Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A weekend away

This weekend John and I managed a trip away. It was only an overnight but it all helps recharge your batteries especially in the run up to the Christmas holidays. Youngest daughter and her friends started a tradition a few years ago of meeting up for Thanksgiving. They rent a cottage for a few days, chat, eat too much, probably drink too much and generaly have fun. Most of the group live and work in Bath and the group all meet there and travel to their cottage together. The Bath Christmas market started on the 24th November and I suggested we pick Lucy up after her weekend and travel home together. That meant I could visit the market and also visit one of my favourite quilt shops, Midsomer Quilting.

There was a walk John wanted to do in the North Hampshire Downs which is part of the North Wessex area of outstanding beauty. This sounded fun and as we are trying to get match fit for walking in Switzerland next summer and since it involved walking up Pilot hill which is the highest point in Hampshire it would be good practice and provide good scenery. At last the leaves have been falling but many trees were still vibrant with the bright autumn leaves and berries.

The view from the top of Pilot hill was good but the day was a little overcast.

The sheep were very inquisitive in between loud munching. You could see odd patches of bright ness on the ground where the sun was managing to peek through the cloud cover.

We saw this character lurking in a hedge,

and at the other end of the hedge there was this piece of topiary.

The village were we parked to start our walk was a little surreal and if you have ever watched 'The League of Gentlemen' you will understand my comment as it felt like the village in that series. There initally seemed to be no one about, there was a car parked outside the pub which was closed down and empty. As we walked past the village hall there were several men standing around with 12 bores tucked under their arms but no one spoke as we said good afternoon. Whilst walking we seemed to be surrounded by shoots and going through the woods we came across several beaters with dogs. Walking back into the village as darkness fell was very eerie.

We drove on to Devizes to our hotel and enjoyed a very pleasant meal with great conversation and no interruptions from Scamp and Picasso who were safely at home with Richard. On Sunday morning we headed to Midsomer Quilting. The shop is open for the long weekend and shut midweek and as a result is busy on a Sunday. There was a class going on but I didn't pop in to see what they were doing.  I wanted to get some sewer's aid as Barbara from Cat Patches had suggested this as a cure for the shredding metallic thread. I hadn't found any in London but Midsomer Quilting often have notions I have difficulty obtaining.

Whilst browsing I came across Roxanne Glue-baste-it which Barbara also discusses using when making her village quilt. As soon as I saw it I knew why she found it so useful. The ends for glue placement are very fine and it should stop the glue going everywhere (except where you want it). For several months now I've been glue basting my applique pieces and find it much easier than other methods so this just had to come home with me. The thread is King Tut. I've never used this thread but many bloggers seem to like it so I thought I'd give it a go on my December goal.

I also liked these fat quarters although the green is the only one I currently need for an ongoing project.

This panel caught my eye. I'm hoping to have time at the weekend to quilt it  as a wall hanging for the hall. This area gets forgotten when we decorate for Christmas.

I love the colours in the piece.

Whilst I looked at everything in the shop and did a lot of fabric stroking John sat in a comfy chair with coffee and chocolate biscuits reading his book. Husbands are well catered for in the shop. He also occassionally offered some advice to other shoppers on their colour choices. He has a good eye for what works well with what.

We headed into Bath and the scrum that was the Christmas market. The whole place was heaving with people and it left us quite disorientated. We found a comfortable place for lunch before heading to our favourite bookshop, Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights. We met Lucy here before heading home after spending slightly too much on books (as always).

Home once more and Scamp was really pleased to see us. No sewing this weekend but a very pleasant and relaxing trip with a couple more Christmas presents bought and squirreled away. 


Monday, 21 November 2016

Monday design wall.

Recently I've been revisiting my unfinished projects with a view to moving them forward. This evening I decided I needed to check the blocks I've been making for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year. I decided that I wanted to make the granny square block. I just love the way it looks. A couple of years ago I won a jelly roll in a give away and I used it to make my Christmas quilt.

What a shaggy looking small dog! Scamp really does look much more handsome when his fur is neated clipped and groomed.

Tonight I lay out some of the blocks from the RSC on my bed.  I don't have a design wall and I can't lay the blocks out on the floor as we took up the flooring when we restarted our remodelling and updating and have yet to relay the flooring. The bed has to act as my design wall for a while longer. Soon I will have my own sewing room and with it a design wall.

I've been making 5 blocks for each months colour so I should have 50 in all (I still have a couple to make). I haven't yet trimmed the blocks but I wanted to remind myself how this quilt was going. I need to make a decision on the colour of the sashing and borders. This weekend I have a visit to my favourite quilt shop arranged and I'll be able to buy the fabric for the sashing. I decided that tomorrow I will trim these blocks as then I will have room to lay them all out and decide the order to sew the blocks together.

I also checked out my grandmother's garden hexi quilt. This is totally hand made and provides me with a very portable project for when I'm away from home.

I have the next row of flowers already made and ready to add to the main piece. This is a great way of using up scraps. I'm working on this project when I'm away at the weekend. 

I'm linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times for deign wall Monday. What are you working on this week?


Slowly moving projects along.

Yesterday I taught a First Aid course for my Guide county. This is a six hour course so there was no stitching time during the day. As I arrived home the rain started which was perfect as I could settle down to an evening of hand stitching whilst watching a Sherlock Holmes film I'd recorded. My new magnifying light is perfect for cross stitch and this week I've been working on the Christmas tree piece. The tree is a bit of a pain to stitch as there are quite a lot of single stitches of one colour and the gap is too far to the next single stitch. This makes it slow to grow as you are constantly joining in a new colour and fastening it off.

Today it  stopped raining long enough to take Scamp for a long walk but then restarted and the light is very poor. Many areas of England have experienced high winds and flooding  with the rain falling as snow further north. Not sure what's happening with the weather as it's still only November. Still the rain gave me a good excuse to get my sewing machine out and make a start on another of my half done projects. I'm really enjoying getting projects finished and of course that means I'll be ready to start a whole lot more in the new year.

This quilt was made from a panel that I received in a scrap bag I bought last year. I added two borders, one blue and then the green one. This afternoon I quilted around the spaceships and planets and did a large meander over the green border. It's now ready to add the binding. I've got some of the deep blue fabric that I'll use for that. It's such a cute panel and when completed will be donated to Linus.

I also finished the bunney cushion cover. Now I need to make the cushion to fit the cover. I could just buy one but the nearest shops only sell square cushions.

I love the fabric on the back of the cover.

Finally, after dinner I settled down to do some more hand stitching.  When I picked it up it looked like this.

It's slow work but I've managed to move this project forward a little .

I would have got slightly further but I had a real tussel with the gold metallic thread. It kept on shredding and breaking. In the end I took out most of it and used a new thread. It looks about the same colour but is a lot easier to work with. I've also been keeping up with knitting John's jumper.

It's still raining outside and the temperature has dropped. That doesn't bode well for a good commute to work tomorrow.


Saturday, 19 November 2016

Trunkful of Quilts 2016

Over at Whims and Fancies there's a trunk show going on and so I just had to join in. I like nothing better than looking back at the quilts I've made and remembering the process. Sometimes quilts are a pure joy and seem to put themselves together but some patterns have me struggling and wondering if it was a good choice to make. I also like to make smaller quilted items and knitted items.

The swoon quilt was a love hate relationship. I made this for a friend's 25th wedding anniversary and I wasn't completely happy with the colour choices at first but it does work. 
This photo shows the blocks very well but was taken when the top was finished.

I asked my friend to send me a photo of the completed quilt as I totally forgot to take one but it doesn't show the whole quilt or the quilting. 

This quilt was made for the baby of a friend of my daughter. I used a variety of blocks as I wanted it to act as a sampler quilt. I have added the names of the blocks to my printed version of the photo.

A friend of my other daughter was expecting a baby at the same time so I used the same fabrics but different blocks to make her a quilt.

When my great nephew was born I made him a quilt. I used all solids for the top but a baby print fabric for the backing. This was fun to make but did my head in a little when trying to get the colour blocks in the right order.

I enjoyed making the binding for this quilt from the left overs of the rainbow fabrics. One quilt I really enjoyed making was this bird quilt. I used a pieced bird pattern I found on the internet and then used brown for the truck and branches of my tree. The quilting on each of the blocks is a trail with leaves. The brown is quilted to represent bark and the blue border has clouds quilted on it. This quilt was made for my husband to keep in his car and use when he goes bird watching (it does get very cold in those hides.)

Mini quits are fun to make and also make good swaps. This one was made from a picture I drew of my clematis in flower and used to make the piece for  a swap.

I almost didn't swap this piece as I liked it so much but I have the original drawings I made and can recreate a similar piece. This little mini was for a Christmas blog hop and is used to decorate my coffee table..

For another hop I made this Christmas pillow. 

This tote bag was made for using as a large gift bag for a double quilt I made my older daughter. She uses it whenever a large bag is needed or to store her quilt when not in use during the summer.

Finally just to show I do also knit here is a baby blanket I made for a colleagues baby. I have made this pattern several times and it is lovely to knit.

and another baby blanket in a basket weave type of pattern.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing my quilts and knitting. There's lots more to see over at Whims and Fancies.


Friday, 18 November 2016

Advent Calendar

Time for Finish it up Friday and for the second week running I have a finish. I'm very happy about getting back to completing some of my projects. Several have been around for quite a while and this advent calendar is on that list. Last year Kathryn asked me if I would make one for her and I thought I would get it finish quickly. However life happened and it wasn't finished in time and so it went into storage until last weekend went I rescued it and set about completing it.

The advent calendar was made from a panel. The pockets have to be folded and stitched on. The finished top was sandwiched with wadding and a backing fabric and lightly quilted. I finished the binding earlier today. I've added a sleeve so it can be hung up and all I now need to do is to buy sweets to fill the pockets. 

I thought I was going to have a second finish as I've been working on the bunny cushion but I've just got a couple of things to do to complete it. I will sort out the final bits on Sunday. Unfortunately I'm out tomorrow as I'm teaching a first aid course and so I'm losing stitching time this weekend. I'm hoping to get to work on the mini nine patch quilt tomorrow evening and get this to finished top stage. I've made a heap more blocks and I think I've got enough to piece together.

I'm linking this post with Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday. Here's hoping for another finish next week.


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Cake and stitching.

On Friday I finished the quilting on Buddy's quilt and Saturday morning I trimmed it ready for adding the binding. I had meant to start the binding straight away but I had a mountain of housework to do first. I needed to do some laundry and clean the kitchen, then a trip to the shops for some groceries. By the time I'd done all that I needed a little rest and a cup of tea whilst I did some knitting. Then I moved the heavy boxes from my fabric chest so I could sort out some of my projects.

I found the fabric I needed for the binding and I also found a small quilt top I had made that's suitable for a young boy. My 'It's a dogs life' quilt was also in the box so that came out ready for me to set up for quilting it. I  found the advent calendar that never got finished last year. It is all quilted and trimmed and just needs the binding.

What to do first? Well I decided to make my Christmas cake since it's only 6 weeks until Christmas. We like a heavy fruit cake and having made it I will 'dose' it every week with some brandy until it is decorated just before Christmas. The recipe is one I have made every year for the last 30 plus years. The mixture is very tasty and the smell when it's cooking is fabulous, it made the whole house smell like Christmas. The cake came out nice and flat which makes it much easier to decorate.

Today I got started on the binding for Buddy's quilt. I decided to attach it completely by machine. Normally I machine stitch the front and hand stitch the back. Since the quilt is for a dog it seemed the perfect time to test out a new technique, I didn't think Buddy would complain. The binding went on easily and the whole job was soon finished. I then popped the quilt in the wash with a colour catcher as I knew the deep blue dye would transfer onto lighter colours if it wasn't washed. It's now ready for Lucy to take home for Buddy and hopefully get a photo of him using it. I took a quick photo of the backing fabric.

Lucy loves the camerflage fabric. Having finished that I stitched the binding onto the advent calendar. I will hand stitch this later today.

I did eventually find my Christmas cross stitch but not in my fabric chest, it had somehow got into one of. my craft drawers . I thought I'd done some additional work on this piece but no my memory was wrong. This is how it stands before my evening of slow stitching.

The sky was very tedious to do and part of the reason for my slow progress. This is the piece I'm going to work on this week. There is still a lot to do on this project but it is always nice to work on a seasonal project in the right season.

I'm linking this post with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching.  This week Kathy is discussing being fearless and trying new things. I generally love trying new things but I haven't had a lot of time recently. I tried the machine binding technique today and I've been practising with my new machine. We are slowly becoming good friends.

Tomorrow is a work day and this week is ridiculously busy so not a lot of time for stitching. I will still do some knitting and stitching each day to help move my projects forward.


Saturday, 12 November 2016

At last a finish

It's been a while since I last finished a quilting project but this week I have a finish. The nine patch quilt is finally done. This quilt is made from blocks created for the 2015 Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  This quilt is going to my younger daughter Lucy and she is looking forward to snuggling under it when she watches TV or reads in an evenning. I realised a little earlier that I hadn't taken a photo so I had to lay it out on my bed instead of taking it outside since it is already dark. Picasso was taking a little nap and refused to move so the 'lump' in the quilt is him, still curled up and trying to pretend I don't exist.

I pieced the back for this quilt and of course I did it as a big nine patch. Picasso decided to come out and pose on the quilt but kept his back to me!

I love the houses on this fabric and it works well as the backing. The quilt will go to its new home tomorrow.

Today I also worked on Buddy's quilt. I made the top for a blog hop earlier in the year. I had intended to quilt it last month but run out of time so it became my goal for November. I decided to quilt in the ditch.

I spilt something on the quilt so I shall have to wash it when it's finished.  Tomorrow I'll trim the quilt and add the binding. This could even be a finish by the end of next week.

This evening I hand stitched some hexies  for the Garden quilt. It is exciting to be stitching again. I really should have done some work today but I've taught for four days this week and just needed a change of pace and activitiy. I'll get the work done tomorrow.

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday. Tomorrow there will be some more time for sewing. I wonder what I can achieve over the day.