Saturday, 14 August 2010

Family hunting and a quilt shop.

Friday saw us all heading to Wiltshire to look for some of Michael's ancestors. They lived and died in Heytesbury and Knook, which turned out to be very small farming towns just outside Warminster. From entries in the visitors' book in Knook Church, the whole village is a single address. After meeting up with a friend for lunch, we had a flying trip to a lovely yarn shop where I treated myself to a ball of sock wool...can't get enough of these. I seem hooked on knitting socks, small enough to not get bored, but enough work to be a challenge.

On the way back home we stopped at midsomer quilting where I needed something suitable for the outer borders of a Japanese taupes quilt I'm making. Naturally the first bolt I selected was nearly £11...still got the champagne tastes on a beer buget! Eventually settled on the dark fabric on the right of this selection. The others just jumped into my basket. Not doing a lot for my stash busting am I?

Earlier this week, we decided that Hannah's bedroom needed to be redecorated. It's not been done since she was born, and she'd made a horrible mess of it. It's now looking pretty stunning in shades of pink, with white furniture. I'm making cushions for on her bed and after buying some fuschia pink with diamantes on, I thought we could dye some of our own (and stash bust a little at the same time!) She settled on Magenta with Mauve sploshes, and we tried adding salt crystals to the final fabric as it dried, to see the effect.

This is it as it's drying, before being washed. The Mauve has turned out more deep purple than we liked, but the salt had concentrated the dye into little specks of more intense colour. Just need to make it into a cushion cover now!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Show's Over Folks.....

After a lot of hard work by lots of people, we finally had the Plym Piecemakers' Show this weekend. Not sure of final figures, but I know we raised more than we could have hoped for. P and D were masterful on the sales table...nothing was priced, and people were asked to "make an offer"...while being reminded of the charity we were suppoorting. Fabulous tactics ;-)

After nearly 7 hours to set up and 6 on each day the show was open, I'm exhausted, but thrilled that it all seemed to go smoothly. Hopefully, everyone enjoyed it as much as I did, and will respond to suggestions of doing another in 2 years.

So for now, I'm having a couple of days off sewing, but thinking of the new pieces I can make...lots of inspiration from the 9 magazines I bought....It's OK, I donated about 30. I also treated the kitchen to a cafetiere cosy. Slightly too big for ours, but I can make one to fit....and it'll make a great gift along with a bag of good coffee and help me along in my mission to stash bust as well!

Next on the horizon is a trip to Torquay next Monday with my sister for a girly day out. We're planning to visit Sewing the Seeds and treat ourselves to afternoon tea. Possibly not so good for either stash busting or weight busting!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Show quilting

I can't believe that the Show is now only 2 weeks away. It's being held at Yealmpton Resource Centre, Stray Park, Yealmpton PL8 2HF, and anyone who happens to be in the area on Friday 30th or Saturday 31st July is more than welcome to come along an see us. We're open 10-4 on both days, entrance is £1, and once costs have been covered, we'll be making a donation to Devon Air Ambulance.

Entry forms were duly sent to all our members, with a return by date of 20th which time, I was looking at having to sew 24/7 to make sure there would be something to exhibit. Luckily, more forms arrived and we've now got more than 100 entries. I'll be showing 4 quilts, a table runner and a cushion. Most of them have been featured on here, so here's a quick re-cap:

Japanese Glass

Chocolate Box

Chocolate Limes

Autumn Table Runner

Carp Cushion

I Spy Pirates

This last one is a work on progress for friends who are expecting their first baby in the New Year. They both do triathlons for the Pirate Ship of Fools triathlon team, so I'm planning to FMQ lots of I Spy charm Tacks in the quilt, but I have to draw a skull & cross bones to include as well.

As well as working on pieces for the Show, I've been sewing like a wild thing on other pieces. I've taken the plunge and am trying to sell some of my quilts...the machine really needs to pay for itself, and making curtains and soft furnishings for people isn't as stimulating as quilting!

I've added corner squares to a pack of Japanese charms I bought from Susan Briscoe a couple of years ago, and I'm planning to trim them to make snowball blocks, then assemble them into a 9x11 grid, add a couple of borders and quilt in a sashiko style.

I made a summery tessellated top last year (could be the year before...) and this weekend I've added the final border to it:

Someone's asked me for a quilt, so I'll offer it to her first once it's finished.

My Japanese taupes quilt also has a new home lined up for it. I just need to make another set of blocks using a second jelly roll, jumble them between the two sets, border, layer and quilt it. I'm thinking squares in a stone variegated thread. Lesson leanred from working on Japanese Glass: buy two reels of thread. I ran out with about 18" square left to quilt, at 2130 last Tuesday. Luckily, I was able to order another reel from, which came on Thursday, so no real break from working on it.

Ack, can't find photos of the other 3 pieces on either computer, and camera batteries are dead, so I'll have to update that bit later.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Been busy

So it seems that since the good news about the results, my quilting mojo has returned. I've been to 3 quilt shows in the last few weeks, and been so inspired, I'm using my EQ6 more than I've done for a long time, trying to get designs out of my head and onto the design wall.

By far the biggest of the shows was Malvern. Had to be at Tavistock for 7:30 to get the coach up, and eventually arrived back home close to 10pm. I really liked this show, more than Birmingham I think. It was closer for startes, and therfore less tiring to get to. The quilts were just as good as Birmingham, but fewer (whisper it) pretentious ones. More pieces that actually looked like a wall hanging or bed quilt, rather than pure art.

This was one of my favourites. The maker has fussy cut flowers and butterflies out of the fabric then appliqued them to the central section. Many of the butterflies looked like they'd been bonded to other fabric and were 3-D. I didn't buy a catalogue, so can't credit the maker here.

I bought fabric, but the best bit was I was given some money to spend on behalf of the group. I decided that no matter what I bought, someone would complain about it, so I might as well please myself! I settled on a Jelly Roll book, a couple of stencils, a whole pile of Fabrications magazines and a Patsy Thompson DVD.

Our own quilt show is around 8 weeks away, so I visited 2 local shows as well. Picked up some good ideas for next time, but possibly not enough time to do this time. One of the shows had a section of jelly roll quilts that they'd made in a sew-in. I like this idea a lot...maybe something to consider in winter.

On Tuesday I'm supposed to be leading the group in scrap quilt strategies. I've asked them to bring in their favourite scrappy techniques, and I've prepared some samples, as well as found some scrap books and I'll take a couple of quilts in to illustrate what I'm talking about. The other thing I want to do is drum up volunteers for the show, stewarding and refreshments, and tie down details of insurance and finalise a trader.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Great News!!

Can't believe how long it's been since my last post. I tend to hide myself away when I'm not up to being social, so the blogging goes into hibernation for a while. Anyway, the good news is at the moment, I'm officially cancer free.

Of the 56 lymph nodes removed, only 1 had cancer. My thyroglobulin which had been 10 then 12 is now 0.5. Because of the test sensitivity, this is basically 0. I've increased my thyroxine, and need to have more TFTs in July, then Tg in August and November.

Both the surgeon and physician seemed pleased with the results. After the last 2 years, I can't get over the feelings of relief. The photo is 2 months post op.

Thank you to everyone who's read my blog and posted supportive messages, and those who've read and not posted but shared postivie thoughts with me.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

I know, I know!

Rather longer break from blogging than I intended. I've had my neck surgery, so haven't been up to either quilting or writing in the last few weeks. Some photos:

This is 11 days post op. I'm having my follow up from the surgeon next Tuesday. Positive thoughts only allowed, but I still have the occasional wibble. Because of the nerve positions, I've not got full movement in my shoulder, so quilting has been out of the question, as has hand sewing because I'm right handed and the "up and out" movement of pulling a thread through is too painful. So, I've been knitting instead.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Making rugs not quilts.

I'm having a mini break from quilting for this week, as I've been quite busy, but I had the urge to work on my rag rug. I'd torn a huge pile of strips a year or so ago to make baskets by winding them round narrow string and zig zagging them together, but couldn't find the right diameter cording. I still kept the strips in a box wondering what to do with them. I decided a rug by the cooker that could be flung in the wash every week would be a solution to both scrap pile and the light coloured floor showing every speck of dust.

Last Sunday while I was watching the Six Nations, I plaited what felt like miles of strips, weaving in new strips as the old ones ran out. Today I stitched them together and plaited some more. Managed to snap 2 needles by going too fast oveer thicker parts of the plait, but nothing serious. I've also used up a whole pile of not nice quality thread, and a big pile of scraps.

Today was Mike's first race of the season, a 10 miler. He did it in 1:16, which is a few minutes outside his PB, but he seemed happy enough with it. I was taking photos at the side of the track near the end, and of the dozen or so I took, I got 3 of people with both feet in the air, including this one of Mike.

I went to have my pre op checks this week as well, all OK for the 17th. Hope to be in hospital for 3-4 days (surgeon says 4-5!) I've booked my last 4 days leave for the 4 days before I go in so I've got plenty of time to clean, cook and pack. I just have to keep my fingers crossed the neck dissection is the last op I need to face, as the whole thing has dragged on for over 2 years now and it's beginning to piss me right off!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

More badness, but progressing

AGM's with 2 traders aren't the best places to be if you're trying to stash bust are they? I did quite well though, only coming away with 6 FQs and a piece just under half a yard.

My pictoral block of the month quilt is finally finished off properly, with all the ends darned in. Not done a label yet though.

I'm currently working on my Round Robin. I bought the thread for it at Step by Step, and had a practice with some that's identical, using a scrap sandwich. The d%^&*d sewing machine just didn't want to play, kept chewing up the thread, snapping it and skipping stitches. I was very calm (niece visiting from Manchester so no bad language) and pulled everything to pieces, brushed and change. OK this time I read the manual, changed which way the thread came off the bobbin, and changed the needle. No change. Evenutally I changed the type of needle, from a quilting to a microtex. This time it seems to have solved the problem. Still getting occasional snaps, but nowhere near as bad.

The top photo here shows my first few attempts, where the snaps and snags are obvious. The second photo shows how it's going now I've swapped needles. The big skipped bit is from the "before" sample.

I started work on my real piece, reduced my tension and off I went. Very slow progress as it's a quilt pattern I've not tried before. I'm happy with how it's looking so far though and I love the way the green-brown progressions in the thread are standing out against the colours of the quilt. Think this could be a piece for the show in July.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Not getting any better :-(

Worry not, it's quilting not thyca.

So I was browsing on ebay, and found some yummy looking threads. What's a girl to do when there's the chance of threads? So I bid, and won, and on Saturday I got a lovely surprise in the post:

These are the single colours.

And the variegated ones.

Can't wait till I can use them, just need to decide what I'm using them in.

How fabby do they all look in the bobbins box?

Then just for fun, it was my works Christmas night out last weekend...yes you read that right, Christmas! Anyway, I finally found the perfect accessory for my outfit:

It's temporary, but never say never....

Monday, 1 February 2010

I've been bad!

So much for only buying more fabric if it was for a specific project, and trying to downsize my stash! This weekend, I went to Step by Step up in South Molton, and came home with this haul:

From left to right, we have 2 metres of purple mottled fabric with gold highlights, a metre each of cream (perfect for backgrounds), a light grey/taupe with small Japanese motifs and a light orange with circular motifs. I also got some variegated green to brown thread Yaaayyy!! King Tut, as I was advised by so many people. I picked up some purple variegated as well which I'll use for the one block wonder, and the amazing gold rayon you can see. How cool is that?? I'll use it for hyperquilting, but can see it overpowering a piece unless I use it sparingly.

The book was written by the two ladies who own and run the shop and has 10 Japanese inspired projects in it. When I was at the South West Quilters' Christmas talk, I bought a charm pack with the idea of making a bag out of it, but then couldn't find a suitable pattern. There's a perfect one in this book, so I'm going to try that out soon.

Apart from the trip to the quilt shop, I stayed overnight in a fab little farmhouse barn conversion. Mike and I realised both the children were sleeping at friend's houses, so we could actually take a day out for ourselves. It was idyllic, very peaceful and relaxing, just what we both needed I think.

We went down to the local pub on the Saturday evening (note to self: don't go for weekend away while on January Pledge). The walk back to the barn was hilarious, very icy and moonlit, so no need for the rechargeable torches that were provided, we were giggling all the way up the mile long walk between the village and the farm.

Once we were up on the Sunday morning, Mike went to scrape the ice off the car...40 minutes later after breakfast there was 2 inches of snow on it! We left quite quickly after that as we didn't want to get snowed in!

Hopefully this week I'll be able to finalise the design for my Round Robin quilt, it's the group AGM next week and I'd like to take it along to show and tell. Once again last minute Lulu.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

progressing and plodding

Not so much progress on the quilting front this week. I finished stitching the binding down on the pictoral BOM quilt, but haven't done the label yet. I keep looking at it and can't make my mind up as to whether it needs a bit more work in the white corners of each small block or not. I think a small white flower in each corner might look nice, but I can't find a design I like that fits. More rummaging needed in my design books I think.

Next on the list is the Round Robin, but that's ground to a halt until I can find the right thread to work with. I'm looking for a variegated thread that's in greens AND browns. Not difficult. Not greens, not browns, but greens and browns. Might have to keep looking for that! I've stay stitched around each heart using my normal bobbin thread, which gives them a bit more definition.

This week I'm planning to make a start on unpicking the ghastly borders I put on the lovely salmon and chocolate top. I really could do with some more fabrics to use for the border, not much idea what to do as I've not got a lot of the original pieces left and they were a gift in a Secret Santa swap a couple of years ago.

Mike and I went for another long walk around Saltram this morning, it's about 7-8 miles right round, so I've admitted in public now that I'm planning to do the Beachy Head Marathon. It can be done as a walker, which is what I'm planning.

My final update this week is on my ongoing battle with the complexities of the NHS! I'm booked in to see an ENT surgeon on Thursday for discussion as to what he thinks is the best way to progress with the tumours in my lymph nodes. I'm leaning towards asking for them all to be removed as soon as possible rather than waiting for what could be another couple of years then finding that the cancer has recurred and I need to have another single node removed.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

reporting in again

See, I'm doing well at keeping the blog updated on a more regular basis this year!

This week's quilty report is that I've finished the autumn runner. I slip stitched the binding down during the week, and have to admit I'm really pleased with it. I'm quite glad I used the paper leaves as guides for doing the FMQ, I'm really not that confident that I'd be able to do them all free hand and get a nicely balanced spread of them through the piece. Hopefully as I keep on trying, I'll get more confident at being able to do more work without paper or drawn guides. I'm quite happy to use guides when I need to though! If I was to do it again, I'd spend a bit more time looking for a quilting thread with a higher contrast to my fabric. Both thread and fabric are orange-red based with bits of green and yellow thrown in, so the quilting doesn't stand out as much as it could. However, for a first attempt at this style I'm thrilled with it. I could also have a go at hyper quilting some of the leaf veins in a higher contrast thread to add some definition.

My second quilt project has been to assemble the main body of the Japanese taupe quilt from a jelly roll I bought in Birmingham. I need to press it and add the borders. No idea how I'm going to quilt this either. Something oriental is the obvious thing, but apart from that I've no firm ideas.

Other big news is I've got a new appointment with my surgeon for Monday...the previous one was cancelled because of the snow. It seems like such a long time since I was referred what with Christmas coming in the mean time. I'm hoping to get the results of the MRI in December, and also a date for surgery on the "lesions" in my neck. Dr G mentioned needle aspiration as a possible first step, but after my experince before my thyroidectomy I'd rather they just went straight for surgery. With any luck Mr C will be able to give me an early date and I can get back on with the rest of my life.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Found, one quilting mojo!

Funny how making a list of UFOs has had such a positive effect on my quilting! I knew I had lots to do, but last year I'd just lost all my enthusiasm for it. I knew I'd get it back, but I think that all the thyroid stuff I've been going through just made it harder for me to turn my hand or mind to something pleasurable.

Anyway, New Year, New UFO List (you never know it might catch on!) and just over a week later, I've finished the American cushion for Mike, zip in and all (insert photo here when I can find the camera lead)

last Sunday I put my design wall up in the corner of the lounge, and got my Round Robin and Pictoral BOM blocks out. The RR now has its final row of blocks, white and brown alternating hearts on a green background, which is the top row. I wanted something a bit different for the border, and eventually settled on a checkerboard effect, but only for two opposing corners. I've even offset the checks so they both run towards the upper left corner. The rest of the borders are in a neutral cream. It's all pinned ready for quilting, but right now I'm deliberating about whether to trapunto a few of the heart blocks. Still undecided about it, so I'll put it to one side for a week or so.

The Pictoral BOM came together like a it was in a dream that I worked out how to finish it. How odd is that? The best thing is I *love love love* the way it turned out. Attic windows around each block, and a wider semi attic window outer border. I used some fabric that I hand dyed myself which makes it more special. Each picture has been quilted around in a fine white thread just to give it a bit more definition, and I'm going to quilt the month in a cartouche at the bottom of each block.

My final piece this week is my autumnal table runner, which I pinned cut of paper leaves all over and quilted around them with a loop-de-loop meander linking them. Another one I'm really pleased with. Just need to hand stitch the binding down and label it and it's all finished!

I really need to get the camera sorted out so I can use it with the laptop. As soon as I've done that, I'll be able to edit and add pictures to these posts.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Happy New Year

So after yet another long gap in posting anything, once again I've got loads to catch up with. Christmas has been and gone, with lots of quilty and knitting presents. I had my second dose of radio iodine treatment in November. Unfotunately, it didn't show any tumour on the follow up scan, so I had another more detailed scan which showed three tiny tumours in my neck. These will need surgical removal, so I had an MRI scan shortly afterwards and am now waiting to see the surgeon who performed my original thyroidectomy in 2008.

I seem to have got my quilting mojo back, and have constructed a list of all my UFOs. It's turned out to be a lot longer than I thought it would be, so it's shamed me into actually doing something about it. I've resolved to work on these UFOs as my main priority this year. Doing OK as I finished the cushion in the US retro rabric that I bought in Lowell. It was all pieced, so it only needed quilting, and a zip putting in for the backing. As I'm writing on the laptop, I need to work out how to load photos through here now as well as the desktop. Pic to follow by whatever means!

My next project was to be the pictoral mini blocks, I'd had a dream about exactly how to finish it, and set off dyeing some fabric for it, but it's come out too orange, so back to the drawing board with that. I'm not confident enough in my dyeing to be able to mix brown from the pots I've got, so I'll see about ordering some darker brown. In the meantime, I might just buy a couple of yards of light and dark brown so I can finish it off. For quilting it, I think I'll go in the ditch around each mini block (using my new Q-i-D) foot, and do something squiggly in the sashing and border.

I'm also going to try and keep a record of what fabric I bring into and out of my stash during the year. I'm not going to measure how much I'm starting with, as I've got so many scrappy pieces, but hopefully I'll be able to keep up with that!

Hopefully I'll keep this more up to date, and plan to post next weekend.