Monday, 14 November 2011

A Mixed Bag

Well, it will be a mixed bag really. Christmas is hurtling towards us a fast rate of knots - have you started your shopping yet?? Big Sis, if you say you have finished I will scream!!!

Anyway, the Great British Bake Off continues to inspire some members of the family:

Not good for the waistline if you are trying to cut down before Christmas. What do you mean? I couldn't possible say no, that would be rude!!

Preparation for Christmas Table Runner day continues as well. Designs have been decided, now I just have to make the dam things:

And in case you think all is neat and tidy; it isn't.........

I can't even dare show the floor surface surrounding the table, it's shocking really. This was taken on a good day too.

And finally, I am so proud of my littlest lad. He has worked long and hard for this and it is well deserved - a blue belt entered the household last week after many sessions of Judo. We are very pleased for him, the only trouble is he will start to compete in matches.........I have trouble watching my youngest getting pummelled and beaten all colours of the rainbow. Luckily I am working that day, so I have the perfect excuse not to be there!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

It's been a while!

Oh, my poor neglected blog, it's been a while hasn't it? Where does the time go? I can never understand people who say they are bored and have nothing to do - I don't have enough hours in the day to do what I want to do.

Anyway, I am here, for now anyway.

The quilt frame is empty at the moment, although I am determined to crack on with some Christmas presents this week. I have a quilt that I want to quilt ready to go, and one in pieces that will be another one. So my plan is to get on with those as soon as I can.

Work wise, I have a half square triangle workshop this week, which I am looking forward to. Love half square triangles! They are so versatile. Then it is just the Christmas Table Runner workshops before Christmas - they are always a hoot.

This is a project that has been on the go for at least two years, if not more. It is for my Mother-in-law, a wall hanging. Hand pieced stars, that were then appliqued onto a background. Is it just me who uses kitchen bowls for quilting?? This project would have been finished before now, but I was really struggling as to how I was going to quilt it. I would pull it out and look at it and wonder what to do, loose interest and it would get put away again.

When I eventually decided it was quite simple really. Large interlocking circles around the outside of the stars, with stipple quilting in the spaces they create between them. This kitchen bowl turned out to be exactly the right size.....

My pin cushion then proved to be the right size for the curves on the stars themselves.

Who needs all those fancy quilting tools????

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Summer Ends! Autumn Begins!

It's officially Autumn - did you know?? Could you tell the change from summer to autumn? Difficult isn't it? Well, the summer has finished, the kids have started to go back to school - only one so far, but I have high hopes for Monday morning!! It seemed to go quick, the summer I mean, and our holiday already seems a long time ago.

Italy was wonderful, with plenty of ups and downs. The downs included landing on Saturday and not getting our suitcase until Wednesday teatime. But apart from that, there was plenty of this:

DD had pizza EVERY DAY just about, especially when we were in Rome. The villa was an hour north of Rome, and then we had four days in Rome at the end.

There was loads of this:

And as a result, there was loads of this too:

The poor chambermaids at the hotel must have hated us. We walked miles!!! But it was worth it for things like this:

We spent a fortune on ice cream. It was very often used as an incentive - you know, when we get here you can have an ice cream, when we get there you can have an ice cream. Grandparents had very kindly given them all some ice cream money - I think we may have tripled that allowance!!

Mr Drum enjoyed it anyway!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Summer Begins!

Many thanks to anyone who bid on the Help For Heroes Knitted Heroes, and many thanks to the winner of the big ones - you know who you are, and you are a complete star!! We managed to raise nearly £90, which isn't a huge amount but every little bit helps right??

Right, back to business. Work is nearly over for the summer, last classes have taken place and now prep starts for the new ones in September. Kids have broken up from school - it's early days but the first couple of days have been okay so far - no major outbursts. You know it won't last, give them a couple of weeks and they will be fighting like cat and dog!

I am in a finishing mood - makes a change. My dear sister-in-law has only been waiting for a quilt for well over 10 years, okay maybe a lot more than 10 years! I have finally managed to do some thing for her. Nothing fancy and I am ashamed it has taken me so long. After long discussions with Martha about the colours I was using, she suggested this perfect thread for it. It looks great on the quilt.

A close up of the quilting:

I saw these at a friends house and knew I had to have a set - mission accomplished!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Coming out of hibernation at last - another computer virus!! Doomed we are.

Anyway, look at these:

How fantastic are these?? And they could be yours, and you could help raise money for Help for Heroes at the same time!! What more could you want???

These wonderful creations were made for our shop window to raise money - instead we are trying them on Ebay to try and raise a bit more. These are individual, and very unique items, you will not be able to find these in the shops. Hand knitted and the larger ones took over two months to complete.

Just go to Ebay and type in Knitted Heroes and they will come up. There is a Chelsea Pensioner, a sailor and also a RAF figure. So go on, please make a bid....... you know you want to.
If anyone out there would like to put it on their blog too, please do - the more exposure we can get for them, the better. It would be a shame for all the hard work that has gone into them to go to waste, and we want to raise lots of dosh for H4H!!

All proceeds will go to Help for Heroes.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Practise Continues....

Practise continues on the feathers - there is an improvement don't you think? Please say yes..

The Royal Wedding today...... look what DD made to celebrate. It tasted as good as it looks too. I thought it was a lovely day, we all sat down to watch as a family - boys included! Although I nearly threw them out the room at one point as they would insist on making daft commentaries on what they thought people were saying and completely ruined the key part of the marriage service when they said their vows.

So what's a woman supposed to do when you have a 12 year old who wants to dress up, make cake and have tea whilst watching?

Well, if you can't beat them - put on your best purple shoes and join them!!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Work Work

Thought you might like to see my board at work. The classroom has little boards all around it and I have taken over this one.

There are all sorts of bits and pieces on there from hand piecing club to Block of the Month pieces, Christmas workshops and more. I have cleared it abit now to make room for other things to come. It looks better like this though.

My Friend Clare.

My friend Clare recently had an exhibition of some of her work at a school in Winchester and I went along. It was a great space and her work looked fantastic in there. Clare does some wonderful things with some very unusual items and I thought you might like to see a few photos of her work. This piece is one of my personal favourites:
See what I mean? Unusual!!!

There's nothing she can't do with a balloon or a rubber glove!!! I think it helps that she is ever so slightly mad!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

It Was All Going So Well....

Wednesday was a day off work - bonus! Add to that it was a glorious day - double bonus! It was all going so well. I had been up since 5.30am - not usual for me, but eldest son was a visit to Cardiff University and needed to be away early. I had made a cake and written a few emails by 7.30am. Got the other two kids off to school, came home, tidied up, washing in, washing out on the line, bathrooms cleaned, hoovered upstairs and down - I was on a roll. I hoovered the fireplace and and in the few minutes I was doing that the postman called. We had been expected a rather important package and I had missed him. I knew that I had just missed him as I had only been hoovering for a few minutes, so I raced out the door to chase after him. As I headed down the driveway, I heard the front door slam behind me.................and realised that I had locked myself out!!! The Postman showed absolutely no empathy to my plight at all, and as soon as I had signed for my parcel (which wasn't even the package we had been waiting for) he ran for the hills as fast as he could obviously wanting no part in helping this mad woman. There was only a cleaning lady in along the road and she very kindly let me use their phone, but of course I had no numbers. I knew hubby was away from the office in a meeting all day, and the chances of him getting back to let me in were slim. I needed to pick the kids up from school and the car keys were in the house. So......I had to break in. Luckily this involved just breaking a small pane of glass and I could reach in and turn the key. It was remarkably easy really, frighteningly easy - makes you think!! Not quite how I envisioned my day going!!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

It's Finally Finished!

IT'S DONE!! Finally I have put this one to bed - sorry, couldn't help myself! I have to say that I am very glad to be finished with this quilt. There are 12 years of guilt wrapped up in this one - my poor mother has been so very patient with me, and hasn't nagged me - well, not much anyway. This is my Mother's Day gift to her:

I am very pleased with the layout, with 13 blocks it gives a really nice double bed sized quilt. I would definitely use that one again. There are coping strips around each block as my piecing skills have obviously improved over the 12 years I have been making the blocks. Some of the early ones came up very short of the supposed 12" block and the brown strips around the outside of the block very cleverly disguise that fact. The quilting was very much a case of running before I could walk - I took this one to the NEQ Retreat, but I didn't dare take it out of the bag as I was slightly embarrassed by the quilting - but I know my mum won't care about that because after all - it's finished!!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Things of Beauty

Aren't they lovely and sooo addictive:
I, like so many other sewers, quilters, crafters, have to manage to find a piece of the house for myself. I found that space in the dining room, which fortunately is a good size and I can manage to get the frame, my Horn cabinet and even the ironing board in there, as well as a piano and computer! Yes, it is a multi functional space and let's face it, with families multi functional spaces are common. This is the "dining room":
As you can see - all set up for sewing. That is my collegues quilt on the frame done as a favour last week. The Horn is just off to the left. Great isn't it? Please note Trudy - the new light on the top of the machine - huge help, great tip thank you!

Unfortunately though, people come to stay or dinner parties need to take place. Then it all needs to come down and out of the way and it becomes a dining room once more:

Hard to believe it is the same space isn't it? This is the morning after and if you looked closely then you would see the food stains on the table cloth!

And the next day - it all goes back up again!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Great Day

Today has been a good day!

Firstly because I had the day off! I know I am very lucky in that I only have to work part-time and I get to work at something I love doing. But I worked every day last week, and yes two of those days were only half days, but they may as well have been full days by the time I had done the shopping and kids etc. But I also had two workshops last week and I don't care what you say, taking workshops is tiring! Being nice to people all day long is tiring! Although I have to say that it really isn't hard when your ladies are as nice as mine are - we have such a laugh most of the time that I sometimes feel guilty taking their money off them as I enjoy their company too. But today I got to stay home in my house - in the peace and quiet -and those days are precious.

Secondly I got to have a good old chat with my older sis, which always cheers me up. Miss you loads!

Thirdly, and probably very sad, but I got two loads of washing dry out on the line today. I love, love, love seeing washing blowing in the wind on the line - I told you, sad!

Fourly - I managed a bit of time on the quilting frame today. I got chance to try out my new tracks from Martha. I had a real nightmare before Christmas working on Mum's quilt (the binding is on by the way - I am getting there slowly but surely). But at the retreat I picked up the new seamless tracks - my word, what a joy! I will post more on this in due time, but I have really enjoyed the time on there today.

So following a request from Trudy to "show my feathers" (which I have to say sounded a little strange) these are the feathers I did at the retreat. The first one was the beginning:

Not good is it? All over the place - stubby lady fingers. One side, the bottom side wasn't too bad, but the run along the top - dreadful!!!! As time went by, they did get better:

But then I lost it again. I will have to practise more at home. I am not defeated though!

Monday, 7 March 2011

NEQ Retreat 2011

I've been a lucky girl - actually not sure if I can call myself a girl these days, but you know what I mean! I got to go to the first New English Quilter's Retreat!!! Oh, it was lovely, I would highly recommend it if you get chance to go.

I drove up on the Friday afternoon, and managed to get myself horribly lost - I mean an hour and a half lost - a journey that took me four hours on the way home managed to take five and a half hours. I have to admit that the roads around Newark and Lincoln all managed to merge and become a blur after a hours driving. Of course I was in such a rush to get out of the door before someone could stop me, that I never thought to take Martha's phone number or the phone number for the bed and breakfast - you know that feeling, of escape from everything and quick, get out the door before someone gets ill or the phone rings, get away from the housework/ironing and the cooking! Luckily I had managed to swap mobile numbers with Trudy the week before and she very kindly managed to talk me in from the wilderness.

The weekend was really wonderful. I had the best room in the Bed and Breakfast, a private little number with no noises apart from the birds in the morning. We ate out the first night and then everyone retired fairly early. After a full cooked breakfast the next morning we all gathered in the barn ready to work. I say "all" but there were only five of us, so there was plenty of time for some one to one with both Martha and Trudy. After seeing Trudy's work at the NEC last year, I was keen to have a go at some feathers - failed, but not defeated! Other's just needed a bit of a kick start to get going.

Here is Martha doing some show and tell with her work:

And here is Trudy (on the right), taking Lesley through her paces:

It was a lovely way to spend a weekend. Both Martha and Trudy are very generous in their advice and help, and very patient too. They needed to be with me when it came to feathers!! More on that another time. The food throughout the weekend was plentiful and tasty too - amazingly enough though it would just appear and then disappear afterwards - no prep, no washing up - gets my vote! A lovely bunch of ladies, who all had the same frames and the same goals - to learn how to use it. I have come home all fired up, and the frame is back up, cleaned down and machine oiled ready to go. I have even managed to get a quilt loaded on yesterday too. Now I just have to start it. NEQ weekends - if you have a frame and you have to opportunity to go - do it!!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Quilt Club

I have two quilt clubs that I run on Saturday at the shop. We had a meeting this week and some of them have been quite prolific in their making. This was a table runner that we started before Christmas, made by Ola:

This one is a gift for a lucky new arrival. Alison cross stitched the centres of the blocks and then framed them before quilting it. Isn't it lovely?

Peeking out from behind her piece is Sam. This was a foundation piecing workshop from last year. Sam loves bright colours, always works in bright colours, the brighter the better really. The photo doesn't do this one justice really, the colours look fantastic in real life - really stunning.

What a clever bunch!!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Vandals and windows!

My Saturday morning ladies have just come to the end of our Block of the Month that I ran last year. Some of them were complete beginners when they started and they have all done a fantastic job on them. We had a small slot available in the shop window inbetween displays, so I asked if we could display some of them in there.

Four ladies managed to get their blocks together as quilt tops over the Christmas and New Year period. With my sample quilt, we had five to display in the window and they duly went in last week. They looked brilliant and it was amazing at how different they looked too, even though they were the same blocks.

I was off on Monday, meeting up with the wonderful Tracey for coffee and a natter. So imagine my horror upon returning to work on Tuesday to find that in the early hours of Sunday morning - obviously on the way home from the pub/club and probably tanked up - some mindless yobs had decided to completely cave in the front of the shop window!! They took nothing and it seems to have been just for the fun of it!!

Luckily the quilts do not appear to have been damaged from what we can see, although I expect they are covered in shards of glass. But it's not good is it really? I can quite clearly see one of them saying to me as she handed her quilt over "You will take good care of it and I will get it back won't I". My reply was "Of course we will and of course you will". Little did I know!!! The other unfortunately thing at the moment is that they not only shattered the window, but they also did structural damage to the roofing of the window frontage so we have been banned by the insurance company from entering the window at all, so I can't even take them down at the moment.

Anyway, moving on..... a couple of photo's of Mum's quilt now it is off the frame. This was a block of the month that I purchased nearly 12 years ago from a quilt shop in Bozeman, Montana. The setting comes from Sharyn Craig's Setting Solutions book. Now I just need to finish quilting the blocks, and bind it - ha, ha - at the rate I am going that might take me another 12 years!!!

I bought two versions of these blocks, the other is in reds which is supposed to be for me, although Mum always tried to say that the red version was hers - I am sure it was mine! Maybe...

Monday, 17 January 2011

September? Really?

Okay, it wasn't really September the last time I posted was it? That is seriously scarey!

I have had a bit on my plate though - honest! The move went as well as can be expected really, but it came hard after 5 years in one place. I know that 5 years is nothing to most people, but it is the longest we have ever lived anywhere and moving back into Forces accomodation came as abit of a shock to the system. Still, we are lucky to have a lovely 5 bedroom house with a huge garden and the best thing....... an open fire! Bliss!

Christmas was nice and pieceful, we shut the doors and didn't leave unless we had to. But that also means that New Year has come hard now. I don't think I like January very much - horrible weather, overweight, no money, no motivation - roll on February please.

Anyway, I finally got this on the frame over the holidays. My poor mother has only been waiting for this quilt for nearly 12 years now. Every year she would ask me if she was going to get it and every year I would say "yes this is the year" and every year it would fall by the way in favour of other things. Well, not this year. I finally got all the blocks made and while on holiday in France last summer, mananged to get it pieced together as a top. A week before Christmas it went on the frame, but despite all my best efforts it wasn't finished in time. This is it during it's first run over, which is where it ended. Everything had to come down for Christmas, so this is as far as it got.

My little Juki worked it's socks off and purred all the time. I will take some more shots of it closer up. I tried something a little bit more adventurous for me, which didn't quite work out but it was good fun trying it. More on that later.