Friday, 29 June 2012


Two weeks ago my friend, Nastasja, gave birth to a little boy called Noah. Since I found out she was pregnant I've been intending to make a quilt, and once I found out she was expecting a boy, I was able to buy the fabrics. I went for some Robert Kaufmann Flannels and a pattern from a  Fast and Furious quilt-as-you-go book. Except I didn't quilt as I went. I pieced, layered, stippled and bound (in that order). I wasn't sure about the fabrics for a while, and it wasn't until I heard he had been born, that I felt the urge to cut up the fabrics. And yesterday evening I finally  finished stitching down the binding.

I haven't always liked this quilt, but now that it's finished, I happy enough with it.

Now I need to package it up and send it off.

Oh - and after another 6 Raspberry and white chocolate cakes, 6 gingerbread loaves and 6 lemon drizzle cakes, my baking mojo, rare at the best of times, has deserted me. Mum is still at it - she has made 8 coffee and walnut sponges, 7 chocolate sponges and 6 coffee sponges (on top of 8 fruitcakes she made last night)! But the shortbread just aint gonna happen!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Sashing and Cookies

I'm staying with my Mum and Dad this week, and Saturday is the annual Church Fete (St. Nicholas's in Barton-le-Clay if anyone fancies coming along). Mum and I run the cake stall. We also bake at least half of the cakes on it! The fete is Saturday, yesterday I stocked up at the supermarket and today I made a start:

48 jumbo cookies (6 batches) which we will sell individually
6 times the recipe for chocolate orange brownies - these are really delicious, but a bit of a pig to make: split the eggs, melt the chocolate, take the rind off the orange, juice the orange.... they take a while.
4 times the recipe for regular chocolate brownies (from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook)
And four Polish cakes (not pictured), (as in  Polish from Poland, not polish as in furniture polish!) I don't think this cake has ever been near Poland! It's crushed digestive biscuits mixed with golden syrup, drinking chocolate and margarine, then topped with melted chocolate - mmmmmm

In between batches I've made a start sashing my Farmer's Wife quilt. My Aunt has been over this week. She does a lot of embroidery and a small amount of patchwork. SHe asked what my least favourite part of making a quilt is. This is it. I love seeing it come togther, but I hate all those long seams, and laying it out at home (with helping paws) is a nightmare. That's why I'll try and get as much done as possible whilst I'm at Mum and Dad's.

I'll be back tomorrow with more baking and a finished quilt!

Friday, 22 June 2012

This quilt is misbehaving...

...and it's really starting to p*ss me off.

I am sitting on the sofa sulking, whilst it thinks about what it has done!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

June Blocks

I've finished my blocks for Stash Bee for June! I really love this month's colour combo - chartreuse, teal, white and grey.

The idea of the blocks is that we use our stash. Unfortunately I don't actually have any grey in my stash. Or at least I didn't. A bit of internet shopping cured me of this. Don't get me wrong - I love buying fabric at my LQS and actually seeing the fabrics, but I've been buying some randome fabric online recently - just browsing and picking things that look nice. So instead of using up my stash, I am using this bee as an excuse to stash build! This was this month's purchases from Backstitch (the fabrics came beautifully wrapped in tissue paper and tied up with ribbon!).

(I bought some Flea Market Fancy! I've joined that club. And I like it a lot more now I've seen it in the flesh)

As you can see, I have cured my lack of grey! (I didn't think I liked grey - I think I'm changing my mind!)

I also made my next block in the series I'm teaching to some of Linda's friends. We were supposed to have the "stitch and bitch" session yesterday, but due to illness it's been delayed! It's just a straighforward log-cabin block. Somewhere my measurements and or seam allowances were out, and I'm half an inch short, so this may yet change before it makes it to a final quilt (if it ever does).

Saturday, 16 June 2012

A summer quilt

Perfect for a wet June day! Every day seems to be wet at the moment!

Weeks ago Jennifer at Ellison Lane Quilts announced a Summer Sewing Contest. I thought I might make a bag for my summer holidays. My "summer" holiday was last week. No bag. A brolly would have been more useful.
Ellison Lane Quilts
At the beginning of the year Rhonda at Quilter in the Gap announced a 2012 Finish Along.
2012 Finish-A-Long
Last Summer I chose to make a quilt with Ambrosia fabrics.
Last night was Friday Night Sew In.

Handmade by Heidi

Today all those fourthings come together!

I signed up to the Finish Along at the start of the second quarter (for the first quarter I was having my own personal start-along!), and I picked three quilts I wanted finished. At that time my sewing machine was misbehaving when I was free motion quilting, so I picked three quilts that I planned to straight line quilt. This was one of them.
This is how far I'd got at the start of April

April passed
May passed
June started passing very quickly.
I hadn't touched any of the three quilts.

We got back from Tenby last week, and separated from my sewing machine for seven whole days, I grabbed the nearest project. A week later, I have a finished quilt!
Just about big enough to cover the top of our spare bed,
but this wil be a generous lap quilt

This quilt started life last year when I saw the fabrics at my local quilt shop and just had to have them. I picked five fabrics from the same range and then added in a sixth. A fat quarter of each, some white sashing and the book "Fast Quilts from Fat Quarters". After just twelve hours of cutting, arranging and piecing I had a twelve-block quilt top.... but I didn't know what the hell I was going to do with it. So I bought another half meter of each of the fabrics, so that when inspiration struck, I would have enough fabric. Then the quilt went into the cupboard.

I put it on my finish-along list at the start of April and pulled it out of the cupboard. Then I ran out of thread one Friday evening and ended up in Hobbycraft (for the non-Brits it's a crafting superstore, that tends to be a bit pricey and the staff don't know the first thing about crafts - that's my experience anyway). To get to the thread I passed the fabric. Normally I wouldn't look twice, because the choice is limited and the price high. But I noticed out of the corner of my eye a print from Ambrosia. So went to look. They had a print I didn't have. Sold. They had a hug scale red fabric with roses on from the same range.  Backing? SOLD! But, wait.... on SALE? Yes! £7 a meter - SCORE!
The backing fabric

So, back to this week: by Wednesday night I had a finished quilt top (and I only used another fat quarter of each fabric so I have fabric to spare). Thursday I bought batting and pieced the back (I had only just bought enough....) and Michael (grudgingly) helped me layer it up. Turns out he doesn't actually like it.

Friday night was Friday Night Sew In. I planned to quilt it. My evening started with three hours of unplanned overtime.... but I did do four hours worth of quilting. Since deciding to do straight-line quilting, my machine has been fixed, so I decided this would be my first quilt fully covered in free motion stippling. If it went totally tits up, then my local shop still has all of the fabrics in stock! It went beautifully! My machine really is fixed. Not all of my stitches are the same length, but very few are tiny and none are stupidly long. And only my Mum would look close enough to see anyway!

This morning, another hour of FMQ, then I attached the binding (by machine). Then straight into the washing machine and the tumble drier and I have a lovely crinkly quilt (though most of the photos are pre-wash).
A post-wash crinkly photo

The fabrics are so summery (despite being red and green) and a year later they still make me think of summer. So I'm linking this mammoth blog post up to Ellison Lane Summer Sewing Contest, Friday Night Sew In and once the linky opens at the end of June/beginning of July, Rhonda's Finish Along.

Quilt stats:
Fabric: Ambrosia from Westminster fabrics (except one which I don't know)
Sashing: a white on white print - no idea....
Backing: also from Ambrosia
Binding: a bright pinky red from Kona
Wadding: bamboo cotton blend
Thread: Aurifil (I'm a recent but total convert)
Pre- washing size: 76 x 66"

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Tenby [2] Castles

After Monday the weather went downhill. Tuesday was a total washout, but every other day seemed to be wet/murky in the morning then improving in the afternoon.

On Tuesday we went to Carew and wandered round the ruined castle. This is a beautiful medieval castle that was altered in the Elizabethan period with the addition of huge windows looking over the millpond (the Mill is one of the few remaining working tidal mills in the country) - this view is one of my favourites (though it's better without the rain).

On Wedneday we went to one of the best ruined castles in the country: Pembroke. As kids growing up this was our favouritest castle ever. There's loads to explore, spiral staircases to climb and, battlements to walk along. The castle originates from the Norman period, but in 1457 Henry Tudor was born in the castle. In 1485 he beat Richard III at the Battle fo Bosworth and became King Henry VII.

The Dungeon Tower
The Gatehouse
Courtyard with keep in the background

Under the castle is a huge natural cavern, that in the heyday of the castle, allowed direct access to the river. I love the colours in the rock.

Wogans Cavern (with girl in pink raincoat)
 We called in at Manorbier, but didn't stay long....

Manorbier beach looking west
Then stopped at Lydstep Head. This is another my favourite views, especially with weather like this - coastal views like this and sea this colour are the reasons I love Pembrokeshire.

We went plodging on South Beach (paddling) - the sea wasn't too cold

And we sat by the harbour and did the crossword!

I'll post a third and final installment of photos over the next few days!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Final layout

I took the opportunity offered by AWFUL weather and a large carpeted area without helpful paws (the dogs are back at home and Grandma has moved in to look after them!) to decide on a final layout for my Farmers Wife blocks!

This is the final layout - it took a while to lay it out, then Mum and I swapped blocks around to get a good balance of colour - we could have kept doing it forever. Then we laid out the little cornerstones, again to get a good balance of colour. Then I drew out the quilt and numbered the blocks. All ready for when I get home and get my sewing machine out!

ps. if you don't already know, the sashing is a golden yellow colour (not batik)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Tenby {1}

Last Saturday we drove from Blyth in Northumberland to Tenby in South West Wales - 9 hours in the car, and the M5 was like a giant car park from Tewkesbury to Exeter. Luckily we came off and took a detour via Ross-on-Wye, otherwise we may still be sat on the motorway!

Here are the first few days of our holiday:
Tenby Harbour with the castle behind

South Beach looking over to Caldey Island

St Davids Cathedral

St Justinians looking out to Ramsey Island:

Mum and I went out on a rigid inflatable round the island and saw loads of seals, cormorants, guillemots, razorbills, choughs (v. rare), kittiwakes and other seagulls!

From St. Davids we went to Porthgain, an unusually industrial landscape in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It had slate quarries nearby in the 19th century.

The Road to Jerusalem looking out over the sea with ruined quarry buildings in the background (the slate quarry was called Jerusalem).

The coast - I love the colour blue you get in the seas round Pembrokeshire on a sunny day!

The slate hoppers on the quayside (to the right of the picture).

The Sloop Inn  (minted lamb buurgers to die for!)

This was just the first couple of days in Pembrokeshire. Next time I get some internet access I'll post some more - just don't expect such gorgeous blue skies on the next lot - the weather has been torrential today!