Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Keeping busy to quell the nerves! (28)

I've just been reading Taniwa's latest blog and it's got me thinking. I won't repeat everything she has said - you can follow the link and read it for yourself - but I'd love to know what you think.

I had a preliminary visit to the dentist yesterday - it's been far too long since my last visit due to feeling so poorly for so long, but I really couldn't put it off any longer as I KNEW I had some work to be done. And yes, I've got problems. So I'm visiting him again today to have a crown removed and the tooth underneath which is decaying badly. Oh, I hate visiting the dentist. I had some bad experiences when I was a child - the worst being a power cut in the middle of some treatment and the dentist finishing off with hand tools! I did pretty well when my children were young to hide my fear as much as possible so that they wouldn't have so much of a problem, but the old nerves have re-appeared now. Hence the rather frenetic nature of this blog, typing away to try and keep my mind off my nerves!
On Monday I gave in and visited my LQS. I just didn't have any light scraps for Step 3 of the OC, though I managed to forage enough for the dark scraps. As always - and I bet I'm not alone - I spent far more than I should have done. Mind you, that's easy enough when you see the cost of fabric and books here. I don't have any square rulers, so that should be useful. The two books on machine quilting have already come in handy, and I've been practising for my next quilt. I'm hopeless! The fabric is earmarked for some stitcheries combined with patchwork that I have in mind and the cat wallhanging kit just leapt out at me and refused to be left behind. And right at the last minute, just as I was about to pay, I remembered my reason for visiting and bought some light fabric for step 2!

Well, I can't write any more or you'll all just give up on me. So, off to do some ironing I think to pass away the next 45 minutes until I leave.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Not more scraps!!!!! (27)

Bonnie's posted Step 3 for the Orange Crush, and it needs yet more scraps! AAgghh! I just don't have any left - I had to use just one material for the little triangles in Step 2 and a very limited selection of just 2 for the big triangles. I guess another trip to The Quilt Room is in order, to buy up some more of their fabric scraps, but I think I will stick again to just the one fabric for the light triangles else those in Step 2 will stick out like a sore thumb. The only problem with visiting the shop is that I'm bound to buy more than I need! Ah - a possible solution - go in the next couple of days before the beginning of the next month, then I won't be able to afford much. But that won't be half so much fun. 

It's been a quiet couple of days. My mother-in-law loved her birthday cushion and decided to just look at it for a few days rather than start using it. I've done a few bits and bobs, but haven't achieved a great deal. All my jobs for April are done except for finishing quilting the black and white quilt, but I have done some. So that will give me something to be going on with for May.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Bluebells (26)

Well, what a lovely day. First thing this morning I had a visit from an old school colleague. We worked together for many years and she retired about six months before I did. It was good to catch up - and to discuss Star Trek! We have both been fans for ever, and still watch repeats whenever we can. After that DH and I went for a walk in a local woods to see the bluebells. Our timing was perfect, as the bluebells are absolutely at their best, carpets of them. And the smell! It was just lovely. To add to the joy we parked near a field full of new lambs - tricky to photograph since they kept hiding behind mum. 
On the way home we stopped at a Garden Centre for coffee and bought several different varieties of tomato plants, a yellow pepper plant, some rocket seedlings and a planter full of strawberry plants. Terrific! I'm not much of a gardener, but I do enjoy growing food, so I look forward to my harvest. I'm particularly looking forward to the baby tomatoes that are to be grown in a hanging basket - just need to keep up with the watering.

This afternoon I finished block 3 for the BOM I'm doing. I have tried different ways of applique with each one, and am still not that happy with it - nor with the colours of the fabrics they are sending. And - if you are also doing the Moda Piece and Plenty BOM, yes, I know that the bird is on the wrong side! Somehow I managed to cut it out the wrong way round and had no more fabric to cut it the correct way. So, it'll have to stand and at least it will be unique.

And to top off a splendid day, DH has offered to cook supper. Great!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Long arm quilting machines (25)

I was fascinated by the little video that Ruthie has put on her blog Threads of Mine showing her long arm quilter in action. One of the things that I have noticed on the quilting blogs is how many people seem to have their own long arm machines. Are they cheaper in the USA? I enjoy quilting by hand - but start to get bored by doing the same quilt long before it's finished. I enjoyed the free motion quilting I did on DH's quilt, but my machine wasn't too keen and I had to do it in chunks as I couldn't manoeuvre very much at a time. I don't think I have the skills or the patience to do anything more precise either. One answer would be to send them out to be quilted - but the cost is prohibitive (it seems to cost about twice as much here in the UK - like fabric). I think my favourite method of quilting so far is hand quilting using big embroidery stitches. At least I can change them regularly and don't get too bored. 
Yesterday I made a card for my mother-in-law, finished Number 3 on the Mr Men sampler and made a few crumb blocks - destined to make a second quilt for Rosie so that I can have two to alternate and wash. That cat moults so much - the first quilt I made a couple of days ago already looks like it's ready to be washed. I don't think I'll get much done today, as I was really poorly last night - probably a reaction to the latest anti-biotics. Do other people have so many problems finding medication that doesn't upset them? I don't seem to be able to tolerate anything these days. Rosie seems happy that I'm still in bed though!

Well, reading this back it seems like one long whinge after another! Sorry folks.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Rosie's new quilt (24)

I really cracked on today, and finished the lap quilt I have been making with the first set of 4patch blocks I made for Step 1 of the Orange Crush and then discarded because I didn't like the colours with my main fabrics. I'm pleased with this though; I used some leader/ender 4patches as well and managed to use the last of the very first wadding I bought, a polyester which I really don't like at all. I much prefer cotton wadding now. I used a fleece blanket which I bought very cheaply - £4 at Tesco - for the backing, so the whole thing cost me very little and is my very first scrap quilt. I decided to use it on the bed that Rosie - the laziest cat in the world - favours during the day. It'll be quicker to whip off and wash than changing the duvet cover all the time - if I can shift her fat furry bottom!! She took to it immediately.

This wasn't on my list of jobs for April so I'll need to get on with those now, though I'm doing pretty well. The black and white quilt is the slowest to make progress; I've kind of lost momentum as I've got interested in other things. A little personal discipline is called for I think! But then, there are all those interesting suggestions for my 'doctor' quilt to look at .... perhaps I'll look at those first!

Monday, 21 April 2008

Thank You (23)

There are so many kind and generous people out there. I would like to thank those of you who have read my blogs and responded to my queries with help and advice. It is much appreciated and it's lovely to know that you are out there somewhere. I am beginning to make sense of Bloglines, but am not there yet I fear - I always thought I was pretty computer-savvy, but I'm not so sure at the moment.
I'm keen to pick your brains again. I have a terrific GP (doctor) who has been very helpful over the years I have known him, and I would like to make him a small wallhanging for his office to thank him. I bought some super blocks on eBay and now need to decide what to do with them. The patches are 4" square and I have 10 of each. Any ideas?

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Ikea (22)

Life's been quiet the last couple of days. I've been very tired and needed to rest a lot so I haven't been out of the house much. We went to Ikea on Friday to buy a mattress for Number One Son, and I fully intended to buy some of their storage boxes, but DH and No 1 son so hate going there that we were in and out again in about ten minutes! No hanging about or time to browse. Now, No 2 son and I would be happy to just wander around and browse - at least when it's not too crowded. I well remember our first visit to Ikea - just before Christmas fourteen years ago. No 1 son was suffering badly from ME and was using a wheel chair to get around, but was keen to come along. By the time we got there though he was tired and extremely grumpy. And it was very, very crowded. No 1 son decided he would get round the place as quickly as possible and just set off in his wheelchair. We could track his progress by the people jumping out of his way and the squeals as he ploughed into them! He was nowhere to be seen when we finished and we had to broadcast on the tannoy system to find him! I think that's what put him and DH off Ikea. Ah well, at least I've saved some money. 

I have managed to get some sewing done though. I've finished the cushion for mother-in-law's birthday next week. The top is quilted with hand embroidery and seed beads; she loves owls, so I've tucked one into the corner. It's become a bit of a tradition, making cushions for her. I first made one soon after I met her, and have replaced them every few years as they start to wear out and fade.

I've also managed to do the first two embroidered blocks from Lynette Anderson's free Noah's Ark BOM. I'll leave the log cabin patchwork borders until they're all done I think, so that I can be sure of
 getting the colours right. They are really cute and will make a lovely wallhanging. I'm starting to
 really enjoy combining embroidery and patchwork. I'm always a bit impatient and keen to start something new, so small projects like this have a high interest value.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Blogging (21)

I've been wondering how other people go about reading blogs. I belong to just the one webring - Mystery Quilters - and that takes me the best part of an hour to get through, so how people belong to more than one ring  mystifies me. I tend to wake at about 5am, so that is a good time to go through the ring, reading the new posts and making comments on some. It's almost a relief when someone hasn't posted anything new! No, of course I don't mean that, as I have so enjoyed reading other people's blogs and learning a little about their lives - especially America, where so many things are still very different from the UK.

I've decided to be a party-pooper and not join in on the 'tagging' and 'round-robin' type of fun that seems to go on between bloggers. I don't really understand how they work, or what the point is, though I can see that many bloggers get a lot of fun out of them. Also I don't want to risk passing them on to other people who are reluctant to join in. Sorry folks, I don't want to spoil the fun, but there it is.

On Wednesday
 I felt really well in the morning, so got out in the garden to set up my mini-greenhouse and planted some seeds - tomato, radish, cut-and-come-again lettuce and some cottage garden flowers. Luckily, I decided it was still a bit chilly outside and bought most indoors, leaving just the radish seed tray outside. As you can see, the wind got up yesterday and blew the darn thing over! 

Ah well, that's life. I've also made a good start on OC Step 2 - I've made the pieced triangles, so just have to stitch them to the solid triangles. I had run out of light scraps so all the triangles are made from the same material, and there's not a lot of variation in the dark squares and triangles either. Then, while 
I was resting yesterday afternoon, I managed to get Number 2 finished on the Mr Men sampler. So, on target there. Drat! Having uploaded the image I've spotted a mistake - can you see where I've gone wrong with the lettering. Do you think I can get away with it, or do I need to unpick it and do it again?

Monday, 14 April 2008

Happy Un-Birthday (19)

Although DH's birthday isn't until next week, we celebrated yesterday as both our sons were able to join us for lunch. We had a lovely day. I cooked a Mediterranean style lunch - antipasto, a beautiful Moroccan chicken dish and a Greek rice pudding. Jolly tasty. The chicken and rice pudding recipes were from Rick Stein's latest book. I hadn't made either of them before, but will certainly make them again. DH opened his presents too. He was absolutely bowled over by his quilt. He had had no idea at all that I was making it and was even a bit speechless, which is a rarity! After lunch we went to visit his parents. His mother is disabled now, after several operations for cancer on her knee, and always loves to receive visits from her grandsons. Number 2 son was able to stay for the night and we take him back to Brighton this morning in time for work.

The weather yesterday was atrocious - heavy rain and hail storms and it got so dark. Really tough conditions for those people running in the London Marathon. No 2 Son decided that he just HAD to go out in to the garden in the hail, so of course No 1 Son decided that he just HAD to lock him out!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Mr Men (18)

I didn't do much of anything except resting yesterday. I did manage to sew a few 'cut-off-corner' blocks for the quilt I am making to use up some of my left-over 4patch blocks. They are really scrappy except for a cream stripe which will run through it in a zig-zag pattern. Before cutting off the corners I 'did a Bonnie' and did a second row of stitching, and have ended up with a whole bunch of the tiniest little half square triangles - they are about 1" square and will probably end up in a wall hanging. Somebody's blog, or email, (sorry, can't remember who so can't say thanks) pointed me to Pat Speth's website where she has some free patterns for waste triangles, so I will have a go at one of those.
Today I've been working on my Mr Men sampler, trying to finish Number 1 to keep up with the programme. Here it is so far. One number a week should enable me to finish it in time for my nephew's 4th birthday. I had a lazy afternoon watching  - or more like listening to - television and really worked hard.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Sighs of relief! (17)

Hooray! The birthday quilt is finished. It just shows how inexperienced I am: I decided just six weeks ago that I would make a queen sized quilt for our bed for my husband's birthday! Little did I know that (a) I would be feeling so rotten for so much of the time and (b) that DH, who only works three days a week anyway, would sometimes decide to work two days a week as he was owed so much time. So I had to get the quilting done pretty quickly. I decided to freehand machine quilt using zig-zags, wavy lines, triangles. It won't win any awards, but I'm pleased with the end result and I'm sure that DH will be delighted. I couldn't wash it and dry it without him seeing it, so spent about an hour going over it with a sticky roller. I was so pleased to have it finished and so keen to get it wrapped up before any more cat hair got on it that I forgot to sew the label on!
My next project is a cushion for my mother-in-law's birthday (underway) and a lap quilt to use up some of the hundreds of spare 4patch blocks I made (also underway). Who knew that I would become so keen on quilting? My family make jokes ("where's the quilted toilet roll cover?") but they are also pleased to see me enjoying my retirement. And I'm the first family member to start blogging!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

All stitched out (16)

I've done nothing but stitch all day. I've been working like stink on my husband's birthday quilt - just a few days to go and I feel reasonably confident that I'll get there now. I'll post a picture once it's completely finished. 
I've also made the new 4patch blocks for my Strawberry Crush, and I'm so much happier with them. They're still pretty scrappy, but the colours will work so much better with the main fabric colours I have chosen. So, I'm ready for Clue 2, but glad it won't turn up until next week, as I need the time to finish off the birthday quilt. Sadly, the colours don't show up too well in the photograph. 
Now, I'm off for a walk to stretch out the kinks before I start getting supper organised.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Cheating (15)

Having completed the 4patch blocks for my Strawberry Crush quilt - and a few over - I really wasn't happy with them. I absolutely LOVE the main fabrics I have chosen, and decided it would be a pity not to be absolutely certain about the rest of it. So I went to my local quilt store this morning and picked up loads of their scrappy bits and couple of FQs that are just the right colours. I made about half of them up this afternoon, and will finish them off in the next couple of days. I'll post a picture once they're all finished. So that leaves me with loads of 4patch blocks to play with - along with the others I have made out of leaders and enders. I can see the beginnings of my first charity donation quilts there.

I made Delia Smith's Cheat version of Pasta Puttanesca for supper and very good it was - long live cheating!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

A quiet Sunday afternoon (14)

After the excitement of this morning's snow, I'm having a pleasantly quiet Sunday afternoon. Number One Son came for lunch and is now working on the set-up on DH's new laptop - and there's a tale. DH has been ironing his shirts for next week, and is now having a 'short doze' and I've been doing some cross stitch. I'm making a Mr Men sampler for my nephew's 4th birthday in June - eleven weeks to go and there are ten pictures to work, so that should work out nicely.

Yes, DH's laptop. Well, he did have a rather nice Mac Book, just over a year old. He took it to France on business last week, put it on the floor next to the bed while he had a 'short doze' (something you will have realised he is very fond of!). When he woke up he jumped off the bed and promptly did a clog dance on his laptop, completely wrecking it. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall! On second thoughts, I think the language would have made even a fly blush. So, except for the battery and power cable, the remains lie interred in a French skip. Hence the need for a new laptop. 

Snow, snow and more snow (13)

Well, what a lovely morning! Loads of snow! We get so little snow here in the South East of England that it's always exciting. Not that I particularly want to go out in it these days, but I do love to look at it. It's been snowing all morning, but isn't settling so much now. I bet all the children have had a brilliant time. It's the first time for a couple of years that we've had enough snow for them to be able to get out sledging 
or to make snowmen - and on a Sunday, that's a real bonus. You can see from the picture above that DH wasn't going to be deterred by a little snow from going out for his usual Sunday morning run with the running club. Rosie, on the other hand hasn't so much as stuck her nose through the cat flap. She's got far more sense. 

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Cards and blocks (12)

Yesterday I paid a visit to the school I used to teach at until last July. Two of the members of staff were leaving, and I was invited along to the farewell lunch. It was lovely to visit the school - I haven't been since before Christmas - but, oh, the changes! Even in so short a time there have been alterations, decorating and purchases - all for the good, and the school is looking very attractive, but it seemed very strange. It was good to see many old friends and to catch up with what was happening in their lives and in the school.

I made these two cards for the people who were leaving. The top card is for the speech therapy assistant who is retiring, and the 
lower card is for the speech therapist, who is leaving to have a baby.

I didn't do much sewing, but managed to finish the BOM club block, so that makes two plus two filler sections. It's the first time I've done any applique, and they are full of glaring mistakes, but hopefully they won't show so much once the whole thing is done. It's also the first time I've done foundation piecing too. I'm not keen on the colours of these blocks, but if I still don't like it when it's finished it can be my first donation piece. I love learning some
thing new with each quilt, and there seems so much more to learn - it keeps my brain from shrinking or something, now that I'm retired!

I could never get my displays properly vertical when I was teaching, and it looks as if my 
photography suffers from the same problem!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Aaaaagh!!! (11)

I'm having real problems getting my images where I want them, they look fine when I am composing them, then go all over the place when I publish. Any ideas?

Signs of spring (10)

DH came back from his short business trip to France this afternoon and, although I have felt pretty rotten this week, it was lovely to get out for a short drive. He wanted to see how the bluebells are coming along, as he organises a 'Bluebell Run' each year for his running club. It's official - spring is definitely here now. The magnolia trees are terrific this year, and so many pretty daffodils. The bluebells are only just starting to flower, so they should be just perfect for his run in a couple of week's time. We also saw some primroses and two other flowers whose names I have forgotten, and I can't find the wild flower identification book. Perhaps someone will be able to help out here.

This morning I managed to finish my 4 patch blocks for the Orange Crush mystery quilt. I've made them all scrappy as instructed, although most of my lights came from a charity shop shirt, and I'm not convinced they will go well with the rest of my fabric, but we shall just have to wait and see.

Hopefully the sinusitis, plus the bad reaction to the antibiotics will ease soon so that I can get down to finishing some of the other work on hand. I've got two full size quilts to finish, plus a BOM block and I'm starting to get some ideas together for some wall hangings. Can't wait to get down to them.