Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Linking up with Meadow Mist

I read about the 2015 Linky on Linda's blog (koka quilts) so I am going to try to work out how to take part in the BEST OF 2015 LINKY PARTY.

We welcomed a new baby into the family this year so I took the chance to make a Bonnie Hunter quilt that had been on my list for ages:

And then another quilt I love to make, a Spider Web quilt - this time it was a Group Quilt for our member Sarah:
This Heartstrings Quilt was finished recently but I made another one earlier in the year:
A strippy quilt of a different kind, for another baby born this year:
And then a quilt I had forgotten all about, discovered again when we visited friends in Australia - there it was on the guest Room wall!
Thank you, Cheryl, for suggesting this Linky Party on your Meadow Mist blog.  I have so enjoyed looking back over my blog posts this year and re-reading them. Great idea. 

Sunday, 27 December 2015

My collection has grown!

On Christmas Day I opened the parcel I had received from my blogger friend Jo in Australia.
If you follow Jo's blog you will be familiar with all the lovely things she makes as she quilts, knits and crochets -and many other things too, I imagine! Very prolific.

I was thrilled to find my parcel contained three new Christmas Tree decorations and one of Jo's signature dishcloths, in a very festive red:

As you can imagine I wasted no time in putting the new decorations on my tree and they look lovely.
Our family is coming to Sunday lunch today so I shall ask our granddaughter Annalise to find the new decorations.  She is eagle-eyed so no doubt will find them in seconds!
Thank you, Jo. You are very kind!
If you haven't seen Jo's blog, do take a look!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas morning here in the UK so I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

In 2012 I decided to buy an artificial tree which I love.  It doesn't photograph well - the tree doesn't look dull as it appears in photos. It actually looks quite real and I love the fact that the lights are bright white and are an integral part of the tree.  No more struggling with a skein of tangled tree lights, only to find they don't work and then have to go through the hassle of finding which little bulb has come loose!
My husband and I always had a 'Real" tree which we sourced from nearby farms or plant nurseries. But they never lasted for the whole of the Christmas period ( centrally heated houses aren't conducive to keeping the needles from falling!).  Finally three years ago I gave in and we bought an artificial tree. And I have loved it!
It is a tree full of decorations holding so many memories.
The decorations have been gathered over 44 years and I remember them all.

Here is a red and white pipe cleaner figure.  For several years after our children were born my eldest sister bought two or three decorations for our children to put on the tree and at the same time bought the same ones for her children. Last week we visited her and I looked at the same decorations on her tree. My little granddaughter loved finding the same decorations that she had helped me to put up on Granny's Tree.
Here is a little foil angel, one of a set of ten which I bought almost 40 years ago from Oxfam.  They came with us from Northumberland where both of our children were born and this year once more help us to celebrate Christmas here in Warwickshire, our 34th Christmas here.

 Another pipe cleaner decoration bought by my sister.
This angel is made from raffia, another set of ten angels bought from Oxfam, I think a year or two before the foil angels were bought.

And a salt dough heart which has Emmanuel written in gold lettering, bought from my Church's Christmas Fayre when our children were small. There are three on our tree.

A Christmas Tree is part of my family's Christmas traditions. When I was a little girl every year a small artificial tree magically appeared on our sideboard on Christmas morning. I marvelled at how Santa remembered to bring the same decorations each year - I knew them all by heart.  Now, of course, I know the tree was bought for my eldest sister in 1936, her first Christmas.  She still has 2 of the original baubles which she puts on her tree each year.
When we were married I continued the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree, adding to the decorations each year and enjoying decorating it with the help of our children.
For the last three years I have loved my granddaughter helping and watching her remember the decorations, just as her Mummy and her Uncle (who died almost 20 years ago, so she only knows from photographs) did.
So, our tree is full of memories.
I wish you a Merry and peaceful Christmas and hope that today you add to your store of memories.

Friday, 18 December 2015

String Quilt finish!

Back in the summer I started to make the 144 string blocks I needed for another Heartstrings Quilt.

I finished all the blocks quite a while ago but they were set aside so I could finish more urgent projects.  This quilt is a 70th birthday gift for our very good friend, Liz who lives in New Zealand. We will be there to share her birthday on 15th January so I needed to finish the quilt before Christmas.  In a previous post I wrote about the difficulty I had to get the quilt sandwiched, but it has turned out really well.  I am delighted with it and I know Liz will love it and appreciate all the work that has gone into it.

It's a large quilt, measuring 65" square so it will be a useful size for the couch or as a bed topper.
I had decided on a pink striped fabric called Sweet Jane by Deborah Edwards of Northcott fabrics.
I used this fabric to bind the Galaxy of Stars baby quilt I made in October so I thought it would work in the String Quilt too.
I bought this fabric as a remnant a couple of years ago and I thought it would be just right for this busy quilt. I love it! And I have a small piece left for a future project. Bonus!

I made a Heartstrings Quilt back in April when I was in NZ and our friend and neighbour Liz loved it so I decided then I would make another for her Special Birthday.  My original Heartstrings Quilt was completely scrappy but Liz's quilt has solid centre strips in each block which create a coloured diamond pattern once the quilt top is sewn together.  I have used this idea before in my
Rainbow Strip Quilts and I think it is effective.  This time I used any solid coloured strips that I had in my stash and dotted the different coloured diamond blocks throughout the quilt.

Here it is: Heartstring Quilt for Liz:

The quilt is actually a lot brighter than it looks in my photograph but taking photos indoors on a dreary December afternoon in the UK doesn't show the colours properly.  I will have to photograph it again in better light in NZ!
Perhaps these close ups of some of the blocks show the bright colours a little better:

Can you spot the appliqued heart hidden among the strings?
Like my other String Quilts I have tied it.  Hard work pushing the needle through so many layers of fabric but I like the look tying gives a string quilt.

I had difficulty piecing the large backing but now the quilt is finished I think it's worked out well.

So, my last quilt finish for 2015.  Nine quilts completed this year, not a bad total especially as two of them were big!

My Sewing Room is in a terrible mess so that needs to be tidied before Christmas - not a job I am looking forward to.  The trimmings from Liz's Quilt need cutting into squares and strips to be stashed away for future projects. This is something I always enjoy doing as it makes the scraps so much more convenient to use and speeds up making new quilts if some of the fabrics are already cut to the right size.

I have some hand quilting to do on our latest Group Quilt Project so that can be done when I am watching television at the weekend.

Happy sewing!



Thursday, 17 December 2015

The joy of giving

In my last post I wrote about a Spider Web Quilt that my Patchwork Group was making for our youngest member Sarah.
It has not been made for the usual reasons we gift quilts to members: a 'Big" birthday, 60, 70, 80, 90, even 100! Or because someone has been ill or receiving treatment.  It was because Sarah is so much younger than all of us we thought it was about time she received a quilt as over the years she has contributed to everyone else's! And we knew she would be thrilled!  And we were thrilled to make it for her and anticipate her surprise.

Sarah makes a lot of baby quilts: for friends and also commissions from friends and we know she loves bright colours and hand stitching with Perle threads. We also knew she loved the Spider Web pattern as we used that last year for a 60th birthday gifted quilt.

A No-brainer then to make Sarah one. We used a fine pale cream muslin (from Ruth's stash) for the background kites and strips of all the colours she loves. 

The result was this lovely quilt:

Everyone in the Group contributed strips from their stash and we shared them out so there was a continuity of colours and fabrics throughout the quilt.

Here's a Close-up of A Close-up of some of the spider webs.e Spider Webs.

I finished the quilt off by tying the centres of each web and sewing a button in the centre of each kite star. Ruth provided the buttons from her stash as she had a packet of buttons in exactly the colours we has used in the quilt: red, green, hot pink, shell pink, orange and green.

My attempt at an "arty" photo, the quilt draped over my armchair!

And the backing which was pieced:

Win, our 100 year old member has been in hospital and a convalescence home for a few months so she  recently asked a friend to sort out lots of fabrics for our Group. We all chose a few pieces and made a donation to Win's favourite Charity and then the rest we have kept as our "Group Stash" to use in further Group Quilt projects. The lovely soft flannel mauve and white checked fabric and the fuchsia pink binding fabrics both came from Win's fabrics. The piece of flannel was not quite large enough so Lynne found a lovely strip of fabric which matched so beautifully with the checked fabric.

This morning was our last Patchwork meeting before Christmas so we presented it to Sarah today.
She was utterly amazed at the gift, thrilled with the choice of design, the colours, the softness, etc etc!

In fact she was almost in tears as she had never imagined receiving a quilt.  Sarah sat with it on her lap for the rest of the morning and said she was going to have it tucked round her knees when she watched television this evening. 
We couldn't have wished for a better response!  Giving is such a joy, isn't it?

Friday, 11 December 2015

soscrappy: Moving on Down the List

soscrappy: Moving on Down the List

Cherry Blossoms is gorgeous. Unusual design and great colours. Congratulations on such a productive week!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Like the curate's egg .......... good in parts!

Well, what a mixed bag of a week I have had! I am still recovering from the horrendous cold which hit me almost three weeks ago. I dread catching colds because I know I will be in for weeks of misery.
This one was even worse than usual and I spent a lot of time in bed for the first couple of weeks, fighting off sinusitis, hard barking cough, high temperatures etc etc.  However, I finally feel as though I have turned the corner.  Still coughing and feeling very tired so hope my energy levels pick up soon.

So, part one of the Good parts of the Curate's Egg is feeling a lot better than I have for a while!

I haven't done any sewing whilst I was feeling poorly, so it was good to get back to some on Wednesday, although it was not as straightforward as I had planned!  My head still feels very woolly which perhaps explains the many mistakes I made. 

I was trying to complete a String Quilt which has been weeks in the making (there is a lot of work in these quilts).  I had sewn the blocks together before I went down with the lurgy so on Wednesday I started to prepare the backing and batting. 
The quilt is larger than the sizes I normally make ( approx 68" square when it's finished) so the piece of backing fabric I had wasn't big enough - hunted in my stash to find a complementary piece of fabric so I could create a pieced backing.  The idea was to make a strip of pieces either side of the original large piece.  First mistake - I hadn't done the maths properly so had to piece even more bits to make the sides long enough.  All time consuming and frustrating when you are trying to catch up on time lost being ill.

On to the batting.  Joy of joys, no piece large enough so yet more piecing had to be done.  Again, I made a mistake with the maths ( blame the woolly head and breaking off mid-cutting to check on my pot of home made soup) and I cut the piece 10" short!  Even more piecing by which time I was decidedly fed up!!!

Then wrestling the quilt on our bedroom floor, trying to sandwich it without getting too many wrinkles.  It took me a very long time and I was exhausted at the end of it all.  Lots of scratches from the safety pins too.

Note to self ............. don't make another quilt this large.
And, don't try to make equally matched pieced strips to fit either side of a large piece of fabric. 
I failed to centre the top symmetrically so the back will not be equal. Hope it looks OK once it is finished.

Another Good part of the Curate's Egg:  I have now started tying my quilt, so the end is in sight. This quilt has to be finished by the New Year so it can go to NZ with me for a 70th birthday gift for our lovely neighbour.

Here's a Sneak Peek:

And the backing!
Another great bit of the Curate's Egg was going to my Patchwork Group yesterday - first time for three weeks.
One of the Group gift quilts was almost finished and I spent a happy hour last night doing the finishing touches:
Only a Sneak Peek because this won't be handed over for a week or so:

It's really lovely!!
I finally managed to get my three QAYG blocks off to Alison  ( the Soy Amado project. They've been sitting here waiting for me to go to the Post Office.
So, another Good part of the Curate's Egg!
But the really Good part was this:  A parcel from Australia from my lovely Blog friend Jo -
Inside a gorgeous card with a pen and a wrapped gift which I will open on Christmas Day.  Thank you, Jo.  I do hope we manage to meet in person one day.
And finally, another great part of the Curate's Egg was having a good report at the hospital on Thursday.  My consultant is very pleased, all well at present so that's a wonderful feeling.

So, all in all, more Good than Bad. Hurrah!

In case you are wondering what the saying "Like a Curate's Egg, good in parts" means:
The origin of the phrase is the George du Maurier cartoon "True Humility", printed in the British satirical magazine 'Punch' in 1895 A curate is being entertained and his host says "I'm afraid you've got a bad egg, Mr Jones!"
The Curate: "Oh no, my Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellent!"

Well, having listed all my week's events I think I can safely say that MOST of the parts of my egg were good.... in fact some were absolutely marvellous!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

UFO progress - linking with Jo's Country Junction

I am linking with Jo's Country Junction's UFO Challenge which she put out to Quilters Blog Land three (or four?) weeks ago. 
As a lead up to Bonnie Hunter's new Mystery Quilt which will be revealed on Friday this week, Jo challenged other quilters with Bonnie Hunter UFOs to finish them before that deadline on Friday.

Well, I won't finish this quilt by Friday but the Challenge did spur me on to finish this
Spider web UFO which was still at a handful of blocks stage.
I have begun hand quilting it with my usual Perle cotton choice but there is no rush to finish now as this is my Handwork Project that will go with me to Patchwork group meetings.  I love Spider web Quilts and am excited to see how well this one has come together.

Ta Dah!

And, just to prove I have started the hand quilting, a close up  of the centre spider webs:
Linking up with Jo's Country Junction UFO UFO Pre-Mystery Challenge

QAYG blocks for Soy Amado

Now that I have finally surfaced from over a week in bed dealing with a heavy cold which got worse and worse and worse - thank heavens for antibiotics, I say! - I can finally write a post about the three QAYG blocks I made for Alison's on going project, Soy Amado Quilts

I have made a couple of lots of QAYG blocks for Alison in the past and thoroughly enjoyed making them.  I am full of admiration for Alison because she continues to make these quilts for a great cause: they are sent to a children's home in Mexico where every bed has one of her colourful quilts to cheer up the rather utilitarian surroundings. I am sure the children must be delighted as each quilt is completely different.  Have a look at Alison's blog:
and her Flickr Group page: Soy Amado - quilted blocks for charity

As I finished the group quilt top and looked through stash for suitable squares for making lavender bags I thought I would take the opportunity to use up some orphan blocks and scraps to make a few blocks for Soy Amado.

Firstly I made two blocks using two orphan blocks from the group quilt top:

I surrounded the centres with scraps found from stash and the leopard print FQ I also  found in my stash.
When I made the lavender bags I discovered a bag of 3.875" squares and striped blocks I had used to make a Pinwheel Quilt for my sister - back in April 2010!
I used the 4 striped orphan blocks to make the centre, halved the squares and joined to make borders and created this QAYG block:

Two of the blocks had pieced backings, again using scraps and the rest of the leopard print FQ whilst the third used a leftover piece of fabric which has lingered in my scraps stash for several years.
All three were hand quilted using Perle thread - a process I so enjoy.
They have been waiting patiently for me to get better, so now I hope to get them mailed in the next couple of days.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Working on making gifts

My Patchwork Group is busy working on another surprise quilt for another of our members.

The Spiderweb Quilt is well on the way.  Sandwiched and the binding machined on by one of our members, it was ready for me to start the hand quilting at our meeting on Thursday morning. During our time together I managed to quilt a double row of stitches around the cream star centres on the quilt, using a bright pink variegated Perle thread from my stash. The quilt has now passed on to someone else to continue the hand quilting.

So, the second quilt:  A few weeks ago we chose a design called "Sherbet Lemon Quilt" from a Jelly Roll book belonging to one of our group.  I was looking through the book when I spied this quilt and thought we could adapt it and use it for our next Gift Quilt. I had to adapt it quite a bit so I could make up Kit Sets for 7 members to make 2 sets of Block A and 2 sets of Block B each.  Those were then given back to me so I could put the blocks together to make this quilt top:

Another friend now has the top, batting and backing that I bought so she can sandwich the quilt ready for everyone else to pass around the group so the hand quilting will be completed.
Everyone is very pleased with the result - they are pleased with how the design has turned out and we all agree the colours are exactly right for the lady who will receive this gift.
Yesterday I did a bit of my own sewing!  I needed some lavender bags for our wardrobes and decided to make a few more:  three for my sister and three for my daughter who loves having lavender bags everywhere!
These are functional, rather than works of art, so I quickly added ribbons and buttons so they could hang from coathangers in the cupboard:

Eight for me (already in use) and six for gifting.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Renamed, wrapped up and delivered

Well, baby Ella Rose was born on 21st October so the Wonky Star Quilt was hers.

I decided to rename it "Galaxy of Stars" as although I know what "Wonky stars" means, I thought it might sound as though I hadn't tried very hard and had been a bit slapdash in sewing the blocks!

I embroidered a label and tied it up with a pretty deep pink ribbon and popped it into a lovely pink and white paper gift carrier bag.  Yesterday DH and I went down to see our step granddaughter and the new baby.  What a sweetie she is! Asleep most of the time we were there but I did manage a cuddle and we did take a few photographs.  Mum and Dad were very pleased with the quilt so I hope it get lots of use.

Here's the quilt:

Today I have been busy sewing more strings on my Spiderweb triangles.

Friday, 30 October 2015

My Shoebox is ready to go

I have everything ready for my Christmas Shoebox appeal. I have made a collection of items with a 2-4 years old girl in mind.  There are quite a lot of restrictions as to what can and cannot be included in the parcel so this is what's in mine:

It includes 3 homemade items.
All nice and colourful - very pink!  And I managed to get them all into the Shoebox.
It will be interesting to know how many Shoeboxes our Church collects on Sunday.  250 were gifted last year.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

UFO Challenge

The Patchwork Group I belong to is making a Spider web Quilt for one of our members. 
Last year we made one for another of our group (different colours so it will look quite different) and I made a set of blocks at different stages of construction so members could see how the quilt was made.  This bag of parts was put away. It saw the light of day recently when I was reminding one of our group how the blocks are constructed.

I decided not to put it back in the cupboard but to finish it so for the past few days I have made a start on the blocks. 
I already had two completed blocks:

 and have now finished 4 triangles which will make up another block. I also have several triangles at various stages.

Here they are:

In order to make sure I finish this UFO I am linking with Jo's Country Junction's UFO Challenge.
The UFO should be completed before Bonnie Hunter's new mystery quilt begins just after Thanksgiving.  It seems appropriate to choose this UFO to complete as the quilt is similar to one of Bonnie Hunter's free patterns on her blog.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A little "Thank you" gift

I am going to my best friend Barbara's tomorrow for a few days whilst DH is away on a course.
As I am going by train I have to travel light - three trains there and two trains and a tube on the way back.

So, as a little "Thank you" gift I have made Barbara a drawstring bag for her battery chargers.
DH and I have found these bags so useful.  We know instantly which are our chargers and when we go away just toss the bag into the luggage and off we go.

As always, made from stash, using some of the pretty blue ribbon I brought back from NZ that I bought cheaply in Spotlight.

I used the same fabrics on the back but rearranged in a different order.
As before I used Amy's excellent tutorial on her Pink Penguin Blog.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Wonky Stars Quilt is finished!

On Thursday evening I finished hand sewing down the binding on my Wonky Stars Quilt.
I have wanted to make one of these quilts (Bonnie Hunter's free pattern on her blog for a long time.  I love scrap quilts and always have a stash of 2.5" squares which are needed for this Quilt design.  However you do need a lot of neutrals for the stars and I realised there is a big gap in my stash where neutrals are concerned.  This quilt pretty much cleared me out of neutral scraps although I have a lot of neutral 2.5" squares leftover ready for another Wonky Stars Quilt.

Close up of a block:

I did a lot of hand quilting with variegated pink Perle thread so it took a long time to complete.  But I am really happy with the result, well worth all the time and effort.

The quilt is a large quilt, much bigger than the normal sizes I make baby quilts but this should be very useful for a long time as it will start as  Playmat and snuggle-time blanket, then it could be used on the child's first bed.

It measures 42" wide and 55" long.

The piece of Froggy fabric I had in mind for the backing wasn't big enough so I rooted through my larger pink pieces and found a pretty flowered fabric which was exactly the same shade of pink as the background of the Froggy one.  Although they are different patterns they really merge into one!

And here's  a photo of the whole backing:
It is finished just in time for our Step granddaughter's baby which is due tomorrow.  If it's a girl of course!  I have a boy quilt ready as well.
So, that completes all of my "To Do" list.  I am very pleased with myself!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Last craft item finished!

On Wednesday evening I finished knitting the pink and lilac beanie I am putting into my Shoebox.

Here it is, bright and girly!
And here it is again, beside the knitted Shoulder bag:
I think it's fascinating how knitting two colours together gives you a completely new colour.
Look at the contrast between the beanie and the bag, yet the lilac and pink yarns are the same!
 I have now finished all the handmade items I intend to put in my Shoebox so it's almost ready to hand over at the special Church Service on 1st November. A few sweets to buy when I am in town tomorrow and then it's done.
And, no last minute rush!
Last night I completed hand sewing the binding on my Wonky Stars quilt.  I am going to try to photograph that today but it rather grey and overcast so we'll have to see.
With a bit of luck I'll write another post later today.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

A little gift

Next week one of my Patchwork Group has a birthday.  We exchange small gifts and a birthday card. As part of my gift I am including one of my "signature" needlecases.

The front:
And the back and front:
Made today, using fabrics from my Needlecase Project Pack so it was quick to make.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!

No I am not fighting the battle of Agincourt with Henry V, I am fighting the Battle of the Post that will Not Appear!

So in the spirit of " Let us try again one more time" .......... Here we go!

Last night I spent a frustrating hour trying to get my post published.
Three parts to it: my knitted Christmas Bell, the little knitted shoulder bag and 2 more Spider web Blocks.

First of all the whole post seemed to be OK, then mysteriously the first part about the knitted Bell disappeared and it seemed as though the last 2/3 of the post was OK, so I re-wrote and published the bit about the Christmas Bell.  THEN I discovered that that was the only piece of the whole thing that had been posted. At that point I admitted defeat, the computer had won, and off I went to bed.

New dawn, new day, so I am going to try again. My generation was brought up on the maxim; "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again'!

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

At the weekend I knitted a pretty little shoulder bag to add to my Christmas Shoe box.  It uses two colours of wool that you knit together which gives a pretty marbling effect.  I chose a deep pink and a lilac.  Together they create a completely different colour.

Last week I made  a Spider web block for my Patchwork Group's quilt that we are making for one of our members.  It was then decided that we needed more blocks so I offered to make two more. 
 I enjoy making these blocks and as I already have a stash of strips they are quick to make.
Here's the two extra I made yesterday afternoon:

Nice and bright and scrappy, just what I like in a quilt - and, more importantly what the recipient of this quilt likes.

I also trimmed my Wonky Stars quilt and sewed on the bindings.  That's ready for me to hand sew whilst I'm at my Patchwork Group on Thursday morning.

I have just looked back at the To Do List that I posted on 19th September.  I'm really rattling through that list.  Once the binding on Wonky Stars is sewn and I have finished knitting the beanie I started yesterday whilst watching TV, I will have ticked them all off the list.  Hurrah.

Now I am holding my breath as I try to publish this post. Here goes!


Trying again!

Well, I am not quite sure what happened to my last post - the first part has disappeared so I am
trying again.

I knitted the Christmas Bell decoration for the Upton House Christmas tree. It worked out well.  Easy to follow pattern and actually looks like a bell!  My daughter was very complimentary and suggested I knit some more - for her tree as well as ours.  I'll see if I find the time!

I will post it off to Upton House tomorrow.