Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Attention span of a gnat!

I really admire those bloggers who work on one project at a time. They post photos of the fabrics they have chosen, photos of blocks, sashed blocks, tops and completed projects. then they move onto the next idea.

I'm not like that. I have a very low boredom threshold, and after a few days of working on a certain project, I'm ready for a change. I've been putting together these gorgeous blue scrappy hearts for a Linus quilt, and yesterday, just as I'd got them sashed and ready for borders, I just needed something different.
I have recently bought Carrie Nelson's new book, 'Schnibbles times two' and decided that now was the time to try one of the projects from it. I dived into the Linus green scraps, and not long after, there were two blocks for a new quilt!

The pattern is called 'Nice Day', and it certainly was!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Day out

Yesterday I was up bright and early as I was going on a very long-awaited day out. I went on a coach, kindly organised by Ruth, with lots of my quilting friends and naturally I took my camera with me to record the event. This is the only photo I took.

Any ideas where I went?

It was to the quilt exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum in London, where their excellent collection of antique quilts was displayed, for the first time ever. The exhibition was excellent, but of course, no photography was allowed. So this photo is when Pauline and I sat in the V&A courtyard cafe, having a cup of tea, and watching the children cooling down in the water. If you want to see some images of the quilts, you'll have to look on the V&A site where the photos will in any case be better than mine!
I did manage to buy a little fabric, as the V&A have commissioned some reproduction fabrics from Liberty and they were hard to resist.

These two were from a British coverlet dated 1797,

and these from the 1820s. (The blue one is a typical seaweed design of the period.) Now, what to make?

Friday, 25 June 2010

Flower pounding

My challenge group's current challenge is flower pounding. It's the perfect time of year for it, as the garden is full of different flowers and leaves. The only problem is that it's very much trial and error (with the accent on the latter in my case!) as lots of things either don't do anything, go splat! or look promising at first, but dry to a very disappointing brown! I found that sage leaves are wonderful, as you get a lovely clear impression, with the veins showing beautifully. So I decided to make a wreath, and started with the sage leaves.

How exactly do you do it? Easy. Take a leaf or flower and place it carefully upside down on some fabric. (This won't be permanent, but as it's for a wall hanging I'm happy. You have to soak the fabric in an alum solution for permanence.) This is a busy Lizzie flower.
Tape it down with masking tape to keep it in place.
Turn the fabric over and whack it with a hammer!

Take off the masking tape and mashed plant remains, and there you have it!

Here is my wreath as it's building up. The big splats are geranium leaves. Not completely successful, but good fillers!

Here is the completed wreath. I used some pieces of grass round the edges to give a bit of a feathery look to it. I'm going to embellish it with embroidery and beads etc, so here's the start. Looking good, eh?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Making up blocks

Earlier in the year, at Rocheberie Quilters, we had a games day. Amongst the games we played was a bingo game, using 25-patches which people had made previously. All the games went down very well, and at the end of the day, we said that those who wanted to keep their 25-patches could obviously take them home, but if they didn't particularly want them, to leave them, and they would be made up into charity quilts. Most people kindly left their blocks, and they were divided between Project Linus and an Alzheimer charity.

I took 25 blocks home with me, and divided them into three groups. Those which did not measure the required 12.5" ( and I'm sorry to say, there were a few of those!), those which were 'pretty' and those which were 'bright'. The ones which were too small went into the orphans box, and here are the results of the other blocks.

Here are the 'pretty' blocks. I wondered about sashing them, but decided that it would dull their impact. I managed to find a piece of fabric for the first border which was the exact fabric of some of the pink squares, which was lucky. The border is two diferent fabrics which aren't quite the right colour, but frame it beautifully.

The 'brights' were a larger group and have made a bigger quilt. The yellow binding was DD's excellent suggestion - very in keeping with the theme!
Just hoping now that the block makers approve of the results!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Passing it on

I was very excited a few weeks ago, when Shakira, the Textiles teacher at a local secondary school asked me if I would come and give a talk about quilting to her Y9 students. I could talk about quilting anytime, and love showing off my handiwork (especially to people who know nothing about patchwork and think it's all wonderful!) The class was lovely, and seemed to enjoy the talk, so I offered to lead a workshop in patchwork with the class. I took a big bag of pastel strips, and showed the girls (it was all girls, sadly) how to stitch and flip the strips to cover the Vilene. They struggled a little, but produced 25 lovely squares, which I took away to join together for a Project Linus quilt.

Here is the finished quilt. I decided to put a piano keys border, and in each corner is an orphan block (two of them were Andrea's. Thanks, Andrea!)

And here are the hopefully budding quilters, proudly exhibiting their work. Shakira was so welcoming and appreciative, that I've offered to go back in the autumn and work with some of her students. Should be fun!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Starry finish and simple things

I have been busily finishing my Gwen Marston free-pieced stars and assembling them into a top. I really wanted it to be like Gwen's (bit pathetic to copy, but she's so clever!) with just the stars on a cream background with a cream border and binding, but as per usual, I didn't have enough cream fabric! I didn't stress trying to match the cream, just bought something as near in tone as possible, and separated the two fabrics with a scrappy border.

Once it is quilted (next problem!) I think it'll be hard to notice - or at least, that's the idea! Now I need to buy some backing and get on with the quilting. Meanwhile, I'll just show some little things which have pleased me recently.

Here are some name labels which I bought from an internet company which will let you choose your wording, font, motif, background colour, embroidery colour and make them in various sizes. You design them yourself online, and then have a chance to view any permutations before you buy. I'm looking forward to completing something so I can use one!

At a local gift shop I came across these labels. I think it's supposed to be parcel tie, but I will use them to go on items for presents. I particularly like the way they look as if I had spent hours cross stitching them. As if I have time for that!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Narrowboat heaven

Last week was half term holiday here in the UK, and DH and I went away on a narrowboat. It had been a dream of DH's for ages, and I have to say, it was something I'd never been convinced about. But last week, we had nothing booked, and when DH said he wanted to go to our nearest hiring centre at North Kilworth and see if there was a boat available for the next week, I thought I was safe. When he came back to say they had one boat which was a two berth, which we could have at a late-booking discount, I realised it was meant to be. How right was that!

Here is DH at the helm of our lovely 40' narrowboat, the Swift ready to set off. The boat was very compact, but had central heating, a double bed, bathroom with shower, fully equipped kitchen, dining area complete with tv and radio, which was all the facilities you could want.

Here I am pretending to be in control, (the clue is the rope on the left hand side, mooring the boat to the bank!),

and here I am actually in control, after having navigated a lock. I am hoping desperately that I can move over to the left bank to pick up DH, who has been working the lock gates!

This was my usual task at locks, lifting and lowering the paddles, which raise and lower the water. I shan't need to go to the gym this week, after all this physical work!

Here is DH keeping the boat steady in the lock (not easy with all the swirling water) and waiting for the chance to drive out and into the next one. This was a staircase of locks at Watford, where there are four locks in a row, and boats have to go up or down all of them in sequence. We had to wait quite a while to go down them, but were lucky coming back up the next day, as we managed to tag straightaway onto the end of several boats also going up.
The whole experience was wonderful, and completely relaxing. You aren't supposed to go any faster than four miles per hour, which gives you chance to appreciate the nature around you,
whether it be cows having a cooling drink
proud parents taking the air,

idyllic scenes worthy of any coffee table book,

or properties to envy. I won't embarrass myself with stories about piling hooks dropped into the canal, the threat of divorce when I nearly drove into another boat (well, it happened to be stationary at the time, so how was it my fault!?) or DH with his adventures in a weir, but suffice it to say that we can thoroughly recommend to anyone the delights of a canal holiday, and we will definitely be doing it again!