Sunday, 29 June 2008

Two awards!

Isn't it typical, you don't get an award for years and years, and then two come along at once! How great is that!
The first one was from Peg to celebrate my finishing the first quilt of her challenge. Thanks for that Peg. I'm working on the next one, honest! The second was the Arte Y Pico Award which originated here at the Arte Y Pico blog, and Jane gave me this award today .... I am honoured and flabbergasted, Jane!

The Rules are as follows....
1. Pick 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.

4.The award winner and one who has given the prize have to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5. To show these rules.

How do I pick 5 blogs from the many I visit? So much talent and so hard to choose! Oh, well here goes.

First has to be Tonya who has a wonderful blog full of colour and fabulous, inspirational photos, and has encouraged me to push my quilt making in different directions, by being more creative. Have a look at some of her tutorials, she's a great teacher.

Second is Peg who is another organiser, and has challenged so many people to get more finished quilts out into the world. I always respect people who are prepared to do something for others, and many quilters are selfless in sharing and encouraging.

Next is Jane. This may seem like nepotism as Jane gave the award to me, but Jane was the person who introduced me to the blogworld, and has given me practical help and encouragement along the way. She's also a great friend and superb quilter.

Then there's Wanda whose use of colour is just amazing! She also has lots of ideas and alternative possiblilities which are fun to drool over.

Last (but not least - there are loads of you out there who should be on my list, so don't be despondant if it's not you! You would have definitely been number six if I'd been allowed another!) is Lisajo because she is juggling her family responsibilities with her quilting, is very down to earth, and puts lovely photos of her gorgeous daughter on her blog for all to share!

If any of these people want to join in the awards, please do, but if it's too hard to decide, don't worry about it - just get out some fabric and stroke it instead!

Friday, 27 June 2008

A Hafla!

Last night I danced at our summer bellydance hafla. A hafla is a performance party, with food to share, drink, dancing, friends and lots of laughs - especially when the choreography doesn't go to plan! Our class's choreography was a particularly difficult dance, with lots of turns, hops and jumps in it. The final rehearsal went very badly, and one lady threatened to have her husband bring his video camera to the show, and then split the proceeds when the fiasco was shown on 'You've Been Framed'! It's fine though in actuality, because the audience is filled with family, friends and other dancers, so there is no way they would be unsympathetic to any mistakes or mishaps.

Here we are at the beginning of the dance, and so far so good. I'm in the middle of the picture with a red and black skirt on. At least I look to be doing the same as everyone else!

First turn, and we're all doing double hits together. You also get a good view of all the gorgeous, sparkly eye candy for sale in the souk. I just want to buy all of it!

Saidi hopping turns here, and although the photo is slightly blurred, it gives a good idea of the movement. (The lady at the back in red hasn't gone wrong. She found that hopping and turning at the same time made her feel ill, so just stayed in the same place. When you watched the whole thing, it was hardly noticeable.)

I'm not really a prima donna, just happened to be the last one off stage still doing the step lift and point movement.

The evening was great fun (especially the Arabic disco at the end) and raised over £800 for the Royal brompton Hospital. A super evening and a large charity donation too, what more could anyone want?

Monday, 23 June 2008

One down, four to go!

I have finished the first of my challenge quilts! OK, it was a cheat really, as most of the quilting was done, it only had to be finished off, the border quilted and binding put on, but at least it's now finished and not languishing in my UFO box (where it has been since the end of 2006!).

The blocks were made by the members of a quilting group I belong to called 'Flutterwheels' and are from Margaret Miller's fabulous book 'Strips that Sizzle'. Everyone made six blocks and then we had great fun playing with them, and trying out different arrangements and combinations. At the end of the meeting they were raffled, and I won! This is one quilt I will definitely be keeping!

The quilting posed a bit of a problem, as I wanted to keep the sizzle and the colour changes obvious. In the end I meander quilted it with four different colours - light blue, dark blue, yellow and gold, to enhance the colors rather than mask them.

The borders were filled with my all-time favourite - feathers! I love doing these, as they are easy, very forgiving and look great.

A left over block became the label, and it's all done. Hooray!Now I have an apology to make. For some reason I thought it was Jacquie who had set this challenge, but it wasn't - it was Peg. I'm really sorry for that blunder and still amazed not only that I have accepted this challenge, but that there are 65 other people who have too! have a look at their progress by following the links on Peg's blog.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Happy family

I haven't done any quilting at all today, I've been to my annual family gathering. Some years ago, one of my aunts died, and I went to her funeral. She was an old lady, so it wasn't a particularly sad affair (if you understand what I mean), and afterwards, it was good to catch up with members of my family who I hadn't seen in a while. Someone said, it was a shame that we'd probably have to wait for the next funeral before we saw each other again, and the idea of an annual gathering was born.

We rotate it round the houses, and this year is actually the 15th gathering of the Shacklock clan. (My mother's maiden name was Shacklock, and she was the seventh child of that family. There is only her and her next elder sister left of the oldest generation.)

Here are 32 members of the family (I made 33) in my cousin's garden in Nottinghamshire. The youngest one Alastair (not in the picture - asleep upstairs) is 7 weeks old, and the oldest one (my Dad) is 83. The two remaining sisters, my aunt and Mum (80 and 82) have white hair and are in the centre of the photo.

Happy days.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Jacquie's challenge

While I was wandering about the web earlier today I came across Jacquie's blog, and fell hook line and sinker for her challenge! It's to finish 5 quilts by 31st July! I must be mad!

My first thought was that this was impossible, but then I thought that goals are good for you (especially when you have as many UFOs as I do) so decided to go for it.

I've selected the quilts I want to finish.

I've cheated a bit with the first two, as they're already layered up. But they still need finishing, and this Sizzling Strips quilt is already overdue.

My Old Quilt has a lot of work to be done on it, and I really ought to get on and quilt it.

Two cot quilts here, the first one has its border on already,

the second one still has decisions to be made about borders.

And this quilt also needs a border. It was the result of a block swap in 2004 - can't believe it was so long ago. I've been out and bought border fabric today, so I all set to go! If you want to join the challenge, I'm sure Jacquie will welcome you!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Old quilt layered!

I finally got round to working on the replacement old quilt I've been working on. (I'm embarrassed that it was January when I last did anything for it, but I have spent a lot of time in between head-scratching and researching - honestly!). I couldn't seem to get the last frame sorted out, then finally decided that the plain border I had put on, was too wide. It finished off the quilt, so anything added looked superfluous. Once I'd chopped a few inches off that, I was inspired again.
Well, not that inspired, as you can see, but I think the flying geese border finishes it off quite satisfactorily. I've used a combination of reproduction fabrics, fabrics which look like they might be reproductions and some vintage fabrics. I hope the lady will like it. All I've got to do now is quilt it!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Hyperbolic crochet

Sorry, this post isn't a quilty one, but it's so interesting, I had to share it with you all. I heard an article on BBC Radio 4 the other day about hyperbolic crochet which was bizarre! Apparently, in advanced mathematics, there is a theory about hyperbolic space, but it's so complicated, no one has been able to make a model of it. Until, that is, US mathematician Daina Taimina realised that it was perfectly possible to make a model using crochet! Following on from that, academic sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim have developed this idea to make a model of the Great Barrier Reef using crochet (obviously, you knew that coral is formed in a hyperbolic way too). There is an exhibition of the reef at the Hayward gallery in London until August 17th.

Here are a couple of photos I found on The Guardian newspaper's site There are more photos there if you like the eye candy including one of a part with plastic bags and other rubbish - very true to life, I'd say.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Green and yellow

I made the mistake of mentioning to one of my colleagues that I was going to make a quilt for her impending grandchild. 'Oh, they will be so pleased! They would like green and yellow, to match the nursery.' Well, I don't do pastels and I don't do commissions either, so that information put me in a bit of a spin. How could I make a satisfying (to me!) quilt only using green and yellow? If I could have used darks, mediums and lights, it would have been fine, but using baby colours was tricky.

After some research, I decided that Irish Chain would be possible in green and yellow, with a cream background. I started by making some ninepatches. I had played around with crayons and graph paper, hoping to make the yellow go one way, and the green go the other, but the fact that one colour had to be in the centres spoiled the flow. Also, the design had a very diagonal appearance, which I didn't like at all.

Back to the drawing board (or graph paper) and then I came up with this design. The colours are alternate in each row, one with a yellow centre and the next with a green. This looked much better, and the solid blocks inbetween the pieced blocks made it grow really fast!

In no time at all I had completed enough blocks for the main part of the top. I managed to find enough pastels in my stash to keep the gentle tone.

Now I have to decide how to complete it. A small cream border to make the chain float, then yellow and bind with green? What better ideas do you have?

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Gorgeous bag

I was out shopping in Leicester recently with DD, when she went in one of those shops that 50-something women don't enter - the ones with corsets, PVC outfits, piercing jewellery and the like for sale. Well, it's a shop, and you're allowed to go in, aren't you, and I was surprised to find that DD didn't buy anything, but I did!

Who could resist this gorgeous bag (it was reduced as well!) which is so over the top! Apart from its fabulous looks, it's very functional. It is made from heavy furnishing brocade, so very sturdy, and has a tasselled zip along the top for security. The handles are just big enough to go over your shoulder, but not too long to just hold in your hand.

The back has a zipped pocket (with another tassel!) ideal for tickets and shopping lists.

Inside, it's roomy enough to take my work A5 diary and all the other things I need, and is lined with a plasticised dark fabric (perfect in case of make up spillages) with more pockets and another zipped compartment - this time without tassel!

DH absolutely hates it, and does his best to make me leave it at home when we are out together! He says only someone eccentric would buy a bag like that, and I'm not eccentric, which sounds almost like a back-handed compliment to me! Viva eccentricity!