Monday 30 September 2013

September NewFO and review of goals.

Oh where did September go? I have hardly got started on my projects this month and here we are with no more time. So how did I do on my goals?

Goal 1. Quilt my Anniversary quilt and give it to my friends.

The top was all finished and the quilt sandwich made at the beginning of the month. It should have been an easy goal BUT you have to take into account that if it can go wrong it will. When I started the quilting I thought it was going to be easy. My machine had been sewing very nicely but it had made an odd grumbling noise a couple of times. As I put my foot on the pedal it groaned and snapped the needle and the stitch was awful. I tried everything I could to get it working properly but in the end I rushed it to the service doctor. My machine was gone a week and a half and now I was running late with other commitments. Sadly goal 1 will move to October's list

Goal 2 was to complete my project for the Pin It blog hop at Sew We Quilt. This was a really good hop with lots of lovely pin cushions appearing everywhere. Henry, my cockerel and Mouse took centre stage on my blog.

So goal 2 was a success. Yippee! On the down side Picasso has run off with mouse and I can't find him anywhere. It's a good job I hadn't put any pins in him. Henry is proving to be a very useful pin cushion.

Goal 3 was my September NewFO. Apart from my pin cushions I have two other NewFO's this month. First I started the baby quilt I had been asked to make. During the first week of the month I was asked if I would be interested in teaching a beginners quilting class with the possibility of further and more advanced classes later. Being me I said yes (and then panicked later!) Anyway when planning what to make I decided to use the blocks from Moda.. the cutting table size matters blog hop. This had 9 days worth of designers showing how to make and use different blocks. The cutting instructions were given for a variety of sizes which is such an amazing resource. I decided to use these blocks for my quilt and then the photos could be a teaching aid in future.

The top is finished and I just need to quilt it which is a job for this weekend. I have also made several other blocks from the hop for use in another small quilt. I'm taking this with me tomorrow when I teach the first class. For this class we are sticking with blocks made using squares and rectangles.

My second NewFO was made for the Crazy about Wool blog hop at Denise's blog Pieced Brain. For this I made a skirt and showed a photo of myself. 

I was really pleased at being able to match the seam so well.

The icing on the cake with this hop was that I won the Blogger's give away from the sponsors Denise had found. Lovely packages to look forward to.

Goal 4 was to complete the blocks for my Votes for Women quilt. Unfortunately due to the machine being in for service and repair this didn't happen but I did add several more blocks to the collection. Nearly done now. In fact it should be possible to finish these up in October.
Here's 4 of the blocks I managed to complete. The blue on these pics is actually violet / purple.

Goal 5, my final goal was to complete my first block for the 'It's a dogs life' quilt. I was also using fabri solvy for the first time. What a genius invention! It worked really well and because I cut off all the excess sheet I could when I washed it out it dissolved very quickly and didn't leave any sticky residue.

In fact the first block worked so well I started on the second one. This one is very straightforward so shouldn't take very long.

So my score for this month is 3 goals completed out of 5. Not too bad considering the machine was out of action for a while. I'm linking this post with Melissa at Sew Bittersweet Designs for her September finishes party and  Barbara at Cat Patches for her September NewFO party.

On the side bar you will find a new button. Madame Samm from Sew We Quilt has designed a cute button to show what type of blog Sew We Quilt is. She organises loads of blog hops covering all sorts of themes which enables all of us to sew and show folks what we've made. I love hopping around the blogs as you get so many great ideas for projects. I currently have a list as long as my arm with ideas that are perfect for some of my Christmas gifts. I just need to get on with the sewing. Madame Samm has lots of ideas for future hops so check regularly to see what's going on.

Now I must go and marshal my thoughts for my October goals. Realistically what can I achieve this month?

I hope you have enjoyed the last day of September and here's hoping that October will be a good month for sewing.


Sunday 29 September 2013

Baby quilts, jam and a little sew stitching.

This last week was a little trying with my older daughter and my son being ill and having more work to do than I could fit into the time available. It was even worse at 4 0-clock this morning when I woke up with really bad ear ache. The ear drum perforated a couple of hours later so the pain has gone but I can't hear very well at present. Still here I am on Sunday evening and I have managed to achieve quite a lot.

On Tuesday I had to take Picasso to the vet for his yearly check up and injections. The vet confirmed that he is a very healthy cat. Taking Picasso to the vet is always a problem. I try to book the first appointment of the day so that I can take him before he starts to demand to go out. We keep him in at night but he does like to get outside as early as possible. He also doesn't like the cat basket and holds on to the door with all four paws. He wasn't at all impressed to have his photo taken whilst in the basket.

This week I've been working on the baby quilt I'm making. I managed to get the top finished but couldn't go on and get the quilting done as I need to buy backing fabric. This will now have to wait until later in the week.

I'm very pleased with how the top has made up. When going through the guide and Brownie cupboard on Wednesday I also found a box at the back which had some almost finished tops for prem baby quilts. These were started by girls who have since moved away from the area and so no longer come to our meetings. I finished adding the borders and gave them a good iron as they had been all scrunched up for a while. I need to add the fleece backing and then they can go to their new homes.

Earlier this week I made some plum jam. One of our work colleagues has a plum tree in his garden and he bought us several pounds of plums. It didn't take very long to make two large kilner jars of jam plus some in my smaller jar.

It was very tasty when I tried it on toast this morning.

I've also been working on some hand stitching. I finished my first block from the 'It's a Dog's Life' quilt so I copied the next block onto fabri solvy (so much easier than drawing it out) and started work on it today. The dogs are just so cute. There isn't a great deal of work on this block so I'm hoping to make this and the next one during October. I had planned one block a month but I don't think it is going to take that long. This block has been folded in my sewing pouch and you can see the impression where my embroidery scissors have been pressed up against it.

Now I need to go and look at my September goals and see how well I got on. My machine was away being serviced for just over a week so I think I am a little behind. I also need to make my plans for October. Even if I don't achieve the goals it helps to keep me on track.

I'm linking this post with Kathy's Slow stitching Sunday at her blog Kathy's Quilts. Why not pop over and see what everyone has been doing. I hope you have had some time for sewing this weekend.


Tuesday 24 September 2013

What can you make with wool?

Today I am taking part in the 'Crazy about wool' blog hop organised by Denise from Pieced Brain I love wool  and so I thought it would be fun to take part. I asked Moses if he wished to appear and before I could say baaaa he was posing for his photo.

Moses is a cute soft cuddly sheep made from fleece fabric and sheep's wool. As you can tell he has been very well loved. His fleece is meant to look like the corkscrew fleece of the Wensleydale sheep.

The fleece of most modern sheep is white which makes it easier to dye it any colour that is wanted either for knitting yarn or to be woven into fabric.

Who can resist the adorable wooly lambs in spring. Of course wool doesn't just come from sheep. The definition of wool is; 

'the fine, soft curly or wavy hair forming the coat of a sheep, goat, or similar animal, especially when shorn and prepared for use in making cloth or yarn'

So we get mohair from the hair of the Angora goat and also use the hair from Llamas. Llama fibre is usually mixed with sheep wool to make it easier to handle.

So what have I been making with wool for this hop. Although I love quilting , I also enjoy knitting and dressmaking. I decided I wanted to make a skirt for this hop. In my stash of fabric I have quite a few pieces of wool fabric. I choose a soft fine wool fabric with a check on it for my skirt. When planning the cutting I had to ensure that the checks matched up. Here is a view of the front seam. I am very pleased with how well I matched this seam.

I love the blue, gold and red of the check. I usually hate having my photo taken but I can't make a skirt and not show you what it looks like on. 

The skirt is extremely comfortable sitting just below the waist. I have plans to make a jacket out of this pinky red fabric, again another light weight wool. The colour perfectly matches the red in the check of the skirt (even though it doesn't look like it in the photo.)

This is my goal for next weekend.

As well as sewing I also knit. Not all yarns for knitting are made of wool but I prefer to knit with 100% wool or a blend of wool and other fibres. Recent knitting projects have included  several baby blankets for Project Linus

Although I use different patterns for these blankets I like the basket weave pattern as it is easy to knit and so leaves me free to talk to family and friends or to watch television.

A little cuddle toy for a baby,

A special baby blanket for a friend's baby and Lucy my daughter knitted her boy friend a cuddly elephant.

One of my favourite wooly knitting projects and one I still use is my Christmas cardigan. I knitted this years ago when my children were young and my youngest daughter is now 22. Scamp insisted on trying to get into the corner of the photo. If I've been sewing he always seems to have bits of thread on his paws.

Last week on the Pin it blog hop I made a felt pin cushion mouse. Felt is a great wool fabric to use in projects as it doesn't fray.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing my various wool projects. Now you need to go and visit the rest of today's participants.

Tuesday, September 24

I hope you'll come back and visit soon. I'm going to get my machine out and finish my latest quilt top once I've taken Picasso to the vet for his yearly check up and immunisation. 

I have a give away of charm squares I cut from the left over wool fabric I used to make my skirt. It is open until 27th October 2013. If you would like a chance to win click here


Monday 23 September 2013

Wool lovers blog hop

Denise over at Pieced Brain is hosting a blog hop this week. It's called crazy about wool and the participants were asked to make anything using wool from quilts to toys and knitting. The schedule for today is ;

                                                                The Raspberry Rabbits

Go and have a look at what they have made. I particularly love the tooth fairy pillow made by Daryl at Patchouli Moon Studio and the beautiful designs at The Raspberry Rabbits. 

There are so many beautiful wool fabrics these days maybe we should be making more from wool.

Have a good day.


Saturday 21 September 2013

Back from the repair shop

Thursday was a very happy day. When I got home from work there was a message on the answer phone saying my machine was ready for collection. Well within 5 minutes of listening to the message I was in the car and heading for the shop. The last week has been miserable as I haven't been able to get on with any of my major goals for the month plus sewing is my way of relaxing so I have been getting a little tetchy. I have been doing some hand stitching but I need a good light for that and stitching in the evening under the electric light is not ideal.

Last weekend I had cut out the blocks for my latest project, my NewFO for September. I normally cut as I go along but without the machine I cut out all the blocks. As I am going to be teaching a quilt class I decided to use blocks from Moda Cutting Table Size Matters blog hop. This had different blocks and gave the cutting requirements to make the blocks in different sizes. I wanted to put together 16 blocks ranging from very easy nine patch to blocks with lots of HST's . I was very organised putting the block pattern and fabric pieces into plastic wallets.  

My finished quilt is going to a young girl who likes elephants so I was pleased to find this elephant fabric. The picture below doesn't show the colours properly but once I've made all the blocks and added the sashing and borders I'll take it outside to take a better photo.

While my machine has been away for a service and repair I have had time to get on with some hand stitching. I wanted to finish the first block of the 'It's a dogs life' quilt by the end of the month. This is now finished and I'm about to start on the second block.

I tried Fabri-Solvy for the first time with this block. I printed the pattern onto the sheet following the instructions then finger pressed it onto the fabric. When I had finished the stitching I cut the sheet as close to my stitching as I could and then rinsed the piece in warm water. I did this several times using fresh water and then dried it on a towel. I am very pleased with the result. The Fabri-Solvy was very easy to use and so much easier and quicker than drawing out the design onto my fabric. I shall definitely be using it for the rest of this project and future projects.

Having had my 'fix' of sewing for the day I need to get on with some preparation for the class I'm teaching on Monday. I also need to find my watch. I had it on Tuesday but I'm not sure where I put it. At least I know it's in the house somewhere but exactly where is another of life's little mystery's. 

I hope the you are having a good weekend.


Friday 13 September 2013

Pin It

Hi and welcome to my spot on the Pin IT hop. Thanks to Madame Samm over at Sew We Quilt and Kristen from Meadowbrook for organising and cheering us on. 

I knew the two pin cushions I wanted to make for this hop. Nothing difficult or particularly fancy but both can be used and they can also be put to a different purpose if you wish. First I made a cockerel cushion. I've seen these on the internet and also on this hop. They are easy to make and effective. At first Henry (as he wants to be known) asked for his photo to be taken in doors.

but then he heard that his rival wished to be shown outside so he went and perched on a branch in our apple tree.

All the apples have been picked and will be made into chutney very soon. The leaves are starting to change colour and a few have already fallen .

Henry is a versatile make. Last year we used the same pattern to make juggling bags at Brownies. Henry was made using two charm squares but for the juggling bags we used 4 inch squares. Henry is hoping that I will make a couple of friends for him so he can also have a go at juggling. Just remember to remove the pins before use!

My second make is a cute mouse.The pieces are sewn together by hand using buttonhole stitch and he has beads for his nose and eyes.

I have also used the mouse pattern to make cat toys. For them I left off the beads and added a liberal amount of catnip to the stuffing. This one is definitely a pin cushion even though Picasso tried to run off with it. If you would like the mouse pattern click here You need to set your printer to actual size when you print it.

I keep the the pins I use for quilting in a box which explains why Picasso can knock them all over the floor so easily. Here's the mess he created on his last attack.

Here's hoping he doesn't run off with my new pin cushions since he wont have a pin tin to play with. My flat flower pins are kept in a plastic tube that was used to return a fountain pen to us following its repair.

Pins are interesting as there are many different types with different uses. When I am dressmaking I use straight steel pins.  I pin the patten pieces to the fabric taking the pins from my pin box but from then on until the project is finished they will be stuck into my elegant chaise lounge pin cushion.

Once the project is completed any bent or blunt pins are disposed of and the rest go back into the pin tin. Under the seat of the chaise lounge are thimbles, a tape measure and Mr Rippy. 

I also got down this bag from its usual home as I knew there was another pin cushion in it.

I made the bag several years ago to keep my travelling lace cushion safe. The bag is made in three layers with a thick batting layer to ensure the cushion doesn't get dented. I got the fabric for nothing at a recycling place that provided items that might be useful to crafters.

Inside the bag as well as the cushion is my rabbit pin cushion. It currently has two large pins in it that are used to divide the bobbins into sections on the pillow. Lace pins are made of brass so they wont rust as some lace projects can take quite a time to make. As the lace is woven the threads fasten around the pins which are removed later. I recovered this pillow as the old cover was full of pin holes.

Not only do I like sewing I like all types of craft. So far I haven't found one I don't like. A craft that is fun to do at Christmas or at Easter is decorating  the polystyrene shapes for hanging on the tree. All you need is a shape, some sequins, short pins, ribbon, time and imagination. The pins are Sequin / Lills pins and are only 13mm long. These are best kept in their box as a pin cushion would be very fiddly to use. It's also a good idea to keep inquisitive cats away.

Of course pins are not just about straight pins. I used to baste my quilt sandwich but reading on other peoples blogs about using safety pins I tried it myself and am now converted. I keep my safety pins in an old wooden cigar box.

This is usually full to overflowing and I have a lot of the bright coloured pins which show up well but I've been busy and currently have 4 quilts waiting to be quilted. I need to get my machine back from the repair shop and get on with the quilting.

I hope you enjoyed your visit and now you need to hurry on to the next participant. Here is a list of who is taking part today.

Sew Many Yarns (You are here)

It's been great to have you visit. I'm off to see what everyone else has made. Have a great day.


Thursday 12 September 2013

A stressful day

Yesterday was all together far too stressful a day. The day started well. I was planning on finishing my 'pin it' projects and then starting the quilting on  the 'Happy Anniversary' quilt. The 'pin it' projects were soon finished up leaving the post to write later (my day is tomorrow) and I was starting to feel rather pleased. A nice quiet day sewing before running the first Rainbow, Brownie and Guide meetings of the new school year. Nothing could go wrong. 

As I lifted my sewing machine onto the dining table the phone started to ring. The first phone call of many over the next hour. One of the new Rainbow mothers had told her friends that their daughters could join as well, they just needed to ring me. An hour later I had an additional 7 girls starting with us. Now 7 doesn't sound a lot but it is when the activities are all planned and all the craft items needed are assembled. I could have said no to the mothers but then seven 5 year old girls who had gone off to school looking forward to starting Rainbows would have been disappointed so I couldn't bring myself to do that. After all it was one of the mothers at fault not the girls. So I then spent some of my sewing time replanning and organising the programme.

At last I was able to get toback to my machine. I love my machine. It is an Elna Quilter's Dream 2 and I bought it several years ago now before I got back into quilting. It has a great range of embroidery stitches, stitches beautifully and has a knee lift. I took this picture from google as I realised I have never taken a photo of my machine


So there was my machine all ready to go having been completely de-fluffed and sporting a new quilting needle and next to it one quilt sandwich all ready for quilting. The machine worked perfectly while I filled up several bobbins with my Aurifil thread although it did sound a little noisy during the filling of the last one. Once the machine was threaded I got the quilt nicely supported on the dining table and on my lap and I was ready to go. Lovely a couple of hours of peace to get on with the quilting. The first minute went like a dream and then the machine whirled and whined and the needle snapped. I took the quilt out and put it to one side and having changed the needle got a small 'test sandwich' to check the problem was cleared. The machine clonked and clunked and the needle hit the rim of my open toe foot and snapped in two. So having checked that I had put everything on right and it wasn't anything I had done I packed up my machine and headed to the repair shop. The man at the shop didn't think it was anything too serious but he said the whole bobbin assembly was sitting wrong so maybe a screw had come loose with so much use. The good news I should have it back next Tuesday.

Back at home I realised my small sony camera needed re-charging so I could take photos of my pin cushions. My Nikon had to go for a repair and is now ready to come home (Yipee). I knew I had the charger for the camera when I got back from Switzerland but just couldn't remember where I had put it. So a search of the house began. At this point I was wondering what else could go wrong. Although I didn't find the charger yesterday I remembered where I'd put it this morning so I am going to do my photos and schedule my hop post later this afternoon. As for the rest of yesterday it was good but tiring. My daughter has lent me her sewing machine until I get mine back. I can't quilt on it but I can make the blocks I need to get done.

I'm going to go and do some hand sewing while I think about which blocks to make for the class I going to be teaching soon. I'll tell you about that in another post. I hope you day is going well.


Wednesday 11 September 2013

Red work and other things.

One minute it was the 1st September and now it's the 11th. Could someone please find a way to slow down time! I thought I would show you what I've been working on recently. Things haven't moved very far but there is some progress.  I always knew the beginning of the month would be a little slow as I had some resubmission dissertations to mark and they take a lot of time.

First the red work I'm working on 'Its a dog's life'. Here's how it will look when it's finished.

When I started work on this I was using an embroidery hoop which I don't usually do for back stitch. I found I couldn't make my stitches even so I was getting annoyed with it.

I have now done some more of it and I like how it is coming.

I also started the Christmas tree cross stitch.

Completed so far,

The sky is done in half cross stitch. Finally from the embroidery point of view here is the last square I completed in my millennium sampler. 

The square I've just started has butterflys on it and is representing Charles Darwin.

I also managed to make the quilt sandwich for my 'Happy Anniversary' Quilt yesterday. It is 80 x 80 inches so I had to use the floor which meant waiting until everyone else was out and I banished Scamp and Picasso to the kitchen. I shall be starting on the quilting today.

I'm linking up with Connie at Freemotion by the river for her Tuesday Linky party and with Lee at Freshly Pieced for her WIP Wednesday.

Hope you day is going well.