Thursday, 20 July 2017

Does "Practice make perfect"?

I have never done much machine quilting as I enjoy hand quilting, especially using  larger stitches with Perle threads as I think they add interest to the quilt.

However I have tried machine stitching in the ditch and sewing a machine foot's width either side of rows and columns.  I'm not too successful with in the ditch quilting as I find it incredibly hard to stay in the ditch and it is so noticeable when you wander off.  I tend to use this method if I want to machine stitch between the blocks before adding Perle hand quilting elsewhere in the quilt.

On a few baby/children's quilts where I have done the double row of machine quilting, sometimes more successfully than others.  I have a tendency to wobble a bit and find the stitch length can vary too.

However, I had two baby quilts ready to sandwich and quilt and decided to do the double row of machine quilting on both.

Happy Cats was done yesterday and "What's in the Square" this afternoon. In fact I sandwiched AND machine quilted "What's in the Square" this afternoon so I am feeling pleased with myself.
I've had a close look at the quilting and I am really pleased as it's pretty even and the stitches all look a even length, no sudden bits of tiny stitches.  So I am beginning to think that the old adage "Practice makes perfect" may be right.  I'm not perfect but vastly improved!

Here's Happy Cats:

I have no idea why this photo has been turned around, all the other 5 photos are correct!

.A close up of the stitching:
I will hand quilt around each picture with the thread I used for machining.
It's Mettler Silk-finish 100% cotton. Recently my LQS decided to change the range of threads they sell so had a sale on Mettler threads and I bought a few spools of variegated threads in colours I thought I would use in future projects. This blue/green/yellow spool is just right for this quilt.

What's in the Square?

 A close up of the stitching:
Again I have been able to use one of my Mettler sale spools, a pink/lilac mix.

This is the thread I will use to hand quilt around the pictures. It's Pearl Crown Rayon  by YLI.

So now I have two quilts well on the way to being finished. 
Happy Cats is first in the queue and I will start hand quilting this evening whilst I watch some TV.


Monday, 17 July 2017

Sorting and Sewing

I have been sorting out a few fabrics: 2 pieces I can use for backing my Happy Cats quilt and one for the pink Happy Blocks quilt top I put together some weeks ago.

I have trimmed all the little cat motifs ready to use in a future Happy Cats quilt, and created a Project Pack with the remaining cat fabrics and other fabrics I used in the one I am currently sewing together.
I also added chunks of leftover fabrics I used for framing the cat motifs.

Instead of putting the leftover scraps and chunks into different places in my stash they are being stored altogether which should make it easier and quicker to make another quilt.
I also added a note with the sizes I had cut the framing fabrics and popped that into the pack.
When I sorted through my cat fabrics looking for suitable ones for Happy Cats I found this strip of black and white whimsical cats.  It's been in my stash for many years as I never knew how I would use them.
Oops, this has been turned on end!
I ran out of time to do any more cutting but I will trim these into separate blocks and put together another Project Pack with bright solid fabrics for frames . 
I think this might make a Siblings Together quilt.
I have begun sewing together the rows for my Happy Cats quilt.  Hope to complete this later today.

In order to cut down on the amount for scraps and leftovers I have, I have decided to try to finish up more bits as I go along or make Project Packs.

When I finished the baby cardigans I was left with an almost full ball of grey and part of a ball of navy.  A friend recently gave me a full ball of navy (which looks the same colour as mine) and an almost full ball of red and white.  Instead of putting these away in my yarn stash I have started to crochet a striped baby blanket which can be used in the car or pushchair.

I started with a chain of 100 and am using a double row of dc to make each stripe.
Here's how it's looking so far:

The colours are brighter than the photo shows.  A real pillar box red and navy not as black as it looks in the photo.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

New layout for Cat quilt

I changed a few of the 5.5"squares, exchanging some of the paler ones for two deeper coloured fabrics.  Then I looked through my cat fabrics again and found a scrap I had rejected first time around because I didn't think it would be large enough to cut 5.5" squares from. However, I just managed to get 2 squares from it.

I also made 4 new framed cat blocks: 2 with orange frames, one with brown and one with green.
Much happier with the new layout, more pop to it.

This is the previous one:

Hope to find a little time at the weekend to sew these up into a finished top.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

More knitting - 2 for the price of 1!

I have been enjoying knitting for my friend Amy's expected baby. Only about 5 weeks to go now.
Knitting all done, now I need to concentrate on the baby quilt.

I bought a couple of new knitting patterns and I started with the hoodie in a lovely variegated grey/white acrylic yarn. Nice to knit with and very soft, ideal for a baby.  I think acrylic yarns make sense for babies as their clothes are always in the washing machine!

Not used this yarn before but my local wool and sewing shop stocks it.  They had little cardigans knitted up in the various yarns and I loved the way this one knits up, making a pattern which almost looks like Fair Isle.

It's called CHERISH, baby double knitting from King Cole.  This is a Skipton (Yorkshire) company but the yarn is actually made on licence in Turkey!  A bit ironic as Yorkshire was the seat of the woollen industry all the time I was growing up until perhaps the 1970s.

Anyway, when I was part way through knitting the hoodie my neighbour came round for coffee and admired the yarn so took a closer look at it and immediately spotted two joins in the yarn, not far apart, which I would soon have to be knitting and working around.  I had already found one join so my neighbour suggested I took the knitting yarn back to the shop and ask for a new ball. I would never have thought of doing this. However, I did and was given another ball. So I then had 3 balls instead of the 2 I had purchased. Of course I carried on with the old ball of yarn and finished the hoodie.

Here it is:

As I had the rest of the 2nd ball and a completely unused new one I made another cardigan using my old tried and tested  pattern (like the previous blue/yellow/white striped one) but knitted it in the next size up.
Ta da!
Interestingly when I rewound the small amount of yarn left I found another 2 joins in the yarn, only a metre or so apart!
So, two baby jackets for the price of one.  I also sorted through my box of white and cream buttons and found sets for both items. I also made lots of other sets of buttons up, ready for future projects.
Here's all four knitted jackets:

I am really pleased with them.  I have so enjoyed knitting again!

I have an hour or so this morning to do some sewing so I will be concentrating on the Cat baby quilt, also for Amy.  I went to the LQS yesterday but they didn't have any cat fabrics in the colours I wanted but I did come home with another FQ which I think will tone in so I can replace a few of the 5.5" squares and get a little more variety and colour into the quilt.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Trial layout of Cat blocks

I spent a busy day (no Wimbledon on the middle Sunday!) cutting 1.5" strips from the fabrics I picked out a couple of days ago and framing my trimmed cat fabric pictures. Including the five already made I now have 32 of these blocks.  I added a couple of patterned fabrics to the three cat fabrics and cut out 31 x 5.5" squares.

I have just quickly laid them out on my sewing room carpet:

Good to take a photograph as it gives a clearer idea of placements of blocks and colours.

A few things immediately jump out at me:
  • I like the orange frames (there are two different orange fabrics and I have more of both) so I can scatter more on the right hand side of the quilt.  I hadn't realised they were all over the other side.
  • I also like the grass green solid framed blocks
  • Too many pale framed blocks
  • Another 2 brown framed blocks would help to strengthen the contrast too
  • I need another one or two variations of fabric for the 5.5" squares, it's a bit too "samey"
  • Probably too many of the blue and white background cat squares too. I have other cat fabrics in my stash but they have pink and purple in them and as I am making this a gender-neutral quilt they won't be quite right. So a bit more thought here or a visit to my LQS for another cat fabric option.
I have used a pretty bird print frame for two of the blocks - 2nd row, 6 along and also in the 6th row, 6 along. I think I will cut a couple of 5.5" squares from this fabric and swap for a couple of the other paler squares.

Not worried about making more blocks as I have lots of the cat picture fabrics and there is always the option of making another Cat Quilt another time so I am happy to stockpile the leftovers with the remaining fabrics chosen for this quilt.  I will create another "Project Pack"!

I have enjoyed making the framed blocks - Happy Blocks a la Cathy (Sane, Crazy, Crumby blog) so I won't mind making some replacements.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Starting a new quilt

Not much time for sewing this week as we are half way through the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.  I am a tennis fan, have been for pretty much 60 years! Wimbledon is my favourite although I also follow the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne.

However, whilst I've been watching Wimbledon on TV I have been knitting more baby cardigans and for the past couple of days I have also sorted out fabrics for a baby quilt for Amy's baby.

Amy is a cat lover and has two cats so I thought these cute cat fabrics would be ideal.  I don't know whether the baby will be a boy or girl so thought these colours would work either way.

These will be used to frame each cat picture to make blocks.

I will use these cat fabrics for alternate blocks.
All fabrics are from stash. 
In between matches and changeovers yesterday I cut and trimmed the cat pictures:
I have more brown and paler cream ones that I can cut if I need more.
Today I cut a few 1.5" strips to use for framing the pictures and sewed up five of them.
Hope to make a few more tomorrow.  The blocks finish at 5.5" after trimming so I think I'll do a 7 x 9 layout.
However, I am making up the quilt as I go along so that might change.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Apostrophe misuse - does it bug you too?

As a retired teacher incorrect grammar irritates me intently.
The current craze for using the word 'myself" instead of plain old 'you' drives me crazy on a daily basis! 
A good example of that misuse is when waiters are taking orders at your table and as they come to each person they say 'And for yourself?' When it should just be 'And for you?'

But my biggest bugbear is the misuse of the good old apostrophe!  People litter them around like confetti.  My husband knows my utter dislike of this and yesterday pointed out the following clip in our daily paper:

Sorry, it's a bit pale but I hope you can see the TWO apostrophe errors! ( Gift's For Teacher's' ) !!!!!!!!! 
Waitrose is a very up-market supermarket here in the UK and if their staff don't know how to use them correctly, heaven help the staff in other stores.  I expect someone in their Marketing Department dreamed up this advert, no doubt has a University Degree, let's hope it isn't an English Degree!
Then, as I was tidying up some knitting bits and bobs last night the heading on my new knitting pattern caught my eye.............. 

'Babie's'!!!! Drives me mad!  Think I might see if I can find out where to send complaint emails about both of these howlers.

OK, rant over!

More interesting things:

I have finished another little baby cardigan for my lovely friend Amy's expected baby.  This little thing didn't cost me a penny to make: wool was an almost complete ball left over from another project and the buttons were from my button box, a set of 10 buttons which were in an old Button Tin donated to me by a girl my daughter used to work with years ago.  Her mother had recently died and Frances was clearing out the house and somehow knew I was a button freak so the whole box was given to me.  I have used so many buttons from that box and now 5 more dear little yellow ones finish this little cardigan. And I still have another 5 to use another time!

I had wondered how well this variegated wool would work making such small sleeves, fronts and back.  I feared the stripes would come out so randomly on each piece that it would look odd. However, although each front is different I think it's worked out OK.  Also the sleeves have a different placement of stipes but not annoyingly so.  Hope you agree.


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

More Sailing by

One of our Patchwork Group members hasn't been well so I offered to make her pair of blocks for the Group Quilt we are currently working on.

Finished them today:

I really like these blocks and I think we should have a lovely quilt to gift.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Creatures, Great and Small is completed

I accomplished what I intended to do yesterday and sewed on the binding for my latest baby quilt.

I didn't think of a title for this quilt straight away.  Because of the rows of elephants and rows of various creatures in the appliqued circles and Happy Blocks I originally decided to call it
 "Animals on Parade" but then didn't think that was quite accurate as there were caterpillars, butterflies, pukeko and hens included. I expect they are technically part of the Animal Kingdom but decided on "Creatures, Great and Small" instead.

Coincidentally I noticed Cathy's post yesterday (Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting) was called "All creatures great and small" but she is doing hexies.

A few photos:

The completed quilt
 Two close up of some of the "Creature" fabrics and Perle hand quilting:

The backing:

And a close up:

As I said yesterday nothing was bought specially for making this quilt, everything was in my stash.

The backing was a piece of fabric I bought at a reasonable price at the Festival of Quilts, maybe last year or perhaps the previous year - the time goes by so quickly! I wasn't sure whether it would be large enough, but it fitted just right, only strips to cut off when I trimmed the quilt. I have been very good and trimmed those strips and added them to the relevant bags of my Strings stash.  So they will someday appear in a future quilt!

There is a lot of work in this quilt: the fussy cut creature fabrics, the fusible webbing process, hand quilting and hand blanket stitching around the circles etc. I also spent quite a time designing the quilt and finding suitable fabrics from stash.
I am delighted with the result and now hope the new Mum who will receive it will enjoy using it for her baby and that it will get lots of use. It's a good size, 47" x 39" so it should be useful for a long time.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Almost there, we're almost there!

"Almost there, we're almost there"-  the Andy Williams' song from way, way back has been floating round my head all morning.

Almost a month ago I started making a quilt requested by my step granddaughter for one of her friends.  I have worked away at this, in between some baby knitting for a friend's baby.

This morning I sewed on the binding and this afternoon I will hand sew the back of the binding at my last Monday afternoon Group Patchwork meeting before we break up for the summer - which is HERE at last. We are having a heatwave at present.

A couple of quick photos of the quilt:

I love the backing, a piece I had in my stash.  In fact all the fabrics were from my stash, nothing had to be bought specially.
I have thought of a name for the quilt, to be revealed in my next post when the quilt is finished.  Baby was born last Tuesday, a few days early, so I want to finish it fast.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Busy knitting

My young friend Amy's baby is due in August.  She and her husband know if it's a boy or girl but are keeping that secret until baby is born. I wanted to knit a couple of cardigans/hoodies for her and asked for colours. Navy and grey were two of the colours mentioned so here is the cardigan I finished a couple of days ago.

I haven't knitted for a while and decided to buy some new baby patterns.  I have real problems with spacial awareness and found the knitting instructions hard to follow. I knitted the Left front OK but when it came to the Right front and the pattern just said "Reverse instruction of Left front" I got in a mess.  Fortunately one of my Patchwork friends who is an expert knitter came to my aid and I managed to finish it.  Don't think I'll be using this pattern again though!

However, I was pleased with how it turned out.  A hooded jacket is next - a different pattern - which I hope I can cope with.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Sailing by

The Patchwork Group I belong to often make quilts to commemorate members' significant birthdays.
Mary, a lovely lady who was a member of our group, sadly died three years ago.  Her husband John will shortly celebrate his 90th birthday so we are making him a quilt. As John still sails this was our pattern choice:
Sailing Boats Quilt from Two From One Jelly Roll Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott.

We are initially making one of each block but eventually a few extra blocks will be needed.

We have the same background fabric for the boats and a few 2.5" squares for the 16 Patch but are using our own fabric for the sails and the extra 16 Patch squares.  This is so there is continuity in the quilt but also a bit more variety.  We are using a few different brown fabrics for the boats.

I sewed mine this afternoon. Pictured with the book pattern.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Irish Blessing

I was ironing some tea towels I had brought back from church to wash.

This was one of them:

It looks like cross stitch - which I have never done - but I thought the words we appropriate for quilters too.
My hands have been sewing up some more stash blocks:
4 one colour 5" string blocks, 4 Spool blocks and 5 more Twinkler blocks.
I have sets kitted out ready to sew and I make a few when I feel like doing so. Sometimes I make the Spool blocks in Leader and Ender style but the other blocks I make as a proper project. Really because I like to lay out the Twinkler blocks in pairs and make two at a time (Bonnie Hunter style, chasing each other) so I can web each block. Of course this helps to line up the seams when sewing the rows together.
When I am making the String blocks I make my stitch length much smaller so taking off the paper foundation is not a problem. Not suitable for making Leader and Ender style or I would be forever altering the length of my stitch!
Here they are:
Must have a count up and see how many of each type of block I have.

Friday, 19 May 2017

A little gift for a blog friend

I love how quilting brings together people from different parts of the world.
Over the past few years I have followed many quilting blogs and feel attached to many quilters whom I know I will very probably not meet in person.  We do, however, have "conversations" via email and their blogs so, in a weird way, I feel I "know" them, am interested in their projects and what is going on in their worlds.

So, as a little "Thank you" to a lady whose work and zany humour I very much admire, I sent a little gift:

and the other side.................

I added a little hand stitching and pretty buttons for embellishment.
Inside I popped a few of my 3" 9 patches.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

New baby quilt being created

Our step granddaughter has asked me if I would make a baby boy quilt for her friend who knows the baby she is expecting in June will be a boy. We have looked at some photos of baby quilts I have made and she has chosen a strippy style one with the name appliqued near the top.

I made a start on it this week and have made 2 strips of Happy Blocks:

And 2 strips of fabric circles: each one is a different animal fabric.

 I have already started to applique these with hand blanket stitching. Once they are all stitched I will create a strippy quilt, interspersing these strips with strips of bright fabrics.
I enjoy making these quilts as I design as I go along. Good fun!

I have also started some baby knitting today. One of my young friends is expecting a baby in August and I asked  her if she would like some hand knitted cardigans.  Yes was the answer so I was off to the Wool Shop for some new patterns and wool. Amy sent me some photos of the type of style she likes and when I looked through my patterns I decided I needed more up-to-date ones.
The colours are different for me too - navy, grey, yellow, red. I have bought navy and grey for one cardigan and a lovely variegated soft greys wool for a hooded jacket.  I haven't done any knitting for a while so this is a lovely change for me.

Well, I'm off to do a few more rows of knitting before I make our tea.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Where's Mr Pukeko?

I have just finished a baby boy quilt using Cathy's "Happy Blocks" idea.

Each Happy Block measure 6.5" before being sewn into rows.
Each centre ( cut at 4.5") is different, cut from scraps and yardage and I tried to make the framing strips ( cut at 1.75") from a variety of fabrics.

One of the blocks features pukekos, a beautifully bright New Zealand bird.  We see a lot of them when we are in NZ, one of my favourite birds as they are so distinctive with their bright blue feathers and Pillar box red beaks, legs and feet.  Their other name is Swamp hen as their habitat is swampy paddocks.

The quilt is going to baby Jayden, born in NZ on 29th April, a new grandson for friends Miriam and Frank.  So, the title of the quilt is "Where's Mr Pukeko?" and I hope baby Jayden will have fun looking for the pukeko when he is a little older.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Definitely a Girl's Happy Blocks quilt!

I am enjoying making Happy Blocks from my stash.  They are fun to make, sorting out suitable fabrics for the centres and the block borders and the quilt tops come together very quickly.

I started a "Girl" top on Sunday, using quite a few charms from a set I won from Sew Sisters in a recent Scraptastic Tuesday draw. I needed 25 centres, all different and I found some that were suitable in my small packet of already cut 5" squares. I only had to cut a few more from stash scraps.

Then I cut some 2" strips from other scraps for the borders of the Happy Blocks centres and started to sew those to the centres.

Yesterday I finished making all 25 blocks and sewed them up into a quilt top:

Now I have two Happy Blocks tops ready to sandwich with batting and backing.  Both quilts will finish at around 38" square, a size I like to make for new baby gifts as they are useful as a Playmat as well as a snuggling quilt.

Thanks again to Cathy of Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting for the idea.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Enjoying revisiting a Riot of Colour

Almost 4 years ago I made a scrap quilt which I called a "Riot of Colour".
Two years previously I had taken part in a Bento Box blocks swap. I seem to remember I was the only UK participant, one from Canada (I think), everyone else from the USA.

I loved the idea of making 20 blocks, cutting them into quarters, sending 3 of those quarters on to the organiser and then waiting to see what my parcel contained!  It really was exciting.  However, around the time the blocks arrived I discovered I had breast cancer, so treatment rather put sewing onto the back burner.

Fast forward to July 2013...................... I discovered the pile of bright blocks in one of my Sewing Room Sort Outs and a Riot of Colour was born. It had to be gifted to our beautiful granddaughter as she is the bright spark for us! 

Dear GG spends a lot of time at our house and I decided I would like to "borrow" the quilt back to put on the bed she has here.

So, here it is, on her bed at Granny and Grandpa's house:

It was rather dull when I took these photos and the colours don't appear as bright as they actually are!!

I loved looking for "my" Bento quarters ....... amazingly I still have some scraps of them left.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

On a roll with Happy Blocks

After a very busy week I decided to spend much of yesterday and some of today making
Happy Blocks. Idea gleaned from Cathy's Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting blog.

I have made similar blocks before, using 2.5" chicken themed fabrics and a double frame around the blocks,

This time I looked through my stash for "Boy" fabrics, either 5" Charms or fabric I could cut 5" blocks from.  As I want to make a few baby quilts I cut an extra set of blocks and also a few extra
2" strips for framing the squares.
Today I finished sewing 25 blocks together and made this top:
I have set it aside whilst I think of a border fabric.
Here's the other set of Boy squares and the 2" strips for framing them.  Not enough strips so I need to look through my stash to find some more.
Now I'm off to find some Girl fabrics for another 2 sets of 5" blocks.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Spools & Strings & other things

After I had put away my tiny 9Patch blocks yesterday I made some 5" single colour String blocks.
As I had been sewing the 9Patches I made a few Spool blocks, Leaders & Enders style.

6 of each to add to my growing stash.
Here they are:
Last night was Awards and Quiz Night for the Hospital Radio Station where I have been a member since March 1997.
I broadcast every week, was Duty Producer of the Wednesday evening team for around 11 years but now I only write and produce special programmes.  Since I was ill 5 years ago I am wary of visiting the wards as I don't want to lay myself open to infections. This is a sadness for me because I loved going round the wards, chatting to patients and their visitors, collecting requests and then being on air for 2 hours, creating and delivering a Request Show programme with my team.  We had lots of fun and the patients loved the shows.
However, last night I had a lovely surprise, as I was awarded with my
20 years HBA - Hospital Broadcasting Association - certificate.

It was a lovely evening, good fun with the Quiz (3 Radio friends and my husband).  We called ourselves III + II as we were 3 ladies and 2 men!  Very tight match only a few points between us and the winners.  Lots of laughter and  conversation. They're a good crowd.

So today has been Church, a bit of gardening (lots to do but my cold has stopped me doing much this week), housework and now I'm off to get our tea, a Prawn Stir fry.