Monday, 31 October 2011

Learning all the time

Although I've been quiting for nearly 20 years, there's always something new to try. My challenge group's current block is Electric Fan, by Lynne Edwards.

This didn't look too difficult in the book, foundation pieced spokes and then templates for the rest. I decided to dip out of the curved piecing and use the Pat Deacon method of laying the plain fabric on top, securing it with invisible tape and zigzagging the pieces together. The only tricky bit would be the partial seam in the middle, but it looked straightforward in the instructions. Easy peasy. Well, it would have been had I a) squared up the sections after they were completed so that the seam lines were at right angles to each other, and b) if I had bothered to read the instructions which stated that the central square was made of the same fabric as the middle part, not a contrast. The partial seam isn't very good, and it stands out like a sore thumb since the fabric is contrasting! Oh, well, I said to myself, the next one will be much better.

And it is! The partial seam isn't much better, but with it being the same fabric as the background, you don't notice it, and the sections look nice and square. There's only one problem. I forgot to put the templates for the outer sections on the wrong side of the fabric, and the fan is going the other way! Never mind, perhaps I'll get the next one right! (Fat chance!)

Friday, 28 October 2011

October finish 3

I have been doing a lot of sewing, but of the variety that doesn't yield much in the way of interesting photos! Still, I have finished another UFO, my Mile a Minute Rainbow quilt.
This was a joy to make, and I think it's turned out well. I just meander quilted it along the diagonal strips with appropriate colours (yellow on the yellow squares etc). That was easy and allowed me to use some of my gorgeous YLI variegated threads. I'm not sure I'll manage another finish this month (although I'll try) as I've also been busy with Linus quilts, putting them together, wadding or binding them. I've also been cutting up donated fabrics, as we have recently had two Linus sewing days at Linda's fabulous workshop near Melton Mowbray. She is such a lovely lady, and generously gave her space, (heated and fully equipped) plus refreshments and cake for free! Here are (l to r) Pat, Julie, Maria and Paula hard at work. Pauline worked so hard she actually finished two quilts in the day. Admitted this one was a printed panel, but it's still good going! This one was a soft book kit, but Pauline sashed the squares and put them together beautifully. It was bound by the end of the day!On Linda's design wall are Julie's red and black blocks (the first time she's put anything together on point!) and Pat's Mile a Minute. Hers finish at 9" and she's keeping her fabric choices masculine. Great job! Maria (a very new quilter) ended up with a pile of my MAM blocks to sew together. She wasn't impressed with them - they're not everyone's cup of tea, I know. She complained (quite rightly) that they were bulky. "I don't like these, these, what are they called? Make Up Rubbish blocks!" What a great new name for the blocks! And not untrue either. On Linda's chair was her Bonnie Hunter Scrappy Bargello. This is one quilt I'd love to make! Pat had donated a pile of spider's web blocks, and Paula added corners on them and was soon ready to join them up.As for me, apart from being sergeant major and general gofor, I managed to get this top together from orphan blocks. Linda will long arm quilt it, and then I'll be able to bind it. What a great day we had - not only lots of quilts for Linus, but a good laugh too! Here's to the next session in the New Year!

Monday, 17 October 2011

October finish number 2

This quilt is a Linus one which someone else pieced. It was actually very large (double bed sized, at least) and I've managed to get three Linus quilts from it.

It seems to have quite a bit of Debbie Mumm fabrics in it (whatever happened to Debbie?) and lovely blue and red sashing. I bound it with dark reds out of the scrap bin, and it has worked well. I was slightly dubious about the red stripey at the bottom, but it's played very nicely.

And here is an update on (some of) my UFOs. Dear Jane is first. 27 blocks done, a lot of applique ones which I did on holiday. I think it needs more dark ones to balance it out.

Here is my Barbara Brackman Civil War quilt. I'm way behind with this. She's already onto block 41 and I've only done 29 of these. This set needs more with a light background, I think.

And last (and least) the Crumb Along I'm doing with Jo which is so much fun to do. Next I'm going to do some hearts, which should be nice and quick. I'll have to hang on though, as I'm quilting October finish number 3!

Friday, 14 October 2011

October finish number 1!

I have challenged myself to finish at least four quilts this month - I've got to reduce that pile of tops somehow - and here is the first one.

It's my Bonnie Hunter 'Kiss in the Corner' which I have renamed 'Nobody's Perfect' due to the number of Friendship Splats in the quilt, where there should be Friendship Stars! (I think there are three - can you find them?) Some people I know would have undone the mistakes and made the quilt perfect, but not me. I've got too many ideas in my head to worry about a few odd pieces which have jumped about while waiting to be sewn! Anyway, I think it just adds to the charm of the quilt. Love it!

And here is an example of what else I have to do. Some people will recognise this, but for the rest, you'll have to wait until it's quilted. DH has just gone off on a boy's weekend, so I'm aiming to get it done today!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Family wedding

This weekend we all went to my niece, Emily's wedding to Andy. The ceremony was held in a small village church near Ashbourne, Derbyshire, and then the reception was at Shottle Hall, near Belper. The ceremony was lovely, a perfect mixture of solemnity and humour, although the weather wasn't too good, and made it difficult to get any pictures of the happy couple there. Shottle Hall was a beautiful Regency stately home, which I can thoroughly recommend for a wedding venue. There were several rooms where people could get away from the disco and chat, and the food and service was first class. It had stopped raining by the time we got there, and people were able to stand outside for photos and a glass of bubbly. Here is my family looking smart (DS isn't really seven foot tall, he's standing on the lawn edging strip!) My Mum and Dad had a great time. Even though Mum had a complete new outfit, Dad thought a new tie was sufficient preparation for his grandaughter's wedding! Good choice, Dad!Here is my glamorous sister-in-law, Rosemary looking fabulous!
My brother was busy trying to catch some good shots of the happy couple.

I don't imagine he managed to get any much better than this one!

Or this! Congratulations to Emily and Andy, and I hope they'll both be very happy together!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The attention span of a goldfish!

Now my lovely holiday is over (and all the resultant washing done!) I have had a look in my UFO drawer. It's so stuffed full of tops and part tops that I have decided to set myself a challenge to finish at least 4 quilts this month.
So what is the first sewing I have done? To start a new project!

Jo over at Jo's Country Junction is starting a Crumb Quilt Along, and when I saw the gorgeous blocks she is making, I couldn't resist pulling pieces out of my strips and crumb bins.

Jo's great idea is to start with a piece of solid colour (she chose red, I chose blue) and use this to tie the quilt together. All the blocks are free-pieced (one of my favourite kinds of piecing!) and the first few are Flying Geese with strips added. Here are my first five blocks. I'm really pleased with them and can hardly wait for the next set of instructions!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Another holiday!

How lucky am I to have just returned from another Mediterranean cruise! (In case you're too jealous, this one wasn't quite as restful as it might have been, since we took mother-in-law, mum and dad with us - all amazing troopers in their mid eighties!)

Here is our ship, the Thomson Destiny, which was not quite up to the standard of its sister ship, the Celebration, although the staff were probably even more friendly. The layout of the ship wasn't as well planned - for example, there seemed to be a lot of unnecessary steps (three steps up, a flat 10 yards of deck, then three steps down) which didn't make life easy for the olds. However, they never complained, and we had a great time, just like a big party (although a slightly slow-moving one!)
Here we all are in our best bib and tucker at the captain's cocktail party. We do scrub up well!We flew into Palma and then cruised to Villefranche on the French Riviera coast. The weather was superb every day, nice and warm (mid 20s C) which was a good filip for us all before winter sets in here. Villefranche was a very pretty little town which had to be reached by tender.Here are the olds on the tender, with mother-in-law trying to work out the vaguaries of a disposable camera. Dad's sensibly keeping well out of it! This town was rather hilly, and saw DH and I making the supreme sacrifice of riding with them on one of those little white trains. It was actually a good way of seeing the town (which DH and I explored on foot later) and getting a good view of the ship anchored in the bay.Next stop was Marina de Carrara ( the port nearest Florence and Pisa). This area is famous for its marble and provided the marble for Marble Arch in London and Michealangelo's David. Here are great lumps of it by the harbour (look at the different colours!) waiting to be transported all over the world.Here is the view from the ship, and that's not snow on the mountains, it's marble! Lots of people on the cruise wanted to go to Rome (a 10 hour trip, with journeys of 2 hours each way!) but we stayed in the port of Civitavecchia, which didn't compare with the Eternal City - although was quicker to get to! I had never been to Sardinia before, and was very impresed with Olbia and its very up-market shops. Here are Mum, me and Mum-in-law just before we all headed into the nearest cafe for an Italian coffee. Sardinia is famous for its cork, and here are some cork trays for sale. They looked a bit hefty to me! We managed to resist them, and the cork mugs, bowls, flutes, pencils, necklaces, bottles, ashtrays and other ornaments etc etc which were in every souvenir shop!

Last stop was in Menorca, to explore the capital Mahon. To reach the town from the docks, you had to climb a flight of 100 steps, which was clearly not a good idea for the olds. We all piled into a taxi and then had a lovely wander along the narrow streets of this delightful town.

Sitting in a cafe watching the world go by is my favourite thing to do on holiday!And then back to Palma to fly home. I suddenly spotted these bags made from rocks at the airport, but couldn't get a good photo of them as we had already gone through security. What a fab idea! The flight home was uneventful and DD was there to meet us. The weather at home has been kind enough to enable me to get all the washing out and dried, and I'm now looking forward to my next holiday!