Friday, 27 December 2013

Black and white

Back in the groove after an enforced break to recuperate in which only these were done....
Today I'm working on squares I cut ages ago but never got to start: the quilt will be called 'Morphine' because I came up with the design after coming round from a minor operation earlier in the year and studying the fluorescent light cover for a couple of hours!

Sunday, 17 November 2013


I've been struggling with illness for a couple of weeks, and went right off sewing-the horror! I did a bit if this....

......then picked up on the old knitting habit.  
Don't worry, I have not gone off quilting: I discovered 
and have spent  lots of immobility time looking for free motion quilting inspiration-follow me!)

I bought some yarn about 6 moths ago in a fit of enthusiasm to make tops for my daughter in law and myself,  then promptly  forgot it.  Perfect for an immobile occupation, I have almost done the vest top from this yarn in white, it was very quick to knit up. 

I was looking for my knitting needles to start,  I have around 50 pairs, mine, my mums, my aunties, I put them somewhere safe a month ago. VERY safe. 
After an hour and a half or 'tidying' to find them, no luck.  They will turn up eventually!
So, I have been knitting on circular needles.

 I found a ball of yarn that I chain crocheted about 5 years ago from (5 x 1 ply=DK) industrial yarn bin end cones in the 'tidy up':  it is too tight really and has made a rather unyielding yarn,  but in the effort to use it up I made a cowl, it came out rather well.  It only took me a day on giant  circular needles.   I'm making one as a Christmas gift with the rest of the ball.  

Now winter is here I can get out my Kaffe Fasset inspired woolies.  I would be lost without this coat. It's the second one I made in this colour way, I have had one for 20 years. It has become part of my identity. It's calf length, absolutely huge and snuggly (much bigger than ME and I'm 'generous'!)

I made a grey and blue one for my mum but she won't wear it as its too heavy, so it's my winter dressing gown now. Cozy.

I am gluten free and there are not often treats in the house for visitors as I have no willpower if left alone! I wanted some of those old fashioned recipes for biscuits where you store a roll of stiff dough in the fridge and cut rounds to bake-I found this 1970's gem in the charity shop, that also has lots of gluten free un-messed about with (i.e.  not modern and faffy!) recipes for sweet treats in.  

8000 recipes for £2!!  There will be warm fresh biscuits, cheezy and fruity, on the menu to go with tea and coffee for guests this Christmas.

There is also this surreal section-Tales from the Raj!!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Kindling a debate

I have neglected my reading this year in favour of sewing.  I've had an enforced sedentary period in the last couple of weeks, so I'm steaming a head now, with 21 books (6670 pages) read since January.  These two are recent reads that I enjoyed equally, for different reasons. 

I keep a record of how much I read to track my habits, which can vary wildly over the year. January/February is always a bookish time of year. I have read 165 books in 6 years. Not great really. That's about one a fortnight, some less than 200 pages, some near 1000.  At the rate I'm going I will not read the books I have by the time I'm 100 if I'm lucky enough to get there!  I have stopped buying books in charity shops (mostly!), unless they are science fiction. There is one shop I go into every three weeks, that's it.  No more muti-town days out cruising the charity shop bookshelves, coming home with 20 or so books. I am proud of myself, I have conquered an addiction, I let them go through Bookcrossing when I have read them now!
Now I'm on to........
 I loved the film, I have no idea how the book will compare. 

I can read longer and quicker on my Kindle than with a book.  I thought at first this was coincidence, but time has shown it's not. This rather stings my sensibilities, as the only reason I relented and bought the Kindle was because there are so many free classics available and my second hand book issues were out of control!  I passed on about 60 classics from the shelves that I was able to get for free on Kindle. Perhaps Kindle reading is faster because I seldom buy new books (if I'm let off the leash in a bookshop I don't know where to start as I want the whole shop): if I buy a Kindle book, it's something I really want to read. 

 I spent my childhood with my nose in a book. I was a member of two local libraries and the school library.  Additionally, my dad was a  school caretaker and I used to sit in the library whilst he worked, I had it all to myself for hours. My own library (almost)!  Books made me feel connected to the world-we often lived in out-of-the-way places and we moved every 5 years or so.

I have around 1000 books waiting to be read now, that's almost a library.......................

One of life's greatest pleasures, reading in bed, or going out for the day and finding a quiet spot to rest and absorb a sci-fi universe.....

Monday, 21 October 2013

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Isle of Man calling.....

These blocks haven't see the light of day since last Christmas. I was fed up with hexies and needed another hand sewing job.  I need at least 100 for a quilt top.

There is no wadding in this quilt. The  10 1/4" backing squares are cut from a variety of fabrics that I had multiple yardages of and will coordinate in the finished top, after a fashion.   I draw diagonal lines on the wrong side of the backing and the 3 1/2" centre square so I can stick a pin through and line them up properly.

This project evolved as a way  to use up ugly greens and clothing-I have got to the stage where I can't throw things out at all, they have to be re-purposed.   The strips are all 2", not cut to length before I start.   The cream strips have duvet covers, pillow cases, accumulated charity shop shirts, my shirts, my mums, colleagues and some cotton quilting fabrics too.  I'm not fussy about using all cottons in this, as its meant to be a utility quilt.  The centre squares I'm using at the moment come from a top I picked up in a 50p bin at a charity shop-the red square is meant to represent the 'fire' in the cabin and this fabric is flame-like!

It is pieced around the centre in the same way as a traditional log cabin, the diagonal lines on the backing help you keep things straight. Once a strip is sewn down, using thread that blends with the backing (you don't see stitching on the front), fold it towards the edge, 1/3 on the bottom, 2/3 of the strip on top, giving a 2/3" overlap.  When I get to the last round, I tack down the last fold.  The backing is about 1/8 to 1/4" larger than the front. Traditionally this is all done by hand, however, I will probably sew the backing together on the machine, then fold and tack the top joints and sew them down with a decorative machine stitch.

The sewing part is really quick, its the lining up and folding for accuracy that takes the time-whilst I'm watching TV, each block takes about 2 1/2 hours.

Additional info here:

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

An Oldie Exhumed

I made this duvet cover over 20 years ago: it's all cotton and has lasted well, considering it was made from cheap cottons and dressmaking scraps.  I haven't used it for a few years, it was rediscovered at the back of the cupboard.  It's all soft and worn now, cozy as we have a cold snap. It's not until I took this photo that I saw the blocks spun the wrong way!! 

310 bow ties  spun so far this month, I'm trying to stitch 10-20
a day to get them done.

 I couldn't resist  sewing a dozen together.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Crummy week

I decided that as the crumb bin is overflowing, it needed proper attention.    I set out to use it all in strips for the next crumb quilt.   Last time I left it far too long and the task was overwhelming, but I did get this flimsy out of it........

I sewed strips around 10" long, using up a whole bin full...

Now the rather tedious job of trimming!  These will go away for a couple of years I expect, until the bin is full again. There will be a different colour batch of crumbs, so I will be able to mix the strips up before I sew them.  This batch had a lot of pink (sisters choice), brown (hexies) and black and white in.

I got a coupe of these random hexie sets sewn up, and strips done for about 10 more.  They will be a portable project now.  Each set is around 17 x 15", I need 36 for a full flimsy (plus the infill on the edges). I had a count-up: with the strip sets I have, I only need five more! Yay!  Although this has been on the go for ages, it seems to have been quicker than I expected it to be.

I have also sewn in a lot of papers lately whilst watching TV. I have done so may thousands over the years I can sew and fold without looking now.

I was doing a few in the dentist waiting room the other day, it's funny how people will watch you but if you look up and smile they look away embarrassed!  Older men will speak to me more often, saying they remember their grans doing it.  As one chap last week said, "At least you're not fiddling with your phone!" What did we do before mobile phones? We read a magazine or just relaxed whilst we waited I suppose (though maybe not at the DENTIST), without feeling to need to pretend to connect with an environment other than the one we are actually in!  Sometimes we even talked to a stranger, shock!

Saturday, 5 October 2013


The final batch from September, 102.
That's a months total of 902 bow ties.  I recon I need about 1000 for a quilt, which I will have now.  There are  500 or so left to sew up, I will do this  before I start to piece the top, so I have maximum variety to choose from.  I see these quilts as ongoing-its a good way to use larger offcuts, I add to the pile of sets every time I cut something.


Sewing stopped for a family emergency for a while, now back to normal I hope.  Whilst I was away I sewed a few of the 1/2" paper pieced diamonds and triangles.

 I watched a film and went through the crumb bin this week on my return. Some more 1/2" diamonds cut, a few hexies, the rest will be for a second crumb quilt-a lot of these crumbs are already sewn into pairs from the last one.  I love this kind of relaxed piecing.


I have cut lots of black and white nine patch sets, along with bricks and squares for future projects.   They are stacked underneath the acrylic table top, bow ties on top.

I have some brown hexie paper pieced blocks sewn up too and made progress with the random hexie blocks last week. 

So, quite a bit  achieved.  Once the current batch of bow ties is completed, it's on to quilting some of those flimsies!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A flimsy and a finish

Another flimsy-I have had these string/crumb blocks pieced for five years!  I sewed them onto squares of old cotton sheeting and quilt covers, so this will be very heavy.  I will probably tie it with buttons as the seams are so thick in places. I have about a  kilo of old buttons, so I may as well use them!

A finish: baby quilt for Alexander, who arrived two weeks ago, I had a cuddle today and feel all warm and fuzzy!

The pile of flimsies to be quilted has been growing in the corner of the spare room, how do they KNOW!?????  They are going to have to be moved or be covered in black fur!  She has her own quilt, one of my trial free motion pieces, on the largest chair in the living room, I hoovered the layer of fur off it this morning and its just not right now! Miaw, psft!

More bow ties with spun centres.....
800 and counting this month!

Which fabric for the sashing for Sisters Choice?   the cotton reels have all the right colours, perfect, but however narrow I cut it there isn't enough!  I am not buying more fabric, it has to come from the stash, so I have gone with the burgundy bamboo instead.  Probably a better option really, although the reels have all the colours it would end up very 'busy'.  I'm going to set these 'dancing' like the baby quilt.

Monday, 23 September 2013

123 blocks

 Another flimsy, borders on, about 80 x 100.  This was a really quick make, it used up 200 of the four patches and a big chunk of the red border fabric I bought in a sale was perfect.  The cream border was sale fabric too.

15 minutes play to find a use for the crumbs, scrappy stars.  I didn't enjoy this process, so these will go in the orphan bin.  To fiddly, too much trimming!.

123 blocks-how to set them? Didn't realise there were this many!

That's two sets of blocks to consider settings for now.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Bits and pieces

 I finished the rough sewing on of the scraps for the beach rug yesterday.  I'm going to back this with some old  heavy cream curtains, no wadding, then quilt it densely to hold down the roughly appliqued pieces.  As its used and washed its going to get more rustic and  soft and frayed.  Another flimsy finished and ready for quilting, there's a backlog! This used up crumbs and random bits of polyester sheeting, everything recycled  instead of thrown out.
This months total for bow ties is 600 and counting.......

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The yukky green dilema

Lesson learnt, yukky greens don't improve by putting them with nice greens, it makes the whole mess look yukky!

I tried inserting some red into the layout-nope, that didn't help.  I tried three layouts and finally found one that's not so bad.
Original layout, pattern pivots round the centre (only half here)

Second try, even more random greens tightly packed, ew.

Ah, better,  this is about 1/4 size, rows zigzag down the quilt, a stronger look  that I can enhance with quilting

 I'll put the rest of this together tomorrow, that's another flimsy ready to go. I have sent my son this picture and the red and green one from the last post, so he can choose which one he wants, before I start quilting anything. 

Now, what to do with 239 nine patches!  This was a leader and ender project that got out of hand!
 I used a few for the baby quilt I made last month.  There are enough here, with enhancement, for a double.  Some thought necessary here.
Another 100 bow ties  with seams spun, that's 500 from this months sewing so far (more to spin).

Also been working on
The most comfortable place is propped up in bed watching Quiltcam archives or The Quilt Show episodes.   It's been cold this week, so that's been rather snug!

Thursday, 19 September 2013


A while ago I started using up all my pre-cut 3 7/8" triangles and 2" squares to make one of Bonnie's designs for my son.  I got the blocks made up, but I really don't like it when it goes together as I have used too wide a variety of greens, all of them in fact!  It just looks a mess to me.   I can use these component blocks up (enough for the whole quilt!) by mixing them with some strong reds later. 

Meanwhile, he needs a quilt, particularly as he has moved into a rather cold flat with his girlfriend.   I had about three hundred cream/green four patches left from the above sewing, so I picked out the 'greenest' ones, went to my cut strips for 3 1/2" reds and cut a few more.   It's Bonnie's pattern, you can find it here.
These blocks came together really fast as the four patches were already made.
Someone wouldn't pose, she just kept wandering about on the trial layout! 

I am going to put  a 2 1/2" cream border and a 6"  green and red outer border on  to make the quilt larger.   I'm wrestling with webbing it at the moment! I have the perfect dark red backing fabric, with bamboo fronds on.

Bonnie's scrap users system has come into its own recently, the last two projects have had me dipping into my cut pieces to finish something.

I also had to try out a whole block using the pink snips from sisters choice, fiddly as each square finished at 1 1/2", but I like it.
Linking for the Brit Linky Thursday at Dandelion Daydreams