Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Holiday sewing

I like to take plenty of books and some sewing when I go away, as there are always times when they come in handy. Waiting at the airport, during the plane journey, that gap between the day's activities and the evening ones, or just relaxing in the shade are all times when I read or sew. The snag is the scissor situation when flying. Although I read that scissors with blades of less than 4" are permitted in plane cabins, since my best Fiskars embroidery scissors disappeared into a bin at check-in, I've not dared test the rule. This means prepreparing anything wanted on the journey. This time, I felt a few 'Dear Jane' blocks would be ideal.

While these blocks are relatively straightforward, especially the one on the right, it's the placing of the applique which is tricky. Since the blocks are so small, a fraction of an inch one way or the other makes a big difference.

Here are the 12 blocks I've done so far. Each one is such a challenge that I'm really enjoying them all. For someone with a short attention span, they're ideal, although I have to admit, my stitch-unpicker has had lots more use than usual!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Another holiday!

DH and I have just been away on a cruise in the Aegean Sea! We weren't sure whether we would like it, but we had a great time. We chose it because it included two places we particularly wanted to visit (Athens and Istanbul) and other places we had never heard of (Bodrum, Dikili and Patmos).

The ship was the Thomson 'Celebration', which was comfortable and spotlessly clean, the service was exemplary, the food good and the entertainment varied. (I have to admit, that the average age of the passengers was probably about 70, but then, I'm not ageist and they were a fun-loving and friendly crowd!)

Here is our first port of call, Istanbul, with the Golden Horn in the foreground. The city was vibrant and exotic, and exactly as I had thought it would be. We visited the Blue Mosque (so called because of the blue tiles inside) and Topkapi Palace, where the caliph had his court in the Middle Ages.
Here are DH and I by the entrance to this stunning monument to Islamic art.

Next was the Hagia Sophia, originally built as a Christian church in 360AD and boasting some fabulous mosaics from that period. In 1453 it became a mosque, and then in 1935 a museum. Here I am on the first floor, where offices and meeting rooms used to be.

The atmosphere in the place was wonderful, serene and peaceful, and not as oppressive as it looks in this photo of the ground floor.

We just had time for a visit to the Grand Bazaar, a rabbit warren of shops and stalls selling practical items and tourist goods. We bought a gorgeous emerald green shawl for DD which she loves (thank goodness!). Dikili, the port for excursions to Pergamon, was an authentic Turkish port: interesting to look round, but not photo worthy.

This was not true of Athens, where the Acropolis was the main attraction. It was very hot, late 20s Centigrade, and I very much needed my hat, even though hats never suit me.

Here are six ladies, five of whom are replicas. Can you spot the real one? Patmos was idyllic, and we really wished we could have stayed there permanently. It was calm and relaxing and very photogenic, and of course, I had forgotten my camera! Never mind, maybe you've been there yourself and seen it. Bodrum was another lovely resort, with a lively port and pleasure harbour. There we looked at more old stones, although these had been part of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. It was a huge tomb built by the wife of Mausolus in 353BC, a bit like a pyramid in scale, although it had crumbled away by the 1400s, and the Knights of Saint John used the remaining stones as building material to repair their castle. Can you find me amongst the rubble?

Here is a closer picture of DH. That day was even hotter, at 32C. Too hot for me!

And here is a shot of DH and I on board the ship after the formal dinner. We scrub up pretty well, don't we!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

A great finish and a poor start

I have quilted and bound my 'Roll, roll, cotton boll'! Here DD is holding it up as best she can. Although it's only five eighths the size of the original (20 blocks instead of 32) it's still a big quilt!

I am so pleased with this quilt. Not only was it great fun to make, but the whole top and binding was made from my stash. I didn't buy a single piece of fabric specially for it. Of course, it hasn't seemed to make any dent in my boxes and boxes of stuff, but it's a great feeling looking at all those different fabrics which play together so nicely.

I had to buy yardage for the backing, but I used a tip from Bonnie Hunter when I found I hadn't bought enough. She cuts unloved fabric (you know, the fabric you bought in those 'stash builder' bundles when you first started quilting, and which has lingered at the back of drawers and in the bottom of boxes ever since!) into 10 1/2" squares, and joins them into strips to make backing. Since the squares finish at 10", it's easy to work out how many you need. Plus, they make a nice feature on the backing too. And now for my poor start. I've started making some 'Dear Jane' blocks and here are my first two. I'm using cream and blue for my colour scheme - lots of different fabrics in each. I'm working from the centre out, and then, if I run out of steam (or skill, in this case) I can use what I've made as the centre of a medallion quilt. (Nothing like planning for failure!) The first block, on the right was G7, Indianapolis. It's turned out to be a fraction too small! The other one, G8, Justin's Comet, has turned out a fraction too big! Only two blocks in, and I'm already going to have to fudge. What a surprise!