Saturday, 12 August 2017

The Big Reveal

Although it may seem as if I have only been knitting the last few weeks, I have been secret sewing. Sewing for the littlest one in our family. Now I can have the big reveal:

I loved Yvonne's Baby Carter quilt, based on her Lucent quilt. I loved it so much I decided to make one for our new grandchild. I had ordered the fabric and blogged about it here, and then the secret sewing began.

Yvonne's instructions were concise and easy to follow. Her cutting instructions covered various sizing options. This quilt would look great whether big or small. Aside from my camel fabric, I used the other fabrics from stash. I thought I would go spotty. Smarty fabric for the centre, I have had this for years. The yellow and white spot is an apple print the stateside son got me for Christmas one year. The blue and white polka dot is what I generally use for binding, a Rose and Hubble print. The corner smarty fabric was passed to be by a scrapbooking friend Val.

The quilt came together very easily. Even the tricky Y seams weren't tricky. I felt a real sense of achievement when it was finished

 and knew straight away how to quilt it. There were a few lovely days and I was able to baste in the garden.

  Quilting threads can be hard to come by here.  I bought two pale blue Coats cotton thread a couple of shades apart.

 The plan was to first quilt a huge X across the fabric. Each of the four quarters would then be filled in with inverted Vs. The first X and the initial Vs were in the darker pale blue, the Vs spread 2" apart. Then between each V were 3 or 4 Vs in the paler blue.

 This all worked very well and the result was really subtle. So subtle in fact, there is no discernable difference in the blues. Great laid plans and all that.
You can see in the back how subtle the difference is.

I had intended to bind it with a navy. A navy spot, surprise surprise. The navy seemed a little too strong. I went shopping to buy a peach spot but the "man" in the shop persuaded me to this baby pink. I wasn't convinced, but they had run out of peach in any case. I do have to admit the pink works well. I am pleased.

A quick wash and line dry with a tumble to finish, and the quilt is beautifully crinkled and squishable. Here's hoping the little one loves it as much as I do, or at least his mum and dad do.

Helen x

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Jolly Girls Go Another Jolly Jaunt

A couple of weeks ago my friend, Liz and I went on a mini break to Richmond in London.

You may have followed our jolly jaunt on instagram. We went to Hampton Court to look for Henry viii. We found a little of Henry but a lot of William and Mary. And more George's than you could shake a stick at. Liz very patiently tried to explain which Mary was which.  There is Mary who was daughter of Henry viii and Kathryn of Aragon, Mary who was Mary Stuart, the Scottish contingent. And Mary who was wife of William of Orange, or is that Mary Stuart? Our heads were buzzing.

We also went to Kew Gardens. We now feel that Kew is our own. We have our bench where we sat and watched the parakeets.

We went to see Wicked in the West End, courtesy of my friend's daughter. We packed in such a lot, walked for miles and talked ourselves hoarse and drank a lot of tea.


After a whole week home we felt we were ready for another jolly jaunt. This time unfortunately only a day trip, to Whitehead in Co Antrim. We even went on a train, so it felt like a mini, mini break. Rather coincidentally this was the same day as Yarnfolk Festival, N Ireland's very first yarn festival, organised by Lighthouse yarn  shop  and Fine Fish yarns.

Whitehead is a sleepy sort of place, it was known as the place sea captains went to retire. Genteel and by the sea, not much happening sort of place. I have shamefully poached this photo of the lighthouse on the hill. The Victorian cliff walk has been restored, but it is not for the fainthearted.

The Victorian terrace on the seafront has been repainted in vibrant bright colours.

Don't these two lovely ladies set off the terrace?

The yarn festival was spread over three different halls, and it was mostly indie dyers. I had no idea  Ireland and N Ireland had as much specialised wool and knitting. It was also gratifying to see so many younger women. The "modern" ravelry, instgram type of knitter is well and truly here.

And what did I buy? Did I indeed buy anything? After all, I am only buying yarn as I need it, I am not stockpiling a yarn stash ....

In ig conversation the night before with greenrabbitdesigns, I was admiring her free your fade shawl. I have had a hankering to knit some sort of fade out thingy. Apparently there is a mystery kal on ravelry, from Drea Renee Knits. You know me, I am sucker for joining in things. I have my yarn, my fade out yarn from Skein Queen and I am ready to go.  Although we don't as yet know what we are knitting, literally don't know, we will not be using full skeins. There will be some of each colourway left to use again.

What else did I buy? I loved this bright blue sock yarn from Irish Fairytale Yarns. The young couple who dye this wool are lovely and so helpful. I think this could even pass for a Chelsea blue? There is always a little yarn left from socks, and I think this will blend really well with the Regia Fluormania  yarn I knitted socks in a couple of weeks ago. See, I can do frugal!

Next up is some fluffy stuff for spinning, again from Irish Fairytale Yarns. This is some early Christmas shopping, not so secret now it is here.

I also bought another ball of Sublime cashmere dk from the actual brick Lighthouse yarn shop in Whitehead. I used this wool to knit the wee new baby cardigan last week, and I think this dark blue will go with the almost full ball of aqua.

All in all I think I was very sensible. What didn't I buy? I didn't buy the bright loud fingering wool I had my eye on. I didn't buy any of the lovely variegated fingering wools from Fine Fish Yarns.  I hope to in the future. I didn't buy any of the lovely yarns from Townhouse Yarns in Dublin. When the rugby season starts again, I might make a detour there, now I know they exist. And I didn't buy any of the tweed Kilcar tweed wools from the new Yarn With Joanne in Newtownards, a hop and a skip from home.  So, lots in the offing when I play catch up.

There was one more lovely thing about Whitehead. N Ireland is a small country. Loads of people, or Yarnfolk there I didn't know, but the advantage of a small country is you always bump into somebody you do know. We met a few of my scrapbooking group, some of the crochet group I have been going to (I can't crochet but it doesn't seem to matter). I met some lovely people from the book group I used to run in a previous life, I do miss them. And I met some lovely people I don't know but I do know. The lovely Vivienne of green rabbit designs recognised me. As Vivienne is publicity shy she would have had to carry one of her bunnies for me to know her! Kate from hawthorn cottage crafts and I spotted each other too. And unfortunately Ali of crazydazycreations missed us all.

I stole this still photo from Kate's podcast. Check her out, she has a really good round up of the day and a competition of goodies from the day.

Helen x

Sunday, 6 August 2017

It's Raining Blocks, Hallelujah.

I think I muddled up my Saturdays and Sundays yesterday. I had wanted the Juggling Plates post to "publish" on Saturday, so I could blog today, Sunday, about the blocks Sue sent me for Beeabee2017. I must have misread the days in the scheduling calendar. Do American calendars have the days of the week in a different order? I mean, in the same order, but starting and finishing at a different day? Or maybe, more likely, I just hit the wrong day.

Anyhow, I wanted to blog about Sue's blocks today, because she very generously included some extra fabric for me. It is always nice to have some stash to link up to Sunday Stash, so two blog posts in one day it is. A Feast or a famine I am afraid.

I love these fabrics. I love the strong emerald green. The thing is, my favourite colour is blue. Always have, always will be, but I am drawn more and more to green these days. I keep buying green wool.

Nope, changed my mind again. The bright blues are my favourite. The three fabrics tone in really well together.

As for the white, well I can never have enough low volume.

Sue very kindly included two strips of blue baby fabric as well.

 We have a new addition in our family, our first little grandchild, born in the last few days. I look forward to getting to know him, and of course making him many, many quilts. And knitted jumpers, and hats, and toys. He and I will have a ball. Now I can make all the baby things I wanted to when I had my own children, but of course I hadn't the time nor the energy. Wahey!

Sue also very kindly included two of her hand made project bags. These are gorgeous, right down to the tassel on the zipper and the labels inside. The bigger bag even matches my knitting! When I went to join the "hooker's (?)" the other night, they were all mighty impressed.

The smaller of the two bags is just perfect for the ending of a knitted sock, when the sock wraps neatly around the needles. It would be great for my Liberty EPP hexies too. Remember them? I haven't touched them for a while. They tend to be my "take" when we the football/rugby season starts.

Oh yes, the blocks Sue made me. The two blocks are lovely with a pale blue quatrefoil and orange fire centre. This is going to be some quilt! And yes, this quilt will be for my very own grandson.

Yesterday my friend Liz and myself went to Yarnfolk Festival in Whitehead. I may have entered into a little recreational spending. No one was harmed in the process, and we had a lovely day out. I planned to show off, show the skeins I bought, plus the  peurperium cardigan I knitted . I had never heard of that word either, I probably haven't spelled it right. Basically it means cardigan for a newborn. The "plain English" society should get involved in this. Anyhow, I have perambulated in a conversational journey for long enough this day of rest, and will withdraw to continue this this anon.

Helen x
linking up with Molli Sparkles and Sunday Stash.



Saturday, 5 August 2017

Juggling Plates

When I was in multiple bees I was always very proud that I was nearly always on time. On occasion I was running a bit late, holidays, birth, death and taxes. You know the type of thing. This year I am in only one low key bee, #beeabee2017 on instagram. No blog posts to write up by a set date, fairly fluid dates, two months off in the summer. Call that a job? So, it is now, the beginning of August that I have finished my May blocks.

The lateness, this was due to holidays and the fear. Not fear of flying, but fear of juggling. Juggling plates. Gina, of  and @druidquilter on instagram, asked us to make her Dresden plates.


Hear my not so silent screams. Gina may have well asked me to make her a mariner's compass block. Scary. So, this got put on the back burner and I made my excuses. I went to London, I went to Budapest, Salzburg and Vienna. I went to London again. Eventually I had to face the fear and try to make the Dresden Plates.

And you know what I am going to tell you? They were ok..... in fact I could say I enjoyed them. I did enjoy it. I can see myself making these in the future.

Gina gave us some photos for inspiration. Gina really didn't want traditional Dresden Plates, which is good, they are very boring and traditional. I was never really fussed on them. Gina wanted bright vibrant, hot plates. Look at her inspiration.

I love these.  These will turn into appliqued flowers,

First of all you have to  make a template. Time on our family computer, with the printer, is hard pressed at the minute. My husband is writing the history of the BB company he went to as a boy. We are being very industrious at the minute. I could have gone to my old work, the library, to print it off. But, 5 minutes to print, 5 hours drinking tea and chatting if I did that. So, I made my own templates, having read a few different blog posts on making Dresden Plates.

My first block was hot orange petals. Long narrow petals, with a radius of ....?...  This is getting towards Gina's maximum size of 15". I can see with this a hot pink centre. Gina asked us to leave the centres blank as an option. I am glad of this, the thought of applique-ing the centres with a smooth circumference is quite stressful. I will however send her the hot pink fabric.

My second block, I thought would be smaller and stockier. I reread the tutorials, and saw that the template base is generally about 3 1/2". This I thought I would make into a sunflower. Yes, it is smaller than the orange, and with fewer petals, but not by much.

Of course I think the dark grey/black fabric here is perfect for the centre.

I was determined to make a small stubby plate. A side plate, or piece plate, as we say here. A wee plate for your wee piece (sandwich, as in piece of bread and jam ). I chopped the end off the stubby template, thinking this was it. Getting cocky you see. It did make it smaller, but not as I envisioned it.  No, it isn't a wee piece plate, more of a wee salad plate, though salad plates are a little posh. This plate is on a pink theme, maybe a zinnia?

Although Gina has seen these on instagram, I haven't posted them, physically, not virtually. I have "known" Gina for a while. Thanks to Gina I listen to radio 4 extra, the crime plays particularly. I know Gina loves gardening, so I have to hunt out some seeds or something to post. When I was in Kew last week, there was something niggling me in the shop, that's what or rather who it was. Gina.
Sorry Gina, Tesco seeds don't  have the same ring as Kew Garden seeds.

Although I don't like the Dresden Plate block in its traditional mode, I can see myself using Gina's version. I have always fancied a quilt make of a neutral background with appliqued flowers, and these would fit the bill. I even have cotton calico cut into blocks for appliqueing onto . The only problem with this is, I don't like the calico blocks anymore since discovering the joys of low volume fabric!

Helen x

Friday, 4 August 2017

You Ain't Nothing But A Hounddog, Reprise

I have a finish! No I don't. I believe a flimsy (unquilted, unbasted top) can be a finish, so can a nearly finish be a finish? I may have said this before.

My Houndtooth quilt is pieced in strips. That's 10 blocks across by 10 strips deep. Now I "just" have to trim the strips and piece them together. Then iron it to death. Then baste it. Then quilt it.

I love this. I am so delighted with it. It matches my kitchen floor so well, I might just use it as a mat and not a quilt after all!

I am  delighted to see all the purple arrows face in the right direction. Rather pleased with that. And rather pleased that the purples didn't get muddled up en route.

There was a lot of labelling and bagging went on here. And checking and rechecking. So much so, that I was surprised when I was a shale colourway block short in the last row. I had been methodical about these. The extra block sewed onto the penultimate strip explains why I was one short!

Look at the last strip. The whole way to the very end of the quilt, and the very last blocks are the wrong way round.

 Maybe they should be my Amish blocks. Apparently the Amish quilters always made/make a deliberate mistake because only God can reach perfection. It is an insult to God to imitate him. I think my daughter would prefer the mistake corrected. Oh the perfect pain and irony, to sew all these blocks together and make a mistake in the final two blocks!!!

The houndtooth pattern is from Love Patchwork and Quilting Magazine and is from a design by Belfast's very own Judith of Justjudedesigns. The fabric are all kona solids, I will list them next time. Crazy Mom Quilts who hosts the link up for finished quilts is taking August off from blogging, so that gives me a month to finish. Ha Ha.

Helen x
linking up with Myra at  Busy Hands Quilts for not quite finished Friday

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Freefall QAL and the Fabulous Fabrics

Woo Hoo! My prize arrived. I know, I should be modest, say it was all the luck of the draw, I am not worthy.... but I do have to say I was dead chuffed to win first prize in the recent Freefall qal hosted by Sandra, . And the first prize was a stupendous pack of Sandra's own Freefall fabrics. That's a whole 18 fat quarter pack! The fabrics were supplied by Sandra's sponsor Paintbrush Studios.

The lovely Lisa from Paintbrush Studios told me to listen out for the plop in the mailbox. Well, we don't have a mail boxes, we have letterboxes in our doors.  A plop in the hall has a wholly different sound doesn't it! These small cultural differences are what makes us smile. It arrived whilst I was in England last week on my jolly girls jaunt with Liz, jgj17, and just at the right time for Molli Sparkle's Sunday Stash.

Often when somebody wins a prize, they say it is wonderful. You take a quick look, and think, is that really wonderful? Are they really pleased? In this case there is no doubt. The fabrics are lovely, the colours run the gamut of pale blue through to lilac and green. There is a lovely soft quality to these colours, they remind me of paints sprinkled on oily water and stirred through. I am really looking forward to using these.

I think these are my own most favourite fabrics.

The fabrics worked so well in Sandra's own Freefall quilt. It is just so wonderful to have all these beautiful fabrics to myself.

Even the label is lovely. The end of the tag is over printed with the pattern and colourway of one of the fabrics. The cotton tyings have the Paintbrush Studio logo stamped along with an artist's pallet. In my frugal way I will be reusing this ribbon come Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas.... I was thinking of making some 1 hr baskets with matching pouches and purses. Some of this lovely fabric might just be purloined for this. But then, should I break up a collection? Something to think about over the next few weeks.

Thank you again Sandra, for not only organising such a fun quilt a long, but for my fantastic prize. It was lovely to come home to after my few days in England last week. And thank you to Paintbrush Studios too, and the lovely Lisa for all her help.

Just because I love it so much, I will include yet another photo of my finished quilt.

Helen x
linking up with Molli Sparkles Stash Sunday