Sunday, 27 July 2014

Piggy Bank, Hexies and Fabric

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster for trying to get things done. Monday saw the last of the assessment meetings at work and the only marking remaining for the summer are the resubmissions following referrals. Fortunately I don't have too many of those to come in so that gives me a little breathing space. Next up I've been trying to get everything ready for the start of the new academic year. To feel really comfortable the first three weeks work needs to be fully prepared. That's almost completed and so very soon I will be able to sit back and enjoy the summer.

Trying to get the day job sorted hasn't left much time for sewing but I have got my projects reorganised so I know what I'm doing. It's very confusing when I haven't worked on a project for a while and it seems to take an age to get my brain back into gear.

First up I reloaded the printer drivers on my computer. I haven't made the hexie blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for May, June or July because I didn't have any templates. I printed them out earlier today and sat watching an episode of NCIS whilst I cut them out. Now I need to get the fabrics from my stash and get cutting.

Valerie from Val's Quilting Studio invited me to join in with her Piggy Bank Challenge - money for quilting challenge. This seemed like a good idea as fabric is quite expensive. At the same time I was tidying my daughter's bedroom. She has moved into a flat with her boyfriend and some friends but seems to have left most of her belongings. On a shelf I found this cute piggy bank and I've adopted it for this challenge.

I had some change in my purse so he's feeling a little full. Hopefully by the end of June next year I will have a good amount to spend on fabric.

A couple of months ago I was asked to make a quilt. Lauren had the fabric she wanted me to use and she wanted different sized squares or rectangles. I decided the best approach was to make nine patch blocks and then cut them. This would gives squares and rectangles. I took some photos as I went along but at the moment can only find these ones.

I think the next steps are on my other camera. The blocks are large and so they went together very quickly. The quilt is all but finished, just a tiny bit of binding left to be stitched on by hand.

I also forgot to post the fabric I bought when we had our mini break. On the Saturday morning we went into Andover. There are two quilt shops in the area and we had planned to visit both but we spent so long in the one that we didn't have time for the other. A couple of the pieces are 1/2 metres whilst the rest are fat quarters.

I got some red fabric for the corset quilt I want to make. The gingham is Riley Blake and is for a blog hop I'm taking part in in September. 

The top two of these are for use in the Jane Austen family album quilt and the lower one I need for my grandmothers garden hexi quilt.

I don't have a particular use for these three but I like them. Do I need a better reason?

I particularly like the ducks and I do have another baby quilt to make soon. I could also use the leaf one in the Jane Austen quilt. I must try it with the other fabrics I've got.

Finally I've been making a T shirt dress.  This is a really simple design. Two pieces make the back with a central seam. Then there is the front and the sleeve pieces. The neck edge, sleeve and hem are finished with a simple narrow hem. I've still got to finish the neck and the hem. The fabric is cotton knit and will keep me cool in our current very hot weather. I'm currently working hard on losing weight so I wanted a couple of quick easy dresses that I could make from fabric in my dress making stash. I'll show you a photo when I've finished it.

Finally we have been having some amazing sunsets. I took this photo on my phone as we walked home on Saturday evening. Everyone was busy taking pictures on their phones. Unfortunately it doesn't do the sunset justice as it was so much better in real life.

Well that's all from me for now as I want to go and hunt the fabric for the hexies. I can then sit and do some stitching whilst watching something on the TV. I hope you've had a great weekend and the weather has been good for you. Here in London we have been enjoying a heat wave. I really hope it continues for a while.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Computers, sewing machines and catching up.

Wow I didn't realise it had been so long since I last wrote a post. Because my computer had to go away for repair I've had difficulties getting on line. I could sit and read through some blogs during my lunch hour at work but I couldn't realistically write a post. Never mind my computer arrived home last weekend so now I can get back to writing posts and catch up with what's been happening in blog land. My computer had a pleasant trip to Germany to be repaired and is now working well. It was also reset back to factory settings so I've got to reload some programmes and generally get it set up how I like it.

My sewing machine is also feeling fit and well after its health issue. The bobbin tension had been playing up and it just wasn't stitching correctly. It is also now fit and well again so I can get on and complete some of my projects.

The first job has been to make the Rainbow Scrap challenge blocks. The colour for June was yellow.

and July's colour is red.

I'm still working on the two hexi blocks.

It would have been lovely to spend lots of time sewing this week since I had my machine and computer back but I had the last bits of marking to finish and we had organised a mini break to celebrate the end of the academic year. Our main objective whilst away was to visit Chawton, the village where Jane Austen lived. Those of you who visit regularly will know she is one of my favourite writers and for a long time I have wanted to visit her home. The village and the house were charming and I can see why she was inspired to write whilst living here. I can also recommend lunch at The Greyfriar pub should you be visiting.

Jane Austen spent the last 8 years of her life in this cottage, which her brother Edward gave to his mother and two sisters for their use for the rest of their lives.

The house contained many Austen treasures including the table and chair where she used to write every morning. Both are protected by a screen to prevent visitors posing for photos. The quill pen is not original but does help remind people that all her books were written by hand using a quill pen. I learnt to write in pen using a dip pen and always made the most horrible mess that you could hardly read what I had written.

Upstairs the Admirals' room has memorabilia of Jane's two sailor brothers Francis and Charles. Francis became Admiral of the Fleet and was knighted by King William IV whilst Charles became a Rear Admiral and served in North American waters and later in the Far East. The cabin bed below would be packed up and taken aboard ship. I like the red and white coverlet.

A big reason for wanting to visit the house was to see the patchwork coverlet made by Jane, Cassandra (her sister) and their mother whilst they lived at Chawton. It doesn't have a wadding layer and hasn't been quilted but it is beautiful. I took quite a few photos. It is of the Old English Medallion pattern and the patches are all diamonds. the whole cover is hand stitched.

The cover has a border all round of small diamonds. Nine of the small diamonds fit into one of the larger diamond patches.

The sashing fabric is an ever popular polka dot.

The large medallion in the centre is a floral basket.

The overall effect is beautiful. The shadow on the cover is from the bed frame.

The garden was very tranquil. Jane wrote in the morning whilst her mother gave responsibility for the housekeeping to Cassandra so that she could enjoy her gardening and her embroidery.

Before we left Chawton we walked to St Nicholas Church.

Jane, Cassandra and their mother worshipped here regularly and Cassandra and their mother are buried here. Jane is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

The inside of the church was refreshingly cool on an exceeding hot day. The triptych behind the altar was delightful.

Finally walking back to the car we passed a field with these beautiful shire horses. I love the feathers on their hooves. They were intend on munching grass and wouldn't look up even to have their photo taken

I still have lots to write about in order to catch up all the posts I've missed but that will have to wait until tomorrow as I have a need to get the sewing machine purring once again.

Hope you are enjoying the weekend.


Monday, 23 June 2014

New puppy, poorly kitty and some knitting.

A couple of weeks ago Lucy's boyfriend got a puppy. I saw the pup briefly when he bought him home. He was lying on the back seat of the car looking a little perplexed by what was happening but still very interested and with a slight wag of his tail. Yesterday Richard took Scamp to meet the new pup who is about 14 weeks old. Pup, whose name is Buddy, is a Mastador which is a hybrid dog. He is a mixture of a purebred Mastiff and a purebred Labrador Retriever. He is going to be a large dog so Lucy felt it was important for him to meet Scamp so they could become friends. I think she plans for us to take them out for walks together as Buddy gets older.

Buddy seems to be a cute dog and I'm told he is very placid. I haven't had time to go and visit him yet.  Scamp was a little perturbed by this puppy who is larger than he is but they got on quite well.

Scamp is in desperate need of a trip to the groomers especially now the weather has gone so hot.

Whilst Scamp has been enjoying trips out we have had to keep Picasso in and we also had to take him to the vet. On Tuesday we noticed that his third eyelid was protruding. As it was covering a large amount of his eye we took him to the vet, who gave him a full check up and decided he had an eye infection. We were told to keep him in and it would resolve over a few days. Keeping Picasso in is very hard work but he is now looking much happier and behaving more like his old self.   

Picasso loves to hide in my sewing machine bag. Still a little way to go until his eyes look as good as they do in this photo.

My sewing machine should be back later this week and I will be able to get on with some FMQ. However until then I've been doing a little knitting. Earlier this year I knitted three prem baby hats in blue. I've now got a ball of pink yarn and will knit three more hats

These hats are perfect for the delicate heads of prem babies as they are knitted on 4 double ended needles so there aren't seams to cause unnecessary pressure. The other good point is they knit up very quickly.
I'm linking this post with Anything goes Mondays at Stitch by Stitch

I hope you've had a good Monday. Today has been busy but good. Now all I need to do is order my son's birthday present. His birthday is on Thursday but he only made a decision about what he wanted yesterday evening. Never mind it will be delivered on Wednesday. Then all that's left to do is try and get the family all together so we can have a family dinner. It was so much easier when the children were young. Trying to get three adult children in one place at the same time seems almost impossible at times.


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Votes for Women top finished.

This week has been really good (apart from still not having my computer back and my sewing machine not being home yet.) On Monday evening we went to the Eagles concert at the O2 arena. The tour is 'The history of the Eagles' and the first half of the concert looked at their early days back in the early 1970's. This was fun for me as I remember seeing them in Barnes when they were recording their first two albums at Olympic studios. Barnes is an area in South west London on the Thames. The concert was great fun. The O2 is a good venue as the acoustics are excellent but getting out of the building takes ages. 

On Wednesday I had some sewing time and finally added the white border to the 'Votes for Women' quilt. This quilt was started back in 2012 when Barbara Brackman run her block of the week series at Grandmother's choice

As you can see from the photo I haven't even removed all the loose threads yet. I was so excited to have finished it I just had to take a photo and send to my daughter. Scamp just thought it was for him to curl up on. As always the colours are not quite right. The sashing is a deep purple rather than blue. 

So that is my first goal for June completed. I am going to take this top and the backing plus wadding into work on Monday and once I've finished my working day I'm going to make my quilt sandwich using the large table in the conference room. It will be heaven to be able to get the job done without having to crawl round the floor. Once that's done this quilt will have to wait to be quilted as I am making a quilt for a customer and once I get my machine back I need to get on and do the quilting.

On another positive note we are almost at the end of the academic year. I've still got a lot of marking to do but that needs to be finished in the next week. then I have the summer for sewing. I am really looking forward to catching up with my projects. I'm linking this post with Link a finish Friday over at Richard and Tanya Quilts.

I hope you are having a good weekend. The weather here in London is hot and sunny making me want to get out and go somewhere but I must finish marking first.


Monday, 16 June 2014

Veronese, Bunting and Eagles

On Friday evening John and I went to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square to the Veronese exhibition. Generally when we head out to an art exhibition it is on at the Tate Modern so paintings from the 1500's was a little unusual but we really enjoyed it. Paolo Caliari known as Paola Veronese was an Italian Renaissance painter who was based in Venice. His painting are of religious and mythological subjects. 

The painting are full of detail and exquisitely painted, a pleasant change from bold colour blocks or very abstract works. The children in the pictures were all doing typical children activities such as stroking the cat and they had very expressive faces. A good evening out.

When the gallery closed at nine we grabbed a coffee and then took the opportunity to take a walk down the Mall. The banners and seating were up ready for the trooping the colour on Saturday. Trooping the colour is the Queen's annual birthday parade.

This week I haven't done much sewing but i have completed a commission. I was asked to make some bunting for the pub where my youngest daughter is working. They wanted some England flag bunting for going behind the bar during the world cup. I made 8 metres in total. The background fabric is calico and I used quilting cotton for the cross. 

I seem to make bunting regularly. Last year I made a 'Happy Birthday' bunting banner.

and I made a lot of purple bunting for some boats that were taking part in the river pagent  to mark the Queen's diamond jubilee.

Over the weekend I've been continuing with my knitting but it is very slow going. I was going to finish the Vote for women quilt top this weekend but I will do it on Tuesday. Instead I did some tidying up in the Garden. It's such a shame to waste the good weather.

Tomorrow night we have tickets for the Eagles concert at the O2. I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be a rush getting from work in time for the start of the concert. Then on Tuesday I will be catching up with my sewing.

I hope you've had a good weekend.


Sunday, 8 June 2014

It's nice to be back

I'm sorry I've been unable to post for the last week but I've been having various technical problems. First of all my computer wouldn't connect to the internet. John and Richard bought me a lovely new computer for my birthday last December. My old one was still working well for everyday tasks using the office package but its touch pad and internet connection was broken. The touch pad wasn't a problem as I prefer to use a wireless mouse anyway but not being able to go on line was a big issue. My new one is beautiful and hasn't caused any problems until the end of May when I just couldn't access the internet. At first I thought it was our network but since Richard and John were happily connected I realised it was my computer. Richard is excellent with computers and tried every possible ploy to make it work, short of taking the back off it as I didn't want to invalidate my warranty. All to no avail and so my computer has gone off to the repairers. When I phoned the company they told me to back everything up and then press the emergency reset key. That didn't do anything so they made the diagnosis of a hardware problem. 

As if that wasn't enough my sewing machine has been playing up. It started with the tension being a bit iffy (highly technical terms are my speciality) when I was free motion quilting but then it started playing up on the straight stitches. So my machine has gone off to the hospital as well. Lucy's machine is at home so I can use this for straight sewing. 

So for the last few days I have been being miserable as I couldn't find the cable for my little mini notepad computer and it was dead. Finally I've found it and with the notepad fully recharged I can get back on line. Unfortunately I've missed the end of the month link ups but I'll give you a run down on how last month went and my plans for this month.

As far as my objectives for May went I had a poor month. I still haven't finished the top of my 'Votes for women' quilt and I didn't do any work on the millennium sampler. However I did get other things done. I finished two baby quilts. This first one for Thomas.

and the second for Arthur who is due in August.

I used the same green fabric from the sashing as the backing on this quilt. I knitted a blanket for Arthur as well.

I spent quite a lot of time cutting my scraps into usable pieces and the Brownies have been working very hard to sew the charm squares into 9 patches for making into quilts for charity. We are hoping to have at least four tops made by the end of term so I can quilt them over the summer.

I've spent the last few evenings doing some knitting. I started a jumper for John in double knitting wool. I completed the back quite some time ago but haven't touched it for a while as I was knitting the baby blanket. I'm almost at the neck now. It's not the easiest pattern to do and watch TV as it has cables in it. 

Unfortunately knitting doesn't seem to look very interesting until you have finished it. 

So goals for the month;

1. Finish 'Votes for women' top

2. Make Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks. This months colour is yellow.

3. Finish 'star trek' quilt top.

I'm keeping this month simple and hoping I can complete them. Now I'm off to upload my camera software onto this notepad so I can upload my photos easily.

Here in London we are enjoying a lovely hot summer day. Hope the weather is good where you are. 


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Strip-easy Challenge

Grab button for Pieced Brain

Denise over at Pieced Brain is running a linky party today with the challenge of making something from left over strips. Now I don't know about you but I have a lot of scraps and recently I set about cutting them into usable pieces.

By the time I had finished I had 3 plastic boxes of strips in widths from 1 inch to 3 inches. I also had a range of squares from 11/2 inch to 5 inches. Now all I needed to do was get my sewing machine fired up to get my project made.

My charm squares are going to be used by my Brownie pack to make some quilts for sick children. They want to make the quilts for girls so I decided to make a baby quilt for a boy. I decided to use some charm squares I had cut but also a lot of the strips..

Unfortunately I had to take the photo in doors as it was raining (again). The quilt is 33 by 40 inches. All the charms squares and strips have been cut from my scrap fabric. I had some strips of the sashing fabric but had to buy some more as I wanted to use the same fabric for the back and binding The batting is 80:20 and it is quilted with an all over large meander. This is a really quick baby quilt to make. The slowest part was cutting my scraps into strips.

I have made a strip baby quilt before but that was made from a jelly roll. Those pre-
cuts do cut down the preparation time. For this quilt I used the off cuts of the strips to make a rainbow binding.

I have a lot more strips to use up. I shall be making a couple more baby quilts to go to Project Linus.

Thank you Denise for running this challenge as it has made me sort out my scraps and make something useful from them. The next quilts will be much quicker to make as all the cutting has been done.

Why not visit Pieced Brain to see what other people have made with their strips. As I still have a lot of strips I'm interested in getting more ideas.