left is some oddball yarn (quite fitting, you might think) that I found in a yarn shop in Galway - the pink is a silk & cotton mix, which is great, as I am allergic to wool and the other is one I plan to use for embellishment mostly, rather than knitting. And I got some fun notecards in a great tin, which reminds me of Jane Brocket in style. The notecards feature four different designs of cakes. Yum. Tomorrow we are heading into Limerick City Centre to hit some charity shops and the proper yarn shop there, so I imagine there will be purchases to show tomorrow, as well...

Goals & Giveaways

Just a quick post to update my goals list - which will be very brief this week - and my giveaway & winner. Hey, I'm on holiday, I don't have to stick to my routine, right?

So, first of all - the winner of last week's apparently-not-so-ugly fabric is Paula-hope you find something fun to do with it, Paula! Send me your address and I will get it in the post to you.

And the new giveaway - you may not be shocked to hear - is this block - the "wrong" star block I made - the one where the diamonds are too large. Still, it might be able to be used for something. As usual, if you are interested in the block, leave a comment before Sunday.

And finally, goals round up - last week's goals were fairly few:

  • birthday block for Peggy for the birthday block swap (deadline 31/5) - yep. and finished the make up block for Amy, too, which means I'm done with this swap - just in time for the second round! By the way, there are still some spaces in the second round if anyone is interested!
  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 24/5) - done - ok, a day late, but I am on holiday, right>
  • little tiny mini for Lucy Locket's private swap - done, posted, received, enjoyed
  • get stuff ready for next African blocks (to take with me to Ireland) (deadline 23/5) - yep. And I suppose I should actually do some work on them when here!

This week's goals will be even fewer:

  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 31/5)

Yes, that's it - anything else accomplished is a bonus!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Journal Quilt & postcard

Cathi and I grabbed a quick half hour today while the chicken was cooking and the kids were playing some complicated game involving 3 dozen My Little Ponies to make a quick journal quilt (in my case) and postcard (in her case) - her first one. They haven't been edged yet, nor have we put backs on them, but we'll do that tomorrow, or whenever we next get a little time. Normal rules do not apply on holiday anyway!
We've used shwe shwe fabrics, some orange and yellow tie-dye type fabric and some of the orange and yellow yarn I've been knitting with.
I did also do a wee bit more knitting, but it's not very exciting - just like yesterday's photo, only a dozen or so rows longer...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Knitting - if you can call it that

OK, now don't laugh. Here it is - I can't really call it my first attempt at knitting as I was taught to knit as a child and did do a little (bad) knitting back in the day. Honestly, I can't say I'm that much improved, LOL, but it's not too bad. It's only a small piece - I cast on 20 stitches (though I think there might be 21 on there now) - and decided I would either pull it all out or give it to one of the kids as a scarf for a teddy (Olivia has now claimed it for one of hers, as it happens).

I've done some garter stitch, some stockinette and a bit of moss stitch as well - my main problem seems to be with tension at the edges, but hopefully, that will improve with practice. One thing we did which I'd never seen before was to cast on a different way - longtail casting on - if I can remember how to do it, I will probably cast on that way all the time in future (presuming I have a future in knitting, that is) as I really like the finished edge it gives.

The best part about doing this here with an experienced knitter is that she can fix all my mistakes as I go along - yeah, Cathi!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Early Blogging

It's an early post today, as we are leaving around 7pm to go to the airport to fly to Ireland - I won't be out of contact while I'm gone, and will probably still blog every day (though perhaps more on the family blog over here and less on the quilt blog) and answer emails, but we'll spend some time going out and about, so I might not be online quite as much as I would be at home.

Anyway, I didn't get any sewing done today, being at school in the morning and I'm spending this afternoon sorting out that list of stuff you have to do before going away, but here's the promised group 9-patch quilt in progress. I might make some more nine-patches for this while in Ireland, if Cathi lets me raid her scrapbasket. Also, we are making a kind of postage stamp border - a double row of 1" squares, which we are putting together in fours to start, so I might do some of those as well. More on this quilt as it grows.

And here's what came in the post - a selection of goodies I bought from joggles - some collage sheets, some German scrap and silk leaves, and a lot of charms - and also, another birthday block, this one from Debbie, along with a large piece of fabric with potted orchids on it. Very tropical feeling (Debbie's in Florida, so I guess she's used to tropical!)

If you have sent me something I haven't yet received, don't worry, I'm sure it will be here safe when we get back and I will blog it then. Our post goes through the door anyway, so there's no chance of something being taken while we are away...

And as I said, I'm sure there will be quilty blogging while we are away - for one thing, Cathi and I are going to work on some blocks for a project together, I'm teaching her to make fabric postcards and in return she's going to try to teach me to knit (good luck!) and of course, we will visit her favourite quilt shop & yarn shop, so there may even be a few goodies to show.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More blocks!

Not much to show today - these are some more birthday blocks - four six-inch blocks in shades of blue and yellow from Bonnie. There's also a piece of pink tonal fabric given as a hostess gift. I did actually do a little work today on a group quilt, and I even took a photo, but it's on my phone and I just can't work up the energy at the moment to go get it. The quilt we are making is a simple scrappy nine-patch (I've shown some of the nine-patches here before) set on point, alternating with plain squares. There will also be a postage stamp type border. Anyway, I will show it later...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mini flowers and other bits

Here's Lucy's mini quilt, all finished off and ready to go - yippee! I'm really pleased with how it turned out - and hopefully she will really like it.

And some other bits and pieces from today - some more little nine-patches for the group quilt my Thursday morning group is making and another block for Peggy, this time in the right size - looks much better now that it's in proportion.

And some lovely post - these are the pieces from the stamping swap, returned home to me - aren't they great? An interesting selection of techniques and colours - I do enjoy getting back a variety of pieces - some of which it wouldn't have occurred to me to try anything like - that's the point of swaps, of course.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blocks, Mini, Stuff

Made these two blocks for the birthay block swap today, though unfortunately, the one on the left is the wrong size - the yellow diamonds are too big (and they look it, really), so the whole block is an inch too large. I'll make another tomorrow; something will happen with this one, not sure what yet. The one on the right is for Amy, and is a make-up block. I like the way it's come out, after I finally managed to get the QST units the right size...

The other thing I did was to make a start on this little quilt (about 10 inches square) for Lucy Locket, who is having an insane swap-with-everyone project at the moment - she wants a wall o' miniquilts and instead of building it one at a time patiently over a number of years, she opted to try to trade with everyone in blogland privately (I think she's making 17 minis). Anyway, I did the basket and background this afternoon, and the stems and flower heads (which are "loose" and 3D - they are only attached at the button) this evening at my little quilt group. Tomorrow I will add some trim around the top of the basket and binding/sleeve/label. And then it will go off in the post, hoorah.

And because I need more stuff, here's another pile of stuff I came back home with from Lana's house - some books and patterns, which she didn't have out when I got the last lot of fabric - these are some machine quilting designs, a bag pattern (because I haven't made enough bags in the past 6 months!), a cross stitch pattern, a book with a naff cover but some interesting ideas (the fairs & fetes one) and a fabulous vintage sewing book from the early 70's - she wouldn't take any money for that one, just wanted to see it go to a good home - I said I'd babysit it until she came back from India and then she could have it back - we love in particular the fact that they haven't used the word "Barbie" anywhere in the book... In the coming months, I will be sharing some of the lovely photos of cool outfits from this book!

Also got some more fabric, including two pieces I almost bought before and didn't, but decided I really should buy this time, and some embellishments (also not on offer the first time around) and a piece of dark purple lace for doing mixed media stuff with.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ugly giveaway

This week's giveaway is simply a piece of fabric - this is one of those "what was I thinking" fabrics - as in, what was I thinking when I bought it? - I used a piece of it recently for a project where it wasn't going to show (it was the back of a piece of a bag I was quilting, but as the bag would have lining eventually, this wouldn't be visible, so I felt I could use it.

Anyway, there won't be that many more projects in my life which need non-visible fabrics, and frankly, if there are, I still have a few other things I no longer like, so I am offering this up to someone who can use it - perhaps for a backing for a charity quilt or something? Or who knows, you might have very different taste from me and really like it - whatever works! There is just under 2 yards of it, at full width of fabric (approx 44 inches). If you are interesting in being in the draw, as usual you should simply leave a comment on this post before Sunday.

Sewing stuff - and a question

So, here's what I did today - I made most of a block for Amy as a replacement birthday block (we had some dropout swappers, so everyone kind of pitched in to do their part - it was lovely to see - anyway, this is my share of the make-up blocks). I would have finished this block, but I had to do the QST units 3 times - see, the pattern was originally an 18" block and Amy wanted 9", so I figured I'd just scale it down while working - this worked fine, except for the QST units, which I managed to do wrong - twice. Anyway, they are right now, and there's only a little more joining to do, and hopefully the block will be the right size in the end. Above the red & white star, you can see the pieces to Peggy's birthday block lurking - they also will hopefully get put together tomorrow.

I have actually just launched a new round of the birthday block swap over on the quilting forum on, so if you are interested in joining, come read all about it - it's filling up quickly, though. You have to be a member of the forum to play along, but membership is free and easy to set up. And you have to have swapped before somewhere - not necessarily with me...

I also finished (but for the label which I am about to attach when I finish this and collect Sarah & her friend from Guides) the little spring Four Seasons replacement quilt. I really like the way this came out - possibly even more than the first one I made for the swap - which perhaps just goes to show that I tend to think too much! I'll definitely be making another one of these blocks into a mini-quilt for myself, though not right away.

And here's the question for you all - Jovita was asking me about free motion quilting - she would like to learn a bit more, get some more experience, hear about good techniques, etc, but as she lives in Lithuania, her access to classes and workshops on the topic is pretty well limited - anyway, she wondered if I could recommend a particular DVD or book - there are tons out there, so it's hard to know which to pick. Personally, my knowledge of FMQ comes from learning to use a longarm machine (which I was taught in person), combined with loads of conversations, both IRL and online about the subject, and then lots of practice, so I wasn't able to help very much - but I know a lot of you probably can recommend books or DVDs on the topic, or conversely, say which ones were less helpful - more specialist, or whatever. Anyone have any tips for Jovi?

Finally, I thought these would be fun to share - these are the three quilts I added to for the Spring Fling Round Robin - the fourth quilt I will work on will be the one I quilt & bind - I showed it the other day, it's brown and blue - I haven't worked on it yet, though, so I'm not including it here.

On the left is the centre I made - the four small rose baskets in the middle - the black border out to the four larger roses is the second border, and then the third border goes out from there.

In the centre is the piece I added a first border to - the butterfly on the gold background was what I received; I added an offset purple border with orange curved flying geese; the third person added the flowers in the yellow/gold background.

And on the right is the piece I added a second border to - the centre is the square in a square in a square in pink and brown, the second border is the chequerboard and I added the pink border with applique vines and leaves. Actually, that quilt has already been finished - you can see Anne's work on it here, on her blog.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Spring Mini, JQP26, winner

First thing I did today was to finish up this mini - it still needs to have the binding & sleeve sewn down but it won't take long to do that. I finshed it up by quilting a basic cross-hatch into the basket and then a kind of squiggle into the flowers - to give the impression of stems, if you see what I mean. I didn't want to quilt them too heavily - they need to puff a bit as they are flowers... So, there it is. I like the effect of this so much I think I will make myself a mini quilt from one of the other basket blocks - but not this week...

I also took the opportunity to do my journal quilt (number 26 - which means I am halfway through the year!), which I didn't get done yesterday - it's not quite finished, as it needs a back and to have the edge satin stitched, but it's essentially done. I don't think I need to explain the inspiration for this one, do I.

And finally, rather than post again, I'll announce the winner of the Stitch magazine here. And, drumroll please... Courtesy of DD2, Olivia, the winner is no 5 - Corina! Corina, if you email me with your address, I'll put it in the post to you.

Goals (a day late)

For once in my life I actually went out on a Saturday night, and also had quite a day - sinus headache from hayfever for most of the day (how can it be a chilly dismal day which looks like rain constantly and still inflict us all with hayfever?), so I didn't really think about goals and stuff. So, here they are today... Last week's goals:
  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 17/5) (did this today - technically a day late, but at least it's done)
  • April blocks (6") for dyehard nesting round robin/surfacing quilt 2008 (primary triad using circles and curves) - OK, I didn't actually do these, but I took a decision that I didn't really want to carry on with this set of challenges, so i have withdrawn my name from both challenges - so I have ticked this off the list because it's something I no longer have to accomplish
  • May blocks for same (secondary triad with crazy piecing) - ditto
  • Dear Jane block for swap with Cathi - yep, did that
  • May birthday block for Peggy (deadline 30/5) - didn't do this yet - will do it next week

I also accomplished a couple (!) of things not on my list, so I don't feel too bad about the birthday block - here's what I got done NOT on my list:

  • made a handbag for myself
  • made another bag to test the June pattern for the BQL bag challenge
  • made (nearly finished - only the binding to go) a replacement mini quilt for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap
  • made the May arch and the May colour challenge postcard for Textile Challenges
  • did the next step of the mystery quilt

So, for this week, what's up? Well, we are going to Ireland on Friday night, so I don't want to put too much on the list - and next week, while we are in Ireland itself, the list will be even shorter (though I will be able to blog it, as I will not be (thank goodness) without internet access - in fact, I'll be visiting another quilting blogger, Cathi. But I think I can manage to accomplish one or two things:

  • birthday block for Peggy for the birthday block swap (deadline 31/5)
  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 24/5)
  • little tiny mini for Lucy Locket's private swap
  • get stuff ready for next African blocks (to take with me to Ireland) (deadline 23/5)

And that's all for this week - which is not to say I won't do other stuff, but I'm not making any committments... After all, I need to allow time for me to make crazy offers like a replacement mini quilt!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Madwoman quilter...

Yep, that's me. As you all know, I have loads and loads of free time and virtually no committments (ha!) so what did I do? Offered to help Margaret out by making a replacement quilt for someone in the Spring Four Seasons Swap. Admittedly, I offered because I knew I had this lovely basket block (actually, I have 13 - which means one to spare) which would make a really nice spring mini quilt (the basket block is 15" square - the quilt with setting triangles is about 22" I think). I turned the block on point, put a narrow border on and added some of this great hollyhock fabric. I've started quilting it - inside out, I know, starting from the border - the border has a meander with casual flowers thrown in, the background squares have this sort of basket weave in the background. I intend to do simple cross-hatching in the basket and something else in the flower parts (I have something in mind but it's too hard to describe in words). Then a border and off to its new home. I think it's sweet and will do very nicely.

I got a few things in the post today too - an ATC from Annie and an S postcard from Mary - I haven't even thought about "R" yet, let alone "S" - but apparently, she skipped R to do "S" as she wanted to do strawberries before everyone else did, so I feel better about that now!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bag tease

Can't really show what I worked on today, as I was testing the instructions for the June bag for the BQL bag challenge - but here are a couple of teases - I used some of the fat quarter (not a hand-dye, but a printed fabric made to look like space dyeing) on the left to make the flying geese units on the right. And I'm afraid that's all you can see until the 1st of June - good thing I had the booty quilt to show you earlier!

Just a note about the bags for this challenge - if you are interested in making any of them, the patterns can be purchased from the designer - details are on the challenge blog in the left-hand column.

Miniature Booty Swap - revealed!

Well, now that Toni has received her quilt safely in the post - I can show more than a tease. Ta da! I went truly miniature on this for some reason - had no intention of doing so, it just wanted to be little. The entire quilt is 10x20" so it's not absolutely teeny tiny, but frankly, I wouldn't want to work much smaller. I have a whole new respect for people who do miniature quilts (not that I didn't respect them before, but you know what I mean...) I really am pleased with how this came out, though I think if I did it again (not likely!) I might use a solid colour for the binding.