Sunday, 16 November 2014

Fabric choice for my Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt


I purchased the Green Tea and Sweet Beans booklet by Jen Kingwell with the intention of starting this summer. However none of the current fabrics really grabbed me. The 1930's prints I saw were all in primary colours and somehow just not to my taste.
I was reading Lori Holt's fab blog, Bee in My Bonnet, yesterday and loved her new fabric range for Riley Blake fabrics, Flower Patch. It has a vintage vibe in slightly pastel tones and a great range of colours. Lori was kind enough to give me permission to use a couple of her photos.




I've done what I've never done before and ordered a fat quarter bundle of 24 designs from Fat Quarter Shop without seeing the actual fabric. I think it should look good as there is such a variety of colours and tones. All I've got to do now is sharpen up my appliqué skills!



At the beginning of the year I took part in the Grow Your Blog party run by Vicki of 2 Bags Full. This is the most amazing event and the organisation behind it is tremendous. I met so many interesting people and in a short space of time had new followers for my blog. It isn't that I want followers per se but it is lovely to share ideas and thoughts with creative people all over the world. All that is needed is to sign up and commit to a blog post on January 25th about yourself and your work and to visit some of the other blogs on the lists. Last year there were over 600 participants so you are bound to find some blogs you really like.
The party sign up is open for 2015 and you can get to Vicki's sign up post by clicking the previous link  or the button in the sidebar on the right. If I can do it then anyone can, whether you are totally new to blogging or have been at it for years. I promise you won't be disappointed so give it a go!

Catherine

Friday, 14 November 2014

A finish and a conundrum


I never thought I would be as busy when I was retired but these days I never stop. Mike and I have been away for the last two weekends; first to catch up with our family "up North" in the Lake District  for Halloween and then in Leicestershire for the Remembrance day service at the parish where Michael's grandfather was vicar from 1913-1923. There was a huge turnout at the church and then afterwards we attended a book launch at Wymeswold Memorial Hall. The book is "Bringing them home: the story of the Lost sons of Wymeswold" by Ivor F. Perry. Ivor researched the stories of all the boys and men who went to war in 1914 and never returned. There was an exhibition of first world war artefacts and the research. Michael's grandfather, as vicar,  had been instrumental in co-ordinating the memorial committee and in the decision to have a memorial hall as a place for the whole village to meet. Michael was asked to unveil a new plaque at the hall.

Wymeswold Parish Church, St Marys.


The highlight of the week for me was acquiring a haberdashery shop unit from eBay. These usually go for a lot of money but we set a limit and got the counter for less than £250. It is 6 ft long and has sixteen solid oak drawers with half moon handles, a glass top and back. The only place we can keep it is in the conservatory as it is too large for anywhere else. Mike has replaced the beading on the kick board and it is like new. We think it is likely to be from the 1950/60's. This morning I spent hours sorting my fabrics into colour groupings. I am so pleased there was room for all my fabrics, WIPs and threads with a large space under the drawers for mats and large rulers.




I know that the light in the conservatory is likely to be strong enough to fade fabric colours so I have only put small current projects in the top drawers and will cover them.

Next; a FINISH! The Coastal Ripple blanket has been around the house for at least 3 months and I am beginning to feel a bit snowed under with lots of things to finish for Christmas. The blanket will be a present so I'll not publish this to Facebook and spoil the surprise. I will need to steam the corners gently to square them up and darn in the ends from the border but I could not wait any longer to show you.



I just love the colours that were chosen by Lucy of Attic 24 for her Coast Ripple. The pack is available at Wool Warehouse. I enjoyed this so much I've bought the Cosy pack too but will not start until after Christmas. There is a lovely rhythm to the crochet stitches in this blanket and it is ideal to do in front of the TV.

Finally, do you wash? Not you but your fabrics for quilting?
I have never done this before but I am about to cut my fabric for a Japanese +x quilt class next week. I chose a very modern dark fabric- Juggling Summer by Zen Chic for Moda. I saw this in Calico Kates in Lampeter in the summer and had to have it. It is totally not my normal style and I am not sure what I will do with it when it is finished either but I loved it!


I added Kona fabrics in Putty and Amber and since this photo was taken, a pale grey in the Juggling Summer range. As the prints were so intensely coloured I did two separate washes and threw in a couple of colour catchers.This is how they ended up.



Just so glad I did wash this time. I would hate to do all the work in a quilt and then have muddy spoilt colours.

I am going to the West Country Quilt Show tomorrow. I entered a quilt for the first time, not I might add in the hope of winning, but for the experience of seeing my quilt hanging up for all to see. I feel a little recreational shopping coming on too.

I'll be linking up to Wool on Sundays and Yarnalong.



Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Halloween tote bags


Mike and I are off up to the Lake District this weekend to see some of the family. As it will be Halloween I decided to make special tote bags for some treats for Vivi and Hugo.


This was such a simple but fun pattern that I found at Skip to my Lou. The bag is reversible too.

I used a fun Halloween print that I found at the Malvern Quilt Show last weekend; Halloween Manor by Deb Strain for Moda. The lining is a plain black and the plain orange I bought at Busy Bees Patchwork in Newport. I had intended to appliqué a black cat on one and an owl on the other but I settled instead for their initials as I had been sewing all day and wanted a quick finish.

I have bought all sorts of goodies for the bags, colouring books, coloured pencils, stickers, nail transfers, spooky paper chain strips, spider biscuits and chocolate. I am making some spooky iced cupcakes and we'll be hollowing out our pumpkins with the children's help on Saturday.



Have a spectacular, spooky weekend,


Catherine

Linking up to W.I.P. Wednesdays with Lee at Freshly Pieced


Also linking to Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation
Needle and Thread Thursday

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Time flies (when you're having fun)


Where does the time go? I had not found the time to write a post for just over 2 weeks and I had been feeling terribly guilty. Then I remembered why I was blogging (as a diary of my quilting/crafting) and not necessarily for anyone else. It is wonderful that I have friends both in the real and the internet world who take the time to read and occasionally comment on what I have written. Please bear with me if there is a gap in my posts in the future. Life just gets chock a block full with some good things and then again, with some bad. This month has been particularly trying with health issues in my close family which are hard to deal with. However, I have kept busy with projects and support from friends.

Where to start?

I went to a fun UFO day with a local group called Cutting Edge in Ystradowen Village Hall.  There are photos of the day on the link. I had several small projects to finish including a Christmas stocking which needs to be ready for early December for a sewing bee competition. I did a simple quilted front and a saw-tooth star appliqué on the back. The stockings will be donated to the local children's hospital. I plan to trim the top with some white "fur" or gold ribbon when I get the time.






I am trying to keep up to date with the English Flower Garden BOM but I am still avoiding September's block as the background consisted of a set in circle. I'll leave that one until the New Year. Instead I went full steam ahead with October's block- a rose. The pieces have been applied with bondaweb and I machined the raw edges at Ystradowen. I am going to unpick it though as I do not like the spiky stitch I used. Too much talking and not enough thinking going on!
 I will probably do a fine blanket stitch by hand but it is still to be finished.





 I decided that I would make a Christmas tree quilt for the sitting room as I have had a charm pack of Aspen Frost by Basic Grey for Moda hanging around since last year. The fabric designs appealed as they were traditional but in a more modern colour palette.




I am teaming the Aspen Frost fabrics with a Kona Bay basic white which has a subtle white on white fleck(not sure what it is as I lost the selvedge). I found the pattern, Oh, Christmas Tree,  on the Moda Bakeshop website. It is simple yet effective and should be good to snuggle up under on the sofa in front of the fire.
The 4.5" HST blocks were made yesterday and trimmed to size. I will be sewing them together this afternoon.

I think this will be a fun quilt for the sofa. I just need to get the backing fabric and wadding now.

It was my birthday yesterday so I had a day off from sewing. Breakfast in bed with my cards and presents, pre-lunch fizz and canapés then a delicious lunch at Pier 64 in Penarth with friends. I am so lucky to have my lovely girl friends. Mike says I am not to get too used to the breakfast in bed!

And finally, I had almost forgotten about the fab giveaway I won when a package arrived from Vicki of A Quilter's Mission. The giveaway was to celebrate her 200th blog post. A pre-birthday surprise full of quilting treats just for me. Vicki had even made me a cute strawberry pincushion. Thank you so much, Vicki. I have followed Vicki's blog for a few months now. She posts regularly (unlike me, lol) and has a ton of fun finished projects and always something on the go.


  

Until the next time,

Catherine

Monday, 6 October 2014

Summer's end

The weather changed suddenly overnight and I woke to a blustery day and rain. A perfect day to get my sewing machine out if only for a short while. This afternoon we are back to summer but I am not sure it will last.

I settled down to finish the flower pot blocks which will be on the outside of the cutting mat bag that I am making in class. The flowers are saw-tooth stars with machine appliquéd stems and leaves. The green fabrics were scraps from my stash and I used a simple zigzag to outline the leaves.


The inside of the bag will be Kaffe Fassett Shirt stripes- I just love saturated colour!


We were asked to choose some highlight fabric to add a border to the group of 4 flower blocks but I decided that since I had so much bright colour I would use a dark colour to frame them. The following is an example of how not to take a photo- please excuse my shadow! The border will be squares of the gold background and squares of the dark green with black squiggles. It is  Pheasant Hill by Kanvas Troubles for Moda. The green matches the flower pots and the green in the Kaffe Fassett fabric perfectly.


I love autumn with a passion. Maybe it is because this is my birthday month or maybe it is the rich colours around in the garden. I picked a few dahlias for the table in the sitting room. We finished off the last of our ripe tomatoes on bruscetta for lunch and I labelled my green tomato chutney for the cupboard. There is something so satisfying about filling the cupboards with preserves for winter.


My friend Jane gave me 4kgs of green tomatoes last week. The recipe contains onions and sultanas with brown muscovado sugar. The house reeked of the spiced pickling vinegar for a few days but the results are worth it. Six huge jars to accompany cheese and meats. I'll leave it to mature for a few weeks before we sample it. I might give a couple of jars as presents at Christmas.

Lastly, I have made some progress with my Coastal ripple crochet blanket. It is becoming quite heavy to manoeuvre on my knee but is lovely and snuggly. 33 ripples done and only 51 to do.


I have been fairly busy this weekend visiting family and I am enjoying spending today pottering around the house and catching up.

Have a great week,

Catherine

I'm linking this week to

and 

Quilter in the Closet

Monday, 29 September 2014

All the fun of the fair.


The beautiful weather continues so Mike and I went to the Malvern Autumn Show on Sunday to see all the produce, floral displays and country crafts. There were exhibitions of giant vegetables, Shire horses, dog training events, food tastings and cookery demonstrations. The show ground was so huge that frequent stops were required for refuelling with pasties and craft beers. Children enjoyed the funfair while parents looked at vintage cars.


I had the great pleasure of catching up with a fellow blogger who had a stall in the Vintage tent. Tracey has a super crafting/family blog, A Patchwork Life, which I have been following for some time. When I saw that she was going to be exhibiting and selling some of her super stuffed toys and Christmas ornaments I knew I would love to meet her in person. She is just as nice as she is in her blog. I bought the cutest knitted mouse in 60's inspired dress. I gave this later in the day to my 4 year old granddaughter Lexie and it was a great hit.


I have knitted frantically this last two weeks and I have not one, but two finishes to show. I had knitted the Playful Stripes cardigan before which helped but the Wee Wildflower cardigan was a new pattern for me. It won't be the last time I knit it though.


I love the bobble flower pattern on the pockets and the loopy edge. Next time though I will knit it in a softer wool yarn. I used Jenny Watson Babysoft, an acrylic/polyamide blend. The feel is not quite as nice as the yarn I used for Playful Stripes but it should be hardwearing and it is machine washable. It was also very reasonably priced at less than half the price of the Debbie Bliss Rialto DK I used for Playful Stripes.
Pattern: Wee Wildflower by Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting.
Size: 23.5" chest


This is my absolute favourite cardi to knit. It is a joy to knit with the Debbie Bliss yarn; it is so soft and luxurious and machine washable too! If only it was cheaper. I bought the spotty buttons online from Kirsty at Love Paper Fish.com
Pattern: Playful Stripes Cardigan
Size: age 2 years

I've really got the knitting bug back and have cast on another cardigan which I will show you at the end of the week. Not much progress on my Coastal Ripple crochet blanket though. Tomorrow I'm off to my
patchwork class. So much to do and so little time.

I've decided that since I am linking to Yarn along that I will start posting about the latest book I am reading. I have always loved books and still buy lots but increasingly I use my Kindle. It is so easy to travel with and download new stuff too. BUT you cannot beat the real thing, especially in hardback.
My latest read is The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton. I'm only about 25% in and it is almost unputdownable. Set in 17th c. Amsterdam it tells of the strange marriage between a shy young woman and a merchant. The detail of the society they live in and their household makes for an extremely good read. I've linked to the review on goodreads.com as the précis is so good.

Have a wonderful week (and let me know what you are doing too)

Catherine

I'm linking up to Wool on Sundays, Anything goes Mondays and later in the week (Wednesday) to Yarn along.


I've also got more details of the knits on my Ravelry pages.



stitch by stitch

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Indian Summer

Autumn does not get much better than this year, does it? I love that feeling of crisper mornings. I was in the garden yesterday morning (sorting out the recycling, if you must know) and passed the woodshed which Mike has now filled with logs for the wood stove. I found I was looking forward to colder weather and lighting the stove. Every season has something to offer. The shorter days will mean I don't feel so bad about doing my projects during the day.

I am working on a number of projects at the moment but have no finishes to show you.


W.I.Ps.

  1. Summer Breeze quilt for our bedroom (on hold)
  2. English Country Garden BOM appliqué quilt. (I need to do the September block next)
  3. Patchwork cutting mat bag (fortnightly class at Busy Bees)
  4. Coast Ripple blanket. (on hold while I finish the cardigans)
  5. Isobel's Playful stripes Cardigan (just needs buttons so a grand reveal next week))
  6. Isobel's Wee Wildflower cardigan.
This week I have been working on the 11 stars which will the flowers on the cutting mat bag. I had a mammoth sew-in yesterday and finished them.



These are 6.5"blocks using a Philip Jacobs print for Rowan.The background is a Renee Nanneman fabric. The fabrics above the top blocks are Benartex Essential Gradations which are for there Maple Leaf blocks.

The rest of my crafting time has been taken up with knitting. I have made good progress on Wee Wildflower, which I am knitting in size 2 years. It is knitted on circular needles from the bottom up. The pattern for the pockets demanded concentration but it has been a pleasure to knit so far. I have finished the body and one sleeve and I am well on with the second sleeve. The instructions on the pattern was to block the pieces separately before joining so I did that yesterday before starting the last sleeve. The loopy edge will look fab when it is blocked.


The yarn I am using is Jenny Watson Babysoft DK that I had in my stash. It is much cheaper than the Debbie Bliss 100% merino yarn I used for Playful Stripes but it feels soft and is machine washable too. I hope to finish this before next week.

Mike and I went to Oxford to a attend a garden party at Magdalen College. Mike was there in 1960 and we met up with some of his old friends for afternoon tea on the lawn. The day was slightly overcast and the photos were hopeless. On the way home we called in at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire. The trees were just beginning to turn and this autumn's display will be fantastic in a couple of weeks.



Lastly, some of you may know I am interested in family history. I subscribe to a few internet sites and came across this excerpt from an 1846 newspaper. 

Carlisle Journal, 09 May 1846 - Knitter / Accident / Body Found
Saturday 09 May 1846   (p. 3, col. 1)
A VENERABLE KNITTER.-There is now residing in Cockermouth a venerable female, named Jane OWENS, who is in the 94th year of her age, and who, last week, in the course of a few hours, footed a pair of men's yarn stockings in an excellent style of workmanship. This antiquated dame is a stout good-looking woman for her age, and has little of the appearance of having looked upon the world for
nearly a century. Her health is even robust, and she is in full possession of both her mental and bodily faculties, the latter of which are often tolerably well tested by her journeys to the village of Greysouthen and back again to Cockermouth, a distance of twelve miles, which she is able to perform with but very little fatigue! 

I always knew knitting was good for you!

Catherine


Linking up to 
Quilter in the Closet

Monday, 15 September 2014

A (very) quick finish!

It has been a frantic, busy week but very enjoyable all the same.

First, a finish, ta dah! Don't laugh, I know they are small but they are incredibly useful.

3 finger pincushions



I found this idea yesterday morning on Carolyn Forster's Quilt-On-The-Go blog. I made the three in less than an hour, super fast and super useful. 
I gave one each to my friends Jan and Gilly when we met up yesterday for a Crafternoon Tea in Ystradowen Village Hall. Lots of crafting, giggling and beautiful food- a really good afternoon. Monica has blogged about it here with lots of photos including one of me looking like a duck. Oh dear! I was trying to lean in to the group for the photo. The afternoon raised £1,045 for charity.

This week I have concentrated mainly on my knitting. I had an emergency text from my daughter Jenny to say that Isobel had outgrown last year's cardigans and could I get my knitting needles out again. I was happy to oblige and set off to buy some yarn from La Mercerie in the nearby market town of Cowbridge. It is a fab shop that stocks a wide variety of quality yarns. Jenny had sent a photo of a couple of Isobel's dresses and I chose Debbie Bliss Rialto as it was washable and also 100% merino wool so will be cosy in the winter.



I am using the cardigan pattern I blogged about here way back in March. 


The pattern is Alana Dakos' Playful stripes cardigan which I found on Ravelry. The back and sides are knitted on a circular needle in one piece as far as the underarm seam. The sleeves are knitted separately then all are knitted together from the yoke. I have made rapid progress over the last 3 evenings and I hope to get it finished this week.



Last Friday I went with Gina and Celia to Weston-super-Mare to visit the Weston Quilters Biennial Exhibition in the Winter Gardens. So many quilts on show of all types but these are a few I snapped.


It was good to see a beginners section too. Not everyone is expert and I know I am proud of my own work even if I am a novice. With that in mind I have decided to enter one of my quilts in a show! It may not win prizes but it will be a first step. The West Country Quilt Show is on the 13-15th November 2014 at the University of the West of England just outside Bristol. The entry form is on the website and it is £5 to enter a quilt. I'll be entering my Triangle quilt that I made for Vivi. I'm hoping one or two of my Honey Bee group will enter as well.

So, that was my week, how was yours?

I am linking up to Wool on Sundays for some yarn based eye candy.


and also to Sew Cute Tuesday.
Sew Cute Tuesday

Also, check out the 1001 post at A Quilting Readers Garden. She usually writes an Applique post of Tuesdays and she has a super celebration giveaway.
I'm off to get ready for a new course starting tomorrow. So, a new blade for my cutter and a new needle for my machine.

Have a great week,

Catherine