Sunday 31 January 2010

Basket Blocks

I have revised my plans for The Trick or Treat quilt from When The Cold Wind Blows book. It is quite a daunting propostion to make 300 basket blocks and I have decided to do my own version using less blocks. It will still be a large quilt and I think definitely more manageable. My aim is still to use what I have hidden in my stash.

This evening I have prepped a few ready to stitch. I hope that isn't cheating to cross it off my list as done as I didn't actually finish any of the blocks. At least now I have a plan. Apologies for the photo's, they aren't very clear. I did try. Honest.

I have managed to finish 8 items from my list. That means around 67%. Not bad, I did think it would be a minor miracle to do even half of it, so that is a little better.

I have also finished a litle cardigan for baby Evie. Now this bit of knitting has given me a headache. I started off knitting one pattern and trying to be clever made a huge booboo. I hate sewing up knitting and so decided to add the front button border into the knitting as I was doing the whole thing up to the armholes. WRONG. I was only doing the back and I had incorporated the front bands. I didn't have the heart to start again with the same pattern so found another one. I unpicked it many times trying to get it right, making silly mistakes and just not being neat. At last it is done. I am sure Evie will like it.

Love Shirl.x

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Wendy's Challenge

Oh happy days. After cancelling our Wednesday sewing twice due to the snowy weather, today we actually made it. To say that we were pleased to see each and to be back was a bit of an understatement. It is a happy little group of six ladies. We discuss every subject under the sun and sometimes we laugh till we cry.

Before Christmas Wendy set a challenge for us. You will have to go back to previous posts to see the fabrics I was given. We had to swap 3 fat quarters, names were drawn out of a hat and we had to give our fabrics to that person. I had Kate's fabrics. We then had to make something out of them and we were given free rein to make whatever we could come up with. Today we exchanged projects. Names again were drawn out of a hat and we had to give that person the challenge make. Everyone did something different which was really good.

I made a project case out of my fabrics. I used a A5 size file and covered the inside with fabric, then made a quilted outer cover and embroidered a panel on the front. Inside I used plastic to make a see through pocket and added a detachable fabric bag. I was pleased with the result and so was Margaret. I have to wait to receive my gift as I drew Rosemary and she is still in Australia.

Kate is modelling a new line in aprons made by Wendy. This was very appropriate as Kate is soon going to be running a quilting retreat and will need a few pinnies for all the cooking that she is going to be doing. Watch this space for updates.

Margaret made a series of fabric baskets that was received by Pat. They are all different sizes and fit into each other and will look fabulous on the table filled with bread and other goodies. Knowing Pat I expect them to be filled with fabric. All the mess in the background belongs to me I am afraid. I cannot sew without spreading out and making a mess.

Kate had my fabrics and made a gorgeous little wall hanging and a matching box. They had Wendy stamped all over it so it was really lucky that Wendy drew her name out.

Pat had fabrics from Margaret and she made a fun tea cosy that had lots of lovely buttons on it and a useful pan holder/ mat.

It has been interesting and fun to do this challenge and I think it does your brain good to do something that makes you think a little bit harder. We have a new challenge in the offing. It needs a bit more tweaking but will let you know the rules.

I have at last finished the last block on the BunnyHill block of the month. It is such a sweet pattern and very generous of Anne Sutton to share it with everyone. Just have to assemble it now.

The blocks are just placed out on the floor ready for assembly. Have to decide on an outer border. Will have to take it along to the shop for inspiration to see what looks best. Any excuse for fabric shopping. I don't usually buy large amounts of fabric, I nearly always buy fat quarters. It has been a lovely project to do although a bit fiddly in places. I used a few scraps along the way and the sashing and sashing posts were all left overs from other projects.

If you have read to the end of this post well done. Hope you are still awake.

Love Shirl.x

Monday 25 January 2010

Orange Peel

I know that a lot of you are following the Joseph's Coat blocks with Kellie at Don't Look Now, and I have enjoyed seeing what you are doing. They certainly are colourful and challenging to make. Now, I am a glutton for punishment and in the very early days when I first spotted this block in blogland I decided to have a go for myself.

I love to draft patterns and as this is already a well documented block I had to have a go. Many sheets of paper later I came up with a 12" diameter circle and the pattern pieces to hand piece the block. Progress is pitifully slow but tonight I have finished another block. It doesn't really take that long to make a block, it is just that I have a lot of things on the go at once and getting round to it is the hard part. This is my work in progress. 4 Done, 35 to go and something else to cross off the List for January. Yippee. If I manage half of the list this month it will be a miracle.

You might like to know how I work. My friends think it is funny but I decide on a project and it ends up in a box almost like a kit. I cut everything out and have a working diagram so that I know exactly what to do should I not pick it up again for months, as is usually the case. As you see - Pink. I did say I liked Pink. Has it depleted my stash? Not a bit of it.

My friend Wendy ( wendyswistfulquilts ) is having a go too but she is doing the applique method. I just love hand piecing. The graph paper can be downloaded from the Moda web site.

Love Shirl.x

Thursday 21 January 2010

Evie's Quilt

I have finished Evie's quilt. It is very pretty and I wish I could keep it. It is not on my list of things to do for January. I may follow the posting from Kviltstina's blog in the future and add at the end of a shorter list - " anything else that takes my fancy". Why didn't I think of that?

The backing fabric is a toile de jouy nursery print. Can you identify the nursery rhymes?

The quilt label is from a book of iron on patterns. I go over the printed lines with pigma marking pens and then colour in. Have you noticed my new career promotion?

Tuesday saw the return to normal as we managed to get back to sewing with Apple County Quilters. It was a happy atmosphere as we were all like children being allowed out to play. They are lovely ladies and do such beautiful work. Hopefully over the months I will be able to show you some of it.

Love Shirl.x

Sunday 17 January 2010

Retail Therapy

Yesterday we went for a drive out. The snow has mostly disappeared, just patches on exposed high ground. Everywhere looks so dreary after snowy weather. We went to Frome in Somerset. It is a lovely little town with a stream that runs through the middle of the street and some very nice individual shops. Millie Moon is a shop that stocks Amy Butler patterns and fabrics and some Kaffe Fassett. Not a very big shop but pretty and with a vintage feel to it. Bought one or two things!!

From there we decided to go to Midsomer Quilting shop which wasn't too far away. What a very good set up there. Relaxed atmosphere and a good cup of tea /coffee free of charge whilst you browse. I may have come away from there with one or two more items!! Has a good selection of fabrics and notions, something to satisfy most people I should have thought. There is also a garden centre which would keep most husbands from boredom.There is also a little shop for other crafts. However, it was cold and damp and definitely not gardening weather. One of the co owners Chris Howell has written a book on the history of the surrounding villages and the impact that World War 1 had on its families, we were given a copy. The book is called No Thankful Village. My husband was also given a dvd of a play, written again by Chris Howell called The Miner's Tale. My husband is a Mineral Surveyor and the area has a coal mining history. My husband was impressed with the shop so hopefully he will be happy to go there again at some point. I don't know what I am going to make with any of the fabrics yet. I have to stroke them a bit first before deciding. I have eclectic tastes, but only buy what I love.

I have finished my pink socks. That makes it finish number 3 for January. Don't laugh now. I took this photo pointing the camera at my feet. It is better than the one my husband took. You really wouldn't want to see that one.

I have also been making something not on the list. Sarah's friend Lucy had a beautiful baby girl last week. Evie weighed in at 7lb 12oz. I was asked to make a baby quilt. In the cupboard hidden away was an unfinished project from many moons ago. It has been rescued, cut down, washed and turned into something that I feel quite pleased with. I backed it with a pretty pink nursery toile fabric. As I only had a metre it determined the size of the quilt. Unusual for me I machine quilted it. I am just waiting now for some binding before I show you the finished thing. Just goes to show that if you save something long enough eventually you will find a use for it. I dare not tell you how long it has been stashed away. Let me just say that we have lived in this house 15 years and it came with me from the previous loft. It is bordering on being vintage. My excuse - not telling.

Love Shirl.x

Wednesday 13 January 2010

More snow stops play

Well, we woke up to more snow today. Not as much as expected but still enough to have to cancel our Wednesday sewing. It is defrosting, slowly. Underfoot it is treacherous as there is still a lot of compacted ice. Warmer weather has been promised - but still cold.

I managed some sewing at home today and finished ( YES - FINISHED ) a little bag for my knitting. I am pleased with it as it is pretty. I found the handles in a box in the cupboard. Can't remember what they were earmarked for but they fitted the bill nicely. I used 2 fat quarters from my stash and used a few of those scrappy bits that I keep saving and the cream fabrics were left over from another project. Just goes to show that you can find a use for them eventually. Has it made a dent in the fabric pile? What do you think? The bag pattern came from one of the Japanese books that are so addictive. Luckily the diagrams are easy enough to follow. I apologise for the photography - it is not my strong point, will work on it. The background is a little quilt that I started to hand quilt many moons ago, one day it will be finished.

I have now finished two items on January's list which means 1/6th of the way done. Yippee. I think that I am way too ambitious with what I add to the list and what I think I can complete. I also think that I may lose the bet with Sarah reagarding the baskets quilt, having worked out this morning that I need to do at least 30 blocks per month. So far I have done - 1.

My Quiltmania magazine came today so now I am going to put the kettle on for a cup of tea and sit and enjoy the read.

Love Shirl.x

Monday 11 January 2010

Hera marker

I have just started the quilting on a little bag that I am making. I read on someone else's blog that they had used a hera marker to mark the quilting lines and thought that I would give it a try. This little gadget has been in the wrapper for a long time, destined to be one of those things that seem like a good idea but never to be used. Well, if you haven't got one then go and get one immediately as it is brilliant. Can't think why I have never used it before. It is not expensive. Hope from the photo that you can see the quilting lines ready to be sewn.

The weather here is defrosting but more snow is forecast for tomorrow and we are wondering what is going to be in store for us. They say it is going to be heavy snow again. My friend Janet from my patchwork group Apple County Quilters is a dairy farmer. She sent me a e-mail a few days ago to say that she was snowed in and that two tractors had had to pull in the milk tanker so that the milk could be sent off to the dairy. She said they deserved a medal for their endeavours. I for one will certainly be grateful for their efforts everytime I make a cup of tea. Thank you. Maybe we should spare a thought to all those who do go out in all weathers to bring us the essentials.

Love Shirl.x

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Snow Stops Play

This is the scene that we woke up to this morning. The whole of the Country is gripped with this cold snap. It is unusual for us to get snow this deep here in Taunton. There is a good covering of around 4 inches and it has started to snow again.

Today should have been our first day back to our Wednesday sewing group Hubble Bubble and we were due to exchange our challenges. At least it means I have the first finish of the year. You will have to wait till next week though to see what I made with my given fabrics. I am pleased with what I made as it was a bit of a prototype and worked out well. Hope whoever receives it will like it and find it useful. Sewing at home today. Stay safe and warm.

Love Shirley.x

Friday 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

Wishing you all a very happy new year. May you have many happy hours of sewing.

I have kicked off the year with some new sock wool that I bought last week when I should have been Christmas shopping. It was so scrummy and irresistable. Have to knit in small doses though as I have had terribly sore hands the last few days. My husband says it is from too much knitting and sewing. Whatever, it won't stop me from doing it. Mind you I did knit 3 hats during the last week.

This year I am going to continue with the list. It helps me concentrate on getting things done. So here it is.


1. Pink socks -done
2. Tail Feathers Block - November's
3. Tail Feathers Block - December's
4. Wendy's Challenge - done
5. Evie's cardigan - done
6. Challenge Charity quilt - assemble
7. Bunnyhill Block -December - done
8. Assemble Bunnyhill quilt - done
9. Finish quilting Apple Core quilt
10. Cold Wind Baskets - done
11. Orange Peel block - done
12. Japanese bag for knitting - done

Hopefully I will finish this list and there will be space to do other things. I am very good at doing other things rather than what I am supposed to be doing. Seeing it in print might help me to keep focused. The key word this year is going to be FINISH. As you can see there are several items on the list that didn't get finished from previous list's. Must do better this year.

I had some fabulous sewing items for Christmas. Thank you everyone. The pink thimble has been the object of my desires for some time and Wendy gave it to me for Christmas and it has already been tested and is great to use. The pink bit is rubbery and moulds to your finger making it comfortable to use. The buttons are handmade and Sarah and her boyfriend Olly bought them when they were in Patagonia, South America. They are beautiful.

Also in the box there is a bag of buttons from Kate, a Moda Layer Cake in Aster Manor pattern and so pretty, a little fabric bundle and pattern from Pat, Christmas fabric, ruler. The tall teal coloured tower on the right of the picture is a wooden bobbin from the Mills in Leek, Staffordshire and on it is wound 100g of hand spun and dyed wool. It is scrummy. I have been a very lucky girl. As you can see from the thimble and the wool that I love pink. You no doubt will see it a lot in future posts as no matter how hard I try, pink just keeps on creeping in on my work. My friends know me as Pink Shirley.

Bye for now.