Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick & treat

The trick was to talk David and the big girls into staying at the house this afternoon with the little girls and Alex while Cathi and I did a little charity shop browsing (and bought some beer - so there was a little incentive for us going). I didn't do any sewing, but I did do something creative (far left pumpkin being my creation - fairly basic this year, but it was a very small pumpkin) and I did receive something lovely in the post - and that's the treat...

Happy Hallowe'en!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Here's another one of my favourite things - a dual purpose piece. This little journal quilt not only serves as a journal quilt (last week's) but also as a piece for the Challenge Quilts group, where the current theme is "Imagine". I realise the major word on the piece is "hope", but "imagine" is also up there, in the corner. And the quilt was inspired by the word imagine - I often think of imagination as a web - words and images weaving together in the mind, so the webs seemed natural. Not to mention, it's kind of that time of year. So the piece is done in autumnal, slightly Hallowe'eny colours with spider webs stitched in each square and some inspirational words and faces.

And then there's another journal quilt - this week's one, this time - this has a very straightforward Hallowe'en theme, and includes a few scraps of fabric from the project I have been working on which I can't show you. (I finished quilting it yesterday, and now only need to bind it - hurrah!) I shall take photos so that when it's reached its new home, it can be shown. Very annoying all this secret stuff ...

I also received a postcard today for the Neocolour 2 swap - in this instance, Rita has used the neocolour crayons to create the sky background on this card - lovely, I think. I must dig these crayons out again and do some more with them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Today was a pretty productive one - but I can't show most of the work I did because it was piecing a backing and quilting the Twisted Mystery 4 quilt. I managed to quilt about half of it - perhaps I will get the other half done tomorrow.

But I can show these two things - on the left is the mini quilt I received from Andrea in our little private mini 40th birthday swap. It's fabulous, isn't it! I especially love the border fabric (also on the back - it was the first thing I saw when I opened it and I thought - wow, I hope some of that is on the front - luckily, it was). The blue and yellow quilt I finished up the other day is the one I made for her - I've now heard that she received it and is happy with it, so it's safe to say what it's for. She also sent me a few FQs, which I didn't post a photo of - but I never say no to fabric (well, maybe once in a while).

On the right is a postcard for the neocolour technique swap - obviously, Barb has used the neocolours as a background, all blended together. They do run together nicely - clearly an advantage of water soluable crayons.

And finally - this. This is my own quilt for the ALQS2 - they are coming in thick and fast now (the photos of them, anyway) - be sure to check out the swap's own blog to see the great variety being made for this swap. Mine is off to my partner tomorrow or Thursday - whenever I have a moment to get to the Post Office.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Coming home to treats in the post... one of the nice things about being out all day. We spent the day up in town doing various bits and pieces with our friends who are visiting, but came home to a nice selection of bits - first there was this great little quilted beetle from quiltinkimmie for the "Out of the Box" swap in the 6-12" swap group on Flickr. This was the swap I made the candy corn quilt for. She also sent a lot of other fun little bits and pieces, mostly Hallowe'en themed - needless to say, the kids have claimed some of them already...

I also received these two items - on the left, a little mini quilt with a something old/something new/something borrowed/something blue theme - this was from the swap that Kiwi Carole organised through her blog a while back - I made a box with a dragonfly on the lid for it. The little mini was made by Sue in Washington State. Thanks Sue, I really like it!
And finally, a "V is for" postcard - in this case, V is, of course, for Vegetables.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A productive day

Well, amidst some birthday parties, making a cake, visitors and various other things, I did actually do quite a bit of work today. I quilted this blue and yellow mini - and even bound it (while we were playing dominoes tonight) - it's about 14" square. I put the border on the purple and green ALQS, and will sew it down later. Only a few more little minis to finish to meet all the committments I've made; I'm feeling much more relaxed now. I think I may even get a few more days sewing done this week - once our guests head out to Disneyland Paris, I might take a day or two to mostly hang around the house and sew. The kids like to laze around in the morning anyway, so they should be happy with a few hours of not going out and doing things.

I also did these two things - an arch for my arch swap - this one is in bright colours with Egyptian motifs - which is what my partner said she liked - kind of fun, not my usual style. I was originally going to go with the Eyptian theme with simply a sandy type background to make it look more aged and tombish, but decided to throw in the bright colours in the end - what the heck. I also did a little Hallowe'en ATC, which doesn't show too well in this overexposed photo; essentially it's a pile of bones with the word "oops" - my theme was "skeleton".

Cathi also had a productive day; she made a little mini quilt for my DD2's birthday - it's a sort of sunset beach scene in strips with a couple of dolphins silhouetted against the background (Olivia is very into dolphins) - really sweet, actually - and very quick to do. I think I may convert her to mini quilts - it' s so nice being able to start and finish a project in more or less one go!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Here - not doing anything, but here!

It's lovely having some teaching assistant type cover in the nursery at school - I enjoy the work, I will enjoy the money when it comes in - but one thing I am really missing is all the time I would normally have in my sewing room. At the moment, the time would be limited by having the hallway decorated anyway - frequently I can't really get to the room or get into it - but as a sample of what my life would be like if I had to work again, well, let's just say I hope it doesn't come to that.

Anyway, I hope to have some work to show tomorrow - there are some things I really need to get done as the deadlines are getting near - but in the meantime, here are some goodies I got today when my friend Cathi arrived from Ireland to spend the week (most of it - they are leaving for a few days midweek to take their girls to Disneyland Paris). The Dear Jane blocks are part of our little ongoing swap - she has brought a lot of them because she took a number of them to work on as handwork when she went to the US over the summer and because she is teaching some of her quilting group the technique. I don't have to come up with the same number of blocks, luckily! The fabric is actually from a friend of hers who I met on a visit. This friend, Carmel, was collecting blue fabrics for a scrap quilt and when I got home, I sent her a bunch from stash - this is by way of a thank you - isn't that sweet? I particularly like the one with the circles...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

ATC Thursday

Another day of no work (well, no artwork - lots of work work) - but got these two lovelies in the post - both ATCs, both from the Textile Challenges group. On the left, from Carol, for the September challenge, which was to use a particular embellishment type - she drew straws (mine was fibres/yarn). On the right, from Michelle, the October challenge, which was to use a Hallowe'en item on your card - Michelle's, obviously, was cat. Mine is skeleton, and although I have yet to do the card, I have an idea what I'm going to do, so you may be seeing it soon!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Here's something I got in the post today - no work done again (nursery in the morning and helping with school photos being taken in the afternoon) but at least I got these lovely screenprinted fabrics in the post - hoorah!

Monday, October 20, 2008

More stars

Well, like the madwoman I am, I signed up to another swap - this one is a little international ornament swap, hosted by Beate. The joy of this swap is that although there are 15 participants, she has offered the option of swapping 5, 10 or 15 ornaments, which is great. I'd love to do 15, but if I can't manage that, at least I can still take part. Today I had a little slot after lunch of about an hour and a half, and a decorator in my hallway, so I couldn't do anything where I needed to spread out, so these were the perfect things to work on. The blue is the front and the white the back - or at least, that's the way I made them - DD1 thinks the words should be the front, so I guess it's up to your own interpretation - though I was planning to sign them (in very small, neat writing) on the white side, which says "back" to me.

Cross stitch, goals

Real progress this week - I have finished the word "America" - now to start down the side and do the two robins in the nest. I think after that, I may dig out the Christmas pieces and put this down until mid-January or so (when I will be tired of Christmas pieces). I have one Christmas piece I might finish this year - it's a group of topiary planters with the letters "NOEL" on the planters, and is about a third done; the other is a group of angels ringing a bell with a border and the words "Hark the Herald Angels Sing [etc]" going around in a red border - I've been working on that one for years - but only about 6 weeks of the year!

Anyway, that's the cross-stitch update - here's a goals round-up

  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 18/10) - yes, it's basic, but done
  • set of star ornaments (deadline received by 1/11 in the US) - done, posted.
  • finish October birthday block - I'm calling this done - I have one 2 inch seam to sew and it can go in the post.
  • start ALQS2 - made good progress here - nearly finished, just need to bind and add a sleeve
  • work on Angela's quilt - nothing done here, but it's been a difficult week to work on any larger projects - maybe this week will be better for that

On to this week's goals:

  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 25/10) - I only have 4 more of these to do - last week's was number 48. As fun as it's been, I am definitely stopping when I get to the end of my year. I might do occasional pieces as journal quilts, but no more weekly committment - hoorah!
  • put binding on ALQS2 (deadline 11/10)
  • quilt mini for birthday swap with Andrea (deadline 1/11)
  • work on Angela's quilt

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A little peek

...of the Spring Fling Round Robin border I worked on today (now finished and ready to send off). I can't show much of it, as we are not supposed to give away the game - but here's a little glimpse. This bit is about a 2 inches high, so it really is a little glimpse...

Also done today was this week's journal quilt - or rather last week's. In the end, I wasn't really inspired until this lovely drawing which Olivia did for me years ago fell off the pinboard again - I decided to turn it into a journal quilt as it does fall off the pinboard on a fairly regular basis. Now I'll have it forever as a journal quilt. I love the way the leaves are all on the same side of the stems!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

ALQS2 - woo hoo!

Well, despite the fact that I've spent a lot of the day cooking (it's DH's 50th today and we are having friends round for dinner) and tidying up the house (tip: try to avoid giving a dinner party in the midst of redecorating your hallway!) I did manage to find some time for a few other things, including a few hours of quilting the mini quilt for the ALQS2. I was going to say, sewing, but actually, there's no sewing involved - the pieces are all cut out freehand, then fused down to hold in place while the quilting was done, then essentially held down by the quilting. As this is an "art quilt" and not intended to be washed, etc, it doesn't matter that the shapes aren't sewn in to the background - and of course, it's a heck of a lot faster to put together.

I was inspired by this quilt that Joyce was working on - I loved the way the circles were quite smooshed in some cases and just kind of stuck on top of one another - so I decided to use this kind of idea, though I put rectangles in as well. And then I cut it with a wavy border, just for fun. The whole piece is quite small - not sure what size, but smaller than a fat quarter, as that's the approximate size of the green piece that I started with. I borrowed the wavy border idea from the quilt I made for Ursula, and also borrowed the idea of using a number of different thread colours and just changing them as I pleased in the piece - I even snuck a little metallic thread in there (purple), though it may not show in the photo - not a lot, as I find that doing FMQ with metallic thread is a little hard - after the third breakage, I stopped.

I decided to go with an all-over type pattern, rather than to try to echo the shapes - I did debate it for a while, but in the end, none of those ideas were really speaking to me and I'm kind of into waves and flames at the moment, so went with texture over shapes. I think it works ok - from a distance, the colours are strong enough that the shapes hold their own without emphasis from the quilting.

Anyway, I'm pleased with the piece and I hope the new owner will be as well, when she gets it - I do still have to bind it, but that's a job for another day - perhaps I will get the binding attached tomorrow and then it can be sewn down over the next week. I also need to quilt two other mini quilts - one for a private swap I am doing with Andrea in celebration of our mutual 40th birthdays, and the other, my mini quilt for the Holiday Booty Swap which I showed the other day (purple and blue with white background). But I'm basically on track, which is good, as I really had a stressful time in early October with too many projects looming and not enough time. Tomorrow's priorities will be to do a journal quilt and then work on the border for the Spring Fling Round Robin, which I need to mail out by next weekend. Deep Breath!

Friday, October 17, 2008

October Hexagon

Here's my one creative thing in the past few days (and the next few, too, I imagine!) - the October block for the birthday block swap. Technically, I was supposed to do a hexagon with a June theme (I think) as that's when my own "birthday" month is, but as I mentioned liking autumn, Diane said she'd swap with me. I took her up on this, and have done an October theme. I realised when I was nearly done, that there are no pumpkins on this, which is perhaps a little odd, but I tend to associate October with trees and leaves and the colours turning, so that's what I've done here. I do still need to stitch up the opening where the block was turned, but it's done enough to show.

Such a busy week this week - I was out so many days at school (this time, getting paid for most of it!) and other places, I barely had time to think, let alone sew. Tomorrow I won't get anything much done (probably) as it's Geoff's birthday (50!) and we are having a dinner party with some old friends, which means some serious cooking. I enjoy cooking, actually, so it will be fun. Also, despite my cleaners coming Tuesday, I do need to give the house a quick going over, as there are little bits of wallpaper and dust and so forth all over the hallway and stairs on all levels. The good news is that the hallway redecorating is really coming on now, and I love the colour of the paint now that it's on the way (I liked it before, but it's always hard to tell what it will be like on the wall). I think it's going to look quite different on the different levels, as it's one of those colours that seems to react to the light a lot.

[The colour is nothing too exciting, just a kind of creamy off-white, which looks actually a lot like the colour of unbleached calico. Which is, no doubt, why it's called "Quilted Calico" - I kid you not. We narrowed it down to 3 neutral colours all fairly similar - this one, one called "Twisted Bamboo" which was a little greener and another I can't remember the name of, which was a little whiter than this one, which is very creamy with a little tiny hint of peach in it in the right light - I really liked all three of the colours more or less equally, so how could I resist going with the one called "Quilted Calico"? Not sure what's particularly "quilted" about it, but whatever - paint names will always remain a bit of a mystery to me. Anyway, I promise photos when it's all done - maybe by the end of next week for most of it!]

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Some bits

Didn't do any work today - which you will have gathered from yesterday's post - but I did get ahold of some little bits and pieces - some beads from the bead shop, a Cath Kidston mushroom pincushion which I've had my eye on for a while, some needles (exciting) and a few embellishments, which actually happened to come from the 99p shop - you'll be impressed that I limited myself to two bits of embellishments!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Darting birds

Here are a handful of darting birds for the October block lotto over on - I had a very brief window of time today when a gap in my schedule happened to coincidence with a time when the decorator wasn't here painting, so I could actually get into my sewing room - it was only about an hour, but that was enough time to knock up these darting birds blocks - black and white prints on a sky blue background - very effective, aren't they? And on the right, four more cracker blocks from the September lotto, these from Wanda. Got almost all of them now - when they are all in, I will put them together into a baby quilt.

Busy day tomorrow (and Friday) so perhaps not much blogging, though I will be out in Kingston tomorrow, where there are several of my type of shops - a fabric shop and a bead shop, not to mention the hab. dept at John Lewis...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Stars, Crosses, Goals

Despite a busy morning (well, I have a yoga class - so not unusually busy, just out of the house) I did manage to get some work done today - got 6 star ornaments made for a swap over on Creative Swaps - even got them in the post, too. One more thing to tick off the list. It's beginning to be a little less scary - only a few more October things to finish. Of course, there's a week of holiday coming up at the end of October, so it might be best to get as many finished before then as possible!

Anyway, the ornaments. I used two pieces of hand-dyed fabric - the one you see is actually quite a purply blue, but that colour doesn't photograph well. On the back is a more red purple. Fused them to a rectangle of vilene, then quilted the whole piece before cutting stars out (traced around a cookie cutter). I then satin stitched the edges, and added grommets, faces and danglies. The stars are about 3 inches across or so.

I said yesterday I'd do the cross-stitch update and goals list today when I had fewer pictures - so here they are. I decided to start the central panel of the cross-stitch rather than work on any more boxes this week. It's coming along nicely. Obviously the word "America" is there, and then there are two robins on a nest below it. Probably take another 2 weeks or so to finish that bit, especially as I have some other hand work to do this week. I'm keeping an eye on the time, as I would like to work on my Christmas cross-stitch projects for a while around Christmas, so it's possible I will set this one aside for a few months while I do those - I'm not really in the mood for the Christmas ones for a lot of the year, so they tend not to get worked on, even when I'm really in a cross-stitch mood otherwise. But come November or so, I will feel like doing Christmassy things - at least some of the time!

And finally, the goals list. I think I mentioned last week that I might go to the Knit and Stitch Show - obviously, I didn't. In the end, I decided that I really just needed the time at home on Sunday to sew, so I did that. Maybe next time... Anyway, a review of the week's aims:

  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 11/10) - done.
  • start October birthday block - yes, all ready for the hand sewing bits, which I have started tonight, actually.
  • work on Angela's quilt - nothing further done with this this week - just didn't have a day I could work on quilting the border. Maybe this week!
  • set of postcards - "starts with V" (deadline 15/10) - done and mailed.

So, this week:

  • journal quilt for the week (deadline 18/10)
  • set of star ornaments (deadline received by 1/11 in the US)
  • finish October birthday block
  • start ALQS2
  • work on Angela's quilt

I know, I already have one of those things accomplished, but I promise I had intended to put it on my goals list before today - in fact, I worked on it today because I knew it was on the list!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More stuff

Another productive day today - woo hoo! I made two tops for various mini swaps - the one on the left is an 18" block, I think; the one on the right is 20 inches. The blue and yellow one has better contrast in person - and the other one has a purple star in the centre - gotta love digital photography... Now they both have to be quilted, but we're getting there.

Also made two blocks for the Dear Jane swap I am doing with my friend Cathi, and my journal quilt for the week, which is made from the one page leftover from the book for Kristen's birthday. Whew. What a day. Hope I can get one or two things done this week - still have some time-sensitive things which need sorting.

Right, off to bed now, as it's a school night - will show cross-stitch progress and update my goals tomorrow - probably won't get much work done then anyway, so it will be good to have something to share...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

High productivity day

...which makes a nice change. Got lots done today - some of what I have to show today was done before, and just finished off today, but that's ok, there's some very old stuff there and many of you may not have seen it before anyway. But new things first. The first thing I did was to make a little mini quiltlet for the 6-12" Flickr Group, where the October theme is to make a non rectangular quilt. While thinking about this theme, I also ran across mention on Crazy Mom Quilts of a Candy Corn Challenge. (To make an object related to Candy Corn, in any media) - and zing! there was the idea - a candy corn shaped quilt - in appropriate colours, of course. So this morning, I raided my scrap strip stash (say that quickly!) and did some quick stitch and flip onto some scrap batting. Then I used the pillowcase method and turned it and quilted it. The whole piece is less than 12" high and maybe 8" across at the bottom. I think it came out well - and it's definitely not a traditional shape!

I also prepped the base of my block for October's birthday block - this is now going to be heavily embellished - not a lot of embroidery as I'm not great at that, but it will have some, as well as ribbon, buttons, charms, beads and so forth. All that will be done by hand, though, so it's just in a little basket waiting to be done in front of the telly.

I then did a set of postcards for the theme "V is for..." - I have chosen "vase" (of flowers, of course) - the flowers look a little odd, but I am reasonably happy with the cards, and I think they will do.

Finally, I worked on a present for a friend's 40th - which is Monday (she lives in the US - guess it's not going to get there on time!). These book pages have been mostly done for I don't know how long - well over a year - and only needed assembling into a book. I didn't start out to make them for Kristen for her 40th, they were from an online class with Lenna Andrews, but somewhere along the line, they made me think of her and I thought they'd make a fun present. Then I kind of forgot about them. So today, I took the last few out of the box and finished them off (they needed to be attached to a stabiliser) and then put holes and grommets in all of them, and bound them with gold cord. Photos of the page spreads below - I think it will be a really fun present (she already has a quilt from another occasion). The pages are approximately 7 inches square.