Sunday, 28 April 2013

Just playing

I never tire of making Mile a Minute blocks.  The pleasure of using up scraps and oddments which others have scorned never diminishes, and the way the colours go together, or clash together, is the source of endless fascination for me.  So, I have a lot of blocks which I usually cut into 6.5" squares.
I took a pile of these, and then with some yellow solid, cut some of the squares into 4" squares and made them into half square triangles.  The good thing about workig with MAM blocks, is that any offcuts can simply be sewn together and used to make more blocks! 

Then the triangles and big squares went together to make stars!  I have to admit that this idea was inspired by Victoria Findlay Wolfe's book '15 Minutes of Play' and it was quick and easy!

Once the star was together, I made four more and arranged them on point.  On point arrangements always have lots of movement and life in them.  (The reason the bottom right corner looks a bit odd is that the middle section has been joined together, so is smaller than the other unjoined rows!)

And last, a sassy border to add pizzaz and use up more MAM blocks!

I really like this quilt, and after it's been quilted will bind it in yellow.  Pure bottled sunshine and good fun!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Lots of Linus

Recently I have been trying to finish some donated Linus tops.  It seems that people love piecing, but not the layering up and quilting!  Andrea gave me several lovely cot quilts which she had donated complete with wadding and backing, and they were just lounging in the Linus box, and feeling rather neglected.  I finally took pity on them, quilted them (mainly meander) and passed them to Paula for binding.  Paula is very sensible, and says I must be firm, and the next time anyone offers me any tops for Linus, say, "I'm sorry, but I'm not accepting tops until I've managed to finish the ones I already have.  But I can let you have the wadding and backing to finish them yourself."  What do you think the chances are that I'll be able to carry this plan out?! 
Meanwhile, I've been enjoying piecing myself.  Here are some scrappy pinwheels, which have made a small dent in my 2.5" box, and I will be quilting this top soon.
And then, because I get bored if I only have one thing on the go, I've started Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trips.  I've already made her Scrappy Bargello, and this is the same technique, but only 6 strips at a time.

You can see the effect it will make more clearly here.  Another raid on the 2.5" box.  Not that you'd notice, as there is still plenty in the box!

On Wednesday Paula and I had a lovely morning out in Leamington.  Sunflower Fabrics had a pop-up shop in The Townhouse pub, so we had a run out.  We met Maggie (and her daughter)  and spent a while admiring Maggie's gorgeous designs and delectable fabrics.  I was tempted by the Liberty fabrics, but in the end went for something a bit more me. 

How's this for hot pink? Perfect!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Still sewing

Since we came back from Berlin, I have been very busy.  Not just with the washing and sorting out which always follows time away, but with other things too.  First of all we spent a couple of (exhausting) days helping DD and fiance move house.  They had underestimated how long it would take them to pack up their stuff and move it to a new second floor flat - yes, two flights of stairs! - and it was a bit stressful as the deadline for handing over the keys to the new tenants of their old property loomed.  Well, we made it and they're they're now happily sitting surrounded by boxes in their new place!  We hope they'll be very happy there!
I did mange to do some sewing for me, and have put the first border on my Challenge Group quilt.  We're deciding what to do by throwing dice and then using the number to refer to a prewritten list of possible techniques.  This time's number was 2 and the corresponding technique was 'Log Cabin'.  It didn't take me long to find some log cabin blocks I'd already made and use them to frame my wonky house.  I put Courthouse Steps in two corners, which continues the log cabin theme.
Then, after some comments by DH I went into the garage where a lot of my Linus fabric is stored and spent some time tidying up.  Over the winter, it's been too cold to want to spend much time in there, and lots of things have just been dumped in front of the shelves, which hasn't made it easy (well, possible) to put things away properly.  I found this large box full of scraps which had been donated to Linus, brought it inside, fetched my rotary cutter and set to work.  Anything which was poly or curtaining went into a charity shop bag, any decent sized pieces went into colour-coded piles, and any small scraps or strips were cut into useable sizes and stored appropriately.  My hand was beginning to blister when I'd cut it all, but at least it's now all available for use!  Anyone want any fabrics to make a Linus quilt?  Just let me know!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Easter break

Very little sewing happened over Easter, as we went away for a few days to Berlin!  If you've never been there before, put it straight on your wish list, as it's an amazing city.  We are lucky to have friends there, so it was a double pleasure for us.  Here are a few of the highlights of our visit - to whet your appetite!  First of all the iconic Brandenburg Gate.  This famous monument was in East Berlin for many years, and it's lovely to be able to walk right through it now.  We didn't have a photo with the Berlin bear or any other people dressed in American, German or Russian uniforms.  (I think the Englishman must have nipped to the toilet!)
Next a sobering sight, the memorial crosses for the people who died trying to cross the wall into West Berlin at this point.  

Here is the Reichstag with its gorgeous glass dome designed by Norman Foster.  I think it looks ulta-modern and perfectly in keeping with an old building, both at the same time!  The circles on the dome are actually walkways, and you can spiral your way to the top for a fabulous view.

Here is the River Spree, with a pleasure boat sailing by.  It was very cold, and any passengers on the boats were all safely inside in the warm! 
Berlin is a real cultural centre, and here is DH at the Pergammon Museum, which holds amazing Roman, Greek, Assyrian and other artifacts.  This is a Roman market gateway and it's huge!  The commentary was excellent, striking a balance between informative and 'too much information' perfectly. 

Here is the view from a rooftop cafe on the Humbolt Box.  We didn't sit here - it was far too cold - but we enjoyed the panorama. 

The famous Checkpoint Charlie, where it was possible to pass from west to east has gone, but there was no shortage of entrepreneurs who could recreate it for a photo opportunity!  There's a wonderful museum here to show all the ways people escaped, and life with the wall.

Here is a view of Berlin during the 80s.  We didn't go in a time machine, but went to see an amazing art work by Asisi, where he recreates the scene inside a curved arena.  The perspective is fabulous, and looks so real!  Here you can see how the wall was very close to buildings in the west at times, whereas the land on the east side was devoid of life - except for border guards and guard dogs.  We were lucky enough to visit Berlin in the 80s, so it looked very realistic to us.

And to end on a jolly note, here are DH and I in a Bavarian Restaurant.  The decor was suitably rustic, the food was delicious and the portions were huge! 
 Suffice it to say that DH did not manage to finish his ham hock, but my pork chops and noodles were easily polished off!