Thursday, July 31, 2008


Not much done today - took two of the three kids grocery shopping with me, and that ate up a large part of the day (they were fine, but I just allowed them to look at everything they want to and "help" make decisions, so it took longer than normal). By the time we got back, and all the groceries were put away, it was nearly time to collect Sarah from tennis camp, so we went a little early and played on the playground there (well, I didn't play, personally)... But I did find time for a little work - sewed borders on a couple of pieces - the first is a top belonging to my friend Lana (the longarmer) - she is moving to India for a couple of years - tomorrow! - and just ran out of time getting this piece ready - she's going to do some handwork on it in India in the time between arriving and when her sewing machine gets there. So I put the border on for her today. Pretty, isn't it! And on the right, a narrow black border on the diamond quilt - which I shall now put away until the outer border fabric arrives.

And in the post, this postcard, which is for the Batik Beauties swap - it's from Monica and is a nice little pincushion, even though it did lose one of its jewelly bits along the way.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A girl's best friend?

In a word, no. If I ever get the idea to do a quilt of diamonds again, someone shoot me. I'm sure this is not how I laid it out in the first place (it was more symmetrical). And I somehow managed to get two of the same purple next to one another - but you know what? It's not going to be moved. It looks fine, and it's staying this way. Next step is a thin border around the outside edge - not sure what colour. I am contemplating black (there is quite a lot of black in the outer teal print, though it may not show in this picture), though of course orange, teal and purple are options. I have ordered this batik from equilter to be the outer border - if it doesn't quite work (though it looks like it will, as it has purple and blue both in it), it's gorgeous anyway so I'm sure I'll find a use for it...

I did also do a little work on the TM4 quilt, but of course, can't show any pictures. I will say that I'm going to start with a freeform word (yes, a word - a short one!), and then put some simple friendship stars around that. I don't think I will go medallion with the entire quilt, but who knows at this point. I can also say, there will be some applique in the quilt, and some little houses, I think. As well as some funky bits and pieces - the fabric I have is fairly bright and demands funky, I think...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What I can show... a little progress on the diamond quilt - it's a little over halfway together now (the centre - there will be some borders as well) and some ATCs I made this morning with the leftover background from yesterday's arch.

What I CAN'T show is a package of fabric I received for the Twisted Mystery 4 - we all send in a selection of fabric to the hostess, who mixes it up and sends it back out to someone else; then you have to make a quilt with what you receive. But I can't show it, as we are not supposed to know whose fabric we have or who has ours. I can say, though, that it's going to be a little challenging to work with because it's not a style of fabric I usually chose myself and its very nature dictates a certain type of quilt, which is also not really something I normally do. But I have some ideas, and hopefully more will come. I will try to remember to take photos of the piece in progress, so I can show it later on, when it's all been received and so forth. It's not due until (I think) November, but I'd ideally like to finish it before the end of my mother's visit in the autumn (she's leaving in early October) so that I don't have to post it internationally. We'll see how it goes. It's going to frustrate the heck out of me not to be able to show photos, though!

Monday, July 28, 2008

July Arch

Here's what I did today - my July arch for my year-long swap with the Textile Challenges Group - this one is goig to Alis. As usual, the colour is not quite right, though it's not bad - the main problem is that the bit of lace in the foreground is not really a big grey blob when you see the piece in person! (It's more bluey-silver and silvery-purple.) Anyway, I started this piece with a background salvaged from a project I am not going to finish - it was a piece of hand-dyed fabric in dark pink and turquoise - two colours listed among the preferences, which was fortuitious, I think. The piece was already sandwiched with some vilene and FMQ'ed in dark pink in lots of small circles, so it seemed a good starting place. I then added a small faerie as a central image, with some vines growing up around her, and lots of embellishments, including an earring (the blue wedge at the top with dangly bits) which was among the stuff my mother gathered for me at yard sales in the US. Personally, I can't imagine wearing it as an earring, but it's great as an embellishment. In fact, I have another one to use in a later piece - only the dangles are the other way around, with the large one on the right side. I'm tempted to use the rest of the leftover background fabric for some ATCs, while I have all the right colour embellishments out - we'll see how tomorrow shapes up, I guess.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I can't decide whether it's really worth having a separate post to talk about my quilting goals each week - I keep dithering, wondering if everyone reading this is bored (are you?) - of course, by having a separate post for them, you can easily skip over them, and I find that typing all about what I am doing (or not doing, as the case may be) helps me, so perhaps I will stick with them for the time being. I certainly won't abandon the goals lists, as I have found them very useful in keeping me on track...

Last week's list was a bit of a mishmash:

  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 26/7) - done - a day late, but done
  • attach binding to Hawaiian 3 - done, and now have to sew it down
  • recycle challenge (one postcard) for Arts in the Mail (deadline 31/7) - not done, because I realised the deadline was actually 24/7, so I missed it. Oh well!
  • ATC for Textile Challenges - theme - "starts with B" (deadline 31/7) - done, now must post off
  • Manipulated fabric challenge for Textile Challenges (deadline 31/7) - done (in conjunction with journal quilt)
  • quilt a bit more on Forest Challenge - nope. maybe next week!
  • work on Challenge Quilt for theme "inspired by an artist" (deadline 1/8) - finished this, which is good.

Obviously, with the kids home, I can't be sure how much time I'll have to call my own, so I'm going to keep it fairly basic this week (and indeed, most of the summer):

  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 2/8)
  • July arch for Textile Challenges (deadline 31/7)
  • batik beauties postcards (deadling 5/8)
  • quilt a bit more on Forest Challenge

hopefully, I'll be able to get those things done, even with kids home! Sarah has a week of tennis camp, so we won't be doing too many day trips this week, which will help with my time.

Pink & Brown, Taupe

Several things to show today - not all that I did, as I did make some more blocks for the August block lotto and I can't show them until August, but I did do my journal quilt for the week (unfortunately, it's for the week that ended yesterday!) using some brown and pinnk scraps - it's kind of a weird piece, but I was playing with folding fabric in various ways - some more successful than others.

On the left, though, is something I like quite a bit - this is my quilt for the Challenge Quilts group - the brief this time around was to choose an artist or painting which inspired you and make a quilt from that. I had a very hard time with that brief, and for a long time couldn't think of anything at all that I wanted to do. Then, the other week, I went to see the Vilhelm Hammershoi exhibit at the Royal Academy and I found his paintings really inspiring (ok, I will now attempt to stop using the word inspiring, but it's hard!) . This piece is actually not much like his paintings, but what I have tried to take from them is the sense of colour - he uses a very limited, muted palette - and something of the composition - frequently, his paintings show a female figure, from the back, standing in front of a window or piece of furniture. I have chosen to make the piece very abstract, with the white bars representing a window, and a "figure" standing before it. There is also a sideboard or table with a dish on top of it - sort of. What I wanted to capture was a little of the balance and composition, and I think I have managed that. At any rate, I really like it, and that's what counts. It's a small piece, sort of a4 size or a little larger.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Shades of Spring

Although I did some work today, I am not going to show it - one of the things was to attach binding to the third Hawaiian quilt, and that was a bit boring to photograph - I'll show it again when the binding is sewn down. The other was to make some blocks for the August Block Lotto - and I can't show those until August.

Luckily, I got these in the post today - my Shades of Spring (Brown and Robin's Egg Blue) Quilties from Lenna's swap. She only posted them from the US on Wednesday! Anyway, they are all so lovely that I have put some closeups of them here for you to admire. They are from Beverly, Rose, Andrea and Val, in that order. Aren't they great? Such variety on a common theme. I am going to try putting them in my kitchen - I have a wall not too close to the cooker and my kitchen walls are more or less Robin's Egg Blue, so they match very well.

Friday, July 25, 2008

An excuse

Well, it's nothing to do with quilting, but I thought it was a good excuse for not doing any sewing today - the excuse is that we spent a lot of the day at Garson's Farm (a pick-your-own place) - picking, among other things, raspberries. I didn't make the meringues this time, but I did assemble the dessert. It took ages (not).

Among the other excitements of the day, clearing out the girls' dresser drawers. I know, I live such an exciting life. But there are 6 carrier bags of clothes for the charity shop, so all is not in vain. Sewing tomorrow, I should think.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Surviving the holidays...

Well, today is the first day of the summer holidays and we managed to survive it with a minimum of argument. After a small lie-in (not by Sarah, who stayed with a friend last night and apparently, got up just as early as on a school day) and some boring business, like hanging out wash and putting away the grocery delivery, we headed out to Hampton Court Palace (collecting Sarah on the way) to meet up with Helen for a coffee. She's down in London briefly before heading out to points abroad and she and her DH Dennis took a bit of time from their tourist schedule to meet up with me and my passle of rowdy urchins (well, one was more sulky than rowdy - you can guess which one!). So, here we are in the Tiltyard garden in front of a nice border - we are both squinting as the sun was very bright - about which I am not complaining, not one bit! Helen made a little trip to Creative Quilting first, as it's just over the road, and brought me some lovely lime green buttons. Which will get put to good use, I'm sure.

After we met up I took the kids off across the road (in the other direction) to Bushey Park, which has a lovely playground with an enormous sandpit - we had a few hours picnicking and playing in the sand there, before coming back to the house and getting out the paddling pool...

Despite all that activity I did manage to do some quilt related stuff today. This morning, I got the thin cream border attached to the group 9 patch quilt - looking good, isn't it! Next, a narrow border of little squares and then, onto the quilting - they are talking about doing it by hand - good practice for me, perhaps...

And this afternoon, I managed to find time for two ATCs, to the theme "B is for Bird" - one to swap on the Textile Challenges group and one for spare. With the gold background, they are a bit difficult to photograph, but I think you get the general idea.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Just a little post

Not a lot to show today - just these lovely fabrics (which came in the post) - which are taupey, but not quite as grey as in the picture - a little more red in real life. I had a lovely day today in the (!!) sunshine with a friend - we had a coffee and went for a nice walk. I did actually do a little quilt related work - trimmed around the outside edge of a quilt I'm making with my Thursday quilt group - this is a nine-patch piece, on point. I'll show it tomorrow, after I put some borders on it. I'm hoping to get that done tomorrow morning, though I do have to do some housework (what's that, you may well ask) as my cleaners are away on holiday (how dare they!). I don't intend to do a huge amount, but I really do need to have a quick hoover and check on the bathroom. Now, aren't you all thrilled beyond bits? Thought so.

Monday, July 21, 2008

K is for King

Spent most of today running errands, going for a swim, sorting through a box of photo frames I found at the back of Geoff's closet (which is good, as I thought the box was completely lost, having torn the house apart looking for it a few years back) and other things that didn't involve sewing... But I did receive this little gem in the post - it's an ATC for the "starts with" challenge on Textile Challenges, and is "K for King" from Dot. My letter is "B" - I think I know what I might do, hopefully will get to it tomorrow. Actually, this card was one of my errands, as the stamp obviously came off along the way and I had to go ransom it from the PO - at least it was worth paying for, unlike some of the things I've had in the past. I don't mind paying the price of the stamp, it's the £1 admin fee that annoys me... Anyway, perhaps there will be more to show tomorrow.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Teacher cards & other bits

Did a little less work today - shoulders still feeling all that quilting yesterday! Though I did take the quilt around to Sharon this morning, and she seemed very pleased with it, so that's good. Anyway, one thing I did do was put some hanging tabs on this little beauty - I was going to do a sleeve, but decided not to in the end, due to the height of the hanging rail (which was already on the wall) - this way, I didn't have to move the rail down, and also, I quite like having the blue at the top again. It's not the same fabric which is in the centre, but it's very similar, so works well. I have moved the quilt which was in this space - the spring Four Season's quilt - it was actually a little large for the space anyway. Not sure where I will put it yet, but I will find it a home before too long...

I also did my journal quilt from last week, which really bears no relationship to the week, except that the kids and I had the sequins out today. The background is a paper napkin from a pack I bought in Sainsbury's (but they are much too nice to be used as napkins), I then quilted it a bit, added a few feathers, and a load of sequins. Simple, but effective... and done!

But the main thing I did today was to help the kids do their end-of-year cards for teachers - which mainly involved wielding the rotary cutter, fusing, and in Alex's case - helping with the glue. The design is entirely due to the children in each case, with relatively little input from me, other than the occasional reminder not to put stuff too close to the edges (as that hinders the satin stitched edging later). I did also do all the edges - more for time's sake than anything else. The three above are Alex's (he has two TA's in his class) - and below, Sarah's are to the left and Olivia's to the right. No surprises there - some people may think "less is more", but Olivia is certainly a "more is more" type of girl!

Weekly goals

Didn't do too badly this week, though one or two unexpected things came up, like the emergency quilt for Sharon and a full day at school on Friday. Still, here's what I set out to accomplish:

  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 19/7)
  • attach label to Hawaiian 2 and post
  • attach binding to Hawaiian 3
  • begin to quilt Forest Challenge
  • finish S postcards
I will do the journal quilt today, otherwise, I'm happy - the binding for the Hawaiian 3 is not something which matters if it takes a week or two (or 6) more to do. It will move to next week's list, but frankly, it will still stay low priority, which is nice - nice to have something you don't feel guilty about not accomplishing!

  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 26/7)
  • attach binding to Hawaiian 3
  • recycle challenge (one postcard) for Arts in the Mail (deadline 31/7)
  • ATC for Textile Challenges - theme - "starts with B" (deadline 31/7)
  • Manipulated fabric challenge for Textile Challenges (deadline 31/7)
  • quilt a bit more on Forest Challenge
  • work on Challenge Quilt for theme "inspired by an artist" (deadline 1/8)

A few miscellaneous small things which want doing - the manipulated fabric challenge will probably end up combined with the journal quilt, but that's ok - the challenge is simply to do something with manipulated fabric. The main thing is the Challenge Quilt, which I have been struggling with even thinking of anything to do with (hence no progress at all for month's) - however, after seeing the Hammershoi exhibit last week, I finally have an idea, so I might actually get something done on it. We'll see. I did consider giving up that group, which is run by my friend Wil, but then she picked me to choose the next theme, so I really need to stick with it. Plus, it's good for me!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Finished. Whew.

Believe it or not, I managed to finish this today - the coloured ammonites were easy enough to get done, but then I needed to fill in between them (in black) and this of course took much longer. Remarkably, I only managed to miss out one little bit, which I filled in later, and only backed myself into a corner once - these are among the hazards of free motion quilting, of course. I am very pleased with how it came out, and think it will really suit Sharon - even managed to get the binding on today -- the photo shows it with binding attached but not sewn down, but I managed to sew the whole thing down tonight while watching telly - of course, as I usually use that time to read email & blogs, I'm way behind on that, but this was certainly higher priority, as it means I can give the quilt to Sharon before her first chemo.
Two photos below of quilting detail - no idea why blogger turned them sideways, but as it doesn't really matter, I've left them as they are. The fill-in quilting was fairly random, using some similar shapes to the coloured quilting and otherwise, just loose rectangly shapes. I think it works well.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dragonfly flies home

Almost tempted not to say anything about this, as a picture paints 1000 words, and this is certainly lovely enough to speak for itself.... But I will add a little commentary - this is my quilt from the Spring Fling Round Robin, which was a little delayed getting to me for various reasons I won't get into. Anyway, it's here now, and was well worth the wait. I'm VERY pleased to receive this quilt as I love it, though frankly, most of the quilts from that round robin were pretty fabulous - even the one or two that weren't quite to my personal taste were beautifully made.

This one was worked on by Margaret, Carol, Valerie and Laura in that order and now it's mine (insert maniacal laughter). It's going up on the wall as soon as I get a sleeve put on it.

Here's a close-up of the dragonfly Margaret made for the centre, and a closeup of one of the dragonflies Laura quilted on it.

Nothing of my own work to show today, as I ended up staying at school all day helping with one thing and another - by the time I finished the first thing I went for, it was after 1pm, so it seemed silly to come home again only to go back for 2.30! Tomorrow I hope to make real progress on Sharon's quilt. Many thanks to all of you who have sent kind thoughts & good wishes.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good quilt for a crap reason

Well, today was another day I kind of went off-list in terms of my goals, but I do have a good reason for it, unfortunately - the reason being that a friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma - she's got three kids under 5 (for another few weeks - then there are two birthdays - but still) - her eldest is in the same class as Alex. Anyway. Basically it sucks. But of course, being a quilter, my immediate reaction to just about any bad news (or good news for that matter) is to make a quilt - the intention this time being something lap sized for snuggling under during chemo or when she's shattered later. They want to start her chemo right away (Monday) so I am trying to see if I can finish this up if not before Monday, at least in time for Wednesday or so, when all the side effects will no doubt hit. Right, anyway - deep breath.

This quilt top is one put together a while back from pieces from a discharging swap I did with Dyehard, my dyeing group. It's been hanging around for a while, waiting for me to work out what I wanted to do with it, but today I decided that the quilt top was highly suitable for Sharon and after a lot of thought (this morning during quilt group, and so on) decided finally to quilt it with "toothed ammonites", a la Dijanne Cevaal, in a variety of coloured threads. I've started - done about a third or a quarter of the required number. I hope to work on it tomorrow and/or on the weekend. We'll see. Here are a couple of close-ups of the quilting - I think they are kind of fun. And the important thing is, they are versatile, so I can position them wherever appropriate - in some cases, overlapping the discharged squares quite a bit and in other cases, much less so.

Another couple of photos - here's the progress on the quilt we are making with my Thursdaya group - the entire centre is now together - I have brought it home with me to trim the outside triangles to the right seam allowance and to cut (and possibly attach) the narrow cream border which is going on it next. Sorry for the slight fuzziness of the photo, but it was taken with my phone, which is not quite as reliable as my real camera.

And on the right, some faces, words and letters which I made up earlier tonight while watching The West Wing (I've seen them all before, but I borrowed the complete set from my friend Cathi and am in the process of watching them again - I've just started the third season). I need to do some more letters, but can't decide whether to just do letters in different colours or try to think of actual words to do - and if the latter, which words (suggestions gladly taken - though not necessarily followed).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Crocheted coral reef

No sewing today, as I took advantage of one of my last days of freedom before school finishes to go up to town and do some stuff without kids - first thing I did was hit the Vilhem Hammershoi exhibit at the Royal Academy - which I thought was great, but then I was a fan to start with. Although I often drag my kids whinging through art museums expose my children to the stimulating world of fine art, I usually avoid the special paying exhibitions as the kids get bored before I feel I've had my money's worth (to be fair to my kids, they actually like art, and don't really whinge, bless them). However, having a child-free day, I not only splashed out for the ticket to the exhibit, but also purchased the additional audio tour - and listened to the whole commentary except on little extra bit about one of Hammershoi's patrons, which I couldn't be bothered to pay attention to. Anyway, it was a great exhibit & I enjoyed it muchly.

I then spent some time wandering through London - up through Picadilly Circus into my old Soho stomping ground (I used to work there), including a quick stop in a nice art shop where I bought one or two things (see below!), a quick bite for lunch (sushi), then a stroll back down through the mildly sleazy parts of Soho (all the sex shops & shows seem a bit dingy and sad in the bright sunshine - I'm sure they must be more exciting at night - I hope so, at any rate!), through Chinatown, around Covent Garden (not through it - too many tourists), across Waterloo Bridge, and a quick stop in the Royal Festival Hall, where there's a crocheted coral reef currently occupying the project space.

It was kind of fun - not worth a trip on its own, unless you are a crochet fanatic, but certainly worth a small detour if you are passing in the general direction.

And on the right, my goodies - some watercolour paper, on sale, not for watercolouring, at which I would be terrible, as I can't draw or paint, but for ATC bases and postcard backs, and so on. Also some inks, also on sale, which I intend to use in combination with said paper to create nice backgrounds for stuff. Found a new push mould I don't have which I thought might come in handy - it's an alphabet - I love my face ones, but most of the other ones I've seen are things which, for me, are not that useful - teddy bears, dolphins, and so on. I'd love some sculptural ones, general textures and motifs, etc. A couple of packs of fimo with metallic effect, for mixing (I need to do some more faces and words soon - and letters, I guess) and two sheets of coloured acetate, which I thought might be useful for ATCs/PCs.

In all, a lovely day out, very civilised and grown up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Can't see the forest for the trees

Did a little actual work today - started quilting the Forest Challenge quilt. Onto a pieced background featuring tons of tree fabrics, I am quilting, couching or otherwise embellishing a variety of trees. I am going to make some bigger, feature trees and then fill in around them will lots and lots of small trees. That's the plan, anyway. You may notice that it's an easily alterable plan in case I don't have time to fill in with lots and lots of small trees! I'm going to try to use a variety of techniques for the main trees - free motion quilting, yes, but also other things like appliqued trees, couched fibres and so on.

Today I managed four (nearly) trees - one free motion quilted (colour on that one looks a bit odd), one using wool roving to create the leaves of the tree, one using cord made from sari silk bits and one using pieces of silk stitched down with free motion quilting - tons of tiny leaves. We won't talk about how long that took to do. And you can see a tiny edge of yellow silk where I ran out of bobbin thread and couldn't be bothered to wind another bobbin...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Nice stuff in the post

Got a nice selection of things in the post today - an ATC from Julie, my July arch from Carol R for the arch swap on Textile Challenges, and a selection of fabrics from the pounded fabric swap on my surface embellishment group...

The fabrics are from (in no particular order) Wil, Judi, Becky, Marijke, Kathleen, Kelly and one of my own (left, second from bottom).
I did also do a little work today, but nothing really worth showing - finished the "S" is for Snail's Trail postcards and got them in the post, and put a label on the second Hawaiian quilt and put that in the post as well. So at least I can tick those off my list!