Tuesday, December 31, 2013


It's that time of year - new resolutions - here's mine for a start!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Finished at last!

Goodness. Thought I'd never get through it. Not my best effort. The thick curtaining material with which the quilt was backed caused problems with tension on my wonderful Juki. Ended up merely quilting curvy lines. No feathers - pebbles - meandering - vermicelli etc., Removed borders which were puckered and just bound the edges. Been a 'disaster' as Craig on Strictly would say.
Will be OK for dog blanket or as a spare when camping!

Onwards and upwards . .  have 5 more UFO's from which to choose. . .

Monday, November 11, 2013

Newly discovered 20 year old UFO quilt - ready to go under the Juki!

Shocked to discover this 20 year old UFO stuffed in plastic bag under a pile of clutter in the loft.
Had forgotten all about it . . used to demonstrate curved piecing at workshops I organised in 1990.
Called it my 'purple monstrosity' - fabric £1 a yard - bought from local market - you can tell it was/is cheap by the feel of it.

A lesson to be learned here. What is the point of putting a lot of work into a quilt using cheap materials?  Had I used some of my lovely stash would have liked the quilt and finished it years ago.

Quilt is backed with curtain fabric from Standfast factory shop in Lancaster.  Too thick for decent sewing but I'm determined to finish the quilt as I made a promise to myself that I would not begin anything new until all my UFO's were completed.
Had the quilt not been layered and backed a few years ago (see my article at Popular Patchwork online) I would probably have set it aside and worked on more interesting items like a cockerel 'stash and whack' quilt top for example - waiting in the wings.

I'm using cheap navy polyester thread - 5000 metres for £2.99 (you can see the spool on my Juki). Bought the thread from a new haberdashery shop -  "Bows and Bobbins" or Bobbins and Bows - on Princes Crescent. Lovely girl owns it -  deserves to do well.

Finished and on the bed - at last.

This is my 7th UFO completed this year.  Colour doesn't go with anything in the house so will join the pile of quilts stored on bed in spare room.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Jumper for Dave!

Have knitted 25 jumpers since my husband's death. Thinking of sending the last one - see pic - to Downing Street where I'm sure the CH will have been turned down in accordance with David Cameron's speech on putting on jumpers if we feel cold. Might send a few.
I knew they would come in handy sometime. . .

Leander pink ladies win golds at National Rowing Championships.

Winning W4- with grand-daughter Polly at stroke.

Winning W8+ with Polly at stroke.
Leander girls - otherwise known as 'pink ladies' - won two Gold medals in their races at the British National Rowing Championships this weekend.
My grand-daughter Polly (Swann) stroked both women's four (W4-) and women's eight (W8+) boats0.

Friday, October 18, 2013

8 year old sampler quilt top . . . lilac time - under the Juki

8th UFO - 8 years old
Flower basket - machine applique

Applique heart 'n flowers

Under the Juki . . all set to go.
I began this quilt top 8 years ago to use as a teaching aid at classes I ran at Fabrix of Lancaster.
I loved the japanese themed fabric at the time but now realise how dated the fabric looks.
Used the quilt blocks at Lancaster & Morecambe College where I taught patchwork and quilting - finally completing the top having used it for demonstration purposes at my Heirloom Sampler Workshops for Garstang Patchwork Quilters at Bilsborrow Village Hall. Set it aside until now . . . backed it yesterday - neatened the edges - hope to finish unquilted areas tomorrow and get the quilt blocked and bound by the end of the week when it'll then be onward and upward to the next UFO waiting in the wings . . .

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Winter version of Singing Garden quilt series finished at last!

Am I glad to see the end of this quilt. Took ages. Put the last stitches in about an hour ago. It's been blocked and bound. Only a label to attach and that is THAT!  Have now completed the three Singing Garden Quilts - spring/summer - autumn and this winter one.

Now to the next UFO - an old lilac sampler quilt top begun years ago and half finished.
Watch this space!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013


On the podium as National Anthem plays at Chungju

Interviewed by John Inverdale for BBC2 programme 3pm today and tomorrow.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

World Rowing Championships, Chungju - Polly and Helen win semi-finals.

It's very HOT and very HUMID at Chungju - South Korea.
Helen and Polly try to cool off before their race - which they won.

Finals on Saturday - 7.03am our time.

Click on link below to access world rowing site and videos of races:

WOMENS PAIR W2- semi race at world championships.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Latest jumper - 24th!!

Same jumper pattern - same needles - and some free wool - but am getting clever - cos I've added cabling on the front, back and sleeves. Makes it more interesting. Knitted a matching bobble hat with leftover wool.
Will knit one more jumper - as I still have some free wool - making it 25 jumpers since Stephen died three years ago - and that's IT!

During the winter instead of knitting whilst watching TV - I plan to have a go at making an old fashioned quilt - mostly appliqué - wait for it . . . . by hand!

Meanwhile have nearly finished the 3rd (winter) Singing Garden quilt but still have a couple more UFO's to tackle before bad weather sets in.    Brrh . . .

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Golden Girls won Gold medals at Lucerne today!

Hugs after the race - we did it!

Polly (Swann) and Helen (Glover) have won Gold medals at all three World Cups this year :
i)  Sydney, Australia -
ii) Eton Dorney, UK
iii) Lucerne, Switzerland.

Helen was a 2012 Olympic Gold medallist, partnered at the time by Heather Stanning who has returned to her duties in the army. Polly is Helen's new partner, and my grand-daughter.

You can see them row on BBC2 tomorrow - Monday -  at 3pm BST.

Then it's back to training for the World Championships in August at South Korea. It's all go go go, but how exciting. Only young once - got to enjoy and make the best of it while they have the chance!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cool rowing . . .

Looks a bit cool and misty at Dorney Lake this morning for rowing whereas the first World Cup was held in brilliant sunshine at Sydney Australia in March when Helen Glover (Olympic champion) and Polly Swann ( my grand-daughter) won Gold medals in the women's pair.

Fans at Dorney were photographed with Helen and Polly this morning at second World Cup after winning their Heat.
Helen and Polly now go through to the A Final - to be televised Sunday on BBC2.
All the luck in the world, gals!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Quilting fabric v sheeting . . be careful . .

Here is a close up of the quilting fabric (WS) I used for the top and below it you can see white sheeting I used to back the quilt.
There is a vast difference in thread count and the reason the sheeting was more difficult to quilt - with its incredible tighter weave.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

So disappointed - I could weep . . .

Very disappointed with the quilting on my latest UFO - winter version of the Popular Patchwork Singing Garden quilt which was my favourite of the three.

I bought some fine 100% white cotton from Empress Mills (Colne) to back the quilt - but it has too tight a weave. Lovely fabric and quite perfect for sheeting but not for backing a quilt. It is harder for the needle to pierce the fabric at high speed.
To add insult to injury, the charcoal Michael Miller Fairy Frost fabric I chose to piece the top has a metallic coating, as does the white Michael Miller Fairy Frost background tho' not as thick - makes quilting across seams wellnigh impossible.  And believe me, there's a lot of seams in this quilt.

The needle comes to a full stop when it meets a seam. Tried different size needles -  thought it might be my Juki, so tried quilting on each of my two Berninas and met with same problem.
Both fabrics are OK for appliqué or stitch-in-the-ditch quilting.

The beige Michael Miller fabric I used in the autumn version is not as thick and secondary fabric was a thin batik thus no problems with seams. Quilted beautifully.

It's such a shame. I intend to continue quilting as much as possible but it doesn't look right which means this quilt will never see the light of day.

Must be careful in future when choosing fabrics for piecing and backing. Make sure they do not have a tight weave or/and thick metallic coatings.  All that work . . . makes me want to cry . . . Boo hoo . . . .

Saturday, June 8, 2013

You think you can quilt?

Ah yes, you think you can quilt - until you come across another quilter's Blog and then - WOW - realise you have a long way to go . . . .
Happened to me this morning . . . .

It may be HOT but it's lunchtime and I'm hungry . . .

Friday, June 7, 2013

Buy a Supreme Slider? DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY!

Had a fit this afternoon when I received an email from a company which was advertising threads, plus Supreme Sliders at a cost of £52.95.
Yes, you read correctly - £52.95 or $82.28 in US money.

I paid £3.99 for the above Tefal non-stick baking sheet at either Lidl or Aldi (can't remember it was so long ago). I also use a sheet of it when doing appliqué or refurbishing Bondaweb that's come apart.

Looking at the above picture it's a bit 'Heath Robinson' but works brilliantly.  Quilt slides easily over the surface with no bumps or raised bits to hamper movement.
Used duck tape to keep the sheet in place after cutting out a small opening to allow the needle to function.
The extension table slips out to enable me to change bobbins - oil machine etc.,

Got the idea from Down by the River Blog whilst browsing online a couple of years ago.


Lovely lovely summer days . . .

Young starlings trying to keep cool

This is better!

Hurry up it's my turn!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It may be late - but spring has well and truly arrived . .

Lots of colour

Ring neck doves waiting for food

Black bird feeding its young - can just see baby in bushes

Here it is - young blackbird

And again

Young starling

Young sparrow
Pigeons waiting to pounce on food
And here's their relatives . . waiting . . .!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Latest 'ugly jumper' - number 23!

23rd jumper knitted since Stephen died!
Same pattern for all the jumpers - just use different coloured wools.

Got a bit adventurous with this one - added a cable down the front. Have wool for 24th waiting in the knitting basket. 

Perpetual knitting gives me something to do in the evening when watching telly. Makes it less lonesome somehow. 

I quilt in the early morning - paint in the afternoon - bit of light dusting and washing up between times - followed by mindless knitting in the evening.  That's my day, folks. Every day. Sad ain't it!

The spine operation on 12th February - up to present time - is not proving a success - leaving me in pain and less mobility.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Calamity! Lost without my Juki . . .

needle bar thread bracket

I snapped the needle bar thread bracket on my Juki - see above. Now have to wait until I can obtain a replacement. It's only a tiny gadget - but without it threads continually shred.  A bloomin' nuisance to say the least.

Thought: "Oh, no matter, I'll use my trusty old Bernina while I'm waiting for the part!"

This mechanical Bernina 1015 is a great machine - no doubt about it  - and has served me well over the years but since taking up free-motion-quilting with a vengeance I find the Bernina fine for ordinary piecing and appliqué - but no good for the speed and accuracy I require for my work.

I set the Bernina up for fmq and started quilting.  My goodness, how s -l -o -w  and what a palaver!
Not only the smaller 'harp' which means having to push and shove the quilt around, plus without the automatic thread cutter it made quilting ten times harder than using the Juki and I did not enjoy it one little bit.
Bernina 1015
I've decided to set the this UFO quilt aside until the spare part arrives - soon I hope - for my beloved juki. (Angie, please note.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Anchored and ready to go . . .

Winter Singing Garden Quilt
Sat  at my kitchen table at 7 am and stitched for an hour. I usually spend the first hour of the day at my sewing machine - in my dressing gown - with a cup of tea beside me. Gets the creative juices going and a good start to the day. I paint my pictures in the afternoon and knit in the evening while watching TV. Keeps me busy and prevents me feeling lonely.

Back to the quilt:  have anchored the blocks and appliqué - now ready to begin quilting. No idea - as yet - of how I'm going to tackle the design - so will make a start in the centre of a familiar block  - 'Square Dance' - and just hope inspiration will descend upon me as I quilt.

Failing inspiration I shall have to fall back on good old 'vermicelli.'

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stolen Quilts . . . please help!

Rosy's sampler quilt

Yvonne's quilt
These are just two of the 40 quilts stolen from Empress Mills last weekend. They were to be part of Empress Mills Exhibition.

The sampler quilt was made by Rosy at my heirloom sampler workshops at Bilsborrow, and Yvonne made this lovely scrap quilt for her daughter at my home quilting classes, so I know the vast amount of time and work they put into creating these lovely bed quilts.

If anyone sees either of these quilts or obtains any information regarding their whereabouts please contact Empress Mills in Colne, Lancashire Tel: 01282 863181 - or leave a message here.

Blossom abounds . . but no bees . .

Lots of blossom this year - 2013 - but no bees
Bees nesting in birdbox last year -2012
Am surrounded by blossom in the garden - but not a bee in sight, whereas last year they settled in one of the bird boxes. Very worrying.
Does this mean I have to go round dusting the blossom with a soft paintbrush to ensure an apple crop?