Sunday, 30 April 2017

Temperance - It's Ok, If You Get Enough

Temperance, it's ok, if you get enough of it. That is what my husband said last night as when we settled down to sleep.

Rather appropriate as we had been chez us for the evening and had polished off  a sirloin steak and fried potatoes, a bottle of red wine, a rather nice ripe, runny swiss cheese and a bottle of Alsace pinot blanc and a bourbon and some craft made fudge to finish.

Temperance in all things.

 Rather appropriate when I thought of my little spending spree last week, it removed any last vestiges of guilt over more spending - not that I feel guilty over spending in the first place. I don't smoke, I don't gamble, I don't drink   I show temperance in all that I do. Ha!

Last week we were in London and I had nearly a whole day all to myself. In London!! So, of course I went on my own personal journey. A pilgrimage if you will. I went on the Jubilee line to West Hampstead to pay homage at The Village Haberdashery. And, having went all that way, it would have been in very poor form, rude, not to buy something. Buy local. It was local when I was there!

I succumbed to the longing, the new longing for some violet Kona, that longing that started in Purl Soho when I "forgot" to buy the sale yardage. The Village Haberdashery had a terrific range of lilacs, I picked three - pansy, thistle and wisteria. I bought a half yard of each.

In the window, they had a lovely quilt using the Alice In Wonderland range by Cotton and Steel. Until two seconds ago, I didn't realise it was Cotton and Steel, but I am not surprised. I knew I just had to have this. It was on the top shelf. Without lowering the tone, I remember newsagents having a top shelf of "men's magazines"! Guilty pleasures. Fabric porn.

I have half a yard of each of the design range. There were coordinating fabrics with a gold spot, and another with a  gold spade, a  little too bling for me, so I refrained. You see - Temperance at work.

And what am I going to do with these? I have loved the Postcards from Sweden quilts, pattern available for free on Craftsy. It goes the whole gamut of solids right from red to purple, with greens, oranges and yellows as well. I love it.
And the Alice In Wonderland? I don't need a project for that. I am happy just to stroke it and be in love. My sister did mention in passing, my niece loves Alice In Wonderland. I knew there was something in the back of my mind. I suppose this is another of these "squirrel moments" in the DrEAMi link up.

Now stash out this week? I have made a couple more squares from my dad's shirts #dougiesshirts. 11 or 12 altogether now. I blogged about it the other day though, so won't bore you again. I also made finished another couple of hexie flowers from my Liberty stash. I was asked today how many I was going to make, the answer, until I get fed up.

The real highlight last Saturday for me was bumping into Trudi, who I know through instagram, @trudiwood. It was lovely to meet her "in real life". Trudi really is such a lovely person, both online and in reality.

The one thing I didn't get was a spool of red variegated machine quilting thread. I have been on the hunt, Purl Soho, The Village Haberdashery but no luck. Gives me the excuse to keep hunting. And as for the rest of my day last Saturday, I had a lovely facial courtesy of Liz Earle, a great lunch in the artisan food market in Duke of York Square, Sloane Square, London. I wandered round the Saatchi Art Gallery, there's a great selfie exhibition, and lastly a great trawl round the second hand book shop at World's End, Kings Road. A day made in heaven.

One last thing, until today I actually thought Temperance was the same as Abstinence. Not the same thing at all, apparently.

linking up with Sunday Stash and Molli Sparkles
linking up with DrEAMi

Friday, 28 April 2017

Falling Leaves In Springtime

Back to my Freefall qal . Time for another linky party and I'm getting there.

I'm caught up in some leaves, behind in others, and unbelievably slightly ahead in others.

This is where I am to date, one whole row done and a couple of odd leaves.

And this is what the finished quilt should be like, photo courtesy of Sandra, musings of a menopausal melon.

At first I had only two shirts, the dark small check, the red and white stripe and the blue woven background. So, I was happily making away. I had made 4 red blocks,

 2 check blocks

and the sections were ready for 2 more checks.

Fast forward to my sister and I sorting dad's clothes, and I brought up some more shirts for variety. You see, when I told my sister to give me a couple of shirts plus a background, she took me at my word. I then made another block with a paler larger check.

When I laid them all out, I saw the OOOPS in this photo, now corrected.

At this stage, I thought I had better devise a plan, a working action. To this stage, the plan had been there was no plan. I know Sandra has a line plan for free on Craftsy, courtesy of Tish. That involved getting up from the sofa and turning on the computer to print. So here is my plan of Sandra's plan. Think of it as an underground revolutionary group plan if you like, a sketch on a cigarette packet, like a world war 2 espionage group. When I looked at this, I could see I had 3 checks with the blue background too many! Always a good idea to check the plan.

I decided the best way was to complete 1 entire row and work upwards and downwards from there.

And there you have it. My progress to date. Slightly out of kilter with the others who are making by rote, but it will end up the same in the end.

I am really enjoying the flow of making these blocks. Once I got into the rhythm of them they come together very easily. Some of the blocks intersect each other, like a puzzle of interconnecting squares and rectangles. My dad, Dougie, would enjoy that. Cryptic crosswords and geometry/maths puzzles were his thing. I particularly like the half floating leaf background and half real background leaf. It will all become clear in time. The real background was originally going to be white, then sister mentioned how much she loved this pale green shirt. Of course it is woven too! More stretchy stretchy.

It is a bank holiday weekend here this weekend. Now we have finished work, every weekend is a bank holiday weekend, but there is still something of a treat about them. A chance to do fun things, like work in the garden or sew, or read, or scrapbook, or simply lie and do nothing at all.

Have a happy weekend.
Helen x

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Catch Up Is My Pole Position

Catch up seems to be my default position. I see these qal and decide to join in and in the blink of an eye I am playing catch up. Is it because I take on too much? Have too many fingers in too many pies? Sometimes but this time it is because we were on holidays and when I came home the dust fairy seemed to have sprinkled her dust all over my house. Or maybe the house needed dusted and cleaned before I went away and strangely still needed done on our return.

So the state of play with the Freefall  qal with Sandra musings of a menopausal melon? Last Monday everybody linked up their 8 falling leaves on the leaf background. As of today, I have one fallen leaf. One leaf does not a compost heap make but I am happy enough. And here I present my one leaf: It even has its own hashtag #dougieshirts on instagram.

Sandra gave us very comprehensive cutting instructions from yardage. I am making my quilt from some of my dad's old shirts. Now my dad was a smart dresser, a suit and tie man or at least polo shirt and sweater man, never a t shirt or sweats man, or even jeans. He didn't however have a huge wardrobe, after all you can only wear one shirt at a time. One on, one off and one in the wash was his philosophy for most things, and it worked for him. Because of the unknown quantities of my fabric, I am unable to cut following Sandra's instructions. I am hacking at these shirts as required, see how far it goes. There will either be creative sewing towards to the end, or a load left.

I love the way Sandra has put this block together. With the two larger squares, basically you have to make all the separate components to complete the whole block, no putting it together as far as you can and leaving the rest to later. The top right hand leaf point is paper pieced. Lovely. This part of the block has three separate paper pieced sections around a small square. Now, I know Sandra's instructions will be perfect and the maths correct. BUT, paper piecing can be tricky in itself, it involves mirror images, flipping fabric (?) and for me a certain amount of luck. So ... with a possible fabric shortage I simplified mine into just the one paper pieced section. It took me two goes to get it right, the first time my maths was wrong. Once I work out the basic math, I just cut bigger pieces of fabric, stitch and flip. The theory is once I get the first one, the rest will follow. Shame I didn't keep a master copy then.

Overall I am rather pleased, hopefully pride doesn't come before a fall. On this occasion I have had to overcome my dislike of stripes and direction of fabric not matching up. This time it will add to the flow and movement of the fabric. Speaking of fabric, the red stripe is great, a really sturdy cotton, a shirt from the Howick range. The blue Baumwolle shirt for the background is also cotton but being woven is rather stretchy and inclined to fray. I probably should have used a stabiliser, but I hate that. It puts me in a bad mood before I even start. I am just going to wing it and quilt or over stitch any dubious bits. This is for my sister, for her caravan and she will be extremely tolerant of any foibles, as a non sewer, she probably won't even notice any. As my younger sister she no doubt worships the ground I walk on!

If you have any time over the next day or two, check out the New Bloggers' Blog Hop. You may remember this from the last few years, yours truly took part a few years ago. It is a great way to find you blogs to read, gives great encouragement to the bloggers, and who knows ... you might find a new friend.

Last week was week 1, and here are links to Yvonne, Beth and Leanne who were the hosts. There you can see their hives from last week.

And here is the link to the week2 hives Yvonne, Beth and Leanne are highlighting. Yvonne's hive is Blooming Quilters. Beth has Better Bloggers (love that name) and Leanne has Let's Bee Quiltin'
The prizes for week 1 are all done and dusted, but great prizes in week 2.

Just one more thing, for anybody of a football bent, come on Chelsea, the good team in this week's FA Cup semi final. ~(sorry G Mul if you are reading this!) Chelsea v Man Utd on Saturday night.

Helen x

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Home Again, Home Again

The last ten days or so I have been on a visit to the Land Of Opportunity. We grabbed the chance to have a break in Philadelphia and NYC for a break. I apologise to any of my fellow bloggers whose emails I have yet to reply to. My phone tended, rather expensively, to jump off the hotel wifi, and Mr Security in Hotmail and Gmail tried asking me all sorts of awkward security questions when I tried to email using my husband's  ipad. I know, I set up the security questions, but, like, who remembers their answers? Now I am home, it is time to link up with Molli Sparkles again, handily enough.

Anyhow, we had a great time, the stateside son  is hale and hearty, I have to see him in situ to be sure of this! We did a bit of this.

And this,

And some of this,

And a little bit of this.
And of course this.

I hear stories of suitcases coming home full of Levi jeans, but in my case, I like to buy wool.
In Philadelphia I made my annual visit to Loop Knits and treated myself. They always have great samples knit in the shop. This suits me, as I see wool, love it, but am never quite sure what to do with it or how much to buy. I spotted this stone point poncho in Luma Knits yarn and tried it on. It fitted my criteria, "do I look the size of a house in this?" The answer was no, the hard bit was deciding which colour. There was a beautiful hot pink but in the end I decided on grey. I seem to graduating to grey these days.

A ball of bright multi coloured sock wool snuck into the basket as well, it is called "happy accident" and it will be a happy accident if I actually knit two socks the same that actually fit! My daughter really liked this wool, so here's hoping.

I also bought some more carbon sock needles and a short circular needle for knitting hats. I have plenty of circular needles, but never have the right size or right length. That seemed to be me and my pencil case the whole way through the school - plenty of pencils but never the right colour pencil - do I need therapy? Or did everybody in school feel like this? Anyhow, my yearly visits to Loop Knits meant I had $5 in loyalty points to use, brilliant.

In NYC we had, of course to go to Purl Soho. How can we not?  I had a little scrap of my camel fabric with me to pair up, but in the end I bought yardage of  Robert Kaufman Kona on sale. Two shades of pink, and a deep blue,  Soooo cheap compared to the price at home. They had one other yardage in their sale basket, a lilac, could have, should have, would have bought that too. One of life's regrets, for years to come I will say, I should have bought that lilac. I was there the next day to buy wool and forgot to check it was still there.

They had some lovely Carolyn Friedlander fabric too. But ... it is very high up and difficult to check out when vertically challenged with a tendency to vertigo when looking straight up. I didn't ask for help, as I reckoned I have most of it anyway. See how sensible and frugal I can be?

The last thing I bought was some lovely wool for the daughter in law. I was torn between buying her two skeins of lovely wool, or one skein of really lovely wool. I decided to go for the really lovely wool, hand dyed Anzula yarn. It is a superwash merino, with cashmere and just a touch of nylon, 4ply wool. It is called Squishy and that marketing team deserves some buns.

My second regret, and yes, I have a few, is that I didn't buy some yarn for myself. The problem of having peaked too early in Loop Knits or just that I treated myself to some Tiffany Return To New York earrings and there is so much treating you can do. Before Tiffany come to hunt me down, I must say I find their staff spectacularly unhelpful. Maybe it is just me. Three visits, three purchases, three experiences. Ah well, I will hardly be buying anything else, I have the necklace, bracelet and earrings, times two.

Helen x
linking up with Molli Sparkles and Sunday Stash

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Beeabee 2017

I mentioned in my last post I may inadvertently have joined a bee. I know. My name

is Helen and I am a beeaholic. I am also a fabriholic and a scrapaholic. And maybe a ginaholic as well.

Sue who I got to know last year in instagram approached me and asked if I would join a bee. Well, flattery and a personal invitation will get you anywhere and the woman from Belfast, she say yes. I was chuffed to be asked, but maybe they had asked everybody else and I was the last. I already know Anneliese from previous Modern Quilters Ireland Bee and Gina from instagram and I share a love of aqualegias and radio 4 extra and the others I look forward to getting to know.

Anneliese was queen bee the first month and requested stars for a starry night quilt. I made her a selection.

 Firstly I made her this orange one,

Then I made a few simple friendship stars.

I snuck in a top from a beer bottle, weird I know. It had a bumble bee on it, and I knew Anneliese would appreciate it. I also included a couple of cocktail glass markers I thought she could use as stitch markers in her sock knitting.

Anneliese's anchor background fabric is to be kona charcoal. I didn't have any at the time,  I do now. It is my intention to make another improv block for Anneliese and send it on.

Katrina's block for March is the pineapple block. I have never sewn this. Although it doesn't look particularly difficult it does need precision sewing and cutting. As I am a bit all over the place still, I haven't started this. No point in setting myself up for disappointment! I will hopefully give it a go over the Easter break and send it on then.

Helen x

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Kisses of Honey

No Bees this year, you remember me saying that. Well, I joined a bee that wasn't a bee and then I joined a real bee, that I don't think I have blogged about yet.

First the bee that isn't a bee. Molli Sparkles,  he who is the quilting queen bee, set up a Facebook group for a bee, that's a bee where you make just for yourself. No pressure, no deadlines, just a interactive Facebook page to participate. There are millions of people taking part, interesting to see how many fall by the wayside! Here I am so far:

I am nearly keeping up. I can play keepy uppy. I made my February blocks towards the end of March. I am a little hesitant in blogging them, they are not great. But then its no pressure isn't it? My cognitive powers seem to have a little awry at the moment. I sew a seam, rip it out, sew it wrong again. I decided not to follow the instructions, just do my version.

I'm pleased with my simplified bottle of buttons. The buttons are cotton and steel fabric and the lid a little of my rose and hubble spotty fabric. I have no idea what size the block is to be, but mine is 8".

Next we have the kissy kissy block. Unless you are a horseman galloping really fast you will have noticed the mismatched point right in the centre of the block. Yes, that totally missed point. I should really rip it out and fix it, but for now I am leaving it. It can be the goodbye kiss from the maiden whiskery old great aunt that children always hate. When we were children, we had an elderly maiden whiskery  neighbour who always wanted to give you a little kiss hello and goodbye. Yuck. She gave you a thruppenny bit too, that was ok!

Lastly the echo block. Shouldn't even have taken a photo of it, but then this is about me, warts whiskers and all. This block is disastrous. I don't mind the unstraight lines, echos and soundwaves aren't straight anyway. The greys are too short though. Trying to keep to the 8" block size, I ran out of inches! I will either take it apart to and fix or just start again. Or use that block for a corner one which hangs down the far side!

Helen x

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Are You Ready for Jam Sandwiches and Red Lemonade?

I have been working a little bit in the background on my jam sandwiches. Having cut all my Stash Bee 2016 blocks up, and sewn them all together again, I was pretty pleased with how it was going.

I laid them all out and started thinking about what I wanted from a picnic blanket. What is there to think it about? A picnic blanket. A blanket on the ground. You remember that old country and western song by Tammy Wynette .... just because we are married, don't mean we can't fool around. That's it, sing a long. And if you are from N Ireland it will be sing a long with Philomena Begley and Her Rambling Men.  I'm being a bit cruel aren't I? Ear worms.

Well, what do I want from a picnic blanket? It is a blanket on the grass, hum de hum. Well, I live in N Ireland, where the grass is so green. The grass is so green because it flippin' rains most of the time, and when its not raining, it was raining earlier. In reality, when we have a picnic we carry the picnic basket from the car, across the National Trust car park to the picnic tables nearby. Our days of hoicking all the picnic stuff across the field, spreading the blanket on the ground and lying prone on the damp grass/in the sunshine are over. Because you know, you have to get up again, roll over on all fours and haul yourself up. Not so romantic with a damp bottom.

What I have decided to go along with are his and hers matching picnic blankets for either side of a picnic table. If there are four of us, two bottoms will easily fit on each blanket. The number of times I look at a picnic table, and think, is that seat clean? Is that bird poo hard or soft? Will that wet wooden seat leave green marks on my nice clean white linen trousers? The perfect solution!

We went along the North Coast for a drive last week, and the husband says, we should have brought a picnic. Its time to get the picnic stuff together. Time to get these picnic blankets basted and quilted.

Helen x

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Daughter Dearest

Dear Daughter,
Remember I promised to make you the Houndstooth Quilt? For Easter? This Easter? The one to match your bedroom curtains? Well, I am sorry, I am a little bit behind with myself. Easter is only next weekend. Would a big Cadbuy's Easter Egg do instead?
much love
Mum xx

If the art of letter writing was not dead, that is what I would be writing. I promised to make the Houndstooth quilt designed by Just Jude Designs that was published in Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine in late 2016. In February I cut out all my fabrics and started. Easy and quick. Then real life got in the way and it was set to the side.

Luckily enough I put all those cut up greys in Ikea bags and labelled them. Not like me at all, but I am glad I did. All those shades of grey look very similar. So what is the state of play?

All the greys and cut up and most of the grey and white hst  are joined either a white or grey square to make a 2 square block. So far so good.

The silver and white or grey blocks are joined together to make a 4 block square in the tooth shape.
I love the shimmer of this silver.

The shale blocks are finished likewise.
The shale blocks are, well, shale coloured. What can you say about shale?

The titanium, iron and pewter blocks are just waiting patiently for their 2s to become 4s.

The purples are as they were when they arrived in the post. Pristine and uncut.

Like my jam sandwiches and red lemonade quilt, I have a good feeling about this one. I look forward to getting further on with it. After Easter!

Helen x

Monday, 3 April 2017

Finish A Long Quarter 2 2017

Completely forgot about this, was just reading a few blogs and realised it was it time to make another unachievable list and then beat myself up. Or I could keep it short and sweet.

So, here is my list of finishes I hope to finish before the end of June. In no particular order.
  1. Finish my daughter's Liberty skirt. The pattern has a horrible waistband, so I need to fudge this.    
  2. Get stuck into this Houndstooth quilt, I am enjoying it but time has been an issue here. This is for my daughter too. (on a theme here)
3. Make a few more economy squares and make a fun quilt for a child. No rush.
4. My Liberty hexie quilt. This could nearly appear on Stranmillis University Lifelong Learning programme, this is my lifelong learning project. That's ok, I find this so relaxing I don't want it to finish.
5. My Jam Sandwiches and Red Lemonade Quilt x 2. These just need basted and quilted . Easy Peasy,
6. I have a one sock nearly knitted here. Should really finish it, and its friend.

That's it folks. All straight forward, short and concise.
                                                  See how this all goes at the end of  June.

Helen x

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Link Up Overload

Can we ever have too much of a good thing? Too much sugar certainly, too much gin probably, its not called mother's ruin for nothing. Too much internet connection overload? Not in this blog. Today I am multi tasking link ups and blog writing.

Firstly Sandra's two (not one but two) link ups. Sandra has a quilt a long which is very quickly gathering momentum. It is a smaller lap version Freefall of her Windfall quilt from last year. Now - initially when I saw this in process last year although I loved it, I wasn't sure whether to participate having finally finished my modern maples 20 year quilt last year. It wasn't that I don't like Sandra, I do very much, not that I didn't want to join in the fun, I did. It was just, you know, I had had 20 years of making maple leaves, not sure if I wanted to make anymore.

Then my circumstances changed. I thought it would be kind of cool to make a small quilt for my sister and myself out of some of dad's old shirts. Dad, having passed away so recently, I thought it would be a nice memory and use it up, use it out which he would approve of. (he would also say, have you nothing better to do with your time, but we will neatly bypass that). He would also be pleased I wasn't buying and stock piling more fabric, being an accountant he worried about tying up my assets. "Its a lot easier to spend it than earn it" was often heard at home. I haven't cut any of the shirts up yet, I need to get one more from home and then just lift the scissors and go for it. All the little bits that are left, I will sew improv style, ever so slightly influenced by Kaja of Sewslowly who has made some beautiful quilts from old shirts.

So, it was happenstance that Sandra's quilt a long came along at this time. Perfect. Dad loved walks through forest parks. He had season admission tickets for forest parks all through our formative years. Sunday afternoons were spent trekking along forest paths, hoping for an ice cream at the end. This will be perfect for my sister for her caravan, and she was really pleased when I asked her.

This leads us very nicely into my second link up. Sandra's DrEAMi  Moment. That moment when this squirrel thing gets you and you have to join in. Yes, its that damn squirrel again.  No more appropriate DrEAMI Moment than my sitting up in bed and going "yes! I know what to do now with dad's shirts".

Now, just in case you think this is a Sandra love fest, I am moving along here.
 One of my other great quilty friends, is Yvonne. Yvonne has previously designed and made a Lucent Quilt in various sizes. I always loved the bold strong design of this quilt, as I do all of Yvonne's designs. Last week she sewed it as Baby Carter Lucent  quilt with elephant fabric. I knew instantly I wanted to make this but with camels for a little one. Two metres of the camel fabric promptly arrived this week from Cotton Patch, ordered and delivered the next day! Fantastic service. Yvonne's pattern is on sale in her online store, and like all of Yvonne's patterns is a joy. Clear precise cutting and sewing instructions.

The camel fabric comes as part of the Indian Spice Market fabric collection from InPrint Fabrics but I am not keen on the coordinating fabrics. I am sure they are historically and culturally appropriate, but I would prefer something a little more vibrant and modern. The dad of this little one loves medieval and ancient history so would probably be more than happy with the designated fabrics. But ... hey, I am the piper here and the piper calls the tune!

This comes neatly to my last link up of the day, Molli Sparkles Sunday Stash, linking up dad's shirts and my camels.

Helen x
linking up with
Musings of a Menosausal Melon and DrEAMi Moment
Musings of a Menospausal Melon and Freefall Quiltalong
 Molli Sparkles Sunday Stash