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!