Monday, 30 April 2012

The Sun is Shining so...

... I can finally say, 'Ta-Dah!'. The official unveiling of Stained Colourful in its finished state. It actually was finished last Thursday evening to be completely honest. But I already had Friday's post written as I knew Friday was going to be a write off in terms of sewing or blogging. And then the sunshine did a disappearing act of amazing standards. And when it did reappear I did not wish to go out in a garden as soggy as this.

The view from our front door.
Scenic reflection an all new feature!
No child was hurt in this photo shoot.
Child used only to demonstrate water depths.
Oh, and because she wanted to be outside playing in it.
Today the sun is shining and I grabbed the opportunity while it existed. Out I went quilt in hand.

This quilt just makes me happy.

And the back!
Ever since I sent Wonky Stars to live in Finland there has been a void in my life. But not any more. Stained makes me grin from the very centre of my soul on out. I can't thank Sarah enough for starting this QAL and making the pattern available to all of us.

My binding is extremely scrappy.
Part of me wanted to do a Kona charcoal binding
but in aid of continuity on my sofa I went for this.
And this is good enough for me.
It might not be a traditional stained glass quilt with black sashing,
but it positively glows in the sunshine.
No Ta-Dah photo shoot would be complete without the
obligatory rolled up quilt shot.
Despite the wind, and the mud puddles
I came back in with an unsullied quilt.
Some things in life will always make you smile when you see them. Stained Colourful is one of them for me. As you can imagine threats are already rife in this house. 'Don't you dare eat that samosa near my quilt!' 'No squash near my quilt!' You get the idea. I am extremely possessive about this one. Mine, all mine!


Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Contortionist

Emily is obviously preparing herself for the circus, or to assist a Houdini want-to-be or some such thing. Because I keep wandering round the house and finding her in odd situations.

But her newest trick involves Helen's new desk.

Which has a cupboard for the hardware of a computer she may own some day.

Emily finds it endless fun to get in there.

And hide.

She frightened the heck out of Helen the first time she did it. So I think she has finally found her calling. Magicians Assistant. Everything we ever wished for. Yeah right!

A number of you admired my Moo! cards yesterday (thank you) and expressed an interest in having some for yourself. If you do decide to get yourself some and use this link - - I will benefit from it by discounts on future purchases. Oh, and it gets you 10% of your order too! I only found this out yesterday when Pippa - Pippa's Patch - emailed me and asked for my referral link. (Thank you, Pippa.) So I am shamelessly putting the link on here in case anyone else was thinking of buying some. If you do, please let me know so that I can thank you properly.

I'm posting early today because after a series of extremely busy days my main ambition today is to accomplish nothing at all other than total relaxation. The fact that the weather is foul is added incentive to just sit and veg all day. Hope you all have an equally satisfying Sunday.


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Follow the Herd

Annabella emailed me recently and suggested I buy some Moo! cards while they still had a sale on. I did. Of course I did, especially as it was pointed out that they would be very convenient to have at the retreat. And we could all swap them like football cards. I sat and chose photos to be used on them for absolutely ages.

In the end I settled on all of these -

- because I obviously couldn't make my mind up. I got a few of the girls as it was just too fun not too. They are in possession of most of the copies of these now. And very pleased with them they are.

There are so  many happy moments caught in those four photos.

Then there was a selection of things I made in the run up to Christmas -

- some of the  more recent projects I have had on the go, even some unfinished ones -

- and some of my favourite projects from last year.

There were other projects I would have liked to have used but when it came to cropping the photos they just didn't work in this format. Probably for the best when you consider how many different ones I still have.

I have to say, these Moo! cards are almost too much fun for words.


Friday, 27 April 2012

I Love It When I am Wrong

Okay, that might not be a good title. Because I hate it when I am wrong with my kids. And I hate it when it happens in other situations too. But I love it when I state here on this blog that I might not be too happy with a backing I have pieced for a quilt and then realise once it is quilted that I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Or, as Emily would say - I don't like it. I love it!

First I had to baste. Oh yay! Obviously I like basting so much that I thought I would do it twice. I spent ages smoothing the backing, carefully placing the wadding on top and then putting the quilt top onto those layers. And then I pinned for England. Once I was done I flipped it over and inspected the back. It looked like it had been basted by a three year old!

Thankfully attempt number two went better than the first one.

I chose to quilt in a big stipple so that the quilt would be nice and snuggly, and to match it up with it's partner in crime on the sofa when it is finished. (The Across the Seas is quilted in a big stipple too.) The bonus to this is that it doesn't take as long as just about any other type of quilting. And I even remembered to change my bobbin when I was by an edge instead of running out of thread when I was smack dab in the middle of the quilt. This was a huge break through in thinking for me!

Obviously all the positive thoughts that were missing on Wednesday are back in force today!

I tried to photograph it on the trampoline because
I love the black background when I do this.
Unfortunately I am not tall enough to get far enough away
to get the whole quilt in the photo doing this.

So instead I resorted to the handy dandy 'rustic' fence.

Did you notice something else? There is a touch of blue sky in that there photo! Quick, look before it is gone again. Ooops! Too late. It's raining again - never mind.

I haven't linked up with Shay for Favourite Things Friday for absolutely ages. But today I can honestly say I have a whole load of favourite things. Pieced quilt backings that make me happy. Blue skies, no matter how briefly they stuck around. Sewing without running out of thread. And colour. I love all the colour in this quilt.

Now if I haven't put you completely off with all this happy stuff, have a brilliant weekend. I'll be doing some binding when I can fit it in between entertaining the in-laws, doing all the usual crap and life in general.


Thursday, 26 April 2012

I've Gone AWOL

I'm not here today. I have hopped over to Southern Ireland to hang out with the lovely and talented Sarah at FairyFace Designs. Sarah kindly invited me to write a tutorial on how to make this summery table runner.

Quilt As You Go table runner.
I'll be back home tomorrow. But if you would like to say hello over at Sarah's today please hop on over to Cork and see me there.

If you have come here from FairyFace to have a look round, thanks for stopping by. Here's what I have been up to lately - Stained Colourful and Siblings Together and an item for FQ Retreat Sample Swap - for a small sampling. Hope you like what you see.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Stained Backing

It was one of those days. Rain, gloom, kids in school, so I decided to sew. Not do house work. Nor other necessary stuff. Just sew. After doing some more curtain alterations for my neighbours (who are just about the nicest people you ever want to meet) I proceeded to tackle the job that I have been avoiding. Because I had to cut out lots more different bits of fabric to make my backing for Stained Colourful. 

And I got on with it. I cut. I sewed. I forgot to eat lunch. Until just before the school run at which point I supplemented my non-existent diet with chocolate. Yup, that's how to keep everything in balance!

I decided to go with a very simple backing for Stained. I want to use this quilt for me, me, me. As my Across the Seas quilt already resides on the sofa I wanted them to look like they could live together very nicely side by side. So taking my cue from the back of the ATS quilt, which looked like this as a quick reminder - 

O-kay, so apparently I didn't take a proper photo of the back.
Sorry, but you get a glimpse here.

I pieced together five more of the square Stained blocks and then used Kona Snow, the same as my sashing, for the remainder of the back. I am hoping it looks good once quilted because I am having major doubts right now. But as it is all cut and sewn I will be using this backing whether I am in love with it or, more pertinently, not!

You know it is a murky day when you hang it in a window
and you can't tell because the light is so bad.

I tried a million and one ways of placing the blocks but
none of them made me happy so I ended up with this.

The rumpled look on the kitchen floor.

Well, it may have to grow on me. But at least I have done it. Wonder how long it will take for me to muster the energy to baste it?


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Not for the Faint of Heart

If you are squeamish you may not want to look at the first photo here. It kind of makes me feel a little ugh myself.

You see, I never knew it, but several people told me recently that you can freeze bananas that are not going to get eaten but you don't have the time to use them for baking. Then, when the baking time comes free you haul those bananas out the freezer, defrost and you have your perfectly soft bananas ready to be transformed into something wonderful.

What these wonderful fonts of information didn't tell me was just how vile a defrosted banana is.

Honestly, I am not sure I will ever be able to freeze a banana again. Only it does prevent waste. And I do have a very good recipe for banana cake. It is based on the recipe in The Fanny Farmer Cook Book. (OMG! I am just too British now, and incredibly juvenile, because every time I think of that book title I smirk!)

It isn't the recipe from the book any more though, because I have changed it, played with it, doctored it up and made it mine all mine.

It's hard to show you how good something tastes with a photo.
Really, you should just come over and share it with me.

Here's what you need -

4oz butter (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 bananas (approximately 1 cup) mashed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup creme fraiche (or sour cream as an alternative)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (not sweetened)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Line a 9" square pan.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Combine all the dry ingredients except the coconut and add to the butter mixture. Mix until combined. Add in the creme fraiche and the coconut and mix until just combined again. Put the cake batter in the pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes, until the cake springs back to your touch.

Cool and eat, though I like to eat one piece while it is still warm because it is so good! (If I do say so myself.) If you have a pathological hatred of coconut then leave it out. Otherwise, banana and coconut go together really well. This is a light, fluffy cake, not the loaf consistency that some people choose for their banana cakes. And it keeps well for a number of days. Which is good if you are trying to hide it from your kids so that you can have more for yourself.

Do you ever wonder why I complain that I can't lose weight?


Monday, 23 April 2012

I Had an Idea...

... for the FQ Retreat Sample Swap. Well, I have had several ideas really. The first one was the sqaure(ish) pouch with the zip going round three sides. I have another pouch idea, but I thought I would work on something entirely different.

It will either appeal as a swap item or people will think it is a total waste of space and wonder what on earth I was thinking. I drew my plan up on the computer and then used my handy dandy light box to trace it out on some linen. (aka: the window, some cellotape and some sunshine)

A rummage round showed me that I had a water soluble pen. Either my best friend bought me this - because she buys me some fab sewing notions - or I have no idea where on earth it appeared from. But it was useful when required.

I popped the linen in a hoop and I was ready to do some sewing.

So, honestly, what do you think? If you got a hoop instead of something 'useful' at the Retreat would you think it was a good idea or a waste of bloody space? (I like hoops but understand that others might not.)

If you do like it, would you prefer it as a hoop to hang as a memory of the weekend, or would like to see it as part of a zippy pouch? Or something else entirely?

And now the most important question. How do you feel about the satin stitch?

Because I am really regretting the decision to do the flag in French knots. It is taking forever!


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Winter Stitching is Finished...

... so could someone please tell the weather man that winter is over and its time to progress the weather into something a little more clement. Okay, it is not raining today, I will admit that. It isn't particularly warm either, but it beats the big old hailstones that were clattering down round here yesterday so I guess you could say things are improving.

Back to the business at hand. Sarah's Winter Stitching wrap-Up linky party has started. So I suppose it is time to see what I actually accomplished in the past few months.

My original list was here, and my mid-winter catch-up was here.

Some successes, some non-starters and a number of things that are on the go. I'll try to keep it brief.

1. Christmas Tablerunner Swap - went off incredibly well and I hope those involved were as pleased with it as I was.

2. Finish Helen's Quilt and Emily's too. Well, if you give me about two more weeks I could probably say success, but there is about two square foot of hand quilting to still do on Emily's quilt, even though the binding is already on. Almost a success.

3. Make a ton of Christmas ornaments. Big success. I mass produced the suckers.

4. Make my Brit Bee quilt. Hanging head in shame here because it keeps getting sidelined by other projects.

5. Conquer zippers. Well they no longer hold fear for me so I would call this an almighty success, especially as I am now experimenting with ideas.

6. Run Mouthy Stitches with Hadley and Cindy. It was done and I think for the most part a successful swap. There is talk of a repeat so it mustn't have traumatised the other two totally.

7. Try paper piecing. Woohoo! I am so pleased I can say that I finally did this thanks to Jo setting this as her block challenge for Brit Bee for March. Thanks Jo!

8. Start crocheting another throw, but much bigger. When I find the yarn that I love at a price that makes me grin I will do so. Meanwhile, it is on hold.

9. Finish my Terrain quilt. Finished and loved. First time I went with a dark neutral and for me it just works.

10. Get involved in the Stained QAL. I have and the top is done. All it is waiting on is for me to pull my finger out and piece a back. This is one of my most favourite quilt tops that I have ever made.

11. Work on my For the Love of Birds quilt. Well, I have done a bit more but not as much as I should have. I will get this done though!

12. Start my HR Fan Club quilt. It is started in my head but not in actuality. Does that count?

13. Make my items for the For the Love of Solids Swap. I was thrilled with how much I enjoyed working with all solids. It was quite a revelation to me and I enjoyed this swap immensely.

14. Make February's Brit Bee block. This was a real challenge to me and took me into areas I wasn't very comfortable with in my sewing. Which is a good thing. Because I did it and it came out better than I thought it would. In the beginning I contemplated doing a stick figure drawing as my 'self portrait'. But I didn't and I am sure that Jennie is quite pleased that I didn't.

I have done other stuff, but nothing that was actually listed on the Winter Stitching lists so I will leave this as my winter accomplishments. It is more than I thought it would be, and I faced up to a number of new sewing challenges so this makes me happy. That in itself makes it a success for me.


Saturday, 21 April 2012

Last One to the Party?

I will not be the first one to mention this on a blog, and many regretted the passing of Picnik. But have you had a play on PicMonkey yet? I am loving it and can't wait to see what they come up with as they develop the site because it is the easiest thing in the world to go and play with your photos there. And if you ever found that Picnik took a little longer than the time you had available, PicMonkey gives what amounts to almost instant gratification.

Now keeping in mind that I am very easy to keep entertained at times, this is just good old fashioned fun. I went onto the website because I had some photos for a tutorial that needed 'things done' to them. I was instantly hooked on how fast and easy PicMonkey is to use. Perfect for numpties like me.

Some text and a simple frame.

Playing with colour and effects.

I love this brick thing!
And the 'film' frame.

Let's not forget a little cropping,
and a good old fashioned poloroid shot.
I think I have found a program that works for me as my needs are limited. And when they expand and ask for money for membership I will be at the front of the line - as long as it is not a stupid amount.

Did I mention that it is really quick?