Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Christmas is coming....

I know, I know - stop swearing!

But I just couldn't resist the Sew-a-long from SewHappy.Me. Over the next seven weeks there will be seven Christmassy designs we can make up into Christmas bunting - one pattern a week for one week only. The first pattern is Santa. Here he is:

Check out the rest of the project with the links above!

Monday, 26 September 2011

October Calendar Girlies

Those of you who look at my post on a semi-regular basis will know that I am stitching a lot of Calendar Girlies. These are tiny redwork stitcheries designed by Debbie Johnson from Letters Tied with Blue and surrounded by a pretty fabric, making a 6" quilt. For Christmas last year I am stitching a Calendar Girlie a month for the whole year for a select group of people: Linda (my mother-in-law), Aunty Barbara (my Aunty-in-law), Aunty Mary and Aunty Margaret (my great Aunties-in-law), Granny and Sheila. Miss January arrived on Christmas Day complete with small hanger, and the idea was that Miss February would arrive in time for 1st February and so on. So far, I've only missed a few deadlines!

This month I have been stitching the October Calendar Girlies: it's the first month where the Girls for different people have had different fabrics. Back in November last year, Aunty Barbara picked out the Halloween fabric that she wanted for her Girlie (she's the one above), so I had to get it - it was just so perfect. But perhaps not what I was looking for for the rest of my select group. I stitched it in black, dark purple and neon green for the stockings and wand.

I picked out a deep red with leaf shapes for the rest of the Girlies. Then Linda saw a French General fabric that she thought was nice. Red leaves or grey French General? - I won't deny it - I really don't like French general and although the fabric was autumny, it was also grey. The solution - Linda had the French General for her Girl and everyone else got my choice.

ps. The heart on the witch's hat was because of a grubby mark on the calico - I quite like it - but I'd already made up the other quilts by the time I did it! It's stitched using a tweek on the lasy daisy stitch - check out the tutorial here - it is in German, but the pictures are quite self-explanatory.

Happy stitching!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Two more Farmer's Wife blocks

I am now up to date with 34 Farmer's Wife blocks:

#7 Birds in the Air was really fiddly, but I'm pleased with the end result (only a couple of blunt points).

#5 Batwing: Not my favourite block - like Buzzards Roost it feels like the shapes don't flow, but I do like the fabric I've used: it's only with the large pieces that you can see the variety of colours in this fabric.
The rest of my weekend so far has been spent on the October Calendar Girls - I'll post them once they are finished, and the Nikki Tinkler Essential Sampler quilt: I've decided on my layout (with some help from Picasa because I don't have anywhere large enough to lay out all the blocks where the dogs wouldn't help me!), and I'm working on hand quilting the central nine blocks, so I can join them all together and have something to show for our next workshop. It's a 25 block quilt in total, so still a long way to go.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Nearly up to date with the Farmer

I had a half day today! The luxury! After a quick trip to The Fat Quarters to pick up some supplies, I spent the afternoon with the Farmer. I have done two for week 17. On the basis of two blocks a week, I should have 34; I now have 32.I am so nearly caught up. Maybe by the end of the weekend I will have another two to share and will be able to declare that I am up to date.

In the meantime, here is block #19 Checkerboard. I love this block because I get to use 5 different fabrics as well as the black background. I may do this block another couple of times to show off some other fabrics, as I don't like the two blocks with appliqued handles.

And here is block #15 Buzzards Roost. This is not one of my favourites - the shapes seem harsh, as if they jar against each other. But it will take it's place with all the others.

I've spent a lot of time this week doing some hand quilting for the Nikki Tinkler Sampler Quilt. I'm really pleased with the progress I've made in learning this new technique, though the back doesn't yet look quite the same as the front. And I love my new Clover Thimble - because it is rubbery it helps grip the needle to pull it through the fabric. Though I don't think the man who delivered our pizza on Wednesday was quite as impressed when I handedover the money with a still-thimbled finger!

PS. Thespaecbaronmycomputerkeyboardisn'tworkingproperly...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

So easily tempted!

So - As if I didn't have enough to do I'm joining up to a Christmas sew-a-long on Sew Happy Me's blog. Seven really cute designs to make up bunting ready for Christmas! Check out the blog for more information. Just as soon as I am technically able, I'll be adding the button to my blog. Tomorrow I have a half day off - I can't wait to spend a slightly extended weekend stitching!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Two Sampler Quilts: Progress on both fronts

All of blogs I've been reading posted by Australians are takling about spring being in the air. Here in the UK Autumn has been in the air for months (possible because we missed summer!), but over the last few days it has started to be properly autumnal and quite chilly.

I've been working on two separate sampler quilts this week. The first one is the Nikki Tinkler Sampler Quilt. I'm working on this as part of a group at our local patchwork shop and this weeks class was looking at different ways of setting the blocks and final construction. The book is 25 blocks and everyone has done a different number. I'm determined to complete the full 25. After this week's push I only have three left to do - I need to finish one called Tobacco Leaf. This block isn't in the book, but I really didn't like the Hawaiian Hearts block, so this is my replacement. It's started, but not finished. I then need to repiece Mowhawk Trail. I have already done this very early on the process, but since then I have changed the colour scheme of the quilt slightly, so this need to be redone. I then need to do the Dresden Plate block. This is another one that isn't top of my favourites list. I have started it, but I can't find what I've done with it - very annoying.

So here are the three completed this week: Bear's Paw: I originally did this block as the second block of the quilt. But it doesn't fit the final colour scheme, so I've repieced it. For some reason I struggled to get the points to match. The origianal one may still get used, as I think I might make my quilt into a quillow - then I could use this block as the cushion front, and maybe make some of the other rejects into "matching" cushions.
This is Rocky Road and is another of my own replacements. The original block in the book is called Rocky Road to Kansas and is the same shape as the block I've made (but not quartered), but the triangles coming out from the centre are crazy patchwork. My colour scheme didn't lend itself to crazy patchwork, so I did this version - it mirrors the original and I love the circular affect it gives.

Finally I remade the Trip Around the World block (another victim of the changed colour scheme). Don't you just love blocks where the first instruction is "take template A and cut 121 squares" - 121 pieces. Don't look too closely at some of the corners.

Once the three remaining blocks are pieced I need to get on with the quilting. I'm doing quilt as you go, but haven't really quilted as I've gone. That means I have loads to do. Yesterday I got some pointers on hand quilting, but I can't get my stitches to look the same top and bottom - I still need some more practice.

The second sampler quilt of the week is, of course, my Farmer's Wife Quilt. Because of progress on the first sampler quilt, I've only managed two blocks this week. This brings me to 30 in total, so I'm only two behind!

#55 Linoleum. This block would have been a lot easier and quicker if I had paid slightly more attention to this, rather than Liverpool getting humped by Tottenham. I managed to stitch pieces together the wrong way round. Twice. Duh!

#52 Hovering Hawks. More yellow! I liked this one - still not one of the most complicated. I paid attention to this one and it went together much easier.

Some embroidery this evening, I think.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

More little blocks

Although we spent last week in Guernsey (see my previous Blog post) I have managed to get some stitching done! And the focus has, of course, been on the Farmer's Wife quilt-a-long. I have done 6 blocks:

#81 Snowball: I decided to go for rather un-snowy colours and picked this lovely green fabric that I got at Harrogate. This was very very quick.

#66 Periwinkle: Finally I have got some much needed yellow into my quilt. And I love the jigsaw effect on the green fabric. This was another really quick block.

#58 Mother's Dream: I'm really pleased with the colour combination I used on this block. The burnt orange match was chance rather than planning, as the fabrics came from different stands at Harrogate and I didn't realise how good a match they were until I got them home. This block was also really easy. #39 Friendship: more fabrics from Harrogate. I love this block because I get to use lots of different fabrics together. In reality, the pink is much brighter than the photo.
#12 Broken Sugar Bowl: I thought I should move towards more complex blocks, but this was easier than I had been expecting. Another Harrogate fabric combination (I really don't need to buy any more fabric for this quilt!).

# 65 Peaceful Hours: this block really was more challenging. I don't think I would have kept my sanity had I been using templates, but paper piecing meant it wasn't too bad. There were a lot of pieces, and I was struggling to picture it as I was making it, but now that it is finished I really like the results, and the stars within stars. I also love the orange fabric.

So those are my Farmer's Wife blocks. I should have been working on the Nikki Tinkler Essential Sampler Quilt. I haven't entirely ignore it, and yesterday I pieced Californian Sunset: I took a lot of care to make the seams line up and was very careful, and it was worth it, because the majority of my seams line up well.

As a parting photo, here is Charlie in what must be the stupist position!

We had to take Archie to the vets today, where we discovered that he is allergic to the world. So much for getting mongrels because they are hardier!


We spent last week on Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Linda, Michael and I flew from Newcastle to Gatwick and then on to Guernsey on Monday (it was only after we'd booked the tickets that Linda said she hadn't flown for 30 years!). The purpose of the trip was to attend the APHA (Association of Port Health Authorities) annual conference, where the organisation was awarding the very first John Craigs Memorial Prize to a promising studnet. John was my father-in-law who was a member of the organisation and who passed away just over two years ago. Linda went to present the award and we tagged along to keep her company.

On the Tuesday we must have the caught the back end of a hurricane - the rain was monsoon-like and the wind very strong - it made for some good waves, but we got rather soggy. On the Wednesday the weather had cleared so we took a boat to Sark. No cars are allowed on the island, so everyone has tractors, and we took a tractor bus up from the harbour to the village. We were proudly told that the island had been a democracy since 2008 - prior to that it had been feudal! The doctor also gets about by tractor:
The Wednesday evening was the posh dinner and the presentation of the award. Linda gave a short speech and did very well. And the food the whole week was wonderful!

Thursday was a return to the awful weather, adn the fog came in so thick that the battle of Britain air show was cancelled and the majority of those who had been attending the concert were left stranded at the airport. We didn't fly until the Friday and by a stroke of very good luck, the fog lifted just enough for our flight to leave - other people weren't so lucky and ended up on the ferry!

On a very immature note, this was the front of a shop in the centre of St Peter Port.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Howick, Dunstanburgh and Harrogate

It's been a while, but I've been busy - and not busy doing sewing!

Just over a week ago, my Mum and Aunty Catherine came to visit. On the Friday we visited Howick - a garden and Arboretum in rural Northumberland. I'm not really into flowers and trees, but here are some photos of things that caught my eye. Although it is only the beginning of September (it was 2nd September when we visited) the garden's felt very autumnal. The yellow rose above had the most gorgeous scent.

We went on from Howick to Craster. The harbour at Craster is beautiful, but our visit was about walking to the beautiful ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, perched on the edge of the sea.

The Saturday was our trip to the quilt show at Harrogate! I had really been looking forard to it: I got loads of fabric for a number of quilt projects that are in the pipeline, including meters and meters of batik fabric for a quilt for my sister-in-law Steph and for my Farmer's Wife quilt - I finally found the missing yellows. I also got the new book from Jennie Rayment, and the new book from Florrie and Betty - Shopping Days. An absolutely wonderful day!