Friday 27 April 2012

Where did the week go?

It seems as if this week has raced past in a flash and I seem to have achieved very little. I realised on Tuesday that I was teaching all day today and needed to prepare the classes. I also realised that tomorrow I am running a training session for leaders who run Rainbows ( 5 to 7 year old members of The Guide Association) and this too needed to be organised. So sewing activities have been rather slow this week. However slow doesn't mean I haven't achieved anything.

On Tuesday having gone through all my stash of fabrics and come to the conclusion that I didn't have anything suitable to use as a border for the quilt top made with the left over squares from the Guides I headed to the shops. I found a great mustard coloured fabric that works really well and the border just needs sewing on. At the same time I picked up a couple of remnants of fabric with roses on it for my Grandmother's garden quilt. Whilst travelling I have managed to complete 4 'flowers' although I am not sure if I am going to use the one with the pink outside layer as I think I want more flowers on each piece. I also decided that I would not add another round to each. I have had great fun drawing out different ways of using this design. I haven't finally decided how I am going to piece them together but that doesn't matter as I need to make a lot more.

I said I would post a tutorial on how to do the English paper piecing method of patchwork. This will be completed at the latest by Monday. This really makes a portable project.

As for Yellowy he has a fleece patch on his head as the hole made by Scamp was too big to close. He is also sporting a new ear in fleece with chamois on the inside. The second will be added tomorrow evening. I hope Lucy likes him when he is finished. Since even if I wash him he won't come up yellow I think I will have to make the new fabric look less pristine. I am considering adding embroidered eyes and a nose.

I have completed 5 of the Dresden plate blocks so only 4 more to go, which I aim to do next week. I also have a quilt top waiting to be quilted. I haven't taken a photo yet but will do that next week. I am going to keep the quilting simple and I am going to do it on the machine. The last time I made a quilt many years ago I hand quilted it. I need to practice machine quilting so I can master the beautiful patterns that can be created. At the moment my machine is in control rather than me.

On Wednesday evening the Guides got down to finishing their quilts. Only a few more to go. They really have worked well on this project.

Monday 23 April 2012

Lots of things to do

Since my last post I have been very busy with work and home but I have still managed to find time for some quilting and knitting. Wednesday was Lucy's birthday but was also our first evening back at Guides so we had a birthday party. Yesterday was spent driving Lucy back to university in Bath for the final term of her second year. By early June she will be back for the long summer break and feeling inspired is hoping to make a comfort quilt for her boyfriends birthday.

I have almost finished the final knitted baby blanket for our Linus project and I have also managed to complete a blanket for a friend of Richard's who is expecting her first child in May. The only problem with them is that they were too large to be very portable so were knitted in the evening whilst watching television. However the hexipuffs are perfect for knitting on my twice weekly train journey to and from Reading.

Having started the new term at Guides it has been a busy time sorting out the quilts the girls are sewing,checking the seams, pressing and cutting out the backing fleece. They are looking really good and all should be finished by the deadline of 30th May. I have just got to order the labels to say made with love by Isleworth Guides. The final job will be hand sewing in the labels. The photo shows some of the quilts with their fleece backing waiting to be sewn.

A friend of mine, Barbara, is a leader with 4th Streatham Sea Scouts and they have 2 boats taking part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on June 3rd. We were considering how to decorate the boats and decided that royal purple bunting, (the groups scarf colour) was needed. We have decided on the size of the bunting but haven't fully worked out how much is needed for decorating as it mustn't get in the way or impede the view of the young scouts who are rowing. However I am about to start the cutting out and will then be stitching two together with heavy duty interfacing in between to give it added body. The aim is to have it all sewn by May 19th.So far I have cut the template and taken the fabric out of the bag!

I am still working on my Dresden plate quilt and waiting for inspiration for the old patchwork quilt I was given. Yesterday I also started a Grandmother's garden quilt, well I've stitched the first 7 hexagons together. I downloaded the hexagon template from moxyideas The templates are available in different sizes but if you want to use them remember to download the file and print from the downloaded version as printing directly from the web doesn't give you the accurate sizes. The hexagons I am using are 1inch and it is a truly portable project so my train journeys will be more interesting from now on as I can alternate activities -the hexipuffs one way and stitching the hexagons the other. I am using the English piecing method for making the quilt, which was my first introduction to patchwork and quilting aged 10. In case you have never tried this before I will post a tutorial when I have time later this week.

One final job added to my list is to make yellowy new ears and repair his face. Yellowy was given to Lucy when she was one day old. He is much loved and very delicate. Unfortunately Scamp got hold of him and played with him rather enthusiastically hence the damage. 

Wednesday 18 April 2012

The last few days have been very busy sorting out the final bits for Lucy's 21st birthday and housework. I decided that despite the weather returning to winter it was time for a spring clean. The downstairs of the house is now clean and tidy and the ironing mountain is only a foothill, On Saturday John and I also found time for a 12 mile walk. We are currently walking the London Loop with our friend Tony. The path runs for 152 miles around London and is split into sections that start and finish at public transport points. We started the walk at the end of June 2011 and so far have completed 13 sections. We will finish the walk by July. This last section from High Barnet to Enfield Lock was delightful with nearly all of it going through countryside paths and parks.

However I have found time for some stitching and I have completed sorting the fabrics that Beth gave me. The patchwork pieces have come up very well following washing and pressing. I am now restitching areas that have come undone before deciding how to use them to make a new quilt. Quite a bit of it is torn or very thin so will have to be removed.

I also pieced together this quilt top to use up the remaining squares from the Guides quilt project. Having sewn 9 squares together each block was cut into quarters, each quarter turned 90 degrees in the same direction and then sewn back together as a block. Depending on how you move the pieces you can make a  variety of different patterns. All I have to do now is to finish it for the end of project deadline on the 30th May,

I have also been following the talk about hexipuffs. Knitted hexagons that can be stuffed or left flat. The pattern is by Tiny Owl Knits and makes into a bee-keeper quilt. I decided to have a go at knitting a hexipuff without a pattern. On YouTube there is a tutorial showing the hexagon being knitted using 3 double ended needles. However the bunny blanket buddy I knitted used a different technique to create the head using only 2 needles so I decided to give this a go.

As you can see the first one I knitted which I didn't stuff was a bit 'wonky' but the second one worked well. John and Richard really liked the idea of a blanket made from the hexagons.

To make it I cast on 20 stitches using 4 ply wool and size 10 needles (US 3, metric 3.25mm). It is knitted in purl and as the piece grows if you have kept the slip 1 purl 1 pattern correct you will be able to pull the two sides of the hexagon apart. This method only works using purl stitch.
The first row was  purl 1 slip 1 to end.
2nd  and 3rd row Increase purl wise in first stitch, slip 1 purl 1 to end.
4th and 5th Row Increase purl wise in first stitch purl 1 slip 1 to end.
Repeat these 4 rows until you have 44 stitches.
Work 2 rows.
Then maintaining continuity of purl 1 slip 1 pattern decrease by purling 2 together at the start of each row until you have 20 stitches.
I then separated the stitches alternately onto two double ended needles. This allows the stuffing to be inserted between the layers. How much is a matter of personal preference.
Finally either cast off taking stitches from alternate needles or use Kitchener stitch to close the opening. I cast off loosely purl wise.

Now to make some more. I am not sure if I prefer them stuffed or flat.  Maybe need to make 2 quilts?

In writing this blog I am helped by our dog scamp. He is a Yorkshire terrier and likes to sit on laps when not chasing the cat. He isn't very keen on needlecraft as it gets in the way although he was happy when I knitted the hexipuffs as they are small and leave room for him. When I am using the computer he likes to help by sitting on my lap and making sure the laptop stays still by resting his head on it.

Friday 13 April 2012

I have been quite busy over the last couple of days. I finished the happy birthday banner and today it is up as we are celebrating our older daughter's birthday. Unfortunately Kathryn is currently living in Paris but we have spoken to her today.

I have started the quilt that John bought for me at Alexander Palace last year. I was looking for a pattern but we ended up buying the kit as the fabric was just the colours I wanted and back in October I really didn't have any time to be choosing the fabric. 

The kit is by Sunflower fabrics. The instructions are easy to follow and the fabric quantities are very generous. I have never made a Dresden plate block before. The cutting out was lengthy as I needed 180 blades but the first block went together well.

I decided to finish all the blocks before sewing the squares for the sashing.  When we bought the kit we chatted to the lady on the stall and when we told her about the Guide quilt project she very kindly donated a bundle of quarters for them. We have already used some of them.

Earlier this week an elderly lady that we are friends with asked me if I could use any material scraps as she is moving into sheltered accommodation and will not have the room to store it. I readily agreed and collected 5 black bin bags. In one of the bin bags there were two pieces of patchwork that had been sewn by hand about fifty plus years ago.

Some of the patchwork is in a sorry state with holes in the fabric and stitches that have been pulled apart. Lucy was very taken with them and has asked if I can restore them somehow and make them into a quilt for her. I have made a start by gently washing the pieces. Once dried and lightly pressed I will be able to see how much can be salvaged. From my initial look at them I think that the best thing to do will be to conserve the areas where the material is still good as blocks and create new blocks to co-ordinate with it using sashing to pull the new and the old areas together. Beth, who gave them to me liked the idea of them being given a new lease of life. The fabrics used were all left over bits from sewing projects and Beth told me the story of what some of the fabrics had been used for

In the evenings I have been working on the final baby blanket I am knitting for Project Linus and finished the small area of my millennium sampler which celebrates Captain Cook exploring Australia. 

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Hi. My name is Lyndsey and I love all types of needlecraft .. well to be exact I love all type of craft. This isn't something new since I can trace it back to when I was about 5 years old and asked my mother to show me how to knit so I could make a jumper for my doll. A favourite item to be bought with pocket money was a small piece of material from a market stall so I could make some clothes for my teddy bears or dolls. The only time I didn't like needlecraft was at school as the lessons turned something that I found enjoyable into a nightmare. When I had my three children it was natural for me to make their clothes and items for the nursery. Unfortunately as the children grew up and they and my career demanded more time, craft was relegated to very small projects that could be completed during a holiday. Unfortunately I even had too little time for those projects. So I have spent a number of years doing nothing.

Now thanks to my youngest daughter and our Guide unit I have rediscovered my love of needlecraft and since Christmas have dusted off my sewing machine, straightened my knitting needles, restocked on threads and found those discarded projects from the cupboard where they have been languishing. 

Lucy, my 20 year old daughter is currently working on her Queen's Guide award and she was trying to decided what to do for her project. The project has two parts to it, research and practical. She was particularly keen that the project should be about something that affected girls and women and that for the practical part that the Guides should be able to help if they wanted to. Just when she was getting desperate Anne, an avid quilter, moved to the area and joined the unit as a leader. Her old Guide unit had made quilts for prem babies and she suggested this to Lucy. The Guides all loved the idea and so the project crisis was resolved and I rediscovered needlecraft.

Jackie the local rep for Project Linus UK came to talk to the Guides and bought some quilts with her. She also said that Project Linus needed knitted baby blankets. From this I rummaged through my wool / yarn stock and pulled out all the baby DK and started knitting. To date have done 15 blankets.

I knitted the little bunny blanket buddy from a free pattern from Lion Brand. The pattern should be knitted in chunky but it worked rather well in the small amount of DK I had.

The last few years haven't been all been wasted as I did manage to complete a Hardanger embroidered cushion cover. Hardanger is a district in the western part of Norway. The embroidery is traditionally done in white thread on white even weave but recently I have seen several items made in more colourful threads. I love the symmetry of this type of embroidery and it is very relaxing to do.

I haven't unfortunately done so well with the sampler I was given for the millennium. It is still waiting to be completed. The finished picture is 17inches square. I plan to try and finish it this year.

When my children were small they always liked banners or pictures announcing their birthday so I have finally got round to making a banner. It will be completed just in time to celebrate Lucy's 21st birthday later this month. 

So plans for this year are to complete my sampler and the quilt I have started for Project Linus. I also want to make a quilt for my own bed plus sew the small wall hanging quilt that my husband John bought for me when we visited The stitching and knitting exhibition at Alexander Palace in October last year. I am really looking forward to making the quilt for my room as it will involve working out the design as well as sewing. I think what I need to do now is go and get started.