Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The One That Got Away

I think that there is a tarantula living in my house. Or at least a spider that is a close cousin of said hairy creature. I managed to hoover up a dozen of the regular ones today, but this one - oh goodness. It had speed and it had cunning. It was big, black and hairy. And it wasn't going to get caught for love nor money. It has a little nook to hide in and sees me coming, hoover nozzle in hand and he gives me a cheery wave (or is that a two finger salute) before he dives for cover. I need to buy a silent hoover and some camouflage, I think. He is the one that got away!

Moving on, the terrors of hoovering had to be pushed aside with more cheerful stuff. So I made more stars. I say this in case Tinca, my Finnish friend, thinks I have forgotten that I am making a quilt for her as I trundle on with other projects. I have not forgotten and it is in the loop to be returned to regularly. I now have seventeen stars of varied sizes -

Two in each colour, except dark green because I didn't think I wanted another dark green. I think that is enough stars. Now the really hard part - how to join them all together seeing as how they are in so many different sizes and such. This will be some interesting piecing!

Helen and Emily have been given a fundraising project from the school. The PTA provides each child with £1 and then the child has to think of a way to buy something with that pound that he or she can then make something with, or do something with, that will 'grow the pound'. I have quickly come to realise 'Grow A Pound' involves me giving my girls a free for all in my craft supplies and then taking them to town and supplementing the pound (heavily) to buy them the other things they deem necessary so they can do their making. Clever PTA! Emily plans on making cards. Helen is making felt ornaments. She is off to a great start, using felt and buttons found at home.

She says she intends to fill the biscuit tin. Great! Seeing as how the felt was strewn about, and the buttons, and the thread, and the ribbon, I decided to have a play too. Partly induced by my purchase of this perle thread online -

It isn't the best perle available and not all the colours are what I thought they might be but that is the risk of online purchases. It has happened to me with fabric before - it being a far different shade than I expected. I can live with it. I didn't go for top end perle because I wanted to just see what it was like in a general sort of manner first, and I also know that my two will be using it as soon as I turn my back. If I establish a 'you can use this' pile and then start my own little hoard of the finer stuff that works for me.

But it was nice to sew with, not getting twisted and tangled the way that embroidery strands can at times. I knocked together a little Christmasy ornament just to see -

I like making these little ornaments. I made a lot last autumn and gave them as presents at Christmas. I guess since then crocheting has been filling my evenings instead.

We are having a sleepover tonight. One of Helen's friends is here now. I am going to hunker down with some sewing while they watch Pirates of the Caribbean. John thought it might be a little scary for our two but when I pointed out to him that they are unfazed by anything Dr Who or Harry Potter throws at them he changed his mind. (Fingers crossed that I am right. They both used to be such wusses.)

The three girls just finished making veggie and tuna sushi. I have some pizzas, and some crisps, a dip for more veggies and that is their movie feast. Wonder who will be asleep first tonight - me or them?


Monday, 30 May 2011

And Then The One With Photos - Yippee!

Yippee to technology that can be dried out in an airing cupboard. My camera still works. Thank goodness for that. Now I can still think about what I want for my birthday when it eventually rolls around. And I can take photos for my blog without me looking at the camera incomprehensibly for endless minutes first.

So, briefly, here is Emily making friends with Ben the Dog -

Helen showing off what she found in the Geo Cache -

No photographic proof of the canoeing or wall climbing because klutz of the year here had already done her deed of destruction.

Then it was Monday, and it rained, and rained, and rained. Bring back April!

My mother-in-law was coming over for dinner today. I have a brilliant mother-in-law. She is intelligent, funny, independent and strong willed. And 87! I am lucky to have her for my mother-in-law. I know this because in our family we had the perfect example of the opposite. My grandmother was not a good mother-in-law. I say that in the most restrained of manners. She was not nice to my mother. So I know how bad it can be and therefore how good I have it.

Else was coming over and I had to think about what to make. Not because it was a big occasion but because (bless her) due to teeth issues you have to make sure that what you make is easily chewed. I decided on lasagna. I would do it properly. I had some bolognaise in the freezer so that was one step down. I made the bechemal and got the cheese. Emily was in charge of pasta. We made the dough together and then she rolled while I layered up the dish.

It took a while to make, but the rain still came down steadily and we weren't going anywhere else. And we had fun together. Then Else phoned and decided she wasn't going to come out in this weather after all. Oh well, we enjoyed the lasagna.

I feel as if I should go and do something now, make something. Only I cleared up the dining room earlier so that we could eat nicely, properly, with Else here. Not on half a table with things all pushed up and piled up at the other end. I am feeling too lazy too haul it all out again and make myself be productive. Well, at least I got all the fabric that was all over the place sorted back into a sensible system - for the time being.

Hope that you are finding nice things to do on this rainy Bank Holiday. If not, come on over, there is still some lasagna left.


The Post With No Pictures

Well we had our little mini trip to Hampshire and a good time was had by all. Saturday morning we drove down to a village quite near to the Hampshire/Wiltshire border and met our friends. There was a playground by the car park where we waited. Helen almost died of mortification because John and I went on the swings, and enjoyed ourselves, and laughed, and generally did those things that a ten year old finds so very embarrassing. There wasn't anyone around. That was besides the point.

Once our little group was all gathered we put on our boots and headed up a hill. Across a chalky down and to the site of a former hill fort. There we hunkered down and had our picnic. It was a wee bit on the chilly side. But we had fun. I took some photos. Emily fell in love with our friends' dog. She doesn't like many dogs so this was a great break through.

After our walk we headed for Andover and went to Charlton Country Park (I think that I got the name right). There was an activities day happening and lots of things to choose from. Emily went off in a canoe with John. Helen wanted to do the climbing wall, but not until her father was there to watch. Our friends, with Helen, went to play mini golf. I happily sat with dog and bags, etc and kept watch. Only it wasn't that easy.

You need to substitute 'happily sat' with 'clumbsily sat'.  Because I knocked my tea over into my lap. It was hot! I found out that I can still move incredibly quickly when I need to. One small cup of tea can not only soak your trousers and make you yelp. It can get everywhere else too. Like on your camera, in  your camera, make your camera start turning on and off in a possessed manner.

So I don't have any photos us up on that wind blown hill. Or Emily and John in the canoe. Or Helen up the climbing wall. Or the scrumptious barbeque we enjoyed that night. Nor of the lovely little flat that John stays at during the week, or the great views from it.

The camera is in the airing cupboard now. We are not sure if it was a fatal accident or not yet. The longer I leave off testing it the longer I can believe that I won't have to ask for a new camera for my birthday. But John has one I can use. Only we didn't have it with us, so I don't have any photos of our weekend. Shame!

And don't worry about me. My thighs survived the spilling of tea intact. It stung for a while but that was all.

I do hope your weekend was more coordinated than mine.


Saturday, 28 May 2011

It's a Good Day For a Picnic

Actually, looking out the window it is most definitely not a day with a siren's call to come outside and dine. But that is neither here nor there, because the plans are made and we are going. We are off to the wilds of Hampshire. The northern parts of the county. The girls are going to see where their dad spends his weekdays. We have packed the hiking boots into the car, along with a sleeping bag or two, extra pillows and the essential soft toys for a night away.

The sandwiches are made -

Juice boxes ready. Crisps, most definitely. Carrot sticks, because I love my raw veggies (really I do). Oatmeal muffins? You have got to be joking! The only place they have gone is the bin. I would have had to hire a whole pack flock pride a couple of Sherpas to haul those up the hill. No, it was Mrs Crimbles to the rescue -

I have made lots of brochettes of scallops wrapped in bacon for the barbeque tonight - our Hampshire friends are hosting. The weather does not look any more conducive to a barbeque than it does for a hike and a picnic but it will be fun to see friends, be out of routine and getting some fresh air.

I hope you have a great weekend planned and enjoy yourselves. I'll be back tomorrow night.


Friday, 27 May 2011

Don't Be Tempted

Really, trust me on this, don't be tempted by this photo -

They are oatmeal raisin muffins. But you wouldn't want them. You wouldn't! I know because I just ate one. If you chucked me in a swimming pool right now I would go down like a rock. And you're talking about someone with a couple of natural built in flotation devices here! Dear me, these muffins are disgusting! I found the recipe on the Internet. There is no where to leave a comment. Some other poor unsuspecting person may make them. I regret that I can't warn them.

If anyone has a need for something very solid, and heavy, for any purpose other than digesting, please let me know. You can have them. I don't want them!

No sewing accomplished yet today. I thought the day was going to be wide open for creation but it isn't. Oh well, it has been a good week. I leave you with a picture that Helen did yesterday of a cactus. She didn't have a model - just a memory - they are studying the desert at school. I like her drawing.

I've got to go. I feel vile from that muffin. How long can it have this affect for goodness sake? On the bright side, it would be a great diet - you wouldn't want any other food for absolutely ages after eating one of these muffins. The weight loss could be phenomenal.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

A Little of This and a Little of That

It has been a grey old day. I even contemplated putting the heat on briefly this morning as there was a distinct chill in the air - but I refuse to do that in May so I kept my jacket on for a while after the school run. Rain dripped down most of the day and there was the odd rumble of thunder but, disappointingly, no proper storm. I love a good thunder and lightening storm.

So I did a little of this and a little of that. Gave some attention to the house. Not much but enough to convince me that I earned some sewing time. I finished doing my loopy loops on the Pips quilt. I quite like the effect they have but I don't think that this photo shows them off very well. There are too many shadows and it looks as if the quilt is all wrinkly and crinkly already.

I may try and get the binding cut tonight. Instead of doing the binding after I finished quilting the Pips I did a little more FMQ on my mini quilt. The birds are all done now - other than the fact that I just looked at the photo and realised that the two flying birds don't have the little curlicues on their heads - and I sewed the lines that I am going to put the music notes on.

The highlight of my day - so far. Making a swiss roll. Why? Because it is dead easy to make and with no one else home someone has to eat the off cuts. Me, me, me!

I have a bonus child here now so I had best sort out the pasta sauce and make some changes to the sewing dining room so they can actually sit at the table. Maybe get the fabric well away as an accident with bolognaise sauce would be too ugly to contemplate.


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

My Machine Has Been Swearing At Me!

On the premise that when you hear a *bleep* on television you know that a swear word has been covered up, I can only surmise that my sewing machine has spent the best part of the afternoon swearing at me. How rude! It has just been beep, after beep, after beep. We shall not discuss that my machine makes that sound when you are going too fast with the FMQ. That is completely besides the point.

To everyone who left a message yesterday, and to those who didn't, thank you for your kind thoughts. I am feeling a lot better for a day of rest. It is unusual for me to be so knocked sideways by somethings as normal as a cold and I do believe I am just about normal again - or as close to normal as I have ever been. But I appreciate your sentiments.

The hardest thing about yesterday, relaxing, was not the doing nothing. I got quite into that groove and think I could grow to like it. No, it was the staying off the computer as much as possible. Blogs, Facebook, all that thing - you don't realise how much of your day can be taken up with 'quick checks' until you deny yourself. Probably did me quite good to have the reality check!

Today it was back to normal. Even doing housework. (shhhh! Don't tell anyone!) And also back to my (very rude) sewing machine.

I was surprised to receive the backing fabric that I ordered from The States only last week. It landed on my doorstep yesterday. There was no longer an excuse to avoid pinning some of my quilt tops. To break myself in gently first I decided to do the Double Fat Jack. A search through my thread produced one that matched just about perfectly. The fact that I think it is hand quilting thread and may even be waxed was ignored. It worked a charm.

Don't you just love wooden spools? I have a thing for them!
I went with a very simple pattern for quilting the flag and stuck with straight lines and my walking foot. I also used this doohickey (don't bother telling me the correct name because I won't remember) for the first time -

Well, doesn't it just keep you on the right path. I wish I knew what I know now five years ago when I began quilting. (Maybe I should have read up a little more about it before I jumped in feet first!) Either way, Fat Jack is quilted, simply and sparingly and is headed towards becoming a pillow (when I buy some more fabric for the backing).

With the flag moved on to the next step I chose one of the Pips quilt tops to layer up. Then I was in pinning hell. Is there anyone out there who actually enjoys the process of joining the backing, to the wadding, to the quilt top? I mean really! But I did it because it is a necessary evil.

Then I set up my machine for FMQ - and that was when the swearing commenced! I have decided on a looping pattern for the quilting, thinking that it was sort of like the path a child on a scooter would take - or a puppy - always the indirect one. I am about a third of the way through the quilting. The bobbin just ran out. I took a deep breath, and thought now would be a good time to write my blog. I'll do some more tomorrow.


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Treats of a Non-Fabric Nature

Today I am not doing anything. No cooking. No cleaning. No sewing. I will pick the girls up from school as I did take them so sort of shot myself in the foot there. I have decided that I am not recovering from this silly bug I caught fast enough so therefore I am going to very slothlike and just let my body rest.

It feels weird!

In aid of this quest I went shopping. I bought treats. Nutrition did not come into the equation anywhere. Dinner will involve opening packages and heating the contents in the oven. I may peal a carrot or two, and slice some cucumber to accompany it and ease my guilty mother conscience. That has yet to be decided.

For myself I have bought this -

- because I love cook books. I think they make good reading and I couldn't resist the cover on this one. It does not mean I am going to suddenly leap up and whip up a batch of macaroons. It does mean that I will read it and crave them and wish that they didn't cost about £2 each in the shops. Some day I will have to give you a glimpse of my cook book collection and you will see that I am a woman possessed.

In my quest to relax I bought two books of the non-challenging sort. Good, fun, easy reads that brighten a day and make you smile in the end. Girlie reads.

For tonight I have another treat. Of the non-alcoholic nature because I don't tend to have a drink when John is not here in case - well just in case some unknown thing happened and I had to drive the car in the middle of the night, etc. Paranoid thinking, I am sure, but since I didn't buy myself a nice wine I opted for a nice dessert instead.

As I was feeling good hearted and happy with the world once I made the decision that I was going to avoid all activity today I enjoyed my shop for things usually forbidden, and I topped off the shopping bag with a treat for the girls because I love them.

So, I am off to toast a bagel, read a book and - hopefully - fall asleep. I have set my alarm just in case that scenario happens. Wouldn't want the school ringing to find out where I am!!


Monday, 23 May 2011

How I Find Time To Sew

There has been an opinion expressed, occasionally, from friends that they don't know where I find the time to make things. I will give you an example of how easy it can be some days - like today for example.

First, have your alarm go off at 6am. Not by choice but because himself needed to get up and head off to southern regions and work. Lie there and quickly realise that you are not going to get back to sleep. Reach for the iPad and catch up with your blog reading before the day has really begun for all intents and purposes.

When you get out of bed open the curtains. Take in the blustery winds and copious amounts of clouds and quickly come to the decision that it would be in your best interests not to strip the beds and wash all the bedding today as it just might rain.

When you come downstairs, open the fridge and do a quick check. Leftover chicken - check. Leftover stuffing - check. Leftover sweetcorn - check. Consider dinner all but sorted.

You can see where I am going with this. The quick elimination of other tasks quickly opens a huge window of time that can be filled with sewing. And maybe even a nap. How good could a day get? So, shall I show you what I got up to in this recently created time?

Oh please!! You don't think it was as easy as all that, do you? Nah! John called soon after I returned from the school run/shops trip. He then proceeded to have me sign onto the company computer and talk me through Quick Books, invoice writing, finding the power lead to the scanner (Scanner? I didn't even know we had a scanner!), blah, blah, blah. That was the best part of an hour gone. I don't begrudge him the time as this was something that needed doing, but it was less sewing time.

To recover from that trauma I had to sit and have a drink (not alcoholic, silly), and a snack. Just got into the groove again and cut out the bondage bondaweb stuff to iron on to my applique pieces. The phone rang. Helen wasn't feeling too well and could I come and get her. Of course I could! No problem. Poor darling. I even sat and cuddled her through a recorded episode of Dr Who. It was well into the afternoon by then.

But I got my sticky, gluey stuff ironed onto the backs of the applique bits and then ironed the fence bits onto the quilt. Promptly stood back, had a look and kicked myself metaphorically as I was not pleased with exactly where I put the slats on the fence. One was too low and the other was wonky. I quickly found out that it is possible to peal those buggers off.

Attempt number two was slightly more pleasing. Next step was to FMQ (free motion quilt) my wood effect. I am very glad that wood grain does not run in a straight line because either does my FMQ.

I squared everything off and then added the borders and mitred the corners - another first for me. This whole mini quilt is just one big learning curve for me.

With just minutes left before having to go get Emily from school I whacked on those birds with minimal thought or planning. It seems to me that this gives me better results at times. When I think too much it all can go horribly wrong.

You may (or you may not) notice that the previously orange bird has morphed into a purple one instead. The orange just seemed to in  your face compared to his friends and it didn't work for me.

With Emily home from school I thought I would get more done but Emily announced she was going to do a disappearing nine patch mini quilt for a friend and dove head first into my fabric hoard. After my heart palpitations faded I assisted her in her choices. For assisted you should read I steered her away from my favourites and talked her into ones I had lots of or knew that I no longer had a great deal of need for. She is now taking over my sewing room (aka the dining room) and I don't stand a chance.

I managed a brief moment to have a go at sewing one of the birds and then I admitted defeat and retreated to my tiny office to talk to all of you instead.

Here is what the singing bird looks like. I am not sure if I got it just right but it is what it is.

Yes, she will get an eye - eventually.

And that is how I get things made in my days. You?


Sunday, 22 May 2011

Having A Rethink

I have spent quite a lot of time on thinking about my mini quilt for the Brit Swap today. And eventually I came to the conclusion that I would not be able to go with the original design. I can't show the original design either as if my  mystery partner happened to look at my blog then she would know it was for her. Confusing but it really has to stay a secret.

So after cutting pieces of paper as templates, all that thinking, more templates and some crunching up of templates in a disgruntles manner, here is the bit that did work from the original design -

I cut the fabric and then played some more with ideas and decided that I would have to go with 'perv bird'. When I first posted the sketch of my potential quilt on the fickr page for the swap a number of my fellow swapees named the bird, who was actually part of my practice session for drawing birds on the edge of the paper, as Perv Bird because he looked like he was looking up the other bird's bottom and that was why the bird on the post was singing.

So we had the singing bird, perv bird and then I cut one more to bring a bit of balance to the right hand side of the quilt. Three birds, scooter girl and I am considering whether I want to have a gnome in the foreground as well. He is currently only roughly cut out and placed on the background to see how I feel about it all.

The applique bits are cut but nothing is attached. This is the way it currently looks. There is still potential for change. We shall see.
What do you think?

I had intended to take the girls to a fair that was in the village this weekend. But I am still not in tip top form, and more importantly, Helen seems to be suffering from the bug to a certain extent as well. She keeps falling asleep which is very unusual as this is the child who refused to nap from 15 months onwards. I am dead jealous of the sleep thing because I want to and am failing miserably. Maybe I can try for a nap if when they go back to school tomorrow.

Meanwhile I have a chicken roasting and the girls are pleased because I made sausage stuffing. I had better go get that all sorted then. Hope you had a good weekend.


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Moving Forward At A Snail's Pace

I don't have a lot to report on the crafting front. Saturday is not a day that lends itself to creating much. That's okay. I am lucky to get a good deal of time during the week to do my own thing. I can tell you that I have started on another of my PIF gifts. I actually followed a crochet pattern for this one! Now that is a first for me and was in fact easier than I thought it would be. I am about a third of the way into the project. This is what it looks like at the moment -

I have not been near my sewing machine all day. But I have had a little look around our garden, pulled a weed or two, continued with my quest to rid my herbs of the dandelion invasion and proudly taken a photo of our mini potato crop as it springs forth. We grew our own potatoes a few years ago and I was amazed at how much better a potato fresh from the ground could taste. I never equated potatoes with having a 'fresh' taste but I learned something by growing them. The last few  houses we have had have not had gardens that leant themselves to a veggie plot, but this year the girls came home from school with three seed potatoes to grow on.

We considered using grow bags for them but when I priced those up at the local garden centre I was astonished to find that they were selling them 3 for £10. John came up with a better solution. When we moved in here we found we had twice as many recycling boxes as required. They are a good size, have ready made drainage holes in the bottom and two of them were surplus to requirements. Not any more. They are proving to be very good potato plant homes.

I have told the girls to leave all that space from the top of the boxes so that we can add more soil as the plants grow to increase our little crop.

Last month, there abouts, I showed  you a photo of these Double Decker Brownies -

I had said that if anyone was interested in the recipe to let me know. Some well two of you expressed an interest, and in the theory of better late than never, here you go. Double Decker Brownies -

3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs - beaten
1/3 cup melted butter (this is about 3 ozs)
1/3 cup coconut
2 ozs melted dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 180C; 350F; Gas 4

Mix flour, b. powder and salt.

Beat sugar and eggs until pale, Blend in melted butter. Fold in flour mixture. remove 1/2 cup of the mixture to a smaller bowl and add the coconut.

Add the melted chocolate to the remaining batter. (Just for interest sake, I also added some cocoa powder - only about a tbsp - to give it more of a chocolate oomf.)

I used a 22cm square baking tin, lined with baking parchment for these brownies. Place chocolate batter in pan and then place spoonfuls of the coconut mixture randomly on top.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes.



Friday, 20 May 2011

What A Difference A Day Makes

I can breath again! What a revelation. Oxygen returning to my brain has left me thinking this - 'What on earth was I doing telling all you lot that I dumped my dirty laundry in the loo?' Good lord, I will have no dignity left!

But I am on the mend. Which is a good thing because I was in imminent danger of self-diagnosing myself with the man flu. That would have been the end of dignity indeed. But I slept last night. Right through to 7am. Amazing! Testament to the fact that I slept - I didn't leave any inane comments on blogs at strange hours of the night.

I suppose the fact that I am on the mend means I can no longer ignore the necessary and will have to do stuff like shop for food. Actually the girls have fed remarkably well considering how I felt. Last night's beef with broccoli and assorted other veggies and noodles went down a storm. I made a huge amount thinking that John could have the leftovers tonight instead of Spag Bol as he isn't so keen on pasta. (Honestly, what person on the face of this earth could not be keen on pasta?!) Unfortunately for him the girls scoffed his lot as well as their own. I just looked on in amazed wonder because my appetite was not at its best so I was no competition for them at all.

The other thing that has amazed me is the positive reaction from my fellow Brit Swappers (is that a proper word?) to my little birdie sketch. I thought that they would take one look and move me down to the beginner level for the swap but they were all so positive. It has made me feel incredibly good. Sort of like how you felt when you were in school and the cool kids included  you in their play (unless you were one of the cool kids and then you have no idea what I am talking about).

In fact, it made me feel so positive about what I could achieve I set about piecing the background for the mini quilt. First there was the sky -

And then there was the landscaping to do -

Next I did something I have never, ever done before. I did a bit of curved piecing AND I only had to unpick the stitches once! I am so pleased with myself right now it is silly.

My little scooter girl just looks like she belongs on that slope. Glad I thought of her. There is a huge amount more work to get done on this little quilt but I do feel that I have made a good start.


Thursday, 19 May 2011

Bees, Swaps and Fat Jacks

The first sign that I didn't sleep well last night was me hopping out of bed, taking the things I needed to put in the laundry hamper, managing to bypass it and dumping the lot into the toilet. Buggeration! Some days you should just stay in bed! Well, anything that happened after that brain freeze moment had to be an improvement.

Despite this cold draining the brain cells faster than is pretty, I've been working like a little trojan horse. I have. Really! Between getting distracted by other things that is. But I do have something to show for myself.

First, I finsihed my Brit Bee blocks. I have learned that with proper concentration and meticulous trimming I can work with HSTs. I have also learned that I have a new least favourite task in my world of quilting. Pinning quilt layers together drops one place to the number two spot and new at the top of the charts is squaring off half square triangles. Dear me that is a monotonously irritating task. No offence, Trudi (block recipient), because I do think that all the work turned out two brilliant blocks and that when you have all 24 together you are going to have one fantastic quilt.

I am very proud of my blocks because I went into the task convinced it was going to be a disaster. And it wasn't! Can't ask more than that. Oh, and I also learned that fabric pens don't write on fabric very easily. No flow. I sat there scratching away at my signature block and it looks like it was done by someone in kindergarten. Sorry! I shall only give you a peek at the very middle of the blocks because I am not allowed to show them in their entirety, yet -

After I finished the Bee blocks yesterday - which took me longer than anticipated - I dragged out my Pips quilt tops -

It didn't take me long to come to the conclusion that after sitting there for so long I actually didn't have any fabric for backing them. I didn't want to use the solid grey again - which I was pleased with on my first Pips quilt but the idea underwhelmed me hugely this time around. So I got online and ordered some fabric. This would be the point of the day where I got distracted and lost a great deal of time. I couldn't help it! I started looking at the 'coming soon' section of the Fat Quarter Shop's site and that was that. Next time I looked at the clock I was shocked.

Moving on swiftly, I shall now say that I have a plan - sort of maybe - for my swap partner in the Brit Swap. It is very much still in the design faze and I am a little worried about whether or not I should do it because it does not resemble anything that is in my partner's design mosaic. I got the idea from stalking her blog and flickr photos. The idea is also completely outside of my comfort zone too. Well, that about seals the deal. In for a penny, in for a pound and all that crap. Might as well go for it and see what happens. I have over a month to complete the mini quilt so if it all goes drastically wrong I can quickly whip up a few more wonky stars and hope she likes them instead!

Here is some of what I had in mind. I am not showing all of it because I think the over all design might be a complete giveaway to the recipient that it is for her. Can't say more than that or it will be me giving the all too important clue away. So here is one third of the proposed design -
This drawing is a little embarassing having seen some of the design ideas posted on flickr -
but it is all I have.
I completed another sewing task that was on my mental list of things I wanted to do. You have heard me mention Lynne of Lily's Quilts before. She is singlehandedly changing quilting in the UK. She is doing this by uniting quilters with the Brit Quilt group, challenging them constantly with new tutorials and ideas, and stretching us by encouraging us to get involved, hence my joining the Brit Bee and Brit Swap. Lynne has a huge international blog following too, but it is her ability to bring people together that I want to take the time to appreciate today. Yesterday I tackled one of her tutorials. It was simple, and well written, and I would have been hard pressed to go wrong with her instructions. That says a lot because we all know my ability to make a pigs ear out of a silk purse.

So, without further ado, here is my Double Fat Jack -

I am sure that when Lynne said 'choose a neutral fabric' for the thin lines she included lime green in the options.

I knew we put the badminton net up for a reason!
I haven't been ignoring my Pay It Forward obligations either. Progress is slow - mostly due to a brain dead lack of oxygen and energy in the evenings because of this cold. But I have completed one of the gifts.

And I have a plan in place for the next one. Is it any wonder I am not getting any housework done? I have had to prioritise and you can see what I thought was more important!


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

How Much Can I Achieve In One Day?

I'm posting early today because I have a plan. The plan is get my head down and sew like a demon. Get some of these things that need doing done. Or at least moved forward at a noticeable pace. So I thought if I posted early and then just got on with it I might have a chance of managing this.

But first I want to talk about yesterday's post - or the post title to be specific. How on earth did I typo the title, for goodness sake? Actually, I think I have a good idea. I was in a drug induced haze. Before you shrink back in horror please be rest assured it was all legal and above board.

I am full of cold right now. It is progressing, as all colds do, from one stage to another with a rapid vehmence. That means it should be done and dusted soon enough. Meanwhile I am indulging in a good assortment of 'cold remedies'. I take these for one good reason - besides wanting to feel a little less crap. From the time I conceived Helen to finishing feeding Emily was a drug free zone. I am not holier than though about this stuff. It is just what I chose to do. It was a four year drug free zone.

Back then each and every time I had a cold or other illness someone helpfully offered to make  me a hot honey and lemon. As much as I knew this was soothing it did not provide the sleep inducing, symptom supressing help that I craved. On the less than stellar days I was not very polite about those offers of honey and lemon. Before pregnancies and breastfeeding I was quite brave about just putting up with colds and getting on with things.

Now I demand drugs as soon as symptoms kick in. So yesterday was a Day Nurse, Lemsip, ibuprofin feeding frenzy. And instead of blaming the typo in my title on my usual ineptitude today I am blaming it on drugs. Won't Trudi be pleased to hear that I made her blocks in this state. In fact those very drugs might be responsible for my points meeting better than they usually do!

And that brings us back to today. All necessary tasks are completed and everything else that is less pressing shall be ignored. A job lot of bolognaise sauce is simmering in the oven and I have a few short hours to devote to me, fabric and thread. So that is what I am going to do.

The carrot on the end of the stick is I had to use some red wine in the pasta sauce. Therefore, if I am a good, productive little quilter today I can reward myself later on. I am sure that red wine is very, very good for colds. It is, isn't it?

So I am off to partake of a few cold remedies and then take control of a sewing machine. Wish me luck.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Quilting Like Proper Quilter

Today I am going to prove, despite my usual laissez faire attitude towards the rules, that I can quilt by the book. And I am doing that because I finally got the chance to work on Trudi's blocks for the bee. (Won't she be relieved to hear that?!)

First block in my first bee! I was determined to get it right and to do that I had to be more precise that usual and read, and then reread, the instructions.

Step one was to take a photo of Trudi's block on flickr. I did this because my computer and sewing machine are in different rooms and I wanted an instant reference by my side for those many moments when I got confused.

Then I cut, and sorted, and marked, and pinned. Those half square triangles were not getting away from me!

And I started string piecing. I was so intent on doing everything correctly and concentrating in a way that my brain is not used to. Needless to say I made a mistake right away.

I had momentarily been so proud of myself for my precise following of that pencilled line I had drawn onto the squares - until it occurred to me a number of squares in that I wasn't supposed to be sewing on the line but 1/4" to either side of it.
Attempt number two occurred after some interesting language and name calling (I was by myself) while I picked out stitches.

Eventually I succeeded in sewing them correctly. Then came the pin removal, cutting into triangles and pressing them all. Oh, but the next step was tedious. Squaring all those triangles off. A first for me. I generally just hope for the best and then make the little buggers fit. But this isn't my quilt and I don't want to be the block in Trudi's quilt that people do that special smile over and quickly skip onto something more pleasing to the eye. So trim I did -

In theory I should now be showing you the completed block so you could tell me that I was no longer under special measures. But I can't because that's the rules. No showing of the blocks until Trudi has received them all. So all today was about was showing you that I can do what I am supposed to upon occasion. Amazing, isn't it?!