Monday, December 31, 2012

Layering UFO's for the New Year!

Original Singing Garden 2008/9 BOM Quilt for Popular Patchwork magazine
 Autumn Version layered and ready for my JUKI in 2013.

Layering the Winter version yesterday

Hope to finish layering this quilt today - before the clock strikes 12!

Fifty Sh - ds of Grey!

Ah, that got you! Naughty little book via Amazon from my son, Tom. When I first opened the package thought it was the original 'Fifty Shades . . .' (which I need like a hole in the head) but do wear a lot of grey. Laughed when I saw the title. It's very amusing and witty - not very naughty at all. Well, not very . . .

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas to you all . . . .

"Chickadee" by Babs

This chickadee's not for roasting!

Nearest I'll get to George Clooney . . .

The Real Thing . . .

Here is Sergio - my handsome smiling waiter at the hotel in Playa Blanca -  a dead ringer for George Clooney - that is until he had a 'Christmas Pudding' haircut on third day of holiday -  see above/below - like Louis of Strictly Come Dancing fame - which immediately killed the George Clooney illusion.

Photo doesn't do him justice but says he is now growing his beautiful dark hair back again - ready for Hollywood!

Don't worry folks.  He's young enough to be my grandson but one can always admire beauty in a man or a quilt!!  Yum Yum.

LOVELY LANZAROTE followed by MRI Scan. . .

 View from my balcony on first morning
Looking down from my balcony
 Blue blue blue
 One of hotel pools
Looking toward Fuerteventura . . .

Spent 2 glorious sunny weeks in Lanzarote on my own - returned a couple of days ago. Not a drop of rain.

Initial idea was to build up Vitamin D and immune system before spine operation scheduled for mid January. Problem caused by lifting Stephen during the latter part of his illness when he was hugely swollen and heavy - falling. Following his death, I stupidly moved (shoved) an empty skip which was blocking the drive and then dragged a total of 40 bags of compost to back garden.

Had MRI scan yesterday.  Not a fun experience but not as terrible as some folks think. Shut my eyes before I was shunted in the machine and hummed the Hallelujah Chorus (well, it IS Christmas) to drown out the bangs. All over in 30 minutes.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wild Ox-eye daisies at Thurstaston on The Wirral.

My Aunt Margaret used to live on the Wirral. She took me to see the ox-eye daisies which grow wild   -  in great profusion - on the coast in this part of the country. My painting does not do them justice - but remember I am a 'primitive' painter, unable to paint realistic 'pretty' pictures.
The painting is not quite complete - but I like it - some finishing touches are needed which I will do this weekend all being well.

Live Well - Laugh Often - Love Much Quilt arrived at destination . . .

I made the quilt to celebrate my daughter and son-in-law's Silver Wedding on Wednesday.
It was a complete surprise and they were both thrilled with the quilt.

About to layer my next project - Autumn version of the Singing Garden Quilt - designed as a BOM for Popular Patchwork magazine in 2008/9.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Finished Love Quilt - Juki - and Patsy Thompson!

Well, it's finally finished!  I put the last stitch on the binding last night. Just the label to put on and box up the quilt to go to it's new owner. Though I'm not happy about the centre of the quilt (won't make that mistake again) I do like the finished effect of the quilt as a whole and have learned a lot during it's construction and quilting.

Many thanks must go to Patsy Thompson for her wonderful 'Fast & Free' Volume 3 (two disc set) DVD which I watched continuously during breaks from quilting - especially the 'rotating axis family' on disc one - which I reproduced in the quilt.
Patsy is inspirational and I urge any would-be free motion machine quilters to have a look at her DVD's.
Also - could not have completed five UFO's without the aid of my wonderful Juki sewing machine. (Have another five quilt tops waiting in the wings - so watch this space folks!)
It's hard to believe I wanted to throw it out of the window - or try to sell it - a few weeks after I bought the  machine. It's not called 'The Beast' for nothing. Had my old Bernina not broken down I would have definitely got rid of the Juki.  BUT - thanks to help and advice from lasses like Angie (see her site on the right) I persevered and 'My Juki' is now a beloved machine which I wouldn't part with for all the tea in China!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Christmas is Coming . . .

Christmas is approaching. Here is something to think about whilst you await the final picture of the finished Love Quilt. This is a quilt made for grand-daughter Polly when she was 5. She is in the second row and little brother Patrick is shown on the bottom row. I really enjoyed making this quilt. Not much quilting - but it's nice and soft and brought out every Christmas Eve to sit on her bed. Polly is now 24!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Primitive paintings . . a change is as good as a rest?

Inspiration to quilt the remainder of the 'Love Much' quilt is a bit slow in coming so I have turned to painting which I have taken up again recently.
I first started painting in 1971 whilst on a college holiday in Cornwall with my husband who was studying art. I was in the drama department. I became restless and bored sitting around so, not having a spare pencil, he gave me a black felt tip pen and told me to draw something/anything to keep me quiet - so I did. I drew rude pebbles, followed by a drawing of the churchyard in St Ives where Alfred Wallis -  famous primitive painter  -  was buried. Ben Nicholson and many other artists of that era were much influenced by Alfred Wallis' work.
I received some positive feedback from the art tutor - Edmond Holmes - who said I should continue, so I did a rude painting of Newlyn Harbour 'cos that's how I felt at the time (look closely and you'll see what I mean.) That brought to an end my artistic endeavours until weekly Cancercare meetings following Stephen's death two years ago where I slowly began to take a renewed interest in life, and painting, thanks mainly to the encouragement of two art tutors, Kath and Karen.
It's no use pretending I can do pretty or realistic pictures, but am told I have a 'style' which I should stick to.   The latter picture, of the boat beside the river, was finished this morning. I have others paintings in mind, but no rude ones folks . . . have entered calmer waters!
Hope to resume work on the quilt tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Finished centre of quilt - it's now a case of keep calm and carry on . . .

Have finished the centre of the quilt. It's not how I first envisaged it - but there was too much quilting in the centre to unpick and start again.  I've certainly learned a salutary lesson. Not to over-egg things -  and make sure I know exactly where I'm going before making a start. . . it's now a case of "keep calm and carry on..."

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chelsea Buns a la Hollywood . .

No - not The Hollywood - but Paul Hollywood's recipe from TV's  Great British Bake off.
Made the buns on Sunday as I was fed up and bored - not having been out for days due to a chest infection which, by the way, has not cleared up after taking antibiotics for 7 days.

The buns were easy to make.  I used the dough setting on my breadmaker which made the whole process doubly easy. Ate 2 warm buns and froze the rest. Delicious!   You can find the recipe on the website and watch the actual programme on bbc iplayer.  A treat.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Buying from the USA . .

Am feeling very cross. Ordered a DVD from the States costing $24.95 (£15.48). The package weighed 3ozs. On arrival in the UK I was asked to pay £11.07 ($18+) customs, VAT and postal charges before delivery.
I contacted the US supplier, with the news, who agreed to send me a gift in lieu of the extra charges.

The free GIFT has arrived in the UK but I have to pay £11.20 before it can be delivered! So much for a free gift. Not sure it will be what I want.
Ordering this DVD will have cost me the princely sum of £38 ($61)!!!

I rang the GPO and Customs who said that import duties changed last year and only £15 worth of goods (including postage) are allowed into the UK  without charge.

However, a gift can be sent between PRIVATE individuals without attracting tax etc.,
 If you order from a business you will be charged. So now you know.

I find it strange that I have, in the past, ordered lots of things from the US, including a metre long ruler only a couple of weeks ago - without paying duty.  So what is happening?
Perhaps someone out there can tell me . .

The Ruined Centre . . woe is me . .

The ruined centre revealed for all to see . . .
Should have stuck to my original plan to quilt an overall design around the 4 centre blocks . . .
Too late now - was a nightmare unpicking a small centre piece - thus no chance to unpick all this quilting . .
It's a shame as I wanted this to be a special quilt for a special person. .

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Too over-ambitious . .

Have been too ambitious in my quilting design for the Love Quilt. As a result have ruined it. 
Will set the quilt aside for a while until I am inspired and can decide how/if I can remedy the design. Meanwhile will get on with something else.  

Woke up this morning thinking about the design I should have done. Something simple would be much more effective.  Ah me . . . all that work . . . 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Apple picking . .

Have a large old bramley tree in my garden which in the past has proved very fruitful indeed.  Gave big bags of apples to friends and neighbours and made pots of apple jelly, numerous apple pies, crumbles and applesauce which I froze to see me through the winter.
This year I will be lucky to get enough apples for my own use. The ones that have survived the bad spring weather are mostly wormy.

All is not lost. Last year I bought a young bramley tree from Aldi for the princely sum of £3.99 ($6+). You might just be able to see the label at the bottom of the slender trunk.

This thin little stick of a tree has produced 2 big lovely, worm-free apples. Did not expect it to produce fruit for many years - so it was a nice treat to see these apples. They will bake beautifully.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Biting the bullet . .

It's no good - I've had to 'bite the bullet' as they say and make a start  . .  . using stippling.

Have no idea where this will lead to  . . . like Topsy, I guess it will just 'grow and grow.'
Says she - hopefully.  The hard part is linking the four blocks up with something more interesting than stippling . . .hmm . . .

Unpicking free-motion quilting is demoralizing . .

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Unpicking as an art form?

Here is a piece from the mists of time. "Breakdown" with grey organza forming the background and tumblin' blocks - doing just that -  hand pieced over papers.
There's a story behind this quilt which I will save for another occasion.

I offer this photograph in lieu of pics of my latest attempt to quilt the Love quilt.
Took a deep breath and made a start yesterday - which proved a disaster. Spent the whole afternoon unpicking the centre. I heard somewhere that unpicking could be regarded as an art form.
Art Forms were not central to my thoughts I can tell you.

It's back to the drawing board and a retreat into my Patsy Thompson DVD's.

Cheerio for now . . .

Monday, October 15, 2012

Whilst waiting for inspiration . . .

This quilt is called 'Depression' - created 18 years ago using hand dyed fabrics - apart from the border.  Swirls were handquilted in red - and the butterfly was the logo of a drugs company manufacturing tranquillisers. Glad to say I didn't have to resort to them at that time or since.

I think my quilting skills have improved beyond measure and I would have tackled it differently. A 'sister' quilt containing black and bright red - called "Panic Attack" - was (to my utter surprise) sold at a Cumbrian Craft Society Exhibition held in Grizedale. Did not take a photo so if anyone out there bought it - kindly let me know.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Carry on doodling . . .

Hmm . . .  Looks skewed because the photo was taken at an angle with the quilt on the floor.
Doodling not as easy as I thought. Those four different appliqué blocks are making it difficult unless I vermicelli the whole centre. Don't really want to do that.
There's lots of pencil sharpening, rubbing out and mind changes  - I assure you I shall persevere . . .
but don't hold your breath dear readers . . . it could be Christmas before I sink a needle into the quilt . . .

Meanwhile it's a case of "Carry on Doodling..."

See the dots? Gotta start somewhere!

A bit short of inspiration today - but give me A for effort - with The Dots.  It's a start!
There's more to come - I hope . . .

Friday, October 12, 2012

Quilting Design process for Love Quilt

First I stabilized the blocks and appliqué motifs using invisible thread as mentioned previously.
Laid out the quilt - hanging it up would be preferable but no longer have strong man to lift it up.
Took black and white photograph of the quilt - and honed in to centre blocks where I'll begin.
Will show next stage sometime this weekend - hopefully she says -  providing I can catch up with big pile of ironing and equally daunting pile of paperwork - bills etc.,

Monday, October 8, 2012

Made a start on the Love Quilt

No picture - will post one tomorrow. Have made a start - used invisible thread to 'anchor' the blocks - and am presently stitching around the appliqués using this thread.

Have tried numerous threads with which to FMQ the quilt - and have finally decided to use Glide threads usually obtained from FIL-TEC bobbincentral in the USA.

However I have discovered a UK source:
Unit 3
The Fattinetts
Hadleigh Road
East Bergholt
Colchester CO7 6QT

Four 1000 yd spools from J-QUILTS cost me £18 including postage.
Downside when ordering from the States is the high shipping costs - plus import duty/VAT if you are unlucky.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

At last - finished the old pineapple. . .

Am I glad to see the back of this quilt. Made it as a sample for a workshop.
Figure it's better to have a pile of finished quilts that can be given away than a pile of UFO's stuck in the loft.
Can now start on the Love Quilt tho' have no ideas - as yet - as to quilting designs commensurate with the title.  LOVE!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another loft discovery - Victorian rag doll . .

One Christmas I made 5 Victorian rag dolls for my grand-daughters whilst Stephen made cots for each one. I loved creating the dolls -  in the image of each grand-daughter. Blue/brown/green eyes - blonde/redhead/brunette hair. Making the clothes was a particular joy - little black boots, white frilly pantaloons and sweet frocks. I made bedding and a quilt for each cot.

Happy Days!

Hope I can find the doll pattern. Might have a go at making a couple for charity.