Sunday, 31 May 2009

Spring Bank Holiday

Last week was my half term holiday, as we had our Spring Bank Holiday here in the UK. DH and I took advantage of that fact to have a short break in Sorrento, Italy. We have been there before, but we were both ready for a break and the price was right (discounted because it was a late deal!), we could fly from our local airport at sensible times and the hotel looked lovely on its website.

Sometimes reality doesn't live up to its promise, but this time, it was the other way round! The hotel was fabulous and the views from the rooms, restaurant and public areas were stupendous!

This is the view we had from our balcony, with Sorrento in front of us, and the waters of the Bay of Naples sparkling in the sun. It was lovely to be able to watch the activities in the town and harbour, and we could also see the lawns and grounds of the hotel immediately in front of us.
The hotel, called the Hotel Grand President, was very friendly and welcoming. They had even gone so far as to fit everywhere out in my favourite colour - lime green!
This is a view of the a la carte restaurant, where you could sit inside or on the terrace and watch the sunset over the bay as you dined,
and here I am taking my ease in the shade. This rooftop area was quiet and ideal for relaxation. DH loves to soak up the sun, but I like to lounge, read and sew under a sun umbrella. Perfect relaxation for both of us.
Although we spent several days doing very little, we also did some sight-seeing. We had a lovely time exploring Sorrento's quaint, narrow back streets, with little shops, cafes and restaurants at every turn.

But we also hired a car, driving along the coast to Amalfi (rather hair-raising, what with the hairpin bends and the Italian driving mentality!) and then down to Paestum, where there are the best examples of Greek temples in the world. Sounds a bit strange to find Greek temples in Italy, but of course, the Greeks dominated the Mediterranean for centuries, and these temples have survived in very good condition, even better than the ones in Greece!

Another day we went up the coast to Herculaneum, which is Pompeii's lesser known but probably more interesting twin. Both towns were destroyed by Vesuvius's eruption in the first century, but Herculaneum was swamped by mud, which actually supported the buildings and means that many of them are still intact, with roofs, stairs etc.

Here is a general view of the site, which though smaller than Pompeii is much more accessible and interesting. This is one of the streets, and you can see how well-preserved the buildings are.

And here is the culprit - Mount Vesuvius itself!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Dogs labelled!

I have finished labelling my dogs in the Dog Show. the weather here has been unseasonally chilly, so a bit of hand sewing on a lap quilt has been perfect for sitting in front of the tv of an evening. Here's the whole quilt.

You can just about see the labels above each dog.

Here is Squiggledog, whose fur grows into dots and squiggles of a lighter shade, especially on his legs. He has a slightly nervous disposition, and is suitable for elderly or mature owners.
This is a Japanese breed, Chrysant, whose fur is in lovely shades of orange, red or purple, with lighter patches, rather remoniscent of the petals of a flower. Chrysant is a very refined dog, whose owners need to treat her with the love and attention she demands.
Primarydog has a coat of many colours, but mainly blue, yellow and red (with occasional green patches). His temperament is very lively and bouncy, and he's a perfect dog for a household with small children.This dog has two ears, but they look as if they're not always secured to her head! She has an impetuous nature, and loves nothing better than racing around the countryside, investigating smells, sights, and especially sounds!

This breed is extremely rare, but very sought-after by the retro crowd. Her fur is white with very distinctive, bright pink polka dots on it. She is an old-fashioned dog, who likes nothing better than to stretch out in front of a roaring fire.

Quite how this entrant managed to slink past the judges, I don't know, as it's clearly a cat!

And last, but not least is the dog of my childhood - Dinky. A sweet, loving dog, who loves seaside holidays, travelling in cars, and rolling about with small children. I couldn't resist including her in the show.

Now for the quilting!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Mystery quilt traumas

When I examined my Mystery Quilt after the June Tailor quilting transfers had been washed away, I found, to my horror, that some of the red fabrics had run! I always wash my fabrics when I bring them home, but since my stash is extensive, and dates back (in some cases) 10 or 15 years, there are obviously scraps which didn't get washed before I instigated this rule. Here are the two offenders.

This fabric was actually a Rose and Hubble, so it's a bit surprising that it ran so badly.

I searched out the remaining few pieces of this fabric and washed them in the sink - the water went dark pink!

I can't remember where this one came from, but I don't seem to have any more of it left - and if I come across a piece, I'll be very wary of using it!

I went over to my local hardware shop, looked amongst the washing stuff, and bought some Dylon 'Colour Run Remover'. It was only £3.50 for two sachets, so I thought it was worth a try. You soak the fabric in the product dissolved in water for an hour, and to my amazement, hey presto! it does exactly what it says on the packet! The colour runs were removed!



Here is the completed quilt, which I'm calling 'Feathers'. It was interesting (as ever) to see other completed quilts at the meeting of Rocheberie Quilters last week. Have a look for yourself, and soo what you think.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Quilting transfers

I really enjoy free machine quilting, and decided to use the blank spaces on my Rocheberie Mystery Quilt to have a bit of fun. But what, exactly, to do! I suddenly remembered that ages ago I bought some June Tailor iron-on quilting transfers, which I had never used. I rummaged under my sewing table, and here they are.

I decided they would be perfect for the corner spaces on the quilt, so opened the packet. The transfers are on very, very fine fusible, and the designs were quite hard to see. Whether that's because of how they are, or they've faded because I've had them under my sewing table for a few years, I'm not sure, but it made them difficult to cut into individual pieces and position on the fabric. Here is one piece positioned (hopefully) in the appropriate place.

You can just see the design, faintly in red. I must say, it made the sewing quite straightforward and gave a lovely finish to the design.

Next to wash it off. I wanted to do that as soon as possible, just in case. It was then that I rechecked the instructions, to find that it says that 'best results will be when used with polyester wadding. If using cotton wadding, sew just shy of the line.' Oh, dear. It was a bit late for that, and frankly, rather a stupid idea to provide a marking which you couldn't follow unless you used polyester wadding!

I washed it all off successfully, and was pleased with the result (although there is a little bit of the red still showing under the stitching. Good job I'm not a perfectionist!) The design has flattened a bit, but that would have happened anyway with the first wash.
I decided to continue with the feathery theme and have quilted extravagant feathers in the largest spaces.
Would I use these templates again? Probably not, as the design has to fit the space you have, I usually use cotton wadding and at £5 for 12 they're not cheap, although they certainly were easy to use and gave accurate results without all the bother of marking. Anyone else used them? What did you think?

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Welcome back!

DS is coming to the end of his time at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, and is moving back to London. He's a bit concerned at the amount of stuff he has accumulated in his flat, and how many car-loads it will take to move him, so has made a small start at getting rid of things he doesn't need for a while. Several boxes of books and files were the first things to come home, and this quilt. (He has others, and even in Leeds, I don't think he'll need them over the next month or so!)

It's obviously a log cabin, and one of the first quilts I made. It's faded a little, but has benefited from a wash (it was quite grubby!) and airing in the garden. I'm happy to welcome it back, as although it's a very basic attempt, and the quilting is very rudimentary, blue and yellow always look so fresh, and this one is still very pleasing.
Even at this early stage in my quiltmaking, I knew that quilts had to be labelled, so here is my attempt.

In case you can't read it, it says 'LMH 1994'. Not very informative, but at least it's there!